April Fun

I’m not usually one for pulling (or even attempting) pranks on the first day of the fourth month, but yesterday evening I happened to think of how many times over the past year or so I’d joked that I was going to do something in particular. The day was right, so I got together with my good friend Howie to see what would happen.

April 1st 2011 With Howie Mandel

I did get several comments on Facebook, but the best thing was the frantic phone call I got from my elder son; That was most Excellent.

Sending Full-Rez Photos from Your iPhone

I came across an interesting article today, Email Full-resolution Photos From the iPhone 3G S. The article applies to the non-‘S’ model, too, and probably to the earlier non-3G as well.

TreeiPhone users should give it a read; I hadn’t even payed enough attention to notice that sending photos via the obvious method does not send the full 2048×1536 image.

That’s right — If, to send a photo from your iPhone, you go to the photo in the Photos app, tap the Share button, followed by the Email Photo button, you’re only sending a 600×800 image.

Don’t feel bad, I’ve been doing the same thing.

If you’re sending the photo to another person, that may be enough, but if you’re sending your image to flickr or other photo-sharing services it’s worth sending the highest resolution possible.

On Light, Or The Lack Thereof

Photography is, when all is said and done, an art in which light is a very important element. Where there is little light, we do what we can to compensate. We use strobes, we use fill lights, we use reflectors — sometimes with good results, but often not.

There are times to just say “the heck with it” and work with what little light exists. My older son played in a benefit concert this weekend, and I have several photos for which I used flash. I’m not as happy with any of them, though, as I am with this shot (for which the strobe did not fire).

James on Guitar

Technically, it’s not a good photo – it’s “noisy,” details are lost in the shadows, and I had to push the exposure and contrast way to far. But in the end, this image best captured his smile and the enjoyment he was having on stage. For me, this is the best picture from the day.

Print Resolution

Stephen A. asked a question this morning, how many pixels are needed to get a good large print. My assumption is that he means from a photo printing shop, not from his home inkjet printer.

I’ve had this chart for a while, though I don’t remember where I got it from — probably either SmugMug, Digital Grin, EZ Prints or RitzPix. If you work with a photo-printing house and have better info, please let us know.

Print size(in.) Min. width(pixels) Min. height(pixels)
4×6 800 600
5×7 1050 750
8×10 1536 1024
11×14 1750 1375
16×20 (poster)  2500 2000


This suggests a minimum resolution of 150dpi, though I believe the printers actually have a much higher “resolution” than that. Most print shops have ‘real’ photo printers, not dot matrix, so they don’t measure resolution the same way we computer people do, and they’ll interpolate up as they can, but this is probably a good minimum to start with. I’d double all those numbers, to be closer to 300dpi to start with. Remember that the “dpi” setting in photoshop really doens’t mean as much as the total number of pixels does.

Roger Ebert on Composition

While Photography has a great deal of technical aspects to it — you’ve got to get the “right” amount of light to the film/sensor but you only have three real controls, each of which also changes another aspect of the picture — the biggest part of photography and perhaps the hardest to teach is composition. Roger Ebert, the film critic, just wrote a post entitled How to Read a Movie, in which he talks about various “rules of thumb,” most of which are just as applicable to still photography.

In simplistic terms: Right is more positive, left more negative. Movement to the right seems more favorable; to the left, less so. The future seems to live on the right, the past on the left. The top is dominant over the bottom. The foreground is stronger than the background. Symmetrical compositions seem at rest. Diagonals in a composition seem to “move” in the direction of the sharpest angle they form, even though of course they may not move at all. Therefore, a composition could lead us into a background that becomes dominant over a foreground. Tilt shots of course put everything on a diagonal, implying the world is out of balance. I have the impression that more tilts are down to the right than to the left, perhaps suggesting the characters are sliding perilously into their futures. Left tilts to me suggest helplessness, sadness, resignation. Few tilts feel positive. Movement is dominant over things that are still. A POV above a character’s eyeline reduces him; below the eyeline, enhances him. Extreme high angle shots make characters into pawns; low angles make them into gods. Brighter areas tend to be dominant over darker areas, but far from always: Within the context, you can seek the “dominant contrast,” which is the area we are drawn toward. Sometimes it will be darker, further back, lower, and so on. It can be as effective to go against intrinsic weightings as to follow them.

It’s a good article, well worth reading.

Photo Caption Contest Followup

There were several replies, in comments here and elsewhere, to my challenge last week:

  • The wind will change and your face will stick like that… [Andy]
  • If you keep making jokes about my squinty eyes, I’ll start talking about your landing strip hair cut. And what are those on the front of your face, runway lights? [Bob]
  • Charlie Brown, you blockhead! [Allen]
  • why didn’t you tell me you were going to Easter Island? [Cyberdos]

My favorite came from Bryant: “So….You didn’t see the quicksand either?”

Congratulations, Bryant you win… a post with “Congratulations, Bryant” in it. smiling pirate Sorry, the prize patrol didn’t stop by this week, so that’s all I’ve got for you right now.

You Suck…

You Suck At Photoshop, via Ernie. Good stuff – funny, informative. Well, ok, so it’s only somewhat funny and then in a twisted sort of way, and if you’ve worked with PS for a while you probably already know most of this, and some of the audio’s probably “not safe for work” though that might depend on where you work. But hey, ya know, it’s on the net and it’s free what did you want? Forget that. What did you really expect?

Family Portraits

I spent some time at the home of some friends this morning, making their family portraits for them.

I don’t take the opportunity for photo shoots like this as often as I’d like. It was an enjoyable experience, and in about an hour of shooting (and a little over an hour in post) I was able to give them several images from which to choose.


When you’re going around the house (and car) resetting from daylight savings time, don’t forget that your cameras have clocks as well.

And take the time to remember to check the batteries in your home’s smoke detectors, too.