Book Review: “The Digital Photography Book, Part 5: Photo Recipes” by Scott Kelby

Part 5 of Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Book series has been published in August 2014 continuing what have been the best selling books on digital photography of all times.

Scott Kelby is not only an awesome photographer who is sharing his expertise in this book series only but also, as I would call it, a very successful online-media entrepreneur.

Please have a look at the following resources to learn more about his work:

Blog: www.scottkelby.com

Kelby Media Group: http://kelbymediagroup.com – His company providing training, education and information around digital photography, Lightroom and Photoshop

Kelbyone: http://kelbyone.com – Online courses, videos and tutorials around digital photography, Lightroom and Photoshop

Kelbyone on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/kelbymediagroup – Youtube channel providing a number of shows, such as “The Grid” & “Photoshop User TV” and “Photography Tips & Tricks” and other resources around digital photography, Lightroom and Photoshop

 

Now looking at the book itself:

(Check out the prices of The Digital Photography Book, Part 5: Photo Recipes or Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5
at amazon.com.)

The book is 240 pages strong in its paperback version and is also available as an e-book.

It is structured in nine chapters covering the following topics:

  1. Natural Light Portraits
  2. One Light Photography
  3. Two Lights Photography
  4. Hot Shoe Flash Photography
  5. Wedding Photography
  6. Travel Photography
  7. Landscape & Nature Photography
  8. “Other” Photography e.g product, motorsports, car, sports and pets
  9. Post Processing using Lightroom & Photoshop

Each chapter is following the same structure: Following by a rather useless but fun intro, which has somewhat become a trademark of Scott Kelby’s books the reader is confronted with a photo falling into the respective category and the basic camera settings used to take it (shutter speed, aperture, ISO, focal length) setting the stage.

Then the topic is broken down into smaller subjects e.g. looking at chapter 5, Wedding Photogrpahy, it covers:

  • Controlling Light Outdoors
  • Close-up Detail Shots
  • Mixing Natural Light with Strobes
  • Reception Flash
  • Be the second shooter
  • Dramatic Lighting
  • Using Natural Light Indoors
  • Dramatic Edge Lighting with One Light
  • Go super-wide for an Epic Feel
  • The Lens Flare Look
  • Controlling what you see in the Frame

To give you one more example, looking at chapter 6, Travel Photography, it covers:

  • Hiding tourists, car, buses, etc…
  • There’s a Picture in there Somewhere
  • Moving to Hide Distracting Stuff
  • Finding Simplicity in a Busy Outdoor Scene
  • Shoot the Details Instead
  • The Waiting Game Gamble
  • Zooming to Hide
  • Changing Time and Perspective
  • Another Trick for Hiding Tourists
  • Shooting the Food
  • Going on a Stakeout

Now following what this book really is about: Photo Recipes”, Scott Kelby provides the reader with a structured approach for each topic represented by a bullet point above in a way, that he starts with, what I would call a behind the scene photo, where the reader can see the final image’s subject, the camera and lighting setup (if any). Together with a short description as to what is to be achieved this introductions eta the scene for the photo recipe to come.

The introduction is followed by an overview of the camera settings applied, so that the reader can easily recreate the approach when trying to achieve similar results. This usually also includes a description of additional tools used, such as filters, tripods, remote shutter controls and lighting equipment.

Then the reader is shown the final image (after post-processing) to see what has been achieved by Scott Kelby and his team in the given environment.

But it does not stop here. Once the final image is introduced the reader is taken on a journey to follow the creative thought process of Scott Kelby to the extend that Scott Kelby describes his idea behind the photo explaining why he believes a particular composition and the creative styles applied work well in the given setting. A part of the book I find very useful as it allows you to reflect on your own photography and approach to different situations.

Each photo recipe is then closed by a short description as to what kind of post-processing has been applied using Lightroom and/or Photoshop. This is kept on a very basic level so that it is easy to understand even for beginners or users of other software, such as Aperture or even iPhoto in my opinion.

And this is what this book is about. The reader gets approximately 80 recipes describing how a specific photo has been taken and the guidance as to how to create something similar himself.

 

For whom is the book?

It is not a book for beginners!

You have to be familiar with your camera to find this book useful and at least be able to understand what aperture, shutter speed and ISO are and how to set them in manual shooting mode. Also for the chapters on strobes and flash lighting you need to be familiar with how to setup simple one/two light settings and have the respective diffusers such as umbrellas, soft boxes and reflectors to make the most out of the book.

