I Love Editing In Lightroom With RadLab

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If you are a Digi Show listener, you know I LOVE RadLab! I’ve used it in PhotoShop for a long time, but it was a life changing revelation when Christine Newman shared that you can use RadLab in Lightroom. I have gone from detesting editing photos to actually enjoying it!

On Saturday, I shared an update on Organizing in Lightroom, I thought today, I would share a bit about how I edit my photos

RadLab can be used in PhotoShop, Photoshop Elements, and Lightroom. It is more of a plugin than an action or anything else. In Photoshop, this is what I do to access RadLab: go to Filter> Totally Rad> RadLab

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In Lightroom, I right click on a photo and select Edit In> RadLab:

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The user interface is the same in Lightroom and Photoshop (and I would imagine PSE too):

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I’ve used RadLab enough that I usually know what I’m going to apply, even before I open the photo. I love RadLab because I can hover over each adjustment and see what it will look like on my photo. I can apply as many adjustments as I want. Here’s the recipe I used on the photo above:

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I moved the slider on Cool As A Cucumber pretty far right (I just kept going until I liked the look) and I left Sugar Rush at the default.

On my photos, I typically use one of these three:

Oh Snap!
Sugar Rush
Punch Out

Then I might add:
Lights On
or
Lights Off

And I typically add:
Cool As A Cucumber
Warm It Up Kris!
or
Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana

There are a ton of stylets that could be used included in RadLab and the combinations or Recipes are limitless.

Here’s my edited photo:

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Big difference! It took what might have been a throw away and made it look pretty good and not over processed.

To use the photo with the edits applied, I either Right click on the photo and choose Export and then select my different settings (where I want it saved, etc.) OR if I want to use the photo on a layout, I right click and select Edit In> Photoshop. When the window pops up, I select: Edit a copy with Lightroom Edits applied.

Being able to use RadLab in Lightroom has made it so I can organize my digital scrapbooking product previews, organize my photos, and edit my photos all in one place. My workflow is so smooth now. The only time I edit a photo in Photoshop is when I need to clone, use content aware, or make a blue sky bluer; but those are very rare occasions.

I am often asked which I would choose: Lightroom or RadLab. It’s really a hard choice for me. If someome told me they had to take away one of them, I’m not sure I could choose. If you don’t have Lightroom already though, I would recommend RadLab because you can use it in the other two big programs most digital scrappers use: Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.

There is a link in this episode of The Digi Show to a tutorial for using RadLab in Lightroom. If you want to buy Lightroom, you can click on the link in the sidebar of The Digi Show and that helps us out over there (it is an affiliate link), I don’t think the discount coupon works anymore, but let me know if it does.

Are you a RadLab Lover too? Do you have any favorite Recipes? Please share them in the comments!

Adding a Watermark to a Phone Photo (Android and iOS)

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The day that Instagram rolled out their new terms (before the adjustments), we recorded a Digi Show and discussed it. One of the things I mentioned I would probably start doing to protect myself a little would be to add a watermark to my photos I put on Instagram. We talked about watermarking apps and Katie said she wasn’t really happy with the apps she had tried so far. I made it my mission to find an app that was easy to use and I think I have.

iWatermark is available for Android, iOS (iPad, iPhone), Mac, and Windows. It keeps any metadata in tact, has a lot of fonts to choose from, and you can use a png logo that you add to your photostream.

I tried a few different apps and found this one the easiest and fastest to use for adding a watermark, but probably the best way to show you what the app does is to show a video that really shows off the app. If you are reading through email or a reader, you may need to click over to the site to see the embedded video below:

Last Minute Christmas Helps

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Hipster Holiday by Mommyish Graphic Design and included in December 2012 Digi Files

Are you in the throws of the hustle and bustle today? It can get pretty crazy! In my effort to help (and not create more stress), I thought I would link up to some of our past Christmas posts that just might help you cross some stuff off your list:

How to get Santa to leave you a letter

Wrap it Up – Digi Style

Photographing The Magic of Christmas Morning

Last minute gift ideas

Holiday Gift Tags

Photographing Christmas

How To Photograph The Lights of Christmas

Holiday Subway Art

Holiday Recipes We Love

Boxing Day

Quick Personalized Thank You Notes

Hopefully, there’s something here that will help you cut out some of the hustle today!

