Monday, August 19, 2013

Printing my own passport photos

If you follow my directions, you could look as ballin' as these people in your passport photos. 
   At $9.99+ a pop, printing passport photos is just a real pain. I see all of these prints, 2x3, 5x7 portraits for like half a penny at the drug store, and then there it is, the required 2x2 passport size photo, listed and the most egregious price. It is true I am a penny pincher, but ten whole dollars, for a picture that literally costs the store a penny?!? I say NO!

This all started when I first found out that I needed 8 passport sized photos when I arrived in Nanjing for various ID cards. That is 4 sets of passport pictures y'all.

Then I really started sweating when I got the same message from a different group that I will be joining in Nanjing, the Confucius Institute. I thought, well I'd better be safe than sorry... 16 passport sized photos?! That is $80 for an 8x11 sheet of photos!! How can this be!! I absolutely refuse to give WALGREENS or any other giant mega drug store that amount of money for literally a single sheet of paper.

So I am on a real mission here to print my own passport sized photos. It turned out to be more difficult that I thought. There is a whole slew of rules and regulations on a passport sized photos. Literally too many to list. You can marvel at it here.

Then comes actually taking the picture. Go through your house and find the best lit area. I used my bathroom. Make sure it is really bright so that your face and neck won't be in shadow. This is really important; there is a whole other set of guidelines on how your photo should be in the proper light and contrast. You will also need to have a white background. I used a pillowcase, but I have heard of people using sheets or large poster boards. Have someone else take the photo for you; sorry no selfies.

Next you'll need to crop the photo to the elusive 2x2 size. has a photo cropper to help you. Due to all the rules, the program is very particular, and if it is only slightly off, it will throw you an error message. So go back and marvel at that list of rules again until you understand what is wrong. There is also a "help" bar to help you (duh).

Next, you'll need to print your photos. If you can print photos at home, you will be home free! Just crop it to the right size and you will be good to go. If not, you have a couple options. First, you might try to haggle with your local drug store. The passport photos are expensive in part because they need to actually take the photo for you, so if you explain to them that you don't need any of that portrait taking nonsense and you just need the size of the photo, then you might get a better deal at the store.

Now when I did that just a few moments ago, the lady told me she couldn't because here manager was out of town (lies) so I think I found another method This will take your photo, crop it, and then it will fit the 2x2 photo into a 4x6 panel, yielding 5 2x2 photos and 1 2x2 sized passport corner logo for good measure. Download that file, which you can then take back to the drugstore to have printed as a 4x6. Cut out the photos yourself, and voila, you have yourself some bonafide passport photos at a damn good price.

There I just saved you $10 YOU'RE WELCOME ;)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Awesome and Hilarious Films!

Hi everyone! 好久不见了!

Lately I have been watching so many great chinese films, and they are SO FUNNY. If I was choosing a film for myself, I usually go for comedy, because I just want to laugh. But these films all seem to have a great mix of silly laughs and real moments.

The first one I saw was Let the Bullets Fly, 让子弹飞. It plays out like a western, the movie opening with a gang of bandits 贼 who kidnap the soon to be magistrate. The dialogue is quick and modern even in subtitles, has all the proper twists and turns of a regular Chinese tale, and is complete with names like Pockmark Zhang and Mr. Wolf.

The next one that I would recommend is called Lost on Journey (yes, the english title is that chilglishy!), the chinese is called 人在囧途。This one is a comedy about two men heading to Changsha during Chinese New Year and all the crazy things that happen. There are some really funny shots of holiday travel, often referred to as the Spring Migration 春运, which I hear is just out of control; you get a good snapshot of what its like. It also addresses some of the differences between rural people's and city people's lives. Of course this is definitely a comedy so do take it with a grain of salt. Very silly and fun. You can watch the whole thing on youtube (in chinese haha sorry). 

The latest one is called The Great Magician 大魔术师. It is really magical and fun, with a love story, political intrigue, and magic shows that are really fun to watch. The dialogue is straightforward and piercing, and the female lead is pretty much a badass!

Check them out, I hope you enjoy!