Archive for July, 2008

Let’s Go For a Ride

July 31, 2008

“Ride With Me”
© Copyright Vicki Tinnon

The People, Places and Things feature has just been updated with some beautiful photos on the Look at Pictures page on Photobird.com. Similar to the previous update, all three pictures are provided by winners of Photobird Photo Contests.

The first photo is Helen Duffield’s “Bucket“, a very cute kitten that, apparently, I can’t get enough of. I wrote about Bucket yesterday in this blog post here. Helen won the People’s Choice Award for the Photobird Photo Contest for March 2008 with her photo “Sunset @ Mordialloc“. You can see more of Helen’s photos at http://www.photobird.com/hduffield/.

Next, Vicki Tinnon shares her stunning photo, “Ride With Me“, which is shown above. The photo was taken on a back road near Wayne, Nebraska. I really like the perspective in this photo, the composition, and the sharpness and color saturation. The color in this photo is very impressive, from the white clouds and crisp blue sky, to the rich greens and browns on the ground. I like this photo a lot; it feels like you’re right there on the back road, ready to go. Vicki won the Photobird Award for the Photobird Photo Contest for May 2008 with her photo “Moving In“. You can see more of Vicki’s photos at http://www.photobird.com/vickitinnon/.

The third photo is Robert Romero’s “Blown Away“, one of his many beautiful flower photos. I really like the sharpness and color in this photo. Also notice that he positioned the flower just off-center in the photo; the flower is not directly in the center of the photo. Great composition, adhering to the Rule of Thirds. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Robert’s beautiful flower photos in this blog post here. Robert won the Photobird Award for the Photobird Photo Contest for February 2008 with his photo “Just Peachy“. You can see more of Robert’s photos at http://www.photobird.com/theshootest/.

If you’d like to have one or more of your photos featured in People, Places and Things, submit your favorite photos for consideration by simply following the same steps you would take for submitting a photo for the Photobird Photo of the Hour:

1. View the photo you want to submit from your photo album.
2. Click the “Submit for Photo of the Hour” checkbox.

That’s it!

The photos in People, Places and Things are updated periodically. We’ll let you know right here in the Photobird blog when they’re updated.

If you’d like to have your photos featured in People, Places and Things or the Photobird Photo of the Hour, but you don’t have a Photobird account yet, stay tuned to this blog as we are planning to have a small, limited number of free Photobird accounts available for photographers who would like to have their photos featured. I’m planning to have more details for you next week.

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Sooooo Cuuuuuuuuuute!

July 30, 2008

“Bucket”
© Copyright Helen Duffield

Say hello to Bucket. This little cutie is the star of the newest Photobird Photo of the Hour. Helen Duffield explains that Bucket’s mother was a wild cat who ran away when her 6 babies were discovered in Helen’s friend’s roof. Helen got Bucket when he was about 6 days old and had to feed him with a syringe. She says he soon took over the household, and I can see what she means.

Besides the cute kitty, I think what makes this photo really work well is the close-up composition and the natural light coming through the window to illuminate the scene. Natural light indoors is great to use when photographing pets and people. It’s actually ideal, in my opinion. If you can make it work for you, I think natural light provides a more desirable result than artificial light — even outdoors too.

Helen Duffield won the People’s Choice Award for the Photobird Photo Contest for March 2008 with her photo “Sunset @ Mordialloc“. She’s been adding a lot of photos to her Photobird photo album here, which she won as one of the prizes in that contest.

Photobird.com is the easy way to share your photos. You capture and share so many great photos on Photobird.com that we created the Photo of the Hour feature to give you the opportunity to share your very best with the rest of the world.

It’s really easy to submit your favorite photos to be featured on the Photobird Photo of the Hour: Simply view the photo from your photo album and click the “Submit for Photo of the Hour” checkbox. There is no limit to the number of photos you can submit and we always like to get new submissions.

In return for each photo we use on the Photo of the Hour or People Places and Things, you get more storage space for your photo album so you can store more photos. Details are here.

