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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Friday
    Mar112011

    Online Training Review: Learning Photo Restoration Techniques with Janine Smith at lynda.co

    Lately I have been learning photo restoration from expert Janine Smith, owner artist at Landailyn CPR. Online learning is great; I work through a section or two of the course, and then spend time practicing and getting a little better with each round.

    Photoshop Elements 9: Scanning and Restoring Photos is available at Lynda.com, online website offering video training on all kinds of computer software and computer tasks. I've enjoyed Janine's regular feature articles and how-tos in Shades of the Departed Magazine, and am learning even more in the self-paced course.

    Original color print, faded and yellowed.
    The Brown Family (from left) Arline, Suzanne, Frank, date unknown. 

    I've been blessed with hundreds of old family photos in all conditions, but most of the images I want to share and reprint for the family need some touch-up work. Since I can't afford to have all the photos professionally repaired and restored, I wanted to learn a few techniques that might help me fix some of the less badly damaged pictures. Janine has obviously worked with more photos than I have in my collection because she knows exactly how to hone in on the major problems with many old photos.

    Ta-da! My first attempts at restoring the color to the photo. Much improved.

    It's easy to get started at Lynda.com. After registering at the website, I was free to begin viewing any of the online courses. At $25 per month, membership is a bit like an all-you-can-learn buffet. I bookmarked Janine's course so I could get back to it easily, and started with the first section. The course outline describes each segment and lists the video length so you can plan ahead how much time you want to spend on a session. I liked working through at least three or four episodes at a sitting so I could see how they worked together.

    I did not opt to purchase the practice files for the course, but had no trouble using my own photos. I found I learned the material best by watching the video through completely, then importing a photo similar to the sample into Elements and working alongside as I played the video again. Online learning used as a working tutorial is a real advantage to old-fashioned classroom instruction.

    Janine’s skill as a trainer really shines as she demonstrates how to fix common problems with old family photos. She carefully explains each step, demonstrating with the video as she works to restore the photo. The course outline is clear and well-organized with skills building from easiest to more difficult.  Janine has a pleasant speaking voice, and her instructions are direct and clear. I found it helpful to use the pause, and replay buttons when I wanted to make sure I understood all steps of a technique.  I also turned on the Closed Captioning feature, and made use of the Transcript feature to check back at the instructions. 

    The course opens with a section on how to get photos into PSE9. I have used various versions of PS Elements since it’s first days as PS Album, so getting the photos into the progam wasn’t particularly difficult. I did have trouble, however, trying to save my photos and the various edited versions. Fortunately, my month-long membership to Lynda.com gave me access to the PSE9 Essentials course, where I picked up a few file management techniques for the program.

    While one major lesson I learned is that photo restoration is a fine craft requiring patience and experience, I also learned that it's a lot of fun and can greatly improved old damaged photographs.

    The course covers six essential photo restoration techniques

    • Fixing Faded Photos
    • Fixing Color Cast
    • Removing Dust, Spots, and Texture
    • Fixing Damaged and Torn Photos
    • Reassemblig a Photo from Pieces
    • Repairing Documents 

    In addition, Janine also demonstrates the Sharing features of PSE9

    • Making a photo book
    • Making a calendar
    • Creating a personalized greeting card
    • Making a Windows slideshow
    • Creating a unique flyer for your next family reunion

    Photoshop Elements 9: Scanning and Restoring Photos with Janine Smith is an excellent introduction to the art and craft of photo restoration. Anyone interested in learning or brushing up on photo restoration techniques with Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 could benefit from this online learning experience.

    Available through lynda.com. Membership $25/month.

    Disclosure. I purchased my own membership to lynda.com for this course and did not receive any form of compensation for this review.

     

     

    Tuesday
    Jul072009

    Tech Tuesday: It's Okay to Play Favorites

    Was your mom like mine, insisting that you include all your siblings or classmates when you played a game or planned a party? Did you secretly long to not invite the class bully with a mean streak as wide as the Mississippi? Take heart! When it comes to creating a first rate photo collection, “It’s Okay to Play Favorites.”

    Recently I attended an Adobe Seminar presented by Photoshop Guru Scott Kelby focusing on how to use Adobe Lightroom2 to optimize photo workflow. I am definitely not a Pro in this field, but Scott demonstrated several easy techniques that are just as useful if you are using Mac iPhoto, Windows Microsoft Picture Viewer, Adobe Photoshop Elements, or Adobe Lightroom2.

    As I thought about establishing a photo workflow, I realized that these same techniques are even useful if you are working with a shoebox of family prints. Any photo collection will benefit from judicious sorting. As a bonus, your family will come to thank you that the slide show features 8 minutes of fabulous photos rather than 29 minutes of marginal memories.

    Professional photographers know that in order to survive they have to master the business end of taking pictures. This means photos cannot languish away on memory chips. They have to be uploaded to a computer, sorted, minimally touched-up, and then presented to a client for selection and (hopefully) purchase. Customers also want to see only The Best, after all that’s why they hired a Pro.

    When the family photographer begins to think like a Professional, it becomes easier to realize that Playing Favorites is not only Okay, it is necessary to building a quality photo collection. Of course, the family historian has other considerations as well. An out-of-focus or poorly framed shot of Aunt Mildred may be the only photograph of her at all. By all means, this one is a Keeper.

    So, your images are in front of you – either in a software program like iPhoto, PS Elements, or Lightroom, or spread out on the dining room table. How do you select The Best?

    First, pull together the “Photo Shoot” or set. This would be the Rehearsal Dinner, the Birthday Party, or your walking tour of Paris. From this set of photos you want to choose the best, which also means dumping the worst. Why waste time and effort with bad photos? Some photo programs tempt you to use Star Ratings, but why? As Scott Kelby notes, do you think you will ever want to look at one or two star photos? Those should be the ones that are out of focus or have heads cut off. Even three star photos? The Star selection system is slow; pros would never earn a living if they spent their time deciding if a photo was worth two stars or three stars. If you think you might want the picture some day, there is a way to keep it without inviting it to the party. Read on.

    Lightroom2 Compare Window
    Select Left or Right as Keepers

    How to Play Favorites with your Photos
    1. Assemble Photo Shoot pictures
    2. Ignore typical Star Ratings; instead quickly select the Best, reject the Worst. Use stars (or flags) to assign one star Keep and five stars Reject. That’s it; two choices. Keep or Reject. (Using stars or flags allows you to create a group which can be easily selected later.)
    3. Can’t decide which of six is the best? Place two similar photos side-by-side (Lightroom2 and PS Elements allow this comparison view.) Choose the best of the two, reject the other. Bring a new photo in to compete with the winner. Audition each photo against the winner. Try to move quickly; don’t let yourself get bogged down in selecting; go with your instinct.
    4. Make a New Collection Set and drag all the Keeps into this set. Label it Rehearsal Dinner. (You could call it Rehearsal Dinner Keeps, if you like).
    5. Now, you have to make one more decision. If you want to get rid of the bad photos, select the Reject group and Delete. If you just can’t throw them away, make a second New Collection Set and drag all the Rejects into this set. Label it clearly Rehearsal Dinner Rejects. There, you saved them, but no one has to look at them ever again if they don’t want to!

    Playing Favorites will eliminate bullies from your photo collection and give you the best and the brightest to work with for your slideshow, album, or web page. You may even gain a reputation as the Family Pro Photograher.

    More Photo Tips and Tech-Tricks next week at Tech Tuesday.