It's Laura O'Donnell here today doing the Click. post and I am going to give a short step out of my process of photographing layouts and editing for web display. This is a topic that is discussed fairly regularly on message boards so I thought a few tips might be helpful to W.C.S. readers. The scrapbooking community is a very social one and it's fun to share layouts in online galleries and of course we want our pages looking their sharp, bright, beautiful best.
Here is my setup:
Photographing the Layout
Find a spot with good natural light. Set the layout down on a white poster board. Stand with the camera directly over the page. Try to get the sides of the layout as even as possible with the sides of the inside of the viewfinder so that you can get a close edge to edge crop. Flash is off. Hold still and take the picture. The camera I am currently using is a Nikon D5100 with a 35mm f1.8 lens. I spent a few months last summer with no camera and was able to get good layout pictures with my iPhone. I don't think the camera matters as much as good light, holding still, and a little editing.
My sample layout is a Project Life page so that I could briefly talk about getting rid of glare on the page protectors which can be a problem even with the flash turned off. In my setup pictured above the room is bright enough during the day that I can keep backing the layout away from the sliding doors until no sun is reflecting off of the page protector and I've still got enough light for a sharp photo. Something you could also try is to take the cards and photos out and sit them on top of the pockets.
Next Step, Editing
Open up the picture in Photoshop Elements (Don't have it? You need it! It is inexpensive and worth every penny, and in years past there have been sales around Black Friday/Cyber Monday which is coming up soon.)
I am using version 9. In the later versions 11 and 12 the display of PSE looks a little different but the steps are the same. From the dropdown menu hit Enhance > Adjust Lighting > Levels. The box with the histogram above pops up and then you click on the white eyedropper and touch the white poster board your layout is resting on. This will brighten things up, adjust the white balance, and spread out the histogram which as you can see is on the dark side straight out of the camera. There is also the "auto" box right above the white eyedropper which works great a lot of the time, too.
Then crop your image by selecting Image > Crop and dragging the marching ants as close to the edges as you can get them. Sharpen the page with Enhance > Auto Sharpen.
Saving For the Web
From the dropdown menu select File > Save For Web.
A few presets come up that need to be changed. Change GIF to JPEG and file size to Very High or Maximum. Then set the width to 600 pixels and the program will auto adjust the height. Then hit OK, name the file, and you're done!
I hope this was helpful. If you're doing something different and also getting good results please share your setup in the comments. Maybe you're tacking your layout to the wall or using a lightbox or editing in a different program, we'd love to hear about it.
Have a great day!