Friday, February 6, 2015

Tips for Better Candid Photos

Maybe I'm just a bit silly, but I love those random challenges that people throw at you on social media sites such as Facebook. Well most of them. After all people  (Hmm.. not to be sexist or anything, but let's be honest. It's typically guys) are capable of trying some pretty dumb things. Consider the drinking challenge that went around.

But what possible harm can come of being asked to state positive things on your feed for five days? Also, can't it be kind of fun to try something which, while not particularly pleasant is also not dangerous, if the cause is right? Think the popular Ice Bucket Challenge that helped raise megabucks to combat ALS.

This week, I was asked to participate in a challenge that requires me to post five pictures which make me smile. Love to. Thanks for asking.

Nothing I enjoy more than digging through my photos and reliving the moments that came with them. And, as many others on Facebook, I am proud to show off my brood, who of course are always the focus of pictures that make me happy. So, though I haven't had any spare time yet to begin this project in earnest, I have been contemplating some photos that might make the cut.

Among those that make me smile the most, are ones that caught a candid expression. I love the unexpected in family photography. It's what makes it fun.

It's not, however,  as easy to do as it appears. Seeing the moment before it happens and being ready to snap that picture, isn't something everyone can do well.  But, with a few pointers we can get better. Here are some great tips to help:

Digital Camera World How to Capture Candid Family Pictures

PopPhoto Photograph Your Family

Ultimate Photo Guide Capturing Candid and Sports Photos of Your Kids

Digital Photography School 11 Tips for Better Candid Photos

Thursday, February 5, 2015

5 PowerPoint How-Tos

Success these days takes a lot of different things to happen. The right place at the right time has probably never been more true in what has become an increasingly fast-paced competitive world. 

While good luck, impressive contacts and perfect timing can be major factors in how you are able to build your business, however, none of these matter if the face you present to the world isn't professional.

Companies today aren't just looking at what you have and how it matters. They are also taking note of the way your content, your business is presented. How you introduce yourself and your product is imperative if you want to make an impression.  One of the ways to do this is, when making a presentation, make it powerful.

In the corporate world,  slide projectors are antiques.  Nor do shrewd professionals count on flip charts or whiteboards.  Today, the way to get attention, whether selling, informing or instructing, is with a PowerPoint demonstration.

The images, fonts, sounds, and animations available online most certainly enhance these presentations, but there are still a few folks out there who aren't exactly sure how to create them. Fortunately, the internet, as always, is there to help. A simple search turned up several websites with tutorials on how to put one together, as well as tips on how to make it interesting.

Here are five I found to get you started:

PowerPoint Presentation for Beginners

Getting started with Microsoft PowerPoint

How To Create a Power Point Presentation

How to Make Your PowerPoint Amazing

How to Create Amazing PowerPoints

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Understanding Low Poly

It's interesting I suppose that I find myself wandering the world of images and blogging about what I see and learn. Until beginning my current employment I really didn't know much about  the subject except that the common file format is JPG and  Photoshop is kind of fun.

So when I hear something new, or at least new to me, I am prompted to do a little investigating. Last week was the first time the term low poly came my way and my curiosity was piqued. After reading I'm still not completely sure I've got it, but suspect over time I will begin to grasp a better understanding. From what I could glean through a variety of sources, low poly is a technique popular for creating a 3D object to be displayed on a computer. The render speed that made it work was achieved thanks to low polygonal resolution.

And what, if you're like me you might well be wondering, does that mean?  Rendering is a complex part of 3D production in which an artist manipulates models in a 3D scene that are actually mathematical representations of points and surfaces in three-dimensional space. The term refers to calculations performed by a software package's render engine to take the mathematical approximation to a finished 2D image.  In the process, spatial, textural and lighting information for the entire scene are combined to determine each pixel's colour value in the flattened image.

There are two types of rendering, real-time and interactive. The biggest difference between them is the speed at which the images are computed and finished. Low poly is in the former.

As for what makes low polygonal resolution a motivator,  Wikipedia explained it best for me:
"Polygons can, in theory, have any number of sides but are commonly broken down into triangles for display. In general, the more triangles in a mesh the more detailed the object is, but the more computationally intensive it is to display. In order to decrease render times (i.e. increase frame rate) the number of triangles in the scene must be reduced, by using low poly meshes."

There are still questions but I think I'm getting it a bit. And so, my education continues.  For those joining me in Low Poly 101, I am including some visual examples from iCLIPART.com

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

227 Charming Vintage Valentines

It's funny what you will remember from your past. People will tell you a story from five years before which, upon hearing, you would have thought you might remember it.  But not a glimmer of recognition comes your way.

Happens to me often. On the other hand, ask me about kindergarten and I can regale you with glimpses of that past.

There was the new friend who could colour as if she was born with a crayon in her hand.  There was my teacher, a matronly grandmother type, a few years shy of retirement, who made you think of milk, cookies and comfort. 

There were the colourful orbs used for teaching numbers. There was nap time, all of us stretched out on our blankets with absolutely no interest in settling down. Kindergarten in those years was divided into half days and we were in the morning class. The idea that tiny tots would be ready to snooze hours after waking was wishful thinking.

Among my most vivid memories, though, was Valentine's Day. My friends and I,  prior to growing up and entering the world of education, had exchanged cards. But this was the first time we would be including an extended group of acquaintances. In preparation, there were craft days of cutting, clipping and pasting together special creations for Moms and Dads. But one of the biggest projects was the decorating of the container that would hold the messages from our Valentines.

On Feb. 14 we left no one out, stuffing these boxes with our different versions of Be Mine, Valentine! They were cute little images with adorable creatures, cute kids and charmingly silly puns. Years have gone but I remember those vintage Valentines with fondness.

If you too like the vintage greetings of yesteryear you'll love this sweet collection from iCLIPART.com.

Monday, February 2, 2015

5 Sites with Great Tips for Winter Photography

As much as I like taking a camera outside to photograph the beauty of Mother Nature, it tends to be a warm weather pursuit. Not for me are the cold temperatures and challenges of winter photography.

Certainly, there are winter patterns and landscapes that have caught my attention enough to force me outside to grab a picture or two – the water from a dripping eave frozen in time on a branch, a glowing sunset over incandescent snow. But these are quick flashes in time.

Die-hard winter photography buffs know what it takes to get those pictures. Patience in summer is one thing, waiting when temperatures are sub-zero quite another.  Special equipment, special clothing are a must, while a strong tolerance for cold doesn't hurt either. The first two you can get easily,  the latter is something you have or you have not. 

I would fall under the have not side of this. Though I joke about only having a 2° comfort zone, I will tolerate the blaze of a summer sun, the muggy humidity of an August day. But being cold? That I hate. To my mind it's one of the most unpleasant conditions there is. Thus, when winter winds blow you will find me snuggled indoors under a cozy afghan, not wandering the backwoods and fields looking for a great photo op. 

However, I do appreciate the efforts and tenacity of those who will venture out in the ice and snow, slugging camera equipment and sitting patiently in frigid temperatures to get beautifully stunning pictures. Jack Frost and Old Man Winter might be a nasty pair, but they clearly have an artistic side.

If you're the hardy type, ready to tackle the elements and photograph the beauty of this often harsh season, here are some links to some helpful tips and advice:

Canadian Nature Photographer's The Joy of Winter Photography

Shooting Winter Landscapes With a Short Telephoto Lens

Amateur Photographer's Essential Photography Equipment for Winter

Winter Landscape Photography How to Compse and Expose

Winter Photography Tips Everyone Should Know