What do you think about our new Banners?

We have been working with a talented designer from Uzbekistan (which is where Lola and I are originally from) to revamp the look of our site. After our transition from “Mansurovs” to “Photography Life”, we have been thinking about ways to make the site more user-friendly. Our first step was to redesign our logo. The second step was to get rid of that old huge banner with my personal pictures and a square version of the logo. So Lola came up with a few ideas for the new banner concept and she has been working with the designer during the last couple of weeks. After I saw the initial results, I loved them and immediately got rid of the old banners (those really had to go). As of now, the 5 new banners rotate randomly on the top of the page and the designer will be making more interesting ones each month.

So here they are for your viewing pleasure:

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Announce to Announce

We at Photography Life are always interested in new things. We constantly come up with new ideas and plans for our community. We try to learn something new ourselves all the time, and then pass on to our readers whatever knowledge we acquire. We do our best to remind you that photography is all about composition, light, story and result rather than gear. But it is the gear getting out of your way that helps you concentrate on things that matter in photography. And so, cameras, lenses and software tools also manage to intrigue us every now and then. In other words, we are not against new, improved equipment as long as the said improvements are real and help whatever camera you use get out of your way better. Fujifilm X-E1 didn’t seem to interest Nasim all that much back when it was announced, but Fuji made so many improvements via firmware updates, he now seems to be in love with it. Innovation is also good. Sony RX1, for example, left me with extremely mixed feelings. On one hand, it is very expensive, and even more so if you purchase any accessories. Lack of a built-in EVF was also an enormous disappointment for many. On the other hand, it is an impeccably machined and tiny camera with an enormous sensor. It is discreet, has a very capable lens and one of the very best full-frame sensors on the market. As skeptic as I was about it, I would love to give it the full beans and run it through several weddings very much.

Announce to Announce

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Basic Image Backup Tips for Beginners

One of the first things that comes to mind when faced with some sort of a disaster (fire or flood, for example) is the safety of the people we love. If one’s family and friends are well and within arm’s reach in the case of such a tragic event, people often tend to think of… photographs. Wouldn’t you? After all, photographs ensure the memory of our children, parents, siblings, friends and the greatest days of our lives remain no matter what. Consequently, it is a good idea to always have a safe copy of all or at least the most important photographs you may have. If you have been storing images on a single computer, DVD or other simple storage, there is no way to make sure that your photographs are 100% safe – all types of storage unfortunately fail, it is just a matter of time! There is a way, however, of eliminating the possibility of loss almost entirely. In this article for beginners photographers, I will provide you with several inexpensive basic backup ideas. Even if you choose not to follow this particular backup strategy, it should give you a decent starting point and help you figure out a way that suits you better. It is worth noting that we do not recommend these tips for professional photographers, as they should take more serious, reliable and faster means of backing up their work.

Basic Image Backup Tips for Beginners

1) Keep a Copy at Home

In addition to storing photographs on your hard drive, it is a good idea to have a copy of them on an external drive somewhere at home. This is in case your computer suffers from some sort of malfunction, data loss or physical damage. Storing copies of your photographs on the same disk isn’t a backup – if the disk breaks down, both originals and backup copies may be lost. Also note that it is a good idea to store original copies on a separate internal hard drive rather than the one used by the operating system. This way, if you ever need to format your computer you’ll know all the important files will remain untouched.

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The Full Moon

What do you do when you have an 800mm super telephoto lens with a 2x teleconverter? Well, if you were me, you would be spending a couple of weeks in a lab environment, testing the lens inside out and comparing it to the 300mm, 500mm, 600mm and the new Sigma 120-300mm. Otherwise, you would be out shooting fun stuff, like the full moon! A couple of nights ago, I got really tired from all the testing, so I got out to get some fresh air. When I looked at the sky, I noticed that the moon was in its full glory. The skies were partly cloudy, so I waited it out for a few minutes, then got out with the Nikon 800mm f/5.6 VR with the 2x attached to it and took a few shots of the moon. Although the whole setup was incredibly shaky (and that’s mounted on a full Gimbal head and the sturdiest of Gitzo tripods), I managed to get some shots that were sharp. Then I went back in and uploaded the photos to my computer. When I opened up the image and zoomed in to 100%, I was pretty shocked to see so much detail. By far, this is the sharpest and the most detailed photo of the moon I have taken! So I decided to share it with our readers in a wallpaper format for high resolution monitors (1920×1200). So here is the photo:

The Full Moon Wallpaper

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Nature Photography Prints

A couple of quick updates, with an announcement before the weekend. First, we are finally offering printing services through Smugmug for nature photography. For now, I have only uploaded some of my images, but we have plans to soon start selling images by other Photography Life contributors as well. This is something that our readers have asked many times about in the past, but I never had a chance to set it all up due to time constraints. So we are excited to announce this service and we will be enhancing it even more going forward, with more images and printing options. To access the online store for printing, please use this link, or click on the image below.

