Extreme Weather Photos

It’s white, it’s fluffy, it falls from the sky…that’s right it’s snow! Having moved from Alaska to the UK I wasn’t expecting to see any of the white fluffy stuff this year but Europe has been treated to a nice little spell of “arctic temperatures” to start off 2009. Check it out, it’s all pretty & white:

The BBC’s Europe’s Big Chill Gallery

The Telegraph’s Winter Weather Across Europe Gallery

The Telegraph’s Icy Weather Hits Britain Gallery

For a more worldwide view, The Sacremento Bee’s The Frame Extreme Weather Gallery

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Camera Bag Options

Carol Kozak left a comment  asking, “Can you recommend a “safe/secure” camera bag for an slr?  [I’m] looking for a main bag for all my gear + a “day” bag.”  Keep in mind that no bag is a completely safe/secure way of storing a camera and Photodoto recommends you treat your camera with the love and respect it so clearly deserves! That said here are a few bags that will do their best to keep your camera safe & dry:

The Green Option.
Get off to an environmentally friendly start with the Primus AW or the Primus Minimus AW from Lowe Alpine. Both are rugged, abrasion resistant, water resistant, and made from recycled materials.  The Primus is designed to hold a DSLR with an attached lens (up to 70-200mm), 1-2 extra lenses, accessories, & some outdoor gear (e.g. a light jacket). The Primus Minimus takes a DSLR with a medium zoom lens attached, plus 1-2 extra lenses, and accessories (charger, extra memory cards, flash, etc). Or if you want to throw your laptop in too try the CompuPrimus AW  which holds a DSLR with lens (up to 70-200mm),

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Photography Books For Christmas or For You

If you still  haven’t knocked out all the Christmas shopping, or if you’re looking for a treat for yourself to celebrate getting all those presents bought and wrapped, Times Online has an article suggesting nine books that would make great gifts for anyone who appreciates photography. From portraits in 1920’s Paris to “a wry look at the fantasies of war in the United States since 9/11”, there’s a good variety in the suggestions.

The article contains links to a UK based website where all the books are available at discounted price (some more so than others) but for US readers below are the links to the books on Amazon.com:

Berenice Abbot by Hank O’Neal & Berenice Abbot

Manuel Alvarez Bravo by Jean-Claude Lemagny, Colette Alvarez Urbatjel, & John Banville

Vanishing Landscapes by  John J Berger, Robert Adams,  Edward Burtynsky, Thomas Struth, & Jem Southam

Homeland by Nina Berman

Kaveh Golestan: Recording the Truth in Iran 1950 – 2003 by Masoud Behnoud, Hengameh Golestan

Recollections by Philip Jones Griffiths (this link is to Amazon UK,

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Christmas Gift Ideas Using Your Own Photos

If last week’s funky Christmas gift ideas weren’t enough for you and you’re still struggling for inspiration here’s a few more ideas. These one’s are things you can make with your own photos.

  • First off there’s the traditional photo book. Check out John’s screencast to see how easy that one can be to make.
  • If photo books are just a bit too traditional for you how about a pair of Keds? You can design your own shoes using photos, text, or your own designs over at Zazzle. Costs from $50 to $60 and come in lace up or slip on styles for women or kids but they don’t seem to offer any mens styles.
  • Struggling to find a gift for your teenager? Zazzle also offer custom skateboards you can add your own designs to. Starting at $60 with $1 shipping (current promotion) and Zazzle claim to have them shipped in 24 hours.
  • If you’re looking for a more family orientated gift check out the Celebrate Everyday Life Book or the Year in Review Book on Shutterfly,

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Funky Christmas Gifts

Need something a little more unusual than photo books and gorilla pods (so last year!) to give the photography-obsessed people in your life this festive season? Check out these funky offerings:

  • Fashionable and funky neck straps, wristlets, and lens cosies from My Funky Camera. Ranging from $25 to $32. International shipping costs the same as domestic.
  • The super secret spy lens from The Photojojo Store. $80 for the lens and all adapters.
  • The Flickerverse Official T-shirt, also from The Photojojo Store. $20 for one, $36 for two.
  • “Death to Film” Tote Bag for the digital camera convert from About Digital Cameras Cafepress Store. $15.99
  • “Keep Film Alive” Hoody for the old school photographer, also from About Digital Camera Cafepress Store. $37.99
  • Get photography related cartoons printed on everything from chopping boards and aprons to shoulder bags and umbrellas or just regular old framed prints, from CartoonStock. Ranging from £6 to £41 (available in the US by selecting “buy through Zazzle”

