How To Create Your Own Blog

By Meng Tay

There are many reasons why you want to write a blog. Sure, you can share stories and pictures of your travels, family, friends, and what you are doing on Facebook, Instagram and a myriad of other social media websites.  A blog, however, allows you to write a longer story, enhanced it with photographs and videos, design how it looks, and even make money for you if you do it right.

One of the easiest ways to create your own blog is using Blogger.com.  There are other blogging websites, of course, but Blogger.com is free and easy to create your own blog.  Here are the steps:

  1. Create a Google account (because it is owned by Google).  This means creating a Gmail account.  If you are already using Gmail, then you are all set.  Even if you don’t plan to use Gmail, you need to create this account.
  2. Go to the blogger.com website. Click on “Create Your Blog” orange box in the middle.
  3. The next screen you’ll see is asking you to “Create a Blog”.  Here you need to pick a Title, which can be changed; a Blog address, which cannot be changed; and a Theme that can be changed anytime.  You can have your blog Title and blog Address to be the same.  Pick a title that expresses what your blog is all about.  For example, if it’s about travel, you can call it “TravelWithJoe”.

Finish this step by clicking on “Create blog!” at the bottom of the screen.

4. You will see the screen below.  This is like your Home screen when you are logged into blogger. The next step is to start writing a New Post.  A Post is an entry in a blog.  Click on “New Post” at the top of the screen.

Now you will see a screen like this below.  First, you need to give your Post a title that reflects what this post is all about. Something like, “How to pack for a safari”.  Next, you need to pick the type of font you want for the body of your post.  In the middle of the top menu bar are three important functions:

  • Link: this allows you to add a link to an external article or website to your post.  For example, instead of writing a long explanation about a city, you can add a link to Wikipedia about the city.  It saves you a lot of time having to repeat what’s already out there on the internet.
  • Photos:  a blog without photographs is like eating bagels without cream cheese.  By clicking on the photos icon, you bring up a screen giving you the choice of where you want your photos to be uploaded from.  It basically brings up the Finder (on a Mac) or Folder (on your Windows PC).

The following screen says “Add Images”.  Click on Choose Files and it will bring up the next screen.

This screen asks you to select the images to be loaded.  It can be a file or a picture from the Photos album.  I like to put my processed pictures in my Photos album (on Mac) so that it’s easy to see and upload to a blog, Facebook, or any other media. You can select multiples pictures or files at a time to upload.  To select multiple pictures/files at a time, use the Select and Command key together.

This is what it looks like when a picture is uploaded.  To add it to the blog, click on the picture to highlight it, then click on the “Add selected” button at the bottom.

The following screen shows what the post looks like when a picture is added.  You can change the size of the picture and also add a caption by selecting it

  • Videos – the process to add videos is similar to adding photos. There is a limit to how big the video file can be. I don’t know exactly what the limit is but I guess anything less than a 1-minute video is fine.

All you need now is to add a story to your blog.  Remember to save the post every few minutes to make sure you don’t lose anything you’ve added.  One of the disadvantages of Blogger is you have to be online to use it.  If you don’t save it and you lose your internet connection, you may lose everything that you have added.

When you have finished, you should Preview your post before Publishing it. This gives you a chance to see what your readers see and correct any mistakes or change your layout.  When you are sure that’s what you want others to see, go back your post and Publish it.  Voilà!  You have just created the first Post in your Blog!

The above gives you the basic steps to create a simple blog.  You can customize and design it in many different ways by using the Layout and Theme functions.  You can also make money from your blog by signing up with AdSense.  Click on the Earnings function to learn how to do that.

I have been using Blogger for almost 10 years.  Here is what my blog looks like:

https://mengineurope.blogspot.com

What I like about Blogger is it has an excellent Help section.  Google has a staff that answers your questions.  There is also a big community of bloggers that can also help you. If you don’t get it right at first, don’t worry.  “Rome was not built in a day”.  Keep tinkling and playing with it until you are happy with your design.

Happy Blogging!

Meng Tay is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

RAW VS. JPG, ENHANCING COLOR

By Vicki Uthe

I spent last spring break in Panama with my beautiful wife Ellen. I have nearly two thousand images to sort through and I hope you are as excited to see them as I am to share them.

I’m going to begin this blog with where we left off in Panama, on the San Blas Islands of the Guna Yala, an indigenous tribe in Panama’s Caribbean Sea.

