At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Tag: digital photography

How to Build a Cloud Family Photo Archive for your Smartphone

It’s time to release the power of your best family photos! Here are four steps to help you create a family photo archive that you can carry around in your pocket.

Remember how your parents and grandparents liked to carry around wallet-sized photos of you when you were a kid? I think some folks still do that. How quaint… how silly…how unnecessary!

With smartphone tech that can house thousands of photos, why would anyone want to carry around a tattered physical family photo in a wallet?

Well, for one reason… you know exactly where that photo is. And when someone asks you about your family, you can pull it out on demand and show it off.

Can you boast that same super power?
…Right now?

Stop Looking for a Needle in your Visual Haystack
Yes, this topic may fall under the category of ‘super obvious,’ but you can’t simply hope to swipe through a mess of photos in your smartphone representing years of moments and successfully pull the desired image out of a hat whenever you need to.

You’ve got to tuck away a few of the really important ones in a place where you can easily access them (beyond your wallet).

And I’d say the best way to do that is to create a family archive photo album in the cloud that you can access from anywhere, including your smartphone.

Here are four easy steps to help get you going…

Step 1:  Create a Shared Cloud Photo Album
In the Apple ecosystem, of course that’s really simple to do…

You can create a ‘Shared Album’ either on your iPhone or in ‘Photos’ on your Mac and then simply pop in your top 50-100 pics that represent the entirety of your family and your life to date.
(Keeping the number down is much easier said than done, because you’ll find so many choices that you’ll want to include!)

The trick here is to only choose a small number of pics among the thousands you’ve got. Remember, you’re trying to essentially simulate the tattered wallet photo experience… with some obvious improvements. Simplicity and easy access are paramount.

Then after the heavy lifting of curating your little photo collection, simply share the album with your partner and whoever else you’d like…
How considerate of you!

Step 2:  Choose only a Few Photos
So which photos are you going to include?
Well, think about which pics best represent your family’s ‘story.’

Yes, that may take you some time to figure out…
(Our ancestors had it easy with only having to manage through a shoebox of disorganized photos.)

But once you go through your digital collection and pull together this new group of archive-worthy gems, you’ll realize the awesomeness of your accomplishment.

Step 3:  Include the Major Moments
I don’t think there’s one particular recipe to follow… you just need to take a little time to decide what those exact photos are…

For me, I wanted to include some of the obvious milestone family moments…

  • Our wedding
  • Our son’s birth and first days


Then show off a little of the ‘where…’

And then I realized, beyond the several landmark moments in life and fun places that anyone might want to display a picture from, there’s a blur of countless other experiences over the years that you really don’t need to consider.
(That’s sobering, right?)

So, what’s left…?

Step 4:  Focus Mostly on the ‘Who’
Well, it’s the people in your life… your family and friends.

The “who.”

Yes, we’re back to essence of the wallet photo phenomenon.

You’re going to want to carry around the pictures of the people in your life who have mattered most.

Those images are what I immediately felt the need to collect into my own cloud family photo archive…

And so I put those photos in a cloud folder titled ‘Family Portraits.’

Some were candid pics, but most were posed group shots taken at family events. The organic organization of the people in these photos nicely framed much of my family’s history.

Carry Your Family History in Your Pocket
Remember when I said that your photos have expiration dates and that your family and friends only care to see the most recent pics from your life?

While that’s certainly true at one level, some of your pics will defy that phenomenon and retain their long-term value as foundational explainers for your family’s history.

Just make sure you don’t lose them in the endless mass of digital freeze frames from your life.

Sure, they might be properly archived in a portable hard drive somewhere, but if you can’t immediately access them when you want to on your smartphone, you’re going to miss most of the opportunities to share them throughout your life!

A cloud family photo archive that lives on your smartphone is a strategy lightyears ahead of using those tiny wallet photos.

You’ve just got to build it!

How to Hold onto Your Best Summer Memories

Don’t let those great summer memories go. Sure, you’ll remember them, but you’ve probably also got some digital documentation as well. That’s the key. Here’s what I did…

Summer’s over. Deal with it. But don’t move on… not yet. Now’s the time to review, organize and archive all of the great summer photos and videos you captured. Like me, you probably haven’t had the time to organize your summer memories, because you’ve been living them!

