Catching Up On Some Reading

September 14, 2010
Sun Flare!

Have I posted this before? I just can't remember!

My work project is finally done! I will soon post the July and August from the Monthly Themes Group on flickr, but also wanted to remind you guys that September’s theme is Shoes!

Since I’ve been too busy to post lately, I’ve also been too busy to read as much as I usually do. I’ve been trying to catch up in the past few days (though, there’s no way I can catch up with everything I typically read), and I thought I’d share some of my favorite recent posts from other photography sites with you:

  • If you’re still trying to decide whether to shoot in RAW or not, check out this post from Ronan Palliser that might convince you to try it!
  • Still from Ronan, it’s pretty impressive that he was able to take a photo of a flash just the flash itself as the only light source. Inspiring!
  • I feel like I post a lot of links to posts about composition, but I can’t help it, I just find composition rules inspiring, so check out these 5 elements to compose great photos. Oddly enough, I read another article in my massive catch-up that had the exact same title (some overlap, but they’re not all the same 5 tips).
  • Speaking of 5 tips, here are some for adding flavor to your landscape photography.
  • Here’s some tips for emphasizing the subject of your photo.
  • If you’re really looking for something to read, check out these 100 helpful photography tutorials. I fully admit to not reading them all.
  • I just recently bought a polarizing filter (so recent that it hasn’t even been delivered yet), so I found the timing of this introduction to them quite convenient!
  • The two most common questions I get asked by people who just bought their first DSLR are “What camera bag should I buy?” and “what is the first lens I should buy?”. I have a hard time answering the first one (because I think it depends on the purpose of the bag), but the lens one is always easy – a 50mm prime. And if you don’t already have one, perhaps you should check out this introduction to the wonderful world of the 50mm prime.
  • PetaPixel has created something pretty awesome – a list of your rights as a photographer printed on a gray card set.
  • Ever wonder how people get those perfect images of things falling into water? Well, now you can find out!
  • It was really nice to see a post-processing tutorial on PetaPixel that featured Gimp! Check out how to get a warm cross-processed look!
  • My favorite type of photography is probably landscape. If you feel the same way, you might want to check out landscape photography for the serious amateur.
  • I’ve never attempted taking photos at a concert, but I still found these concert photography lessons quite interesting!

I will be back soon with those July and August photos!

Filed under: Resources

Why you haven’t seen an update here in a while…

August 28, 2010
50mm.7 - Conference room

Conference room at my real job

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since an article appeared at here on For those of you that are still checking the site or following the rss feed (or a fan on facebook!), I thank you for not completely giving up hope.

Unfortunately, my real job has gotten extremely crazy and busy in the past month or so, and I’ve had to work some very long hours (up to 15 hours a day), and all weekend long, too. I obviously haven’t had time to write here, but I haven’t even had time to take more than a handful of pictures all month, and that’s just crazy, so this work stuff better start wrapping up soon so I can get back into what I really love!

I promise I’ll be back with more Gimp tips & tricks, as well as what I’ve been reading on the internet, and, of course, posting photos from the monthly themes group on flickr! August is almost up, so you only have a few more days to take a photo of reflections. I look forward to looking through them all, you guys are always so inspiring!

Filed under: Just plain iffles

One Photo, Four Edits

August 4, 2010
f/4.0; 1/30sec; 105mm; ISO 400

f/4.0; 1/30sec; 105mm; ISO 400

I know a handful of digital photographers that don’t edit their photos much – if at all. I have a lot of respect for those photographers, actually. Not only because they can create beautiful photos without touching them up, but because they can actual resist the urge to edit.

That being said, I think there’s a lot of good reasons to edit your photos. It’s not because I think it fixes bad photos, it’s because I think it transforms good phtoos into interesting photos. It gives them an extra pop, a new perspective, or a creative twist.

I’ve gotten asked a few times how I know what to do with a photo once I open it in Gimp. Sometimes, the photo just speaks to me, and I know I want to just adjust the curves, or transform it into black and white, but often I don’t know what to do with a photo, and I’ll play around with it until something jumps out as being “right”.

And so, the concept of this post is simple. One photo, edited four different ways.

Read the rest of this post…

What I’ve Been Reading

August 1, 2010
Photowalk.24 - Spilling

Just a sumer-time photo. f/4.0; 1/1600sec; 24mm; ISO 200

July is over and August has started up. You all voted over in the monthly theme group on flickr, and reflections was the winner, so that’s what August’s theme is. Even if you’re not playing along with the theme group, there’s still some links here to help get you inspired in whatever you’re working on photography-wise.

