Author Archive

Avoiding Camera Shake Without a Tripod

July 10, 2008

“Swan, Lausanne, Switzerland” © Copyright Ed Krimen

Whether you’re outside on vacation after dusk or shooting the next family reunion indoors and out, let’s face it: A tripod isn’t always the most convenient piece of equipment to lug around with you. Perhaps that’s why so many people resist them, relying instead on their built-in camera stabilization or a very steady hand, and regretting their less-than-desirable results afterward.

Well, fret no more: Ray Davis, writing for Photodoto, has assembled a list of more “transport friendly” devices which you can use in place of a tripod for those times when you need for rock-solid image stabilization:

  1. Monopod. Ideal for smaller cameras and shorter exposures. We wrote about one example of a hybrid monopod, called the TrekPod, previously on the Photobird blog here.
  2. Beanbags. They’re cheap, lightweight, and easy to travel with! Simply place a beanbag between your camera and the rock, bench, or car roof and you’re good to go.
  3. Use the Self-Timer. Avoid camera shake by not touching the camera when the shutter is released. This works even if your camera is precariously balanced on the precipice of a cliff; that is, unless it falls down the cliff before the picture’s taken.
  4. Use Fast Shutter Speed. Hold the camera close to your body for support, exhale, and shoot a number of shots with the shutter speed between 1/60th and 1/125th. Hopefully, one of them will turn out well!

In addition, you can try building a rope pod or using a Joby Gorillapod.

Best Selling Cameras on Amazon.com

July 8, 2008


Amazon.com keeps a running tally of its best-selling cameras, updated hourly. Check out the Amazon.com Digital Camera Best Sellers page here to see the complete list of cameras.

The Canon PowerShot SD870 IS, shown above, is in first place, while the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5A has broken into the top 10 for the first time since its introduction in late January. All in all, the field still belongs to Canon, with an impressive nine of the ten top-selling cameras.

Click on any of the links below to go to the Photobird Digital Camera Buyer’s Guide page for that camera to read reviews and obtain more details on each camera:

1. Canon PowerShot SD870 IS
2. Canon PowerShot SD750
3. Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
4. Canon PowerShot A590 IS
5. Canon PowerShot SD1000
6. Canon EOS 40D
7. Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5A
8. Canon PowerShot G9
9. Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS
10. Canon PowerShot A720IS

Before you buy a 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 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!

A Vision of Norman Rockwell’s America

July 7, 2008

“Election Day” , Sennett Fire Department, Sennett, N.Y., November 1995
© Copyright Kevin Rivoli

Some critics argue that Norman Rockwell, the famous illustrator of The Saturday Evening Post, depicted an idyllic America, one which may have never actually existed. But don’t say that to photographer Kevin Rivoli. He’s spent the past 15 years documenting Rockwell-inspired moments of Americana as they’re happening in the small towns of present-day America.

Kevin’s photographs will be published in a new book available this fall entitled In Search of Norman Rockwell’s America. And there’s now a traveling exposition which juxtaposes his photographs with the timeless images of Norman Rockwell’s boy scouts, barbers, and choir boys.

You can view an interactive slideshow here of Kevin’s work on The New York Times website, along with an accompanying article here. Thanks to Rob Galbraith for pointing out this story.

Before you buy Kevin’s book or anything else on Amazon.com, please click one of the Amazon.com links anywhere on Photobird.com, including this blog post. For each product you buy after clicking on an Amazon.com link, 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!

Bounce Your Flash with this Great Card Trick

July 3, 2008

I’ve written before about all the creative ways you can diffuse your camera’s flash in order to get better photos indoors, but I really like the sheer simplicity of The Party Bouncer, a technique I came across on DIYPhotography.net.

In just five seconds, with two simple cuts, you can mount a standard white business card on the metallic hinges of your on-camera flash, as seen in the picture above. Sure, it looks a bit hokey, but check out the before and after pictures in the article.

Once you’ve got the card affixed to your camera, the light from your flash will bounce to the ceiling above your subject, creating a diffused light and an overall illumination in your picture, free of the harsh effects that are often visible when relying on a direct flash. Pretty amazing, if you ask me!

Win $1000 Worth of Ink and Paper

July 2, 2008

“Sandstone Buttes” © Copyright Alain Briot

Congratulations to Alain and Natalie Briot! They’ve just entered their 11th year in business at Beautiful-Landscape.com.

