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Photography Humor

Have you seen the CollegeHumor video poking fun of Instagram (and Nickelback)?

Most of you have probably already viewed it, but I’ll post the link for those of you who haven’t.

Why is this video funny?

Because there’s so much truth in it ….

Click HERE to see the video.

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Photography Gift Ideas

I thought I’d list ten (not-over-the-top-expense-wise) photography related gift ideas today.

Some of them might be just right for the photographer in your life – or, perhaps, for yourself.

I’m going to link to both Amazon and B&H Photo on each item.  Sale prices are changing daily during the holiday season.  Linking to both will make it easier for you to shop.

•  Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4  –  a must have for anyone who takes their photography seriously.  (Available at Amazon and/or B&H Photo.)

•  The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby  –  A great, easy to understand, book for someone who is new to Lightroom.  (Available at Amazon and/or B&H Photo.)

•  SanDisk Extreme CompactFlash Memory Card 16 GB  –   Who doesn’t need memory cards?  Great for stocking stuffers too!  (Available at Amazon and/or B&H Photo.)

•  Wacom Intuos 5 Touch Pen Tablet  –  For the more creative photographer.  (Available at Amazon:  Small Tablet or Medium Tablet and/or B&H Photo:  Small Tablet  and/or Medium Tablet.)

•  Lenspen Cleaning Kit  –  This makes a great stocking stuffer!  I am never without a Lenspen.  (Available at Amazon and/or B&H Photo.)

•  Black Rapid Camera Strap  –  I LOVE my Black Rapid Strap!  (Available at Amazon:  Women’s Strap  or  Men’s Strap and/or B&H Photo:  Women’s Strap  or  Men’s Strap.)

•  Circular Polarizer Filter  –  A must have for most photographers.  (Available at Amazon and/or B&H Photo.)

•  LaCie 1TB Rugged Triple Interface Portable Hard Drive  –  You DO backup your photos, right?  I depend on these always – especially when I travel!  (Available at Amazon and/or B&H Photo.)

•  Lexar Professional USB 3 Dual Card Reader  –  I’ve tried several.  This is my favorite.  (Available at Amazon and/or B&H Photo.)

•  A beautiful artistic print from your favorite photographer.  (Available with a 20% discount by entering code 24atHeart upon checkout:  Click HERE.)

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Cyber Monday

I don’t want to spam you with every cyber monday deal out there.

(There are tons of great photography deals HERE.)

But …

This is an amazing one, and I’d feel remiss if I didn’t pass it on.

B&H is offering the Canon EOS Rebel T3i Digital Camera with EF-S 18-55mm IS II lens kit for only $599.

(You get the camera, the 18-55 kit lens and a SanDisk 32GB memory card!!)

In addition, if you click on the blue link on that page that says, “Click Here To Save $150 on Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Lens” you can ALSO get the Canon 55-250 IS lens and the 75-300mm lens.

Total price for a great camera, THREE lenses, and a big memory card?

ONLY $669!!

It’s fantastic!

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What Camera Should I Buy?

The holidays are approaching, and I’m already getting lots of requests for camera advice.

“What camera should I buy?” must rank as the most frequent question I receive.

Unfortunately, there isn’t one answer.

Instead, I reply with questions of my own:

•  How do you intend to use your camera?

•  What level of photographer are you?

•  What level of photographer do you hope to be in the next two years?

•  How often do you foresee purchasing a new camera?

•  What is your budget?

The “best” camera for one person, is not the best camera for every person.

Here are some additional questions to ask yourself before making a purchase:

•  Will I be shooting in low light situations?

•  Will I be making prints of my photos?

•  If so, what is the biggest print size I would ever want?

•  What type of zoom capability do I need?

•  Am I a “forever jpeg” person, or do I shoot in RAW?  Do I want to learn to shoot in RAW?

•  Do I want something small and lightweight?

•  Do I want to change lenses?

•  Do I have the budget and/or desire to buy lenses (now or in the future)?

•  Do I know, or plan to learn, the technicalities of photography?  Am I a “just put the camera on automatic” person?

•  Do I want video capability?

•  Did I remember to budget for memory cards, batteries, a camera case, a flash, lenses, lens filters, lens hoods, and/or a tripod?

Once you have a list of what you need, and expect to need in the near future, you’re ready to narrow down your choices.

