Apr 14, 2014

How To Print Large Digital Photos

This is my favorite digital single lens reflex...

With the advancements in photography and the ever-lower price of optics, the casual photographer is able to take some exceptional quality photos. A decade ago a digital camera couldn't achieve the quality for a photo print much larger than a standard 8x11. Now, however, with megapixels and optics soaring ever higher, the options for physical prints offers the ability to enlarge photos to all kinds of sizes. The question is, how big can I print them and where can you get them printed?

A great rule of thumb in determining how big you can blow up an image file is to use the standard print resolution of 300 dots per inch (dpi). If your camera is taking photos at 2400x3000 pixels, divide that by 300 and you'll realize you have an image that can accurately be reproduced to an 8x10 print. From about.com, here's a basic chart for smaller photos (which you can do the math to expand upon):

  • 4x6 1200x1800 pixels 2 megapixels
  • 5x7 1500x2100 pixels 3.1 megapixels
  • 8x10 2400x3000 pixels 7.2 megapixels

So, obviously, the most important thing to consider is when taking your photos you need to have your camera settings adjusted to capture an image which can be printed at your desired size. There's no way to take an image that was shot with enough pixels for a wallet sized photo look good when blown up to a poster size.

Once you've decided on the image you want to enlarge, you basically have two options for printing. You can go to a commercial printer that does wide format printing and have them create your desired size for a commercial price or you can do it yourself. Now of course you're saying, "I don't have a printer that can spit out something that size!" Depending on your finished product, you don't need to. There are services online such as Block Posters that will chop up an image and give you downloadable PDF files that you can then print on your own printer and reassemble into one large image. Or, you can forgo any paid services and try this technique (http://www.cnet.com/how-to/print-your-own-giant-posters/) using the Rasterbator photo tool (Windows version available here - http://arje.net/rasterbator).
Enhanced by Zemanta

Jan 30, 2014

Should I Become a Professional Photographer?

The Perfect Card Box
Once upon a time, not too long ago, I said that I never wanted to be a professional photographer, taking photos was just merely a hobby of mine. While I still don’t consider myself a professional, I feel like I’m taking a step in that direction and I don’t know how I feel about it.

Basically, my friend Allie and her husband George are on a super strict budget for their upcoming wedding. In order to save money, they initially decided to skip engagement photos and use the money for the actual wedding photos. Then Allie found this adorable card box, which is pretty amazing in my opinion! The outside of the card box displays photos so it also doubles as a decoration for the reception hall. Since all of the wedding card boxes on the website were shown with engagement photos, Allie decided that she need a couple to put on display instead of printing off pictures of her and George that were taken on an iPhone and probably in a bar, which I totally get. The part I’m still trying to wrap my brain around is why she wanted ME to take a few “engagement photos” for the card box. 

Needless to say, I did it because that’s what good friends do. I was extremely nervous about the session because I haven’t ever really done an actual photo shoot with people. The majority of my experience consists of nature photos and an obnoxious number of photos of my dog. After my jitters went away and I started to feel comfortable, the photo shoot was amazing! Allie and George were so much fun because they went along with all of my crazy ideas. I’m really happy with how the photos turned out and can’t wait to see them in the wedding card box next month. 

As much as I loved helping out my friends, I don’t necessarily want to be a professional photographer. Some of my other friends who have seen the photos already have told me I am crazy for not trying to get into the business though. And now I’m on the fence about what I should do! To me it seems kind of crazy to make such a big career change, but I also know it could end up being totally worth it. I’m going to have to put some serious thought into this, even though I don’t have to make a decision right now and could even change my mind down the road. What would you guys do?

May 16, 2013

Summer Photography Checklist

Photography has always been a passion of mine. I wouldn't ever want to be a professional photographer, but I do enjoy taking pictures in my spare time, especially in the summer. Living in the Northern states makes you appreciate the changing seasons which is very fun to document with a camera. I have captured a lot of photos of lovely flowers and gorgeous sunsets over the years, but I'm not a big outdoorsy person so unfortunately I'm missing a lot of beautiful scenery.

Since I'm kicking off summer with a trip to my friend's beautiful log cabin which is tucked away in the woods, I figured I should take advantage of the opportunity and get some of the nature shots I have been missing. My friend's cabin is on a river and not far from a public beach, but I haven't been there so I wanted to make a broad checklist for the summer instead of just the weekend. Hopefully I can cross them all off my list by the end of the summer.

Summer Photography Checklist
  • Sunrise
  • Moon and stars
  • Frog on a lillie pad
  • Turtles sunbathing on rocks
  • Hummingbird and a flower
  • A dog enjoying the sunshine
  • Birds flying into the sunset
  • Berries on the trees
  • The view from the very top of the sand dunes
  • A sandcastle
  • A sailboat on the water
  • A campfire
  • Fireworks 
  • The clouds before a storm
  • A rainbow

Apr 3, 2013

Lantern Festivals: Illuminated Inspiration

There are few things I enjoy more than a good festival. Between the vast selection of one-of-a-kind displays, food vendors, upbeat entertainment, and diversity of people, festivals provide photographers with endless subjects and lively moments to capture on camera. Lately, I’ve been inspired by images shot at various lantern festivals across that country.

