Category Archives: Photography

I’m on GuruShots

I started using in October of 2015.  The pictures at the top of this page, My Best Photos on, shows the photos that have the most votes on top.  If you click Achievements, toward the upper right, you’ll get to a page that looks like this: Patricia’s challenges  (Patricia is my girlfriend).

Here’s what my picture that is currently doing best looks like:


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See all of the pictures on a website

Here is a way to see all of the photographs somebody has on their website, without seeing all that dreadfully boring text, or having to click through all the links.

Paste this into the address bar of a browser:

You are now in the in Google’s image search window.

In the search window, type:    site:

Replace my website address with the address of the website you want to search.  For example, if you want to see all of the images photographer Jeff Newton has on his website, you would enter site: into the search window.

This doesn’t work all the time, but, it can still be quite useful.  I don’t know why, but, when I do the image search for this professional photography website, I only see the images that are in my blogs.  When I checked the pictures in my flickr page, I received 300 random (as far as I can tell) images, and 300 random thumbnails, even though I have about 18,000 images there.  Searches for images in facebook, myspace, and twitter were mostly useless.

I read an article that said you can find websites that are using your photos by hovering over an image, and clicking More Sizes.   Unfortunately, you have to check them one at a time.  It didn’t detect images that I have on Google Earth.

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Vertical images are becoming rarer.

Vertical images are becoming rarer.  There are three reasons for that: Computers, cell phone cameras, and digicams (small, consumer digital camera).

The reason this concerns me is because many pictures must be shot vertically to be most effective.  For example, if you want to get a picture of person who is standing, and you want to emphasize what they are wearing, you would want to shoot vertically.

The pictures below show a less obvious example of when a vertical picture would work better.  The subject, being the tallness of the dust storm, isn’t obvious enough that people who are not comfortable shooting vertically would think to try a vertical shot.

Vertical picture of dust storm

Vertical picture of dust storm

Horizontal picture of dust storm

Horizontal picture of dust storm

Very few of us use a monitor in the vertical position.   The two pictures above are the same size.  If you are using a laptop computer, the vertical image almost fills the screen from top to bottom, with huge open spaces on the sides.  It is not as pleasurable to look at the vertical image as it is to look at the horizontal image, because the horizontal image fits the dimensions of the monitor much more comfortably.

The pictures below are the same size (21 megapixels), shot from the same spot, and with a fixed focal length 100mm lens.  I put the pictures on white backgrounds that are the same aspect ratio as my monitor to show what they look like when viewed on a monitor.    The horizontal orientation fills up much more of the monitor, making it easier to see more at a glance.  On my monitor, which is about 20×12 inches, it’s like comparing an 8×12 inch vertical image with an 18×12 horizontal image.   Consider that pictures viewed in a browser — for example, on a facebook page — will be much smaller.

Vertical picture as viewed on monitor

Vertical picture as viewed on monitor

Horizontal image as viewed on monitor

Horizontal picture as viewed on monitor

The horizontal picture looks larger because the computer didn’t have to shrink the picture as much to make it fit on the monitor.  Most people would think the horizontal picture is better because it is easier to see the shopping cart (being the first week of the semester, restless ASU hoodlums had carried the shopping cart to the top of Tempe Butte, and hung it from the fence).  But, I feel that the vertical picture is a better, because the tallness of the tower adds to the context.

Most people would throw out the vertical picture, which is a choice that was made because of how the computer displays the picture, rather than what the picture really looks like.  Remember how pictures were chosen in the old days, when choices were made by comparing prints, and orientation made no difference?

In addition to the trend of choosing horizontal pictures because monitors and browsers display horizontal pictures better, cell phone cameras and digicams are slightly less likely to get good vertical pictures.

It is important to hold a camera steady when taking pictures that are not supposed to be blurred.  Even an un-initiated 14 year old knows to delete a photo when it gets too fuzzy.   Blurriness is an issue with any camera, but, it becomes more of a problem with digicams and cell phone cameras because they produce a higher percentage of unusable vertical pictures.  And, there are more than 100 times more pictures taken with call phone cameras and digicams than with high quality cameras, so the vast majority of images floating around are from cell phone cameras and digicams.

We’ve always had a tendency to shoot horizontal pictures because cameras have generally been designed to be held horizontally.  But, they can usually be held vertically with very little difficulty.  That is not necessarily true for cell phone cameras and digicams though.

On a cell phone, the shutter release button (or whatever they call it on a cell phone) is sometimes in a place that is awkward to press when the camera phone is rotated for a vertical picture.  Considering how hard it is to hold such a small and light item steady, this is more important than it seems.

You can’t hold a cell phone to your head to get a third point of contact for more stability.  The farther you hold something from your body, the less stable it will be.

Digicams are generally not too hard to hold vertically, but, they are still not as comfortable in that position as a professional camera.  Digicam users often compose pictures by using the LCD screen on the back of the camera, even though their cameras may have optical viewfinders — Same issue as with the cell phone cameras… the camera needs to be held against the head to get the third point of contact for more stability.

The equipment we are using and the way we view pictures are causing us to produce more horizontal pictures.

What does this mean?  Fewer pictures of individual skyscrapers and more pictures of skylines.  Fewer pictures of individual people and more pictures of groups of people.  Fewer pictures of bridges taken looking down the road, and more perpendicular pictures of bridges.  It means we are looking at different things than we used to.

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Embiggen on Flickr

When I send a link to somebody to get to a slideshow on Flickr, I always have to have them make an adjustment to Flickr’s settings to make the pictures look right.  The lower-right crop of the picture below, entitled “Embiggened,” shows the problem:  The embiggened image is soft, compared to the reference picture on top, and the “Normal” crop, which shows what it should look like.

The image in the lower right shows what Embiggen does to images in the Flickr slideshow.

