Reach Out and Touch…

Somebody’s hand
Make this world a better place
If you can

- Nickolas Ashford and Adele Simpson
Performed by Diana Ross

As photographers, we are bombarded with messages urging us to see the world through our own eyes, or find our “unique vision”. Apart from the photo club outings and occasional seminars, photography is primarily an individual pursuit. And as we all know from Diseases That Plague Photographers and other articles on Photography Life, photographers can be a bit consumed (ok – downright obsessive!) with their equipment, and have extremely strong opinions concerning it!

Along your photographic journey, however, I would suggest taking some of life’s detours, which include using some of your equipment and gifts to make a difference in the life of others. The opportunities are many and cost little, if anything, but can be worth their weight in gold to both you and those you choose to help. They also provide the chance for you to experiment and sharpen your skills in fun, low stress environments. Don’t be surprised if you experience some memorable moments along the way.

Don’t Leave Someone Out of the Picture

Whether it is a single mom or dad out with their child, a grandmother and her granddaughter, or simply a larger group, someone is usually left holding the camera, and thus missing from the photos. When people get back home, they have a slew of photos of one another, or nine of the ten people of the group, but not everyone together. When you observe such a situation, offer to take a picture of them with their camera (a good way to see quite a few camera makes and models, BTW!). Follow-up by taking a photo or two with your own camera. Why? Should someone have their camera settings in some odd state, you are not going to have time to figure out how to fix them given the myriad of unique menu systems and options associated with the plethora of point-and-shoots and DSLRs you are likely to encounter. But you should know your camera well enough to quickly change a setting or two and get a quality photo.

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Introduction to Infrared Photography

Infrared, or “IR” photography, offers photographers of all abilities and budgets the opportunity to explore a new world – the world of the unseen. Why “unseen”? Because our eyes literally cannot see IR light, as it lies just beyond what is classified as the “visible” spectrum – that which human eyesight can detect. When we take photographs using infrared-equipped film or cameras, we are exposed to the world that can often look very different from that we are accustomed to seeing. Colors, textures, leaves and plants, human skin, and all other manner of objects can reflect IR light in unique and interesting ways, ones that cannot be mimicked with tools such as Photoshop (yes – there are limits to what Photoshop can do!). Like any form of photography or art however, it is a matter of taste. I would strongly urge people to explore the world of IR. As the number of cameras-equipped devices proliferates and the associated technologies improve, IR photography may offer the opportunity for photographers to expand into new arenas and differentiate their offerings from those of others.

Barboursville Vineyards

1) Terminology

For purposes of this article, I will refer to the infrared light spectrum as “near infrared”, or simply, “IR”. Near infrared refers to the spectrum of light just beyond the range humans can detect with their eyesight. This light range is between 700 – 1200 nm (nanometers). Another aspect of the IR spectrum, above near IR, is associated with thermal imaging. Thermal technology was popularized by movies such as, “Patriot Games” and other thrillers, whereby intelligence agencies or military personnel were able to detect villains by measuring their body heat under nighttime conditions. Today’s common digital camera sensors are not able to detect thermal images. Under the right circumstances however, digital cameras can do an excellent job of recording IR.

2) History Of Infrared Photography

The first forays into IR photography, using special film plates, began in the early part of the 20th century. During WWI, IR photography proved extremely valuable, as images using the IR spectrum were not affected as much by atmospheric haze as normal photos. IR images were also able to show stark distinctions between vegetation and buildings, better identifying potential enemy targets such as camouflaged munitions factories and other key sites. Rivers, streams, lakes, and other waterways were depicted in a very dark hue, making them much more obvious.

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Social Media for Your Photography Business

Yesterday I took the plunge and joined 500px.com and uploaded some of my landscape photos. 500px is a great resource with lots of talented photographers. I have visited the site before and some of the photographs are breathtaking and inspiring (except for all that nudity that seems to dominate the site – had to turn it off from my profile). While uploading images, I realized that I have not updated my Google+ photos either, so I decided to do that as well. Then, somebody contacted me through my long forgotten Flickr account, asking a photography question. All this is happening while I am trying to simultaneously update my Twitter and Facebook accounts. And I won’t even go into talking about all the YouTube, Pinterest, Myspace, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Reddit, StumbleUpon and LiveJournal requests and comments that keep pouring into my email address.

Social Media for Photography

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Taekwondo Photography Tips

I had an opportunity to photograph a local Taekwondo sparring event last weekend and I decided to share some of the photographs from the event, along with some photography tips and lessons learned. I have been involved in Taekwondo since I was 12 and while I spent many years taking part in this beautiful and highly energetic (and sometimes even brutal) sport, I never had a chance to photograph it. While I have been suffering from pneumonia during the last 2 weeks, I could not skip a Taekwondo sparring with some of the best athletes in Colorado. I got my daily doze of antibiotics, then quickly made a plan and took off.

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How to Create a Photography Blog – Part 4

This is Part 4 for the “how to create a photography blog” series of articles. In Part 1, I gave some brief history of the blogging platform, showed how to purchase a domain with a web hosting account through GoDaddy and how to create a database for WordPress. In Part 2, I showed how to get WordPress installed and configured with the most basic settings. In Part 3, I went through some basics of using WordPress and how to get the initial site structure going, along with using WordPress plugins. In this final part, I will show you how to use themes to manage the look of your WordPress blog.