If you’re unfamiliar with these spectacular events, they were inspired by an age-old Lantern Festival held each year in China. The original Chinese Lantern Festival is a festival celebrated on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar that marks the end of the Chinese New Year Celebrations. Occurring on the first full moon night in the Chinese lunar year, the festival symbolizes the awakening of Spring. People in China traditionally celebrate with loved ones by appreciating the full moon, lighting up lanterns, solving riddles on lanterns, setting off fireworks, and eating rice glue balls.

The Lantern Festival originated from the Eastern Han Dynasty when Buddhism was first being introduced to China. It is part of Buddhist tradition for monks to light up lanterns in honor of Buddha on January 15th. Therefore, Emperors of the Han Dynasty who wanted to promote the religion ordered people to light up lanterns like the monks do in palaces and temples across the region to demonstrate their respect for Buddha. Civilians were also asked to string up lanterns on that night, giving birth to the Lantern Festival. During the Song Dynasty, it was custom for people to write riddles on paper strips and attach them to the lanterns for others to figure out. The subjects of the riddles were traditionally songs, poems, or historical events. Fireworks were added in the Qing Dynasty, making the festival a record-breaking grand occasion.

Over the past 2,000 years, the Lantern Festival has grown to include more customs and activities. The lanterns have become increasingly more elaborate over the years. Many lanterns depict aspects of Chinese history and culture, incorporating themes from Chinese legends and images that reflect traditional values. Lanterns often represent animals from the Chinese zodiac and heroic figures. Some lantern designs are purely aesthetic rather than symbolic, and the diversity of lanterns is astounding. The popularity and aesthetic delight of the Lantern Festival in China has sparked countless other lantern festivals around the world, including the United States.

One of the well-known lantern festivals in the States that I’ve been inspired by pictures from is the Holiday Lantern Festival at the Global Winter Wonderland inside the Great America Theme Park in Freemont, California held from November through January each year. The festival boasted eco-friendly lantern recreations of some of the world’s most beloved architectural achievements including the State of Liberty, the UK London Bridge, and Egyptian Pyramid. Some of this past year's displays were 100 feet wide, towering into the air more than 50 feet high. Festival goers also enjoyed captivating entertainment including martial art performances, acrobats, and laser lights shows, sight-seeing attractions at the Global Village, and classic holiday characters like Santa Claus and Rudolph.

Another worthwhile event with fascinating photographs is the Chinese Lantern Festival at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. This unconventional festival held from November through January featured 22 hypnotizing lantern displays in and around the fairground lagoon including The Temple of Heaven, Statue of Liberty, animated creatures, and a large Blossoming Lotus. Other visual delights included a collection of architecture, fabric flora and fauna including flamingos, dinosaurs, pandas, and even a dragon made from 15,000 porcelain dishes! Visitors had the pleasure of browsing Old World handcrafts, watching artists weave palm leaves into detailed animals, paint with liquid sugar, and create creature confections. Not to even mention the spread of delicious Chinese and Western food!

Last month, visitors enjoyed all the buzz of a Chinese village around the Lunar New Year at the annual Chinese American Museum Lantern Festival in Los Angeles. Held at the Chinese American Museum, the festival featured historic New Year celebrations with everything from musical performances to vibrant lantern displays. The festival offered an assortment of unique attractions including a glow-in-the-dark show, acrobats and lion dancers, and hands on crafts like origami, kite-building, and lantern-making.

Looking for an opportunity to take your own lantern festival photos? Mark your calendar for the 2013 San Diego Lantern Festival taking place on July 19-21 in the Little Saigon San Diego Commercial and Cultural District. The festival typically draws between 10,000-15,000 visitors- bringing together businesses, neighbors, students and community groups. The festival features a fantastic array of cultural activities to be submersed in. From delicious food, street performers, eccentric vendors, and carnival rides, there’s something for all ages to enjoy. At night, you can look forward to a display of more than 6,000 lanterns lighting up the sky. Don't forget your camera!

Martha Fox a guest contributor from Carolina Lanterns, a South Carolina based lighting company specializing in custom-made gas and electric lanterns.

Mar 5, 2013

The Kittiwake

Yacht mainsail
The Kittiwake is a versatile little boat designed for two people, and able to be carried on a car roof-rack. She only weighs 75 pounds and is essentially the result of stretching our Little Auk design. The stem and stern posts were also raked a little more, giving her an attractive and elegant hull form. The increased length means that two adults can sail her in comfort, easily able to hold up the 35+15 sq foot of sail area.
Like Storm Petrel, she has decked ends, with plenty of dry stowage behind huge watertight hatches. The original design was to have no daggerboard, and instead, to have deep bilge-runners. However early trials indicated that between 8 and 12 degrees of leeway was being lost, which when sailing on rivers and crowded estuaries, was considered unacceptable. A dagger board was then added which made all the difference.

