Sharon Cooke

Holy Lightscoop, Batman!

In Uncategorized on February 18, 2010 at 6:32 pm

In the department of incredible gizmos for little money, the Lightscoop has got to rank way up there. I first learned about it from David Pogue, a voice I’ve been trusting in one way or another for a long time.  (I guess I’m not paying that much attention to Pogue, though, as he recommended this product at the end of 2007 and I only found out about it two weeks ago.) The Lightscoop is an easy little mirror attachment that makes the onboard flash on your DSLR practically as good as an external flash. Instead of the flash whomping the subject with bright light that destroys all the contours, Lightscoop throws the light up to bounce off the ceiling and fall back down on the subject like soft light on a cloudy day. And here’s possibly the best part: the attachment only costs $25!

Here’s the little darling attached to a DSLR (Something that takes about 3 seconds to do) and a comparison of flatout flash compared to Lightscooped flash:


Tempting Templates

In Uncategorized on January 30, 2010 at 4:52 pm

My relationship with the templates I buy from my favorite template designers (mostly Ali Edwards, Cathy Zielske, Michelle Martin, and Katie Pertiet, all at is generally good but not always straightforward. I have used this template from Cathy Zielske’s Design Your Life course twice in just a couple of weeks, both times because it allowed me to get in many pictures of my subject’s amazing little face. The layout works well for story-telling, too.

My first layout with this template turned out like this:

The second version looks like this:

But look what happened when I started out with the left page of this template from Katie Pertiet:

I ended up with this:

As I was working on this layout problems developed: the postage stamp frame was too white for what I had on the page at that time. Then I felt the edges of the postal stamp frame were too busy for what I was doing on the page. Then something else came up, and so on. Until at one point near the end I noted that the only part of Katie’s original template that I still had on the page was the perforated edge of one of the patterned papers, but eventually that went, too. As it stands now, my  layout has nothing from the template—and yet, I have to say that the template was a help to me. It got me started, and it sort of kept up a dialogue with me. As if the template were saying, “let’s put in some cool postage frames,” or “let’s use a vintage postcard.” These were ideas I tried and found wanting for this layout, but I’m still very glad I tried them.

If you haven’t tried a template, you might want to try one now. Just remember that you want them to be “fully layered” so you have complete freedom to use them (or in at least this one case, not use them) as best suits your topic du jour.

Credits: Quelle Journee: Katie Pertiet Childhood Paper Pack and striped paper Liv Esteban at (part of class materials).

Let Them Eat Mousse: Everything from Katie Pertiet Eat Cake kit.

At the Children’s Museum: Notebook No.4 Paper Pack by Katie Pertiet,  Brad Bonanaza No.1 by Pattie Knox (recolored), Arrow by Kathryn Ballint, Grandma Rose’s Hats kit (a freebie! Get one for yourself here,)

Loving Jessica Sprague

In Uncategorized on January 29, 2010 at 9:20 pm

I see that I’ve taken 11 courses at and am signed up and eagerly awaiting a twelfth starting next month on getting the most out of my beloved Wacom tablet (which essentially lets you substitute a very, very smart pen for your mouse.)

Some of these classes have been free; some have not. All have been excellent. By the time I learned about Jessica, I had already found other ways to learn Photoshop, so I haven’t taken her beginner and intermediate courses in digital scrapbooking, but I did take her advanced course, Digi in Deep, which is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself as a digital scrapbooker.  I learned a HUGE amount there and, even better, enjoyed every minute of it. (The layout above was done in that class.)  I hear that the beginner and intermediate courses in this three course series, Up and Running with Photoshop and Now We’re Rockin’ with Photoshop are just as good as the one I took. In fact, I’m thinking about going back to the earlier courses as I’m sure I’d still learn a lot from them.

Another series of classes taught by Jessica and her colleague, Liv Esteban, is called Type + Writer. The focus of these classes is on the journaling, but as in all of Jessica’s scrapbooking classes, you are making complete layouts throughout your journey with Jessica and Liv. This means you automatically have a lot to show for the time you spent in the class, which I think we can all agree is a good thing. And I hope we can all agree that producing well-designed layouts with lots of journaling is also a good thing!

The classes are reasonably priced, thorough, clear, and beautifully presented. Plus they’re always there for you. Once you’ve taken a class you can come back to it and rerun a video lesson anytime you’d like. The other day I needed to re-learn a technique I’d learned in Digi in Deep and thought, I remember which layout I learned that on, but how will I ever find the exact steps without having to plow through the whole layout. In the end, though, I found what I was looking for almost immediately, re-learned the technique in a couple of minutes, and went happily on my way.