Category Archives Photography

That’s right, baby! I’m going from up north to way down south, as my “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it” live seminar tour comes to Orlando, Florida. Here’s the info:

  • Who: Me.
  • When: Friday, August 5th, 2011
  • Where: The Orange County Convention Center
  • Why: Why not? You’re 100% guaranteed to love it, or your money back.

It’s only $99 for the full-day workshop (Just $79 if you’re a NAPP member), and it comes with a detailed step-by-step workbook that follows right along with what I’m teaching during the day. It’s gonna be an awesome day of learning and fun, and I hope you’re there to be a part of it. See you in Orlando! (here’s the link).

Hi Gang: Had lots of great comments and questions after yesterday’s post about 500px.com; the photo sharing site for pro photographers (well, at least it’s the one being embraced by the pro photography community these days).

First, I guess I’m late to the party, because I learned shortly after the post that 500px.com isn’t a brand new site—I hadn’t heard of it before (I first heard about it from my buddy RC Concepcion), but the buzz surrounding it was so big I figured it had to be new, but alas, I was wrong (my apologies to the owners of 500px.com).

Speaking of the owners….
I thought it was really cool that the guys behind 500px.com were answering questions one-on-one here on the blog yesterday (I got to meet them briefly at my Toronto seminar last week. I didn’t realize they were based up there until I saw a Tweet that they were coming to my seminar. Really great guys, and they’re doing something really cool). Anyway, I’m grateful to Andrey Thchilin from 500px.com for fielding so many questions from my readers.

More on 500px.com Ratings
There’s a great article pointed out yesterday by Andrey with how the ratings system works, and if you’re on the site, you’ll find this really helpful. Here’s the link.

Just in case the owners are listening….
I thought I’d mention five things that I think would totally take their site up a big notch. I say this because I’ve seen a number of people commenting on how quickly they’ve responded to ideas from their users, with new features and enhancements being added all the time, so I was hoping I might toss out a few here and see if any of them stick. Here’s what I’d love to see:

(1) Let Me Choose The Sorting order on my main page
Not the portfolio page, but your personal page (shown above). It appears as though the photos on this page appear in the order you uploaded them, and I’ll be darned if I can find a way to reorder them without reuploading them. I love the way this page looks (with one exception below)—perhaps even more than how the portfolio page looks, so being able to customize this would be awesome.

(2) I would like the option of hiding the left side bar
So it looks like what you see above. Just lots of nice large thumbnails. Mmmmm. Large thumbnails. This would look awesome on an iPad.

(3) Keeping Pro Quality Images Up There
I know the idea behind 500px.com is that you’re only supposed to upload images you would put in your portfolio, and theoretically if everyone abides by that, it will help keep the quality level high and the amount uploaded low. That being said, if they want to keep this from eventually turning into flickr 2.0 (and I saw a number of comments that fear exactly that), I think someone (or a group of editors) are going to have to be the “gatekeepers” to keep people from uploading snapshots and lowering the overall quality. I know this opens up a Pandora’s box of “Why did my photo get turned down?” and so on, but if someone doesn’t set a bar somewhere, we could wind up in flickrland before you know it.

(4) The search function needs some work
My buddy Matt Kloskowski had a 500px.com account before I did, but I’ll be darned if using their search let me find him. I can’t. Period. I even know the exact name of a couple of his images, and I still couldn’t find him. I couldn’t find me either using the search. Couldn’t find RC either. In fact, I can’t find anyone in particular unless I see one of their images in the Popular, Upcoming, Editor’s Choice, or Fresh categories. Maybe I’m using it wrong, but if you type in Matt Kloskowski, (as shown above) or RC Concepcion, or the name of one of Matt’s images; “Mesa Arch at Dawn” none of those come up.

(5) Make it easier to get to a photographer’s Portfolio
Let’s say I find an interesting image in the Upcoming Category gallery, and I click on the thumbnail to see the larger view (shown above). Let’s say I like it enough that I want to see this users’s whole portfolio. There’s really no way to get there from here (at least, I couldn’t find a way), without first clicking on the photographer’s name, going to his main page, and then clicking the “View Portfolio” button in the upper right corner. Also, if you click on the image on this page, you get a smaller pop-up version of the same image. It seems like it should take you to the next image in the gallery—-nobody wants to see a slightly smaller version of what they’re already looking at. But hey, it could just be me.

