28 2015 Aug

How to Choose Photo Editing Software?

Windows Photo Gallery

I chose this software to begin with because it looked quick and easy to download and install. I also thought that I might be able to use the included Movie Maker software at a later date.

Windows Photo Gallery is included in Windows Live Essentials. So if you have downloaded this whole package, Windows Photo Gallery is already on your computer. If not, here are the simple instructions to get it.

  1. Type “windows photo gallery” into the search box on the start menu and select “Go online to get Windows Live Essentials”.
  2. Click Download.
  3. Select the optional programs you want to select. I chose Photo Gallery and Movie Maker.
  4. Click Install. Enter your Microsoft ID (or create one) and password.
  5. Follow the onscreen instructions to complete the download.

I noticed right away that it has some nifty tools in the Home menu for tagging, managing, and sharing photos with others, but I was more interested in the Editing menu. The first tool I tried on my test photo was the “Auto adjust” tool.

This tool actually did improve the visual appearance of my photo, in small increments. All I had to do was just keep clicking the Auto adjust button until I was satisfied with the photo. If I went to far, I just clicked the back button a few times, until satisfied.

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

27 2015 Aug

Camera Mounts for Action Videos.

The camera mount kit that we discussed in the last article was for a professional action camera series. The kit included a virtual hardware store of parts to mount the camera on a skate board, snow board, bike handle bar, the front or top of a helmet, and just about any moving object. However, most mounting kits are more limited in focus.

Here is another popular example that allows you to wear your camera on your shoulder, chest, or hip; on the left, right, or centered. You can point the camera in any direction, from forward to backward.

  • Camera Mount
  • Extension Strap (used for wearing on the shoulder position)
  • 3-way S Adapter (works with cameras that have a standard tripod mount hole)
  • Hex Wrench
  • Instructions
  • Stuff Sack

It is a third party kit designed to fit a specific list of camera makes and models.

Here is a kit, randomly selected from Sony, that provides a fairly wide range of options:

  • 1 x Bike Handlebar Seatpost Mount
  • 1 x Shoulder Strap Mount
  • 1 x Car Suction Cup
  • 1 x Helmet Strap Mount
  • 1 x Luxebell Handheld Extendable Telescope Monopod
  • 1 x Mount Adapter
  • 1 x Luxebell Storage bag

Again, think big, and plan for the action camera that you can afford AND the mounting kit that you NEED to get the action shots that you desire. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

26 2015 Aug

Selecting the Perfect Camera Lens.

Format Type

After determining that you will be able to mount the lens on your camera, you need to determine if it will produce an image large enough to cover the image sensor. Different cameras use different sizes of sensors, so manufacturers produce specific lenses to work with each camera.

Lenses are generally categorized by their focal range or specific function if they’re a specialist lens. In general, they fit one of five categories: Ultra Wide, Wide Angle, Normal, Telephoto, and Superzoom.

Ultra Wide

Ultra wide angle lenses have a focal length of less than about 24 mm (in 35 mm-format). So they can take in a wider than typical scene. Shots with ultra wide angle lenses typically include a large depth of field. Images appear to pull in objects that are close and push away more distant objects, making them appear further apart. Ultra wide lenses are typically used for architecture and landscape photography.

Wide Angle

Covering a focal length between 24 mm and 35 mm, wide angle lenses are available as primes or zooms and may have variable or fixed maximum aperture. In addition to offering a wide field of view, they frequently offer a close minimum focusing distance as well.

Like ultra wide, wide angle lenses magnify the perceived distance between objects in the foreground and background. But wide angles lenses have less distortion than ultra wides. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

25 2015 Aug

Selecting a Great Digital Camera.

DSLRs are being slowly replaced by Mirrorless cameras among enthusiasts. While offering the same overall image quality in many cases, they are much more portable. Many times they also offer more innovative features like 4K video recording or connectivity options. They are called “mirrorless” because they don’t use the mirrors inside DSLRs to reflect light into a viewfinder. This cuts down on the size and weight dramatically, while still featuring interchangeable lenses.

An ambitious beginner with enough cash planning to jump right into a DSLR or high-end mirrorless should also be prepared to do a lot of learning before getting the most out of it. There are a lot of “how to” references on the web to get you started. But if you have the cash to jump into a camera like this, it would be wise to also spend some cash on formal photography classroom training. Most community colleges make courses like this available to the community at very low tuition rates.

There are also the bridge cameras (sometimes called superzooms). With a really long zoom range they offer more advanced features in a smaller body than a DSLR, and without the hassle of switching lenses. Bridge cameras usually offer fairly low quality images, like those in the point-and-shoot category, but a few high-end options (Canon, Panasonic, Sony) do create professional results. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

24 2015 Aug

Components of a Tripod.

The legs of a tripod also come in differing numbers of sections and clamping systems. When selecting, choose a height that allows you to stand erect while viewing your object through the viewfinder. This will limit stress on your back and shoulders.

