Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Sound of the SoFoBoMo Starting Gun

(Click on the thumbnail to view larger image)

I had intended to sleep in today and save what little energy I expected to have for taxes after a tiring day yesterday. However, the SoFoBoMo starting gun woke me at 6:30 AM, and I couldn’t go back to sleep. It seems I have changed my mind yet again and decided to start my project today, after all. It will be just a toe-dip in the pond, but I will officially start my photobook. I had thought I would be logical and do some catching up first, but all the exciting new things I have learned in the last couple of weeks have me itching to get going.

The last few days had gotten a little crazy. Last week ended with jack hammers at the front of the house and tar paper at the rear. The plumbers were destroying the sidewalk and half the driveway, while the roofing contractor and his crew got rid of damaged rafter tails (almost sounds like I know what I’m talking about, doesn’t it?) and repaired a portion of the roof that might have aroused the interest of an inspector. The Husband had taken repairs as far as his skills, tools and, most of all, time would allow. It was time to bring in a team of pros.

Before the dust had cleared, we ran away on Saturday to Bear Valley to recharge the batteries. Part of the plan was to take a break before grappling with the final stages of filing taxes. That would clear the decks for me to plunge into SoFoBoMo. However, a funny thing happened on the way to the starting gate. Last Friday, my doctor instructed me that a first test checking my gall bladder raised questions and I was set for a CT Scan for Monday (yesterday). Have you ever had one of those delicious barium shakes? Oh, yum. To make a long, very boring story short, I spent most of yesterday fighting the typical nausea and headache after-effects.

I did manage a few meager accomplishments other than processing a few shots from our weekend getaway. I discovered that the reason I was no longer able to print a PDF out of Pagemaker was one of one of those all-too-common-for-me operator errors (Distiller offers way too many choices for novices like me.) One more problem solved. Yesterday morning before I got away for my rendezvous with foul liquids, my Shutterfly book arrived. Speedy service. I placed the order late afternoon Tuesday, March 25, and the book arrived Monday around 10:00 AM. Another question answered. It's “no” to Shutterfly.

The biggest problem with Shutterfly is that this service offers no profile and I have never run across one. (I will ask Mark Hobson about this. He mentioned using Shutterfly and liking the results.) In the case of some photos, I was quite disappointed. Obviously, their lab tweaks the exposure to “help out the photographer”. In the case of one highly stylized shot (posted here Saturday, March 8, 2008), they had brightened the shot to bring back much of the detail they assumed I had lost by mistake. In the case of another shot that I had liked for its subtle tones (Tuesday, January 29, 2008), they blasted it with color and turned it into something quite garish. I certainly can’t complain since I threw this book together pretty fast and, after all, it was free. (Without the freebie, the 8x8 book would have cost $29.99). Next time I will try Blurb.

The accompanying photo was taken on Highway 223 on the eastern edge of the San Joaquin Valley just as you come down the western side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This spot is about forty-five minutes away from our place in Bear Valley. No doubt, I will be making multiple visits.


  1. I've used Shutterfly a few times, mainly for calendars, and always liked their print quality.

    The trick, if you care about how your prints look, is to turn off the 'VividPics' feature which is on to 'enhance' every image you print with them, by default.

    You can search for it in the shutterfly help and it explains how to disable VividPics - basically you have to select the picture, go to the 'Enhance/fix pictures' option and uncheck the VividPics box in the 'Effects' tab.

    You have to do this for all the images.

    They also have quite a bit of ICC / profile info in the shutterfly help system - search for 'profile' and get more than you probably want to know.

    They recommend sRGB and turning off VividPics as the short version.

  2. Gordon, thanks for the great information. Clearly, I hadn't done nearly enough poking around under hood at the Shutterfly site. Thanks for the great lesson. I guess I won't give up on them, after all.


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