Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Digital Family History -- Class Notes

 In 1989 Elder Dallin H. Oaks said:  “Some of the most important temple and family history work is done at home.  I do not refer just to the important work of keeping family genealogies up-to-date and the much needed verifying that all the sealing’s have been performed.  At home we can keep our journals and gather pictures and data for the books of remembrance of our family members.  We can gather and record information available through living relatives.  We can write family histories and share their great lessons with our children.”
In 2013 this is still true.  Even though 1989 was not a long time ago, our technology exploded in ways we never dreamed of then.  The Lord has provided it for us so we can more easily capture and share our histories.

Photography Tips and Fixes
1.  Fixing your pictures—almost every picture needs a little fixing. In Picasa, fix red-eye and exposure adjustments.  Find more information under “Picasa” on the right.
2. Generally speaking, don’t take pictures outside in the middle of the day.   If you have no choice, place people in the shade.
3.  If you have a person in the shade, and there is sunlight in the background, set your camera on FLASH to force the flash. 
4.  A flash is only good for 10 feet. It doesn’t do any good to have it on in a stadium or concert.  Set your camera NOT to flash.  Hold the camera as still as possible and hopefully the area you want to capture will be well lit.
5.  Get pictures of family members (and yourself) in your everyday lives, jobs or professions, and church callings.

Scanning Old Photos
1. For your most precious pictures, save your scans in TIFF.  They won’t deteriorate.  Also save them as a JPEG which is needed for sharing and working on the Internet.  Most pictures (if you’re not going to be working on them) can just be saved in JPEG.  
2. Most photos can be scanned at 300 DPI. Use 1200 for slides and small pictures.  Scan at a larger DPI for any picture you plan to enlarge to a big size.
            Note: Scan all pictures under color setting.   
3.  The FHC has a scanner if you don’t have one.  Save your pictures to a jump drive.
4.  If a picture is too big for the scanner, scan it in sections and stitch together in Photoshop Elements.  Detailed instructions can be found in Tutorials section on the right.
5.  If your photo needs retouching, learn to do it, or hire someone to do it.  The difference can be amazing.  The FHC has classes from time to time.
6.  Consider scanning 3 dimensional objects or needlework.
7.  If you scan any things that have been printed (like newspapers and magazines) click the button for “descreening” to prevent your image from being covered with little dots.
8.  If you want to buy a scanner, the Epson Perfection line is good.
9.  An article with more detail can be found in the Photography section on the right.
10. An excellent book about scanning is Digital Imaging Essentials by Geoffrey D. Rasmussen (developer of the Legacy Family Tree software program.)  It also has some good retouching techniques.  You can order it in the Family Tree Store for $19.99 here. It’s also available electronically. (It is not an Amazon.)

11.  Costco has relatively inexpensive scanning services if you don’t want to do it yourself.

Blogs are a wonderful way to keep a journal.  In the early days of blogs (ten or less years ago) a blog was harder to do than it is today.  Everything is automated and it’s one of the easiest things you can do on a computer.  If you're a beginner, check out Alison's excellent tutorial on the right.  Keep your blog simple at first and learn other things to enhance your blog as you go along. Blogs can either be public or private.

There are several places that will “slurp” your blog into a book. Then you have a “hard copy” journal, complete with pictures, as well as a digital one.  The best place to so this is Blurb. Alison keeps a family journal and does this at the end of each year.  She gives one to me for Mother’s day.  I love it!  She describes the process in “Slurping a Blog” on the right.  Blurb also lets you put the book on your iPad for $2.  I like that because I can read it while I’m on a plane, or waiting in the doctor’s office.  I wish all my kids would do this. One thing they DO do, that I also love, is they have clicked an option on their blogs that sends me their posts on email each time they make one.  That way I’m not checking back all the time to see if there’s anything new.

I saw this cute cartoon in The New Era that I thought you would enjoy:


Digital Scrapbooking 
Digital scrapbooking is a great way to save your memories on a beautiful page that can include pictures, art, and text while at the same time creating a special feeling for the subject you are scrapping.  The software of choice for digital scrapbooking is Photoshop Elements. You can buy it on for $69.99. The best place to buy it is Costco for $79.99 because you get a lot of extra goodies if you’re just starting out.  Also, they have it for $49 a couple of times a year.  Watch their coupon book. The extras they include:
  • A set of templates you can use to quickly create beautiful scrapbook pages
  • Step-by-step video tutorials showing how to use the templates with Photoshop Elements 11
  • Great tips for creating cool effects on your pages
  • A PDF manual with all the steps written out so you don’t need to take notes
  • 6 delightful mini scrapbook kits by well-known designers—you’ll find a variety of fun styles to suite any creative project
  • A fun font that is perfect for journaling on your scrapbook pages
  • Money saving coupons, including a coupon for Digital Scrapper's popular online digital scrapbooking class
  • More freebies you can access through a link to the website—You’ll be able to download additional scrapbooking templates as well as two more scrapbooking fonts
 Some of our favorite places to buy digital paper and elements are listed on the right side of this blog.  Get on their mailing lists so you can be informed of sales.  There is also a lot of free art on the Internet.  We’ve listed a few in the previous section, but you can find more by putting “free digital art” into the Google search engine. There are lots of free fonts too.

Internet Books
Love, love, love them! They are beautiful, and the best thing about them is that you can so easily share them with others over the Internet, or by purchasing copies for people who would love to have one. A list of our favorite places to make books is on the right:  “Internet Books—Favorite Publishers.”  I also explain what I like or don't like about each publisher.

      A Family Proclamation book is a wonderful way to take advantage of these Internet books.  If you would like to see our book made by me and Alison, it can be found in the Digital Scrapbook section under "Scrapbooking Your Faith."  I located the pictures, and Alison designed the pages. It was her first time making a project on Photoshop, but she did a very professional job.  If you’re not up to this kind of work, professional graphic artist Jill Means has created a set of beautiful templates that you can use to drag & drop your pictures into pre-made spaces.  She was selling them for $10 each, but has given me permission to distribute them free of charge.  Just bring a jump drive to my house and I’ll copy them over for you.  It should be noted that you will need Photoshop Elements to use these templates.
Almost everyone can take video these days.  We used to need an expensive video camera.  Now we have inexpensive video cameras, Flip video, iPads and phones, and digital point-and-shoot cameras that all take pretty good video.  The question is, are you taking video to record your family history?  If you do, are you making it available to those who would enjoy seeing it?

You don’t have to have professional skills anymore to make videos.  There are many programs available that practically make it for you.  If you have a MAC, iMovie is great. For $30 a year you can make videos on Animoto or Windows Movie Maker.  See post “Video Software” on right for a sample ofa  MHH video I made on Animoto. Just choose a theme and music (or upload your own) and upload the pictures you want to be in the video. Add some titles if you want, push the button, and presto you will have a video.  If you don’t like it, you can do it again.  Without any program at all, you can take a clip directly from Picasa to YouTube and share it with the world.

Please don’t put off taking a formal video of your parents if they’re still alive. You’ll be sorry if you don’t. What is their story? Have one of your kids do it for you.  Be sure to bear your testimony at the end. Do it for your married kids—nobody said you have to be old and slipping on the banana peel before you record your experiences, thoughts, and feelings.  A sample from our interview with my husband’s parents is in the video section under “Don’t Procrastinate Oral Interviews.”

Under “Video from Soundless Film”  you will find my dad waterskiing, and a short clip of my mom when she was a nanny in New York City.