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

Adobe Lightroom – Using the New Range Mask Feature

By Megan P Galope

Have you ever tried using a graduated filter to make the sky darker, but in the process it also darkens the mountains? Trying to then remove the mountains from the filter was a tedious task. No more! Adobe Lightroom has recently added a new feature to the filters and adjustment brush called “Range Mask”, which makes these tools more precise and easy to use. Here is a typical image where the foreground is the correct exposure but the sky is too bright.

After adding a graduated filter, the sky looks good, but unfortunately, the foreground is darkened as well:

At the bottom of the graduated filter toolbox, you’ll now see an option for “Range Mask” (this assumes you have the latest version of Lightroom). Click where it says “Off”, and you’ll get a drop-down with a couple options. Choose the “Color” option.

Next, click on the eye dropper tool to the left of the Range Mask option, and then click and drag in the sky to draw a box around the different colors in the sky (in this case, I drew a box that includes both the blue sky and the clouds). You want to choose the colors that you want to be affected by the graduated filter.

Notice the small square in the upper right

Once you draw the box and let go, voila! The sky is darker but the foreground hasn’t been affected by the filter:

Truth be told, sometimes this works better than others. If it doesn’t work the first time, you can try drawing the Range Mask box again in a different spot, or make it larger or smaller. You can also draw multiple boxes to sample different colors by holding down the shift key while drawing another box. If you want to delete a box, hold down the Alt (Windows)/Opt (Mac) key (the mouse will turn into a scissors icon) and click on the Range Mask dropper marker that you would like to delete.

The Range Mask feature is available for both the graduated filter and radial filter as well as the adjustment brush.

Megan P Galope is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Twitter = @megangalope                                                                                                                    mapphotography.smugmug.com

How well do you know your camera?

By Amy Horn

Ice focus stacked imageAlmost a year ago I changed camera systems. Sold all my Nikon gear for an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and it has been a fun year learning new features on this camera. The two I use most are focus bracketing and focus stacking. The focus bracketing feature programs the camera to take up to 999 photos and it adjusts focus from near to far on the subject. Of course, a tripod and shutter release are

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

crucial.

Afterward I plug the images into Helicon Focus to stack the images. Here is an image of frost from a stack of 53 images using this feature.

Afterward I plug the images into Helicon Focus to stack the images. Here is an image of frost from a stack of 53 images using this feature.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Focus stacking on the Olympus camera is similar to focus bracketing in that the camera is programmed to capture images from near to far but it will only capture eight images with this feature. The bonus of this stacking feature is the camera stacks the eight images and processes a final stacked .jpg in camera! The image of Queen Anne’s Lace is an example of a .jpg using this feature.

Another feature I enjoy using is the double exposure setting. With this feature, I capture one image and before I capture the second image, the viewfinder displays the first so that I can place the double image where I want. This is an image from Gold King Mine, Jerome using the double exposure setting.Double exposure image

There a few other features I have yet to explore on my new camera and I will get to them. Do you have features on your camera that you don’t use or didn’t know you had? For me, learning is fun and if it gives me an excuse to play with my camera, I don’t complain!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAME 

Amy Horn is an Instructor 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

Before and After Image

By Amy Horn

During a recent visit at the Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park, AZ, I captured this monkey photo in mid-afternoon light. I loved the moment when the monkey walked across the log, but didn’t feel the mid-afternoon light added to the photo. I couldn’t go back later, so I thought about what would make a stronger image. First, isolating the monkey from the background would help the animal to stand out. So, I used the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom and increased exposure while decreasing clarity, this evened out the exposure and softened the background. Next, I converted the image to black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro. The “fine art, high key, framed” preset gave me the look I wanted. And like that, I transformed a mid-afternoon light into something better! Follow the process through the images below.

 

 

 

 

Amy Horn is an Instructor with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Watch that White Balance

By David Halgrimson

When shooting, we need to watch the White Balance settings on our camera. White balance controls the color cast in an image. A color cast will come from the color temperature emitted by the light source. The color temperature can create a warm, reds and yellows or cool, blues, feel in an image. This can be controlled in most cameras by selecting from multiple White Balance settings such as Sunny, cloudy, shade, tungsten, fluorescent, flash, and custom where the actual color temperature number can be selected.

Why is this important? Well, the camera does not see light quite as well as the human eye and may add color to an image that was not seen by the photographer when taking the image. For instance, when shooting indoors under florescent lighting the camera will add a blue tint to the overall image and tungsten light will add a yellow tint which in most cases will not look good for portraits or people in general. Another example is shooting images with bright whites such as a winter scene with snow. Even with the White Balance set to the best possible setting our cameras like to think of bright white as light gray.

What to do? First, be sure to check the White Balance setting on the camera before shooting and set it to the current lighting. Next, if you do post processing of your images it would be best to shoot in RAW. When shooting in RAW you can adjust the White Balance as needed or wanted. You can change from a cool blue to a warm red tint with one quick adjustment.

