Spring Break Memories

Did you get away this year for Spring Break? If so, let me start by saying, lucky you! We decided to wait until summertime for a big trip (what were we thinking?!). And the calendar may say Spring, but here in Rochester, NY a glance outside confirms we’re still in winter’s icy grips.

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Winter storm “Vulcan” just last week (when did the meteorologists start naming winter storms, anyway?!)

Fortunately, we were able to take a great beach vacation last summer and I’ve surrounded myself, in the office and at home, with pictures and projects from that trip to keep the memories alive.

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Check out the Sand Box, Glass Photo Block and a variation on the Photo Poster on our Tips & Project Center.

If you, too, are looking for ways to make your vacation last, here are some ideas to get you started.

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Vacation Photo Book: Alongside the photos from your trip, include other memorabilia. Simply scan some of the mementos at the KODAK Picture Kiosk and include with photos from your vacation to create a unique vacation Photo Book. Use ticket stubs, restaurant menus, drink coasters and more!

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For the Foodie:  Sampling the local cuisine can be a highlight of a great vacation. Remember your favorite meals when you create a collage to hang in your kitchen at home.

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Seashell Photo Holder: Don’t let all those seashells you collected during your beach vacation sit forgotten in storage—use them to display your favorite trip pictures.

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Map It: A map of your getaway spot makes an excellent background to showcase your vacation photos.

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Photo Jars: Collect seasonal items, along with a favorite vacation photo, and place them in a pretty glass container for a nice memento.

This is just a start.  Check out theseand other great vacation projects on our Tips & Projects Center.

Why I love film

Today’s blog post comes from Bellamy Hunt, AKA Japan Camera Hunter. Be sure to check out the end of the post for a Film Friday giveaway!

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Why do you love film? This is a question I get asked a lot. Maybe it is because of what I do, but people always seem to want to hear a different answer. But in reality, there is no special answer other than the one that I always have felt. Let me try and explain it to you.

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I can vividly remember my first forays into photography, when I was a very small boy and I had a Kodak Instamatic camera which my mother gave me. I didn’t really have the first idea of what I was doing, but I enjoyed doing it, taking pictures.

As I got older my enjoyment of photography grew. I studied the process at college, I worked professionally in a studio using film, I did events and tons of personal projects using film. Which is what we all did, as there was no other way.

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When digital came on to the scene I thought it was a godsend. I could spend more time taking pictures, and I could edit the ones I didn’t like. But all was not good in happy valley. Whilst I enjoyed the convenience and the speed of using a digital camera, I found the images lacking something…they were too clinical. I also found myself becoming lazy, slipping. I would spray and pray, and continuously chimp to check images. This was not what I had trained to do, I should have been trusting my skills.

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So, I made the decision to switch back to film. It wasn’t a hard decision. I was working for a camera supply company so I was no longer in need of pro digital cameras, as I could rent them if needed. I sold my digital cameras for a pittance compared to what I had paid for them less than 2 years previously. And for that pittance I was able to buy myself a film camera that I had dreamed of owning as a teenager.

For me, film gives me the opportunity to present the world as I see it, with all of the flaws and the mistakes. The world is not a perfect place and I don’t take perfect pictures. I don’t want my images to be razor sharp every single time. With digital I strived for consistency, with film I revel in the inconsistency. Film has also pushed me back into being creative again. I am more thoughtful and aware of how and why I shoot. I mentally prepare projects and compositions in my head, as I don’t want to waste film or opportunities.

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Added to that I am a borderline luddite, with a dash of chemistry geek and a full dose of tactile process nerd. So film photography for me is the logical conclusion of my personality. I love the idea of allowing just the right amount of light to react with chemicals on a strip of plastic to create an image that is indelible. A single frame, frozen in time that will probably be around long after I am gone. Tell that to my hard drives (two of which I have lost in the last two years alone), I still have the negatives from that Kodak Instamatic.

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I mentioned in previous articles too that shooting with film gives me time. Everything in the modern world is so frenetic, it seems to come at you from all directions, a bombardment of information. Running JCH takes up a huge amount of my time (not that I am complaining, I love it). But when I go out and shoot I can disconnect myself from everything for the briefest period and take the time to calm down and enjoy the little things. Watching people, human comedy and the barely contained chaos that is a big city. I have no rush to see my images, no sense of urgency for a result. I don’t need to feel validation by running home and uploading 150 images to Flickr or whatever. This gives me a sense of balance. Getting my negatives back and checking them is something I can do on a quiet evening with a nice cup of tea on standby.

