Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Discount code

I am pleased to announce a 15 percent discount code for prints at Robert Miller Photography through January 2nd 2010. Just use the code Christmasgreetings.

Robert Miller photograph discount code Christmas Code.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Photography Copyright Abuse What to do

The picture above was recently stolen in violation of my copyright.

I have posted an article on finding and what to do when you find that your images have been infringed upon. See the article on how to find your stolen images. Feel free to use this letter as a form to report your own copyright infringements.

In this post I will show you how I actively pursue copyright infringements. Yesterday, I sent out three letters to three different photo sites.

Here is a recently letter to photobucket:

Robert Miller
Address and phone nunber

I am by this message filing a formal complaint about a copyright violation.

This photo on your site and offered for sale through you is a violation of my copyright.

I request that the photo be immediately removed.
The original photograph with my copyright can be found here:

"I hereby state that I have a good faith belief that the disputed use of the copyrighted material is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law (e.g., as a fair use)."

* "I hereby state that the information in this Notice is accurate and, under penalty of perjury, that I am the owner, or authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyright or of an exclusive right under the copyright that is allegedly infringed."

Since you have offered this photo for sale I request that all revenues be sent to my PayPal account

Continued display of my copyrighted image for sale on your site will be at a charge of 500 dollars per day starting October 7, 2009.

Electronically signed,
Robert B Miller Jr
Address and phone number.

Photobucket's response:

Thank you for your request. Photobucket removed the content located at the
following link(s):

which request was based on your stated belief that such content infringes
your copyrights. As you may be aware, Photobucket does not itself distribute,
store, or make available most of the content or files available through its
service. Rather, most all such files or content are put forth by individual
users, and Photobucket has limited control over the content its users may
choose to share. Nevertheless, Photobucket respects copyright laws and
expects its users to do the same.

Please be advised that Photobucket has removed the above-mentioned content
from its website.

Photobucket's response as set forth herein is a good-faith attempt to
courteously comply with your request at face value. It should not be taken as
an admission or acknowledgment, of any kind, and Photobucket expressly
reserves all rights at law or in equity.

Should you have any questions about this matter, please contact Photobucket's
Designated Copyright Agent:

Daniel J. Cooper
Designated Copyright Agent, Inc.
PO Box #13003
Denver, CO 80201
Fax: 303.395.1165


Your Photobucket Support Team

Monday, September 28, 2009

Top Ten Tips on Protecting your Pictures Online

Unfortunately pictures even copyrighted pictures are often taken and used by profit by those who do not have permission to do so. This has happened to me and I am sure perhaps to you. So what can you do to protect your images?

1. Be sure and copyright your images: I suggest you make sure that you use the full copyright protection. If you use Flickr you can choose full copyright when you upload your photos.

I realize that there are lesser forms of protection like creative commons. There is much discussion in favor of creative commons, but you should realize that this opens the door for free use of your photographs without regard to your wishes.

If your picture has value and you offer it free you are not only hurting yourself, but everyone else who would wish to sell their photographs by devaluing the market as a whole. '

If you want to let someone use your photo for free for whatever reason you can grant that if your picture is fully protected. With full copyright protection, you always have this option. At times I have offered my photos free to non profit organizations or for causes I support.

2. Use Photo protection: If you use photo sharing sites like Flickr use the deepest level of protection the site offers. You can do this through the options you can select in your account.

Also consider only using a medium sized image viewable to the public. While security options can be defeated, this does offer a level of protection that you should utilize.

3. Read the TOS: TOS is short for Terms of Service. Most legitimate sites where you may post your photos has a link to the TOS on the bottom of their web page.

Be sure you are not granting rights for the site to sell you photographs to the public or to their affiliates. Generally, most ethical sites will not do this.

There are exceptions, and you should be fully aware of how a site may use your photos. Be wary if you read you are granting the site a license to use the photo in whatever manner they choose.

I personally do find it acceptable if the site wants to use your photo for promotion on their website.

Also, be wary of photo contests that want full licensing or even relinquishing of the copyright if you submit a photo to their contests. Your photograph may not win the contest and you might find it being used for profit through their company or affiliates. Here is example of what happened on one of these contests by Capital One.

TOS can be confusing, but it is up to you to know what you are giving up when you enter a contest or submit a photo to a site.

4. Periodically search your for photos: This might not be 100 percent effective in finding misuse of your photos, but it is a useful tool. Google Similar Images is a beta program that allows you search for similar photos like yours, and perhaps you will find yours. There are sites that will use your images for profit without your permission and this is one way to find those sites.

UPDATE: One of the best tools for finding your photos online has been released in beta: It is called TinEye. I have used this search on one of my photos and it turned up six occasions when someone has used the photo claiming it was theirs. As TinEye moves from Beta it will offer even a larger data base for finding your photos even if they have been altered. This is really a great tool.

What I personally allow is use of my pictures of web resolution only with a link back to my original picture. Use of my photos with a link back I consider a good promotional tool.

5. One thing to do if your photos are stolen; If you find you photos where illegally taken off a sharing site like Flickr and put up for sale on another site. Contact your sharing site immediately. If it is Flickr send an abuse report.

I have found that most theft through Flickr happens through use of their API. If someone has abused the API according to their TOS they are quick to act. Other photo sharing sites would also respond quickly also.

6. Confront the abuser: This can result in varied responses. In most cases the abuser will remove your photo. Often times the abuser has acted out of ignorance and will remedy the situation to your satisfaction.

However if you do not get satisfaction, it is time to consider demanding payment or hiring a copyright attorney. To understand copyright protection here is what you need to know.

7. Do not over react: Whenever you find an image of yours being used, be sure to check if it is being used for profit by the site in question. As I stated earlier I allow people to use web resolution photos of mine if they provide a link back.

This can work in your best interest in promoting your photos for sale, by expanding the audience base. I allow this even without providing permission.

Also, when you join sharing sites or enter contests realize that limited licensing of your photos are appropriate. You must way the value to you in allowing limited use of your photos. I tend to allow this unless the licensing is far ranging.

Every grant of rigthts should be carefully considered when you read the TOS on the site. When you do find misuse of your photos I would suggest to try to talk first to resolve the issue. But if resolution is not achieved a stronger approach may be necessary.

