Pursue What You Love This February

We hope you are enjoying our inspirational posts and challenges here at The Digital Press! I’m here today to introduce our word for February and give you a taste of what’s to come!

February is usually overshadowed by one little holiday on it’s calendar. But instead of just focusing on romance and chocolate all month long (not that there’s anything wrong with either one of those—yum!), we kinda liked the word “pursue” for this month.

Pursue can mean many things…

pursue

via Pinterest: (1) (2) (3) (4)

From pursuing what you love to pursuing the one that you love… there’s a lot out there to pursue! What are going to be your personal goals for this month?

We have some amazing and inspirational posts coming your way right here on the blog. You will also find new challenges on the forums to spark your creativity and help you to make pages you really love!

You’ll find all the details of our challenge system laid out for you here: Everything You Need to Know about Challenges

Our new month of challenges starts tomorrow. We hope you’ll join us then!


Nicole About the Author: Nicole Seitler is a designer here at The Digital Press, creating kits under the name Sugarplum Paperie. In her free time, she loves to to work on her Project Life album, knit or craft with her kids. But she doesn’t have much free time, since she’s also a stay-at-home homeschoolin’ momma of four. Her life may be a little crazy, but she wouldn’t want it any other way!

Focus on the Good within the Bad

So often when we scrapbook, we show off the fun photos, we tell the favorite memories and we share all the good things in our lives. This is great and a large part of why we love this hobby.

But what about the bad days, the hard times and the moments when we just want to walk away from it all? Do they deserve their moment in the spotlight? Is it our job as the family storyteller to brush away the bad, hide it in the corners or the back rooms and hope that no one goes in? Is it our job to ONLY roll out the good, the wonderful, and the beautiful moments and put them on display to show what a wonderful life we have?

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I want to encourage you to memorialize the bad. Don’t brush it aside. Don’t pretend it never happened and most certainly don’t let guilt convince you that your hard days aren’t worth the telling. It doesn’t mean your pages have to be full of negative things, but be honest. Tell the real story of your family. Let it be a little raw. Let it cost you some tears in the telling. Pour out your heart into your pages and see what happens to your albums. Mix in the difficult memories with the good, sprinkle your books with a healthy dose of realness and watch your story come alive.

Remember, life happens. Life with all the pain, the beauty, the joy and the tears is worth being remembered.

Here are THREE tips to help you scrap the bad and still want to share your story with others!

LIST IT

Sit down and write out a list of the things you didn’t like about today or the holidays or the summer, etc. Get it out! Make that list and give yourself permission to be brutally honest about the things you hated in that moment. This will serve two purposes.

  • It allows you to get it out. You don’t have to let those negative thoughts or feelings stay hidden and fester. Write it down, get it out and move on.
  • It gives you perspective. If you see it written down in black and white, it is easier to then pair it with the good. You can’t appreciate the good, unless you’ve experienced the bad!

2014_summer_lo

USE STILL PHOTOS

It probably wasn’t possible, in the moment, to capture photos of everything going on. That doesn’t mean you are lost! I remember one of the many messes that Sam made, he had taken a brand new bottle of dish soap and poured it all over the kitchen and living room floors. That was some mess to clean up! The linloleum was bad enough with bubbles multiplying with every drop of water, but can you even imagine the carpet? It was awful. I was not in the mood to capture the moment with photos. But after the fact, I could take a still photo of some dish soap and a picture of my clean living room and talk about what happened when the two came together. In this way, no memory is ever too late to be told. Think back to any experience and think of 2-3 photos that would best sum up how you felt or what happened. Take the photos and scrap them while sharing the memory.

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TELL THE STORY

Write out the experience as if you were a fly on the wall telling the events. Write it all out. Even if the moment was bad, chances are with time and distance, the story can have a little humor. Wait until you are able to look back and laugh a little (even if you are cringing too) and describe it. Give as many details as you can remember and put it all out there! By telling the story one detail at a time, it distances you but gives the reader a chance to connect. The nice thing about bad memories is that we all have them! We’ve all had the cringe worthy experiences that we hope no one ever knows about. When one person is daring enough to share theirs, we feel an immediate connection that we are not alone!

