Saturday, April 30, 2011
Pretty exciting stuff, huh?
Yes it means that winter is truly over, but more significantly... instead of hearing me whine about how cold it is or complaining about shoveling, you'll hear things about heat, rain, and how square wheels really makes it hard for me to push my mower.
I'm a seasonal kind of complainer.
Friday, April 29, 2011
You have about 36 hours, until midnight tomorrow (Saturday April 30), to get a set of 3 Lexar 16GB Platinum II 200x compact flash memory cards for only $99 at Adorama. If that price isn't tempting enough they're offering free shipping and are throwing in a memory card wallet to boot.Not only are these cards fast, but they also hold a bunch too, one card will hold up to 3,200 16MP images (or 2,300 21MP images). Video your thing? One card will hold up to 6 hours of video.
A perspective on just how good a deal this price is their competitors are selling the exact same memory cards at $87 for a set of (just) two. Plus the cost of shipping and no wallet.
If you don't need quite so much card (or want to spend quite so much money) you can get the exact same card in the 4 GB size for just $18 each. Free shipping on these as well.
Speaking of the review, you can find our GamiLight posts it here, here, and here.
(clicking on the window will open it larger and in a new window)
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Well, less like rules and more like guidelines and observations.
1. Create accounts with feed Burner and Google Analytics:
It makes no sense to have a blog if you don't get the word out of your existence or know who is visiting you. Feed Burner will get your blog “out there” and track your subscribers, Google Analytics will track your visitors and trends.
2. It’s important to have “Chicklets” on your blog, it makes it very easy for people to subscribe to your blog, readers will quickly tire of "manually" returning to your site see what’s new, as a subscriber they will get an email every time you post something new.
3. Setup Google Alerts - this will send you an email alert every day letting you know what is being said about your blog and who is saying it.
4. When you find traffic that is coming from a specific website or blog (by using analytics or alerts), visit it to determine why and then send the sites writer a thank you note. Traffic is like money and someone has just been very kind to you.
5. Should you write about someone (photographer, vendor, etc.), drop them a note telling them you have done so, not because you are looking for a reciprocal link (or anything else), it’s just the the courteous thing to do, to let folks know when you’ve been talking about them. Often they will link to you because it's beneficial to them as well.
6. In the beginning I never blogged on weekends as traffic drops easily by 40 - 50% (which proves people surf more while at work than at home). I do post now, but it's always "off topic", mostly about things that touch me or topics outside of photography that I consider "important".
7. Often I don't blog on holidays, or holiday weekends other than to recognize it (like "Merry Christmas"), as folks are traveling and/or celebrating and don't have the time for "serious" surfing.
8. If you aren't an everyday blogger try to have "rhythm" to your posting like Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Tuesday and Thursday, or every Monday. Random posting will not help build readership.
9. If you are going to miss blogging for an extended period (like vacation) let folks know, or they may think you have lost interest and they will do the same. I might write a post or two in advance and then post them while on vacation, or I'll post some images I have taken while on vacation.
10. I was very surprised to learn that some of my highest traffic would come from a "personal" postings. I am not suggesting you post personal things in an effort to get traffic, I just mention it as I think it shows people like to learn about who they are following.
11. If I post an image that is not mine (even when I say "here is the work of...") I ALWAYS put their copyright information right on the image myself. I want it absolutely clear to whom the image belongs.
12. ALWAYS give credit where credit is do. If I come across some cool idea or technique that I share on the blog I make sure to give credit (and links).
The last two rules come down to credibility and honesty. 'nough said...
13. I write like my mom or my children will be reading the post.
14. The theme of this blog matches our review policy, I try NEVER to be negative, too many folks eagerly (and with glee) rip something or someone apart (and think they're slick and funny in the process). It's like all the bad examples we see in "reality" TV and I just don't want to participate in that crap. Basically, it all boils down to what our moms always told us “if you don’t have something nice to say, I'll slap the snot right out of you”. ;)
15. Never put your blog (or anything else) before your family.
16. Every single link on your blog should open in a new page, it’s hard enough to get folks to visit your website so why would you want to drive them away riding a link to another website.
