Wednesday, May 3, 2017

New: Summer Photography Challenge!

Winter's 4 Weeks to Better Photography email course was such a big hit, that I'm starting another month-long photography challenge for the summer. Join us for June or July and a month-long Summer Photography Challenge!

The goal of each Summer Photography Challenge is to give you daily motivation to get out, get shooting, and capture some amazing and memorable images! The daily word prompts are arranged by week, and you'll receive a weekly email  with tips and ideas for how to tackle that week's challenges.

  • Week 1: Color. Pay attention to the colors of your world and seek out a different one each day.
  • Week 2: Daily Life. Capture the routines and small moments of your everyday this week.
  • Week 3: Emotion. Get abstract with this week's descriptive word challenges.
  • Week 4: Single Subject. Ready for the ultimate challenge? This week you will try to achieve each day's word challenge by using the same subject throughout the entire week.

Be Accountable: get a photo buddy (optional)

New for this challenge, you can choose to be partnered up with a small group of other photographers to take on the challenge together. Sharing images with others is a great way to push yourself to achieve, and being accountable to someone else is sometimes that extra motivation you need to pull your camera out and keep working at it.

If you choose the "sharing" option for either month, you will receive a group email with the names of other photographers interested in being assigned to a small group for the month. You are committing to communicating at least once a week with your buddies, whether that means sharing an image or two from the week, asking questions, or offering support and ideas. This is a low-pressure way to get some feedback while gaining some cheerleading support along the way! [You will receive your group's names at the beginning of the month. New sharing groups will not be created after a challenge is underway.]

Interested? Use the signup form below and choose whether you'd like to join the challenge for June or July (or even both, if that's your fancy). "Not sharing" means you will get the emails but not assigned any buddies, while "sharing" means you agree that I can share your email with a small group of other interested photographers (3-4 folks).

Join us for another great month of photography exploration!

Subscribe to our mailing list & photo challenge

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Already a subscriber? You can either enter your info again in the form above or click "update subscription preferences" from the bottom of any BYP email. It's that simple.

(P.S. Those of you who are already subscribers will not receive a confirmation email, but don't worry - the first email for the challenge will arrive on the first day of the month you've selected.)

Hope you'll join us!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Great Advice for Printing and Displaying Photographs

One of the best things about digital photography is the sheer quantity of images you can take, but one of the downsides of digital photography is how often those images remain locked forever on your phone and/or computer without ever seeing the light of day!

This great roundup of posts From the Archives will help you get the motivation and knowledge you need to get your best images printed and out into the world in physical form.

Comparing Online Photo Printing

For this two-part series, I sent the same series of digital images to several companies that offer photography prints. Part one, Where to Print Your Photographs, lays out the retailers used as well as the basic services and prices for each one.

Part two, Best Options for Printing Your Photographs, provides the head-to-head comparisons of the prints that I received. Find out if your favorite retailer makes the cut!

Beyond Prints: Photography Gift Ideas

There are so many other ways to share your photographs than just basic prints. This post, Photography Gift Ideas, lays out a wide variety of other media to consider with your photographs (think cards, canvases, calendars, and more)!

Find Time for Photo Books

Photo books and albums are another great way to share and preserve your photographs. This post will help you carve out the time to make high-quality photo books no matter how busy you are! Find Time for Photo Books.

Inspiration: Photography Displays

Now that you know where to print all your fabulous images, find out how best to display and showcase them with this post on 5 Inspiring Ways to Display Photographs!

Want more? Click here for more great collections of posts From the Archives.

Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.  * Now available in print as well as eBook! *

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Best Flower & Macro Photography Advice!

What's better than flowers and playing with close-up or macro photography? Not much! This post rounds up a collection of great advice From the Archives to get you off and shooting well.

5 Tips for Better Flower Photographs

Move beyond snapshots with these easy-to-learn tips for better flower photographs. From composition to settings advice, this post has you covered.

