Greetings, my friends.
My family and I have spent the last couple of months trying to settle into a new apartment in New York City. It’s a big and wondrous place (the city, not the apartment) and we’re enjoying the adventure of discovering new parks, museums and friends. But I’ll be honest: It’s hard not to miss our West Coast life, including a backyard full of fruit trees, good friends, fresh sourdough, and the summer fog (it’s 95 degrees in New York as I write this!).
Surprisingly, one of the hardest parts of the move had nothing to do with mountains of boxes, broken furniture, or apartment hunting in New York. You see, shortly after arriving here, my trusty computer decided it had had enough with us and our vagabond lifestyle. One minute it was happily working, then the next it was gone. And I mean gone.
While annoying—and certainly not good for my productivity—I didn’t worry overly much about this development. Like all responsible computer users, I had a backup. I just had to find it among the 100 or so boxes containing all of our belongings. No problem.
But there was a problem. It turns out that my backup drive didn’t handle the cross-country move nearly as well as we did. When I plugged it in, it just sat there sullenly, making a half-hearted whirring sound. I suddenly envisioned the very real possibility of losing every digital photo and video I’d ever taken. My wedding, my kids’ births, those early care-free childless days with my husband, beloved relatives now gone from my life—I imagined it all blank.
Thankfully, the story has a mostly happy ending. The tech wizards were able recover much of data from the backup drive. And thanks to the syncing feature with my iPhone, I have a record of some of the files that didn’t get recovered. (I have a smart album that automatically syncs the last six months of photos to my phone, which just happens to cover most of the lost photos.) We still lost some precious data—most notably videos of my daughter learning to walk—but all things considered, I’m feeling pretty lucky these days. I don’t like to think about how close we came to true heartbreak.
I’m sharing this story to remind you to check on your own backup system. Are you relying on a single hard drive to protect all of your digital files or do you have multiple copies stored in different locations? (If you’d like to create a separate backup of your image library for safekeeping, take a look at Barbara Brundage’s article “Protect Your Photos” from the July/August 2011 issue, in which she walks through the process of backing up from the Organizer.) But don’t stop there. Have you checked to make sure your backup drives or discs are still working? If not, pull it out right now and try recovering a file. Trust me, you don’t want to find out your backup is corrupted just when you need it most.
July Photo Challenge: Food
It may just be the heat talking, but I think food never looks so beautiful as it does in the summer. Blueberries with whipped cream, frozen watermelon with sprigs of mint, glistening ice cream cones in a rainbow of flavors—summer is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the taste buds.
For the month of July, see if you can capture your own mouth-watering photos. Keep in mind that this isn’t a cooking competition. It doesn’t matter how delicious your famous four-alarm chili is if it doesn’t look good in the picture. Presentation counts. This means you’ll want to pay close attention to lighting, background, and the colors and composition of your subject—just like you would with any other portrait. Also, note that we don’t need to be able to see the whole dish. Focusing on a single detail, color, or interesting texture can sometime be more evocative than a whole plate of food. And finally, remember that food is about comfort and community. Sometimes a cookie isn’t just a cookie—especially when held in tiny chocolate-smeared hands.
For more advice on photographing food, it’s worth reading The Serious Eats Guide to Food Photography, which covers some of the issues with good lighting without assuming that you have a whole lighting studio at your disposal. You can also find some handy tips for setting up your shot over at the Digital Photography School website (be sure to check out some of the articles recommended in the Further Reading section at the end).
If you want to know how to submit images for the Photo Challenge or Subscriber Showcase, we’ve added a Contests page to the PET site, which outlines the process for uploading images to either the PET or the Elements Village galleries. Entries must be uploaded between July 1st and August 1st. Please be sure to place the phrase “Photo-Challenge” exactly as shown (without the quotes) in the Keywords field, if uploading to the Elements Village Gallery, or in the Caption field, if uploading to the PET Gallery. Remember that photos should be taken within the challenge month.
By the way, keep an eye out for the forthcoming July/August 2012 issue which features a gorgeous food shot by Nicole Young on the cover. It’s wonderful inspiration for this challenge. (Nicole is an amazing food photographer, and she’s written a great book on the subject, Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots.)
The Best of PET, Vol. 6
We’ve just finished up production on Volume 6 of our yearly “Best of Photoshop Elements Techniques” series. This disc has 65 videos—more than 8 hours—from Matt, Liz and Liz, Dave, Mike and Corey. Cheat sheets for most of the videos are also available, as are PDFs of all 2011 magazine issues.
We know that many subscribers like to get the discs when they come out, so we have two special offers:
Renew your subscription and we’ll send you Volume 6 free and add an extra two months to your subscription. Just click on this link—make sure you’re logged in to the site first—and you’ll automatically get this offer.
For the next few weeks, subscribers can purchase the disc for just $14.95 (that’s $20 off the introductory price), with free shipping to the US and Canada ($5 elsewhere). Just go to the DVD Volume 6 page on the PET store, add it to your cart, and add the promotional code ‘NL-DVD6’ before checkout to get your discount. This deal will expire on July 31.
As I always say when we offer the yearly disc, we’re not trying a hard sell. We just want to make sure those folks who want the discs get the best possible deal on them. —Rick
What’s happening online
If you haven’t stopped by the PET site lately, you’ve missed some fun tutorials. Here’s a few of our favorites:
If you would like to get an email notification when we post new tutorials to the PET site, check out the “Get PET Site Updates” box on the bottom-right side of the home page. If you missed how to do that, you can find out more in our April From the Editor update.
Update on the July/August issue
The July/August 2012 issue has gone into the mail stream, and US subscribers should receive their copies by July 6. Canadian residents should get their issues by July 17, and all issues should be delivered worldwide by July 25. A PDF of the issue, the downloadable files for use with the tutorials, and the linked list page are all available on the July/August magazine page on the PET site.
Remember, if your issue doesn’t arrive in your region by the dates above, send us a note via our website’s Contact Us page and we’ll happily take care of you.
This is the fifth email newsletter for 2012; you can find all previous editions on the “From the Editor” home page, which can be found under the Magazine link in the PET website header.