Private chef Maggie Odell has always left the downloading, uploading, and organizing of digital pictures to her husband. But with their first baby due in November, she wants to be photo literate, too. Top on the list: replace her old point-and-shoot, master online sharing, and find a simple video camera. We asked photographer and blogger Joseph O. Holmes to simplify it all.
The Mess: Odell’s point-and-shoot camera is on its last legs, but with baby expenses mounting, she doesn’t want to spend a lot on a new one.
The Cleanup: “All point-and-shoot cameras have serious drawbacks,” says Holmes, especially in low light. “And by ‘low light’ I mean anything less than full outdoor sunlight.” Fuji’s FinePix F200 EXR ($320.95 at B&H Photo and Video, 420 Ninth Ave., nr. 34th St.; 212-239-7765) may not be the dirt-cheapest option, but it is the smartest. In dim situations, the image sensor automatically doubles its sensitivity. “Unless you’re blowing things up to gallery size,” Holmes says, “it’s more than adequate.”
The Mess: Her first-generation iPhone takes blurry action shots—not good for a wriggling baby.
The Cleanup: Holmes says the simplest fix is to upgrade to the new 3GS version. “They’ve added a feature where you can just tap the screen to tell the camera where to focus.” If blurriness is still a problem, you can download helper apps like Night Camera (99 cents), which uses the phone’s accelerometer to compensate for your jittery hands.
The Mess: Odell loves iPhoto, but online photo-sharing services seem too complicated.
The Cleanup: “I can put photos on Facebook, but that’s only because iPhoto has a button for that,” says Odell. Holmes’s favorite photo-sharing sites, Picasa and Flickr, also offer free iPhoto plug-ins that will upload snapshots directly. “But the real key,” he says, “is knowing what you want to do with your photos once they’re up there.” Flickr is better if your friends and family are likely to want to comment on or tag individual photos. Picasa is preferable for sharing large albums that are easy to arrange and rifle through. Both provide free “uploaders” that can send your snaps into the cloud en masse, right from your desktop.
The Mess: Her wedding pictures are sitting unsorted on a disk because she has no idea how to get prints.
The Cleanup: “Making a wedding album is supposed to be my big third-trimester project,” says Odell. Holmes is a big fan of making prints, but not on home photo-printers, with their expensive ink-cartridge replacements and dubious quality. He prefers to send pics to the local photography shop Adorama (from 19 cents per print; 42 W. 18th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-741-0466). Just upload what you want to their website (adorama.com), choose a print size and paper, and they’ll mail the finished product right to your door. You can order prints bound into albums as well: “It’s more expensive than using iPhoto,” he says, “but it’ll be a real keeper.”
The Mess: Odell wants a very straightforward way to make “simple little videos” of the baby along with photos.
The Cleanup: “I want something I can plug in and let it do its thing—no special commands, no clicks,” says Odell. “My brain just doesn’t hold those things.” The simplest camcorder out there, says Holmes, is the Flip UltraHD ($200 at Best Buy, 60 W. 23rd St., at Sixth Ave.; 212-366-1373), which stores two hours of HD video and has a built-in USB connection that snaps out like a switchblade—no cards or cords necessary. But if she doesn’t want to carry an extra gadget, the iPhone 3GS records video now, too (albeit in standard definition). The new iPhone is especially suitable for baby videos, he says, because you can trim footage right after you shoot it: “That way, you can lop off the three minutes of drooling before the kid says ‘Da-da.’”