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22 posts categorized "photography"

June 26, 2014

An app I'm digging


Do you know about the Visual Supply Company (a.k.a. VSCO?)

I've been seeing the #vscocam on Instagram for a long time and last week I Googled it to find out what it was all about. (I read a good article on VSCO Cam here.)

I've really pared down my phone photo app usage this past year. I mostly use Pic Tap Go (editing) and Big Lens (background blurring and other aperature effects.)

But after discovering VSCO Cam, I'm kind of crushing big time.

With their app for both iPhone and Android, you can do things that you can do with many other apps but there's something about this app's whole aesthetic that appeals to me.

I will admit, it took me a while to figure everything out (read: I haven't actually figured everything out yet) and I don't feel like it's the most intuitive app on the planet, but there is something about this app that makes me want to take more creative photos with my phone.

If you look at the VSCO Grid, it's a melange of absolutely stunning photos. Clearly, this company is featuring top notch phone photography. But that's what is so cool: these shots are all taken with phones.

That's one of the things I love about phone photography: it helps to level the playing field and lets you feel and be as creative as you want to be.

I've decided to use VSCO Cam to try and create more interesting images. I will use it to augment my Instagram use, as well. If you want to see what I'm posting, you can find me here.

My goal is to be more deliberate with the images I create. And to play more. To have fun with my phone.

What about you? Any new photo apps you've discovered? What about VSCO? Are you already a fan?


Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 8.32.07 AM

Speaking of phones and photography, the Phone Photography Project 2 kicks off next month. For more information or to register, click here.




August 26, 2013

My current Photo Album Project + a free download


Back in 2005, when I was writing Clean & Simple Scrapbooking: The Sequel, I was knee-deep in the scrapbooking philosophy—the same one that pretty much guides how I approach the hobby to this day—of scrap what you want to remember and never scrap out of obligation.

Sometimes this translated to as many as ten layouts a month; sometimes just a few; and sometimes none at all. Over the years, aside from pages created for assignments or classes, I haven't done a lot of scrapbooking just for the fun of it. Part of why Project Life has resonated so much with me is that it really has brought back the joy of simple documentation. It lets me play with my photos and memories every single week in a very do-able way.

Now let me jump to a different thought: photo albums. In C&S: The Sequel, as part of my scrapbook liberation theology, I touted the value of the simple photo album as another way to do something with your photos. During that time, I had invested in a bevy of gorgeous albums from Kolo in an effort to streamline my chronological photo album system. I gathered up all of my rag-tag, mismatched albums and transferred many of my photos into these sleek, black, cloth-covered albums.


My goal was to have a chronological photographic record of my life. Simple enough, right?

But for some reason—maybe it was boredom or the fact that those albums aren't exactly cheap—I stopped the transfer process right at year 2004. And then in 2006, I stopped making photo albums altogether. 

But as you can guess, I didn't exactly stop taking photos. 

So this summer, I got the itch again—the itch to continue the Great Photo Album Project. To continue transferring photos into thos beautiful Kolo albums, which thankfully, they still make. (Although some of the blacks are slightly different.)

But here's where it gets weird: I didn't realize that I never bothered to transfer photos from my super old albums, the ones ranging from 1995 to 2001. I have no idea why I decided to start the Kolo transfer beginning with the year 2002, but that's what I did. 

Because I do have some anal retentive tendences, I had to go back and make it right. Luckily, the albums lined up pretty well and it hasn't been too bad, but I did have to take photos out of albums I'd already done, re-sort and re-insert but this process is perfect for a person who can't even walk out to get the mail without real effort. So that is what I'm working on right now.

One thing I've been doing as I've been moving photos is culling. Yep, I'm getting rid of photos that quite honestly didn't need to be in a photo album in the first place. And just what types of photos? Ones that are repetitive. I realized that I don't need 13 photos that are all close ups of Aidan. Just as I'm also doing with my digital library, it's time to pare it down a bit. 

