Monthly Archives: October 2009

A Quick Look at flickr

 view_photo

If you have been taking photos for a while you have most likely heard of flickr. Put simply flickr is an online photo sharing website where users can upload their photos and short videos to share with the rest of the world. Flickr is the largest and most active photo sharing site at this time and is the most accepted by armatures as well as pro photographers.

Uploading your sports photos is fairly strait forward. Once you have logged in you click the down arrow next to the “You” menu item at the top of the screen and then select upload photos and videos from the drop-down menu. Once you are there you click the Choose photo text which brings up a new window of what is on your local computer. Some of the photo organizers such as Windows Live Photo Gallery include a button that enables you to upload your selected photos within that application so you don’t have to login to your flickr account in your browser. Others such as Picasa have third party plug-ins you can install to give similar functionality. I would actually recommend using one of these options over the online offering flickr has built in.

plublish_to_flickr

Flickr offers many of the basic features of most other photo sharing sites such as organization, tags and ordering prints but it also goes beyond this allowing you to do a fair amount of editing of your photos online. You can do your normal crop, rotate, and resize that others might offer but you can also adjust the color, sharpen and fix red-eye. In addition to fixing your photos you can also use their create feature.

In the create tool box you are given a plethora of filters and options you can use to modify and play with your photos. You can add a number of shapes to your photo or add a variety of frames and text. It’s just like having a photo editing program running in your browser.

photo_editing

Unfortunately this editing service is provided by Picnik and not all of the features are free. If you want full access to all of the options you will have to pay a $24.95 a year fee. This also brings up the point that flickr itself has a basic plan which is absolutely free but they also provide a premium plan which costs $24.95 a year note that even though this is the same price as the picnic service it does not include the premium options available through picnic. If you do decide to upgrade your flickr account you get unlimited storage and you can also able to upload videos. If you just want to stick with the free account you are allowed to upload 100 MB worth of photos each month. Keep in mind this is calculated by uploaded data and not storage. For example say you uploaded 50 photos and that used 50 MB of your transfer limit. So if you then delete 25 of your photos off of flickr you do not get 25 MB of your monthly limit back because it is the transfer amount and not the storage amount. If you are just a casual user and don’t want to store your entire photo library on flickr you should be just fine with the free account they provide.

Flickr comes with a great way of organizing you photos but it can be a little confusing at first. You organize your photos into sets. These are what you would probably think of as folders on your computer. The only difference that I can tell is that you cannot create a new set inside of another set. You can add photos to your sets easily by just dragging and dropping the thumbnails at the bottom of the screen into the big box they provide above.

Another great feature flickr has to offer is called groups. This feature lets you send certain types of photos to the same group as other people. An example might be you and your family members setup a group for the 2008 family reunion. Now everyone with a flickr account can submit photos that they took at the family reunion to that same group. This makes it very easy for everyone to get their photos collected into one location.

Overall flickr is a cool way to share your sports photos with the rest of the photography world. There is a bit of a learning curve to get through at the beginning but once you do surpass it you will be a flickr pro in not time.

Terance

ProPix Photography

The Sports Photography Professionals

Automatically share your photos with friends and family

We talked about syncing your photos from one of your computers to another using Windows Live Sync. In this article we are going to take it a little further and show you how to automatically share your photos with friends and family members. I recently set up this process so that whenever a family member boots up their computer, the wallpaper they are using will change to a new photo that I put in a folder on my machine. They also have the ability to print share and do whatever else they want to do with the photos because the photos I put in the photo folder on my machine will get copied to the photo folder on their machine automatically over the Internet.

Let’s take a look at how to set this up. The first thing you need to do is download and install the Windows Live Sync application on each machine you want to have the photos show up on. During the setup you will want to have it sign in to your account autocratically so that it can always get the latest photos.

Now back on the main machine you will be using to send the photos to everyone else, login to the Sync website and create a new shared folder. The website will walk you through the process of adding a new folder from your computer. You will want to select the folder on your computer that you will be putting the photos you want to share with your friends and family in.

Once you select the folder you want to sync from the website, it will ask you for the email addresses of the people you would like to share the folder with. Enter each address in and hit the add button. It will then give you the chance to send an email asking everyone to add that folder to their sync account. When the individuals go to add the folder to their computer it will walk them through a wizard asking them where on their computer they would like to have the photos show up. Once they have done this final step the folder they selected on their computer will automatically receive any photos you put on your computer.

If you want to take this setup a step further you can get a free wallpaper switcher such as Wallpaper Slideshow LT and have it point to the synced folder to have it use a new photo every 30 minutes or whatever you prefer for your desktop wallpaper. If you have Windows 7 it already has this feature built in.

