Thursday, May 28, 2015

The quickest trip album ever!

Last week I shared how my husband lost all his beautiful photos of our Taiwan trip when he lost his camera. And how my layouts on the Project Life app saved our memories.

I still wanted a Taiwan photo book, but since I have less photos then usual, I wanted to do this differently. And quickly. This is how.
digiscrap trip album template

First I decided to make these pages in the linear collage style like last year's Bali album. I will save a lot of time from not making the mats and shadow for each individual photo. The most important time-saver is the Pre-selection of papers and elements to be used on all the layouts, and sticking to them! I also decided not to use alpha for the titles, which saved me 30 rounds of alpha-search, so there!

I streamlined my process by batching the tasks:
  1. Select the photos for all the layouts all at one go. 30 photoshop files were opened to house the photos sorted by days or places we visited.
  2. Pre-Select the background papers ( only 2 black papers) and about 100 elements (word strips, tape) based on the few main colors I can see in the photos and save them to a special folder. These were reused and repeated through the layouts and saved time and provided a consistent theme to the album. 
  3. Color process all the photos at one go - brightening or sharpening using the levels tool only.
  4. Next, resize and arrange the photos to form each layout
  5. Add elements to all the layouts 
  6. Add Title and Journaling to all the layouts (font used was Return To Sender for title and Calibri for journaling)
  7. Done! I love it!
And here are the accompanying templates - currently 20% off in the store. Thanks for looking!
digiscrap trip album template

digiscrap trip album template

In case some of you want to follow our adventures, I will share our journaling for each day/place here. These are the first twenty layouts, I will save the rest for other projects to be shared later (wink)

Journaling reads: Our first stop was the YeLiu national park, it was our first shock and experience with the hordes of China tourist!! You can’t tell here because we had walked  so far away to escape them! Still the place is quite interesting and everyone has a right to see it! Then on our way to the Sculpture Museum, we took a detour to the tomb and memorial to Theresa Teng.  It was quite moving that her songs play 24 hours a day here, and lots of people still come everyday to lay flowers twenty years after her death. The caretaker kept saying to us, “such a pity”. Surreal experience in the fog and rain and all!

Journaling reads: This was the most amazing sculpture museum ever! Everything is life-sized and bigger. And all of it by this one sculptor Ju Ming , who was made famous by his giant stone statues of people doing Tai Ji. How did he do it? So cool that the massive stone shapes look like a TaiJi master in action! We loved posing with them!

Journaling reads: More superb life scenes from the sculpture museum. We especially love the life-like ones of mummies carrying babies and children, scenes from everyday life, and even stone people taking up the space on rest benches outside the cafe!!! Jared also tried his hand at drawing at one of the four art galleries and installation museum scattered in this giant space

It was the most lovely hike we had, at BiTou, near the cape at the northern end of Taiwan. It was sunny and awesome for a winter’s day! You can see for miles out to the sea and around the coast, really reminds us of Hawaii. We passed the ‘most scenic elementary school in Taiwan’ perched high up on one of the look out points, and also lots of tiny ‘houses’ perched all over a part of the hills. What are they? We found out they were family graves, so interesting, but I guess eerie at night!

More of the fantastic and dramatic coast on the fine day where we drove, stopped, hiked, took it in!

This was an old gold mine! Also a very scenic area. We went up to the old mining town, with Japanese offivers’ quarters, old workers’ quarters, offices and so on. Then we climbed up to the old mine museum, where you can enter the mines if you would don the helmet (with hair protector!) We also tried to do an Indiana Jones moment with the carts, and tried to lift a 220kg gold brick!! The staff says you can take it with you if you can carry it away! Haha!

Jiu Fen is a must-visit for everyone! An atmospheric bustling market street. Full of all sorts of delicacies, dessert, foodstuff, souvenirs, though touristy, but still a wonderful taste and see it all and soak it in kind of place! Dad bought grape concentrate(!), we tried peanut ice cream popiah (yummy!), the boys even ventured to speak mandarin and bought lots of crackers and the like on their own. We crashed in a cafe for some grilled cuttlefish and taidi. Missed the beautiful scenery due to the rain, will definitely come back if we are in Taiwan again.