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Life Happens. Life is not easy. Don’t get so caught up in documenting the wonderful that you forget the difficult. It is all part of your story and deserves a chance to be told. And as I read recently:

“Never blame any day in your life.

Good days give you happiness.

Bad days give you experience.

Worst days give you a lesson.”

So cherish your happiness, ponder your experiences and learn from your lessons! And in the meantime, check out my challenge HERE in the forum!

Ramona About the Author: Ramona Brown is a storyteller and graphic/web designer. She loves finding the stories in the every day and sharing them with others. She believes that everyone should “Scrap Your Story” and find purpose and meaning in doing it. Her best stories come from life with her six kids and the adventures they take her on daily! You can read more of her stories on her blog.

Focus on Organization using Adobe Bridge

Focus on Organization using Adobe Bridge
 
Being organized in life generally means we are more efficient, and the same goes for digital scrapbooking. I love to create “mash up” layouts where many different elements and papers from many different kits are used. For instance (click for credits):
Focus on Organization using Adobe Bridge
 
Layouts like this take a lot longer to complete without having an organized stash. Enter: Adobe Bridge. If you are a Creative Cloud subscriber or own a copy of Photoshop, it’s likely you also own Adobe Bridge. If you do, here is a tutorial on how to get your digiscrapping supplies organized in that software!
 
First of all, open Adobe Bridge and make sure the keywords panel is visible by going to the Window menu and ensuring Keywords Panel is checked (make sure your Folders Panel is also checked):

Focus on Organization using Adobe Bridge
 
Next you’ll need to set up some keywords. If you currently don’t have a keyword library set up, feel free to download mine HERE. You can then import them by going to the drop down menu on the side of the Keywords Panel and choosing “Import” and then navigating to this downloaded file. Importing these keywords will update your current keywords list, but will not replace it.

Focus on Organization using Adobe Bridge
 
Once you have your keyword structure set up in a way that makes sense to you, you can start tagging your items. To add a keyword, click the same drop down menu you used to import the keywords list and choose “New Keyword.” To add a sub keyword to one of the existing categories, hover other the top level of the category, right-click, and choose “New Sub Keyword.”

Focus on Organization using Adobe Bridge
 
Jpgs, pngs, psds, tiffs, etc. can be tagged, but things like actual folders, layer styles, brushes, etc. cannot be tagged. There should be a pop up that will warn you when something cannot be tagged. The reason that Adobe Bridge tagging is so powerful is that it embeds the keyword/tag right into the metadata of your file, so you can search keywords outside of Bridge on your computer and that tag will still be associated with that file. This also means that if Adobe Bridge were to be uninstalled at any time and reinstalled, your files will be tagged already and you will not have to re-catalogue your entire library of digiscrapping supplies. This is a huge time saver!

OK, so on the left hand side you see the Folders Panel. Navigate to the place where you keep your digiscrapping supplies. I tend to organize my folders by designer, or by store and then designer within the store folder if I have things from a few different designers within one store. This is helpful if you like participating in challenges where you can only use items from that particular store. You can see a bit of my file structure here on the left:

Focus on Organization using Adobe Bridge
 
To tag something, simply select the thumbnail and then check off the keywords you want associated with that file in the keywords panel. If you see a list of filenames rather than thumbnails, you can go to the View menu along the top and make sure “As Thumbnails” is selected. If you want to see the thumbnails bigger or smaller, use the size slider on the very bottom of the software window. You can tag an item with as many keywords as you like. For instance, if you have a paper with two predominant colours, you can tag it as “multi-coloured” or with the two main colours. You can quickly see which keywords are assigned to your selected thumbnail by looking at “Assigned Keywords:” at the top of the Keywords Panel.

Focus on Organization using Adobe Bridge
 
Using your keywords is as simple as selecting the folder you want to search within in the folders panel on the left and then typing the keyword in the search box on the top right of the software. For instance, if I’m doing a TDP challenge that has to include a piece of string, I would select The Digital Press store folder in the folders panel on the left and then search “string” on the top right and all the tagged string from my TDP stash will appear in the content window:

Focus on Organization using Adobe Bridge
 
I hope this tutorial helps you get on your way with using Adobe Bridge to organize your stash. The time invested in organizing is well worth it, as it will make your scrapping time more efficient and enjoyable! Feel free to ask questions in the comments below and I’ll help as much as I can. Happy organizing!
 
