Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sharing a Recent Layout

Recently, I've been trying to learn how to take good digital pictures of my 12x12 scrapbook layouts for posting online and sharing with friends. Sadly, I haven't been able to do it. I have a great camera, a tripod, and good lighting. I've watched online tutorials with tips and tricks. I can get a pretty good photo and I know how to crop the edges to straighten them, but having previously created images by scanning and stitching, I just didn't feel that my digital photos had the same quality. I'm sure I could fix my digital images using Photoshop, but that seemed like overkill for what I wanted to use the images for. So, I recently bought a new dedicated scanner (Canon didn't update the driver for my old scanner so that it could be used with Vista, thus rendering my hardware inoperable when I got a new computer) and within 10 minutes of installing the software, I produced the image above.

The scanner that I bought is a Canon CanoScan LiDE 100, one of their least expensive models. In fact, it was under $60 at, which is an amazing price. I went with Canon because my previous scanner had been a Canon, both of my DSLR's are Canon, and my main printer is a Canon, also. Components usually seem to work better together when they're made by the same manufacturer. What's great about this scanner is that it is totally powered through a USB plug-in; no separate power cord to add additional congestion to my computer area! Also, it's small and light and completely portable because it locks closed.

The software that I used for stitching the two halves of my image together is called Photostitch. It's a program that came on the software disk that I received along with my most recent DSLR. I had just never installed or used it. I have to say, it's a really great program because it's simple. All it does is stitch images together; it doesn't do photo editing tasks or other kinds of image manipulation. Thus, the program is easy to use as soon as you open it up. Previously, I used a somewhat complicated stitching program that gave fantastic results, but took much more effort. I had to adjust all kinds of settings before stitching and then make many additional adjustments to the final image after it was stitched. Because the Photostitch program does limited things, it's much faster and easier to use. What I like best about the Photostitch software, though, is the results. Look at the image of the layout above. Can you see where the software stitched my two scanned images together? I can't, and believe me, I've looked!! I find it amazing that I can get such a good "stitch" with this very basic program. My new scanner has a lot of settings to adjust colors and so forth, and I'll certainly start playing around with those because I'm sure I can make the colors on my layouts a little better. For the moment, though, I'm very pleased.

The layout itself is one I did fairly recently of my younger son participating in his Cub Scout pack's Raingutter Regatta. The pictures I had were rather poor, so I wanted to make the best use of them that I could. There are two things about this layout that I really like. First, the red star border on the lefthand side of the page. This is a glossy red, chipboard border that came from a package of mixed borders made by L'il Davis that I bought at Hobby Lobby a couple of years ago. Although I love borders, I could never quite figure out how to use the L'il Davis borders effectively. The colors never seemed right for my page. But I thought of those borders when I was doing this page, and I'm glad that I did. The red works with the rest of the page, and something about stars combined with Scout pages always seems appropriate to me, too.

The second thing is the journaling area. I love all of the journaling options that manufacturers have been coming out with lately, from stamps to tags. But I do 99% of my journaling on the computer, so I like to have journaling options that I can use with my computer. The journaling on the Raingutter Regatta layout was printed onto a blank sales invoice. You can buy little pads of these invoices at Wal-Mart (in the office supply section) for less than a dollar, and they come in different sizes, too. I simply adjusted my journaling in WordPerfect to be the right size, printed it out on a scrap piece of paper, peeled off one of the invoices off the pad, laid it on top of the printed journaling, adhered it at the top with a temporary (and easily removable) adhesive, and ran the sheet through my printer again. When attaching the journaling to the layout, I decided that it looked better with the top edge folded over and pinned down with a mini-brad. Anyway, the point is that you sometimes find great items that can be used for scrapbooking in the most unexpected places. So take a look around the office supply section the next time you're at a place like Wal-Mart or Target. You may just run across a treasure!

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