Making Passport Pictures, The Hassle Free Way

We’re off on holidays soon and in my typical last-minute fashion,  I decided to check if the kid’s passports are still in date. Well, it’s a good thing I did as Adam’s passport was expiring just before we were due to set off.

Last time we got him a passport he was just 2 and I thought it would be much easier if I took the picture myself and made the passport photos. Trying to convince a 2 year old to “stand still, look at the camera, please look at the camera, Ah stand still would you? put your tongue back in, you need to do what?, alright, we’ll be back later….” didn’t fill me with joy.

To take this round of shots I just got Adam to stand in front of a white wall and used the natural light coming in from a large window nearby. Using a flash can cause red eye, bleach out parts of the skin, and worst of all, constant flashing is no fun for the child. After firing off a bunch of shots it was then time for editing. Adam could go out playing with his friends again.

Now, passport picture requirements differ from country to country so make sure you check out yours before doing this yourself. In Ireland they are pretty straight forward, 35x45mm, A light background, colour or black and white, look straight ahead etc. All pretty basic stuff. Once you know what you need, then it’s time to get editing.

I use Photoshop but you don’t need to pay out for an expensive application like that, especially now that they use a subscription model. GIMP 2.8 is a great program with the vast majority of what you need. Best of all it’s free.

First since black and white is an option for me I’ll go wth that.

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There are lots of ways to convert to black and white. For me, using the channel mixer is the best for getting a lot of control without getting too finicky about it. Usually for best results, your numbers should add to 100 when using this tool so you’re not blowing out the image but if you like the results then it doesn’t matter what the settings are.

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Next, I want to remove a little dribble under the nose. I do this using the clone stamp tool and copy an area of the image that matches the tone over the part I want to remove. This can take a while to get right and you are better off doing this in small steps to get it right.

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The passport requirements are that the image must be a light background and a clear definition of the face must be seen. To make the image a bit more contrasty I use levels to bring up the blacks and white areas.

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I like an image to be punchy so I tend to sharpen them quite a lot. This is done usng the unsharp mask

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Now I’m happy with Adam in the shot,  I’m going to crop it to 35mm x 45mm and at 300 dpi.

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Next I need to create an image I’ll be printing and as 6in x 4in is the common size over here I’ll create a new 6×4 blank image. Make sure your dpi matches the edited image so it will copy over and stay the same size

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Now just drag and drop the passport image onto the new print a few times depending on how many you need or will fit. Flatten the image and save as a JPG for easy printing.

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Down the nearest camera shop I pop and a few minutes later I have my pictures ready to go. Cost, well almost nothing as individual 6×4’s are just 40 cent near me. Adam will have a cute passport picture and it was completely fuss free.

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Caged Hippo

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We hadn’t been back in Dublin Zoo for a couple of months so we made the trip up there today. I must say I prefer Fota Wildlife Park in Cork as the animals have a lot more room to roam around, some such as the kangaroo, can wander anywhere they like. But since we’ve left Cork behind my kids will have to get their wildlife fill in Dublin.

This is the first time I saw one of the hippos out of water there. I have to admit I didn’t plan on taking the shot showing him penned in, I was just trying to get in as close as I could to him through the small gaps in the wire fencing. After looking through the images at home, and seeing that he had been staring right at me, I thought the uncropped image worked best. Convert to black and white for mood and we get one bored and pissed off looking hippo.

He’s All Better Again

This is Oisín (Ush-een). He’s been a bit sick over the past week and things took a turn for the worse over the weekend. He got gastroenteritis and the poor thing couldn’t fight it off himself. I’ll spare you the details of that horrible virus but let’s just say there is a lot of cleaning up involved.

After a few trips to the doctor, they decided it was best to get the fluids into him through IV as he was getting more and more dehydrated. Nothing was staying down and he was only getting sicker. The IV fluids did the trick. After 4 hours he started to perk up and I was then able to slowly drip more fluids into his mouth while he slept.

He’s much better now, he’s at home with his mum getting lots of cuddles and all the Peppa Pig he wants. Just seeing this little fella in the hospital bed was heart breaking and I knew it was nothing serious. I could see other parents up there who’s children weren’t going to be let out anytime soon. My heart goes out to them, I don’t know how they do it.

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On a different note, who the hell puts plaster cast down a sink?