You’re an awesome photographer. Brides throw themselves at your lens and you can’t walk down the street without booking a new gig. Do you really have time to design albums that match your killer style?
We’ll go out on a limb and guess “No”.
Strap on your socks, cuz they’re about to go flying. Introducing our new friend and your new partner-in-crime, ZOHO Design:
The designers at ZOHO know their stuff and they make it their personal mission to work with you to get the best possible album. Each and every piece is completely custom to you, your event and your pics. They will email or call you during the whole process to be sure that you love what they’re doing.
How it works
The process is dead simple:
- Give them your name and a rough idea of what you want.
- Sit back and wait for updates so you can say “Yea” or “Nay”.
- Print the finished files at one of their recommended print labs, or take them to your favorite album company for fulfillment.
To get started, check out their site or find them under the Buy button in any of your SmugMug galleries.
You get the glory. They do the work. It’s a perfect relationship! And happy clients make for happy pros, so give them a chance to help you work smarter, not harder.
Earlier this week, USA Today talked to SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill at WPPI about the importance of digital downloads. Take a look at the article and watch the interview here:
If you haven’t yet discovered how digital downloads can rock your business, then keep reading. This blog’s for you.
Why Downloads are Awesome
Pros can sell up to 6 different digital download types and make bank on each one:
Offer three sizes for flexibility. The Low-Res 1 MP download is roughly 816×1224 pixels, about big enough to print as an 8×12 . The Hi-Res 4 MP version is twice the size, weighing in at around 1632×2448. It’s big enough to make a 30×40 print, or most of our largest catalog offerings. View our minimum requirements chart to see how we came up with those numbers.
Originals are just that: If you upload a 23 MB file, that’s what your customer will receive when they buy it. Note that we never upsize and just offer the resolutions that we can make.
Example: If your original file is 3 MP, we’ll only show the 1 MP and Original options for sale.
They’re quick and convenient. Downloads are a great way to offer easy, reusable, unwatermarked files to your clients. They can use them for Facebook, blogs, Craigslist ads, digital scrapbooks, Wanted Posters and tons of other creative places. No muss, no fuss and no stalking the mailman. They’re available immediately after checkout (and won’t expire if you forget).
Direct links for download are included in your order confirmation emails as well as on the online order page. Best of all, folks who buy four pics or more can retrieve them bundled in a zip file.
Sell them by the piece or by the pound. If all photos in a gallery are priced for downloads, your clients can add one of everything to their cart by hitting “All Digital Downloads” in the Buy button. Of course, they can just buy individuals by looking for the blue “Downloads” tab in the shopping cart.
Finally, remember that downloads are available immediately after purchase, so they don’t qualify for Proof Delay. Keep this in mind as you tweak your workflow.
We hope you Pros learned something new or picked up a couple of tidbits to perk your sales.
Vive la revolución digital!
The SmugMug Family
Everyone’s got a story to tell. What’s yours?
Tell us and you could win $200 Blurb bucks to help your launch your very own printed project. Here’s how:
1. Visit us on Facebook.
2. Sum up your story in a couple of sentences and post it on our Facebook page. What would you write about in your own book?
3. Hook us in and include a link to one of the photos you plan to use.
Post your ideas by Monday the 28th at noon, Pacific time. We’ll announce one randomly-picked winner that night on Facebook, so make sure you check in!
We love Blurb because they make it simple to design and publish your own beautiful photo books. They offer lots of cost-effective options so you can pick and choose exactly what your readers will feel in their hands. From portable pocket books to luxe tomes on premium paper, there’s something for every photo:
So tell us where you’ve been, what you’ve learned, or what’s moving you now. We can’t wait to hear (and see) all about it!
Here’s to publishing great pics together,
The SmugMug Family
Have you seen this man?
You should. He’s awesome!
If you’ve never received a help email from Nick, shook his hand at a SMUG or boogied with him in Vegas then you’re missing out on one of the best bennies of being part of our family. Nick’s the real deal, and his Garbaldi is the source of his power. It makes scissors tremble and stylists swoon. Nothing can stand in its way and we have pictures to prove it.
