Baby Pictures – One Mom’s Tips on Taking, Editing, and Sending Digital Photos

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Thanksgiving Dinner 2006

One thing is certain with a new baby: you are going to be taking lots of baby pictures. Digital Cameras are great for capturing every moment. I love our digital camera, I bought it for Jay a couple of Christmas’ ago, but I seem to be the one who uses it the most.

The Hardware

We have a Canon A85—I highly recommend their cameras if you are thinking about buying one—the optics are great and the model we have has a tonne of options. I will admit, I prefer the “auto” setting—just point and click.There are lots of great buying guide websites around if you are looking for reviews of cameras like DP review.

The Canon A85 is 4 mega-pixels—most cameras available now have at least that many mega-pixels. One thing I would recommend looking for in a camera is an optical zoom vs digital zoom. Optical zoom is the zoom using the lens, a physical magnification of the object vs digital which is just a magnification of a portion of the picture. With a digital zoom you can end up with a pixelly image.

The other important factor with digital photography is the memory card. The bigger the memory card the more pictures it can hold. Speed is also important. The memory cards come in different speeds the faster the card, the faster the recycle time which means more pictures. I didn’t realize how important it was until I used my sister’s camera last month, she had a slow memory card and it seemed to take forever until I could take another picture.

To Print or Not to Print

When it comes to printing off the pictures a film camera does not compare. You can pick the images you want fix them with your photo software and print them at home or send them to your local photo store. When ink-jet printers first came out I loved the idea that you could print the pictures at home. The problem I have found with printing at home is that it often takes 2 or 3 tries before I get a decent quality print and with the cost of ink-jet ink and photo paper it is kind of expensive.

Now I send all my pictures to a photo-lab to be printed. There are so many choices and you can get the pictures for such a good price. I use Blacks Photography. They are more expensive but I think the pictures look great! We usually pick them up so they are printed in the store and I think that the store that we use, at Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth, is far superior to other Black’s stores. In my opinion, if you find a spot that does excellent prints stick with them, because good quality prints are often because the staff in the photo lab are good at their job.

The Software

As well as printing pictures, I find that with a baby I am e-mailing a lot of pictures to people. I had been using Adobe Photoshop to prepare my images for e-mail. I would colour correct, I would use the dodge tool to fix red eye (a very common problem with babies) a very tedious way to fix it, then resize the images for mail. There is nothing worse than getting an email of a picture and all you can see is a giant eye.

I started using Picasa, Google’s photo software, which I downloaded for free. It has a very easy to use red eye fix and when you want to e-mail the picture you just click the e-mail button and it resizes it for you! Now Picasa also has a web album so you can resize your images and people can look at them online and download images suitable for printing—something that e-mailed photos not always great for. The free online album offers 250MB of space but you can buy more if you need too ($25 for 6GB).

If you are Mac user iphoto has similar software with an easy to fix red eye and the one click e-mail.

What tips do you have for digital photography?

My 4 Best Buys on eBay—Part One—The Scooba

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If you have read any of my other posts you may have surmised that I am a fan of eBay. Almost all of my experiences buying from eBay have been positive, see my post on the crib set if you want to know about my one bad experience. There are some buys that stand out as the best.

The first was my Scooba, you may have heard of it’s brother the Roomba the robotic vacuum, Oprah gave it away on one of her favourite things show. The company that makes the Roomba, iRobot, now make a floor washing robot the Scooba. I received the Roomba for my Mother’s Day gift, yes I did ask for it, and as their commercial says I love my robot.

When I heard about the floor washing robot I was definitely interested in it. The Scooba in Canada retails for more than $500 CAD from the dealer in Canada or $349USD from the iRobot store, more than I was willing to spend, a lot more. So I checked on eBay there the Scooba’s were going for under $250USD, I had even seen a few go for under $170USD, a much more palatable price. I decided I didn’t want to pay more than $190USD.

There seemed to be a number of sellers who repeatedly listed Scoobas. After researching their feedback and their shipping rates I narrowed it down to 3 sellers to buy it from. These sellers tended to list a Scooba weekly, after two and a half months of bidding and being outbid I finally won the auction for less than my limit $187.50 USD plus shipping. Now all I had to do was wait for it to arrive.

Two weeks later it was at my door and was just as described new in box. It took about 8 hours to charge up the battery and then it was ready to roll. It uses a cleaner by Clorox that is specially formulated to work with the Scooba. It doesn’t smell to strongly and most importantly is safe around pets and kids.

The Scooba moves slower than the Roomba and does a light vacuum, squirts out the clean water, scrubs the floor and squeegees it clean in a single movement. It took about 30 minutes to make its way around the kitchen floor. When I dumped the water it was very dirty and the floor had been mopped the day before, so I set it up for a second go and the water was much cleaner the second time. It does a very nice job of cleaning the floor and the best thing is that it frees you up to do something else while you are mopping the floor.

The downfalls of the Scooba are that in Canada—at least where I live—you can not pick the cleaning solution up at the grocery store. I ordered about a years supply from the iRobot store, they give you a 15% discount when you register the Scooba. The other con is the time it takes to recharge the battery is about 3-4 hours so you can’t do your whole house in one day, which requires some planning. I will be watching eBay for a second battery at a good price!

Overall, I’m very happy with the Scooba it does a great job cleaning the floors and frees me up to do other things. With a baby crawling around the house it is very nice to know the floors are squeaky clean.

Check back for Part 2—Baby Items—The Baby Bjorn, Boppy, and Crib Duvet

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The Crib Set: Ebay and the Hunt for the Perfect Nursery Design, Part 1

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When I found out I was pregnant the first thing I wanted to buy was a new crib set. I started my Internet search for the perfect bedding which would set the perfect decor for the nursery.I wasn’t interested in any of the regular baby designs and so many of the baby sets had really cheap feeling material.

After a lot of looking at shops and seeing many sets that were nice but were a crazy price, $600+ seems like a lot for a crib set in my opinion, I decided to check eBay. Day after day I would search through hundreds of different sets.

Finally I settled on a print that wasn’t frou frou and very unisex, I did not know at that point if I was having a boy or a girl. It had dragonflies and ladybugs and would take 4-6 weeks to be made. I plunked down my money and waited diligently for the set to arrive.

At about 4 weeks I noticed that the sellers rating numbers were slowly going down. When I checked originally everyone had been happy with their set but had complained about the speed of delivery, I was only 3 months pregnant at the time so I could wait. Now though people were saying that they had not received their sets, the seller was no longer returning e-mails and the phone number was disconnected.

Needless to say I did not receive my perfect crib set. I did get a full refund, returned through Paypal and my credit card company.

I have since that experience have bought many things off eBay without any problems.

I will be posting Part 2 in a few days.

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