Not too long ago there was an online discussion about what inspires people to create new images. For me, new things are what inspire me. It can be a new lens, a new accessory, or maybe just a new place to make photographs. Here are some new tools for your inspiration along with a few ways to make old things reinspire you.
In a previous column I offered a few ideas on creating Contact pages with built-in spam protection. Littleton, Colorado’s Tim Mosholder (www.mountainviewphoto.com) sent me a tip for WordPress users that lets you use an e-mail link that’s impervious to spambots. CryptX (http://wordpress.org/plugins/cryptx) is a free WordPress plug-in that automatically changes all e-mail links on your site’s pages by adding [at] and [dot]. For example, Tim’s e-mail is “info[at]mountainviewphoto[dot]com” and the link works when your clients click on it but spambots won’t see it.
The Pentax MX was a 35mm Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera produced from 1976 to 1985 and, for a time, was the company’s flagship SLR. It was solidly built featuring all-mechanical construction, including the shutter, and only the metering system was battery dependent. The new all-digital, all-electronic Pentax MX-1 couldn’t be more different. For openers, the MX-1 is not an SLR but an advanced digital compact camera with the kind of retro styling that’s all the rage these days with camera designers and, apparently, camera buyers, too. So, how does the MX-1 stack up?
Instead of visions of sugarplums, it’s visions of gadgets, gizmos, and software dancing through digital photographers’ heads during the holiday time. Presented for your approval is a group of fun, clever, and affordable tools that will put a smile on your face when opening holiday gifts and make imaging in 2014 more exciting.
Lester A. Dine invented the ringlight for making dental photos in 1952 but today people use them for all kinds of photography. A ringlight is a circular light source that surrounds the optical axis of a lens causing light to hit the subject from different angles, producing soft shadows in much the same manner as a light bank. When photographing people, the unique way that a ring flash renders light also produces a shadowy halo around the subject that’s much beloved by fashion photographers. I use a small ring flash to photograph butterflies, but if you want to photograph people, to paraphrase Jaws Chief Brody, “You’re gonna need a bigger light.”
Shortly after I moved into my former home, there was a knock at the door. Standing in front of me was an 8-year-old girl who lived down the street. “I’m selling note cards,” she told me, “I made the pictures.” A second look showed subjects a kid might shoot but others demonstrated that she was thinking about the photographs before making them. I bought several note cards and asked about her camera, which turned out to be borrowed. With her grandmother’s permission I gave her an old, unused digital point-and-shoot. The girl loved the camera and was inspired to keep making photographs and we talked from time to time about her aspirations. Today she’s a young woman with professional ambitions.
Leaves haven’t started falling on Daisy Hill, but soon will be, and just as quickly the number of leaves needing to be raked reminds me of the thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of websites I’ve looked at and written about for Web Profiles over the years. The best are presented here but there are almost as many—maybe more—near misses that fail to make the grade because they lack focus. Not the pictures, mind you, but the purpose of having a site in the first place. While it may seem obvious to you it may not be to the person who lands on your homepage. Fall is a good time to reappraise and perhaps redesign your site for the New Year, giving it not just a new look but also a new purpose. Set a goal for your site and make sure that everything from the colors used to the words and images that appear go toward achieving that goal.
When I first saw the battery-powered Photoflex TritonFlash at a pro show I was impressed as much by its power output and flexibility as its tiny size. Available in a kit that includes one of the company’s light banks along with everything—except a light stand—the setup can get you started making portraits in the studio or on location with nary an electrical outlet in sight.
On October 2, 1950, the first Peanuts comic strip appeared in a daily newspaper. As a lifelong Peanuts fan and Snoopy collector it’s fitting that this month’s column is my 2100th published magazine article and I’d like to thank the best editorial team I’ve ever worked with—Shutterbug’s Editorial Director George Schaub and Managing Editor Andrea Keister—without whom none of this would be possible. I would also like to thank all of those readers who have hung in there with me for all these years. You are the reason I do this.
As I write this controversy is swirling over Adobe Systems abandoning Creative Suite to focus on Creative Cloud. Even if this is solved by the time you read this, there will come a time when you’ll have to face a decision about whether or not to upgrade your software. There are two different schools of thought on software upgrades: one approach suggests that if a program is working, why spend money to upgrade? The reason behind this philosophy is that sometimes upgrades create more problems than they solve. A second viewpoint is to always upgrade to the latest version—no matter what. The thinking is that since change is inevitable that you should upgrade to the newer version to minimize or eliminate future problems. How Adobe has handled Camera Raw over the past few Photoshop upgrades is a testament to that theory. Over the years I’ve changed from an upgrade-regardless person to a more cautious approach. I may prefer to have the latest version of everything being used on a daily basis but now will wait weeks (months, years?) all the while listening to the drumbeat of grumbles from early adopters. That’s why I’m waiting to see what happens with Adobe’s new policy.