Discovering Flickr

Flickr is an option to take when your free blog platform has a very low limit to how many pictures you can upload to their servers.

About a month ago, I was tasked to create a blog for our office. Although we have an official website, the instruction did not involve the use of that website. I would have loved to, at least, create a subdomain from it for the blog project.

The only option is to use free blogs and among several possible platforms, I choose wordpress.com. The thing though is that the blog would require me to use a lot of pictures. And I’m sure that these free blogs have limits as to how much space you can use in their servers. These days, it wouldn’t be a lot as they are scrimping for space, what with millions of people creating new websites everyday.

flickr logo imageWith that problem in mind, I recalled having seen quite a few photo blogs before and I wonder if they store their own photos or host them some other place. Although most of these photoblogs I know are self hosted (meaning, not hosted in free blog sites), I think that they cannot just upload all they want in the servers they use. Paid hosts, I recall, also have limits when it comes to storage space even if they say ‘unlimited’ in their ads.

One photoblog I frequent is that of an Australian dude called Sire. He owns a couple of photoblogs and I remember him in one of his past posts thanking flickr for something. I realized it was about the hosting of photos that he displays in his photo blogs.

Long story short, I decided to use flickr likewise to host the images I’m going to use for the blog I made for the office. And like Sire, I thank flickr for this feature. Flickr does implement some limit to the number of pictures you can upload per day or per month, but the picture volume for the blog I’m working on is comfortably way below the limits.

Once you have a flickr account and have uploaded your pics, it’s as easy as clicking the ‘share’ button above the picture you want to display in your blog.

Then, choosing ‘HTML’ (see #1 in pic), then choosing the size you prefer in the dropdown list (#2), then clicking on the code box (#3), the mere act of which automatically selects the whole code, then pressing ctrl-c to copy it.

flickr easy

The code looks like this:


< a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/blahblah/1111840101/” title=”picture’s title” >< img src=”http://farm7.staticflickr.com /6769/6328840101_02ae24dd4f.jpg” width=”456″ height=”500″ alt=”text here text here”>< /a >

Now you’ve got the code to paste on your post on your blog. You now have a picture without loading your server with image files.

I don’t know what processing happens down at the flickr servers but I noticed that the flickr pictures displayed are a lot crispier and sharper with a lot smaller file sizes than the pictures I upload directly to the free blog servers. And inspite of photoshop’s ‘Save for web’ feature, I still can’t duplicate the small size flickr outputs at such good quality.

Of course, there’s the issue about what happens to your blog should, God forbid, flickr folds. But that’s for another story, I suppose.

nom-0801nom

My 580EX II Sometimes Does Not Fire

I thought my 580EX II has gone south on me when it fails to fire sometimes. And nothing can be more dismal than a flash that doesn’t fire when you expect it to work the most – during an event coverage.

Just this week, my 580EX II speedlite started to act queer, sometimes fires, sometimes doesn’t. I have to take it off the hotshoe and replace it before it fires again. Then again, sometimes it still fails to work. It was exasperating especially when I’m covering some event and a (supposedly) perfect picture comes out dark because of a speedlite misfire.

The first time it happened, the battery was almost already spent. So I thought it was a case of low power supply. But even after a fresh recharge the same thing happens.

The Solution

My external flash does not fire sometimes

The thought of having to part with my gear for a day or two is kind of difficult and I fear that it might happen if the symptoms continue as I really have to send it in for the Canon experts to check out. Luckily, I got to ask some questions at the perfect place that often has perfect answers – the google search page.

Turns out, it’s a case of a contact problem. Some sort of cleaning the parts that gets to make connections at the hotshoe. That is, cleaning involves both the hotshoe on the camera and the contacts at the speedlite.

And what do I use to clean these thingies? An eraser!

That was no suprise to me as I have some experience in this area. I once cleaned up the memory cards of a cpu using an eraser. When I put back the ‘erased’ memory cards in place, the computer came back to life.

So, what I did was to rub the eraser on the hotshoe surfaces as well as the contact surfaces on the speedlite. After doing so, I wiped off the excess ‘burnt’ rubber of the contacts with a piece of clean cloth. And voila! Everything was back to normal.

I still don’t know why I need to use an eraser to clean it up. If it’s just dust, a little blowing off would probably do. If an eraser is needed, perhaps the dirt that got stuck on the contacts must be of the stubborn type.

Another Solution

Another reason a speedlite may fail to fire is a wobbly or loose coupling at the hotshoe. Here’s a video I found that explains it all.

P.S. If you haven’t checked out my post about the Canon 580EX II, please read it. I’ve included there a few videos about the proper use of the 580EX II.


