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Award-winning photographers to share experience, tips at George Memorial Library

A panel of award-winning photographers from the Fort Bend Photography Club will share their expertise and experience at a special program, “Let’s Talk digital photography,” at Fort Bend County Libraries’ George Memorial Library on Saturday, June 14, beginning at 3 p.m., in the Meeting Room of the library, located at 1001 Golfview in Richmond.

The panelists include nature photographer Dixie Spurling, portrait photographer Don Shackleford, and photojournalist Russell Autrey.

Photographers of all experience levels, from amateur to seasoned professional, will gain insight into what it takes to capture an outstanding photograph. Get tips on composition and editing, learn about editing software, and get advice on how to make the best use of digital photography equipment.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information, call the library’s Public Information Office at 281-341-2677.

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What Digital Camera July 2014

On sale: Fri, 6 Jun 2014
Want to pick up a bargain? Then read our guide to the best cameras for under £500! In this issue you’ll also find out which action camera you should be investing in, plus discover how to make best use of your flashgun, and much more…
Incoming:
We look at the latest camera releases.
Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II:
Full test of Canon’s flagship compact. The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II looks to build upon the performance and feature set of its predecessor at the top of the manufacturer’s compact camera line-up.
The Best Cameras You Can Buy for Under £500:
Our guide to picking up a bargain. We all have to keep an eye on our finances these days, but even if you are
on a tight budget there are many excellent dslrs, CSCs and compacts out there. Over 6 pages we look at a range of the best options less than £500 – Canon 1200D, Nikon D3300, Olympus E-PL5, Panasonic G6, Sony NEX-5T, Fuji X-E1, Canon PowerShot G16 and Panasonic TZ60.
Action Camera round-up:
GoPro comes face-to-face with its rivals. Action cams have played a big role in the decline of the camcorder… they are smaller, lighter and can record Full HD video in almost any situation. We’ve tested six to find out if there is a better bet than choosing a GoPro.
Panasonic Lumix GH4:
It may be the first mirrorless camera to shoot 4K video, but the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 is facing some tough competition in a difficult market. Has it done enough and is this the start of the 4K revolution?
Essential Guide:
Understand the essentials of flash. Using your flash effectively will help you to grow your photography skills immeasurably. We take a look at the different types of flash on the market and how to make the best use of them…
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM | A lens review:
We test the latest prime lens from Sigma. Is it the portrait lens of all portrait lenses?
Zeiss Touit Planar 32mm f/1.8 T* lens review:
We test this fast standard lens for Fujifilm X-series cameras.
Help:
We answer your photo-related queries.
Competition:
You could win one of 7 Manfrotto Advanced Gear Backpacks, worth £99 each!
BuyingGuide:
Read 63 pages of reviews of the top cameras on the market to find the best to fit your budget.
dslr and CSC listing:
All the system cameras on the market, with ratings.
Lens listing:
All the lenses on the market, with ratings.

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Too many photos – and not enough marshmallows

Every so often I find myself in a friendly debate about the good old days, and whether the world is better now than it was when I was a kid. On the negative side, I’ll offer my thoughts on the lack of personal responsibility, the general erosion of proper grammar and punctuation, and the sad state of Lucky Charms cereal, which has far fewer marshmallow bits than I remember.
But on the up side, I offer this: digital photography.
Remember how we used to take pictures of our kids? A couple of times a week, I’d shoot a roll of film and then send it off in one of those mailers that came in the Sunday newspaper. Checking the mail became a high point of the day: I’d tear into the envelope and page through the glossy snapshots, hoping for one or two good ones out of a batch of dozens.
Do this twice a week for, oh, eight years, and you end up with hundreds and hundreds of photos, all of which, for me, ended up in two big plastic bins in the garage. Better mothers never would have allowed such a thing to occur; they would have lovingly edited the collection and pasted them into scrapbooks, labeling each snapshot with charming captions and smiley-face stickers.
Not me. My photos lived in the garage with the dust and the daddy long-leg spiders until last weekend, when one cup of coffee too many sent me over the edge and on a cleaning tear.
Standing there on the back porch, sorting through stacks of color snapshots from 1995 to about 2002, I was face-to-face with my superstition about throwing away photos of people, even if the photos did not include the person’s actual head and face. There were dozens of pictures of my toddler son’s elbows and knees. And also, my feet.
Why did I keep these? And why didn’t I just give up after the second snap, when it was obvious he wasn’t going to sit still?
Imagine the money I wasted on knee photographs! It would be enough money to hire an exterminator to kill all the spiders which, by the way, were somehow able to lift the lid of the plastic bins and colonize them.
Along with the critters, there were lots of memories in the boxes. When my son, Cooper, was about 3 we took him to the fire station to see the trucks. There are — no lie — 30 snapshots of him standing on the truck, sitting behind the wheel, standing on the back of the truck and standing in front of the truck. What were we thinking? Wouldn’t five shots have been enough?
Of course, that was back when I was never sure the photo would turn out, and so I kept snap-snap-snapping away like a paparazzi. The results were in those bins. And it was time to start tossing. As with Lucky Charms, I kept the sweet, colorful gems and rejected the rest.
Digital is better. My daughter graduated from middle school last night. After the ceremony, I used my phone to take some photos of Grace and her friends. After each one, she looked at the image and either rejected it or asked me to save. We ended up with three really good pictures. There’s no waste, and I get to keep the memory.
So, yes, the world is better now.
Beth Dolinar is a former Riverside resident and Pittsburgh television reporter who is staying at home to raise her two children. She can be reached at cootieJ@aol.com.

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Digital Photo Organization

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Are you passionate about photography? ICPJ is looking for a volunteer to help organize our photo database and highlight the important social justice …

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How Best-Kept Tech Secret Got Tank Man Images Out of China

This is a true story about how, in special circumstances, an engineer needs to withhold information to help the greater good. In our silence, my fellow technology writers and I helped ensure global events were shared unimpaired.

History-shattering events happened 25 years ago this week. The Chinese government’s absolutely worst fear was happening. Widespread public unrest was surging from a few isolated incidents to assembled masses across Beijing. Somehow, ordinary citizens were gathering in unprecedented numbers. Clearly, pro-democracy citizens were being killed by the government. Hundreds of unarmed citizens! Yet the news on this was kept very quiet. All very local.
However, the advent of digital technology was about to confuse China’s leaders on an unprecedented scale. For millennia, physical blockades and censorship kept secrets inside China. They did not know that digital camera technology and ordinary telephones were about to unleash the scale and scope of their very private citizen killings to the outside world.
Remember, this was an time before the Internet — no mobile phones, no walkie talkies, very few private phone lines, and almost no means to privately print leaflets or banners or news sheets to alert or awaken others to a cause. When unrest happened in China at this time, it almost always stayed local unless somehow the news escaped mainland China. Chinese citizens with radios (very prized personal possessions) could listen to broadcasters outside of China for news, and gain confidence they were not alone in their dissent. Others felt as they did. They might dare to stand up and know they were not as alone as the government wanted them to feel.
Enter the brand new science of digital photography. Only Sony (in the lead) — and Canon — had very early (professional) digital camera systems which could use an analog phone line to transmit their megapixel images to a faraway location — in this case, a distant newspaper, news service, magazine, or TV news station. An analog modem was used to convert the picture — pixel by pixel — into the chirps and squawks many of you remember from early PC data modems. A single picture would take minutes to send. Photographers were very careful in their selections — and constantly fearing for their own lives in risking this.
Chinese officials and soldiers were watching airports, sea terminals, trains, and boats to Hong Kong. The government order was that no film must escape. No camcorders or movie film. Nothing. Tourist cameras were opened and emptied. Videocassettes were seized. Anything the size or shape of a 35mm film canister was seized. Officials took no chances.
The leaders were completely unaware of the dozens of digital cameras capturing every citizen’s courage — and every government stumble and massacre. Leaders were outraged as these pictures were being broadcast over Japanese, Hong Kong, and Korean TV. Guards were increased at every port, but still the pictures’ imagery — and the courage of the citizens — spread beyond China’s Great Wall — to all corners of the globe.

