I’ll confess, I couldn’t find a cute way to put together the words tripod and Thursday, so I pulled a Brangelina and created Tripoday. I mentioned the use of tripods on Tuesday and figured that writing a how-to on how to use a tripod would be of good use. Tripods are a great tool if you’re looking to take self portraits, long exposure photos, panoramic images, or if you are simply in need of an extra stable hand.

Unfortunately, today’s post is going to be a bit word heavy. I have to measure up to all of yesterday’s gorgeous photos. But just so I do not leave you completely photo-less, there are a few fun links for your viewing pleasure.

Tripods are three legged adjustable camera stands on which you can mount your camera to ensure your do not encounter camera shake, even on uneven surfaces. Camera shake occurs when the photographer’s hands are not stable enough to take a clear picture. With point-and-shoots, this isn’t typically a problem because you are usually printing the images 4×6 or 5×7, but if you’re taking photographs for larger printing or selling, the larger the image, the more easily you will see imperfections such as blurry lines.

Here is your standard run-of-the-mill tripod. I cleverly circled the adjustable  parts and color coded them for your convenience. I’m going to take you step-by-step through how each of those functions work so you’ll be a tripod wiz in no time!

Pink: in the center of this circle, you’ll find a small screw. Coincidentally, if you look on the bottom of virtually every camera, film or digital, you will find a circular groove. To secure the camera on the tripod, carefully, and with a firm grip, screw the camera onto the tripod.

Dark blue: here you will find a small knob. When you loosen the knob (lefty loosy, righty tighty) you will be able to tilt the camera. Once you find the angle at which you wish to take the photograph, tighten the knob and the camera will stay in place.

Green: turning this crank will adjust the height of the camera; one way is higher, one is lower. I don’t know which is which. This is reason #1 why you should experiment!

Light blue: flip up this knob and this adjusts the height of the upper pole. In my experience, this pole is mainly used to fine tune the height of the entire tripod and make sure the tripod is firmly on the ground and doesn’t shift or tip over. I prefer these to fine tune the height because they are higher off the ground and less bending for adjustments is less strain on the back.

Orange: flip up this knob and this adjusts the height of lower pole. In my experience, this pole is mainly used to increase or decrease height and I typically will adjust all of them to the same length.

To pan, simply grip the handle and turn it to the left or right. This should be slightly difficult to move and won’t shift easily when taking the photograph.

That’s about it! You’re a master now, equipped with enough knowledge to go on even the roughest terrain and take a perfectly clear, straight photograph!



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Water Wednesday

Week of words water Wednesday. Say that three times fast.

This post is not as much about me teaching as it is about you learning. Today you should be learning about yourself and what inspires you as a photographer; I’m inspired by color, nature, emotion, people, music, lights, and urban culture (to name a few).

Below are some of my favorite images of high speed water photography. High speed water photography takes an unbelievable amount of time, patience, persistence, and skill. Unlike long exposure photography, high speed photography attempts to catch a subject frozen in time. The end result is an image that the naked eye could miss in a split second. If you’re interested in how this process works, take a look at this video.

As readers, your first assignment is to look at these images and ask yourself what you like about them. Do you like the color? Subject? Composition? What about what them do you not like? Why? Begin to understand where your interests lie in terms of photographic subjects. This activity should spur your creativity (warning: a spur in creativity may induce the strong urge to take pictures; this can be easily relieved by taking pictures).

I encourage you to click the images so you can go right to the source and find more amazing pictures. These links will send you to the website from which I got the photograph, where you will find even more high speed water art.



Triple Impact 77/365 by Pink Sherbet Photography.



What inspires you? Questions, comments and photo responses are welcomed and encouraged.



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T Setting T uesday

Happy T uesday!

Today, which I’m calling “T Setting T uesday,” we’ll both be learning a little something. I’ve studied and experimented with long exposure photography, but the T setting is a new term to me.

As I was reading John Freeman’s The Photographer’s Manual, I came to page 38, which talks about shutter speed. In a film camera, the shutter opens and closes to allow the film to be exposed to light. The longer the shutter is open, the more light is absorbed into the film. If it is open too long, you will be left with an image that is over exposed and will be too light when it is developed. In contrast, when you do not leave the shutter open long enough, you will be left with an image that is under exposed and will be too dark when it’s developed. Digital cameras mimic this process with digital magic (layman’s terms).

