Category: Tutorials

Tutorial Tuesday | PART 2: The Exposure Triangle

Welcome another edition of our Tutorial Tuesday series here on The Digital Press blog! This is Part 2 of our 4-part photography series all about the exposure triangle. If you happened to miss it a couple of weeks ago and need a recap, you can find Part 1 HERE. To refresh your memory, in that first post we introduced the idea that photography exposure depends on three settings: ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.

Today we’ll be focusing on that first variable — the ISO setting in the exposure triangle.

ISO is the sensitivity of the sensor. A high ISO means that the sensor of the camera is more sensitive to light, that it will “capture” every bit of light available, so to speak. More light is let in when you choose a high ISO number; conversely, less light is allowed in whenever you choose a lower ISO number.

What does this mean when you’re taking photographs? Well, for example… on a bright, sunny day outside you can choose a lower ISO (usually 100; sometimes 50) on most cameras. The opposite is true when you are indoors taking a photo in a room with very little light (at night, for example… or in a room with a tiny window and no lamp on). In that scenario, you would need to choose a much higher ISO (6400 or higher, etc.).

Here’s a look at a couple of outdoor/indoor photos, and the corresponding ISO used to capture the image…

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, every setting of the exposure triangle has a “side effect.” In other words, each setting has consequences on the exposure but also on something else in the picture. The side effect of ISO is noise. In the film days, it was called “grain” because the sensitivity of the film corresponded to the size of the grains of salt (the less sensitive the film, the smaller the grains and the cleaner and smoother the image appeared). With digital cameras we use the word noise to express the same thing as the film-age term “grain.”

Here are two examples of the noise that appears on images with a very low ISO and a very high ISO. As you can see, high ISO = more light allowed in but more noise; low ISO equals less light allowed in (so I had to adjust the other settings of the triangle), but less noise…

See the difference?

Even if grain was part of the charms of film photography, oftentimes digital noise is considered to be a bad thing. It can be distracting when it’s too strong, and it can create color artifacts. One way to avoid “bad” noise is to correctly expose the image in the first place, even if that means upping the ISO (noise will be better on an image correctly exposed with an ISO of 12800 than on an image with an ISO of 3200 that needs to be brightened in post-processing.

Here is another example that illustrates this idea…

First, the SOOC (straight out of camera, no post-processing) image at ISO 12800:

And next, the SOOC image at a much lower ISO of 1600, with all other settings remaining the same (hence the severe underexposure):

And finally, the second image… but with its exposure corrected in post-processing:

You can already see in the full image that the noise is much worse in the last picture (corrected) than it was in the first of the series, up above… even though the ISO is much lower. It’s even worse if you zoom in:

Moral of the story: it’s typically much better, in order to avoid bad noise, to take a picture with a high ISO but a good exposure… than it is to take an underexposed picture with a low ISO that requires brightening it in post-processing.

There are so many different cameras on which you can choose the ISO (even some smartphones!) that I will advise you to read the manual or do an online search on how to change the ISO on your own gear.

*TIP* If you are just starting to learn to shoot manually (where you, rather than than the camera, pick the settings)… ISO is a setting you can set on “auto” and let your camera take care of,,, so that you can focus on aperture and shutter speed. Once you get the hang of those, you can then start adjusting the ISO yourself.

We will explore those other two variables (aperture and shutter speed) in the next two parts of this series (coming in June, every other week). See you soon!

ChloéAbout the author  Chloé is in charge of PR and communication for her small town by day, a digiscrapper “by night,” and a photographer whenever the light is beautiful. She recently became a very happy mom to an adorable little boy and is enjoying the last days of her maternity leave.

Hybrid How-To | Happiness Jar

Hello everyone! It’s Donna here, and I’m excited to share another edition of our Hybrid How-To series with you here on The Digital Press blog! Today, I have a fun project for you that will allow you to capture and document your happy moments throughout the year… a Happiness Jar!

The idea behind the Happiness Jar is quite simple: on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis (your choice!), every family member writes down what they are happy about or thankful for… and places their written thoughts into the Happiness Jar. At the end of the year, it’s really fun and meaningful to empty out the jar together as a family and have fun reading/reminiscing about all those moments that brought you joy.

It’s a really easy project, too… so let’s get started!

For my example, I will be using the digital kit Mademoiselle by Julia Makotinsky, shown here…


I love the fun, whimsical feel and the bright colors of this kit (and doesn’t that little bluebird element just scream “Bluebird of Happiness” to you?!).