If you’d like to keep some of your photos private while you share your favorite photos with the world, you can read how easy it is to do that with Photobird photo albums in our blog post “Show Off Your Photos, and Keep Some Private“.

You may also discuss your favorite Photobird Photos of the Hour in the Photobird forums.

Baby Face

July 29, 2008

If you like arts and crafts and being creative with your photos, you should read Baby Face: Celebrating Your Pregnancy and Baby with Beautiful Photo Crafts, a new book by Barbara Smith. This book shows you step-by-step how to create fun and personal baby shower invites, charming birth announcements, brag books, calendars, cards, and delightful birthday invitations — all using your own photos. You’ll learn how to use Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Elements and a plethora of beautiful papers to produce wonderful stationery, gifts, and albums destined to be cherished keepsakes.

Barbara Smith teaches you all the basics, including a paper primer, toolbox tour, layout lessons, and creative photo techniques for taking pregnancy, infant, and young children’s photos.

In addition to the beautiful thank-you notes, holiday cards, and gift tags she’ll show you how to create, I was impressed to see her easy-to-follow instructions and troubleshooting tips on how to make keepsake photo soap favors: soap with your photos contained within the soap! I thought those were really cool, even though I’m not usually into arts and crafts!

The book focuses on making stunning gifts and cards with your pregnancy or baby in mind, but those are simply themes for this book; you can certainly use these instructions to make gifts and cards for many other memorable occasions. In fact, Barbara Smith’s first book in this series, The Art and Craft of Keepsake Photography: Engagements and Weddings has received rave reviews on Amazon.com. Barbara Smith specializes in creating photography-based stationery for a diverse clientele, including corporations and individuals, and teaches workshops out of her Los Angeles studio.

Baby Face is published by my favorite book publisher, Watson-Guptill. Watson-Guptill also publishes Amphoto Books, which publishes my favorite photography book, Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson, which I strongly recommend, even for beginners. Understanding Exposure is listed as a prize each month for the Photobird Photo Contest, but the winners actually get to choose a book. Winners may choose one of the books listed on the page at http://amphotobooks.com ; click the book covers and if “Amphoto” is listed under the ISBN number at the top, then the book is available as a prize. Baby Face is also available to the winners as a prize each month. Enter the contest for your chance to win Baby Face! The Photobird Photo Contest for July ends this Thursday, and the Photobird Photo Contest for August starts this Friday.

Before you buy one of Barbara Smith’s books 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!

Why the Colors in Your Prints May Be Wrong

July 28, 2008

“Golden Gate Bridge”
© Copyright Ed Krimen

If you want to get really serious about photography, there’s more to it than just composing the photo, clicking the shutter button, and hoping that what you get looks like what you were expecting to get. In the case of the photo above, I think it came out pretty well, actually exceeding my expectations. (One of these days, before I print the photo to hang on the wall, I’ll edit out the errant tree branches in the upper left corner.)

Of course, color is an important part of photography. Unfortunately though, every device you use in your photography process has a different interpretation of color. Your camera has one interpretation of color, which is affected by many things, including white balance. Your computer has one interpretation of color. Your computer monitor has one interpretation of color. Your printer, its inks, and its paper each have their own interpretations of color, and how they affect the final output.

Therefore, if you’re really picky about making sure the red dress you’re wearing has the exact same color of red when you print out your photos, and doesn’t result in a washed-out burgundy or a too-bright magenta, then you either have your work cut out for you, or you should set your expectations lower for an exact replication. This process, called color management, is not as easy as you might hope for, unfortunately.

If you’d like to understand a little more about color management, I highly recommend looking through Canon’s Digital Color Management Guidebook, available for free on Canon’s website here as a quick download in PDF format.

Canon’s guidebook explains it well: “Color management is not about making photos look better or getting the best color out of a particular device. Color management aligns an entire system of cameras, displays and printers so that the different color spaces (colors) produced are as close as possible. For example, factors such as the color of printing paper, the lighting in the room and lighting in the original photo can all affect the way colors appear.”