It was a day out to the hot spring town of Bei Tou. It was too hot for hot springs unfortunately, haha! But so fun to see folks bathing in the public baths and just soaking their feet along the streams! Later we wandered the town of DanShui old town for more markets and temples. We ended the day at BaLi for a nostalgic and fun bicicar ride along the coast. Teamwork in our family is just hilarious with trash talking and all fun!!!

We arrived in HuaLien and checked into our lovely apartment and immediately went to Li-Yu Lake. It was beautiful and not crowded, a definite plus. It looked like a scene out of a chinese painting, and had the usual lakeside activities. We cycled around it, took the ducky paddle boats, and again had such fun just being us, scenic taidi and all!

Taroko Gorge is a huge place! There was the very chinese entrance area that make it seem like we are in some scene out of a chinese gungfu movie. Steep cliffs surround us every corner we turn! We love the hike cut into the walls of the gorge. We also  crossed two suspension bridges, fun! There has been a lot of falling stones landfalls from erosion recently, so some parts are closed, and others require us to wear helments. Look how small we are in comparison to this grand display of God’s handiwork!   

The waters in and around Taroko Gorge make it all the more awesome. Turquoise or dazzling blue depending on the sunlight and time of day, it beautifully sets off the stone and cliffs and makes for breathtaking views everywhere you look ! We did another scenic four-times points taidi here in one of the caves. As good as it gets!

The Hualien coast is rugged, beautiful, and with history for history buffs like us! We started the day visiting the former  japanese military headquarters , which in WWII served to send off kamakazi pilots to the US in the pacific war. We read  touching letters by these pilots before their final flight that will haunt us forever.  For the rest of the day, we hiked, climbed, checked out various out of this world scenery, black sand beaches, and more.  

Shitiping is as rugged as it gets. The waves were crashing relentlessly against the coast. It was too cold for the rest of us so we stayed back while daddy goes to get his pictures. Which, eventually were all lost with the camera, of course. By staying far away from the tourists and being out there just the four of us, was a great feeling! 

At Hualien there is not much to do at night except the markets, and we are not that keen for streetfood after a while, so we took to trying all their carnival games as well as those toy grabbing machines. Gave us lots of laughter and fun! There was even an ingenious angry bird pig slingshotting booth - Clever!!

This was probably the most impactful day in our trip. No matter how much we had read beforehand, we were in shock the moment the crumbled buildings came into sight amongst the residential houses. The impact of the earthquake on the school was devastating, and it has been preserved in this museum. We had never seen anything like this, the running track was lifted several feet up and displaced, and the swimming pool too, the school buildings were worse, mostly collapsed. Thankfully it was a Sunday and no one was in school! The museum was quite good, it had a room where they simulated the quake that happened on 921, at the same intensity and duration. Cool experience. Didn’t seem that bad in a cushioned padded room, haha. There was also simulations of various anti-earthquake buildings includng the Taipei 101. But it seems that it just has a greatly lowered chance of disaster!

The cold and rainy day only added to the mood of the day here. It felt out of this world. The cruise was amusing because of the commentary, we saw Chiang Kei Shek’s summer retreat with a pavaillon on the water that has a bomb shelter beneath! Beautiful views from the cable car too and then off to a huge temple that had statuette plagues for your ‘purchase’ so that your name will be preserved here. wow who knew!  The Prayer “wishes” ornaments that were hung everywhere are really though!

