Design House Digital

Posts Tagged ‘Pictures’

2012 Shutterfly Wall Calendar – 20 Days of Christmas

This Christmas I am making custom wall calendars for my mom, dad, and Grandma!  It’s my first year doing this and it’s been a lot of fun.

I am printing a Shutterfly calendar. I know there are lots of places to do calendars, so feel free to use your favorite print company.

Collecting Birthdays and Photos

First, I emailed my aunts and cousins and siblings asked them to give me recent head shots of everyone in their family and a list of everyone’s birthdays.  Then I emailed them again, and then again. Finally I threatened the stragglers, and they eventually complied.

I have a account and I use it almost exclusively for getting photos from family members.  I just gave them my username & password and asked them to upload pictures.  And they did…  after a few reminders! has a handy uploader application but it’s a downloader too.  All my relatives have to do is drag & drop their picture folders and the program will upload them.  My brother Jeff gave me 140 photos!  To get them, I had to navigate to his folder and click “Sync.” A few minutes later and I had the full resolution version of all his photos. is a free account, but if you want extra storage you can pay a monthly fee.  I have a Plus (paid) membership and 20 GB of storage but haven’t used much of it at all.

Creating a Calendar Project

First I created a calendar project.  Then I was able to add events.  There’s a white “manage all my events” link at the top left of the screen.  I clicked on it and added everyone’s birthday.

Adding Birthdays with Photos

Then, I wanted to add head shots of everyone on their birthday. This is the process I used:

  • Color-correct the photos you want to use in Photoshop Lightroom (or Bridge/Camera Raw or Photoshop or Photoshop Elements) and then export them to a single folder at a high resolution.  It is not necessary to crop the photos at this point.
  • Upload the head shots you want to use into a new Shutterfly album
  • Go into your Calendar, click “Get More Pictures,” and add the entire head shot album to the calendar
  • Go into each month of the calendar.  There is a nice list of birthdays for the month on the left side of the page.
  • Drag and drop each head shot onto their birthday.  Then double-click on the day square, click “Edit Picture,” and add cropping and effects to the photo.

Making the top half of each calendar month

At this point, you could just upload more photos and use Shutterfly’s wizards to create the top half of each calendar month.  I don’t like to do that, though!  I like to use DHD templates and graphics and make my own digi pages.  So this is what I did:

  • Download the Shutterfly Photoshop Calendar template for the calendar top half.
  • Open the template in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements and save a copy for each month.  The template will have guide lines that mark the “bleed zone.” While you should fill the bleed zone up with the same background stuff you put on the rest of the page, be aware that anything outside the guides will most likely get cropped out.  So don’t put anything too good there.
  • Create your layouts.
  • Save your layouts.  Save one copy as a full .psd file, and another as a high-resolution .jpg file.
  • Upload your layouts to Shutterfly and add them to the calendar project.
  • Select the single-image template option for all of your month top pages, and drag & drop your layouts onto the correct zone.

My February Layout

In the above layout, I used one of Tiffany Tillman’s 52 Thursday Templates and papers from both Celeste Knight (Winter Woodland) and Agnes Biro (Dear Diary).

Make a Calendar Cover

Create a cover layout that is the same size as your other calendar layouts.  Then upload and drag & drop that in as well.  I made this cover using Celeste Knight’s Winter Woodland kit.

My Calendar Cover

13 Days of Halloween – Hybrid Paper Dolls

Hello! It’s Decorator Jennifer Valencia here with another Happy Halloween Hybrid idea for you all.   This is one of my all-time favorite crafts to do with my daughter — paper dolls.  She LOVES playing with paper dolls of all varieties. We’ve done Dora and Diego, Disney Fairies,  Tuff Puppy, various Richard Scarry characters, and more.   We have often made paper dolls as big as she is (using easel paper), and small ones that fit into her hand.  Today I’ll give you a quick tutorial on how to make small Halloween ones.

