Inexpensively Add Photos to Your Web Site

Alki Slide 2

Fall and winter weather has arrived in Seattle, and we’re embracing the change in seasons at Alki Surf Shop. Beach mats, towels and suntan lotion have been replaced by cool weather essentials and great gifts for fun and for the home.

Hand warmers for texting, scarves, hats, umbrellas and gift items that relate to the beach have been added to our inventory.

To showcase new offerings, we needed to create a new Gifts & Accessories section on our web site. But we couldn’t do so until we shot photos and wrote descriptions of our new products.

Light, Focus, Shoot

To expand our web site for next-to-nothing, we have been using the Nokia Lumia Icon, a tripod and device adaptor, plus a shop light and reflectors to shoot photos of our goods.

The product shots are done on the fly. When we have a few moments, we grab an item, set it up and shoot it in our back room. We’re working in a tiny space (about 3’ x 3’), stacking a couple of large cardboard boxes to create a work surface, and using some seamless paper for a background. We bounce light off the walls and ceiling, trying to eliminate glare where we can.

It’s not a sophisticated set up, but the Nokia Lumia Icon has such a good camera, it captures details that read well on the web. The end result: photos that can give our customers a pretty good idea of what we have for sale.

Converting Photos for Web

The Icon’s impressive pixel depth can be overkill for the web. If you upload a 20 megapixel image at 300 dots per inch (DPI) it will really slow down the loading of your web page.

So we take the photos into Photoshop, tweak the colors so they come close to representing the actual products, then down sample before adding to our web site.

We are using the Adobe Creative Suite CS6, which is no longer for sale. Adobe currently offers a $10/month Photoshop subscription on the Creative Cloud, and there are probably free applications out there that will do the same things, but we don’t use them.

Downsampling in Photoshop

  • Open the high-res file.
  • Adjust color, contrast, balance. Often I’ll start with adjusting levels and curves. Retouching can be at this point, too.
  • Save with a name so you can find it, in the high-resolution size in case you might want to use it for print later.
  • Crop the image (In our case, square or rectangles depending on the item)
  • Check and adjust the resolution and size for the web. Many people post at the exact size at 72 DPI, but we post images that are fairly large (up to 7” square at 72 DPI) so our customers can click on the image for a good sized view.
  • Save the file.
  • (NOTE) It’s good to keep copies all of your photos in the same file folder!

They’re ready to upload!

Functionality at a Great Price

© Terri Nakamura_Nokia_Lumia_Icon_IMG_20140313_142022210Currently we use the Icon only as a camera and sound/music ‘brain” for the store.

I just Googled it, and see it’s currently $99 (with a new Verizon contract) through the Microsoft store. I don’t know the Nokia’s price was when newly released, but I suspect it was much higher. Because of its great camera, it has become my go-to tool for any shot where I need clarity and quality.

Alki Surf Shop has a number of one-of-a-kind items that won’t make it onto the web site, but for products where we have back-up inventory in stock, we are shooting images and trying to add a few day by day. The Icon enables us to be nimble about quickly uploading new offerings.

Below you will see a few of the images we’ve added to www.alkisurfshop.com, and links to the accessories. I hope you’ll browse the site, and if you happen to order something, leave a shout on your order and I’ll be sure to send a personal thank you note with your order.

Mahalo!

Tropical_Wine_Charms_grande

The Original Wine Charms “Tropical Paradise” and other styles available

Be Brave, Make Waves! Kinetic Sculpture

Be Brave, Make Waves! Small Nautical Kinetic Sculpture (4 styles available)

Tiki Mask

Tiki Mask (alternate Tiki Sculpture also available!)

Chair_Ornaments_large

Weathered, miniature Adirondack chair ornaments, $6.50 each

Wine_Box_Map_large

Elegant Chateau wine box with nautical map; solid wood neck cradle inside

Shell_Soap_grande

La Mer Seashell Soap Gift Box

Black_Freshwtr_Bracelet_large

Black freshwater pearls bracelet

Starfish_Journal_large

Journals from Bali

Colonial_Lantern_large

Colonial Lantern

Alki Slide 1

SAVE ON SHIPPING! COME INTO THE STORE AND SHOP! 2622 Alki Avenue SW, Seattle 98116 • 206-403-1901

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A Lime-green Burst of Music and Talk

Charles Horsfall photo by Sheela Santos

Charles Horsfall, photo by Sheela Santos

I’m not a workout fanatic, but I like to walk, so the Plantronics Backbeat Fit wasn’t subjected to the same kind of abuse as someone who does an extreme cardio workout.