(And by 'getting rid of' I simply mean putting them into boxes. I haven't completely lost my mind, people.)


But here's where it gets ambitious: I need to start making new albums.

The last photos I had printed for photo album homes was in 2006. That leaves 2007 to present day not currently in any photo album of any kind.

I have layouts sprinkled across those years, but there really is a value to me in having a chronological photographic record. So I've made a slightly ambitious but sensible plan.

I will choose 100 photos from each year since 2007 to have printed. These Kolo albums hold 300 photos, so that's three years per album which I think is just about right. I just need to create some new folders in iPhoto and start compiling. 

It'll come out to less than 10 photos for each month and will require some concise editing, but I think it's going to be really cool to have photos in albums for all these years I've overlooked.

I'll use Persnickety Prints for printing the photos since I've been so happy with my digital Project Life pages.

And really, it's not a bad use of time for a girl who quite literally can do nothing more than sit and shuffle back and forth from the office to the bathroom to the living room and back. (More on that later this week.)

I really feel like the credo from Artifact Uprising has inspired me to do this project as well, to preserve the disappearing beauty of the tangible. I want to touch and see my photos in a medium that isn't pixelated.

To enhance my albums, I created a simple label (roughly 3 x 3.5 inches) to drop into each of the album windows. I just wanted something clean and classic.

If you'd like to use my label template, I've created a layered PSD file for you to download. I used the free font Arvo, a slab serif with some similarities to my favorite Archer font, for the template. Simply customize as needed, then print onto cardstock and trim just inside the lines. My Clean & Simple students will be very familiar with create a precision title that doesn't rely on the Force Justify Alignment. This label is designed to work with the Kolo album windows, but could be modified to fit any album. 


Note: The "LASTNAME" placeholder is a separate text layer. You can type in your last name, and adjust the size and placement as needed. The goal is to get your name flush with the "FAMILY PHOTOS" text, lining it up on the guides you'll see in the template. This layered PSD file is for Photoshop or Photoshop Elements only.

Download KoloLabelSet

I'm curious about you: do you keep chronological photo albums? Yes? No? Reasons? Or do you have other ways of keeping your photos on track?



March 05, 2013

I choo choose you!


I first blogged about the iPhone in 2007 when I first caught wind of its impending release.

For all my insane fan girl longing, I didn't actually own an iPhone until July 2011 on account of that whole AT&T exclusivity thing (Verizon girl here) and being frugal and constantly talking myself out of actually needing one. (And yes, I documented that fateful, joyout day here.)

Long story short: when my iPhone 4 became eligible for an upgrade, I beat a swift path to the Apple Store, credit card and giddiness in hand.


It's so light. So thin. So sexy. I am yet again in love.

Although I didn't need the upgrade, I am really looking forward to the improved quality of the camera, especially considering how many photos I take for my Project Life album using my phone.

And speaking of photos, today I want to show you a cool little app called PicTapGo, from my favorite photo filter makers, Totally Rad.

Here's a short video showing you how it works.


I used Totally Rad Actions on all of my photos that I shoot with my Canon 5D. I primarily use Rad Lab, and what's so great about PicTapGo! is that it feels just like Rad Lab. 

Here's a very short video I made using a new fun app called Reflector that lets me screencast my iPhone screen.

PicTapGo Demo from CZ Design from Cathy Zielske on Vimeo.

Remember: freakishly long arms and a high shooting angle. Thank you.



September 18, 2012

Recent Instagram faves

Fun Photo Sep 10, 6 57 30 PM

Photo Sep 15, 1 13 13 PM

Photo Sep 15, 5 29 31 PM

Photo Sep 15, 6 30 58 PM

Still adore that little iPhone app. Most of these shots from last week are going into Project Life this week. Who knew a phone would be so useful to a scrapbooker?

You can follow me here. I won't lie: I talk a lot of pictures of my food.


