Life in photos

January 2 2008

Happy New Year to one and all.  It's great to be back at it after several days of race-to-the-finish for 2007 business as well as some restful time at home and with family.

I spent a fair bit of time over the last ten days on photography projects.  Over the last three years, I've collected a good number of photos -- about 6,000 keepers -- but they are strewn all over the place.  These include: flickr, pbase.com, old laptop hard drive, new laptop hard drive, iMac, and a bunch of SD cards and CDs.  This is the good and bad of digital memories, especially ones that I wanted to get printed.

A few weeks ago, I updated to iLife 08 on my iMac.  The new iPhoto (7.1) is so much better than the iLife 05 that came with the machine.  The editing tools are richer, but the sharing and production tools are where it really shines.  I was able to create a wedding photo album and order it up very quickly, and it was super-easy.  My mind started racing with all the possibilities of finally having prints of some of these great memories, all with just a few clicks.  Really great software.

The production end of the equation, though, didn't quite match expectations.  The album arrived and, unfortunately, many of the pictures looked washed out.  They certainly didn't look as rich as another album we recently got through mypublisher.com.  Some searches and conversations discovered that this is a common problem for iPhoto users.  You really have to get into the pictures and "warm them up" in order to ready them for print through the iPhoto process.

I contacted Apple support and they were super-helpful with suggestions, links to technotes, and a refund on the first go.  I spent some more time in iPhoto, hopefully making the right adjustments to these pictures.  I'll know next week, when the revised album arrives.

In the meantime, I started exploring other options.  I put together an album of pictures of my daughter on mypublisher -- after first editing the pictures in iPhoto itself.  MyPublisher's Mac software is a good companion to iPhoto, and in some ways is easier (though, also, sometimes less-flexible).  Having had success with them once before, it seemed worth going that route again.  I also think they have more hardcopy styles and page layout options.  

I then decided I hadn't tried enough new options -- once I learned that Walgreens launched a price war for digital prints, charging only US 10ยข (in quantities of 30 or more) per print... at least two cents less than I've seen anywhere else.  Walgreens.com has some decent tools for managing that process, too -- you can upload the pictures (as an alternative to bringing a CD or memory card into the store), and do some basic editing on their website, too.  Like the other sites, you can give family and friends the ability to order the same pictures, too.  Walgreens has one nice bonus - for me, at least, I can choose from three pickup locations within a couple of miles of home, so the instant gratification factor is high.  Like iPhoto, some of the prints I made turned out a bit too dark, but the photo technician in the store says that the online tools can help me out there.  I'll certainly try again.

Flickr offers pickup at Target stores, but not all of them (nearest = 20 minute drive), and flickr doesn't provide a set of edit-for-printing tools.  My experience in printing from Flickr in the past has been that the pictures get cropped in all the wrong places.

Now if I could just solve the last problem -- "migrating" my remaining content from pbase.com.  For whatever reason, I have a few albums up there that don't seem to exist on any of these other media.  The "original" images are there, but as far as I can tell, they have to be downloaded one at a time, almost like screen scraping.  Migrating for migration's sake just never makes sense, does it.

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