So what is a T setting and why is it relevant to exposure? The T setting is a setting that may be on your film or digital camera that allows your picture to be exposed to light for a long period of time. To use this setting, press and release the shutter release button, this will open the shutter until you press and release the shutter release button again. This is similar to the B setting, which opens the shutter when you press the shutter release button and closes the shutter when you release it.

For those of you who are like me and do not have this setting, you can simply adjust the shutter speed on your camera to be longer; point-and-shoots tend to have an automatically long exposure when in the dark, so just turn off your flash et voilà! Long exposure in the dark! We can improvise and pretend our long exposures qualify as the T setting.

So once you fiddle with your film or digital camera and set it to your T setting or makeshift T setting, you’re ready to get started! There are so many ways you can use long exposure to your advantage, like make running water appear softer, “paint” with light, and take the best fireworks shots, to name a few. You should definitely take a look at the Digital Photography School for more inspiration for your long exposure shots.

To prep for your long exposure shots, I recommend using a tripod or any stable surface on which you can rest your camera. This will ensure that the parts of the image that are not meant to be blurred are clear and crisp. Today, I’m going to show you how to achieve a picture like this:

This is a photo I took on my friend Claire’s birthday last year. The candles in her cake were sparklers so her and my other roommate made light hearts! This was taken with my point-and-shoot when the only light source emanated from the candles.

Here are simple steps you can take to create this effect with your point-and-shoot, DSLR, or film camera:

1. set your camera to your T, B, or other long exposure setting

2. place your camera on a tripod or a stable surface and point the camera in the

3. give your friends some sparklers (with parental supervision if necessary), flashlights, or any other light source that is bright and that they can move around quickly (I wouldn’t recommend candles because the flame is small and can blow out easily)

4. turn off the lights

5. press the shutter release button and have your friends move the light source around in any shape or pattern- the possibilities are endless!

Keep in mind that whatever you or your friends “draw” will come up reversed. If they wish to write their name and can’t do it backwards, you can always flip the image with any photo editor, but, if you’re doing film, you’ll have to remember to print the image backwards.

I hope you all have fun doing this and using your imagination to create your glow-in-the-dark fantasies from the second installment in my week of words series.



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Macro Monday

We’re about to get close. Real close. UnComfortably close. We’re talking MACRO, people!

Macro is a setting on your camera and type of photography (it is also type of lens for your SLR/DSLR, but that we’ll save for another entry). The possibilities with macro are endless. Hands down, macro is my favorite setting on my cameras. It allows us to capture life from a new perspective and help us find beauty in the smallest places.

SIDENOTE: Filmies, I have not done macro photography on a film camera so this post leans more on the digital side.

If you reach over and grab your digital camera, search the camera for an icon that looks like this:

It may be on a rotating wheel like this:

or on a click wheel like this:

When you activate this feature on your camera, you’ll notice that the screen will probably become blurry. The first time I tested out this setting, I was very confused and kept snapping blurry pictures until I gave up and looked at my manual, and I hate manuals.  Turns out they’re really helpful, tedious, but helpful. The macro setting automatically focuses the lens when it is very close to a small object or a small portion of a larger object, unlike an automatic focus, which may not be able to focus clearly on a small subject.

In this photo, I used my macro setting on my DSLR to photograph a small portion of the roof of a hut built inside my favorite place to take a day trip in Washington DC, the Botanical Gardens:

Hut (2008)

In this picture, I kept my camera lens perpendicular to the floor and shot this photo straight on; no fancy angles necessary for me because the roof is built diagonally. By keeping my lens at an angle in relation to the object, the camera automatically focuses on the portion of the object that is closest to the lens. This created focus at the foreground of the picture, a soft focus in the center, and a blur in the portion of the subject furthest from the lens.

Here is an example of an extreme close up of a Pulsatilla Plant, courtesy of National Geographic:

Photo: Close view of a plant

I absolutely love this image; macro photography allows this photographer to capture the small fibers and tiny water droplets on the plant. I think macro photography is especially good for capturing the details mother nature created for our eyes to feast upon.

I’d recommend using your macro setting if you’d like to play with color, texture and focus. These three elements really come into play with macro and I think you will be surprised with the results when you see the world through a new lens (photography humor, ftw).

If you’re interested in learning more about macro photography, you should definitely visit Small Object Photography. This blog is great if you want to gain a thorough understanding of macro and are interested in learning some tricks of the trade.

