Probiotics May the Next Big Thing in Skin Care

During the past few years, the probiotic supplement market has experienced an astounding amount of growth due to the now well-known health benefits of the “good bacteria.” Now, the tiny-but-mighty microorganisms are making their way into our cosmetic products. The evidence collected so far has shown promising results in the treatment of several inflammatory conditions of the skin, so we may expect to find them in a growing number of beauty products, including skin care and makeup products. But, before you rush to spread kefir on your face, you should read more about the role of bacteria on your skin and why probiotics can be so beneficial.

Our Skin is Covered in Bacteria

As scary as it may sound, our skin is covered in microorganisms that under normal conditions (when the skin is healthy) live in harmony. They are called the skin microbiome. Most of these organisms are completely harmless or even beneficial to the skin. However, under certain circumstances, which include environmental factors, use of antibiotics, and certain cosmetic products, the skin microbiome can become compromised. Pathogens (harmful organisms) may grow and cause inflammation. Inflammatory conditions of the skin, such as acne, dermatitis, psoriasis and even skin cancer, may develop or worsen.

The Skin Barrier

The skin barrier (also known as the acid mantle, which has a protective function against environmental aggressors) is located in the outer layer of the skin. In order for the barrier to function properly and effectively to protect the skin from harmful organisms, the pH of the skin has to be slightly acidic (between 4.5 and 6.5). When the pH becomes too acidic or too alkaline, the barrier function is compromised and pathogens can grow, leading to the inflammatory conditions mentioned above.

One factor that can influence the skin’s pH is sebum production — what we typically call oil. Oily skin types tend to have a more acidic pH, while dry skin types tend to have a higher, more alkaline pH. Topical probiotics may also help to reduce the skin’s pH, discouraging the growth of pathogens and favoring the growth of the resident (beneficial) bacteria.

What Can Topical Probiotics Do for Your Skin?

In patients with certain inflammatory skin conditions, such as acne and rosacea, topical probiotics can form a protective shield preventing pathogens on the skin from provoking an immune reaction. Topical probiotics may also have antibacterial properties that can kill harmful bacteria and prevent the inflammation from occurring.

Face Masks for Glowing Skin

Having healthy, glowing skin depends largely on lifestyle factors, such as diet, sleep, and exercise. Topical treatments can also be very effective, but they are relatively expensive. If you enjoy DIYs or if you have a limited budget, you can do facial treatments at home with inexpensive ingredients that offer well-known skin benefits that even professionals acknowledge as effective.

The Problem: Dull Skin

Dull skin is often the result of the piling up of dead skin cells. Yogurt is a natural source of lactic acid, which provides gentle exfoliation, helps to reduce inflammation, and brightens the skin. The enzymes contained in the yogurt break down the substance that holds dead skin cells together, peeling them off and revealing fresh skin. A study evaluated how a face treatment containing yogurt affected the skin and it was found to successfully improve brightness and elasticity of the skin.

You’ll Need:

  • Plain yogurt, preferably local and organic
  • Cotton ball
  • Bowl
  • Optional: honey, preferably local and organic
  • Spoon

The Problem: Dry skin

If your skin lacks luminosity because it is dry or because it has been exposed to environmental factors like wind, sun, and extreme temperatures, avocado is a great ingredient to include in your homemade face mask. Avocados are very rich in nutrients such as Vitamin A, E, B12, K, C, and fatty acids. It’s softening, nourishing properties help with replenishing and healing the skin.

The Remedy: Avocado + Honey Mask

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • Bowl
  • Spoon
  • Fork
  • Knife

The Problem: Sun-Damaged Skin

If you have overdone your daily dose of sun and you have noticed photo damage, you can naturally renew your skin to get a glowing complexion with the help of green tea. Green tea has excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which early studies have shown effectively help the skin cells to heal and regenerate. It is also considered an effective anti-aging ingredient because it counteracts the effect of free radicals.

The Solution: Green Tea Masks

Here are two simple green tea-based masks to choose from that you can make by mixing the green tea powder with either honey (best for oily/blemish prone skin types), or avocado (best for dry/mature skin types).

