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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.

Patches for Pictures

Recently I read an article about two new tools that are being developed to help digital photographers remove items from their images. Suppose you had taken picture of a great small town main street, but when saw the image you realized that three parked cars obscured the view and just looked messy. If only you could remove them! However, if you did, you would be left with a void.

street scene
Apparently, you are not alone. At least two teams are trying to solve this problem. One is developing a scene-completion algorithm that searches for a patch for your picture. It quickly scans thought a database of millions of images on Flickr, looking for images of the same subject, taken from the same position, with the light falling from the same direction. The algorithm narrows down all the choices first to 200 and finally to 20 or so. Ultimately, user are given a choice and select the one that looks best to them.

Another team is trying to create a library of clip art, taken from the Label Me library of images. This library could supply patches for missing picture parts. When these tools get perfected, they may allow photographers to save pictures that otherwise would have to be scrapped.

“World in Focus” Photography Contest

Ever dream of becoming a photographer for National Geographic? Well, here’s your chance–sort of. National Geographic Traveler and Photo District News are co-sponsoring a photography contest called World in Focus. You can enter as an amateur or as a professional in any of six categories: Wilderness Photography, The Human Condition, Extreme Exploration, Urban Landscapes, Snapshots, or Open Series (photo essay). The deadline is August 21 of this year, although you can actually enter until September 7 if you’re willing to pay an extended entry fee. Although the prizes are nifty, one of the best reasons to visit this site is to see the entries that have already been received.

Photos Help You Sell

Many photographers started using digital photography only when they needed pictures for online auctions and sales. In fact, sales pictures are still a major reason why people use digital cameras. Luckily, shooting pictures to help you sell items is not difficult, but you should keep a few things in mind.

First, your picture should clearly show the item. Although this sounds too obvious to mention, it’s not. Many people upload blurry, dark images that make viewers squint at their screens and scratch their heads. Maybe the photographer thought, “Close enough!” However, potential buyers are likely to move on to something that they can see and don’t have to imagine.

For example, if a bookshelf has drawers, open one slightly so people will realize that they are not mere decorations. If you’re shooting a porcelain sugar bowl, be sure that the shape, pattern, and lid are clearly visible. If you’re selling a cup, show the handle and shape; if your product is a book, slant it so that buyers can see both spine and cover.

Read more…

Met to Open New Photo Gallery

On September 25 of this year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City will inaugurate a new gallery, the Joyce and Robert Menschel Hall for Modern Photography. This marks the museum’s first gallery for contemporary photography. With 2,000 feet of space, the hall will be able to show large pieces, some of which the museum has not yet exhibited. According to a recent news release, the first exhibit will be called Depth of Field:Contemporary Photography at the Metropolitan. It will feature photographs that the museum has collected over the past few decades. The museum plans to change exhibits twice yearly.

Online Manuals for Secondhand Cameras

Not everyone buys new cameras from a store. Those of you who buy used cameras may be happy to learn that you can easily get manuals for them. There are plenty of online sites that let you download manuals in some form. Finding manuals for digital cameras is relatively simple at sites like this.

In these types of sites, you just select a manufacturer and then download a file. Different manufacturers supply different types of files. On the Cameratown site, for example, Canon supplies html files, while Pentax uses pdf.

But maybe you have some weird camera you picked up at a yard sale, or a vintage film camera. Anyone with an older or more unusual camera should go to Michael Butkus Jr.’s site. This is a treasure trove for certain camera owners. Here you will find manuals for not only for older film cameras but also for their flashes and light meters.

One of the most fascinating resources on the Butkus site is the information about “orphan cameras,” or non-brand name cameras. I’ve never even heard of some of these, but I loved the names, which include Baldessa, Kowa Six, Paxette, and the Universal Buccaneer.

The Butkus site site also provides links to other camera sites with manuals, but these links are a bit iffy. Some led to long, dense lists of links, while others went nowhere. Still, the Butkus site is so chock full of information on vintage cameras and related equipment that you may never need the links.

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