Friday, October 30, 2009

Freebie Holiday Class over at Jessica Sprague's


Yusuke was calling me an otaku (a geek) for about 6 weeks because I was carrying my camera every where with me. Not just my camera, but a also a bag for my camera, a little tripod & notes about white balance, lighting, etc.

I took the much-coveted Photography for Beginners with Candice Stringham course. A little on the expensive side, hard to get into as class size is limited, but so well-worth the price and effort!

With my new Canon Powershot G10, I learned how to use it on manual mode. This camera is in between a point 'n' shoot and a DSLR - you could potentially add change the lens, but the reviews are not so positive about the lenses. I didn't bother with that, but I did learn a lot about my camera settings, what all those difficult words mean, and most importantly how to get blurry backgrounds.

Here are some of my photos that I took for class assignments. I think you have seen some of these photos in my recent lay outs.

Week One: Shutter Speed

Fast shutter speed allows you to take photos of objects in motion. The object itself will appear clear in the photograph because it was frozen in time.

Slow shutter speed allows you to take photos of objects in motion as well, but you will get a lag...sometimes you want that effect. Most of time, you would prefer the fast shutter speed, esp when photographing toddlers or sporting events.

See what I mean about toddlers?

Aperture priority mode relates to the depth of field. This is how you can achieve the blurry backgrounds in photos. I really like this style, but it took me a while to get the hang of it. The photos I turned in for my assignment (above), you could barely see the difference.

Then, I went out and practiced a lot...for a whole day in Tokyo with Ailin. This turned out to be one of my favorite photos of her.

Week Three meant manual mode! I got this shot of Max and his incredible ears deep in thought at the park. This is where we put shutter speed and aperture together (along with a couple other minor things) to do a manual shot.

Then, I practiced some more on Ailin. She was dancing at the park with her friend Yako. I love this photo also.

Week 4: Focal Point was a little challenging for me, partly because I don't have a DSLR, but I think I did a fine job with this photo.


Week 5  was focusing on lighting, particularly indoor light because we often have to take photos indoors. I learned a lot in this lesson and it was so helpful. These photos were taken with no flash...simply by messing with other settings on your camera, you will not need a flash.

Week 6: Putting it all together. What can I say? I love this shot. It has all the elements I wanted to achieve, and Ailin's personality shines through. Can anyone guess what she was doing when I took this photo?

Creative Assignments
Each weekend, Candice gave us a creative assignment that we could shoot in any mode we felt like. I only did 2 of the 6 assignments as I was just so busy at that time.

Creative #1 - we were supposed to go out for a walk in the neighborhood and take photos of things from various angles. This is one of 5 photos I took.

I have shown this one before. It is my infamous "White is the color of stress" shot.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Announcement over at Jessica Sprague's web site! FREE class!

Click on the title to go directly to her site, or read below! Take this class...I implore you!
Now, never fear, if you don't have Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, you can download a free trial version and use it for 30 days. After that, you can decide if you want to keep it and pay the money or not. Elements is about $70 and Photoshop CS is about $700. Big difference, but CS is geared towards professionals. I have Elements and do just fine. Jessica shows how to do stuff in both versions via video.
Here is her announcement:
Thank you to everyone who joined in our discussion at! Or tried (hehe, we tend to crash servers wherever we go, don't we, my friends?)

As promised, here is the announcement for the final class of 2009, and best of all, it's FREE! This is one that I really hope you'll invite friends and family to come participate in!
My last class of the year will be a FREE one, and EVERYONE who has a story to tell is invited. That is everyone. Hehe. ;)
New class:
December Delight: Capturing Holiday Hopes, Memories & Wonderment
November 16-23
Registration begins Monday, November 2 at
Cost: FREE!
All are welcome! - Registration is unlimited!
More graphics, details, and so forth are coming! Mark your calendar, my lovelies!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

TW Part 5

Poetry? Yuck.

That was my first reaction when we were told we had to write a poem. The theme was supposed to be "Things I know for certain." I have done similarly themed lay outs in the past, so it's never hard to come up with "advice" for others who are younger, but still! A poem!

Our instructor, Liv, talked a lot about flow, versus, descriptive language, etc. I hadn't written a poem since high school, but once I got going, I found my rhythm and was able to produce something.

The template is cool because it it versatile. Those squares could be use for photos instead and you could have 8 photos with one journaling block, or 9 photos with a little journaling or quote on a side. I love this template and plan to use it again soon!

