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Monday, November 25, 2013

5 Gifts for Photography Lovers under $50

5 gifts, each one under $50! Say What!?
You heard me! These are not your run of the mill suggestions
If you think your photogrpahy lover has everything - here are some funky fun finds 
that will prove you wrong!

This wristband is inspired by different lens... and it's just super cute for a $10 and under gift!

Tiny lenses that are really shot glasses! ADORABLE!
Plus they could hold fun things like your media cards on your desk, rubber bands... whatever!
Coming in under $20

Not a drinker? How about these for the more "family Friendly" option under $20!

Buy the The Camera Cookie Cutter Set at the Photojojo Store!

Rolling in under $40 is this BAMBOO Solar charger
It will charge your cell phone from Sun power... anywhere!
(ok.."camera phone".. whatever I still love it!)

And perhaps at the top of my list for photojunkies, this Ring Flash Adapter.
If your loved one (or you) enjoy macro photography or portrait style work this is something you will LOVE! It converts your speedlight to a ring flash... creating a soft light, reducing shadows and
lighting those macro shots with ease. It's TOTALLY on my list!
And for only $40 it should be on yours also!!!!

Buy the The Ring Flash Adapter at the Photojojo Store!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Shopping For A Photographer?

Are you looking for a new camera for the holidays?

Have a photographer on your list this season?

I have you covered!

The first question I always ask when someone comes to me for advice on what camera to purchase is...

What KIND of camera do you want?

Do you know the differences between them?

I always suggest you get a camera that not only fits your current needs but allows you to continue to learn slightly more then you think you will. So let me first talk to you about some basic camera differences.

First, Phones. Phones are not Cameras. Ipads are not camera's. They can be great tools, some work well in a pinch, and some even have decent enough mp's to make up for the poor quality lens, some even have flashes. However...  I strongly feel that they are not "camera's" for the sake of what I am going to be teaching and talking about. They don't have the same functions, quality, or  standards. So most of what I teach wont make sense if your using your phone or other device.

Starting the line up are Standard "pocket" point and shoots. These are small, compact camera's. Every camera manufacture makes some style of Point and Shoot.

Compact digital camera's for our purposes will be any camera with a retractable lens, this lens will come back in to the body of the camera, it is not removable. This creates the nice, small, lightweight camera that can be tucked into a purse or pocket. Let's be clear, it is great starting camera and as such has all your basic modes, and important needs are covered, such as flash, zoom, and megapixels.You will find these cameras from any reputable manufacture will range from $80 on up. Depending on features, lenses, and other options. (By the way, if your interested my top picks for this category would be cameras made by Panasonic, Fuji, Nikon, Canon, Pentax not in any order, and those are not the only ones out there.. but I find these companies tend to put out a good product for most your needs at this level.)

Here are some important details to keep in mind
1. Not all flashes are created equal.
2. Not all batteries are the same, or even "good" to use for photography.
3. The size of a CCD chip (what replaced the "film" and is the capture device on digital cameras) is MUCH smaller then on DSLR's, meaning the quality of detail wont be the same even with the same "size" of megapixel. 12mp on a compact camera is NOT the same as a 12 mp on a DSLR.
4. It is no longer a megapixel race. Any camera these days has enough for you to print and share your images with out the "digital" look.
5. Digital zoom, is NOT a feature you want to shop for or use. Ever.

VERTE TIP some of these camera's are water-proof, some weather-proof, some are impact resistant... etc... it is important if you will be using this as a travel, or "family" camera that you check out some of these options, and the warranties as they do vary. Personally, I like the rugged water proofing cameras for travel, beach and everyday wear. I would NEVER take my pro camera to the pool and let my kid take photos... where the waterproof one I wouldn't be worried about.
Its all about peace of mind.

Second on our list of types of digital cameras would be what I term the "Advanced" or "growing" P&S (point and shoot). Sometimes these are called "Bridge" camera's. This style of camera typically has a lens that remains out, in some way. It is larger and has some sort of Aperture, Shutter and/or Manual modes.

This kind of camera is still very lightweight, but in addition to the different modes of operation they often have a pop up flash and sometimes the ability to attach a flash or work with additional strobes or off camera flashes. Some of these cameras allow for lens modifiers, or possibly let you change your lens. They are not considered DSLR's because they dont have an optical viewfinder, or in some cases a viewfinder at all. If you have a viewfinder it is still a digital display. This is a great option for someone who doesn't know a lot about photography, doesn't want to invest a TON of money, but needs some options and ability to grow say perhaps someone looking to document a new family, do kid sports, vacations, or even some basic blog or homemade shop photography. You can find them from $200 on up again depending on features.

