Your photography = great Christmas gift...

I have talked about giving your work as a gift in the past and I want to repeat it again today with a new idea.

Every time I've given a photograph as a gift I'm always surprised at just how well it's received and feel just a bit of pride when I visit that persons home and see my image hanging in a place of prominence.

Surely there are people in your life who would love to get one of your photographs as a gift and for the next two and a half days (not to be confused with two and a half men) you can get a 16" x 20" custom metal print for just $39 (usually $139) over at Groupon.

It's an incredible deal and I am sure your photograph would make an outstanding girt for a person in your life.

So just follow this link and start your Christmas shopping.

This is gong to be a weird week here...

I truly value the fact that so many of you spend (even a small) part of your day here at Weekly Photo Tips, so if something "out of the ordinary" is going on that will change how things usually happen, I feel the very least I should do is to let you know.

So this week I am traveling and because of that blog posts will be rather sporadic and/or "fluffy" (ie: a bit on the lite side).

And as this is a visual kinda blog, instead of telling you, I thought I would give you a hint or two of where our travels are taking us.

Hint one:

Okay, here is hint two:

Yup, we arrived at Disney World the day after Thanksgiving and will be here the rest of the month, enjoying a long anticipated (and greatly deserved) family vacation.

Yesterday (one of my) daughters created a (minor) sensation in Magic Kingdom by wearing a horse head mask down splash mountain.

I am a very proud dad... :)

Not sure which is more amusing, her mask, or the look her sister is giving her.

The rest of this post is not for our "regulars", it is aimed directly at that extreme minority of scum bags that search social media looking for those who are away or on vacation so they can break into their homes, first off you people suck, really... second, our house is not empty, not even close, so don't waste your time. Not only do we have house and dog sitters, we have great neighbors who are watching them watching our house.

Another day of thanks...

It's another Thanksgiving, the sun is trying to nudge above the horizon and I sit here alone in the glow of my monitor, sipping my coffee, pondering the vast number of things for which I MUST give thanks, but not to worry, I won't bore you with the list, but as blessings go I feel like a very rich man.

The one thanks I will share is the thanks for this blog, the people I have had the good fortune to know from all over the world is amazing.

And because you are a part of this community hundreds of pounds of food are delivered to two food pantries and a soup kitchen here in southern Maine every Monday morning. The need has become so great that we are now giving 50% of every affiliate sale to this cause, and because you use our affiliate link it really is you that makes the magic happen... and you get the recognition, when I drop off the food I say "I'm just the delivery man, it's my friends who made these donations possible".

So THANK YOU my friends.

I hope that today (and every day) you are surrounded by those you love and who love you, that you feel blessed and rich in spirit, and that you carry hope and charity in your heart.

There are many of you who are struggling and I hope even more for you... that people reach out to support and comfort you, that your burdens become lighter, that you never feel alone, and I pray that in the days to come you can worry less, love more, and that when strangers see you on the street they wonder what you are smiling about.

Let me leave you with a few words from people waaayyyyyy smarter than I:

Thanksgiving, to be truly Thanksgiving, is first thanks, then giving. ~ Unknown

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others remains and is immortal. ~ Albert Pine

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~ Thornton Wilder

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~ William Arthur Ward

Grace isn't a prayer you say before receiving a meal. It's a way to live. ~ Jackie Windspear

We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love. ~ Mother Teresa

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, that is the true measure of our thanksgiving. ~ W. T. Purkiser

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

Old North Church... Boston...

It just so happens that our last wedding of the 2012 season was at the Old North Church in Boston (MA), yup, THE Old North Church, the one that holds such a prominent place in American history (built in 1723) and of the "One if by land, and two if by sea" and "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" fame .

And though I had grown up in Boston never once had I visited the church... until this wedding.

It may sound corny, but being there one can't help but be in awe, knowing all that had transpired there, walking on the same stairs as Robert Newman (the man who actually held those lanterns on that night way back in 1775).

While walking around the church I stumbled upon the "dog tag garden", tucked away in a small court yard. Here are two shots that are pretty self explanatory.

If you find yourself in the Boston area this is a cool place to go and snap off a few shots. Not just for the church but also where it's located, smack in the middle of Boston's historic North End (little Italy) where you will not only find great history, but great food as well. Phenomenal Italian restaurants and bakeries.

All of which is just a (very) short walk to Faneuil hall and the New England Aquarium.

Here's a "pano" I shot with my fancy shmancy iPhone 5.