  • digital scrapbooking kit(s) of your choice
  • photo editing software (I am using Photoshop Elements)
  • empty jar
  • printer/copy paper
  • label paper (could use Printer/copy paper & double-sided tape instead)
  • scissors or paper cutter
  • binder clip
  • ribbon (optional)

The first step is design the jar labels. I used an empty candle jar, but any style of jar will do. In my photo editing software, I designed labels for the front of the jar, as well as for the lid…

The next step is to create the strips of paper that you’ll use to write down your happy thoughts. You’ll need to do a little calculating here to determine how many strips of paper you’ll need. Since it’s just hubby and I, and we will do this weekly… I’ll need 104 strips of paper (52 weeks X 2 people = 104). The size of my paper strips are 1″ x 4.25″, meaning I can get 22 strips from one piece of 8.5″ x 11″ printer paper. This means I will need 5 sheets of printer paper (22 strips x 5 = 110)… so I chose 5 papers from the kit I am using and printed those papers out to add a decorative touch to the back side of each strip.

The image below shows where the strips should be cut on an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper…

If you are cutting with a scissors, you may want to include the lines on your papers before you print them out so you will have a cutting guide (optional). If you are using a paper cutter or cutting machine, having the printed cut lines isn’t necessary.

Here’s a look at my labels and papers printed out…

The final step is to assemble everything, as follows…

  • Cut out the jar labels and adhere them to the jar (if you used printer/copy paper, you can use double sided tape to adhere them)
  • Cut out the small paper strips (I used a paper cutter)
  • This last step is optional… but for myself, I didn’t want the little paper strips to get lost (which they certainly would, laying loose on my countertop all year!), so I used a binder clip and tied them to the neck of the jar with a ribbon. You could also keep your strips in a drawer or a little box, etc. and skip this last step… it’s up to you!

And that’s it! Your Happiness Jar is now ready to collect all your joyful moments. The entire project, from start to finish, took less than 2 hours.

I wanted to also share with you a few variations of this idea that could easily be adapted from this tutorial…

  • A “Mom, I’m Bored” Jar — start out with the jar full of fun ideas, and when the kiddos are bored let them pick from the jar to find inspiring ways to combat their boredom
  • A “Date Night” Jar — start out with the jar full of fun date ideas, and let date night be determined by the luck of the draw (this would also work for the “What do you want for dinner?” dilemma that occurs frequently at our house)
  • A “Journal Prompt” Jar — start out with the jar full of journaling prompts, so when the urge to write surfaces you’ll have something to write about
  • A “Scripture or Positive Thoughts” Jar — start out with the jar full of scriptures or positive thoughts, and pull one out when you need a little uplifting

I hope these ideas will inspire you to create your own jar! If you decide to make a happiness jar (or any variation, like those listed above), please let us see it! You can load your project into the gallery at TDP and leave a comment below with a link to your project… etc. I would love to see what you come up with!

DonnaAbout the Author Donna is a member of the hybrid team here at The Digital Press. She has been a digital scrapper and hybrid crafter for over 10 years, and loves the flexibility digital products provide. When she’s not scrapping you’ll find her in front of the TV, at the computer, or in the kitchen  cooking up something scrumptious. She has been married for 40 years to her husband, Sonny, and they live in South Florida with their sweet little dog, Roxy, and kitty siblings Cashmere and Velcro. She also enjoys swimming, gardening, traveling, and chocolate (of course!).

Tutorial Tuesday | Scrapbooking With Dingbats

Hello, and welcome to another edition of our Tutorial Tuesday series here on The Digital Press blog! Today I’ll share with you some of my favorite ways to use dingbat fonts on your pages and projects.

Just what is a dingbat? Even though dingbats fall in the “font” category because they are associated with keyboard keys, they are not characters that will make a legible text. Instead, they are fonts that have shapes, symbols, or designs of various kinds in place of what would normally be letters and numbers.

Where can you find dingbats? Start by looking at your favorite free font download sources. Watch out, though… because you might get sucked in like I did while looking at all of them and addicted as you imagine all of the possibilities of things you can use them for.


In the first example shown here, I will share with you some journaling cards I created using dingbats. Creating your own cards can be really handy if you have something very specific in mind for your particular project, and the cards that come with your digital collection of choice don’t have that very specific thing you need. Custom-created dingbat cards to the rescue!

Here’s a look at what you can do…

As you can see, I used a paper pack designed by ninigoesdigi, and then added my own dingbats to create a few card images.

Below, you will see a listing of the dingbats I used to create my cards… as well as some dingbats you will see featured in the next example (below) for clipping masks.


In this next example, you can see the result when dingbat shapes are used as clipping masks. I was able to create arrows, banners, tags, and heart accents to dress up my pages. If you are unfamiliar with how to use clipping masks, The Digital Press has a wonderful tutorial HERE.