Although the guidebook discusses color management as if you are using Canon equipment, the concepts pertain to all cameras, computers, monitors, and printers.

1 Week Left: Photobird Photo Contest for July

July 25, 2008

“Maybe this time”
© Copyright “JJ”

“Play” is the theme of the Photobird Photo Contest for July, and it looks like this cute couple is enjoying their time together, anticipating something romantic to happen. This well-composed and stylized close-up entitled “Maybe this time” by “JJ” is a recent entry in the Photobird Photo Contest.

There’s less than one week remaining to enter and vote in the Photobird Photo Contest for July. The contest is free to enter and it ends Thursday, July 31 at 11:59pm Pacific time. After you enter your photo into the contest, you can tell your friends and family so they can vote for you.

Every monthly Photobird Photo Contest has two winners. At the end of each month, we pick one winner for the Photobird Award, and we will tally your votes to determine the one winner for the People’s Choice Award. You can see all of the previous contests here.

The two winners for the Photobird Photo Contest for July will each receive the following cool prizes:

You can read more details about the monthly contest here.

Go here to enter the contest. And be sure to have your family and friends vote for their favorite entries to help select the People’s Choice Award. (You can send them a quick little reminder here.)

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

Photography Practice Is Easy

July 24, 2008

“Las Vegas Construction Site — February, 2004”
© Copyright Michael Reichmann

You know the saying “Practice makes perfect.” I’m not familiar with practicing music, but my understanding is that you can achieve perfection — or at least the semblance of perfection — of playing a musical piece through regular and diligent practice.

With visual arts, such as photography, I think it’s different because what may be perfect to you may not be perfect to someone else. Or even the other way around. Your friend may really like a photo you shot, but you don’t like it that much, or you see lots of areas in that photo in which you could improve. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

In any case though, I bet that we agree that the more you practice, the better you become at anything, and that definitely includes photography.

Michael Reichmann, a professional photographer for over 40 years, writes on his website Luminous-Landscape.com about how important and relatively easy it is to practice your photography. He explains, “You don’t need to go anywhere exotic. You don’t need to spend any money. You don’t need to take much time away from your other pursuits. Simply take a small digital camera (megapixels, price and almost everything else don’t matter), and start taking pictures.”

In his article, Michael lists some examples of daily tasks during which you could spend a few seconds taking photos, such as:

  • walking to the deli at lunch time
  • walking the dogs around the block in the evening
  • looking out your bedroom window on a rainy afternoon

He shot the photo “Las Vegas Construction Site — February, 2004“, shown above, when he was walking to an early dinner meeting during a trade show visit in Las Vegas.

After you’ve taken your photos and you’ve copied them to your computer, he recommends analyzing your photos and reflecting on what you felt when you took the photo, if you’re able to communicate anything in the photo, and if you feel you made any technical errors in the photo. (This is one of the many reasons why you should never delete any photos from your camera.)

Michael also discusses the art of actively “seeing” objects in our daily lives, instead of just passively “looking” at them. It simply takes practice to start “seeing” photos before you’ve actually photographed them.

His article is a quick read, and I highly recommend it if you’re interested in improving and practicing your photography.

~•~

When do you practice your photography? Are there times during your regular day that you find convenient for snapping a few photos? Or times during the day when you’re going to start? Let us know in the comments.

STOP! Don’t Delete that Picture!

July 23, 2008

“Beauty in Motion”
© Copyright David Hammond

Warning! Deleting photos from your camera can be hazardous to your health!

Okay, I’m exaggerating just a bit, but how would you feel if you accidentally deleted a photo you intended to keep? Or your camera ran out of battery power before the end of your shooting excursion? These are just a couple of reasons why it’s a bad idea to delete photos from your camera. Instead, delete the ones you don’t like after you copy all of the photos to your computer. Or better yet, don’t delete any photos — ever! Just back them up, multiple times, in multiple locations.