Keeping it Simple – more photo tricks

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Hopefully you found some time since my (Jacki’s) last post to experiment with simple tricks to improve your photos. In this post I’m going to show you two more fairly simple ways to give your photos a little facelift – improving the coloring of your photo and brightening teeth.

1. Improve the color. All three of my kids play sports so I take quite a few photos of sporting events. The ones outside (such as soccer) usually turn out really well. However, the indoor ones, for basketball and volleyball, can be a challenge. This is especially true since our school gym is dark and the lighting is very yellow. I use a 50 mm lens when shooting in the gym and I set my camera to Shutter Priority. I typically keep my shutter speed around 500 and my ISO at 1600-2500 depending on whether it’s afternoon or evening. When processing my photos in Photoshop Elements I use four steps:

a. Try auto color correct.

b. Lighten the shadows.

c. Use a photo filter.

d. Brighten the image.

My very first step is to try to use the software’s Auto Color Correction option. In Photoshop Elements, go to Enhance on the upper tool bar and select Auto Color Correction from the pull down tab. Sometimes this works well enough to my liking that I’m done. But sometimes it doesn’t. That’s when I use the following three steps in succession (the order does matter).

To lighten the shadows, go to Enhance, Adjust Lighting, and select Shadows/Highlights. The software will automatically lighten the shadows by 25%. Sometimes that works well but sometimes it doesn’t. You’ll have to judge. The beauty is that you have a sliding bar that will allow you to see your adjustments. Slide the bar until you like what you see. I want to see faces but not remove so much of the shadow that it makes the photo look ‘flat.’

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Next, use a Photo Filter to adjust the coloring of your photo. In Photoshop Elements click on Filter on your upper tool bar, select Adjustments, and Photo Filter. The software offers several different shades of warming filters and several cooling filters along with various color filters. I have found that for our school gym the Blue Filter works best. Experiment and find what works for you.

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The color filter adjusts the overall tone of your photo. I want the kids’ skin to look normal and not have the yellow cast set off by the wall color and overhead lights so using the blue filter allows me to do that. You can do the same for any indoor photo that has an unwanted hue.

The last step is for me to brighten the photo. This step was explained in the last post about simple tricks to improve your photos. In your upper tool bar go to Enhance, Adjust Lighting, Levels and work with your little ‘mountain.’ Slide the arrows on the left and right until you like the result. I often go past the edges of the mountain and give my photos extra light.

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Now you can see the difference from the ‘before’ image to the ‘after’ image. The whites are whiter and the skin looks more normal.

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The same process was used for a photo of the boys after winning their tournament:

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Try these four steps with your holiday photos or other photos taken indoors. You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes!

2. Brighten teeth. Oftentimes teeth make the smile. J If teeth look bright and clean the smile looks all the nicer. Obviously we don’t want to alter photos so much that they look fake or that teeth look like they’ll glow in the dark! But a little lightening can go a long ways in improving the overall look of your photo.

There are two simple options in brightening teeth:

a. Use the Dodge Tool.

b. Use the Magic Wand and alter the saturation and brightness.

Both are simple, easy and quick.

First, to use the Doge Tool option, simply select the Dodge Tool for the side tool bar in Photoshop Elements. Typically it’s at the bottom of the tool bar and looks like a round push pin.

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Select the size and opacity of your brush in the upper tool bar. Be conservative and lower your opacity and make sure the brush is not too big. Then lightly “brush” over the teeth, taking care not to get the gums or lips. You’ll notice the teeth will immediately brighten. Now only if it were that simple in real life!

The second option requires an extra step. Select the Magic Wand tool from the side tool bar. It looks like a magic wand.

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Then click on the teeth while holding down the space bar until the area of teeth are selected.

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Then go to Enhance (upper tool bar), Adjust Color, Adjust Hue/Saturation.

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Decrease the saturation a little (to remove the yellow) and increase the brightness just a little (maybe +2 or +3).

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Keep an eye on your photo as you make these adjustments so that it looks natural and nice.