Shooting Indoor Sports

Indoor Sports
Getting great sports photos indoor can be a real challenge.  While professional sports photographers shoot in arenas that have been designed with them and the television producers in mind, you are shooting in old school gyms, performance halls and other poorly lit facilities.  You will also be using good equipment, but most likely not using pro lenses that can run $8,000+.  The good news is if you will follow the tips below you will still be able to capture great sports photos like the pros.

Location, Location, Location
Just as in real estate where the best location makes for the best pricing and resale, the best location at indoor sports will make for the best photos.  Find a spot right on the floor close to the athletes or an elevated position that is still close enough.  You want to fill the frame with many of your shots and depending on the size of your lens, being close is almost always better.  There not just one best location, you will want to change positions and take shots from a variety of angles and different locations around the competition area.  By doing this you will have unique shots that will give variety to the shots you are taking.  You will also need to be mobile to catch all the athletes since in most sports they will be moving and changing directions.

White Balance
As a sports photographer you will invariably be faced with event locations that have insufficient lighting.  School gyms and performance halls have not been designed for optimum photographic lighting.  In addition, during many sporting and athletic events the lights are dimmed or turned down as part of the event.  In addition to low-light you will have to deal with a variety of different types of lights including florescent. 

Your best solution is to take practice shots and get to the best color you can on your LCD screen.  You will be able to make adjustments post event on your computer, but that takes time and you want to get it the best you can the first time.  So start on automatic and see how well that looks.  Then try some of the other pre-defined white balance settings such as florescent.  The best way is to try a few and then choose the setting that gives you the best visual representation of the scene. 

ISO & Shutter Speed
You have a double challenge, enough light for your photos and freeze the action so your photos are not blurry.  The image sensor on your camera must receive enough light to allow your photo to be bright, yet you can’t leave the shutter open so long that the movement is blurry.  So your shutter speed must be fast enough to capture the action.  Fortunately a good Digital SLRs will help you to do just that.  You have a number of options.  You can leave the camera in programmed mode and increase the ISO.  You may have to increase the ISO to 800, 1250 or even 1600 where I tend to shoot most of my indoor sports held in school gyms. 

In programmed mode the camera will intelligently set the aperture and shutter speed to compensate.  You will find this to often be a good solution, and obviously easy to do since all you do is set the ISO.  If you want to take more control yourself try setting the aperture as wide open as you can (low f/stop number), and let the camera pick the shutter speed.  It might feel a little backwards, but we have found this to work better than to set the shutter speed.  Of course if you want ultimate control go to manual and set both yourself.

Faces
Don’t forget the most important part of the sports photo is the athlete’s face.  Find locations that will allow you capture the faces of the athletes.  Be aware of obstacles and other challenges that may hinder your ability to catch their face.  When you capture the athlete’s face along with the ball, or other elements of the sport or competition you will have sport photos that everyone will love, and the athlete and family even more.

ProPix Photography
The Sports Photographers

Abstract the World

 

One of the great things about photography is that you can view the world in a different way. With the use of different lenses and lighting effects you can take ordinary things around you and modify them in ways the human eye alone could never see.

Play with the light.

The natural light all around us can be a fantastic tool to work with. When possible try to take advantage of this. When I’m shooting for abstract sports photos or just having some fun, I could care less about how much noise is in my photo. Often times this can actually give it more character. Try and have a really bright light in the background of your photo, or maybe in the foreground. The point is to try different things. The more you play with the light the more you will get familiar with the different effects you can achieve, not just for abstract photos but in general as well.

Try a different angle.

Another fun thing to try is moving the camera or yourself in positions you wouldn’t normally photograph in. Try taking photos while holding the camera at waist side, or at a crooked angle. Get down closer to the ground or stand on a ladder or stool. You will find that different angles and heights can change things dramatically. Just as film makers use these techniques in the movies, you can use them in your sports photos as well.

Often looking for angles and patterns for your photos can be yet another way to make them more interesting to the eye. Just by tilting the camera a bit may give your photo that extra something that makes it go from an okay shot to a fantastic photograph.

Use that lens.

Try different focal lengths, in other words, zoom in as tight as you can and take the shot. You will never know what kinds of detail you may pick up. Conversely try some wide angles at different positions. You can achieve some really dramatic emotions using a super wide angle lens.

Keep practicing.

Experiment with different sports. This could include the family on the trampoline in the back yard or jump roping on the driveway.  Try and think of the most ordinary part of the sport practice photographing it in exciting new ways. This will improve your skills in seeing things in a less than ordinary way.

My last suggestion would be to just practice, and as always, have fun with it. Remember, you don’t have to go to a professional sporting event to get some cool and interesting shots.