There are a lot of good cameras on the market, made by several different brands – Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, etc., etc.

(Personally, I’m hooked on Canon lenses so I’ve built a Canon system.)

Once you’ve determined your needs and your budget, I suggest you actually test out a few different cameras.

You can do this by borrowing cameras from friends or by renting them.  (There are several well established rental companies out there.)

Sometimes the final decision on purchasing a camera comes down to how a camera feels when it’s in your hands.

(I purchase all my photo equipment through B&H Photo.)

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Avoiding Water Reflections in Your Photos

Water reflections are often a GOOD thing in photography.

I love the reflections on streets and in puddles after it rains.

A reflection in a water drop is a “classic” macro shot.

But, sometimes water reflections are a bad thing.

For instance, here’s a “first try” shot of a starfish in a tidepool.

The starfish itself is nice, but the water reflection causes a hazy, faded, look.

In this case, the water reflection is a bad thing – creating glare.

(It can also be a bad thing when shooting streams or lakes when you want the camera to see through the water.)

Luckily, there’s an easy (and not very expensive) fix to this problem.

 Click on photo to purchase, or view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

A CPL (circular polarizer filter) cuts right through water reflections and glare.

I always have one in my bag because there are so many uses for them.

In the above situation, it made a world of difference in getting a good shot of the starfish.

I wrote about the many uses for polarizers not that long ago.

Sometimes I refer to my polarizer filter as my “glare-be-gone” filter.

(Yes, the work great on window/glass reflections also.)

If you want to go back and read my original post on Circular Polarizing Filters you can find it here.

If you’re interested in my thoughts on CPL recommendations, I’ve copied just that portion of my previous post for you:

I use a Lee Circular Polarizer ($300) primarily.  Lee Filters, however, are often very difficult to find.  Photographers often wait six months or longer to get them.  In addition, a Lee CPL is expensive and requires an additional adaptor ring ($52), foundation kit, etc. I’m a huge fan of Lee Filters, but I realize they can be cost prohibitive for people who aren’t primarily landscape photographers.

I also use a B+W CPL ($144.95) and I’ve always been very happy with the results.  The cost is substantially less than buying an entire Lee system, and all you need is the filter itself – no adaptor or accessories.

When I first started using a CPL I used a Hoya  ($45.90).  The Hoya CPL doesn’t require any accessories.  In my opinion, the quality of the Hoya is not as high as the CPL made by B+W.  However, if you’re a casual amateur photographer it’s fine.

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Go Pro Hero 3 Black Edition

I was really excited to hear GoPro announced a new, improved, camera just in time for the holiday season.

The Go Pro Hero3 Black Edition Camera will, no doubt, be a huge success just like its predecessor has been.

My friends at B&H Photo are taking pre-orders now with an expected ship date of October 31st.

How excited am I?

Well, my name is on the pre-order list.

Why would I want this little, itty-bitty, camera when I have a professional camera to shoot with?

I use my current GoPro for all the shots I can’t take with my professional camera.

Photo © 24atHeart Photography, 2012

GoPro cameras have a reputation for filming extreme sports and going where “normal” cameras can’t.

The new Black Edition includes a wi-fi remote and waterproof housing.

Will I use the GoPro Hero3 instead of my “real” camera?

No, I won’t.

Will I use it in addition to my “real” camera?


I can hardly wait to play with the new Hero3 Black Edition.

P.S.  Technically, my current GoPro belongs to my teens.  The Hero3 Black Edition is going to be all mine.  If that means I need to hide it from my kids, so be it!

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What is RAW and Why Do I Need It?

I frequently get asked how I “do that” with my photos.

Do what?

Well, get my photos to look better than Average Joe.

There are a lot of things that go into taking professional quality photos.

One of the most dramatic ways for a hobbyist, or amateur, to improve their shots is by shooting in RAW.

It sounds scary and intimidating if you’re new to photography.

In fact, it’s very easy and it will make a huge impact on the quality of your photos.

Let me explain RAW to you in layman terms.

•  What is RAW and what does it do?  RAW is a file format.  It captures ALL the image data of a shot, which gives you flexibility to interpret that data yourself.  Most beginning photographers use JPEG which compresses data and causes the loss of some information.  (Setting your camera to shoot in RAW is very easy – check your manual to see the particulars for your camera.)

