Monthly Archives: July 2007

August 4th Photowalk: Santa Monica

There’s a small get-together happening this Saturday (August 4th) in the LA area. Trevor Carpenter is organizing a photowalk at the Santa Monica Pier, and he’s invited everybody who lives nearby. Lucky for me I just moved to San Diego, so I’ll definitely be there. If you’re in the area, try to stop by and meet a few other photography enthusiasts — I’m certainly looking forward to meeting some of my online acquaintances. Here are the details:

WHEN: Saturday, August 4th, 4PM to ???.

WHERE: Santa Monica (Los Angeles). Meet at the Apple Store on Arizona Ave & 3rd Street Promenade, then walk down to the pier (refer to map).

WHAT TO BRING: Yourself, a camera, and a tripod if you so choose (we might stay past dark).

FOR MORE DETAILS: Visit the official event page.

Link Roundup 07-29-2007

Quick Tip: Backup Your Photos on DVD

We all know the importance of backing up your photos in one fashion or another: external hard drives, online services, RAID towers, DVD, etc. It’s good to use as many of these backup methods as is practical, but usually we’re restricted by things like cost. There’s one method that gives reasonable security at a fairly low cost: DVD backup.

Pile of DVDs

Most newer computers have a DVD recorder, and blank discs are relatively cheap. Buy a stack of discs, backup your photos, and put them in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box. Backup the new ones every couple of months (or more depending on your shooting frequency). Don’t forget to write down which pictures are on the disc and the date they were backed up. You might think about recopying the discs every 5 years or so, because they don’t last forever.

I bring this up because I recently backed up my photos on DVD right before we moved, and I feel so much better knowing that my DVDs will likely survive in the event that my hard drives got damaged during transit. Now I just need to keep up with it…

What’s Your Favorite Focal Length?

If you had to pick one focal length to shoot with for the rest of your life, what would it be? We all have our favorite lenses. Do you find yourself shooting with one lens more than the rest? And do you typically shoot at one focal length more than the rest?

I’m curious which end of the spectrum is more popular. Let’s put our answers in 35mm equivalence so we’re all on the same page. The answers are in ranges of focal lengths, so if don’t know for sure which focal length is your favorite, at least take a stab at one of the ranges. If you do know exactly which focal length is your favorite, let us know in the comments — and tell us why.

What's Your Favorite Focal Length?

Don’t forget to check out the results of the last poll on Who’s Your Favorite Professional Photographer? It was interesting to see how many different favorite photographers we have — and I even found a few new ones I’ve never heard of before. Thanks to everybody who participated in that one.

Link Roundup 07-22-07

Quick Tip: Utilize That Auto-Exposure Lock

When using auto-exposure, the camera meters the light based on what it sees through the lens — typically at the center of the frame with either a single spot or some kind of broader footprint. The camera also auto-focuses through the lens, usually at center unless you tell it otherwise. This is fine and dandy for most situations, but I’m willing to bet that most of us have encountered a situation where you want your light reading taken from somewhere other than the center of the frame. You can recognize this situation when your photos turn out with extremely under-exposed or over-exposed portions, and it typically occurs during sunset photos or other high contrast situations.

One way to deal with this is to point the camera at the area you want to meter around and allow it to focus there, thus locking in the exposure. This usually works fine for the scenes where nearly everything is focused out to infinity, but if that’s not the case you’ll end up with a properly exposed photo that’s out of focus. The way to get around that is to point the camera at the area you want to meter and lock the auto-exposure — most SLRs have this feature, but some may be easier to use than others. Once you lock the exposure, you can focus on whatever you want and the exposure will stay the same until you unlock it. Now you have a photo that’s correctly exposed AND in-focus!

Read your camera manual if you’re not familiar with this feature, and give it a try.

Photos From My Cross-Country Road Trip

Our move from New Jersey to San Diego is nearly complete — my wife and I are here anyways. We left Jersey on Monday afternoon and arrived in San Diego on Saturday afternoon, making lots of little stops along the way. It was an enjoyable drive, and it’s a great experience to see the changing landscapes as you go from east coast to west coast. I probably could’ve taken a lot more photos than I did, but I had to put the camera down every once in a while to spend some time with my wife. I did manage to get about 500 photos along the way, but most of them are concentrated at a few key stops. The photos in this post are straight out of the camera, but I’ll definitely be hitting Photoshop as soon as my desktop computer arrives at our new home.

