Friday, August 21, 2015

THE RELAUNCH OF JFWPHOTO.COM

Homepage of jfwphoto.com using the Squarespace Ishimoto template.
It's taken much longer than it should have, but I relaunched jfwphoto.com using Squarespace and finally have everything in one place*.

I've been thinking about this for years and now that the new jfwphoto.com has been public for several weeks and I've had the chance to work and refine it, I'm glad that I did this and question myself as to why I waited so long.

In a subsequent blog post, I'll go into the details on why I choose Squarespace and offer some insight into the process along with my experiences in building the website, but for now, I hope you take some time to view my site, offer some feedback, and most importantly, ask questions.

Landscape gallery page using slideshow with Show Thumbnails and Show Next and Previous Controls selected. I'm still trying out various gallery styles.
If you are thinking about using Squarespace, they offer a full week 14-day free trial with no credit card required. I would also recommend you watch a few of the tutorials.

* Everything except this blog. Also, I currently have a redirect on the domain jfwphoto.com through GoDaddy. Both of these will change.



Friday, August 14, 2015

FLICKR TOP TEN - PART II

Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash Camera
January 13, 2011. Title: Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash Camera Description: Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash Model dates from 1950-61. Original cost for the Hawkeye was $5.50 and the flash was $7.00. Stats: 1,561 views, 4 faves, 0 comments Tags: brownie, kodak, hawkeye, camera, vintage, classic. Groups: None.
In Part II of my Flickr top ten blog post, I share photos five through ten, which in some ways are very different from the top five, however, there are also are a few similarities.

Number six, seven and ten, are some of the earliest photos I posted to Flickr and were part of a series I was working on about vintage cameras. I suppose that just given the amount of time they have been on Flickr, naturally they would accumulate views. I did notice that I was not sharing my photos to groups during this time, so realistically views could have been much higher. At some point, I did add number ten to several groups after they reached out to me with a request.

Polaroid Swinger Model 20
January 19, 2011. Title: Polaroid Swinger Model 20 Description: The Polaroid Model 20 Swinger was produced by the Polaroid Corporation between 1965 and 1970 and cost $19.95. Stats: 1,545 views, 0 faves, 0 comments Tags: Polaroid, swinger, model 20, vintage, camera, land camera. Groups: None.
Another thing about these photos is that only 400 views separate the number six photo from the number ten photo. I don't know exactly what that means, except that it stood out to me.

Number eight is another photo which features the Manneken Pis, although in a very different way that my number one most-viewed photo which was featured in Part I. In this photo I was focusing on the three people at the table and it was only later during post production that I notice the woman to the left.

Manneken Waffles
August 18, 2013. Title: Manneken Waffles Description: Manneken Pis is a famous Brussels landmark depicting a naked little boy urinating, and can be seen in advertising all over the city. Stats: 1,515 views, 1 faves, 0 comments Tags: X100S, Fuji, Manneken Pis, Brussels, Belguim, Belgium, advertising, coke. Groups: Fuji x100s
Number nine is a photo that I like, but certainly not one that I would put in my top ten favorites. I notice that many of my photos from Europe, especially those taken in Germany, do very well on my Flickr site. If I continued on down the most viewed list you would see many more photos from Germany and Belgium, including another Manneken Pis in the top twenty.

Cologne Cathedral
August 20, 2013. Title: Cologne Cathedral Description: The Cologne Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church in Cologne, Germany, and the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and the administration of the Archdiocese of Cologne. Stats: 1,221 views, 2 faves, 0 comments Tags: X100S, Fuji, Cologne Cathedral, Germany, church, catholic. Groups: Cologne black & white, Fuji x100s, Digital Black and White.
This has been a fun two-part post to write and has given me a chance to look back over some photographs  that I posted about the same time that I relaunched this blog in 2011. I am constantly reminded how wonderful it is to have photo sharing sites like Flickr, along with social media, to get your work out there, to be shared and viewed by others. I know it has made me fall in love with photography, particularly, my personal work, all over again.

I think back to when I started taking photographs professionally in 1985 and at that time I never had any idea that my work would be seen by this many people. I'm still a small fish on Flickr, something I'm working on changing, but for now I'm content with my followers and looking at the work of those I follow.

Thank you, and let me know you Flickr username. I'll be sure to visit, leave a comment and follow you.
Majestic Toy Camera
July 26, 2011. Title: Majestic Toy Camera Description: Majestic toy camera from the Monarch Manufacturing Company, Chicago. Stats: 1,140 views, 2 faves, 2 comments Tags: Majestic, Toy Camera, Monarch Mfg.Co., Chicago. Groups: Historic Camera, Camera-wiki.org

Friday, August 07, 2015

FLICKR TOP TEN - PART I

Manneken Pis
October 17, 2013. Title: Manneken Pis Description: The small bronze fountain sculpture in Brussels, Belgium, depicts a naked little boy urinating into the fountain's basin. Stats: 4,947 views, 1 fav. Tags: fuji, X100S, Europe, Brussels, Belgium, Manneken Pis, pee, boy, Black and White, sculpture, fountain, attraction, tourist. Groups: Fuji x100s, Fuji X100s B&W, Digital Black and White.
I was recently looking at my Flickr stats and thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at my top ten most viewed photographs and see what, if anything, I could learn about them or learn about Flickr.

