Wednesday, May 31, 2006

05/31/06: Travel photo tips

Travel Photography - Use All of Your Senses!

Renown travel photographer Bob Krist recommends using all of your senses to find great pictures when traveling. Pay attention not only to the sights...but listen to the sounds, smell what's in the air, taste the food (take pictures of it being cooked!) and drink, touch things that are unique to your travels. You'll no doubt see plenty of interesting things to photograph...but by paying attention to what appeals to your others senses, you'll find a whole lot of additional opportunities to photograph things that you experienced in your travels.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

05/30/06: Get that fishy look in your wide angle shots

Pro Photo Tip: Get that fishy look with your wide angle shots!

The best way to exaggerate a fisheye or wide angle shot is to avoid shoot at normal height pointing directly at the horizon. Best bet is to shoot from either a low or a high angle -- you'll get more "bend" to the angles in your fisheye or wide angle shot.

Here is an example:

Monday, May 29, 2006

05/29/06: What is "metadata?"

What is "metadata?"

Metadata is information that your camera or scanner retains about the environment in which the image was taken or scanned. The most common form of metadata used today is called EXIF or Exchangeable Image File Format.

EXIF information can be very useful in post-processing of digital images. Most image editing programs allow you to access the EXIF metadata to review such information as the camera or scanner model, the date the image was made, the format the image was captured (such as jpeg, RAW, TIFF, etc.). Camera settings such as shooting mode (program, aperature priority, shutter priority, manual etc.), aperature, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, etc. are also retained in the EXIF data. In a windows environment (Windows XP, 2000, or later), you don't even need to open the file in an image editing program -- you can just right click on the file, select properties, click on the summary tab, and, if it's not defaulting to the advanced option, click advanced.

Why is metadata important and how can it help me take better pictures?

To improve you photography, get into the habit of reviewing your EXIF information for images that worked well as well as images that didn't turn out quite like you expected. If you shoot in program modes -- where you may not remember what your camera settings were for a particular image -- having the EXIF metadata information available can really be useful. You can find out exactly what settings the camera used for a particular image and that may help you extend your creative abilities next time you are in a similar shooting situation.

05/28/06: What is "artifacting?"

What is "artifact(ing)?"

Artificats or artifacting in a digital photography context is quite simply defined as misinterpretation of jpeg or compressed data. Artifacts are seen as color faults or line faults that impact a digital image.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

05/27/06: Quote of the day...

Quote of the day...

"Pictures must not be too picturesque."

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, May 26, 2006

05/26/06: Treat your cards well

Basic tip - Treat your cards well

You can get the most of your removeable media cards (compact flash, smart media, secure digital, etc.) by doing a few simple things. First, always format your card in the camera -- deleting pictures in the camera or on the computer is not the "cleanest" way to manage your cards. By formatting the cards in the camera, you'll be sure to get the most from your cards -- it's analogous to using a wet wash cloth to clean a chalk board vs. only using an eraser. The eraser will leave behind lots of chalk dust just like deleting pictures manually will leave behind bytes on your card.

Also, be sure to keep your cards in protective cases when not in use. You'll prevent damage to the cards that way! :)

Have a great weekend and happy shooting! -- Dan

Thursday, May 25, 2006

05/25/06: Quote of the day...

Quote of the day...

In some photographs the essence of light and space dominate; in others, the substance of rock and wood, and the luminous insistence of growing things. It is my intention to present-through the medium of photography-intuitive observations of the natural world which may have meaning to spectators.
-- Ansel Adams

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

05/24/06: What is "racking?"

Pro Photo Tip: What is racking? How do I fix it?

Racking is a term pros use that refers to situations where an auto-focus camera cannot focus -- either due to low light or zero contrast in the subject. You can experience this by pointing your auto-focus camera at a clear blue sky (NOT at the sun, mind you!). The camera will not be able to find a focus point and will "rack" in and out to try to find a focus point.

Rack focus is a cinematography term that refers to a shot that starts with one object / subject in sharp focus and then the focus point is moved to another object / subject.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

05/23/06: What is "foofing?"

Pro photo tip - Foofing!

What is "foofing?" Simply stated, foofing is the act of bouncing a camera flash off a wall, ceiling, or other surface to diffuse the light. Foofing, a term popularized by renown wedding photojournalist Denis Reggie, comes from the sound a flash makes when it fires and can create very beautifully lit photos. As digital photography allows so many opportunities to experiment, try foofing. Look for creative angles, surfaces, etc. to foof off of.

