Archive for November, 2008

3 Days Left: Photo Contest for November

November 28, 2008

“Mermaid going down to the sea”
© Copyright Ritu

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a real mermaid. I’ve never seen Big Foot or el Chupacabra either. They may exist or they may not. It may be possible. Or it may not.

It looks like Ritu might have captured a photo of a mermaid in the photo “Mermaid going down to the sea” entered into the Photobird Photo Contest for November. Like photos of Big Foot, it’s a little hard to see if it’s a real mermaid because it’s a silhouette against the sun reflecting beautifully off the water. But it could be a mermaid. Who knows! It may be possible. We may never know. I wonder if Ritu knows this mermaid personally?

What I do know is that the Photobird Photo Contest for November ends in 3 days! The theme for the contest is “Down”. Enter the contest and vote for your favorite entries!

Photobird Photo Contest details:

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

Read more details about the monthly contest here.

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.

See the previous contests and their contest entries at this link.

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 comments below or in the Photobird forums.

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“So Peaceful” by Vicki Tinnon

November 27, 2008

“So Peaceful”
© Copyright Vicki Tinnon

This comfortable-looking bench is well situated in a peaceful location under the tree for those long-lasting, memorable conversations. It also looks like a nice spot for reflecting, reading, or even napping. Today is Thanksgiving in the United States and perhaps a couple of relatives or friends who haven’t seen each other in a while might break away from the rest of the group and catch up in a similarly peaceful setting. Or perhaps someone might just use the opportunity for a little break from all the activities.

This photo entitled “So Peaceful” by Vicki Tinnon was recently submitted by her for the Photobird Photo of the Hour. You can see more of Vicki Tinnon’s inspiring photos in her Photobird photo album at photobird.com/vickitinnon. Vicki Tinnon won the Photobird Award for the Photobird Photo Contest for May 2008 with her photo “Moving In“.

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 Photobird Daily article entitled “Show Off Your Photos, and Keep Some Private“.

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

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From Moonrise to Sunset

November 26, 2008

“From Moonrise to Sunset”
© Copyright Miguel Claro

One of my favorite websites is the Astronomy Picture of the Day. Most of their photos are “out of this world”, but they occasionally show some “down to earth” photos for people who aren’t interested in “seeing stars”. I’ve written about the website before in the Photobird Daily, in “Planets Ahoy!” and an article entitled “Astronomy Picture of the Day“.

The photo shown above entitled “From Moonrise to Sunset” by Miguel Claro is very unique in a couple of ways. First, the panoramic photo shows the Full Moon rising in the eastern horizon at the far left while the Sun sets in the same photo at the far right. It’s pretty cool. 17 digital photos are stitched together to follow the horizon in Lisbon, Portugal, taken on November 13, 2008.

The photo shown above is only a very small part of the entire photo. You actually need to click this link to go to the Astronomy Picture of the Day for November 22, 2008 to see the entire panoramic photo. When you get to the website, be sure to read the caption and use the horizontal scroll bar at the bottom of your web browser to scroll to the right to see the entire photo.

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Best Selling Cameras on Amazon.com

November 25, 2008

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

The Canon PowerShot A590 IS compact digital camera, shown above, has been at the top of the Amazon.com Digital Camera Best Sellers list for a very long time, and guess what folks, it’s still at the top of the list! When you buy the camera from Adorama Camera through Amazon.com, it’s only $100 with $7 shipping. A great deal for a very popular, highly-rated camera.

Here are some observations about the recent list:

  • Canon once again has command of the entire top 10 list. Their collection of blue, silver, pink, and brown-colored Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS tiny cameras are distributed throughout the list. Blue and silver are at the top with pink rising up the list and brown becoming less popular.
  • The Canon PowerShot SD790 IS is still very popular and is at the top of the list, rising one position to third place.
  • The Canon Digital Rebel XSi SLR is also very popular and is holding steady in fifth place.
  • Last time, we saw the new Canon PowerShot SX10 IS going up two spots to number 7 from number 9. It’s still hovering in the vicinity at number 8.
  • No more Panasonic cameras in the list and the pink Kodak EasyShare C713 that was in the list last time is also no longer in the top 10 list. The 10-megapixel Nikon Coolpix S550 has entered the list at number 7. It’s the only camera in the top 10 list that’s not a Canon.

