Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Harris Shutter Effect Digital Style in Ten Easy Steps

OK, so I have been silent for about a month, but this Blog is not dead. I am just burried with a whole ton of stuff... So lets talk about something that is fun!

Back in the film days, a guy named Bob Harris from Kodak created this contraption called the Harris Shutter.  It was a device with three separate color filters that was used with a multiple exposure on a single frame (3 exposures total) that would reveal unusual color effects at any point where movement was present.  This was a rather cool effect on moving water like waterfalls, clouds and trees on windy days to mention just a few.  Check out: .

The problem with this technique was it was difficult and time consuming.  You had to have a very good tripod and a steady hand.  If not, the whole shot would become a mess.  In digital, however, all of this changes.
Here is an example:

In the digital process, all you need are three identical shots from the exact same vantage point.  Here is a step by step set of instructions from shooting to final product.  Please note I am coming from a PhotoShop paradigm, but it is a simple process that can be adapted to other programs.

1.  Find a moving subject like the waterfall above.  Set your tripod and use a remote to trigger it.  DO NOT touch the tripod and shoot three (or more) exposures.  Make sure that you are shooting at the same aperture and speed.  I like to shoot 6- 9 so that I can choose those three that seem to give me the best color possibilities.  I will often shoot these about 1/3 stop overexposed.  Keeping them a tad light helps later on.

2.  After uploading the picture files, I create a folder for the Harris composite.  I then will copy my three selections into this folder and rename them to:, and (xxx being the extension of the file.  In my case it is NEF for the Nikon Raw Format).  You can name any of the three colors as the master, but for purposes of these instructions, I have chosen blue.

3.  I do step 2 in Adobe Bridge, so it is still open at this time.  I will then open these renamed files in Adobe Camera Raw(ACR).  You can also open .jpg, TIFF and PSD files in ACR.  In ACR, I will select all three shots so that the processing I do here happens simultaneously on all three shots.  I will tweak exposure if needed and make any color adjustments here.  ACR is an easier place to do this and it is non-destructive to boot.  Regardless of what program you use, you really need to process these files minimally and identically.

4.  After I am finished with the ACR, I will open them directly from ACR into PhotoShop.  At this point I will save all three as .PSD files. Now the fun begins!

5.  Chose the red.psd and open the Channel Mixer.  Click on the red channel.  This should give you a black and white image that represents the red channel.  From the Select Menu, choose ALL (Ctl-A on PC or Cmd-A on Mac) and then Edit menu and Copy (Ctl-C on PC or Cmd-C for Mac).

6.  Now go to the BlueMaster.psd file and select the red channel.  Choose the Edit menu and select Paste(Ctl-V on PC and Cmd-V on Mac).  You will notice that the B&W image will change slightly.

7.  Now, chose the green.psd and open the Channel Mixer.  Click on the green channel.  From the Select Menu, choose ALL (Ctl-A on PC or Cmd-A on Mac) and then Edit menu and Copy (Ctl-C on PC or Cmd-C for Mac).

8.  Now go to the BlueMaster.psd file and select the green channel.  Choose the Edit menu and select Paste(Ctl-V on PC and Cmd-V on Mac). You will notice that the B&W image will change slightly.

9.  At this point simply click on the RGB box in the Channel mixer in the BlueMaster.psd file and you now have a Harris Shutter Effect image. BTW, be sure to close the red and green files.

10. Save As the BlueMaster.psd under a different file name. Now you are ready to rock 'n roll with the image you have created.

Since you have not overwritten anything, you can try rotating through the three images at the various colors.

From here on in, once I have an image I am happy with, I will process the photo with my standard work-flow.  With a bit of experimentation, you can get some really interesting images. 

My thanks to my friend Roy Harper for showing me how to do this.

Best to all always,


Friday, October 30, 2009

About Processing Your Pictures

Recently, on Flickr, I was asked about Easy to use software for processing your photographs.  What I have here is an expanded version of what I wrote in response.