Here is an example of a foofed shot -- I positioned myself above my niece and turned my flash head to fire back over my shoulder and bounce off the cathedral ceiling in my family room. The walls and ceiling are both white so they bounced the flash and dispersed the light very nicely.

Monday, May 22, 2006

05/22/06: Tool for quick repairs

Basic Photo Tip: Tool for quick repairs...

Some photographers have learned the value of having a handy eyeglass repair kit for quick tightening of tiny screws on their cameras. Over time small parts on a camera can come loose (or worse, the camera is dropped and needs a quick mending!) and the small screwdriver that comes with an eyeglass repair kit can save the day! Here is one I found on for under $6!

I hope you never need it but it can save your day if you do have problems!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

05/21/06: Reset your settings!

Basic tip: Reset your settings!

Ever forget to put your camera back on ISO 100 for outdoor shots after you had been shooting in a cave all day at ISO 1600? Wonder why your indoor shots look excessively orange? Have you slapped your forehead so hard it left a mark? Yes, the collective groan of "shoot, I forgot!" sweeps across the nation.

Get into the habit of putting your settings back to normal or average modes before you put your camera away or, better yet, before you switch it off. I tend to take a LOT of pictures of my kids. I have what I consider to be my "kid creative" mode...ISO 400, aperature priority, f2.8, auto white balance. While I usually will tinker with that for a given shot (most with ISO and white balance), I found that by getting into the habit of resetting my camera to "kid creative" mode whenever I put the camera down, I goof up fewer shots by not having the camera left on the settings for extreme conditions. By doing this, you'll force yourself to check your settings more often when you change shooting conditions (going back and forth from indoors to outdoors comes to mind...and, yes, kids will do that to you!).

Has this tipped helped you? I'd love to hear from you. Drop me a note with props or otherwise at:

Let's have a great week!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

05/20/06: Quote of the day...

Quote of the day...

"I like to feel that all my best photographs had strong personal visions and that a photograph that doesn't have a personal vision or doesn't communicate emotion fails."

-- Galen Rowell

Friday, May 19, 2006

05/19/06: Re-charge quickly!

Pro photo tip - fast recharge for batteries!

There is a new product out from a company called Maha Energy -- the 8 cell 1-hour charger can be very handy for quickly recharging AA batteries. What I like about this charger, besides the 1 hour charge time, is the LCD window which shows the recharge status of each battery. The unit offers "soft" and rapid recharge modes -- the soft mode is a slower charge designed to sufficiently charge older, lower capacity batteries. You can charge anywhere from 1 to 8 batteries at a time -- each one on an independent circuits. I plan to pick one up for my camera batteries -- and for ALL of those pesky battery hogging children's toys at home (which so often are left "ON!").

The unit retails for $84.95. More information can be found at

Have a great weekend and keep shooting!

-- Dan

Thursday, May 18, 2006

05/18/06: Less dust on your lens

Basic photo tip - reduce the dust on your lenses!

One way to reduce the amount of dust that ends up on your lens is to avoid putting lens caps in your pocket -- you'll pick up less dust, lint, etc. if you get in the habit of putting your lens cap in a nylon lens pouch or in your camera bag when you are shooting.

Another tip for reducing dust -- vacuum out your camera gear bag!

Happy shooting, Dan

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

05/17/06: Where to put the money?

What's better - spending money on lenses or a better camera body?

Several years ago, at a campground just outside of Glacier National Park, I had the priviledge of attending a talk and slideshow given by world renown nature photographer Tom J. Ulrich. Something that Tom said that night really struck me. He said:

"A $1200 camera with a $100 lens will take $100 photos. A $100 camera with a $1200 lens will take $1200 photos."

Wise words from an amazing photographer! :-) If you enjoy nature photography, I highly recommend his book, "Once Upon a Frame." It has phenomenal nature images along with some good advice for various outdoor / nature shooting.

Quote of the day...

"The key to failure is to try to please everyone."
--Bill Cosby

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

05/16/06: A few tips about color temperature

A few basic tips about color temperature...