The top 10 list for the Amazon.com Digital Camera Best Sellers page is below. Click on any of the links to go to the Amazon.com page for that camera to read reviews and obtain more details on each camera:

1. Canon PowerShot A590 IS
2. Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS (Blue)
3. Canon PowerShot SD790 IS
4. Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS (Silver)
5. Canon Digital Rebel XSi
6. Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS (Pink)
7. Nikon Coolpix S550
8. Canon PowerShot SX10 IS
9. Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS (Brown)
10. Canon PowerShot SD880 IS

Before you buy a Canon digital camera or anything else on
Amazon.com, please click one of our Amazon.com links on this page or 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 the Photobird Daily and the Photobird Learning Center. Thank you for your support!

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Photo Shoot with Steven Spielberg

November 24, 2008

Image © Copyright Image Mechanics

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about a small company in Los Angeles called Image Mechanics that pushes photography equipment to its limits. They provide high-tech photography skills and expertise to leading advertising and celebrity portrait photographers around the world.

They did a photo shoot with Steven Spielberg for Time Magazine a few years ago, along with photographer Michael Grecco, whose book, Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait, I wrote about last week.

I enjoyed reading about all of the behind the scenes action in the Spielberg shoot. There are some technical details about the shoot, but they aren’t as impressive as Image Mechanics’ shoot for Marshall’s.

A couple of things stood out for me about this shoot that I thought were very impressive. First, even though Steven Spielberg’s “people” initially said he would probably only have 20 minutes for the shoot, he ended up spending over two hours with the photographer and crew because Spielberg became very involved in reviewing the images. Image Mechanics credits the additional interaction and time with celebrity photo subjects, who often don’t have a lot of time, to allowing them to see the photos instantaneously on a large monitor at the shoot. “They become active participants instead of just subjects”, the company writes.

The second thing that stood out for me about this shoot was the lightning fast time from the photo shoot to printed magazines. The photo shoot took place on a Wednesday evening and the photo was on the cover at newsstands first thing Monday morning. After a review of the photos by the photographer on Thursday, and a touch-up on the photos afterwards, they were delivered to Time Magazine’s FTP server on a Friday afternoon, with the magazines at the newsstands on Monday morning. Incredible!

Read more about the shoot on Image Mechanics’ website.

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1 Week Left: Photo Contest for November

November 21, 2008

“Before the End of a Day”
© Copyright Chanchal Ghosh

There’s nothing like a good sunset photo, and the photo shown above entitled “Before the End of a Day” by Chanchal Ghosh captures the sun perfectly. As the sun goes down, it changes from a bright white to a radiant yellow color, makes the sky orange, and creates a silhouette of the palm tree.

As the sun goes down, the beautiful sunset it creates marks the end of the day. And even though the sun is going down, we know it will be back up tomorrow. It never stays down, but it will rise again tomorrow, and then, of course, take another trip down. It doesn’t stay down for long.

The theme for the Photobird Photo Contest for November is “Down”. There’s just over 1 week left to enter the contest and to vote for your favorite entries.

Photobird Photo Contest details:

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

Read more details about the monthly contest here.

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.

See the previous contests and their contest entries at this link.

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 comments below or in the Photobird forums.

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“Ponca” by Vicki Tinnon

November 20, 2008

“Ponca”
© Copyright Vicki Tinnon

I really like this photo shown above entitled “Ponca” that Vicki Tinnon recently submitted for the Photobird Photo of the Hour. It’s a simple and straightforward photo, but for some reason, winding road shots like this one are often difficult to get just right, and Vicki got it just right. I like the photo’s perspective, its clarity, its composition, and its “true to life” appearance. It feels like you’re there, and every time I look at it, I expect a car to come around the bend. The photo was taken at Ponca State Park in Nebraska, located along the banks of the Missouri River.

