7 smartphone photography tips & tricks...

Who doesn't have a smartphone phone?

Exactly!

Everyone is the correct answer, most of us really need to stop taking boring images with it, so watch this 3-minute video that has 7 of the easiest tips for shooting very cool images on any smartphone.

Thanks to the folks from COOPH (cooperative of Photography) for putting this video together, and be sure to check out their YouTube channel as they have a ton of other very informative videos that will do nothing but improve your photography (smartphone and DSLR).


Our free actions are still available...

For those of you who use Photoshop and like the "gritty Dave Hill look" or the look of a tilt-shift lens that we have the free actions (and tutorials) for you!

First, we have two versions of our Dave Hill action, the first is simply a "one-click" and the action is applied, the second has stops at each stage of the effect that will allow you to "tweak" it to your personal taste.

You can get a few more details on this action by following this link.


If you want more control with applying the Dave Hill look you can follow this link for our step by step tutorial.

And next is our "Tilt-shift" action.

Below is a "before & after" so you have an idea of its capabilities and feel free to follow this link for a bit more info.



And like the action above, if you want to have more control regarding how your tilt-shift looks just follow this link for our step by step tutorial.

To get either of these free actions is simple, all you need to do is drop us an email to request the tilt-shift action, or an email requesting the "Dave Hill" action, and we'll send the action of your choosing (with instructions) to anyone who wants it (or them).

And if you want both that's fine too, you don't have to send us two emails, just let us know in your first email.

To get a better look at how the actions look feel free to click on any of these images to view larger in a new window.


Weekend deal on the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm...


There is a great deal this weekend on the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR Lens - Refurbished by Nikon - it's just $149.95!

Some important things to keep in mind:

1. This is a GREAT outdoor lens but is really too slow for shooting indoors or under low light (I know, I've owned it).

2. Because it is so good outdoors I considered it my "vacation lens" as its wide range allowed me to cover so many scenarios.

3. It is refurbished (not new), but was refurbished by Nikon and does come with their warranty.

4. It is DX format (NOT full frame).

All that being said its great glass for not a lot of money.

Have a great weekend!


The rules of Weekly Photo Tips moving forward...

They really are simple (and not that many):

1. If I write a post Monday-Friday it will (almost) always be about photography.

2. If I post over the weekend (or on a holiday) it will very likely be "off topic" (something positive, touching and/or a human interest themed post).

3. Should I write about someone (photographer, vendor, etc.), I'll drop them a note telling them I've done so, not because I'm looking for something in return, it’s just the courteous thing to do, to let folks know when you’ve been talking about them.

4. I plan on having the "rhythm" of at least one post weekly (hence the name "Weekly Photo Tips")

5. If I am going to miss blogging for an extended period (like for vacation) I'll let you good folks know so you won't be wondering if I've dropped off the edge of the earth (because it is flat you know).

6. If I post an image that is not mine (even when I say "here is the work of...") I will ALWAYS put their copyright information right on the image myself. I want it absolutely clear to whom the image belongs.

7. I will ALWAYS give credit where credit is do. If I come across some other peoples cool ideas or techniques that I share on the blog I will make sure to give the appropriate credit (and links) to the person who deserves it.

8. I write like my mom or my children will be reading the post.

9. The theme of this blog matches our review policy, I try NEVER to be or speak negative, and I have no tolerance for internet bullies. Too many folks online emulate the bad examples we see in "reality" TV and I just don't have any desire to participate in that kind of behavior.

That's it, just wanted you to know the rules and standards I hold myself to moving forward and please, feel free to hold my feet to the fire.

It’s been awhile… Too long... Part 2

So, why did I fall off of the radar?

It was kinda the “perfect storm” of events.

First, my 3 daughters (that I’ve shared on the blog here, here and here) graduated from high school  (all within 12 months) and not only was I extremely unhappy about how my role as a dad changing, I also had done next to nothing to come to grips with that change and start the transition from the "old" dad into that "new" dad role. It was hard going from being an integral part of my girls lives every single day to just a sidebar.