The html code that will make a link open in a new page or tab (depending on the browser) is: "target="_blank"
The first snippet of code is what the html of an uploaded image on my blog would look like, the second is with the "target="_blank" in place:
The first snippet of code is what the html of an external link would look like and would replace my blog in their browser with another site, the second snippet is how it should look with the "target="_blank" in place, opening the link in a new window:
That's it, that wraps up my blogging rules and this series. I hope you found a piece of information or two that will help you have a more successful site.
1. Buzz Blogger has put together a list of "21 Untapped Traffic Sources" that will help get the word out that you exist and begin the process of building a following for your site.
2. Photo Shelter has done a series of videos "Social Media for Photographers!" that talks about the red hot topic of social media.
3. "The Challenge Training" is a daily 8 week internet marketing training program. There are videos, PDF's, and you can do it online or get it for your iPhone or iPad. This will help you get in a "business frame of mine".
I know, I know, the stuff we have been covering the last few days has not been very exciting, but it is important because the results will establish a solid foundation that will build your online presence.
Later today we will close out (I promise) with my rules for blogging.
Then we can get back to the really exciting stuff, like watching paint dry.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I can't tell you how much I love Google Analytics, the information it provides about the visitors to your site is phenomenal and it's a must have tool.
If you have not yet setup Google Analytics you can watch this step by step video tutorial to get the ball rolling.
One of the things I like to look at in analytics is the ability to check on post popularity, there are times I write a post that I think is going to be killer and it falls flat, other times a simple quick post will hit it out of the park. It's a good way to judge the interests of your visitors and match what you have to say with what they are looking for.
I was pretty surprised to learn that about one third of our readers are from outside of the United States.
You can also learn what days are good to post on and what days are not.
What you can learn is almost endless and amazing.
If you follow this link you'll find 50 resources that will help you get the most out of analytics.
Below is an 8 minute video (done by Google) that will walk you through the analytics interface showing you where to find what you are looking for.
Tomorrow I will wrap things up with my (general) rules for blogging, not that I am a whiz kid at it (or a whiz old man), but in the 5 years I have been doing Weekly Photo Tips I have learned a thing or two about blogging and I will share those lessons with you.
Metadata is a pretty broad term when it comes to web design but for todays post we are going to talk about how it applies to images and/or photographs that we post on websites or a blog.
It's descriptive information (data) in an image file that will identify what its about, who took it, copyright & contact information, camera & exposure information, and descriptive information like keywords.
Why is metadata important? It makes the image readable by Google (and other search engines) which in turns makes the image searchable on the internet and will help improve search engine rankings.
As photographers this is extremely important as our sites are a more image intense environment, so image metadata really is mission critical information.
But image metadata only gets there because we put it there, which is the purpose of this post, to give you the information that will make the process easier.
A very useful free tool (that I use) is ProStockMaster. ProStockMaster is designed to both simplify and optimize the metadata process for folks who sell stock photography and if it helps them to standout in the highly competitive field of stock photography it will certainly help us on on our websites.
ProStockMaster is available for both MAC's and PC's and you can download it right here.
Another option for adding metadata to images is through Lightroom, and you can find a written tutorial here or if you prefer, a video tutorial here and here.
These aren't the only two ways to ad metadata to your images, you can use other (free) programs like FastStone Image Viewer, IrfanView, or "pay" programs like ACDSee and Paintshp Pro (to name a few).
Below is the best video I've seen that explains what image keywords are and why they are important (here is the second best, ironically by the very same person), it's only 3 minutes long and worth every second.
And it comes directly from the horses mouth, Google, so if you don't see the video in your subscription PLEASE return to the blog to watch it.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Which maybe I should have posted first in this series, is make sure your site is ready for visitors.
