Archive for October, 2010

October 28, 2010

Boring Topic Alert! But so important… can you guess?

It’s everybody’s favorite chore – Backing up digital photographs!

When did you last back up your photos? I’m going to tell my story here. This is not an exhaustive look at all the different back-up programs you can use, this is simply how I came to REALLY learn the importance of backing up and what I use to accomplish it.

If you have ever lost photos to a bad hard drive, memory disk crash or other minor disaster, you know exactly what I’m talking about. In 2005, I had a new computer and even though my photo organization software kept asking me “Do you want to back up your photos?, I thought “I’ll do it later”. Well, this four-month-old computer was in an office near my bedroom. At about two in the morning, the computer made a noise that woke me from a sound sleep. I got up to see what had happened and saw the blue screen of death; I decided to go back to sleep, feeling very certain that I and my photos were in big trouble.

The next morning I discovered that, in fact even though I’d been groggy the night before, I was completely correct. My hard drive was unrecoverable. The tech guy who looked at it said, “I can’t even get it to spin up.” He assured me that I could probably spend hundreds of dollars trying to recover my files, but I didn’t have hundreds of dollars available for that purpose. Luckily, I only lost about 4 months of photos and because it was summer, it meant that other people had taken photos that I could have. And even more luckily, I’d printed some of my favorites from that time and made a couple of scrapbook pages. So, for me, my lesson was learned. You can’t trust your photos to one hard drive. Ever.

As soon as I got my hard drive replaced, I purchased an external hard drive. This was five years ago and hard drives weren’t as cheap as they are now. I’m happy to say, that little (80 gig) hard drive is still plugging along. It now has a friend sitting next to it that is much bigger (500 gigs). When I was in the computer training business, we were fond of saying, ” A hard drive crash is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when.” It was true then and it’s true now.

And, it’s not just hard drive crashes that should concern you. There is robbery, yes, a friend lost her computer and back up devices to thieves. Then of course, there is fire, flooding and other natural disasters. Oh my!

With all the potential threats, you need on site and offsite backup.

It also helps if the backing up is automated. Mine is, and I love that I don’t have to remember.

On site backup is the easiest to set up. My biggest concerns are my photos and my financial data. My financial software asks me about a backup regularly, and I always say yes.  My photos are in Creative Memories Memory Manager software (which I sell) and whenever I make changes to my photo vault,  it backs up the changes to a “shadow copy” on my external drive. At any time if I need to rebuild my vault, the shadow copy keeps all the tags and folder structure I’ve arranged within Memory Manager.

Offsite backup is a bit trickier, but very important. Offsite is for all those disaster type scenarios and there are all types of services. I use Mozy. It is simple enough to set up, but if you have a lot of data to back-up, it isn’t fast. And that is an understatement. It can take months to get everything backed up, but once it’s done, it just does an incremental backup whenever changes are made. It’s pretty reasonably priced too.  Some people just upload all their photos to places like Flickr, or Shutterfly or Creative Memories Photo Center. Personally, I need something automatic. If I have to put it on a to do list, there’s a chance it isn’t going to happen. And we know what happens then…

What is your back-up plan? How is it working for you? I’d love to hear about it.

If you don’t have a plan and you need help; contact me. I’ll be happy to get you started with a plan.



October 23, 2010

How to Make an Event Photo Booth Inexpensive & Fun!

Why are Photo Booth’s so popular at weddings and events these days?

In a word — Fun!

Fun for guests, fun for the photographer and fun the hosts later enjoying the photos. And although you can get pretty crazy with backdrops, props and all kind of special equipment, you can also do one fairly inexpensively.

Last weekend, I was the photo booth photographer at a wedding. The bride kept it simple, purchasing a queen sized bed sheet from Target on sale for the backdrop and some fun dollar store props. I used two simple stands with a rod across (it needs to be fairly tall – at least 8 feet to accommodate tall folks and their hats!) and clamps to attach the sheet.  It was night-time which meant that we had to use flash. A daytime setup would be a breeze!

In most cases I took at least two shots of each group, you really can’t count on everyone in the photo staying perfectly still. The fun for the guests is the goofiness of the costumes, so you don’t want the photographer getting up tight about movement in the shots. We had the table below set up with silly hats, glasses, wands, swords, mustaches on sticks and other paraphernalia. Several of the guests had their photo taken multiple times with different get-ups.