Here are two images taken in bright snow, the first one has a blue cast the second has been adjusted for the white snow but still has a warm cast due to the reflections from the rocks.

There is far more to knowing White Balance than covered in this short blog so hit the internet and search for White Balance and you will find enough info to boggle your mind. Don’t’ let it overwhelm you though, keep it to the basics and your images will be great.

David Halgrimson is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

THE NEW LIGHTROOM “ECO-SYSTEM”

By Suzanne Mathia

LIGHTROOM CLASSIC – LIGHTROOM CC

Lots of changes announced this week and confusion, worry and misinformation are rampant.  This happens with any new changes.  We all get very comfy with the familiar and resist change vehemently.

At the same time we have also been complaining loudly about the speed of importing, culling and developing inside the current model.  Adobe listened, and have drastically improved the speed of the interface while giving us some great new tools.  They also added an entirely new platform to the Lightroom “Eco-System” By separating the two products, they are allowing Lightroom Classic to focus on the strengths of a file/folder based workflow, while Lightroom CC addresses the cloud/mobile-oriented workflow.” The new names are: LIGHTROOM CLASSIC and LIGHTROOM CC

I have been working with the upgrade and I am ecstatic with the improvements.

“Lightroom Classic CC is designed for desktop-based (file/folder) digital photography workflows. It’s a well-established workflow solution that is distinct and separate from the new cloud-native service.  For professional photographers who want all the Lightroom Classic capabilities to support their own very specific workflows as they are now.Your Lightroom is now called Lightroom Classic.

HUGE IMPROVEMENTS!!

Speed – reviewing and culling with the speed and efficiency of programs like  Photomechanic or On One browse because Lightroom now uses use the imbedded jpg for fast loading. When you select the Embedded & Sidecar previews option, you can scroll through a large set of images quickly in the Library module and also perform 1:1 zoom quicker. The rendering of Embedded previews is prioritized based on the folder you are viewing. For example, if you import and add images to multiple folders, you can immediately begin scrolling through the images as they get added.

TIP: on import select Embedded and Sidecar for best performance

Performance and stability enhancements

  Enhanced in this release of Lightroom Classic CC 

  •     Application loading time
  •     Catalog upgrade and compression upon import and export
  •     Faster import with Minimal, Standard, 1:1 Previews
  •     Faster image selection upon import with Embedded Previews.
  •     Smart Preview generation
  •     Switching from Library to Develop module
  •     Rendering of images in Library and Develop modules
  •     Scrolling through images in Library and Develop modules
  •     Improved brushing and slider movements
  •     Deleting Collections
  •     Loading of faces in the People view

Bigger standard previews – wide of monitor default – was 2000 pixels now 3840

Export metadata without camera settings option – You can export All except camera raw info if desired.

  • Fine control over selections with Color and Luminance Range Masking tools.
  • Auto-masking with better noise reduction by updating to Process Version 4 (Current) under Camera Calibration
  • Filter Criteria in Smart Collections: Title – Is Empty or Not Empty and Lens Profile – Applied or Not applied
  • Metadata preset for the export dialog – All Except Camera Raw Info. This helps you to conceal the settings or changes you had made from being exported.
  • Filter Criteria in the Import dialog – File Type. This helps you to quickly remove certain file types if needed.
  • Better handling of multiple batches of merge operations (HDR/ Pano) improving GUI response
  • Preview generation of recently edited images (in last 2 days) during idle system state. This is applicable for Batch Editing use case, using Sync Edit functionality.

Color Range Mask

After making an initial selection mask on your photo with Adjustment Brushes or Radial Filter/Graduated Filters, use Color Range Masking to refine the selection mask based on the colors sampled within the mask area.

Luminance Range Mask

After making an initial selection mask on your photo with Adjustment Brushes or Radial Filter/Graduated Filters, use Luminance Range Masking to refine the mask area based on the luminance range of the selection.

Smoothness = feathering                                     Click and drag eye dropper for color range

So far I am absolutely loving the import interface speed and the new masking features are a real game changer!

For most users and those happy with the current system – no need to adopt the cloud based version at this time.

STOP HERE…..Update and be happy

For those interested in the Cloud Based system

No folders – date based that you don’t control

Sensei keywords – content search

Image analysis capabilities will continue to improve

Manage across any device at any location

Version 1.0 now

No pano or hdr

No curves

Get to know new LRcc first – Take for a test drive using duplicate copies

DOWNLOAD A PDF COMPARISON Comparison chart and additional info from Victoria Brampton – The Lightroom Queen
https://www.lightroomqueen.com/lightroom-cc-vs-classic-features/

Eventually, I may end up using a hybrid of both systems but primarily I am a desktop user and for now I’m just using the new and greatly improved CLASSIC!

If you have any questions or constructive comments, please let me know.

Suzanne Mathia is an Instructor with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops