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Last minute photo book buying guide

Last year I worked for a family with two wonderful children and when I left I wanted to make a photo book for them with some of the hundreds of photos I’d taken during the year. Well, things got chaotic as I packed up my life to move 3, 429 miles across the country, and in the end I simply didn’t have time to chose the photos, upload them to a suitable website, order the book, and wait for it to be delivered.

The idea came back into my head recently as I was thinking about Christmas gifts and this time I was just about organised enough to pull it off. But, man are there a lot of website offering photo books out there! So for those of you who might be looking for a quick comparison of prices here’s the little table I made while I was searching for the best deal.

Company

Book Size

Cost

Shipping

Other Info

Shutterfly

12×12

$54.99
for 20 pages

$1.50/extra page

$9.99

25% off
extra books if you

order more than one.

8×8 or 8.5×11

$29.99
for 20 pages

$1/extra page

$6.99

Apple iPhoto

8.5×11 (single sided)

$29.99
for 20 pages

$0.99/extra page

Not quoted

Requires iPhoto software

8.5×11 (double sided)

$29.99
for 20 pages

$1.49/extra page

Not quoted

Blurb

7×7

$22.95 for 20-40 pages

Not quoted

8×10

$29.95 for 20-40 pages

Not quoted

11×13

$54.95 for 20-40 pages

Not quoted

Lulu

9×7

$24.95
for 20 pages

$0.50/extra page or $10 for 20
extra

Not quoted

8.5×11

$25.95
for 20 pages

$0.50/extra page or $10 for 20
extra

Not quoted

Picaboo

11×8.5

$29.99
for 20 pages

$1.99/extra page

$8.99

8×6

$19.99
for 20 pages

$0.99/extra page

$7.99

Qoop

8.5×11

$29.99 for 20 pages

$.99/extra page

Not quoted

These are the sizes and prices for hard cover books, most of these sites also offer soft cover books at a cheaper price. The deadline for Christmas ordering is coming up so if you want to put Santa’s name on a photo book you better get a move on!

And if you’ve used any of these services, please share your impressions in the comments.

I’m ready for my closeup: 6 methods for perfectly focused self-portraits

Self-portrait shooters usually rely on the trial-and-error method of focusing. Shoot, shoot, and shoot again until the perfect combination of pose, exposure, and focus are achieved. But there is a better way (several, in fact)! All of these methods are quick and easy and will give you accurate focusing without a lot of frustrating trial and error.

Before you begin, you’ll just need to acquaint yourself with how to put your camera into manual focus mode. You won’t actually use manual focus for focusing—you’ll just use it to keep the focus once you’ve got it set just the way you want. For each of the methods below (except the last one), you’ll auto-focus first and then set the camera to manual focus so that it won’t attempt to re-focus when you take the shot. You’ll also find that having a remote shutter release helps immensely.

Read more…

Why are my photos of moving subjects blurry?

There are two primary kinds of blur in photos (well, three, but we’ll assume you keep your camera fairly clean): focus blur and motion blur. Here are examples of focus and motion blur, respectively (click to enlarge):

Focus blur Motion blur

Focus blur happens when the subject of your photo is simply out of focus. The solution to that is to make sure your autofocus is on and try again. If it’s out of focus, re-focus and shoot again. Pretty straightforward. On point and shoot cameras, the most likely reason you’re out of focus is because the subject moved or the smart focusing system wasn’t so smart and focused on the wrong object.

Motion blur, on the other hand, doesn’t happen because your subject is out of focus. It happens because your subject is moving relative to the camera frame while the exposure is being made AND the shutter speed isn’t fast enough to freeze it. Let’s tackle those two aspects separately.

Read more…

Ten Tips for Photographing Pets

This time of year, many photographers are trying to take pictures of their pets wearing fake antlers, Santa hats, or other seasonal trappings. Although I don’t indulge in that sport, I do love taking pictures of my pets and other animals, and I thought I’d share some tips that have worked for me and for others.

1. Be patient. Pets don’t often pose. Sometimes they sniff your camera or your sleeve. At other times they decide to crawl under a table or fly on top of a dresser. Just wait quietly until they settle down.

<i>Scanning the Neighborhood</i> by Michael Fletcher 2. Try to capture a characteristic action or activity. If you’re shooting your pet, you know its personality. Try to take a picture that reflects some characteristic, such as curiosity, goofiness, adoration, or self-possession. You do not have to include every inch of your pet, only the parts needed to express what you’re trying to capture. This image by Michael Fletcher certainly shows how alert this little dog is!

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Photography and magic and Nikon CLS

A friend of mine calls me up every week or so with a photography question. Usually, he’s looking for the magic incantation or editing technique that will make his photos turn out in a particular way. Sometimes there is such a thing (e.g. wait for the the flash to charge, use manual focus, etc.). But usually there isn’t. Usually, getting a particular effect in a photograph, either at the camera or in post-production, requires experience, artistry, experimentation, and work. And a lot of the stuff you learn on one photo can’t just be applied blindly to the next one. School portraits aside (ha!), every photo is different.

Read more…

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