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But it is not just that. It is the look. Sure you can get filters and plugins now so that you can make your digital images look like a certain emulsion, but it is just not the same as the real thing. Because the real thing comes out that way, without having to change anything. And this is not about the megapixels or resolution or whatever. This is about the imperfect nature that is film. The slight uncertainty and the unique minute imperfections that make it such a pleasure to use.

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So why do I love film? Because film is like love itself. It is imperfect, irrational, sometimes frustrating and almost impossible to rationalize, but when it works it feels fantastic and keeps me coming back for more.

My favourite Kodak film? There is a constant, which has been a film I have come back to over and over again, that one is Tri-X. It is so perfectly balanced and easy to use, you just cannot fail with a roll of tri-x. I hope it lives forever.

JCH

http://www.japancamerahunter.com

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Film Friday Giveaway!

To make Film Friday even more fun, JCH has generously offered a selection of his film cases for a giveaway. These cases were designed by JCH after months of development and testing. They are made from a durable and tough plastic that will keep your film safe from the elements including light.

There will be two prize packages… each with

- One black and one white 135 film case

- One black and one white 120 film case

- A selection of Kodak film

To enter just leave a comment on this blog post explaining why you shoot film. We will randomly choose two winners by 2pm EST on Monday, March 17. Be sure to leave your email address in the comments form so we can contact you if you win. It won’t be seen by others. Good luck!

Brighten up your home (and mood) with photos!

This time of year you might start to feel some twinges of spring fever. You might feel like doing some spring cleaning or changing up your home decor. Decorating with photos is an easy and beautiful way to refesh your home.

Turns out, some experts say that looking at photos can have a positive effect.

Woman’s Day recommends that you put photos on the fridge to improve your mood in five minutes. They point out that we look at our refigerator 27 times a day, so it’s a good opportunity to look at something that makes you happy. “Research shows that the happiest people have many joyful family photos displayed in their homes,” says Caroline Adams Miller, coauthor of Creating Your Best Life.

This Yahoo article “How to Cheer Up: 5 Proven Mood-Enhancing Things to Do Right Now” also recommends photos as a way to feel better. UK’s The Open University showed in a study that looking at your personal photos is a better mood enhancer than other traditional activities like eating chocolate, drinking wine or listening to music. They suggest keeping photos in plain sight and occasionally switching them up is a great way to improve your mood.

Considering that looking at photos can make you feel better, displaying more photos around your home seems like a good idea. There are lots of creative ways to use photos in our home decor projects featured in the Kodak Tips and Projects Center.

Here are just a few.

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Photo window frame – Have you ever seen an old window frame sitting out by the curb? Grab it next time and make this cool photo window.

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Family tree mural with photos – show off your family with this life size family tree.

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Glowing photo frame – Warm up your home with this easy to make backlight frame.

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Photo wreath – striking compliment to your mantlescape!

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Photo dishware – perfect for your old family photos. Make copies at a Kodak Picture Kiosk so you don’t ruin the originals.

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Oh and for your fridge? Check out these photo magnets made from upcycled bottle caps!

The DIY steps for all these photo projects are available in the home decor section of the Kodak Tips and Projects Center.

Find a Kodak Picture Kiosk near you to print all your photos for these ideas.

2014 Gallery Elite Awards

This weekend, the annual Academy Awards will be announced at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and the iconic Oscar statuettes will be handed out amidst much applause and tears.

For every Hollywood artist, an Oscar represents the pinnacle of achievement. For scientists, it’s the Nobel Prize and in literature, the Man Booker Prize. They appeal to a fundamental human insight: to be the very best in some aspect of our lives.  These awards inspire and encourage us to reflect on the things that have entertained us over the past year, to consider the effect these individuals have made on society and what we might aspire to become.

In 1985, Kodak introduced the Gallery Awards as a way to honor, promote and celebrate the importance and value of excellence in professional photography. Kodak, and now Kodak Alaris, has always represented quality imaging through its many products and services and will continue its work to elevate the importance of exceptional professional imaging within the industry.

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Across the United States, more than 300 Gallery Award submissions are entered and judged each year at annual Professional Photographers of America (PPA) district and state affiliate print competition conventions. Awards are judged on a regional and state basis with winners going on to compete at the national level for the Gallery Elite Award, Kodak Alaris’ highest honor which showcases the “Best of the Best“. The Elite Awards feature a Grand Prize winner as well as second, third and fourth place designations. The four winning photographs are displayed in the Kodak Alaris booth at Imaging USA, the National PPA convention.