Cut to the IEEE’s International Conference on Consumer Electronics, held during the Summer CES show in Chicago. It was here that the first bundles of technical papers entailing digital camera technology were shared for the first time.
Then, instead of a press briefing, Sony’s top technologists and communications team made their case to a few dozen journalists attending the IEEE ICCE — Consumer Electronics Conference in Arlington, Ill. They pleaded with us that the technology — detailed in several technical papers that week at the engineering conference — must not be reported on that week, that month, or perhaps that year. After the briefing or press conference, Sony quietly invited most of the attending technology media members to a suite.
“Gentlemen, we have a very special request,” Sony communications vice president Rick Clancy said. Then he showed the CNN news stories about Tank Man and the citizens’ own film camera prints captured by digital cameras, which enabled the news to escape China. “I’m going to appeal to you to not report the digital camera news we had here this week. And I have the approval of most of our competitors also that you hold off reporting while China is in crisis. Too many lives are at stake.”

Next Page: Greater good

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Take better photos with these 15 tips

Published: Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 11:17 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 11:17 a.m.

The best camera, as they say, is the one you have with you.

While smartphones don’t take photos as well as a dedicated digital camera, you never leave home without your mobile device. Plus, not only is the quality getting better with each generation, they’re ideal for editing your work (and perhaps adding fun filters and other special effects) and then wirelessly sharing those memories with those who matter.For some summer “phoneography” tips, Surf Report caught up with pro photographer Jason Thomson, curator of Frame One Photo https://www.facebook.com/frameonephoto, which helps demystify photography for the masses.Turn the phone sideways: Use the “landscape” orientation when taking photos to get more in — especially when shooting group shots or if you want to capture the background, too. Holding your phone horizontally will also create photos that look better when viewed on a widescreen computer or television (i.e. no vertical black bars on each side of the photo).Take more photos: Someone blinked. The angle didn’t work. The clouds parted and the sun was blinding. You’re fighting an uphill battle to take a better photo. Make life easier on yourself. The more photos you take, the better chance you have to find a winner. Where you’d take one, try taking five.Get closer: Nothing screams “my mom shot this,” more than three miles of headroom around subjects in a portrait. Fill the whole frame up with your subjects, even going so far as to cropping faces out for a more artistic look. Going in closer also means you can capture more facial detail, such as light freckling, a charming dimple or soft pale blues of the iris.Turn off that digital zoom: On a related note, get closer by walking up to your subject or using the regular zoom on your camera. Digital zooms are a software trick that can make photos look blurry or pixelated.Go left (or right): Memorable photos need great composition. Instead of placing your subjects in the center of the frame, move them to the left or right to make your photos instantly become more powerful and beautiful.Love cloudy days: A big part of photography is light and for the most part, your onboard flash is your enemy. Get to know and use natural light — and some of the softest and most flattering natural light comes when overhead clouds diffuse the sun. Take your subject outside, but be sure your back is to the sun — and not your subjects — or else they’ll look like a silhouette.Flash forward: If you must use your smartphone’s flash, know its range limitations. Many people try to take pictures of, say, a banquet hall during a wedding, only to be disappointed because everything is dark image beyond a foot or so.Twilight time: The hour before and after sunset creates gorgeous light for landscapes and outdoor photography. The golden hour (before) creates fiery oranges and reds. The blue hour (after) gives soft, subtle blues.Hold your phone steady: Ever hold your camera at arm’s length to get a shot? You’re asking for trouble. To get a good, sharp image, turn yourself into a human tripod. Hold the camera with both hands and pull your arms into your chest or stomach. You’re instantly sturdier and so are your photos.Angle is everything: When shooting photos or videos, try to match the height of the subject, such as kneeling on the ground to snap a picture of a toddler. You’ll get better shots when you’re at eye level rather than angling the phone up or down. When shooting video, move the phone slowly to prevent blur while recording.Simplify the background: Put whatever you’re shooting onto a background that doesn’t distract the eye. White plates are great for food, blue skies are fabulous for kids. These allow you to blur out the background for a more pleasing photo.Abolish ‘Auto’: Don’t let your phone do all the thinking for you — it usually turns on the flash and blasts everything with a bunch of light. Get to know the better camera modes or popular phone apps. They’re easy to learn and they let you decide how your photo should look.Candid shots rock: Don’t always take photos of people posing for the camera as their expression can be can look forced, unnatural and predictable. Some of the best photos of subjects are when they don’t realize they’re being photographed — but be sure to get their permission before uploading to social media sites.App it up: Apps can help you easily edit and share photos and videos with those who matter. Apps like Instagram can add fun filters such as a brownish sepiatone finish or a retro ’70s look. There are thousands of apps available, for all platforms, so experiment away.Don’t delete so fast: Finally, avoid deleting unwanted photos from your smartphone: they may look great when viewed on a bigger screen; spending time deleting photos right after you took ones you don’t like means you might miss an awesome shot; and removing photos prematurely drains the battery on your smartphone. Do it later, on a computer.Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. Email him at techcomments@usatoday.com.