June 20, 2012

Yes, I'm Radvocating (fun with Totally Rad's Rad Lab)

I've been fielding a few emails lately asking me how I work with my photos. Last year, I posted about using Rad Lab, from Totally Rad Actions and I thought I'd show you another example from this very cool Photoshop (and Photoshop Elements) plug in.

I use Rad Lab on every photo that I print. Sometimes, I just do the most basic of adjustments, but other times, I combine all sorts of action effects to create a photo that is perfectly to my liking. The cool thing about Rad Lab, is the possible combinations and results are seriously endless, and you get to see what you're doing as you go. If you're interested in seeing how it works, watch the video below. (To see a larger version of the video, watch it over at Vimeo by clicking here.)

I took a photo of my lovely niece, Micah, but wasn't happy with the out of camera color. So, Rad Lab helped me take it to better place, as well as make a lovely black and white version.







Enjoy the video! And keep in mind, you can try Rad Lab for free for 30-Days. 

Rad Lab Demo from Cathy Zielske on Vimeo.

May 29, 2012

The Scrapbooker's New Toys


Photo taken with my new Canon 50mm Compact Macro lens.

You know how every now and then photo-lovin' women get the itch for something new?

Or maybe how it happens more often than every now and then?

When I was in Seattle last week, I got to spend some time with the beautiful and talented Tracey Clark who introduced me to two cool lenses that I decided on the spot I really needed to have. Needs? Wants? What the hell! Mama likes them write offs!

I bought one of these:


I took it up north over Memorial Day weekend and started to get to know it. I've never had any macro capabilities, and am really looking forward to exploring what it can do. Here are a few images I shot with it.


I call this one Extreme Bark.


And this one? Extreme moss.


This one is of a clematis in my back yard.

The second toy lens Tracey showed me was the Olloclip.


This nifty little guy goes right over your iPhone 4 or 4s camera. Like this:


The previous two Olloclip photos were taken with my new 50mm Compact Macro. I call that Blog Post Lensception.

It offers you three options: wide angle, fish eye and macro (and let me tell you, it is an extreme macro.)

Macro example:

Photo May 23, 4 44 08 PM

YIKES! What IS that? (The same clematis blossom as seen above.)

Photo May 25, 8 16 57 AM

And that? My patio table.

I realize that this extreme need for close up might be overkill, but here's a nice image from my weekend up North using the Wide Angle lens. I call it: Cabin Juice.

Photo May 25, 10 20 40 PM

What's so fun about the Olloclip is that you can use it with your favorite iPhone photo applications. For me, that means mostly Instagram.

I'm guessing I'll get a lot more use out of the 50mm lens than the Olloclip, but hey, sometimes you just have to jump in with both feet.

And by all means, save your receipts for the tax man.



December 07, 2011

It really pops!


This marks the first year we get to see what our house looks like in a white, chilly, occasionally dreary Minnesota winter. The initial report? It totally pops!

(Okay, so maybe it pops courtesy of Totally Rad's Rad Lab plug in for Photoshop.)

I've actually been playing with Rad Lab a ton in the past few months. Rad Lab works with both Photoshop (CS3 or higher) and Photoshop Elements (version 7 or higher.) If you are a fan of actions or just playing with your photos, it's definitely a tool to check out. There's a ton of info at their site if you're interested in learning more. I recorded a very quick, decidedly not-too technical video to show you the Rad Lab interface in action.




July 18, 2011

Ma'am, please put your hands in the air and slowly step away from the iPhone


I have a confession to make, but I'll only tell you: I've only received about three calls on my new iPhone 4 since picking it up a few weeks ago. I really didn't set out to use my super high tech phone only to take photos of my three daily meals and snacks. It just sort of happened.


Did I ever mention that my monthly phone minute usage averages out to about 22?


You remember last week, I posted my free Instagram template to help spread the camera phone documentation love, yes? Well that template inspired me to create two new 12 x 12 day in the life format templates on sale today at Designer Digitals.