That being said, the headphones are easy to set up. For me, it took five minutes or less, including the installation of the Backbeat Fit app.

The first thing I did was try playing a song with the music app, and  I was happy to find the sound quality was crystal clear. I’m not a headphone expert, but already I am thinking this is a great upgrade, and my standard-issued Apple headphones will be buried in my bag for back-up.

There are features for controlling the music with the headphones. Music can be paused and the volume can be adjusted. Unfortunately there is no track skipping functionality. Maybe this is something that can be added in the future.

Plantronics headset photo by Terri Nakamura

Plantronics Backbeat Fit headset, photo by Terri Nakamura

There is a non-adjustable band that wraps around the back of your head and I found it to be comfortable. I didn’t try the arm band, but suspect the same care was taken to ensure comfort and usability.

Making phone calls with the Plantronics Backbeat Fit headphones works the way you’d expect. There’s a single button for answering and hanging up. The play/pause button is used to mute a call, and you are notified by a sound when it is on or off. (The button is located on the left headphone, call button on the right).

Holding the call button also allows you to use voice commands, but it isn’t the greatest—at least on the iPhone 5S. I think it has more to do with Siri than anything than any shortcomings of the headphones.

I’m getting some nice feedback from friends, but most of all, it’s great trying out this new gadget.

Plantronics Backbeat Fit photo by Terri Nakamura

Plantronics Backbeat Fit, photo by Terri Nakamura

Guest post by Charles Horsfall, freelance writer

Edited by Terri Nakamura

Photos by Terri Nakamura and Sheela Santos, taken with a Nokia Lumia Icon provided by Verizon Wireless #vzwbuzz

Alki Surf Shop: The Store Verizon Helped Build

A mini Statue of Liberty near the birthplace of Seattle

A mini Statue of Liberty near the birthplace of Seattle

Many people think of Verizon simply as a telecommunications company. But it’s much more. Because of its unique lens on its customer’s needs, it enables people to create, build, communicate and connect in ways you might not imagine.

After months of planning and renovation, in July we opened the legendary Alki Surf Shop in Seattle, home of original Alki-branded clothing and accessories.

Alki Surf Shop is a dream come true for both my husband and me. We’ve created a unique, fun and inviting experience in the Alki Beach neighborhood of West Seattle.

Beside the great “Genuine Alki”-branded clothing we’ve designed and produced locally, we identified and filled a need: There wasn’t a resource on the beach that offered essential things like towels, mats, sunscreen and other “oops, we forgot” items.  And we realized there isn’t a central source providing information on local businesses and services, so we started a bulletin board featuring business cards, menus and schedules to help support our neighbors, while at the same time helping visitors to the beach..

Tees, tanks and hoodies with the Alki Genuine brand.

Tees, tanks and hoodies with the Alki Genuine brand.

Colorful beach towels, sunscreen, sunglasses, beach mats, flip flops and more are available to beach visitors.

Colorful beach towels, sunscreen, sunglasses, beach mats, flip flops and more are available to beach visitors.

Also, there wasn’t a place on the beach that focused on Alki souvenirs, which is crazy since Alki is a “must see” destination in Seattle. People frequently tell us it feels more like southern California or Hawaii than a metropolitan city. In addition to the wonderful people we’ve met in our neighborhood, just this past week we had visitors from France, Germany, Finland, Denmark, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, Mexico, The Dominican Republic, and states from all across the country.

Our first visitors from Germany and Arkansas

Our first visitors from Germany and Arkansas

Alki Surf Shop offers a clean, beautiful and inviting shopping experience with a friendly “island vibe.” We receive a lot of great comments in our guest book, and love the suggestions we receive from customers who help guide us as we add new products to our shelves. When a customer makes a purchase, they are treated like “Hawaiian royalty” by David, who blows a conch shell with a shout out to thank them. It makes for lots of laughter and applause.

From early in our journey, the Nokia Lumia Icon smartphone, and Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet played important roles. They allowed us to connect with, and stay on top of, correspondence with suppliers, manage our inventory, and source, as well as coordinate the procurement of important building materials. They were literally lifelines for us!