Ghostie Paper Dolls for a 4-year-old

Playing With Halloween Paper Dolls

Probably you are thinking: “Seriously? I need a tutorial on how to make paper dolls?”  Well, sure, if you want to make the really cool ones, I say!  Also:  Isn’t it true that seeing something you know how to do can still spur your creativity or remind you of something fun to make?  I mean, I don’t necessary need instructions on how to eat a Snickers bar, but if I saw instructions on how to eat one, I’d probably start craving one, and then I’d get one, and then the Mars Company would have cleverly made $1.00.   (Off topic: Did you ever see the Seinfeld show where they all start eating Snickers Bars with a knife and fork?  Do you think candy sales went up after that one originally aired?)  And I don’t need instructions on how to dry my hands in the public bathroom at the mall, but they like to tell me anyway with cute little wiggly lines and a picture of hands on the dryer.  I found one that I liked at Helpful in its own way, no?

Wash Hands, Get Bacon! From

Back to topic: Paper dolls. We use these for several things. First of all,  it’s fun for kids to plain-old-PLAY with them; my daughter tells stories about them and moves them around and makes houses and habitats for them.  Also, we can practice counting with them. Sometimes if I bring out a batch of brand new paper dolls, she is excited enough by them to practice counting in English and Spanish, and doing some addition and subtraction practice with me.  We can also work on fractions (1/2, 1/3, etc.)  We do this not by ripping a Tinkerbell into two even pieces, but by batching — 2 fairies here, 2 fairies there…1/2 in each pile.  (I just wanted to clarify so you don’t think we’re paper-thirsty crazed doll-killers over here.)  And if I make paper dolls based on animals or objects,  we can play vocabulary games in Spanish with them.  If you are learning another language,  this can be a fun and easy way to learn new vocabulary words.   Sometimes we play hide-and-seek with them, too:  She and I take turns hiding the paper dolls around the room and then have our very own Easter Egg Hunt to find them.

Deja Vu Check: If you’re feeling a sense of deja vu, it’s not a mistake. I have done these paper doll posts before for other holidays.  I’m sort of wondering how many more of these I can do before I wear it out?  One, two more? But there is nothing quite like rehashing my old wheels, so here goes!

Instructions: First, get a roll of clear packing tape, sharp craft scissors, plain white paper, and some cute embellishments from Design House Digital.  I recommend this kit called Life In October by Kate Teague. It’s an oldie but a goodie, because it has CUTE Halloween thingies in it, and the last thing I want to give a 4-year-old (at least MY 4-year-old) is creepy ghouls and goblins, kwim?  Those are great for other things…just not for kid paper dolls. After all,  I do not personally live in the Adams Family home. Nor do I want to wake up to a toddler nightmare.

You can find the kit here:

Directions: Start a 8.5×11 page in Adobe Photoshop or Elements.  Drag several of the embellies onto your page and resize them as desired.  We like to always make a “mom” paper doll and then “kids” for her. So if we have large ghost, that will be “mom,” and then I need to make some smaller ones to be her “babies.”  I’m sure you know this, but to resize an element: Make sure the appropriate layer is highlighted. Hit CTRL T to get your transformation box, hold down the SHIFT key, and drag one corner of your embellie up or down to make it larger or smaller.  Then hit ENTER to accept your new size.

Resizing a Candy Corn - If Only We Could Do This For Real, Right?

I like to fit as many of these as humanly possible to conserve paper, because every 1 cent saved is…well, I guess I just like to conserve paper. Good for the environment and all!  Print out your page and then coat it front and back with slightly-overlapping layers of clear packing tape. Smooth the tape down carefully so it does not create large air pockets.  Using tape to laminate the dolls is a total God-send, in my opinion.  It’s WAY cheaper than buying a laminating machine and laminating paper, it’s easy to cut, and it makes the dolls semi-permanent.  They can still get ruined if, say, then are immersed in a cup of apple juice, but they can handle damp or sticky fingers and still live to see another day.

