Travel Photo Tricks and Tips

Vacationing this summer? Whether you’re flying internationally or driving just a few hours away, we want to help make every moment of your trip a little more memorable.

As promised in our Summer Fun with MagCloud blog post, we’ve got some great tricks and tips to help you capture your summer memories through photography.

Hitting the Beach

As fun as they are, beaches can prove to be tricky for photo opps! Some points to remember when capturing your fun in the sun:

  • Try shooting closer to sundown: Not only will there be less people there, but the sun will be at an angle that produces great shadows and colors.
  • Try black and white: This can completely change the mood and feel of a shot. It’s great for overcast or dull days, too.

For more beach tips, check out this helpful blog post!

Picnic-Perfect Pics

Family picnics make fantastic photos! When hanging out at the park and snapping shots between bites of potato salad, remember a couple of basic things:

  • Location, location, location: Picking a spot in the sun or the shade will make for a beautiful lighting situation!
  • Useful props: Place wax paper or white shower curtain between the sun and your subjects. This will diffuse the light and soften the shadows.

Check out even more ways to make your family picnic memorable by reading the full post from Olympus cameras here.

Making Vacation Last, Digitally

Shooting perfect shots of vacation can take some talent, even with your new digital camera! Bad vacation photographs get thrown away, while great shots can create a lifetime of memories. Remember these tips:

  • Power up: Nothing is worse than wanting to snap that perfect picture, and realizing your battery is dead!
  • Don’t be afraid to crop: Cropping a photo can change an average photo into a dramatic one, especially if you crop “off center.”
  • Rule of thirds: When you are lining up that beautiful church, amazing sunset or one-of a kid safari shot keep in mind composition and the rule of thirds dividing your photo into thirds both vertically and horizontally with the key subject at the intersection point.  Newer smartphones make this particularly easy to do with their Grid settings.
  • Put your own spin on landmarks and well-known sites: Rather than take the usual straight on shot of the Eiffel Tower consider taking it from underneath looking straight up, take a lush jungle shot in the rain, or shoot the crowd below from the top of the Empire State Building.  Don’t be afraid to take unique shots or see things as the locales do.
  • Go for contrast and color: Boat sales against a blue sky, a garden of wildflowers, colorful mailboxes on a cobblestone street all make for interesting travel shots with pops of color.

Here’s a few other tips to get you inspired.

We’re curious about your best vacation photos – what are some tricks and tips you’ve learned along the way? Please share with us in the comments below!

Get The Most Out Of Your Images

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but if that picture is grainy or squished, it’s not going to be saying anything good. To help you include images that speak volumes in your next MagCloud publication, this installment of our Design Blog Series includes a short list of image DOs and DON’Ts:

DON’T use images copied off a website
Aside from the potential copyright issues associated with taking images off of websites, photos used on the web are almost always screen resolution, or 72 pixels per inch (ppi, or more commonly, dpi). This is roughly a quarter of the 300 pixels per inch that is the recommended resolution for printing. If you use an image less than 300 dpi in your MagCloud publication, you run the risk of getting a noticeably pixelated, or ‘fuzzy-looking’ image in the print copy.  The lower the resolution of your image, the more noticeable the pixelation will be, so a 72 dpi image off the internet will look very ‘fuzzy’ in print.

DO use images from your camera or stock photography websites
Images taken with a personal camera or purchased from a stock photography website like iStockphoto will generally be high enough resolution for printing.

An easy way to check if your images are high enough resolution for printing is to open your final PDF and zoom in to 350% on-screen. If an image still looks clear at 350% zoom, like the 300 dpi image on the below left, then this image will look great in your printed copy. If an image looks pixelated at 350%, like the 72 dpi image shown below right, then it will likely look pixelated in your print copy too.

300 dpi vs 72 dpi at 350% zoom

It’s also good to keep in mind that if you double the size of an image, the number of pixels per inch will drop by half. This is because doubling the size of an image doesn’t change the number of pixels in the image, it just increases the number of inches that the pixels have to fill. For example, if you have a 1” x 1” 300 dpi image, which is 300 pixels by 300 pixels, doubling it in size to 2” x 2” means that there are now 300 pixels for every 2 inches, making it a 150 dpi image.

