Posts Tagged ‘digital photography’

My Photo Resolutions for 2014

Welcome 2014 – it’s time to get my ducks in a row. My photo ducks, at least.  Here are my five photo-related resolutions for 2014.  I’ll let you know at the end of the year how well I did with them.

Back-up.  Don’t get me wrong, I DO back-up all of my work.  Unfortunately, I usually go overboard and save different versions often in multiple places. Now while this means that I generally don’t lose anything, it also means that it can take me a while to find something (and it uses a lot of space).  So I resolve to back-up my work and delete earlier and working versions when I have completed the project.

Process and delete.  I usually shoot in RAW and shoot more photos than I want to keep.  This means that the files are quite large and many are extra.  To process my photos I need to convert them to JPEGs, delete what I don’t want and make any edits with color or cropping.  Photos can sit on my computer (and back-up) for months before I get to this.  So I resolve to process and delete my photos in a timely manner and then delete the original files.

Share. We learned to share in kindergarten and I’m not, not sharing. I first have to get the files ready (see above resolution) and then second actually do it.  Perhaps the biggest misconception about digital photography is that it makes it easier to share photos.  While this is technically true, I always found that I gave more photos and got more photos when we had them developed.  Towards the end of film it was cheap to have another set of prints made and most people did just that.  So I resolve to burn discs and share them with family and friends no later than one month after the event.

Print.  I haven’t printed photos in years.  Sure, I’ve made many individual photos for frames, but my photo albums are woefully out of date (another casualty of digital).  So I resolve to print or, better yet, create photo books in a timely manner.

Scan.  I have been made the official archivist of my family and as a result have literally boxes of old photos.  I need to get them scanned.  So I resolve to scan, process, share and create photo books of all of my family photos.

I guess I’m going to be fairly busy this year!


The Photographer’s Ephemeris


I know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west and that the positions and times differ throughout the year.  I know that the moon does the same throughout its 28 day cycle. I also know that the full moon will rise exactly where the sun did six months prior.  My knowledge of astronomy isn’t bad for a psychology major; but somehow, I never could wrap my mind around it. I’d take charts with me on vacation and end up looking in the sky and guessing.  Those days are gone thanks to The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE) – a graphical sun and moon calculator developed for photographers by a photographer.

Unlike many online ephemerides that force you to choose from a set list of places, TPE uses Google Maps to search for and plot any place in the world. As such, a data connection is required to display the maps, but it will hold your last place and display the basic information without a connection.  That basic information – moon phase, sun and moon rise and set times and the angles for these events would be enough to make TPE a useful tool, but there is so much more.  A slider tool displays the paths of the sun and moon over a 24 hour period or a one hour period for more detail.  In other words, you can plot where the sun (or moon) will be at a given time, at a given place, on a given day with little effort.  In addition to the path lines, the azimuth and altitude are listed for precise placement.  Azimuth is measured in degrees and might not be a familiar concept. Just think of a circular map – the very top is North (0⁰), East is straight right (90⁰), South is the very bottom (180⁰) and West is straight left (270⁰).  Azimuth combines with altitude (how far above the horizon something is), to give you the exact position of the sun or moon. The feature that puts TPE in a tie for the title of coolest app ever (Star Walk is the other), is its ability to adjust rise and set times for changes in elevation.  When and where will the sun rise over this mountain? When will the light of the setting sun hit this meadow? When and where will the moon come into view over these buildings? TPE can make these calculations for any day of the year. Granted, this requires some work, but there are tutorials on their website and on YouTube.

The Photographer’s Ephemeris has become an integral part of my outdoor photography. The usefulness for landscape photography is clear, but I use it for weddings too.  Never again will I have to drive to a location a few days early to “see where” the sun is. TPE can be downloaded to your computer for free from and is available for iPad ($8) and Android ($6).  The tablet versions are optimized for touch screen and gyro sensors for increased functionality and worth it at three times the cost. Now all I have to do is reconfigure the camera bag for my trip to Acadia National Park; I’m sure I’ll get the iPad in there somehow.

Organize Those Digital Photos!


For those of us who remember taking photos on film, the embrace of digital photography has certainly been a change in kind rather than degree.  It may surprise us to hear that many brides do not want the traditional wedding albums that their mothers had (last year I didn’t sell a single one!).  Our photos do not live in albums anymore; they live in our computers and the city is in desperate need of some urban planning.

To continue the metaphor, the first thing to do is get rid of the eyesores; do this without mercy. We take many, many digital photos, but taking them should not necessarily mean keeping them.  Start by deleting the blurry photos and continue onto the duplicate shots.  Keep only the best.

Next, create multiple, self-contained neighborhoods to minimize sprawl (separate folders in My Pictures). Take some time on this step; you are designing the street hierarchy of the city.  I think that big events make the best folder categories (Holidays, Vacations, Graduations…).  Within each broad category, include meaningful sub-folders (Holidays à Easter àEaster _2012). When you get down to the street name (the lowest folder in your hierarchy), give your photos an address (rename the files).  So my photos from this Easter will live in the Easter 2012 folder and be named: easter_2012_01, easter_2012_02 and so on. To rename all of the photos at once, look for a “batch rename” option in the software that accompanied your camera.  In Windows: sort all of the files by date in ascending order (this is probably your default setting), select all of the files, right-click on the first file and choose “Rename.” Give that file the desired name and press enter; Windows will give that name to all of the photos with a number (1, 2, 3 …).

Now you need to create a city directory (add metadata to make your files searchable). As we discussed last month, metadata is in the “Details” tab of the “Properties” listing (right-click on the file). Your camera will have added quite a bit of information about the photo, the most useful are the time and date (check your camera regularly to make sure it’s right). If you want to add a description of the photo, make sure it’s additional information.  For example, don’t waste your time adding “Easter 2012” to the comments and title sections, that’s already in the filename.  Add something extra, like where the photo was taken or who is in it.  For Windows Live Photo Gallery users, tagging photos (adding keywords) is the way to go (every computer running Vista or newer should have this factory installed).  Its biggest selling point is the ability to save custom tags; this increases the chances of using the same keyword each time. I find it preferable to use tags with new photos and comments/titles with older (scanned) photos; I tend to write in complete sentences for the older photos rather than use keywords.

Finally, now that you have established the statutes of your photo city (Picturopolis?, Jpegville?, Tifftown?), you must abide by them.  Follow the same steps each time you import photos from your camera and you’ll be winning public design awards before you know it.