First, let's look at my stats. I've been a member since 2008 and posted 661 photos that have been viewed 172,321 times. I currently follow 123 photographers and have 105 following me.

Santa Claus
December 24, 2013. Title: Santa Claus Description: Hope that the Long Island Railroad guides him home safely tonight. Merry Christmas! Stats: 3,709 views, 31 faves, 1 comment Tags: fuji, X100S, Santa Claus, Penn Station, New York City, Christmas, holiday, St. Nick, NYC. Groups: Fuji x100s, New York Photography, The Candid Frame, in explore.
In part one of this two-part post, I share the top five along with relevant information about each photo and try to see if I can understand why these photos rose to the top.

The number one photo, Mannekin Pis, with over one thousand more views than the number two photograph, is somewhat of a mystery to me. First, I don't think it is a particularly remarkable photo although I do like it, but is it a 1000 times more remarkable than any other photo on my page. My only guess on why this is at the top has to do with tags. And if this is the case and you go back and read the tags under the photo you might be a little disturbed. Unintentional on my part, but who knows what people are searching for. Also, having been to Belguim a half dozen times in the past three years, I know that there is always a crowd around this site, so maybe it has nothing to do with specific tags.

Stairwell Portrait
June 1, 2013. Title: Stairwell Portrait Description: Fuji X100S portrait taken in the stairwell of the Marriott Residence inn in Mississagua, Ontario. Stats: 3,074 views Tags: blog.jfpwhoto.com, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, portrait, light, mississagua. Groups: None.
The number two photo is one that I do like and is currently featured on my website. It also was featured in Explore on Flickr which I'm sure added to the total number of views, especially if everyone who received a new digital device on Christmas morning was browsing Flickr.

Number three is a very simple portrait, taken in a few seconds, mostly to test the capabilities of a Fujifilm X100s that I had on loan before I decided to purchase the camera myself. I have very few portraits on posted to my Flickr site, so maybe portraits just do better. This photo also was never shared to a group and I misspelled Mississauga in both the description and tags. (Flickr updated with correction)

Cornfield
September 14, 2013. Title: Cornfield Description: None Stats: 2,656 views, 48 faves, 4 comments Tags: Kentwood Park, Md., USA, Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Bridge, light, Lens Flare. Groups: None.
At number four is a photo titled Cornfield and it is one that I didn't even upload until I happened to see the Flickr blog post with the theme of starbursts and remembered that I had taken this photo earlier that year. I posted the photo and it was picked up by Flickr and featured, which explains the number of views, despite no description and not being shared with any groups.

And like the first photo, I don't think the fifth most viewed photo, the ceiling of the Armenian Classroom taken during a visit to the University of Pittsburgh for my son's graduation, is all that great. It could be the title, or detailed description that helps people find this photo.

Armenian Classroom
April 28, 2013. Title: Armenian Classroom Description: The ceiling of the Armenian Classroom located in the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning. The Nationality Rooms are located on the first and third floors and were designed to represent the culture of various ethnic groups that settled in Allegheny County and are supported by these cultural groups and governments. Stats: 2,543 views, 4 faves, 3 comments Tags: Pittsburgh, Pa. USA, Armenian Classroom, University of Pittsburgh, Cathedral of Learning. Groups: Fuji X10, X20 and X30, Fujifilm X10, digital compact only -- p1 / a2 -- open EXIF --.
If you are on Flickr, check your stats which can be accessed in the drop-down menu under You at the top of the page. In Part II of this blog post, I'll share number five through ten. 

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

PASSPORT PHOTOS - IT'S REALLY NOT THAT HARD

Examples of proper passport photographs from travel.state.gov.
It happens to all of us, professionals and amateurs alike. You can almost hear the question coming before the speaker opens his or her mouth. DO YOU DO PASSPORT PHOTOS!

Before you hang your head, roll your eyes or something worse, consider your options.

Of course, you could tell them that for around $12 they could go to a drug store or any number of stores that are set up to do this kind of thing. You could let them know that in certain city's there are mobile studios set up right outside the immigration building that will do it lickety-split.

Or consider for just a moment that you can invest ten minutes of your time and take the photo yourself.

And finally, maybe you are the one who needs a passport photo. After all, you have all the equipment to get it done, so why would pay someone else to do it.

Maybe it is so easy to do that even if you are reading this and don't consider yourself a photographer, you'll be able to do it.

Using the Department of State's free photo tool takes all the guesswork out of crop and sizing your final image.
What do you need?