Here’s the rationale:

1. Memory cards and storage are cheap. Back in the olden days — when I was your age and I had to walk to school every day, in the snow, uphill, both ways! — $80 was a good price for a memory card, but it only stored 128MB — yes, 128 megabytes! That was in 2001. These days, for $80, you can store 16 gigabytes on a single memory card, which is 128 times the amount of data that you could store on a memory card just 7 years ago. 16 gigabytes (GB) can store a lot of photos, and you probably don’t need that much to carry around with you; a few smaller and much less expensive cards would probably be better for you. But in any case, you have plenty of storage. You don’t need to be deleting photos to save space.

2. LCD screens don’t show enough detail. If you don’t like the photo just by looking at the LCD screen, keep in mind that you’re not seeing all of the details in the photo. As Jason Paterson writes, “Your camera’s LCD screen lies to you. It’s a liar.” He explains that most cameras have LCD screens with roughly 0.25 megapixels. Compare that with your camera which may be able to capture, say, 5 megapixels. As Jason further explains, “It’s pretty hard to see details on screens that are low quality, so you may be deleting a picture that will actually look much better on your computer screen.”

3. Save your battery power. LCD screens are one of the most power-hungry features of digital cameras. The less you use your LCD screen, the more battery power you will have for later. You can still use your LCD screen, but try not to use it to spend time reviewing and deleting photos.

4. Camera buttons and menus are often difficult to use. As careful as you are, you might accidentally delete the wrong photo. This usually happens when you’re deleting multiple photos in succession. Yes, it’s possible to try to recover deleted photos from your memory card, but it can be time-consuming and difficult for novices, and you shouldn’t continue to use your memory card after you delete a photo that you want to recover because the photo may then be overwritten and unrecoverable.

5. “You’re going to miss everything you want to shoot,advises Luiz Cruz. When you spend time reviewing and deleting images, your time is wasted when you could be shooting. Photography is all about shooting, and taking as many photos as possible, hoping to get the perfect shot. You’ll have plenty of time to review your shots later. Keep shooting so you don’t miss the action.

6. You can learn from your mistakes. Photography is a learning experience, and the best way to learn how to shoot better is to shoot a lot of photos and review them. Even after you become pro, there’s still much to learn. Cory Redmon says, “I even see from time to time that the blurred or rejected image had the proper positioning or crop, so they’re good to learn from, even if you can’t ultimately use the photo.”

7. Gems will appear months later, such as “Beauty in Motion” by David Hammond, shown above. You may not find the gems right away, perhaps because you were looking for another specific kind of shot. But later on, when you review your photos again, you’ll find great photos that you didn’t “see” before. Luiz Cruz adds: “I keep pretty much all my shots too — and for the same reasons. Sometimes, you don’t see the gems until you go through your archives weeks, months, or even years later.”

If you want to delete photos, delete them only on your computer — after you’ve had time to step away from the action and review the photos, and after you’ve made multiple backups of them.

Best Selling Cameras on Amazon.com

July 22, 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 A590 IS, shown above, is in first place, up three notches from just a couple of weeks ago. In fact, it actually swapped places with the Canon PowerShot SD870 IS, which was in first place then.

The Nikon D60 SLR has entered the list in the seventh spot, replacing the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5A point-and-shoot camera that was there. The Canon EOS 40D SLR has dropped down two spots to number eight, knocking the Canon PowerShot G9 medium-sized camera off the top 10 list, with the Olympus Stylus 770SW tiny point-and-shoot camera joining the group at number ten.

As in the past, Canon dominates the top 10 list, but it’s getting some competition on this Amazon.com best-sellers list from Nikon and Olympus.

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

1. Canon PowerShot A590 IS
2. Canon PowerShot SD750
3. Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
4. Canon PowerShot SD870 IS
5. Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS (Blue)
6. Canon Digital Rebel XSi
7. Nikon D60
8. Canon EOS 40D
9. Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS (Silver)
10. Olympus Stylus 770SW

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!