8. Finding your photos on publications: I have at times found my photos on publications used without my permission. In each case I have successfully resolved the issue through communication with the publication and reaching a fair sum for compensation. I have yet had to file a copyright infringement suit, but if necessary I would. My rule of thumb is to talk first, but if needed do not rule out legal action.

9. Using photo sharing sites: One of the main advantages of using photo sharing sites like Flickr that the copyright notice is applied to your photograph as soon as it is published. It not only protects your photograph it provides a timeline that few can dispute. Any photo posted later by another and attempted to be copyrighted can be sucessfully disputed by which one came first.

10. Use a watermark: I use watermarks on all of the photos I post to Smugmug. I do not do this with Flickr although it could be helpful. Watermarks can be cloned out but takes some effort. On Flickr I have only low resolution pictures available that are only of web resolution.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Top Ten easiest ways to understand F stop

Photo Taken with a 55-200mm Nikon vr lens.

F Stop maybe the singular least understood term in photography. And when I have even talked to some accomplished photographers their eyes have glazed over at the mere mention of the term.

What makes F Stop hard to grasp to many is that the higher the F Stop the less light enters the lens.

Now, if that is not confusing enough the term F stop is loosely used as a measure in ISO and shutter speed.

1. The Video: To grasp all of this may seem daunting, but I hope by the time you reach the end of this post you will have a firm basic understanding. Lets start with this short video that will visually give you a quick jump start on the concept of F Stop.

2. A little more depth: Well, the video gives you a quick overview of what F Stop is. And you see how they are using F stops in the understanding of shutter speed and ISO.

To be more technically correct they should just be saying stops.

The official definition of F Stop is:

In optics, the f-number (sometimes called focal ratio, f-ratio, or relative aperture) of an optical system expresses the diameter of the entrance pupil in terms of the focal length of the lens; in simpler terms, the f-number is the focal length divided by the "effective" aperture diameter.

What this amounts to for the photographer is a number on the scale which tells how much light is allowed to come in through the lens.

This is controlled either by a ring on the lens or through camera settings. It really works like your eye. The iris will contract or get larger to expose the pupil to more light.

In a photographic lens these are like leaves that make the opening for light smaller or larger. Just remember the higher the F number the smaller the hole.

(Aperture also controls dof or depth of field which is entirely another concept which deserves a post of its own).

3. Lets check our understanding: We now know that F Stop is a number that shows how much light is let in the lens by an iris diaphragm getting larger or smaller. This is true F Stop.

Larger numbers mean a smaller opening, smaller numbers mean a larger opening. We also know that Stops are also used in relation with ISO and shutter speed.

Stops are in reality is just a short hand word so one photographer can tell another "I can get another stop out of this lens." Another photographer would understand this to mean this lens can use less light and still get a good shot.

4. All things work together: In most modern cameras the user will see on the camera dial at least these settings: A S .

For our purposes in this post, these are the only two settings we will discuss.

A means aperture setting
. When the photographer uses this setting he is controlling the iris diaphragm of the lens, the camera with its on board computer controls shutter speed and tries to adjust for the best picture.

Aperture settings I have found useful in fine tuning the contrast of an image and controlling DOF (Depth of Field).

The lower the F Stop the narrower the dof.

Depth of field is the amount of distance between the nearest and farthest objects that appear in acceptably sharp focus.

S means shutter setting: The length of time the shutter is open the more light is let into the camera.

The camera computer controls everything else to get the best picture. Using the S setting you can try to eek out the fastest speed to capture action, or the slowest speed for pictures in low light.

A lens with a small number for a F Stop can use less available light to get a good picture. It is considered a faster lens for this reason.

By faster it means that you can shoot at a higher shutter speed and still get a good picture. And the camera will acquire focus quicker.

This is because most auto focus systems use points of contrast to auto focus on. If you are using a lens on the edge of its ability with available light: Contrast is harder for focus system to detect.

5. A general rule: The longer the lens the more available light is needed. The best long lenses have "Big Glass" and can be stepped down to a low F Stop. This is the ideal, but it is very expensive. It also requires a tripod (or a monopod) to keep that heavy glass steady.

6. Exceptions to the general rule: With both lens technology improvements, camera improvements and noise reduction software improvements: There are some lenses that can get great images even though they do not have that low F Stop number.

They offer a lower cost opportunity to get good images from lenses. And can be hand held with great results.

Digital cameras are also improving in handling higher ISOs. The ability of a camera to take good images at higher ISO's is arguable more important than mega pixels in camera selection.

I highly recommend the Nikon 55-200mm vr lens that I get consistently great shots and it is one of the least expensive Nikon lenses. It is quick, works great in fairly low light conditions and it produces high quality images. The image at the start of this post was taken with this lens.

And, I have been impressed with the shots photographers are getting with the Sigma 150-500 HSM lens. Even at 500mm this lens produces shots with exceptional detail.

These two lenses are great examples of how technology met the challenge of producing superb lenses at a reasonable cost.

7. F Stop as a measurement in ISO and Shutter Speed: We saw in the video how F Stop can be communicated in terms of ISO.

This is more or less is a measurement factor and should be explained as gaining or losing a stop rather than a F Stop to be more technically correct. First lets understand what ISO is:

ISO equivalence on a digital camera is the ability to increase the sensitivity of the sensor to enable faster shutter speeds and/or better performance in low light.

One Stop according to the video would be increasing the ISO from 100 to 200.

So you would gain one stop in this scenario. Since 200 ISO requires more sensor sensitivity you would be stopping down.

Likewise if you increase the time the shutter is open you would also be stopping down.

8. Other Factors: So by now you are getting things a little firmer in understanding the term stop in photography.

One stop is a measurement tool of a change in settings, and one stop equals twice as much light as the previous stop.

Another tool a photographer uses are neutral density filters that block the amount of light coming in the camera.

To get that silky texture of waterfalls many photographers prefer a slower shutter speed and the filter allows the photographer to accomplish this without blowing out the picture highlights. Other uses are controlling depth of field.

9. Buying lenses: Perhaps one of the best uses of the knowledge of F Stop is evaluating the lenses you buy. If a camera has an F Stop number in the low range. You know it will be a great performer.