  • A friend of mine recently got his first DSLR and I was try to explain the relationship between Aperture, ISO and Shutter Speed to him, as well as how to use the exposure meter in the manual modes of his camera. I should have just saved him some time and pointed him to this article instead!
  • I actually don’t look at a lot of professional photographers’ online portfolios… but when I do, many of the things on this list of Online Photography Portfolio No-nos do, indeed, bother me.
  • Got a tough lighting situation? Maybe you find the cure on this Three Nightmare Lighting Conditions article
  • For a lot of us, it’s now summer time – a great time to get outdoors and shoot before the weather turns cold again. Not sure what to shoot? Check out this list of 10 things to practice shooting in summer.
  • I know a lot of you are in the middle of a 365 project right now, so you might need these tips on staying on track with such a project.
  • The best way to become a better photographer is to keep on taking photos. If you feel you’ve hit a creative block, check out some ideas on how to keep “swimming” (via Your Photo Tips)

Filed under: Resources

The Best of Monthly Theme: Urban

July 25, 2010

As I was gathering these photos of my personal favorites from the month of June over in the Monthly Theme group on flickr, I got a glimpse of what you guys have posted so far for July (the theme is bokeh), and all I can say is “oh my!”.

Anyway, I realize July is quickly coming to an end, so it was about time I posted some photos from June. But you still have a few more days to take some beautiful bokeh photos! Here’s the photos from June, where the theme was urban:

The Roof

By Hynek S. - Beautiful bright sky!


By jinspain2002 - It's hard to get much more urban than this. I love all the yellow cabs lined up, and the person crossing the street.

Urban artwork

By Atlantis_breeze - fantastic urban artwork

Windows on Union Square

By evelynspikes - wow, that's a lot of windows!

Light Trails

By Christopher.F Photography - I was actually really hoping someone would post some light trails in June, and this is a fantastic example. (btw, Christopher posted some more fantastic photos of Chicago this month, so if you like that city as much as I do, you might want to check out his other photos)


By tpavankumar - Love the curved brick street, and the one car amidst all the bikes.

June 22, 2010

By Noctem Wolf - Oh, man. What great colors and detail!

Day 173

By thedigitaliris - Love how this photo is both colorful and gritty.

Bahnhof Alexanderplatz

By infion - I love the lighting in here.

Toronto Skyline

By jan.etc - great skyline!

Urban 2 - Iffles Theme June

By caitra_ - great composition and I love the simple, bright colors.


By laura oliver1 - I'm such a sucker for rusty old things. And the splash of green behind this is just perfect.

Railway Crossing - Christchurch, Canterbury

By mtbcat - I think the flares from the light really add to this urban scene.


By Rick Zawodny - this is one of those photos that I really, really like... but can't put my finger on why exactly...

The Border

By shirley319 - Love the shallow depth of field on this.

By .:SindyHand:. - just beautiful. Urban, Disney-style :)


By Jon Game - just breathtaking!


By jennifercwlee - Great colors!


By kkaldrich - I've been through this tunnel so many times! I love everything reflecting off the 'ceiling'

Filed under: Your Photos

Failure in Photography Projects

July 15, 2010
SP.06 - Just In Time

Project Fail.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about failure. Perhaps it’s because I’ve failed in pretty much all of my photography projects I was going to accomplish this year.

The weird thing, though, is that I’ve been thinking about it not because I’m mad at myself for failure, but actually because I’m not. Sure, I’m a little bummed, but why not so upset? In 2008 I did a year of daily self-portraits. In 2009, I did a photowalk a week. During both of those years I was extremely motivated to finish those projects and if I had missed a single day or a single week, goodness, I’d be so upset! (I did actually miss a day in the SP project. I actually cried. And I know others who have said the same thing, so at least I’m not alone!)

So, why I am a bit calmer about it this year? I think these are the three reasons:

Photography isn’t about Projects

I was already a member of flickr when I first “became a photographer” (I define that time period as when it first became a passion for me), as I was already using it as a place to store photos (mostly of my cats because, yes, I’m one of those people). When I suddenly found this passion, I turned to flickr for inspiration and I realized that most of the people that inspired me were doing some sort of project. Most of them were in the middle of a 365 Self Portrait project. And so, it’s not hard to see why I quickly associated passionate photography with such projects.

