Refer Yer Mateys fer a GoPro Hero3+ Blackbeard Edition
Need slo-mo video fer when ye walk th’ plank? Then tell yer buckos about SmugMug and get ‘em t’ join th’ crew, because every referral ye bring enters ye t’ win th’ queen o’ plunder: th’ super-lightweight, super-fast frame rate, super-durable, all-around-super GoPro Hero3+ Black edition camera.
If ye don’t think that yer hearties want a SmugMug account ‘cause they’re not pro photographers, we’ve provided jolly reasons why ye should let them in on yer secret, anyway. We all take pictures, ‘n could use a better, safer hold t’ stowe ‘em away.
Every month ‘til th’ end o’ 2014, we’re giving one GoPro away t’ one random matey, an’ tossing everyone who refers one scallywag (aye, all ye pirates) ‘to a drawin’ for th’ grand prize: a trip t’ th’ good ship SmugMug, so ye can be arrr guest o’ honor fer the day. Ye can get a preview o’ wha’s in store fer ye, an’ the full contest rules ‘n details here.
A Salute to August’s Staunchest Pirate
No quarter! Seven seas swashbuckler Christopher Michel be th’ winner o’ our August drawing. Cast off an’ see his travel photography, ’cause it’s a big kick in th’ knickers for inspiration.
Set th’ sails, Christopher! We hope yer new GoPro gets a workout on yer next adventure.
With a yo, ho, ho and a DSLR,
The Crew of the Jolly Ship SmugMug
(In English: We’re giving away a GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition camera each month to one lucky SmugMuggle who refers friends to SmugMug. You’ll find details about the contest and how to win on our Refer-a-Friend info site.)
We’re link lubbers:
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:
Photographers are always looking to upgrade to the latest and greatest equipment, and no pro can say they’ve got too many cameras. Well, today you’re in luck! We’ve partnered with SnapKnot, a sweet website that matches engaged couples to photographers like you, to give away a brand-new Nikon D800 or a Canon 5D Mark III to one lucky random winner.
HOW TO ENTER: Simply visit their Facebook page to see more details and to get your entry in. Earn more bonus entries by sharing with your friends, too.
Hurry, because the contest ends this month. Good luck!
When we started SmugMug 12 years ago, it was a labor of love created between father and son and shared by word of mouth among family, friends, and neighbors. Through the years, photo lovers have touted SmugMug’s great features through conversation and email, creating a trail of beautiful websites that bridge one family to the next.
We knew it was time to make some big changes so we could better say “Thanks!” to all of you who’ve shared SmugMug with those you love.
“What’s the new Refer-a-Friend program?”
When you refer someone to SmugMug, you’ll earn 20% of their account value and your friend gets 20% off their first year. You’re basically splitting a 40% discount two ways. Just be sure they use your unique referral code at signup.
The referral credit you earn will automagically be applied towards your next SmugMug renewal, or credited towards your next Gift of SmugMug.
You can always see how much credit you’ve earned in your Account Settings, under the Stats tab.
“What does that mean for me?”
Your friend must use your unique referral code for you to get credit. To find yours, log in and visit your Account Settings > Stats tab to see your personalized referral details, and your credit balance. Copy the link and pass that along to your friends, or you can just grab the code itself and ask them to paste that in when they sign up for their new account.
Math example: Say your friend signs up for a full SmugMug Business account, which is normally $300/year.
- You’ll get 20% – or $60 – of that amount put on your account to apply towards your next renewal or your next Gift of SmugMug.
- Your friend also gets $60 off their first year at SmugMug, dropping their signup cost to only $240.
“But I don’t have any pro photographer friends!”
SmugMug is not just for full-time photographers! Photos are a part of all of our lives, no matter what type of camera you have and how often you’re taking pictures. Whether you’re a wedding pro, a business owner, a family guy, a world traveler, a writer, a student or if you just love life in any way at all, you’d probably appreciate a safe, beautiful place to keep (and archive) your photos online.
Let’s not forget that everyone on SmugMug gets 24/7 white-glove support by our team of amazing Support Heroes (who are everyday people just like you), so there’s no excuse. And whether you’re Regular Joe or a Smokin’ Hot Pro, every print order that comes from our labs is covered by our 100% money-back guarantee.
Your life is worth sharing. Take pictures of it!
“How do I know how much credit I’ve earned?”
You can check to see your referral credit balance at any time in your Account Settings, then click on the Stats tab.