10. Watch the Video again: Just to reinforce what you learned here, I highly recommend you watch the video again. I think you will understand with a greater depth of this somewhat hard concept to grasp.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ten Top Ethics for a Nature Photographer

Many disciplines have their ethical guidelines, including fields of photography like photojournalism. I am not sure if others have their ethical guidelines for nature photography, but I thought I would share mine.

1. Share beauty: What you capture in lens can be so beautiful, entrancing and wonderful. Help guide others to the appreciation of beauty you see as a communion of spirit. Let others know of your deep respect and love for nature. So that love can help them find their love.

2. Respect the land: With every action you do when you step into the world, try to leave the least imprint of your presence. If you see where someone has left garbage or something that has marred the environment, do what you can to set things right even in small ways.

3. Do by example: If you go on an outing with someone else show by your behavior your respect for nature. Sometimes small little acts are worth more than a thousand words of advice.

4. Treat animals with love and respect: Animals deserve our respect and love. Never mistreat, abuse animals in nature. Follow the guidelines in not feeding wild animals. And share with others the reason why. Respect the space of animals and do not intrude or interrupt their life.

5. Become in sync with nature: Go quietly into nature. So often I see people in conflict with the sounds of nature that they never have the opportunity to see the beauty that unfolds around them. Noise and even loud voices interrupt the rhythm of the natural world and as you pass through nature it will hide from you til you are gone.

6. Take the time to observe: Quiet and stillness are some of your best friends in the natural world. Take the time to be still and just look to see and feel. And the world will open to you.

7. Teach the children: Show your children appreciation of nature, teach them what you know. And show by example your love and respect for the physical world.

8. Remind yourself of your ethics: Even with this exercise of writing this post. I am remembering and reinforcing what I know is important. Sometimes I stray, but thinking about these things again helps me to better interact with nature.

9. Learn from the example of others: There are many who excel in their dealings with the natural world more than you or me. And you can learn lessons just by watching. You can learn from anyone they may be smarter than you or less so. But they all have lessons to teach.

10. Man's world is different than the natural world: Sometimes it is easy to lose sight that man makes a world different than the natural world. Man has estranged himself from nature in many of his thoughts ideas and concepts. He lives almost in an artificial world of politics and his technological environment . I think it is important to understand our artificial world for what it is and the natural world for what it is. When I move in the natural world I try to leave man's world behind.

Ethics to me are not hard and fast. They are a guide and a reminder of how we humans and nature should interact. And if you can bring your camera to illustrate the beauty and spirit of nature you are performing a service to yourself and perhaps others.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Top Ten Ways to Improve Your Photography

Photo Mystery of Grace.
Caption: “I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”
Anne Lamott

Are you on the top of your form and you have reached the top photographic perfection? My hat is off to you. For someone like me it is like being in the old west. There is always a faster draw and I am still learning how to slick out that gun faster.

Photography has been a continuing challenge. And it is a constant learning curve that I climb.

And I am certain that hill will always be before me. On this hill there are photographers both behind and ahead of me. But the important thing is that I continue the journey.

So having been on this sojourn for awhile I thought I might share some thoughts to my fellow travelers.

1. Its not the camera: Many of my published shots and those that have won contests have been done with a point and shoot camera. Right now I have a picture that has been accepted to a National Juried Show that was taken with a digital elph.

While like most photographer junkies, I am constantly up grading my equipment. But like a jarring stick I am constantly brought back to the reality that any and every camera can be an effective tool. The best advice I have ever heard for a camera purchase is does the camera feel right in your hands.

2. Its not the photo editing program: I have used a variety of photo editing programs and have gotten great results with all of them. I must say Adobe Photoshop is my favorite. But I have pictures that have over six million views and have won contests that have been edited in cheap programs like Microsoft Digital Image Suite and have never been touched in Photoshop.

3. Its not even the photographer: I do think if you handed a camera to a monkey and he took enough pictures that somewhere in that pile would be some great photographs. I think you could even take great photographs with your eyes shut. Revisit this post to see the evidence.

I am constantly surprised when I see cameras sold on eBay that only have a couple of thousand or less shutter actuations. I take that and more in one days shooting. If I advertised my camera for re sale on eBay it would go something like this:

A used to death Nikon D80, all the paint worn off all the buttons. Camera has been used in the rain, snow, sleet, and has been submerged under water. Like a Timex this camera has taken a beating and keeps on ticking off great pictures. Shutter life expectancy 80,000 actuations. This camera has a quarter of a million. I think it is just getting broken in. By the way, this camera is not for sale, I love it.

The point is take lots of pictures and you will end up with some great shots.

4. It is not Photoshop by the numbers: If you follow Photoshop tutorials remember that you are doing the same thing everyone else is doing. The best way to use those tutorials is to look for small things that you can add to your own style. If you follow the full tutorial realize you are using a cookie cutter approach and you photographs will be a generic feel similar to everyone who follows the tutorial.

This reminds me about paint by the numbers that was popular in the late fifties and early sixties. One clown picture really sticks in my mind that was done by millions. Oddly, this has evolved into collector art, and even a paint by number picture was hung in the White House by none other than Edgar J. Hoover.

5. It is composition: Photo composition is the primary reason photographs draw an audience. While you can have all the technique and style in the processing end, if you don't have a good or even great composition your photo might as well be decorating a dung heap. There are many ways to frame your photographs. And people have written extensively about all the techniques. You should read them, know them, and make them a part of your DNA.

Remember a photograph is only a flat piece of paper. Using composition tricks the viewer in finding depth reaching for that three dimension feel. And, if you enter the fourth dimension that portends symbols and markers for the audience to relate. You will capture the imagination of the viewer.

So how do you know your composition is working? Well, if you have made the knowledge of composition part of your DNA. You will get an actual feeling of wow before you push the shutter. Yep, you feel when you are in the zone. It is a thoughtless process and that is what works for me.

6. It is paying attention to detail:
This was and is one of my hardest and continuing lessons. My processing time for a photo is at minimum now about four hours. I try to pay close attention to each nuance of the photo. I will intently go over the photo by enlarging it to view almost each pixel. Even then, I can find flaws after the photo is processed.

I just do not tell anyone were the flaws are, but they really stand out to me. And, I do go back often to correct them.

Attention to detail in photography is paramount. Henri Cartier-Bresson touched up his photos with a one hair brush. This is what separates the wheat from shaft in photography. This tool, I have found indispensable in photo processing. If you do not have it, it should be your next purchase to improve your photos.