Cheap & Easy Macro

Interested in macro photography but not ready to make the pricey jump up to a full macro lens? This post, cheap and easy macro: comparisons and recommendations, has you covered. Find out all about the different ways to easily achieve macro-style shots with minimal cost!

Tips to Improve Your Macro Photography

Now that you're set for macro photography, check out these tips to improve your macro photography. Learn what to look for, how to best compose your shot, what settings to use, and more.

Focus Stacking for Macro Photography

Focus stacking is a post-processing technique that combines several photos into one super-sharply focused final image. Find out how to shoot and how to process these images with this useful post.

Macro Fakery: Background Creation

Now we're getting sneaky. Want the secret behind fabulous macro flower shots? Pick some flowers and bring them inside! This post lays out ideas for macro fakery and creating your own backgrounds.

Want more? Click here for more great collections of posts From the Archives.

Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Finding the Perfect Type of Camera for You

Congratulations on your upcoming camera purchase! You've made it through the Is it Time for a New Camera? post and are ready to get serious about finding the perfect camera for you. Below are some questions that will help guide your decision.

Questions When Considering a New Camera

Biggest Question: what are your current photography needs? Where is your current camera lacking?

  • If you tried the exercises in the Time for a New Camera? post, you should have a good sense of where your current camera is letting you down. Is it too slow? Poor quality? Too heavy? Lacking options for customization and control? Etc.
  • I am a list person, so I found it very helpful to actually sit down and make list of some of my likes and dislikes about my current gear. The more specific you can get, the better you can determine the right camera for you, rather than just "a good camera." 

Price Point: how much are you looking to pay for your new camera?
  • You can spend a LOT of money on any category of cameras, but broadly, prices break down in the following ways:
  • Keep in mind the "hidden" costs of buying a new camera or new camera system: lenses, backup batteries, extra memory cards, a case, and any additional accessories like a tripod, filters, etc. (Read up on all Must-Have Camera Accessories here.)

Once you have a reasonable understanding of your price point and your needs, you are ready to start shopping and comparing options, so that you can make the best choice for you.

Camera Category Comparisons

The following chart gives you a visual guide to some of the big differences between the broad categories of types of cameras. This is a good starting place for narrowing down your search, based on your personal camera criteria.

Think back on your answers to the flowchart of questions from Time for a New Camera?

  • Looking to upgrade from your phone or basic point-and-shoot for something with higher quality and more creative control? Consider a mirrorless or entry-level DSLR camera.
  • Is your current camera reaching the end of its functional life? Consider whether you want to make a sideways move (i.e. buy a similar camera to what you had before) or an upgrade. 
  • Looking to upgrade based on the limitations of your current camera? Consider moving up to an intermediate or professional-level DSLR, based on which specific limitations you want to overcome. Or consider investing in a high-quality lens for your current DSLR camera, if you are struggling with issues of zoom, sharpness, or other quality issues.

Narrowed down which type of camera you want? Stay tuned for the next post(s) in this series, which will help you figure out which specific camera is best for you!

Upcoming posts:

  • Mirrorless vs. DSLR. Which choice fits you better?
  • Mirrorless Camera Comparison Shopping
  • DSLR Camera Comparison Shopping
  • and more ... 

What additional questions do YOU have about camera buying?

Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Time for a New Camera?

One of my most-read and most-discussed posts for Digital Photography School was the one where I asked the question, "Do You Need to Upgrade to the Latest Camera?" (Spoiler alert, my answer was no.)

But there's a big difference between upgrading to the latest camera simply because it is the latest camera and upgrading to a new camera because it fits a "need" or a gap in your photography arsenal. Since I am in the market for a new camera myself right now, I thought it might be interesting to revisit the question from the opposite angle: when is it actually time for a new camera?

When NOT to Upgrade

But first, some caveats. Upgrading to a better camera does not magically make you a better photographer. It's sad but true. New gear does not teach you composition, turn a snapshot into a memorable image, or help you better discover the "decisive moment." There are plenty of terrible images out there shot on expensive cameras.