This book does not provide you with detailed technical explanations but hands on advise!

If you have not reached the stage described above yet in your photography I recommend that you better start out with Book No. 1 of the series and work your way towards No. 5, which will be more rewarding in my opinion.

(Check out the prices of The Digital Photography Book: Part 1 (2nd Edition) on amazon.com)

I think the book is useful for those photographers that have already started their creative journey and want to expand their expertise e.g. from Landscape to Wedding Photography. The book itself provides a good source for creative ideas that can serve as an inspiration to kick of your own projects or give a new edge to your existing repertoire.

For me it was a natural addition to the initial four books, which helped me greatly to embark on my creative journey and to which I return from time to time when I experience a problem, am not satisfied with a shoot I made or just need some inspiration as to how to reach the next level.

So, if you are not a beginner but as I would say intermediate or experienced photographer this book is for you.

Enjoy reading!

(Check out the prices of The Digital Photography Book, Part 5: Photo Recipes or Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5
at amazon.com.)

 

Getting Inspired

I wrote a post earlier about how to take consistently good photos, which you can read here. One of the aspects i was talking about was to follow the work of other photographers that you do admire, who’s work you like and enjoy and those that share their tips & tricks with their followers.

With todays post I would like to give you a simple listing of photographers that I do follow and who’s work I keep getting back to for inspiration and also learning as some of them frequently publish different resources such as tutorials for their audience.

Please have a look at the following collection and perhaps you discover one or two that also appeal to yourself:

1. Mitchell Pe Masilun – http://www.1world1eye.com

Portfolio and Galleries by Mitchell Pe Masilun, who has taught me a lot about photography during his workshops in Beijing.

2. Scott Kelby – http://scottkelby.com

Perhaps best known for his books on photography, most notably “Digital Photography Part 1-5”, which I have all read and can recommend to everyone starting out with photography. He is also running a large online training company for photographers and a very popular youtube channel.

(Check out the prices for Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5: 1-5 on amazon.com.)

3. Benjamin Jaworskyj – https://www.youtube.com/user/jaworskyjpictures?feature=watch (German)

A youtube channel by Berlin based German photographer Benjamin Jaworskyj, who is providing a lot of guidance, tips & tricks especially for beginners on his youtube channel.

4. Trey Ratcliff – http://www.stuckincustoms.com

Trey Ratcliff is running a very successful travel & photography blog as well as an online media company and shares his photography with a broad audience posting awesome photos every single day.  I actually had the pleasure of meeting Trey during one of his visits to Beijing and joint a photo walk with him. You can find the photos I took that day here.

5. Jim Patterson – https://jimpattersonphotography.com

Unbelievably beautiful landscape as well as underwater photography.

6. Steve Mc Curry – http://stevemccurry.com

An amazing contemporary photographer, who’s work speaks for itself. I am actually so fascinated by his work that I bought his book “Untold the Story behind the Pictures”, which gives an amazing insite into how he works. Many might know him for his photo of the Afghan Girl or the steam train in front of the Taj Mahal.

(Check out the prices for Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs – by Steve McCurry on amazon.com)

7. Kevin Fleming – http://www.kevinfleming.com

An amazing photographer who has been covering the work e.g. for National Geographic.

8. Conor MacNeil – https://www.flickr.com/photos/thefella/

A Fine art HDR travel photographer whose work I discovered on Flickr.

9. Serge Ramelli – https://www.youtube.com/user/cmoeu

A photographer living in Paris who is publishing two tutorials per week sharing how he is taking photos and how he is retouching them in Lightroom and Photoshop. Highly recommended for beginners.

10. Bill Fortney – http://billfortney.com

I especially like his work surrounding aviation photography, having worked in aviation myself. So do not miss to check out his aviation gallery full of awesome photos of great airplanes.

 

I think I will come back to this post from time to time and add additional photographers and resources as you continuously discover new amazing work by people you did not know before.

If you think that I have missed someone or something important, by all means, please help me to grow this listing and leave your comment below.

How to consistently take good photos? – Answer: Preparation!

