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Elizabeth West

I'm a person who loves both words and images. A writer by profession, I'm a passionate photographer in my free time. I do not see the arts as a competitive activity, since no two people would ever create the same work even if they had the same subject. I welcome comments and suggestions from all.

Shooting Outdoors in Wet Weather

While the fainthearted may see grey skies and feel trapped inside, the rest of us need not be stopped by wet weather. Taking pictures in mist and rain can be very satisfying, especially when the rain is light and feet stay dry. Often, grey skies intensify certain colors, while changing others.

I really noticed this last week when I went outside to get my morning paper and saw the pumpkin stand across the street from my house. The pumpkins practically glowed. Luckily, I was only steps from my camera and managed to capture the rich orange.

farmstand in mist

The last few days have been damp and grey where I live. While friends and neighbors bemoan the lack of sun, I happily take advantage of the overcast skies and wet surfaces. I put on my waterproof shoes, grab my slicker, and out I go.

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Photographing People in Public Places

For years, I was too shy to ask to take a stranger’s picture. Normally, I’m not at all shy. I’ll talk to anyone. But stick a camera in my hand and I would become horribly self-conscious. I thought it a bit presumptuous to ask to take someone’s picture. After all, I wasn’t a “real” photographer but only a hobbyist.

ballerina

I did take photographs of people who were unaware. Some were interesting pictures, I thought, that captured moments or moods. They were small slices of real, unrehearsed and unself-conscious life. I think such pictures have an important place in any photographer’s repertoire, but I am not discussing those here.

Then I read up on various ways that street photographers took pictures without being noticed. These surreptitious shots did not appeal to me, though, because they seemed a bit sneaky. I wanted either pictures of people completely unaware, or pictures of people who were totally aware. I did not want to furtively snap images of people who did not want their pictures taken.
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Online Help Choosing a Camera

New digital cameras are being announced at staggering speed, and those of you who might be considering a new purchase may be slightly overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. One way to start is by using the Digital Camera Advisor. This online tool allows you to enter personal preferences about a number of items and attributes, including camera usage, price, brand, and physical and imaging attributes. After you have made your entries, the site offers camera recommendations.

screenshot Digital Camera AdvisorTo start, merely click one of the buttons and then move sliders or click checkboxes to indicate your choices. Unfortunately, the first button–camera usage–is one of the weaker pages, because the choices are so limited. You can choose between action scenes and landscapes, for example, but not nature shots or portraits. Still, take a stab and move forward.

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Take Pictures at Night, Too

A year ago, I was afraid to shoot pictures at night. I thought it was a horribly complicated undertaking that would leave me frustrated and confused. Then I heard a fifteen minute talk on night shooting and saw a group of pictures taken one night by both inexperienced and experienced photographers. I was hooked.

Fine ArtsFirst, I loved the images that this group presented. Some were gaudy, while others were surreal, but even the greenest photographer was able to capture something interesting. Second, the process sounded relatively simple. The main requirements were a tripod and a willingness to play.

A few nights later, I went to a nearby town and took dozens of pictures. Some were disasters, but others were delights. Now I do night shoots frequently.
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PhotoWorks Offers Retail Outlet for Photographers

PhotoWorks, which began life as Seattle Film Works, started out decades ago using movie film to make prints and slides. Today, many know them as an online photo sharing site, which offers prints and custom photo items, such as books, calendars, cards, and other gift items. I’ve often used this company. I buy prints from them, and last year, I made a book from old scanned family pictures.

Photoworks StorefrontNow this company offer Storefronts, a retail outlet for photographers, where the photographers can create and sell their own photo-related gifts. Right now, you can sell only books from this site. Soon you’ll be able to sell all sorts of products, including images and items that use images, such as coffee mugs, calendars, and so forth. In addition, PhotoWorks plans to offer widgets that will allow users to display their products on their personal websites.

You choose a user name, which gets incorporated into the URL. Choose carefully, since you cannot change this name later. PhotoWorks will take care of hosting your images, payments, and shipping. You can then have the proceeds either deposited into a Paypal account, or credited to your PhotoWorks account.

Make sure you read the terms and conditions of use. For example, you must supply a taxpayer i.d. or the company will withhold part of your proceeds. PhotoWorks will pay you monthly if amount you have earned is over $50. If your proceeds are less than $50, they will pay you when the amount reaches that number. If you don’t sell $50 worth of products in a year’s time, you will be charged a small fee. One interesting touch is the Storefront will allow shoppers to fill a cart from several different stores, so it will be a bit like an online mall.

Although this is not a totally unique notion, it does have some interesting features. Clearly, this site has big plans. Keep an eye on them to see how these plans develop.

To learn more, go to their FAQ.

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