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Ray Davis

Stop Motion Photography to Inspire

I have to admit that I am not someone blessed with much patience. I will spend an average of 8.3 seconds trying to get something to work and then get distracted and/or frustrated and move onto something else. So stop motion photography isn’t exactly my strong suit but man, I wish it was! Especially after watching these two stop-motion photography videos. Keep in mind as you watch these they weren’t shot as video rather they are made of thousands of still photographs.

Bathtub V from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

How to Share That Perfect Picture

So you’ve followed our tips for photographing children and got some gorgeous shots of little Madison with birthday cake on her nose. Now you want to share them with Granny and Aunt Maud on the other side of the country because you know they’ll find the cake-nose thing just too cute for words! So what’s the best way to share your photographic masterpieces with family and friends? Well, guess what here at Photodoto we’ve made a handy little guide to some of your online photo sharing options just for you, and Granny, and Aunt Maud. Here it is:

Flickr It’s the big one, everyone’s heard of it and the site has over 3 billion photos (here’s the 3 billionth). Back in the day when I first joined Flickr as a gangly teenager it was just Flickr but now it’s owned by Yahoo! so you do need a Yahoo! account to join.

A basic account is free and allows you to upload 2 videos and 100MB of photos per month, however even if you upload the original high-res shot only smaller sizes will be accessible. A Pro account costs $24.95/year and allows unlimited photo & video uploading and unlimited storage, plus you can upload high-res originals and use Flickr to archive them.

You can make your photos public, visible to family & friends, visible to only family, or completely private (i.e. no one but you can see them, which does somewhat defeat the photo sharing idea). You can share photos, videos, & slideshows. Videos are limited to 90 seconds though. If you have a family member who doesn’t want to sign up for an account you can send them a guest pass to view some of your family & friends only photos.

Photobucket Probably better known for it’s photo gifts and prints Photobucket has been around since 2003 and boasts 25 million unique visitors per month in the US alone. It’s free account offers up to 1GB of space for photos & videos combined & up to 25GB of traffic per month. Photobucket also resize photos on free accounts (so no high-res images) and limit video to 5 minutes on all accounts. A Pro account costs $29.95/year and allows up to 10GB of or storage and unlimited uploading, plus 10% of photobucket products.

Photobucket offers public and private accounts and allow the use of guest passwords so your less-technologically minded family members don’t have to sign up for an account of their own to view your photos. There is also the option to have a mixed public and private account by making sub-albums on a public account private.

SmugMug Certainly one of the best looking photo sharing sites out there, SmugMug is aimed at a more professional crowd but it’s still great for private sharing. You can make individual photos, galleries, or your entire site private and add passwords to galleries or the whole site. Storage & uploading are unlimited and high-res sizes are allowed and the site will act as a back-up system too. SmugMug also offers the ability to make slideshows and adds the option of adding themes to your galleries.

It does all look really good, however there is no free account but three levels of paid account; standard for $39.95/year, power for $59.95/year, or Pro for $149.95/year. They do offer a free 14-day trial which does not require any credit card information so is genuinely risk-free.

Picasa Web Albums If you use Picasa (which I personally think is a great free photo editing program) then Web Albums may well be your easiest option. The site offers 1GB of storage on a free account and you can publish photos from Picasa to your web album with one click of the mouse. Uploading of videos, slideshows, and collages is also available.

A good feature for sharing with family and friends is the “Shared with” list which allows you to e-mail invitations to view your online albums. The recipient of the e-mail can then view the albums you’ve invited them to regardless of the privacy settings so no need for them to sign up for an account. Plus you can view the list of who you’ve shared an album with so you won’t leave Aunt Maud out by mistake!

Create Your Own Website If you want to make things a little more personal or perhaps post a lot of text with a photo then a blog may be your best bet. Most blogs offer three basic privacy levels; public and visible in search engines, public and not visible to search engines (so in theory only visible to people you give the url to), and private with password protection. Photoblog offers free accounts and is, obviously specifically aimed at photo bloggers. WordPress and Blogger offer free blogs with easy-to-use design tools and if you’re not planning to upload hundreds of photos (or large file sizes) could easily be used to create your own photo blogging corner of the internet.