Finding out the Unfortunate Truth

My former girlfriend and I shared some of the best years of our life together. It all came to a screeching halt one day when we broke up. She had been cheating on me and once the truth came to light, I didn’t want anything else to do with her, and she didn’t want to see me either. I found out that she was cheating on me through the use of a snapchat hack that lets people look at photos that are normally thought to have been deleted. The photos can still be accessed after they’ve disappeared from the eyes of a normal user.

There were signs that made me suspicious that something might be going on with my former girlfriend. She became more distant and barely wanted to do anything together anymore. Continue reading “Finding out the Unfortunate Truth”

Messaging at Work Got Us Thinking About Moving to a New Apartment in Alamo Heights

My wife and I were messaging back and forth one day while we were at work. We were on the computer using a live messaging system. We were both in our offices at work doing the same old boring stuff we usually do on a Monday morning. Our topic of conversation turned from the regular stuff to maybe looking at apartments for rent in Alamo Heights. Our lease was ending where we were at, and we definitely wanted a new place to live. We wanted a nicer apartment, nicer neighbors, and we wanted to adopt a dog. We could not really have any of that where we had lived for the last year. Continue reading “Messaging at Work Got Us Thinking About Moving to a New Apartment in Alamo Heights”

The Wonderful World of Pixel Art – Animated GIFs and Free Emoticons

The internet is a huge place. By its very nature it’s home to an almost infinite amount of weird and wonderful interests and pursuits that most of us probably don’t even now exist. With its sheer size and user-generated content, it’s a place full of discovery that panders to every human whim, fancy, and interest. One of these is the wonderful, quirky, and often adorable world of pixel art.

Let’s cover the basics: what is pixel art? Pixels are the tiny little squares used to make every image on your computer screen, and can be used to make tiny animations in .gif format. You can make these yourself in programmes like Corel Photo-Paint, or more specific programmes like Jasc’s Animation Shop. Many, particularly younger people, will be familiar with some of the uses of pixel art. Emoticons, anikaos, and animated GIFs are all examples of basic pixel art used on forums, MySpace, and Windows Live Messenger as a means of aiding expression in an essentially text-based form of communication, as well just simply for fun. Emoticons are perhaps the most widely used and searched for.

A range of emoticons come as standard with Live Messenger and most forums. These tend to be your basic set of emoticons to cover the main emotions and actions expressed while chatting. Many websites however offer more advanced and diverse emoticons in varying sizes and shapes, some even with sound. The latter tend to frequent more on pay-sites. There are though far more user-generated emoticons on the net, and are frequently exchanged between users of Messenger – which allows you to add and save emoticons used by others.

While emoticons are by far the most popular in the west, their eastern counterparts ‘anikaos’ (pronounced ani-cows, meaning literally ‘animated faces’ in Japanese) are becoming more and more popular as interest in Japanese popular culture continues to grow. Anikaos are typically floating spherical blobs bobbing up and down with a cute face depicting any number of emotions and actions. They tend to be used more on forums and are incredibly diverse, ranging from generic white blobs to household animals, peas, and characters from anything between Star Wars and Dragonball-Z. The user-generated nature of anikaos, like most pixel art, means their diversity and numbers continue to multiply.

Yet, beyond the world of communication-aiding emoticons and anikaos, the possibilities are even more varied. People can make literally anything they want in miniature using pixel art – and they do. People love to have things made tiny and love to use them on their websites, MySpace pages, and on Messenger.

A very popular form pixel art at the moment is animated GIFs of Nintendo and Sega characters from the ’80s and ’90s such as Mario, Kirby, Link, and Sonic the Hedgehog recreated exactly from the 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit games on which they appeared. The current craze for all things retro, especially in gaming, is certainly adding fuel to this. Particularly with girls, animated GIFs of the characters Hello Kitty and Pucca Love are also extremely popular, and can be found on many a MySpace page. Hello Kitty and Pucca Love are very cute characters that are used frequently to personalise web pages and make them more attractive.

The fact that both Hello Kitty and Pucca Love have huge merchandising markets ‘offline’ easily explains their popularity in this respect. Likewise with both sexes, Pokemon animated GIFs are extremely popular, particularly on MySpace and gaming sites. The cuteness of many Pokemon characters and the fact they are already computer game sprites makes them perfectly convertable into animated GIFs.