An easy way to do that is to run a report on your website or blog using the Website Grader which is a free service from HubSpot.
The report grades a site using "0 - 100" scale checking things like your indexed pages, meta data, links, image tags, Twitter grade, RSS feed, and so much more. You can read a sample report here (or just run your own and find out what, if any, changes you need to make).
After you see the results you can go about fixing any deficiencies that may have been identified.
You can also run reports on your competition.
And yes, there's and app for that, you can find it here.
You wouldn't have company unless your house is ready (well, us guys would), so don't invite folks over to your site until it's ready to be seen.
A presences on the web is not a "build it and they will come" scenario.
So in this post we are going to cover RSS (Real Simple Syndication).
RSS is a real time saver in that you don't need to keep checking your favorite sites to see if there is anything new since your last visit, instead what happens is when something new is posted you will get a notification email.
If you want folks to follow your website or blog for very long having RSS setup on your site is an absolute MUST.
I use FeedBurner, not only does it provide RSS for your site, it will also give you all kinds of useful statistical information about who is subscribing, where your readers are coming from, and (very important) will help you get the word out that your site exists.
If you follow this link you will see a detailed video tutorial on how to setup an RSS feed with Feedburner.
You can also feed your Facebook page using RSS Graffiti, it will read your feed and write it on your Facebook wall, a very useful tool.
One bad thing about feeds is that videos that are part of your post do not get "fed" through, so if you are one of my blog subscribers you'll need to return to the blog to watch the video below that is a great demonstration of what RSS is and how it works.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
1. If you are interested in family portraiture you need to check out her work, there are samples below. This is a link to her site, but don't go there until you have some time spend because I promise once you start looking at her images you will be there for a time... for a long time.
2. Elena gives away some very nice templates every month, here is the link for those.
3. For April Elena is giving away 11 great prizes, none of which I am going to name here because I am going to make you follow this link to see them for yourself. I will say this, I would be very happy to have ANY of the prizes on her giveaway list.
And she gives her readers soooo much more than what I have mentioned here.
Here are four of Elena's images, clicking on any image will allow you to view it larger and in a new window.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Mathew Monroe has put together a very cool DIY flexible flash arm that will run you less than $15 and is extremely functional.
Here's the link, go check it out... and thank you Mathew!
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Here is a sampling of the kind of images you will find over at the Weekly Photo Tips Flickr Group.
Pretty darn good stuff, don't you think?
If you would like to join our group (please, please, please) and share some of your images with us (and the world) you can find instructions right here.
Clicking on any one of these images will open it larger and in a new window (for better viewing).
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
I have been a fan of Ibarionex Perello since I got into photography. I stumbled upon his podcast "The Candid Frame" back then and have listened to it ever since. Though you may not be familiar with his guests... David Hobby, Chase Jarvis, Joe McNally, Jay Maisel, Rick Sammon, and Tony Sweet... just to name a few.
So what's not to like, he has great guests, comes to the interview from a photographers perspective so he asks questions we the listeners would ask, and he has a voice made for radio.
In case you're not picking up on it, BIG fan here.
As you might imagine I was just a little excited the other day to get his new book "Chasing the Light: Improving Your Photography with Available Light" and though I haven't cracked the cover yet this post could not wait for two reasons:
Reason 1 (the deal). Peachpit is offering 35% discount AND free shipping on the purchase of the book, all you need to do is type in the code "PHOTOCLUB" when you get to the checkout page.
If you would like to read a little before you buy just follow this link where you can download and read the entire fourth chapter of the book "The Color of Light: White Balance".
So, here is the link to the book, go check it out.
Reason 2 (the date). Tonight (April 19th), from 8 - 9pm (ET) Peachpit Photo Club will be hosting the very same Ibarionex Perello. And the topic will be.... LIGHT.
