Using Adobe Photoshop online

Sunflower in my backyard editted in Adobe Photoshop.com

With some mild fear I decided to try out Adobe’s online image editting solution, Photoshop.com. Now this is a nicely crafted site. It has many of the features that sites like Piknik and Picasa offer with something that are decidedly Adobe.

The first thing you should know is that the basic account is free. It’ll cost you an email account but that email account that I used to sign up with has yet to see one single piece of spam from Adobe or Photoshop.com. The basic account will let you hold up to 2GB worth of images. That sounds like a lot and it is for most point and shoot camera users.
If you are using a high end Canon Mark V with the default 77MB file sizes, then you know what your limits are and you probably are not looking for free online storage solutions for your photos.
Now let’s talk about free solutions for a minute. It is important that you do not store precious and rare photographs only on your home PC. Heaven forbid that a catastrophe strike, you will lose those memories. It is okay to do backups of your home pc files, pictures, and video on to DVD’s or some other onsite storage solution however, you should also make use of Flickr, Picasa, Photoshop.com, Photobucket, SmugMug or the plethora of online storage offerings.
So now that we have established that it is wise to move your photos off of your home PC and on to a storage site where backups are done routinely, let me add that you should have a copy at home too.
Now Photoshop.com gives you many tools for editting, cropping, and in many other ways manipulating your images. It does not give you all of the tools that you would get with Photoshop CS4, CS3, or any other Adobe Photoshop boxed software offering. It does however give you just enough tools to take a plain image and spice it up a little or maybe get rid of those demon eyes your puppy gets from the flash bulb.
It also lets you integrate your images with Picasa, Flickr, Photobucket, Facebook and possibly more coming soon. You can choose to share photos on Photoshop.com with friends or ban outsiders from viewing your work.
Adobe also makes available paid versions of this site which offer you more storage. You should check the site for pricing as it may change from the time I write this and the time you read this.
I really cannot applaud this product properly. You will have to try it for yourself.

Deciding on a new camera

I have a nice Nikon D40 DSLR camera that I have had now for almost two years. While I certainly am not ready for a D700 or D300s, I would like to get input from you as to what kind of camera I should get next.

I am leaning towards the D90 or maybe a used D300 if I can get the price right.

Since I shoot a lot of sports and nature stuff, I would like it to have a fast shutter speed for continuous shooting, >4 frames per second in burst mode but I’ll be practical about it and can hang with this one a little longer under someone knows of a better camera down the pipeline.

A lot happens in a month

For starters while perusing through the thousands of photos I have taken I stumbled upon this choice shot taken of Alcatraz prison from my balcony aboard the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas.

Spooky photo of Alcatraz with no effects

Spooky photo of Alcatraz with no effects

I have more shots but nothing this dramatic.

Macro Photography at its best

While Tamron makes a really good lens, I am increasingly unsatisfied with the performance on my 70-300mm with macro. Then again..you get what you pay for.

Either way…this is a remarkable macro taken with a Tamron lens.

Enjoy– http://tamrontechstips.typepad.com/tamron_blog/2009/08/flowery-dew-drops.html

Nikon’s newest big toy

Okay…so I have sent off to Nikon asking them to test drive their new D300S DSLR camera. This thing is a huge step up over my current D40. For starters the new D300S takes up to 8 pictures per second and it gives the user more control over the camera than my D40 does.

It shoots with 12.3 megapixels of clarity in your images plus it also offers 51 autofocus points which is substantially more than my D40.

The camera is a professional grade camera. It has a remarkable movie feature but my understanding has been that it can only shoot about 5 minutes worth of moving video. That’s apparently the most a 4GB memory card can hold but surprise! This model features both a compact flash and an SD card slot.

In actuality, Nikon unveiled several DSLR’s as well as a number of new cameras in its Coolpix line of cameras. I have one of the lower end Coolpix models and it takes very good photos and it is a great point and shoot camera.

I don’t expect Nikon to say yes but it’s worth a shot.

When is enough access for electronics companies?

It started with Netscape 2. You would visit a site and in order to remember your settings and other information that would be annoying to reenter over and over again, so the web site would place a cookie on your computer which stored all the details of your previous visit(s).

Then came tracking beacons and phone home applications that were placed on your computers. Now we have the case of Amazon’s reading device, the Kindle, which not only tracks your reading habits; it’s not happy enough with that ability. Now Amazon has the ability to remove content it does not think you should have.

Today, MSNBC has a story about a 17 year old advanced placement class student who lost all of his work and his copy of George Orwell’s 1984 when Amazon discovered that it had been selling an illegal (pirated) version of 1984. While it is not the teen’s fault that Amazon was lazy in checking the authority of the person offering the electronic copies of the novel for sale, it is also not up to Amazon to simply turn on its tracking devices and wipe the book off of you e-reader.

What bothers me is the level of control companies have over our lives. OnStar can turn off your car while you’re driving it. Microsoft has the ability to turn off your PC while you are using it. Music “rental”..ahem subscription sites, remove your ability to play music that you have paid them for. Other sites, like Yahoo music, go out of business and then turn off their authentication servers which prevent you from playing back material that you have paid for and thought you had every right to listen to.