Packing Tape - We Go Through These Like You Wouldn't Believe

Then, once your taping is complete,  cut out all of the dolls with your craft scissors.  Regular scissors will drive you insane because all of the images will have intricate edges that big old dull scissors will turn into cheap-looking mincemeat of a paper doll. And a cheap-looking paper doll is just not worth having, right?

When they are done, present them to your child, and have fun together!  Here are some images of my daughter’s paper dolls.

Playing With Halloween Paper Dolls

Showing Off A Paper Doll Spider

Thanks for reading along with me.  Please let me know if you decide to make some Halloween paper dolls…and post pictures so we can all “oooh” and “aaaah” in the gallery.  Please also comment if you already use or like the packing tape idea!  And now I will sign off. Wishing you gigantic candy corns….or not, if you don’t like candy corn…but definitely a happy fall season!

School of Design – Blogging Secrets 4

School of Design

Welcome to Design House Digital’s School of Design. Today, and every single day in September, we’ll have new blog posts; informative, detailed, and FREE classes that will take your digital scrapbooking to the next level. Each subject will have a new post weekly, and at the end of the month you won’t believe how much you’ve learned!

I’ve recently had several conversations with my boys about not talking to strangers.  I guess it’s been on my mind.  I’m going to give you a similar lecture!

Today I want to talk about Internet safety and privacy.  As a Digi scrapbooker, we do so many things online these days, and it is really important to keep our family photos and information safe.

Should my blog be public or private?

If you have a family journal blog, ask yourself this:  Are you OK with strangers stumbling on your blog?  How about people you know: bosses, neighbors, family members?  If the answer to any of these questions is no, maybe you want to lock your blog down.

My sister has a really great blog.  She writes in hers like a family journal: everything that she writes about is related to her family.  She has even had her blog printed into a bound book at Blurb!  Her blog is ultra-private: it requires visitors to be logged-in, registered users that she has already approved.

She has a good reason for it.  Her husband has a very sensitive job, and his company doesn’t allow family pictures to be posted on the Internet.

To make your blog private in Blogger, go to Settings > Permissions and select “Only these readers.” That will allow you to specify the people you want to allow to view your blog.

Blog locked down

Should my blog be open to search engines?

Another way to go private is to hide your blog from search engines.  Fewer people will stumble on your blog, but strangers can still visit.  It’s like having an unlisted phone number: only people who know your number will come.

If your blog is locked down, you still need to make sure your blog is hidden from search engines.

To hide your blog from search engines, go to Settings > Privacy and answer “No” to both questions.

Private Blog

I want a public blog!  How can I blog safely?

There are so many great things about having a public blog.  You can connect with new people who have similar interests, you can get ad revenue, and you can share with the world your really fun, useful projects and techniques!  My favorite public blog (besides our blog here at Design House Digital) is my sister-in-law Jen’s blog – The Project Girl.  Take a minute and check it out!

1. Have all email go through a “Contact Us” form with a CAPTCHA

If you want to let people get in touch with you, provide a Contact Us form that has a CAPTCHA.  A CAPTCHA is a box with funny looking text that you have to type into the adjoining box. It ensures a human and not a robot is filling out the form.

I don’t have instructions on how to do this with Blogger right now; I’ll have to cover this in a separate blog post.

2. Strip Geo-coding out of your photos

Did you know that if you post a photo taken by your phone’s camera, your Geo-location is most likely embedded in the photo?  Does that scare you? It scares me, especially when I’m posting photos of my kids. Luckily, you can usually change your phone’s setting to turn this off for good.

If you are using an iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Location Services.
  2. Look for Camera and make sure that it’s turned OFF.

If you are using an Android Phone:

  1. Go into your Camera app
  2. Click on Menu, then look for Geo-tag photos

You can also change the metadata in photos you’ve already taken.  In the Photoshop Elements Organizer, right-click on a photo and choose “Show Properties.”  The address will appear in the properties in the bottom-right-hand corner of the organizer.