7. It is knowing light. Photography in the basic sense is how objects interact with light. This is what you are recording and it is the most basic element of photography. As composition should be part of your DNA, your knowledge of light should be second nature to you also. Study light and your photography will improve by quantum leaps.

8. It is knowing your black and white point: By black point I mean the very darkest part of your photograph and white is the lightest. Between those points are the gradients of change. Each point in that transition defines your photograph. Everything from tonal contrast, effective colors, to sharpness and blur are reliant on effective black and white points.

9. It is passion: It is having that driving force that compels you to take the best photograph you can. And it is the gumption to process your photograph at the highest level of your skill. It takes a certain amount of compulsive behavior to continue to aspire and push yourself harder. And you have to enjoy the push, if not find something else you are passionate about.

10. It is confidence: At some point you have to decide that you are a good photographer. And even better a great photographer. There is lots of competition and there are many great photographers. You have to elevate your self esteem, and promote yourself in that class. If you do not consider yourself a great photographer no one else will either. I generally let my pictures do my talking by carrying a portfolio.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Ten Top Tips on avoiding camera scams and getting the best camera deal

Are you planning to make that big step forward and upgrade your camera equipment? Do you need some practical advice in getting the best deals and safely buy online? Its a jungle out there and here is the top ten tips on taming the beasts.

1. Do not buy blindly: There are predators out there who are looking to separate you from your cash. You will see ads in the internet jungle that appear to be legitimate companies offering unbelievable deals and I suggest you don't believe. At the least they are bait and switch operations and can be even more sinister once they have your credit card information. The companies change their names and location often and you will see them in internet ads. Perhaps even on this page.

Top ways to be savvy:
Before you buy Google the name of the company and complaints.

Check the Better Business Bureau.

Take a look at Thoughts by Dave and through all his posts to help identify these predator sites. He is constantly uncovering these sites and it is worthwhile to look through all his posts.

And for your entertainment and education look at Brooklyn Camera/Electronic Dealer Store Fronts. Here you will find a guy who researches camera dealers and bikes to their place of business. He takes pictures of the stores or supposed stores. Be prepared to see the seedy side of these glitzy websites.

Buy from the true and tested companies that specialize in cameras. Adorama, Cameta, BH camera and Amazon are companies that you can trust. Consider buying from these companies through Amazon. Just look at more buying options and you may see better deals through these vendors.

2. Be wary of Grey Market cameras: If you live in the United States cameras made for other country markets and sold by resellers can offer a serious compromise in getting warranty service. For instance Nikon USA will not service grey market cameras or provide firmware updates.

Generally you can identify a Nikon Grey Market camera by the first digit of the serial number.

3 means Nikon USA.

While grey market cameras might be made exactly the same as Nikon USA models, I have heard rumors that the Asian Nikon D300 is not encased in magnesium but polycarbonate.

Serial numbers beginning with:
2 - Japan
3 - USA
4 - Europe (excluding UK)
5 - Canada
6 - Australia / New Zealand(?)
7 - Asia (excluding Japan)
8 - UK

3. Getting the best Deal refurbished:

Buy refurbished: This is one of the best ways to buy a camera, generally you will have to look hard to tell it was refurbished at all.

I buy Nikon and if I buy a refurbished camera I am confident that the camera has been cleaned, re-calibrated and brought up to standards by Nikon.

I personally consider this a better option than buying new. They check these cameras more intensely than the ones coming off the assembly lines.

Cameras that are refurbished come with a 90 day Nikon warranty. Unless you buy through Cameta that offers a full year warranty. I really recommend buying through Cameta I have only had great experiences with them. Cameta has internet store fronts on Amazon and eBay. Check both.

4. Buy Used: Go carefully into this dark night. You can buy used on eBay and on Amazon I would suggest Ebay.

Use due diligence by making sure your product is not grey market by following the previous advice.

Buy through Pay Pal to assure that the product is not misrepresented or a scam.

Look carefully at the pictures and if they are stock photos be more cautious. Look for missing items that you may need to purchase.

Read the item description carefully to identify any hidden surprises. Look for the number of camera actuations that can be discovered by using a program from Opanda.

Check the sellers rating.

Check the other products the seller is selling.

Be wary if the seller like this: "quantity ten used cameras." Or if they offer free shipping on other items which are cheap large and heavy.

I have seen one seller selling ten new cameras and grandfather clocks at a cheap price and free shipping. eBay removed him from their listing because it was an obvious scam.

Ask the seller a question just to make sure how responsive he will be after the sale.

Bid in the last minutes of the auction to avoid driving up the price.

5. Use Bing Shopping: Bing shopping is an innovation by Microsoft Live and can offer you savings on eBay shopping at about 8 percent. These are generally for buy now items, and can give you serious cash back when you buy refurbished from companies like Cameta.

6. Consider buying broken cameras: Now this might seem like strange advice if you are not familiar with camera repair.

Yet, most people will shy away from buying a broken camera and the price can be seriously lower than cameras in mint condition.

Now this can be a crap shoot, but repair companies like Precision Camera do a really good job on camera repairs quickly and bring your camera up to manufacturer specs. I have used Precision Camera and recommend them highly. If for instance, you have a broken Nikon D300 the repair would be about 300 dollars. Another camera repair place is Teleplan. They offer repair prices cheaper than Precision but I have no experience with them.

UPDATE: You should check this before having repairs done by Teleplan.

7. Consider Sam's Club auctions: Sam's Club auctions are completely reliable and offer new products. They may not have the camera you are wanting but chances are you will get a great deal if they do. Products are new in the box. A Sam's membership is required.

8. Think before you buy: Remove the impulse trigger from your finger tip. Do your research and think carefully. Consider all of your options.

9. Look an auction over at least three separate times: Understand the seller is bound by their description. Sometimes descriptions are updated during the auction. So read carefully and look at the pictures intently.

If I am seriously considering buying I may even copy the picture and blow it up to see all the fine details I can detect.

10. Good luck with your purchase: If you do your research well you should end up with a great product perhaps at a considerable saving.

