I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.

Basic Camera Seminar

Is your dgital camera a mystery? We are going to fix that.On May 5th I am teaching a basic digital camera course. Explaining what all those icons on the camera dial mean and  how to take advantage of them. The secrets of how to take great images, what cool accesories, like the puffer, will help. File sizes as they relate to output, how to best get your images out of your camera and into your computer. For all the details go to our website page Basic Camera Course  

March 26, 2009 in Digital Camera stuff | Permalink | TrackBack

Kids with Cameras.


Tips for kids using cameras

It is such a visual world for kids, all bright colors and things to see. Photos and cameras fill their lives like never before. The camera, in a child’s hands, becomes an education, a way to have fun in the world and express themselves. It starts developing an eye for art or at the least a way to look at the world in a more interesting way. With everything from digital phones to point and shoot digital cameras, it makes this some a great photo experience summer!

Here are some tips on how to make the most of it for the kids.

The basic is teaching them to appreciate and respect the camera; even in a cell phone it is a pricey device.

Encourage them to experiment, go in close and fill the viewfinder, zoom in, get down low for the worms view look, climb up and shoot down. Ask them which they like and why. It gets them thinking.

The Picture Scavenger Hunt is a great game for them, simple to setup too. Print out a few lists of things to shoot. Start with something easy, tree, bug, sign, and car. Then go more challenging with moods, like sad, happiness, big, fast. You can also do the hard but interesting find the alphabet in objects and shapes or just a set of numbers.

Explain that photograph is the result of a whole bunch of decisions and choices, its more than just grabbing shots. A photographer decides, what lends, what gets included, what angle, what gets cropped, what angle, flash or not. It will make it more interesting to them as they grow in the process of having fun.

Discuss things like focus, framing, rule of thirds and horizon lines will help them get to a good start. But let them know there is no real right or wrong it is all about what moves them and interests them.

When they are done, spend a bit of time on the computer tweaking the results with them. There are lots of online storage places and many programs are now making books from images.

Mostly, just let them enjoy their moments of expression.

August 4, 2006 in Digital Camera stuff | Permalink | TrackBack

the new Panasonic DMCTZIA a great compact camera choice

We have some friends heading off to Africa asking about a good digital pocket camera they can take. Since my wife Jan is also looking for the same creature, it was clearly time to do a bit of research on a good choice.

I found a great little gem just released from Panasonic. Its full name is the Panasonic DMCTZ1A but it also goes by the Lumix. The key features make it very appealing. It will fit into a purse or jacket pocket, since size is important in these cameras, no sense getting a large camera that can do lots of stuff but you won’t take with you.

Here are some of the key things that make it a great choice. You will have to compare your needs to these features of course to be sure it is a good fit for your needs.

LumixFirst off, it just came out. Typically you want a camera about a month or so after it is released so any missed bugs can be shaken out but before it has been out for 6 or 8 months. Digital cameras usually are upgraded every 18 months on average with new features and a lower price. Purchase it early in its life cycle to get the most value of it.

It has a great optical zoom, 10X. This gives you a comparison lens range of 35 to 350 in a 35 ml camera.

The iso goes up to a crisp 800ASA “film” speed so you are in great shape for those indoor and low light situations. Also handy to capture fast moving objects or people. Without much grain or digital noise. They even have a special feature that lets you reach up to 1600 for that extra stop of speed in a low light setting.

It has a stabilization feature. This is great for low light hand helds The minute vibration from your hands jiggling on a slow shutter speed is adjusted for.

It has a large LCD screen for easy viewing.

With its 5 mega-pixels file side you will be able to take images that you can enlarge and retain a vibrant image.

Plus it comes in some different colours along with a price tag that is very affordable.  All in all, a great mix.

You can get more info at Panasonic.

May 23, 2006 in Digital Camera stuff | Permalink | TrackBack

Digital Camera Buying Tips

This time of the so many of my clients are asking what are the key points to consider when buying a consumer digital camera. With so many brands and levels of cameras, it is pretty daunting.

Before you get to the camera store figure out what your needs are. First consider where you will be using it and the size of camera you would like. The larger cameras usually have more oomph but the size may reduce where you will take it.

What size of prints will you make from your images? If you just have 4x5 or 5x7 size needs then the larger pixel size is not as important as someone who wants 8x10 or 11x14. For 4x5 images you should have a camera that can make a 1.5 meg. file, 5x7, 2.25meg size but 8x10’s need a 5megapixal camera.

Next is the zoom capabilities, don’t get fooled by the digital zoom term. All that is the camera blowing up the image internally, its not really zooming in. You can do a “digital zoom” with software on your computer, just crop in, but you lose quality. Look for the Optical zoom. The common zoom is 3X with some of the better cameras going as far as 10X zoom. The zoom is how close you can bring in faraway subjects. Test it in the store; zoom in across the store, from a distance of more that 10 or 15 feet to 20 feet and see if you are happy with how much the subject is brought in.

