As a camera, the iPhone is a lot like…

The iPhone camera is great. You can take square pictures with it. It’s very easy to use. It is very popular. So was the Brownie Hawkeye by Kodak. In its day, Kodak’s camera was the most popular camera ever made. Incidentally, you can get or refurbish one by Randy Smith at Hawkeyemods. Although Randy is better known for his Holgamods, he also does wonders with the Brownie Hawkeyes. I’ve gotten both from Randy over the years and am always happy with his work.

I can’t say no to her…

A few seconds after I sit down in my favorite chair in the living room I often hear the galloping of little feet. And then she jumps into my lap and lays down. After resting for a little while she turns and stares at me…until I get up and provide the cookies that she expects. How can you say no to this face?

One of the best characteristics of an iPhone is the ability to take a picture when you are only inches away from the subject. Here my Pug friend was about three inches away from the iPhone.


Cooking Up a Photo

The only thing that I can “cook” is a grilled cheese sandwich, and I probably would burn it half the time. My wife, on the other hand, is a good cook. While preparing a meal I stumbled across something she was making and decided to take a picture of it because of the cool design. Using my Mac, I made some slight adjustments using the Mac’s built in free Preview App. No Photoshop needed. Here’s what the Preview App looks like when you open it up. More than enough basic adjustments for most photos.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…and Pugs prove it.

I admit it. The first time I saw a Pug I thought he was the ugliest thing in the world. Now, more than 40 years and 11 Pugs later, I see how dumb I was. To me, there are people, pets, and Pugs…all very unique.

All Pugs are beautiful…at least in my eyes.

Hashtags vs. Merit

I use hashtags frequently on Twitter and Instagram. If I didn’t, not as many folks would see my tweets and pictures. The question is…does that matter? Would it be better to have better tweets and better pictures to merit more views. Puzzling question for me.

Invite your relatives and friends to a scanning party!

Looking at my digital photos, I noticed that they go back to 2004. Before that there are lots of bags with prints and negatives, as well as wedding and other albums. It’s time to scan the photos that mean the most to me and my family. The idea of a scanning party came to me. Many folks either don’t have a scanner or don’t know how to use it. If you invite family members and friends over, you can help others preserve memories and share stories about the photos. Incidentally, you don’t need a scanner. Your iPhone can do a very good job, with the right apps. For a few dollars, you can get what you need to scan your old photos…and keep the memories alive for generations. Incidentally, I use Pic Scanner Gold with my iPhone.

12 Photography Tips for Writers

Sometimes it helps to be able to take a good picture of what you are writing about. However, editors expect digital images of high quality. Here are some tips for writers who would like to know what editors are looking for.

  1. If it is not sharp do not even think about submitting it. Sending in a blurry image is a sure way to be ignored.
  2. The photograph should be at least 300 dpi. If you don’t know what that means find out.
  3. Do not alter the image except for cropping. Although an editor may have her art department use Photoshop, that’s not usually your call.
  4. Take as many angles as possible. You never know which is the ‘best’ side.
  5. Move in or zoom in to show details.
  6. Use a digital camera that is at least 8 megapixels.
  7. Do not change the file from a .jpg to a .gif to make it smaller.
  8. If you take pictures of people, get written permission in order to use their images.
  9. Don’t be intimidated into thinking you need a fancy Nikon or Canon camera. Chase Jarvis, a noted photographer, has a book called The Best Camera is the One That’s With You. All you need is your iPhone! No kidding, many of today’s smart phones have built in cameras that are good enough for publication.
  10. Look over your camera’s manual.
  11. Keep your digital camera’s battery charged!
  12. Finally, check with the publication before you submit pictures. Know exactly what their requirements may be.

Get out those cameras!

Conventional Wisdom vs. Facts …for making your own website.

Conventional wisdom says that your website has to look very professional. Very professional meaning that it is made carefully using the latest HTML or better yet, made using WordPress. The “worst” way to create a professional site, according to the gurus, is to use Blogger, even though Blogger is free and easy to use.

Would you be happy with a site that gets about one million visitors a month…and earns about ten thousand dollars a month using three paid ads? Go look at Strobist by David Hobby. It’s made with Blogger!

What conventional wisdom didn’t bother to consider is that if a site is jam packed with useful information folks will flock to it…for years.

It reminds me of what Edwin Land (the creator of Polaroid) said: “Marketing is what you do when your product is no good.” It’s better to have your website stand out with information rather than for it’s glitz.

If you are asked to speak…please say NO!

Speaking for a local club, organization, or business can be an honor. Most folks are flattered to receive an invitation. If you get one, please say No! Unless, of course, you are willing to put in the time, effort, and money that it will take to do a good job. If you say Yes, please consider the following.

  1. Make sure you know what they want. What is the topic? How much time are you given to speak? How big is the room? How many people will attend? Do they expect you to use a computer and projector? Ask these questions before you say yes…or no.
  2. Are you an expert on the subject matter? If you are not, don’t try to learn enough the night before. The audience will sense it.
  3. Narrow down what you want to say. Telling the audience everything you know is not what they want. In most cases, “they” want to be entertained as much as they want to hear your pearls of wisdom.
  4. Plan your talk. Make an outline. Edit the outline.
  5. Practice what you will say…the whole thing. Record it if possible.
  6. Do not use PowerPoint if you don’t know how to use it. Speakers look like dopes if they can’t turn on the computer or projector.
  7. If you do use PowerPoint (or Keynote) do not read the slides! Slides with as few words as possible are best. Pictures are better than words.
  8. Give out handouts when you finish. Your handouts can summarize what you want them to remember. Do not give copies of your slides.
  9. Get help. Join a local Toastmasters Club.
  10. Before you say Yes…make sure you are willing to take the time that is necessary to do a good job.

Good luck.

[Need help? You can send your questions to Joel Heffner. Use the contact form to get int touch.]

Winter is a good time for photography…

I don’t know about you, but I don’t take many pictures during the winter. I don’t like the cold, hate the snow, and am afraid of falling on ice. Yuck!

However, that shouldn’t mean you put your cameras away until spring. Here’s what I suggest.

Find your camera’s instruction manual or download a copy. Although most of us get a camera and put the manual away, they actually can be very helpful. You will probably find things your camera can do that you didn’t know. Winter is a good time to read because there isn’t much else to do besides go to work and watch TV.

Look around the house and the backyard. Find something, or someone, to photograph that you haven’t tried to take a picture of before. Dogs, for example, are great subjects. If you are taking pictures out of the window, a zoom lens is helpful.

Go through your old photos and make prints of the good ones. Hang them up…even if it’s just on your refrigerator.

When you go through your old photos look at them with a critical eye. What’s good about them? What isn’t it? How could you have made them better?

Learn how to use software that can make photos look better. You can get PhotoShop and Lightroom for about ten bucks a month. Although they are difficult to learn, the rewards are worth it.

Finally, start thinking about what photos you’d like to take in the spring. Make a plan.

Yes. There is plenty to do in the winter…when it comes to photography. Enjoy.