There will be talking and there will be doing, from the webinar page:
"Webinar participants will receive an assignment at the end of the session. Once the assignment is completed, Photo Club members can upload their work to the Peachpit Photo Club Flickr Group where Ibarionex and the Peachpit crew will help critique your work. And of course, there will be a chance for prizes!"
Pretty cool, huh?
Here is the link t to signup for the webinar, you do not want to miss the webinar or this great book offer.
We have been a fan of food photographer Lou Manna for a long time and used the tips and techniques learned from reading his outstanding book "Digital Food Photography" to shoot food for our clients (you can see the images here). If you would like to read our review of his book you can find it right here.
Lou Manna has a new site, well it's more than a site, it's an interactive community where folks can share their own work to be critiqued, get ideas, share information, and more... it shares the name of his book and is called "Digital Food Photography".
You will find articles, videos, and resources like "Taking Better Food Pics" that will, well... help you take better food pics.
And it's not just Lou sharing, it's the entire community of photographers who share with you and with each other.
Speaking of sharing and learning, Lou will be teaching a seminar on May 8th called "Digital Food Photography: Creating Delectable Images" at Adorama (in New York City).
Adorama is sponsoring a bunch of workshops this spring that run just a couple hours to all day affairs and for as little as $25. You can check out the entire list/schedule here.
Monday, April 18, 2011
For the next 12 days you can get 3 Lexar 16GB Platinum II 200x compact flash memory cards for only $99 at Adorama. If that price isn't tempting enough they are offering free shipping and are throwing in a free memory card wallet too.Not only are these cards fast, they also hold a lot, one card will hold 3,200 16MP images (or 2,300 21MP images). Video your thing? One card will hold up to 6 hours of video.
To give you some perspective on just how good this price is their competition is selling the exact same memory card at $87 for a set of (just) two. Plus shipping and no wallet.
You can now get your hands on the GamiLight over at Midwest Photo Exchange for the special introductory price of just $49.
Here's another sample shot I took using the GamiLight 43 softbox and below it is the (very) simple lighting setup.
Clicking on either image will open it larger and in a new window.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
These were taken just moments apart, with (essentially) the exact same camera settings.
The only difference between the two shots was shutter speed, in this shot the shutter speed was 1/60s. The blue sky is brighter and where the sky meets the land it is pretty bright (and void of color).
I wasn't unhappy with the shot but thought it could be better so I changed the shutter speed to 1/160s and (I think) it greatly improved the shot, the sky is a deeper blue and there is now more color on the horizon.
The differences aren't "dramatic", just better.
For a better comparison click on either image to view larger and in a new window.
It is often said that if you think you got the shot take a step closer and shoot it again. I would add "shoot it a little different" as well.
Friday, April 15, 2011
But then again there is always something cool on Strobist (I know because it's my home page, every time I open my browser I am confronted with coolness).
David posted the videos from the Motley Pixel YouTube channel and they are one of the coolest DIY projects I have ever seen (already making a couple tweaks in my head that include foam tape and a tripod quick release plate).
So either head to the Strobist post or directly to the Motley Pixel (where they have some way cool videos).
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
We had the pleasure of receiving a couple Quick Spot grids from Harbor Digital Design and they get a two thumbs up from us.
These grids come in 1/8" & 1/4" honeycomb grid size and they come in sizes specific your specific flash model, they are "custom fit" to slide "firmly" on the flash requiring no straps or fasteners of any kind.
And if you shoot with different (size) flashes you can buy just the adapter for the specific flash you want to use it on and attach your grid to it. The adapters run around $12 each.
Harbor Digital also makes Lee filters/gels that slide into these grids, they come in a set of six and include Primary Red, Primary Green, Dark Blue, Medium Yellow, Moroccan Pink, and 1/2 CT Orange.
You can get Quick Spot grids from Adorama for $34 for just the Quick Spot or for $46 you can get the Quick Spot and a set of colored gels, they both include free shipping.
So, watch the video below for the rest of the review.
If you get this post via email you'll need to return to the blog or head directly over to our YouTube channel to watch the video.