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5 steps to underwater photos (that don’t suck!)

by

Cullen Welch

posted Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 5:35 PM EDT

With the summer upon us, we’ll be running a series of underwater photography tutorials, starting off with five quick tips from writer Cullen Welch. If you’ve spent any time photographing terrestrial subjects, these lessons will be emminently familiar.

Getting close, working with off-camera strobes and respecting your subject are all important lessons in terrestrial photography, but arguably become more important underwater. Watch for follow-up pieces investigating each of these elements in the coming weeks!

Tip #1: Get close to your subject, and when you think you’ve gotten close enough… get closer! 

An essential part of any type of photography is the ability to actively engage your audience by drawing them into your environment. This involves a great deal of patience and understanding, especially when it comes to marine wildlife that may feel threatened by your presence.

In addition to adding interest to the image, closeness to your subject will eliminate several common problems expressed by beginning underwater photographers. Water absorbs light rather quickly, and as a result many beginning underwater photographers complain of the dull blue-grey hues to their images. Getting close means adding color, sharpness, and clearness to your image.

Ocean water also contains tiny particles of sediment that may or may not be immediately visible while shooting. These particles, even more pronounced when working with a flash, are called “backscatter” by underwater photographers and are more avoidable with less distance between the camera and the subject.

“Get CLOSER,” says the Lyretail anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis).

Tip #2: Shoot UP!

Shoot up to capture your subject against the light filtering down from the sun.

Because the reef is generally beneath us as we SCUBA dive, it is easy to point down and shoot down. However, you may find that images produced from this perspective often appear cluttered and uninteresting. The tops of fish and coral are not their most engaging sides! But fear not, this problem has a quick and easy remedy, if you’re willing to dive down and shoot up. From this upward perspective, you might capture a more appealing view of your subject and add open water to the background of the image, which will generally be more aesthetically pleasing than a busy reef surface.

Tip #3: Focus on your subject’s eye

“Focus on your subject’s eyes,” says the clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) and its symbiotic host anemones.

As humans, our eyes naturally gravitate toward the eyes of others, even with marine wildlife! Everything might be entirely perfect in an image, but if the focus is off, you’ll be out another shutter snap with nothing to show for it. Using the manual focus brackets of your camera, align the crosshairs on the eyes of your marine subjects to focus and you’ll find that the strength of the image increases dramatically.

Tip #4: Use a strobe and go manual

“Off-camera lighting and manual exposure control are paramount in underwater photography”The potato bass (Epinephelus tukula).

A strobe may be an underwater photographer’s best investment! As you dive deeper, the color spectrum of visible light filtering down from the surface is significantly diminished. Strobes will help restore color, contrast, and clarity. In addition to using strobes, it is essential to begin working with manual controls, as auto settings can only take a photographer so far, especially in underwater environments where conditions are constantly changing.

Tip #5: Respect the environment

The Nudibranch (Nembrotha lineolata), with its leafy red gills and anterior rhinophores, reminds us that delicate reefs demand respect!

We are incredibly privileged to enjoy the underwater world. But remember, we are only guests! It is vital to have excellent SCUBA buoyancy and maneuverability skills, as this will protect the photographer, the subject, and the environment while shooting. A single fin kick to the reef may irreparably damage tiny marine life. Preserving these amazing ecosystems for future enjoyment and allowing our images to be the rewards of our experience should be a top priority.

Instructor Credit: Fiona Ayerst

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Difference engine

WHILE by no means a flop, the most innovative idea to come out of the Japanese camera industry in decades—the mirrorless digital camera—has not exactly taken the photographic world by storm. By dispensing with the mirror in front of the shutter of a digital single-lens reflex (dslr) camera—which redirects the image seen by the lens to an optical viewfinder above, before flipping briefly out of the way for a picture to be taken—the mirrorless camera promised to be lighter, smaller and quieter, with a specification only marginally less than its bulkier big brother at the pricier end of the market.
Introduced by Epson in 2004, but popularised largely by Panasonic and Olympus from 2008 with their jointly developed “Micro Four Thirds” format, the mirrorless camera was heralded as the saviour of the industry’s struggling second-tier of photographic firms—ie, all those below Canon and Nikon, the world leaders in photography. Sitting between compact cameras at the low end of the market and entry-level dslrs at the high end, the mirrorless format encompassed benefits of both, with few of either’s drawbacks.
Unfortunately, happy snappers found other ways of taking pictures. Indeed, the compact-camera business has been in free-fall since people started using smartphones to take pictures instead. Compact-camera sales dropped more than 40% last year, according to IDC, a market-research firm.
Whereas popular photography was once all about making prints to stick into the family album, its main purpose now is for uploading images to Instagram, Flickr, Twitter or Facebook. The ability to transmit pictures instantly to social networks with the swipe of a finger has immense appeal. Smartphones do this better than even the fanciest of digital cameras. And while camera-makers have rushed to add Wi-Fi to their latest models, the implementations leave much to be desired. Gadget users today value instant connectivity above everything; certainly, far more than picture quality, given the mostly poor graphical resolution of the web.
Snapped in the middle
That has left mirrorless cameras squeezed between increasingly sophisticated smartphones that cost much less, and entry-level dslrs that cost not all that much more. Lacking robust sales, the worry is that mirrorless cameras could be starved of research and development funds. If that happens, the innovation they have brought to photography could falter.
That would be a pity. Mirrorless cameras embody a level of technical creativity the camera industry has not seen in ages. Take the DSLR, used by most professional photographers. It crams a number of decade-old developments between the lens and the image sensor. Among other things, there is an image stabiliser, to correct for handshake; a low-pass filter, to eliminate interference caused by repetitive patterns in fabrics and the like; and a mechanism to clean the sensor of dust after a lens has been changed.
Lodged in there as well is a sophisticated phase-detection system for focusing the lens automatically. This uses a secondary mirror (attached to the main one) along with a dedicated sensor to measure the convergence of two light beams. Then there is a motor to snap the lens into focus. This makes the DSLR an expensive piece of machinery that requires precision assembly and skilled craftsmen for installation and calibration.
For these extra components to be accommodated, along with the mirror box for the optical viewfinder and the auto-focusing mechanism, the “flange-back” distance—from the back of the lens to the sensor’s imaging plane—needs to be fairly long. That is why DSLRs are bulkier than the old analogue models that exposed the image from the lens onto rolls of film. It also means they can never be as slim as compact cameras, which use simpler but less accurate viewfinders.
However, dispensing with the DSLR’s mirror assembly eliminates not only the optical viewfinder and its chunky pentaprism, but also the expensive auto-focusing mechanism. The flange-back distance can then be reduced significantly. The camera body becomes more compact, lighter and cheaper to build, as do the interchangeable lenses it uses.
With the optical viewfinder gone, mirrorless cameras have to rely on either an LCD display on the back of the camera for taking pictures, as a smartphone does, or an electronic viewfinder for eye-level shooting. Electronic viewfinders use a small LCD inside the camera to display the image falling on the sensor. Being electronic, they can overlay all sorts of additional information on the viewfinder screen for the photographer to see at a glance. Optical viewfinders offer little more than the basics—ie, film speed, shutter speed, aperture and possibly battery life.
To keep costs down, mirrorless cameras initially adopted a much cheaper contrast-detection method for automatic focusing, as found in compact cameras. Relying on the main sensor to do all the calculations, this needs no costly additional components. But the focusing process—involving repeatedly testing a small part of the image to calculate its sharpness—requires a lot of computation. As a result, focusing can be too slow for sports events, bird-watching or other forms of action photography. To overcome this, recent mirrorless cameras use a separate sensor to perform both contrast- and phase-detection calculations, and can focus as fast as all but the best DSLRs. Mirrorless cameras with this hybrid auto-focusing are now the norm.
As for sensor size, mirrorless cameras started off using mostly the Micro Four Thirds format, with an area 30% less than the standard APS-C sensor used in DSLR cameras, but nine times greater than those in compact cameras and smartphones. While Panasonic and Olympus have stuck with Micro Four Thirds, most of the other mirrorless makers have now migrated to the bigger APS-C. Sony and Leica now sell mirrorless cameras with a full-frame sensor (ie, the size of old 35mm film). Canon and Nikon have put a toe into the mirrorless market with some products. But unless they embrace the technology wholeheartedly, the big innovation in photography is likely to remain stuck in a niche.

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How to Organize Your Digital Photos

By: Vince Font
Back in the old days before the advent of digital photographs, losing the occasional family picture was a hard fact of life. Image storage relied on keeping negatives that you could use to make duplicates, but if you happened to lose both negative and print, you were pretty much S.O.L. Nowadays, the lifespan of the average snapshot has been extended — but in a way, that’s only made it much harder to keep track of things. If you’ve ever looked at your colossal digital photo collection and thought to yourself “How am I ever going to organize this mess?” then this article is for you. 
First Step: Organize the Mess
Before you start about the task of organizing the digital photos already on your hard drive, the first step you should take is to import all images off your camera or smartphone. These days, with the radically increased amount of mobile device storage space and the addition of SD cards, it’s entirely possible that you could have hundreds if not thousands of snapshots on your smartphone without even realizing it.
The best thing to do prior to moving your digital photos off your smartphone or camera is to ensure they’re tagged appropriately. Naming conventions are important when it comes to organizing your photos and in many cases, pictures are automatically assigned numerical file names based on dates and times. If your smartphone gallery is literally bursting at the seams, this may make going through and renaming each photograph a major pain — but think about all the time you’ll be saving further down the line when you’re searching for something specific. It’s also a good idea to go through your device and delete any images you don’t want to waste precious storage space on, like blurry photos or accidental pocket-pics.
If you don’t want to go through each and every image and your camera or smartphone stores groups of pictures in individual folders, at least consider going through and assigning names to those folders so they’ll be easier to identify later on. Keep your naming conventions consistent and design those names for easy reference further down the line. For example, you may want to assign names by date like this: “2014_05_25_Sunday_Picnic.” This will ensure that when your photos are catalogued, you’ll be able to sort them by year, month, date, and special occasion.
Don’t go crazy with too much description, though. File names on Windows and Mac computers are limited to a maximum of 260 characters, including file extensions like JPG or RAW. Use dashes, underscores, or periods only since Windows computers and Macs don’t accept things like slashes, question marks, colons, asterisks, and other oddball characters you might be moved to use.
Geo-tagging photos as they’re taken can also be a useful tool for helping to organize your digital pictures in advance. Sorting your photos by location will help you better sort them prior to exporting them elsewhere and can be effective at keeping photos from getting mixed up in other albums.
Next Step: Importing Your Photos
Most computers have pretty effective, built-in programs that will help you import photos from your smartphone or camera without having to refer to a user’s manual or consult your local computer geek. As long as you have a Mac or a PC you’ll be able to transfer your photos to your computer using one of these simple to use programs.
iPhoto
Known for its ability to digitally enhance and fine tune your pictures, iPhoto is a powerful tool for Macs and iOS devices that enables you to easily organize and import all of your digital photos to your desktop. During the importing process, iPhoto automatically arranges and organizes your digital images using geo-tags, face recognition, dates, and more. Browsing through your photographs is made even easier by iPhoto’s ability to automatically group your photographs by month so you don’t have to spend an eternity trying to find that especially awesome selfie to set as your Facebook profile pic. iPhoto comes with a series of image editing functions and is ideal for sharing photos across multiple devices on a network as well as automatically uploading images to Facebook, Flickr and Picasa.
Although it’s not free, you can download iPhoto to your iOS device for just $4.99 from the Apple App Store. The good news is that once you download it, it’ll work across all of your existing iOS devices. It’s also available as a desktop suite for your Mac for $14.99. As of October 2013, Apple began offering the entire Apple Creativity apps suite (formerly known as iLife, which includes iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand) free for all purchases of new Macs and iOS devices — so depending on when you bought your device, you may not have to pay anything at all.
Microsoft Windows Photo Gallery
If you’re a Windows PC user, you have access to Microsoft’s native photo platform called Windows Photo Gallery. While it works great as an importation and organization program, Windows Photo Gallery also comes with a host of editing features that let you do things like eliminating red-eye from snapshots, straighten crooked shots, crop, retouch, color balance, and more. You can also establish presets if you don’t want to mess around with color saturation or tint.
Another interesting feature of Windows Photo Gallery is something called Photo Fuse, which performs the nifty trick of merging a series of similar photographs to give you the best possible result. For example, if you took a series of group photos and someone was blinking, Photo Fuse lets you pick and choose from among the best representations of each individual and brings it all together for the perfect, unspoiled shot.
Windows Photo Gallery is also compatible with social media sites, allowing you to upload your images to sites like Facebook without much of a hassle. While it doesn’t have the capability to perform facial recognition, you can use a feature called “people tag” which gives you the ability to find images of friends and family members easily on your computer. Geo-tags, captions, ratings, and flags are also supported which makes the process of organization all the easier and gives you a wide range of options to get your digital photographs in order the way you prefer.
Picasa
Compatible for both devotees of iOS or Android, Picasa is a highly functional platform that performs triple duty as a digital photo organizer, a decent editing program, and an easy way to share your photos with other users outside of your immediate computer network. The latter function is a great way to share albums of photos with friends and family without having to email large files or post them publicly on social media sites for everyone to potentially see. To make things easier, Picasa comes with 1 GB of free online storage. Aside from its basic but useful editing features, Picasa also offers organizational features similar to iPhoto in that it can perform facial recognition and geo-tagging during import to make images much more easily discoverable on your computer.
Last Step: Backing Up Your Photos
Your computer isn’t going to last forever, and neither is your external hard drive. A scary thought — especially when you’re counting on that costly hardware you spent your hard-earned money on to store your important files. But the reality is, crossing your fingers and hoping you won’t experience a massive data loss is a fool’s game. And putting off taking steps to ensure your photos are safely backed up is only inviting the inevitable.
Don’t tempt fate. Explore your options instead. Your two choices are to back up your photos to physical CD/DVD or to store them in the cloud — or both. Whatever you do, bear in mind that even state-of-the-art CDs and DVDs are also corruptible and may not last as long as you thought they would. Sure, there’s plenty of information out there that guesstimates their shelf life to be anywhere from 30 to 100 years. But there are other factors to consider, not the least of which include their susceptibility to becoming lost or physically damaged.
Unless you’re the type to rent out a safety deposit box to store your disc-burned family photos, storing them to the cloud is your best bet. The only drawback there is that it costs money to store a lot of data in the cloud. There are many services out there that offer free storage, but it’s not unlimited and eventually you’re going to run out of space. On the upside, paying a monthly fee for cloud storage gives you the ability to access your pics and vids wherever you are and whatever device you’re on. Here’s a rundown on a couple of the most effective cloud storage services you likely already have at your fingertips.
iCloud
If you’re an iOS user, you’re probably familiar with iCloud — the de facto cloud storage service for all things iPhone, iPad and Mac. With iCloud, you can choose to automatically back up all photos you have stored across your Apple devices to a single location called Photo Stream — an option you can enable in your device settings. The cool thing about Photo Stream is that it will store up to 1,000 photos for free, up to 30 days. It’s not so cool for the same reasons. If you’re a shutterbug, that 1,000 file limit may not be enough and the 5 GB storage limit that iCloud offers can fill up quickly. But it’s an effective service to enable if you want to upload your photos to the cloud so that you’ll have enough time to move them to a more permanent location — hence the 30-day time limit.
Note: Photo Stream is, as described, only for photos and doesn’t work with video.
Google Drive
Available to Android and iOS users alike, Google Drive gives you 15 GB of free space where you can wirelessly upload and store all of your irreplaceable digital photos. While Android users have it easy with the ability to automatically upload and store photos straight from their devices, iOS users are required to take the additional step of manually uploading their cache of life’s precious moments to the online server.
Using Google Drive, you have the option of uploading photos in full resolution or standard size. This second option effectively resizes your photos to reduce the amount of space you’re using. Keep in mind that uploading full resolution images eats away at that free 15 GB of space, but you can store a limitless number of photos to your Google+ account in the smaller, standard format. If you’re determined to keep all of your photos in the best possible resolution, you have the option of purchasing additional cloud storage space from Google. If you run up against the limits of your 15-gig free allotment without upgrading, Google will automatically begin saving your digital pics in the lower quality, standard format.
Additional Options
If you’re not into spending money for storage, you could feasibly upload a massive number of digital photos to the cloud by taking the mix ‘n match approach by using the free storage offered by services like Google Drive, Dropbox, and other cloud services. This is an option that could work to your benefit if you’re especially good at juggling and remembering where you stored what — and if you took our earlier advice and labeled your images properly. Otherwise, your best bet is to shell out some cash for a cloud storage account that will let you keep all of your digital photos in one, safe location.

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Contest – Win One of THREE Photography Courses from New York Institute of Photography

A Post By: Darlene Hildebrandt

Over the last few years here at dPS, we’ve run some incredibly popular competitions with one of our partners – the New York Institute of Photography – to give away to lucky dPS readers some of their great photographic teaching.
Due to popular demand – we’re doing it again this week.
For this competition, NYIP is giving away THREE prizes.
Each will be won by a different dPS reader. Here’s what you could win:
Complete Course in Professional Photography – worth $1,499
This is NYIP’s most popular course. It teaches everything an aspiring photographer needs to know about the art, technique, and business of photography. Want to become a better photographer? Then this course is for you.

All courses include comprehensive and illustrated lesson books, CD audio guides, DVD video training, photo projects, professional evaluation and personal student advisers.
How to Win
To win this competition you’ll need to:
Watch the video below
Leave a comment below and tell us why you’d like to enrol in New York Institute of Photography. Please note: there is a limit of 1 entry per person.
Do this in the next 8 days and on June 12th, 2014, the team at NYIP will choose the best three answers and we will announce the winners in the following days.
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Deadline is June 11th, Midnight PDT. Comments left after the deadline will not be considered.
By “best” – we’re looking for people who have an understanding of what NYIP is, what the course offers, and how it suits their needs. There’s no need to write essay length comments to win – but we’re looking to hear what you like about NYIP, the course and how it would help your development as a photographer.
This competition is open to everyone around the world no matter where you live, but there is only one entry per person please. To enter – simply leave your comment below.
Don’t forget to share this post with your friends! Like NYIP on Facebook for special offers and announcements on all of the NYIP Courses!
Disclaimer: NYIP is a paid partner of dPS.

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