NOTE: This month we have a new contributor to Tech Talk. He is John Ahn, and he is the Law Office Management Administrative Assistant. He will be alternating with John Anderson, who does a great job with the column. This month’s column is a result of my wanting to share my 1,000 Alaskan vacation photos and still remain on speaking terms with family and friends. Next month, I will let you know where you can see these wonderful photos. – Pat Yevics
After two weeks of vacationing in paradise, you are finally back at home, most likely with a digital camera full of hundreds of photos. Now what do you do? In the past, you would simply develop your photographs at the local store and then place them in a family album or a picture frame. Thankfully, developing rolls of film has become an antiquated concept due to the growing popularity of the digital camera. Today, the digital camera allows you to access your photographs much more quickly, and also gives you the opportunity to display and share your photos in various new and innovative ways.
As many of you already know, the photographs that you take with your digital camera are stored within a memory card (flash card, SD card, memory stick, etc.). You can always take this memory card to your local Ritz Camera or even a Rite-Aid and print your photographs in the conventional four-by-six manner. However, for those of you out there who are looking to take advantage of all the benefits of the digital camera, let’s explore some creative yet simple ways in which your digital photos can be used.
The first step is to upload your digital photographs onto your computer using the USB cord that came with your digital camera. Once the photographs are on your computer, you will be able to view these photos as JPEG files. As JPEG files, you will be able to manipulate your photographs in several different ways. For example, you can change the size and resolution of the photographs to fit your need. You will also be able to rotate, crop and zoom into and out of your photographs. However, before you even start to do any editing, you may want to back up all your photographs for future use by copying them onto a CD or a flash drive.
Now that your vacation pictures are on your computer, what are the best and easiest ways for you to show off these fabulous pictures? An extremely simple and popular option that many people have been taking advantage of is the online photo gallery. Websites such as Flickr (www.flickr.com), Snapfish (www.snapfish.com) and Kodak (www.kodakgallery.com) allow users to upload pictures onto a free online gallery, which they can share with their family and friends. Many of these websites will even allow you to order prints (12 cents per copy) of your favorite photographs from your online gallery. Online communities such as MySpace (www.myspace.com) also provide online gallery options that allow you to upload pictures onto your personal page.
The online gallery is a relatively simple and easy way to share and display your photographs. However, there are also several other options that allow you be a little more creative and let you add a personal touch to your photographs. Websites such as Shutterfly (www.shutterfly.com), Picaboo (www.picaboo.com) and Blurb (www.blurb.com/partner/trvlcty) all provide programs that allow you to create customized photo albums or scrapbooks with your digital photographs printed directly on to the pages of a bound book.
To get started, you need to download and install one of the free programs available on these websites. While each program is slightly different, all the programs will allow you to choose different options regarding the design and layout of your album. After choosing a design and layout, you will get to choose which pictures you want to include in your album. You can also customize these albums to include captions and text along with each photograph. Prices for custom photo albums start at $9.99 for a 40-page soft-cover book and $21.99 for a 40-page hardcover book. These albums make wonderful gifts and also are an excellent way to ensure that your photographs will last you a lifetime.
There is no doubt that creating gifts using digital photographs has become an extremely popular trend. While customized albums and scrap books may be the most practical gift, there are also many other fun gift ideas involving digital photographs. Shutterfly (www.shutterfly.com) allows users to create posters, cards, key chains, coffee mugs, calendars and even apparel using digital photographs. The process involved in creating these types of gifts is similar to that of the photo album. The website provides a program including different layouts and designs for all their products. All you need to do is to simply choose which pictures you want to use. Prices for these gifts range from $2.49 for a custom greeting card up to $79.99 for a custom tote bag. While printing a digital photograph onto a mug or t-shirt may be a little more costly than your average four-by-six print, there is no doubt of how digital cameras have changed the landscape of photography.
Those of you who are a little more tech-savvy may be interested in creating your own DVD-CD Photo Slideshow. Photo Story 3 by Microsoft is one of many free programs available on the web that will allow users to create entertaining photo slideshows to play on a PC or DVD player. The program is fairly simple as it drops all your photographs onto a storyboard and allows you to organize your photographs into your own personal slideshow. Also, Photo Story 3 has all the essential photo-editing tools including the ability to remove red-eye and correct lighting and color imperfections. You can further personalize your slideshow by setting it to music or voice narration.
Clearly, the digital camera will continue to create new and exciting opportunities for photo-enthusiasts. For now, there are still plenty of options available, and it is up to you to decide how you want display your pictures.