To everyone who’s referred people to our family and helped us grow: Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. We literally could not have come this far without you!
You Can Win a Slice of the SmugLife
To celebrate today’s announcement, we’re giving our U.S. friends a chance to come on down and be a SmugMug VIP:
GRAND PRIZE. In December 2014, we’ll choose one lucky, random SmugMug referrer to come visit SmugMug HQ and get the full VIP treatment. (Max 100 entries per person.)
Monthly prizes. Every friend you refer to SmugMug enters you into a monthly drawing for a sexy, slow-mo capable GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition, or a $400 Amazon Gift Card. Drawings occur at the end of each month from May through November. (Max 10 entries per person.)
What does it mean to be “VIP?”
- Airfare and 2 nights hotel accommodation in San Francisco, CA
- A tour of our print-covered global headquarters in Mountain View, CA
- Your favorite meal cooked by our in-house chef (touted as the best in Silicon Valley)
- A chance to talk with the people who built the features you know and love
- A full face-painting session where you’ll become the superhero of your dreams (like these)
- Your portrait taken by our President and Co-founder, Baldy (and a big print to keep)
- A helicopter tour and photowalk around San Francisco with Baldy & friends
Check out the official promotion rules for the full terms and details. We can’t wait to have you over!
* Unfortunately due to international contest rules, this contest is only open to U.S. residents.
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
If you’re a portrait or wedding photographer bound for WPPI next weekend in Las Vegas, please come see us! SmugMug will be hitting the expo floor from Monday, March 3rd through Wednesday, March 5th, so stop by, say hello and ask us your burning questions. Let’s connect!
We’ll have two great ways for you to win great stuff next week:
1) Photo Critique with David Beckstead
2) Snap a Smuggy Selfie
Snap a fun self portrait with one of our SmugMug Booth Babes (or just with the SmugMug logo), tag it and share to win part of $2400+ worth of prizes. Winners announced each day of the WPPI expo. Details here.
We’ve lined up an impressive list of totally free seminars and SmugMug demos led by pro photographers (who also happen to be SmugMug friends) ready to impart their knowledge of marketing, business and the craft with you. You’ll also get the chance to talk with some of SmugMug’s Product Managers, Engineers and Design teams, so bring your feedback, suggestions and a winning smile.
Find a complete list of times, dates and topics right here on the handy reference page we’ve built for you here. Bookmark it, love it, keep it close at hand.
See you soon, wedding pros!
Stories are breaking on sites like Fstoppers and Brandsmash about private Boudoir photos that appeared on a creepy voyeur forum. It’s hard to imagine a more humiliating nightmare for a photographer or their clients.
Photos came from several sites, including SmugMug, and we paid extreme attention over the last two days to how it happened. We tried to take some comfort in observing that in every instance, it came down to passwords that were guessable in just a few tries.
The question for us was what could we do that we weren’t already? Over the past year, we’ve done considerable work around this problem, but yesterday we decided to expose some of the alerts our systems generate to our customers.
When our systems see several password attempts on a gallery or folder, they now send an email to the owner of the SmugMug site. It identifies the gallery, gives the first few digits of each password attempt with asterisks for the rest (bou***), and adds info like time of day and geographic location the request may be coming from.
Today our Support Heroes are receiving thank-yous from people whose family members couldn’t get in because they left the caps lock key on or forgot some aspect of the password “it’s a cap O (oh), not a 0 (zero)”.
And we read two help tickets from photographers who discovered that their boudoir galleries had password guessers. Fortunately, they had long passwords that were too hard to guess, but they are still making changes like removing the word Boudoir from the title, and making the gallery Unlisted so only people who obtain the link can know of its existence.
One of the security upgrades that came with New SmugMug is we don’t store passwords in a form that could leak in any way, including a systems breach, a bug, or a disgruntled employee. We use an industrial grade, Cryptographic hash function.
The breaking stories are about Boudoir photos, but we host incredibly sensitive photos (all cloud services do) of unannounced products and even, we remember, photos of an upcoming TIME Person of the Year.
1. Set a good gallery password before uploading photos!
2. Set galleries and folders to Unlisted. Unlisted means means no one can see them unless they have somehow been given a link. They cannot guess the link because it has a random string added to its URL. The combination of strong password + Unlisted is extremely secure.
You can learn more about how to protect your SmugMug galleries here.
We hope this helps, and thanks for being part of the SmugMug family!
Chris & Don MacAskill