From:         Bob Rankin 
Subject:      TOURBUS - 25 May 04 - Photography Resources


The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

Look out... it's another Bus-jacking! I asked my pal Dave Taylor if he'd like to take us on a tour of some interesting websites for those who enjoy photography. Dave has been a guest driver several times before, so I hope he remembers what all those fancy knobs, levers and buttons on the dashboard are supposed to do...

So let's start out. How many of you have a digital camera? Raise your hands, and, yes, you in the back, you can raise your hand too. Don't be bashful.

If you've been using your digital camera, you probably have become the snapshot maven of the family, with dozens of pictures from the last family reunion and company picnic. But you might be surprised to learn that lots of Professional photographers are also moving to digital cameras, though their gear is more likely to be something like a $2000+ Nikon D100 setup than a $150 Fuji camera.

I can speak with some expertise about this because I too am a professional digital photographer. But let's start our tour with one of the most recognized names in photography: Kodak.

The Kodak "Tips for Great Pictures" site

Whether you have a Kodak digital camera or one from another manufacturer, there's a lot to learn from this Web site, and after all, Kodak also prints a terrific series of photography books too, so it's not too much of a surprise.

This very nice set of online tutorials - with lots of fun pictures to view -are tucked away on Kodak's massive Web site. The URL above is ugly, but there is a wealth of information on this site, and it's well worth exploring. If you've just a little time, don't miss their Top 10 Tips for Great Pictures, which are summarized as:

1. Look your subject in the eye 2. Use a plain background 3. Use flash outdoors 4. Move in close 5. Move it from the middle 6. Lock the focus 7. Know your flash's range 8. Watch the light 9. Take some vertical pictures 10.Be a picture director

For each rule, the site shows "good" and "better" images, which is very informative! If you have the time, make sure you also explore their terrific "Troubleshoot your pictures" area too.

Photo.Net's Learn Photography

Another Web site well worth exploring is the online tutorial area of Ranging from the most neophyte topics for rank beginners to advanced discussion of professional photographic techniques and solutions, there's a lot of value and wisdom on this site.

An excellent place to start your exploration of this site is with the article entitled "Good photography with a point and shoot camera", which can easily improve your photographs many fold after just 15-20 minutes of reading!

If you're like me, your faithful driver, you might be moving into the world of professional photography in which case you'll not only find the forums invaluable, but the advice of pro David Henderson shared in "Turning Pro" on is well worth considering too. He offers five key themes to contemplate when considering the switch:

  • Focus on the demand side
  • Know why customers should choose you
  • Commitment
  • Manage for cash
  • Be flexible
  • If you do explore this article, don't miss the reader comments and particularly the quote from Daffy Duck. No kidding. :-)

    Hewlett-Packard's Online Courses

    If you can weed through the vendor bias of this, well, vendor Web site, the tutorials here are pretty darn good, and a good place to begin is "Professional digital photography made simple" and "Photo printing made easy".

    They also have some very interesting courses coming up in the near future, including "Build an online photo gallery" and "Adobe Photoshop Elements", but again, the revelance might be directly related to whether you have HP-brand camera or printing equipment.

    Of course, this suggests - rightly - that just about every digital camera and photo printer manufacturer has online tutorials and information that can help you get the most out of your gear and take better photographs too, and they do!

    And if you're still in the world of analog cameras (remember those? They actually use this smelly light-sensitive stuff called "film"?) you'll still find that there are tons of tips and ideas you can pick up from reading about digital photography, at least as much as buying a half-dozen photography books at the store!

    The best way to learn photography is to take pictures, though, and that's really where digital photography shines. Once you have the equipment, the difference in cost between taking four pictures of your daughter's first date and ninety is zero. Talk to any professional photographer - or just watch one work - and you'll also realize that the best way to get those really great photos of people and places is to just take a ton of pictures.

    Even an enthused amateur can go through 2-3 rolls/day on a holiday, and professionals are often at 5-10 times that level (which is another reason why pros are moving in droves to digital: processing 3000 slides or prints is oodles more expensive than copying 3000 digital images to a hard drive).

    So let's end this Tourbus jaunt with a visit to my own Web site, where I have about a hundred of the over 5000 digital photos I've taken in the last three years...

    Dave Taylor Photography:

    First off, let's get technical! All of the photos here, from the portraits to the landscapes and scenics of Colorado and the San Francisco area, are take with a Nikon digital SLR (that stands for 'single lens reflex' and it means that when you look through the viewfinder, you're seeing the image through the lens, not through a separate window elsewhere on the camera), downloaded to my computer and transferred directly to my server.

    Other than just enjoying the pictures, look for the compositional elements here too: portraits are close-up pictures, for example, rather than full-body shots. One of the best ways you can evolve your own portraits, as discussed again and again in the tutorials already referenced, is to consciously get close enough to your subject that you can take these sort of close-up shots. Notice in the landscapes that the so-called rule of thirds applies: instead of having the central subject of the image in the bullseye of the image, it's off to a side.

    Here's a lovely example of this:

    Notice that while the boy's hand is chopped out of the picture, there's plenty of space on the right side to give him space to move into, figuratively. This is an identical compositional idea to taking a picture of someone walking: make sure that the photograph includes "space for them to walk into" rather than having them already against the edge (which just ends up looking like they're about to walk OFF the picture!)

    Anyway, the gas gauge is on "E" and gas is too expensive for us to drive any further, so let's pull into this bus stop and discharge all of you happy passengers. And remember, you can't get good pictures if you don't have a camera: carry your camera with you as much as possible. And don't be afraid to take 3-4 photos for every one you'd instinctively shoot! -- Dave Taylor

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    The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
    Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

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