Archive for April, 2009

“Me and the Dog”, by Vicki Tinnon

April 30, 2009

“Me and the Dog” © Copyright Vicki Tinnon

I like the orange-yellow tint and the serenity of this photo shown above entitled “Me and the Dog” by Vicki Tinnon. The sunset’s color and the reflection of the sky in the water adds a beautiful, ethereal quality to the photo. I also like that “the Dog” is at attention, as if something to the right of the frame has alerted it. That look adds an active quality to the photo, in which we’re wondering what has piqued its interest. Click the photo above to see a larger version.

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

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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Beautiful, Natural, Genuine Portraits

April 29, 2009

Photo © Copyright Natalie Norton

Natalie Norton is a busy mother of three young boys. She is also a professional photographer, sought out by families and brides-to-be for her exquisitely natural-looking portraits and light, human touch. Her theory on shooting is as simple as it is true: You can have the best equipment in the world, perfect lighting, and a strong creative vision, but it won’t mean a thing if you’ve got a subject who refuses to cooperate.

Interestingly enough, it was Natalie Norton’s own uncomfortable experience in front of the camera that finally led her toward a new way of working with people to create, in her words, “beautiful, natural, genuine portraits that make our hearts sing.” Well said.

In her article, “The Human Side of Photography…” at the Digital Photography School website, she offers the following four tips for budding photographers interested in getting more naturalistic portraiture:

1. Handle the Hands. Give your subjects something to hold. If their hands are busy, it can offer a “cognitive distraction” to curb their camera anxiety.

2. Pull up a Chair. When people sit, they’ll often lose their nervousness and rigidity. The setting instantly feels less formal and the resulting photographs will feel more casual.

3. The Attraction of Distraction. Distract your subject by getting them to talk about something they’re interested in. Ask them questions about their family, pets, or favorite superhero.

4. A tip from Aretha: R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Your subjects deserve your respect. Seek out privacy. If a setting isn’t working, drop it and try something else. The picture above is of Natalie Norton’s four-year-old son, taken after he started coming to her to ask to have his photograph taken.

Check out the article for more great pictures and advice from Natalie Norton.

If you liked this article, you may also be interested in “Simple Tips for Photographing Your Children”.

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Best Selling Cameras on Amazon.com

April 28, 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.

The Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS tiny digital camera in blue is still in first place, as it has been for at least the past 4 weeks. It beat out the Canon PowerShot A590 IS compact digital camera which had been number one for many months. Two weeks ago, the Canon PowerShot A590 IS had slipped to fourth place and this week it’s down all the way to 13th. The Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS is $150 with FREE Super Saver Shipping.

Canon still holds most of the top 10 spots on the Amazon.com Digital Camera Best Sellers list. Two weeks ago, Canon held 9 spots on this list, and this week, they only have 7 spots on the list. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S950 in black is back on the list joining the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28K and the $50 Polaroid i735.

Here are more observations about the recent list:

The top 10 list for the Amazon.com Digital Camera Best Sellers page is below. This week’s list and the list from two weeks ago are shown. Click on any of the links to go to the Amazon.com page for that camera to read reviews and to obtain more details on each camera.

This week:

1. Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS (Blue) – $150
2. Canon PowerShot SD880 IS (Silver) – $248
3. Canon PowerShot SD890 IS – $195
4. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28K – $274
5. Polaroid i735 – $50
6. Canon PowerShot SD880 IS (Gold) – $245
7. Canon PowerShot SX10 IS – $360
8. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S950 (Black) – $130
9. Canon Rebel XSi – $700
10. Canon Rebel T1i – $900

Two weeks ago:

1. Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS (Blue) – $150
2. Canon PowerShot SD880 IS (Silver) – $248
3. Canon PowerShot SD890 IS – $193
4. Canon PowerShot A590 IS – $125
5. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28K – $272
6. Canon PowerShot SX10 IS – $395
7. Canon PowerShot SD770 IS (Black) – $170
8. Canon PowerShot SD880 IS (Gold) – $245
9. Canon PowerShot SX110 IS – $217
10. Canon Rebel XSi – $700

Before you buy a Canon digital camera or anything else on Amazon.com, please click one of our links to Amazon.com 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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4 Essential Portrait Photography Tips

April 27, 2009

“Andi 2”
© Copyright Ed Krimen

Photography tips often come with a lot of baggage. There’s often so many details to learn that we get overwhelmed and find it difficult to improve our skills. I’m guilty on both ends: Some of my articles have a lot of detail in them and, at the same time, I find it difficult to learn new things from others because I feel there’s often too much to learn. Obviously, practice is very important and is key to improving our skills, but we are often impatient. We want immediate results!

Here’s four essential portrait photography tips, but if you can remember only two of them, remember the first two. These first two tips are specific to portraits and you should always remember them when shooting portraits.