Since this was the 2nd to last assignment, Jessica gave very little video instruction. She gave a list of what to do and then said to use the skills we had honed from previous lessons and go with it. The gallery showed so many great lay outs with great "poetry". Who knew that we could all write poems so well?

What is one thing you know for sure? Write it in the comments.

Oh, and my very favorite lay out in the gallery was about someone's dog! What her dog knows for sure. I loved it! Great idea for a Max lay out someday.

TW Part 4

The fourth assignment for this class involved a friend.

We had to do a lay out highlighting one friendship, and I chose Shannon. The story that I chose to tell in the lay out, though, is top-secret and Shannon made me promise to black it out before showing it to anyone. That includes my blog readers! Sorry, for Shannon's eyes only. But, you can read the other parts and enjoy the lovely colors and type on the lay out!

It's so lovely to have a lay out about a friend. I could have made a whole album about all the funny stories we have created together.

TW Part 3

Type + Writer's Assignment 3 tells the story of one week of our lives. As a pre-assignment for the class, we were asked to take one photo a day for the first week of the class. We were supposed to use these photos in our One Week lay out.

In the Journaling portion of this class, we had to really work to summarize each day into a very very short paragraph. This really helped me realize what was the most important aspect of each day and then write one sparse, but descriptive sentence about it. I quite enjoyed this challenge.

Here is the lay out for One Week.

Obviously, this lay out will go right into my Chrono Album for October. Lucky me.

How has your week been so far? Could you summarize each day into one simple sentence?

TW 2 Part 2

Type + Writer Assignment #2 involved using photos of ourselves. I guess they think that scrapbookers often neglect to make lay outs about themselves.

The theme pertained to how things change or stay the same over the years. This was very fun to do. We had to think back to our teenage years, dig up an old photo, and list a variety of details about ourselves. What we liked to do, where we hung out, who were hung out with, what was important to us, what we liked to eat or drink, etc. Compare that to NOW, and then also make a list of some of the things that have not changed. I had so much fun with this one, I decided to balance it with a lay out about Yusuke. He loved getting, really.


So, my challenge to you today. In the comments, think of 3 details about your teenage self, compare that to what you are like now, and then list 3 things about you that have NOT changed! I'll be interested to read your comments.

TW 2 Part 1

Type + Writer 2 online course started right after TW1 finished.

This class, with the same instructors, takes you deeper into your writing as well as the art of typography. In terms of writing, we covered aspects such as good opening lines, endings, topic sentences, & de-cluttering. (There's that word again! In writing, de-cluttering would refer to ridding your sentences of all the extra words. For example, instead of writing, "At this point in time, I really need to use the toilet badly," you would write, "I need to use the toilet now.") Why did I just use a toilet example. Hold that thought.

Okay, for typography, we covered the how-tos of pull-quotes, masking letters with patterned paper, using type as a clipping mask, using font to create scalloped borders, and much much more. I bet you don't know what some of that stuff means...if you are curious, I really recommend this class!

Here are the lay outs I created for the class:

Assignment #1 - An Adventure
For this assignment, we were asked to look back on an adventure that we had at one time in our lives. I honestly could not come up with something that I had NOT scrapbooked about yet, so I took on a slightly different challenge. I wanted to see if I could create 4 useful lay outs at the same time on Photoshop Elements - all 4 are about different adventures I have had, and all 4 will be used in my scrapbooks. Each page, though using the same template, comes out looking quite different. I made some changes to the 3rd and 4th lay outs to make a double spread and because they will go in the same album. Here goes!

This is a recent adventure I had that will go in my Chrono album for October.

This is an adventure I shared long long ago with my husband! It will go in our Love Story album, which I have recently started.

This is a double lay out covering our Silver Week Adventures, featuring Papa, and will go in our Chrono Album. I changed it up in several ways, but it is still the same basic lay out.

Had any adventures lately? Tell me in the comments section!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Let's Talk Organizing

I have mentioned in passing about one of the classes I took called Organizing 101. This through simply 101, a web site run by Aby Garvey and her husband Jay.

Well, I have to admit first and foremost, that I love to organize things. However, I am a Cancer so this means that although I cherish my home and enjoy "making a nice home", I tend to have very messy hidden areas. Well, this also holds true for my personality - on the outside, I may seem like a goal-oriented A-type, but on the inside, I am more like a flustered mass of confusion who has many good intentions. I like the outside of me better.

