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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.

Too Many Tripods to Choose From?

I was browsing through nikonian.org a few weeks back and found a great offering for folks like me, who want to upgrade from a rickety tripod to a more stable one. As soon as I began looking, I felt the strong urge to take a nap; I was overwhelmed by the number of choices.

Help arrived in the form of James Geib’s “Tripod Comparison Spreadsheet,” a compilation that lists more than 100 tripods and their specifications. The chart arrives as an Excel spreadsheet and lists makes and models, prices, maximum load, tripod weight, maximum and minimum heights, as well as folded heights. What makes this particularly useful is that the columns can be sorted. If price is your deciding factor, sort by price. However, if maximum load really matters, you can sort that way.

To get a copy, write to James_Geib (at) yahoo (dot) com. My copy arrived quickly and was automatically updated after the author found an error.

Original forum post at Nikonians.org


Some days are rushed, but others present a perfect opportunity to play with your camera. Last week, a friend gave me a bouquet of daffodils. They looked so bright and springlike, that I decided to shoot some pictures of them.

The hour was early, and light came in only one window. First, I stood by the window to shoot the flowers, which jumped out against the darkness of the room behind. Later, though, I tried other positions, such as standing in the room and shooting toward the window. Then I wondered how the flowers would look in my upstairs room with the skylight, so I dragged the bouquet up there to shoot some more.

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Silhouettes: An Old Art Form Made New

Silhouettes were a popular art form in the early 1800s. Film did not yet exist, but skilled artists could look at subjects and then cut out remarkable likenesses using black paper and sharp scissors. People had silhouettes made of loved ones and framed them like portraits. The fad declined in popularity after cameras became more universally available.

Still, silhouetted images can be striking. They are also remarkably easy to create with digital cameras and worth mastering. If overdone, they can be tiresome, but when well done they can be fun.

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REVIEW: Picnik.com online photo editor

Picasa was the first online editing software that I heard people rave about, but I was left out of the fun; I couldn’t use it from my Mac. I still can’t, because I haven’t upgraded to 10.4, so I’ll never know what all the fuss was about. However, now I can play with Picnik.com, so I’m a happy camper.

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Vary Your Viewpoint

The term “viewpoint” describes the camera’s position in relation to its subject—near, far, above, below, for instance. Many photographers never change their viewpoint. Ninety-nine percent of the time, they hold their cameras at chest or eye level and shoot straight ahead. Doing so allows them to take clear pictures of buildings, animals, people, plants, cars, and landscapes, so it’s not a bad strategy.

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