Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Crafting Photography

Organizing Shoes & Toddler Matching Game 

by Kristin Savko

I recently decided to tackle the shoe disaster that was happening on my closet floor. At our old place, the space I had necessitated that the shoes be low and flat on the floor. In this closet, the available space is more vertical. SO I bought some clear shoe boxes and was thrilled....EXCEPT finding the right shoes was a disaster. Even though the boxes were clear, it was so hard to see what was in them. I got out my camera and took photos of all the shoes and got them printed when Snapfish was running a 99 prints for 99 cents deal. Really, it was a lot less effort than it sounds!

Here's where the toddler part comes in. I placed all the photos out on the ground. One at a time I would open a shoe box and have Ethan find the corresponding photo. Once he did, he was responsible for placing the photo in the box, putting on the lid, and stacking the box in the closet. He LOVED it. Seriously, it was great.

I bet it would be fun to do a scavenger hunt using the same method. Take photos of simple items and match the photo to the corresponding item. Maybe the next time prints go on sale....?

Kristin is the author of the blog Crafting Play She is also a Graphic Designer and Photographer.

Monday, November 19, 2012


Have you ever entered a photo contest?  Or have you just said to yourself I never seem to be able to take the kind of  photos that win. Maybe it's time for you to go for it and start entering any contest that you can. I have never seen anyone publicly humiliated because they did not win. I am pretty sure, however, that  no one ever won if they did not enter. 

Alright I have to admit that I fell into the "Nothing I have taken" group. Although people have told me many time I should do something with photos they see that I have taken, I always just ignored it and moved on. However recently I have decided to take my own advise. So I started to look for contests where I could enter some of my favorite shots. Of course, some entries did nothing. OK, so take some more of my own advise and keep trying.  That's exactly what I did. 

Well it has finally paid off, a little bit anyway. Recently one of my photos received the most likes for the month on a Nikon Facebook page. The only prize is bragging rights but that's fine with me. It means other photographers likes what I did. And today I found out the picture above was chosen as a finalist in a contest run by the Blog Beyond MegaPixel. So now I just have to wait for the readers to vote. But win or lose one of my photos was chosen by other photographers as good enough to make the cut. 

So go ahead and find a contest to enter a few of your own shots. What have you got to lose?

BTW if you want to vote for my photo shown above  CLICK HERE before Dec 6th. And thanks for your support.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Look Back

I found this posting the other day and felt that it needed to be shared. This is a review from PC World in July 1998. At $799 it must have been a budget buster for many people. 

Sony Mavica Camera Slims Down, Speeds UpBryan Hastings
In PC World's last digital camera roundup ("Snap Judgments ," February) Sony's Mavica MVC-FD7 earned the Best Buy award for its good image quality, easy-to-use controls, and especially its ability to save photos directly to a floppy disk. The latest Mavica, the $799 MVC-FD71, is a slimmer and faster improvement over its predecessor. After testing a shipping version of the new model, I was impressed with the changes.
The original Mavica camera weighed almost 1.3 pounds and was a bulky 3 inches thick. The FD71 weighs 1.2 pounds and is 2.5 inches thick, making it a bit easier to hold and tote around. And whereas the original model took about 8 seconds to save a photo to a disk, this version averaged a more tolerable 4 seconds.
In addition, Sony has added some nifty new features. These include the ability to make copies of floppies using just the camera--very handy if you want to hand out extra disks on the spot. A new quarter-resolution (320 by 240) option also makes it faster to e-mail photographs. (The camera's full resolution is 640 by 480.) A built-in menu on the MVC-FD71's LCD screen permits you to easily take advantage of useful new options such as these.
My main complaint? The high price tag. List-priced at $799, the Mavica costs more than many high-quality 35mm cameras. And as with most digital cameras, this model fails to deliver image quality that is comparable to the quality produced by a 35mm. Still, if you've decided to go digital and want a good camera that will let you effortlessly copy files to your PC, the MVC-FD71 is hard to beat.
Sony Digital Mavica MVC-FD71Stores pictures right to a floppy disk; faster than original.Smaller than original, but still not svelte; high cost.Best attribute is convenient transfer of photos to a PC.$799

Of course it would be a fun camera to have around now just to play with.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Love The One You're With

OK maybe it sounds like I am having a 70's flashback, but I am really thinking about my cameras. As a wise man once said, it's not the camera that creates a great picture it's the photographer. So if you are out without your preferred camera and see the possibility of a great shot don't just let it go.

As I discuss in a previous post your smartphone camera has a lot of versatility. With apps like Instagram, and Hipstamatic there are a lot of editing possibilities right within the phone. If you want you can always send them to your PC where you can do some additional editing. And the best part is it is probably always in your pocket. Just as mine was the day I drove past this sunset earlier this year.

Taken with Droid X2
If you are a DSLR owner another option is keeping a good point and shoot camera with you. With all the choices available you should be able to find one that will work within your needs and budget. Although you do not get all the control you have with a DSLR, most mid-level and high end point and shoots allow you to set ISO, white balance, etc. I have a Sony Cyber-Shot that I use for work so it is with me about 80% of the time. It's as small as my cell phone and just slips easily into my pocket (or briefcase).

The moral is with all the technology we have today we should be able to "Love the camera we're with".

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Know Your Camera

Did you even notice that when you are driving your car and need to change the AC or radio you don't need to look. You just reach over and take care of it. Well, a great way to improve your photography is to be able to do the same thing with your camera. It doesn't matter if it is a DSLR, a point and shoot or your cell phone camera. And it does not just apply to the basic settings. It applies to all the controls you have, including white balance, exposure compensation, focus controls, flash controls and well..... you get the idea.

So how do you do this? Here are a couple of ideas that may help you get to that goal. The first one doesn't even require you to leave the house. Just go into a dark room where it is difficult to see the controls  and practice changing things up. Or go outside and start taking photos of things around the neighborhood. Don't worry about the picture itself, just practice changing the way you shoot it. Either way, spend a couple of hours doing this and you will find you might not miss that next shot because you couldn't find the right setting.

Do you have any other ideas on how to "Learn Your Camera"?  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I think of myself as a storyteller. Both in my professional life and as my hobby I love to tell stories. Since photography comes to me easier than just the words I have made a habit out of covering each photo assignment as if I am 'writing' a story. Like the written story that has a beginning, ending, etc. a photo story needs to have basic elements as well. 

First off find a main subject to your story. You can include other people in your photographs but staying focused on one person's story helps the reader follow the flow. That first subject might be the person with the best expressions. Here are my five points to a good photo story. For our example I am using photographs taken during a croquet practice.

 First I start off with a general photograph showing them at play.

Next I'm looking for a close-up. Maybe of the mallet about to connect with the ball. If the subject plays the piano try getting close-up photos of the hands on a keyboard.

Now come in close to the face. People like to connect with other people. Seeing their expressions is great!

Take an angle from the back. This gives you a chance to show a different look to the general shot.

Lastly, go outside the box. Look into your creativity. This photo by itself might not tell any of the story but if it's used along with the other images might become that one piece that people remember the most.

Use your camera as your communication tool and share your stories with everyone. ~ Randy Flaum

Randy is the assistant managing editor for visuals at the York Dispatch.

Monday, November 5, 2012

SD Cards

Are you using the right SD Card? Do you understand the difference? No, I am not talking about brand, that argument can be almost as bad as should I buy a Ford or a Chevy. I am talking about the little number in the circle you will find somewhere on the label. This is know as the class of the card and comes in 2,4,6,8,and 10. As you might guess, class is the minimum MB's per second that can be written to the card. This is where the difference comes into play.

Speed matters when you are shooting at a burst or are doing a video at 1080p HD. A lot of information needs to be written to the card and a slow card can degrade the performance of your camera. This is where the price difference comes in to play as well. The faster the card the higher the price. So it might be best to buy the fastest you can afford.

Before I finish lets look at a couple other tips that I have learned over the years. First many experts agree that it is better to reformat your card rather than just delete the pictures. This removes any errors that might be there and sets the card back to the proper format for the camera. Next, depending on how you use your camera, it might be better to have four 8 GB cards instead of one 32 GB. The reason for this is simple. When you are on vacation you can use a different card every two days. If one of the cards goes bad (and it can happen) you have only lost 1/4 of your  shots. That is much better then losing all the vacation pictures.

So there you have it, my little SD cards tips. Do you have any other tips that might be useful?

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Photo by Kristin Savko Photography

Most of us have heard about the "Rule of Thirds" but it always helps to revisit these things from time to time. The basic idea here is to divide your viewfinder into "Thirds" as demonstrated in this photo. You then place your subject on one of the intersecting points or along one of the lines. This helps to create a photo that seems more natural to the way we view the world around us. Had this boy been centered in the photo it may have expressed the fact the the subject found his pumpkins, however using the rule of thirds you understand the gravity of his selections. This rule works well for many subjects such as placing the horizon of a landscape shot along one of the horizontal lines.

Many digital cameras have a setting that allows you to place these grid lines right on your LCD helping you visualize this while you are composing your shot. You also have the option of doing some creative cropping in your editing software if you would like. You might want to take some pictures you already have and see if you can change their effect by cropping them.

So next time you are out with your camera remember the "Rule of Thirds" and see if it helps improve the story you want to tell. Of course once you learn this rule, don't let it rule your life. Rules are made to be broken.