 
Amy H.About the Author: Amy is a wife and mom to three from Ontario, Canada. She’s always been interested in scrapbooking, but didn’t try digiscrapping until 2008 when she received PSE for her birthday. By then she had 1 year old twins and a baby, so the thought of just playing for 10 minutes, hitting save and walking away with no mess was extremely appealing! She’s been hooked ever since. She loves being the memory keeper in the family, loves taking photos, loves telling the stories. She’s also excited to know that these memories are recorded for her grandchildren to enjoy someday!

Focus on Shadows

Hi, all! Heidi here with a simple little trick that will help make your shadows a little more realistic.

I don’t know about you, but I am a sucker for premade shadow styles. Push a button and done. So today we are going to be using Sabrina’s new Shadow Styles.  One thing I have discovered though, is that sometimes, the COLOR of the shadow just isn’t right. And if the shadow looks bad, where is your focus? On what is “wrong” with the layout instead of your focus being on your subject.

So in the screen shot below, the shadow on the lace is from Sabrina’s Shadow Style. It is the perfect size, but the color is way to dark for the paper I am using.

Shadow 1

To change this takes less than 30 seconds … ready? Double click on the Drop Shadow effect (circled in red on the screen shot). It will pull up your layer style box.

Shadow 2b

Once you have the layer box open, make sure “drop shadow” is highlighted like mine is in blue. Next, you will click on the color box circled in purple below. That will open up the box to be able to change the color of your shadow.

Photoshop should now look similar to this:

Shadow 3

Notice the small white circle in the color box (bottom right)? That is the color of your shadow. It is way to dark for the paper I am using, so my next step is to move my cursor over my paper that I have my lace on and click on the paper. Notice how the white circle moved to the top right and the actual color changed from an orangish color to a little more yellow as well?

shadow 4

That means I now have a more accurate shade to create a shadow from.  Also, notice how my shadow pretty much disappeared?  It is now the same color as the paper, so it is hard to see an actual shadow.

What I want to do is move my cursor back up to my shadow color box and pick a new shadow color. When I have a hard time finding a realistic color for my shadows, I stay with a grey color. Look at shadows around you right now … grey is probably what you will see. Sometimes, I can stay within the brown color for my shadow, but just pick a lighter brown. Play around with it. Click on lighter greys, darker greys, which color works for the paper you are using?

Here is the color I finally picked:

shadow 5

Much softer and a little more realistic right? Don’t believe me? Look at my first screen shot again. That shadow is way to dark. 😉

I usually use this method with pink paper. Brown shadows overall work great! Which is why Sabrina chose the color she did. But every once in awhile, you get that one perfect paper and horrible looking shadows. Now you know how to fix it fast and put the focus where it should be!!

HeidiHeidi has been scrapping for 17 years. Her passions include dark chocolate, photography of her family and reading Christian fiction. When not doing one of these activites, she can be found working at an elementary school library or enjoying being a SAHM.

Focus on Capturing the Everyday

Capture the EverydayHey All! Krista here taking over the blog today 🙂

Part of telling our story is including the details that make up our everyday. Sure I love to scrap all the fun, BIG moments- our vacations, birthdays and holidays. But some of our most cherished moments happen in the mundane of our everyday.

 Here are 3 easy tips to help you Capture the Everyday:
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1. Keep your camera out and ready.

I keep my DSLR (Canon Mark ii) on all the time with a Memory Card in it. It sits on our kitchen counter ready to be grabbed at any moment. I admit I grab my iPad or iPhone 70% of the time to catch our everyday moments, but I do try to use my DSLR as well. I think mobile photos make great everyday pocket pages. The photos aren’t generally the best quality and would look best sized smaller.
I have a smaller camera (Canon 7d) “my diaper bag camera” that I take with me to the park or on vacation. If I had to lug my big DSLR, I most likely wouldn’t take as many photos. I can also fall back on my phone too.
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2. Make the Effort.
It takes effort to document your daily life. The thought of documenting every.detail.of.our.day seems daunting. It overwhelms me to the point that I don’t want to do it. I actually want to do the opposite! lol
I let myself off the hook and capture a moment here and there. I focus on things my Kids like to do all the time- play Barbies, Legos, ride bikes, etc. I snap a few pictures and then join in with them and have fun.
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3. Let your Kids in on the Fun!
My Kids are so used to seeing a camera out and they are getting interested in taking photos too! And what a great way to get in some of the photos too! Hand over your camera and let the Kiddos in on the fun too! I love downloading the photos after they have had my camera and seeing what they captured.
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Krista About the Author: Krista Lund is a mom of 3, married to her High School Sweetheart living in SF Bay Area. Some of her favorite things are brownies, chips n dip, taking pictures and documenting her family’s story.