Best of all, his beard is the Blarney Stone of the chin world. Touch it, and ye shall be gifted with undying off-camera light and perfection in posing.
Hero Nick will be stalking the pens at WPPI this week so you can come and see us (and him) at booths #1528 and #1529. If you can catch this cagey tiger and lay fingers on Thee Sacred Hairs, you may find yourself surrounded with beautiful models, zippy interns and possibly something even better. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Snap a pic of yourself while touching Nick’s beard at WPPI and post it to SmugMug’s Facebook wall. Then tag yourself! And if you’re still riding on the high, Tweet your success so others can play, like this:
#NicksBeard. Snap a pic for a chance to win a prize from Andy’s gear bag. @SmugMug booths 1528 and 1529 #WPPI
Deadline is Tuesday at 9 PM, Vegas time. Winners will be announced via our Facebook Wall on Friday.
Five winners will be randomly picked from all of those that show us the goods on our Facebook wall. We’ll then pick five more random winners from those who have tweeted about it, and another five random winners from everyone else who shows us they’ve touched The Beard.
Something good’s comin’ your way. We’ve got tons of swag, photo gear, bags and even a free year of SmugMug Pro ready to go.
And if Nick’s face-drapery isn’t enough to get you to hang out with us, stop by the booth for a super-special 40% off code to save on your first year of SmugMug. What else could you possibly ask for?
See you in Vegas, baby!
UPDATE! Although this contest is now over, we have good news in the form of winners. There were fourteen successful posters who overcame shyness, crowds and bad wi-fi to post a pic of #NicksBeard, so they each get a free year of SmugMug Pro PLUS $125 print credit (OR $125 credit towards site customization with one of our certified companies). In addition to these great prizes, those of you who posted by the Tuesday evening deadline will get free bonus SmugSwag.
Thanks to everyone who participated, even if you couldn’t get your pic on our fan page!
If your name is below, stay tuned. Katherine will drop you a note on Facebook with details.
- Jummel Hidrosollo
- Catherine Oglesby Tolbert
- Tommy Huynh
- Classic Image Photography, LLC
- Cathy Breslow
- Torsten Bangerter
- Monica Toohey-Krause
- Trudy Mitchell Montgomery
- Julie Antillon
- Melanie Custodio Powers
- Gavin Farrington
- Tim Powers
- Brian Dang
- Sina Ngov
If you couldn’t make it to Vegas, we have fun giveaways going on over at Facebook each week. Don’t forget to “Like” us so you can win something, too!
Patrick Smith is a world-renowned landscape photographer who specializes in gigapixel panoramic projects. We wanted something special for SmugMug HQ – a mind-bendingly tricky pano of San Francisco – and we thought he’d be up for the job. He pulled it off perfectly and lived to write up this guest post for us. You can see it here and cover your own walls with this amazing shot. Here’s how he did it.
It seemed like such a harmless idea at the time.
SmugMug’s Chris MacAskill wanted a print for the SmugMug headquarters that would be similar to a photo I had shown him earlier, only much bigger. He wanted a huge panoramic version of the classic view of the Golden Gate Bridge with the Transamerica building seen through the north tower. Chris was thinking of printing it somewhere in the range of 30-36 feet across at close to 240DPI. I thought it would be a decent amount of work but not a big problem – after all, multi-gigapixel photos are becoming more commonplace every day and stitching programs have improved a lot over the past few years. One recent image of London is made up of over 4,000 individual photos!
Most gigapixel images are created during daylight hours or well after dark, conditions at which the light is consistent over dozens (or hundreds) of shots. However, I wanted the entire panorama to be done during the rapidly changing light that occurs just after sunset.
After a few quick calculations, I figured that I could get the resolution Chris wanted from about 30-40 portrait photos across and a few rows high with my Canon 5D MK II and about 25% overlap between photos. I decided to rent the Canon 800mm F5.6 lens for 10 days from BorrowLenses. They were very helpful and even had a drop-off point near my house in Walnut Creek. I thought that 10 days of shooting would be plenty of time if I could choose a window of opportunity where there would be plenty of clear days with good visibility. It was November, and the California rainy season was about to begin. But with no storms in sight and a warm spell in the offing, I rented it.
