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Ray Davis

Homemade Photo Gifts

craft ninja Panicking over those perfect photo gifts you just can’t find/left too late to get delivered? Never fear Photodoto is here for you with some homemade photo gift suggestions.

Collage: Especially good for the college student in your life, perfect for dorm room walls, but great for Grandparents and everyone else too. Print a bunch of photos on a theme – photos of the grandkids, your daughter’s best friends, Aunt Mable’s most beloved dog – then figure out a way of arranging them together so they look awesome. You could glue them onto a sturdy backing (thick cardboard, styrofoam, or corkboard are some ideas), link them together using photo clips, or use photo corners to arrange them on a patterned background.

Poster: Head on over here and use the free motivator, magazine cover, or movie poster tools. Print and put in a frame. Simple.

Perpetual Calendar: This requires photos with numbers but you could cheat and photoshop numbers onto some of your favourite shots. Basically you need photos numbered 1 -31, photos with the days of the week on them, and some photos to pad out the calendar and make it a neat shape. Arrange them in the correct order and use photo clips to hold them together. Check out this video of a fantastic example of a perpetual calendar and a walk through of how it was made.

Slideshow: Take a whole bunch of really good photos and make them into a slideshow, if you like you can add music and all sorts of fancy special effects. Burn to a DVD, or if you’re feeling generous buy a digital photo frame and put it on there (granted that’s not so home-made but it adds a home-made touch to a bought gift)!

T-shirt: Print a favourite photo onto t-shirt transfers (these come in a different types for different t-shirt colours so be sure to get the correct type), follow the instructions to get the transfer onto the t-shirt (it usually involves an iron) and you’re done! If you’re making this for a child to give as a gift you can make it a bit more special by getting some fabric paint and allowing them to add their handprint or own unique artwork to the shirt (one of my favourite gifts was made this way, with a photo on the front and handprints on the back to make it look like they’d been left there by a child giving the wearer a hug)!

And as a special Christmas bonus here are three links to other home-made photo gift projects for you to try your hand at:

Photo Cube on Instructables

Snow Globe Christmas Ornaments on Photojojo

Photo Blocks with Wrap on Missie Krissie

Happy Hand Crafting!

Craft Ninja photo by sewitsforyou.

Winter Photography Tips

Yes, it’s almost Christmas and yes, there’s the tree to decorate, and those holiday cards aren’t going to print themselves, and you really should untangle those strings of lights. But winter isn’t just about Christmas so if you feel like taking a break from Santa and his friends here are a few tips for capturing some non-Christmas winter snaps.

1. Get your equipment prepared. Don’t forget spare batteries (the cold will sap their energy faster) and try and think about packing some hand warmers in your camera bag to keep your camera all warm and toasty.

2. Overexpose! One of the main problems with photographing snow is the fact it’s so shiny and white. Your camera’s light metre will struggle with all that white shininess and read it as grey. Many point and shoot cameras have a “snow” mode you can use or for a DSLR try overexposing the shots (try +1 or +2 if you have automatic exposure compensation).

3. Try a graduated filter.
For grey-sky days a graduated filter can give the sky a bit of colour and make the pictures look a little less overcast. The advantage of a graduated filter is that it’ll leave the foreground of your shots with the natural lighting.

4. Snow looks pretty by moonlight. Yes, it’s even colder if you go outside at night but snow can look especially pretty by moonlight or the reflection of outdoor lights. Wrap up warm, grab a tripod, and give it a shot!

5. You don’t need snow to get winter shots. If your area doesn’t get snow that doesn’t mean you can’t get good winter photos. Often winter skies make for interesting shots, and ice or frost can also be great subjects.

Tips for Better Backgrounds

The next few weeks will provide plenty of opportunities for most of us to whip out the camera and snap a few portraits. From candid shots of visiting friends to the carefully composed holiday family photo, the background is almost as important as the subjects. Poorly composed backgrounds detract from the faces you want the focus on so to help you get some good portraits this year here are a few tips for getting good backgrounds.

1. Think about the background. Ok, so that one seems obvious but many people don’t give the background of their shot any thought until they’re sitting at the computer trying to crop parts of it out. Of course for candid shots you may not have a lot of control over the background but taking a quick glance before you press the shutter will give you a chance to take a step to the left and crop out that overflowing kitchen trash can.

2. Get up close. If the background is undesirable, but you can’t fix it get in close and let your subject fill the frame. This can work especially well with kids who look extra-cute close up.

Tiger

3. Use your aperture. Aperture can be used to control depth of field and depth of field makes nice blurry backgrounds so even if the kitchen trash can is in the shot it’s not so distracting. Essentially a wider aperture makes a blurrier background and a small f stop number gives you a wider aperture. For a more tips on aperture click here.

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4. Check out your neighbourhood. If your own home doesn’t really lend itself to providing a good background you may find that there’s somewhere nearby that does. It might be an open field or it might be a graffitied wall, that all depends on the photograph you have in mind but a short stroll with camera in hand might give you a bright idea.

5. Increase the distance between your subject and the background. This is another way of increasing the blurriness of the background and can be especially effective if you don’t have control over your aperture setting.

Like anything practice makes perfect so get out there and play, and if you find yourself with a portrait you love but the background still needs work check out this quick fix for cluttered backgrounds guide. Happy holiday snapping!

Quick Tips for Photographing Autumn

Up here in the Northern hemisphere autumn is most definitely on its way. In my town we went from 90F+ last week to 60F this week and some rain came along too. It’s not bad news though because autumn can be the best time of year for photography. The light is great and there’s all those pretty colored leaves to document. Here are a few quick tips to help you make the most of the season:

1.Take advantage of the shorter days. You don’t need to get up at the crack of dawn to photograph a sunset and that pretty warm evening glow occurs early in the evening. So even if you’re too lazy to photograph in the beautiful first-light/last-light in summer now you can get out there and capture it.

2. Get the details. Leaves are, of course, a big part of autumn photography. Put your camera on a low f-stop and get in close, capture the color and the detail of the leaves. Don’t leave out the big picture but these closer shots can really capture the color of the season.

3. Make the colours go further, try shooting reflections.

4. Use autumn as a backdrop. The colours and the crisp blue skies make great backgrounds for photographing people, if you like a non-themed photo to send out as your holiday card now is a good time of year to get the family together and shoot it.

5. Don’t forget the non-leaf parts of autumn! Photograph other things that make you think of autumn, whether that’s jumping in puddles or sipping apple cider there are great photos to be had there too.

Getting Rid of Dust Spots

There are few things more irritating in photography than taking some great photos and then getting back to the computer and discovering there are dust spots all over them. Dust spots come from dust (shocking that!) getting into the cameas sensor, usually when you’re changing lenses. So to get rid of the dust spots you need to clean the sensor. There are two choices here, one is to pay someone to do it for you the other is to do it yourself.

If you want to take the do it yourself option there are plenty of guides out there on the World Wide Web but it’s worth checking out this guide at Cleaning Digital Cameras (catchy title, I know). It’s the most detailed I’ve come across and if you have the time and patience to read it and follow the instructions then it can save you time without your camera and a bit of hard-earned cash. Plus, it’s good to learn how to care for your equipment!

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