Color temperature, as measured in Kelvin degrees (K), is important for digital photographers to understand how light changes and digital cameras record it. In the film days, photographers adjusted for color temperature using different types of "biased" film (daylight film, etc.) and / or filters. In digital photography, adjustments can be made both on the camera (with auto white balance, custom white balance, or white balance pre-sets) and with software. Average daylight color temperature is about 5500K. A typical tungsten light bulb (that which you would find in most household lamps) has a temperature of 2800K. Open shade -- where the blue sky provides most of the light and makes your subject look bluish -- has a color temperature of about 7500K.

Tungsten lighting and sunrise / sunset lighting has an orange bias while open shade has a blue bias. Knowing these tendencies can help you select a white balance preset (or a custom white balance setting) on your camera or in your image editing software to compensate for the bias. If a scene looks predominantly blue, use an open shade white balance setting. For orange, use a tungsten white balance setting. Don't be afraid to experiment with your white balance settings on your camera...but when you are done shooting (if you tend to forget to check settings as I often do!), be sure to put your settings back to either auto or your typical setting for the type of photography that you do most.

Questions or comments?

Keep shooting!

Monday, May 15, 2006

05/15/06: FREE Image Hosting Sites!

FREE Image Hosting Sites!

Don't send those freakin' huge attachments (uncompressed photos - sent by the dozens) to all of your friends and family. You can use free image hosting sites and then just send out links to your photos. I use as well as -- both are very easy to use and they are BOTH FREE! You can create folders (albums) and upload your images to share. If you are a blogger (and if you are reading this, you very well may be!...or perhaps you are just thinking about starting your own blog), you can link your photos to your blog by copying the URL of the photo from the image hosting site. There are limits to the amount of data (total size of all photos) you can use before you need to upgrade to "premium" subscriptions. A 1 year premium subscription to is just $25 -- more information can be found by clicking here. Flickr (which is run by Yahoo!) cost is $24.95 for "pro" subscriptions -- details here.

Comments / questions? Send them to

Happy shooting! :)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

05/14/06: Learn by watching the pros!

Wedding Photography - Learn by Watching the Pros!

It's the busy season for weddings! Yesterday I was at a popular local park (shooting a wedding) and I counted no less than FIVE other wedding parties at this park being photographed. It occured to me that if you are new to wedding photography, or are an aspiring wedding can learn a LOT about posing / creative lighting / shooting angles, etc. by watching pros at work. And you don't even have to go to work as an assistant to observe many top professionals at work. Find a popular photo spot during the busiest wedding season -- and go there! Between 3 PM and 5 PM on a given Saturday in May would seem to be the best time. So watch and learn!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

05/13/06: Quote of the Day...

The subject matter is so much more important than the photographer.
-- Gordon Parks, 1912-2006

Friday, May 12, 2006

05/12/06: What is LightScribe?

What is LightScribe?

LightScribe is a technology that allows you to laser etch labels directly onto CD's and DVD's without using paper-based adhesive labels. Photographers tend to burn LOTS of discs -- so I wanted to answer some questions and relate some of my experiences using LightScribe.

Why would someone want to use LightScribe?

Adhesive disc labels can start to peel away and potentially cause problems with disc players. Also, data can be corrupted by labels that peel or are peeled off a disc (never try to remove an adhesive label -- the adhesive can remove the top layer of lacquer on the disc, and possibly the reflective layer beneath it as well, which will ruin your disc). Using a "Sharpie" marker to label a disc may also potentially render the disc unusable if the marker in any way scratches the surface of the disc.

What do I need to use LightScribe?

You will need 3 things to use LightScribe to label discs:
  1. A LightScribe enabled disc burner
  2. LightScribe media (currently in CD-R, DVD+R, DVD-R)
  3. Software for creating disc labels (usually comes with the LS enabled burner, but you can also download a free program from called SureThing 4SE). The latest versions of disc burning software from Nero, Roxio, and others, have LightScribe capabilities.
Expect to pay about a 20% premium for a LightScribe burner and around $1 per disc for LightScribe media (though this cost will likely come down as LS media becomes more widely used).

What else should I know about LightScribe?

There are three important things, in my opinion, to be aware of when using LightScribe to label your discs:

  1. LightScribe is currently only designed for grayscale labeling -- not color.
  2. To label your disc, you have to load it UPSIDE DOWN!! (Yes, the first time I tried LS, I failed to read the instruction to load the media upside down and I couldn't figure out why I was getting "dirty disc" errors!)
  3. LightScribe labeling is time consuming. For full text and images on a LS disc, expect the print process to take at least 20 minutes (or longer, depending on your system).