Anyway, back on track here. Last Xmas, Shannon gave me the book "The Organized & Inspired Scrapbooker, co-written by Aby Garvey & Wendy Smedley. Great book! I read it over New Year's and by the end of January, I had a perfectly organized and revamped Scrapbooking corner. It is holding up very well thanks to the new habits I developed because of that book. So, I kept Aby Garvey on my watch-list, knowing she worked as a professional organizer, and in August, I noticed she was offering a freebie course through her web site.

It was a one-week course all about decluttering, and the basic idea was to de-clutter for 15 minutes a day and then report your progress to the forum. You could also put before & after photos in the gallery.

It was great because Aby was involved on the forum every day, giving encouragement, advice & answering questions about what to throw out and what to keep.

It was here that I began to tackle my walk-in closet. At that time, I was calling it "the walk-in closet disaster zone from hell." I couldn't even walk into it much less get anything out of it. I also went after my fridge, the veranda, and several other areas of my house. I had done a big de-cluttering about a year ago, so some areas were not so bad. But, you would be surprised that within one year, some areas can get really cluttered up again. It is mainly a case of things not being put back where they belong, things not really having a home to go to, and things not being thrown out even though they should be.

After this class, I signed up for her Organizing 101 class. This is a 6-week course where she releases one lesson per week and we are supposed to participate in the forum each day to report our progress on de-cluttering & on our organizing projects. The gallery had a spot for before & after photos, containers, & labeling ideas.

I know what you are thinking. Why would someone need to take a 6 week course on line to teach them how to organize their house?

I can't even begin to tell you how much I learned in this class. I got so many great ideas from Aby & from other students in the course. The forum provides a positive atmosphere for feedback, encouragement & advice. I think that when women are trying to get control of their own homes, they often feel alone, but this forum provides a way for people to share their feelings about throwing stuff out, starting over, making new homes for their items, pride over all their progress, etc....even if no one in their family cares or notices it.

I have to tell you though that my husband did notice the changes! And, he was very happy to see all the labels I made. And, I think many of Aby's students had the same experience...our family members were noticing! But, just having the forum was so want to do something because you can go and report it on the forum that night. That kind of thing works for me!



As part of the class, we were to choose one small organizing project and then follow Aby's process for paring down and organizing it. I did the top drawer of my file cabinet which sits under my computer desk. I also included my computer desk in the project. What a difference containers make!

Then, she encourages students to continue doing small organizing projects around their house using this process until we are satisfied.

While the class was still going on, I worked on organizing "the walk-in closet disaster zone from hell." The walk-in closet got a new name. It is now called a storage room and it looks very neat and tidy.

Midway through.


I also worked on my kitchen cupboards, the kids' room and the Command Center. I will explain more about that later. The kids' room is an ongoing project because I still have some stuff to do in there that will have to wait until Dec or Jan.

                                      Command Center - Midway through
The Command Center is the place in the house where all information is filtered in and out. It is also the place to keep stuff that people take with them when they go out - cell phones, ipods, watches, etc. Most importantly, it houses the family calendar, shopping lists, a binder for important information, etc. This too is an ongoing project, but in this class, I worked on decluttering it and re-organizing it a bit in preparation for my next simplify 101 class.

I am hooked on simplify 101, so I decided to sign up for her next class, "Paper Clutter."

Some of you may know that I had a huge Paper clutter mountain in my house about 2 years ago and then finally found a way to dig myself out of the mountain. I took on this mammoth project while I was on maternity leave with Ailin and had it under control by the time I returned to work. I even wrote an article about it for the AFWJ Journal.

Even though my backlog papers are under control, and I have some systems in place which keep me out of out danger paper mountain, I still felt I needed tweaking to help control the inflow of paper.

The PC class is going well, but we are only half way through. My main focus is to create the Command Center and to also create some systems for controlling inflow. So far so good.

I very highly recommend simply 101 if you are looking to organize your house and/or paper. I took these classes because I want to have a smooth-running house by the time I go back to work in April, so my goal for finishing all the projects on my Master List is set for March 15th. I am making a little progress every day.

In January, Aby is offering a class about goals which I do plan to take. Currently, she has a class about getting ready for the holidays.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TW 1

TW 1 stands for Type + Writer 1. It is one of the online courses I took recently.

I would like to showcase the 6 (plus one extra) lay outs that I did for this class, but let me just explain what TW1 is all about it.