Before you decide you "need" a new camera, spend some time thinking about the camera(s) that you already own. How well do you know how to use your current camera? How often have you referred back to the manual or investigated some of the bells and whistles that might already be at hand?

In what situations does your camera perform well? In what situations does your camera seem limited? Are these situations the result of a weakness in your camera or a weakness in your knowledge or experience? (Self-promotion moment: my book, Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is specifically geared towards DSLR owners who want to get the most out of the camera they have.)

If you are a casual, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of shooter (and we all are, on some days), then maybe what you need is a new commitment to pushing yourself and your current camera to the limits of its abilities. Go out late at night and shoot in low light. Crank the ISO up high and see how poorly (or not) your images turn out.

Find a speedy pup or cranky toddler and see how well your camera deals with moving subjects or the need to shoot rapidly. Test the limits of your zoom, the limits of your handholding without shake, or the limits of your burst mode. That should give you a much stronger idea about whether you might really "need" a new camera ... or not.

Once you've determined that your current camera doesn't meet your needs, then you are truly ready to move forward with researching and purchasing a new camera.

Signs It Might Actually Be Time for a New Camera

Think you're ready for a new camera? Try out handy-dandy flowchart to see for sure ...

Ready to make a decision? Check out the next post in this series, which will explain the different options in detail, to help you make the best choice for you: Finding the Perfect Camera Type for You.

Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

5 Tips to Keep Your Gear & Photos Safe

It is critically important to maintain your camera and accessories in good working order. You also need a structured routine to backup your photos. Keep your gear and your images safe with these 5 tips From the Archives.

Keep Your Camera & Sensor Clean

It is essential to keep your camera clean both inside and out. This article on Keeping Your Camera and Sensor Clean provides preventative advice, tips for regular maintenance, as well as a case-study in what a dirty sensor means for your camera and for your images.

Avoid Memory Card Disaster

A broken or corrupt memory card will take all of your images with it when it goes. But you can generally avoid ever having this problem through basic care and maintenance of your cards. Find out how in the article on How to Avoid Memory Card Disaster: proper handling and care of memory cards.

But, if such a tragedy does strike, there are some actions you can take to try and recover your images. Get all the details in the article Memory Card Disaster: what to do about broken, corrupt, or damaged memory cards.

Backup Your Photos Regularly

Top Tips for Camera Memory and Storage | Boost Your Photography

In addition to taking care of your memory cards, you also need to take care of your memories! Frequent, redundant backups are critically important to making sure that you do not lose your photos if something should happen. Find out all the recommendations in Top Tips for Camera Memory and Storage.

Know How Long Your Battery Lasts

A final tip that will help you avoid all sorts of problems is to Know How Long Your Camera's Battery Lasts. Estimates and manufacturer's ranges are all well and good, but the best test is keeping track for yourself and your particular shooting style. This article provides a simple method for tracking battery life, ensuring that you'll never miss a shot again due to a dreaded dead battery!

Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Stir Crazy? Try These Indoor Photography Ideas!

Need something new in your photography? Try these creative ideas From the Archives - all of which you can do in the warmth and comfort of the indoors!

Fun with Fizzy Fruit Photography

With a very basic setup, you can easily create these bright fun shots of bubbles on fruit. All the details are in the article on Fun with Fizzy Fruit Photography.

Water Droplet Refraction

Another fun idea with water is to create a repeated refraction effect. This super-easy technique creates amazing and mystifying photographs. All you need is a piece of glass or plastic, some water, and some colored paper ... Make the Shot: droplet refraction.

DIY Photography Light Tent

Take your indoor photography up another level by building your own light tent. Light tents are incredibly useful for all kinds of photography, especially if you are trying to feature small items or sell products on your blog. You probably have all the supplies you need lying around! Read on to create your own Foldable DIY Photography Light Tent.

Photograph Interiors

Finally, make the most of your time indoors by learning how to photograph interior locations better. All the details are in this article on Photographing Interiors

Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.