Focus on YOUrself

Hello everyone – Judie here with my first blog post and related challenge at The Digital Press!  I’m going to be talking about the “oh so dreaded” selfie (well, for some of us, anyway).  But it really doesn’t have to be that way – I promise!  We all know the importance of documenting ourselves along with our family and friends, but too many of us skip over it because it’s a pain to take selfies, or we don’t want to give up the camera to someone else, or we simply hate taking photos of ourselves.  If you’re not one of those lucky people who are naturally photogenic and love snapping selfies, then this post is for you.  Even if you are a selfie aficionado, you might just pick up a couple of cool tips along the way. 🙂

 

Focus on Yourself

 

I was definitely one of those people (the one who always ran away from the camera unless I was behind it taking the photos), until I decided to make a project of it last year, and now I have a hard drive full of selfies and a gallery full of layouts that document me.  So, how did I do it?  I was simple really, instead of focusing on taking pictures of myself, I focused on the process of learning about portrait photography.  That way, the focus was on growing my photography skills, as opposed to just taking photos of myself.  This approach really helped me to get interested in the process of documenting myself and, after a while, I found that I really enjoyed it (both the photos and the scrapping).

 

This is one of my favorite selfies (taken in December 2014):

 

Focus on Yourself
Created with Woodland Winter by Studio Flergs

 

Step One: Taking the Photos

I thought I’d start by sharing my process with you, and then suggesting some other ways to put the photo focus on you.  As I mentioned earlier, I encouraged myself to take selfies by approaching the project as a photographic learning experience.  There are many online tutorials and tons of books and resources on taking selfies or head shots.  If you Google “self-portrait” you’ll find many free articles and videos, but here are some of my favorites:

 

 

These are just a few of my favorites, but there are many more resources out there.  I’d love it if you’d share your favorites in the comments to this article. 🙂

 

I used my DSLR (Canon 70D), 100mm lens,  tripod and remote shutter release for my selfie project – but you don’t need all of this equipment.  I would highly recommend some type of tripod, though.  It will give you much greater freedom in terms of your environment and posing if you aren’t limited to the reach of your arm.   A camera with a repositionable viewing screen and remote is also optimal because you can see exactly what the photo will look like before you take it.  This set up gave me the opportunity to test different poses and determine which ones worked the best (without taking 100+ photos).  Of course, you don’t have to focus on the technical photography details.  If you’re more comfortable taking arm’s length selfies with your cell phone – go for it!   The most important thing is that you get in front of the camera.

 

Here are some tips from my year-long selfie taking experience:

  • Try to take photos in natural light whenever possible (you’ll like the results a lot better).
  • Don’t take photos in bright sunlight, though.  If it’s a sunny day, take photos in a shaded spot or at sunrise/sunset.
  • Try to vary your environment and poses so that you don’t have a group of photos that all look the same at the end of the year.
  • Don’t be afraid to include props in your photos (such as a Starbucks cup, football, favorite book, cell phone, etc.).
  • Remember that a selfie doesn’t have to be limited to just you!  Feel free to include others in your photo to document your relationships.
  • If you don’t like yourself in photos, wear sunglasses.  Everyone looks cool in sunglasses – seriously.
  • Get creative and really let your personality shine through in your photos!

