Archive for February, 2008

Photobird.com Site Map

February 25, 2008

Boboli Gardens, Florence, Italy, by Ed Krimen

Photobird.com was designed from the ground up to be an easy and straightforward way for you to share your photos with family and friends. One thing you’ll notice right away is that we don’t have ads on the website. We feel our simple, uncluttered design not only makes it easier to navigate your photo albums and the rest of the website, but our pages also load much more quickly, affording you with the best possible experience when it comes to making photo albums and sharing pictures.

In fact, Photobird.com is so easy to use you probably won’t need to rely too heavily on the Photobird Site Map, which is conveniently located at the bottom of every page on the main Photobird.com website. But it’s good to know it’s there when you need it.

What is the site map? Well, it’s a page that provides “a bird’s eye view” — if you’ll forgive the pun — of all of Photobird.com’s most popular destinations, so you can go exactly where you want to go without any fuss.

From the site map, you can quickly get started making photo albums and browsing pictures. You can also access our Photobird Learning Center and our Photobird Digital Camera Buyer’s Guide as well as get answers to questions through our Help page and our Photobird Forums.

So be sure to check out the site map if you’re looking for a fast way to locate any information on the website. And if you find there’s something you can’t locate, we’d love to hear from you; be sure to contact us with your question.

And, yes, the Contact Us link is also accessible through the Photobird Site Map.

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What’s your favorite Photobird feature? Which features would you most like to see us add? Drop us a line. Your feedback is very important to us.

Liven Up Your Camera Angles

February 22, 2008

Photo from Ed Krimen’s “Fort Funston” album
© Copyright Ed Krimen

The distance between the camera lens and your subject, and the angle of the shot itself, can greatly influence the shot’s resulting impact.

In this article on fotohacker.com, Jason Paterson writes that he is tired of looking at photos of subjects shot straight on at eye-level. He believes we can all learn to take more dynamic and, therefore, more visually interesting photographs by simply changing the position of the camera.

Here are some of the camera angles he suggests:

  1. Lower Angles. When you shoot from beneath the subject, you give the subject a feeling of power.
  2. Higher Angles. When shot from above, a subject often appears smaller or less significant.
  3. Tilted or “Dutch” Angles. These photos can produce a feeling of energy or excitement, or leave the viewer with a feeling that not all is right.
  4. Framed Angles. Using the environment to frame your subject, this is a technique we discussed in greater depth in this blog post.

You can also consider the viewpoint of each photo:

  1. Subjective. The subject appears to be looking at the camera and interacting with it as though it were a person.
  2. Objective. The subject appears to be oblivious to the camera.

Be sure to read Jason’s complete article for additional thoughts on this subject and, let us know in the comments, how do you try to liven up your camera angles?

Camera of the Week: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8

February 22, 2008

The medium-sized Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 sells for under $250 and features a 7.2-megapixel CCD, a 2.5” LCD, and a generous 12x optical zoom. The camera works with SD/SDHC memory cards and is powered by a lithium-ion battery.

Steves-Digicams.com called the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 “One awesome digicam…”. Cameralabs.com said it was an “Excellent value for the money…”. DCResource.com said it was “A great choice for the typical digital camera buyer…” while Trustedreviews.com said the DMC-FZ8 is “Well suited to the enthusiast photographer…”. For these reasons, we have chosen the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 as our Photobird Camera of the Week.

You can read more reviews of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 and similar cameras in the Photobird Digital Camera Buyer’s Guide, and even discuss this camera further in our Panasonic forum.

Buy this camera at B&H Photo.

Buy this camera at Amazon.com.

Your clicks and purchases at Amazon.com allow us to continue to publish this blog and the Photobird Learning Center. For each product you buy after clicking on an Amazon.com link anywhere on Photobird.com, we receive a small referral fee, at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Best-Selling Cameras on Amazon.com

February 22, 2008

In order to offer the lowest prices, the folks at Amazon.com keep close tabs on inventory, including which cameras are selling with this list of the best-selling camera models, updated hourly.