Since its inception, hundreds of professional photographers have won the Gallery Award Trilon, a crystal trophy commemorating the award. But it’s about more than a trophy for many photographers. It’s the recognition of hard work, creative vision and the knowledge that others are as passionate about their craft as they are.

Professional wedding and portrait photographers are by profession and passion part artist, historian and archivist. They capture and preserve moments of visual history. Moments in people’s lives and in nature’s working that will never occur again in the same way. The professional photographer has the power to create not only a photo, but an everlasting feeling.

It is because of these individuals and the work they do that we once again salute and support outstanding professional photography and photographers. This year we celebrate the talent, creative vision and professionalism of four outstanding photographers

The winners of the 28th Annual KODAK Gallery Elite Award are:

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  • Grand Prize: Ben Shirk, Shirk Photography, Wilton, Iowa for “When the Music Ends”, printed by WHCC

2-KenMartin

  • 2nd Place: Ken Martin, Ken Martin Photography, De Pere, WI for “Nature’s Palette”, printed by Pechman Color

3-RobinSwanson

4-DavidHumphrey

We invite you to visit the KODAK Gallery Elite Award: Winners Showcase to learn more about these photographers and see their inspiring images. Over the next few weeks all of the state and regional Gallery Award winners from 2013 will also be featured on the Winners Showcase so check back again soon.

200 Patents and Counting for Kodak Alaris’ Joe Manico

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Joe Manico (Photo Credit: David B. Goldstein)

At the recent Personalized Imaging Global Town Meeting, Dennis Olbrich recognized one of the Kodak Alaris team members for achieving the milestone of acquiring his 200th United States Patent.  Joe Manico was surprised at the attention he received at the start of the meeting and was quoted as saying, “I had no idea, I’m just glad that I got to the meeting on time”.  Joe joined PI in November of 2012 as a Patent Engineer, but he has had a long history of innovation and intellectual property that started back in 1975.  Since then, Joe has come up with creative inventions and has acquired patents in areas of technology including; digital imaging, film and digital cameras, innovative digital displays, printers, and print finishing systems.

I asked Joe a few questions about being a Patent Engineer…

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Very Early Career: Joe a long time ago starting his career – circa 1975

Q: What is your background, your schooling for instance? How does one become a Patent Engineer?

A: “I have taken a very unconventional path and do not recommend it, to quote my High School Guidance Counselor after she learned that I had won a NYS Regents’ Scholarship, “We never thought you were slow or anything but we never expected this?” I didn’t expect it either. I was more interested in making rockets and models than school, except for the chemistry and physics labs.  I got lucky; over the years I’ve had a lot of different jobs in research and development which exposed me to some brilliant mentors, all kinds of new technologies, and engineering and scientific techniques and procedures.  These experiences provided me many opportunities to solve problems and to be creative.  It helped working in environments where there was more interest in the right solution than the right process or credentials.  I’ve always been drawn to work that involves innovation and creativity, and when that work involves technology that leads to intellectual property.”

"final stage" hydro-pneumatic powered video camera rocket

“final stage” hydro-pneumatic powered video camera rocket

Q: You must constantly be writing on the back of napkins or waking up in the middle of the night with ideas. What best practices do you have for maintaining focus, organization and process?

A: “Yes, many scraps of paper.  It’s critical to always write it down.  In whatever your preferred form, paper or digital, make a sketch, write a few sentences, anything to document the idea, even if at the time sounds funny or seems impractical.  The next step is to refine or expand the original scraps of paper or digital note into a more formal format.  For inventions, a simplified ‘Patent Application’ format works well for me; title, date, a brief abstract, and a few annotated sketches.  For product concepts, I like the ‘Print Ad’ format, which gives you one page to communicate the features and benefits of your idea to a potential customer. What’s nice about these forms of documentation is that they can help convey your ideas to a broader audience and by using these slightly more rigid formats it forces you to really think about your idea and solve potential problems with it or think about alternative approaches.  The same thing goes for a simple print ad; it forces you to think about it.  If you do this enough it becomes a habit.  As far as organization my natural way of thinking is to ‘compartmentalize’.  Everything related to an idea goes in the same labeled mental, hardcopy, and/or digital folder.

Kayak Dog: An attachment Joe made so his dog could go on Kayak rides.

Kayak Dog: An attachment Joe made so his dog could go on Kayak rides.

Q: Do you ever get “inventor’s block”, like “writer’s block”? After 200 patents, how do you keep coming up with fresh ideas?

