Travel Photographer of the Year

Travel Photographer of the Year, one of my favourite photography competitions (which I always enter and never win!), recently announced the 2007 winners. This year Cat Viton, from the UK, became the competition's first female winner and, among other prizes, won the opportunity to go to India and photograph the Dalai Lama.

Her winning photographs are beautiful, as are many of the runner-up shots, and as always with this competition, inspire me to travel to more new places. You can check them out here if you feel like getting a little inspiration for your 2008 travel plans.

Get Stable Without a Tripod

I recently bought my first tripod. More than a year after I first started making money with my photography, and two years after I got my first decent camera. I finally got one because I've been asked to do photography at several night time events over the coming months but I had resisted buying one for so long because I find them (the affordable ones anyway) too heavy and bulky to be practical. For those of you who may also be making do without a tripod here are a few other options for getting stable:

Monopods. These are little poles that you mount your camera on top of. They are lightweight and easy to move and some of them come with velcro straps so you can attach them to fence posts and the like. However they're not great for long exposure and some monopods may not be strong enough to hold a larger SLR camera.

Beanbags. Very cheap, light weight, and easy to squash into an overstuffed camera bag. Beanbags make excellent camera supports and almost never break! Simply put a beanbag between your camera and a rock/bench/tree/car roof and it'll support your camera perfectly.

Remote release/self timers. Even if you have your camera precariously balanced on a rock you can still avoid camera shake on long exposure shots by not touching the camera. Nearly all modern cameras have a self timer you can use or you could buy a remote release (small and fairly cheap piece of equipment) that allows you to activate the camera from a distance.

If all else fails. If you find yourself in a position with no way to stabilise your camera but you need to avoid camera shake try setting the shutter speed between 1/60th and 1/125th, holding your arms close to your body to support the camera, and shooting off 4 or 5 shots in quick succession. Hopefully one of them will come out well and you can simply delete the rest.

And if you have your own suggestions for avoiding camera shake without using a tripod please leave them in the comments section.

De-clutter Your ‘pictures’ Folder.

As part of a Christmas present I recently found myself spending a sizable chunk of my evening searching through seemingly endless folders on my laptop trying to find photographs of a friend's son. In the end I just downloaded the photos from my Flickr account. My computer filing system is a mess, to say the least!

For those of you out there who may be similarly organisationally-challenged here is a brief guide to a simple work flow to help prevent the image chaos I've ended up with. It's going to be my New Year's resolution to try and stop just dumping DCIM folders onto my desktop and actually implement something like this!

1. Edit as you download.This requires a little bit of brutal honesty towards your photographs. The idea is to get rid of the shots you are never going to look at again before they even begin to take up space on your desktop. Keep photos of family and friends (even the technically bad shots might prove useful for blackmail in the future!) but be selective about other shots. Ask yourself if you aready have a better shot of the same view/landmark/object. If you've taken fifty pictures of the same thing narrow it down to your best five or ten.

2. Don't erase yet. Back up your images before you erase them from your memory card. You could burn them to CD or DVD, put them on an external hard drive, or upload them to a website.

3. Organize! If you're like me simpler is probably better. Organizing by date, location, or people is simplest. I also keep a folder marked "favourites" where I put anything I especially like and one called "work in progress" where I put things I like but haven't edited to my satisfaction yet. If you are the hyper-organized type you could use a more complicated filing system but I find I never keep anything more complex up for more than a few weeks!

4. Re-edit. Go back through your old images and try re-editing a few. I find that my ability to edit photographs is constantly improving and re-editing old stuff often gives me a new, much improved photo.

5. Show off your stuff! Share your photos with family and friends. Print them and put them in a pretty album, make a slideshow and play it on your TV for visiting relatives, or upload them to a photo sharing website and let your fans worldwide see them. Just remember to show your best shots and not all 5,300 photos you took at little Madison's stage debut as a snowflake.

Quick tour of Photodoto for new readers

Photodoto's subscriber count has been growing faster lately than a Nikon D3 in continuous shooting mode (har har). Welcome! For the benefit of new readers, a brief tour of Photodoto.com and some things you may have missed:

Some of our most popular recent posts:

Ten Tips for Photographing Pets

Playtime: Using Mirrors

8 Online Lens Rental Stores Compared

Shooting Outdoors in Wet Weather

Popular older posts from our extensive archives:

Bokeh. What the hell is it?

Understanding exposure: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO

Super quick (and easy!) tip for more flattering portraits

Create your own lightbox

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40 second tour of a Shutterfly.com photo book

Hot on the heels of our photo book price guide, I've just taken possession of another photo book from Shutterfly.com and I have to say I'm still impressed. I ordered three books on Monday and they were received by recipients on both coasts on Friday using standard shipping.

This short video doesn't do them justice. The books are attractive, durable, and the print and paper quality are excellent. Shutterfly's online book builder doesn't require you to download or install anything and provides a ton of layout options including a full-page layout right to the edge that looks spectacular.

Click below to play the video.

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