Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Shepherd Photo Club?

Hmmmm....I've had lots of students ask me in the last year to start a photography club. I've thought about it much and well.... I've decided to give it a try. You see, this is actually the second time I've tried to start a photo club. A number of teachers at school said that they would be interested in one. So, we started one on Flickr. We had several shooting assignments, 3 or 4 posted pictures, and we commented on them. But within a few months it seemed that everyone was too busy to take pictures with any regularity. So, I'm somewhat wary of trying it again (I hate to be disappointed!).
But, what the heck, 'Nothing ventured, nothing gained', right? So, if you would like to be part of the club, the first thing to do is to go to Flickr and create an account. It's easy to do and it's FREE! Next, click the link to join groups. Our group is called "SPS Photography Club". You should search for it by name.
To start with, take one of your favorite photos and upload it to your flickr account. Once you have it there, 'share' it with the 'SPS Photography Club'! Don't worry if you don't see your photo in the group immediately. I have to release it!
I will share one of favorite photos that I shot on my recent trip to Yellowstone National Park this fall. It's a head shot of a coyote. When you see it, you will know you're in the right place! Also,there's also a dozen or so shots there from a year ago when we tried to get the teacher club started. If other students have posted photos there, please take time to comment on them.
Next, I have a photo assignment for you! Assignments are what force us to go out and take pictures - after all that's what the club is for, right? Since many of you might get a new camera for Christmas, you might as well put it to use while everyone is gathered around the Christmas tree. Our assignment is to take a picture of a 'Group'. Now I was thinking of a group of 'people', but it could be a group of anything. Let your creative juices flow! Once you have a picture you like, upload it to flickr and share it with the SPS group.
To help you get started, I have a couple of links to share with you. The first one is to a photography podcast that I listen to (here's the link). It talks about 5 or 6 great ideas to keep in mind when you're taking a picture of a group. The podcast is part of a photography blog called The Digital Story. Take a look at the blog when you get a chance, it has a lot of great resources on it.
If you're looking for some general photography tips to get you started in the right direction, check these 10 tips out. Ok, that's it for now. So, get out there and start shooting!
I will Twitter photography and club info from time to time on my Twitter account. So, join twitter and follow me if you want to keep posted!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

World Wide Photowalk - Lansing

Randy Jones (above) and I participated in Scott Kelby's Worldwide Photowalk on Saturday.  Groups from 10 to 50 were meeting in cities all over the world Saturday and were spending a couple of hours together walking around cities shooting pictures and sharing with each other.  Randy and I joined the group in Lansing.  There were about 21 of us, led by a photog from the capital city, Richard Vissers.  We met at the Brenke Fish Ladder at about 9am and walked north several blocks from there.
The walk took us up a tree lined street of businesses that were colorfully decorated and surrounded by flowers.  At our furthest northern point, we stopped at a Turner Dodge Park that contained the Turner-Dodge house. All this provided many opportunities for pictures.  Upon returning a few hours later, we all met at a local restaurant to share our experiences and refuel.  
You can see my pictures on my flickr site (LINK).  Everyone will eventually sharing their pictures on a flickr group site.  As of tonight, the site wasn't yet available.  
It was such a great experience, Randy and I talked about organizing 'photowalks' in and around Shepherd.  So, stayed tune for announcements of such a walk if you're interested in going out and taking pictures!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

No Luck with our PhotoWalk

Well, NAPP closed off the applications for new Photowalks yesterday, on Friday.  I applied last Friday (Aug 1st) for our own city (I actually applied for Mt Pleasant).  But, I have not heard back at all (either way).  Since then, another Michigan city was approved - Lansing.  So, I called the photographer (Dane Robison) in charge of Lansing and have decided to sign up for it.  I sent out an email to the people who have attended Cool Tools at Shepherd and let them know about the change.  I'm driving my mini-van down to Lansing on Saturday (Aug 23rd) and six more people are welcome to join me!  So far, I have one for sure and another maybe.  So, sign up here, and lets go have a ball!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ever been on a Photowalk?

Well, have you ever been on a Photowalk? If you're like me, most of you haven't. At least not the kind of Photowalk I'm talking about. A Photowalk is where a group of people (who love to take pictures) walk around for about 2 hours and take pictures of anything and everything. At the end of the walk, they usually end up at some sort of eatery and sit around and chimp everyones pictures. If you would like a more detailed discussion about a Photowalk, check out this blog. Today's entry (July 30) discusses this topic in depth!
Back in February, I wrote some goals (on this blog) that I wanted to try to achieve for this year with my photography. One of them was to go out and shoot with some other photographers. I'm hoping this might be my chance. Scott Kelby is sponsoring a world wide Photowalk (Here's the Link). Who is Scott Kelby? He's a Photographer (Duh!) that writes books about Photography, Photoshop and Lightroom. He has a great blog and creates awesome video tutorials for using Photoshop. Those of you that have attend some of the Cool Tools workshops where I have had the opportunity to talk about photography have seen me use some of his books.
On the Photowalk website there is a list of cities that have a pro photographer leading such a walk. You can email the photographer and become part of his group. In Michigan, Detroit is the only city that is having such a walk. Unfortunately, you can't join it. As of checking it today, it is full. Soooo, I was wondering if there is any interest in having our own here in central Michigan? I would be willing to organize it (it needs to take place on Saturday, August 23rd). Although, I don't think that Scott's group would recognize us as an official group. I say that, because on their site they say the 'leader' should be "photography instructors, users group leaders, college-level teachers, well known local professionals, etc." I don't fit that description. However, the only downside (to not being a recognized group)  would be that we wouldn't be eligible for the prizes (if you watch the video on the intro page to the Photowalk website you can learn about the prizes).
So, what's the next step?  Well, you can comment here to say that you're interested in being part of the group!  That way everyone will be able to see the group grow (hopefully).  We don't have to do it in Shepherd.  Any central Michigan city would be fine with me.  So come on, commit, and let's have some fun!  

