Archive for July, 2009

Final Day: Photo Contest for July 2009

July 31, 2009

“Out for a stroll”
© Copyright Sonja Throssell

Today is the final day to submit your photo entry into the Photobird Photo Contest for July 2009! The contest is always free to enter and this month’s contest ends today, Friday, July 31, 2009 at 11:59pm Pacific time. Enter the contest here.

“Three” is the theme of the Photobird Photo Contest for July 2009. Sonja Throssell entered a cute photo of three goslings entitled “Out for a stroll“. Not only are they out for a stroll, but it looks like they’re hunting ferociously for food. (If goslings can be ferocious, that is.)

The composition of Sonja’s photo is very well done. First, the photo is shot at ground level where the goslings are, not from up at human height. Secondly, I like that the goslings are photographed at a slight angle, so they appear staggered in the photo, so we can clearly see all three of them. Finally, I like the simplicity of the photo, which enables us to focus our attention on the goslings. There’s not much else in the photo: three goslings, grass, and green water. The last two make the goslings stand out very well in the photo. For more composition tips, read “Composition Is Key” in the Photobird Daily.

Photobird Photo Contest details:

The two winners for the Photobird Photo Contest for July 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.)

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7 Tips for Perfect Sunrise and Sunset Photos

July 30, 2009

“Early Madness”
© Copyright Camil Seisanu

Everyone loves beautiful sunrise and sunset photos. And sure, it’s easy to go outside when the sun is coming up or going down, snap the shutter, and appreciate the photos. But if your photos don’t always look as good as you think they should, heed these 7 tips from Yanik’s Photo School. Then you too can shoot beautiful sunrise and sunset photos like Camil Seisanu’s “Early Madness” shown above.

I have listed the tips below in a prioritized order.

1. Scouting. It’s very important to plan ahead and look for the perfect places to capture the rising and setting sun. Consider the path the sun will take during the day and verify that you can shoot around any obstacles, such as buildings and trees. Keep in mind that the sun’s path varies throughout the year. For example, during the winter, the sun stays lower on the horizon. Check your local weather forecast for the daily times of sunrises and sunsets; Yahoo! Weather is a good resource for that.

2. Composition. Composition is key for great photos, especially sunrise and sunset photos. For these photos, we have a tendency to shoot in (horizontal) landscape format, but it’s also a good idea to get creative and try shooting in (vertical) portrait format, as Camil has done with his photo above. Also try using the Rule of Thirds, instead of centering the sun in the middle of your photos. Learn more about composition in the Photobird Daily article “Composition Is Key“.

3. Arrive early and stay late. Don’t pack up and leave right when the sun goes down. The color show is just about to begin! Some of the best colors will appear before the sun rises and after it sets. Stick around for a while and keep shooting because the colors will change, even slightly, every minute. Bring your tripod along as it will help you use longer shutter speeds to capture more light when the sky is darker.

4. Look behind you. Yes, while you think all the action might be where the sun is headed, when you turn around, you’ll see the radiant colors that the sun is painting on the landscape. You may see a building in a vibrant orange color or the sun coloring the clouds above. The best, most colorful light is usually when the sun is low on the horizon, or even just below the horizon.

5. Exposure. Try underexposing your shots between 1 and 2 stops to get rich, vibrant colors. Or you can try overexposing your shots which will result in pastel, less saturated colors. To do this easily, use the EV (Exposure Value) button if you have one on your camera. It’s something you need to experiment with to get the effect you are looking for.

6. Setting your white balance. You should also experiment with different white balance settings to get the look you desire. Keep in mind that as the sun moves through the sky, you may find it necessary to change your white balance setting to adjust for the color tones in the sky and landscape around you. If you have a camera with presets, you should try the “Sunset” preset. One of the first things I do when I pick up a camera is change the white balance setting to “Cloudy”, which saturates the colors in the scene and makes them more vibrant. If you shoot in RAW format, you can change the white balance setting later in software on your computer. As with most things in photography, you’ll need to experiment with the white balance setting to get your desired look.