There are 2 instructors for the course. Liv specializes in writing and teaches the ins and outs of making one's writing more relative, more exciting, more correct (correcter?), and more concise. I love to write and always strive to improve my writing as I go through life, and she is so eloquent at explaining just how we should go about writing moving, thought-provoking (and fun) pieces for our scrapbook pages.

Every day, we were asked to free-write for 15 minutes or more. Every OTHER day, we were given an actual writing assignment, sometimes related to the free write, sometimes not. For each assignment, she focused on a different aspect of writing such as using descriptive words, point of view, tone, and so on.

The day after doing our writing assignments, Jessica came on the scene with her cool templates and showed us through video instruction how make thorough use of fonts. This isn't just for little kids - a short paragraph in Comic Sans or something to that effect. This was typography! - a word that I didn't really understand until I took this course. Also, unless you have an eye for typography, you might not notice all the typographical elements of the lay out - little swirly things that are actually ornamental fonts, words made to look like stickers, stars & other shapes which are also fonts, & lots of other fancy stuff.

So, without further ado, ta da!

The Final Tally - 1 Adventure
Jessica Sprague TW Kit Final Tally Template, LivEdesigns Type + Writer Stories Kit papers

I loved doing this lay out, partly because it was my first for the class. But, it was so nice to be able to use recent photos about a real adventure and now I can use this page for my Chrono album.

27 Small Things
Jessica Sprague TW Kit 40 Small Things Template, LivEdesigns Type + Writer Stories Kit papers

We had to write several lists and then choose which lists we wanted to include in this lay out.

One Day
Jessica Sprague TW Kit Snapshot Template, LivEdesigns SSunFun Paper Pack 1 & 2

Wow, using Wordle (an online word art making sofware) and then copying and pasting that right on top of digital paper makes such a cool effect. I pasted in an entire entry from my blog, and wordle comes up with this design based on how many times certain words are used in the passage.

Oh, and I must clarify that the photo in the middle is supposed to be overexposed like that! I explained this before, but it was a creative assignment for my photography class. We were supposed to find a color that portrays an emotion and then photograph it. I chose WHITE as that is what I see when I am completely overwhelmed and stressed out. Rather than just photograph something that is white, I purposely set my camera to overexpose the shot. I just had to use it on a lay out somewhere!

I love what you say
Jessica Sprague TW Kit Dialog Template, LivEdesigns SEF Naturally Free Papers, LivEdesigns Type + Writer Stories Kit papers

I had originally planned to do this lay out about a dear friend who is moving back to the USA next month, but did not finish it in time to submit to the gallery, so I quickly put an Ailin page together. I love it though - showcasing Ailn's emerging personality always makes for fun pages! Anyway, I did finish the lay out for my friend Kaz and had it printed for her as a Sayonara gift. I hope she likes it! (Won't put it up here as some of the information might be private.)

Hey Girly Girl
Jessica Sprague TW Kit Hey Little Template, LivEdesigns Type + Writer Stories Kit papers

All I can say about this is that I am glad I was doing an organizing class at the same time, because I just happened to know exactly where my OLD OLD photos were!

This is the Story of Fate
Jessica Sprague TW Kit Story Template, LivEdesigns Type + Writer Stories Kit papers

This lay out prompted me to get started on a new scrapbooking project. I now have a list of subtopic ideas regarding our love story & courtship, and I am planning to try and do as many as I can within the next couple years. It will be a nice book someday when I can put it all together and print it out for Yusuke & the kids. I am planning to do each page differently in terms of lay out and writing style ... for this assignment, we were supposed to write as if it were a fairy tale.

Finally, as an extra assignment, we were asked to practice making fancy quotes. I got this quote from a web site and simply changed the words into 3 different sizes and set the placement and then made it into a brush stamp so that I can stamp it on any lay out in the future. I think I will be doing this a lot more!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Online Learning Part 3

Instructor-led versus Self-paced...that is the question.

I have done both now, and I can honestly say that instructor-led classes, which are live and attached to active forums & galleries are much more motivating than self-paced classes, which are open all year round.

In some classes, the instructor participates daily in the forum as well so you can get comments and feedback from her. The atmosphere in the forum is always positive & helpful. You can go on any time and ask questions or write about your thoughts, and you can be sure that SOMEONE will reply with feedback, answers, helpful advice or just friendly comments. The gallery, where you post you assignments in the way of lay outs, photos, before/after photos, allows you to give and receive feedback from classmates. In some classes, the instructors will try to comment on each and every post in the gallery.

