This past weekend I attended a class to learn about taking photos with my DSLR camera which I bought a few weeks ago. It’s been a couple of decades since I used an SLR camera and wanted to take a class to refresh my memory and see what the main differences were between film SLR and digital SLR cameras.


I was amazed at the amount of information the instructor shared with us – and thought there were be some useful tips for anyone that takes digital photos, not just with a DSLR.


One of the things discussed was making your photos last.

1.       It seems DVD and CD media are the best way to store your photos.  While you can store your photos on your computer’s hard drive, or even an external hard drive, the life span of these hard drives is about 3-5 years – whereas the life span of a  DVD gold disc can be up to 300 years and a silver CD can be up to 50 years.  And it was interesting to learn that CD media has been around for several decades and probably will remain around for some time- – Check out your disc slot, you’ll see the sections allowing different sized CDs to sit in the slot. If you have an older CD (3”) your current CD drive should be able to play it.

2.       Always store your CD/DVD media in archival sleeves – those plastic jewel boxes may be fine for simple day to day documents that you want to have readily available, but they contain an acid releasing component that will degrade the integrity of your CD/DVD media. Go to the photo store and purchase some archival sleeves. If you can print out an index sheet of all the photos on that CD/DVD and keep it with the media,  you will know at first glance what it contains. Loading 50 CDs/DVDs to see where that special photo is can take a long time.

3.       Use an ACID FREE pen to write on your media. Regular Sharpies or other markers will leak acid and start to burn away your CD/DVDs and the data that is on them  in as short a time as 1-2 years. As evidence, several CDs were passed around the class and the “ghosting” from the writing was very evident.  I purchased an acid free pen for about $3 after the class.

4.       Once you burn your photos onto the CD/DVD, do not go back and continue to add photos to them. This too will degrade and/or possible corrupt your data – and who want to risk losing those precious family photos?

5.       Burn two CDs each time – one can be for playing and the other for your “fire safe” as a kind of “negative.” If you only have one CD and it gets destroyed, scratched, etc. – the photos are gone for good.

6.       This last point is also very important and deals with downloading your photos from your camera onto your computer. When you use your camera to connect to your PC and download the photos, you are using the camera itself which can cause premature wear on parts – something no normally covered under the warranty – as it is perceived to be overuse and not manufacturer’s defect. So it is best to either purchase a card reader for about $30 or (if your PC has the slots for SD cards), just insert the SD card directly into the computer.

7.       The thing to remember with the direct SD card insertion is to:

a.       Make sure your camera is turned off before you remove the SD card

b.      After you have downloaded the photos from the card to your PC, make sure you “safely eject” the card, otherwise you are risking a chance to corrupt your SD card. There are different ways to do this: on my PC, I go to “my Computer” and right click on the drive holding my card. I choose “Eject” and then I select “safely remove media.”  Other PCs will have an icon on the lower right hand side of the tool – if you hover over the icon, you will have the choice of “safely ejecting” the media.


I hope these tips have been as helpful to you as they were to me.  As I learn more about my camera and take additional classes, I’ll be sure to share things that may be of interest to you.


I’d love to hear your comments. Please feel free to post then here.


My First Blog Post – making a silver baby spoon

by rutamurphy on September 7, 2010


A couple of weekends ago, I decided to try making something totally different from my jewelry creations. Earlier this summer, a good friend was blessed with her first granddaughter and I wanted to share my congratulations with the new parents as well. What better could I try to make than something from my hands and heart and with the tools that I love to use – hammers and fire!!

I decided to try my luck at making a baby spoon for Stella Elizabeth (named after both of her deceased grandmothers). Mind you,  I really have no knowledge of how to make a spoon nor do I really have the proper hammers and forming tools to do so, but to those that know me,  when has that ever stopped me from trying something new?

I regret not having taken pictures as I went along – isn’t hindsight great?- but I did take a couple of photos of the finished item.

So – my first attempt began with an oval piece of sterling with a bit of a thin short handle on it. I annealed and stretched, then annealed some more and formed – my neat little oval was starting to look like an oddly shaped egg. Got out the dividers, and with some marking, piercing and filing, the odd little egg finally looked like a properly shaped spoon.

Now it was time to solder on a handle – – no problem with that – – set up everything on the solderite board, got out the big torch tip and brazed away-quenched and into the pickle pot it went.  A few minutes later, I pulled out my spoon and was mildly disappointed.   the spoon was crooked on the handle!

OK – no big deal, I said. I got out the torch and third hand and heated everything up until the handle and spoon bowl were separate again and then re-soldered. This spoon is looking pretty  cool I said to myself – albeit a bit primitive.  Now it’s time to stamp a design– baby initals and birth date—onto the handle.

This was when I really learned that I just cannot keep those little rods of metal straight or hit them evenly with that other hammer. By the time I was done “stamping,” that piece of handle looked like the baby had done it herself. Time to separate the handle from the spoon once again. Only this time, not only did the two pieces separate but the short handle on the spoon decided to melt and break off. DARN! – into the scrap silver recycling pile it went. And now I was devastated – because all that hammering and forming and soldering and unsoldering taken me the better part of a few hours each night of the week.- and I still had nothing to show for it

Well – call it persistence or stupidity –  back to square one I went. I made a second spoon (round this time) and handle – soldered them together but this time I changed the design. I still wanted to stamp Stella Elizabeth’s initials and date of birth somewhere on the handle and I did – but this time I put it on the backside under the curve of the handle where you can see it but it’s not part of the design.  Instead, I added a textured triangle of sterling and then hammered the other half of the handle to give it more strength. Then I formed it around a mandrel and here it is. . .  Stella Elizabeth’s new baby spoon.

 While it still looks a little primitive (I didn’t planish the bowl enough ), I must say I am happy with the way it turned out overall. Maybe it IS time to invest in some more tools and how-to books, of course)-what do you think!





























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