© Terri Nakamura Sweet! Nokia Lumia Icon and 2520

Verizon’s Nokia Lumia Icon smartphone and the Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet.

By storing important documents in the cloud, everyone with authority to share the files is able to access and update them using the 2520. The tablet is housed in a durable case with a built-in keyboard and touchpad—both beautifully designed for aesthetics and functionality. And it folds compactly for storage. And we often use the Icon to power the music in the store, or to take photos and videos of our visitors.

In addition to the Icon and 2520, we have Verizon cell-phone signal booster, and a Belkin HD Net Cam — essentials needed for staying connected.

© Terri Nakamura  Belkin Netcam HD for Alki Surf Shop Seattle

The awesome Belkin Netcam HD plus helps us monitor activity in the store, day and night.

The Belkin HD Net Cam offers amazing peace of mind. There are five sensitivity ranges for motion detection from “lowest” to “highest,” and depending on the setting chosen, we are sent alerts of movement in a given area, allowing us to immediately see and hear what is happening. There is also an option to store recorded video on a subscription cloud service. The night vision feature let’s us look in on the store at any time, which is amazing and cool.

Two other great add-on tools from Verizon include the Jawbone Era, a very small, light and comfortable headset, which makes it possible to talk, hands-free, while performing other work.

The second is the Jawbone Up Activity Tracker, which is basically a bracelet that monitors your movement. Since we began the process of building the store, it’s required so much in the way of physical exertion (demolition, stripping surfaces, scraping, speckling, sanding, painting, finishing, etc.), that I’ve lost 12 pounds! It’s been great to have the Jawbone Tracker as a positive reinforcer!

© Terri Nakamura  Jawbone ERA and Jawbone UP cropped

Terrific gadgets including the Jawbone UP and Jawbone ERA have enhanced the process.

It may take a village to raise a child, but it took Verizon to help our business get up and running. Thank you to @theonlinemom and #vzwbuzz for helping make our dream come true.


Follow us on Twitter: @alkisurfshop; Friend us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alkisurfshop or visit us at the store in Seattle, located at 2622 Alki Avenue SW, Seattle, WA 98116 near 59th and Alki Avenue SW. (206) 403.1901.

© Terri Nakamura Dashboard hula girl Alki Surf Shop Seattle

One of three dashboard hula girls you can find at Alki Surf Shop in Seattle.

iPhone User “Does Windows”

Terri_Nokia_square.
One of the most fun perks of my relationship with Verizon Wireless is having access to new technology.

For the past couple of months I have been using the Nokia Lumia Icon — my very first Windows phone experience!

As a long-time iPhone user, I wondered if it would be difficult to adjust to this radically different device?

It was surprising to find out the Windows operating system and interface are GREAT! It was much easier for me to figure out how to use Nokia Lumia Icon than any other non-Apple device so far. Beside the ease of use, and terrific functionality, the mind boggling part of the Nokia has been THE 20 MP CAMERA.

I’m an avid Instagrammer (I’ve posted more than 12,000 photos. That’s right, TWELVE THOUSAND!) When I began I was using an iPhone 3 or 4 before moving on to the 5.

This past year, Verizon Wireless has given me the opportunity to use a number of new devices with greater pixel depth, and in the process I’ve found the quality of my images has steadily improved.

The camera on the Nokia Lumia Icon is off the chart! If you’ve ever seen any of the featured photographers on the Nokia blog, you know what incredible images are shot using their devices!

In spite of the amazing camera, one of the criticisms of the Windows platform is the limited selection of applications. It was really noticeable to me at first.

Then I began thinking of what it’s like to go into a large department store where there are 10 floors of merchandise. It’s sometimes hard to find what you want or need when you have to wade through so many choices.

But when you walk into a boutique, where there are fewer choices, it’s easier to make a selection.

That’s what it’s like with the Windows App Store right now!  And every app I really need to function I have found there!

If you’re an avid mobile photographer, and on the fence about which device to choose, I think the Nokia Lumia Icon is terrific.

———

PS. Here’s a great article on the Verizon website listing the top five Windows Phone 8 apps you should install first: https://www.verizonwireless.com/insiders-guide/tech-smarts/windows-8-apps-wp8-first-5-to-install-skype-facebook-weather-channel/