SIMPLY DIGITAL - Digital spells easier for homemade photo albums

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Photo books take planning and effort, but can result in a professional presentation.

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And example of picture postcards.

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A less permanent option, is to show off your photos in a digital picture frame.

Last week when I was reorganizing our garage I came upon several large boxes of photographs that had been tucked away in the back of one of the cabinets.

These were the extra prints left over from years of family activities that did not fit in the family albums in our home library.

Finding these pictures brought back many memories of the old days of film. It was easy, just take out the camera, put in the roll of 24 or 36 exposures and take a picture. When the camera window showed a zero it was time to remove the film canister and take it to the camera store to have it processed into prints.

Actually it was not that long ago that the digital camera came onto the market. What a dramatic revolution has occurred over these past 15 years.

As I entered this week's vineyard photography classroom at Walla Community College I was thinking of those simple film years. My train of thought was broken with the first question of the evening, "Will we be working on some creative uses for our digital prints in this class?" one of the students asked.

With each of the students now having libraries of more than 300 photographs taken on class field trips it was a good time to focus on potential uses for all their color pictures.

Since these many of these students may soon be owners or winemakers they need to feel comfortable in the world of digital technology to be able to promote themselves and their vineyards and winery products.

So as part of this class, I require the students to compose a workbook composed of the best pictures they have taken on our field trips, and provide a narrative of what they have learned each week.

This assignment would be the equivalent of composing a film album, only today there are vast selections of book packages to pick from online.

For the Apple computer students, I suggest they to go the iPhoto or Aperture software applications, and for PC students there are many book applications; one of the most popular is Bay Photo Books.

Over the years I have found that the process of producing a tabletop book or family album is the same. For a creative layout the students need at least 200 photographs, consisting of both vertical and horizontal prints.

When the students fill up the book application templates with their pictures, a careful proofing is needed to be sure all the pictures are on the right pages to tell their story.

Then by pressing the publish button (usually found at the bottom of the page) the book is uploaded to a publishing house and within a week delivered to their homes.

The process of composing a digital book is actually faster and cheaper than the old way of culling through piles of prints to affix them inside the sticky album pages.

I usually also share with the class the process of making postcards from their favorite vineyard scenes. The students usually end up with some very creative and artistic pictures of our local vineyards. So I encourage them to look up postcards.com, or picnik.com, and try printing a postcard with these free applications.

I recently tried making postcards with some digital photographs. I have a friend who just finished remodeling his business storefront in Ocean Shores, Wash., where we lived prior to moving to Walla Walla.

He wanted to make his waterfront business unique so he redesigned the entrance of the building to resemble the mouth of a shark.

He mentioned that this shark structure could withstand a tsunami so I decided to get creative. After two hours of Photoshop I assembled a "tsunami" and placed the new image over the existing photograph of the shark and created a unique postcard for my friend.

Many wineries today have these digital flat screens in their wine tasting rooms to show off their latest wine pictures so I shared one more display idea with the class, the digital picture frame.

Digital picture frames are easy to set up.

First, place a compact flash card or SD card in the card reader and plug it into the computer. Be sure to erase any images on the card and then add new images by just dragging and dropping them onto the card. When finished place the card into the back or side of the picture frame and turn it on.

As the class concluded the students felt good now that they had some new digital venues to share with their friends and families.

Don Fleming can be reached at don512@me.com

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