For the first time since we started to look at these, we see a Nikon camera has joined the top 10 list: the Nikon D40, a highly-lauded and very affordable DSLR camera. Click on any of the links below to go to the specific Photobird Digital Camera Buyer’s Guide page for that camera model to read reviews and obtain product details:

  1. Canon PowerShot A570 IS
  2. Canon PowerShot SD1000
  3. Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
  4. Canon PowerShot S5 IS
  5. Canon PowerShot SD870 IS
  6. Canon Digital Rebel XTi
  7. Canon PowerShot A720 IS
  8. Canon PowerShot SD750 (Silver)
  9. Nikon D40
  10. Canon PowerShot SD750 (Black)

Before you purchase a Nikon or Canon digital camera or anything else on Amazon.com, be sure to click one of our Amazon.com links anywhere on Photobird.com. For each product you buy within 24 hours after your click, we receive a small referral fee, at no additional cost to you. Your clicks and purchases allow us to continue to publish this blog and the Photobird Learning Center. Thank you for your patronage!

Shooting Rainbows

February 21, 2008

“Rainbow” by Peter Horner

Rainbows can be a fickle subject on camera. They only come out when the atmospheric conditions are just right and, even then, they usually don’t stick around for long. Capturing one on film and keeping it true to the awe-inspiring splendor that motivated you to get out your camera in the first place, can present a formidable challenge to any photographer.

That’s why I really enjoyed reading this article by Jason Paterson of fotohacker.com, which greatly demystifies the process of capturing these wondrous spectral images on camera, like lightning in a bottle.

Jason recommends the following:

  1. Consider your framing carefully. If your background looks bad, the resulting picture will look bad no matter how beautiful the rainbow is.
  2. Use a polarizing filter. This will allow you to get the most vivid and saturated colors from both the sky and the surrounding scenery. More information about polarizing filters can be found here.
  3. Use a tripod and a low shutter speed. When you use the polarizing filter, you’re going to lose light. The tripod will make sure the picture remains sharply in focus.

Be sure to read the complete article for additional tips, and be sure to join us next week when we look at how to photograph moonbeams and unicorns.

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Do you have an unedited photo of a unicorn? If so, please let us know in the comments.

Fall and Winter Workshops Announced

February 21, 2008

“Light Shaft in Keyhole Arch, Antelope Canyon.” by Alain Briot

Alain Briot of Beautiful Landscape has just announced his fall and winter workshop schedule for 2008:

Antelope Canyon Workshop
September 5-9, 2008

John Sorce, a participant of an earlier Antelope Canyon Workshop, speaks highly of the experience, saying he learned a lot and especially enjoyed the community of like-minded fellow photographers who openly shared their knowledge with the group.

Mono Lake and Eastern Sierra Nevada
October 10-14, 2008

Death Valley Winter Workshop
December 5-9, 2008

Speaking of her experiences at Mono Lake and Death Valley, Kathy Swanson says her friends and family have noticed how much her photography has improved since she took the workshops.

While these dates may seem like they’re still a long time away, be forewarned that these workshops typically sell out months in advance, so if you see something you’re interested in, be sure to check out the Workshops FAQ or click on any of the links above for all the details, and then contact Alain or Natalie to secure your place. If you do sign up, be sure to let them know you heard about the workshops on Photobird.com.

Using Your Camera in Cold Temperatures

February 21, 2008

“Snow 6″
© Copyright David Cresine

Ray Davis is no stranger to cold climes. He used to live in Alaska and decided to winter in Chicago this year, where temperatures frequently fell well below zero.

In spite of the cold — or perhaps because of it — he’s put together some great tips in this article on photodoto.com about how to use your camera outside in cold temps while minimizing the risk of damage.

Ray advises snow photographers to:

  1. Invest in a UV filter. This can protect your lens and, if it shatters because of the extreme temperatures, it will only cost 10 bucks to replace.
  2. Buy a decent camera bag and keep it warm. Put some padding around the camera and then invest in some hand or foot warmers, which can be purchased from a sporting goods store for very little money. But wrap them up first so they don’t accidentally leak on the camera equipment.
  3. Buy a giant zip lock bag. Ray says it’s the damage from cold to warm that can damage your camera, particularly as condensation occurs when the cold air meets hot air. If you put your camera in a zip lock bag and seal the top when bringing it in from the cold outdoors, it will reach room temperature more slowly and is less likely to be damaged by condensation.

If you do find condensation on the camera, don’t turn on the camera. Take the battery and memory card out and let the camera dry completely before use. Check out our post from last week about what to do when your camera gets wet for more tips on drying a wet camera. Also, we recommend this related post, about what kind of gear to bring when taking photos outdoors in low temperatures.

Be sure to read Ray’s complete article for additional tips.

What’s the coldest temperature you’ve ever shot in? Let us know in the comments.

