Our buddies over at BorrowLenses.com have put together a fun contest over on their blog with some great prizes that celebrate our joint awesomeness: A year of membership at BorrowLenses.com and a year of SmugMug Pro.
Win Great Perks
In case you weren’t already familiar with their membership program, it’s more than just a login. Members automatically get a 10% discount on all lens rentals, priority rental availability and a free t-shirt. It costs $99 per year, but enter to win and you could get yours for free.
Once you’ve got one foot on the red carpet, you can easily upload, sell and share all your photos on SmugMug Pro.
Make sure to get your entries to their blog HERE (not below!) no later than Friday, March 23rd, 2012.
Hey happy snappers! It’s Fun Photo Friday and we thought we’d do some Random Acts of Giveaways with our pals over at Photojojo.
If you aren’t already phamiliar… er, familiar with their great photo doodads and gadgets in their shop, you haven’t lived yet. Their carefully curated selection is guaranteed to make even the most serious photojournalist crack a smile.
Introducing the Ring Flash
Today they’re giving away the fashion photog’s dream toy: The Ring Flash, which turns your existing off-camera strobe into a glamorous party trick.
Here’s how to win yours
Ready to be the life of the party?
We’ll tag a random winner on Friday, February 24, 2012. They’ll get a chance to blind all their favorite pals/coworkers/neighbors with their brand new toy.
…. AND they’ll also win a free 11×14 float-mounted print 11×14 MetalPrint* from SmugMug. Because as the saying goes, keep your friends close and the embarrassing pictures of them even closer. :)
HOORAY, UPDATE: It’s time to announce the winner and from our hat we drew…. Mimi Thai! Congrats, Mimi and we hope you love your new Ring Flash! Keep your eyes peeled for a note from us breaking the good news.
* We just thought we’d up the ante to MetalPrints (value $50) cuz they’re awesome. And you guys rock.
Streams of light illuminating motes of hoof-churned dust. Storm clouds swirling over the Serengeti. As photographers, don’t we all dream about that? Please welcome guest blogger Andy Biggs, founder of Gura Gear, African Safari leader extraordinaire, and SmugMug Pro. Gura Gear’s Kiboko backpack was inspired by Andy schlepping his gear thousands of hard miles trekking to the ends of the Earth. In it you’ll discover oodles of thoughtfully designed, photography-smart details to carry your cargo. Check it out here, and keep reading to find out how you can win your own to keep your gear safe on your next adventure.
Making The Most Out Of The Light
By Andy Biggs
When we think of dramatic photographs we often think of brilliant sunsets, saturated colors and a sun that hugs the horizon. Emotionally speaking I think many photographers are looking for those kinds of in-your-face lighting situations. Well, I have to say that much of the time we as nature photographers have to deal with lighting situations that are less than ideal. Ok, most of the time lighting is sub-par, or at least not what we are expecting. Here are some ideas on how to think about your photography in a different way, and how to come home with photographs that still stir the soul.
Let’s be honest. How many times have you gone outside with the intention of going to your favorite location, wait for a long while for sunset and then realize that the light didn’t meet your expectations? This happens to me when I am out on safari on a daily basis. It is something that I just have to deal with. What to do? The best approach is to accentuate the good things and try to eliminate the negative things.
Skip the Sky
Case in point. When the sky is overcast, grey or just not exciting, don’t include it in your photograph. As a wildlife photographer, that means that I might point my lens down more to include more of my subject and less of the sky. I also will use a longer lens that will include less of the environment. The photograph is more about the main subject than anything else, so I will go for a tighter shot than I would normally want.
As a general note, when I compose a scene I like to think of the potential photograph as a game: I attribute a plus, neutral or minus to various elements in a scene. My goal is to eliminate the minuses and accentuate the positives. The neutrals are just there because they have to be there. I use my shooting position, focal length and shooting angle as my variables to get all of the best pluses into the scene and to leave all of the negatives out.
Because the sky is overcast, this means that the light that is falling on my subject is soft. Think of the light as if it is coming from the largest soft box on earth. There is a rule of thumb with lighting: the larger the light source, the softer the light. Well, a cloudy day will yield a very pleasing and flattering light, which will help accentuate colors.
Exploit Texture and Motion
Another approach that I use is to blow out the sky and turn my image into a black and white photograph. When a sky is mostly grey and has no definition in the clouds, it is very easy to overexpose and blow the skies out. This doesn’t always work for color photographs, but it is a great technique for B&W images. You end up with a high-key lighting situation, and it makes it easy to draw attention to what matters most: your subject.
I find that marginal lighting allows me to get creative with shots that have a very low success rate. When the sun has gone away for the day, or when it goes behind a cloud, I seek out pockets of soft light that work for blurred panning shots. I slow my shutter speed down and experiment with about any subject that can be found.