7. Don’t look straight at the sun! No one looks directly at the sun even with sunglasses on, and we shouldn’t look directly at the sun with cameras either. You could damage your eyesight, and your camera can be damaged by direct sunlight through the lens if exposed for too long. Basically, if it would hurt your eyes by looking at it, then don’t photograph it. Most people can look at sunrises and sunsets because the sun is low on the horizon, or below the horizon, and the earth’s atmosphere diffuses the sunlight so it’s not as powerful as if it was at full strength at mid-day.

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Your Photos are Private on Photobird.com

July 29, 2009

“Home Impressions #5″
© Copyright Rafa Torcida

Most of you want to keep your photos private. You don’t want your photos exposed so that anyone on the Internet can see them. You only want your family and friends to see your photos.

Fortunately, Photobird.com, the easy way to share your photos, was built with exactly that idea. When you sign up for your Photobird.com account, your photo albums are automatically private. There’s nothing you need to do to make them private. No one knows about your photo albums until you start telling your family and friends about them.

On the other hand, a relatively small group of people want to share some of their photos with the world. People like Vicki Tinnon, David Cresine, Robert Romero, Mark Prinz, and Rafa Torcida to name a few, enjoy the exposure of sharing their photos and getting feedback. They all have submitted photos for the Photobird Photo of the Hour, which is your opportunity to share your favorite photos with the rest of the world. Rafa Torcida’s photo “Home Impressions #5” is shown above.

Fortunately, Photobird.com allows you to do it all. You can keep your photos private, or you can share your photos with the world, or you can do a mixture of both. For example, you can see my photo albums at photobird.com/ekrimen. But what you can’t see — unless I tell you about it — is that I have a hidden album with pictures of Florida in it. If you look at my photo albums, you won’t see my “Florida” photo album shown there. But if I give you the direct link, photobird.com/ekrimen/Florida, you can click on that link and see my Florida photo album. It’s a secret, hidden photo album that can only be seen if I give you the link. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have known it’s there.

Another option you have, in case you think people might be able to guess the names of your hidden albums, is to password protect one, some, or all of your photo albums. When you password protect your photo albums, you require your visitors to type in a password to view the photos in your photo album.

To make all of this even easier, for both hidden albums and password protected albums, and even for things like comments and ratings on your photos and albums, you can set up one album with password protection, for example, and all of the albums within that album will also be password protected. It’s a clever feature that makes it easy to keep some of your photos private while you share your favorite photos with the world. You can read how easy it is in our Photobird Daily article entitled “Show Off Your Photos, and Keep Some Private“.

All of these options are included at no additional cost when you sign up for your Photobird account. There are no extra fees, no gimmicks, no ads, no spam.

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below or send me a message directly and privately.

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Black and White Landscape Photography

July 28, 2009

“Stream at sunrise, Scarborough State Beach, Rhode Island 1995”
© Copyright William Neill

When we think of landscape photos, we usually think of great color and earthen tones, such as greens, browns, blues, and other colors that Mother Nature provides in a particular landscape. So it may come as a surprise that landscape photos also work well in black and white, but you really need to know what you’re doing to make black and white landscape photos look good.

I generally prefer color photos, but when black and white photos are done well, I really like them and I’m inspired by them. I’ve written before in the Photobird Daily about my thoughts on black and white photos:

Award-winning photographer William Neill has been living in the Yosemite National Park area since 1977 and received the Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Award for conservation photography in 1995. In his article “Meditations in Monochrome” on Michael Reichmann’s The Luminous Landscape website, William shares with us his perspectives and tips on shooting and processing black and white landscape digital photos.

William Neill introduces his article by bridging the gap with the majority of people who see in color. He writes: “Even though I am primarily a color landscape photographer, many of my favorite landscape images are black and white photographs.” William begins with a history of his photographic background, starting with the two semesters of black and white photography that he took in college in the 1970s. Even though he committed his career to working in color, he challenged himself to make color photographs that “display the best aspects of black and white composition in terms of graphic design, inject expressive seeing, and use the colors of nature judicially and subtly.” Ansel Adams even complimented William by saying that William’s color photographs demonstrated that he “saw” in black and white.