“How to consistently take good photos?”, is a question I am being asked very frequently and there are of course a lot of aspects related to taking a good photo that you do require to fall in place. Looking at landscape photography – my major playing field at the moment – there are in my opinion five prerequisites that you need to consider before you can take an outstanding photograph:

1. An interesting subject

2. A great idea as to how to compose your photo

3. The right light & weather

4. The right gear

5. The technical aspects of the shot

 

While having the right gear to take a shot is certainly very important – e.g. you will not be able to take a decent shot of a waterfall in low light without a tripod or you will not be able to make pedestrians disappear in front of the Louvre in Paris without a tripod and a ND filter at lunchtime – I personally do think that we have all done our research at a point of time and have certain equipment at hand, with which we want to achieve the best possible results and therefore “gear” will not be the focus of this post. (You can read more about the gear I am using here.)

I also do not want to talk about the technical aspects of taking an outstanding photo as alone the question as to how to take a really sharp photo is a science for itself, which each photographer has to learn for his or her own camera and lens combination. Hence, in the following I will assume that you are able to handle your gear already and know how to address movement, low-light and other challenges or artistic aspects you desire of your shot.

What I want to focus on in this post are the other three aspects of taking consistently interesting if not outstanding photos:

1. An interesting subject

2. A great idea as to how to compose your photo

3. The right light & weather

 

Starting backwards with item 3, there is of course not very much you can do about the weather so one might want to consider it as an external factor but I think it is important to understand, that for great photos often a nice sunny day is not the preferred option to go out.  Clouds before or after a rain, or even an upcoming storm or thunderstorm though will give your landscape photography the edge.  The sky will just be so much more interesting compared to a simple blue sky! So when planning a trip you might want to consider not going in sumer but in Autumn when the rain clouds are much more frequently seen.

Talking about the right light, there is a quiet easy answer as to how to achieve the same in your landscape shots: Take your shots shortly before and after sunrise and sunset when the light is not as harsh as at lunchtime, the shadows are long and soft. Photographers call the time shortly after sunrise and shortly before sunset the golden hour and the time shortly before sunrise and after sunset the blue hour. There are a number of tools available on the web to calculate the exact times of the golden and blue hour and one tool that I am using you can find here (German). So the next time before you go out to take photos, check the sunrise and sunset times and then plan to be on location accordingly. This alone will have a huge impact on the quality of your photos.

Now, of course you do not want to arrive at your shooting location the last minute – just when the good light starts to come – but you want to be at location early enough to walk around a little bit, try different spots, different exposures and setting, try possibly different lenses and in general different angles.  You might also want to do this during the rest of the day, when the light is less than perfect to be able to set up right away when arriving in the early morning or late afternoon.

In the same context i am very happy that my smartphone has a compass, so when walking around during the day it is quiet easy to determine as to where the sun will be at sunrise/sunset at a given location so you know what light conditions to expect. You will also be able to download apps to your smartphone or just find applications on the web that will be able to tell you for any location in the world at a given date and time, where the sun will be. Personally, I do not use the same though, feeling comfortable with the simple compass approach.

 

Now talking about composition and subjects, you simply have to keep your eyes open in the first place but there is one lesson I have learnt over the past years: The best photos of a place e.g. a city are nearly always taken by locals and this is why:

– They know the places where to set up your tripod and

– They can easily come back over and over again until they have perfect conditions.

Let us face it: They simply have the home turf advantage!

But there is something we can do about it: We can do our homework and start our research before we go places.

Today there are so many resources available online and nearly every professional photographer will have their portfolio and general photography available online for you to search.

So, before going on a trip you should spend some time in front of your computer and check out websites like:

www.smugmug.com

www.flickr.com

www.500px.com

For sure you will find some amazing photographs on those website that will inspire you to take similar photos and allow you to come up with what I call a shooting list of subjects that you want to cover during your visit.

Those websites are also great resources to get inspired in terms of how to compose a shot and what other artists are doing with their photography. Only by looking at the work of other photographers you will come up with new ideas for a subject, for your composition and also your post-processing.

So, doing your homework in advance is – for me – a really important part of my creative work. Some now might say that you are steeling the ideas of others but I personally believe that you will never be able to fully recreate a shot by another photographer and that it is your responsibility to come up with something unique to stand out from the crowd. If you just copy work you will not be able to thrill people with your work as at some point of time they will find out that you are standing on the shoulders of others.