Photography Life Printing

We made sure to select the best lab for photo printing – Bay Photo. All ordered prints will be printed with accurate color and I made sure to allow selecting different types of sizes – from square and wide to panoramic. You can also choose different type of material to print to, including Metal prints, which are very cool.

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Double Rainbow

I was sitting at home today, playing with the newly received Fuji gear, when my brother stormed into the house and told me to go outside and see the rainbow. I grabbed the Fuji X-E1, with the Zeiss 12mm mounted on it and ran towards my car. I drove about a mile north to an open area and took the below shot:

Full Rainbow

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Nikon D800 / Canon 5D Mark III Giveaway

Our team at Photography Life is happy to announce our new Nikon D800 / Canon 5D Mark III Facebook giveaway! We are giving away a brand new Nikon D800 or a Canon 5D Mark III DSLR (your choice). This giveaway is open to anyone, not just US residents.

Photography Life Nikon D800 vs Canon 5D Mark III Giveaway

To enter the giveaway, click the above banner or follow the following link to our giveaway page:

Photography Life Nikon D800 / Canon 5D Mark III Giveaway

If you have a mobile device, please use the following link instead:
Photography Life Nikon D800 / Canon 5D Mark III Giveaway (mobile)

Here is how to enter this contest:

  1. Visit the giveaway Facebook page
  2. Click “Like” to reveal the entry form. If you are already our fan, the form will automatically appear.
  3. Type your email address in the form – we only need it to contact you so that you can claim your prize.
  4. Once you click “Enter”, you will be entered for the giveaway. Only 1 entry per person.

Some restrictions apply to non-US participants:
Some countries have tax and other regulations for camera equipment, while others are extremely expensive to ship to. While we will do our best to ship the package internationally, if the cost of sending the package is extremely high or if there are other complications, we will have to give a choice to the winner – either to pay for all the extra expenses, or accept a $3000 gift card from our trusted partner B&H Photo Video.

We will announce a random winner on October 1, 2013. Good luck!

We Need Your Support!

If you have been reading some of the articles during the last couple of days, you might have noticed that we now have a text box under each post that is asking you, our dear readers, to support Photography Life. I am not going to repeat the same message since it is on the bottom of this post, but in summary, we need your support to continue operating the website ad-free. We also want to grow bigger by adding more contributors, which means more unique content, and running routine contests / giveaways that will add more readers and expand our reach.

Support Photography Life Large

There are multiple ways you can contribute. The simplest way to help us out, is by buying your gear from our trusted affiliates B&H Photo Video and Adorama. Both B&H and Adorama ship internationally, however, if you have tough tax laws for packages coming from the USA, then please use the links below for specific countries:

  1. Amazon Canada
  2. Amazon UK
  3. Amazon Germany
  4. Amazon France

Buying from our links costs you nothing, does not change the price in any way, but it does help us a little by giving us a small percentage of the sale. Whenever you need to purchase any sort of camera gear, please use our links!

If you feel that we deserve more for our efforts, you can also donate money. You can do it as a one-time payment, or you can pledge on a monthly basis with options from $5 per month to $100 (monthly support would be ideal, since it would give us a monthly budget to work with for various projects). If you would rather use PayPal for donations, please use our PayPal one-time donation or PayPal subscription forms instead.

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Photography Life 2013 Workshop Schedule

We have been receiving a lot of requests from our readers regarding our workshop schedule for 2013. I apologize for not being able to publish any of the dates earlier. Aside from being incredibly busy, my biggest issue was planning around the summer season and making sure that I do not over-commit for the upcoming weddings and other photo shoots that Lola and I have been planning. As usual, the goal is to do the workshops after the summer season in September and October, so that the workshops do not conflict with the working schedule of our readers, some of whom are working pros.

Workshops and Dates

This year we will be offering great educational sessions for a number of different topics. Here are the dates for the upcoming workshops:

  1. The Fundamentals of Photography (Beginner) – September 14, 2013 ($100 – FULL)
  2. The Fundamentals of Photography (Intermediate) – September 15, 2013 ($100 – FULL)
  3. Post Processing – September 21, 2013 ($150 – FULL)
  4. Landscape Photography – September 28-29, 2013 ($600 – FULL)
  5. Flash Photography – October 5-6, 2013 ($300 – Canceled due to conflicts)

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Lightroom Q&A Session Updated

A week ago, I started a Lightroom Q&A Session where I offered to help you solve any problems you may have with Lightroom and answer other questions. I was delighted to see some many inquiries and hope that I managed to help out at least some of you. I’ve just finished updating the article with more answers. I did my best to contact some of you in the comments section in earlier updates. Those who still haven’t heard from me personally, please see the updated article.

Lightroom Q&A Session

I haven’t had the chance to answer all the inquiries – there is still about a dozen questions waiting for my attention. I will try to comment on the remaining issues as soon as I can, it has been a tough week in terms of workload. Any additional questions are still welcome. Thank you to all those who helped!