I wanted to create an image that would look like a single photo taken during those few moments about 20 minutes after sunset where the softening natural light is about equal to city lights. A photograph created at this time will not have blown-out highlights but still have the glowing atmosphere of a nocturnal view. Since I needed to shoot over 30 photos per row and at least 3 rows tall, I knew that it would take several favorable days to shoot them all. This is because there are only a few minutes with good light after sunset and each exposure would take around 7-12 seconds to shoot. Also, with the 800mm lens you have to be very precise about focus, and setting the focus using the Live View feature adds even more time to each shot.
I was excited to begin. The next 10 days looked clear and warm, so off I went. The first obstacle was how to stabilize this huge lens during 10-second plus exposures when it is perched on the side of a hill exposed to strong ocean wind. The Golden Gate is the easiest place for wind to pass through the California coastal mountain range so there is a lot of it passing through. The sturdiest tripod is no match for these breezes so I had to come up with another solution.
I headed over to Home Depot and bought a 1-inch thick rounded and sanded plywood wheel that is about 18 inches in diameter. It is about the size of a very large pizza. Also I bought a plastic bucket, a short 1×4 and some thin wood shims. The idea is to place the plywood onto the bucket and then put the lens on the plywood. Then it is easy to rotate the lens right and left. The bucket is low to the ground and very stable even in high winds with the big lens on it. Also, it is easy to level the entire thing using by moving it in the dirt until your line of sight across the wheel is level with the horizon. I cut the 1×4 to a length of about 6 inches and cut notch in the middle so that the end of the lens would rest in the notch. That stops the lens from rolling around. The thin wood shims are then used to raise and lower the camera side of the lens. With this setup, you can shoot an entire row, insert or remove some shims and then shoot another row.
For the first 10 days, visibility over the bridge was perfect but it was hot and the city lights twinkled. Twinkling when viewed through 800mm of lens makes the entire frame flicker back and forth as though you are looking into a swimming pool on a windy day! During daylight it is not too bad because you can have an exposure time of 1/100 or less and things may look a bit wavy but at least they are sharp. At night, an 11-second exposure with the heat shimmering will make the entire image soft in a similar way to what you might see on a long exposure of ocean waves. Even my morning shooting suffered from atmospheric distortion. After 10 days with that magnificent lens I had nothing to show for my efforts! Needless to say I was a bit discouraged. However, I am not one to give up easily, so I borrowed a friend’s 500mm F4 and a 1.4 extender for a total of 700mm of magnification. Fortunately, he was very patient because it took about 4 extra weeks to get the images I needed.
Eventually the weather cooled, the atmosphere stabilized and the twinkling was dramatically reduced. Next, my hope was to get some mist in the atmosphere over several days to get through the entire panorama with consistent light. I made a total of about 20 trips to my spot before I had all the images I needed. All of the images used to make the final pano were captured on five of those evenings.
There were other problems during shooting besides the atmospheric distortion. First, the focus. The city is far behind the bridge, so when I was shooting the towers in front of the city I had to stop down to about F29 and focus extra carefully and do an extra long exposure. On the left side of the panorama were some foreground hills, so I had to refocus there too as well as every few shots throughout the panorama because the focus ring might get moved just a little. Most images, however, were made at F11. This allowed me to get enough depth of field to keep everything sharp. The DOF at F8 (the optimum setting) is too shallow and would cause something in each frame to be out of focus. I kept the exposure time down to 11-seconds by using an ISO of 200. There was very little noise in the final images.
The next problem is that I had to come back on successive days and pick up where I left off. So I had to arrive well before sunset to set up and practice what I was about to do. It is easy to not be perfectly aligned with a row from the day before. If you are not perfect all the way across then you don’t get enough overlap for stitching.
The other big problem is that the light was changing quickly and was different from the far left side to the far right side. This is a very wide-angle image so this is to be expected. So if you attempt a gigapixel image at dusk, study the direction of how the light fades and start shooting from the darkest areas and move towards the lightest. By the time you get to the lighter areas, they will be closer in brightness to the darker side. This way, the overall image will be more evenly lit.