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Getting A Good Holiday Portrait

Now that Thanksgiving is over and you’ve started to deflate back to your normal size it’s officially festive season. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa chances are you’ll be wanting a nice family portrait to send out to relatives and friends. If you’re planning to take this most important of photographs yourself here are a few tips to help you out:

1. Give it a little forethought. Like many things involving this festive time of year this a task that requires a little bit of thinking ahead. If you just grab the family without any warning, tell them to “say cheese!”, and press the shutter chances are you won’t get the portrait you’re after. Choose a time when everyone has at least an hour or so to spare and consider getting your subjects to wear similar coloured clothing, or bring some reindeer antlers or Santa hats along for them all to wear. Have at least a vague idea of where you want to put your subjects to pose and what kind of shots you want to get. Don’t over plan though or you’ll end up barking orders and stressing over the details and no one will have any fun.

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Photography TED Talks

You’ve probably heard of TED, the website designed to spread ideas by publishing 20-minute talks by “the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers.” I love TEDTalks and often download eight or ten of them onto iTunes and then watch them on long train journeys. In the last couple of months I come across some great photography themed TEDTalks which you can watch below. If you haven’t seen it be sure to check out the TED website too.

David Griffin on how photography connects us

Blaise Ahuera y Arcos demonstrating Photosynth

Phil Borged on documenting endangered cultures

Rick Smolan tells the story of an adoption through his photography

Frans Lanting displays his lyrical nature photographs

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Stunning Science Photography

Science photography seems to me to be an often overlooked area of this art form. Possibly because it is an area mostly left to the professionals and not easily accessible to amateurs. Still, it is a shame because science photography produces some of the most amazing photographs around. Just check out Lennary Nilsson’s award winning A Child Is Born portfolio, or David Doubilet’s amazing black and white seascapes and you’ll see what I’m talking about. These are photographs that not only look stunning but give an insight into parts of our world we don’t ordinarily get to see.

I find this totally fascinating, I mean did you know what bone tissue or SARS virus particles looked like? Kinda cool actually.

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I’ve recently come across Photosynth, I had heard of it about a year ago when it was still in its tech preview phase and then I’d forgotten about it. Which I shouldn’t have done because it really is cool. Microsoft Live Labs, who own Photosynth, call it “an entirely new visual medium.” And they’re pretty much right, it’s a very cool new way of viewing photographs. Basically it works by analyzing a set of photos and using the data to build a model of the subject, then it re-creates the environment and uses it as a canvas for the photo. Which doesn’t sound as awesome as it is so head over to Photosynth where you can play about with creating and viewing synths yourself.

National Geographic is creating synths of global landmarks like Macchu Pichu, Stonehenge, and the Pantheon which you can view on the National Geographic Magazine webiste. The BBC also has a gallery called “The Future of Photography” on their website which has collections of synths built on locations from the BBC One series “How We Built Britain”, including Trafalgar Square, Ely Cathedral, and the Scottish Parliament Building.

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Basic Travel Photography

I’ve just returned from a little jaunt to Portugal and I have to say there is little else that gets me as eager to get my camera out as wandering around a city I’ve never seen before. And of course, in the age of the compact digital camera pretty much everyone takes a camera with them when they travel these days. But how do you come back with photographs your friends and family won’t have to feign interest in? Here’s a few basic tips:

1) Be selective. It’s tempting when you’re surrounded by new things, impressive architecture, beautiful landscapes, and photogenic locals to go nuts and photograph everything ten times over. Especially when you’re using a digital camera and can tell yourself you’ll delete half of the photos later. While there’s nothing wrong with taking lots of photos make sure you scale it down a bit (i.e. do the deleting part) before you showcase your holiday snaps. Even Great Aunt Maude is going to struggle to feign interest in 200 photos of a church, however architecturally brilliant it is.

2) Try a little originality. If you’re photographing an iconic site see if you can come up with a more original way to photograph it.

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