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

Plane Bored (Or Just Plain Bored)

By Sara Goodnick

There is an answer to keeping yourself amused when flying, even on long flights, if you keep a camera close by. It’s easier with a mirrorless camera, but a newer cell phone can also work well.

1. Get a window seat in front of the wing, as close as possible to the front, if flying regular class. If you are behind the wing, the exhaust will have a negative effect on the air quality and your images will not be sharp.

2. Bring something to clean the window with, such as a soft cloth. Don’t use your good lens cloth-it might get contaminated with something awful. We were flying out of San Francisco to Hawaii during a gorgeous sunset. I was so happy to have been seated next to a relatively clean window.

3. Watch for interesting land patterns, cloud formations, shadows, storms, story-telling objects. Remember you are moving fast, and they will disappear very quickly! Be ready and don’t hesitate to shoot. Flying low into Phoenix from the NE during monsoon season has great potential for seeing afternoon storms.

Flying into places with a body of water nearby has many possibilities for interesting captures.

4. The images will improve when you take them into an image-processing program. I brought out some contrast and detail in these clouds in Lightroom CC.

5. When you can’t shoot from the window, look around where you are sitting. Ask yourself, “What would this look like through my lens?” This was looking into my glass of ice before I dropped it onto my lap.

Have fun! Then stretch out your back and neck muscles by turning the other way for awhile!

Sara Goodnick is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes.

Love your camera

By Rick Jacobi

I think this is an important part of one’s photography. A camera that you love and inspires you to shoot. There are many cameras that a person can own today, and they are all good. That being said then you should own a camera that speaks to your heart.

I am a street photographer and usually carry two cameras with me. I have bought and sold cameras in the last few years trying to find the combination that I really love. I have had expensive and inexpensive cameras that for me were not fun to use. I would not shoot as often because it was not enjoyable using these cameras. I would make up excuses in my head and would lose interest in shooting.

You will gain more creativity, more passion and motivation if you “Love Your Camera”. Don’t worry about what some other photographer uses for a camera. Remember they are all good. Just use a camera that is fun for you.  You might be thinking that I have this brand of camera with all the lens that I don’t really enjoy shooting with. What should I do? “Sell” it and get the camera system you would love to use. If you are not sure which one, rent them to find the one you love. It will be worth the money for all the fun you will have, and your photos will be better.

Unless you are a professional photographer, your photography is a hobby. Enjoy it to the fullest.

Enjoy your camera.

Rick Jacobi is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Unique and Memorable Gifts that you can make from your photos

By Lisa Hanard

In today’s day and age so much is available to purchases with a couple clicks of the mouse. With Amazon.com and other online retailers, most items can be had within 48 hours, delivered right to your door.

That convenience makes gift-giving quick and easy but it also takes a little bit of the personal touch and thought away from giving presents.

Here are some fun and creative gifts that you can design using your photographic talents and a little imagination. Your friends and family will love how you went the extra mile to create something special for them.

What better gift to commemorate a special family trip or vacation than a personalized jigsaw puzzle.

You can relive the memories of the trip while your family assembles the photo puzzle together.

 

 

 

 

http://www.zazzle.com

Another fun idea is a personalized cellphone cover.

These can be purchased for most major phone brands and protect your phone with a gorgeous personalized image.

It’s a wonderful gift that combines fashion and function

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.shutterfly.com

For the world traveler, customized photo luggage tags  are a wonderful concept and highly practical.

 

 

 

 

Another fun idea is a personalized shower curtain. It’s certain to be a big hit with small children that normally avoid bath time.

http://www.snapfish.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.shutterfly.com

I hope this has given you some great ideas and resources to create some memorable photo gifts for your loved ones.

You will be amazed how touched and honored your family and friends will be, to have personalized gifts created with your own stunning photography.

Happy Designing!

Lisa Hanard 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