My daughter’s teeth are actually pretty white so I rarely have to brighten them, however, when she’s with a friend, sometimes the difference is noticeable and distracting. For these close-ups I adjusted her friend’s teeth just a little so that they didn’t look ‘yellow’ in comparison. Do you notice the difference? Hopefully it’s subtle and gives him a little extra sparkle. Winking smile

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Go ahead and try using a photo filter and brighten those teeth – small changes that may make your photos a little extra nice. You’ll get plenty of practice on all those indoor holiday photos!

P.S. the title graphic was created with Kaye Winiecki’s Framed Affection elements kit.

Reflected Text

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I found a neat tutorial on this site that explains how to create the look of reflected text. You can read the full tutorial here.

The basic steps are:

  1. Type a word.
  2. Duplicate the word and flip the copy to –100% vertically.
  3. Add a layer mask to the flipped copy.
  4. Add a gradient to the mask on the upside down text.
  5. Reduce the opacity of the upside down text.

The tutorial goes into great detail on the steps, making it very easy to follow. It’s an easy text trick that only takes a couple of minutes to do.

I followed the tutorial almost exactly and ended up with this. Success!

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The I picked a photo with some water, where the text could “reflect”.

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Then I scrapped it!

2012-11-Quiet-web

Credits: Brush Master Adventure by The Edits, Lazy Days by Heather T.

It was such an easy way to add a title to a page!

Photoshop can do so much more than I’ll ever ask it to do. It’s fun to test out tutorials and make use of new techniques on my scrapbook pages. One of the best parts about digital scrapbooking is that there is always more to learn!

Making Gray/Grey Skies Blue

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After living in the Seattle area for twelve years, I learned how to make a gray sky look blue. Days that I thought were sunny (a.k.a. not rainy) and felt sunny, didn’t always have a blue sky to reflect the absence of rain. The photo above is one that I wanted to hang on my wall, but I could NOT have a gray sky!

Here’s how (this will work in PSCS or PSE):

Use your magic wand to select the sky:

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I’ve found that each photos is different, so you have to change the tolerance level until all of the sky has marching ants around it. Here are the settings I used for this photo:

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You can see below that part of the upper left corner, where it was more blue, was not selected.

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To incorporate this into the selection, select the Lasso tool:

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Hold down the shift key and draw around that blue area as well as the outer edge of the photo. You can also take away areas that are selected that shouldn’t be by holding down the Alt key and using the Lasso tool. Now the photo looked like this:

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Now, add a new layer by going to Layer>New>Layer.

Most of the time, when you look at a photo that has a naturally blue sky straight out of the camera (SOOC), the blue is darker at the top and lighter at the bottom. This is why we will add a gradient. I choose my first color by finding a blue somewhere in the photo (or another photo with a great blue sky). For this photo, I sampled the upper left corner of the photo:

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I will need a little bit darker blue, so for the next color, I use the same color as the one above, but then move the selection directly right, so it’s just darker:

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You can see I got a gamut alert on this color (triangle with an exclamation next to the darker blue), so I just clicked the triangle and it fixed it:

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Make sure the darker color is your foreground color and the lighter blue is your background color:

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Now select the gradient tool:

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Here are the settings I used:

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Make sure your new, blank layer is selected, then:

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Last, I adjust my opacity a little bit on the sky layer, below it is set to 76% and looks very much like a sunny August day in Seattle:

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Here’s our before and after again:

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How to evaluate a new program or purchase

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When I picked Visual Supply Co Lightroom presets as a pick on The Digi Show episode #54, I knew I would need to do a post about it as well. I had never heard of this company until I read Heddy’s post on photo management in Lightroom. When I saw how gorgeous her photos looked, I decided that I *needed* to add these beautiful preset options to my own collection. It’s an expensive program though, and I’ve had a few people (namely, my Mom) ask me to give them a bit more of an in-depth peek at what can be done with these.

I realize that not all of our readers use Lightroom. (It’s also available for Aperture or Camera Raw). I also understand that not all of our readers will want to fork over more than $100 right now to purchase this bundle of presets. That is perfectly ok, and this post will still be useful to everyone.

How to evaluate if it’s right for you:

What I really hope to illustrate is how to evaluate if a program or a purchase is the right fit for you. Most software programs allow some sort of trial or at least give you some visual samples to look at. The Visual Supply Co is no exception – they have a full page of examples to scroll through. When you mouse over the images, it will tell you the preset they used.