For this clipping mask example, I used a paper pack designed by Cornelia Designs (from the May 2019 Special Edition collection, so it actually coordinates perfectly with the cards I showed you up above). As you can see, you can clip papers straight to the dingbat shapes in order to create “die-cut” paper pieces to use as embellishments. Fun, right?


In this next example, I have used dingbats in place of some letters in my titles. This technique reminds me of the pre-made titles I used to purchase in my paper scrapbooking days. Word art has always been a fun way to add visual interest to scrapbooking pages.

As you can see, I mixed some of the dingbats with an alpha that was designed by Dawn by Design (you can find it in her shop here at The Digital Press).

Here, you will see a listing of the dingbats I used to create the page titles shown above, as well as some dingbats you will see featured in the following example in which I used dingbats as page accents (see below)…


Finally, in my last example, you will see how I added the dingbats just as they are, to my pages — as page accents and stamps. I really liked the way they dressed up my projects and filled in some of the spaces.

For this example, I used some pocket cards designed by Little Lamm Paper Co. and I added some dingbats to my page as accents.

As you were reading through this tutorial, I bet you came up with some ideas of your own about how you might want to use dingbats! I’m pretty certain that I only just scratched the surface of all the things you could do. Endless possibilities!

If you have your own fantastic ideas, we would love it if you shared your ideas — either here in the comments, or in the TDP forum. We’ll keep our eyes open for projects using dingbats posted in our gallery and will hope to see yours soon!

About the Author  Tiffany is a creative team member at The Digital Press and has been scrapping for over 25 years. She resides with her family in Idaho, but dreams of warmer climates. Family will likely keep her in Idaho, so vacations will have to do. Her scrapbook subjects include her husband, four children, one grandson and two dogs – as well as whoever and whatever will stay put for the snap of the camera. Other things that keep her busy include teaching fitness classes at the gym and working as a hospice/home health nurse.

Tutorial Tuesday | PART 1: The Exposure Triangle

Hello, and welcome to another edition of our Tutorial Tuesday series here on The Digital Press blog! This week, we’re beginning a really awesome 4-part series that will run every other week for the next couple of months to help you with your photography!

As scrapbookers, you may have read photography tutorials in the past (including the great ones we have here on The Digital Press blog)… and in doing so, you may have seen the term “exposure triangle.” That’s the concept we’ll explore with this 4-part tutorial that will, I hope, help you better understand the notion and use it in your own photography!

First of all, let’s see what happens in the camera when we take a picture. Basically a “hole” opens to let the light come in and hit the sensor that will capture it. Exposure is the amount of light in a photograph. An OVERexposed picture is too bright (details are lost in the highlights, the brighter areas of the image) and an UNDERexposed picture is too dark (details are lost in the shadows). To expose a picture, three settings come into play, that’s the famous “exposure triangle”. Those three settings are ISO, aperture and shutter speed. 

ISO is the sensitivity of the sensor. In the film days, each film had a set sensitivity, but today we can change it on most cameras. A high ISO means that the sensor will take more light in, a lower ISO means it will take less light in. ISO go usually from 100, sometimes 50, up to 12800 or more.

Aperture is the size of the “hole” that opens in the lens to let the light come it and hit the sensor. Let me get math-y for a minute here. This number is expressed as a fraction: f/2 for example. It means that the diameter of the hole equals the focal length of the lens (f) divided by the aperture numbre (2 in my example). That’s the reason behind the fact that the SMALLER the number, the BIGGER the aperture (the hole) and hence the MORE light entering. With a 50mm, for example, an aperture of f/2 will give a 25mm (50/2) diameter of the hole, when an aperture of f/10 will give a 5mm diameter (50/10). So, in short: big number = small aperture = small hole = less light in, small number = big aperture = big hole = more light in.

Shutter speed is for how long the “hole” remains open and let the light in. On my camera, it can go from 30 seconds to 1/4000th of a second. The longer it remains open, the more light goes in.

Here is a simple analogy: if taking a picture is like filling a bucket with water. ISO is the size of the bucket (that is meant to hold more or less water), aperture is how much water comes out of the faucet (is it wide open or is it just dripping?) and shutter speed is how long the faucet remains open.

We talk about the exposure TRIANGLE because all three setting are dependent on each other. If you let less light in through one setting, you will have to let more light in with another one (or both) in order to have a properly exposed photo. Let’s see some examples.

First, here is a photo where each setting is “average”. It is correctly exposed (even if totally boring, I admit, but at least those subjects are easy to work with! LOL).

