Earlier this week, news was breaking about the discovery of the OpenSSL heartbeat bug (nicknamed “Heartbleed”), and people everywhere have been concerned about the security of their online passwords and other sensitive data.
Our SSL provider, Akamai, made the appropriate patches before the issue was publicly disclosed, because the OpenSSL team gave them advanced notice. To the best of our knowledge we, along with Yahoo, Facebook, Google, etc., could have been compromised without us knowing, although it appears very unlikely.
However, out of an abundance of caution, many of us here at SmugMug HQ have already changed our passwords on critical sites like our email providers, and we recommend that you do this, too.
You can change your SmugMug account login password by visiting your Account Settings, under Me > Account.
Here are a few tips for creating good, beefy passwords:
- Don’t duplicate passwords across different sites. Once someone figures out one password, they instantly have access to any other site that uses the same password.
- Don’t create passwords that contain personal information like names, addresses, or your birthday. This makes them easier to guess and more susceptible to social-hacking attempts.
- Change passwords every 4 to 6 months. We all hate doing this, but it’s a great preventative measure.
- Don’t click suspicious links. Not sure the e-mail you received is from your web service? Don’t click! Instead, go directly to the website by typing the main URL into your browser.
- Password length is stronger than password complexity. Stringing together several random words is safer (and simpler for you) than a short password with lots of arcane symbols.
As we blogged several months ago, we’ve recently implemented notification emails that go to you (the account owner) any time someone enters an incorrect gallery password multiple times. We’ll continue improving on and delivering new ways to help keep your photos and personal details out of the wrong hands.
Devoted to keeping your memories safe,
- The SmugMug Family
In your busy life, the camera you usually have is the one in your pocket: Your phone! The photos you take with it are the easiest and most “real,” but they’re also the most difficult to get safely archived and online.
Don’t let your best memories die in a digital graveyard! It’s simple to get them out of your phone and safely up into SmugMug where you can cherish them for years… no matter how many times you drop, dunk, or destroy your device.
Today, we’re reminding you to do this often, so you’ll never be left grieving over the loss of your priceless mobile memories.
On iPhones and Android
If you have an iPhone or Android phone, it’s a no-brainer: use our Camera Awesome app. It’s a camera, editing suite, social hub, and backup service all in one, so you’ll never need to exit the app (unless you want to)!
How to do it: Download the Camera Awesome app. Tap the little gear icon at top left to open the settings and connect to your SmugMug account. You can then use the app to take all the photos and videos you want, edit them, and, when you’re ready, upload them to your account.
- You can also upload photos taken via other apps as well as your phone’s default camera through Camera Awesome, since we’re all about equal-opportunity backups.
- If you choose, you can set ALL photos and videos that you shoot with Camera Awesome to automatically back up to your gallery as you shoot. Or opt to send them only when you’re connected via WiFi.
- Alternatively, you can choose to save photos from Camera Awesome to your phone’s photo library and manually upload them to your computer’s hard drive (and to your SmugMug account!)
Hot tip: If you’ve taken a photo and for some reason can’t find it in your photo library, our Support Heroes use apps like iExplorer to find and access every file on your device.
Backing up on other phones or apps
If you aren’t using Camera Awesome, your phone should still allow you to access your images manually, so you can upload them to your SmugMug website for safekeeping.
We won’t go into specific steps for how to do this, since you’re probably already familiar with the process of plugging in your phone to your computer. You may even already use manufacturer’s software to download your photos to your computer and they may even offer to put a copy of your photos into existing free services that you use, like Dropbox or Facebook. This is a convenient option, but we recommend taking two more seconds to also drag your files into SmugMug, too.
Why? SmugMug’s the only service that’s completely unlimited to use, and we won’t squish or resize your images. Storage is already included in your subscription fee, and you can retrieve everything using the built-in backup feature.
We’ve got several really great ways for getting your files into SmugMug; use the one that works best for you. We like using the default browser drag-and-drop window, with the option to automatically skip or allow duplicate files.
If you walk away remembering nothing else….
… be sure it’s this: Please download and back up your photos on a regular basis so if your phone should ever get lost, stolen, or go on the fritz, you won’t miss a single memory that you’ve recorded. We’ve all had this happen to us, and with SmugMug you can retrieve thousands of lost memories with a single click.
Happy snapping. And don’t forget to back up!
If you haven’t already heard, we recently released some new options to the way you apply watermarks to your images, but we’ve gone ahead and taken it one step further.
In the New SmugMug, you can now create, choose, edit and apply your custom watermarks all from a single location. Gone are the days of choosing your logo image from within a gallery, then tweaking it in your Account Settings.
