Thursday, July 24, 2008

Maumelle park and Cedar Falls trail

sneak-peak of arkansas river @ maumelle

ducks on the river bank at maumelle- the heart is almost perfect!

Boats lined up!

A picturesque view at the maumelle

The beautiful cedar falls at Petit Jean National Park

The water falls from the sky at Cedar Falls

Sunset at Petit Jean National Park

spot the sun in between the branches! again at Petit Jean

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Magic of Picasa - Using picasa to Create Singular theme/Isolation Compositions

It is very very difficult to create photographs in which the background remains muted and out of focus with an ordinary point and shoot camera. Even when the aperture is wide open, fixed lens digital cameras like canon powershot A630(& most basic digicam models) capture a lot of the background. In his book Understanding Exposure, Bryan Peterson says that an f/2.8 aperture length(which is the widest aperture on most fixed-lens digicams) corresponds to a modest f/11 on an SLR. You can try to get additional lenses, and related accessories to over come this problem - but these tend to be heavy on your purse.

Does this mean that only people with SLR's or people with a fat wallet can create singular theme compositions? NO WAY! With Picasa, its pretty easy for anyone to do it!

Here is a simple three step process to create singular theme/isolation compositions!
i)Using your digicam's widest aperture setting, (if your camera doesn't support manual mode or aperture priority mode, try with Auto mode) and take a picture of your object against the background. For example, you could try capturing a tiny leaflet against an array of leaves, or a single flower with a garden of flowers in the background..

ii)Now load the photo into Picasa. In the Tuning tab, there is an option called Shadows. Increase the shadows setting and play around with it so that you reduce the light falling on the background. Make sure that there is enough light on the target object.

iii)Now, go to the Effects tab and click 'soft focus'. Picasa lets you select the object you want to focus on and blurs the rest of the photo. You can play around with the 'size' of the selected area and the 'amount' of blurring desired. Just remember that the 'Amount' field dictates the level of 'blurring' of the background.

A Singular Theme Composition showing a single plant against a background of plants

Thats it! You are all set to create awesome looking singular theme compositions !

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Magic of Picasa - The Photo Tray

Its obvious that you can select folders in Picasa and upload them to your web-album. The really cool thing is that you can upload Selected Photos from Multiple Folders!

Imagine that you have two folders with pictures from your trip to Peru - ones which you took and another from your friend's digicam. You want to select pictures from both these folders. Now how do you select pictures from multiple folders? Enter - Picasa's Photo Tray!

All you need to do is, select one or more photos from a particular folder on the GUI, and click 'hold'. Voila, it appears on your photo tray and it has a small circle with a green dot to indicate that it is being held in your tray. Now, you can navigate to another folder on the GUI and again select your favorite photos and click hold. Repeat the process until you have all the photos you need in the tray.

And how do you clear pictures that you selected by accident? Just click/select the unnecessary photos inside the tray and press 'Clear'. This removes the photo from your selected list in the tray. Isn't it wonderful? You can also clear the entire list of photos in your tray and start over. Don't worry - picasa makes sure that you don't accidentally clear your entire tray by popping up a warning message before doing it!

Once you are ready to upload - just click the 'web-albums' button and all the photos in the tray will be uploaded. The photo tray can also be used to select photos that you want to upload to your blog. All you need to do is select the photos and click 'blog-this' button on your picasa GUI.

The Magic of Picasa - 5 Reasons to try it!

This is a start of a series where I talk about picasa features/tricks that I know. I was introduced to picasa almost a year ago by a friend and ever since then, I've been a loyal user. Photoshop and other professional graphics editing software are usually not affordable for amateur photographers(people like me!). And that is precisely why google's Picasa has been a boon for amateur photographers.

Here are 5 sure-fire reasons why you should start using this award winning photo organizer/editor.

i)Sharing photos by Integration with Picasa Web-Albums and Blogger
Picasa not only helps you organize/edit photos on your desktop, it also lets you create albums online and share it with your friends. Picasa has made the process of creating/sharing albums so easy and is clearly the reason why it has become so popular. No wonder then that the word picasa is now synonymous with web-albums.