To celebrate this milestone, they’re offering a special promotional contest, open to all of their customers. Between now and September 16th, every time you place a new order with them, for anything from a CD or DVD tutorial to a portfolio case, seminar, workshop, custom mat, book, or even one of Alain’s gorgeous fine art prints, such as Print of the Month Photograph Number Sixty Two shown above, you will automatically be entered in a drawing to win $1000 worth of ink and paper! That’s right: ink and paper, a very practical commodity to all photographers making their own prints. As Alain writes on his website: “If there’s one thing we all need it is ink and paper. If you’re like most photographers, there never seems to be enough of either and they amount to a significant expense.”

For complete details on this promotional offer, be sure to visit this page on Beautiful-Landscape.com. There’s never been a better time to show your support for Beautiful-Lanscape.com. Who knows, you may just win your choice of $1000 worth of ink and paper products. Good luck!

How to Crop Photos to Improve Them

June 30, 2008

Screenshot © Copyright Peter Carey

Cropping has been around since the dawn of photography. It used to be a bit of a backroom art accomplished with a straight edge and an X-acto knife, and you only had one chance to get it right. But now, the proliferation of digital photography software has allowed anyone a chance to crop their photos easily, and with few negative consequences. You can simply work on a backup photo, or don’t save your changes if you don’t like the resulting image.

Oftentimes, cropping can be used to strengthen the composition of an otherwise lackluster photograph. And of course, in order to crop well, one must understand the rules of photographic composition.

This interesting article from Peter Carey on the Digital Photography School looks specifically at how to crop photos.

Peter advises readers to use the Rule of Thirds as a guideline for improving their compositions, even when cropping. Digital photography software, such as Adobe Lightroom which Peter uses in his examples, often comes with preset crop ratios that match the size of paper you will most likely be printing to, such as 4×6, 5×7, and 8×10. Picnik, our favorite, free, easy-to-use online photo editing software, also has preset crop ratios.

In addition, Peter shows how to create panorama prints, set a custom 1:3 ratio, and adjust the selection box to highlight what you want to keep in the photo. You can also create a free-form crop box if you want to go after a specific detail in the frame.

Cropping can really improve some photographs; however, keep in mind if your original photos were taken with a low megapixel camera, the resolution of your image may suffer greatly once cropped. You may see distortion or “jaggies” in your printed photos. Peter advises readers to check with their printer for guidelines on the minimum number of pixels required for a good photo and to be sure to not crop below this number.

New Workshops at Beautiful-Landscape.com

June 25, 2008

“Moonrise, Mono Lake” © Copyright Alain Briot

It looks like there is still one seat available in the upcoming Mono Lake workshop this October. Be sure to contact Alain right away if you are interested in attending. If it’s sold out, be sure to take a look at his other workshops and his wonderful photos and website.

Alain has also just announced three new workshops for 2009:

  1. Trilogy Seminars, February 14-22, 2009. This series of three workshops will take place in Phoenix, Arizona, and will focus on composition, printing, and marketing your photographs professionally.
  2. Antelope Canyon, April 10-14, 2009. This exclusive field workshop offers five days in Slot Canyon with Alain and Natalie Briot. For a complete itinerary, cost, and availability, be sure to click on the link above.
  3. Navajoland, May 1-5, 2009. Imagine five days photographing in Navajoland, visiting such scenic landmarks as Monument Valley, Round Rock, Church Rock and the Canyon de Chelly. For a complete itinerary, cost, and availability, be sure to click on the link above.

As with all of Alain’s workshops, we recommend contacting Alain post-haste to reserve your space if you’re interested in attending, as they’ve historically had a tendency to fill up fast! Be sure to let Alain know you heard about the workshops on Photobird.com.

~•~

Which photo workshops have you attended? Were they a good value for the money? What were your favorites and why? Please let us know in the comments.

Camera of the Week: Canon PowerShot G9

June 24, 2008

Canon’s G-series cameras have always been popular among photographers, and the Canon PowerShot G9 doesn’t disappoint, with specifications well above those of the average consumer camera. The biggest selling feature is its 12.1-megapixels of resolution, which is enough detail for photo-quality, poster-sized prints. Priced at just under $450, the Canon PowerShot G9 also includes a built-in 6x optical zoom, image-stabilized lens, and a large 3-inch LCD display. All in a camera that weighs a mere 11.4 ounces. If you’re interested in printing larger photos of the kids’ soccer games, the Canon PowerShot G9 is certainly worth a closer look.

A quick round-up of reviews in the Photobird Digital Camera Buyer’s Guide reveals “The G9 is as good as it gets” by DigitalCameraReview.com and “An excellent, highly recommended camera” by scaredofthedark.typepad.com. DCviews.com was slightly more modest in their appraisal saying the G9 is “A fantastic camera but it is not for everyone.”