Questions or comments can be sent to:

Have a great weekend! --Dan

Thursday, May 11, 2006

05/11/06: Kids in Motion!

Creative Tip - Creating Motion in Kids Photography

A neat "in-camera" affect for kid photography is to create motion blur by panning with the subject. Panning is simply moving the camera with the movement of the subject. With digital SLR's you want to be sure to slow your shutter speed down to 1/30 or slower. With point and shoot cameras, turn the flash setting off, and just experiment with the various shooting modes to see which produces the slowest shutter speed (it's very likely NOT to be the "sports" setting!). You also want to be sure to shoot at the lowest possible ISO setting (e.g. ISO 100) to be sure not to stop the action.

These images of my two sons were both shot with a Canon EOS 20D camera on ISO 100, manual mode - 1/20th of a second exposure at f/11 aperature.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

05/10/06: Photoshop CS2 Bridge Tip

Photoshop CS2 Bridge Tip

Did you realize you can have multiple sessions of Adobe Bridge open? I didn't -- but thanks to Martin Evening's Photoshop for Photographers, I do know...and so do you! :) Why would this be handy? You can view multiple folders of images with multiple Bridge windows.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

05/09/06: Free RAW converter!

Free RAW converter!

For digital SLR shooters, there is a free RAW conversion program called "RawShooter Essentials 2006" available from Pixmantec's web-site. Click here for the free program. I haven't used this program yet, but I will be checking it out in the next few days. Looks like a nice program to have handy for converting RAW files without having Photoshop CS / CS2 or your camera manufacturer's proprietary software.

Quote of the day...

"We're always so worried about trying to find something to shoot and sometimes you hunt too hard - it's right in front of you."

-- Steven Wilkes, one of Canon's "Explorers of Light" featured photographers

Monday, May 08, 2006

05/08/06: Portrait or Landscape?

Basic Photo Tip - Tilt that camera!

Most often if you are shooting an image of one person, rotate that camera to shoot vertically! A vertical shot is commonly referred to as "portrait" orientation and is best suited for a shot of one or two individuals -- a picture with 3 or more individuals most often should be shot in landscape mode. The objective in people photography is to fill the frame as much as possible. Here are two examples -- which one do you think looks better?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

05/07/06: Quote of the day...

"Luck favors the prepared."

Edna Mode, The Incredibles

As many of you are well aware, this definitely applies to photography!! :)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

05/06/06: What kind of point & shoot to buy?

Moms want to know -- What kind of digital camera to buy?

I'm often asked my expectant mothers or mothers of infants / toddlers..."what kind of digital camera should I buy?" Well, a lot depends on your budget...but my recommendation is to spend $250 or $300 and get one with a movie mode. Often times with little ones, you miss that great shot by a second or two...with a point & shoot digital camera that has movie can not only get adorable pictures to e-mail, but you can create movies of the first time they roll over or they first time they take a step, etc. The nice thing about the little point & shoot cameras with movie mode is that they are more compact that video cameras and they'll slip in a purse or diaper bag very easily.

Happy shooting! :)

Friday, May 05, 2006

05/05/06: Custom White Balancing

Pro Photo Tip - Custom White Balancing

If you are custom white-balancing (i.e. shooting at a calibration target or neutral gray card), remember to set your white balance to daylight (NOT auto) before taking the shot you intend to white balance from -- otherwise your camera will attempt to adjust the target / gray card image.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

05/04/06: Grayscale / black & white

Basic photo tip - "grayscale" vs. "black & white"

Q: What's the difference between "grayscale" and "black and white?"

A: Actually nothing! "Grayscale" refers to a photo made up of varying tones of black and white -- it's synonymous with black and white photography, but more popular nomenclature in digital applications. Grayscale is not to be confused with "monochrome" which is defined as one single hue or color in a photograph.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

05/03/06: Quote of the day...

"Think about the photo before and after, never during. The secret is to take your time. You mustn't go too fast. The subject must forget about you. Then, however, you must be very quick."

--Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

05/02/06: "Daily Photo Tips" will officially launch on June 1st!

Stay Tuned - "Daily Photo Tips" will officially launch on June 1st!

Thanks for visiting -- be sure to bookmark and check back daily starting June 1st, 2006! Meanwhile, I'll be posting a few things here and there...just to get the ball rolling...