You can see more of Vicki Tinnon’s inspiring photos in her Photobird photo album at photobird.com/vickitinnon. Vicki Tinnon won the Photobird Award for the Photobird Photo Contest for May 2008 with her photo “Moving In“.

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 Photobird Daily article entitled “Show Off Your Photos, and Keep Some Private“.

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

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Death Valley Spring Workshop

November 19, 2008

“Playa Reflections 1”
© Copyright Alain Briot

Death Valley isn’t as ominous as it sounds. As long as you don’t go in the summer. That’s why Alain and Natalie Briot are conducting their 5-day Death Valley & Alabama Hills Spring Workshop in the Spring, March 13th to 17th, 2009. The workshop is open to only 12 participants, and there’s only 3 seats left!

Most of the workshop will be conducted while exploring the harsh beauty of Death Valley, while the end of the workshop will be in the Alabama Hills, where you’ll try to find and photograph the location where Ansel Adams created one of his most famous photographs, Mount Whitney from Lone Pine.

The itinerary for the workshop was designed with two goals in mind: convenient travel arrangements and exciting photographic opportunities. The workshop starts each day before sunrise so that you can photograph the sunrises. Each day will be spent exploring and photographing a different part of Death Valley, from Badwater, Artist Point, and Dante’s View, to the Stovepipe Well Sand Dunes and the Alabama Hills.

The workshop is open to participants of all levels of experience. The workshop is about $260 per day, not including food, lodging, and transportation, which are intentionally flexible for you; some participants may want to camp while others may want to stay in a hotel, for example.

Be sure to read more details of the Death Valley & Alabama Hills Spring Workshop at Alain and Natalie Briot’s website, Beautiful-Landscape.com.

And if you just can’t wait until next year and you’re available December 5 to 9, 2008, there’s one spot available in Alain and Natalie’s Death Valley Winter Workshop.

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Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait

November 18, 2008

If you’re considering taking your portrait photography to the next level, consider Michael Grecco’s book Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait. You may have already seen the other people and portrait-related books we’ve written about previously, including Beyond Portraiture by Bryan Peterson and The Art of People Photography by Bambi Cantrell and Skip Cohen. Be forewarned that Michael Grecco’s book will encourage you to spend money on lighting equipment if you don’t already own it, and should also help inspire your creativity.

Michael Grecco’s book Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait seems to have at least three distinctive parts to it. About a third to half of the book is dedicated to illustrating lighting diagrams that Michael Grecco has used on specific shoots. Another third to half of the book are case studies and other storytelling about specific celebrity shoots Michael Grecco conducted. And in the remaining parts of the book, Michael Grecco shares his tips and perspectives on photography and lighting for various situations. If you enjoy reading about all that goes on behind-the-scenes to get the artful celebrity shots Michael Grecco is known for, along with tons of beautiful, inspirational photos, then Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait is for you.

Michael Grecco’s book Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait is highly rated on Amazon.com with 27 reviewers giving it an average of 4 stars. Most of the ratings are 5 stars, with more 3 stars than 4 stars, and one 2-star rating as of today. Most people rave about the beautiful photos and the tips, and those who gave the book fewer stars seemed to have been hoping for more instructional material in the book.

Instead of a step-by-step instruction manual, Michael Grecco’s book Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait seems to be more of an inspirational photography book with Michael Grecco’s perspectives on shooting, and his descriptions of the challenges and obstacles overcome with each shot. The book doesn’t really have any step-by-step instructions and merely describes how the photos were achieved. To be honest, however, I can’t recall any photography book that actually has step-by-step instructions, unless it was describing software or making a craft. I think I know the reason why.