Monday, July 28, 2008

New Search Engine: Cuil

Just out today (Monday, July 28th), a new search engine. Are you tired of Google? Google has become so common, that it's a verb used in our everyday language. The new competition for Google is Cuil, pronounced "Cool". Cuil promises to provide more comprehensive results then Google. It's results look different from Google's. It shows more information and pictures in it's results. You control whether these results are returned in a 2 or 3 column format. You can also protect yourself (or others) by turning on a safe surfing features that filters out porn. Although, the site does not guarantee that you won't encounter some. Here is a screen shot from searching 'Global Warming'.

Notice the gray box in the upper right hand corner of the picture. It is titled "Explore by Category". Below the title are possible subcategories for Global Warming. When you run your cursor across them, they reveal links to people in the subject field. Seems to be a nice way to tunnel down in your subject area.

This is the second new search engine I've seen this summer that seems to have some promise for educational use. The other I ran across several weeks ago is Viewzi. It gives you several options (or views) from which you can choose to view your results. Although, very visually inviting, I haven't found myself drawn to use it more than google. On the other hand, I have found myself drawn to Cuil and will probably give it a try over the next month while getting ready for School! I would like to hear your opinions on these two search engines. So, be sure to share your experiences below.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A New Way to Look at Flickr Sites

Do you have a Flickr account? If you don't, and you take pictures, you should! It's a great way to share pictures on the web. But that part of the story is for another time. For those of you that have a flickr site or have visited one (maybe mine?), I want to introduce you to a new way to explore pictures on flickr. It's called 'Blow Up'. It allows you to easily see the pictures from a site larger and makes the selecting of other pictures on the site very easy. I want to encourage you to try it. If you don't have a flickr site of your own, feel free to use mine. Just go to the Blow Up site and enter yours (or my 'veeman60') username below the welcome picture on the page. It will take a minute or so for the screen to set up, but soon you will be able to navigate through the pictures quite easily and see any thumbnail you click on fill your screen. It's awesome. Try it out, and let me know what you think (leave a comment at the bottom).
You can also down load code and set it up so that anyone going to your site will be able to view it through 'Blow Up'. I haven't had time to figure out just how to do that yet, but when I do, I'll be sure to share (or if you set it up, let us know how the installation process went!).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

This ever happen to you?

About 3 years ago, after shooting two football games in one night, I was attempting to download the images from my Compact Flash Card. The error message I was getting suggested that there were no images on the card! After consulting with a few of my guru friends, I downloaded (and payed) for software (MediaRECOVER) that could search the flash drive (compact flash card) and find any images that may have survived the event that corrupted it. Luckily, I was able to recover all the pictures that I had taken. Fast forward to June 2008. I just returned from Costa Rica (where some teachers and students from Shepherd High School took a guided trip). I had shot about 13 gigs of pictures with my D3 Nikon. When I tried to download the pictures from a 4 gig card, it wouldn't even mount. My first thought was that the card reader I was using might be bad. So, I tried another, but with the same luck. I then tried sticking the card back into my camera to see if I could read my images (thinking I could link my camera to the computer and download them). The camera reported that their were no images on the card! I was now in panic mode! If I couldn't get the card to mount as a drive, there would be no way I could use image recovery software on it to get any pictures. After curling up in the fetal position for about an hour, I came up with what i thought was a risky plan. A plan from which there would be no return path from. I decided to put the card back into the camera and format it. I knew (at least i hoped I knew!), that formatting should only change the directory (the file that tells where the pictures are located on the disk). If there are pictures on the disk, they should be untouched. Doing this would allow me to mount the disk from the reader. After executing the plan, I put the card into the reader and it mounted on the computer. But, still no images. Next, i launched my mediaRECOVER software and let it look at my card. It reported no images! I couldn't believe it. Again, after going to the edge of the panic cliff, I remembered that the last time I used it, I was looking for jpeg images. Now, i was shooting in RAW (Nikon NEF format). The old software I had couldn't read those files. I went to the MediaRECOVER web site for an update. Their newest version did not read NEF files. So, I put google to work and found Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery. It was a free download. But, if you found your images - it wouldn't download them for you. You had to go back to the site and pay for an I.D. Key to get it to work. So, I ran the free download and found 300 images! WooHoo! I gladly payed the $39 and inputed the keys (2 string of numbers). Not sure if I will ever trust that card again though!