> Don’t just look at the Editor’s Choice and Popular Categories
Yesterday I mentioned looking at those two categories, but also make sure you check out Upcoming, because these are the ones that will most likely be in the Popular category soon. Also, the Fresh category is where you go to see the new stuff. Both very interesting and inspiring.

> A Lightroom Uploading plug-in is apparently in the works
RC posted this as a comment yesterday, and that’s good enough for me. (Yay—it won’t be long now!). :)

> Don’t do what I did
I was most interested in using 500px.com as a portfolio site, so I uploaded a hundred or so photos (20 photos each in six categories; sports, people, travel and so on). After reading how they do their ranking, those photos will soon be buried in the rankings, so you’re better off to upload a handful, and then add to them if your goal is to have your images seen by others in the community.

> Dig This: NAPP members get $10 off an Upgraded Account
I didn’t know about this until late yesterday, but apparently there is a discount for the premium upgraded account if you’re a member. Visit the NAPP member’s Website for the discount code to enter during checkout (hey, it saves $10. Not too shabby!).

> All in All, I Still Think It’s The Best Thing Out There
I’m excited about what’s happening over at 500px.com, and I read a comment on another blog (I wish I could remember which one to give proper credit) but it said something along the lines of “500px.com will be able to add the few advantages flickr has a lot faster than flickr will ever be able to bring what 500px.com already has)—of course, I’m paraphrasing, but I agree. I believe you’ll see tweaks and improvements coming very quickly at 500px.com, and if flickr does one day realize that they’re layout is…well…ahem….let’s say “less than optimal” for pro photographers, it’ll already be too late—the pros will have already gone.

If you haven’t tried out 500px.com yet, here’s the link (the basic account is free, and you can have your images up there…well….now). Thanks to everybody who commented yesterday and really added to the discussion.

Two or three weeks ago, I started getting emails and reading articles about a new photo-sharing site for pro photographers called 500px.com, and after a dozen or so people sent me emails asking if I was on there, I finally signed up to see what all the fuss is about, and now that I’m on there, I’m really glad I did. (Above is how your personal photo page looks on an iPhone, and when you click on a thumbnail, you see the larger view shown on the iPad).

A free online portfoli0? I’m listening….
For those of you that follow this blog, you know I’ve been struggling for the past year in getting an online portfolio that looks decent on the Web and on mobile devices like the iPad and iPhone, and with RC’s help, I finally got one in place. The only downside is; I have to edit the Web page itself, using a text editor, which makes adding or rearranging photos a bit of a pain. I guess that’s the first thing interested me in 500px—-you get a free, good looking online portfolio that you can link from your web page/blog/whatever, with different layouts to choose from (that’s one layout shown below), and updating it with new images, or changing the order, is a no-brainer—you do it right from your Web browser.

The Social Aspects
I’ve always joked that “flicker is where you go when you need a hug” because anybody and everybody is on flickr, so when you post a photo you took accidentally while loading your camera back into your camera bag, you’ll get 50 comments like, “Brilliant! Incredible composition” and “Fantastic shot! Keep ’em coming!” and stuff along those lines. So, if you’re ever feeling down about your photography, upload a shot or two to flickr.com, and 30 minutes later you’ll feel like Ansel Adams. So, another angle that interested me is that the site is geared more at pros (well, that’s at least what it has appeared to attract so far), and there are a lot of truly great photographers on that (like flickr), but unlike flickr the quality overall seems really high.

(Above: here’s another theme. Just one click to change themes, and they have about 10 or so to choose from).

Getting Feedback from Serious Photographers
The way the site produces statistics, it’s easy to measure which photos are resounding with other pro photographers, and which images are getting totally ignored, and that’s pretty eyeopening. They rank images in a way that makes everything pretty darn clear, and it had me weeding things down in short order, and removing shots altogether that weren’t getting any views.

