Archive for the ‘Photos on Photobird.com’ Category

Photobird Photo Contest for August

August 3, 2009

“breeching 1, Frederick Sound, AK”
© Copyright Steve Simon

Water is one of our most precious natural resources. Water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and is essential for many forms of life. We use water for drinking, bathing, and playing, among other things. Lots of other creatures use water for playing, such as whales which breach out of the water, as shown in the spectacular photo above by Steve Simon of a whale breaching in Frederick Sound in Alaska. Click the photo above to see a larger version.

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

Photobird Photo Contest details:

The two winners for the Photobird Photo Contest for August 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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Photobird Photo Contest Winners for July

August 3, 2009

“The Three Armadillos”
© Copyright Steve Creek

Thank you to everyone who entered the Photobird Photo Contest for July 2009! The theme for July was “Three” and a lot of great photos were entered into the contest. We had a lot of photos of children and birds, some fireworks (of course, for July!), turtles, oranges, chairs, arches, celebrities, sailboats, and an Amish caravan going to town.

Congratulations to Steve Creek, winner of the Photobird Award with the photo “The Three Armadillos“, shown above. I wrote about the photo in early July and I mentioned how it’s rare to see a photo of one armadillo because they’re just not something people take photos of, and yet Steve has a great photo of three of them together, which is even more rare. Click the photo above to see a larger version.

Congratulations to Seshadri Moitra, winner of the People’s Choice Award with the photo “the happy moment“. The photo appears to show a small family of three cows, with the mother simultaneously feeding her calf and touching another cow with her mouth. Perhaps it’s a sign of affection, and she’s managing to keep everyone in the group happy.

Steve and Seshadri will each receive the following prizes:

Congratulations again to both winners!

“One” was the theme for May. “Two” was the theme for June. And “Three” was the theme for July. Instead of “Four” for August, let’s shift gears, hop in a boat, and head out on the water while summer is still here! “Water” is the theme for the Photobird Photo Contest for August 2009. The Photobird Photo Contest is free to enter, so be sure to get your entry in and have your family and friends vote on their favorite photos before month’s end.

For more information about the contest, please check out the details 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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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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“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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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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“Sunset surfer 7″ by David Cresine

July 16, 2009

“Sunset surfer 7″
© Copyright David Cresine

I was in the mood for a nice sunset photo today, so I picked David Cresine’s “Sunset surfer 7“, shown above. Gorgeous colors and I really like the texture of the water on the sand and its reflection of the sunset colors. The surfer is well positioned using the Rule of Thirds.

David Cresine’s photo “Sunset surfer 7” is one of the photos chosen for the Photobird Photo of the Hour. You can see more of David Cresine’s beautiful photos by visiting his Photobird photo album at photobird.com/davidroy.

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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See more great photos and photography articles in the Photobird Daily.

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What is the RAW File Format?

July 8, 2009

“Giving Me Advice”
© Copyright Vicki Tinnon

You may be reading a lot these days about the RAW file format and wondering, “Is it right for me?” You might also be asking yourself “What is it?” and “Why would I want to use it over JPEG?”

Well, the simple fact of the matter is that most of you will likely want to stick with the JPEG (or JPG) file format — that is, unless you do a lot of editing with photo editing software. Read on and we’ll explain. (Fortunately, we have the assistance of this savvy, little woodland creature in the photo shown above entitled “Giving Me Advice“, by Vicki Tinnon.)

JPEG is a universally-accepted and standardized file format that can be read by just about every computer operating system and software application on the market today. It’s the de-facto file format for most digital point-and-shoot cameras. The problem with JPEGs is that they are highly compressed. While this helps to make the file sizes smaller so that you can get more pictures on your memory card, the very act of compression removes some data from each of your pictures. Because of this, JPEG files do not technically have the same high quality as RAW files, which use what is called “lossless compression”.

To make matters worse — and here’s the rub — every time you resave a JPEG file, you risk recompressing it, which can make your pictures look even worse.

It’s these frustrations with JPEG’s “lossy compression” that have led most professional photographers to the RAW file format. But this relatively new format is not without its own drawbacks, which is why it is still not universally accepted and, therefore, still rarely used by amateur and hobbyist photographers today.

The main issue with RAW is that there is currently no standardization or even agreement among camera manufacturers, or even among camera models from the same manufacturer, on its technical specification. Yes, there are essentially two flavors: uncompressed and “virtually lossless”, which contains minimal compression, but Nikon uses the NEF extension, Canon uses the CR2 extension, and Olympus uses the ORF extension. Adobe Systems is marketing a RAW standard called DNG (Digital Negative), and they provide a free converter for both Windows and Macintosh users which converts camera RAW files from various camera manufacturers into DNG files. However, you still need to invest in a software program that supports this file format in order for it to be usable. Conveniently, Adobe also sells Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and Lightroom, which use the DNG file format.

So, what file format do I recommend that you use? Well, if you’re doing a lot of photo editing, you may wish to investigate working with your camera’s RAW format or the DNG format. Otherwise, I’d advise you to continue to use JPEG and to wait until a clear RAW standard emerges.

If you’d like to read more about JPEG versus RAW, this article on fotohacker.com provides a good summary from the perspective of someone who uses RAW exclusively.

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