I would give anything to have to drive them to soccer today.

Shortly after this, my 24-year marriage came to an abrupt end. Obviously, I knew things weren’t going well, but that point was driven home hard one day when I was served divorce papers in a parking lot. So, I went from having a minimal family role to no role at all. I went from living in a house with a gaggle of girls to living alone with my dog Bonnie.

After this, to be honest, I was not the happiest guy in the world, there seemed to be more rain than sunshine. There were days I never left the house (heck, there may have been weeks that I didn’t leave), but slowly things seemed to work back to a semblance of “normal”.

Then last year, just when things seemed to back into a good place my girl Bonnie left me. I think only dog owners will get what follows so the rest of you can skip ahead (kidding). When I posted about my dogs I would often include "A Dogs Ten Commandments” and when Bonnie got sick it was time for me to walk the talk, I had to obey commandment #10 (When it's time for me to “go on ahead”, please stay with me. Don’t say “I can't bear to watch” because I won’t want to face it alone. Everything is easier for ME if you are there because I love you so.). And it was truly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Bonnie was my first dog (EVER), had been with me for 15 years and it felt like she was the last thing I had that still represented us as a family, of who we used to be... and now she was gone.


Its been almost a year and I think of her everyday… But now I smile more because she was here than cry because she is gone, though I haven’t been able to bring myself to put her dog tag on my keychain yet, but I think I will soon.


But that was then.... and this is now.

So…. Moving forward what can you expect from me?

You can expect one post a week on the blog, a video (or two) a month on our YouTube channel and one interview a month on our podcast.

I already have an armful of products to review (software, gear, and videos) and once the reviews are done we will be running contests to give it away to you, our phenomenally loyal readers!


Again, thanks for being here and see you next week!


It's been awhile… Too long... Part 1

Yes, it's been awhile... almost 4 years since I've written something here on Weekly Photo Tips.

In "the day" I was posting (almost) daily, on occasion I would even have multiple posts in a single day, not only was there a huge following... heck, there were even multiple publications and websites that listed Weekly Photo Tips as a "must visit" photography blog, once we even made it inot the top 10!

Then suddenly and without warning, it all came to an abrupt end.

No explanation and no hint as to why... the only thing clear was that life had come to a completed halt here at Weekly Photo Tips.

And it wasn't as if this was a fly by night blog, I had been faithfully writing for 7 years. Between the time of my first post in 2007 until I dropped off the map in 2014 I had written almost 1,400 posts (1,386 to be exact), had two and a half million views (along with another couple million our our YouTube channel and our podcast) and (most importantly) had developed relationships with so many kind readers, the type of people who would always send birthday wishes and even the occasional gift (one year I even received a beautiful lens for my birthday from a very generous reader).

But know it wasn't just here that things stopped, dust collected on my camera gear, software became outdated, I stopped shooting weddings and turned down any of the photography jobs that came my way. Bottom line, photography died for me.

But it wasn't just photography, a lot of the things that had been an important part of me, that defined who I was were no longer part of my life.

The folks who had followed this blog for so long (and remarkably after years of absence still do) deserve at least a modicum of an explanation.

They also need an apology, as many people had left comments on the blog and others emailed me directly to check on me, wanting to make sure I was OK, and asking if there was anything they could do for me. Sadly their very thoughtful outreach went unanswered and that was rude of me, ignoring the kindness of others is not how my mother brought me up.

So to everyone who attempted reached out to me I'M SORRY, to everyone I just left hanging I'M SORRY... truly I am... and thank you all for your thoughtfulness and you deserved better, I should have responded to your kindness.


In the next post, I will share a bit about what transpired, why I'm back and what you can expect at Weekly Photo Tips going forward.

Thank you for reading this, thank you for being here.


Is this the absolute best tripod you can get for under $150?...



Is the MeFOTO RoadTrip Travel Tripod the best tripod you can get for under $150?

My vote is an empathic YES! I have 4 tripods including a carbon fiber that costs almost $1,000 but my MeFOTO is the first tripod I grab heading out the door.