Digital photography has become very popular these days.  No longer is the average person limited to the alchemy of the film world.  Now they can literally point and shoot to get awesome results.  But that same simplicity has not quite reached the post processing world to date.  Many photographers are content with the out of camera results and take them to Costco or leave them on their computer and Facebook pages.  That is a shame for some that are very talented and are simply afraid of the software they feel compelled to use.  Let me suggest the programs listed later here for those willing to wade deeper into the waters of post-processing.         
For me to be comfortable with a Post-Processing Software, it needs to fit my minimum work-flow.  So here is my list of things from my work flow that are essential.

Three Essentials

1. Some Kind of Brightness and Contrast Control.  Being the excessively visual person that I am, I use a Curves Tool for most of this.  However, even if the tool supports the basic Brightness Contrast control, I am happy.

 2. Some form of Saturation Control.  Being able to control the saturation of the photo's colors is important to me.  Particularly when shooting landscapes or skin tones where the photographer can control what I like to call the "richness" of the finished product.  Vibrance control is nice as well, but being able to control Saturation is the most important.

3. Sharpening.  The most essential.  All, let me repeat myself, ALL photographs created with a digital camera benefit from sharpening.  If a post-processing program doesn't allow sharpening, find one that does.

Three Niceties I Look For

The following are things I use regularly, but in a pinch, I can do without.

1. Layers.  Being able to keep a separate layer for each adjustment is organizationally wise as well as allowing you to keep your original image intact.  Your creativity can be enhanced with this feature.  Every successful Photoshop user I know uses layers extensively.  A number of other products have them as well.

2. RAW support.  If you don't know now... If your camera shoots in RAW, use it.  The latitude, flexibility and control you have with RAW is well worth the trouble.  Particularly when it comes to exposure control.  Most cameras come with RAW control, but if the converter is native to a program and is first rate, it eliminates an annoying step of changing programs in your work-flow.

3. Plugin Support.  From  noise control to special effects, plugins allow a great deal of creative control.  Supporting Photoshop plugins  is even better.  (Most all do).  

There are other features to be sure, but I hope you get the idea that there are essentials to post processing.   In my work-flow, I will often only touch the first three mentioned.  You might have other things you like to do, but my recommendations that follow fit the needs I express here.  I guess this is my way of making a disclaimer!

So What Do I Recommend?
I use Photoshop and have since version one.  However, I realize there are two barriers to using PhotoShop.  It is an expensive and complex tool.  It costs a lot and as result it is out of reach of the average user.  Heck, it's upgrades are usually in the $200 range let alone the full package!  It is also a package that caters to a very sophisticated crowd and a photographer does not necessarily need many of the features in the product.  So with Photoshop out of the running, what else is there?  

 Check out these three: ( is a free package that is relatively simple and yet satisfies many of the photographer needs. I have played with it a little bit and am quite impressed.  While I am not an expert with it, it appears to be very easy to learn as far as these kinds of programs go,  Powerful, easy to use and heck, its free. Worth giving it a try.

Adobe Photoshop Elements. This is not that easy to learn, but it's a lot easier than its big brother and it takes all the really cool plugins like Flood and Noise Ninja. You will periodically see this on sale at Frys and other locations for under $80 and at Christmas time it may be even less or bundled with Premier Elements for the same price. Premier is a video editing tool, and is another discussion all together.  Further, it is a good step towards PhotoShop if  one does eventually want to jump to the big one!

Adobe Lightroom.  Lightroom is very powerful and easy to use (relatively speaking) once one learns its interface. Still, it is complex and for someone who is new to this kind of powerful program, it will present a longer learning curve. The good thing is that it is laid out for a photographer. If you have been in a Darkroom, then the process with Lightroom will seem familiar. I believe that it is selling around $299. Most every pro I am familiar with now uses this and only goes to Photoshop occasionally.

There are two others you will hear about but that I personally don't care for.  That said, I am not above letting you know about them if they fit your needs better. 

GIMP is a free program. Very powerful, but difficult to use. It does out feature But it also has a steep learning curve with a very primitive interface.  Its biggest strength is that it is available on a number of platforms including Linux.   

Paintshop Pro from Correl. This was a shareware product from days gone by. At that time it was great, but the new, Corel version is bloated and the interface - for me at least - is inconsistent.  However, if you are a Correl user, then you might find some common interface elements that may make its use easier!

Final Word

There are a lot of products out there from free to as much as you might ever want to spend.  What I have presented here are easy to use and economical choices.  I hope it helps! 

