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Digital Photography Nuts and Bolts: Get to Know Your Digital Camera Going Digital? A Buyer's Guide Dos and Don'ts Virtual Photo Fun
Virtual Photo Fun
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Virtual Photo Fun

The fun of shooting digitally is that technology has opened up whole new realms of things you can do with your pictures, including:

  • Sharing your pictures with online photo communities. Online communities like Flicker (www.flickr.com) make it a cinch to share your pictures with family and friends all over the planet. Most virtual communities make it possible to password-protect your online galleries so that only people you want to share your images with can see them. Or you can make them "public" to the entire community. Two other popular communities for shutterbugs are photo.net (www.photo.net) and webshots.com (www.webshots.com).

  • Create digital scrapbooks of your travels. Digital scrapbooking is a virtual version of the memory books that your mom used to put together on the kitchen table after a vacation. These digital books let you blend your photo and design skills to create virtual albums complete with graphics, soundtracks, and even video clips. One of the best sites, scrapbookflair.com (www.scrapbookflair.com) boasts an enormous international community, galleries of members' scrapbooks, and active (and helpful) message boards.

  • Create a personal photo Web site. If travel shooting is your passion, turn your trip photos into galleries on a personal Web site. You may find that having a Web site provides the inspiration you need to take your travel photography to the next level and the impetus to plan new trips. YahooGeocities offers free basic Web site packages: geocities.yahoo.com.

  • Create your own greeting cards and books. A new technology called "on demand" publishing lets you design and make your own high-quality hardcover coffee-table books. It's fun, easy, and affordable. You simply choose the photo you want to use and then select a page layout. A couple hours of work is all that's required to publish a book that will amaze your friends. Two popular online publishers are Kodak Gallery (www.kodakgallery.com/PhotoBookOverview.jsp) and Shutterfly (www.shutterfly.com/shop/product_c1800/Photo_Books).

  • Create your own greeting cards, invitations, and calendars. Imagine your skiing shots from Sun Valley on your next holiday card. All it takes is an inkjet printer and simple-to-use software to create professional-looking paper products. Inexpensive software programs like Printmaster 16 Platinum ($14.99 on Amazon; www.broderbund.com) let you add photos to everything from greeting cards to newsletters to party hats.

  • Make your own prints and enlargements. One of the best innovations of the digital photo boom is the desktop inkjet printer. With a little practice you'll be making prints and enlargements every bit as good as the local lab. Two highly rated printers on Amazon are the Canon Pixma iP4500 Photo Inkjet Printer ($124.95) and the HP Photosmart 8750 Large-Format Professional Photo Printer ($399.00).

  • Order prints and enlargements online. Online labs make it incredibly simple to order prints and enlargements (and a host of other photo products—like a mug bearing one of your own favorite photographs) with just a click of the mouse. All you do is upload the images and instructions and the prints come to you in the mail. It beats standing in line at the mini lab!

  • Organize and archive your travel photos digitally. The shoe boxes full of prints under the bed are a fun family joke, but how often does anyone get to see your vacation shots? Shooting digitally (and converting existing shots to digital) lets you archive, organize, and preserve all of your photos digitally. Organizational programs like Google's free Picassa software (www.picassa.google.com) let you organize travel pictures by subject, keyword, date, or even a star-rating system.

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