Archive for January, 2009

2 Days Left: Photo Contest for January

January 30, 2009

“the freedom”
© Copyright Jaimin Bhavsar

There are just a couple of days remaining until the end of the Photobird Photo Contest for January. The theme for this month’s contest is “Go” and the contest ends tomorrow, Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 11:59pm Pacific Time. Enter your photo here!

The photo shown above, “the freedom” by Jaimin Bhavsar is very well done. The composition is superb, including only a portion of the open windows, a small piece of the sky, and the bird near the right line of the Rule of Thirds. I think the black and white tones also work well with this image. The bird is simply black, the sky looks like it could have been overcast and devoid of color, and if the wall of the building had any color, I bet it would have detracted from the overall focus of our attention of the bird in flight. Also a necessity is that the bird is captured with its wings extended.

Photobird Photo Contest details:

The two winners for the Photobird Photo Contest for January 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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A Sun Pillar Over North Carolina

January 29, 2009

“A Sun Pillar Over North Carolina”
© Copyright Terry Holdsclaw

I’m a big fan of the Astronomy Picture of the Day, and I also like sunrises and sunsets. When I saw Terry Holdsclaw’s photo from the Astronomy Picture of the Day entitled “A Sun Pillar Over North Carolina” shown above, I was awestruck. The colors in the photo are phenomenal. It’s a very vibrant photo, like a jolt of caffeine to wake you up in the morning. Click the photo above to see a larger version.

I like the composition of the photo too, with the branch in the upper-right corner to give the scene a sense of depth. That’s a subtle framing effect. Read more about framing in the Photobird Daily article “Composition Is Key“.

According to the Astronomy Picture of the Day, a sun pillar, which is shown vertically in the middle of the photo in the sky and reflected in the water, is caused by sunlight reflecting off ice crystals when the air is cold and the Sun is rising or setting. For more details, see the Astronomy Picture of the Day for December 15, 2008.

I’ve written before about the Astronomy Picture of the Day and if you like this photo, I think you’ll like the others too. Be sure to click the photos to see larger versions.

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Take Your Camera With You Everywhere

January 28, 2009

“Golden Gate Bridge lamp”
© Copyright Ed Krimen

To shoot great photos, you need to have your camera with you. Sure, you can shoot only on the weekends, when you pack up your car with your photography gear to go shooting, just like you pack up your fishing gear to go fishing.

But when you limit yourself to shoot only on the weekends, you’re limiting yourself to an extremely small amount of time, when the lighting and locations might not be right. Sometimes the fish just aren’t biting when you want them to. But unlike fishing, you can easily shoot photos seven days a week while you go about your daily life because cameras, unlike fishing poles, are much more portable. And these days, they even make cameras that will fit in your pocket and still take great photos.

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Understanding Shutter Speed

January 27, 2009

You may be familiar with the book Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. It’s a best-selling photography book, and we’ve referred to it many times here in the Photobird Daily. If there’s one photography book you should buy, it’s Understanding Exposure. It’s so good, it’s offered as one of the prizes each month for the Photobird Photo Contest.

Bryan Peterson has a few other books that are really good too. Beyond Portraiture is another one of his fantastic books I’ve written about.

Understanding Shutter Speed is one more of Bryan Peterson’s books that you should consider buying. However, if you’re new to photography and you’re looking to get started with just one book, get Understanding Exposure. It will provide you with more bang for your buck to get great photos when learning more about photography. As a novice, you’ll benefit more by reading Understanding Exposure than you will by reading Understanding Shutter Speed. If you already have Understanding Exposure, or you already know all there is about exposure, then read on and consider Understanding Shutter Speed.

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How to Secure Your Passwords

January 26, 2009

“Giving Me Advice”
© Copyright Vicki Tinnon

You know that it’s important to keep your passwords secure. But when you use multiple websites, software, and other services, it’s hard to keep track of all your passwords. It’s even less secure to use the same password for everything.

But then, you may ask, what’s a good way to keep your passwords secure, without needing to remember them all? There’s lots of software out there that will manage your passwords for you; some are included with operating systems, such as Keychain on the Mac, and web browsers such as Firefox will manage your passwords for you. But you probably don’t want to research, test, and learn more software than you need to, and I question the security of some of this software, even from trusted companies.

Another option is to simply use a plain text file to store your passwords, and you can even encrypt it with a master password to prevent others from finding the text file. But if you lose this text file, you also lose your passwords. If you backup this text file, you need to make sure every backup is secure too. Also, I feel wary about having my passwords written down anywhere.

Plus, if you use multiple computers or devices such as smartphones, you’ll need to duplicate these password solutions on each of those computers and devices, but that can be a pain to do and very time consuming.

Of course, you could try remembering your passwords, but that sounds too painful — perhaps just as painful as finding out someone has accessed your account with one of your simple passwords.

Create Your Own Easy-to-Remember Password Algorithm

My recommendation is to create your own unique password algorithm that helps you create and remember unique passwords for every account you have. You’ll have a unique, strong password for each account and you’ll be able to remember each one. (I got this idea from the computer-savvy, little woodland creature in the photo shown above entitled “Giving Me Advice“, by Vicki Tinnon.)

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1 Week Left: Photo Contest for January

January 23, 2009

“Going Home”
© Copyright Pradip Datta

Going Home” by Pradip Datta is a gorgeous photo which was entered into the Photobird Photo Contest for January. The theme of the contest is “Go”. Click the photo above to see a clearer, larger version and for the option to vote for the photo.