And while the online research for a specific location will always be the best starting point for your research and to come up with good ideas for your photo taking sessions at the destination, I would also like to encourage you to study the work of other photographers that you like to just grow your imaginations to what others are doing and more importantly s to what is possible. I have created a long bookmark list in my browser with the websites and portfolios of photographers that I like and whose work I admire. I frequently do visit their sites to check out the latest additions to their portfolios to enjoy, to learn and to get inspired.

At the end the limit of your photography is your own imagination: Why not start growing it today?

Selecting a WordPress theme for kridpics.com

kridpics.com has undergone a bigger setup change and facelift during the last month and I shared a lot more details in this post.

Part of the changes introduced was moving my blog away from wordpress.com and establish it as a self-hosted blog. Now in doing so I also wanted to make sure that the blog itself which was so far only using the twenty-fourteen free wordpress theme gets a more unique and especially professional touch & feel.

Important to know in that regard is, that I am not an IT guy, so I needed a framework that would be manageable for someone who is not an expert in html, CSS and PHP. Being familiar with WordPress I at the end decided to continue using it as my content management system and ended up looking for a theme that was as close as possible to my idea of how the final website & blog should look like.

It is also important to know that I already gathered initial experience when setting up the website for my consulting company at www.kridconsulting.com. I initially started out by contracting a freelancer via www.elance.com, which did not work out to my satisfaction so I ended up getting the job done myself using WordPress as the content management system.

Tackling that challenge, I ended up buying a Theme from StudioPress called Executive Pro Theme, which is part of the Genesis Framework, and with a lot of online research, blood and sweat, I managed to come up with what I consider a quiet decent result at www.kridconsulting.com.

So when looking for a theme for kridpics.com I naturally also looked at the Studiopress themes and the one coming closest to my expectations as to what kridpics.com should look like at the end came across their Education Pro Theme. While it featured the slider on top of the blog page which i wanted for kridpics.com, it looks a little bit boring and knowing that I do not have the skills to do a lot of customisation I did an intensive search for alternatives and at the end narrowed it down to these two:

1. Inspiro by WPZOOM – Go here for a live preview.

2. Supernova by The Gravity Themes – Go here for a live preview.

From a design perspective i really liked the Supernova theme except for the fact that it did not offer the main menu extending on mouse-over but as a non-IT person it was important to me that I can get some support when having trouble and so I sent a number of questions to the developers and sadly had to discover that they first did not get back to me at all and at the end only after me making a comment about their lack of responsiveness in the public forum at creative market.com. If they would have gotten back to me in due time and i wold have gotten the feeling that they will not leave me alone after buying the theme I would have bought it but after this customer service experience it seemed to risky to me. More experienced users, who do not require any post-sales support,  might come to a different conclusion as the design is really great.

The Inspiro theme was the second on my list in terms of design but the last on my list regarding price. As I already bought one Studiopress theme I knew I would enjoy a nice discount when buying the second. Doing the same as with the Supernove developers, contacting them with a number of pre-sales questions, they got back to me with a quick response and I had a good feeling  about being able to make the website work with their theme.

At the end, I ended up buying the Education Pro Theme theme from StudioPress though and let me tell you why:

1. Price (taking into account the discount for my follow-up purchase)

2. Responsiveness of their customer service, which was excellent right from the start and even though they made it clear that they would not give customisation support I had confidence in their community forums.

3. I found this youtube tutorial, which I knew would allow me to do a lot more customisation than I would have been able to do without it.

4. Experience gathered when setting up www.kridconsulting.com.

While I continue to update the layout of kridpics.com continuously, I am already very satisfied with the same and can recommend both, the Education Pro Theme and the Executive Pro Theme from StudioPress to those users who are thinking about setting up their own WordPress based website and do not have too much of an IT background.

Wallaman Falls

On my journey from Cairns to Brisbane there were a number of places that I really wanted to visit: Frazer Island, the Whitsundays, Noosa and most of all: The Wallaman Falls.

I had visited these magnificent waterfalls before in 2011 during what I would say was a very very rainy time and traveling with a friend of mine we could not go down to the falls pool due to heavy rain – it being simply too dangerous. But having enjoyed the magnificent view from the drop off level was already so impressive that I had to see it again.