Hope you enjoyed the first post in my week of words series!



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Hello beautiful people!

I hope you’ve been enjoying your March and especially enjoying the end of March weather, unless you’ve been somewhere with snow, in which case I wish you sunshine ASAP. This past week my ideas have been brewing and I can’t wait to serve up some of my idea stew. As my LAST spring break comes to a close, pause for tears and words of comfort, I am happy to announce what I will be formally calling the week of words!

Every day this week (that’s Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday) I’ll pick a photography term and define it, offer examples if its uses and then tell you why it is good knowledge for photographers of all experience levels.

If you want to get a head start on learning, or wish to have a touchstone for this week, I will be referencing The Photographer’s Manual by John Freeman. I purchased this book a few years ago and cracked it open to get some inspiration. Well, it worked! I am inspired and excited to share my findings and I hope that you feel the same.

Until tomorrow, snaps!


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We Love You, Perez! (Writing for the Blogosphere Assignment)

This blog post is done in the blogging style of my personal favorite celebrity guru and gossip queen Perez Hilton.

Disclaimer: statistics in the following post are 100% inaccurate.

Are U ready 2 get your pics the best they can be??? Then this tip will help you on your way! This post will be epecially helpful 4 film photographers and ESPECIALLY especially helpful for B&W film photos! Here’s the scoop:

Bracketing. Wanna no what that is? Apparently in film cameras you don’t get to see your photos right away (boo lack of technology), so when I first starting using a film camera, my teacher always said: “take three photos, one on the f-stop you think is rite, one on a setting lower, and one on one higher.” So I did.

67% of readers don’t know what an f-stop (or f-number) is and I won’t give away my sources, BUT, you can find the definition here. This is cool 4 my digital friendz because you can adjust the settings on ur camera if it has a manual setting. If not, you can adjust the light source when taking ur pics. If  not, U can just find a way to make it work, bitches.

Here is an example of bracketing:

Lovely Leaves (2007)

This pic looked better in color. This is my favorite B&W pic that I’ve ever taken! Since u got 3 tries to take the pic, you better your chances of getting the perfect pic by 3 fold!

Wat do U think? Liking this technique?



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A New Perspective

Well, it’s a new month! Happy March, everyone! We have so much to look forward to, most notably Shamrock Fest 2011 and SPRING. I’d like to kick off this month with my favorite basic tip that will improve both your professional and everyday photographs.

The first rule my b&w film photography teacher taught me was the rule of thirds. Once you understand what it is and how to use it, the decision to make your pictures more interesting will no longer be conscious, it will just come naturally.

The rule of thirds is the imaginary tic tac toe board that you lay across the plane of a photograph. The points of intersection on this board should overlap the points of the picture at which you wish to draw the viewer’s eye. I’ll use an example from my own photography. This picture comes from the first still life photoshoot that I ever did; it was a tribute to my grandfather’s stint in the Korean War and his dedication to my grandmother while he was abroad; it is entitled War Memorabilia.

Here is the photograph as it was taken, using the rule of thirds (this is a screen capture from my account with Photoshop Express; I am a broke college student and this is the best free alternative to Photoshop that I know of):

Click to enlarge

The picture is divided using the grid, with the intersecting points marked within the four white circles. I wanted the main focus of the image to be the charms of the necklace. By not putting the main object in the center of the image, it forces the viewer’s eye to travel around the image. When writing a poem or essay or book, you don’t just put your bottom line right out there, this isn’t an intense business negotiation, it’s art. Make the viewer do some work and force them to find information outside of the obvious center.

In this cropped picture below, the charms are placed in the center of the image:

Oh wow. I just got all claustrophobic. There is no room to breathe here.

Because the subject is dead smack in the middle, it’s easy to get what you came for and move along. There is nothing interesting about this picture. In the previous photograph, there was more room to explore and analyze parts of the image such as the text; here, none of the text is legible so it has lost its significance in the scheme of the picture.

Wikipedia has a lovely in-depth article about the rule of thirds, should you like a few more examples.

I find that this technique is especially useful when taking snapshots with friends. Try this: next time when taking a picture with/of your friends, zoom out, move the lens away from the face. Get some background in there to give the viewers more information; they probably already know what you look like if they’re looking at your pictures, so spice it up.

I’ll leave you with this wonderful image, courtesy of Mr. Rob Gardiner, that truly depicts the rule of thirds at its finest.

Blizzard, Times Square I



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