Tips for Hilariously Happy Holiday Cards

Tips for Hilariously Happy Holiday Cards

If you’re planning to send holiday cards, and, ahem, we know you are, be sure to mind your p’s and q’s. A little humor never hurt either. Especially this time of year. Follow these suggestions to make yours the most well-received greeting cards of the year.

When should I send them?

Don’t be like the store who puts holiday decor on sale before Halloween. Send your cards during the first month of December for arrival two to three weeks before Christmas.

Formal or funny?

We always say, “You be yule.” Not sure what it means exactly but if your family get-togethers tend to go Grizwald, we think your cards should too! Posed portraits are passe. Snapshots are super! Just remember that your senders’ list probably contains some formal acquaintances who may not know the crazy side of you… yet.

Mind Your Merry Manners

Even if your message goes offbeat, it’s still a good idea to envelop it in the sincerity of formality.

Address them to “Mr. & Mrs.” unless they’re very close friends. If you’re unsure of a woman’s marital status, always use Ms. and be sure to include professional titles for doctors and public servants. When you know it, use a person’s birth name rather than a nickname, like James instead of Jim.

To address a card to everyone, use “The Johnson Family.” Spell out street names rather than abbreviating them.

Return The Favor

Don’t forget to add your return address so they can send one back. Yours should include at least your family name above the address.

Now or Never, or Maybe Later

The holidays are hectic. If you miss missed your window this year, don’t panic. New Years Cards are the new fashionably late and with fresh card styles that aren’t bound to traditional holiday themes, they really are fashionable! Send them for arrival in the first half of January and you’re golden!


Whatever you do, don’t skip it! This could be the only time you send a heartfelt message and photo to these important people. And don’t forget the little elves who are here to help. That’s us!

Tips for Hilariously Happy Holiday Cards

Xtra Large Pics From iPhone XS

Xtra Large Pics From iPhone XS

It looks like iPhone cameras are comfortably settling in around the 12MP resolution. So what could be new and improved about a 12MP camera in the new iPhone XS? There are two of them! Not to mention a 7MP front-facing camera which is almost as good as the main camera on an iPhone 6s. But that thing was born in late 2015 so it’s practically a senior citizen in tech age.

What makes dual cameras awesome? The same thing that makes having two eyes awesome; depth perception! Software processes both images into one for higher effective resolution and also maps depth of the scene. It’s the key to portrait mode, where you can selectively blur or eliminate the background while maintaining sharp focus on your subject.

Unlike our eyes, one of the dual lenses on the iPhone XS is telephoto. When you zoom in, you’re switching from the normal lens to the zoom lens, rather than just enlarging the middle of the frame like single-lens devices do. For device cameras that have until now been stuck on the sidelines, this puts us in the game with zoomed images that use the camera’s full 12MP resolution!

Apple’s new HEIC image format is a clever container that combines these two images and depth map in raw form so that you can edit now or later without sacrificing quality no matter how you choose to display your photos.

And display them you will! The phone’s screen is as sharp and velvety as ever but for the first time, Apple’s cameras are outperforming even their own display devices. Even on Apple’s largest iMac displays, you’ll have to zoom in to experience actual size (1:1) resolution or view it in lower res at full-size.


In other words, fire up the photo lab, honey, it’s time to start printing again! With max output resolution up to 63MP in pano mode, (yes, 63 million pixels) these photos can rival the prints of any DSLR. You could be snapping an iPhone photo today and hanging a 5-foot wide panoramic gallery tomorrow!

Xtra Large Pics From iPhone XS

How Long Does A Photo Last?

How Long Does A Photo Last?

It’s a fair question. You’ve no doubt seen old photos in various states of fading, curling and cracking. That’s probably what today’s prints will look like in 50 years, right? Nope.


Digital cameras aren’t the only evolution in photography this century. Print technology has been improving just as rapidly, in two ways.

