digital photography tips with Digital Photo Mentor Darlene Hildebrandt

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Photography Resources

Tack Sharp Nailing Focus by James BrandonTack Sharp – a step by step guide to nailing focus by photographer James Brandon.

Within the pages of this eBook, you’ll discover the tips and tricks used by the pros to take full control over the advanced systems of focus within today’s digital camera systems. Learn the art of consistently nailing focus on your images, discover custom functions that have been hiding right within your cameras menu settings and say goodbye to the frustrations of blurry, unusable images

Mastering-Lightroom Book one the Library ModuleMastering Lightroom Book 1: The Library Module by Andrew S Gibson

Mastering Lightroom: Book One – The Library Module shows you how to use the Library Module to import, organize and search your images. This important task lays the foundation for the work you do in Lightroom. Mastering the Library module ultimately saves you time, which you can spend either in the Develop module or with your camera. Either way, you end up with more hours to be creative.

lighting-patterns

Lighting Patterns

Watch a free video lesson from our Portrait Lighting on Location course and learn about using natural light and flash to create flattering lighting patterns for your subject.

One Hour Photography FAQ lesson

Settle in while Darlene and Bruce discuss frequently asked questions about portrait photography on location in another complimentary lesson from the portrait lighting course.

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Software

Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Photshop Lightroom 4Adobe makes the industry standard in photo manipulation software – Photoshop. It’s such an icon that it’s even become a verb “can you just Photoshop that out?”. However . . . I primarily use Lightroom for processing my digital images. I’ve been digital for several years now, and even though I love film, and seeing a black and white image appear in the chemistry will always be magical – I also love the digital medium and what it enables me to do. I can be as creative as I can imagine and make my images sing. I probably use Lightroom for about 90% of my processing and then 10% Photoshop for things I need extra features for like layers, etc. If Photoshop is a little over your head for now (frankly some of the features are still over my head) you might want to try Lightroom. I like it more than Bridge (inside Photoshop) because I love the cataloging elements where I can tag images, and sort and view them even if the actual Hard Drive they reside on is offline. Photoshop was created for design professionals, but Lightroom was created specifically for photographers. I highly recommend both of these upgrades to Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4.0 if you haven’t done that yet – go now!

Visit the Photoshop & Lightroom website to find out more.

Photoshop Plugins – Topaz Labs

I found out about Topaz from another photographer’s site exactly like this, it was in a list of things that he used. I did a trial of it and liked the results so I bought the whole suite (which at the time included: Adjust, Clean, DeJpeg, DeNoise, and Simplify). You can buy one or all of them, they each do something different.

Topaz Adjust, which I use most often to finish off my HDR images, gives them just a bit more pizzazz, punch and edginess.

Topaz Simplify can create unique images that I’ve never seen any other software or plug-in do including: cartoon-like effects, charcoal drawings from photos, and more.

They now have several new plug-ins like Star Effects, Lens Effects, B&W Effects and InFocus – which I have not tried yet but may be reviewing some time in the future.

Visit Topaz Labs, download them and try them out now and see if you like what they do.

Backup Your Photos

backblaze

Backblaze online back up solution

I searched far and wide for an online back up option and none of the other ones I tried out would back up an external hard drive which was one of my major criteria. I use a laptop for most of my work but all my images are stored and backed up on external hard drives. If you use a similar set up, make sure you have two drives – one for all your images to live on, and one that’s a direct copy of the first one. If you put all your images on your laptop your drive will be full in no time.

Ideally however you want a second back up copy of all your data (images, software, documents, etc) in another location off site. If your home or office burns down (I happen to personally know 3 people whose homes have burned completely to the ground – so it does happen) and you have your computer and your own back up inside, that doesn’t do you much good does it? So a third copy could look like another external drive that you take to work with you (or to your mom’s or a safe deposit box) and swap out with your other back up drive once a week or so. I found those options to be more of a pain in the butt so I searched out an online solution.

I eventually came across Backblaze.com and they fit the bill perfectly! At only $5 a month for unlimited storage, password protected encrypted data, access from anywhere, AND they work with external hard drives it’s a great option. The only drawback is that your first back up will take literally forever and a day. I was backing up about 600 GB of photos and it took over 6 months to get completely backed up. Now it just looks at my hard drive and just saves anything new or changed so it doesn’t take as long and it runs in the background as long as your computer is online and the hard drive is plugged in.

I back up my entire laptop to the site as well and it saved my butt already once! I had my laptop crash on me (it would not even power up, black screen, totally dead) the day before I had a class to teach. I had my powerpoint presentation and images for the class backed up onto my external drives but the problem was I had no computer to access them. I could borrow my husband’s laptop but he’s on a PC and I’m a Mac girl so his computer couldn’t read the hard drives. No problem, Backblaze to the rescue! I simply logged in using his computer, accessed my files on the site, and downloaded just that one file that I needed for the class. He has Powerpoint and I was able to run it no problem from there.

Here’s what I know about computers and hard drives:

It’s not a matter of if they will fail it’s when and you need to do everything you can to be back up and running quickly and with the least amount of stress possible.

Try BackBlaze, they even have a free trial.