DON’T squish or stretch your images
You have a rectangular photo, let’s say 4” x 6”, but you want it to be square in your MagCloud publication. Sound familiar? One solution would be to just squish or stretch the rectangular image into the square size you want, but here is the inevitable result:

Stretched/Squished Example

DO scale and crop your images
To avoid squishing and stretching the subjects of your photos, the better option is to use scaling and cropping to resize your images. Scaling your images maintains their aspect ratio (the ratio between the width and height of the image), keeping a rectangular image as a rectangle, then the image can be cropped (i.e trimmed) down to the size you want, like so:

Scale/Crop Example

In Adobe InDesign, QuarkXpress, Microsoft Publisher and Apple Pages, you can crop images by creating an image placeholder in the size you want, and then placing your image into the placeholder. These programs allow you to adjust the image independently of the placeholder, and the placeholder will “crop” the image in your final publication. In Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher, you can use the Crop Picture feature to manually crop the image itself down to the size that you want. Both methods will help you avoid stretching or squishing your subjects.

DON’T use images that are really dark with low contrast

Your computer screen is brightly back-lit, but unfortunately print publications are not. As a result, details that are dark or low contrast on screen may not be as visible in your printed copy. Overall, you can expect the print you receive to appear darker than what you see on screen, so it’s best to avoid using darker images or those with very low contrast to begin with. If you want to try lightening or increasing the contrast in your images in a photo editing software like Photoshop, check out these photo retouching tips and tricks.

DO embed your color profiles

To get the closest representation in your print copy as compared to what you see on screen, make sure that you embed the original color profiles of your images in the final PDF. We’ll dive more into detail on this next week in a post on color, but in the meantime check out our Getting Started page for downloadable instructions on how to do this in your design program of choice.

We would love to hear your favorite tricks for getting your images to standout. Please post them in the comments section below.

Vacationing with MagCloud

Memorial Day is a welcome beacon that summer is around the corner. As you finalize your plans for summer, MagCloud wants to provide you with a way to capture all of those special memories and experiences – whether it’s a staycation near home, a road trip to the national park or a getaway to an exotic locale.

How are you chronicling this precious time? Some of us may remember those family gatherings in front of the carousel slide projector or the bulky albums our parents put together after every trip. Now with MagCloud, you can create a personal memento in magazine format to easily share your memories with family and friends in print and digitally.

Here are a few tips and tools to assist you through the process:

  • If you’re creating a simple photo magazine, below are a few tips and resources to “prep” your images before publishing.
    • To produce a quality publication, make sure all images have a resolution of at least 300 pixels per inch.
    • If you’re looking for photo editing tools but don’t have access to Photoshop, check out GIMP (free software that features most of the capabilities that Photoshop offers) or any of these additional photo editing tools.
    • Short on time or not comfortable with design tools? Give Poyomi and turn the photo sets into a magazine without using a design program.
    • Need inspiration? Browse through some of our travel and vacation magazines.

Have you ever used MagCloud to create a magazine of memories? It’s even a great way to commemorate a school year, a birth, a wedding and more. With MagCloud’s digital publishing and print-on-demand capabilities, it’s never been easier or more budget-friendly to capture the special moments in life.

Create a Calendar with iWork’s Pages

Today we are focusing is on creating a calendar with Apple iWork’s Pages.

Hey PC users: check out yesterday’s post about using Microsoft Word, or check back tomorrow to see  how to use MagCloud’s Flickr Uploadr to create a super cool calendar with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Let’s get started with Pages.

I’m a new fan of Pages, (Apple’s design tool that comes in their iWork productivity suite) and if you are Mac user looking to do some basic design without spending a ton (iWork retails for just $79 at it’s an easy program to use, and is great for projects like a family calendar.

You can create a lot of great looking calendars using the exact same template, just by making a few changes to fonts, color and pictures.

Preview Wedding Photography Calendar Preview Parma Photography Calendar on MagCloud Preview my Family Calendar on MagCloud


The template is already set up with 28 pages, so making a few customizations and saving the file as a PDF should be quick and easy!

Download the basic calendar template that I designed here, or at the bottom of this post, you can preview and download some of the variations that I created using the same template, by making a few modifications to the style sheet.

Because I designed this template for use with MagCloud, it’s already formatted to accomodate bleed and trim settings. This means you can just start modifying the style to fit your needs. Because this Pages template has a built-in Paragraph style sheet, it will be easy to keep a consistent style throughout your calendar.

Change view to “Facing pages”
This not only helps with visualizing layout, but also will help you keep the orientation of your photos straight when placing them in the document.

Styling your Calendar
Not making a family calendar? Then go through each page and make the necessary adjustments to layout and fonts. As I mentioned before, all of the above calendars use the exact same layout, with slight tweaks to the fonts and colors. It’s amazing how simple style changes can make a template your own. There are 3 styles in the template: “Title,” “Days of the Week” and “Numbers of the Month;” so changing these styles will transform the look of your calendar. Let’s get started!