Monday, April 11, 2011
I know this isn't much notices but tomorrow (Tuesday April 12th) Neil van Niekerk (of Planet Neil fame) will be teaching a 90 minute webinar over at ClickinMoms.Program description:
A photo session is often a rushed, fast moving event with less than ideal light. But that doesn't mean you can't have great light indoors that approaches studio-quality lighting. Join me as I explain the techniques to create beautiful images while working fast, yet still getting exceptional results from equipment you already have - your on-camera speedlight.
This is a 90 minute webinar that includes live demonstrations, supplemental images shared on-screen, and interactive Q&A between Neil and audience members throughout the presentation.
When: Tuesday, April 12 at 1:00pm EST
Information on joining ClickinMoms can be found here.
Now, about ClickinMoms, they are a close-knit community of over 8000 members. 65% of their members are professional photographers, and 35% are either aspiring professionals or passionate hobbyists. What they all share is a commitment to honing the craft in order to deliver extraordinary images for their clients, beautifully capture the lives of their own children, produce works of fine art, or engage in creative self expression.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
There was one segment that moved me the first time around and was so touching it never left me, it's the "Sullivan Ballou Letter"
Any man alive wishes he was capable of writing something so profound about ones love of country and family.
Below is a transcript of that letter, and below it is the video segment taken from the series.
If you get this post via email you may want to return to the blog to watch the video, it's one thing to read it, it's something else to hear it read.
"July 14, 1861
Camp Clark, Washington
My very dear Sarah:
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more . . .
I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the Government and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt . . .
Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me unresistibly on with all these chains to the battle field.
The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood, around us.
I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness . . .
But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights... always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again . . ."
Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later at the first Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861.
Friday, April 8, 2011
One of my twins (Katie) is taking photography in high school and had an assignment to shoot at a very old local cemetery (Laurel Hill Cemetery), so I figured that I would shoot as well. This was our first time shooting together and it was fun.
Here are a few of the images from that day.
The one (image) I found most amusing (if you can use that word when talking about cemetery images) was the one of the gate posts on a small family plot, my thought (well, more of a question really) was, at this point in the afterlife does one really need directions?
Thursday, April 7, 2011
So here are some alternatives that will cost you nothing, nada, zip, zero, zilch, goose egg:
1. Gimp. "GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring." Here is an introduction page, and here is a tutorial page so you can take a look at what it can do.
2. Fotografix. "While graphic design professionals probably wouldn't be able to substitute Fotografix for Photoshop, it's certainly a capable free alternative for the average Joe."
3. Paint.NET. "Paint.NET is free image and photo editing software for computers that run Windows." You will find the features list here, and tutorials here.
4. Photoscape. "Photoscape is the fun and easy photo editing software that enables you to fix and enhance photos." You can take a look at some screenshots here.
5. Adobe Photoshop Online. The title pretty much says it all, and you can take a test drive here.
(The screen shots below are from my computer not promotional broo ha ha so you have a real world idea of what they truly look like and what some of the options and features are and you can click on either image to view larger and in a new window.)
6. FastStone Image Viewer. From their website: "a fast, stable, user-friendly image browser, converter and editor. It has a nice array of features that include image viewing, management, comparison, red-eye removal, emailing, resizing, cropping and color adjustments. Its innovative but intuitive full-screen mode provides quick access to EXIF information, thumbnail browser and major functionalities via hidden toolbars that pop up when your mouse touches the four edges of the screen. Other features include a high quality magnifier and a musical slideshow with 150+ transitional effects, as well as lossless JPEG transitions, drop shadow effects, image annotation, scanner support, histogram and much more."
7. IrfanView. "IrfanView is a very fast, small, compact and innovative graphic viewer for Windows. It is simple for beginners and powerful for professionals. It has created new and/or interesting features in its own way and is the first Windows graphic viewer WORLDWIDE with Multiple (animated) GIF support."