Midday light can also be challenging, because the light that is directly overhead can create harsh shadows that have a distinct clue color cast to them. Rather than compete with the light, I find that by avoiding the direct light I can get some decent images. One type of example would be a leopard who is in a tree. I can end up with soft light on my subject’s face and body, due to the shade of a tree, and still get an image that I am happy with.
Spend your time thinking about how you are going to use marginal light to your benefit, as opposed to letting it take control over you. Photography literally means ‘writing with light’, and you will never be able to photograph without light. Use the lighting situation to your advantage and you will find yourself coming home with images that you are happy with, even though you had not though of those types of images before.
Remember to use what you have, and use it wisely. Be flexible with how you approach your photography, and don’t go out looking for only one kind of shot, because the light may not be what you want it to be.
Enter to Win a Kiboko 30L Bag Loaded with Photo Goodies
(This giveaway is now closed. Keep reading to see which lucky folks won big.)
The Kiboko 30L is a magnificent bag, designed by photographers for photographers. It’s lightweight (only 4 lbs), durable, and features a butterfly opening, allowing for unique customizable configurations for long lenses and multiple SLR bodies. The newest incarnation features a removable waist belt and fewer zippers for snag-free travel. In fact, SmugMug’s very own In House Pro, Andy Williams, swears by it. What more could you possibly want?
Here’s how to get yours:
- Step one. Visit our sweepstakes page on Facebook.
- Step two. ‘Like’ the page.
- Step three. Answer the questions on the page.
That’s it! We’ll announce the winners on April 30, so stay tuned and come back.
Here’s the juicy prize list:
- Grand Prize: 1 Kiboko 30L backpack ($429.00 value); 2 free years of SmugMug Pro ($300 value); 1 Monocular ($349.99 value); 1 Really Right Stuff TVC-24 Versa Tripod ($910.00 value), 1 Really Right Stuff BH-55 ($375 value)
- 1st Runner Ups: 1 free year of SmugMug Pro and $75 Gift Certificate to Gura Gear
- 2nd Runner Up: 1 free year of SmugMug Pro and $50 Gift Certificate to Gura Gear
Thanks to everyone who entered our Gura Gear giveaway. We shuffled, tossed, and mixed up all the entries and randomly picked the following winners:
Grand Prize Winner: Randy Ellen
1st Runner Up: Shawn Kinney
2nd Runner Up: Osman Ullah
Just cuz’ we love ya, we also randomly picked 20 people to win Smuggy T-shirts. The lucky folks are: Radu Margarint, Kevin Whitehead, Larry Johnston, Kristine Philipp, Lamar Smith, Ken Holmes, Chris Holtmeier, Janet Wheeland, George Rodriguuz, Christine Ruffo, Kris Dome, Kathy Brundage, Zach Blackwood, Brittany Ann Spriggs, Wendy Peterson, Jamie Raddatz, Peter Williams, Joe Sterne, Joseph Orchard, and Jim Sylvain. Congratulations everyone! We’ll get in touch with you by email this week.
If you didn’t win this time, take heart. We have many more giveaways coming up for all Smuggers.
Have Bag, Will Travel
Seriously, check it out: Their easy, intuitive website makes it so easy to get listed and help local brides-to-be find and book you.
They just made it super-easy to get started: Diamond Level members can now slurp photos from their SmugMug accounts into their SnapKnot profiles.
It’s your wedding portfolio seen by millions of eager brides. Clear your calendars!
Here’s How it Works:
Visit your SnapKnot Dashboard and click to edit your Profile. You’ll see a section for SmugMug Pro.
Click to “Link your SmugMug account with SnapKnot” and then login:
You’ll need to authorize the connection:
(Remember that you can reauthorize it at any time from your SmugMug Control Panel if you change your mind.)
Now just edit your profile page and choose which SmugMug galleries to link. They’ll pull in your photos and videos for you, making portfolio-publishing easier than ever.
Save 50% and Start Booking Brides
You can see what SnapKnot’s all about and how it works by visiting their site. And don’t forget that they’re part of our ClubSmug, meaning that SmugMuggers can enjoy an exclusive discount on their SnapKnot subscription.
Log in and look here for more details!
Hey, Smuggers! Today’s guest post features one of our newest partners, Peak Design, the creators of a new and ingenious solution to the too-much-gear-no-hands-free problem. It’s called the Capture Camera Clip System, and you may have heard about when it raised a whopping $364,698 on crowdsourcing funding platform, Kickstarter. The Capture Clip System is an accessory that rigidly secures your camera to the gear you already own. Heck, life is full of great moments and incredible adventures; we didn’t want to miss a moment of it pawing through our camera bags, and neither should you. Keep on reading for the story of how the Capture Camera Clip System came to life – straight from creator Peter Dering. Plus, at the end of the post, you’ll find info on how to win your own:
By Peter Dering
I’ll tell you why so many SLR cameras are sold – it’s because humans like beauty, our brains can only hold so much of it, and most of us are crappy painters.
Call me a sap, call me a romantic, but I get deeply moved when I see the rolling green landscapes of Cambodia, or gleaming snow-covered back-country bowl in Yosemite, or my 6-month old daughter drooling on our ottoman. The world abounds with unfathomable beauty, and I want to capture it, but what is the point of taking a fancy camera to the fringe of civilization if it’s squirreled away in a Pelican Case? Have you ever tried to wear a Baby Bjorn with a full-frame camera around your neck? Likewise, what’s the point of having a fancy camera swinging around your neck if it can be destroyed with one foul swing into harm’s (or drool’s) way? Like many photographers, I struggled to get off the shots I wanted because my hands and neck were always tied up.
I got serious about photography in 2007 when I traded in my Canon Powershot G1 (3.34 megapixels) for a Nikon D80 and an 18-200 Nikkor lens. That setup (along with a 50mm 1.8) became my beard. Although it never once struck me as “convenient,” it was with me all the time. It was only a matter of time before the photography bug got the best of me, and I decided I needed to do it full time. I took a leave of absence from my job, and in June of 2008, landed in Hong Kong with a backpack, a camera, a few lenses, a laptop, and that’s about it. Through Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, India, Singapore, New Zealand, and Australia, I traveled by motorcycle, scooter, and foot, with a pack on my back and a camera swinging precariously around my neck.
It seemed crazy to me that no one had invented a way of rigidly attaching a camera to a backpack strap. Needless to say, that’s when the mental creation of Capture started taking place.
The seed of the idea crystalized in February of 2010, while I was backcountry skiing in Yosemite. The beauty of the park was stunning, yet I was completely hamstrung. When you have to ski with 50 pounds of gear on your back and poles in your hands, you can’t have a camera swinging around your neck, and you can’t use a sling bag in conjunction with a backpack. The only way to take pictures was to stop, plant my poles, undo my backpack straps, hoist it down, take out the camera, get my shots, and then reverse the operation. When you have to travel 9 miles on the snow before the setting sun erases the path in front of you, this process gets burdensome fast.
How It Works
I designed, prototyped and field tested numerous creations over the next several months and yakked the ears off of countless photographers. By the Fall of 2010 I had a design I was ready to run with — a simple, metal clip that allows photographers to secure any camera to their backpack strap or belt. It was small, lightweight and strong – something I could trust to keep my SLR secure and accessible no matter what I was doing. It held my camera rigidly to prevent swinging and swaying, and it had a quick-release button so I could take the perfect shot when it presented itself, not 10 minutes later. This was the device that would help me capture all that beauty, and that’s why I called it Capture. The graphic below shows the different parts of the system:
A Dream Come True
I found Capture a manufacturer, used my retirement funds to pay for tooling, got a job as a busboy to get me through the winter, and crossed my fingers that this plan would work. I launched Capture on Kickstarter in May of 2011. To my amazement, 5,258 people across the globe put down $364,698 in 75 days towards funding the manufacturing of my system. Three weeks later, each one of those folks had a Capture Camera Clip System in their hands. The reviews came in… the thousands of folks out there who shared my problem were rejoicing in the solution.
Capture was here to stay, I was done with my old career as I knew it, and I could finally afford diapers for my newborn daughter.
Made For Photographers Like You
Today I am doing everything I can to steer Peak Design in a direction that will let photographers all over the world change the way that they interact with their camera to capture the beauty around them. The workload is staggering, but I love it. As often as I can though, I get to do something else I love. I head out on a hike with my daughter, her mother, my D90, and Capture. I am instantly reminded of why I made this product in the first place, and the three of us let out a little squeal of giddiness. And there I am, camera in hand, ready to Capture it. Happy shooting everyone.
Win Your Own Capture System
The Capture Camera Clip System wouldn’t exist today without the support of photographers like you who believed in the system and and backed it with their hard earned money. Now, along with the folks at SmugMug, we’re giving away complete Capture Camera Clip systems to 3 lucky Smuggers. It’s our way of wishing you a lighter, hands-free start to 2012.
To enter, follow these instructions:
- Show us some love! Like SmugMug AND Like Peak Design on Facebook.
- Share some beauty that you’ve captured! On Peak Design’s Facebook page post a link to one of your own shots on SmugMug, and say a little something about it.
- Tweet the deets! Post the following message on Twitter: “Enter to win a Capture Camera Clip System from @SmugMug: http://smu.gs/zs9Ia9 #PeakDesignGiveaway. Please RT.“
Winners will be chosen based on your photo entry on the Peak Design Facebook page.