The rig is similar to many traditional boats of her kind, with a balanced lug mainsail and a sprit boomed mizzen. Both sails can be tensioned reasonably flat giving her surprising upwind performance. When running, the sails can be set goose-winged, driving her to her hull speed quickly and under full control. The mizzen is also a handy maneuvering sail enabling the practiced owner to show off by sailing backwards or tacking when stationary!

The design also incorporates a storm jib that is hoisted when conditions get really bad and the reefed mainsail is overpowering the boat. The main is lowered and the halyard reattached to the head of the jib, which can then be hoisted giving a sailboat the sturdiness of a pontoon boat. Many will be familiar with how weatherly this combination jib and mizzen is.

The craft has many interesting possibilities for camping and cruising. A large tent could be comfortably rigged between the masts, and she could even be sailed under jib and mizzen like this.

Dec 17, 2012

Christmas Films

Why is Christmas such a great backdrop for cinema? Certainly it appears that there are more films made about or set around this month of the year than any other. I suppose a lot of it is down to marketing. It's more than likely easier to fill theaters during the winter months than during a hot summer. Also you can replicate this popularity the following December by releasing the film on a conveniently scheduled DVD. Of course, I'm being quite cynical about those sorts of films. In actual fact I'm quite a fan of Christmas films. There are plenty out there which are brilliant. In fact one of my favorite films (I'd say top 3 ever if I was making a best films ever list) constitutes a post later on this list. That being said it can't be denied that there are some films which are just cynical cash-ins; yes I'm looking at you Jingle All The Way! The reason for so many of these is the fact that it's quite simple to think of a concept for a Christmas film in no time at all. In fact now I think about it's a little too easy. So easy that I can list a few simple formulas for box-office dynamite!

F is for Films

It's Christmas Eve and somebody needs to beat the bad guys to get the presents to the orphanage!
One grumpy man who hates Christmas must learn to love the season and see the error of his ways (in many of these films the term "Scrooge" will be prominent without the credit "Charles Dickens")
Some cartoon animals must learn an important lesson about friendship whilst avoiding the evil mad scientist.
A lonely man bored of being the only single person he knows and an equally lonely woman fed up with her marriage must learn to love again with the help of festive spirit! (and for some reason more often than not New York City?!?)

Aug 23, 2012

Props to Use When You Rent a Photobooth

Of all the weddings, birthday parties and celebrations I’ve attended the last year, they’ve all been unique and enjoyable in their own ways. The Cinderella style decorations and scenic view at my brother’s wedding in April were stunning, and set the standards high for all other weddings I attend in the future. My uncle’s 50th birthday celebration in July, filled with gag gifts and silly banter, had me laughing so hard I literally couldn’t breathe, and a close friend’s moving away party earlier this month was catered with divine cupcakes that made the night even more bittersweet. However, of all the events I’ve been to recently, my roommate’s surprise birthday party will go down in my books as one of the most creative, fun nights of the year. Why so great? One word— photobooth.

If you’ve ever used a Mac computer, you’ve probably lost at least an hour or two with friends playing around on the Photobooth App. There is something seriously addicting about taking photos with all the different filters, distortions and background options. My roommate, Lillian, is no stranger to the Photobooth App, and is well known among friends as the “model” of our group. The girl loves cameras, and cameras seem to love her– so it was only fitting to rent a photobooth for Lillian’s surprise party.

Needless to say, the photobooth was a hit. Photobooths by themselves are a blast when you’re with the right people, but what made the photobooth at Lillian’s party even more memorable was the props the host bought. Similar to the different options on the Photobooth App, props can make photobooths endlessly entertaining. I never thought I’d have the pleasure of seeing my friend’s Grandma pretend to play an inflatable guitar, or see my boyfriend sporting a feather boa with a bonnet. For whatever reason, having props made all the guests more comfortable in front of the camera and helped coax out their silly sides. If you’re thinking of renting a photobooth for your next special occasion, I highly recommend investing in some props. Not only will you see sides of loved ones you never knew, you’ll have physical evidence to remember it all. Below are some of the wacky props we used at Lillian’s that won’t break the bank.

  • Inflatable guitars
  • A variety of blow-up creature pool floats (Dolphin, shark, dragon, etc.)
  • Feather boas
  • Moustaches
  • Tropical leis
  • Capes
  • Nerd glasses
  • Fake noses
  • Eye patches
  • Empty antique picture frames
  • Hats (Beret, straw, sailor, trapper, bonnet, etc.)
  • Helmets (Viking, football, bike)
  • Shutter shades
  • Flower bouquets
  • Wigs
  • White boards (Chalk boards or cardboard with markers would work too)
  • Oversize buttons
  • Pennants
  • Gloves
  • Clothing from thrift stores (The stranger, the better)
  • Balloons
  • Bubbles

Many of these items can be found at dollar stores, party stores, thrift stores, secondhand shops and online at marketplaces like Amazon. Keep in mind the weirder the props are, the funnier the photos will be. You could even let party guests keep some of the props as favors if you don’t want to hang on them after the event. They’ll serve as fun reminders of the evening, and can likely be used again for different costume or themed parties in the future.