The last two tips will definitely help keep your portrait photos from being boring, but the tips aren’t specific to portrait photography and will help you with all types of photography.

These four tips were written by Randy McKown in his article entitled “4 Quick Portrait Photography Tips” at XposurePro.com.

First, two portrait-specific tips:

1. Focus on the eyes. Keep the face of your subject in focus as much as possible, and especially the eyes. Randy McKown advises: “A good rule of thumb is to always focus on the eyes, then recompose your subject in the frame for your desired composition before pressing the shutter release all the way down.” The fundamentals of this tip seem to be ingrained in our human reflexes. Without knowing it, we usually react to people’s eyes whether in person or in photographs to see where they’re looking and to try to sense what they’re feeling.

I would add that 99 percent of the time, yes, you should focus on the eyes. But don’t be afraid to break the rule. For instance, your subject might have other unique features, such as extraordinary lips or cute earrings, that stand out on their own and deserve their own close-ups. But yes, 99 percent of the time, focus on the eyes.

2. Stay in the shade. Bright outdoor light can be great for landscape photos, but not for portraits. Direct sunlight on your subjects will result in harsh shadows, raccoon eyes, and squinting. Plus, if you put your subject in half shade and half direct sunlight, then your camera won’t be able to handle this wide range of light and you won’t be able to get a good exposure.

Randy McKown recommends: “Find a shaded area to keep the sun off your subject. The shade from a building works great but any solid shaded area will work.” You can use a tree to shade your subject, but make sure there are no rays of light coming through between the leaves and branches, which can result in blown out highlights.

You can shoot in the sun, but if you don’t have special equipment, it’s best to shoot around sunrise or sunset when the light is not direct and bright as it is at mid-day.

This photo of Andi shown above was shot in late afternoon with the sun blocked on the other side of this brick wall.

Next, two tips that will help with all types of photography, but especially portrait photography:

3. Experiment with angles. Portrait photos shot straight on can be boring, such as the photos on driver’s licenses. Not only are they dull, lifeless, and without depth, but your subject will probably feel awkward and uncomfortable if there isn’t more creativity or a natural feel to the shot. Even people who don’t like getting their picture taken will feel like it’s just another boring photo if the photo is shot straight on.

To liven up the shot, climb up on something, such as a chair or a bench, to shoot down at your subject. Or, get down on your knees or sit on the ground and shoot up. As Randy McKown suggests: “Experiment and have fun with it. Whatever you do don’t stick them dead center right in front of you, ask them to say cheese and expect a masterpiece.”

4. Eliminate distractions. This tip goes to the core of what I stress here in the Photobird Daily: the importance of composition, which you can read more about in the article “Composition Is Key“.

Randy McKown writes: “Remember you are shooting a portrait. You’re not photographing everything around them.” You don’t need to photograph the person from head to toe and you don’t need to photograph the landscape. For more on this concept, read the Photobird Daily article “Simplify“.

If you find a lot of good photographic opportunities for your subject and your location, don’t try to capture everything in one shot. Instead, shoot a series of multiple photos that focus on individual, interesting elements of the person and your surroundings. Then you can show them all together in an album. For some portrait examples of what to do and what not to do, read my article in the Photobird Daily entitled “Portrait Posing Tips and Composition Tips“.

One of the best ways to eliminate distractions is by moving in close and filling the photographic frame with your subject. Read more about this composition technique in the Photobird Daily article “Get Closer. Closer. Even Closer!

Be sure to read Randy McKown’s complete article with examples entitled “4 Quick Portrait Photography Tips” at XposurePro.com.

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1 Week Left: Photo Contest for April

April 24, 2009

“colorful grasshopper”
© Copyright sujith. R

The photo shown above entitled “colorful grasshopper” by sujith. R is a very eye-catching photo for a couple of reasons. First, the subject — the colorful grasshopper — is quite unusual-looking, with its spectacular, iridescent legs. Secondly, the blurring of the background and foreground, whether done by shooting a narrow depth of field or by using an image editor, works very well to isolate the grasshopper and to focus our attention on it.

sujith. R entered “colorful grasshopper” into the Photobird Photo Contest for April 2009. Click the photo above to see a larger version.

“Small” is the theme for the Photobird Photo Contest for April 2009. Enter the contest here. The contest is always free to enter and this month’s contest ends Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 11:59pm Pacific time.

Photobird Photo Contest details:

The two winners for the Photobird Photo Contest for April 2009 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 photos 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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“Just Peachy” by Robert Romero

April 23, 2009

“Just Peachy”
© Copyright Robert Romero

This photo shown above entitled “Just Peachy” by Robert Romero is one of my all-time favorites. I like how vibrant and sharp it is. It’s a bold photo that stands out well. Click the photo above to see a larger version. Be sure to see more of Robert Romero’s beautiful flower photos in his “floral beauty” photo album here on Photobird.com.

