Just a quick announcement to congratulate (and thank!) the summer winners of our ongoing Refer-a-Friend contest. If you’ve just tuned in, we’re celebrating all the great photo lovers in our family with a contest that runs through the end of 2o14.
In addition to getting 20% credit each time you bring someone new into the SmugMug world, each referral enters you to win a deliciously daring GoPro Hero 3+ camera, AND a chance be our guest of honor at SmugMug HQ. Full contest details and rules are right here.
Thanks so much for sharing us with fellow photo phreaks, and we hope that you’ll be getting out there and capturing your next adventure soon!
Merry Friday, dear SmugMuggles! To send you off into a happy weekend, here’s an update on the things we’ve launched in the last few weeks.
In case you missed it, we announced the ability for Pros to customize their Right-Click Protection message in the new SmugMug, so if you have a Power, Portfolio, or Business account, don’t forget to check that out. We love that feature and all the opportunities it opens for pros.
Snazz Up Your Slideshows with 14 (!!) New Transitions
We brought you background slideshows a while back to rave reviews. But we only gave you two transitional options to pick from: “Fade” and “None.” Yawn.
Today, you’ve got 14 more:
- Zoom In
- Zoom Out
- Zoom In/Out
- Zoom Out/In
- Slide & Zoom
- Slide Down
- Slide Up
- Slide Up/Down
- Slide Left
- Slide Right
- Slide Left/Right
- Flip Down
- Flip Up
- Flip Left
- Flip Right
You’ll find these in both your background slideshow and in the Slideshow content block. If you or your viewers are using an older browser that doesn’t support some of these transitions, we’ll use the ever-dependable “Fade.”
Safer Password Resets for Safer… Resetting
If you ever need to reset your account login password, we now have a more secure method of resetting it. Click the “Forgot your password?” link on the login page and we’ll send you a link to create a new one.
As always, ask our Support Heroes if you have any questions or hiccups.
Shortcuts and Bulk Improvements in Photo Tools
Who doesn’t love saving time? We added a few quick ways to edit your photos faster in the recently improved Photo Tools editor. Here they are:
- Cmd+Opt+S / Ctrl+Alt+S = Save changes (shows in single editing and bulk editing mode)
- Cmd+Opt+N / Ctrl+Alt+N = Save changes and move to the next image (shows only in single image editing)
- Cmd+Opt+C / Ctrl+Alt+C = Cancel changes (text shows only in bulk editing mode, but shortcut is also available in single editing)
And you don’t have to memorize them, either: If you’ve made any changes to your images, we’ll display the shortcuts over the Save and Cancel buttons, so you don’t have to dive for your mouse. Unless you want to.
Tip: We’ve got keyboard shortcuts for browsing galleries and photos, too. See the full list here, along with a few other secret Smug features you may not have known you already have.
You may have noticed that we also merged the title, caption, and keywords tools into one mega-tool. There’s lots more prepending/appending options and helpful text prompts that will guide you through adding multiple entries.
Until next time! Have a great weekend and don’t forget to bring your camera with you. :)
- Change your Right-Click message and don’t slap customers on the wrist
- How to reset your login password
- Add a slideshow anywhere on your site
- Changing your site background to display slideshows and photos
- All about your many Image Tools
- Keyboard shortcuts to get your browsing at lightning speed
- Add a title, caption, and keyword to your photos
While we’ve had tutorial videos and archived webinars forever, today we’re happy to show you the latest additions to our library: How to Buy Prints & Downloads.
Two New Videos for You to Share
Pros have often asked us for tools that will help sell more prints, gifts, and downloads, because occasionally your fans need a little extra push. So we’ve created a long-format tutorial (7:58) and a short-format tutorial (4:52) showing your fans how to add photos to the shopping cart, understand those framing and cropping options, and check out. Here’s the short version:
We hope that you’ll share these with your clients, or even embed them into your site so that they’re viewable at any time. Tip: Use Customize > Customize Site and drop a YouTube video Content Block onto the page. You can get the video link above.
Here’s to smoother sales at SmugMug!
P.S. Did you know that we have a 100% guarantee on all items ordered through your SmugMug galleries? If you or your customer are not happy for ANY reason, we’ll fix it or replace it for free. We mean it.
Links you’ll love:
Today’s post comes from extraordinary surf and landscape photographer Chris Burkard, who we recently featured in our short film, Arctic Swell. Chris has made it his life’s work to find wild, remote destinations and then capture the juxtaposition of humans in these environments. The world is an oftentimes harsh, humbling, and magical place, and Chris wants to photograph it all.
He shares his essential night landscape tips below. You can browse his portfolio and print store on his site.
It’s hard to beat the enchanting feeling of star gazing at a clear night sky. You soon become lost in its beauty like a giant kaleidoscope full of shooting stars, planets, and glow from the setting sun or nearby cities. I’ve traveled to countless countries over the past ten years and some of my fondest memories occur long after the sun has set. Whether it’s camping near my home in Big Sur or witnessing a rare northern lights show in the Arctic, I’ve had the privilege and challenge of documenting these night landscapes.
My introduction to night photography happened when I took a road trip in 2006 along the entire California coastline. My friend Eric Soderquist and I spent over two months on the road in his Volkswagon bus in search of waves in every California county. The trip was later turned into a book, The California Surf Project, and looking back through its pages you can see some of the early stages of my night photography. Camping under the stars literally every night made me that much more appreciative and eager to capture the beauty of the night sky. Fast forward 8 years and I’m still drawn to these dark moments where my friends and I are huddled around a campfire in Iceland or getting lost in the magic of the northern lights in Norway. Photographing in the dark certainly requires some adjusting but here’s some tips to prepare you for the next time you’re shooting night landscapes.
Night Landscape Photography Tip 1: Get Away From the City
The farther you are from city lights the clearer you will be able to see stars and the less light pollution you’re going to have. The photo pictured above was shot in Big Sur, CA a few hours from any major cities.
Night Landscape Photography Tip 2: To Infinity!
Set your focus to infinity or focus on far away light sources to make sure you get the sky in focus. If you want to focus on your subject shine a light on them.
Night Landscape Photography Tip 3: Trial & Error
Don’t be afraid to test settings to see what works best. The beauty of working with digital cameras is that you get instant feedback. I usually open my aperture as wide as it will go (f/2.8 or wider) and then vary my ISO depending on how bright the sky is. In this particular photo I exposed for 30 seconds at f/1.8 and 400 ISO. I like to keep my ISO as low as possible.
Night Landscape Photography Tip 4: Frame Up
Remember that the sky is your hero in the photo. Try framing the sky in the upper 2/3 of your image and then vary your angle depending on the scenario. With the northern lights creating a really dramatic light trail I framed up. You could do the same with the milky way or stars in general.
Night Landscape Photography Tip 5: Expose Long & Short
Long exposures are going to leave you light trails and short ones should make the stars nice and sharp. Try both methods for variety in your imagery.
Night Landscape Photography Tip 6: Bring a Headlamp
You can use a headlamp to light up your tent or even light paint a tree or waterfall. Practice the amount of light that you are shining out of your headlamp because it is easy to wash out the picture with too much light.
Night Landscape Photography Tip 7: Add a Subject
Adding that human element to a picture can give it a sense of perspective and depth. Play around with where you place the subject in your frame. The less busy your framing is the better.
Night Landscape Photography Tip 8: Mind the Moon
If you want to have clear stars shoot underneath a new moon or when the moon is below the horizon. If the moon is out you can play with the effects that it can have on your photograph. Use it to backlight trees or your subject but be careful not to let it wash out your picture.
Night Landscape Photography Tip 9: Use a Tripod
Or a rock or the hood of your car. A tripod is you’re most crucial piece of night photography gear. Joby makes great camping tripods cause they are small and packable. I also recommend a remote so you can make sure your shots are even more stable.
Night Landscape Photography Tip 10: Stay Up Late
Night skies are often darkest and most active late into the night. I’ve seen tons of meteor showers and northern lights shows way past midnight. Set an alarm and wake up if you have to or use a remote to take photos periodically throughout the night.
Check out our short film, Arctic Swell, to see Chris Burkard and pro surfers Patrick Millin, Brett Barley, and Chadd Konig brave sub-zero temperatures in the Arctic Circle.
Links to love:
… and use your powers for good, not evil.
A quick update this morning for pros who use right-click protection to stop thieves from grabbing your pics: we’ve added the ability to customize the message that displays when viewers right click your protected photos.
This is something that you could do using CSS customization in Old SmugMug, but we think it’s such an important piece of building a great experience on your site, we wanted to make it drop-dead simple for you to do this in the new, beautiful SmugMug.
Get It Set Up
Visit your Account Settings and look under your Privacy tab. Scroll down a bit and you’ll see a brand new “Right-Click Message” field. Fill that out, save your changes, and test right-clicking on photos in your protected galleries to see how it looks. Here’s more help.
Tip: We recommend being firm but friendly. If you have prints for sale, ask them to look for the Buy button to grab one of your photos in a legit way.
A Word About Image Theft
As always, we want to share some helpful info about image protection and what to expect. After all, if you’re paying us for a pro-level account, you should get the best bang for your buck!
We hear a lot from ambitious pros who rely on tools like Right-Click Protection way more heavily than they probably should. Why’s this bad? Right-Click Protection is just a deterrent, and if someone really wants to download a free copy of your image, there are several things they’ll try. For example, they can snap a screen grab, so be sure to use the full suite of image protection tools if you’re really worried about this. Here’s a quick review of your options:
- Right-Click Protection. Displays a popup window when any part of the gallery is clicked. Fabulous when coupled with a warm, friendly message encouraging fans to buy.
- Display Size. Limits the size of the images viewers can see. Great for foiling screen grabbers.
- Watermarking. Logo or text placed over your display copies. Add your URL, enable sharing, and you’ve got yourself a ton of free advertising for your biz. The best bit? Your prints still print clean.
We hope this helps those of you who are new to SmugMug, are new to photography, or who just haven’t fiddled with your site lately and are looking to brush up on the basics.
And as always, be sure to let us know if you have questions, problems, or just need some advice getting your site working the way you want. We’re here.
They say your first 10,000 pictures are your worst, or that it takes 10 years to become an expert. While we can’t necessarily refute those words of wisdom, we can share tips from our team of passionate photographers that may help shorten that climb to the top.
1) f/8 Is Usually Best
Without getting too deep into the details about optics and light paths, your lens has a sharpest point within the range of f-stops that you see on it. As a rule, the largest and smallest ends of the range are the softest, or least sharp, and f/8 or somewhere in the middle is where you’ll get the sharpest images. This varies by lens of course, but we suggest shooting your own test shots of the same subject at different apertures, zooming in, and seeing how that affects your images.
Tip: Don’t know what f/8 translates to in your photos? You can search for any kind of photo on SmugMug and then refine your search to see just the photos shot within a specific aperture range. Neat!
2) Cropping is OK
Unless you’ve jumped straight into big league macro or wildlife communities (where cropping is “cheating”) it’s totally fine to take your original photo and crop it so you have a better, stronger composition. Or maybe you just used the wrong lens and need a bit more zoom. Either way, it’s your trade secret and artistic decisions like this are part of what makes you – the photographer – unique.
Tip: You don’t have to crop before you upload to your SmugMug galleries. Use our handy Photo Tools to crop your images, or even Make a Copy and crop that one so you can compare the two and see which version you like best.
3) Renting is OK
You don’t have to own the gear to shoot with the gear. So you can’t drop $14K on a 800mm lens to shoot the next game? No problem – pay a pittance to have one for just the time you need, then send it back and call it a job well done. We can’t all be big spenders… even if we strive to get the perfect shot every time.
Tip: Our friends at Borrowlenses.com have a huge variety of photo, video, and lighting gear for every reason that needs a camera. You can even customize the amount of time you rent, if the standard time spans won’t work for you. Plus, SmugMug customers get an extra 10% off your entire order.
4) Editing is Essential
While we’ve stressed before that getting your photos right SOOC is good practice, it’s rare when a photo looks better raw than polished. Even the most perfectly-lit, powerfully-composed photo can benefit from a few finishing tweaks to color, sharpness, and other aspects that make pop to the eye. So even if you think that sunset couldn’t get better than it is, just give it a boost and see what happens. You just might like what you find.
Tip: You’ve got the power of Photo Effects (in your Photo Tools) and Picmonkey for the photos that live in your SmugMug galleries. But take it a step further with Lightroom: with the ability to sync and publish direct to SmugMug and pro-worthy features simple enough for beginners, we think you’ll be hooked. Check out the tutorials and see why.
5) Technique Can Solve (Pretty Much) Anything
Backlit subject? Contrasty sunset? Wind in your umbrellas? White dress, red walls? All of these scenarios (and thousands more) can throw a monkey wrench into how you thought the shoot would go, but you can still get the final photo you had in mind with practice, practice, practice. Study hard, stay inspired, experiment, and make mistakes. Lots of mistakes. The more you know, the more you can overcome challenges that would throw photo greenhorns into despair.
Tip: We can’t promise to have a ready answer to every problem, but we’re trying. As photographers ourselves, we strive to write and deliver photography-, website-, and business-focused articles on our blog, the SmugMug School website, and through our email newsletters. It’s our mission to help make photography (and whatever you do with it) more fun.
Links to love:
- Smug Features You Didn’t Know You Had (like EXIF search)
- Cropping in SmugMug
- ClubSmug for exclusive photo discounts
- Getting the shot right the first time (and other tricks to speed up your workflow)
- Using the in-SmugMug Photo Tools to apply color effects
- Beginner-to-advanced Lightroom video tutorials
- How to use the free SmugMug-to-Lightroom plugin
- SmugMug School: By photographers for photographers
- See what you missed in our newsletter archives
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard the news that we’ve revamped our Refer-a-Friend program, giving existing customers 20% account credit for every person they bring over to SmugMug.
But what if you’d rather have real money?
Cash In with the SmugMug Partner Program
For those of you with the gift of gab, charismatic leadership, or if you just prefer money for your referrals, we’ve got an option for you: The SmugMug Partner Program. Apply for an account now and you’ll earn at least 15% commission (higher payouts possible for top performers) for every new person who uses your link to open an annual account.
Example: Refer someone to open a $300/year Business account and you get $45 in your pocket. Commission is calculated on the transaction amount, so discount coupons can affect how much you’re paid.
The program is perfect for bloggers, community leaders, website owners, teachers, instructors, motivational speakers, or anyone who knows lots of people looking for a great photo home.
“Can I Do Both?”
Sorry, but you’ll have to choose one program or the other. We love that you want to bring SmugMug to as many people as possible, but we do ask that you choose the one method that suits your style best. However, if you’re already active in our Refer-a-Friend program, you can switch over.
“But… I’m No Sales Rep!”
That’s OK. Once you’re accepted into the SmugMug Partner Program, we’ll email you your own unique referral link and a handy style guide so you can start earning money right away.
We’ll also send you a handy writing toolkit, which includes banner graphics, topic ideas, flash sales (limited-time deals where you can earn bonus cash for your referrals) and sample blog posts that you can just copy and paste into your own blog.
We won’t leave you hanging. :)
How to Get Started
Simply fill out this form and we’ll get back in touch with you as soon as possible. If you’re looking for more info, check out our help pages, and we highly recommend that you read through the full Terms and Conditions of the SmugMug Partner Program, too.
Here’s to making the world a safer, prettier, and happier place for photos!