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Ray Davis

Learn from Big Shot

bigshot In keeping with the theme of learning, here’s an interesting program I hope expands in the future. Bigshot is currently only running workshops in the New York City area but it looks like they might reach other cities soon. The Bigshot workshops allow kids to build their own camera from a set of Bigshot click-together camera parts. The idea is to teach engineering and science concepts while building a working camera, which can then be used to teach photography.

The program is run by Columbia University and, although you can’t buy the Bigshot camera parts, you can visit their website to learn how the different parts of a point and shoot camera work.

DSLR 101 – Auto Exposure Bracketing

Do you own a DSLR but use it mostly as a very expensive point-and-shoot? Time to take off the training wheels! Join us for DSLR 101! Don’t worry we’ll take it slow, and the little green rectangle of the auto setting will always be there for you to run back to if you find yourself in over your head!

Welcome to class, first up; auto exposure bracketing.

What?
Auto exposure bracketing allows you to automatically take a series (usually three but sometimes up to seven) of photos, each at different exposures. Basically the camera takes one image at what it perceives to be the correct exposure, one underexposed, and one overexposed.

Why?
What your camera views as the correct exposure may not necessarily be the exposure that suits a particular image best. You may find that you like your photos slightly overexposed, or that for a particular shot the underexposed version appeals to you more.

Auto bracketing allows you to take the different exposure shots in one quick succession, meaning it’s almost as fast as just taking the correct exposure shot. Especially for beginner photographers this is a great way to get shots in different exposures, and learn which ones you like best in which situations.

Overexposure is not always a bad thing, it can make for some interesting effects.

How?
Most DSLRs will let you choose the brackets you want (usually anywhere from a third-stop (not much variation in exposure) to two stops (lots of variation)), and the number of images you want to take.  How you set auto exposure bracketing varies from camera to camera so you’ll need to check your camera’s manual (look for AEB), it’s often found as a menu setting but some cameras have a specific button for bracketing.

Extra tip
Auto exposure bracketing works differently, depending on if you have the camera in Aperture Priory Mode or Shutter Priority Mode. Basically the camera will change the setting that is not in priority to control the exposure (e.g. if you’re in shutter mode the aperture will be changed).  Therefore if you want to maintain a certain shutter speed or aperture make sure you put the camera in the priority mode for the setting you want to keep set.

That’s it in a nutshell, get out and play! If you like you can add the results to the Photodoto Flickr group here.

Daily Photo Blog

Yesterday I published the first daily photo on my shiny new photo blog. That’s the photo over there on the right. The blog, imaginatively named Eye Tales, is here.

I wanted to make it simple, both for me to add the daily photo and for visitors to navigate. I went with WordPress because I already have blogs with them so I’m familiar with managing and editing and, if you don’t mind having .wordpress.com in the address, it’s free.

The theme is called Duotone and is specifically designed for photoblogging. It has a couple of nice features, the first is the inclusion of some of the technical information from the camera (shutter speed, ISO, camera model, etc) which happens automatically without me having to input any of the info. The other feature I like is the changing of the blog background colours to compliment the photo.

The first day was easy, we took a trip to the beach so there was plenty of photo inspiration, but already today (day 2) I had to search around my apartment looking for something interesting to photograph during my lunch break! This is good though, this is forcing me to get my camera out and be a little creative. I didn’t add any words to the first two posts but I may do that in future posts, I certainly like that the option to add words is there.

If you’re inspired to try your own daily (or even not daily; weekly?, bi-monthly?) photoblog you can sign up for a WordPress blog here (this is by no means the only option, just the one I found most convenient) and get started. Let is know in the comments how it goes!

Welcome to the Teenies

…or whatever it is we’re calling this new decade! It’s day 7 of the new year so I’m sure many of you have already broken your resolutions but you’re still doing better than me because I didn’t even make any!

I have just decided, though, that some sort of daily photo blogging will be one of my goals for 2010. I am inspired by this blog by professional photographer, Rachel Devine, which showcases beautiful photos of her family and life in Australia on a daily basis. I also like this blog with daily photos, and an accompanying paragraph or so of text, from Paris. This one from Canada, and this one from Norway, are also inspiring.

What I love about daily photo blogging is not just the encouragement to get the camera out daily but also the idea that you can showcase the not-so-perfect and not-most-interesting aspects of life which may not normally be documented. I plan to start this weekend and over the next couple of days will be setting up the actual photoblog (I’m guessing that’s going to be considerably easier than finding daily photography inspiration)!

If you have advice, want to join in with your own daily photo effort, or have other daily photo blogs to recommend, let us know in the comments. Happy New Year!

Homemade Photo Gifts

craft ninja Panicking over those perfect photo gifts you just can’t find/left too late to get delivered? Never fear Photodoto is here for you with some homemade photo gift suggestions.

Collage: Especially good for the college student in your life, perfect for dorm room walls, but great for Grandparents and everyone else too. Print a bunch of photos on a theme – photos of the grandkids, your daughter’s best friends, Aunt Mable’s most beloved dog – then figure out a way of arranging them together so they look awesome. You could glue them onto a sturdy backing (thick cardboard, styrofoam, or corkboard are some ideas), link them together using photo clips, or use photo corners to arrange them on a patterned background.

Poster: Head on over here and use the free motivator, magazine cover, or movie poster tools. Print and put in a frame. Simple.

Perpetual Calendar: This requires photos with numbers but you could cheat and photoshop numbers onto some of your favourite shots. Basically you need photos numbered 1 -31, photos with the days of the week on them, and some photos to pad out the calendar and make it a neat shape. Arrange them in the correct order and use photo clips to hold them together. Check out this video of a fantastic example of a perpetual calendar and a walk through of how it was made.

Slideshow: Take a whole bunch of really good photos and make them into a slideshow, if you like you can add music and all sorts of fancy special effects. Burn to a DVD, or if you’re feeling generous buy a digital photo frame and put it on there (granted that’s not so home-made but it adds a home-made touch to a bought gift)!

T-shirt: Print a favourite photo onto t-shirt transfers (these come in a different types for different t-shirt colours so be sure to get the correct type), follow the instructions to get the transfer onto the t-shirt (it usually involves an iron) and you’re done! If you’re making this for a child to give as a gift you can make it a bit more special by getting some fabric paint and allowing them to add their handprint or own unique artwork to the shirt (one of my favourite gifts was made this way, with a photo on the front and handprints on the back to make it look like they’d been left there by a child giving the wearer a hug)!

And as a special Christmas bonus here are three links to other home-made photo gift projects for you to try your hand at:

Photo Cube on Instructables

Snow Globe Christmas Ornaments on Photojojo

Photo Blocks with Wrap on Missie Krissie

Happy Hand Crafting!

Craft Ninja photo by sewitsforyou.

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