When the legs are extended, the leg sections will be locked in position with a clip or a twisting collar. The clips may feel more secure, but they are impacted by grit and sand. In cold weather they can also be painful to use. The twisting collars are more visually appealing (they don’t stick out) and are simple to use, but lower quality collars may slip over time.

The Head

There are two basic types of tripod heads: ball heads and three-way heads. Ball heads have a single locking screw. When you loosen the screw you can move the camera in any direction. This makes them perfect for most types of photography. They are also less expensive, lighter, and more compact.

Three-way heads are more effective for the professional. They feature more precise framing and small adjustments. These are also very advantageous if you are taking panoramic shots, as you can leave the vertical adjustment locked and pan in the horizontal. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

21 2015 Aug

How to Choose Photo Editing Software?

I have to admit that I rarely use photo editing software to correct photos that I take casually on my smart phone, but maybe some of you do. When I did the research for this article, I was complete blown away by the number of choices out there (and most of them are free).

My photography these days is mostly limited to taking photos of items that I am going to list on my website or in my eBay store. And, until now, I havn’t needed to do much to use them as intended.

But recently I purchased a custom layout template for my listings in eBay. This addition created a whole new set of problems with my images that I wasn’t expecting. So now I’m really digging into photo editing software and guess what? You get to go along for the ride.

My goal is to list at least five new products a day on eBay, which means editing at least three to five or six photos for each item. To accomplish this, I need something that will make these photos meet the necessary quality standards for the layout template with just a few clicks.

I also work with various sources for my photos: some from my smart phone, some from a digital camera, and many from my suppliers right off the web. I’ll report my results of my first choice next time. Until then, Happy Shuttering!

20 2015 Aug

Camera Mounts for Action Videos.

Some third party companies assemble kits which include a large number of components to connect various sports cameras in various configurations. Here is an example of the components included in one of my favorites:

  • 1 Flat, 3M™ Adhesive Mount
  • 1 Curved, 3M™ Adhesive Mount
  • 1 Horizontal Surface Quick-Release Buckle
  • 1 Vertical Surface J-Hook Buckle
  • 1 Thumb Knob with Nut and Bolt
  • 3-way pivot arm
  • 1 Quick-Release/Vibration Plug
  • 1 Leash Tether
  • Warranty: One Year

This kit is still designed for various camera models from the same maker, but it can be used with any camera model in that line. It includes a flat surface base plate, a curved base plate, a thumb knob and stainless steel hardware, a quick release buckle, 3-way pivot arm assembly, a quick-release vibration plug, a leash tether, and a vertical J mount for mounting your camera on a vertical wall surface like a car bumper, wall, or back of a helmet.

Most importantly, what I want you to absorb from this is that a choice to purchase a sport camera must be well thought out ahead of time. You will want to, not only choose a camera that is right for your use of it but also, choose a mounting kit that will allow you to mount the camera in the way you intend to use it. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

19 2015 Aug

Selecting the Perfect Camera Lens.

Most camera companies design their cameras with their own unique lens mounts, so one company’s lenses generally will not fit another’s. But there are some exceptions.

Third party companies like Sigma and Tamron produce multiple versions of their lenses for each of the most popular camera manufacturers, so you will typically be able to choose a lens for a Canon, Nikon, Pentax, or Sony camera.

There are also adapters available which will allow lenses designed for one type of camera to be used on another camera, but in doing this you might lose control of some features. This may not be an issue for the casual photographer, but it could be a deal breaker for the professional.

For the photographer who is really determined to use lenses designed for other cameras, the use of mirror-less cameras will provide more flexibility than conventional DSLRs. This is because lenses are designed to focus on a sensor at a specific distance and inserting an adapter will increase that distance. Mirror-less cameras are thinner, so it is possible to squeeze in adapters for lenses designed for thicker cameras.

If you decide on a mirror-less camera, you will be pleased to note that Olympus and Panasonic have chosen to use the same mounting for their mirror-less models, called Micro Four Thirds. So Olympus and Panasonic Micro Four Thirds lenses are interchangeable. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

18 2015 Aug

How to Choose Photo Editing Software?

Coming soon, how to choose your photo editing software?

18 2015 Aug

Selecting a Great Digital Camera.

In general, a light weight digital camera has less zoom capabilities, a lower resolution, and fewer bells and whistles than their heavier cousins. If a less cumbersome camera is your priority then a good point and shoot camera may be your best choice. These are also lower in price range.

A larger digital camera will have a more powerful zoom capability, better resolution, and a wider array of bells and whistles. These cameras will also cost hundreds more than their lighter cousins. The extra money is worth it though, if you are looking for professional features in your camera and are willing to lug around a heavier camera.

This goes back, once again, to the original questions we asked. How are you going to use your digital camera? How you answered this question and the one on how much you want to spend will help you decide which of these camera groups is best to pursue.

At this point you should be able to select two or three cameras to compare. And this is the part of the decision where you actually need to go to your favorite camera shop and look and feel the weight of the different cameras. Compare the features of each. How convenient are the controls? You will want to be able to find these and operate them without looking. How easily does the zoom work? How does the camera feel on your shoulder? Until next time, Happy Shuttering!