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If you want to check out the features for any program before you buy, use the following steps:

  • See if there’s a free download. Adobe has them. Visual Supply Co. does not. If there is a free trial, go ahead and download it and play around. You will get a good idea of whether or not you will want to buy it. Remember though, don’t be too quick to judge as there is a learning curve to anything new.
  • If there is not a free download, look around for samples, video tutorials, reviews, or anything other pertinent information. I did a Google search for a video tutorial on using the VSCO film filters in Lightroom 3 and found this video from the actual company. It always helps to see something in action! Once I found that video, it lead me to their official Vimeo channel where there are several other video tutorials to watch.
  • Ask a trusted friend. I know Heddy well enough to know that if she likes a product, that I probably will too. She doesn’t just throw around recommendations lightly. I felt comfortable buying these presets because I have seen Heddy’s results with them. When I make a pick on The Digi Show, I know that listeners are trusting my opinion so I try to be careful to pick high quality things to recommend.

If you buy it, be sure to really try it!

Another important point I want to bring up is that the best way to learn a new program is to go in and play around with it. Try all the buttons. You won’t break anything, there’s always the “undo” feature! Wouldn’t it be a shame to buy a new expensive tool and never try it out?

It’s easy to purchase a new program or software tweak and then never do anything with it because you need to “spend some time learning about it first.” The best way to learn is to actually DO something with it! I’m guilty of this mistake myself. I downloaded the VSCO film presets and played with them for about 15 minutes, and then have not gotten back to them for lack of time. The great thing about putting together this post is that it forced me to dig in and try things out.

Here’s my original unedited photo

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I used a simple preset of Nikon Fuji 400 H+ to get this look:

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I used some of the VSCO tools for this one in the following order: Fading/Toning Creamy Highlights, Fill Light +, Vignette ++

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Here’s one with auto black level and Contrast ++

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One last example with Nikon Kodak Tri-X 400+ and Grain +++

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Making up a sample sheet with some different options is another great way to visualize what you can do with a program. It’s also helpful to go back and undo each preset after you apply it to see what it looks like each step of the way.

After playing around with these presets even more, I would say that they are probably something that will be most appreciated by professional or semi-professional level photographers. You do need to try different combinations to get creative looks and the is a fairly short list of auto presets. However, if you feel comfortable making editing adjustments, the possibilities are wide open and you can get some great results.

It’s nearly impossible for me to tell someone (even my own Mom) if they should get a certain program, because the final answer relies on whether or not they will actually use it. The bottom line is up to the purchaser to evaluate the information and determine if the benefits outweigh the cost. If you find yourself stuck in the evaluation process, be sure to try the steps in this post to help you make an informed decision.

katie big

P.S. The title image was created with sample photos of the VSCO presets and Heather Hess’ The Dry Ribbon font.

P.P.S. The winners from last week’s designer features were: CKC Purple for Laura Banasiak and Azika for Sugary Fancy.

Organize Your Online Life, Part One

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We started school last Monday in my house which means my already hectic life just got even busier. My daughter uses an online virtual academy homeschool program so I’m her learning coach. My son started one class in college and we are also  taking some community ed classes together. It’s exciting (and a bit scary) to be starting a new chapter in our lives. It’s also very important that I’m organized! I can’t very well accomplish all the things I need to do each day if I’m scrambling to find the information and resources I need. For me, the beginning of the school year is a much better time than January 1st to refine my organizational skills. This is the time when the new year really begins for me and I know that many of you feel the same way.

Getting organized is not a one-time achievement, it’s an ongoing process! Even when you feel like you’ve finally “got it”, life has a way of changing it all up on you so you need to re-evaluate your own systems. That’s where I’m at right now and so I’ve been taking a hard look at what I do online and how I organize that part of my life. I thought I would share my game plan here in hopes that it might be of help to some of you.

Step One – Make a list of what you do online

This might seem too basic, but I promise that it’s a helpful exercise. The best way to do this is take a day (or even better, an entire week) and track where you go online. An easy way to do this is to just check your browser history. Here’s a link that tells how to do that in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Opera. Here’s how you do it in Chrome. Or you can simply keep track of the sites you go to during the day and make a list of them or file them in a bookmarks folder.