I brought the images into Capture One, a RAW processing program. It has lots of settings which allow you to gain a little extra dynamic range and still have the image look natural. I collected the best images from all the shoots into one folder and carefully adjusted them for brightness and color. This went fairly smoothly, though there were a few images where I had to dig deeper. The idea is to have all the images be the same brightness.
I saved each one as a JPG because I knew the final file would be huge and I don’t have a super powerful computer! Also, I didn’t touch the JPGs until I had created a PSB file after stitching. TIFF files can only be 4gb in size and a 16-bit file would be 5gb. I ended up creating an 8-bit file but I kept it in PSB format, anyway. I did not lose any information as would be the case if I edited the JPGs directly. And JPG files have a 30,000 pixel width limit.
Originally I planned on using the highly rated Autopano stitching software. It did a great job until it reached areas where the bridge cables were in front of the bay water. As you can see in the small portion below, one cable or a bridge section looks like the next. The stitching software became confused no matter how I adjusted the settings. I auto-stitched as much as I could and then I stitched the remainder of the image (about 50%) manually in Photoshop. Fortunately there was plenty of overlap and after about 80 hours of work, the image was completely stitched.
After stitching, I went over the TIFF image carefully while viewing it at 100% magnification. I cleaned up any bad pixels or stitching errors. There was a bit of noise in some of the darker areas so I used the Photoshop noise reduction and that worked fine. Then I looked at the entire image to make sure that the entire scene looked evenly lit. A few places needed to be brightened or darkened but the adjustments were small because I was careful when creating the first set of files from the RAW files..
The combination of the 500L lens and the 1.4 II teleconverter along with close attention to focus created a final image that was very sharp. Most of the image needed no sharpening, though some areas were sharpened a bit just to get things as close to perfect as possible.
The total amount of time I spent doing recon, 20 trips to the location, and post processing was around 160 hours. Was it worth it? Yes!
If you have any any questions you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Details about the entire panorama:
- 112 11-second exposures (they were all 11-seconds to keep the city lights constant)
- All shots were taken between 20 and 27 minutes after sunset on several nights over a 6-week period.
- The final size is (13,423h x 80,540w, 1×6 ratio)
- AutoPano stitching software to start, but 50% was hand-stitched
- Canon 5D mark II with live view set to 10x magnification to help with precise focusing
- Canon 500L F4 lens with 1.4 extender
- 3 rows of portrait oriented shots with about 35-40 on each row
- 25% overlap on each shot
- Refocus every 3rd shot with extra care on the towers and hillside to the left
- Refocus on Bridge towers to make sure that every bolt can be seen clearly
- No grad filters
- No polarizer.
- No HDR
- ISO 200 (to reduce the exposure time a bit but not too much to induce noise)
- RAW files processed with Capture One by Phase One
- TIFF files processed with Photoshop
- Tripod – 1 home depot bucket with a circular 1-inch thick plywood board rotated on top to create panoramas.
Hi, I’m Katherine, and I’m a freshly-minted Smugger over here at HQ. I’ve only been here a short while, but already I’ve worked a bunch with Andy — full time Chief Operating Officer and part-time Valentine — and boy, is he easily distracted. A few days ago, while he was browsing through your awesome SmugMug galleries and bragging about how he’s never seen more gorgeous photos, I took the liberty of digging through his gear bag for fun gifts to give away to Smuggers.
Why? Really, the question is, “why not?” When you love photography as much as we do, why not share the love?
Head on over to our Fan page to enter this week’s giveaway of a Tenba Bag, Canon 60D, Canon 70-300L lens, and a couple of 16gb Sandisk Extreme memory cards ($2980 value). To enter, simply comment on our post, and if you have a SmugMug site, please include a shot of yourself in action. One very lucky winner will be randomly selected this Friday and announced that evening, California time.
(Note: The winner won’t get the exact loot shown above, but we thought you’d want to see the bag.)
