Most popular posts of 2008

Firework Display - Hogmanay Street Party, Dornoch, Scotland

Photo by: foxypar4 (cc-by)

Happy new year! I hope you had a great holiday and got to spend some quality time, as I did, with the people you love. I thought a quick look back at some of the most popular posts of 2008 would be a great way to start Photodoto.com's third year.

As you can see, our posts run the gamut from quick tips, core photography instruction, and reviews...to software, image editing, and fun projects. And we'll have a lot more in 2009. So thanks for reading, tell your friends, and stick around---it's going to be a great year!

Quick Fix for Cluttered Backgrounds
Despite all that has been written about keeping the background of your photos simple, that goal is not always achievable. Sometimes your subject is in a place with a busy background everywhere. Or perhaps the subject is doing something that you don’t want to interrupt by walking around the person or requesting that she or he move to a different location.

The importance of focus and quick tips on how to get it right
Focus in photography is about a lot more than simply sharpness or being able to see what you are looking at. Focus can enhance a subject by making it stand out from or blend into its surroundings, focus can draw you in, and the right focus can create an emotional connection with the viewer. No matter what style of photography you enjoy, focus can work for you or against you.

Black and White with a Splash of Colour
One of the techniques people most often ask me to teach them is making a photograph like the one on the right that is black and white with one other colour. There are a few ways to achieve this effect but here is the one I find easiest for Photoshop users.

Review: Nikon Coolpix S550
Before you even take it out of the box the Nikon Coolpix S550 looks cool (mine looks especially cool being “cool blue” coloured). But while looking good is nice the important thing is how it performs.

Big and Tasty Food Photography Tips Roundup
I've got a nice roundup here of food photography sources with a ton of great tips, tutorials, and videos for making food look tasty on camera. How seriously you take this probably depends to some extent on whether you’ve ever heard the term “food stylist.”

Basic Travel Photography
I’ve just returned from a little jaunt to Portugal and I have to say there is little else that gets me as eager to get my camera out as wandering around a city I’ve never seen before. And of course, in the age of the compact digital camera pretty much everyone takes a camera with them when they travel these days. But how do you come back with photographs your friends and family won’t have to feign interest in?

Take better flash photos in one easy step
Many people shy away from flash photography because it makes people look bad. Photographs taken with a flash can leave harsh shadows that highlight every wrinkle, turn skin blue, shine a flood light at thinning hair, create hot spots on the forehead, nose and cheeks, and generally make subjects look unattractive. But when there isn’t enough light, sometimes your only choice is to use a flash or not take photos at all.

Review: The Flip Mino HD  Video Camera
I really like the Flip video cameras. I reviewed the original Flip Mino back in June and recommended it for anyone who wanted to shoot more than a couple of minutes of video at a time or who wanted to reserve the space on their camera’s memory card just for pictures. The Flip Mino is a handy, compact, easy to use video recorder. And the Flip Mino HD is virtually identical in every way except one.

Free noise reduction plugin for the GIMP
But one thing my stock GIMP install didn’t have was a decent noise removal filter. That is, until I downloaded and installed the GREYCstoration plugin. Installing it is as simple as downloading and dropping the plugin into the GIMP plugins directory. Restart GIMP and you’ll find a new menu under Filters | Enhance | GREYCstoration.

Screencast: Curves color enhancement tutorial
This 2.5 minute screencast shows a simple and fast technique using multiple layers to enhance the colors in a photograph.

Buying a digital camera for your kids
My kids are naturally curious about photography having a shutterbug for a dad. I started them out tentatively with some disposable film models but those were unsatisfying. Too slow. No LCD screens. Kids aren't known for their patience. Digital was made for them.

Learning Composition: The Rule of Thirds
Whether you’re feeling artistic or not, good composition is important for making images that resonate with viewers. Everything else being equal, poor composition can create an itch in a viewer---a subconscious and annoying one that can't be scratched.

Tethered shooting on Ubuntu Linux using gPhoto2
My D70, like most digital cameras, has a USB port that allows me to connect it to my computer and download photos. Many cameras also allow you to control them using your computer when they are connected. This is called tethered shooting.

Introducing Your Little One to Photography
One of my day jobs involves working with special needs children and children in hospital. I do a lot of work with children on the autistic spectrum and children with learning difficulties, as well as with at-risk youth and kids with chronic illnesses. One of my absolute favourite things to do is introduce these children to photography. Not only do I enjoy sharing my passion but for a lot of the children I work with it is a unique way for them to express some creativity.

Screencast: Creating a photo book

This is the fourth or fifth book I've created at Shutterfly. I really like their book maker. It's easy to use, provides a good selection of layout choices, has a couple of different ways to pre-fill your book to get you going quickly, and there is no software to install---all the magic happens in your web browser. This video shows me creating my latest book (at about 6x speed). Highlights below.

(Larger version of this video here.)

Some highlights from the video:

Music by duckett (cc-by)

0:00 Choosing the overall style...

0:18 Choosing photos...

0:33 Using the storyboard to do a first-pass guided layout. The storyboard lets you choose which photos go on each page and then Shutterfly automatically picks an appropriate layout. Later you can tweak the layouts for each page by hand.

1:20 I was having some trouble getting a wide panorama photo to fit on the 8.5x11 page without cropping. Shutterfly doesn't seem to offer an option to fit without cropping. So...

1:40 I fired up GIMP to alter the canvas size to 8.5x11 and re-upload. And while I was at it I did the same with a square aspect photo that I knew would also give me trouble.

2:21 Added altered photos to book in progress and continued.

4:30 Trying out different border styles.

4:49 The book is done! In real time it took about 33 minutes---not counting the time it took to upload the photos or select just 60 photos from the entire year. I ordered two copies of this 25 page, 8.5x11" book with the leather cover:

  • First copy: $44.99
  • Second copy: $22.50
  • 2nd day shipping: $19.99 (ouch!)

If I hadn't procrastinated I could've saved $10 on shipping. Next year I'll get these earlier---yah, right.

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