You can also read the review written by one of our readers (a self acclaimed tripod hater) here at this link.


Right now you can get the MeFOTO Travel Tripod with Ballhead that weighs just 3.5 pounds, extends up to 61.6 inches, folds down to under 15.5 inches and will support a load up to 17.6 pounds for the incredible price of just $149 (with FREE shipping).


Here are some of its key features:

♦ Travel Compact: The legs can be inverted and folded back 180deg. making it small enough to carry anywhere
♦ Converts to Monopod: You can easily convert this tripod to a monopod without any tools
♦ Two-Position Leg Angle Stops: For an extra measure of flexibility, tripod legs can be independently locked into place at two different angles to enable shooting in cramped quarters, on irregular surface areas, or at ground level
♦ Recessed Center-Column Hook: A spring loaded recessed hook located in the bottom of the center-column allows you to hang weights from the center of gravity for increased stability
♦ Separate Head and Pan Lock: Individual locking knobs help you make the right adjustment
♦ Integral Bubble Level: Allows adjustment to prevent uneven pans and head movements
♦ Quick Twist Rubber Lock Grips with Anti-Rotation Leg System: Rubberized locking grips combined with anti-rotation legs enable fast and fumble-free setup plus weather and dust-resistance
♦ Top-Mount Rapid Center Column: Simple and quick fine height adjustment controls on the top
♦ Precision Matched Q Series Ballhead: Dual-action heavy-duty ballhead with Arca-Swiss-style quick-release plate
♦ 360-Degree Pan Index: Accurate panoramas can be easily orchestrated using the graduated panning scale for accurate image alignment
♦ Compact Carry Case with Shoulder Strap: High-quality durable case with strap provides protection and transport

If you are in the market for a tripod, you really should give the MeFOTO Travel Tripod a good look.


Happy Birthday America...




And a very happy 4th of July to you and yours, I hope your day will be packed full of food and fun activities with your friends and family.

If those plans include fireworks and your bringing your camera along to shoot them, here is our post on "Tips & Tricks for shooting fireworks", it will help you get the best possible fireworks images.

Have fun. Be safe.



Here are your tips & tricks for photographing fireworks...



As the 4th of July is almost upon us (and there will likely be fireworks displays for several days) I wanted to provide a few resources that will walk you through how best to photograph fireworks.

It really is much easier than you might think, with the most important tool being (other than you and your camera) a tripod.

So here are the links:

National Geographic - Photographing Fireworks

Digital Photography School - How to Photograph Fireworks Displays

Free Digital Photography Tutorial Site - Firework photography

Mason Resnick- Take Pictures of Fireworks You Can Be Proud Of

And to wrap it all up here is a short video from the Photo Tips podcast (a great resources for all things photography), in this video they will walk you through photographing fireworks (and the people watching them) from the initial setup (with detailed camera settings) to tweaking your setup and camera settings during the shoot.



Our step-by-step gritty "Dave Hill look" tutorial...


This is a "sister" post to yesterdays "Get our free set of "Dave Hill" Photoshop actions", yes you can still get the actions and yes, they are still free.

Not everyone likes actions, many folks like and enjoy the start to finish, step-by-step process of editing their images, so for those of you who do (and you know who you are), here is our step-by-step "gritty Dave Hill look" tutorial.

If you have not seen the work of Dave Hill you need to, please take a minute (or an hour) and look at his incredible body of work.

Now to imply that the technique I am about to show you is "just like Dave Hill's" would be a like saying my child worn minivan is just like a Ferrari. The only similarities between those two vehicles is that they both have license plates, after that all similarities pretty much come to an end.

Though I do have to say that the ladies seem to love my minivan, as it is the "sport" version.

;)
 
Anyway, the technique I am going to show you will give your images that cool gritty look and will work with/for most images, but it does do its best work on high key images.

Below are several images edited using this technique.

And though it looks like a lot of steps, after you have done it just a couple times it will only take you about a minute to complete (really, just 60 seconds, I swear).