The image in the lower right shows what Embiggen does to images in the Flickr slideshow.

A person posted in an anti-embiggen forum that as long as Flickr is going to make up a silly word, they might has well have called it “emcrappen.”

This is a typical message I send:
“The slideshow is here:  After clicking the link, you’ll probably want to hit F11 to go to full screen mode (F11 again when you want to go back to regular screen mode), and click Slideshow, in the upper right.  If you are using a medium or large monitor, click Options in the upper right, and remove the checkmark from “Embiggen small things to fill screen.””

I should not need to add the instructions to remove the checkmark.

The embiggen issue is only significant if the pictures are being viewed on a medium or large monitor.  Mine is a 24” monitor, at 1980×1200 pixels.  Laptop users need not be concerned.

When in Normal mode, the image fills a little less than 1/3 of my monitor.

With Embiggen turned off, the image in the Flickr slideshow fills a little less than 1/3 of my 24" monitor.

With Embiggen turned off, the image in the Flickr slideshow fills a little less than 1/3 of my 24" monitor.

Embiggen mode fills the entire screen, except the black areas on the sides (very hard to see in the photo… the proportions of the photo and monitor are not the same).

With Embiggen turned on, the image in the Flickr slideshow fills the monitor.

With Embiggen turned on, the image in the Flickr slideshow fills the monitor.

There is a good use for the embiggening.  If somebody has a slow internet connection, they may prefer to get small images, and yet still be able to fill up the monitor so other people in the room can all see the slideshow.  If there are more than a couple of people viewing the images, they will be at least a few feet from the monitor, and will not see the fuzziness as easily.  I have to be at least four feet from my 24”, 1980×1200 monitor to perceive the images as acceptably sharp.  I suspect that embiggened images are best viewed from another room if viewed on a 30” monitor.

Flickr is a site for photographers, and no photographer wants people to think their images are soft.  The argument is that Flickr should have Embiggen turned off by default, and either allow the photographer or the end viewer to turn on embiggen, if, for some odd reason, they prefer it to be on.

The workaround would be to point somebody to a picture in the Lightbox, like this: Pictures,  and have them use the left/right keys on the keyboard to go forward and backward.  Pictures in the Lightbox are never embiggened.

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The shot I missed

The shot I missed.

Once or twice a year, I think about the shot I missed that could have been one of my most impressive shots.

The assignment for a photography class at Mesa Community College, in about 1998, was to use the whole semester to create a body of work.  We could use our pictures to tell a story, document something, or really, anything we wanted.  We had to come up with our own concept.  I chose to photograph culture on Mill Avenue.

The reason I chose to photograph culture on Mill Ave was because it was the most culturally diverse and interesting areas I had ever seen.  I have doubts that there was anyplace else in America that was more diverse.  The mile from Gammage Auditorium at ASU to what was then the Salt River (now, Tempe Town Lake) was filled with professors, homeless people, the majority of races and religions in the United States, politicians, retired vets, college students, theatre lovers, artists, athletes, fashionistas, and, most notably, the goths.

The story of Mill Ave that is relevant begins in the 70’s, when the businesses that had been thriving had lost their foothold, giving way to seedy bars, homeless people, and ASU students.  It was a very interesting place, known by the lore of bars like Edsels Attic, Gibson’s, and 6 East.  The area had its own unique vibe and culture that led to the Jingle-pop sounds of the bands that were born there, like The Gin Blossoms, The Refreshments (Roger Cline and the Peacemakers), and Dead Hot Workshop.  Corporate businesses like Urban Outfitters moved into the area, making rent for the small bars impossible to afford.  The only notorious bar to survive into the late 90’s was Long Wong’s.

The last days for the interesting bars were also the last days of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Tempe Arts Theatre.  The patrons of RHPS were the most interesting people ever in the area, with the probable exception of the cowboys and Indians that were there 100 years earlier.  I was taking pictures inside the theatre on the last night the show played there, so I have the last pictures ever taken of that event there.

Rocky Horror Picture Show actor

I captured this image on the last night of The Rocky Horror picture show.

So I had spent many nights on Mill with my Pentax 6×7 medium format camera set to 1/15 second and f2.8, with 400 ASA Tri-X film, and potato masher strobe.

On the night of the missed shot, I believe I had shot six rolls of 20 exposure film, minus 1 frame.  Every photojournalist knew that they should leave at least one frame in the camera in case something happened.  I was heading home with one exposure left.

Having a camera with you is the most important thing when trying to take a picture.  Duh.  I had my camera with me because I was in an interesting and historical place.

Another thing that really helps is being in an interesting place… I was starting to walk across a field/lot/parking lot a couple hundred yards off Mill.  Not so interesting.  But, at least I had my camera.

I heard somebody yell something like “stop,” or “don’t move.”  I turned, and saw a bicyclist moving and turning quickly across the dirt lot with a hand raised toward the person that he was circling around.  I brought the camera up, got it focused on the bicyclist, and was starting to press the shutter release button when I stopped to remind myself that I only had one frame left.  Just then, I saw a stream or flash come from the bicyclist’s hand.  I took the camera away from my face so I could try to understand what I was looking at.

What I saw… What I missed… was a police officer on a bicycle, shooting mace at a person who was fairly close to me, but completely inside the frame.  Even though the mace was coming toward me, I was barely out of range.

I had good composition, the camera was focused, and I missed it because I didn’t want to waste the one frame I had saved for something important.  That’s the life of a photojournalist, I suppose… sometimes the situation comes up on you like a bomb out of nowhere.

In hindsight, I realize that I might have temporarily blinded the police officer with my flash, causing a potentially dangerous situation for the officer.  But, I think everybody would have been Ok If I had taken the picture.  I’m betting that the officer would have liked to have had the picture for his scrapbook.