It’s really only this year that I realized that whenever I told someone I was into photography, none of them asked “oh, what project are you working on?” It was always one of three questions: “What kind of camera do you have?”, “What type of photos do you take?”, or “Where can I see your work?”. Now, granted, I don’t think just having a camera makes you a photographer, and while I question whether you can call yourself a photographer if you’re not sharing your work with anyone, even that one is debatable. But you can’t really get around the fact that people want to know what your passion is – what you like taking photos of, not what projects you’ve accomplished. In fact, when I tell people about my past projects, I mostly get a “ok. Well, that’s kind of crazy.” look from them!

Photography is about passion. And if you’re passionate about doing a project – like I was in the past – then GREAT! But I’m just not feeling it this year.

Asparagus Risotto

Asparagus Risotto. f/4.0; 1/60 sec; 60mm; ISO 800

There’s More to Life than Photography

Who knew, right? During 2008 and 2009, I defined myself (outside of work, at least) almost exclusively as A Hobbyist Photographer. That was who I was. That was what I did. And I don’t regret that. But this year I’ve realized there’s really more to me. I like to play geeky board games with my friends. I like pick up my CSA share and then plan and cook entire meals around them. I like to read books on my Nook. Heck, I even like to watch TV.

Maybe none of that is directly helping my photography (though the cooking has given me plenty of new meals to photograph), but being a bit more well-rounded has not only helped me deal with not accomplishing my photography goals, but I think it’s also indirectly making me a better photographer because I’m finding motivation in other things.


FIRE! f/4.0; 1/250 sec; 105mm; ISO 800

I’m Shooting What I Want

I really like taking photos of fire. I don’t think they’re amazing pictures. I don’t think it’s something anyone else couldn’t do with their point & shoot or iPhone. I just like it. During the warmer months, John and I spent a lot of nights sitting out our deck with a fire in the fire pit and/or a fire in our old, rusty charcoal grill. And every time I have to grab my camera and take some shots.

This isn’t some sort of goal of mine, and it doesn’t fit into any predefined project. I just have fun doing it and looking at the results. I’ve also been taking photos of the progress of the veggies in my garden. I’m not sure if this is something anyone other than me cares about looking at, but I like it. it makes me happy not only to see something I planted turn into something I eat, but I like making it look good in photos.

There were a few times last year that I really had to force myself to go on one of those photowalks, and I was only doing it because I didn’t want to fail. I’m still pretty proud that I accomplished my goal, but I also question why I went out and did things that I didn’t even want to do? I’m sure it’s no surprise, either, that on most of the “I don’t feel like doing this” walks, I didn’t get many good pictures. If I’m not feeling it, I’m not getting good photos.


I think my overall point of this entry is that what we individually define as failure isn’t necessarily actually failure. Yes, it’s true, there’s no real way for me to accomplish the goals I set forth at the beginning of the year. But that doesn’t mean I’m a failure. It just means that my goals have changed.

I mentioned at the start of this entry that I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this so-called concept of failure, so expect this entry to be the first a series.

Filed under: Photography

Breaking the Rules

July 10, 2010
Photowalk.19 - Kenmore Construction

This photo does NOT follow the Rule of Thirds. And ya know what? I like it.

First off, I wanted to apologize in the lack of posts around here lately, but hopefully things should be back up to normal now. Including a post in a day or two with my favorite photos from June in the Monthly Themes group on flickr. June’s theme was Urban. July’s theme is bokeh, and I really look forward to seeing what you all submit! Also, at the beginning of the year, I asked people in the flickr group to vote on what the theme for August would be, and reflections was the clear winner, so keep it in mind for next month!

The real point of this post, though, is something that’s been weighing on my mind lately as I read posts on photography forums where people are putting down either their own photos or critiquing someone else’s and mentioning them not following a certain composition rule. It has bothered me because, to me, a photograph is more about beauty and a feeling you get from looking at it than it is about lines and positioning.

I’ve talked in the past about some composition rules (here and here, for instance). The classic composition rule I hear about the most is the Rule of Thirds – which basically states that you should put something of interest in your photos at the one of the intersections of a horizontal or vertical thirds line in your photo (the first “here” link above describes it in more detail). Often this means putting your horizon line on one of the horizontal lines. But sometimes I think it’s really important to forget about the rules.

