Superphoto UK – Personalised Photo Books

I was contacted a little while ago by Superphoto, who are new to the UK, and provide a fully automated photo printing service, providing photobooks, calendars, mugs, canvases, and cards using the latest equipment (as detailed in their “About” section) and asked if I would like to review a photobook for them.

This was a bit of a no-brainer for me, as I have a lot of photos, and having had a lot of time since my accident had started to sort them out, and having a nice way to present some of them – a portfolio of sorts would be great!

Photography has been a hobby of mine for a few years now, and I’ve photographed bands (live and profile), exhibitions, and events on request, but I also really enjoy just taking my camera out with me too and capturing what I see, which are the photos that I don’t get so much of a chance to show to others. I’m currently looking at replacing the camera which was stolen when I moved back to Sheffield so keeping an eye out for a suitable replacement, but the photo capabilities of my phone were also a factor in picking it, so I always have *something* to take a snap should the moment arise! I am planning to post some on the blog as well, either with an explanation of what I was up to or it’s relevance to something else.

So, I started through selecting some photos for inclusion in my photobook – which is 24 pages, and I wanted to try and group things together. Some of the photos I included are posted throughout the post: A word of advice though, to reiterate the site – use high resolution images where possible, otherwise your pictures will end up grainy!

(C) Sara Smith

Umbrellas in Cliffords Tower, York (C) Sara Smith

(C) Sara Smith

‘Bumblebee’ – @ Geeks Unleashed, Doncaster, 2014 (C) Sara Smith

(C) Sara Smith

Bluebells in the Ponderosa, Sheffield, 2014 (C) Sara Smith

Having done that, I began to look at the site, and the first thing I would say, is that I would highly recommend watching the tutorials! The site is quite intuitive, so you can dive in and get on with it, but you will pick up some subtleties from the videos. The only downside for me with the videos is that they are silent, which actually disrupted my focus a little, so I had to watch them a couple of times – but is easily remedied by having something in the background.

The other thing I would point out straight away is that I did have some memory issues using Chrome Browser when uploading photos as well. I’d be interested to see if I switch to my big rig whether that’s still the case, but the simple answer was to switch browsers if this happens. I switched to Internet Explorer and had no problems.

(C) Sara Smith

Derwent and Ladybower Reservoirs -The Dambuster Run, August 2014 (C) Sara Smith

(C) Sara Smith

Wallflower, Dronfield 2013. (C) Sara Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you’ve selected the images and text for your front cover and back page, you get into the meat of the book, and you can really play around and customise settings here – whether it’s backgrounds, border size or how the photo is presented on the page. I found this pretty easy to do. The only thing I had trouble with was the mask effect, which just didn’t seem to want to work, but was no real detriment as I don’t think I’d have used it. I used several backgrounds and border styles as well as full page pictures so I could see how it turned out when it was finished. I’d say the whole thing probably took me an hour from start to finish, but I was being a bit of a perfectionist about it, and switched some photos out and in again.

The website is clear that once you submit your order, because of the automated systems, NO changes can be made, so do remember to check carefully! I fell slightly foul of this I realised, as I’d intended to adjust a photo that was a bit close to the edge at the beginning of the book while I was still getting used to how it worked and completely forgot about it. It’s only the border that’s messing with my OCD though, so not too bad, but do make sure you go back for a final check! Also, if you do need help, there are some really helpful humans you can contact, so don’t worry 😉

Confirmation emails arrived promptly after clicking the final submit button so I knew then that all I needed to do was wait for the book to arrive!

(C) Sara Smith

Ladybird awaits the sun – Botanical Gardens, Sheffield 2014 (C) Sara Smith

 

 

… And so a few days later, a knock on the door, and my book arrives! It was well packaged, and helpfully, I’d been tweeted to say it had been sent the day before! The first thing that I noticed was the quality. It looked good. My pictures of the book don’t do it justice, but it’s very definitely high quality printing and finishing. There’s also an option for leather and linen covers, which delightfully are no extra charge, but the standard hardback is really professional looking! Another nice touch is the barcode on the back, adding that little personalisation.

Next up is a blank page, so if you’re making it as a gift, you could happily inscribe it, or even write a descriptor of the pictures, and then into the pictures. It’s printed on high quality photo paper at 200gsm, which gives it a good feel, and also easily takes the printing on both sides without suffering at all. A couple of the pages had borders slightly cut off, but that may be me rather than anything else (I’d said I’d gotten close to the guide for cutting!) Trying out the different backgrounds and layouts means that I’ve definitely got a good idea for a cohesive book when I order another one! I’m really pleased with how the print turned out though, and having had a week and a bit to show various friends and family as I’ve seen them, they’ve all been impressed and asked where I got it from etc, so I can see these coming out and being made for birthday presents etc. I’ve enclosed a couple of pictures of the book, but they don’t do it justice, and really would say that if you’re looking for something a bit different this year, this might be that thing!

Front Cover

Playing with the layouts – this is one of the pages which came out a little skewed as I got too close to the cut mark

Using s lighter border to frame the image

Double page spread turned out really well. I spotted details on the image I’d not seen until it was enlarged!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November Wishlist…

November is always an odd month for me… The clocks have just gone back, so I’m struggling with the darker nights (I have mild to moderate SAD) and it always seems a relentless tirade of Christmas right from the off.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like some of Christmas, but there’s a time and a place for it, and that time is DECEMBER. I really like the 12 days of Christmas tradition personally, it gives it a bit more meaning and also a more manageable timeframe, but whenever, it should definitely be after my birthday, which also happens to be in November.