  1. Silver halide printing machines, which still use light-sensitive paper and chemicals to print “real photos,” have perfected the process and materials to yield prints that last over 100 years without fading in normal indoor lighting conditions.
  2. Inkjet printing has pioneered new technologies that surpass even the best silver halide photo prints in dynamic range and permanence, now claiming up to 200-year stability in indoor lighting conditions!

How Long Does A Photo Last?

Most of these improvements have come to market within the last decade or two. So how do we know they’ll last a century? Manufacturers and independent testing labs accelerate the effects of aging by exposing prints to voluminous combinations of light, heat and moisture. The simulations are carried out in tightly controlled conditions so that print types can be rated on a series of benchmarks, like how long the paper will remain pliable and how long the inks or photo dyes will remain true to their original tones.

It’s very possible that the prints we make today will outlast us and our hard drives. So the photo legacy you leave may not be much different from the one you inherited. In which case, we should all start printing more!

How Big Can I Print, Really?

How Big Can I Print, Really?

You probably know the resolution of your phone’s camera. But what does that mean in real life? Can I make this big enough to live on my wall? Or just on my bookshelf?

You’ve probably heard the detailed answer before, or at least the first few sentences before your eyes glazed over. It’s the one where we start dividing the number of pixels by the desired print resolution to… are we losing you already?

How Big Can I Print, Really?






Here’s a much simpler rule of thumb: MP = IN, or megapixels = inches. If your iPhone has a 12MP camera, stick to prints no larger than 12”. A square 12×12 or a rectangular 12×16. It’s a rough guide and there are some exceptions, but the math works out to about 300 pixels per inch. Here’s an example (skip this if the details bore you):

The camera(s) on the iPhone 8 and iPhone X capture 3024 x 4032 pixel image. Multiply to get 12,192,768 pixels, or 12.1 megapixels. If we instead divide them each by 300 (the threshold for photo-quality prints), we get 10.08 x 13.44 inches. That’s the largest size you print that will technically be considered photo-quality.

If, like us, you’re a stickler for quality and only the highest resolution will do, we’ve got you covered. We can diagnose any image you throw our way. But this quick tip will get you in the ballpark without any unnecessary math anxiety!



The Best iPhone Camera Tricks You’re Not Using

The Best iPhone Camera Tricks You’re Not Using

The Best iPhone Camera Tricks You’re Not Using

Did you know there are hidden controls in your iPhone camera app? You’ve probably seen the flash and HDR controls and you know that swiping left or right changes the aspect ratio and photo to video mode. Those are labeled on the screen so they’re hard to miss. But what about features that aren’t labeled?

Here are the four best, most overlooked iPhone camera tricks.

The Best iphone camera tricks you're not using

1. Swipe left from the lock screen to open camera.

If you’re thinking, “That’s not revolutionary,” then you’re not paying close enough attention. From the LOCK screen. Which means you can raise your phone and be ready to shoot in one swipe. That’s the difference between getting or missing the shot compared to swiping up from the home screen, which requires you to first authenticate with a passcode, Touch ID or Face ID. This also answers that nagging question you’ve had about those three tiny dots at the very bottom of your lock screen and why the one on the right looks like a camera.

2. Selective AF/AE

Selectawha? Touch anywhere on the screen to autofocus (AF) on and auto-expose (AE), for the lighting in that particular part of the frame. Like when your subject faces are too dark because the background is bright. Or when you want to focus on the stage far away, rather than the person’s head directly in front of you. With a single tap, you now
have complete control over your composition.

3. Exposure Compensation

What if the area on which you want to focus on isn’t the area that you want to expose for? It’s too dark or bright. The answer lies in the small yellow sun icon on either side of the AF/AE box. Slide it up or down to compensate for over or underexposure. Only once the power of this tool sinks in can you fully appreciate the gesture of moving the sun with
your finger.

4. AF/AE Lock

You are now a master. Selecting your focus point, adjusting exposure, and then… You recompose and the frame resets. What? Is all this newfound power really so fleeting? Of course not. Enter AF/AE Lock. The term borrowed from pro dSLRs is just as impressive as it sounds but as simple as you’d expect on your iPhone. Instead of tapping the screen
to select your AF/AE point, touch and hold for two seconds. The selection frame pulsates to confirm and the phrase AF/AE Lock appears on screen. Move your frame anywhere you’d like and your settings remain. Now, you’re a master.