That brings us to our last style, which is the DSLR. This style is typically FULLY functional, interchangeable lens, flash options, full manual modes etc. These also "typically" have optical viewfinders, although many allow you for live shooting while using the back LCD screen as well. The important part for our needs is that you would have the ability to pick the lens, add flash or stobes, and have full control over your manual modes.

As we go forward, it's important for you to know what level your camera is. So if you don't know which category you fit into please drop me a message or comment below and let me know your make and model (you can always find that on the front of your camera). There are less and less clear lines in separation between these styles, so please don't feel bad asking!

Also, as a disclaimer - yes I used all Nikon images, yes I shoot Nikon. NO I don't think this is the "right" camera for you in every case. It is simply what I had available because I do shoot one, I like the product and the company. Like I said earlier, there are a lot of really good companies and products out there. It will depend greatly on what your needs are, for you to find the "right" camera for you!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gearing up for Family.

It's that time again! Family Portrait time! I know so many of you go in for portraits, or take advantage of being with family on Thanksgiving to knock out your Holiday Images.

Everyone always asks.... What do I wear!
Well... lets talk about what NOT to Wear first......

 Gone are the days of "matching" everyone in the same outfit... it didn't really look good then... and it would be the last "retro" style I would suggest today! This particular example provided by http://awkwardfamilyphotos.com/ Also shows a PRIME example of why stripes...  thick distracting patterns in general in an overwhelming amount are a poor choice.

Plus, because two great points are not enough.... lets talk about the color choice! Red... in particular the bright red like this image... BAD. Red close to your face brings out every red blemish and cheek there is, even if your skin tone isn't normally reddish, it will be if you wear it because (as you know, if your a regular reader here) colors reflect light and impact your subject... so if your reflecting red light around the things that it is closest to is going to absorb it... and that means your face picks up that red tone.

So what's a current stylish way to pull of Stripes? Or do something colorful... or even "match" Take a look at this sample I found from Brenda Landrum.... this is a PERFECT amount of color, patten.

By combining neutrals, and adding in pops of color or pattern everyone gets to showcase their personal style in a casual comfortable way... while still matching as you do different combinations during your session.

VERTE TIP: Never buy clothes for a photography session that you wouldn't wear everyday. If you don't normally wear "Sunday best" you wont look good in it for your portraits. It's ok to highlight a personal style... so if your daughter is a little more Rock and Roll, and your a little more Country... its OK! Opposites work! Just toss in something you can both live with, like a good ol'pair of jeans then she can have her leather, or skull shirt and you can be a little more reserved ... and it totally WORKS!

Plus it makes an amazing portrait because it's uniquely YOURS.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What's new?

 I wanted to take a moment and give you a sneak peak from a friend's upcoming book... it's a little "non-traditional" and since I have been able to see the story grow as it has been written I can tell you it's not what you expect when you read it, most of you would probably put it down thinking it's not for you but if you hang in there I promise it's worth it. I can't really say more because it would be a total spoiler! But I offered to leak out a bit of it and I hope you would give some feedback to pass along. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have! (you can pick up a full copy as an ebook from Amazon now available.)

The book itself is set in a fantasy land where there is plenty of magic and people are not always who and what they seem. The first book, is almost a prequel setting the stage for book two which is much longer and really dives into some twisting plots and the relationships around the main character, and his struggles with them.

I've really enjoyed seeing the characters develop and grow. I think sometimes main characters can be too perfect, or too "set" to really change and grow as people do and that can get boring to read. I felt like this kept a more open mind in that regard and you see the changes that are the results of his past come to light. I hope you enjoy the quick preview I was able to get you - and I would love to know if any of you pick up the full copy - what your thoughts are!

 Trust in the Dark, Book 1

The boat rocks, the smell and taste of salt from the waters assault my senses. A strong wind pulls us through the waters quickly tonight, for which I am very thankful. I watch the stars gain brightness in the falling shadows of a peaceful night. The ship rocks us safely, trustfully in the dark, like a lullaby and pushing us into the hands of fate. Leaning over the rail I close my eyes. How long has it been? How long have I been away from my friend… my soul, my love? 

Love… I have loved so few. My prince, my position, my family, my teachers and my confidants… of those I have had too few of. “Trust.” I remind myself running a hand through my hair twisting it and pulling it over a shoulder. The wind whips it apart and it flows once again tangling in the wind. I sigh, lost in my thoughts, uncaring about the events around me. This would be the test, this journey of mine. My feet are upon the only path fate has laid out for me, and yet I can only pray to the Ten that it will not end in disaster. I have had my share of hurt and pain… I would not wish that upon another.