But it doesn’t end simply at branded corporate characters, oh no. There is a whole pixel art culture out there with people creating weird and wonderful designs of their own constantly. Witness blinking cheeseburgers, winking cake slices, a strange beige bob running towards you with a chefs for absolutely no reason at all! The possibilities are endless and quite frequently very, very strange. Very aptly, there seems to be a perfect miniature of the boundless lengths of human creativity contained within this little culture.

Mostly, GIFs get passed around in networks fairly randomly, but if you’re actively on the lookout, my advice would be to specifically refine your search. For example if you’re specifically after gaming GIFs, try punching in ‘nintendo animated GIFs’ or ‘super mario animated GIFs’. Many sites with the best GIFs don’t even have domain names, so it pays to be patient. There are sites out there that endeavor to collect GIFs together from around the net, but some are more organised than others and the quality varies from site to site.

A frequent problem is that they just won’t be categorised, making your search difficult. If you find yourself falling in love with this kooky little world, then it doesn’t even end here. Pixel art is not just animated GIFs and emoticons – there are communities out there dedicated to making ‘pixel art for pixel art’s sake’. These people make incredibly high quality pictures and landscapes of such complexity that it takes your breath away. Pixel Joint is a great little community to get involved in if you find yourself going for this more advanced stuff, whether to appreciate or to create. Have fun!

Something about Ads by Pixels

What is a pixel? Well, first, a pixel is short for pixel element. It is a single point in a graphic image. Pictures are displayed on graphics monitors by dividing the display screen into thousands (or even millions) of pixels that are arranged in columns and rows. Being they are so close together, the pixels appear to be connected.

Now, the number of bits used to represent every pixel will determine how many colors or shades of gray can be seen or displayed. On a color monitor, a pixel is actually made up of three little dots-one red, one blue, and one green. The three dots should all converge at the same point, but monitors are not perfect and some will have a convergence error that will make pixels look fuzzy.

Of course, a display system of good quality depends a lot on its resolution or how many pixels it can display and at the same time, how many bits will be used to represent each of those pixels. These displays can range from 300,000 pixels to 480,000 pixels. It is possible to find systems that can display more than 16 million different colors!

So, the concept is really very simple. The main ads by pixel ad page will consist of a 1000×1000 pixel grid or one million pixels. You are able to buy one or more of 10×10 pixels blocks, and then create a tiny image, which will be displayed on one or more of these blocks. You will also choose a URL you want them to link to.

Pixel blocks are used to advertise websites, affiliate programs, blogs, friends, or anything you want on an ad by pixel site.

These ads by pixel sites are fun, too. Since these ads by pixel sites are so cool, people will stay on them for hours on end checking them out and thereby creating a vast amount of traffic for the advertiser!

So, where does it go from here? Actually, there are thousands of possibilities out there that could capture the attention of both the media and the public. And as always, there will be something or someone to kick things off and start the rest of the world thinking differently. If you haven’t already, perhaps you should check out one of these ads by pixel websites. You might be glad you did!

There are options available to you to learn how to create your own pixel ads scripts as well.

Pixel-selling and the Million Dollar Home Page: Boom-to-bust in Internet Time

Sometime in the fall of 2005, a British lad by the name of Alex Tew sailed into a perfect storm. As the web world watched, his “Million Dollar Home Page” quickly lived up to its audacious title and left its mark on internet history. Armed with uncanny marketing instincts and a good dose of luck, Alex took his novel idea, added a personal back-story, and sold a million dollar’s worth of advertising in a matter of months.

Understandably, countless copy cats have gone online, but success has proven difficult to duplicate. A quick survey of these so-called “pixel-ad” brings up a large number of woefully blank screens. The uniqueness of Tew’s website was what drew the crowds and justified the value of his site. The second generation of pixel pages is struggling to create the same excitement.

One problem is that the concept for the Million Dollar Home Page is so simple that there is little room for technical improvement. Not that people are not trying. For example, website http://www.izoomzoom.com touts the ability to display a thumbnail image of the target URL as the mouse cursor rolls over a pixel ad. This feature is interesting, but it is unclear whether the thumbnail images will encourage or discourage viewers to click-through to the advertised site.