Instructor-led classes are offered several times a year with an opening and closing date. Registration begins a week or two before the class and often, pre-homework is assigned to help you prepare for the first day of class.

Class materials are copyrighted and not meant to be shared with others, but if you are a member of the class, you can print the materials and keep them in a binder. This keeps you off the computer constantly so you can read your lessons in any location. I have a separate binder for each class.

Some classes have limited enrollment, so you must be ready to sign up as soon as the registration opens. This is so that the instructor can give personalized feedback to each student. Other classes allow for open enrollment. In this case, thousands may be taking the class at the same time!

Students come from around the world. I have classmates from all over the USA, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia...just to name a few. It's really fun to hear about everyone's experiences & ideas.

Self-paced classes can be good and bad. I have taken a few that I just gave up on immediately because I just had no clue. Others are okay as long as they are video-based, and if you do all the projects. There will probably still be a gallery for you to post lay outs or photos, but it won't be very active. You can, however, look at other people's work and get ideas.

There are several parts of an online class one must be aware of:
The Basic Lesson (includes printable lecture style materials)
The Forum - a way to communicate with classmates & instructors
The Gallery - a way to post your work so others can see and give feedback or encouragement
Chats - some classes have weekly chats that you can participate in, usually about 1 hour long.
Private Messaging - a way to communicate privately with classmates
Daily or Weekly emails - a way for the instructor to notify you with information regarding the class

I found that depending on my time commitments & busy schedule, I could not always participate in all levels of the classes! I think I only did one or 2 of the weekly chats, but I loved posting my work in the gallery & checking the forum every day. In one of the classes I am taking, I often exchange private emails with some of the other students, and that makes it really fun. Plus, getting daily emails from your instructor is an added much better than all that junk mail!

One more thing, some instructors give you access to the materials forever, so as long as you can access their site, you can access all your classes, information & galleries. Others close off the workshop once it is finished, so it's best to print out your materials if you want to keep them.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Before signing up for any online courses, stock up on your printer ink. You'll need lots of it!

Next up: So, what classes did I take and what kind of progress did I make? I even post photos and lay outs!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Online Learning Part 2

If there is something you are particularly interested and you want to learn more about it, look for an online class.

I am not sure how one goes about finding out about these things, but I'll tell you how I found them.

I subscribed to a magazine called Simple Scrapbooks, which went kaputt earlier this year. My subscription was switched over to their mother magazine, Creating Keepsakes. Now, both of these mags are for passionate scrapbookers like me, who not only love to read, think and study about all the aspects of scrapbooking, we also love to talk about it, use up all our free time doing it, and show our work anyone and everyone.

In a word, we are nerds. In Japanese, Yusuke calls me an "otaku." I proudly wear the badge of "otaku" now as I carry my camera every where with me & bending myself into various positions to get interesting shots of my subjects at low angles. I wear a proud smile when I show my finished pages to his mom, to Ailin and to any friend who comes for a visit. I live and breathe scrapbooking.

Problem is that there is no one around here who lives and breathes it like I do. My friends and family are not even half as impressed as they should be when I show them my pages, and they barely read the journaling much less give the photos more than a glance. Usually, Yusuke & his mom just complain about the photos I chose (or didn't choose) to include in the lay outs. Ailin just says "yeah!" and then turns back to the Wiggles on TV. I started a yahoo! egroup a few years ago to gather together passionate scrapbookers in Japan so we could discuss our hobby. The group still exists, but I am on the verge of deleting it. It's not active and full of lurkers, so no one feels like discussing topics anymore. Plus, I tend to get all crazy passionate when questions come up like, "What is everyone working on right now?" I'm working on 5 different projects and spinning out several pages a week while others are barely making 1 page a month. I needed to surround myself with more "otaku."

While taking my first JS class (the freebie), I did the daily homework, but I didn't post them on the gallery or participate in the forums. I knew they existed, but I didn't think it mattered whether I posted there or not. I was also doing a self-paced class and that had a very inactive forum and gallery. Towards the end of the freebie class, I realized that many of the students were in fact participating in the forum and posting their work in the gallery. Had I missed out?

Next, I'll talk about self-paced versus live classes.

Online Learning Part 1

Today, I want to write about my online courses in general. I want to encourage others to try it if they haven't already because it has really opened up my world.