As a photographer, you’re supposed to be the creative one, instead of relying on someone else to tell you what to do. Granted, it would be helpful to learn how to achieve certain photographic looks, but there’s only so much you can learn from a 250-page book with full-page photos. For instance, you can’t learn to play basketball by reading a book. Some people even have trouble with cooking, even though cookbooks have step-by-step instructions. As with many skills, photography needs to be mastered by trial and error. Lots of it. Photography books and online materials give you the inspiration and can point you in the right direction, but they can only go so far and can’t replace actual experience. Workshops can be very useful because they’re hands-on, and I’ve heard of people getting jobs as photographers’ assistants just to learn the tricks of the trade.

At less than $20 on Amazon.com, Michael Grecco’s book Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait provides a great bang-per-buck return on your investment. It may not have all of the instructional details you need, but it more than makes up for it in inspirational photos and behind-the-scenes creative dialogue. It’s a beautiful book either for you or as a gift for a budding photographer you know.

Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait is published by my favorite book publisher, Amphoto Books, which also publishes Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Peterson. 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. The following books are also available as prizes:

Enter the Photobird Photo Contest for your chance to win Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait!

Before you buy Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait or anything else on Amazon.com, please 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 the Photobird Daily and the Photobird Learning Center. Thank you for your support!

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Easy Tips for Photographing Food

November 17, 2008

“Easy Weekend Pancakes”
© Copyright VeganYumYum

As with most things in life, there are easy ways to do things and hard ways to do things. LIke most people, I prefer to pick the easy ways. Although, when we’re in the middle of doing something, we don’t always realize that there’s a better way, even though we’re probably thinking “There must be a better way!”

We’ve written about food photography many times before in the Photobird Daily, and I list those articles at the end of this article. In many of those articles, food photography seems too complicated, with special lights, reflectors, diffusers, and all sorts of stuff we really don’t want to get into. All we want to do is take great pictures of our food. There must be a better way!

Lolo has been photographing food for over 2 years for her award-winning blog, VeganYumYum. She’s even been featured on the Martha Stewart Show for her famous Knit Night Cupcakes, so she’s definitely doing all the right things.

Lolo is not a professional photographer, but she does need to wear a lot of hats for her job as a food blogger. (My guess is that the chef hat is more fun than the dish washer hat.) She explains in her article on her blog that it’s possible to make your own high-quality food photos at home even without professional lighting equipment and food stylists.

She says that there’s a lot that happens before and after she clicks the shutter button that contributes to the final photo. Some of her easy tips are listed below, and I highly recommend you check out her article for more details on her photography. Also check out her recipe for Easy Weekend Pancakes, shown above. Looks like there’s a better way to make pancakes too!

Dishes – The right dish really sets the overall look for the photo. Smaller dishes are better. Small dishes are easier to fill up with food, which prevents the dish from looking bare.

Plan ahead – Do as much as you can before you start cooking. Food should be photographed as soon as possible after preparing, so the countertops need to be cleared, dishes selected, camera setup, background chosen, and more — all before you start cooking.

Mise en place – Preparing and neatly organizing all of your ingredients will keep your kitchen more organized, cut down on cooking time, and help you focus. Mise en place photos make for great food photos too!

Starting out – When Lolo started photographing food for her blog, she just used a Sony point-and-shoot camera without a tripod and her photos came out fine, even with just a kitchen light. If possible, take your photos during the day with natural light so the colors will be much more true to life. She says, “Using natural light is probably the number one thing you can do to improve your photos.”

Next step – If you’re interested in improving your equipment as well as your photos, Lolo highly recommends getting a digital SLR camera and a lens or two. Entry-level digital SLR cameras don’t cost that much and they allow you to use different lenses, change your aperture and shutter speed, set your white balance, shoot RAW, and do everything you need to take your food photography to the next level.

Read Lolo’s article at VeganYumYum for more details and many more tips.

Here’s more food photography articles we’ve written about before:

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