Well, what are you waiting for? Go put your new brilliance to work!

Developing Negatives In The Modern Age

Developing Negatives In The Modern Age

Developing Negatives In The Modern Age

A recent BBC article highlighted the mystique of old photographic negatives. When a few century-old glass negatives were purchased at a flea market, scanned and posted on twitter they were shared by over 20M people within two days. Kind of makes you curious to find out what might be in your old family collections doesn’t it?

If this seems like something suited only to a photo geek with high-end scanners and photoshop wizardry, think again. Sure, the person in the story fits that description and admits that he first tried scanning them and inverting in Photoshop. But he couldn’t use them. The files were too big and since the original negatives were made of glass, he encountered other problems when trying to place them on a glass scanner. So he turned to the same tool you would. His iPhone.

He taped them to a window and snapped a photo. After a quick search for an app to invert the negative image to positive, he was posting them on Twitter. Now that’s wizardry.

The moral of the story? Old negatives are big. Some as big as 4×5 or even 8×10 inches. Even not-so-old negatives from the 40’s and 50’s are commonly three to four inches across. That’ big enough to capture without special scanning equipment. So if you’re lucky enough to have that kind of heritage in your possession, and you also happen to own a futuristic pocket-sized image inversion tool that may or may not also make phone calls, you are a very powerful wizard.

Metal Has Made It.

Metal Has Made It

Metal Has Made It

Aluminum ain’t just for Apple anymore. Here’s why metal prints have caught on as the new
medium of choice for paper warry photo printers.

Metal has made it.

1. Bonded to be bold.

The dye sublimation process fuses pigment directly into the surface of coated metal, creating
depth and intense color saturation. Archival inks heated to over 400 degrees are chemically
bonded to the surface so there is no adhesive or ink overlay to separate over time. Metal prints
are as archival as the finest silver- and ink-based photographs.

2. Aluminum is easy.

Because they’re aluminum, they’re only 1mm thick, yet very rigid. That makes small prints great
for any shelf or desktop display where they can be leaned or set in a slatted base.
Medium sizes like 12×12 and 20×20 look right at home as-is, on a mantle or shelf without any
additional finishing. And larger prints can be floated off the wall, mounted to other substrates, or
framed for stunning glass-less presentations that weight barely more than a mounted paper
photograph would.

Metal has made it.

3. Variety = versatility.

Metal prints fit every environment. The large and custom size options are well suited for
commercial applications like offices and corporate boardrooms. They’re the first choice for
medical or industrial environments that require sterility or infallibility in cold, hot, or humid
environments. And the tough, durable properties of aluminum make them particularly applicable
to tamper-proof and touch-friendly installations like museums and municipalities.

All this in a print with fine-art quality and long life. What will you make with metal?

Video is Everywhere. Transfer, Edit, Share.

With a little fear and sadness, the last post was a reminder that we all have valuable old movies growing obsolete and inaccessible in our memory archives. Here’s how to have them transferred and, more importantly, what to do then.

This is often the most daunting part because it raises a lot of questions. Where do I take it? Is it safe? What do I get back? How do I play it? Answers: Stay local and start with a small batch of one or two tapes or reels. If we don’t do it, we have a partner who does and we won’t risk (and don’t recommend) possible damage or loss in shipping.

Have it transferred to MP4. It’s a high quality, universal format of digital video. DVD or Bluray might sound simpler, but those formats are nearing obsolescence too so you’ll have to ‘rip’ them to digital video later for further editing and sharing. Having your movies transferred directly to MP4 leapfrogs that step.

2.      Edit

A good transfer service like ours will remove dead space and divide long tapes into shorter clips for you. But since there’s a good chance you won’t have been able to preview the footage first, you may still want to edit the video you get back.

First, copy the full versions to the same hard drive and cloud storage you trust for your photo backups. We’ll use Youtube because it’s great for editing and sharing. That shouldn’t be your only copy though.