Recently, I had been feeling a bit stunted in Japan. There are not a lot of opportunities here to have deep discussions with people. I don't attend regular group activities like book discussions, church, parties, lectures, events, etc., where I could potentially learn something. I watch CNN sometimes, but what they show here in Japan is extremely D-U-L-L. I rarely watch Japanese TV, much less the news, because I don't understand much, and it's not interesting anyway. At work, my co-workers, if they were not complaining about work, were talking about sex or other bodily functions. I think I already know enough about those topics.

When I took my first maternity leave with Ailin, I remember clearly that my goal for the year 2007 was to develop my friendships in Japan. I took great pains to do that. I was out and about every day with Ailin, making friends, listening to friends, walking, shopping, eating with friends. I got burned badly by one of those friends, and in many ways, lost my desire to make new friends.

Some of those friends I made in 2007 did stand the test of time and are still my friends today., maybe just one or two. I have to be honest, going back to work full time, required me to make some choices. Letting many of those friendships fall by the wayside was one of them. I only continued to be friends with a few who didn't require much effort on my part and who can speak English fluently.

So, for the year 2009, knowing I would be on maternity leave, my main goal was this: develop my skills.

What skills? Well, when it comes to online learning, pretty much ANY SKILL is fair game. My friend Chris is subscribing to lectures provided by Yale University through iTunes - free podcasts! She listens to them on her way to work. I think she is currently working her way through a history class. Just like you can find podcasts on virtually any topic, you can probably find online classes about any topic.

I'll write about how I got into online learning based on my interests.

Online Learning - Evolvement
The first I heard of online classes was when certain universities began offering online degrees. For those of us who live in Japan, online degrees in TESOL were highly coveted. I looked into it, but didn't want to pay the fees, and I wondered how motivated I would feel doing all the coursework, alone ... in my own house, without the loving support of a husband who believes strongly in continuing education. I didn't realize that these online courses would entail live discussions via internet forums, personal email messages traded between classmates & professors, actual meetings a few times a year.

My desire to get a Masters Degree in TESOL fell by the wayside due to lack of support, but I was interested in learning other things. Barnes & Noble offered free online classes in conjunction with their books, sometimes taught by the authors themselves. The first class I took was called Speed Reading. I diligently bought the book, did the daily exercises, participated in the forum & wrote reports about my progress.

One night, I was sitting in the living room with my print out practicing some of the reading exercises when my husband arrived home from work unexpectedly early.

You'd think he had caught me with another man. I was threatened with a divorce for wasting my time on such things. According to him, I should be studying Japanese or cleaning the house. I wondered what else I was supposed to do with my time? He rarely arrived home before midnight. And, I was sick of studying Japanese every day.

I never touched that class again. The desire for (online) learning went straight out of my heart for fear of getting caught again.

You can see now why for several years, I hid many things from my husband. And, you can understand why it has become a habit now...I am trying to break myself of this. I realize now that he doesn't care so much anymore, and that I am not actively studying Japanese so that pressure is off. (After after 5 years of weekly Japanese classes, I passed the 2-kyuu exam and opted to go no further.)

Last year, I did my first online project through Aly Edwards' blog. She is a writer and scrapbooker who also teaches online courses, but I didn't know that at the time. The project was to make a "Week in my Life" album. I did the album, but I didn't fully participate in the class. I think, at the time, I didn't understand how one really does participate in these online experiences.

Earlier this year, I got a little curious about online classes again because I'd been reading about Big Picture Scrapbooking classes. I decided to try a few. Then, I started hearing about Jessica Sprague classes, which focus more on Photoshop and the digtal aspect of scrapbooking. I also heard that her classes were extremely fast-paced, so I kept my distance.

The BPS classes that I took focused more on writing. The first one required that you post your finished lay outs to the gallery each week. Gallery? What the heck is that? Well, I was doing traditional pages, so I had to photograph my pages and upload them to the gallery. The instructor along with other students in the class commented on them...all positive feedback of course. I didn't realize it at the time, but there was also a forum to participate in.

The 2nd class I took at BPS was also about writing but from different perspectives. I have posted some of my lay outs from both of these classes on this blog. This class was good too, but since I didn't realize there was a forum, I felt like I didn't get all that much from the class. I did post on the gallery, but the instructor was not as committed to giving feedback about the lay outs. Also, I was disappointed in the Week 2's assignment, which was to create an entire album about a holiday. It was the middle of July. Her example was a Xmas album from 2004. That really confused me.