Best to you always,

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Special Appeal

"Our friend Jenny is in the process of adopting a little girl from Ukraine. Her name is Sasha and she is 7 years old. We are selling raffle tickets for $2 or 3 for $5. There will be a drawing on Oct 23rd for a $500 VISA card. Just tell me how many ra...ffle tickets you want and you can then mail the $. If you want to make a financial donation. Write a check to Aloha Fellowship, 4742 42nd Ave SW, #426 Seattle, WA 98116."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

And Then There is The Print!

To me, it is not enough to just see the shot on the screen, I want to see it n print.  Here are ten tips from my Twitter blog.  I hope to expand on them in the coming weeks.

Post Proc Tip#1:Go w/ your gut. Start w/ a basic workflow, but ultimately, what makes a good shot great is how you finish it.

Post Proc Tip#2: Learn how to use curves. I start with a classic S-curve and then work on fine tuning it with the rest of what I am doing.

Post Proc Tip#3: Sharpening should be the last step before printing. It should be adjusted for any size changes, and last but not least don't over-sharpen!

Post Proc Tip#4: All digital photos need sharpening. for global sharpening, High pass filter works well. See Scott Kelby 's Photoshop books for Digital Photography

Post Proc Tip#5: Subscribe to JP Caponigro's site at . Lots of great Post Processing content

Post Proc Tip#6: Use lens correction from your post processing software on WA shots and panoramas if it looks fisheye & you don't want it.

Post Proc Tip#7: When doing B&W from digital, always shoot in color. Post-processing programs create better B&W images from color masters.

Post Proc Tip#8: Always work on a copy! Protect the original file! As your skills improve, you may want to render a different version.

Post Proc Tip#9: Always use RAW if your camera has it - I adjust the White balance first. Whites and Blacks should be clear, then mid tones.  OK, last tip was not clear. I adjust the White Balance first and then the White and Black points. I usually don't have to set the mid tones.

Post Process Tip#10:Backup your photos. I make 3 copies of everything. 1-Working drive 2-Duplicate Drive&3-Off-site Duplicate once monthly.

Bonus Tip: When I seek Post Processing info, I am reading Scott Kelby or JP Caponigro . Both are exceptional in their advice & both are on Twitter.
Best to all,

Friday, October 2, 2009

Are other Lens Companies able to build a great lens?

I am a huge fan of Nikon lenses. Nothing is wrong with the others, but I primarily shoot Nikon so that is where my loyalty lies. The Nikon lenses in my collection are well built and amazing performers. There are, however, other lenses as well. Of the nine lenses in my collection, three are not Nikon. And I can tell you that all three are great performers and one or two of them will stay in my bag for a very long time.

Here is what confuses me, a number of people think that, in the DSLR world, only Nikon and Canon can make superb lenses? If that were true, what can be said about Pentax, Olympus and others?   One might think that they are simply unable to create lenses that perform at the same high standard as the "Big Two".   Sigma, Tamron and Tokina must be clueless as well.

I know there will be people who will site tests that they claim proves one lens is better than the other. For me however, the proof is what the lens does for a photographer taking photographs in the real world.  There are specific qualities that show the folly of the Nikon/Canon think out there.  Here are three lenses from the aftermarket companies that lay to rest this issue.

The Tokina 12-24 f/4 and Tokina's 11-17 f/2.8 are both top notch.  These lenses are built like tanks.  The Tokina 12-24 was the first lens I owned that I consider high end.  The lens is solid and the build quality is as good or better than the Nikon or Canon counterpart.  It also happens to be a great performer optically giving way to Nikon's equivalent lens only in the area of some minor CA control.  Something that is easily controlled today in camera and post processing. Not bad for a lens that retails for about half the price!

Sharpness/Picture Quality: 
When I look at a lens, I am looking for sharpness where I am in focus.  I am looking for that very nice Boca (out of focus areas of the picture).  And I am looking for color and contrast.  My best example of this is Tamron's 28-75 f/2.8 lens.  Nikon's current 24-70 f/2.8 is an amazing lens and I would compare nothing to it, but it costs nearly $2000.  The Tamron is very sharp, and its color and contrast are simply first tier.  The Boca(pronounced "bow kay") is nicely rendered and very subtle. Everything I could want in a lens! Is the Nikon better by over $1500... maybe to some, but not to me. 