I think this is the closest I have ever come to doing an actually "photography" post on the weekend.

Feel free to click on any of the above images to view larger.

Wait, we have another winner!...

We have some... no... we have many phenomenal fans here at Weekly Photo Tips and I wanted to take the opportunity to thank one of them here today.

Today I want to say thank you to Matthew Mendenhall.

Mathew leaves comments on the blog, shares his work with our Flickr group, and send out links and likes for us all over social media.

And not once has he emailed us to "take credit" for everything he does to help make Weekly Photo Tips what it is, I just happened to find out when I ran a traffic report and saw just how many visitors were coming to see us because of his efforts.

To say thank you, we are giving Mathew a one year "plus" membership to

So Mathew, get in touch with me so we can get you your prize... and seriously man, thank you.

And our two contest winners are....

Finally, today we are announcing the two lucky winners from our latest contest.

They are (drawn randomly from all of the qualifying entries):

Pam Davis -

And Marco Romani -

Congratulations to you both, great work.

And you may be asking yourself, "What did they win?",  well, I'll tell you.

Both Pam and Marco will receive a one year "plus" membership to

Pam will also be getting the DVD "Mastering Exposure in Digital Photography" by Tim Grey, and one Umbrella Bracket with Adjustable Flash Mount.

Marco will receive the book "The Digital Negative: Raw Image Processing in Lightroom, Camera Raw, and Photoshop" by Jeff Schewe, and one Suction Cup Ball Head.

So Pam and Marco, email me your snail mail address and your prizes will be heading your way, and again, congratulations to you both.

A big THANK YOU to all who took the time to enter the contest and share a bit of themselves with everyone here.

Be sure to check out all of the the outstanding images folks have uploaded over at our Flickr group.

It's Veterans Day...

And today's post will be even less organized than usually, just some thoughts and ideas with one theme, veterans and Veterans Day.

First, This is the first Veterans Day that does not have a single living veteran from World War I.

Second, we can actually blame the delay on announcing our latest contest winners on Veterans Day. On Friday I had been invited to lunch by James, a third grader who lives next door, it was the first ever "invite a veteran to lunch" day at his school and he invited me to attend.

I was under the understanding that it was a 30 minute lunch,  it turned out to be MUCH more. First we had lunch, then went back to the classroom of the person who invited us (participating in some fun activities), and then ended the day with an assembly that honored us with poems, essays written by the students, then topped it off with a few patriotic songs.

So my Friday plans were pretty much tossed out the window, it I couldn't have been happier.

Third, my time in the military was important to me, though I wouldn't do it again for a million dollars, I wouldn't trade those memories for anything. I have written about that time on more than one occasion, you  can find some of those posts, here, here, here, and the most important on (to me) here.

Fourth, there are soooooo many restaurants offering free appetizers and meals for active, retired, and discharged military personnel, you can get the complete list over at "The Military Wallet".

Fifth, a big thanks to all you fine people who took a minute to send me a Veterans Day email, it was extremely thoughtful, and so greatly appreciated.

Lastly, though I had put this together for Memorial Day a few years back, I want to include it here today because as far as I am concerned, those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, who have "gone on ahead", cannot be honored enough.

The first men featured are "The Lanni Brothers", they are my uncles who were first generation Americans and could not have been prouder to serve their counry.

If you are having trouble viewing this, or would like to view it larger, simply follow this link.

Happy Veterans Day to all my "brothers in arms".

Our latest contest has been extended...

Yup, our latest contest was supposed to end yesterday (11/9) but it has been extended just a few days and the winners will be announced on Tuesday (11/13).

So it's not too late to check out the contest details (including the very cool prizes), then upload your images to our Flickr group.

Create your own Facebook Timeline Cover...

We have been talking about Facebook Timeline Covers for a couple weeks and have promised you some resources and a video tutorial, so here it (they) are.

They are broken down into four catagories.

First, pre-made Timeline Covers for any occasion:

Trendy Covers has one of the largest assortments out there, and Blog Technics has a bunch as well.

Second, resources that will walk you through making a Timeline Cover online:

There are a few options, but the big kahuna, the top dog when it comes to an online resource for making your own Timeline Cover it's the Timeline Slicer App.

You will find 8 more online resources here.

Third, resources for downloading free templates and making your own custom Facebook Timeline Cover in Photoshop:

You'll find 16+ .PSD templates here, and another 10 more here.

The free template we used in the video is in this group of free templates for Worlds Best Actions.