A digital camera (even a new phone would do), a white or off-white wall and plenty of natural or artificial light.

What you don't need is software or more specifically expensive software such as Adobe Photoshop to crop and size your photos. So if this was the barrier that kept you from fulfilling the passport photo request, keep reading.

The most time-consuming and intimidating part of the process for most people is normally the sizing of the final image, according to very specific guidelines from the federal government. You've heard the whole "2 x 2 inches sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head." What, and how do I make that happen?

This is one of the few times that the government has made something really simple. Upload you photo to this website and use the tool to resize and save the photo. That's it. It takes all the guess work out of the sizing and cropping process.

Unless you have a photo printer in your home, you will still need to visit that drug store to print your new passport photo on either matte or glossy paper, but at 29¢ per print, you can also afford to print a few extras for Mom.

Additional resources:

Photographer's Guide
Photo Requirements
Frequently asked photo questions

Friday, May 08, 2015

5 TIPS FOR PHOTOGRAPHING IN MUIR WOODS

Occasionally, some light makes its way to the forest floor. 0.5 sec @ f11, ISO 200.
Occasionally, some light makes its way to the forest floor which adds some nice contrast. 0.5 sec @ f11, ISO 200.
If you are visiting the San Francisco Bay area, I urge you to take the time and plan a visit to Muir Woods National Monument. Located just 12 miles north of the city in Marin County, California, and part of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area, Muir Woods features 240 acres of old-growth Coastal Redwoods and plenty of photographic opportunities.

I recently spent five hours exploring the park and hope that you will benefit from the five photographic tips below.

1. Lens selection. I would probably leave the telephoto behind, but that doesn't mean you need to bring only super wide-angle lenses. The Coastal Redwoods are big and everywhere, so you will not need a telephoto to see them, but adding something in the 70-120mm range would allow you to compress a scene or reach some trees that may be a little further off the path. A longer lens could als come in handy if you want to aim up into the canopy.

As someone who does not shoot a lot of verticals, this location was the exception. 1/2.3 @ f18, ISO 200.
As someone who does not shoot a lot of verticals, this location was the exception. 1/2.3 @ f18, ISO 200.
2. Don't forget the tripod. You will be doing a lot of walking during your visit and you might be tempted to leave the tripod behind. Don't. Even during a bright sunny day, not much light filters down to the forest floor, forcing you to shoot at very slow shutter speeds even if you have fast lenses. And even thought tripods are allowed in the park and the paths are fairly wide, remember to be courteous to other visitors, especially during busy times.
"This is the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world". - John Muir
3. Stay on track. Photography is allowed throughout the park, but you must remain on the paths. There is an easy loop path with an occasional trail that branches off. It took me about four hours to make the loop, but you could certainly do it in less. My recommendation would be to spend the whole day and plan on making several trips around the loop or take advantage of a ranger-led program.

There are a few places along the trail such as Cathedral Grove where you are able to get nice canopy shots from the trail. 0.3 sec @ f14, ISO 200
There are a few places along the trail such as Cathedral Grove where you are able to get nice canopy shots from the trail. 0.3 sec @ f14, ISO 200
4. Get there early or late. Normally this tip would refer to taking advantage of the best light, but in this case it is all about the parking and crowds. Parking is very limited, especially on weekends, but even during my weekday visit, I noticed parking was gone, even a mile down the road, when I left the park around 2 p.m. Another option would be to take the Muir Woods shuttle which runs on the weekends from April 4th through October 25th. The park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset.

Redwood sorrel is just one of the shade-loving plants that thrive under the redwood canopy. Look for wildflowers in winter and early spring. 1/13 @ f4.5, ISO 200.
Redwood sorrel is just one of the shade-loving plants that thrive under the redwood canopy. Look for wildflowers in winter and early spring. 1/13 @ f4.5, ISO 200.
5. Big picture - small picture. I was amazed by how much these Coastal Redwoods would impact me. Their size and beauty had me yearning to just shoot wide, take it all in with every frame. But that didn't always convey the true size of these magnificent trees as I reviewed the pictures. Force yourself, as I did, to try other focal lengths in order to achieve a different look. And if you have a macro lens, be sure to bring that too. There are incredible textures everywhere and plenty of interesting subjects on the ground if you can manage to look down.

Shooting from a low angle with a wide angle lens enhances the grandeur. 1/8 @ f8, ISO 400.
Shooting from a low angle with a wide angle lens enhances the grandeur. 1/8 @ f8, ISO 400.
Finally, be sure to take some time and relax during your visit. Since the lighting is fairly constant, there really is no need to rush, or limit your visit to the "best time" of the day for shooting. Find a bench, take a seat, and just enjoy this beautiful redwood forest that William and Elizabeth Kent donated to the federal government in 1908.

Download a PDF to learn more about the history of the park and the California Redwoods.