You should remove Geo-tagging from any photos you post online, including on Facebook.

If you only post digi layouts, no worries! The Geo-tagging doesn’t carry over from your photos into your digi layout!

3. Don’t post your address on your blog if you can help it

If you’re not selling anything, there’s no need to publish your address.  Leave it off, and let people contact you via email.

I hope you develop a habit of safe blogging, and protect yourself, your friends, and your family.

By Mary

School of Design: Photography Tips and Tricks 2

One of the biggest compliments I get from my clients is for how well I interact with kids.  Just recently I got an email from a client saying, “I was there for the session and with those two crazy kids running around like they did, I didn’t really expect much, but somehow you made it happen.”  I’m here today to share with you some of my favorite attention and smile getting tips and tricks, so you can make it happen with your own photos!

Tip #1 – Keep it fun and easy!

Don’t make taking pictures feel like a chore.  I approach every session like I’m Fun Aunt Lori and we are there to hang out and be silly.  If you immediately go to the bribe option or if you make it seem like they just have to suffer through three more shots, you’re setting it up to be something they should want to avoid.

Tip #2 – Be crazy and silly!

When I’m in the studio, I’m sure that my husband down stairs thinks there are crazy wild animals in the room with all the sounds I make.  Your kids may think you’re weird, but they also normally think it’s funny too.  Sometimes I will do some silly animal noises and then tell them about an even better one that I can make .  They of course want to hear it, so I will tell them to pose a certain way and then I will do it.  For little ones, I find these are noises they haven’t learned to tune out yet, so they immediately turn and look your direction – instant eye contact with the camera.

Tip #3 – Never ask them to say “Cheese”

It’s way over done and normally gets you a big fake smile at best.  Again, I find being extra silly will help out here.  I’ll have them say things like “Daddy wears diapers!”  You can also try stuff that their into, like say “Pretty Pretty Princess”  or “Superman is awesome!” – anything to keep them engaged with you.

Tip #4 – Make it all about them

Compliment them on how great they’re doing.  Tell them how pretty their eyes are when they turn their head this way or how strong they look when the stand up straight like that.  Sometimes I even like to go into super model mode, “Oh, that’s perfect.  Work it! You should be a model.  Right there – awesome pose.  I’m going to love these photos!” Keep the excitement level high and give them lots of attention.

Tip #5 – Get them involved in the creative side

Kids love to give their input and feel like they are helping to make decisions.  Let them make suggestions for poses or props.  Make it a game of what kind of fun photo shoot can we have today.  Some ideas might not be great, but other times they may have a fun idea that you’ve never thought of.  Either way it keeps them engaged, brings out their personality, and makes them feel less like they are your little dress up doll.

Tip #6 – Balancing stuff on your head

Getting eye contact is one of the biggest things I strive for in most shots.  It just gives more of a connetion in the photo, so one way that I’ve found to keep  them looking at me for more than a millisecond is to balance something on my head.  Ususally a stick or some random object laying around.  I will sometimes asking them to count or guess how long I can keep it on there.  That gets them looking right at my head (and the camera) and then I let it fall off – and wait for them to laugh at me.  This also works with holding stuff in my teeth (again, usually a stick) and then at some point spitting it out and pretending it tastes awful!  Not the most fun idea, but usually gets a laugh or two.

So the overall basic idea is to keep it fun and unexpected.  If you do that, you can eventually make taking pictures something they enjoy instead of a black box that they run the other direction from.

All that being said, I will fully admit that the hardest children to photograph are your own.  After awhile, they’ve seen your tricks or they just aren’t in the mood to cooperate with you.  For these times, I would suggest having someone else take the photos.  Maybe that’s a professional studio, maybe that’s just another mom that you agree to trade off with.