When I first downloaded the images I was extremely disappointed that I wasn’t able to capture the true color of the blue green water surrounding the islands.  And then I figured it out. In Lightroom, in the Develop module, right below Basic, is a tab marked HSL / Color / B&W.  I clicked on that, scrolled down to Saturation, clicked on the little cross to the left, took it over a color I wanted to enhance and wah-lah! saturated colors! MUCH more like the colors we experienced on the islands, even with cloudy skies.

This is the image after I worked on it.

Here is another before/after example with the beach, palm trees, water and sky.

The following images all were enhanced using the same tool. You also have a choice of enhancing the Hue and Luminance, all of which can give you results closer to what you actually saw.

I know I spent the few days we had on these islands pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

The colors were so amazing and vibrant. I was so glad and relieved to discover I could convey those colors in my images.

In order to do this, though, you have to shoot in RAW, not JPG. As one of my favorite photographers puts it, imagine you have a bucket of pixels and information (that’s RAW) as opposed to a cup. That’s JPG. RAW gives you much more latitude when it comes to post processing your images. It will also use up more of your memory card so be sure to use big enough ones that you won’t run out on a shoot.

There are other post processing softwares out there, I happen to use Lightroom for organizing and post processing.

Don’t be scared, switch that camera to RAW and give yourself more creative options when post processing your fabulous images.

Happy Shooting!!

Vicki Uthe is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Create a Beautiful Photo Collage using Pic Collage

Author: Joanne Shipman

A few months ago I wrote about a mobile application called Snapseed for easy and fun post-processing on your cell phone, but now I’m going to show you how to take those photos and arrange them in a beautiful and inspiring collage to print or to post to social media. Just like Snapseed, Pic Collage is a free application that can be downloaded to both an iOS or Android mobile device and includes editing features in an easy-to-understand format.

Let’s get started! When you first open Pic Collage, you have three options: Grids,

Templates and Freestyle. For all three options, the application will ask to access your photos where you will select “ok”. You’ll be taken to the photos that you have on your mobile device and will select the photos that you would like in the collage.

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For the Grids option, your photos will be auto-populated initially in a default grid. At this point you have a few options: move the photos to where you want them in each shape of the grid or choose a different grid. At the bottom left of your screen you can click on the icon to select a different collage grid or select the plus icon in the bottom center of your screen to add a few items: more photos, web search on key words, text, stickers and backgrounds. For the Templates option, you can insert your photos into various backgrounds such as Christmas, Happy Birthday or Love. Finally, the Freestyle option is a blank canvas – sometimes the best for true creativity.

What’s really helpful is that if you select the “?” at the top of the screen while you are creating your collage, you’ll see a screen like the one shown below with brief explanations to help guide you.

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Within each collage option (Grids, Templates and Freestyle), simply double-click any photo for even more inspiring options such as: effects, clip, duplicate, back, set as background, border and remove. At this point let your creativity take hold and just have fun!

  • Effects can add various techniques such as changing orientation, enhancing your photo or removing blemishes.
  • Clip will arrange your photo into a shape such as square or circle.
  • Duplicate will create a second exact copy of your original photo.
  • Back arranges the photo layers from back to front or vice versa.
  • Setting a background takes your photo and creates a background in the collage.
  • Border will place a frame around your photo in a chosen color.
  • Remove will delete your last action, but don’t worry, you can always click on the Undo icon in the upper right of the screen to bring back your photo.

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Once editing is complete, click Done then Save to Library. If you have the free version, your collage will have an application watermark. You will find your photo in Photos for iOS or Gallery for Android then within the Pic Collage folder. Just like Snapseed – and taking it a bit further creating a beautiful and fun custom collage – you’re ready to post to social media or text your family and friends!

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Have you ever created a photo collage? If so, what program did you use whether on a  mobile application or on your computer?

 

Joanne is a trip leader for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

 

Fast and Easy Photo Editing using Snapseed

Author:  Joanne Shipman

For those quick gotta-post-this-shot for my friends and family, I turn to my iPhone as well as a practical but fun and intuitive photo editing application called Snapseed. This free application can be downloaded to both an iOS or Android mobile device and includes editing features in an easy-to-understand format. Once downloaded, all you have to do is know how to swipe.

To get started, select the Snapseed icon on your mobile device. In order to upload the photo, click Open in the upper right and find your photo saved on your mobile device that you would like to edit. From there, click on the pencil icon in the bottom right. At this point, you will see two sections titled Tools and Filters.

Within Tools, click the Tune Image tool first and adjust Brightness and Contrast for example. Swiping up and down on the photo will allow you to highlight various editing features. Swiping to the right will increase the selection, and likewise, swiping to the left will decrease the selection. Note the number at the bottom of the screen along with the ‘+’ or ‘-’ indicates degree of editing with your selection. The Details tool will allow for sharpening or clarity while Crop and Rotate can align the horizon or skew a photo to give an edgy look.

