Sunday, February 15, 2009

Q & A Session, February 2009, Part 2

Lorianne asks: I too have the rebel camera. I was just wondering if you have any tips on taking your own passport pictures. Is there anything I have to make sure I do/don't do in order for them to be acceptable?

Lorianne, I had read on several websites that taking your own passport photos was an easy, much CHEAPER way of getting the pictures, so I decided to try it. Online recommendations simply state to have the person stand in front of a white, or off-white background. The finished photo needs to be two inches by two inches, with their face and shoulders taking up approximately one and a half inches of the space. Didn’t sound too complicated, so I gave it a go.

My complaint about our new house (Just how long will I keep calling it “new”? We’ve been living here almost a year and a half!) there is that there is CRAP for natural lighting in this house. I don’t know if the original owners were allergic to sunlight or something, but we have very few windows in this house, and basically none that provide nice natural light in a convenient location for candid-yet-carefully-arranged photography. Plus the overhead lighting in the house is inadequate, as well. Hence the reason every single picture I’ve taken inside since we moved here has been dim and blurry and underexposed. Also hence the reason I feel like I live in a freaking cave and am probably clinically depressed from Sunlight Deprivation Disorder or whatever that winter-time ailment is --- but that’s another blog post, for another day. Back to the passport photo conversation!

I had the photos printed at Wal-Mart, for simplicity sake. My photos were underexposed, as my indoor photos usually are here, and I wasn’t happy with how they turned out. I was worried we would go through the hassle and expense of applying for passports for the kids, only to have them returned due to lousy pictures, and then would have to reapply, and what if we run into a time constraint, and then our summer vacation is ruined because gasp! we can't get passports!!! and then the cruise ship leaves us behind in Haiti!!! and we can never return to the United States!!! (more over-imagination drama ....) so we caved and took the kids to the local Wal-Greens to have the pictures taken there. We paid eight dollars per child (as opposed to the twenty cents for developing at Wal-Mart) and if possible, the Wal-Greens prints were even crappier than the ones I took. VERY low-quality images – I was completely unimpressed. But at that point we had already paid for them, so, what are you going to do??? If I had it to do over again, and a few extra weeks cushion in the time-frame, I would definitely do my own.


Sportzmom asks: Love the coffee filters for the lace on the cuffs...great idea. Now, I'll just have to remember it the next time I need a costume! Hey, can you still get caffeine free diet dr. pepper? They don't sell it around here anymore.

Dear Sportzmom, OK, the breeze you just felt ruffling your hair way up there in Maryland was the wind-stream current from the GASP OF SHOCK AND OUTRAGE that I just took down here in Oklahoma! What!?! No caffeine free Diet Dr. Pepper?!?!?! Truly, that is a travesty. I am thankful to say it is still sold here, and just the mere thought that I couldn’t get it is enough to make me a little weak in the knees. In fact, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to sit down for a moment and collect myself.


Diana in Louisiana says: I'll say it again--- Your school is SO, SO cool!!!!!! Any ideas on class treats for a 100th day of school party or 100 items that can fit safely in a 1st graders book bag?

Um, Diana, I’m guessing that it took me so long to respond to this that your 100 Days of School has already come and gone …. If not, are you responsible for the entire class, or just one small portion? My kids classes have always done a collective grab-bag of goodies … one kid brings 100 cheerios, one kid brings 100 mini-marshmallows, one kid brings 100 raisins, etc. If you had to bring 100 for the whole class, you might consider mini-muffins, or donut holes, or even cookies. Anything you could buy pre-packaged would probably wind up getting expensive …. You know, I just realized that our new school (Just how long will I keep saying “new” school, along with my "new" house? They’ve been going there almost a year and a half!) doesn’t seem to celebrate the 100th Day of School --- or perhaps only celebrates it in the lower grades. Well for goodness’ sake, let’s not tell them, or Lord knows we’ll have to come up with a costume of some sort.


Marey says: I think as a member of the PTA you should implement a teacher dress up day...ya know, since they like it so much!

You know, I’ve got to admit, the teachers are usually right there, dressed up alongside the kids. Now, whether it’s because they *like* it, or do it under duress, I have no idea …. But here’s a photo of Brayden’s 3rd grade teacher during this year’s Vocabulary Parade Day:

She is “Jerry Atric” Ha! Get it? Geriatric?!?!? Woo-boy, that cracked me up. But not as much as when the librarian showed up with a belt wrapped around her waist, and a doll hanging off the back side. What was she? A "babysitter"!!! Ha!!! The fourth grade teachers dress up for the Land Run, the fifth grade teachers dress up for Colonial Day. All told, I’d have to say they’re pretty good sports about it.


Leesa and Tammie both ask: Have you thought about shooting in RAW? You would have a lot more ability to adjust those underexposed or overexposed photos in photoshop then you do with a jpg.

You know, I’ve heard this recommendation on other sites, and have considered it. The main thing that is stopping me is that I have no idea how to do it. And I'm unclear about whether the photo editing would be different. And I am not sure how to convert them back to jpg afterwards. (Clearly, I am too lazy to read my camera’s manual, don’t you think?) Another reason I hesitate is because I save and print out so many of my photos, I’m leery to do anything that requires me to take the time and re-save tons of images later --- guess this is where that fabulous batch-processing command would come into play. I suppose it’s a matter of …. Will the improved photoshop tweakability balance out the time required in the additional step? Or would there *be* much time required in additional steps??? Hmmmm. I’ll get back to you on that. I’m definitely going to consider it.


Anonymous said...

You know Kristi, the thoughts on doing your own passport pics are right on; the white background & size are the 2 big things to get right. I used to work in a camera shop years ago, and people would bring in pics that looked terrible wondering what they had done wrong. In most cases, they had done nothing wrong & when we printed them again (from the same negs obviously) the difference was amazing. So give yourself some credit....A LOT of it.....there IS a difference in processing, so don't always blame the photographer; you do good stuff!! ;-)

Pat in CA

Anonymous said...

Another trick on passport pics - if you took your own or had them done, scan into photoshop, scan outright, or take them to one of those print your own photo things (like Kinkos and Target, etc. have) and make extra copies of them.

Then you have an extra stack - many times if you are traveling overseas you need passport pictures to get visas, etc. I keep 6 on hand that are identical to my passport picture and use them whether I am applying for a visa in advance, and bring them with in case I need them while in transit for other visas (and if, God forbid, my passport were ever lost or stolen while traveling - obviously I keep a set of pictures separate in my luggage elsewhere when traveling)

Just a tip!
Lisa in San Diego

mom25in5 said...

Note on the passport pics from Walgreens; we have a friend who is a Canadian citizen and had his pics taken at Walgreens - sent the whole app & pics via courier to Ottawa, Ontario - to have it returned because the pics were crap. Yeah, we have to send ours in this year to Ottawa, and I'm nervous.

The-flu-is-gone!-Mom to:


Cathy in MI said...

Our courthouse does the pics for $10 a piece, it's just too easy for me. We applied for the kids and got their passports in 13 days - FYI. I was stressed and they came so quick. Have fun on your cruise - I love cruising!

kimybeee said...

Try the night time setting when you shoot inside. At my house all my indoor photos look orange. And by the way, I tried to read the manual. You didn't miss anything.


kimybeee said...

p.s. If you have a rite-aid around, I prefer them for photo developing. They are just a smidge cheaper than wal-mart, less crowded, and better quality pics.


Catherine said...

Have a sample valid passport complete with picture to use as you process and photos and pick the ones to go on the intended passport. If they are very similar to the actual passport picture, it's a go.