The next is battery life. More inefficient cameras can really go through battery power. Something you don’t want to keep feeding it. You could actually buy several cameras over the year on what you may spend on batteries. Cameras that have rechargeable batteries are a huge bonus.

Always test-drive the camera at the store. Check to see how fast the auto focus responds. Some can’t get a lock on a moving subject, so you want focus speed here. Along with that is the lag time from when you push the shutter to when it take the pic. If you are used to a film 35ml camera, even a pocket camera, you are conditioned to an instant response. Not always so with some digital cameras.

Consider how long the camera model has been on the market. New models in each line come out between 12 to 14 months. With the range of camera makers and model lines, that means there is almost a new model from someone coming out every second month. You should look at buying a model that is fairly freshly minted, not much more than 3 or 4 months old, getting beyond that you are getting into older technology that you will be replacing sooner than its normal life span.

If you are just starting out in digital consider buying a lesser camera to get a feel for it and finding what your needs are. Then in the next cycle buy the better camera.

Also remember there is peripherals you will need. All cameras come with a memory card but it is really to small to be efficient. Buy a larger card, at least 256k but at the dropping prices look at the 512k or 1meg memory chips. You will find your camera will respond faster with the faster chips like the Sandisk extreme line.

A final thought for those just starting out on a budget, look at last years models on the resale market. They still take great images but are a lot cheaper.

December 21, 2005 in Digital Camera stuff | Permalink | TrackBack

Digital Camera Stabilization

What’s the fuss or buzz about this new feature popping up in cameras and lenses? First just what is it. Its innovative technology that measures the shake of the camera then uses a built in compensating optical system that corrects it.

It comes into play in situations where you are working with slow shutter speeds. When hand holding a camera at these slow shutter speeds, if you go slow enough the whole image becomes blurry with jitters. This is caused by minuet camera shake that happens when the shutter opens long enough to record camera movement. For a lot of people one sixtieth of a second can cause this. It is really disappointing.

With image stabilization (you may find different manufactures have coined a different name with the same effect for their brands) the lens detects these jitters and moves the lens elements to match or “stabilize” the image.

This will effectively give you 2 to three more lower shutter speed stops that you can still take sharp photographs with. It adds a bit of bulk and weight to a camera or lens but nothing much to worry about.

Image Stabilization first appeared in Professional 35 ml camera lenses. They were so popular they are now being introduced in consumer cameras with great popularity.  

So look for it or ask about it when you purchase your next digital camera or lens.

August 5, 2005 in Digital Camera stuff | Permalink | TrackBack

Fast Digital File Transfer From Camera To Computer

There are a lot of ways, (ok 3), to get your images off your camera and into your computer. Today’s cameras being able to take both larger compact flash cards, some are ready to read the 8 gig cards that are on the horizon, plus they are creating larger image files.

This means is more time downloading the images from the camera. Responding to the need are firewire compact card readers. They deliver the images to your hardrive in about a quarter of the time USB readers take. They just embarrass the camera to computer time frame.

The newer USB 2 readers are respectable but still don’t match the speed of firewire. Almost all new computers have one fire wire port. For those that don’t, you can add one to your system for around $40 CDN.  

I love the speed of these; I just replaced my old USB reader with the Lexar fire wire reader. With our studio work flow it is saving an enormous amount of time.

The last resort approach is to do a transfer from your camera. Besides being slow it comes with some dangers. It creates a drain on your batteries that can create problems when you transfer with low batteries. The low power can cause fluctuations in the transfer that corrupts some of your images.

One last note, always unmount your card reader drive before you take the card out of the reader. You can damage your card, threatening the next batch of images you record.

PS: do you know you can also store any digital data on that compact card, even upload images back onto the compact card? 

March 25, 2005 in Digital Camera stuff | Permalink | TrackBack

What can you do with Digital Phone Photography?

Wow such portable devices are changing our world rapidly. You always have phone with you so now you can always have a camera with you. Not a great camera but the new age snapshot level.

So you have it captured, now what can we do with them? Here are some ideas.

Obviously you can send them to others with compatible phones. Where you used to use a Polaroid, now you can use the phone.

You probably know you can send them by e-mail to anyone with an e-mail address. You can also store your images in online photo albums (look for secure password protected sites if your images are sensitive or important) you can store them in your own photo based blog.

Look for photo album sites associtated with a lab service and people can even order prints from the online album.

You can personalize your phone screen (or a friends). The images can be turned into computer monitor wallpaper. Just click on an open area of your desktop, choose properties from the pop up list, and select the desktop tab. Scroll to where you saved your cell phone image.

With photo caller ID you can attach the image of people to their listings in your phone book. The caller ID lets you see who is calling.

Store your snapped images in personal and portable photo albums. Boy the old joke of a guy pulling an accordion of photos out of his wall is gone. Just hit the show button on your PDA or camera phone and you can show the whole album.