It really does have a bunch of features, too numerous to list here.
If you know of any no cost Photoshop alternatives that I have not listed here, please let me know and I will be sure to post them.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
If you shoot tethered to your iPad I have a very handy tool that will make your life a bit easier, it's the iKlip from IK Multimedia.
Whenever possible I strongly recommend shooting tethered as it gives you a much better view of your subject. I'm sure I am not the only (or first) photographer who has "chimped" at an image and was sure I had it only to learn after downloading it (and viewing it on a larger screen) that I in fact did not have it.
But setting up a laptop to shoot tethered is not always a viable option, but shooting tethered to an iPad left you with the problem of how (and where) to secure your iPad?
The iKlip is the perfect solution, it will allow you to shoot tethered to your iPad secure in the fact it is not going anywhere.
I treat all of my gear like it's important, because it is and I will not use something unless I have complete confidence in its ability to meet my expectation of keeping my gear safe and the iKlip meets (and exceeds) my high standards.
It gets two thumbs way up. Watch the video below for my "hands on" demonstration.
Now if you have an iPad but don't yet use it to shoot tether, stay tuned as we will soon have a tutorial on that very subject.
If this post was delivered to your inbox then it came without the video portion attached, so you should return to the blog or head directly over to our YouTube channel to watch it.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
"Hi, I'm Scott and I'm a Disney addict..."
Yes, I have confessed love for Disney before (like here, here, here, here, and oh ya, here). I bet you're picking up that I've posted about Disney in the past.
I like their parks. I like there movies.
Some of the movies are entertaining and fun but every once and awhile there is one that I absolutely LOVE.
For some reason we did not make it to see Tangled when it was in theaters so we got it this week to watch on our "pizza and a movie" Friday night.
It is one of the best Disney movies I have EVER seen, it harkens back to movies like "Little Mermaid" and "Beauty and The Beast" then mix in a little stunning Pixar animation and you have Tangled.
If you haven't seen it, please do, and you may want to buy it (instead of renting) because I promise you will watch this move again and again.
Below is a Tangled trailer, enjoy!
Saturday, April 2, 2011
The latest contest winner, randomly selected from among all those who entered our "Shiny" contest using a program called "The Hat", who will get these goodies:
Prize 1. The two DVD set "Digital WakeUp Call" from David Ziser. I don't think anyone has combined photography AND business as well as David, and he is the most prolific blogger on the surface of the earth and the entries are packed with useful information (no fluff).
Prize 2. "Adobe Photoshop CS4 Book for Digital Photographers" from Scott Kelby.
Scott Kelby trains tens of thousands of professional photographers every year on how to use Photoshop, and almost without exception they have the same questions, the same problems, and the same challenges—and that’s exactly what Shares with you in this book.
Prize 3. The (really) good folks over at IGT America will be donating a print, but not just any print, they are going to take an image from you the winner (an image of your choosing) and give you back a 16 x 20 Metal Print!
is...... Dave! Here is his winning shot:
Congratulation to Dave and a BIG thank you to everyone who took the time to enter their great images.
Dave, email me with your contact details (snail mail) and I will get your prizes out to you.
Friday, April 1, 2011
Unfunny Aprils fools... very unfunny.
5am, I'm making my coffee and feel an all too familiar rumbling that gets stronger and stronger... then I see it, the big orange behemoth passing by my kitchen window with its lights flashing... and.. and... THE SNOWPLOW DOWN.
We had completed our "seasonal transition", putting the shovels back in the garage, mittens, hats, and boots packed away and why shouldn't we, it's "officially" been spring for some time now!
A quick check and the news let's me know school has been cancelled (yeah), everything will be closed, so we are hunkered down to weather yet another snowstorm.
wa, wa, wa, wa...
I will announce our contest winner as soon as I finish shoveling.
Here are a couple images of the orange behemoth, went a little over the edge with processing (but it was fun), clicking on any image will open it larger and in a new window (not sure why you'd want to).