Summer Vacation – Telling Your Story

Whether your getting ready for a summer vacation away from home or a weekend trip close to home, you plan all the things your going to need for the trip.  For instance, a week at the beach house, you might bring bathing suits, towels, sun block, and something for the sunburns, just in case one gets too much sun.  And of course you will want to bring a camera to capture those moments.

What story do you want to tell with your photographs?  What is unique about this summer trip?  By taking some time to plan your photographic story, you will end up with more photographs with the “wow” factor and really capture the spirit of your summer trip.

To tell any good story, its needs four elements.  Plot.  Character.  Setting.  Details.  This holds true for photography as well.   Here is how you can incorporate story telling while taking photographs.

  1. Plot – What action is taking place?  Is there a tension or conflict in the story?  What is important to the story?  Perhaps this summer trip is a family reunion.  Or the first trip for a toddler.
  2. Character – What is unique about the person you are photographing?  I know I have an uncle who loves to entertain the kids at Christmas in-between opening presents.
  3. Setting – What is important about your surroundings?  What is unique?  I know someone who traveled abroad and they had an outdoor shower with an amazing view.  Her husband took a wonderful photograph of her using the shower and the view just beyond.
  4. Details – What are the little details that help tell the story?  Like the bucket the children used to build a sand castle on the beach.  You could compose a photograph of the discarded bucket by the sand castle with the children playing on the beach in the distance.

Once you have arrived at your summer destination, here are some tips for capturing your summer story in pictures.

  • Leave the camera behind.  If you’re going to be there for a week, leave the camera behind for the first two days.  Spend this time just enjoying the atmosphere with your family.  If you do this, once you do whip out your camera, your family will probably be more cooperative with you taking pictures and may be less prone to whining about you being behind the camera all the time.
  • With your camera packed away, take the time to make some observations about your surroundings.  This will help you plan out your shots when you do have your camera in hand.
  • Choose the day, time and location for your photographs carefully.  Take the photograph we mentioned earlier of the bucket the children used to build the sand castle.  This photograph will have more “wow” factor at sunset with less people on the beach versus the middle of the afternoon when the sun is high and there are a lot of people on the beach.
  • Be prepared to come back when the timing is right for that perfect photograph.

Here’s one story I have captured this summer.  I have digitally scrapped this story and it was easy to do since I knew ahead of time what I wanted to photograph.

Create multimedia digital scrapbooks for free at Scrapblog. Print your creations into high quality keepsake books, soft cover books, greeting cards, and post cards.

Scrap pages were created at

You can have better photographs by thinking about the photograph you want to capture ahead of time.  And don’t forget to get yourself in the photograph.  These techniques can also be used for capturing those photographs for Summer Stock Sunday hosted by Robin over at Around the Island.  Click on over to see more photographs on this Summer Stock Sunday.

Do you have past summer vacations on video, why not have them transferred over to DVD.

iMemories - Preserve Your Memories on DVD

What you need to know about Memory Cards

I was reading one of the lessons from the distance learning photography course I am taking and I came upon this information about the memory cards we all use in our digital cameras.  Very good to know and not something I have seen on or in the packaging of memory cards available today.

Memory Card Variety

Memory Card Variety

So here is 10 things you need to know about Memory Cards:

