Top 10 Tips for Good Family Photos

Want to be a better photographer? You came to the right place. This article is intended for the amateur photographer who is the owner of a new camera and simply wants to improve taking photos of their family without necessarily wanting to become a professional. It is easy to take good photos whether you are using the camera from your phone, a point & shoot camera, or a camera with an interchangeable lens. The tips below will help you become a better family photographer and give you a better understanding of what the professionals look for and do when taking photos. Continue reading Top 10 Tips for Good Family Photos

Third-Party Upstart NP-95 Battery Review from eBay for Fuji X100

The NP-95 battery for the Fuji X100 is good for about 200-300 photos depending on whether you use the LCD or chimp your photos frequently by previewing the LCD. Those who utilize all the power-saving options and stay away from the LCD might be able to push 500 photos under ideal conditions. Therefore, a spare battery for the Fuji X100 is a must-have, but paying almost 10% of the price of the camera ($90) for an FujiFilm OEM NP-95 battery is not reasonable for me.

Continue reading Third-Party Upstart NP-95 Battery Review from eBay for Fuji X100

Portrait Posing and Lighting with Bambi Cantrell

This past weekend, Bambi Cantrell joined CreativeLIVE to host a Posing Masterclass to teach us aspiring photographers how the professionals are able to capture great photos through the art of posing. The key to Bambi’s success is the fact that she understands that photography is more than having strong technical skills behind the camera. If you caught Bambi’s workshop, you would have learned that her ability to lead and direct her subjects can change a good picture into a great picture.

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Tutorial: 2-Minute Photoshop Tools for Better Portraits

While I have been using Adobe Photoshop for over 15 years doing mostly non-portrait editing work, I have become lazy in portrait photography due to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom allowing me to achieve 95% of what I need for amazing photos. My typical portrait workflow ends in Lightroom once the exposure and color tones are to my liking. I have not bothered to go in and cleanup facial features using Photoshop for many years now.

Continue reading Tutorial: 2-Minute Photoshop Tools for Better Portraits

Tutorial: How to photograph t-shirts.

After my successful Bathroom Products Photography attempt, I was thinking of the next series of photos I could take using items found around the house. I needed a subject that would be colorful and bring lots of contrast to the photo. I decided that photographing my colorful t-shirts would give me exactly what I needed. So I went ahead and started planning how to do this to achieve a seamless white background. Coincidentally, a local business contacted me at the same time about wanting this type of commercial product photography. So I took the job to deliver 52 photos of t-shirts (front/back, male/female, six colors, four designs). Yeah, that is A LOT of shirts. Total time for the job including setup and post-production was 6 hours.

Continue reading Tutorial: How to photograph t-shirts.

Transitioning from Nexus S to Galaxy Nexus

Introduction

I picked up the Samsung Galaxy Nexus yesterday on a new 3-year contract with Bell for $169.00. You can also find them on eBay for as low as $600 today with overnight shipping from these Galaxy Nexus Smartphone sellers.

Coming from the HTC Nexus One and then the Samsung Nexus S, there are many things I love about the new Galaxy Nexus, and a few things that got me scratching my head and at times saying, “WTF?”.

This quick review is to talk about my 18-hour experience of transitioning from the Nexus S to the Galaxy Nexus and the things I’ve discovered. These are the same things you will discover when you first pick up and use the Galaxy Nexus with Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), the Android 4.0 operating system supplied by Google for this device.

Unboxing

The packaging is a mess. Once you pull everything out of the box to get it up and running, you have a heap of cardboard and paper to deal with. But who cares, it’s a damn box. Into my closet it goes.

User Manual

Do not make me laugh out loud (aka LOL) because if you have never used a smartphone before, consider signing up for Smartphone 101 classes. There is no user manual for the Galaxy Nexus. If you head over to the Google Galaxy Nexus website, you are greeted with a “Galaxy Nexus Owner’s Guide Coming Soon” text on the main page. Again, not something I’m going to cry about, but for first-time smartphone users, this is not a good introduction into the handheld computing world. Patience or a 12-year kid is needed for training.

While waiting line at Best Buy, two elderly customers came in asking for help on basic functions for the Galaxy Nexus that is now second nature to most of us. They had to be thought that these phones allow you to ‘swipe’ and ‘press-hold’ certain areas of the screen for more functions. The Best Buy employee trained them for 1.5 hours on how to use the phone. This would be funny, if it wasn’t sad.

Form-Factor

It is very big and very thin. Photo of the Galaxy Nexus placed beside the old Nexus S.

User Interface

Now let’s cut to the chase and showcase the UI experience from a Nexus One/S owner to a Galaxy Nexus owner. Note that you can capture screenshots on the Galaxy Nexus by pressing the Power+Volume-Down button at the same time. Finally, a screen capture feature.

Lock Screen

The lock screen allows you to Swipe-Left directly into the camera, or Swipe-Right to unlock the phone. For a photographer, the Swipe-Left directly into the camera is a much appreciated feature. I do miss the swipe feature to change volume to vibrate and wish Google added a Swipe-Up and Swipe-Down feature for users to customize additional swipe functions.

Desktop

As applications are installed, they are automatically added to the desktop. Great idea, but can be annoying for some users. The desktop now supports folders and you set it up just like the iPhone, by dragging one icon onto the other. Tap on the space below the icons to give it custom name.

You can customize icons on the dock. Press-Hold an icon on the doc to get started.

Notification Pull-Down

When pulled down, swipe on the notification row to get rid of individual notifications. This is a very nice addition and still better than the iOS design on my iPad.

Notification Light

The bottom of the Galaxy Nexus features a notification light that displays when there are unread notifications. I greatly missed this feature after leaving the Nexus One and this has caused me to lose many e-mails and SMS’s that had to be sent urgently. Now I am happy again.

Task Switcher

There is a dedicated multitask button on the bottom navigation row. Again, swipe on the running task to kill that task or click on it to open it.

Widgets

Gone is the old-fashioned way of Press-Holding on the desktop to add widgets. You can find widgets in the drawer by Swiping-Left to switch to the Widgets tab on the right side of the drawer.

Quirks

Now here are some oddities with Ice Cream Sandwich that has left me scratching my head. There are (count them) THREE menu buttons to replace the ONE menu button Google took away from us. Depending on the app, the menu button can appear in any one of three locations. The menu appears as three vertical dots if a menu exists.

At the top of the application.

At the bottom of the application.

At the bottom-bottom of the application in the navigation row.

Identity Crisis

Google isn’t sure whether it wants to follow Microsoft’s Metro concept or go with the more traditional vertical scroll. So it decided to use both just to be sure.

In the Images app, the tiles scroll horizontally and are cut-off in the Metro style.

In the contacts, the tiles scroll vertically.

Minor Bug

I was unable to transfer the photos from my Nexus S to the Galaxy Nexus initially. When I copied the photos into the DCIM/Camera folder, the copy process would hang on Windows and Mac. Later, I discovered that there was a permissions problem with the folder and the fix was to delete the DCIM/Camera folder and then recreate it. After that, images transferred without issues.

Wishlist

I am still waiting for these features to show up on Android:

  • Pinch to rotate the screen so that I can set auto-rotate off and rotate the screen as desired.
  • Fix for the Auto-Brightness. The screen is too dim on auto.

Conclusion

Despite some of its trivial oversights, 98% of this phone is great and is the best smartphone I have ever owned. It is fast, it is big, and there is enough spacing between keys on the keyboard for me to type with high accuracy. I would buy this phone without hesitation.