Better Photo Tips – Photo Filters and More

One of my first award winning photographs was a photo with a waterfall in the background and a stream leading from its base right into the foreground. I was standing in the middle of the stream at a fairly low angle, but what made this photo unique was that I had also managed to capture several stars reflecting off the water. I admit it; it was pure luck, but with so many people impressed by those little stars . . . I started looking for ways to be able to do that whenever I wanted. That was when I first started exploring the world of photo filters.

Photo filters are NOT going to change a bad photo to a good one, BUT . . . they may change a good photo into a great one. In other words; filters are like the frosting on the cake, if the cake itself tastes bad, it doesn’t matter how sweet the frosting is. For the sake of this photo article we are going to assume you know how to make a good cake (take a good photo), and now you are ready to go to the next level.

Star Filters – these are available in 4 point, 6 point, or 8 point variety. These photo filters add glamour to nature or highly reflective surfaces (like someone playing a trumpet).

Polarizer – this type of photo filter is often thought of for enhancing clouds in the sky, but they also give you more control with reflections on water or glass. They also help with extreme photo lighting situations like snow or sand.

Close-Up Filter Set – not everybody can afford an extra $300 to $400 for a macro lens, this set of photo filters is well worth the investment. This gives you the edge to be able to take advantage of, and photograph the unexpected; whether it is a butterfly on a flower or dew on the morning grass.

Split Field Filter – A Split Field Filter allows you to go beyond the limits of traditional depth of field in photography. Half of the lens is basically a close up filter, half is regular glass. Now you can take an extreme close up photo of a flower at the edge of a vast canyon and still have BOTH sections of your photo look crystal clear.

Split Color Filter – This filter comes in several combinations. Similar to the split field filter, part of the filter is just regular glass, BUT the other half is colored. If half the filter is deep orange for example, you can take a photo of any mountain range and make it look like it was taken at sunset.

Spot Filter – The idea behind a spot filter is that a small portion of your photo will appear sharp (usually a spot in the middle) and the rest of the photo looks soft and dreamy. Often used in Wedding pictures or individual portraits.

Soft Focus Filter – As the name implies this photo filter gives the entire image a soft focus or dreamy effect. Use this VERY sparingly or people will think you can’t focus.

Besides photo filters there are some other small items that you should tuck into your camera bag to help you improve photographic opportunities. The cost of these photo gadgets are relatively small but can give you big time (professional looking) results.

Double Sided Poster Board – For many years I carried a 10 inch x 12 inch poster board that was black on one side and white on the other. This can be used to make a small subject stand out from

the back ground. A small tree frog on grass is much harder to see than one against a black background. This can also be used for controlling light like a small photo reflector.

Spray Bottle – having a small spray bottle of water means now you can take a “flowers with morning dew” photo, even if it’s the middle of the afternoon. You can make athletes sweat when you want them to; or wet down wild hair that is blowing in the wind for better outdoor portraits.

The last fairly cheap item for big results is a Tripod or a Monopod. Tripods don’t have to be built so a man can sit on it to be of good quality. And if you are worried about space as you are taking your wonderful photo trek into the wilderness consider a monopod. It offers stability as well as making a good walking stick.

All of these items are considered photo add-ons. None of them are required to make a great photo, but when the opportunity arises it’s good to know you have the right tools at your disposal. Of course there are hundred of other photo gadgets and gizmos that you can get, but I advise sticking with the basics. Far more important than anything you can add to the outside, is the vision you have on the inside. Learn the elements of design. Practice leading lines, balance, repetition, framing and the rule of thirds . . . these are the ingredients of a great photo. All the rest is just frosting on the cake.

Designer Butterfly – A Fresh New Approach To Selling Authentic Handbags

Designer Butterfly opened its virtual doors this summer with a fresh approach to selling designer handbags. The owners of Designer Butterfly have been studying what people want from authentic handbag websites…proof of authenticity. Selling designer handbags has been going on for many years on the internet, but one of the biggest problems for buyers has been trying to decipher which sites sell authentic vs. counterfeit bags. Most websites will show one or two photos from a distance, making it difficult to ascertain its authenticity. Designer Butterfly lays all their cards on the table by showing detailed, up close photos of their products. There is no need to worry about what you get from Designer Butterfly. With today’s technology, Designer Butterfly believes that there is no need to not give detailed photos. They strongly believe it is up to the seller to prove the authenticity and make the buyer feel safe. The right designer bag for you is an investment, and therefore you want to know what you are getting.