I’m willing to bet that being extra silly will get you a few good smiles though.  Give these tips and trick a try this week and come back and leave me a comment about what you son did when you started mooing like a cow!

School of Design: You and Your Camera 2

Welcome to Design House Digital’s School of Design. Today, and every single day in September, we’ll have new blog posts; informative, detailed, and FREE classes that will take your digital scrapbooking to the next level. Each subject will have a new post weekly, and at the end of the month you won’t believe how much you’ve learned!

Hello, and welcome back! I’m here to bring you lesson number two about you and your camera. Today we’re going to venture out of automatic mode and explore semi-manual modes.

Let me share with you the picture of my camera mode dial again. Keep in mind that I am using a Canon Rebel XSi. Your camera may look different but should still have all of these modes (unless you’re using a point and shoot, in which case it varies from camera to camera), refer to your manual to find out what picture matches a particular mode on your camera.

photo from

We are going to start with the P and work clockwise.

P: Program Auto Exposure. This mode is similar to full automatic exposure in that it sets shutter speed and aperture for you. There are some key differences though. The first is that you can change the white balance (Allison will be explaining this to you next week). The second is that you can chance exposure compensation. This is especially helpful when you have a dark subject with a light background or vice versa. It prevents the camera from exposing the photo wrong. The third difference is that you can save photos taken in this mode in RAW format. RAW is the preferred format for a lot of photographers because you can edit more of the photo without sacrificing quality. A RAW file saves more information than a JPG. Finally, in this (and all semi-manual) mode you can chose if you’d like to use flash or not.

ISO 200 f/2.0 shutter speed 1/50

Tv: Tv stands for time value, and it is the mode for shutter speed priority. It allows you to choose your shutter speed and the camera automates everything else. This is a good mode to use to capture something that is moving because you can choose a very quick shutter speed to freeze that motion. Remember that you need to be aware of your light conditions as you choose a shutter speed. You’ll notice in my photos below that the brighter photo had a slower shutter speed (1/8th of a second) and more blur. The second photo had a quicker shutter speed (1/1250th of a second) and less blur but is much darker because the lighting was not optimal.

ISO 200 f/7.1 shutter speed 1/8

ISO 800 f/1.8 shutter speed 1/1250

Av: This is the aperture priority mode, which means you choose your aperture and the camera automates the rest of the settings for you. This is my favorite mode. I use it 99.99% of the time. Aperture is a bit backwards when you’re first learning. A larger number means a smaller aperture, which means more depth of field. Confused? Have a look at my photos below:

ISO 200 f/1.8 shutter speed 1/100

ISO 800 f/13.0 shutter speed 1/10

In the first photo the only clear parts of the photo are that little bit of rug and the red toy tweezers. I used the largest aperture available on my lens (smallest number), which resulted in a shallow depth of field – the amount of the photo that is in focus. In my second photo I used a small aperture (large number) which resulted in more depth of field.

M: This is manual mode, and will be explained by Allison next week.

A-DEP: This mode is for automatic depth of field. It uses the camera’s focus points to figure out where to put the primary focus of the photo. This is helpful for a group shot or if you have several items at different distances from the camera. This mode will automate your shutter speed and aperture for you.

ISO 800 f/22 shutter speed 1.3

Notice the small aperture? It allows for more depth of field, which ensures all bottles of nail polish are in focus despite their different distances from the lens. You’ll also notice that the shutter speed is very long (1.3 seconds). That is because the lighting in my living room isn’t very bright in the morning. To prevent camera shake I simply placed my camera on the same surface as the nail polish.

Are you feeling a bit less shy about breaking out of automatic mode? I love having a bit more creative control over my photos and I hope I’ve given you the confidence to try it for yourself! Before I end today’s session I’d like to share with you a cheat sheet that may help you better understand some of the things we’ve talked about today. Allison will be covering them all in much more depth next week so be sure to come back and learn how to take your photography even further!

click photo for source information

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