I Really Like Sunset Photos

July 21, 2008

“Mordialloc June 2008”
© Copyright Helen Duffield

I really like sunsets and I never get tired of seeing beautiful sunset photos. Thankfully, there’s a lot of them on Photobird.com. Just several days ago, in my blog post entitled “Who Needs Fireworks?”, I talked about Billy Atkins’ beautiful entry in the Photobird Photo Contest for July.

Helen Duffield is the People’s Choice Award winner for the Photobird Photo Contest for March 2008, and she’s been adding a lot of photos to her Photobird photo album here, which she won as one of the prizes in that contest. She’s added quite a few beautiful sunset photos to her photo album, all from Mordialloc and Chelsea in Australia, including the one shown above entitled “Mordialloc June 2008“. In fact, she won the People’s Choice Award with another one of her sunset photos, “Sunset @ Mordialloc“.

If you’d like to see more beautiful sunset photos, David Cresine has a few dozen in his “Sunrise sunset” photo album here.

Helen’s photo and many of David’s photos have been chosen for the Photobird Photo of the Hour, which you can see on the Photobird home page and the Look at Pictures page.

Photobird.com is the easy way to share your photos. You capture and share so many great photos on Photobird.com that we created the Photo of the Hour feature to give you the opportunity to share your very best with the rest of the world.

It’s really easy to submit your favorite photos to be featured on the Photobird Photo of the Hour: Simply view the photo from your photo album and click the “Submit for Photo of the Hour” checkbox. There is no limit to the number of photos you can submit and we always like to get new submissions.

In return for each photo we use on the Photo of the Hour or People Places and Things, you get more storage space for your photo album so you can share more photos. Details are here.

If you’d like to keep some of your photos private while you share your favorite photos with the world, you can read how easy it is to do that with Photobird photo albums in our blog post “Show Off Your Photos, and Keep Some Private“.

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

Red Ball Player

July 18, 2008

“Untitled” © Copyright Khaled Sattar

Khaled Sattar’s untitled photo shown above has many remarkable features in it. It’s one of the photos entered in the Photobird Photo Contest for July with the theme of “Play”.

First, what primarily stands out for me with the photo is the composition. The photo is well-composed, with the boy and the ball captured completely in the photo (i.e. nothing is cut off). Also, the photo is balanced well, leveraging the Rule of Thirds with the boy and the ball generally lined up on the two vertical lines of the Rule of Thirds’ grid, and the pavement in the lower third, angled just a bit upwards, to help the viewer perceive the action in the photo.

Along similar lines, what’s also great about the composition of this photo is the angle. The photographer, Khaled, is shooting upwards towards the “star athlete”, which provides dramatic action and emphasizes the “star” quality of the player. We’ve talked about photographic angles before. The angle of the shot and the boy’s body position, including his head looking down at the ball, encourages us to run with him to chase the ball.

Finally, I really like that the ball is red. It stands out in the photo, as it should, because it really is the target in the photo. The ball is the most colorful object in the photo and its red color competes well with the boy’s size for attention in the photo. They make a great combination. There’s lots of tension between them.

Now let’s go play!

There’s still time for you to enter the Photobird Photo Contest for July. The contest is free to enter and the theme this month is “Play”. After you enter your photo into the contest, you can tell your friends and family so they can vote for you. This month’s contest ends July 31 at 11:59pm Pacific time.

Every monthly Photobird Photo Contest has two winners. At the end of each month, we pick one winner for the Photobird Award, and we will tally your votes to determine the one winner for the People’s Choice Award.

The two winners for the Photobird Photo Contest for July will each receive the following cool prizes:

You can read more details about the monthly contest here.

Go here to enter the contest. And be sure to have your family and friends vote for their favorite entries to help select the People’s Choice Award. (You can send them a quick little reminder here.)

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