Here is a representation of the exposure triangle for this image with each setting:

As I said before, if you change only ONE of the setting, the photo become under or overexposed. In this second image I decreased the aperture (increased the number) and as a consequence the image is underexposed, much darker than the first one. To have a properly exposed image, I should have let more light in through either a longer shutter speed, a higher ISO, or both.

The different combinations of those three setting can be almost infinite while the result remains very similar. Here are three other examples, each followed by the settings.

First, I kept the aperture at f/8 (like in the previous photo) but I bumped the ISO (more light) and decreased the shutter speed (less light) so that the image would be properly exposed.

Then I chose to use the lowest ISO possible (less light) and hence I used the widest aperture possible on my lens (much more light) and the “average” shutter speed we had in the first photo.

Last but not least, I chose the highest ISO possible on my camera (much more light) and the smallest aperture on my lens (way less light).

If you observe carefully the images above you can see that changing the settings doesn’t only influence the exposure, it also has other consequences. Each setting has a “side effect” that we will explore in the next posts in this series, as well as how to choose and change our settings depending on the results we are looking for.

In the meantime, I hope the overall concept of “exposure triangle” is clearer to you. Don’t hesitate to ask (here in the comments or in the forums) if you have any questions! I’ll be back in 2 weeks with PART 2 of this series.

ChloéAbout the author  Chloé is in charge of PR and communication for her small town by day, is a digiscrapper “by night,” and a photographer whenever the light is beautiful. She recently became a very happy mom to an adorable little boy and is enjoying the last weeks of her maternity leave.

Hybrid How-To | Graduation Centerpiece

Hello everyone! It’s Tanya here, and I’m excited to bring another edition of our Hybrid How-To series to you here on The Digital Press blog! Today I’m going to show you how to use your digital supplies to make a really cute graduation centerpiece.

My niece is graduating from high school in May, so I thought it would be a great time do this project. I can’t wait to package it, up along with some gift money (of course… LOL), and send it to her. I’m so proud of myself… first, because I actually made a gift… and also because I’m getting it mailed off early! All of my family knows that I’m often super late on cards and birthday gifts; I have great intentions, but it never fails — I usually send things off 3 months later (or maybe 5 or 6 months? …that’s probably more accurate!).

This project idea can be used for any type of party… graduations, birthdays, showers… just to name a few. I used my Silhouette Cameo to do all of the designing and cutting, but it can also all be done with any photo editing program and a pair of scissors and/or punches.


  1. digital kits that go with the theme of your party (I chose graduation & party kits for my project)
  2. cardstock in different colors (I used white, black, and gold)
  3. double-sided tape
  4. paper cutter
  5. scissors
  6. wooden skewers (I found mine in the housewares section at Wal-Mart)
  7. tissue
  8. shredded tissue paper
  9. vase, bucket, or other container (I recycled a vase that came with flowers I received for my birthday; I saw the same vase at the Dollar Tree this weekend)

Here’s a look at the digital products I chose to use for my project…

Midnight Elements by Anita Designs, Graduation Bits and Anytime Alphas by Akizo Designs, and Commencement by Sherry Ferguson Designs (item retired since the time I created this project) ]

First, I opened the folder where my images were saved and dragged them to my work area. I continued to do this for all the images I wanted to use in this project…

After opening the images in my work area, I chose one (the graduation cap, shown below) and traced the image so that it would have cut marks.

Additionally, the tassel was blue and I wanted it to be one of my niece’s school colors, instead… so I did a trace-by-color and pulled it off to the side. I recolored it (green), and then moved it back to the original spot. This sort of thing can also be achieved in Photoshop and other photo editing programs; I like to do it right in my Silhouette software to simplify things…

Continue to open and trace all of the images you want to use for your project, to create cut-marks.

Here is what my page looked like before sending to my Cameo…

Later, I also created another page with stars and her school logo (the logo brought back many high school memories; I graduated at the same high school over 30 years ago… I’m telling my age here! LOL).

After arranging all of the images to maximize print and cut space, and making sure that I had the registration marks on (you can see the little black box and black lines in the image just above this)… the next step is to print and cut. To do this, send the file to your printer and then add your cutting mat and send through the Silhouette…

I did a second cut with just black cardstock (see above) in order to have a second layer to back each image that I cut out (if you do this, though, be sure to turn off registration marks for this particular cut). I find this extra step gives it all a more finished look.

After all of the elements were cut out, I added double-sided tape to the back piece. To ensure that my skewer would stick between the two pieces, I twisted double-sided tape around the skewer tip (see lower-right corner image, above); then, I sandwiched the skewer between the top and bottom pieces. TIP: be sure to press it firmly all the way around so that it looks finished.