There's this one:


And this one:


There's definitely something fun about the old day in the life format. It forces you to a) keep a camera handy and b) look for things from your life to document.

It very much feels like you're on an assignment, much to the annoyance of everyone around you, namely kids who say, "Why are you taking pictures of your lunch... again?"

But I gave it a shot on Saturday, and while it's not a complete picture of the day, it's definitely a slice of life that was fun to save. Plus, the small journaling blurb areas are simple for anyone, even the world's least competent journaler, to fill out.

(Click on image below to see it larger in a new window)


SUPPLIES: Layered Template No. 87 (Cathy Zielske) •Spot Dots No. 13slightly altered in PS—(Katie Pertiet) • Just Linens No. 18 (Michelle Martin) • Honey Script and DejaVu Sans fonts (free download fonts).

I'm sure the novelty of having a camera phone will wear off. Or, maybe it won't.

Either way, you could use these templates for any images you have to document a day, or a week, or even a series of things such as Doris, one of the Designer Digitals team members, did here with her charming layout about baby shoes.


(Click here for her digital supplies.)

Designer Digitals team member Tara documented one week in her life.:


(Click here for her digital supplies.)

These templates both use free fonts and you can customize the title areas to say whatever you like. For example, if you use Hipstagram, just delete the layer that says "Instagram," download the free font, Honey Script (link included in the How To PDF in the package) and create a new type layer that says whatever you like!

I will say that I love having a design that will let me dump a bunch of these photos, even if they are of my lunch on a daily basis, into a template to save for posterity.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to photograph my lawn. Happy Monday!


P.S. 8.5 x 11 versions of these Day in the Life templates will be coming to the Designer Digitals store soon, hopefully by next weekend!



July 13, 2011

Some of your children will love the camera, others, well…


Last weekend, my nephew, Jacob, married his lovely fiancé, Melissa, which meant the Zielske clan got to scrub up and make themselves look presentable.


I appreciate many of my 15-year-old's qualities: she is thoughtful, empathic, kind, creative, whip smart and independent. She also likes having her picture taken.


She also has really good hair.


One thing is for certain: this young woman will never lack for a proper collection of photos from her life.

Another thing? She never really hit that awkward teen phase like I did.

Cathy @ 14 maybe

But I really did feel pretty in that purple angora sweater. Sigh.

Now speaking of people getting all cleaned up, this leaves us with Cole. At nearly 12, he is less thrilled with the idea of a nice photograph for posterity's sake.


Let's try again, buddy. Just hold still... there! Got it!


Note to self: next time, if you want results, bust out the cold hard cash.


July 11, 2011

Feeling the InstaLove (free template download!)


I am feeling the Instagram love, people.

Since picking my my new iPhone last week, I've joined the throngs of phone photo enthusiasts who post their photos to the online stream that is Instagram.


The tilt-shift. The filters. The simple way to snap and share. I love this silly app and I hardly even know it.


But I don't just want to have little photos I love only relegated to cyberspace. I really want to incorporate some of these images into my overall memory keeping system.


I think they'd be perfect to sprinkle into any Project Life albums.


Or, you could do what I'm doing: create a simple page featuring a few of your favorites from the month.


I've created a simple 8.5 x 11 layered template for anyone who'd like to do the same. You can create a fully digital page like I did, and simply print it out onto a piece of photo paper (or, save the entire file as a JPEG and upload to an online photo printer such as and save the page as is.

Or you could also break it apart to create any hybrid variation of this page.

A sweet, simple, slice of InstaLife. Click on the link below the image to download the free template.

Note: this template would also be a great place to showcase some of your Hipstamatic prints as well. Or heck, it's also just a cute template to drop six photos into about anything you love. Play with it as you choose!


Download CZ_InstaFreebie


To see more of my digital scrapbook templates and products, visit my collection at Designer Digitals today.

Want to learn more about the basics of digital scrapbooking? Check out some of my video tutorial posts by clicking here.