So here goes:

Step 1:
Open your image in Photoshop and create a duplicate the layer.
Go to "Filter" - "Other" - "High Pass" set the Radius to 4 Pixels.
On the Layers palette select the "Vivid Light" blending mode.
Flatten the image.

Step 2:
Create a duplicate the layer (again).
Go to "Filter" - "Other" - "High Pass" set the Radius to 7 Pixels.
On the Layers palette select the "Color" blending mode with an opacity of 40%.
Flatten the image.

Step 3:
Create a duplicate the layer (one last time).
Go to "Filter" - "Blur" - "Gaussian" set the Radius to 9.5 Pixels.
Go to "Filter" - "Noise" - "Add Noise" set Amount to 3%.
Got to "Layer" - "Layer Mask" - "Hide All"
Now use the lasso tool and select only the eyes (assuming the image has eyes, for multiple selections hold the shift key).
Go to "Select" - "Refine Edges" - set "Feather" to 5-6 pixels, then "Select" - "Inverse"
Select the brush on your tool palette, set the brush opacity to 30% and brush over the entire image once.
Flatten the image.

Step 4:
Go to "Filter" - "Sharpen" - "Unsharp Mask" and use the following settings:
Amount 100%
Radius 30.0 pixels
Threshold 0 Levels

That's it, give it a try, and then try it again. We would love to see your results, so feel free to upload them to our Flickr group.

Click on any of the images below to see a larger version, it will give you a better view and allow you to see exactly how the process has changed/impacted each image.






(remember, click on any image to view it larger)


Get our free set of "Dave Hill" Photoshop actions...



Last week we gave away our free tilt-shift action (it's still free, just follow that link), this week it's our free "Dave Hill" look action.

One of our long time readers actually created two "Dave Hill" Photoshop actions to share with everyone here on Weekly Photo Tips.

The first action is simply a "one click" and the action is applied, the second action stops at each stage of the effect allowing you to "tweak" it to your personal taste.

If you would like this set of actions along with the instructions on how to install them into Photoshop simply drop us an email and we'll get them out to you.

Click on the images to view larger.



Photography just for the fun of taking pictures...



Sometimes taking pictures is just about the fun of it, the joy of capturing the image.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of photographing a 5K color run, aka "the Happiest 5k on the planet", in South Portland (Maine).

We had outstanding weather, it was fun event and it was for great cause. If you are looking for a fun photography project check their website to find a color run near you.

My only suggestion would be to get some protection for your camera (like a rain sleeve for under $10 here or here) as the color is mixed in a fine cornstarch and the dust is EVERYWHERE (seriously, everywhere), so protect your gear.

Here are a few images from the day, click on any of them to view larger.






Welcome to week 3 of Flickr Friday...


Welcome to week three of Weekly Photo Tips Flickr Friday.

Today we are featuring the work of Jodi Renshaw.

Jodi has been one of our Flickr Group members for some time and I really enjoy her fun and whimsical images.

Check these out, and click on any image to view larger.








Jodi doesn't just do "fun and whimsical" here are a couple more of her images I really like.



You can check out Jodi's Flickr stream here, or her blog here.

If you'd like to join our Flickr Group (and we would love to have you and your images) you can find all the details right here.


Photography gear deals of the week...


Here are a few deals on some very good photo gear at great prices that may be of interest, AND they all come with free shipping.

RadioPopper JrX Studio Kit with Transmitter and Receiver - $199 



Giottos Vitruvian Aluminum Tripod & Monopod combo with QR Ballhead - $199



Glow HexaPop 20" for portable off camera flash - R Series - $99





Westcott Photo Basics 40" 5-in-1 Collapsible Reflector, 2 Pack - $49



Now this last item might not be photography related (though they could be used for monitoring sound for video), but I own these headphones and they are freaking amazing and so is the price! Seriously, I own Bose headphones as well and these are far better, hands down.

Able Planet Noise Canceling Over-The-Ear Headphones - $49.99 (originaly $149.00)