My Tamron cost me used, a mere $275 and new it can be had for under $400.  Even against Nikon's earlier offerings, you can buy the Tamron new for less than the used versions of the Nikon.  But what of a lens that I use less seriously.  I am a very average wildlife photographer, but I love doing it.  Of course, you need a long lens to do that.  Enter Sigma's 120-400 OS lens.  It is very acceptable in all categories, though a bit slow aperture-wise at the long end.  However, I found it used for $525.  Nikon's 80-400 is new at around $1500 and the Sigma focuses faster!

There are other lenses that these manufacturers have that I could use.  Tamron's 180mm macro; Sigma's 8mm-16mm and Tokina's 16.5mm-135mm lens all interest me.  The point is, that For some lenses, you can get a bigger bang for the buck without a drop in image quality. 

There are other issues.  Tamron and Tokina focus a bit slower than Nikon does.  Sigma has had quality control issues in the past.  Sigma seems to have improved their quality issues for the most part.  Tamron's and Tokina's most recent offerings have provided faster and more reliable focus.  As to the others camera brands.  You won't find a better quality series of lenses than Sony's Zeis lenses, Olympus' Zuiko lenses or Pentax's Limited lenses.  They are every bit as top tier as the Big 2. 

I doubt I will ditch the Tamron.  Maybe I will keep the other two, but I know what I want and what I like to do and, for the time being anyway, Tokina, Tamron and Sigma have empowered me to do everything I want to do!  So when it comes to getting a lens that works for you, be sure to check out all the options.  The winner might surprise you.

Best to you all!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Review of Tokina 12mm - 24mm f/4.0 PRO DX Autofocus Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

Originally submitted at Adorama

Tokina 12mm - 24mm f/4.0 PRO DX Autofocus Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

Good, Sharp and worth evey penny...

By RMPossible from Bothell, WA on 10/1/2009


5out of 5

Pros: Consistent Output, Durable, Sharp Focus, Strong Construction

Cons: Average Focus, Heavy

Best Uses: General Use, Night Photography, Landscape Photography, Special Effects, Macro

Describe Yourself: Semi-Professional

This is a good hearty lens that is as good or better as any DX WA lens out there. The only WA lens I have seen that beats it is the Nikon 14-24... of course that lens is the best available these days. The Nikon 12-24 is a fine lens, and some consider it better than the Tokina, but I honestly can't tell the difference.

Further, focus is not a real issue on WA lenses, this is not AF-S or its equivalent; but I can tell you I have never missed a shot because of the AF. The lens just doesn't have to travel far to focus... the nature of Wide Angle lenses.

It is sharp from corner to corner from f/5.6 on and there is only minor corner focus issues wide open. Very very sharp!

It can take filters very well, but don't expect it to take standard height filters if you want to go to the wide end. I have a thin line B+W CPL that I use with it that seems to do a great job.

There is a slight distortion at 12mm, but it is very minor and easily straightened in post processing.

It is really a fun lens with Macro tubes. Mostly at 18-24mm, this is a great and fun lens.

If you have the lower end cameras such as the D40, 60, 3000 and 5000, you will need to get the newer version with an internal motor.


Friday, September 25, 2009

My Review of Tamron SP 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD-IF Autofocus Zoom Lens for Nikon AF - U.S.A. Warranty

Originally submitted at Adorama

Tamron SP 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD-IF Autofocus Zoom Lens for Nikon AF - U.S.A. Warranty

Simply a Great Lens at a Great Price

By RMPossible from Bothell, WA on 9/25/2009


5out of 5

Pros: Has Aperture Ring, Sharp Focus, Well designed, Lightweight

Cons: Not as Wide as Others

Best Uses: Night Photography, Landscape Photography, General Use

Describe Yourself: Semi-Professional

This is a great lens for anyone who wants to have an f/2.8 zoom that is very sharp and has good color and Contrast. Images are very good and they do pop! CA is well controlled and it is at its best from F/4 on; though f/2.8 is quite nice.
Is it as good as the Nikon, not quite; however, is the Nikon $1000+ better? Not in my estimation. Its focus is not as slow as many complain. Why Tamron has not adopted the newer motor tech, I can't understand.
To its credit, this lens is significantly lighter than the Nikon lens and will be a real asset to people who do alot of walking with their camera.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Update on Saturday Morning.