Snapseed offers many Filters with numerous options within each filter selection. For this Jackson Lake photo taken at Grand Teton National Park, the Drama 1 filter was selected with an adjusted Filter Strength from a preset 90 to 80. Finally, the finishing touch could be a Frame. In this photo, Frame #8 was chosen with a white border and inner ‘choppy’ black border. An additional feature is Frame Width in case you want to increase or decrease the border.

In all cases, after editing click the “Checkmark” at the bottom right of the screen to save your edits and continue with more tools if desired. Alternatively, you can always click on the ‘x’ at the bottom left in order to cancel that tool or filter and go back to the photo with last saved edits. Fortunately, all edits are non-destructive to the original photo saved on your mobile device.

Once editing is complete, click Save at the top of your screen. You will find your photo in Photos for iOS or Gallery for Android then within the Snapseed folder. You’re ready to post to social media or text your family and friends with your photo.

photo1

Now if that isn’t a “snap”, I don’t know what is!

Joanne Shipman is a trip leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

 

 

 

 

 

Benefits of Facebook Photography Groups

Author: Amy Novotny

Photography workshops and classes are a great way to learn general photography and various types of photography, such as landscape, macro, portrait, etc., in a condensed period of time. Arizona Highways Photo Workshops hosts many workshops that provide this service as well as help people meet other photographers that they can later use as resources or as buddies to go out shooting. At times though, it is nice to learn little tidbits of information on a daily basis or to seek out opinions of other photographers who have “been there and done that.”  Social media is a great way to achieve this goal.

Two social media groups on Facebook provide a great resource for photography information. Both the Nikon Digital Camera and Photo Enthusiasts and the Canon Digital Camera and Photo Enthusiasts groups allow for great discussion of photography or camera gear for their respective brands. As a Nikon user, I belong to the Nikon group and peruse the group site daily. There are strict guidelines for posting on the news feed including limiting photo uploads to three per day, listing the shooting details of each image and providing respectful comments and criticism. The site monitors do a great job in removing visitors who violate these rules.

This site has served me in several ways: providing me ideas on composing photos, helping me learning camera settings for different types of photography outside of my comfort zone, and helping me choose new gear to purchase. Originally, I joined the group in hope to hone my skills in various types of photography since I started out learning landscape photography. A friend had recently asked me to take senior portraits of her daughter and my brother’s wedding was fast approaching. I needed ideas on lighting, location and camera settings. The site contained many photos from contributors all over the world for senior portraits both indoors and outdoors as well as other creative portrait photography.  I came away with many ideas and had success.

When I decided to upgrade my camera from a Nikon D5500 to something with more versatility, I debated going to a full frame or remaining with a cropped-sensor camera.  Since many people had posted questions regarding this, I searched the group site and found many posts on the pros and cons of each camera type from users in addition to academic articles about the differences.  Once I narrowed down the sensor type I wanted, I had to decide on the best camera for my needs and budget. I posted a question on another user’s post for the first time and received a nice response. This was encouraging, as the turnaround was quick from a couple photographers who had both cameras that I was interested in and could easily offer advice on each.

nikon-group

Lastly, I wavered on a lens and had read many technical articles on the old and new version of the Nikon 24-70 mm lens. I still couldn’t decide, so I posted the question on the group site to see what photographers had found through their experiences. The response was wonderful and informative. I felt no hesitation in the decision I made after that and greatly appreciated the service this social media site provided.

nikon-group-2

The benefit to this site is that I can interact as much or as little as I want and still learn.  While I still feel that in person workshops and classes are the best way to learn a type of photography or learn how to photograph a location, these social media groups are a great supplement to further anyone’s photography.

Amy Novotny is a Volunteer Trip Leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Twitter: @amynovotnyaz
Instagram: anovotn

Mobile Editing with Photoshop Mix

Author:  Amy Horn

In my opinion, mobile editing is not a laptop but it is using an iPad to edit photos. So, on all of my travels I only take my iPad and recently I discovered a great application to editing on the run, Adobe Photoshop Mix. Not only is Photoshop Mix easy to use, it is a free download for Adobe Creative Cloud users. So, let’s take a look at my workflow. A few weeks back, I photographed ice on a frozen pond. When I returned home, I downloaded my images to Lightroom on my PC and created a collection of these images to synchronize with Lightroom Mobile. Now, my ice images were available anywhere I carried my iPad. A few hours later, our family took off on a weekend road trip which gave me time in the car editing my photos.