 

Here are a couple of examples of creative selfies.  One that I used several filters on (see what I mean about sunglasses?) and one with my iPhone that I used as a “frame” for another photo:

 

Focus on Yourself

 

And here are a couple examples of non-traditional (straight on) poses:

 

Focus on Yourself

 

Step 2: Getting the Photos Out of Your Camera

 

The next step is getting those photos out of the camera and ready to go in your scrapbooks (digital or hybrid).  If you are using your cell phone, you may be able to process the photos right on the phone itself, or you can download and process them in your favorite software (Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.).  I shoot in RAW and use a combination of Lightroom, Photoshop and RadLab for my photos.  I start by doing basic adjustments in Lightroom (white balance, exposure, sharpening).  Then I tweak the  photo in Photoshop (eye pop, skin softening, etc.).  Then I export to RadLab and add my favorite adjustments there.  Don’t go overboard with the process though.  The whole point of this exercise is to have photos that document you.  The last thing you want are photos that look over-processed or nothing at all like you.  My post-processing goals are limited to making basic adjustments and adding a pop of color (or converting to black & white).  The entire procedure only takes me a few minutes for each photo.  Even this basic post-processing can make a big difference, though.  Here is an example of a photo straight out of the camera, and after post-processing:

 

 

Focus on Yourself

 

There are hundreds of resources for photo retouching techniques, but one of my favorites for Photoshop is Professional Portrait Retouching by Scott Kelby.  If you Google “photo retouching” and your software program you’ll find many free tutorials and YouTube videos on the subject.  You can spend as little, or as much time on the post-processing as you like, just make sure the the final result is still true to YOU.

 

After a selfie shoot, I generally download all the photos onto my computer and pick out my favorites.  Then, I delete (yes, I said delete) all the other ones.  One disadvantage to shooting in RAW format is that the files are pretty large, so I don’t want a bunch of photos that I’ll never use taking up space on my hard drive (or external hard drive).  While we’re on the subject of EHDs, let me take a second to remind you to back up your photos.  I don’t delete them from my camera until I have them saved in at least two (often three) different places.  Generally, I have a copy on my desktop hard drive, a copy on an external hard drive, and a copy in the cloud.  If I do the back up as I download from my camera, I never have to worry about losing anything.  After downloading the photos, I put the selfies in their own organizational folder in Lightroom.  That way, I have them all in one place and don’t have to go through folders by date to find the one I want.  Sometimes, I do the post-processing before I know what digital page I’m going to use the photo on, but most of the time I process them as a scrap.  As I mentioned before, my post-processing only takes a couple of minutes, so it’s not a big deal to wait until I know whether I want to use a color or b/w version of the photo.

 

Step 3:  Getting Creative & Documenting YOU

 

The whole point of this exercise is to document YOU and your life, right?  So it doesn’t do any good to take photos and leave them on your computer.  As digital scrappers, we document with photos and (sometimes) journaling.  So let’s talk about the best part of the process – getting creative with your selfies!  I talked about some ways of getting creative when taking the photos, but as you know, creativity knows no bounds with digital art.  Here are some of my favorite ways to incorporate selfies into a digital page:

 

  • Include the post-processed photo on a traditional digital page.
  • Blend a photo into the background of an art journaling page.
  • Apply an artistic filter to the photo and use it on a page.
  • Include the photo in a pocket scrapping page.
  • Make a review page, including selfies from throughout the month, quarter or year.
  • Make a photo shoot page, including selfies from a particular photo shoot.
  • Use a photo with you wearing sunglasses and replace the lenses with reflective photos or patterned paper – BE CREATIVE!

 

Again, the most important part is to get the photos off of the computer and into a page documenting you.  If you are uncomfortable scrapping photos of yourself, try doing something creative with the photo such as applying a sketch filter and blending it into the background of the page.  Ready for some selfie inspiration?  Here are some examples of some of the the styles I mentioned above:

 

First up is a traditional page with a post-processed photo:

 

Focus on Yourself
Created with Krafty Basics by Mari Koegelenberg Creations

 

Here is an example of an art journaling type of page with a sketched version of the photo blended into the background:

 

Focus on Yourself
Created with It’s Complicated by Sugarplum Paperie

 

Finally, here is an example of using a photo with a sketch filter applied:

 

Focus on Yourself
Created with Emotions by Anita Designs

 

So, are you ready for a selfie challenge?  Be sure to check the The Drawing Board forum and join me in the January Focus on Yourself Challenge!

Until next time ~
Judie

 

Judie About the Author:  Judie is a member of The Digital Press creative team.  She spends most of her time engaged in creative endeavors of all sorts.  Traveling, Starbucks, football and Harry Potter are just a few of her favorite things.