For all these reasons, we’ve chosen the Canon PowerShot G9 as our Photobird Camera of the Week. If you’re in the market for a medium-sized point-and-shoot camera with a generous zoom and more than enough megapixels for most situations, this popular Canon model should certainly be on your short list of cameras for further consideration.

You can read more reviews of the Canon PowerShot G9 and similar-sized cameras in the Photobird Digital Camera Buyer’s Guide.

Discuss this camera in our Canon forum.

Buy this camera at Amazon.com

Before you buy a Canon digital camera or anything else on Amazon.com, please click one of the Amazon.com links anywhere on Photobird.com, including this blog post. For each product you buy after clicking on an Amazon.com link, 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!

What is EXIF and How Can I Use It on Photobird?

June 23, 2008

“Cruise Ship Sunset” by Ed Krimen

EXIF stands for “Exchangeable Image File Format”. It’s a technical standard for storing information about each photo that you take with your digital camera. EXIF information is automatically captured in each photo file when you take each picture, and includes the date and time the photo was taken, the manufacturer and model name of the camera taking the picture, as well as a plethora of other useful information about your camera’s aperture setting, shutter speed, focal length, metering mode, and ISO speed.

“Whew, that’s a lot of technical information,” you say. Well, the good news is that it’s really easy to automatically display this information in your Photobird photo albums. Also, it’s easy to choose to display the EXIF information on some albums and not show it on others.

First, take a look at the above picture on its photo page on Photobird.com. In the bottom right corner of the page, you’ll see Camera and Exposure information. This photo album has been set to display “Short” EXIF data, which is really just a summary of the key EXIF information found in the photo file. Click on the data in either the Camera or Exposure fields to see the larger list of EXIF data that we have for the photo. As mentioned above, all of this information is available to you automatically whenever you add a photo that has the EXIF information to a Photobird album; you don’t need to do anything except decide whether you want to display it and what level of detail you want to display.

To change your EXIF settings for one of your Photobird photo albums, simply go to the album and follow these three simple steps:

  1. Click on the “Edit Album Options” button.
  2. Under the “Display EXIF photo information” setting, choose which option you’d like from the following: No, Short, Long, or use the same setting as the photo album that this album resides in.
  3. Click on the “Save Changes” button at the bottom of the page.

That’s it! Your changes will be visible right away.

“What’s the difference between each of these options,” you ask?

  • The “No” setting doesn’t display the EXIF information, obviously. Use this setting if you want a minimal amount of text under your photo.
  • “Short” only shows the camera model, manufacturer, and exposure details for the photo. Visitors can click those details to show the EXIF data displayed with the “Long” option.
  • “Long” shows an extra set of EXIF data fields, including “Original Size”, “White Balance”, “Metering Mode”, “Brightness”, “Sharpness” and “Color Space”.
  • “Same as…” allows you to use the same setting as the photo album that this album resides in. This is useful if you want all or some of the albums within an album to use the same setting. If you have 50 albums, for example, you won’t need to go through all 50 albums to change this setting. Just set it once and the other albums will follow automatically and immediately. Then, let’s say you would like only a small number of albums to have a different setting: you can go to those specific albums and change their settings directly.

Note that some image editing programs remove the EXIF data when they save the JPEG photo file. If you’re having problems viewing the EXIF data in your images and you’re resizing, correcting, or editing your photos with an image editing program before adding them to your Photobird photo album, please verify with the manufacturer of the image editing program that it saves EXIF data correctly.

If you have any questions about this feature or any other features on Photobird.com, please let us know in the forums or in the comments.

Summer Lovin’ Happened So Fast

June 20, 2008

“Friends First Day of Summer” by Karen Flanders

I grew up in Salt Lake City and I remember lots of fun summer excursions to the beaches of the Great Salt Lake: building sand castles and collecting brine shrimp. The water was so salty that, like the famous Dead Sea, it proved naturally buoyant to anyone who wanted to relax and float supine among the lolling waves.

Take a look at “Friends First Day of Summer” by Karen Flanders, a recent entry in the Photobird Photo Contest for June. I like the color and composition in this shot of a young boy and girl, holding a pail and exploring the shallow beach waters. I can’t think of a better way to kick off the summer.

Our theme this month is “Friends” and you still have one week left to enter the contest with your best “Friends” photo. So don’t delay, enter today!

At the end of the month, we’ll choose one Photobird Award winner for the best overall entry, and your votes are tallied to select the winner of the People’s Choice Award.

Our two winners will each receive the following cool prizes:

You can read more details about the monthly contest here.

So what are you waiting for? Go here to enter the contest. And be sure to vote for your favorite entries to help select the People’s Choice Award.

If you have any questions, please ask in the Photobird forums.


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