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The Swans of Lausanne

February 20, 2008

“Swan, Lausanne, Switzerland” by Ed Krimen

Lausanne is located on the shores of Lake Geneva, some thirty miles northeast of the city of Geneva, in the largely French-speaking region of southwestern Switzerland. It is the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee and is widely known for its wines and rich cultural traditions, including the Musée de l’Elysée, a world-class photography museum. The city is also home to the world-famous Béjart Ballet, which, yes, has performed “Swan Lake”.

And even though the swans that Ed Krimen has captured in “Swan, Lausanne, Switzerland”, our Photobird Photo of the Hour, don’t appear to be doing anything especially balletic, I do think that you would agree with me that there is a certain natural grace and beauty to the curves of their necks.

Submitting photos to the Photobird Photo of the Hour is a fantastic way to share your favorite work with the rest of the world. If you want to submit a picture, simply view the photo from your photo album and then click the “Submit for Photo of the Hour” checkbox. There is no limit to the number of photos you can submit and, of course, there’s no cost to you for submitting your photos. We genuinely enjoy receiving your submissions!

Read about how get more storage space on Photobird.com and how to keep your photos private when sharing your photos for the Photobird Photo of the Hour.

Discuss your favorite Photobird Photos of the Hour in the Photobird forums.

Print Your Own Camera Lens Hood

February 20, 2008

If you’re shooting toward the sun, a lens hood is kind of like a sun visor or a baseball cap for your camera lens; it can dramatically reduce the glare and lens flare that could otherwise ruin a perfectly good photograph.

Lens hoods can be purchased at Amazon.com for most popular camera lenses and most are available for well under forty dollars. However, before you pull out that credit card, I should also mention a helpful website at http://www.lenshoods.co.uk where you can download free PDF templates of many popular lens hoods and make your own.

All you need to do to use one of these free lens hoods is locate the PDF file for your camera lens on the website, save it, print it out (the site recommends printing on cardstock or thin plastic, if possible), cut it out, and glue it together to form a cone. Then place the supplied tabs over the lens and, if it’s a petal-shaped hood, be sure to orient it so that the longest petals are located at the top and bottom of your lens. Then simply secure it with a rubber band and you’re ready to start shooting!

Can’t locate the right lens hood for your camera lens? Never fear, the website also has a paid feature which allows subscribers to create their own custom lens hoods and save them as PDF files.

So are they as good as the real thing? Well, they won’t be as durable or strong, but they’re free so if something should happen to one, it’s easy enough to replace by printing it out again and making a new one.

If you tried making a free lens hood, how did it work for you? Please let us know in the comments.

Hello Photobird Slideshows, Goodbye Carousel!

February 19, 2008

Remember that episode of Mad Men where, in a fit of brilliance, Don wows Kodak with: “This is not a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards and forwards and it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called ‘The Wheel'; it’s called ‘The Carousel’ because it lets us travel round and round and then back home again.” We tend to think Don would be just as effusive about the new slideshow feature on Photobird.com. And now that we’ve introduced slideshows to every photo album on Photobird, you can finally retire that antique slide carousel once and for all.

Check out an example of the slideshow feature for yourself, along with some photos of cool hang gliders, by clicking on the “View Slideshow” button in Ed Krimen’s “Fort Funston” photo album at http://www.photobird.com/ekrimen/fortfunston/ . You can also send people directly to your slideshows by simply adding “slideshow” to the end of the web address of your album, such as: http://www.photobird.com/ekrimen/fortfunston/slideshow .

With Photobird slideshows, you determine how long each photo in the slideshow appears, or you can keep it on manual and click the “Next” and “Previous” buttons to move through your photos. Titles and descriptions will appear in the slideshow in a transparent overlay at the bottom of each photo, as shown in the photo below. You can customize which albums have slideshows by clicking the “Edit Album Options” button and editing the slideshow settings for each photo album.

The slideshow feature also supports Piclens, which is described on the Piclens.com website as “an immersive full-screen experience for viewing photos on the Web.” To use Piclens, you must download and install free software, but it provides some additional features, such as viewing photos in full screen on your computer. On Windows computers, Piclens requires the Firefox web browser. If you’re on a Mac, you’ll need to use the Safari web browser. Visit the Piclens website to install the Piclens software and for more information.

We hope you enjoy your new slideshows! We already have a lot of enhancement ideas for slideshows, but please let us know if there’s anything specific you’d like to see in the slideshows or anywhere else on Photobird.com.


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