Lu Kang is surprisingly fun. A quaint old town with some touristy temple sights and food markets. But as we wandered the streets, it was the old houses, with the old doors and doorways that really interested us. Then there are these new futuristic buildings mushrooming up in the middle of them all! Sigh. There was the mandatory (for mom) old home we visited that was just like my dad’s old home in Pasir Panjang. At least the layout was the same! We also went to the folks art museum which was brilaiant. Full of artefacts from daily life of chinese folks, including the tiniest bound feet shoes, one pair was in leather boot style! Too bad dad’s photos are lost. There was also furniture from that era, like this matrimonial bed for fairly rich folks, I bet!

It was such a great hike! Up and up we went, so many steps and people,but everyone was in good spirits on such a fine day, and the sight of Taipei 101 kept looming so we were greatly motivated. What a view! We chose to do this free climb rather than pay to go up the tower itself. Great choice! At nearly dusk, dad got himself a spot kneeling at the railings since he didn’t have a tripod. And did it to take pictures for an hour till it turned dark! Alas the photos are all lost :( We didn’t know this then and were exhilarated at the beautiful view! 

The last stop on the Ji Ji line is Che Cheng - literally car city. Besides the train terminus, it was a logging town with a very interesting logging museum from those days. Showing how they logged brought the timber down on the river and hoisted it up here for cutting. There is also a reseroir and dam which we hiked up to see. Photos lost! Great fun was had playing a very old pin ball machine in a very old uncle’s very old provision shop! He said he played it when he was a kid so it must be 70 years old! At the evening we ate at this cool timber themed restaurant serving bucket rice like the workers had in the old days. They let us take the buckets home as souvenirs! 

Ji Ji raliway line is quaint and slow and had fun stops where we tried to cycle to some scenic stop but failed utterly and got lost, tried archery which was fun, and ended up at Che Chen the last stop which was an old rail terminus and had cool trains parked for us to explore and provided great photo opportunities!

Wu Lai was an unexpected joy to visit! It’s a hotspring town that has developed into a quaint weekend retreat town. There’s lots of bath houses, or you can just go down to the river turn over some stones and soak in the hot springwater! Lots of locals were bathing and swimming and enjoying themselves! Or as dad did, soak your feet only. It was hot!! Up the mountain we went in an oh so fun crickety ‘train’ converted from old mining carts. They started as hand-pulled carts and every family used to work hard for one, and we even saw photos of brides being married in one of these! Up the waterfall by cable car is the old-fashioned resort featuring to-ho-like scenes everywhere. 

Free Download
And for your playing pleasure, here is a template based on one of the layouts. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The trip we lost our camera and 3000 photos

This is a true story. We went on a 17 days trip round the beautiful island of Taiwan in Dec 2014. About 3,000 photos of awesome gorges, coastal vistas, lakes, mountains, even day to dusk to night views of Taiwan 101 later, my husband lost his camera on the night of Day 16. None of the photos were downloaded anywhere because he had just bought a super 64G memory card! He believes it was left in a taxi and he realized it minutes after alighting but it was too late. And it was his barely one year old Canon 120! At that moment he said he felt physical heart pain! It was horrible! Eventually we recovered after some drama moments and could even enjoy our last day of the trip feeling lighter and more in the moment than ever (smile).

Here's my husband with the poor doomed camera doing what he does on the trip.
PL App

Think what a giant blow it was to the scrapbooker in me! But guess what's part 2 of the story: iPhone and Project Life app saves the day!

Because I used the PL app to document the trip as we travelled, I made sure to take at least a few shots of each place, activity, scene etc on my phone. And these are now the only photos we have from the trip! And I was shocked (and so glad) to find i had over 800 photos on my iPhone!! They were all snapshots, unlike the carefully composed artistic photos my husband is so good at taking, but they were there because I wanted to capture enough for my PL app layouts. Thankfully I'm compulsive this way, lol. 

Each day on our trip I would start a new page in my PL app, and add photos or journalling  on the go. It was super easy and quick, using bits of time while travelling or waiting for our meal, by the end of each day, that day's PL including travel journalling was done!

Imagine how precious these pages were that night when we lost dh's camera!

Let me show you the pages which were already completed on the App when I got home.  