Facebook It’s free, you can upload photos and videos to your hearts content and can restrict them as visible to all facebook users, all your facebook friends, or certain facebook friends. Choosing Facebook does mean that all the family and friends you want to see the photos will need their own account. But it’s free and with all the other Facebook features you may soon find yourself with your own little online family community! And it’s clearly a popular way to share photos, Facebook has more photos (over 4 billion) than Flickr.

Get Summer Snap-Happy

dandelion_rdavis Summer is officially here and for now, here at least, the rain has stopped, the kids are out of school, and families are getting ready to go on holiday. Whether you want to get some summer fun photos of your kids, capture memories of your romantic holiday in Rome, or just get out and photography the landscape lighting is one of the most important things to get right and can be particularly tricky in summer. Bright light can cause all sorts of problems from glare to underexposure to squinting subjects in your portrait photos. Here are some tips to help you avoid those problems:

Use a polarizing filter
: if you’re using a D-SLR or SLR camera this is a simple solution to bright summer light, like Ray Bans for your lens a polarizer will filter out polarizing light which will provide richer saturation and reduce reflections on non-metallic surfaces.

Use your automatic settings: Your camera may have a setting for shooting in bright light (usually marked with a symbol of the sun) which can help you quickly and simply get better summer photos.

Avoid the brightest light:
Another simple, easy tip. Photograph early in the morning or late in the afternoon and you’ll avoid the bright light problem altogether.

Position the sun:
If you are photographing in the middle of the day position yourself with the sun behind you but if it’s people you’re taking photos of get them to close their eyes and instruct them to open them on the count of 2, then take the photo on 3. That way they’re less likely to be squinting when you press the shutter. Alternatively place the subjects facing away from the sun and use a fill flash to avoid harsh shadows.

Use a lens hood:
Check out our basic guide to accessories for more info on lens hoods and then use one to prevent glare and sun spots.

Try a GND filter: If you’re shooting landscape shots in bright light a GND filter might be exactly what you need to get the perfect photo.

Use a low ISO: Go for one of the lowest your camera has, 50-100 is the best range for bright light.

Get out, enjoy the sun, take lots of photos and if you’ve got some tips for getting well lit summer photos let us know in the comments.

GND & ND Filters…What the heck?

So there were a couple of comments on this post (actually all the comments!) related to GND and ND filters so I thought a quick post devoted to explaining the two might be appreciated by some readers. Here goes…

GND, or Graduated neutral density filters (also known as just graduated filters) are different from other filters in many ways, one of which is that they are often rectangular rather than circular but the functional difference is that part of the filter is a darker (neutral) colour that fades into the clear sections. The transition from neutral colour to clear can be either abrupt or gradual but the function is the same, reducing the difference in brightness between the ground and the sky. Therefore they are used mostly for landscape photography. GND filters also have numbers which indicate how many stops of light they reduce the brightness by.

ND or neutral density filters reduce light from all wavelengths passing through the lens across the entire filter (there is no clear part of the filter). They have three uses, firstly to reduce the brightness of light, secondly to allow the use of a larger aperature and finally to allow the use of a slower shutter speed. Although they are also useful for landscape photography they are also handy for other outdoor photography.

And in terms of the basics that’s it! Simple eh?

Tracking Your Photos With A Reverse Search Engine

A friend recently sent me a link to a site called TinEye which is a reverse image search engine. The idea is you upload an image or paste in the url of an image and TinEye searches for that same image across the web. Although it can’t access every website it is a handy tool for anyone interested to see how their photos are being used (especially if you’ve licensed some photos with a creative commons license and would like to see what people are doing with them). It could also be useful if you’re worried about your photos being used without your permission, although all TinEye can do is point you to where the photos are being used so you can choose whether or not to take any action.

I tried TinEye out with a couple of photos I have uploaded to both Flickr, iStockphoto,and various blogs, giving the search engine the Flickr urls and it found the photos in iStockphoto and the blogs as well. TinEye says it’s the first image search engine to use image identification technology rather than keywords or metadata so in theory it should be more accurate than other similar engines. It’s free to use and there’s no need for registration (although you can register for a free account if you wish which gives you a few benefits). You can try it out here.

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