Adjusting a Paragraph Style:

Show Font Window1. Expose the “Font Window” by selecting the “A” icon in the Toolbar (If for some reason you don’t see the toolbar at the top of your application frame, then Select VIEW >> Show Toolbar, then select the “A” icon)

Show Styles Drawer

2. Select a block of text that you wish to modify

3. Make desired changes to font, size, weight and color using the “Font Window.” As you make selections, you should see the font change on the page.

4. Expose the “Styles Drawer”

Redefine Style from Selection

5. Select the block of text again–notice how it highlights the selected style in the “Styles Drawer.”

5. Update your paragraph style sheet so that all of the subsequent uses of this style reflect the style changes. You can do this by either “right-clicking” or “ctrl+ click” on the name of the font style in your “Styles Drawer”, then select “Redefine Style from Selection.”

Adding Special Dates to the Calendar:

Half the fun of making your own calendar, is including special dates that are important to you. So, whether you are creating a calendar for your child’s sports team, and you want to include their match dates; or if you are creating a calendar for your family, and you want to include Birthdays and Anniversaries; or if you want to create a calendar for your business and include special events and sales– it’s easy to do.

Because the numbers of the month are dependent on one another, typing directly in the square won’t work. Instead, follow the instructions below to add text boxes to your calendar. (Tip: You can also use these steps to add captions to your photos)

1. Select the Text Box Icon from the Toolbar (it looks like a “T” in a box)–
this will create a small box that you can move around the page

2. Type the information (ie. “Mom’s Birthday” or”Ladybugs vs. ‘Lil Giants”)

Grabbing the corners of the frame, adjust the size to 1.4 x1.03. Grabbing the corner of the text box, adjust the size of the box to 1.4 x 1.0 (this way you can see how it will fit in the day’s square)

4. Adjust the size if the text so that it fits well inside the box and select your desired color and font.

Create New Paragraph Style

5. Highlight the text again.

6. In the Styles Drawer, hold down the “+” at the bottom of the menu and select “Create New Paragraph Style from Selection” (You can also select FORMAT >> “Create New Paragraph Style from Selection” from the application menu bar)

7. Name your new style. This makes it possible fro you to use this style for other dates as you add them to your calendar.

Rotate the Text Box using the Metrics Tab in the Inspector toolkit8. With the text box selected, go to the “Metrics” tab in the Inspector window; use the rotation settings to rotate the text 90º.

9. Drag the box to the appropriate date on the calendar page.

Tip: Save yourself some extra steps by copying and pasting this text box throughout the document. (Select the text box and use “command+ C ” and “command+ V” to copy/paste) Then you can change the text, but it will maintain the style, size and rotation.

Save your file as a “Template” for future uses

If you plan to create another calendar, be sure to save your personalized document as a template. It’s easy to do, just select “File> Save as Template.” This puts a copy of your file into the Pages Template Chooser so you can find it easily next time you launch the application.

Tip: Because your using a template to create your calendar, and have the power of HP MagCloud’s digital printing, there’s no reason you can’t personalize your calendars… Perhaps change the cover image for Aunt Margaret’s calendar? Or make one with more photos of the kids for you In-Laws? Or create calendars that cater to your clients or program sponsors… it’s up to you!

You’re done designing? Yay!
This part couldn’t be easier! Simply select “FILE>> Export.”
Leave the default settings for PDF, and save your file.


Apple’s Pages ’09 site

Apple Store: iWork $79

PREVIEW the modified templates:

Preview Wedding Photography CalendarPREVIEW Template modified for a wedding photographer on MagCloud



PREVIEW Template modified for the PopWarner Team on MagCloud



PREVIEW Template modified for a business (Venetian Glass Blowers) on MagCloud



Preview Parma Photography Calendar on MagCloudPREVIEW Template modified for Parma, Italy Calendar on MagCloud



Preview my Family Calendar on MagCloudPREVIEW Template modified for a family calendar on MagCloud



Create A Personal Photo Magazine

Photo enthusiasts who are short on time or not comfortable with design tools and creating PDF files may want to give Poyomi a try. Poyomi is a new web service that lets you take your desktop or online photos and easily lay them out in a personal magazine format and have them printed and shipped on-demand.

Poyomi connects to online photo sharing services such as Flickr, Picassa and SmugMug making it super fast to create your a personal photo magazine. Simply choose your photos or photo set and select one of the four themes to have your photos automatically put in a magazine format.




Poyomi uses MagCloud for order taking, printing and shipping offering both saddle stitched and perfect binding as well as exceptional print quality.

Poyomi is a third party service and currently does not offer their publications through the MagCloud magazine store.

To create a great looking personal photo magazines quickly give Poyomi a try today.