The booth did become more popular as the night went on… no big surprise there! Here are two of my favorite photos from the event.






October 14, 2010

Triathlon Done – Now What?

When you’ve set a goal and achieved it; sometimes afterwards there is a let down. Not here, because my sprint tri last Sunday was an intermediate goal. My end goal is to be healthy, fit and strong (and have some fun doing it!) The race was hard, but not has hard as I expected. I really wondered if I’d make it through the run (it comes last). I lasted. I wondered if I’d panic swimming in a crowd of other people with them touching me. I didn’t. I never dreamed I’d fall off my bike. I did.

Aside from all the pre-race training with Neely Hunter in preparation for the race, there were two women who helped me tremendously during the race. Jackie from Rhode Island (she sounded just like my RI relatives!) and Cheryl from South Carolina. During the bike race, Jackie passed me and encouraged me to pass her back. We kept that up for about the last 9 miles of the race, trading off being in front. It kept me motivated and moving at my best speed. Thanks Jackie!!! During the 5k run portion, I saw a woman about my age or a bit older running at  pace that I liked. And I decided to keep up with her; again, I was motivated by another competitor. At some point, I slowed down and she kept going. I know she helped me finish the run portion with pride! Thanks Cheryl!!!

I learned a few things that will come in handy when I participate in another triathlon:

  1. When you are a 55 yr old woman, don’t register as a novice, register in your age group. I would have won first place in my age category had I done so. OK, the truth is there weren’t ANY women who registered in that age category. There were a few 55+ aged women, but they were all registered as novices. And I wouldn’t have been first if all of us had registered in our age group!
  2. Don’t try to mount your beach cruiser like it’s a racing bike (see fall).
  3. Transition times really do matter if you care about where you place. (I really just wanted to finish, next time I’ll care about my placement.)

So, now what? Since the goal is to be healthy, fit and strong, we keep going. Luckily, Neely is the brains behind our training. Mostly, I show up and do whatever she suggests.  Our swimming routine picked up Wednesday where we left off; focusing on improving our speed while finishing a mile about three times a week. We haven’t talked about biking yet, but Tuesday we were at the track walking (I was too sore to run).  Today, we began interval running again, focusing on speed instead of endurance. I liked it and when we were done I was sweating and I’m pretty sure my heart rate was up.

Now, as one last aside, I do have a question about my time. Clearly at the finish line my time is less than 2 hours which I’m thrilled about, however, the time there (1:57:42) doesn’t jive with my posted race results time. What’s up with that?

October 12, 2010

Giveaway Winner

Thanks to everyone who posted comments last week on my blog! The winner of the Creative Memories Power Sort Box which holds 1200 photos safely is Kathie Barrus!

October 8, 2010

A Picture Could Be Worth A Thousand Words, But…

Probably like you, over the years I’ve seen so many beautiful pictures of the wild horses that live on Cumberland Island. The images include dunes like this, or perhaps the Dungeness ruins on the south end of the island. The photos are romantic and leave you with the feeling that these horses have “the life.” Coming upon wild horses on the island is really quite magical.

However, according to the naturalist who took us on a tour of the island, many of these feral horses are quite ill, riddled with parasites and live shortened lives due to being transplanted to an “non-native” environment. If you are interested in learning more, I liked this short article which talks about the horse’s beauty as well as addressing health and conservation issues.

I’m fairly scared of horses, so no one needed to remind me that they were wild animals and should not be approached. However even at a distance, some of the horses didn’t have a healthy appearance.

And yet, the photos are still stunning and speak of a kind of wildness that many people romanticize.

And it got me thinking about scrapbooking and telling our stories. There are times when the picture does tell the story better than we ever could, but most often I think the photo suggests a story. If our words aren’t there, the viewer fills in the story. If we want to communicate about our lives through our photo albums, we need to write the story.  We need to include the funny things someone said or tell about the disaster that made the day even more memorable. We need to share the feelings we had that day; or if it’s years later, how we feel now as we look at the photos.

No one can tell your story but you. There is no need to get overwhelmed, tell one story. My husband and I were only on Cumberland for about 30 hours, and this is just one story from that time. I have more. This is story that I’m telling this morning.