The color in “Going Home” is outstanding and the clearly distinguishable silhouettes of the camel and its rider tell the story well. The photo is well balanced, with the ground horizon at the lower line of the Rule of Thirds, and the camel and rider positioned in front of the brightest part of the sunset. “Going Home” is a really spectacular photo.

There’s still one week remaining for you to enter your own spectacular photo with the theme of “Go”.

Photobird Photo Contest details:

The two winners for the Photobird Photo Contest for January 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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“The Peacock” by Vicki Tinnon

January 22, 2009

“The Peacock”
© Copyright Vicki Tinnon

This is a stunning, beautiful photo of a peacock by Vicki Tinnon. In fact, it’s one of the best peacock photos I’ve seen. Click the photo to see a clearer, larger version in Vicki Tinnon’s Photobird photo album.

Here’s a list of what makes this photo so special:

  • The peacock’s feathers fill the frame of the photo. Almost the entire photo is filled with the peacock’s feathers. Filling the frame is a very effective composition technique for enhancing the look of photos. By comparison, imagine the photo showing more of the ground and more of the surroundings; the photo wouldn’t be as stunning. For more composition tips, see the Photobird Daily article “Composition Is Key“.
  • The photo shows the profile of the peacock’s head, instead of showing the head straight on. The side of the peacock’s head is much more interesting to look at and fills up more space in the photo than if the peacock was photographed straight on.
  • We are close enough to the peacock to clearly see the beautiful detail in the ornate rows of little feathers on the peacock’s back. We can also see the vibrant blues and greens in the peacock’s neck.

Vicki Tinnon recently added this peacock photo to her “Kansas” photo album in her Photobird photo album. Vicki Tinnon submits many of her photos 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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Photobird’s Simple Guide to Great Photos

January 21, 2009

“Salt Creek, Orange County, Ca. 3″
© Copyright David Cresine

Introducing Photobird’s Simple Guide to Great Photos. You can find this quick guide in the side column on the Photobird Daily front page.

It’s simple really:

1. Composition Is Key.

I wrote the following in the Photobird Daily article “Composition Is Key“:

“Composition is the key element for great photos. If everything else with your photo is not correct — such as bad color, poor lighting, image noise, and imperfect subjects — but your photo is well composed, you can usually fix the other things and still come out with a good photo. If the composition isn’t perfect right out of the camera, you can often crop the photo to get the desired composition, but you must start off with a reasonably well-composed photo.”

In the article, you’ll find links to nearly two dozen helpful articles that have appeared in the Photobird Daily that can help you learn more about composition, or refresh your skills if you’re a professional.

2. Read Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Peterson.

Understanding Exposure gets a lot of attention here in the Photobird Daily because it’s a great photography book; it’s helpful for beginners as well as experienced photographers. I wrote about the book at this link here. And the book is available as one of the prizes in the Photobird Photo Contest. Of course, Understanding Exposure is also available at Amazon.com. (Click then purchase anything at Amazon.com to help us publish the Photobird Daily and the Photobird Learning Center — at no additional cost to you. Thank you!)

3. Share your photos on Photobird.com.

Photobird.com is the easy way to share your photos. Here are just a few reasons why you should share your photos on Photobird.com:

But don’t take my word for it. Take our Quick Tour and see what people are saying!

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Best Selling Cameras on Amazon.com

January 20, 2009

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.

Yes, the Canon PowerShot A590 IS compact digital camera, shown above, is still at the top of Amazon.com’s best sellers list, as it has been for a long time. Its price is down slightly to $100.99 with FREE Super Saver Shipping.

Another remarkable feat this week is that Canon has cameras in all 10 spots in the top 10 list of best selling cameras at Amazon.com. This is the first time I’ve seen Canon with cameras in all top 10 spots. Usually there’s at least one other manufacturer with a camera in the top 10. In fact, Canon is in the top 14 spots this week. Number 15 is the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S750 which was previously number 6 in the list. Cameras from Panasonic, Nikon, Sony, and Fujifilm round out the bottom of the top 20 list.

Here are more observations about the recent list:

Alain Briot’s 2009 Workshops

January 19, 2009

“Venus Kondos photographing”
© Copyright Alain Briot

If two of your New Year’s resolutions include learning more about photography and experiencing more of America’s beautiful outdoors, then you can cross out both items on your list by attending a photography workshop this year with Alain and Natalie Briot in the Southwestern United States.

Alain Briot is a famous landscape photographer and a trained instructor with over 6 years of experience teaching photography and communication at graduate and undergraduate levels. Alain has been photographing since 1980 in Europe and studied art at the Academie des Beaux Arts in Paris. Alain’s wife, Natalie, is a painter and certified art teacher, and has been teaching since 1992.

Together, they take you to the places they know intimately, the places they have explored inside and out for many years, their huge “backyard” also known as the Southwestern United States, and provide one-on-one attention to help you improve your photography skills and return home with your own gorgeous photographs.

About half of this year’s workshops are already sold out. We’ve covered them here before in the Photobird Daily. The sold out workshops include:

Some workshops are still available, mostly in the second half of the year, which gives you plenty of time to plan.

If your bags are already packed, and you and your camera are ready to go, the Trilogy Seminars, which cover Composition, Printing, and Marketing your photos, are being held February 14-22, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. Details of the Trilogy Seminars are here.

If you prefer a workshop later in the year, consider these workshops which are still open to attendees:

For more details on these workshops, Alain and Natalie Briot, and to see photos of workshop participants honing their craft, visit Beautiful-landscape.com.

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