Designer Butterfly offers a range of products, from Gucci and Fendi, to Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Guess and more. They also offer designer baby clothing.

Designer Butterfly also offers a forum for people to chat about their purses and other fashion fetishes. They also offer their services through their forums to help to find authentic designer bags that they may not carry. Their newest game is the “Purse-onality”…if you were a purse, what kind would you be?

Visit Designer Butterfly for peace of mind in shopping for your authentic handbags.

The Photo Safari

The photo safari is above all else an opportunity take photographs. It can come in many forms. A vacation to Thailand or Jamaica. A cruise to the Bahamas. Taking the dog for a walk. Any of these become a photo safari if you have a camera with you. South Florida is a beautiful place to live. Hollywood, has beautiful houses and great looking seascapes near the water. Riding around Hollywood on a motor scooter taking pictures was one of my favorite pastimes. Then I had an idea. All these beautiful scenes and houses could become a Photographic essay that a local newspaper might publish. It became a project. I spent many afternoons riding through the neighborhood searching for beautiful photographs.

We moved to a house 17 miles from Hollywood. The Woodlands had beautiful landscaping throughout the development. I rode the motor scooter around and started photographing foliage and tropical flora. There was even a waterfall a mile and a half away. I started tweaking these photos and some of them are extraordinarily beautiful. These safaris were spontaneous. I put a camera and a bottle of water and a tripod in my pack and out the door I went. You could do it differently. Plan a sightseeing excursion and involve the family. They would love it. How about a trip to Butterfly World or a picnic by the lake.

Any adventure is an opportunity to find interesting subject matter. It could be people working, the street you are walking down, or any of a thousand things you find visually exciting at any given moment. Always keep in your mind the elements of a good picture. Composition, color balance, repetition of form is good design. Does your eye follow a natural path viewing the picture?

Is the photo safari a good idea that will improve our skills make us better photographers? Yes it certainly will improve your skills. I will even tell you how and why it works. Artists and photographers are visually oriented. After they learn color and design, composition and color balance. They start using these elements in their work. Every photo we take, or picture we paint adds to our body of experience. I learn something from every picture I paint and every photo I take.

The painter is criticizing the painting all the while he paints it. What does it need? What should I do now? Sometimes he will just look at a painting for half an hour or so. Eventually, the painting tells him what should be done. The photographer works a little differently. He works while setting up the shot. He is moving around, looking for the right place to shoot, set his composition by zoom, camera height, angle, and optimal setting for exposure.

Then he pushes the button and it is done. He does the same thing for every picture he takes. The photographer goes back to his studio, and uploads his photos to his photographic software. Then he will criticize and tweak every shot he took. This self criticism by both the painter and photographer provides a new learning experience with each new work. Your body of experience and knowledge grow with every work you complete. How could you possibly do anything but improve your skills and results.

Figural Costume Jewelry – Bugs, Bees and Butterflies

Figural jewelry pieces are little works of art, in the shapes of people, plants, animals, places and things. Both vintage and contemporary jewelry designers look to nature for inspiration.

In this article we’ll focus on the insect world. The gorgeous colors of butterflies, the rotund bodies of bees, the many shapes of other bugs lend themselves to some of the most beautiful and popular figural jewelry. People who get the willies just thinking about insects are often avid collectors, and will wear their “love bugs” with pride.

Trifari “Jelly Belly” designs of the 1940s lent themselves to insect motifs, due to the round lucite “bellies” that can look just like a bug’s abdomen. They came in all the colors found in nature, and some that were found only in the imagination of the designer.

Rhinestones made wings and legs sparkle and glow. A large rhinestone could be the body of the bug, and the wings could be studded with smaller rhinestones in an all-over pattern. Oval shaped rhinestones were perfect for wings, and Aurora Borealis iridescent rhinestones made them shine. Little rhinestones became sparkling eyes.

The bright colors of Lucite and Bakelite were perfect for insect pins. The carvings on plastic jewelry made for some intricate details. Art glass could be made iridescent just like the body of a beetle. Starting a collection of insect figural jewelry, or adding them to your collection, is a great way to focus on a particular style. Some real finds are still out there.

The bee pin in the photo has red Aurora Borealis rhinestones on the wings and dark red rhinestones on the eyes and body. It was found at a thrift store for $1.99! As always, inspect any piece you want to buy very carefully. Use that jeweler’s loupe or a strong magnifying glass to look for flaws, and with luck you’ll also find the signature of the designer.

Watch for the next article on figural costume jewelry – the selection is virtually unlimited!