I posted this as soon as I completed the cleaning and the camera began working nicely.

The pessimist in me however tells me to observe the gear a few more days before rejoicing at having found a solution to the speedlite problem. Well, l’ll definitely make an update to this post, whatever happens in a few days.

Macro Close Up Photography: Cheaper Alternative to Macro Photography

Macro attempts using available cheap alternatives to those expensive macro lenses.

This week, I just found myself in the close up macro phase of my on-off photography adventure. And having found the regular macro lenses a little too expensive for my taste, I got into a little research about cheap macro photography setups or equipment. And fortunately, I found a few cheap macro close up alternatives.

The Macro Close Up Lens

close up macro filters

I’m not referring to the real macro lens such as the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro Lens as like I said earlier, it’s a tad too expensive for me unless I specialize in macro photography. What I mean are those little filter sized lenses you put on your lens that lets you get closer to your subject beyond the minimum focusing distance that your regular lens allows.

I got 4 pieces of these little lenses like the 1 2 4 10 Close Up Macro Filter at Amazon. The 1 2 4 10 numbers simply mean a dioptre magnification of 1x, 2x, 4x, and 10x.

Here are some of my attempts at macro close up photography using the filters. As I can’t find some interesting object like a bee perhaps or a spider to shoot, I used my forefinger as a test subject. For these, I coupled the 4x and 10x filters together and placed it on top of the 18-55mm kit lens.

close up macro
Uncropped photo of a forefinger
cheaper alternative to macro photography
The kit lens with the 10x and 4x tandem

The Macro Reverse Ring

The day after I shot the above pictures, I went to the malls to check out for reverse rings. Among the first three malls I visited, only one happened to have a store that sells these rings. I purchased a 58mm reverse ring which fit perfectly with my 18-55mm kit lens.

Hereunder are some of my attempts at macro photography. Again, these attempts being at the spur-of-the-moment ones, I scrambled to find something interesting to shoot besides my forefinger again. I the absence of an interesting subject, I opted to make a door key my subject for test shooting using my macro reverse ring. 🙂

cheap macro photography equipment
Using the macro reverse ring with the 10x and 4x macro close up lenses on the 18-55mm kit lens. Uncropped.
cheap macro photography setup
Using the macro reverse ring on the 18-55mm kit lens only. Uncropped.
cheaper alternative macro photography
The model

I’m sure the macro shots using those expensive macro lenses give way much better quality images than these cheap alternatives. Because if not, no one would be shelling out big bucks if their quality equals those taken through the above-cited alternative macro photography setups. Me, unless I decide to take macro photography more seriously, I shall content myself with these cheaper close up macro equipment.

Yet Another Cheap Macro Close Up Photography Setup

Wanna Try Macro Photography Too?

Thinking of Earning Money From My Photos

Do you think we hobbyists can earn a little something from our photographs? I did a quick research and I do think we can.


I’ve accumulated a considerable number of photographs after almost a year of on and off hobby-photography and am now thinking of earning money from these photos. Although I still felt I need to learn a lot, I’ve gained at least a wee bit of confidence in my photography. Yes, I do some post processing, but who doesn’t these days? I’ve seen some photos from folks who who don’t do post processing and a lot of them are just not that pleasing to the eye.

One of my friends asked me how he can make money out of his photographs. I’ve seen a lot of his photos which he posted on facebook and flickr and they’re all awesome. He especially makes stunning landscapes. That brought me to thinking about making use of my photos to earn too.

One possible way to earn is through a photo-blog. I have blogger friends who have photo-blogs but I’ve never asked them how much they earn using the adsense blocks they put up in those blogs. From what I’ve learned so far in the blogging arena, keywords are key to gaining (the right) traffic and thus earnings. My biased belief is that one doesn’t earn much, adsense-wise, with photo blogs that post random pictures of anything. If they do, then there must be some structure and strategy they use that I’ve yet to know about. Some photo blogs I love to visit are scenicadelaide and jrondaldlee. I guess one strategy they use is to include a few paragraphs of text in the photo post. These gets some keywords embedded in there for seo purposes.

Another friend however, who now lives in Canada swears he earns a little something every month from his photographs he submitted to such sites as fotolia, dreamstime, and other stock photo sites. This I suppose is where I would load my photos in the hope of getting a few cents out of them. Yes, there would be millions of photos out there, and I can only imagine how mine would fare in that ocean of images. But like they said, whatever idea you’ve got, taking action is the secret to knowing if it will work or not.

Here’s a list of stock photography sites I’ve stumbled just recently. This guy from photopreneur really did a lot of research to gather this information. Check it out by clicking here.