One final hint if you are buying used is to look at the paint wear on the camera buttons. If the wear is noticible consider that this may be a camera on its last legs.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ten top tips on exposing your Photographs to the World

Title: God's eye view of Yellowstone


To shoot poignant pictures we only need follow the path of our enthusiasm . I believe that this feeling is the universe's way of telling us that we are doing the right thing. The viewing public will always disagree over the intrinsic merits of a particular photograph, but no one can deny the enthusiasm that originally inspired us to capture and offer that image to others. - Timothy Allen - On choosing subject matter - From an interview in 'Photographer' Magazine (Russian)

Once you have a beautiful photograph and it is a wonder to behold: The art of presentation to the world is often neglected. How you present your photograph to your audience is as important as the photograph itself. Here are some tips I have learned from experience.

1. Titling your photograph: All to often I have seen photographs represented by their file name. The title of the photograph is the bow on the package and the enticement to the gift within. I usually arrive at a title by how the photograph impresses me. Or sometimes by using a few words of the selected caption.

2. Selecting a caption: The few words that you add to your photograph in the caption can catapult your photograph high in the viewers mind.

How you choose a caption should be careful and deliberate. Most of the captions I use are thematic and are generally based on quotations about nature or photography.

A resource I use extensively is PhotoQuotes. Photoquotes is one of the best sites available for finding captions. It is easy to navigate and void of pop ups like many other quotation sites. It has a very well researched data base.

Not only does it provide a wealth of ideas about captions, I use it as a starting point to research other photographers.

3. Deciding on how to expose your photograph: I have really covered this topic in The Ten Top Reasons photographs sell.

I do have one more bit of advice and that is keep exploring opportunities on the Internet. As an example I would like to tell you PhotoQuotes is starting a new project titled: Showcase your photography book / fine art print on
This is an excellent opportunity to increase the exposure of photographs. And, it is not only good for the promotion of your photography: It is a good thing to do.

I highly recommend that you participate and you will see my name as one of the accepted photographers.

4. Think globally and think locally: An example of thinking globally is showcasing your photos on PhotoQuotes.

You should also think locally. I have given advice that you should donate photographs locally.

This is my personal project to give you an example. I am donating a 20x30 framed print to the Blue Ridge Medical Center in Arrington Virginia.

My plan is to do this for every medical center in Virginia that serves the poor. If you would like to help with this project Contact me. Your help would be deeply appreciated.

5. Think multiple sites: People can find my photographs on many sites. Two of the primary sites I use are SmugMug and Flickr. Both those sites have been a boon for photography.

I also use countless other sites such as: Zazzle, RedBubble, and Blurb.

6. Expand your list of social contacts: I use both Twitter and Face Book to expand exposure of users of photographs. I am sure there are many sources useful for your photographic brand to be discovered in other social media outlets.

Yet keeping up with those two are as about daunting as I care to be. Importantly, look for friends in the publishing field.

7. Build relationships with galleries: Galleries are by far much better for your exposure than the Internet. Having exposure where people can see your photographs displayed beats any online gallery. If you have trouble finding galleries that will exhibit your work try upscale consignment shops. I sometimes get better prices with some of those.

8. Be persistant: Sometimes having a lot of logs in the fire can become overwhelming. You have to take the time to re stoke the embers to keep the flame going. This is one of the most difficult tasks for me. But it is a necessary task, and I have to redouble my efforts.

I try to set some time each day to do what is needed at the different sites that represent my work. The old adage if you don't use it you lose it definitely applies. And an aside to you this is my major weakness.

9. Offer people commissions to sell your work: Good agents are hard to come by. But we all know those go getters out there. Do some of your own recruiting. In the present economy you will be surprised how enthusiastic some people can be.

10. Be Johnny on the spot with emails: Try your best to answer every inquiry promptly. Being a photographer you are often in the field. Try to take care of those back logs of emails.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ten Top Tips for a Photographer's Wish List

Photo taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5A 9.1MP Digital Camera

Being on top of your game in the photographic field not only requires top photo skills but keeping up with new developments. Here are some product tips and short review of what I have found interesting.

Some of these I own myself, others are on my wish list. And some, I thought might just be interesting, but I have no plans to purchase. Check my recommendations here for an honest opinion.

1. Eye-FI SDHC card

* Wi-Fi Security: Static WEP 40/104/128, WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK Mac and PC Compatible
* Stores photos and videos like a standard memory card
* Wireless upload of photos and videos via Wi-Fi to your PC or sharing, printing, social networking or blogging web site, even when computer is off
* Upload photos and videos wirelessly from over 10,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across the nation.
* Automatically adds geographic location information (geotags) so you can easily find and organize your memories.

This is not on my list to buy. A neat idea but is it really necessary item for me or you?

2. Polaroid Pogo:

* Digital camera with integrated printer instantly delivers full-bleed borderless images that are dry to the touch
* Features automatic image quality optimization with water-resistant, tear-proof, smudge-proof and peel-off prints
* Prints 2 x 3-inch borderless color images in under a minute
* Print speed: 60 seconds per print, from snap to share

Wow, I thought this was interesting Polaroid is getting back to the instant picture concept again. I can't see the need for this camera for me. But there maybe some creative minds out there that see advantages I do not.

3. Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5A 9.1MP Digital Camera

This is one very cool camera to carry in your pocket. I bought one before a trip to Yellowstone and I am impressed by its ability to have a long aspect ratio. As an added benefit the HD movies it can record are just superb. The picture above is an example of its ability. I use this camera on every camera shoot even if I have my DSLR with me. An indispensable pocket camera.

4. LensBaby Composer:

Yes, this is definitely on my wish list. I have seen what can be done with this lens and I want a lens baby to call my own.

This new lens from Lens Baby offers creative control for the experimental photographer. The ball and socket design and interchangeable lenses offer the ultimate in getting that sweet spot just were you want it.

5. Joby GP1-EGEN Gorillapod Flexible Tripod:

This tripod is definitely on my to buy list. I see uses for it when I do event photography and need a third hand.

Flexible tripod designed for digital cameras weighing up to 9.7 ounces (275 grams)
Fits into your purse, backpack, or jacket pocket
Innovative segmented leg design to ensure secure mounting
Standard universal 1/4-20 screw for attaching your camera to the tripod mount

6. Caselogic UP-2 Universal Pockets:

If you have had any experience with caselogic cases, you know their quality at a reasonable price. These pockets are great for small camera protection in your pocket. I own several and use them daily. One is connected to my key chain now.

7. Holga 120CFN Medium Format Fixed Focus Camera with Lens and Built-in Flash with Color Filter Wheel:

Not exactly an innovation, but a blast back into film cameras. This is one of the premier cult cameras with all the desired idiosyncrasies of the beatnik artistic photographer. Be sure to read extensively about lomo photography. And you too can become a debutant in off beat artistic photography.

This goes on and off my wish list as often as a coin turns up head or tails. A low priority, but may get one someday.

8. Lowerpro Sling bag:

Definitely on my to buy list. I have a camera bag that carries all my equipment and it is great to get everything in one spot: the car. Twenty pounds is a little much to lug around. A small light bag like this would be perfect to carry the essentials on a hike or event shoot.

9. Tamrac N-5055 Neoprene Shock Absorber Digital Camera Strap (Black):

I own this and love it. Do you ever get tired of the camera strap digging into you neck. This solves the issue and I love the two pockets on the strap that I store my memory cards. Now I always have my memory cards ready to change. A definite must have.

10. Wacom Intuos tablet:

You mouse is like a bar of soap on rough slate. This is like a precise instrument that can reach to the one pixel level. I have this love it and do not know how I did without it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Top Ten Tips to evaluate your photos

Two wolves at Yellowstone

Photo caption: “When twilight drops her curtain down and pins it with a star, remember that you have a friend though she may wander far.”

How to self critique your photograph, may be one of the most important evaluations that you can do. This can be especially important if you are photographing for others. You need to refine your eye to do a critical analysis of your photograph.

1. Begin before processing: Remember to take many pictures. And if possible from different angles and heights. Check the framing, composition and lighting. Process the picture that has the necessary material in the raw form to make an exceptional photograph.

2. Process your photograph: Use your best skills in processing a photograph. Photographer's have style. What is yours? Is it based in the tonality of the picture, light, contrast and composition? Is the photograph telling telling your audience to say wow? Just from the implementation of your style.

The way to develop style is to look at the photographs of those that are considered best. Look for their style, but do not be a mimic.

Could you recreate the styles you like? And more importantly can you use what you learn from others as an embarking point to develop your own unique work.

3. Does your photograph have depth: Photographs are two dimensions portraying three dimensions. If your photograph looks flat you automatically lose your audience.

Refine your understanding of composition by thinking in spacial terms. Good photography leads the eye through the photograph. The deeper a person can look into a photograph is directly related to the appeal of the photograph to the viewer.

Simple principles of geometry can add greatly to the feeling of depth.

4. Does your photograph tell a story: Not all good photographs tell a story. Nevertheless, if your photograph does it will help peak the interest level in your photograph.

The story need not be elaborate, but does the photograph tell you something or make you think.

5. Does you photograph have meaning: Photography is much like writing in this sense. You have to define your audience. Who is your audience?

Are you playing to a larger universal audience or more of a personal audience? Does your photograph have meaning to your audience?

6. Does your photograph capture the senses: By default photography is a visual medium. But good photography can and does engage other senses.

How does the photograph make you feel? What other senses are engaged: taste, hearing, touch. Does your photograph speak to other senses?

7. Is your photograph half baked: Did you take your photograph out of the processing oven too soon?

Enlarge your photograph and look at the small details. Are these the best they can be? If not correct your photograph. I usually magnify my photo to about 800 percent and pour over the details looking for flaws.

8. Can you be unbiased in your appraisal: Everyone is subjective including me. Realize you are not looking through the perfect prism when you evaluate your photographs.

Put your photographs up in social sharing sites like Flickr. On these sites people are generally complementary about your photographs, so a measure of best photos could be the number of views and invites you may get.

Sometimes harsh criticism is hard to find. Any you do get should be valued and looked into carefully.

9. Review your photographs again at a later date: Take a fresh look at some of your older photographs. How can they be improved?

Consider reprocessing or even deleting to have the best photographs represent your work.

10. Continually review the work of others: Study the work of others often. Surf the net and see what surfaces to the top.

See what others think are great and try to understand how it was done. Photography is a school that you never graduate it is a continual learning process.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Top Ten Essentials for Event Photography

For the last two years, I have been doing dirt race track photography. And it has been a successful sideline. If you would like to get into event photography there are some essential steps that I have learned from experience.

1. Do your research: Pick an event that you know you will enjoy. The ideal event will be re-occurring on a weekly basis. You will want to be a fixture at the event coming each week.

Make sure you are welcome, talk to the owners/mangers and tell them you would like to help support their event. Show them samples of your work so they know what you can do. And by all means have your own style to separate yourself from other photographers.

2. Have the right equipment: I use a Nikon D80 and several vr lenses.

Beyond the camera equipment you may need a Step Stool, a folding table, and a way to display and carry your photos. And a notebook and a pen to keep track of orders.

Drinks, food and a good hat I have found all necessary for long intensive shoots. You may be standing in the sun all day and these essentials are a necessity. And have some camera rain protectorsand plastic bags just in case you need to cover things up.

3. Develop a methodology: If you have to carry everything figure out the best way to make things easier for you. For instance I use reusable shopping bags to combine all the small items, a back pack for my camera gear, and bungee cords to tie together my step stool and aluminum table.

Realize your day is going to cover two functions shooting pictures and selling. Figure a good times for both these activities. A lot of my selling happens a couple of hours before the event begins.

Scope out the best place for sales. Near restrooms and near concession stands are two prime locations for sales. If at all possible have an assistant to help you. I have found that indispensable. Event photography is hard work I take at least a 15 gig card an event. And many times more.

4. Maximize your sales: Most of my sales happen at the event itself. I shoot one week and have the pictures available the following week.

As you get to know the participants and fans you will get requests for pictures. I always print spec photos (8x10s) and keep them in notebooks and keep them displayed through the event.

I use plastic sheet protectorsand when I make a sale include the protector in the sale. You want to keep your prices reasonable and you will get repeat sales week to week.

5. Miminize costs: I do most of printing locally. It took me awhile to find a printer that was reasonable and good. I use the profits from the previous week to print the following week.

6. Have an online gallery: This can help you have added sales directly online. Mostly the participants tell me I saw that picture online and I want it. This has really been a boon for business. I also have two sites that promote the event itself.

On one, I feature many of the photo products that I can do with their favorite photos. Not only do the event managers like this, but it has increased my sales of other photo products. Take a look at my video blog and take a careful view of the left sidebar.

You will quickly see how I capitalize on sales. I also have a YouTube site that links directly back to my gallery.

7. Treat the event staff well: There is nothing like building good will. I often give freebies to the event staff and the owners. After all, if it was not for them the event would not be happening at all. Do all you can to be a positive asset to the event itself.

8. Build relationships: The more relationships you build the more successful you will be overall. Perhaps one way of thinking about this is like building incoming links to a web page. The more incoming links the more opportunities you will have. And perhaps even beyond the event for other photo shooting opportunities.

9. Schedule time for photo processing: I usually spend a full 8 hours or longer processing photos before the next event. Photo processing is something I do not rush through. Plan ahead and get your work done.

10. Consider what you can do better: Would a Portable Printerimprove your sales? Do you treat everyone with the respect they deserve? Keep asking yourself how you can refine your craft.

Related Posts:

Ten ways to sell your art and photography

Ten Top ways photographs sell

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Top Ten raw videos of the Iranian Riots

Iran has been shutting down media contact with the outside world. Hoping that the world would not see what is occurring in Iran. Regardless of their efforts pictures and videos are getting out. The majority of the videos below are not produced by video journalists, but coming directly from people in the street.

Some amazing pictures of the riots can be found here on the Big Picture.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ten Top Tips for Winning Photo Contests

Title: Angel Awakening
caption: If one looks closely enough, one can see angels in every piece of art. ~Adeline Cullen Ray

The above photographic montage will be entered in a contest in July. I have based my decision on this entry on the ten tips below. I am already thinking this will be a winner.

Can you win photo contests? I would think so. I have had winning entries in over 50 percent of the contests that I have entered, both locally and internationally. So are there secret keys to success? Yes, so please don't share these tips it is our secret.

This is what I do with every contest.

1. Read all the rules carefully: Be sure what you are getting yourself into. Some contest are just a sham to have your copyright. So be careful. Once you have read the rules comply. And, make sure you use the exact format the contest requires.

2. Look at the past winners: Here you can find exactly what the contest is interested in. Do you have photos of similar quality? Study the past winners for compositional elements, color, subject, and representation. Then study again. These people were not winners of a lottery. They fulfilled the expectations of the judges. And, if a contest put out by a company, or organization: How does your photo play thematically into the message or mission of the contest sponsor?

3. Look at the judges: Not always but often the judges are listed. Now, you need to search and seek out their photographs. Study their photographs carefully. Find in their photographs salient traits and style. Study carefully and you will unearth their taste. Study their bio and their writings. The more you know about who is judging you the better you will be in choosing the photograph to enter. If they write about light, composition or other photo attributes: Then these are the secret keys in unlocking their interest your submission. I would not say mimic their style, but I would say try to present what they would appreciate in a photograph.

4. Go through your photographs carefully: Set up folders of candidate photos based on you would think the judge would pick. Pick perhaps a hundred. Put all your candidates in a folder called "winners." Yes, you need to think positively. Pick out the top ten and put in another folder called "the winners."

5. Get appraisals from others: Now this is the real test. Invite some friends over for evening of photo appraisal. Go over everything you learned in researching tips two and three. Ask them to play the role of judge and show them the folder called "winners." Ask them to pick out the top ten that makes the grade. Once done, compare with your own top ten picks. How many choices were the same? Now, you should have a good idea of which photos to use in the competition.

6. Decide if you should start from scratch: Now decide if your photos really have the mustard to compete. Be honest. If the photos are not competitive you have a camera and editing tools. Armed with what you know it is time for a photo outing and get what you need.

7. Examine your selections: Put your selected photographs back into your editing program. Enlarge you photograph and check every small detail of the photograph. Decide if it can be improved. Attention to detail is an important key. You should offer the most technically correct photograph that you can. Perhaps you have learned a new technique of improvement since you last edited your photograph that you can now apply.

8. Title and caption: Taking the knowledge you have learned in tips two and three, carefully decide on a title and caption. Sometimes the decision of a title and caption for me can take longer than actually editing the photo itself. Do not take the importance of this lightly.

9. The unavoidable bell curve: Realize you are trying to push you photograph to the very best end of the bell curve. If you have followed these tips you are getting to the good end. Ninety percent of the photos submitted will be rejected quickly. You should now have a photo in the top ten percent. One little tip, is to submit early. It may be okay to submit your taxes at the last moment, but photo contests are a very different matter.

10. Be a winner: You are a winner if you followed these steps. You have improved your chances of winning the photo contest dramatically. So sit back and wait for the notification. Don't be disappointed if you lose. Look at the winner and his photos. Congratulate them in your mind. My experience is being a winner 50 percent of the time. Try again and know you are going to succeed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ten Top Things Photogs Want to Implant in Your Mind

If photographers could control your thoughts:

1. This would look great on my wall. Right above the sofa. It's going right in my shopping cart. It is a sure thing this is going to go up in value. I think I will collect all his art.

2. I would really love this hanging on the wall behind my office desk.

3. I want to put this right on my magazine cover.

4. I think this would work great for an ad for my business. It will pop right off the page.

5. This picture would be great for my announcement. I wonder if he does cards, postcards and matching stamps?

6. My customers would love a calendar like this and it would promote my business for a year.

7. This photo would be a great book cover. I am going to make contact right away.

8. Wow this would be perfect in the movie I am making.

9. I really want this on my business card, people would be sure to keep it.

10. I could surprise my love with a card while I am away so she will think of me.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ten Top Reasons Photographs Say WOW

Beyond all the rules of photographic is the intangible WOW. WOW happens at lightening speed in the viewer's mind. They know WOW and perhaps they can not explain why they were WOWed.

So how can the photographer achieve WOW in the viewer's mind? To reach this intangible are some tangible hints.

1. The medium is the message: Marshall McLuhan theorizes on the effect of media on the mind. In the Wikipedia explanation is a good start in understanding the relationship of the viewer's mind in response to media. And of course photography is a medium.

2. Tonal quality: Tonal quality can add sensual undertones. These can be over stated or under stated. And, I suppose this relates to style. Even in Black and White photography the tones of transition can have a deep effect on the viewer mind. In color photography, I try to achieve a pleasing smoothness to acquire that eye candy feel. Other photographers delve into harsher tone transitions. The real point is to offer something unique that is not found in snap photography. Tonal quality is an evolving process for me, and it has been part of the evolution of my style.