Upload your photo album to a photo sharing and print service, you and others can now order and view them.

Let me finish the list with more photo blog suggestions. Search on moblogging, mobile weblogging. Whole lists of places will pop up. There is even sites where you can enter your camera phone photo for some interesting prizes.

If you take the images into an image altering software you can stitch images together for a panoramic view.

Yup the list of possibilities is just endless!

March 15, 2005 in Digital Camera stuff | Permalink | TrackBack

Picking the Right Digital Camera Memory Card

So you have yourself a new digital camera and you love it. Only problem is you keep running out of memory on the card. Well usually the memory card that comes with your camera is a small one, almost a throw away and usually slow. How do you pick the right one.

A good size is the 512 meg is good size. Once you have it filled the whole thing will fill a CD so it is a painless archive. Plus it is a popular size so they are very affordable, I would suggest buying at least two and four is better. Memory is cheap unless you run out of it.

You can buy travel pouches (like the Lowepro ones) and they usually take 4 chips. Mark them by number so it is easy to track which has images on it.

Next thing to consider is the speed of the flash card. If you are finding your camera takes a bit of time (we are all so impatient these days) before you can take the next photo, it is probably because the memory card has a slow write time and that is your bottleneck. So the fast disks are what to go for. Look for chips that are Single Level Cell (SLC), they also use less power. They are also an investment in the future, as you upgrade your camera, it will have a faster download time and larger files, bad news for an older slower chip.

Oh, last thing, for fast downloads to computers, get card readers that are either USB 2.0 or better yet Firewire (only if your computer takes Firewire) It is better and faster to download from a card reader than from your camera. Never erase the card memory on your computer though, have the camera format it.

February 15, 2005 in Digital Camera stuff | Permalink | TrackBack

Getting Perfect Holiday Photographs

This holiday season, with family and friends filling your life, the opportunity for great memory making pictures is huge. Every time you turn around, another memory is emerging.

So here are some tips to get better photographs of those special people.

Fill the Frame:
Come in close, the face is full of expression. This is where those zooms really make the image but you still might have to move in a foot or two. Don’t worry about cropping out that new hair do, its not part of the expression.

Get the Most Natural Smile:
To get the best smiles, don'’ tell them too, it is always a fake looking smile. Do or say something funny, yes make a bit of a fool of your self, so the smile is spontaneous and natural. But remember, sometimes the expression of your child absorbed in their activity is just as charming.

Simple Backgrounds:
When you do pose them, make the background simple. That keeps the focus on your subjects and not on the busy clutter around them. If the background is to odd or busy it distracts the viewer from the people in the image.

Sold Cllours for Clothing:
Again, to keep the image focusing on your subjects, have them wear cloths without patterns. If it is a group, try and color coordinate them. A splash of different, bright solid colors creates a distracting mix. In a group, black clothing tends to make the wearer look like a floating head, the black clothing shows no detail so it is just a blob in the image.

Not DEAD On:
When posing or waiting for the moment, have the heads turned slightly to one side, towards the light source. Usually people look best with a slight angle. To be creative try different points of view, get up high then have them look up into the camera, or the same with a very low vantage point.

Fill the Shadows:
When doing indoor photography, try setting your digital camera to a higher asa rating, with film cameras buy the higher asa film. I always have 400 asa in my snapshot cameras. With indoor photography the flash will light up my subject but the high speed is able to see more available light so the shadows fill in.

Happy shooting!

December 23, 2004 in Digital Camera stuff | Permalink | TrackBack

Tips On Using Your Automatic Digital Camera

A friend was showing me her new little digital camera, Canon PowerShot SD300. She opted for this tiny thing, (3.5x2 inches and just over a half inch thick) with a 3.5-105 optical zoom and 3.9 mega pixels. Her main goal was to have something she could slip in a small purse or pocket with no real fuss.  This was it, but she was really curious about those little icon settings, the flower, mountains, running guy and so on.

They are called “Scene” modes and pretty much all cameras offer these preprogrammed settings. These are great little settings that not only help get the perfect exposure easier, they also improve the effect or purpose of the shot.

Basically, when set, what they do is make the best internal aperture, shutter speed, flash and exposures for your unique subject. Let’s say you put it on portrait mode. The camera adjust the zoom for a three quarter pose, goes for a very large aperture setting so there is a shallow depth of field. This makes things behind your subject very out of focus so your subject is separated from the clutter of background better. If the camera feels you need a bit of fill light it will employ that as well.

With the runner it will ramp up the shutter speed to try and freeze the runner’s action, again blurring the background. With the flower setting, which is macro, it adjusts for an extreme close-up. In Landscape, those mountain icons, it will go for a wide angle with the greatest depth of field it can muster.

These are great camera settings to use when you don’t want to be bogged down with manual settings, just want the image and go. Despite their simplistic appearance, there is some pretty sophisticated math going on to make the most of the settings.

November 7, 2004 in Digital Camera stuff | Permalink | TrackBack