Robert Romero won the Photobird Award for the Photobird Photo Contest for February 2008 with this photo, “Just Peachy“. You can see more of Robert’s photos at photobird.com/theshootest.

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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Composition Is Key

April 22, 2009

“San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge at 5:30am”
© Copyright Ed Krimen

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. You can find details about cropping photos to improve their composition in the Photobird Daily article “How to Crop Photos to Improve Them“. The photo shown above, “San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge at 5:30am” by Ed Krimen, could probably use a little cropping or editing at the bottom of the photo to remove the pole in the lower left; otherwise, I’m very happy with it.

This article, “Composition Is Key“, appears in “Photobird’s Simple Guide to Great Photos“, which you can also find linked from the Photobird Daily home page.

You’ll continue to see new references in the Photobird Daily about the importance of composition, but for now, please see the articles below about composition; you’ll find them helpful and they have already appeared in the Photobird Daily.

Beginners:

Advanced:

Please let us know in the comments if you have any questions or comments about these articles.

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Get Started with Photography Books

April 21, 2009

Photography books are helpful when you’re getting started with photography and need the fundamentals.

Photography books are also helpful when you want to learn more about a specific type of photography, such as portrait photography, night and low-light photography, and HDR photography.

After you’ve learned everything you can from books, you can learn even more online, such as by searching the Photobird Daily.

Here’s a chronological list of photography books that we’ve written about here in the Photobird Daily. The list of books is separated between beginner’s books and advanced books.

All of the photography books are available from Amazon.com, and if you’re one of the winners of the Photobird Photo Contest for April 2009, you can buy the books with your $50 Amazon.com gift card! The Photobird Photo Contest is free to enter. Enter here!

If you’re looking to purchase only one photography book to get started with, I recommend either Understanding Exposure or Photographer’s Exposure Handbook.

For beginners:

Photographer’s Exposure Handbook

PhoDOGraphy, by Kim Levin

Hands-On Digital Photography, by George Schaub

Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Peterson

The Art of People Photography

Beyond Portraiture, by Bryan Peterson

Baby Face

More advanced:

Fashion Photography, by Bruce Smith

Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait

Night & Low-Light Photography, by Jill Waterman

Mastering HDR Photography, by Michael Freeman

Understanding Shutter Speed

Before you buy Understanding Exposure or anything else on Amazon.com, please click one of our links to Amazon.com 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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How to Shoot with a Point-and-Shoot Camera

April 20, 2009

“Motel 66”
© Copyright Ken Rockwell

One of my goals as an aspiring photographer is to be able to take great photos with compact, pocket, point-and-shoot cameras, like the Canon PowerShot SD880 IS.

Sure, DSLRs are the hot item right now, but they can be bulky and can limit your creativity because of all of the stuff you need to carry around with them. Plus, unless you really know what you’re doing and know more than the photography basics, a DSLR isn’t going to get you better photos than a point-and-shoot camera.

Therefore, the goal is to learn and understand photography better so that you and I can take better photos with our point-and-shoot cameras than people who use DSLRs exclusively and who think that it’s the camera that takes the great photos, not the person holding the camera.

Introducing the Canon S10, a Two-Megapixel Camera

(more…)

2 Weeks Left: Photo Contest for April

April 17, 2009

“goldfinch”
© Copyright Chris Gorhum

Chris Gorhum entered an excellent photo shown above entitled “goldfinch” into the Photobird Photo Contest for April 2009. Click the photo to see a larger version.

There are several things that make this photo remarkable:

  • The photo has a shallow depth of field which makes the foreground objects sharp and clear and the background out of focus. Therefore, our attention is completely on the bird and the branch and we’re not distracted by the background.
  • The finch and the hook are roughly positioned on the Rule of Thirds. The left side of the branch is as well.
  • The branch on the diagonal adds a sense of dynamism and action to the photo. If the branch had been level, the photo would have been more mundane and average.
  • The photo has great balance. The term balance means that the objects in the photo frame are positioned in locations in the frame that are roughly equal in visual weight. For instance, everything in the photo isn’t pushed over to one side. The objects that catch our eye are distributed throughout the frame. For example, the location of the hook and the diagonal branch help balance the frame. The finch positioned on the right side but looking to the left contributes significantly to balancing the frame. If the finch had been looking to the right, the balance would have skewed more to the right, especially with the tilting of the branch in that direction.
  • Finally, what else makes this photo remarkable is that, as the photographer explains in the description of the photo, she is legally blind. Amazing skill and a beautiful, inspirational photo!

At about 4 to 5 inches in length and weighing less than one ounce, the goldfinch is definitely small.

“Small” is the theme for the Photobird Photo Contest for April 2009. Enter the contest here. The contest is always free to enter and this month’s contest ends Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 11:59pm Pacific time.

Photobird Photo Contest details:

The two winners for the Photobird Photo Contest for April 2009 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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