I think it’s important to take some time to make a list of the places you visit and include what you do there and the reason you frequent that site. Here’s a list of the places I go online almost every single day along with links to related posts here at The Daily Digi.

There are also several other sites that I use on a regular basis that I like to use bookmarks for. I’ll cover those in the next section. The important part of this step is to spend time figuring out where you go online and prioritizing what is important about each of those sites. It’s a great time to cut out any that aren’t really valuable!

Step Two – Organize your shortcuts

Once you have your list of online stops, find a way to minimize the time you spend getting to them each day. It’s important to me that my system is accessible from any computer I work on so I like to use Chrome and save my settings. Then when I work on a different computer, I can login to my Google account and access all of my Chrome settings. If you don’t use Chrome, be sure to check to see if your browser has the same option.

All of the sites I use on a daily or almost daily basis are filed directly on my bookmark bar (I use Google Chrome) so that I can get to them in one easy click using the icon. Sometimes I shorten the name of the link so I can fit more on the toolbar. I love it when websites use a favicon because then I can recognize the site just by image.

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These are listed in the order of most importance for me to check each day. I always need to check my email and calendar. I check The Daily Digi each day to make sure the post went up as scheduled and to keep on top of the content and comments. The Flickr group is another one I need to check out at least once or twice a day. Those are my priorities. After those are taken care of, then I read blogs, hang out on Pinterest, Facebook, etc. as my time allows. If you can’t stay off sites like Facebook when you should be doing other things online, you might want to consider not putting a shortcut to it right on your toolbar.

I’m very picky about what gets to take up real estate space on my toolbar! For a website to get it’s own icon bookmark on the bar, it has to be a site I visit nearly every single day.  The rest of my toolbar is filled with folders.

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The folders store links to sites that I visit often enough to keep them easily accessible via bookmark, but they aren’t everyday stops for me. When I hover over the folder, I can quickly access the links inside of it.

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I’m not going to list out the content of all of these folders, but I will give you a general idea of what they hold.

Blog: contains links to blog login pages and other resources relating to my own blog and The Daily Digi.

Digi: links to digi shops and online classes. If you need some ideas on where to shop for digi supplies, check out all the stores and designers who have contributed to The Digi Files in the past. You know they will have high quality designs!

Photograph: a few photography sites and Flickr – Where I keep all of my online photos. Also a favorite hangout for inspiration.

Read: A small handful of links of items I’m in the middle of reading or want to look at in the next week and then delete. I do not use this as long term storage for links because they would just get lost. Anything I want to keep goes into my Springpad or Pinterest accounts.

Computer: links to sites like Dropbox, Adobe, Linked In, Google accounts, etc.

Home: Items relating to home management such as my bank – I pay almost all my bills online and check my balances. I don’t receive any paper statements anymore. Also Mint.com – my favorite site for organizing my finances.

Me: links to Oh Life, My Fitness Pal, and a few other websites that help me stay on track with my personal goals.

A folder for each of my children: I keep links to schoolwork, recreational activities, and other current projects relating to each child in a folder just for them. It helps keep us all organized.

I’ve put these in the order I use them from left to right, except for my kids folders on the end – I like to make them easily accessible. The important thing is to put your shortcuts and folders in a pattern that makes sense to you so you reduce time searching for them.

Step Three – Do the same for your mobile devices

If you use a smart phone or tablet, it’s worth taking some time and effort to evaluate what you do online with those devices. You can apply the very same principles to streamline your mobile workflow. In most cases, you will probably be able to use apps instead of having to rely on browser based bookmarks. You will probably find that you use your mobile devices to access online resources in a different way than you use your computer.

I prefer to use my iPad for watching movies and tv shows, reading, taking notes, and accessing social media sites. Because I use my iPad for more entertaining purposes, I’m more likely to get actual work done when I’m at my computer. I browse through sites like Pionterest and Feedly while I eat breakfast. I can easily check my calendar, mark our school attendance, or read a few paragraphs of a book when I have some down time. I love the portability of a tablet device!