  1. Before you turn your camera off, make sure it has finished saving the image.  Many cameras have a blinking light to let you know its working.  Personally my camera will tell me it’s “busy” if i try doing this.  You risk losing your images or even corrupting the memory card entirely if you turn off your camera too soon.
  2. Never remove the memory card from your camera while it is still on.  Again you can lose all your pictures.
  3. There is a speed at which your camera takes a pictures and saves it to the memory card.  This is called transfer speed and it is measured as frames per second or fps for short.  The higher the fps rate is, the more continuous pictures you can take and save to your memory card.  And if your camera can record video on top of taking still photographs, than you definitely want a memory card with a high transfer rate otherwise your videos will appear choppy upon playback.  It is recommended to get a memory card with a Class 6 or higher rating.  These memory cards should have a transfer rate of 30fps.
  4. Don’t use up all the memory available on the card.  Just like when you have too many files saved on your hard drive, your computer will slow down considerably and may not be able to read or find the images on the memory card.
  5. Always use fresh or a fully charged rechargeable battery in your camera. Good to monitor your battery light while taking pictures too.  Little to no juice in your battery can prevent your camera from saving those pictures to the memory card.
  6. Do not place your memory cards near powerful electrical sources or strong magnetic field.  Just like your credit card, those sources cn instantly erase all the images stored on the memory card.
  7. Hndle the memory cards properly.  Pay attention when inserting the cards into their appropriate slot.  They only go in one way and forcing them could permanently damage the memory card.
  8. Store your memory cards in a safe place so they won’t get damaged.  Either keep them in the plastic case they originally came in or purchase a soft case that has individual pouches for storing multiple memory cards.
  9. Do not touch the electrical contacts on the memory cards.  Touching the contact can damage the delicate circuitry that makes them work.  Memory cards can also be damaged by the oily residue on your fingers, exposure to liquids or moisture.
  10. Constantly deleting the images from the card can lead to damage or memory card corruption.  It is better to reformat the card once you have transferred your images to your computer.  Most digital cameras have the option to reformat cards available in their menus.

Well there you have it.  Some useful tips to preserve your memory cards and protect the precious moments we capture with our digital cameras.

Virtual Worlds

Last week I attended PDN’s Virtual Tradeshow from the comfort of my own computer.  It was pretty cool to visit the Vendor Exhibits and attend presentations online.  No need to travel and you can press Pause whenever you need a break.

Today as I am browsing online I happened upon Canon’s Canon Camera Museum.   There is lots to view here in this Virtual Museum.  I browsed through the history of the different cameras that Canon has produced over the years.  Cameras sure how changed over the years.

Canon AE-1 Program Camera

Canon AE-1 Program Camera

Then I stepped into the Technology Hall and I quickly found myself memorized by the tour through the Virtual Lens Plant.  I got to see how they make the EF 500m F4L USM Lens from start to finish.  This is a serious lens.   Seeing how the lenses are made gave me a better understanding on how they work.

While visiting the Canon Virtual Mesuem you can also check out their line of Film Cameras, Digital Camcorders, Movie Cameras, and of course their infamous Digital Cameras and Lenses.

I am sure I could spend many hours before my computer visiting each of the halls: Camera Hall, Design Hall, Technology Hall, and finally the History Hall.  But I have other things to do at the moment, like go out and take some more pictures so I can get paid.  Please feel free to visit the museum yourself and let me know what you thought about it.

Now I wonder if Nikon has a similiar Exhibit Hall…

Quick Tips for taking good pictures

I love seeing all the pictures my friends will post on various social networking sites I subscribe to.  But why do people post pictures that are too dark and you can’t see the people or the picture is really blurry and out of focus.  So to all you picture posters out there, I offer you a few tips on taking better pictures.

  • Get Down.  (and I don’t mean “get down and boogie!)  With kids and pets you can take some great photos if you get down on their level.
  • Use a plain background (if possible).  A busy background can be quite a distraction when viewing the finished picture.  If you do have a busy background try to keep it out of focus.
  • Use the flash outdoors.  The flash will light up the front of your subject if there is not enough light (sunset) or when there is too much light and the sun is casting a shadow on your subject
  • Get Close (make sure you brushed your teeth.)  You want to fill the viewfinder or LCD screen with your subject.  Either zoom in or physically get closer.
  • Lock the focus.  To do this, focus on your main subject, press down the shutter button half way and hold, get your whole picture lined up and then press the shutter down all the way
  • Read the instruction manual.  (No brainer, right?)  Many cameras are built and marketed with proprietary features so get to know all that your camera can do for you.  Spend an hour or so reading and trying out the various functions.
  • Indoor pictures.  Don’t point your camera at a window with lots of sunlight coming through.  Your camera’s flash won’t trigger because of the bright light and again your subjects will be left in the dark.  Either override the autoflash and/or move yourself so that you are not pointing the camera at the window.
  • If you are outside, do your friends a favor and don’t face them into the sun when you are taking a picture.  They will be sure to squint and this could ruin the picture.
  • Firmly plant your feet on the ground.  That is about a foot a part,  and hold the camera with 2 hands.  This will reduce the chance of blurry pictures.