Picasa's wonderfully easy to use GUI has a single button called 'Web-album'. With this button, you can directly add folders to your web-album(its nothing but a web-page with all your photos organized). There are 3 predefined upload speeds(Optimized, Medium size and slowest upload). For most users, the 'Optimized' setting should do; if you are uploading a large number of photos, you could select Medium size. This is the fastest upload and consequently images uploaded to the web album are smaller.

You can also post photos into your blog if you use Blogger. there is a small button called 'Blog This'. I'm not going into details, but again you can choose image sizes, settings while making a blog entry from picasa.

ii)Control Visibility- This is important for some people. Now you may have some family albums and you also have some photos from your adventurous trip to Peru.. Now, you don't want to share your family albums, but you clearly want to show the world your exciting side with pictures from that cool Peru trip. Picasa lets you control the visibility of the album. You can choose the unlisted option(radio button) while uploading, only you can invite people to view the album. It will not be displayed as a part of your public web album.

iii)Photo Edits/Effects & Tricks
From making collages to creating gift-cds with slideshows, you can do so many things with this wonderful tool. From basic fixes like cropping, red-Eye reduction to effects like Sepia, picasa has plenty of features! There are many cool tricks you can pull off in picasa and I'm going to make separate posts about them in the days to come.

iv)Its FREE!
It is not only free, but it is available for windows(duh) and linux(alright!). For Mac afficionados, picasa isn't currently available, but you can still create web albums on picasa by installing Picasa Web Albums Exporter(plugin for Iphoto) and Picasa Web Albums Uploader(standalone application)

v)Automatically finds photos/albums on your computer
During the first use after installation, picasa does a systematic search on your computer and creates a library. It also automatically detects pictures(picasa media detector) from media like CD-ROMs, SD-Cards, external USB drives and adds them to the picasa library. Once you insert your digital camera's SD memory card into your card-reader slot, picasa immediately recognizes the photos and shows them in the library! Not only that, picasa is also smart enough to detect new photos that you add to existing folders.

Don't have Picasa?
What are you waiting for? Try it out! Its available at
All you need is a google account(gmail account). You will be asked to create one during installation if you don't have one already.

Monday, June 30, 2008

My Photo Kit and Photography Resources

I take pictures frequently. Sometimes its a planned trip to a scenic spot, sometimes its ad-hoc when I see something inspiring on the road! I don't want to miss a photo opportunity at any cost and hence I always carry either my digital camera or my mobile phone at all times..

My Photography kit consists of a Canon powershot digital camera, my Iphone, 4 rechargeable batteries/charger and a couple of Photography books

I use a Canon Powershot A630 digital camera. I've been using this digital camera for more than 9 months now and I love it. All the photos on this blog have been captured on my powershot digital camera. I've tried on a lot of Point and shoot cameras(Nikon, Exilim etc..) but in my humble opinion, nothing comes close to the powershot in terms of features(the rotating display, manual mode, auto, video clarity, audio clarity etc) given its price..

My Iphone Camera helps me take pictures whenever I'm not carrying my digital camera around.When I'm walking to college campus and I see something interesting, I just take out my Iphone and shoot! The Iphone camera has a moderate resolution of around 1 Megapixels, but the display is so good that you can know how good your photo is immediately! Compared to other mobile phones, the IPhone a class apart in terms of clarity of photos. Now that the 3G version is going to be available at $199, its a steal!

As an amateur photographer, I think its imperative to carry one set of rechargeable batteries(my camera needs 4) and a charger on any trip longer than 1 day! Its also doesn't hurt to carry a set of non-rechargeable batteries - you never know when your batteries are going to run out of charge.

Though you don't need to read a book to use a point and shoot camera like canon, knowing your fundamentals is good for two reasons. One, if your on a journey to become a better photographer(I sure am), there is no better way than learning from books written by experts. Two, if you want to take advantage of the various features in your camera(specifically controlling the manual mode) and knowing the fundamentals definitely helps me to decide how to take a picture! I use Understanding Digital Exposure by Bryan Peterson. Its very easy to read and has lots of pictures to illustrate the concepts involved.

Thats about it! Pretty easy to start taking pictures right?