Online Automation – IfTTT

Just a quick note about a new service I think lots of my friends might find useful – If This Then That. It’s a service that let’s you drag-n-drop connections between events online. I’m testing it out right now with the following rules I added:

  1. If a new WordPress blog entry is posted, post a tweet to my Twitter account with the URL.
  2. If a new WordPress blog entry is posted, post a tweet to my Facebook with the URL.

Those two rules look like this in their simple, graphical, rule builder:

The IfTTT Dashboard

And in the detailed task editor:

IfTTT Task Editor

I’m hoping this really simplifies the growing web of online services I use to communicate online! You can see the list of services they support on their website under the list of Channels. If you try it out, let me know how it works for you and what creative uses you find for it!

How to Take Better Pictures: Color and Focus

Tulip……for you!, originally uploaded by Imapix.

Just wanted to share this shot from Imapix as an example of excellent use of color and focus. (Although it’s also an example of good composition.)

Color can be just as important as lines and composition in drawing your viewer’s eyes to the subject of your image. In this case, the warm tones of the budding flower contrast with the cooler tones of the green and blue foliage in the background. This contrast helps divide the subject and make it “pop” against the rest of the image content. Even though there is a spot of warmth on the right-hand buds, the main flower’s vibrancy keeps it the clear center of attention.

Focus can also enhance the subject of an image. In this image, there are two aspects of focus on display. First, the subject is sharply focused, showing fine details that encourage your eyes to linger and explore. Secondly, a photographic effect called bokeh results in the background of the image being blurred and indistinct. You can produce bokeh by using a wide aperture on a lens. However, the smaller the lens, the harder it is to produce bokeh in an image. That means that it’s very hard if not impossible to produce bokeh using a small point and shoot digital. When combined, sharp focus on a subject and bokeh result in an enhanced “pop” of your subject away from the background.

How to Take Better Pictures: Composition

So, you’ve got your hands on a digital camera, snagged a Flickr account and started uploading. But after a few days of browsing “Explore” photos on Flickr, do you end up feeling like your photos just aren’t cutting it? Or hopefully you’ve avoided the hit to your ego and just are looking for a way to bring your shots up a notch? Here’s your chance.
Fundamentally, photography is an art of presentation – we are capturing moments of light and showing them to our friends, family, and even strangers. For those captured moments to be effect though, they need to do more than just hit the eyes of the viewer – they need to create a response! You want your photos to make your viewer smile like you were smiling, feel awed by the scenery just like you felt when standing there, or feel moved to compassion by the scene that struck your heart. Today I’ll show you some simple steps to help get your photos to the next level of effectiveness.
Composition is simply the way things are put together in your photo. Now, art is not like math – rules are made to be broken! But the basic rules of composition will let you form more effective photographs. After you understand and use these rules in your photos, you’ll start seeing how to effectively break them as well!
Rule of Thirds
If you imagine dividing the frame into thirds horizontally and vertically, you end up with something like a tic-tack-toe grid. The “rule of thirds” says that the subject of your photo should be positioned at one of the intersections of those lines and that the horizon (if prominent) should be on one of the horizontal lines. Look at this photo and notice how the horizon line and position of the riders helps draw you into the photo and along the beach with the horses.

by mikebaird
Negative Space
Negative space doesn’t mean “bad attitude space”, it means areas of the photo that are left blank. You can use this empty space to help focus attention on your subject and enhance the mood or feeling you want to share with others. For example, a feeling of motion can be enhanced by leaving empty space in the direction of travel of your subject (as with the photo of the horse riders above). Detachment can also be enhanced by open space. Sometimes, negative space isn’t blank space but rather a missing element, as in the last photo in this series.

by riotjane

by Luke Stearns

by erlin1
I’ve had this blog post drafted for a while now, so I’m just going to go ahead and post it. Do you have any examples of great composition to share? Post in the comments!

Tilt/Shift Lenses

Tilt/shift lenses are a type of lens that allows a “normal” D/SLR to mimic special photographic techniques that are normally only found on large format cameras. (Large format cameras are those old style cameras that look like they are made of a bellows.) One of the really cool uses for these lenses is to create a feeling of miniaturization – everything looks like it’s a model on a toy train table instead of a shot of real life. The video below is a stop-motion animation made with a tilt/shift lens and gives a great demonstration of both time-lapse/stop motion filming and the possibilities of a tilt/shift lens.

Helpless from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.