St. Louis Gateway Arch Old Rusty Truck Largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere

The first major stop was at the St. Louis Gateway Arch — a really amazing structure. We didn’t go up inside of it due to time constraints, but I got some pretty neat shots from the ground with my wide angle lens. After the arch, we headed off to Independence, Missouri to visit my grandfather. We stayed the night and had a good time catching up and talking about photography and blogging. The next morning, his brother came over in one of his “project” cars — let’s just say that they’re one-of-a-kind. After that, we made a stop in Texas at the western hemisphere’s largest cross.

Desert Plant Painted Desert Stone Pillars Petrified Tree Bridge Petrified Tree

Once we got to Arizona, we went through the painted desert and the petrified forest. The landscape in this area is absolutely stunning — you must stop in if you’re ever in the area. We probably spent 3 or 4 hours going through the park and snapping pictures of everything. I even got my wife to take a few shots with my camera (it was her first time using it for things other than snapshots). She ended up getting a few good ones, and we even took an almost identical shot of the same scene. Now I know what to get her for Christmas.

Small Desert Lizard Grand Canyon Walls Grand Canyon Sunset Grand Canyon After Sunset

The last major stop we made was at the Grand Canyon. I wanted to get there a little earlier in the day, but we ended up arriving just before sunset. It may have worked out for the better though — we got in for free and I got some pretty nice sunset shots. As soon as the sun went down, it was dark. So we didn’t really get to see much of the canyon because we only stopped at one of the lookouts. Next time I suppose…

So now we’re here in Southern California and life should return to normal over the next couple of weeks. Things have been so hectic with moving out and getting packed — we desperately needed this road trip to unwind a little.

Three More Articles About Three

If you recall, last week I posted an article titled “Add Impact To Your Photos With The Rule of Three” as part of a group writing project from the Daily Blog Tips. Well, the final results of the project were posted on July 9th, and 115 bloggers participated. I’m not going to repost all 115 links, so here are three of them that I thought might be useful for photographers.

  1. 3 Simple Ways to Drive More Traffic from Flickr
  2. 3 Easy Steps to Becoming More Effective
  3. 3 Things No One Told You About Web Monetizing

If you want to see the other articles from the project, check out the final list at Daily Blog Tips.

Quick Tip: Use Super-Wide Angles For Architecture

There are many ways to take photos of buildings and other structures, but one of my favorite methods of capturing arcitecture is with a wide angle lens. I’m not just talking about the standard wide angles — I’m talking super-wides. I have a 10-20mm zoom, and I find myself shooting more at the 10mm range of the lens. It creates much more distortion than at 20mm, but I try using that to my advantage in order to give the subject more impact. So if you have a wide angle lens that causes distortion, ignore all the rules of architecture photography and get creative. See how strange you can make your subjects appear — who knows, it might look better that way.

St Louis Gateway Arch

Who’s Your Favorite Professional Photographer?

If you could only look at one professional photographer’s work for the rest of your life, who would it be? I’m sure most of us have a handful of photographers who we like (mine are in the sidebar to the right), but surely there must be one who stands out as your favorite. Mine is Jerry Uelsmann because his work is just so very neat to look at. The way that he combines images (which are very good by themselves) gives you the impression that you’re looking right into his mind. He creates the extraordinary from the ordinary.

I’m only seeding the poll with two answers (because the software said I had to have at least two) — Jerry Uelsmann and Andrzej Dragan. The rest of the answers will come from you guys. Just add an answer if you don’t see your favorite on the list. I realize that this list may become very lengthy, but I’m interested to see if any of the pros have a bigger fan club. And if you feel so inclined, tell us why you like the photographer you chose by leaving a comment.

Who's Your Favorite Professional Photographer?

Also, don’t forget to check the results from last week’s poll — What Aspect of Photography is Most Important? The answers were pretty interesting (though mostly expected), but a few of the comments were very insightful. Turns out that composition, lighting, and subject matter are the top three most important aspects of photography.