I boarded this ship bound to fulfill a promise, to say the unspoken words left between us by poor circumstance. The weeks of slow travel, and a winding course plotted by the Captain tear at my very soul. I long to be off this shi, to rest in a real bed, eat and laugh in the comfort of friendship. Friendship, yes always my friend beyond doubt. Never was anyone truer, more honest, even when lying to me. I shake my head; I have no answer for the lies that stand between us.  My hands tighten on the railing, as I peer out to the inky darkness… somewhere out there are the answers I seek. If only I could see far enough, the time for illusion, masks, and unspoken words is at an end. 

When did it begin? Ah yes, a smile drifts across my face… I remember

Chapter 1:

“One day, just another day.” The boy reminds himself… the pungent smell of the streets next to the market do nothing to quell the pains of his stomach. Somewhere a baker will be pulling out hotcakes, and another has sausages plump with spices and dripping with fats. He can smell each of them even at this distance. He doesn’t even care that those smells are mixed with the heap from a horse left to cool, or the rankness from the alleyway full of trash and urine behind him. He sits huddling over his bare feet as they rest on the dirt path. His knees pulled up tightly to his chest seeking shelter from the cool harvest wind that came up from the sea this afternoon. It will rain again tonight. His clothes are still damp from yesterday, and now caked with mud. His hair hangs long past his shoulders, matted and tangled having never seen a bushing. He searches the crowd covertly; he will need enough coin to pay for the use of the Den tonight. He needs the shelter to dry and warm up, he can’t risk getting sick. “Best get on with it.” He thinks quickly rubbing his shins and arms with his hands to gain some feeling. Standing he looks about the market place, and edges carefully back towards the shelter of the cold stone building behind him. Here the buildings were all made of stone; some carved some stacked, or cobbled together depending on your wealth. The richest off of Princes Lane all boasted smooth stone, seamless and rounded corners many even having been tinted and colored with costly dyes or magic’s. Each bold color marks the uniqueness to their prestigious residents. Here in the Old Market, the stones are old worn and rough with age. There is none of that glamour or richness surrounding this market. All the buildings are more functional then beautiful, this is where the lowbred marketers live and work. Generation after generation they toiled their crafts, fending off beggars, and dippers like him in order to have enough to sell from their shops. Many of them starved as often as he did, but they were lucky. They had a roof on a cold night, maybe even a blanket or shoes. Most shop owners can even afford a fire in their small hearths, to warm the thin broth or even make a hearty stew to fill their bellies.

 His eyes dart around taking in the scene of people milling around, kids running unattended on the dirt and cobbled streets. Separating each out in his mind, he searches the crowd. He needs a mark, someone out with his or her betters coin. People who lived here wouldn’t have much more then he did… he searched the crowds for just one good mark. His need to be dry outweighed his need to steal food; he had some moldy bread yesterday. Today he would need a coin, payment for the stone floor and darkness of the Den. “Quickly, in and out.” He silently reminded himself. “Believe you can do it; quick hands and smart wit will pull you through. Think of the warmth and protection in the Den.” He focused his mind on the task pushing aside his discomfort. “One good nights rest, and some bread if the purse is heavy enough, yes… skill is all you need to survive.” He tells himself again. Now look… a mark… just one good mark. He leans back on the old building behind him casually to observe the crowd of people.


A young man, he has dark, wavy hair. It sparkles in the light, dancing loosely on his shoulders and back. His bright green eyes sparkle and highlight the smile on his thin lips as he enjoys a laugh. He has long legs, powerful, graceful like a hunter in the woods. He seems to glide with ease as if a dancer at a ball… a sparkling bright dancer. “Ah! I see now, it’s a pair…” They were laughing at some joke they shared; the other man is heavy built, muscular and broad shoulders. His dark brown hair has tight curls and is cropped short above his crisp shirt caller, and his beard and mustache are well groomed, this one walks with a purpose and has the eyes of a hawk very watchful. He stands to straight, like an arrow, despite his bland and plain clothing, he doesn’t fool the boy whose senses begin screaming in warning. This man does not belong in the Old Market!

The boy’s eyes continue to careful observe the pair, his curiosity is now peeked “I wonder what this story is?” He knows as sure as his lungs still take breath, they are men of means, and at least the second is of noble birth. The other could have wondered in from the surrounding wilds. It’s odd, for neither have a place in this dirty Old Market Square full of peasants and common folk. Nobles and gents of means simply don’t come to the Old Market a maid, or errand boy perhaps… never the Noble or gent themselves. This is the boy’s playground, his turf. 