Here’s a couple of tips on shooting black and white photos that William Neill shares in his article:

  • Graphic quality and exposure quality are most important. Consider how colors translate to grays. William writes, “Because black and white images do not depend on colors for impact, black and white compositions are often better designed, and so your ability to compose may well improve by working in black and white!”
  • Use software such as Adobe Lightroom for visually testing the strength of images to be converted from color to black and white. Some images just don’t translate and finding the right images to convert takes some trial and error.

More tips on working with software to edit images for conversion to black and white can be found in William Neill’s article “Meditations in Monochrome“.

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Know Your Rights

July 27, 2009

“Squirrel”
© Copyright Mike Saunders

When photographing in public, photographers may find themselves confronted by unwitting subjects who, for whatever reason, would clearly like to stay out of the picture, thank you very much.

This article on fotohacker.com provides a good overview of your rights as a photographer and is a good resource for photographers who spend a significant amount of time snapping photos in public. The article contains informative links to detailed books and PDF documents about photographers’ rights in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

The most important points to remember are:

  1. You have the right to take a photograph anywhere in public, but it’s best to obtain permission in advance when photographing on private property, such as in a shopping mall.
  2. Nobody has the right to confiscate your camera or ask you to delete a photograph. Once you’ve taken the picture, it’s yours.
  3. You can take pictures of anyone in public. But as a matter of common courtesy, it’s important to remain polite and respectful of others by not engaging in outright harassment.

For more details regarding your rights as a photographer, review the following excellent resources, provided by the article on fotohacker.com:

USA

The Photographer’s Right PDF
The Law, In Plain English, For Photographers

Canada

Photography Laws in Canada
Photographers Rights @ Photojunkie

UK

Photographer’s Rights in the UK

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1 Week Left: Photo Contest for July

July 24, 2009

“Pick Me!”
© Copyright Terry Hammon

This is quite an impressive photo entitled “Pick Me!” that Terry Hammon entered into the Photobird Photo Contest for July 2009. The photo is very impressive technically even though it doesn’t have large patches of rich, iridescent colors that I usually like. First, capturing hummingbirds in flight is no easy task. You need a fast shutter speed and a few other tricks to get the quick, tiny birds very sharp. I actually like that the bird’s body is sharp while its wings are mostly a blur, showing their motion.

Next, the composition of the photo is well done. If simply capturing the hummingbird wasn’t enough, Terry has the bird positioned in a good spot in the frame, with the flowers on the left forming a nice border. Note that this is a tight close-up of the hummingbird in action, without a lot of open space in the photo.

Finally, if those characteristics weren’t enough, Terry’s photo has a short depth of field, with the foreground objects sharp and the background blurred to force our eyes to focus on the foreground objects, the bird and the flowers. Very impressive feat to get all of those challenging photographic skills into one photo!

The Photobird Photo Contest for July 2009 is still open and there’s only one week remaining so be sure to enter your photo soon!

“Three” is the theme of the Photobird Photo Contest for July 2009. Enter the contest here. The contest is always free to enter and this month’s contest ends Friday, July 31, 2009 at 11:59pm Pacific time.

Photobird Photo Contest details:

The two winners for the Photobird Photo Contest for July 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.)

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“I See You” by Vicki Tinnon

July 23, 2009

“I See You”
© Copyright Vicki TInnon

I like this photo shown above entitled “I See You” by Vicki Tinnon. Prince Frog may think he’s in stealth mode, but we can see you too. I like the vibrant green, the clarity and exposure level, and how the frog is positioned towards the top of the frame using the Rule of Thirds.

You can see more of Vicki Tinnon’s beautiful 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. You can see the Photo of the Hour on the Photobird.com home page and on the Look at Pictures page.

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“.

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Liven Up Your Camera Angles

July 22, 2009

Photo from Ed Krimen’s “Fort Funston” album
© Copyright Ed Krimen

The distance between the camera lens and your subject, and the angle of the shot itself, can greatly influence the shot’s resulting impact.

