Photography is a wonderful way to preserve memories. In the Old Testament we are told to "tell to our children the works of God." We are repeatedly told to remember the things God has done. A history, a record makes this easier. A photographic record prompts the memory, and can record small details that bring back memories that might otherwise be forgotten. Taking a good photograph is not easy, but the rewards are great. This is one of those skills that is never really complete, so we are working hard at improving our skills.
My parents made an early commitment to take photos as they raised their family, and they have faithfully kept to that over the years. We have thousands of photos to draw on and many of them raise fond memories. Some nights we spend the whole night going through photo albums remembering. My first photos were taken on a disposable camera. I took an early interest in learning more about photography and studied several pre-approved books on the topic. Due to my expertise in Computers, I jumped for a digital camera in 2001. Since then we have upgraded several times, always seeking to do a better job capturing the memories as they pass. (I often recall that I will never have a second chance, time only runs forward.)
I do quite a bit of careful research before any purchase and camera's are no exception. Our first digital camera was an inexpensive (and ugly) pocket-cam.
Once the Photograph is taken, it must be stored somewhere. I
upload them to disc, and make monthly archives of the photographs. This
has reached 30G (about 48 CD's or 7 DVD's) so I use an external Hdd for
my backups. I am toying with the idea of an online backup service, but
have not yet selected one.
December 2007 update Our collection of photos is around 50G now, the internal hard disk had to be upgraded to cope. We have started using an online backup service called Mozy and are happy with it so far. Do note that we have not had occasion to restore anything at this time.
To organize our photos, we started out by using a simple folder
structure. We tried the various software programs that came with the
camera's but none of them were satisfactory. I was very pleased with
Google's Picasa, however it had a serious video driver problem on our
'photography' computer. Instead of replacing the computer, I replaced the
program and for a while we used Photoshop Elements. This is a great
program for tagging, organizing and touching up digital photographs. If
you can find a copy at a good price I highly recommend it. It is even
included with some cameras and scanners. Once our photo collection
exceeded 10,000 photos, Elements became un-manageably slow, a quick
check online showed I was not the only one with this problem. As a
temporary solution, I split our collection into 5x 1,000 photo sets
which worked for a while. Once I reached 7 sets, I decided it was time
to get a 'professional' program. We now use iView media pro but I
cannot review it at this point. While I miss the hierarchical tags of
Elements, the performance has improved.
December 2007 update iView started having trouble with our computer once we reached 40,000 photos. I tried everything I could think of but was not able to get it working smoothly. Judging by the forums, this issue appears to be unique to my system. Microsoft has now bought iView so the program is now called 'Microsoft Expression Media'. Meanwhile we have upgraded to the brand new program 'Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. We have almost 60,000 photos in our catalog, and I must admit the program works beautifully. It (lightroom) also alows adjustments to the photos (color, saturation, exposure, sharpness, red-eye reduction, etc...) inside the program. None of the competitors I have tested came close to matching it in features. (Added bonus: Adobe accepts HSLDA membership as proof of academic status).
For touchups we use Photoshop Elements and Photoshop. Our home school qualifies each of our students for Academic status at Adobe (this company acknowledges home-schoolers). While these tools have a very steep learning curve, the results are well worth the time it takes to learn the interface, if you plan to do a lot with photography.
Up until very recently, we have been using a Canon S820 photo
printer. We are very happy with its output and its cost per page. While
the Cannon meets our current photo requirements, it does provide a
water-soluble output. If not exposed to sunlight or water, the dye
based inks are doing ok so far, and we have digital copies of all the
photos in case we ever need to reprint them. Very recently I upgraded
our scanner, monochrome laser printer, and photo printer with a
combination unit from Xerox. One of the Workcenter Phaser line, this
printer has not seen much use yet, but the output so far has been more
than satisfactory. This will provide us with waterproof color prints,
at a fraction of the cost of getting them done downtown. Only time will
tell whether this was a good investment.
December 2007 update: The phaser was a poor choice, which I have since sold. It turns out that a mid level business printer requires a high volume of prints. The Phaser didn't become cost effective until it reached about 200 sheets per day. This was much higher than we produce, so we moved on. Our current high end printer is a Ricoh business line inkjet (again beware of high volume requirements, every time the ricoh powers up it dumps about $5 of ink. Every time the Xerox powered up it dumped about $12 of ink).
As with most other graphical fine arts, the available training materials pose many problems (especially nudity). We have, by diligent review, found a couple of books which are acceptable for our family's use. There are a couple of minor issues with each title, but we feel we can recommend each of the following titles to your family.
To encourage our reluctant photographers, I have hosted a monthly photo contest since early 2005. I pick a specific topic for the month, and judge the submitted photos at the end of the month. I have created a little chart to help me expedite the judging process (8 photographers X 2 photos each = 16 submissions). Once I have selected a winner, I award a prize. Currently the winner gets to select either a book I have selected or $10. As an interesting footnote, each contestant has won at least one contest, this is especially interesting as I judge the photos blind (photographer not listed until after judging is complete), and the contestants run from 7 to 21.
Jeremiah's interest in and pursuit of photography has made this website possible. Without his contest there would not only be many fewer pictures of our family but the quality would be greatly reduced as well.
When Jeremiah started the photo contest in March 2005 I was exited, a new challenge with a prize of a book or $10 if I won. The purpose of this contest was to teach and stimulate us to take more and better photographs.
Once the photos are taken, organized, touched up, and
The second format is through a screensaver. I have several screensavers connected to parts of our photographic library. This provides a very nice review of years of activities. I often have to chase 3 or 4 of my siblings away from my laptop so that I can get back to work.
The third way our photos are presented is through a personal website. I have taken a selection of the photos and made them available online for close family friends.
More recently we have put some work into Memory albums. As this is not my specialty, I will leave that for another author.
Copyright © 2006 The Stover Family - all rights reserved.