The winners will get:
- First Place: 1 Capture Camera Clip System, plus 1 free year of SmugMug Pro
- Second Place: 1 Capture Camera Clip System, plus Smuggy Swag
- Third PLace: 1 Capture Camera Clip System
Winners will be announced on Friday, January 13. Good luck and enjoy!
P.S. Smuggers will get a discount on their very own Capture Camera Clip System in Club Smug, our dedicated place for deals from partners we love. Stay tuned for details next week!
You came, you read, you posted! Huge thanks to everyone who entered this contest for a chance to get their hands on a Capture Camera Clip System. The good folks at Peak Design have picked 3 winners below:
First Place: Bob Lionel
Sometimes even good friends get into arguments while playing a friendly game of frisbee. This is a shot of two of my dogs. I’d hoped to get an airborne shot of Rook (the border collie) as he caught the frisbee. Instead, Brodie wanted to play too. Rook didn’t agree with him and as dogs will do they had to have a quick test of wills that lasted all of 7 seconds and ended with them both still friends. It is amazing how when you freeze that moment of disagreement how savage it looks…
Second Place: Debbie Webb Clifton
Brotherly Love – Took this silhouette last Easter of my nephew kissing his little brother :) It was number one for several days in the Daily Photo Gallery on Smugmug :)
Third Place: Jerry Barton
Getting that “moment” is tough. Changing lenses and getting the other body out of the backpack take too long. Anything to shorten that time (or eliminate it) is great.
All winners will be notified by email. Didn’t win? No worries! Enjoy a Smuggers-only discount on your very own Capture Camera Clip System by logging into your SmugMug account and then going here. Congrats everyone!
Health. Fun. Family.
Halloween is serious business at SmugMug. Every year, we dress up our families and pets and face off in an epic Halloween costume-contest. Some costumes are amazing…
…while others are downright scary…
We do it because it’s fun and because our kids love the chance to play dress up and splurge on treats. Heck, don’t we all? This year, leave the scary stuff to the costumes and haunted houses and make sure that before you dig into your sweet swag, your and your kiddos’ hands are germ-free.
Keep it Clean with CleanWell’s Halloween Contest
Like SmugMug, CleanWell is a business founded by a family. It got its start around 10 years ago when a boy, Conor, was born with an immune system disorder. His father, Sam, started investigating alternatives to disinfecting agents found in everyday cleaning products. They eventually created a patented formula that kills germs naturally.
This Halloween, we’ve partnered with CleanWell to give you some cool ways of sharing your spooky, sweet, and awesome Halloween moments and cleaning up before you and the little ones enjoy some treats. They’re taking the lead on this photo contest, so pop on over to their page to find out how you can win one of 5 prize packages of SmugMug memberships, print credit, and cool CleanWell goodies to keep those hands candy, dirt and alcohol free.
Click here to see how to enter your creative costumes, now!
Today we’re having our good friends at Blurb share a few of their hottest gift ideas for the coming holiday season. You know Blurb as those peeps who bring you easy, affordable, beautiful photo books. If you haven’t, check them out now! They make your SmugMug images totally shelfworthy.
Keep the Pages Turning With Useful Gifts
Smart photographers know how to get their photos in peoples’ hands. As the gift-giving season approaches and you’re looking for that special present, know that there are lots of great, useful alternatives to the traditional photo book out there… and you can easily make them using your SmugMug photos and Blurb:
Use Blurb BookSmart® to design a custom Notebook filled with your photos and blank, gridded, or lined paper. In addition to paper choices, you can order them in Hardcover, Softcover, or Hardcover ImageWrap to complete the look. They’re as little as $6.95 for a 20-page softcover.
Use Blurb BookSmart® and make a weekly planner using our custom planner templates for 2012. Each month gets an image, plus you can customize the front and back cover. You can even add extra pages in the back for notes or more photos. At 131 pages, they start at $23.95 for a softcover.
Small gift books
Our Small Square (7×7-inch) size is a perfectly portable size for a photo book. Compact, but still big enough to showcase your work. These start at $10.95 for a 20-page softcover.
The ultimate personalized gift. Since you can order just a single copy of a book with Blurb, you can add dedications and make books with specific photos for just one person. Using our online Blurb Bookify™ tool, you can easily pull in your SmugMug photos and make as many dedications as you wish.
A Holly Jolly Discount
As an added bonus, SmugMuggers can save 20% on their Blurb book orders through December 15th.* Just use the code MERRYSMUG when you check out.
You’ll find Blurb in the Buy button in any of your SmugMug galleries, under “Create a Book.” Try out these fabulous custom book ideas and keep them thinking of you (and your beautiful pics) all year long.
* Coupon valid once per person, for purchase of books you’ve made yourself. Expires December 15th, 2011 at 11:59 PM, local time. Max coupon value $100, $120 AUD/CAD, 80 EUR, 60 GBP.