His ice blue eyes roll back to the second’s soft face… marking his rounded nose, high cheekbones, soft jaw… as he watches the bright Hunter stops suddenly like a dog that has suddenly reached the end of his chain, and as if pulled by an unseen force he jerks his head straight towards the boy. How did he see me?  Did he know I was looking for a mark? The boy panics at the scene unfolding before him shrinking, against the stone behind him, but those eyes! The boy locks gazes, frozen, unable to move. He is caught looking at what can only be a hunter, who knows is prey. The hunter’s smile has been lost and he has the most puzzled look upon his face. His head tips slightly to his left. How old is he? My age? No a few years older I think.  The boy is lost with his thoughts, he shouldn’t be watching any longer; a slow thief is a dead thief. The hunter’s lips slowly curve up in a crooked welcoming smile only increasing the imaginary brightness that surrounds him, and straightens his head. Then as if hearing the boys silent question, he chances to send a quick nod of acknowledgement to the boy, in response. The boy is jolted with the familiarity of this gester. RUN! His mind screams. Flee! To be caught by the wrong gent could mean slavery, or worse. He has seen worse intimately. He already knows what staying grounded to this spot will mean for him. The noble man confused by the other’s sudden action stops and calls to him the words are lost in wind. The hunter turns his head to respond breaking eye contact for just a brief moment lifting the spell between them. As he turns back towards the boy he starts to approach, his long legs are quickly bringing him closer… to close to his prey. Run, now! Suddenly the boy’s legs stop betraying him and with a sudden burst he breaks away… dashing half way down the block.  The boy risks all to turn his head while rounding a corner at the edge of the market to see if he is still pursued. The pair now stands in the spot the boy had just vacated. The noble seems not to understand what he is looking for, and pulls his jacket around his broad chest tightening it against the cool air. The boy rounds the corner to the alleyway and pauses, as the run down house is now blocking him from his pursuers view.  Resting his hands on his knees he takes a calming breath. He pulls himself back up straight and turns foolishly back. A brave single step returns him to their line of sight. The boy not using his own good wits to keep running looks back to the pair. They could easily close the gap, but they stand still waiting for the boy. The graceful hunter is stands in front of the nobleman, his eyes shining in the dim of the impending afternoon rain. The boy is again captured by the enchantment of those eyes. Scarcely noting the hunters hands as they rise from his side, palms up... as if to question why the boy had run from him. But, they keep their distance and do not try to approach again. The boy takes another breath. He draws himself up to his full height, as if mocking the straight arrow line of the second man.  He smiles at them, boldly, and without fear, issuing a challenge and saying “not today!” claiming his own small freedom. The boy returns the level gaze of the hunter, and with a swift nod of his head to returns the earlier acknowledgment. Then crossing his arm in front of his belly he issues a stiff courtly bow to them both, just before spinning on his heels and continuing on his way down the dark alleyway. What was that? The boy berates himself. Never, has he brought such attention to himself before. He placed himself too close to danger, he knows better. You never know what noble or gent in this town will do you harm, or do you to your death. It’s best not to step in their path, as none of them can be trusted. The boy shakes his head as he reprimands himself for his irrational actions. Knowing he will get no easy mark today with those two standing guard, he cuts through the alleyways to the better part of town. The season is still early, perhaps it wont be that cold. He will have to risk a different sort of shelter tonight.

“What was that all about, Rimmer?” The noble man asks his friend who is still staring at the place where the odd waif of a boy had last been seen.

“I... hmm?” Rimmer shakes his head as if clearing it, “I don’t quite know.” He turns back to his friend looking at him for a moment. “Do you think you can arrange a private meeting between Master Vass and I… discreetly?” The noble looks at him curiously.

“You know I can.” He raises an eyebrow waiting for an explanation. When none was forthcoming he clasps his hand on his friends shoulder. “Of course I will, tomorrow. Now, come. My time is precious and this is a rare treat for me!” He turns. Pulling his hood back up over his head and continues to walk taking in the sights and smells of the dingy marketplace.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Holiday A-list Shopping Guide

I am Super excited to share the Indie A-list Holiday Guide today! I have shopped and worked with MANY of the gals from this list and I LOVE them to pieces! I would love it if you would take a few minutes to look over the list and check out the great discounts! I know that I myself have picked out some great items that I will be gifting over the holiday season from fellow A-listers and I am super excited to make a commitment to shop as much handmade as I can this year!