If you have a Gmail account, use it to log into Youtube and click upload. Your first channel, like an album, is created by default. Drag your .mp4 into the window and while it uploads and processes, add your title, description, and tags (names, places, events). I begin my titles with the year the movies were filmed, so they’re listed in order later.

Once published, click the edit button to access all sorts of tools. To trim and clip out unwanted pieces, look for the “Enhancements” tab and then the “Trim” button. A timeline appears at the bottom where you subtract the beginning, end or pieces in the middle. When you’re done, save it as the original or as a new version. Done!

3.      Share

Your Youtube channel is public by default so that anyone you share a link with can view it, and it’s searchable on google. You can set your channel or individual videos to private, or even unlisted so that they can only be seen by you and those you allow. This is great for family because, if you give them permission, family members can help edit, title, tag and comment. One person can transfer and upload and you or someone far away can return later to refine them incrementally.

This is just the basics but if you’ve made it this far, you’re ready to tackle your first transfer. Call our experts today to get started!

Video is everywhere.Where's yours?

Video is Everywhere.Where’s Yours?

Video is Everywhere. Where’s Yours?

When a dear friend recently lost her father, she poured her grief into the preparation of the memorial slide show. As the family’s unofficial keeper of memories, she already had access to their photo collections.

Her passion for photography and archiving had equipped her well for the task but she said she was surprised and disappointed to find out that videos of her father were almost impossible to find. She knew he was in old home movies on videotape and likely old movie film as a child. She knew where they were but even if she had the equipment to play them, there was no time to search for the right clips, let alone have them converted into a format she could use in her slideshow.

Knowing that she had precious footage that she wouldn’t be able to share left her feeling an even deeper loss. Unfortunately, this is the part of the story I’m all too familiar with. In our photo stores, many of our video transfer clients come to us to revive memories of a recent family member. It’s not the knowledge that the media is deteriorating or obsolete or cumbersome that brings them in. What calls us to act is the disappointment of not being able to share the immeasurable presence of a loved one during a time of sadness.

This isn’t just a sad story. It’s meant to be a reminder that you might have something very valuable and very inaccessible. You don’t have to rally the family to start the project of converting old movies. One of my favorite customers became a regular by visiting us every few weeks with one videotape or movie reel for transfer. Trickling them in helped her offset the cost and prolong the joy of rediscovery. We’d transfer everything to MP4, just like the videos your phone captures, so she could share them online with her family spread across the globe. If that sounds like another daunting piece of the endeavor that’s holding you back, then stay tuned. In the next post, I’ll explain how this senior citizen mastered video editing and built a digital video library. (hint: it’s youtube and it’s pretty easy).

Printing for young memories

Printing for Young Memories

When you think back to your surroundings growing up; your bedroom, living room, what do you remember? The furniture? The patterns on the walls and floor? I remember photos. Some of them probably still hang in a hallway in my parents’ house. They are my family. Me, grandparents, cousins. I wouldn’t have forgotten about those people had the photos not been there. Well, maybe a couple of them. But the photos helped cement in my mind just how important family was to us. What do your walls say about you now?

My kids are growing up in the screen age. Their photos are on Instagram, Google Drive, hard drives. The ubiquity of glowing pixels and endless streams of content everywhere makes it hard to assign a value to select images. And less likely that you’ll find any adorning the walls in our homes.

For Mother’s Day, I compiled all the photos of my kids with their grandmother in the last year and made a calendar for her. I stopped at 200. With that kind of abundance, is each one still as valuable as the single snapshots that hung in my childhood bedroom? Maybe. I print them anyway.

I hang little galleries in their bedroom and one in the hallway.  Some are recent, others are a decade old or more. I rearrange them when they’re knocked off the wall in epic boy battles. They don’t notice them. But they know they’re there. The people in them are more important than those floating by in Facebook feeds. And they’ll remember them later.

As a population, we take more pictures than ever before in history. It’s easier and less expensive to print them than it’s ever been. But we make fewer. I think that makes each one more valuable.