3. Style: Style is the fingerprint that an artistic photographer places on his photograph. Style can be achieved from the compositional elements, the post processing techniques and even the camera settings, or the kind of camera a photographer uses.

All of these elements really have a bearing on style. And each good photographer develops his unique approach. Many photographers try to emulate work.

Imitation may be the best flattery, but learning from others then evoking your own style should be your goal. Style is a process that grows with the photographer. As I look through my photographs, I definitely see a progression. I have posted most of my work on Flickr and a time line of development can be noticed.

4. Atmosphere: What photographs are likely to send a viewer into orbit?

I have found that atmosphere can be a deciding quality. A foggy scenes taken in the woods, a mountain landscape or a river scene adds immensely to the visual appeal of the viewer. I look for these atmospheric events to add accent to my photographs. I know when nature interacts it positively affects the WOW.

5. Interaction: When people or animals interact in your photographs you tell a story.

You have one frame to tell a story. Your subject can interact with others or even the viewer. A one frame story does not have to be the whole story. If it leaves something unsaid the better. Letting the viewers interact with their own musings is the ultimate in making a photograph interactive.

6. A sense of mystery: We always enjoy the imponderables. If our photographs can inspire a viewer to reflect we will hook the viewer.

I really can just can't tell you how to do a photograph with a sense of mystery. I can give you a hint. It is all in how the photograph leads the eye. If you can lead the eye into a deeper more provoking space you may achieve the sense of mystery.

7. A sense of disbelief: In good novels an author who can suspend the sense of disbelief can consume the reader.

The same is true for the artistic photographer. No photograph is an exact representation of reality, even snap shots. Reality is changed from three dimensions to two. Colors light and contrast are different from what reality presents. How effectively a photographer makes this transition depends on his ability to suspend the viewer's sense of disbelief.

8. Thematic Photography: Thematic photography helps a photographer develop his specialty and evoke style.

Thematic photography can broadly span the photography a person does. Nature, politics, sports, journalism and even wedding photography can promote certain styles.

Personally, I present two themes in my photography. I find it interesting that each have evolved separately. My style in nature photography is different than my race car photography. Themes help build a photographer's evolution in creating style and his own personal WOW factor.

9. Conceptual Photography: The idea here is to covey a concept.

As a nature photographer I am constantly emphasizing the importance of nature. Photographs are subliminal messages.

Other photographers have other messages in the photographs. I do not always agree with their message, but I appreciate the style and delivery. Every time you can inspire a viewer to think you are tapping into the WOW factor.

10. Originality: Perhaps you have gleamed from my last nine points an emphasis on originality.

If your photographs fall into a general commonality with others you are not exploiting the WOW factor.

Photoshop tutorials tend to lend to that commonality. And while I do suggest you explore these, you might try striking out on your own plowing new ground of creativeness. After all, only if you are different will you truly tap into the WOW factor of your viewers.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ten Top Reasons Photographs Sell

As a photographer you can have some of the most beautiful and dramatic photographs. Yet, sales may be slim or not at all. So you may ask yourself, why am I not making sales?

Here are some answers that I have learned through experience.

1. Emotion, emotive, and sentiment: Ask yourself, do your photographs inspire the viewer to connect? The above photograph is named memory lane and has been a good seller for me.

I captioned this photo with a Saul Bellow quote: "Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door. "

While the title and the quote help set the scene for viewer connection, the photo itself has evoked childhood memories from many.

I have had some viewers and buyers ask where this photograph was taken. They have been sure they have been there, sitting on the wall drinking a soda as a child.

Oddly, they have only visited this place in their memories. I have a color version of this photograph. Although, I think it is a great photo and perhaps better, it does not inspire the same sentiment.
The quotation I used with the color version:

"She glances at the photo, and the pilot light of memory flickers in her eyes." ~Frank Deford

So I wonder, why the sepia version sells and the color version does not? My only guess is that memories are in black and white and people can connect with the sepia version better.

2. Photographs that relate directly to the viewer: Some photographers specialize. If it is Wedding photography, pet photography, or even event photography you have a ready market.

This can be the bread and butter for your craft. One sideline I do is dirt track racing photography. And, because the drivers, sponsors, and fans can directly and emotive connect, I make sales. Plus, there are tons of other perks that I enjoy.

3. Location, Location, Location: The three prime words in Real Estate Sales also applies to photography. Can take good local photographs? If so, you can develop a local market. I do this with the Blue Ridge Parkway and the city where I live, Lynchburg Virginia.

When you take photographs at your location imagine how they would look in a business. Visualizing your photographs hanging on walls is a mental exercise that I do all the time.

4. Is it worthy: Do a self appraisal of your photographs. Would you hang a large version behind your sofa?

And for that matter is one of your photographs being displayed above your sofa?

Your taste may be different from others, but these are pertinent question to ask. Can you compete in the art market place? And if not, decide how you can.

This picture is one of my best sellers and has appeared in National Magazines, such as National Geographic. And it is behind sofas of a select clientele worldwide.

5. Exposure: We are not talking about film exposure here, we are talking about your exposure. Do you do shows, do you exhibit? The more you expose you photographs the more sales you make. You can show your pictures on the Internet, but there is nothing like people seeing your photographs in person. Get out there and expose.

6. Tell your friends: People that have a connection with you are very likely to buy your photographs. There is nothing like a photograph at a friends house. They can tell their friends I know this photographer and he is great. You might even consider gifts to your friends to increase your exposure.

7. Donate your work: Promote your photography by donating your work to institutions and charities. This both lends to reputation and increases your exposure. And, besides this is a good thing to do.

8. Have a beautiful online gallery: I have opted for SmugMug for some very important reasons. I highly recommend SmugMug and I suggest you read why.

9. Show your attributions: Attributions are in essence testimonials about your photographs. I had someone else write mine, because I am shy. Attributions add meaning to your photographs, and suggest other reasons to develop interest in your photographs.

10. Be personable: As a photographer not only do you need to connect with your photographs, but as a person. Many people want a sense of who you are. Let them know you and they will be more apt to buy your photographs. Photographs are visual emotions and the more you can connect the better you will sell.