Me, I’m going over my database to find my passwords to some of the sites I’ve created an account with some time ago. I think it’s time we earn some money from our photographs. 🙂

PS. As a hobbyist, I only have the basics in terms of equipment:

Wish List Entry:

My Canon Speedlite 580EX II

Just got my speedlight 580EX II flash from the Canon Hub. Exploring… 🙂

canon speedlite 580EX II
I just bought my first Canon Speedlite 580EX II today and can’t wait to use it. Like any new stuff I acquire, I always want to know a few basics before messing up with it. I read the manual and as usual found it not so very helpful. You can’t even find what the acronym ETTL* means in it.


Prior to the purchase, I considered buying the less costly 430ex flash because I reasoned that the 580ex ii may be too much for my needs, my photography being just a hobby. However, after a bit of research (reading/watching ‘430ex ii vs 580ex ii’ articles and videos) I was convinced to go for the 580ex ii. Of course, I have to wait a couple of months to save up enough for this animal. This early, I think I made the right choice.

Introduction to Canon Speedlite 580EX II

So, I took to the net and found that a few videos helped a lot. Here’s a few videos that gave a walk through of the basic functions of the canon speedlite 580ex ii.

This other 2 videos touches on the wireless features of the the canon speedlite 580ex ii flash.

Canon Speedlite 580EX II Tutorial

An excellent and elaborate detailed walk through after the initial setup is shown in this video by Gary Fong. I like it in that he explains it concisely you’ll be sure to understand what he wants to convey. He even elaborates on the differences of evaluative metering, spot metering, etc. Very cool, especially if you’re new, like me.

For now, after having known the very basic about this flash unit, I think I’ll learn more by actually playing with it. I’ll post updates and perhaps find more tutorials when I begin to yearn for more advanced information.

*ETTL: Evaluative Through The Lens.

My First Super Moon

What’s with the supermoon?

Again, like I’ve mentioned in my other moon shot posts, I still haven’t had enough of shooting moon pictures, especially since I still have to shoot my very first full moon. And what a full moon I got the chance to shoot. A full supermoon!

supermoon

I would have missed shooting this full moon haven’t I been reminded by the tv newscaster about the ‘super moon’ up there that evening. So even though it was really late when I got back to the house, I set up my tripod outside and took my very first full moon and very first supermoon shots. Of course, the presence of clouds made me wait lots between attempts.

(I still have to figure out how to shoot a sharp moon with visible clouds surrounding it.)

Well, this would have been sort of novel were that ‘every 18 years’ myth was true. Turns out, it was a misconception.

Wikipedia has this to say about the supermoon (a term coined by someone called Richard Nolle back in 1979):


“A perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system or “supermoon” is a full or new moon that coincides with a close approach by the Moon to the Earth. The Moon’s distance varies each month between approximately 357,000 kilometers (222,000 mi) and 406,000 km (252,000 mi) due to its elliptical orbit around the Earth (distances given are center-to-center).”

Perigee-syzwhat? I got lost there after the first ‘y’ in ‘syzygy’. If you were as lost as I am but would want to clear things up a bit, you may go to Nolle’s website for a little enlightentment about the matter.

Here’s wikipedia’s pic of that same supermoon.

I actually don’t see much difference between this and other previous full moons I’ve seen. To the naked eye, the visual size difference is not very significant as to be detectable. In fact, hadn’t people been so abuzz about it, it would have been just like any other moonlit night. But hey, this is my first supermoon shot.

How Would Justin Bieber Look With A Beard?

After a month of facial hair free growth, how would Justin Bieber look like? Take your pick.

Justin’s girlfriend supposedly was against his plan to allow facial hair to grow freely for a month. That’s what the showbiz section of the news said. This of course made me wonder how Justin would really look with a moustache.

So, just to satisfy my curiosity I did a little photo manipulation and came up with these possible scenarios. The original photo was taken from posh24.com.

bearded justin bieber
justin bieber moustache
moustachiod justin
moustachioed justin
funny justin beard

Hey, this is all just for the fun of it, ok? I don’t want to get into any trouble with Justin’s zealous fans. Peace guys. 🙂

Of course, I showed this first to a couple of ‘Bielebers’ (my 2 kids) and their reactions…were probably the same as yours.

But seriously now, if he were to really really want to get ‘bearded’, which one do you think would best suit him?

Moon Shots With Canon 18-200 IS Lens

Some of my evening and morning moon pictures.

I still haven’t had enough of ‘shooting at the moon’, I always take moon shoots whenever the opportunity presents itself. Just for this month, I’ve had a few days/nights chance at taking pictures of the moon at its different phases. Here are some of the best I’ve made.