Your New Home Base for Watermarks
You’ll still open your Account Settings to see your watermarks alongside your other pro branding tools. But now you’ll find a gorgeous, brand-new, edge-to-edge interface with a large sample photo in center, and all your watermarks in a column down the right-hand side:
Click any of your watermark previews to try it on for size. Or click the “+ Create” button at top to select a new graphic (that you’ve already designed and uploaded) for use as a fresh new watermark.
There’s even a handy button at the bottom to change the sample image to something brighter, darker, or vertical. This is a great way to get an idea of how the orientation or brightness of a photo will affect how your watermark looks.
And as always, you can hit the universal wrench or trash icons under each of your existing watermarks to edit and delete them, respectively.
Check out our updated help pages to get the complete details about watermarks and how they work. You’ll also notice that we’ve changed the way you edit Printmarks in exactly the same way, since Watermarks and Printmarks are very similar features.
Watermarks, in a nutshell
New to Watermarks? Here are a few important things to know:
- New custom watermarks default to size Large and up. You can specify a different minimum size in the settings.
- Watermarks are nondestructive, so your prints won’t include them.
- Watermarks will need to be re-applied to your photos to display any changes you make.
- You can have as many different watermarks on your site as you wish.
- Watermarks are available on Portfolio and Business accounts only.
About SmugMug’s Printmarks
And if you’ve never used our Printmarks feature and are intrigued to try it, here’s a quick rundown of what they are:
- Printmarks are like watermarks for the physical prints you sell.
- Although we recommend you use large graphics to ensure your Printmarks print well, they are limited to covering a small fixed percentage of the print area.
- Printmarks are great for applying your artist signature, a team logo, or a wedding date to your prints.
- If you change your mind, Printmarks can be removed during Proof Delay.
- The Printmarks feature is also available on Portfolio and Business accounts only.
So if you were looking for an excuse to freshen up your Watermarks and Printmarks, now’s the time! We hope that these changes make it more enjoyable and easier to manage the nuts and bolts of your photography business.
Let us know what you think! And, as always, stay tuned because there’s always more good stuff coming down the pipes from Smuggy HQ.
Links to great pro business tips we’ve shared:
- Encylopedia of the (SmugMug) Watermark
- How to Avoid Crippling Photo Theft
- 8 Smug Tools That Earn Your More Money
- 5 Simple Steps to Build Your Brand
Have you ever wondered about how a particular feature at SmugMug came to be built? Thousands of happy photo lovers log in and tweak their websites every day, but there’s more to the site than just the buttons you hit. So we’re going to take you behind the scenes and shed a bit of light on how we dreamt up – and sweat over – the details that you’re probably using every day.
Today we’ll take a closer look at the color picker – that little box that pops up when you’re tweaking your Themes, font colors and other hues in your personal palette. Think it’s just a clear-cut click and run? No way!
Years ago, back when the “easiest” option to personalize your site was the Easy Customizer, our lead engineer had an idea: What if we could shorten the amount of time people spent picking colors that matched? What if we built a system that automatically knew the best complements to the hues you liked?
Best of all, what if we could just make it visual, easy process instead of forcing people to squint at code, risk mistakes and break their websites?
We wanted to take the work out of customization and make it fun for you to create something beautiful. So we coded up something bigger, better, and a whole lot smarter.
The color picker is more than just a pretty swatch:
You’ll find it any time you open up and edit a Theme. Take a closer look and notice that when you click on any point in the square, we’ll automatically pick a contrast color, text color and any other subtle elements that show up best based on the color you’ve chosen.
Whether you love dark or light, you don’t have to stress about choosing the best tones that will catch the eye. Text is automatically easily readable, and you probably won’t even notice that we’ve picked almost a dozen other elements as highlights. The amount of contrast needed on these secondary colors should be just perfect to avoid your viewers getting jabbed in the eye by something too dark, too bright, or too loud.
How it Works
When you pick a color on the swatch, we consider that a mid tone and map out similar colors both brighter and darker than that, with just the right amount of contrast between each. We’ll then assign numbers to different parts of your SmugMug site (like your text, the background, your buttons, the border colors around your images, etc) from 1 to 30, and so on.
As a result, your SmugMug site becomes a big paint-by-number, and each spot gets filled in with the colors we’ve calculated. The best part is that in doing this, we’re automatically writing the CSS in the background for it all, so you don’t have to.
If you’re the codey type and want full control, you can always override our choices by clicking on the color choice box and choosing your own. Or by using your own CSS, of course. But it’s definitely not required – just let our systems do the heavy lifting for you!
Unique Challenges to Overcome
While the above theory sounds great on paper, it required quite a bit of tweaking before we shipped it onto your sites. So we spent time adjusting the algorithm to be sure that everything looks good 100% of the time… no matter what color you pick!
Here were the two biggest challenges we encountered:
- Users choosing medium-tone saturated hues from the color picker resulted in themes that looked garishly bright and super contrasty. Why? Choosing bright colors like kelly green throws off our calculations of complementary colors. We had to temper this and build special algorithms to deal with bright hues like that.
- The art of calculating complementary shades is not the same when working with dark themes as it is for light themes. As you go from black to light, there’s a point in the middle where the math flips. Case in point: A light border shows up nicely on a dark background, but dark borders look best on light backgrounds. So how do we anticipate where in the spectrum that happens? This took additional tweaking to fix.
See It in Action
So we invite you all to go and play with your Themes, click around and watch what happens when you choose your favorite colors in the picker. Because Power, Portfolio and Business accounts all have the ability to create (and edit) as many themes as you wish, we encourage everyone to get playing and witness all the beautiful, effortless possibilities our color picker creates for you.
Water photographer Sarah Lee (recently featured in a behind-the-scenes artist profile for our SmugMug Film series) grew up in Hawaii, surfing and swimming competitively. One day, while at a swimming competition, she was handed a camera and hasn’t looked back since. She finds inspiration in the unpredictability of nature, creates art that captures the interplay of people, water, and light, and uses photography to find beauty in the chaos. If you want to take the plunge into underwater photography, check out Sarah Lee’s essential underwater photography tips below, plus get a close look at her underwater photography gear kit.
Underwater Photo Tip #1: Ask your models to channel their inner ballerina or yogi and trust them. Open body posture is key. This photograph was taken of adventure model and soul surfer, Alison Teal, somewhere in the warm waters of Fiji.
Underwater Photo Tip #2: I find it ideal to photograph people underwater in the late morning between 8-11am because you’re going to need a lot of natural light being underwater. Though, on occasion it’s fun to experiment with different times of day. This photograph was taken during the last hour of the day, probably in the presence of a few sharks too shy to make themselves known.
Underwater Photo Tip #3: Skin tones look the best within 1-5 feet of the surface. Beyond that, you start to lose the warmth and reds in their skin tone.
Underwater Photo Tip #4: Lately I’ve been using an Outex, which is a silicone water cover. It’s rad because you can use different lenses in it, and it has a tripod neck strap. It’s worked really well underwater in lots of different situations.
Underwater Photo Tip #5: You don’t always need a fancy camera or underwater setup to take a good photo. This photograph was taken on a GoPro. Read more about shooting with a GoPro on my blog.
Underwater Photo Tip #6: Working with props and clothes can be challenging underwater but worth the effort! In this shoot, I created a jellyfish from an umbrella, ribbons, and beaded curtains. Just be careful you don’t lose anything in the process!
Underwater Photo Tip #7: Within the realm of underwater photography, there’s not much in your control. It’s all about being in the moment and finding the composition within the “chaos.” Most of my favorite photographs were taken when I just let things “be” and used my camera as a way to interpret what is happening at the present moment, rather than trying to orchestrate and control any of it.
Underwater Photo Tip #8. Protect your gear. I alternate between surf housng and water covers depending on the conditions I shoot in.
Find Sarah online:
When not finishing up her film-production degree on the coast of California, Sarah Lee spends as much time as she can in the water. Be it Hawaii, Australia, or any coastal beach, she loves diving in to see what photos can be captured beneath the waves. Her natural love of swimming led to photographing swim meets, and her interest in photography grew until she started taking her camera in and under the water to photograph other swimmers, surfers, and good friends. Sarah’s passion has led to her work being featured in Italian fashion magazines and for adventure companies in Australia and New Zealand.
How long have you been a photographer?
I started taking pictures in high school, and I never thought I’d do it professionally. I grew up surfing for fun and swimming competitively. Someone handed me a camera during a swim meet one day, so I started taking pictures. When I started shooting, I really enjoyed the way it allowed me to interact with people and capture what was happening. And it evolved from there.
How would you describe your specialty?
What I do is 90 percent focused around the water and ocean. I grew up around it—and in it—and it’s very important to me. I would describe what I do as water and lifestyle photography. It’s people interacting with nature, in water.
My approach to photography is more spontaneous, because, for me, it’s more about capturing what’s actually happening than trying to make something happen. With water, many things are out of your control, and I love that. Whatever the water and light decide to do, you have to adapt to capture it.
Have you worked on a lot of surf photography?
Probably my favorite thing to do is surf photography, but I approach it more as something to do for fun. I was in Fiji two years ago during one of the surf contests, with 15- to 20-foot waves. I just love swimming and shooting in huge waves!
Is that the coolest place you’ve traveled for a shoot?