Another site with a twist is [http://www.millionpixelsart.com]. Instead of the standard rectangular billboard, the pixel blocks are arranged in different shapes (including a beer mug and dice). Again, the idea is interesting, but the lack of sold blocks should serve as a warning to others that success will require true ingenuity.

One of the more successful pixel-ad sites can be found at http://www.pixmeup.com. This website takes a multi-level marketing approach to pixel selling, innovating the business model rather than the format. PixMeUp currently features several densely populated pixel pages, proof of its ability to find customers.

Just as the general stores of the American West profited from the California Goldrush, it may be the suppliers of the prospective pixel sellers that are reaping the greatest rewards. Domain registrars and domain hosts are also profiting from the uptick in websites coming on line. Tool developers are cropping up left and right, offering would-be millionaires the picks and shovels needed to stake their claims. Other sites exist for the purpose of providing news and links related to the pixel-ad phenomenon.

The pixel-ad market appears to be saturating, as evidenced by the going rate for these tiny squares of advertisement. How far has the market fallen? I found one answer on a humorous site [http://www.ihatethemilliondollarhomepage.com]. Its author nicely captures the jealousy and dejection felt by entrepreneurs who have failed to come close to the success of the MillionDollarHomePage. And, to spite Alex Tew, these pixels are being given away free of charge!

In time, the pixel-ad concept will continue to evolve. A mere months after Alex Tew’s financial trajectory shot through the stratosphere, creative descendents of the original concept are already heading off in new directions. Affiliation pixel-ad sites, such as [http://www.christianmilliondollarhomepage.com/], cater to specific causes or audiences. The pixel-selling concept takes a creative turn at http://www.WorldWideArtStudio.com, where artists can participate in the creation of art by buying the right to control portions of a “digital canvas.” Furthermore, WorldWideArtStudio.com turns its back on the marketing roots of pixel selling by prohibiting the display of advertisements in its artwork.

The HTC Legend – Android Mobile Phone Perfection

When Android mobile phones are concerned, HTC has come up with a work of art with the HTC Legend. This sculpted alloy Android touch screen mobile phone is not only beautiful, it has all the modern Android features you will surely enjoy, and it fits perfectly in your pocket. What more can you ask for in an Android mobile touch screen phone.

Display Perfection

This 3.2 inch purely touch screen mobile phone has a large touch screen with hardly any borders. You have all the room to use its touch screen functions. Since it is equipped with an AMOLED touch screen, you no longer have the need for backlights when it gets dark. With HVGA 320 x 480 pixels of resolution, you are sure to enjoy rich and vibrant colors on the Legend’s screen.

Powerful Processing Speed

With a 600 MHz processing speed, 512 MB ROM, and 384 MB RAM, you are sure run the most challenging mobile applications. With the Legend, you are sure to meet these requirements. With new and free mobile applications available in the Android Market, you are sure that this mobile phone is up to the challenge.

Sensible Mobile Platform

With the power this phone packs, you will need a sensible and efficient mobile platform to manage the functions and abilities of the HTC Legend. This phone comes with Android 2.1 (Éclair) with HTC Sense, which is one of the cutting edge mobile operating systems today. With this mobile platform, you are sure that everything on this phone will be running smoothly.

Storage Capabilities

With all the data people put into their mobile phones, the use of external microSDs are essential. This mobile Android touch screen phone can handle up to 32 GB of external memory. This simply means that you can store all of your important data, and take it wherever you go.

Broadband Capabilities

The HTC Legend is well capable of broadband capabilities. On a 3G network, you can have as much as 7.2 mbps of download speed and 2 mbps upload speed. On a GPRS network, you can have as much as 114 kbps of download speed. On an EDGE network, you can have as much as 560 kbps of download speed. This phone is also capable of a Wi-Fi connection.

When it comes to mobile perfection, this phone has the looks, the capabilities, and the power that you are looking for. When it comes to Android mobile phone perfection, the HTC Legend is all you will ever need.

How to Find the Perfect Smartphone for Your Needs

body, and soul. With everything that technology has contributed over the years, it would be hard to imagine now living life without it.

One of the most brilliant innovations of technology is the Smartphone. Ever since the time it was introduced, people now have access to millions of information, things, places, and people that no one had ever imagined doing many years ago.

Smartphone’s indeed made our lives easier and more convenient. With just being a small yet powerful device, you can easily communicate, record, take a photo or video, attend a meeting, source information, and so on wherever you go.

Along with this is the ongoing rough competition between telecommunication companies. Because of the demand, companies have been constantly looking for new discoveries to incorporate into the device to entice buyers to purchase.

As a consumer, there is no better way to do this than to be wise with your decision. Surely you can find a lot of different options to choose from, and the task of finding that perfect one could be daunting.

So if you are planning to buy the perfect Smartphone for your needs, here are some tips for you to consider:

Size

Smartphone comes in different sizes to choose from. Before you make a purchase, consider the different options available.

You may opt for one that’s bigger than the size of your palm or if you want, you can have a smaller size that is easy to carry.

Whatever the size may be, it is all up to you! The most important thing is how convenient are you in holding the device or when moving your finger.

Features available

This factor is one of the most important simply because not all smart phones have the same features. The features can range from putting the weather forecast on your lock screen to having high mega pixel camera.

The features are what make the Smartphone enticing to buy. Of course, naturally if the Smartphone does not have amazing and beneficial features, no one would dare to buy it. But with smart phones that have cool features, many people would be willing to shell out their money on it for the experience.

However, Smartphone’s with cool and more advanced features can be very expensive. You can do a research about the price and if you want, set a budget in advance. But if you are someone who isn’t into more advance features, then you may opt to buy a Smartphone that’s just right for your needs.

Accessories included

It would be great to buy a Smartphone that has all the accessories you need already included in the bundle.

For example, make sure that there’s a charger, a headphone, a manual, and a USB cord. These are the accessories that you need to get started.

The more accessories included in the bundle, the better it would be.

Price

The price of the Smartphone is also an important buying factor to most consumers simply because Smart phones are expensive.

Depending on the brand, the price may vary. Sometimes, it also depends on the features included and the reputation of the brand.

When it comes to the price, make sure to do a little research about the price for each brand available. Compare each price and quality of the product. You can also consider reading some reviews and feedback from customers so you can know if the price is really worth it.

If you are willing to pay for an expensive Smartphone, make sure you are able to get the benefits of its features. Otherwise, might as well just stick to the one that you really need.

Quality

Last but definitely not the least is the quality of the product. Wise buyers would rather want to spend their money into something that is beneficial and can stand the test of time.

If you would end up buying an inexpensive Smartphone only to find out that it only last a short time, then might as well go for the expensive yet high-quality Smartphone because that will surely not waste your money and time.

When it comes to buying a Smartphone, always remember to purchase smart!

I am George Patt, passionate writer, photographer, traveler and technology addicted. Proud dad of three awesome boys.

Why Buy the Samsung 52 LN52A650? The Perfect Set For Movie Lovers

The Samsung 52 LN52A650 is the perfect set for movie lovers. The picture is so crisp that you may want to wait for your favorite movies to come to video instead of seeing them in the theater!

The two main features that making movie viewing so spectacular are 50,000:1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio and Full 1080P. These two features allow the Samsung 52 LN52A650 to deliver a picture that’s in a class by itself.

50,000:1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio

50,000:1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio gives whiter whites and blacker blacks which means better picture quality than ever before. This feature delivers the most realistic picture you’ve ever seen on a HDTV.

Full HD 1080P

Full HD, or 1080p, contains more scanning lines than conventional HDTVs. This equates to more pixels, more details and therefore, a better picture.

The Samsung 52 LN52A650 also uses a new high-speed liquid crystal to cut response time to 4ms. When you add this to the TV’s Auto Motion Plus 120Hz motion blur reduction technology, you get a substantial reduction in blurring.

So the only super hero that will look like a blur on your screen is Flash, and that’s because he’s supposed to look that way! With these new technologies, you’ll see the action the way it was intended.

With technology like this, you can watch some of your old action favorites and feel almost like you are watching them again for the first time.

The Samsung 52 LN52A650 also makes the perfect focal point for your home theater. There are plenty of connections for all your devices, so you should be able to accommodate any add on devices quite easily.

The Samsung 52 LCD LN52A650 is the perfect TV for your home theater. You’ll finally be able to watch movies the way they were meant to be seen. However, I’ve barely scratched the surface about why this TV is the number one pick for TVs in its class. If you want to know why electronics experts like CNET call the Samsung 52 in TVs “Superb”, go to http://www.squidoo.com/samsung-52-in-tv-reviews. There you’ll find real customer reviews as well as video review from the experts and info on where to find the best deals on Samsung 52 in TVs.

How Important Is ‘Mega Pixel Size’ In a Digital Camera?

Here is an hidden fact, or maybe forgotten reality on digital cameras. The short answer is no, unless you need it for a very specific purpose. For general use we don’t need anything more than a 2-3 meg camera.

To make the argument easier to follow I round the numbers. An average computer monitor would have about 1600×1200 (resolution) which is about 2 000 000 pixels, or 2meg. That is the physical dots on your screen (say LEDs) which is controlled by your graphic card to be set it to different colors which overall they make the image on your computer screen. In fact you could see the pixels on your screen if you look closely with a magnifier. It is easier to see them on a TV screen as they have much less resolutions.

If you have an image of 2meg on your camera, you should see it clearly on your screen dot by dot, pixel by pixel, so it is a perfect match. So if you have a 2 mega pixel camera you miss no pixels, all the information on your camera will be displayed on your screen. Now what happens when you have an image of 3mega pixels, or a camera of 3 mega pixel? Since the screen is not able to show them all, it skips every third pixel, because of its physical limitation. It just can’t fit 3000000 dots in 2000000 available space dots. Similarly if you have a 4 mega pixel image, computer has to skip every second pixel to be able to accommodate all the information and shrinks them all into that limited space. The reality is the scanning ( like a camera) and reproduction of it as an output on the screen do not match, so what is the point of having a camera with 3 or 4 or even 10 mega pixel when you can’t even see the out put result. Of course we can’t tell the difference of a picture quality just by looking at the screen as our eyes are not designed to distinguish each individual pixels amongst 2 000 000 of them.

Internet Marketing: How to Make the Most from a Pixel Site

After the recent success of the Million Dollar Homepage, a large number of copy cat sites and people offering free scripts have started to show up, all with the same promises, that you too can make a million just by launching a pixel site. A quick browse through eBay shows hundreds of these so called pixel sites, available for as little as $5 or $100, depending on how deep you look. So can lightening strike twice, is it really possible that you can experience the same kind of success as the original Million Dollar Homepage?

Well, to be honest I don’t think there is any chance of anyone repeating the success of the original site. Alex Tew, the founder of the original page could never have estimated the unprecedented levels of media coverage and support he would receive for his site. It had never happened before and it will be sometime before it happens again. The phrase “A rolling stone picks up the moss” really applies in this case, as the more coverage the site received, the more people wanted to be associated with it. In a way, he created the ultimate web site monster. I only hope that business students take the time to learn about the whole success story.

So if it is unlikely that the success will ever be repeated to that level again, is it worth spending any time in creating your own pixel site? My answer to this question, is yes there is, with one very large caveat. If you set up and promote a pixel site, it has to have a purpose, it has to stand for something or give people reason to visit it. This means that it needs to be focused on a specific niche.

A recent example that I found was a pixel site that was collecting anti bullying messages, all of the revenue received through the site went directly to the anti bullying charity. This is a perfect example of how a pixel site could be used to make money and for a great cause. It is also so well defined that it is possible to create interesting media and press coverage. Being an Internet marketer does not mean that you can not do things for others, in fact if anything, your reputation will be greatly enhanced by using a pixel site to raise money for charity.

The other way to make sure that your pixel site is a success is to take the time to understand your customers. Ask yourself, why on earth would they pay $1 per pixel to put an image on your site? If you struggle to answer this question, you’re seriously going to struggle to fill your site, trust me a pixel site with no ads does not encourage people to post. The reason that the original site was so popular and sold out very quickly was because of three key factors:

People wanted to leverage the extraordinary levels of traffic being generated
People wanted to leverage the Page Rank and SEO factors of the page, rightly or wrongly
People wanted to be part of Internet history

The reasons above are critical to the success of your own pixel site. If you can generate decent traffic you have a half decent chance of making a success of your pixel site, you will need to show potential customers just how much traffic you’re receiving. People are always interested in the Google Page Rank phenomenon, although it is not known that there is any real benefit to having a link on a pixel site, high PR or not, most webmasters are happy to take a shot for a few dollars.