The best way to hold onto all of those great memories is to properly share them:

  • Email or text a few of the very best to your family and friends
  • Share them on your social media accounts
  • Print out a couple of photos for your desk at work
  • Add them to your digital Wi-Fi cloud photo frame in your living room
    (I use Nixplay frames)
  • Make a hard-copy photo album from your go-to online service
    (I use Blurb)
  • Add your favorite photo to the background of your smartphone screen
    So, when someone asks how your summer was… you have that perfect image at the tip of your fingertips. You then turn your phone around, and your summer recap story can begin!

And remember, nobody wants to hear about your summer adventures when the leaves start to fall. That time is now.

So, in the spirt of not only doing what I say, but also doing what I do…
Here’s my summer recap in five photos and five videos…

Watching the Summer Solstice Sunset from Griffith Observatory
Seeing the Space Shuttle Endeavor at the California Science Center

Experiencing July 4th Fireworks at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, CT

Riding the Port Jefferson Ferry
Port Jefferson Ferry

Fishing in Peconic, NY

Boogie Boarding at the Peconic Shore
Boogie Boarding at Peconic Shore

Picking Blueberries at Bhavana Blueberry Farm in Southold, NY

Picking Blueberries at Bhavana Farm

Spotting Humpback Whales off Cape Cod from the Hyannis Whale Watcher

Humpback Whales off Cape Cod

Swimming Underwater at Joshua’s Pond in Osterville, NY

Ziplining at The Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport, CT
Ziplining at Discovery Adventure Park

Share Your Summer Memories Now!
…And how was your summer?

How to Remove an Undead Zombie Eye from a Photo


Sometimes a perfectly good-looking eye won’t reflect its twin in a camera’s flash. That can really ruin a picture. Bring it back to life in seven easy steps with some photo-editing voodoo from Adobe Lightroom!

I call it ‘Dead-Eye Syndrome.’ And it’s a killer. It can unexpectedly strike at the heart of your favorite photos.

We all know how ‘red eye’ is a common problem with flash photography.
And how that devilish defect tends to occur in low-light situations when someone’s pupils are wide open.
(Blue-eyed people have a greater problem with this than brown-eyed folks.)

But barring this complication, eyes tend to normally reflect the flash in the form of a glint or sparkle.
Totally expected…

In certain circumstances though, one eye may unfortunately reflect the flash less directly than the other eye. Or sometimes not at all….
Now that can look really weird!

And the otherwise best photo you’ve taken in years can make somebody look like an undead zombie.

This Dead-Eye Syndrome is definitely going to ruin that pic…

Time for an Eye Job
Red eye is so easy to fix these days. Cameras and computer software have simple tools to magically turn all that red to black.

But what are you supposed to do with a dead eye?!
Well, to bring it back to life, you’ve got to give it the similar glint of its partner.

And that’s going to take a little tech voodoo…

Dead Eye Surgery in Seven Steps
The basic task is to clone the glint from one eye and place it on top of the sickly-looking pupil in the other eye.

Here’s how you do it using Adobe Lightroom 6:

  1. Click on the ‘Spot Removal’ tool.
  2. Click on ‘Clone.’
  3. Adjust the Brush Size to exactly cover the reflection of the good eye.
  4. Move the tiny circular brush to the dead eye and click where the reflection should be.
  5. Lightroom will choose a section from the photo to clone and highlight it with a second circle.
  6. Drag that second circle to hover back over the flash reflection in the good eye.
  7. Click again on Spot Removal to repair the dead eye and lock in the change.

It’s a little counterintuitive, but what you’re essentially doing with ‘Spot Removal’ is removing the ‘dead spot’ that should have the glint in it, and then replacing it with the appropriate flash reflection from the other eye.
(As opposed to copying the glint from the good eye and then pasting it to the dead eye)

Voila! Both of your eyes now have matching reflections.
Normality has been restored in your picture.
You are no longer an undead zombie.

Take a look at this example:


This is cropped in from the original photo. I think part of the frame from my glasses is also a contributing culprit that’s blocking the flash’s reflection. But it’s still a good example to use.













After surgery – No more Daddy Zombie…










Illuminating the Darkness
I know there’s lots of debate about the appropriateness of touching up a face in a photo.

I don’t think this falls under the same category of concern.
You don’t really have a non-reflective dead eye.
There is no darkness to your soul.
(I hope.)

It’s more of an aberration created by technology.
(Unless your evil eye always photographs that way… if so, immediately run to your ophthalmologist…!)

We’re simply reversing a little error and letting your true beauty shine through…

You’re welcome.

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