So, I opened Lightroom Mobile and selected a photo to edit. The image I am showing here is an image I thought I would throw away. When I first captured the image, I neglected to notice the branch in the frame. Once I studied my composition, I captured several more images without the branch. But instead of throwing this image away, I realized I really liked the curve at the bottom of the ice and decided it was worth editing. This particular edit is more than what Lightroom can do, so I chose the export feature of Lightroom Mobile and selected “Copy to Photoshop Mix.” Just like that, Photoshop Mix opened with my image ready to edit. That was pretty cool.

Original Ice image

Zoomed in image cloning tool in Photoshop Mix

The app has a simple overview screen with icons and descriptions to make it user friendly. I chose the healing button and then the clone stamp tool. With a quick tap on the screen where I wanted to steal from and then another tap on the screen over the branch, instantly part of the branch was gone. I continued to apply the clone stamp tool until I had removed the branch from the photo. In a matter of one minute or less, I had a “cleaned up” version of my image to evaluate. If I decided this image is a keeper, I will probably complete a final edit using Photoshop on my home computer, but since I was in a car and didn’t have my computer with me, this was a great solution. The best part of using Photoshop Mix is the seamless transition back to Lightroom. In my editing screen I chose the exporting icon and selected my favorite option, “Save to Lightroom.” Of course, I could have saved to my camera roll or many other options, but, just like that, my edited image was returned to Lightroom Mobile. Saving to Lightroom Mobile is synonymous to saving on my home computer since all of these photos synchronize instantly. Mobile editing doesn’t get much better than this! If you are a mobile device user, Photoshop Mix might be a great solution to your editing needs. Now I can edit on the go and know the image is safe on my home computer.

Finished image

Amy Horn is a professor of photography at Northern Arizona University and an instructor for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops. To see her current schedule view ahpw.org or horndesigns.com.

Listen and Learn

Author: Amy Horn

Since I was young, I remember hearing some version of the saying “listen and learn” from my parents. They would be happy to know that I have finally taken their advice. Probably not what they were thinking, but I have found listening to podcasts to be a great learning opportunity for photography.  Since I live in Flagstaff, a mid-sized mountain town, and travel frequently for teaching workshops, presentations and photography, downloading podcasts keeps me entertained on the road. Using the common Bluetooth features in newer cars, my days of searching for clear radio stations is over… the podcasts come in crystal clear. Of all the podcasts I have listened to my favorites are Photofocus, Improve Photography and This Week in Photo.

The Photofocus photofocuspodcast covers a variety of topics from new technologies to photographic techniques through professional interviews with working photographers. Videographer and photographer, Richard Harrington publishes this podcast three times a month and utilizes other professional photographers to conduct interviews as well. Whether you want to learn from Joe McNally, Lindsay Adler or any of the Photoshop Dream Team, Photofocus has the interview. This podcast is full of inspiration and information for beginners to advanced photographers wanting to stay current in the field. The Photofocus podcasts’ generally air for an hour and their website photofocus.com offers additional videos and resources free to the
viewer.

IP

The Improve Photography podcast, hosted by Jim Harmer, has grown drastically in the past months by adding additional pro photographers to their podcast for a
round table discussion and branched out with additional podcasts each week covering portraits, thoughts about photography and my favorite the “photo taco” podcast.
Although the music in the photo taco podcast is more energetic than what I like, each podcast is approximately 10 minutes long covering simple concepts in a short time frame. These audio discussions are targeted to a large audience and beginning photographers would really benefit from many of their topics. Improve Photography podcasts generally last no more than 40 minutes and the ImprovePhotography.com website offers additional courses ($) and articles to advance photographic learning.

The third podcast I listen to frequently is This Week in Photo (TWIP). TWIP has recently branched out with additional podcasts hosted by other professional photographers covering street photography, weddings, Photoshop/Lightroom, travel, gear, family, and twipthe weekly roundtable discussion. This network airs a wealth of knowledge in a variety of different subjects. Frederick Van Johnson, founder/host, invites different photographers weekly for the roundtable discussion and includes “picks of the week.” These picks highlight anything related to photography from books to apps to gear.  TWIP podcasts average an hour or more in length and the topics range from beginner to advanced. The thisweekinphoto.com website offers a member only option with additional learning available but all podcasts and show notes are free.  The show notes include links to resources discussed in the podcast.

All of the above podcasts are downloadable from their respective websites or iTunes. If you like listening to podcasts while driving, walking or cleaning the house then download one of these podcasts (or check out different ones) to “Listen and Learn” about photography.

Amy Horn is a professor of photography at Northern Arizona University as well as an instructor for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.