So this time the weather was great and when I took off from Airlie Beach I knew where to go to get the camping permit, stocked up on supplies, had my camera gear cleaned and was basically ready to go when I read the message on the National Parks Website, that there would be burins going on in the region exactly now that I wanted to visit.

I decided to nevertheless go to the information center where the camping permits were sold and was lucky: I did not know it – being on vacation it does not really matter anyway – but it was a national holiday in Queensland and the burnings would only start the next day. So without further ado I went to the falls, knowing that I would most likely only have one day before the smoke would force me to leave.

So my plan for the first days sunset was to first go down to the rock pool, which is a tough hike with the falls being 268 meters high and then race the same way up again to the lookout on top to capture some shots when the sun sets on the horizon.

This is my favourite shot I got when being down in the massive cannon carved by the water:

Wallaman Falls Pool
Visiting for the second time in October 2014 after having been to the Wallaman Falls already once before a couple of years ago their magnificence is still breathtaking. Dropping down 268 meters they make for a magnificent sight once you made the climb down to the falls pool.

After taking a number of shots down below, I packed up my gear, put everything in my backpack and started the speed hike back up. A really good exercise, with extra high humidity in the cannon, high temperature and a path that had not seen maintenance for a long while.

But this was the reward:

Wallaman Falls
Having taken a number of shots at the falls pool down below I rushed climbing up again to take some more photos of the Falls during sunset. Now, that was a tough climb as the Wallaman Falls are the highest in Australia with 268 meters. Nevertheless I made it and managed to take this caption with the last sunlight painting the rocks to the north in lovely golden light.

It was definitely worth the effort and I am happy having taken the time to go there a second time.

And the next morning it turned out that it was a really good decision to do both – the pool and the lookout – the first evening as the sunrise was pretty boring and did not bring out any equally great photos.

Oben Tripod AT-3420 Review

In summary, I can really say that I am very sattsifed with my Oben AT-3420 tripod.

It has been with me since 2012 and I have used it at least 3 times a week on average since then.

It is a 4-section aluminium folding tripod and comes with the removable BA-0T Ball Head.

Why do I like the tripod?

1) You can combine the middle section with one of the legs to form a monopod, which is useful at placed where tripods are not allowed or when you want to save weight.

2) It is a tall tripod extending to 170cm but when folded it is only 48cm long fitting nicely even in a normal backpack. Being 190cm myself the hight of the tripod was an important criteria for me when selecting it and even though I seldom shoot at that level I am happy having taken it into consideration.

3) It is very stable. To support its height the tripod is built very solidly. Even in strong winds and on difficult ground e.g. in a river or at the beach I trust it to safely hold my cameras and keep the same still as much as possible in such difficult conditions.

Are there any things that would require improvements:

4) Only recently, I realised that the tripod might have issues with its seals. I have been shooting a lot at beaches often putting the tripods legs into the water at sandy beaches and some of that sand & water got into the individual sections making the extending & collapsing a little more difficult at times. I experienced this now twice and it usually goes away after a while when the tripod is dry and the sand has been forced out.

5) The conditions described under item 4) above also lead to the damage of some of the grips surrounding the individual sections supporting your hands when extending and collapsing the tripod – they became loose. After two years of heavy usage and difficult conditions I consider this regular wear & tear and will see if I can have it serviced.

I do believe that the AT-3420 is not produced anymore but am confident that the review might still be helpful for those who consider other Oben products or might want to buy a used one.

Check out Oben tripods on amazon.com

SmugMug Review and why I chose them

As mentioned in my previous post about the new setup of kridpics.com I am now using a combination of this WordPress based self-hosted blog and SmugMug to present and market my photography and creative business.

While I do not consider this setup perfect it is the best setup I could find for what I want to achieve and today I want to tell you a little more about my journey with SmugMug:

I signed up with them following an intensive search for a suitable service provider offering me the opportunity to sell my photography online.

Learn more about SmugMug or sign-up directly using this link to receive a 20% discount.

Whom else did I look at:

1. Squarespace

2. PhotoShelter

3. 500px

4. Flickr

 

Of course this list is not complete and there are many other solutions out there but those are the ones that I had a closer look at.