Tips for Perfect Prints (For Beginners)

Undeniably, photo prints still remain the most popular way of sharing memories. With the right printer and a handful of simple techniques, your pictures can look as sharp as the lab-processed ones. Read on for some great tips for getting the best prints possible.

Start with a Good Image

The first thing you need to get a good print — a high-quality image. An image that merely looks good onscreen is not enough. Here’s what a good image file would have:

Good Resolution

Resolution refers to the number of pixels in an image {usually stated in dpi (dots per inch) or PPI (pixels per inch).}. The more pixels a photo has, the more clarity and detail it will retain as you increase its dimensions. Resolution can also be expressed by the width and height of the image, and the total number of pixels it contains. For example, an image that is 1500 pixels wide and 2100 pixels high (1500 x 2100) contains 3,150,000 pixels–or almost 3.2 mega pixels.

Most digital cameras offer a variety of resolution settings. It’s a good idea to use a higher-quality setting if you plan on printing large sized pictures. Here are some general guidelines:

Less than 640 x 480 pixels = Wallet-size prints. Good for E-mailing to friends , picture displays on the refrigerator etc.

640 x 480 pixels = 4″ x 6″ photo prints. These are going to be best for photo albums, General usage including craft projects (scrapbooks, stickers, etc).

1152 x 864 pixels = 5″ x 7″ photo prints. These are good for framing for home display, screensavers and photo greeting cards

1600 x 1200 pixels = 8″ x 10″ or larger. Good for framing, screensavers for home or gallery display and photo calendars

Best Format

Even if your image is high resolution, you will still need to save it in the correct file format: TIFF or JPEG. For best printing results, always save your pictures in the TIFF format (example: my_friends.tiff). Although this format results in a slightly larger file size, it will produce the most satisfactory results. The JPEG format (example: my_friends.jpg) is preferable for e-mailing photos as it results in smaller, compressed files–ideal for sending electronically.

Quality Control

Use a good image-editing program to remove dust marks and specks on your photos. The printer will most definitely pick up imperfections even if they’re very small. You can also use the sharpening option to more clearly define the edges of objects in your print.
Use a Good Printer and Know How to Use it
Once you are familiar with the features and settings of your printer, you will be able to get the best possible results.

Avoid DPI Dilemmas

Dots per inch (dpi) is a measurement of print resolution that indicates the number of individual dots a device can create on a page per square inch of area. For crisp, colourful, professional-looking prints, you should choose a printer with at least 600 x 600 dpi. Otherwise, your photos may turn out pixilated (objects will appear jagged and speckled).

Printer Drivers

Printer drivers play the role of translators, acting as a medium of communication between your printer and computer. To help fix problems and bring significant performance improvements, it is important to use the most current version available for your printer. Printer manufacturers regularly update drivers, and you can download new versions for free from the company’s website.

Resolution Settings

Refer to your printer’s manual to learn how to change quality settings. Usually, you would want ‘best quality’ resolution for photos; however, for wallet-size prints, ‘normal’ resolution may be enough. Experiment with your printer settings to see which ones give you satisfactory results.

Paper Settings

Paper settings control the amount of ink that is laid down on paper; therefore, using the setting that matches your photo paper is essential to making good prints. When you find a setting that works best for a particular paper type, make note of it so you will be able to get the same results when you use that paper again.

Clean and Clear

Running the ‘clean’ function in your printer every two to three months improves print appearance and prevents problems such as streaking and clogging. You can access ‘properties’ settings to perform maintenance actions such as cleaning the printer nozzles and aligning the print head.
Understand Your Ink and Paper
Your choice of printing supplies, such as paper and ink, can make the difference between a good print and a great one.

Paper and Ink Selection

Using Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) supplies would definitely assure you of the quality but they come with a price. Nowadays, Canon and HP boast of inks that deliver optimum colour and fade resistance up to 110 years. Non-OEM supplies are definitely cheaper, but its debatable whether they can achieve the same quality.