•  Do I need a professional camera to shoot in RAW?  No, many (but not all) point and shoots now allow you the option of shooting in RAW.

•  If I have an expensive camera and I shoot in JPEG won’t the camera do a better job of capturing an image than I could do as a beginner?  Even smart cameras don’t come close to recording what we see with the human eye.  RAW allows you to capture all the information in a shot, and then process it to look the way you saw it.  (Or, if you like to shoot artistically, it allows you to interpret the data to match the creative vision in your head.)

•  RAW equals higher quality images and higher quality prints.

•  The negative of shooting in RAW is photos need to be edited/processed.  They aren’t “ready to serve” right out of the camera.  (A lot of people edit their JPEG files also, so this point might be mute.)

•  The other negative of shooting in RAW is it results in bigger files.  Bigger files require more storage than small files.

•  RAW allows easier white balance and color adjustmentsand the editing you do is nondestructive.  (This means the original data recorded by your camera isn’t altered by your editing – you can always redo/change it later.)

•  RAW allows much more flexibility with the brightness of your photo.  This means you have better control over brightness, shadows, the level of blacks and highlights.  Why does that matter?  Well, if you’ve ever taken a photo that’s just a little overexposed, or needs the shadows lightened a slight bit, you understand.  You can’t make as big of adjustments with a JPEG, and JPEG editing lowers image quality.

•  Because RAW captures more data, it allows you greater detail in your images.

•  RAW allows you to choose your color space.  Did you know the color space for an image should be chosen depending on where it will be viewed?  Is your photo being printed or being viewed on the web?  Don’t you want it to look its best, regardless?  RAW allows you to choose what’s best.

In short, the advantages of shooting in RAW far outweigh the negatives.

Why not give it a try –

Taking your images to the next level is easy once you’re shooting in RAW.

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And The Winners Are ….

A big thank you to everyone who participated in my week of giveaways!

The winners of the giveaways are as follows:

Photography/Travel Vest  —  Joe Azure

Adobe Lightroom 4  —  Donna in VA

24atHeart Metal Print  —  joanne (comment #39)

ThinkTank Sling-O-Matic 10 camera bag  —  todd sipes

Instax Mini Camera  —  Denise

If you are one of the lucky winners, please email me with your mailing address.

(Because I’m out of town this week, I plan to get prizes shipped out at the beginning of next week.)

Thank you again to everyone who participated!

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What Makes An Interesting Photo?

Photography appreciation is subjective.

You might find a photo interesting or beautiful,

And I might not.

In general, there are a few things you can do to make more interesting photos, though.

(This is true whether you’re using photography to document life, or as an artistic tool for creative expression.)

Today, I’ll talk about two ways to make your photos more interesting.

Most people see an interesting subject, raise the camera to their eye, and snap the shutter.

Changing up your point of view will often make that same subject look more interesting.

Click on photo to purchase, or to view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

For the above shot, I got behind the bike, squatted down low to the ground, and composed the shot in manner which included the bike, the path, and the ocean.  The bike itself leads the viewer’s eye into the frame and towards the water.  The result is more visually appealing than if I had faced the bike head on, standing up, and clicked the shutter.

Guess what?

It’s more work to move your body vs. standing in one spot and shooting.  Who knew?

Physically moving around a subject, and experimenting with different points of view, will lead to more interesting photos.

Another way to add interest to your photos, is by intentionally intriguing the viewer.

Click on photo to purchase, or to view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

The above photo is titled Fly Me To The Moon.

It requires a little work on the part of the viewer.

I took this shot on my way home from a cross country trip.  I was exhausted.  It was a beautiful night, with a full moon.  I had left rural countryside and flown into Los Angeles.

All of these factors contributed to my mood, and style, when I shot it.

The road reflectors lead the viewer’s eye into the frame where they discover the tail lights of a truck.  The scene, with the full moon above, then falls into place.

To me, at least, it’s a more interesting photo than if I had just taken a sharp, in focus, photo of an L.A. freeway.

As you compose your photos, try to visualize the end product.

Is there a better way to catch the viewer’s eye?

Or will you just take the “expected” shot?

Remember, there’s a big difference between taking and making a photo.

Almost anyone can take a photo, but photographers make photos.

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Happy Weekend!

Are you a great cook due to the oven you own?

Are you a great surgeon because you have an expensive scalpel?

Is a handyman more adept at fixing things if he has a new hammer?