Why You Should Forget The Rules

My biggest reason I think you should break the rules is because photography is an art! I try to keep the rules in mind when I’m taking photos, I’m not denying that, but sometimes I get so annoyed when I see people taking these rules so seriously that taking a photo seems more like a chore – a checklist of To Dos, if you will – than something creative.

It is my opinion that the rules are a great guideline, or a great starting point when you’re looking at something you want to photograph and you’re not sure how. But if you’re just going to concentrate on rules, where is the fun? Where is the art? Where is the creativity?

When and How You should Break the Rules

I feel like I shouldn’t even write this part of the post. Aren’t I tell you rules about how to break the rules? That just seems wrong.

But I’m writing it anyway. Here are the times that I especially think it’s important to break the rules.

  • When you have a lot of time available to shoot the same thing. Play it safe and take some photos follow the rules, and then give yourself a chance to play around and do whatever you want. You may very well find out you like the ones where you followed the rules anyway, but you’ll never figure out what works and what doesn’t if you don’t play around.
  • When you’re taking a photo in some type of tough and/or unpredictable situation. For instance, if you’re at a fast-paced sporting event or taking photos of a moving object like an animal or child. Sometimes it’s better just to get a photo that’s in focus and sharp than it is to spend so much time trying to line things up right that you don’t get any photo at all.
  • When you’re trying some new technique. First time panning? Or light painting? I find when I’m trying to learn something new, it goes much better if I throw all the other rules out the window so I can just concentrate on that technique.
  • When you just feel like doing something different. Everyone else has taken a photo of the sun setting over a body of water with the horizon on thirds line. Yes, it’s beautiful, but why not play around and turn your camera at an angle? Or purposely go out of focus create an all-bokeh sunset. Just be creative!

I hope that inspires you – and perhaps even takes some pressure off you – for the next time you’re out shooting!

Filed under: Photography

What I’ve Been Reading (and a winner!)

June 23, 2010
Photowalk.22 - Playing in the evening sun

This really has nothing to do with any of the links, just a photo I've taken recently that I like!

First of all, the winner of the pro flickr account celebrating the one year anniversary of was Bouncyczech! You should be receiving an email with your flickr pro account code. Either enjoy it yourself, or pass it one – whatever floats your boat!

And now for some links that you might find interesting!

Filed under: Resources

The Best of Monthly Theme: Color

June 20, 2010

May’s theme over in the Monthly Theme Group on flickr was color, and there were some fantastic and colorful additions, and I’ve selected a few of my favorites below.

Don’t forget to submit your photos for June – the theme is urban!

raindrops on a leaf

By Jon Game - A perfect example of green!

Margarita Cupcake

By kalina813 - such bright colors!

Photochallenge 19

By Atlantis_breeze - oh my!

Rural Sunset

By brad_mc - I love the colors in a sunset.

By .:SindyHand:. - colorful AND yummy!


By bumblebeezack - I love that you called this photo Tennis.

Very Yellow

By Karamello - so very yellow, so very pretty.

Day 135

By thedigitaliris - a perfect pink.

May 17, 2010

By Noctem Wolf - I don't know what this is, but it's definitely colorful.


By jan.etc - Have I mentioned how much I like to the colors of sunset? And to see it in bokeh? Yum.

Red and Blue Primary Colours

By mtbcat - love the repeating pattern in the colors.

142:365 Roses

By team.breeze - What a beautiful shade of red.

By Governmentality - mmmm, colorful chard.


By miamiredbird - oh my, what a colorful bird, and great action shot, too.

Still green

By infion - love the green against the blue sky.


By kkaldrich - now those are colors I'd really like to sink my teeth into!

Tree bokeh

By rachel_pics - what pretty greens.

Go green

By neeta dewan - so bright and green! Love the composition, too.

Filed under: Your Photos

Happy Birthday,!

June 18, 2010
One Year Celebration!

One Year Celebration!

Today, June 18, 2010 marks the one year anniversary of!

It’s been quite a year of ups and downs – articles that came out just how I wanted them to, and articles that really flopped. Days I was proud of all that I’ve accomplished, and days I struggled with what I would write next. I launched when I had the website “good enough for launching” but still had a To Do list with bunches of items on it left to clean things up. Wouldn’t you know it, there’s still bunches of items on that list.

I’ve learned so much about photography from running this site, forcing myself to learn new and different things so that I have something to write about, which was something I was hoping would happen… and it did!

Read the rest of this post…

Filed under: Just plain iffles