After that, I felt I was ready to dig into Jessica Sprague classes, and besides, she was offering one for free for a limited time. Now, as you know, I am hooked on JS classes, so I hope she keeps 'em comin'.

I write more about what these classes entail in a few posts.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Digital is the New Traditional

I know, that title doesn't really make sense. Or does it?

I am deep, deep, deep into this digital scrapbooking right now. I just want to learn all about it, but I am still doing many of my family chronological pages the traditional (paper & rhinestones) way. When I mentioned to a friend the other day that I was planning to go digital by next April, and I recommended she do the same as she hasn't even started scrapbooking yet, she flinched at the thought.

"Well, you know how it is with technology. In a few years, you won't even be able to access all those pages you make!"

So, I am here to change her (and your) mind about digital scrapbooking. There are many advantages and disadvantages to both digital and traditional. Following are some that I can think of pertaining to my own life.

Advantages of Digital Scrapbooking
1. It is much faster
2. It is cheaper in the long run. Not only are digital supplies (papers, ribbons, rhinestones, frames, etc.) considerably cheaper, but they can be used over and over.
3. Obtaining materials is faster. If you need some new paper to go with a lay out, you can shop around on the web and download it instantly.
4. There are many ways to get free stuff. Some people have blogs that center around free templates & supplies. Others design and give stuff away! If you take online classes, often the instructors give stuff away throughout the class.
5. You can take online classes to help you stay motivated, to improve your writing, lay out, typography, etc. skills. I'll talk more about online courses in another post.
6. You can get your lay outs printed in 12x12, 8x8 or some other ratio of your choice. It is just like getting a photo printed except on larger paper and just paste the "photo" into your album.
7. You can create entire albums of your lay outs and then have it professionally printed and bound like a book. Simple, gorgeous and takes up less space on your shelves.
8. The skills you learn in digital scrapbooking can carry over to other areas of your life. Not that many people know their way around Photoshop, and you might get asked to do stuff for other people at work or privately.
9. No more huge stashes of unused papers and supplies sitting around your craft room! You can purge yourself of all that.
10. When you prepare to print a lay out, you first turn it in to a jpeg. Jpegs can be opened on any computer! I doubt they will go out of style any time soon, so as long as you have a jpeg version of your lay out, you can get have it printed.
11. Multiple copies can be printed, so if you are doing a lay out that involves two or three siblings, you can get enough copies made for each kid - perhaps for their own albums.
12. It is cheaper to have photos printed within the lay out. To have a 12x12 printed at, it costs $1.99. To have each photo developed individually and then use all the embellishments and papers, it is going to be more expensive.

To give a balanced view, I'll share some disadvantages as well.
1. You'll spend a lot of time on the computer. (Yusuke always complains until he sees the finished product.)
2. It is easy to lose track of all your digital supplies so you must be vigilant about organizing them. (I use Picasa to organize my supplies.)
3. If you are the creative type, your hands might get the urge to handle real paper and embellishments. (In that case, go to your scrapbooking desk and create a few pages with your bare hands. You can also do hybrid pages - a mixture of both.
4. Digital pages are not 3D (you can put shadows behind the embellishments to make them appear 3D though), and this might be a disadv to some people.
5. Can't always do your digital scrapbooking in places other than your own home, so it might be hard to attend scrapbooking events or Craft n Chats. This may lead to loneliness.
6. Perfectionists beware! If you are a true perfectionist, you might continue to tweak your lay out until you get it "just right" and it might never go to print!
7. In Japan, it's not easy to get anything printed as a 12x12, so you might have to send the files to the USA for printing. I do this once a month anyway for almost all photos and lay outs that I develop. It takes about 1 week to get the photos back.

Despite these disadvantages, why am I planning to go the digital route? With going back to work and having two kids under foot, I am thinking that I won't have much time to scrapbook or go to Craft n Chats for a while. However, I do want to keep going with my chrono album and other projects, so I figure this will be faster. At this point, I can do one page in about 45 minutes, and that is from start to finish. With traditional, I tend to do everything in steps, so I do the embellishing for 5 pages all in one sitting, then later I'll do the journaling for all five, then the titling, etc. It seems to take about 1 week do those 5 pages, and that is only if I take time to do it every day.

And, there is one more reason. Yusuke says that I have to give up my scrapbooking space in the future because the kids will be older and will need their own rooms. I'm just preparing for the inevitable.