PDX in a Fisheye

An über-wide-angle view of the canopy over the arrival/departure roadways at Portland International Airport.  The termial is to the left; a parking garage is on the right.

I recently experimented with a Sigma 4.5mm Circular Fisheye Lens on behalf of the Photography StackExchange site. Here’s one of the images… an über-wide-angle view of the canopy over the arrival/departure roadways at Portland International Airport. The termial is to the left; a parking garage is on the right.

Email Marketing for Photographers: an Interview with DJ Waldow

DJ Waldow is an email marketing expert who just wrote a book (co-authored by Jason Falls) called The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing. The book was just released; I’m partway through reading it and I’m finding lots of practical information. Email marketing doesn’t get quite as much buzz as some of the newer, social, “sexier” online marketing venues but the reality is that everyone has email and it can be a very effective method for communication with clients and peers. There are a lot of “best practices” out there, but one of the unique angles of DJ and Jason’s book is that they specifically talk about how breaking some of those rules can lead to good things.

A few weeks back I had a chance to interview DJ about email marketing; in addition to some general advice I asked some questions specific to photographers. Here’s the interview (about 19 minutes):

Finding Focus: a Photography Ebook That’s Pretty Damn Good

There’s a funny middle area in photography… and it’s a hard area for finding learning resources. If we rank a photographer’s skill on a scale of 1 (total newbie) to 10 (expert), it can sometimes be hard to find material that will educate and inform the photographer who’s between three and seven. There are lots of “getting started” resources, and lots of things for those who’ve mastered many techniques, but what about the middle?

Finding Focus Photography Ebook coverFinding Focus is a new photography ebook by Nicole Young (better known online as Nicolesy). Finding Focus is a book about applied photography knowledge when it comes to focus. One might think that focusing is a basic subject, and while the basic act of making the camera focus is relatively straightforward I was excited to see the various related topics tackled in this book.

What the Heck Will You Learn?

Here are some of the topics covered in the book… things you might’ve heard about but weren’t sure why you needed to know them. Or maybe you haven’t heard of the term but you’re missing out because with a bit of learning you could make your photos even better. Inside you’ll learn about:

  • How lens selection (and lens compression) affects both the camera’s focus and your viewer’s perception of a subject.
  • How that lens selection affects the appearance of a person’s face in a portrait (hint: the wrong lens can be quite unflattering).
  • How to make a star-shaped pattern when photographing lights in the dark.
  • What is back-button focus (and why should you care)?
  • What’s that “DOF Preview” button on the camera for?
  • What’s hyperfocal distance, and should I care even if I haven’t eaten too much sugar?

In addition to the gear-related and technique concerns of how to best focus, there’s a good discussion of using focus as a storytelling element when making a photograph.

Finding Focus Photography Ebook by Nicole S. Young - inside

What About Post?

While a majority of Finding Focus looks at focus technique in-camera, it would be remiss to not also speak to focus-related subjects in the digital darkroom. Three bits of software are discussed. First, the author explores how to apply sharpening in both Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop (including how to understand what all those darned slider controls do). This is followed by a quick look at onOne Software’s Focal Point, and how it can be used to add creative focusing effects.

So Is This Book any Good, or What?

Yep.

Oh, you wanted more than that? As I said earlier, I think this book fits an oft-neglected place in that it offers information for those who have started to take their photography seriously but still have much to learn about focus and related techniques. The author assumes that one knows how to operate their camera (such as how to put it in aperture priority mode) but doesn’t presume that someone has already mastered the implications of such configurations. I like how the book was written and I think it’ll be of a great value for that audience.

You can buy Finding Focus for the usual Craft & Vision ebook price of $5… and as usual, the content is much more valuable than that amount. I’m an affiliate for Craft & Vision because their stuff is, as the cool kids say, the shizz.

Post-Storm Fort

One of the old concrete military installations at Fort Stevens, Oregon.

Last year our family visited Fort Stevens, Oregon, and explored some of the old military installments. At the time we were here the skies were stormy but there were some nice breaks in the clouds which occasionally let through some great sunlight. This photo is a result of one of those moments.

I processed this image using one of Trey Ratcliff’s new presets he’s made available for Lightroom users. I purchased the presets yesterday and have been having some fun. There are three groups of presets which can be purchased for about $10 each or you can grab the whole set for $19.99. If you use Lightroom and enjoy post-processing, grab the presets and have some fun!

Top Camera & Photo Bestsellers: August 2012

Happy August! As we enter the new month, it’s time again for my roundup of the bestselling camera & photo items as measured by sales over at Amazon.com, where they sell pretty much everything.

What the Duck?There’s nothing too crazy about this month’s list but it’s interesting to see Panasonic filling almost 1/3 of the slots.a

  1. GoPro HD HERO2: Outdoor Edition – Jumping up to the top spot on the list this month, GoPro’s compact HD video cameras are a big hit. They’re pretty small, which allows the camera to be mounted or worn in any number of ways… on a helmet, strapped to a chest harness, on a racecar… the possibilities are amazing. This particular one is the outdoor package. I’ve previously written about my GoPro dogsledding story.
  2. Panasonic Lumix TS20 TOUGH Waterproof Digital Camera – dude, it’s orange! This looks like a great casual fun camera, waterproof to 5 meters so it would be great for those summery photos around the pool, at the lake, and so on. It has a 4x optical zoom and will also record 720p HD video. The price is right.
  3. Sony DSC-RX100 Exmor CMOS Sensor Digital Camera – This camera arrives again near the top of the bestseller list… when something is a strong seller for month after month, we know that it’s a decent unit. This is a fixed-lens camera from Sony, with a Carl Zeiss lens and 1080p video. Seems like this one’s aimed at serious shooters.
  4. GoPro HD HERO2: Motorsports Edition – the same GoPro camera as the top seller, but this is the “Motorsports Edition” which comes with different mounting accesories (namely, a suction cup).
  5. Canon Powershot A2200 Digital Camera – This is a slightly older model but a great value at just over $100. Canon’s Powershot A-series offers nice compact cameras (I’ve used a previous model) with decent image quality. If you’re looking for something compact and affordable to throw in a purse or otherwise carry on the go, you could do a lot worse than the A2200.
  6. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS15 Digital Camera – Panasonic has been producing some good little compact cameras, giving Canon and Sony a worthy competitor in this space. This one has a 16x optical zoom which is great to see in a sub-$200 camera. If you want a camera that’s going to offer better photos than your smartphone but isn’t going to break the bank… look here.
  7. Nikon COOLPIX L810 Digital Camera – the “superzoom” body style is popular and allows a manufacturer to put a big zoom lens into an affordable camera. This offering looks like a good one and it’s priced appropriately ($200).
  8. Nikon D5100 CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom Lens – Down here in the latter half of the bestseller list we find our first DSLR for the month. The Nikon D5100 is a step above entry-level, but not quite up to what I’d consider “prosumer”. It does offer a nice feature set in a package that comes with a lens for just under $650. This camera is positioned in an interesting place as it has a few nicer features than the entry-level 3000-series cameras, but it’s definitely lacking in several areas (such as image quality and autofocus system) when compared with its big brother the D7000.
  9. Panasonic Lumix ZS20 High Sensitivity MOS Digital Camera – It’s Panasonic month on the bestseller list… this compact camera features a 20x optical zoom lens which allows for some great photos of objects that are far away. At a price near $250, this unit is aimed at the casual shooter who wants to make decent images without having to futz with a bunch of controls or options.
  10. Canon EOS Rebel T3 CMOS Digital SLR with 18-55mm IS II Lens – Don’t fear, Canon shooters, Nikon isn’t the only one with a DSLR on this month’s popular cameras list. Canon’s popular T3 once again returns to our list and I’d choose this over the D5100 if I wasn’t already invested in a particular manufacturer’s system. It’s a hell of a deal on a great entry level camera. You’ll get decent still photos, 720p HD video, and have your foot in the door of Canon’s EOS system.

If you use the links above and end up purchasing through Amazon, a small commission will be returned to me that helps fund the operation of this site. Thanks for your support!

How to Embed SmugMug Photos into WordPress Blog Posts

I get asked this question a lot1… so it’s becoming a blog post.

Here’s how to insert a photo from SmugMug into a WordPress blog post:

  1. Browse to the SmugMug gallery and photo that you’d like to use.
  2. Above the photo, click the Share button, then Get a Link
    SmugMug Sharing to WordPress - Get a Link
  3. Click the Embeddable Links tab, then choose which size image you want and click the Copy button to the right of the code.
    SmugMug Sharing to WordPress - Embedding a Link
  4. Paste that code into your WordPress blog post in the HTML editor – if you paste into the Visual editor it’ll likely muck things up.
  5. There is no step 5.

  1. Likely because I keep pimping SmugMug and WordPress. That’s a SmugMug referral link – if you use it you’ll save $5 off a new account and I’ll get a few dollars of SmugMug credit as well. Win-win, as they say.