  • the days we visited the 921 Earthquake museum and Sun Moon Lake PL App
  • the hotsprings of BeiTou, seaside of BaLi, lakeside of LiYu
PL App
  • the amazing Taroko Gorge
PL App

  • The rugged coast of HuaLien

PL App
  • Visiting the JuMing outdoor sculpture museum and the night markets of KeeLung

PL App

  • The nostalgic old city of Lu Kang

PL App

  • The quaint towns along the JiJi railway line

PL App

If you want to do this on the PL app like me, there are a few tips I will like to share, from my experience:
Project Life App for Trip

1. Plan ahead. Think about how you will organise your pages (mine were mostly one day a page), or do you want to organise by theme, how much journaling you want, how many pages to fill up. Just a general plan so that when you hit the road, you can start your page without worry! There are many page protectors to choose from, I switch around a few favorites like this one.
PL App

2. I found that journaling on the app is simple, and you can adjust the font size, but there is a limit to how many words can be squeezed on a card, depending on the space on the chosen card. So have an idea how much journaling you will do, so you know how many cards for journaling you will need. In this page, the journaling cards I chose had less space for words so I ended up using 3 spots for journaling.

3. It may not be possible to plan and coordinate the colors on a page completely. So where necessary I used a same filter for all photos on a page to coordinate them, and also chose filler cards in colors that can be picked from photos on that page. Like this one

4. Photo collages are great for squeezing more photos on to a 4x6 pocket space, and you can do this right on the PL app. If the options you want isn't there in the pocket design template choices, you can still make the collage, save the image into your camera roll, and then use it as a photo insert in another PL pocket template on the app. Like this page which I modified from the 'squared away 2' design template.
AL app

5. Enlarging a photo beyond the size of one pocket. In this page below, I enlarged the photo of Taiwan 101 over 3 pocket spots. There was no trick to this, I simply used the same photo 3 times in the 3 spots. I enlarged them and moved them into place, visually adjusting until they look right. Careful minute  movements of the fingers on the app!

PL app

6. Make sure you leave some squares for embellishing with just patterned background cards, if you want to add some once they are printed out. Like this

PL app

PL App

I sent my layouts to print at Persnickety, look how beautiful they turned out! When they arrived I added letter stickers to identify the days and to add dimension. All in under half an hour!
PL app

What do you think? I have used Project Life to document my trips on the go in so many ways, but this is really the easiest and quickest - I'm hooked! I think I might do this for every trip from now on :)

And now onto sharing my April pages:

April Project 365 Photos a Day
Here are my digital April pages this time completed with Yin templates 380A and 380D. This is my fourth year completing my P365 layouts on a half-monthly basis and I'm still going strong and loving it! See the completed years here and here.
digital scrapbook yin Designs template
Photo a day for April
(Credits: word art, border, brads, splat, alpha, all from The Daily Digi's My Life Oh Happiness kit. Paper from Tendermoments by Dawn By Designs, flair from say yes to by Paislee Press, word strip from Little Quirky by Kim B Designs) 

digital scrapbook yin Designs template
P365 for April
(Credits: word strips, alpha from The Daily Digi's My Life of Happiness, word art by Ali Edwards - Everyday Life at its Finest, inked hearts from Dawn By Designs, word art by little butterfly wings, confetti and scallop from Little things by Micheline Martin, enamel arrow, paper heart and sewn word tag by Pink Reptile Designs)

April Project Life
Since I already captured a photo a day, I use PL to tell stories and sometimes there might be more, or less. It doesn't matter! Only one spread this month, capturing anecdotes and inside jokes and the like. Love the fun in our mundane. 

I used cards from Becky Higgins card set - All About Me, and wood button from Shimelle. The rest were completed using digital supplies and printed out. I love how simple hybrid PL can be!

If you enjoyed your visit, sign up for my Yin Designs Newsletter Here - where you'll be updated on freebies, sales, new templates and so on about once a month. Thanks for your interest!


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