Tuesday, August 31, 2010

September Desktop Image


Here is my September desktop image for you to download, share and enjoy.  Just click HERE  then right click to set as your desktop image.   It should not be pixelated or blurry.  If you have problems, let me know and I'll help.

For those of you who might not know, at the beginning of each month, (with the exception of last month), I post an image sized to fit your monitor.  It is for your personal use, but feel free to share with friends.  Just don't use it for profit.  I thought I'd recap and list the monthly desktop images so far for 2010:

Tech Talk Tuesday Part 1

 Go WIDE for the WOW factor
If you've followed my blog for long, you know that I often talk about looking for ways to make my photographs stand out in one way or another from the average snapshot.  Sometimes it's the color, sometimes it's the composition, sometimes it's the angle, sometimes is fancy post editing.  All designed to make a photo interesting enough so the viewer sticks around to enjoy it longer.  (I know, I keep repeating myself!)  Another way to do this is to use your various lenses in unique or creative ways.  The photo in the last post, and this one were both taken with a 16-35 mm wide angle lens.   Wide angle lenses have great DOF (depth of field), so they are sharper from very close to the camera to infinity, and they take in more of the view than a normal lens.  They also make objects in the foreground larger, and those in the background appear farther away.  Some common uses for a wide angle lens are when you want to show a grand landscape vista, or maybe get all the people in a crowded room in the same shot, or my excuse to buy a wide angle lens, to take photos of the inside of houses (I'm a Realtor).  One technique I love, is creating the illusion that the object nearest the camera is much larger than it actually is which changes one's normal perspective and so makes for a unique look.  This automatically tells the viewer what the main subject of the photo is, while making everything behind the subject appear smaller and farther away,  creating a supporting backdrop.  These flowers were actually small, but they look unusually large and take center stage in this composition.  First I put my camera on aperture priority and choose the smallest aperture my camera and lens will allow, (large number such as f/22).  I chose a day with no wind and used a tripod.  My camera was probably only a few inches away from the foreground flower, but I focused on a flower about a third of the distance into the scene (hyperfocal distance).  This gave me the best chance of having everything in focus from flower closest to me, to the mountains in the background.  (Obviously, if I'd wanted the background to be out of focus I'd have used a large aperture.)  Hope this gives some of you another tool for your 'creative' photography tool box.       

Tech Talk Tuesday Part 2

How Big Should I Post My Photos on My Blog???

I've had several people ask me how I get my photos to post so big.  I'll tell you how in a minute, but first, some deep thoughts about photography, blogging, and combining the two.  (Don't worry, not too deep I hope!)  
The first question to ask yourself is,  "Why do I want to post big photos?"  No, actually the first question is, "Why do I post photos on my blog in the first place??"  Well, what is the purpose of your blog?  Here are some reasons to blog where photos may be included:

1.  Keep in touch with family and friends
2.  Keep an online journal of my daily life and that of my family
3.  Outlet for my creative writing
4.  Earn money blogging about a popular topic when I get enough followers
5.  Attract customers for my photography business
6.  Want to connect with others who share my passion for photography 

Of course there are many more reasons to blog, but of this short list, I suggest that for the first 4 reasons, small to medium photos will do just fine.  This is because the photos are just supporting the main reason for the blog, they are not playing the staring role.  In the last 2 reasons, photography IS the reason for the blog.
I did a quick check of all my favorite photo blogs I follow, and the majority post big, beautiful photos.  They say "HERE I AM" right at the get-go without any additional effort or clicks on my part.  Big photos say, "Photography is my passion, it's a BIG part of my life, and I want you to see what I see through my viewfinder."  It's kind of like the difference between watching a movie on a 16 inch TV compared to watching in the theater.  Big photos make a bigger impact and show off your talents as a photographer better. 
I also noted that most of my favorite photo bloggers only show one or two photos per post.  This gives me more time to study and appreciate the photographer's work.  When there are too many photos, I find myself quickly skimming through them without really seeing the photographer's vision.  This reminds me of a post awhile back on Scott Kelby's blog.  He was giving advice to professional portrait/wedding photographers who were trying to use their blogs and websites to attract business.  He said that one mistake so many make is they post way too many photos.  He said a photographer should only post a few of his very, very, very best images .  That way, potential customers will assume that all his images are amazing because all they see are amazing photos.   I believe he suggested having a fellow photographer pick out a few of the best images, because often we photographers have a hard time being objective about our own work.   On this blog, (which falls into the No. 6 reason mentioned above), I sometimes sneak in a series of family photos, but usually I try hard to be selective and think about what my viewers would really like, because I truly want you to enjoy and be inspired by what inspires me.  I am always so grateful to get comments and emails from people saying they enjoy my photography, but I often wonder if they'd be impressed with the thousands of images that don't make it to the blog!
O.K.  here's how I make my photos BIG:  First of all, I almost always shoot in RAW which gives me a huge file since my camera gives me 21 megapixels.  For each photo shoot I keep three files:  (1) the originals, (2) the edits which are the original size, (3) the edits resized for the WEB.  I use Photoshop and Lightroom which makes resizing really easy, but no matter what program you use, you have to be able to do this:  Size your photo to 900 pixels on the longest side, (and then whatever the number is on the short side to maintain the correct proportions), and then chose 72 dpi.  (For printing, I use the original size and 300 dpi which is probably overkill).  After you resize, you need to sharpen most images.  Upload to blogger from a file on your computer, not flickr or Picassa, etc.  After you've uploaded to blogger, go to the 'Edit HTML' tab.  You will see about 4 lines of computer code identifying your photo.    Toward the end you will see  /s320/
Change this to  /s900/
You may also have to find the width and height codes and change them to your exact photo dimensions.
This should make your photo BIG and BEAUTIFUL!  (If anyone still has problems, send me a comment or an email and I'll help you figure it out.)  I'm looking forward to seeing more of your big and beautiful photographs!