Sunrise is at 7:02am.  We will be going to Gas Works Park in the Seattle area for this coming Saturday morning to see what we can find there to take pictures of.  If you would like to join us, we will be there at around 6:20am.  Should be a fine morning for taking pictures.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Come Join me on Saturday Morning!

I am going to be out in the Seattle area taking pictures in the wee hours of the morning.  I am hoping that a friend of mine will be there as well as we seek to take some nice pictures somewhere in the general Seattle area.  I put the location in this Blog Friday night.  Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Using Filters to Protect Your Lens?

When you buy a new camera with a lens or a new lens and you are buying it from a local shop, they will ask you to buy a UV filter.  Often the more experienced and jaded photographer will tell you that this is just a ripoff and you don't need the filter.  Yet the salesperson will tell you the story about the time the lens was in a sand storm - dropped or pooped on by a bird and the filter saved the lens!  Better to lose a $30 piece of glass rather than a lens worth hundreds.  So what is the truth?  Answer: they both have a point.

For a person who is buying their first DSLR, a protective filter is probably a good idea. Especially of Children's fingerprints are an issue! :-)  But, it should not be a UV filter.  The digital sensors on your camera are already protected with a UV blocking filter!  If you feel that a protective filter is needed get one of the clear filters that is designed for digital cameras.  They are specially coated and are designed to minimize flair and ghosting.  And don't get the cheapest.  I use B+W filters when I do need one.  They are not cheap, but they are not going to affect my pictures as much as that $20 un-coated filter from some no name company. 

On the other hand, even a great filter has the potential of affecting the image.  After all, it is an additional piece of glass added to a lens that was not originally designed for it.  Thus many of the pickier Pros don't even use them.  As protection to dropping, a good rigid lens hood will do as good a job - if not better - as a protective filter.  However, many of these same pros use Circular Polarizer(CPL) filters a lot and they can doubles as additional protection anyway.  So, barring your lens getting licked by your 5 year old, you lens is probably protected just fine by your rigid lens hood.

In the middle of this is the reality that in extreme situations (think a wind storm in a desert), many pros will use a filter.  It just makes sense to protect your gear in extreme situations!

So the answer is clear as mud, right?  Don't sweat it.  When you buy that first camera, get the filter, but make the sales person really happy with you and tell them you want a good clear multi-coated filter designed for DSLRs.  Yes it will cost more, but it will be the right piece of equipment!  At the same time, get a CPL and you will be thanking me later when the water looks real and hte glare is all but gone... (more on this in another article).  And yes, as time goes along, the Protective filter will be used less and less as you learn to care for your equipment properly.  So, don't sweat it and let the "experts" argue the nuances of the issue.  Do what is necessary for you to enjoy your photography!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Why I follow Photo Tech

I am a techie in my heart.  I have owned PCs since the early 80's... yes I am that old!  I have always been fascinated about what technology can do for mere humans such as I.  When I got involved in Digital Photography about 9 years ago, after dumping all my Olympus SLR gear in the mid 80's, I went after the tech in the same way I have gone after learning computers and MIDI gear, etc.

Boy was I surprised by the responses I got from folks on forums where I thought I could ask questions.  Here is what I would read at just about any question asked, "Man you are wasting time asking questions like that... go take pictures and stop wasting time here."  So, this article is my reply to him from me and on behalf of the newby who is reading this and getting the same response.

"Dude, go take pictures yourself and take your sanctimonious attitude with you!"  People visit online to get information to learn how to use there equipment from experienced people!  For Pete's sake folks, help those asking questions and stop being elitist jerks.

Now to those who do answer questions, thanks for sharing.  I am a better photographer for it.  You have inspired me to get better.