MCP Actions (I own and LOVE their actions) has 8 more free Photoshop templates.

You will find a bunch of free Timeline resources geared specifically towards photographers over at Paint The Moon.

Fourth, these are resources that don't quite fit in the first three:

If you are interested in creating a Timeline Cover from scratch, head over to Blog Technics, there you will find every dimensional aspect and size requirements known to man for Timeline Covers, they even have a "bare bones" template for you to download.

I am a HUGE fan of Pat Flynn over at Smart Passive Income and he put together a post that discusses the importance of Timeline Covers as it applies to marketing yourself and/or your business.

And finally, here a couple places that will inspire you with cool and funny ideas, there are 40 creative ideas, and here you'll find 25 funny covers.

Here is our video tutorial on customizing one of the free templates listed above, hope you enjoy it.

If you received this post via email the video did not come with it, so either head back to Weekly Photo Tips or directly over to our YouTube channel to watch it there.

If you know of a resource that is not listed here, please email it to us so we can share it with everyone.

Showing off some engagement images...

I wanted to share some images from one of our latest engagement/save the date photo shoots.

The odd thing (for me) about this shoot is not that Kara is my next door neighbor, it's that I've known her since she was (about) 5 years old and it's hard for me to grasp that she is now a grown woman, has graduated from collage, and is about to join the institution of married people.

You may recognize the shooting style of these first two images, it is similar (in style) to the images from our post "Shooting into the Sun".

Shading the sun from my lens:

Letting the sun hit the lens:

It's a technique so easy to do, can give you a dramatically different look, and I find that clients really like it.

Here is a mistake I had actually made plans to avoid before the shoot took place, but I made the mistake anyway, though it was a "save the date" shoot I knew there would be images they'd want to keep/share without all the date stuff included.

As soon as I took this shot I thought to myself "crap, they are going to like this shot" and sure enough, shortly after seeing their gallery I got a text wanting to know if I could take out the date out of the shot.

So I did, and though it's not the greatest Photoshop work I have ever done, people who haven't seen the image with the date in it picked up on the fact that I "Photoshopped" it.

Learn from my mistake, take the shot, then add date specific touches and take the shot a second time.

How does it go, "get it right in camera"?


These are my two favorite images from the shoot.

Click on any of these images to view larger.

And yes, some of them may look familiar to you, a few of them were in our post last week about creating "Custom Facebook Timeline Covers".

Be sure to come back tomorrow for a video tutorial that will walk you through making your own custom Facebook covers.

Free stuff, new stuff, and rebates on stuff...

Free stuff:

Kevin Kubota has come out with his new Action DASHBOARD 4 for Photoshop and he is giving it away for free! It comes with 50 free Kubota Imaging Photoshop actions, adding other action packs is optional but not necessary or a requirement to keep Action DASHBOARD 4 for free forever.

You can learn more about the DASHBOARD here, or head directly over to the download page here.

New stuff:

Canon has announced some new gear today, it is not yet shipping but is available for pre-ordering. Click on any of the links below to visit the product page.

CANON EOS M Mirrorless Digital Camera
, along with two lenses - $849


You will get an instant $200 rebate on the Canon EOS Rebel T4i Digital SLR Kit that comes with a Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II lens and a Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS lens - the final price for this body and 2 lens kit is $999.

A book so good I've bought it 20 times....

It started the very first time back in 1985 when I was driving along and Charles Kuralt started talking about this new book, I interrupted my trip and drove directly to the book store and bought it.

"Love, Dad" was written by Patrick Joseph Connolly, though he had no idea at the time he was writing a book, as he had died of a heart attack a year before it was published.

Patrick was a reporter and would leave for work before his two boys got up, so he took a minute every day before he left to write the them a note, sharing insights, wisdom, and a bit of humor.

After he passed his wife took some of those notes, exactly as they were written (and drawn) and put them in the book "Love, Dad".

So you are probably wondering why I've bought it so many times... I was (and continue to be) so touched by it that I have given it many times as a gift, other times I simply lent it to someone and they too were so moved by it that I could not bring myself to ask for it back.

It only takes an hour to read, but a lifetime to appreciate.

At the risk of sound corny, it gave me ideas on how to be a better father.

It's been out out print forever but you can still find it on eBay for under $5.

Here are a couple of my favorite notes from the book, click on them to view larger (making them easier to read).

It's been 27 years since I first bought "Love, Dad" and I often wonder how things turned out for Dave and Rich.