Evening Picture of the Moon with Clouds

Though I would have preferred a cloudless night when I take moon shots with my Canon 18-200 IS Lens, I find that some clouds can actually give it some dramatic effect which a clear night couldn’t. Most of the time, I would wait until the cloud passes by, but in this pic, I took a shot while the clouds are still in the vicinity of the moon.

picture of moon with clouds
I cropped this off from the original, but I should have saved it at a higher quality. If you click it and viewed it at maximum size, it shows some obvious noise in the upper and lower portions.

Early Morning: Picture of the Moon with Clouds

I think it was on the 25th of this month when I saw that the moon was still up at early dawn. So I hurriedly took out my camera and tripod and got this shot. This time, it was a cloudy dawn, so, I have no choice but to take shots where the cloud was thinnest.

picture of moon with clouds at dawn

I also cropped this off the original picture and though I saved it at the same non-maximum quality level, I think this one came out rather well. Check it at its actual size by clicking on it.

Moon at 200mm

Below is a night shot of the moon with no cloud cover at 200mm.

picture of moon at 200mm

Until the moon shot fever is still up, I’d be adding more moon pictures on this post hopefully next month.

My Latest Photo Fun: Interesting Sky

This was the first time I saw this sky. There’d been lots of other more interesting skies before of course. But this was new to me.

My latest photo fun happened last February 6 when I was awakened from my day dreaming by the kids outside telling me about an interesting sky. True enough I saw clouds and the sun about to set painting an interesting composition. I scrambled back inside the house and grabbed the camera. I would have wanted to set up my tripod too, but I had a feeling that this interesting work of art is not going to last long. And newbie as I am, I even had a bit of confusion as I tried to adjust my settings after every hurried shot I made.

Here are the photos I took. A professional photographer who has really mastered the equipment surely would have captured and produced a much better picture of the western sky. Alas, I am far from that stage. I hope the next time this grand handiwork happens, I’ll be better equiped skill-wise in capturing it.

The spectacle changed quite rapidly I had to hurry with my shooting.

interesting sky sunset cloud

interesting sky sunset clouds

Photo Fun: Night Sky shots

And on the 8th of February, I took this moon-shot. I had taken a couple of moonshots before with the kit lens, but this is the first moonshot I took using the 18-200mm IS lens.

moon shot 200mm

The moon was still going for full moon status (is that how you say it?). So, on the 11th, I took another moon shot. The result was more or less like the one above except that it showed more moon surface this time. However, on DPP I tried adjusting the White Balance and got this result.
moon shoot moralde dot com

Photo Fun: Toying with Cheap Lighting

Commonly accessible and cheap light sources, it seems, can still do wonders for photography. Well, at least for my own photo fun purposes, it does.

Just had a cool weekend with the kids. They enjoyed swimming in the pool at the Countryside Hotel where we stayed overnight. As I did not feel like having fun swimming, I opted to have photo fun – photographing the wife and kids at the pool. But that’s not what this post is about.

As I still haven’t had enough playing with the camera, when we got home I played around with cheap lighting with some of the kids’ toys as subjects. By cheap lighting, I mean using just that plain old flashlight – the ones with led lights. A few weeks ago, btw, I bought a halogen light set because I had a mind to attempt another one of those water drop photos. Have to set another time for that though as it takes a little bit more time and preparation and setting up to do.

photo fun

Tails: The light is to my right and just a little below us – right there. It’s nearer to me, but why do I get the feeling that you’re getting more of it?

Silver: I’m facing it you moron. Why don’t you try facing it too? That way, you’ll get more light on your face, instead of those shadows cast by your silly facial hair.

Silver: Oh, I see. Camera shy, eh?. Ok, let’s see what happens if I face the same way. There.

Tails: Uhmmm…my shoes look good, don’t they? Still, you look cool and dramatic. D’you think I should wear that funny fierce look too?

Tails: How about we try moving the light to the left?

Silver: C’mon Tails, stop complaining. It’s just that…some folks simply have it, others don’t. I’ve accepted long ago that I’m photogenic. Wait, did you see that? Stay here, I’ll go check it out.

Silver: Hmmm…I remember this kind of lighting in some suspense movies. Makes me look even more menacing as I stalk my prey. I hope though that that flash I saw was a rabbit and not a tail of some dinosaur.

Silver: What the…? Cool! Two cameras. Ah, that red light comes from that point-and-shoot camera as it is pressed halfway. I hope that won’t give the red eye effect.

Ok, cut! Silver and Tails, back to your Sonics boxes.

There, who said we can’t have photo fun without strobes and expensive fancy photo lighting systems? Looks like my flashlight and that point-and-shoot camera’s pre-flash red led work just fine. Well, at least they do for small subjects like my kids’ toys.