18) WordPress Themes

Now that you have WordPress installed and configured, it is time to make your blog presentable by utilizing a theme. The true power of WordPress lies in its ability to use highly-customizable themes that can be tuned to your needs and taste. Thousands of free themes are readily available for you to download and use and you can install them directly from WordPress. However, free themes are rarely good and the ones that are good are used by many bloggers. If you want to have a more or less unique feel to your blog, your best bet is to get a commercial theme. Let’s go over the process of installing free themes first.

19) Installing Free WordPress Themes

Let’s navigate to the currently installed WordPress themes through “Appearance” -> “Themes”. Here is how the screen should look like on a default WordPress install:

Manage Themes

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How to Create a Photography Blog – Part 3

This is Part 3 for the “how to create a photography blog” series of articles. In Part 1, I gave some brief history of the blogging platform, showed how to purchase a domain with a web hosting account through GoDaddy and how to create a database for WordPress. In Part 2, I showed how to get WordPress installed and configured with the most basic settings. Now I will go through some basics of using WordPress and how you can get the initial structure of your blog going, then I will jump into plugins that enhance WordPress functionality. Let’s get going.

14) Building the initial site structure

As of now, you have a very basic WordPress blog without any content in it. Before you start playing with plugins and themes, it is a good idea to first create some site content like pages, links and posts. Go ahead and login to your WordPress dashboard by typing your blog + “/wp-admin” in your browser, for example “http://myphotographysite.com/wp-admin”. Within the dashboard, you will see a bunch of links on the left side of the page that look like this:

WordPress Dashboard Links

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How to Take Black and White Pictures

If you are inspired by the works of Ansel Adams, James Nachtwey or other masters of black and white photography, you probably want to try doing some B&W yourself. If you don’t know how to take black and white pictures and where to start, then this guide might help you to get into the world of B&W photography. I must admit that I am no guru when it comes to black and white photography, but I have been experimenting with it lately and would like to share what I have learned so far.

Tree BW

1) Colors in Black and White Photography

As strange as it may sound, black and white photography is not about the tones of white, grey and black colors that we see in B&W images. Instead, it is all about the colors that are recorded by the camera and how those colors are converted to different shades of grey, whether in-camera or through post-processing. Back in the film days, photographers used color filters in front of their lenses while shooting B&W film, then would employ special darkroom processing techniques like dodging and burning on top of that to lighten or darken particular parts of a photograph (some landscape photographers still do it today with medium and large format film).
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What is a Photography Workflow?

If you have been reading articles on photography and post-processing, especially from a professional photographer, you have probably stumbled upon the word “workflow” and wondered what it meant. In this article, I will explain what a workflow is and what it is comprised of in the world of digital photography. Please note that the workflow process can vary greatly from one photographer to another, because of too many variables involved and because there is no established, standard workflow that applies to everyone. Therefore, information that I provide in this article should only be used as a reference point to get an understanding of how workflows work in general. It will be totally up to you to establish your own digital photography workflow and you should ultimately design the process that works best for your needs.

1) What is a Workflow in Digital Photography?

A digital photography workflow is an end-to-end system of working with digital images, from capture to delivery. It is comprised of a series of inter-connected steps developed by photographers to simplify and standardize their work. Simplification and standardization are the two key words here, because a well-established workflow process will not only help you in simplifying and speeding up the process of working with images, but also will also allow you to stay organized, improving your efficiency and bringing consistency to your work. The number of steps involved in the workflow process varies, but generally consists of the following:

  1. Setting up the camera and capturing images
  2. Transferring images to a computer
  3. Importing images into a photo application
  4. Organizing and sorting images
  5. Post-processing images
  6. Exporting images
  7. Backing up images
  8. Printing or publishing images to the web

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How to Photograph a Lunar Eclipse

I intentionally waited on posting this article on how to photograph a lunar eclipse until it actually took place on 12/21/2010, because I wanted to document my experience and provide information on what challenges I had during the process of photographing this rare, but stunningly beautiful phenomenon. This was not my first time trying to photograph a lunar eclipse – I tried it once back in 2008, but the weather did not cooperate back then and I did not get any good pictures. My luck was much better this time and although the sky was not completely clear, I was still fortunate enough to capture the entire process, from full moon to total lunar eclipse, then back to full moon. The next lunar eclipse will occur in the summer of next year, so if you missed it this year, definitely try to get out and take some pictures, especially when the moon turns bloody red.

Total Lunar Eclipse of 2010

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Landscape Photography Guide is now posted!

After more than a week of writing the darn thing, I finally decided to post my landscape photography guide. I apologize for making it so long, but I really wanted to make it in-depth with all kinds of tips and techniques that I have been learning every year. Please note that the article is a work in progress and I do not consider it finished in its current state. I will be adding a lot more information to it going forward and I am hoping that other landscape photographers will join me and share their tips, so that I could expand on other topics. Here are some other topics that I want to add in the future:

  1. Printing
  2. Showcasing and Online Portfolios
  3. Photography Contests
  4. More post-processing tips and techniques
  5. Locations and spots
  6. And more!

Stay tuned for some simple flash tips to photograph your family during the holidays!