Drying Time

Before you frame a photo print or add it to a scrapbook, be sure to give it enough time to dry. Most OEM inks and papers are designed to dry within an hour or so, but it is best to allow the print to dry for about 24 hours prior to framing or placing it in a photo album.
If you are printing multiple pictures, remove them from the printer slide as they come out and set them aside. This will eliminate any chances of accidental smearing or running.

How to Capture a Perfect Birth Announcement Photo For Your New Addition

New parents always want to share photographs of their baby — and why shouldn’t they? This is exciting news! Current technology makes creating a unique birth announcement as easy as taking a photograph and downloading it. Of course, taking good pictures of a baby is never that simple, but these tips can help even a novice photographer take quality photographs for baby announcements that everyone will be talking about.

Good pictures for baby announcements are all about lighting, backgrounds, and pixels. Consider making sure all of these are set up properly before you start posing the baby and taking pictures. Additionally, to help maximize your chances of capturing the perfect shot, it is a good idea to make sure the room is a comfortable temperature and the baby is well fed before the photo session begins. Lastly, the process can be made even smoother by enlisting the help of a friend or family member to lend an extra set of hands.

Lights! Camera! Background!

Professional photographers all understand the importance of background and lighting for high quality photographs. The background created for baby’s birth announcement will provide the best effect if it is light colored and neutral, without a lot of distractions. Using sheets or blankets to cover everything that doesn’t belong in the baby announcement is simple and easy. A collection of pillows draped with a soft blanket can be used to create a setting for the infant. Car seats and bouncy seats draped with a blanket can also be used to pose the infant for their birth announcement photos.

Good lighting makes it easy for everyone to see the beautiful new baby without distracting shadows. While natural sunlight is nice, it rarely is strong enough to create good photos. Sunlight can be supplemented with lamps and the camera’s flash. Have fun experimenting with different positions to find the best effect. Aiming one light source at the infant’s head will create a lovely halo effect. Before baby arrives on the scene, it helps to grab the camera and take several shots of the setting and look at them on a computer at full size. This will help determine if there are any problem areas in the shot or if any graininess is observed.

Pixel Perfect

Most people use a digital camera to create photos for their baby announcements, but 35mm cameras can also be used. Generally, 200-400 speed film will provide excellent results. Higher speed film is best left for the experts, as it often results in uncorrectable grainy photos. Digital cameras provide the best results when they are set at the highest resolution possible.

Ideally, the best images are at least 1800×1200 pixels. This allows for any zooming or cropping that may be needed. If no editing is needed, images at 1492×1104 pixels can be used. Additionally, if a vignette style birth announcement is planned, a 1280×960 pixel image can also be used, but it is always recommended to refer to your camera’s owner manual for resolution instructions.

Bring Out Baby

Babies are wonderfully photogenic and notoriously fussy. It’s a good idea to start with the baby in just a diaper or dressed in plain, light colored clothing. If the baby will be photographed awake, it helps if he or she has just been fed and is well rested. On the other hand, a baby announcement photograph featuring a red-faced infant in full howl may give recipients an inside view of the baby’s fiery personality!

Sleeping babies can be the easiest to pose and photograph. Awake or asleep, infants can be posed on a pile of covered pillows on their tummy or their side, facing the camera. For an extra special touch, considering using a blanket gently wrinkled over the baby’s lower torso and legs, leaving the shoulders and tummy bare to create a warm, cuddly image. If the infant is posed in a car seat or other upright position, it is important that they are reclined enough to avoid that “slumped over” look. Photos for baby announcements can also be adorably eye-catching if baby’s tiny hands are tucked just under the chin.

If parents, siblings, or the family dog are to be included in the birth announcement, consider posing them with their heads close together to ensure that everyone is seen clearly. The best results are obtained by shooting pictures at the baby’s eye level and keeping baby’s face away from the edges of the pictures. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to take many photos! It is completely normal to take 40-50 pictures to get the ideal shot. The more photographs that are taken, the more likely it is to capture a perfect smile, adorable yawn, or an intent scowl, turning baby’s birth announcement into an unforgettable memento of this joyous occasion.