In this article on fotohacker.com, Jason Paterson writes that he is tired of looking at photos of subjects shot straight on at eye-level. He believes we can all learn to take more dynamic and, therefore, more visually interesting photographs by simply changing the position of the camera.

Here are some of the camera angles he suggests:

  1. Lower Angles. When you shoot from beneath the subject, you give the subject a feeling of power.
  2. Higher Angles. When shot from above, a subject often appears smaller or less significant.
  3. Tilted or “Dutch” Angles. These photos can produce a feeling of energy or excitement, or leave the viewer with a feeling that not all is right.
  4. Framed Angles. Use the environment to frame your subject, which is a technique we discussed in greater depth in this article in the Photobird Daily.

You can also consider the viewpoint of each photo:

  1. Subjective. The subject appears to be looking at the camera and interacting with it as though it were a person.
  2. Objective. The subject appears to be oblivious to the camera.

Be sure to read Jason’s complete article for additional thoughts on this subject.

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Best Selling Cameras on Amazon.com – July 21

July 21, 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 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 SD780 IS (Black) – $230
2. Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS (Dark Gray) – $183
3. Canon PowerShot SX10 IS – $359
4. Canon PowerShot SD890 IS – $197
5. Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS (Light Gray) – $179
6. Canon Rebel T1i – $810
7. Canon Rebel XSi – $638
8. Canon Rebel XS (Black) – $499
9. Canon PowerShot A2100 IS – $209
10. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H20 – $244

Two weeks ago:

1. Canon Rebel XSi – $682
2. Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS (Dark Gray) – $183
3. Canon Rebel T1i – $810
4. Canon PowerShot SD780 IS (Black) – $228
5. Canon PowerShot SX10 IS – $370
6. Canon PowerShot SX110 IS (Black) – $230
7. Canon PowerShot SD890 IS – $197
8. Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5S – $213
9. Canon Rebel XS (Black) – $509
10. Canon PowerShot D10 – $300

The turmoil continues. I was kinda hoping that things at the top of the Amazon.com Digital Camera Best Sellers list would settle down for a bit, but they haven’t. There’s another new camera this week at the top of Amazon.com’s list. Here’s the background: For many, many months, the Canon PowerShot A590 IS compact digital camera was in first place. Then, for at least 6 weeks, the Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS tiny digital camera in blue was in first place, just as it was four weeks ago. But recently, both the Canon PowerShot SD880 IS in silver and the Canon PowerShot A1000 IS in grey have also been in the number one spot. Two weeks ago, the Canon Rebel XSi DSLR was in first place. Today the Canon PowerShot SD780 IS, shown above, is in first place, up 3 spots from number 4.

As always, Canon dominates the top 10 list. This week, Canon holds the top 9 of 10 spots on the Amazon.com Digital Camera Best Sellers list. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H20 in 10th place is the only camera in the top 10 list that’s not manufactured by Canon. Usually Canon holds at least 7 spots in the top 10 list and I’ve never seen them with less than 6.

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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How to Photograph Rainbows

July 20, 2009

“Rainbow”
© Copyright Peter Horner

Rainbows can be a fickle subject to photograph. They only come out when the atmospheric conditions are just right and, even then, they usually don’t stick around for long. Capturing one with your camera and keeping it true to the awe-inspiring splendor that motivated you to get out your camera in the first place, can present a formidable challenge to any photographer.

This article by Jason Paterson of fotohacker.com greatly demystifies the process of capturing these wondrous spectral images on camera, like lightning in a bottle.

Jason recommends the following:

  1. Consider your framing carefully. If your background looks bad, the resulting picture will look bad no matter how beautiful the rainbow is.
  2. Use a polarizing filter. This will allow you to get the most vivid and saturated colors from both the sky and the surrounding scenery. More information about polarizing filters can be found at this link.
  3. Use a tripod and a low shutter speed. When you use the polarizing filter, you’re going to lose light. The tripod will make sure the picture remains sharply in focus.

Be sure to read the complete article for additional tips.

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