Ahhhhhhh, now that that is off my mind, here is why I follow the tech. We can do a lot more with photography today than we could in the pre scanner film days.  Heck, if you can afford it, you can get medium format digital quality on a DSLR that was unthinkable a few years ago.  Heck, the 14-25MP arena used to be unthinkable as recently as 6 or 7 years ago.  So, I want to use every tool available to me to follow my main mantra:

"I want to share in a photograph what I see, not just what is there"  Photography is every bit an art form as is painting or sculpting.  So, I want to be as much about creating a piece of art as I want to take a picture.  To do this, I take a lot of pictures AND I am always learning more about the tools available to me.  It is that simple.  So, you elitist, purist louts out there that  poo poo my using live view, dis in-camera HDR and insist that Image Stabilization is just a cover up for bad technique, I quote Bill the Cat, "Ack, ack, ack".

(The New Tech I have learned from  folks on the forusms)

My Review of Pro-Optic Multi-Coated 2x Tele-Converter for Nikon Autofocus SLR Cameras. (As Reviewed in Shutterbug Magazine - January 2008 - Page 26)

Originally submitted at Adorama

Pro-Optic Multi-Coated 2x Tele-Converter for Nikon Autofocus SLR Cameras. (As Reviewed in Shutterbug Magazine - January 2008 - Page 26)

Very good performance, awesome price!

By RMPossible from Seattle, WA on 9/18/2009


5out of 5

Pros: Very Bright for a 2x, Lightweight, Easy To Use

Cons: Less Sharp

Best Uses: Landscape Photography, Traveling, Everyday use, Wildlife

Describe Yourself: Semi-Professional

This is as good as any 2x aftermarket TC. I have used it on a Nikon 300 f/4 taking pictures of Eagles and it still handled AF at a wide open aperture. It is less sharp and the contrast and saturation is reduced, though acceptable. The only TC that I have used that is sharper is the Nikon, but it is dimmer. I wouldn't use it for Macro photography as the contrast would be a bit weak. Otherwise it is a great bargain!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The First 10(Really 11) Part 3

Tip 4: Keep the lens shade on! It protects your lens & minimizes flair. If your lens doesn't have one, get one. Almost every lens available now comes with a hard plastic lens hood.  This is a much more prefered way of protecting your lens. If you are new to the DSLR world, go ahead and get the protective filter for the lens, but understand things like flair and diffraction(fancy word for unwanted light bouncing around) will cause issues with a number of images.  I only use filters when they are absolutely needed, otherwise I keep the lens hood on with no filters.  It is the best protection taht your lens will ever have regardless of whether or not you use a protective filter.
Tip 3:Get the right bag 4 u. I have 2, one for days and one that hold everything for longer trips. A good bag is important.  With compact cameras it is rather easy as their cases are small and rather inexpensive.  However, the DSLRs have very expensive lenses.  Get one that fits your gear and then some.  Otherwise it is too small.  Also make sure it is well padded and flexible enough to keep your gear safe!
I like backpacks.  This is one item that I would encourage not buying via the internet.  Go to a good Camera Store and try them out.  I like backpack style as well as Shoulder Sling types, but you may not.  Kind of like shoes mine probably won't fit you!
Tip 2: Get a great tripod! This is not the area to scrimp. Buy the best you can afford. Then USE it! I have a lot to say about Tripods in another post to come; suffice it to say that I consider a tripod as important to a good photograph as a good lens. Spend accordingly!
Tip 1: Have FUN! Its ok to be serious about photography, but enjoy it. you are shooting wonderful places, people and/or things! This is one of those, "well duh" things.  But I have seen people get way to serious about this stuff and yet it is a fantastic vocation whether professional or hobbyist... Keep it fun and in perspective and you will be ok!

The First 10(Really 11) Part 2

Tip 8: Learn to use the camera in manual mode. It helps you slow down and gives you better creative control. On Compact cameras, we are usd to shooting them in their auto and scene modes, but as you mature in your skills, you will want to have better control!  I would suggest shooting in Aperture preferred mode as much as possible if you don't have a manual mode.  On virtually all DSLRs, you can shoot manual.  This is the best if your allow your self to learn to do it. I shoot about 30% in Aperture mode and 60% in Manual mode.  I do shoot a bit in Shutter preferred mode when I go for Birds in flight, but that is not my strength!  Notice, no Auto or P mode.  I need to slow down.... and probably so do you.  The A mode is very instructive on Depth of Field issues.  Learn the difference between f/2.8 and f/11.. both can work but the results are quite different!