So this post, is basically my birthday wishlist I guess…. although I don’t tend to work that way – I have an Amazon wishlist, and people can look at that, or generally Steam or Amazon vouchers are great things for me… but there are a few people who like to buy things, rather than vouchers or money (especially some family members who know I’ll spend money on bills) so having had a good think, and in no particular order, here is my November wishlist.

 

1. An Aeropress coffee maker. Now, I love tea, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing like a good cuppa, but I also love coffee as well, and I like proper coffee, but I can rarely be bothered to make it at home in my filter machine. I’ve heard nothing but good reviews about the Aeropress, and I think it would be a great little thing to try. It’s got some pretty awesome claims about it, but the thing that excites me the most is that I can do it straight into the cup and it’s easy to clean. Perfect for work!

2. Makeup Revolution. This is a fairly new brand to me, but after using the  Give Me Nightmares palette that was included in the #SheffieldBBloggers goodie bag on Halloween to turn me into a corpse (the picture wasn’t great unfortunately as I was at the venue, but I’ll recreate at some point) there’s a bunch of other stuff I’d like to try.

3. Amazon Vouchers. This isn’t a cop-out, although they ALWAYS come in handy, but I’m going to start felting. I tried it at a craft event last month and really enjoyed it, so I’ve bought  bunch of stuff already, but there’s some stuff that’s cheaper on Amazon, so I’d put it to that, or give a list of the equipment.

4. Something off my Steam Wishlist. Anything off there would be well received, although my eye is on the new Fable stuff in particular!

5. New camera and gear. This one isn’t something that one person would buy, but I do want to update as I really need long manual exposure for night shots, and get a light now that I’m doing more photography professionally.

6. Ikea trip. I’m not a big shopper person, (although I do have my moments) but Ikea is a weakness. I don’t even have to buy much! It’s nice to just get out and about and have a browse. I love Scandinavia in general, and am looking forwards to going back and seeing more of it, but I really love the style elements, whether it’s the traditional wooden, or more modern sleek and clean design elements.

7. Yours clothing. I LOVE Yours clothing. Being rather plus-sized it’s difficult to get cute clothes sometimes, especially with a good fit, so when Yours finally came to Meadowhall (there’d been one in the Metrocentre for a while before I moved back to Sheffield) I was so pleased. I’ve already decided that when I’m out of plaster, and able to wear tights again I will be purchasing a skirt/dress from there.

8. Mead. Mead is a weakness of mine, and I do love a good mead (it’s the Viking in me!) and there are a good few to choose from now, especially thanks to Beer Central in Sheffield Market having a decent stock of varieties. I’m looking forwards to trying the Tournament Mead and the Christmas Meads, both of which are spiced.

9. Socks. Socks are another weakness of mine. Some people cheer themselves up by buying Shoes, I do it with socks. I like Fat Face socks in particular, although there are lots of funky ones out there. Another thing I’ll be getting when the plaster comes off!

10. As I wouldn’t feel right not rounding it up to ten, I would have to go for Tea here. Something a bit unusual maybe, but I’d equally be happy with a really good Assam, or Earl Grey. I like Mango Tea, and have recently discovered white tea, which I’m quite into the idea of at the moment.

 

So there you go! x

It’s not all Doom and Gloom!

I realised this morning that I probably sound pretty morose of late… I’m actually not, which has surprised me as much as anyone I think. Sure, I definitely feel like crawling into a corner and avoiding everything and everyone until this is over, but I’m also above all else, a realist. I know that things don’t happen at convenient moments, and don’t fit neatly into boxes. I can’t retire from life just because my past has come back to give me a good kick up the arse again.

So I get on with things. I get up, get a shower, and I go to work. I try to make sure to eat, sleep (where I’m allowed) and exercise, and get things done. Counting my regular job plus tutoring (and travel) I work a 52 hour week on average, so if nothing else I’m busy. And that’s not a bad thing as long as I stick to my rules.  First rule is Monday nights are my night off. Even if I end up doing housework, chores or mundane house stuff, as long as I’m not planning lessons or thinking about work stuff, that’s OK.  Second rule is no work at weekends unless I’m being paid extra. I might not always have mega-exciting stuff planned, but even I know I can’t be all go, all the time. Third rule is plan social stuff. Even if it’s just meeting a friend for coffee and a chat. I have the capability to go weeks without seeing anyone outside of work, but it’s not a good idea to do so.

Very simple rules that will hopefully serve me well. I’ve been sticking to them since I decided them, so no complaints really.

In terms of eating – weekdays I have a little bit of porridge in a morning with a banana and some seeds mixed in, and soup for lunch. Teatime varies. Weekends is a lot more relaxed. This seems to be working well, as I’ve lost an inch and a half off my back (as a bra that was too tight now fits, and tshirts are slightly less pronounced around the chesticle area) and definitely a few kilograms. Now I just need to get into a routine with the exercise again. A friend has some chair exercises I can do at work, and also looking into sorting a specific workout I can boot up and do in a morning for 10 mins after stretches.

So I’m definitely not being idle, and if nothing else, feeling the way I do tends to drive me to being mega organised and efficient. Who said a touch of type A personality is a bad thing!! Overall, I’m just trying to take things as they come, and where I can’t believe things, just accept that those who have said them believe it in the hope that I can then move towards believing it too.