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!
Umbrellas in Cliffords Tower, York (C) Sara Smith
‘Bumblebee’ – @ Geeks Unleashed, Doncaster, 2014 (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.
Derwent and Ladybower Reservoirs -The Dambuster Run, August 2014 (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!
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!
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!