I’ve bookmarked a few key sites in my Safari browser, but almost everything else is done through apps. I like to keep my most frequently used apps in the bottom icon dock. Then I make sure my most accessed apps and folders are along the edges of my screen.

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The most used apps on my iPad are kept in the bottom dock:

  • Mail (gmail)
  • Calendar (google calendar)
  • Safari
  • Netflix
  • Videos

In the row above the dock:

  • Kindle app – for reading ebooks
  • Pinterest app
  • The Daily Digi app
  • Springpad app – so I can look over all those great things I’ve saved
  • Notability app – I can take notes and sync them through Dropbox

In the 2nd row up, I have mostly social media sites:

  • Portfolio to Go – a Flickr app for browsing your photos
  • Facebook
  • Pinstagram
  • Hootsuite
  • Feedly

Everything else is in folders by topic.

  • Multimedia – for all music and video related apps
  • Photography – Flickr, photo editing, photo learning apps
  • Creative Fun – fun stuff like Red Stamp, Skitch, Art Rage, and Notica
  • Two folders of games
  • Organization – settings, contacts, calculator, finances, etc.
  • Learn- learning tools, flash cards, index cards, etc.
  • Travel – not used very often on my iPad since my phone is my travel buddy
  • Shop – amazon app, itunes and app store, Ikea catalog, Target app, etc.
  • Good Eats – meal planning (if I ever get serious about that), My Fitness Pal, ebook cookbooks

My iPhone goes everywhere with me and it is the most condensed version of my online life. Maybe that’s why I love it so much? I don’t bother with any browser bookmarks on my phone. I figure if I’m going to sit down and read and explore websites in depth, I’d rather be on my iPad or computer. The main purpose of my phone is to keep me in touch with people and with what’s going on in my world. There are also some entertainment purposes involved and my favorite use for my phone centers around photography.

Katie phone

Again, I use the top and bottom rows for my most used apps and I keep the apps and folders I want to access most frequently around the edges of the screen. From top to bottom:

  • Camera – my most used application
  • Shazam – up on the top row because my son always wants to Shazam songs when we are in stores.
  • Weather – a girl’s gotta know what to wear!
  • Clock – another heavily used app, it’s my alarm clock each day
  • Multimedia folder – similar to the one on my iPad but used less frequently on my phone
  • Organize – boring stuff like settings, contacts, calculator, dropbox, etc.
  • Travel – map, compass, mapquest, Delta app, – all used for traveling
  • Surf – the websites I go to on my phone
  • Games and more games – mostly to keep my son entertained when we are waiting somewhere
  • Picture and Picture 2 – a huge array of photo apps. I love to play with my phone photos!
  • My Fitness Pal – so I can keep track of my food and exercise
  • Notes – in case I need to jot down a few things to get at the store
  • The Daily Digi app – great for reading blog entries and playing with the challenge feature!
  • Google calendar – keeps my life organized
  • Phone – oh yeah, you can make phone calls on this thing!
  • Mail – gmail, of course
  • Safari – for when I need to look something up
  • Messages – I text way more than I call

Do you see how I’ve analyzed the way I use each device and customized my organization to fit the use? It didn’t take me long to get everything set up, and now when I sit down to my computer, or pull out my iPad or iPhone, I have some direction on where to go and how to use it effectively.

If you want to organize your own online life, follow the steps I’ve outlined for you. Take some time to figure out what you do online and why and then think about the best way to get there. The approach will probably be different for each device you use.

I’ll post part 2 of this series in mid-September so try to spend the next few weeks whittling down your bookmarks and getting them organized. You’ll be glad you took the time to get organized!

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P.S. The title graphic was created with The Tattered Pear Chalklet. The font is Sharpie.

Scrapbook Supplies Reorganization

Organization-title

Header graphic made from Scrap and Snap TDD member exclusive kit and doodle from Scrapping 9 to 5 by Kate Hadfield

A DIGITAL MESS

I’ve been digital scrapbooking since 2006 and my basic folder organization had remained the same until recently: I downloaded new products into a master folder called “Scrap Supplies” and unzipped them there. Once I used them, I moved each product to a folder by type: alphas, kits, element packs, and templates. Fast forward a few years and those folders were getting huge!