And finally… it’s time to put it all together!  🙂  This was definitely the fun part!

As you can see, above, I put shredded paper in the bottom of the vase and then put some in the middle of the tissue paper, as well. This gave it some substance to ensure the skewers stayed in place. After finishing the project, however, I noticed that it probably wasn’t necessary to put the shredded paper in the bottom (it is a decision that probably just comes down to personal preference).

Next… just add the pieces. I started with the photo, front and center, and then arranged the other pieces around it. I also figured out that the point part of the skewer is best to go towards the bottom; it’s easier to stab it into the tissue that way.

Here’s a look at the final result…

I loooove how it came out! I can’t wait until she sees it, and I hope she loves it as much as I do and will use it at her graduation party (I know that she will; she is such a beautiful, sweet, caring, loving, smart girl!). She got a full scholarship for college. I’m so proud of her!

I have so many ideas running around in my head for more of these cute centerpieces. There are kits in the store at TDP for every occasion… and I’m off to do some ‘window shopping!’  🙂

I hope that you have enjoyed this tutorial and that I have inspired you to create some of your own centerpieces. If you do, we would love to see them posted in the hybrid gallery here at TDP!


About the Author  Tanya is a member of the hybrid creative team here at The Digital Press. She has been paper and hybrid crafting for at least 18 years now, and loves creating and sharing those creations with others. Her all-time favorite tool is her Silhouette Cameo. She has been married for 30 years to her high school sweetheart, Richard, and has two sons: Chris, 27 and Chance, 23. She also enjoys crocheting, photography, and woodworking.


Tutorial Tuesday | Photo Adjustments

Have you ever taken a picture, thought it was great, and then realized that there are shadows across someone’s face? The moment has gone, and while you love the photo, you wish you could see the individual features, the eyes, nose, mouth, etc., more clearly. Well, with the wonders of photo editing software, and a light hand, you can bring shadowed features into the limelight again. Let me show you how.

Here’s a photo of my son from, wow, a long time ago, at a local water park. He was having such a great time going up and down the large slides with the inner tube. It was tough to get a photo (he was so quick!), so I took what I could get. However, the more I look at this, the more I’d love to see his face in better light.  Yes, he has a good tan and is olive-skinned, but still …

I tried using Curves and Levels adjustments (I’m using Photoshop, and these can be found under the menu Image > Adjustments), but by increasing the mid-tones, it simply “blew out” the water, brightening what was already a lighter component of the picture – and the result looked unnatural.

I did, however, come up with a compromise that I really liked.

Step 1: Create a duplicate layer of your photo. (This is especially important as you will want to retain the integrity of the original picture.) You can do this quickly using short-cut keys Control-J, or using the menu option, Layer > Duplicate Layer.

Step 2: With the duplicate layer active, select the Lasso Tool from your toolbox. Set a ‘feather’ of 20-25 pixels. You will want a soft edge on the lassoed selection to ensure it blends with the rest of the photo.

Step 3: Using the Lasso Tool, outline the section you’d like to lighten. You do not need to go right around the exact edge of the shape – remember you have a feathered edge. In fact, I’d recommend deliberately going inside the edge to allow for the feathering or ‘bleed’ to help blend the changed section with the original. It certainly does not need to be an exact science here.

Step 4: Open the Levels adjustments (Image > Adjustments > Levels) and slowly move the middle slider, the one that controls the mid-range levels to the left (left increases the light, right adds dark tones). A very light hand is all that’s needed. If you are too heavy-handed, the result will not look natural.

(The shortcut Control-D will remove your selection after you’ve applied the tonal adjustment.)

The resulting change is subtle, but that’s exactly what you want! Here’s my ‘corrected’ photo:

It’s might be hard to see the difference, but the facial features now stand out a little better. There are more highlights in my son’s hair, too, and overall, the face just looks brighter. Here’s a side-by-side for an easier comparison:

Have photos of loved ones wearing baseball caps that cast shadows? Maybe just bad lighting and, as the situation I found myself in, you’re just trying to get any picture that you can. In just a few minutes, you can salvage photos that you might otherwise skim over. But remember, a light hand is all that’s needed; it’s easy to go too far with this technique.

About the Author Kat Hansen is a creative team member here at The Digital Press. A HR Manager in the real estate industry by day, she loves the opportunity to spend a few hours each evening being creative. Vacation memories feature pretty heavily in Kat’s scrapbooking pages, as well as her health and fitness journey. Kat has quite the sense of humor (she “blames” her father for this), which she incorporates into her journaling and memory-keeping.