The truth is, since Microsoft came up with the idea of licensing, your ability to enjoy media in a format that you have paid for has been significantly diminished. Media companies have retained more control than ever over your movies, music, and reading material. If you want to break this trend, you’re going to have to sacrifice.

Quit buying entertainment. Quit going to the movies. Quit wasting your money supporting businesses just because you might like what they have to offer. When you make a purchase you are supporting their bad policies that make honest people into criminals.

Picking the right lens for your Nikon DSLR

So if you have a Nikon D40, D40, D60, or similar low end DSLR camera, you will inevitably face the same problem I had finding a lens that will work with it. Sure…you can spend extra and get the Nikkor DX lenses which work great but had a substantially higher price tag. But I am including a list of lenses you can pick up that won’t break the bank and that will help you get that perfect shot.

Any of the Tamron Di-II lenses will work as they have the motor built into them. My experience with this manufacturer is limited to one lens, the 70-300mm f-4.0-6.3 Di-II. It takes great photos and has a built-in macro feature which allows you to get up close and person on some pretty small and detailed objects. I have mostly good things to say about this lens however, its biggest downside has to be its focuser. It is slow and often comes up soft. I frequently find myself kicking the lens out of Autofocus and putting it in manual mode.

Sigma makes a series as well called the DC line. Those are DSLR lenses which are compatible with the Nikon D40’s autofocusing system. While I have not used these, I have read and heard good things about this brand.

In case you don’t know, the thing that makes these lower end digital single lens reflex cameras different (DSLR cameras) is that the motor that drives the autofocuser is not in the body of the camera like it is on the higher end cameras. No…the autofocusing motor for these lies within the lens itself. There is a small opening on the lens mount in front of the camera that allows you to see the drive mechanism that feeds information back to the image processor inside the camera.

Nikon’s Nikkor lenses have a faster response time and focus better in the autofocus mode however…it is my experience that you lose little if you take the time and get used to your Tamron or Sigma lens and allow time for the focuser to kick in. If you are shooting sports or other lightning fast events, you may want to opt to pay a little bit more.

If you are looking to spend aroun $500 on your next lens, allow me to introduce you to the all in one wonder…the Tamron 18-270mm lens. This lens have an incredible amount of coverage and works well with your D40/D40x/D60/ etc….

Here is a series of images that I have taken with my Tamron lens:

alamoflowers-1 jackrabbits-12 DSC_0070

 

 

 

Here are lists from the major manufacturers of the lenses that may work with the Nikon lower end DSLR:

Nikon: http://imaging.nikon.com/products/imaging/lineup/lens/af/dx/index.htm

Sigma: http://www.sigmaphoto.com/lenses/lenses_all.asp

Tamron: http://www.tamron.com/lenses/default-photo.asp

Paying to access beauty

Now we all know that as photographers we have to jump through hoops and hurdles to get the right shot. We have to wait numerous cycles for the breeze to unfurl a flag just right or for the child’s eye’s to give that “plugged in and lit up” look.

Sometimes, we have to sign forms stating that we know we’re walking into a dangerous area and that we won’t sue the owner of the facility/property if we get hurt. Well it’s become that time of year in Texas where wildflower shots are readily available.

There are hundreds of free places to get these shots…like IH10 just outside of Seguin on the way to Houston. There are tons of locations around San Antonio too. But the places that I want to hit are the places that are forbidden unless you have the wallet for it.

Take for instance, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. It’s a gorgeous place filled with the beauty of wildflowers year round. They charge you to access the facility if you want to look but if you pack a camera, look out. You can be slapped with an $100/day camera fee.

There is a new canyon at Canyon Lake and it has some awesome views as well. If you want to walk down that trail, you have to hire a guide and you have to also pay a fee. Combined, it can also run you about $100 and that includes LIMITED access to the area.

So please take this warning. If you are going to a favorite location and plan on taking your camera to capture some of the beauty, you better pack your credit card or a lockbox for your camera because cash strapped facilities are looking for new and better ways to generate revenue and our love of nature’s raw beauty and power is going to cost us.

A digital photographer has lots of help today

A podcast is a simple audio or sometimes video file that provides you with any of a long list of items that can be used to teach you different languages, math, science, and even digital photography.

Some of the best guides and tutorials are podcasts. 

Here are some of them that I listen to:

The main advantage of these podcast tutorials is that you can run them on your iPod or media player while you sit at your PC or in the field. 

If you know of any others, please let me know and I can add this to the list.

Not quite what I had in mind…

So ARod tested positive for steroids five years ago when it wasn’t a punishable offense in the major leagues. Here’s my thoughts…Alex’s test is only another reminder that the only people our society rewards are cheaters.

If you aren’t cheating, then you aren’t trying and it’s only cheating if you get caught. Those are the mantras our children get to hear daily on the television or radio.

Fourteen year old boys are having Tommy John surgery on their perfectly healthy arms just to give their curve ball a little more snap or add a couple of MPH to their fast ball.

As a society, we need to decide…do we want to reward cheaters or punish them and we need to quit sending a message that we’re shocked or dismayed when we clearly are not.