Category Archives: How-to

A clean camera is a happy camera…

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I made it back from the photography workshop in one piece and with some great pics. More details will be coming later on the workshop itself, but I want to share one little tip that I picked up while I was there that will help you keep your camera and lenses cleaner and possibly save you a lot of money in the process. 🙂

Lens cloths are a necessity in keeping your gear clean and you can never have too many of them. I find a couple of problems with the ones you get at the camera store, though–they’re often too small, not providing you with enough surface to clean your gear sufficiently. Their too-small size also makes them easy to lose. When you do lose one, that means you have to go out and buy a new one, which can be expensive if you keep losing them. I have a solution, though…

This solution actually comes from Lori Kincaid, our workshop leader. She suggests taking an old and much-washed t-shirt and cutting it up into rags; how big or small you want the rags to be is up to you. After cotton knit has been washed a bunch of times, it develops a smooth lint-free finish to it that’s perfect for cleaning the glass on our lenses. Before putting those rags to use, make sure that you wash them first, but leave out the fabric softener. Since I also had some wool hiking socks that needed to be washed by hand, I opted to wash my cleaning rags with them in the kitchen sink using Woolite and cold water. As I write this, both the rags and socks are out in my laundry area air drying. Not only are you saving money, you’re also recycling a t-shirt that might otherwise go into the trash. 🙂

Woolite and cold water in the sink also works great for camera straps, especially the neoprene ones. If you live in a warmer climate like I do and tend to get hot and sweaty while out shooting during the summer, this is a great way to get your strap clean. Once you’re done washing and rinsing your strap, just roll it up in a towel to absorb excess water and then hang it up to air dry.

Keep an eye out for more postings and pics from the workshop. While I’m not done editing the pics yet, I have already gone ahead and uploaded a few of the finished ones to my Flickr page–click here to take a look at them.

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Are your online images secure?

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I hadn’t planned on doing 2 posts in a single day, but after reading and contributing to this thread on PentaxForums.com, I thought it would be something that you would be interested in.

If you pay attention to the news (or have read the PentaxForums thread if you don’t), you will periodically learn about people who have posted their pics to one of the many photosharing sites out there in cyberspace (i.e. Flickr, PicasaWeb, etc.), only to have them stolen by unscrupulous people who use them, oftentimes commercially for either innocent or not so innocent purposes. This is a classic case of where the lawmakers of the world are way behind the rapidly advancing technology in terms of updating laws that will help curb this issue for photographers like you and me.

Until the laws catch up with the technology, it is up to us as individual photographers to protect ourselves. I have three suggestions that should give you more peace of mind when it comes to sharing your images with the world:

  1. Reduce the resolution size of the  images you upload to your favorite photo sharing site; 600×480 pixels is sufficient to allow for easy viewing on your computer screen, but will prevent anybody from making prints of any decent size. If you would like to save your original-sized images for printing out, it is possible to keep those, but create duplicate copies for uploading. If you’d like to do this batch-style, but don’t want to spend a bunch of money on a more advanced program like Photoshop Lightroom, I highly recommend Irfanview, as this is one of it’s strengths. It’s also FREE, which is always a good thing. Another good option with a few more bells and whistles is FastStone Image Viewer, also FREE.
  2. Check and see if your favorite image editor will allow you to add a watermark with your copyright info when you export your pictures for uploading. Of course, Lightroom will do this, but FastStone offers this capability, as well. Here’s an example of a watermarked image that I uploaded to Flickr just earlier this evening:
  3. Check your favorite photo sharing website to see if they have a setting making it impossible for other people to download your pictures. Since Flickr is my main photo sharing site, I have discovered that it is an option there. I wrote out a set of instructions for doing this that I shared with the folks on PentaxForums and I’ll share them with you, as well:
  •  At the top of your Flickr page, click on the “You” tab to get the drop-down menu. 
  • Scroll down and click on “Your Account”. Click on the “Privacy and Permissions” tab.
  • Under “Global Settings”, look for “Who can download your stuff” (the first option). Click on “edit” on the right side of the screen.
  • You’ll see that Flickr’s default setting is “Anyone (Recommended)”, which is at the bottom of the list of options. If you don’t want anybody besides yourself to download your images, then click on the radio button next to “Only You”, or one of the other buttons, if you want only you and select groups of people to have downloading privileges.
  • Once you’re done, click on the blue SAVE button.

Since doing all of the above, my mind is now more at ease about being able to confidently share my images online in a more secure manner. I hope that this will help you as well.  🙂