A few years ago, I bought the file manager program ACDSee in an attempt to use keyword tags to organize the supplies I had in those folders. When I first bought the program, I used keyword tags on I everything owned. I mean literally everything! I opened up all my kits and tagged them down to individual staples and buttons. I even tagged all my papers with colour keywords. My list of keyword tags was so long that I had to scroll through it!

After a while, I joined some creative teams (CTs) and began to scrap more and more, with several new products a week. I could no longer keep up with tagging every item, so I switched to tagging just previews, except for templates, where I still tagged every individual template.

TIME TO RETHINK

After my Great EHD Crash of 2012 and subsequent restore experience, I decided to reorganize my folders. Why now? Well, I had in my hands a perfect back-up of everything on my computer in the form of my restore EHD. So, I could mess with my folders and if I didn’t like it at the end, I could painlessly go back. The time was right!

My first order of business was to tackle my folder organization. I wanted to have smaller folders (to help them load faster) and make the folders themselves reflect how I scrap.

I really like the idea of being able to pull “this” from one kit and “that” from another kit and make a page. But, that’s just not me. I am a one-kit scrapper for the most part. So, all I really need to tag is the previews of products.

After some reflection, I realized that I also think of my products mostly by store and designer because of my CT commitments. Even when I scrap with other (non-CT) products, I am often participating in a challenge at an individual store, so I still need to be able to find products from a particular store or designer.

NEW ORGANIZATION: FOLDERS

I updated my products so that they are now organized in folders by Store>Designer. As I download new products, I move them right away into their Designer’s folder. This keeps my folder sizes manageable. If a designer moves stores, I can easily drag their folder into their new store’s folder. Similarly, if a designer retires, I can move them to a ‘Retired’ folder.

NEW ORGANIZATION: KEYWORD TAGS

After making the decision to only tag product previews, I was able to simplify my keyword listing substantially:

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You can see that my kits and elements have sub-folders. These are:

Kits: Birthday Kits, Boy Kits, Christmas Kits, Girl Kits, Halloween Kits

Elements: Arrows, Birthday, Borders, Brushes, Butterflies, Christmas, Doodles, Fasteners, Flowers, Frames, Hearts, Journal Spots, Masks, Paint/Glitter, Papers, Paper Tears/Curls, Ribbon/String, Shape Templates, Stars, Stitching, Word Art

(I’m going to see how these tags work for me, but I may reduce the number of element pack tags in the future.)

Tagging just the previews gives my organization a “store” feel. So, if I want to find a template, I select the keyword “template” and here’s what I see:

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And for kits I have something similar:

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This was an excellent start! Next I added in keyword tags for stores and designers. So, if I want all my products by a particular designer, I click on her keyword tag and all her products appear!

The folders themselves are organized by Store>Designer, but it was only a short project to add these designer keyword tags to product previews and a benefit is that I can add multiple designers to each collaboration kit preview without actually storing the kit in multiple locations.

I also like tagging stores and designers so that I can quickly find all their products prior to purchasing new ones – hopefully this will help me avoid duplicate purchases!

Just like for folders, it is super-easy to change keywords if a designer moves stores or retires. (Just select all a designer’s products and ‘un-check’ the old store keyword and then ‘check’ the new store keyword. Done!)

SEARCH POWER

Now that I am no longer tagging individual elements, I rely on the search function within ACDSee to help me find the occasional “extra” item I want on a page that may not be within the kit I’m using. If I search for *butterfly* or *staple*, I’ll get a good list of files in my Scrap Supplies folders. Will I get results showing every butterfly or staple I own? No. Search will only show the ones that the designer has named with the words in the file name. So, if there is a butterfly named “ABCDesigns_el02”, it won’t show up in the search. Fortunately, more and more designers are giving descriptive names to their products.

I haven’t had a chance to do it yet in my new organization system, but soon I’m going to tag all my go-to items – my favourite staples, kraft papers, white papers, plain tags, stitches, etc. Katie posted about the idea of doing that here. It’s great!

EMBEDDING METADATA

One of the pitfalls about earlier versions of ACDSee is that the metadata was not embedded in each tagged file. In newer versions you can embed metadata. I have ACDSee 14 and you do it via the following menu choices:

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If you want more information about metadata, read Steph and Kayla’s post about What Metadata Is and Why You Should Care.