Tip 7: Use the net to learn. Joe McNalley is on Youtube for Nikon nuts for example. A great way to learn your gear.  There are all kinds of resources.  Both Nikon and Canon have video instruction and there are hundreds of sites such as this one where people are very happy to help.  Why not use it... its free!

Tip 6: Put the camera away every once in awhile. It is a good thing to not use your camera from time to time. I once met a bird watcher who gave up his camera because he said he was only seeing the world through a viewfinder.  His point is well taken. Photography is about seeing a subject and showing it in such a way that it says what you want it to say!  Some times you just need to put down the camera and see what is right in front of you.

Tip 5: Find your favorite focal length with you favorite zoom. Then get a good fast Prime lens at that focal length....  One should attribute ideas to their source. Tip 5 is adapted from a  recent issue of Shutterbug Magazine. Shooting with a Prime lens is still the pinnacle of quality.  Find out what you love to photograph and figure out what focal length you use most and get the one or two primes that support your shooting.  This of course is for DSLR users mostly. Its true of film as well.  Even with compacts, if your interest is to upgrade in the future, then keep in mind what your favorite focal length is!

Next, the final Four

The First 10(Really 11) Part 1

My top ten tips for beginners would be more accurately entitled "Top 10 tips that you often don't hear." Nothing about composition here.  It has often been my thought that there are things that don't often get said or are too obvious that they never get emphasized.  So my very first list was to embark on this list.  Since I am now expanding on these, let me break the list into manageable parts.
Tip 10: Read your camera manual. You won't understand it all, that's ok, but you will be aware of what it can do.  Seems simple right!  But most people have yet to open the manual when they first open the package.  A new camera is so exciting to get and yet, a bit of reading can help you avoid all sorts of goofs and disasters!  Particularly on the entry level cameras that have extensive menus... There is no substitute for knowing the manual... 
Tip 9: Keep the lens clean. Dust on the lens causes fuzzy images. Have a clean micro-fiber cloth with you always!  Next to camera movement (use a tripod as much as you can!), a dirty lens will ruin the sharpness of a lens or the filter. Clean it often.  I use a blower when I can and will then use a microfiber cloth.  This will clean all but the most extreme situations.

Tip 9(a): I wanted to add this to tip 9, but it became to lengthy for Twitter. Micro-fiber cloths are reusable. Wash them. Rinse them in hot water after the wash to remove all the leftover soap. This is really important, the soap you wash them in can smear your lens.  In fact, I don't even wash mine in soap any mere.  I rinse them in the hottest water I can, then soak them in boiling water for about ten minutes.  After that I rinse them out again and let them air dry.
These may seem insignificant, but believe me, you can improve your photography by just keeping your lens clean and knowing how to use your camera.

Next: Tips 8-5

Welcome to my little Blog!

Over the last few months, I have been posting a number of lists about photography on Twitter.  The response has been quite good and it is now time to expand on some of those topics.  Sooooo... in the spirit of my Top Ten list thing, here are the Top Ten Reasons for this Blog.

10. Photography is fun and I don't want people to lose out!
9.   Photography is easier than one thinks. Sure there are hard things for those who want to do them, but a lot of photography is quite easy.
8.  I try to keep it short. I have seen a lot of books and blogs on photography that could have been contained in a few paragraphs.  I will try not to pad things.
7.  It is very apparent that people new to photography - let alone the not so new - would benefit from brief and to the point help given here,
6.  I like to write and this is a chance to keep those skills alive while sharing worthwhile things
5.  I like to share my knowledge
4.  I like to Learn, so I hope you will share with me your hints, tips and all things photo-wise
3.  I try to limit platitudes and things that are commonly known.

2.  Everything here has been tested by me or someone that I know and trust!
1.  I want to encourage photographers to constantly grow in knowledge as a way or enhancing their talent!

Folks, this is all about taking pictures, it is not about being gear-heads, nor is it about becoming headcases... it is about getting you out where your creativity can take over; where equipment and knowledge are assets and not hindrances to your picture taking!  Taking pictures is what it it all about!