A: “I wouldn’t call it a block, but sometimes you know there is a better solution that you just haven’t thought of yet.  All patents are solutions to problems.  If you like to think about problems you will have ideas.  The more you focus on a specific problem the more ideas you will have on how to solve it.  It’s about picking right problem to focus on.  The real key for me when managing your own ideas, or problem solutions, is to embrace and discard with the same enthusiasm.  If you are working on a problem, dump an idea as soon as you think of a better one.  It’s hard and counter-intuitive, but don’t get emotionally attached to your ideas.  It will help you have more ideas.”

Joe's now 26 year-old daughter Carley!  in "Action Photo" early prototype (Print from Video)

Joe’s now 26 year-old daughter Carley! in “Action Photo” early prototype (Print from Video)

Q: How does your team support one another in what would seem like a competitive environment?

A: “That’s a great question.  A diverse team can analyze a problem from many different perspectives and provides broader set of potential solutions.  If the team has a mutually agreed upon objective and includes many different disciplines and skills then your chances of success really increase.  We are fortunate to work in an environment where people are more than willing to share their ideas and opinions.  I think people realize that the more we work together the more we all will succeed.”

Joe's home work space and desk

Joe’s home work space and desk – with patent awards hanging on the wall

Q: Why are patents important to a company like Kodak Alaris?

A: “Generally speaking, patents are important to any company involved in innovation that leads to new products and services. Companies need to protect their efforts and investments in research and development and patents provide that protection.”

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Rotor Kite: Home made high wind rotor kite

Q: Do you think you will make it to 300 patents?

A: “Well, if I do I’ll make it to Wikipedia, that’s their prolific inventor threshold.  I don’t really have numeric goals like that; I get satisfaction out of the process.  I like to invent things, file patents, and see inventions in products.  But, just like with cats; they chase things, they kill things, and they eat things but each of these activities provides its own rewards or there would be no multi-billion dollar cat toy industry.  You have to learn that every idea will not become a patent or make it to the market, but you can’t win if you don’t play.”

Homemade "Sea Crocks"

Homemade “Sea Crocks”

Q: If you weren’t a Patent Engineer at Kodak Alaris what do you think you would be doing?

A: “I’m not sure but I think it would involve working on inventions in some form.  I’ve always liked making things, drawing, and writing but my current role provides the resources and opportunities that are very rare to come by so I really appreciate the work and do my best to make the most of it.”

Sports Party

It’s winter school break in our part of the world and despite the cabin fever, we are stuck at home for the week. I thought a good way to end the kids’ vacation would be to let them have a few friends over on Saturday. Since there just happens to be some major international sporting events taking place, we decided on a sports-themed party.

The first staple of any good party—the food. I know we’ll need lots of it considering the pack of pre-teen and teen boys we expect as guests. In addition to the typical junk food, I plan on preparing the Sporty Party Food, using pictures of the boys’ friends and the US flags. I will probably make the sliders shown here, but these food picks work well for a variety of foods, especially desserts.

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I’m putting the boys in charge of decorations, and they have the rest of the week to work on that part. I wouldn’t be surprised if I see lots of USA flags and pictures of skiers, skaters and snowboarders when I get home from work.

For favors, we’re going to make these Photo Party Favors. Luckily, my nephew is just moving into his first apartment and was going to get rid of his old sports trophies. So I grabbed those up and we are going to spray paint them red, white and blue and add photos of the boys’ friends.

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Now I just have to come up with some ways for the kids to burn off some of the energy and excitement that’s sure to result from watching the televised sports.  I guess I could always send them out in the snow to play…

Lastly, I have to find a way to work the new buzzword of the season into the party. If you have any suggestions for a creative way to incorporate TWIZZLE, please comment below!

You can find more sports themed party and photo project ideas on the Kodak Tips and Projects Center.

Skiing and My Kodak Moment’s app

It has been an epic winter for skiiing.  My family spent last Saturday tearing it up on the slopes; what a bluebird day!  I grabbed a few shots with my iPhone — I love the colors of downhill skiing, especially on a sunny day.

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These shots were so good I made a quick photo book with them, using the KODAK My Kodak Moments app.  It took me 10 minutes to create the book; all you need to do is download and start the app, select “Create and Order from Phone”, select “Simple Picture Books”, pick your size, and make it.  The app lets you use all those smartphone pictures you are taking but never seem to make it in print.  I picked 10 shots, did a simple reorder, picked my nearest Target store, and voila — I will pick up the book on my way home.

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A memorable day, now even more memorable with my simple photo book!

You can download the My Kodak Moment mobile app for your iPhone or Android device here and get started right away?