ABOUT A DAY

It took me about a day (on and off) to reorganize my digital supplies and tag everything according to my new system – I’d estimate over 1500 previews tagged in various categories. So, even if you’ve been scrapping for years, I can say with experience that it is not too late to get organized or reorganize!

So far I’m quite happy with it! I can find everything easily and tagging new purchases is painless.

If you want more information about other ways to organize, check out all of our organization posts here.

How do you organize your scrap supplies? Do you use a similar folder/tagging system? Something totally unique? Tell us about it in the comments!

Restore Experience

Restore

If you have ever browsed a forum at a scrapbooking site, you’ve seen the threads with topics like these:

Help, my EHD crashed!

Dead hard drive – lost my photos!

Everything’s gone!

If there is one “take away lesson” from reading these posts, it’s that no one is immune from computer failures. The best we can do is to manage the risk by having a solid back-up and recovery plan in place.

I recently had the “opportunity” to use my back-up plan when my EHD failed. I store all of my digital scrapbooking supplies and all of my photos on the same external hard drive (EHD). I don’t keep any of it on my main computer because I like to keep it fairly clean (other than software, of course) so that it runs more quickly. (That’s the theory anyway.) I used to back-up automatically to a second at-home EHD. However, it stopped working a long time ago and I hadn’t replaced it.

Fortunately, I’ve been using BackBlaze since March 2011. BackBlaze is an online back-up service. For $5 a month (and even less for an annual or 2 year subscription), the BackBlaze program works in the background of my computer, quietly sending all my files to the BackBlaze storage facility. Five dollars a month is a reasonable insurance policy for my entire scrapbooking supply stash and my irreplaceable family photos and videos.

My initial upload took a several weeks, but after that, it would work a few minutes a day to keep me up-to-date. The program is set up to work continuously, but you can pause it if you need more Internet bandwidth for something else.

The Great EHD Failure of 2012

One day, I went to open up some files and everything was inaccessible. My EHD was corrupted.

As a side note, I didn’t attempt to restore on my own because I’ve heard this is a task best left to professionals because a bad restore attempt can actually harm the files that a pro may have been able to save. Having a pro attempt data recovery can be quite expensive though.

Restoring

Fortunately, all of my files were safe and sound at BackBlaze. I had several options for restoring:

  1. Download zip files – this option is free, but not feasible for me given the hundreds and hundreds of gigabytes I had to restore.
  2. USB memory stick – this option cost $99 but was again not feasible for me given the size of my restore requirements.
  3. USB EHD – this option cost $189 and provided up to 1 terabyte of restored data.

Clearly I needed a USB EHD. Using the restore web site, I ordered my files for restore. I found the BackBlaze restore interface to be cumbersome so until the interface is made clearer, I would recommend seeking assistance via the help section prior to ordering to make sure you get what you need.

For those not in the United States, keep in mind that you will be responsible for all home country-related taxes, customs fees, etc. I paid an additional $35 in taxes upon pick-up of my restore EHD.

The Results

I have all my files back! The EHD arrived quickly and all I had to do was plug it in via USB. The files are also restored with their original file names and in their original file folders.

I’m so happy to have back all of my precious big moments, like my children’s first days:

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A recovered photo of my daughter, on her first day.

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My newborn son.

And those precious day-to-day moments:

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My daughter, running in the rain

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Enjoying a cupcake for the first time on his 1st birthday.

Final Thoughts

Online back-up saved my files for me, but it won’t work for everyone. For starters, the initial back-up can take a long time if you have a lot of data, which a lot of us digital scrapbookers have. You need to have access to a fast, reliable Internet connection to use this service. You also need to verify that your Internet provider doesn’t cap how much you can upload.

BackBlaze retains file versions going back 4 weeks. To put it another way, this means that you can only return your files to their content as far back as 4 weeks ago. If you have a corrupted EHD like mine, you need to act fast to order the replacement files before they’re gone forever.

Overall, the experience of having an EHD go bad was annoying and a waste of my time, but knowing that I would have all my files restored in short order kept me calm.

If your computer died right now, would you lose any files? What is your back-up and restore plan? Leave us a note in the comments.