Let me share my thoughts about the individual options I did not chose and why with you:

Squarespace:

There is only one single reason why I did not chose Squarespace: You can not sell any other product than downloads of your images if you do not produce those  products yourself or via a third party and then list it in a webshop on your Squarespace site. As Squarespace would offer the much wanted integration of shopping, portfolio and blog feature I would have been very happy to avoid all the work I had to invest in setting up this blog and use their services but the missing “print products” made it impossible for me. If you are having however a different business model than myself, make sure to take a closer look at their offer.

 

Photoshelter:

Photoshelter has two items that made me not to chose them: 1. Pricing – they are just way too expensive and 2. They do not offer an integrated blog.  You will realise that SmugMug also does not fulfil item 2. but at least they are cheaper.

 

500px:

This is an awesome place to share your photos and their system where every day there basically is a contest for the best photo uploaded is just awesome. Unfortunately their offered commercial options are too limited for me and together with the lack of customisation options I had to rule them out. But I have plans to use 500px as a marketing tool in the near future trying to direct traffic to kridpics.com.

 

Flickr:

Flickr is in a way very similar to 500px with the one exception: It is most likely the photography website with the largest number of photographers of all levels. Again, the lack of customisation options as well as the lack of the ability to sell photography products made me rule them out. However, very similar to 500px, I will use them in the near future as a marketing tool to direct traffic to kridpics.com.

 

After outlining why I did not chose SmugMugs competitors, why did I chose Smugmug?

For me they presented the best available solution to fulfil my targets:

1. Being able to easily sell print products and downloads of my photos

2. Being able to have a customised site with my own corporate layout

3. Being able to integrate a blog

4. Pay a reasonable price for the service.

 

Those of you who have read my previous post about establishing a new setup for kridpics.com know that I am still not happy about item 3 above. As SmugMug does not offer an integrated blog, which is important to generate better ratings within search engines, I had to develop this self-hosted blog and when moving back- and forward between the blog and the sites hosted by SmugMug (e.g. Portfolio & Galleries)  you can see that I still did not manage to align the layout.

However, the other three points above work well with SmugMug so given what i wanted to achieve I am happy with my selection.

 

Talking a little bit more about SmugMug, I have to say that it is easy for everyone out there to set up his portfolio and start selling very fast due to the layout templates provided. I have now started to get a little bit more into Html & CSS and will slowly work my way towards a uniform blog & SmugMug corporate layout but at least for me that takes time to do a lot of learning and internet research getting familiar with the code and syntax and is definitely not for everyone.

Another item that I would like to mention is the support offered by SmugMug: Until today I have had a number of issues with my site, required help for some customisation or was not able to change e.g. the print lab and every single time I got a timely response from their team. As there are a lot of companies out there in the web where I have made a totally different experience, I would like to highlight that here. For me that is an important point.

Last but not least, I would like to highlight the numerous selling options they offer (some are subject to the price plan you chose): You can chose from four different print labs with hundreds of products on offer – actually far too many products so that I decided to drastically reduce the choices for the end-customer), coupon codes, back printing and even boutique packaging just to mention a few.

 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below or contact me directly.

 

Learn more about SmugMug or sign-up directly using this link to receive a 20% discount.

Changing the setup of kridpics.com

Until October 2014 this blog was hosted at www.kridpics.wordpress.com and then connected via links with my SmugMug presence at www.kridpics.smugmug.com and vice versa.

I already owned the domain www.kridpics.com in the past and it was set up to point to my smugmug site, which contained a welcome page displaying my portfolio within a nice slider, my galleries, an about and contact me page.

With my enthusiasm for photography growing on one side and getting a better understanding how search engines and the blogging sphere work on the other it was obvious that I needed to make a change.

Specifically these were the reasons to consider a change:

1. I wanted to become more independent from both smugmug and the free blogging environment at wordpress.com.
2. I was not satisfied with the layout of my blog.
3. I was still not satisfied how my blog and my smugmug site were integrated with each other and that I needed to use two different platforms.
4. With my blog attracting more and more readers I wanted to be able to explore the usage of Google AdSense and affiliate programs.

After a lot of back and forth looking at various different setups and providers I ended up with the following final setup (for now):

– I changed the existing blog from www.kridpics.wordpress.com to a self-hosted one.
– The existing domain www.kridpics.com is now not pointing anymore to my smugmug site but the self-hosted blog, being the entry point to all my content
– I changed the setup of blog and SmugMug site in a way that the entry point is not anymore smugmug but the blog

In short, this is what I am currently using:

  • Blog powered by WordPress
  • Portfolio & Shopping by SmugMug – Read this review and why I chose them and use this link to get a 20% discount when signing up, e.g. when purchasing their “portfolio” package pay 120 USD instead of 150 USD.
  • WordPress Theme by Studiopress
  • Domain Name by GoDaddy
  • Domain Hosting by iPage

Is this setup perfect?

No, it is not: I am still relying on SmugMug and search engines as well as third parties will build links to my photos and other content over there locking me in so to say – making it difficult to leave if I wish to do so in the future. On the other hand I could not find a better solution given that I require their service offering my customers prints and other photo & video related products that I can not offer myself. So it is a compromise from a control perspective but given their really good performance I have decided that it is acceptable to me.

Another reason why it is not perfect is, that now I have to somehow manage to align the design of both this blog at www.kridpics.com and my smugmug portfolio and gallery pages at www.kridpics.smugmug.com to ensure a uniform corporate design. While I managed to integrate both nicely in the meantime, aligning the layout is a real challenge for someone without html & css skills and as you can clearly see when browsing these pages: I am still working on it. But I will manage sooner or later;)

But aside of the above two items I am very happy with the chosen setup and will continue to develop kridpics.com within it for a while.

I will write separate posts with more details about my experience with SmugMug, Studiopress, GoDaddy and iPage shortly together with some more details as to how the setup works.

My first time-lapse video

I wrote a blog post early sharing an awesome time-lapse video taken in New Zealand: Time-Lapse Video Shooting and said that I would like to explore doing something similar.

And that is what I did:

Sunset over the Forbidden City in Beijing
Timelapse taken at the north-east corner of the Forbidden City. Watch the sun set over Jingshan Park while the North-East Corner Tower of the Forbidden City and the water moat surrounding it change their colour with the light fading.

On the occasion of myself leaving Beijing I thought I leave my farewell greetings in my usual – visual – way and created the time-lapse video using a simple Shoot Intervallometer and LRTimelapse.

I will write a separate post with some more insights as to how I did it shortly.

Until then: Enjoy the Sunset and Goodbye Beijing!!!

Satisfied with my Samyang 14mm f2.8 lens

Continuing to explore the Kyushu area in Southern Japan, I took this photo with my new Samyang 14mm lens mounted on the Sony A7r:

Tenjin at Night
Tenjin is an awesome part of Fukuoka: Packed with bars, coffee shops and small as well as big shops it is buzzling with people no matter if at night or during the day. On this picture you can see Tenjin Station in the background and the entrance to yet another roofed shopping street. Actually a band was playing there walking through after taking the picture and it must have been quiet famous given the attention it received from the mostly female audience. Please visit www.kridpics.com for my entire photo collection.

Check the price of the Samyang SY14M-E 14mm F2.8 Ultra Wide Lens for Sony E-Mount on amazon.com.

While it took me a while to get used to the manual focussing I by now feel quiet comfortable using it together with the Sony A7r. The camera supports the usage of manual lenses by two distinct features:

1. You can zoom in very tight when setting up your shot and therefore see if a certain part of the picture is in focus and

2. You can chose to have a coloured overlay in the viewfinder or the LCD display showing you areas that the camera elects to be in focus.

Both together give you a lot of security that when zooming in later on your computer screen you do not have any surprises.

 

So, now the question is why did I buy a manual lens in the first place? The simple answer is, that there is no E-mount  full-frame auto-focus lens available yet.

Yes, of course you can use the A-mount full-frame lenses using an adapter but that would mean that you have to handle an additional piece of equipment, you lose 1/3 f-stop and the auto-focus will perform slower.

Some photographers using the Sony A7r use the APS-C Sony 10-18mm lens, which is apparently doing a good job in the area of 14-17mm on the full-frame sensor as well but I would consider that only an option for those that already own this lens and would not specifically buy it for the Sony A7r.

Check the price of the Sony SEL1018 10-18mm Wide-Angle Zoom Lens on amazon.com.

 

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Update November 11, 2014: The Sony E-mount full-frame 16-35mm, f4, wide angle lens will be available from the end of November 2014. This lens will obviously feature the above discussed auto-focus capability.

Check the price of the Sony 16-35mm Vario-Tessar T FE F4 ZA OSS E-Mount Lens on amazon.com.