My 2003 Wall Calendar

By Merrill Friend, Tampa PC Users Group
mfriendtampa@worldnet.att.net


Recently I read an article in a digital camera magazine suggesting various ways of exhibiting photographs. One that caught my fancy was the preparation of a Wall Calendar for friends and family. The article I read said interested persons could find templates for such calendars on the Internet so I cranked up Google and went shopping.

Frankly, it wasn’t as easy as it sounded to find the type of calendar template I wanted. I wanted something that looked nice enough for business or personal use. That left out those shaped like hearts or those with funny picture motifs. Finally I found what I wanted at a site called http://mycustomcalendars.com.

The camera magazine article I read suggested that such calendars would make interesting gifts. Grandparents like those that show their grandchildren’s activities over the most recent year. You can bore your friends with photos of your trip to Alaska or last year’s woodworking projects. Calendars for valued business clients are another option. The themes seem to be endless.

In my case, I have enjoyed fishing and exploring the Withlacoochee River for over thirty years. A number of my Central Florida friends share my enthusiasm for these activities, so this year I compiled photos of various river scenes which my friends and I are familiar with and used one of these photos for each month in the preparation of a wall calendar for 2003 which I will distribute to these special pals at year’s end.

Mycustomcalendars.com provides a free calendar template for downloading for either a wall type calendar or a desk version. The template was prepared using Microsoft Word so it is compatible with the software most of us use. Complete instructions can be downloaded from this site.

The Internet instructions suggest using Hewlett Packard double-sided glossy (44-LB) brochure paper that I purchased at Office Depot for about $17.95 for 50 double-sided sheets. The calendar is printed on one side of the sheet and a photograph on the other side. As each page is flipped over another photograph is shown. I took the web site’s suggestion and used this paper, and I am satisfied with the result. It is barely heavy enough for the job, but it is at an affordable cost.

The printer I used is an old DeskJet 820 Cse Professional series printer that was designed as a business color printer. It prints at about 300 dpi, and, while it prints in color, it does not compete with the latest color photo printers, but it does have its advantages and disadvantages.

On the plus side, it produces an acceptable calendar image at a reasonable cost. On the minus side, it is slow. I was able to produce about six calendars with thirteen 8x10 images on a single $31 color cartridge using this printer. It took about five minutes for each color picture. Given a choice of “Economy”, “Normal” and “Best” printing qualities I selected “Best” for the pictures and “Normal” for the black ink only calendar pages. HP suggests that “Normal” is what should be used, but I got noticeably better prints using the “Best” setting and used it even though it was the slowest setting. Also, the photos were JPG images previously saved under “My Pictures,” which were pasted into place on the Microsoft Word program. I was using Microsoft Word as part of Office 97. When I had pasted the image in place, I would right click on the mouse and get a menu which let me “format the picture,” allowing me to change the brightness and contrast of the image thus produced. It also allowed me to change the dimensions of the picture to adjust to the space available. I used this feature on many of the pictures because the pasted image was often darker than it had appeared on the monitor and the colors were somewhat harsher. Also, some images did require some small adjustment in size. The nice thing about using Microsoft Word was that I didn’t have to switch to a photo program to make these minor changes, although many of these photos had printed out far better on an Epson photo printer using Epson photo paper. But that was as I had expected since the Epson 785EPX was designed for photo work and the HP I was using was not.

As an alternate I did attempt to print these calendars using the Epson photo printer, but it did not like the two sided HP paper. None of the images were acceptable using HP brochure paper, and I did try various paper settings to get it right, but nothing I did worked. I rechecked printing on the Epson printer with Epson paper and the results were wonderful. Why then not use the Epson for the calendar project? The biggest reason was cost. The Epson has a smaller color cartridge than does the HP which costs about $21. I have been able to get it to produce roughly fifteen excellent quality 8x10 color prints. That’s about $21 in color ink costs for a single calendar against $31 for color ink costs for six calendars with the old HP Desk Jet. Since I was making calendars and not exhibition color prints I went with the HP printer and paper. Epson does have a double-sided matte paper but I didn’t try it in view of the increased costs of color ink. Of course, if you are doing this project for the grandparents you would probably forgo the additional expense and use the photo printer.

The calendar is bound together with a spiral plastic comb binder that Kinko’s will bind for you with a clear plastic cover front and back. Their charge is $4.95 per calendar. Office Depot quoted me about $3.50 per calendar or you can purchase a small manual binder machine from them for $59 and they will sell you the plastic sheets and plastic combs. These are inexpensive items. If you bind a lot of materials this is the way to go. It is all finished with a hole punched through the front plastic cover and all the calendar pages so each can be flipped up and hooked on the nail hanger as each month expires. Hang it up and that’s it.

Now all I have to do is learn how to take better photographs. u