(Above: Here’s the theme I’m probably going to stick with, which is their default scheme. Again, you’re seeing this on my iPad, but it looks even better on your computer screen).

How it looks matters
I think one of the main reasons why 500px is getting so much buzz right now, is that it looks so cool. You can choose different layouts with just one click, the images are presented at a large size, and when you compare the look of your page to either flickr, facebook, or the new Google+, I think 500px has them beat hands down, and as photographers, how our portfolio layout looks matters to us. A lot.

Best of all, it’s free
Although I went ahead and got the Upgraded account (with more features, and no limits on the number of photos you can upload) for $50 a year, you can start right away for free (here’s their link). If nothing else, head over there and look at some of their popular photos, or Editor’s Choice collection. There’s some really inspiring stuff there. You’ll dig it.

W0w—-what a day!!!! We had a crowd of over 520 photographers at my seminar on Wednesday in Toronto, and at that we still had to turn away more than 100 photographers because we were sold out in advance. As I write this, it’s my birthday, so I’m going to keep this kinda short, so I can get back to birthdaying. ;-)

I Love Canada!
I have to say, I knew Canadians were friendly people, but this was just over-the-top! Everybody I met could not have been more gracious, helpful, and just downright nice. It started at the airport when I got to the Air Canada ticket counter and realized I had forgotten my passport. As my wife raced from the office, back to our house, and then to the airport in record time, everyone at Air Canada could not have been more friendly or helpful. I nearly missed the flight out, but they did everything to make sure that I did make it, and I’m very grateful.

One of The Best. Ever!
This was, hands down, one of the most enjoyable seminars for me as an instructor because the crowd was just so much fun, and so into it all day. I met so many great people on the breaks and at lunch, and I’m very grateful for the wonderful hospitality of the Canadian people. I can’t wait to take this tour to Calgary and Vancouver, Canada in just a couple of weeks. Canada rocks!

Also, the photos you see here are courtesy of none other than Mr. Terry White, who came for the day accompanying Amanda (shown above), a new up-and-coming fashion model along with her teriffic Makeup Artist Renata. Amanda was our model for the afternoon sessions, and she did a really outstanding job.

All-in-all, it was really a wonderful trip, and although I literally just barely made my flight home and had to sprint all the way to the plane, we actually made it and I got to spend my birthday today at home with my wife and family which was just so wonderful.

Thanks to everyone who made this trip such a great experience, from the folks at Air Canada to everyone who came to the seminar. See you again soon!

…..back in the original post (it shows the percentage that voted for each). It doesn’t matter which one you voted for, because since this is art it’s all personal opinion and there is no wrong answer. What I did want to do is tell you how each one was processed as a post-processing learning exercise:

#1) If you chose the first image (shown above) it was created using 5-bracketed images and then all 5 were compiled into a single HDR image using Photoshop CS5’s built-in HDR Pro feature. After it was compiled (using the “Scott 5” setting from my Photoshop CS5 Book for Digital Photographers), I applied the Glamor Glow filter from Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 3 (using the default settings) to a duplicate of the background layer, then I lowered the Opacity of that layer to 50%. I probably should have gone down to 30%.

#2) If you chose this one, it’s actually not an HDR image at all. It’s a single image—I took just one of the 5 bracketed images, and then I ran the Tonal Contrast preset of Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 3.0 plug-in for Photoshop with the amount set to 50% (the default is just 30%). Then I ran the Glamor glow filter as well, at 50%.

#3) If you chose this third image, this too was created using 5-bracketed images and then all 5 were compiled into a single HDR image using Photomatix Pro. I took these shots with my 28-300mm f/3.5 to f/5.6 lens, and I was out at the 28mm wide end, so the doors bowed out a little bit in each of the three photos, so when I was done with each, I use Photoshop CS5’s built-in Lens Correction filter to straighten them out a bit.

Anyway, the reason I was showing you these is so you could see how each of the HDR, or “HDR-like” treatments compare, and how close to the HDR look you can get with a single image and a few filters (as seen in image #2).

Well, I’m off to Toronto for my sold out “Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It” seminar tomorrow. If you read the blog, I hope you’ll come up and say hi. Have a great Tuesday everybody. :)

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