Next week, we’ll start again with a shiny, fresh, new giveaway. No strings attached, no spam — just our chance to dig through Andy’s Gear Bag and unearth a fun prize for a happy Smugger.
All of our giveaways are tweeted out too, so if you are more of a Twitter-kind of person, you can stay up to date on SmugMug news and giveaways at @SmugMug.
There’s been some chatter about the slipshod practices of photo sites who lose precious content. Naturally, this makes photographers wary about their options while raising the all-important question: “Where can I park my pics?”
If you’ve never heard of SmugMug, are still seeking that perfect photo-mate or are just curious about our approach to the matter, know this: Your photos are safe with us. We promise.
- All SmugMug photos and videos are stored at Amazon S3 for their 99.999999999% durability. If you’ve uploaded 10,000 photos at Smug this means on average, Amazon will lose 1 pic every 10 million years. Think you’ll live that long to find out? We accept that challenge!
- Deleted stuff falls into a queue, not a void. When you nuke photos, videos or galleries and then change your mind, we can undo it if you ask us quickly. Lots of Smuggers write to us after accidentally (or hotheadedly) deleting content and we love delivering good news.
- We’ll hold your spot for a few months if you’re kidnapped by aliens, fall into a time warp or just forget to renew your account. After all, you might change your mind or reappear… and we’re always pleasantly surprised at how many people really do.
- For everything else, there’s SmugVault. It’s our Amazon-backed, iron-clad archival service for the non-garden variety files that you want to keep. PSD, RAW, TIFF, DOC… You name it, we’ll take it. There’s even an option in your Vault preferences where you can set the number of days to hold your deleted files before they’re actually trashed.
And don’t think for a second that just because you’ve got a free trial account that you’re immune to these safeguards. Even after your trial is over, we keep your goods for several weeks so you can decide that yes, you do want to join us.
These are just our current practices and it may change one day, but we hope that you get our drift. After all, SmugMug is a paid service; We work our fingers sore so that you get stability, reliability and all the latest bells and whistles in return for that paltry $5/month. While it’s not possible for us (or anyone) to guarantee 100% safety and we will eventually close old, unused accounts, we go the extra mile to make sure your photographs aren’t lost.
If you’re unsure of how your existing photo service measures up, give us a try. SmuggLr quickly funnels your photos in to safety.
We’re photographers, too, and that kind of uncertainty would just kill us. Yikes.
Here’s to staying safe together,
The SmugMug Family
We recently debuted a list of SmugMug Certified Customizers for our Smuggers to have and to hold. Great customization has been a top request of our users for years and we have been listening!
We’ve spent the last few months forging tight relationships with some great folks who’ve proven they deliver consistently gorgeous SmugMug sites to SmugMug photographers.
Here’s seven amazing companies who we trust to get the job done. Check out their sites and more examples below:
4) My Pro Foto
6) BIG Folio - Providing seamless integration of SmugMug galleries with your existing site.
What does it mean to be SmugMug Certified?
They’re fun and friendly to work with, but above all these guys know Smuggers and cater to their needs. We’ve done a lot of work with these companies and know that they deliver quality, act with the highest ethical standards and are willing to go the extra mile to satisfy their clients. They also really, really love SmugMug… just like you.
Here’s the criteria we use in our selection process:
- Received consistent, positive reviews from our customers
- Have proven ability to scale and ship designs quickly, without compromising quality
- Outstanding customer service
- Elegant visual aesthetics that appeal to our customers
- Exceptional understanding of SmugMug’s API and website capabilities
Love what you see? Contact a customizer through the above links to share your ideas and get a quote.
In the coming months we plan to work closely with our certified customizers to build better tools for Smuggers to enjoy. Having partners in touch with so many dedicated customers will help us get great, detailed feedback on what you want and how you want it. We can’t wait!
If you’re looking to get your site customized but are having trouble deciding which designer to use, check out this thread on Digital Grin.
And if you’re a Smugger who wants to recommend a company, or if you’re a customizer who wants us to consider your services, say it right here!
We hope that you’ll give these folks a chance to create the site of your dreams. We promise you’ll love them.
Here’s to building beautiful sites together,
The SmugMug Family