Actually, there’s this spot in New Zealand called Blue Duck Station. I traveled there with the Alison’s Adventures series I was working on. It was this amazing farm filled with sheep and horses and rivers—just the most majestic place. Imagine riding horses up the tallest mountain at sunrise to watch the fog separate over the mountains. It was incredible.
Are there any other shoots that are particularly memorable for you?
I did a shoot for a high-fashion design company, forte_forte. This Italian clothing company found me online, and they sent me their capsule collection that they wanted to have photographed underwater. They were these gorgeous, expensive gowns, and I told them, “You know they’re going to get destroyed, right?” They didn’t blink.
For that commission, I got some of my friends together—swimmers and surfers—and we swam under really big waves with these really heavy, long dresses, and it was an incredible feat, especially for the models. forte_forte loved it. It got published in Marie Claire Italy, too, and all over the Internet.
Did the models have to change in the water?
Yes. I swam with a huge backpack filled with the dresses, and the models had to change in the water between waves. That’s also why I use only experienced swimmers and girls whose swimming abilities I am familiar with.
It sounds challenging!
It’s extremely challenging! Especially for the models since they have to swim in the dresses, too, without fins. It can be really tiring for them.
Have you done any more fashion shoots?
I did one a couple months ago for another Italian company’s swimwear line. They had these expensive Italian leather boots they wanted shot underwater, as well as purses and jackets with bikinis. Styling is a bit impossible, but there are approaches to having a purse underwater and having clothes in motion.
And the model—huge props to that girl. She had to wear high heels and a jacket while holding a purse under the waves, and she was amazing. I tried to put on one of the shoes just to see what it was like, and it was a disaster.
How do you find models for your underwater shoots?
Mostly it’s people I meet surfing or swimming. I’ve never really used a professional model before. Because water is such a difficult element to deal with, it’s important the models are strong swimmers and are aware of what the ocean can do—and be able to hold their breath well. It takes a really special person to do that.
Do you have signals to direct the models while underwater?
We actually wait to surface to give direction. It’s all about timing so we can talk above the water and give direction, then go back underwater to continue shooting.
What kind of conditions do you look for when you go out for a shoot?
It depends what kind of shoot it is. My favorite kind of shoot is early in the morning or sunset underwater—just like any photographer’s ideal timing. Condition-wise, it depends on the spot and if it will be high tide or low tide. Each spot is different in terms of when water clarity is best. There are so many elements to consider, like surf size, tide, wind, and weather.
For shooting underwater, you want bright sun and less cloudy weather. But above the water, like for surfing, I love cloudier, darker skies with light—like when a storm has cleared and the clouds are dark but there’s so much light. That’s the best.
How far do you usually have to swim out?
It depends on the spot. For some places it’s 50 feet off shore, and others it’s a couple hundred feet. Lighting for underwater is best between 1 to 8 feet from the surface. Too deep and you lose a lot of light and clarity, and it affects skin tone.
Is everything you shoot natural light only?
Ninety-nine percent of what I do is all natural light. I’ve tried flashes underwater, but I haven’t really gotten into it. Lately I’ve been shooting underwater at sunrise or sunset to experiment with natural lighting.
Have you ever used props other than dresses and other items your models wear?
For one shoot, I really wanted to build something that looked like a jellyfish. We found a plastic umbrella, bought some beaded chandeliers that go over windows, took them apart, then stitched them onto the umbrella and added ribbons. That was really intense to deal with in the water.
Was the umbrella easily tossed around by the waves?
We didn’t take it into the waves because of the risks of having a huge umbrella underwater, so we took it out into deeper water for that shoot. It worked out pretty well—and no plastic pieces were lost in the process!
What gear could you not live without?
If I could just have one lens and body to walk around with, it would be my Nikkor 50/1.2 and 5d MkIII.
Lately I’ve been using an Outex, which is a silicone camera cover. It’s rad because you can use different lenses in it and it has a tripod neck strap. It’s worked really well underwater in lots of situations.
And of course fins—and goggles, sometimes.
Do you have to decide on which body and lens you’re using before you swim out for a shoot, or do you ever swim back to shore for a lens change?
I have to choose one and go out for the entire shoot so no; I have to make a choice and stick with it and shoot it all on manual, adjusting aperture and shutter speed as I go. I’ve done it enough that, based on the conditions, I know what’ll work best. For anything underwater, you’re usually shooting fisheye or wide angle.
It must be like manual zoom, too, but instead of walking you’re using your fins.
Totally! It’s cool because you can just be underwater, floating and swimming. It’s not always just a “walk in the park,” and that’s what I love most.
Any advice for an aspiring photographer?
I like to approach every photo session as an experiment. Be open to whatever nature and the elements give you, and work with it. Take it easy, and adapt to whatever happens. So far that approach has worked out for me.
Find Sarah online: