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iPhone 4 Tops Flickr Camera Stats

The iPhone 4 shoots to the top of Flickr's camera ratings

Data from Flickr confirms what we’ve been saying for a long time: The camera people are most likely to use is the one they’re most likely to have with them. No surprise then that the number one camera on Flickr is the Apple iPhone 4.

Coming along in second place is the entry level Nikon D90. Priced at around $1,200 with the 18-105mm kit lens, Nikon seems to have found the sweet spot between price and performance.

The next three in the top 5 all belong to Canon. It’s no surprise to find the EOS 5D MK II in the list, although the Rebel T2i in the fourth spot is kind of a surprise. Perhaps it shouldn’t be such a surprise for the T2i to be on the list when I consider that among my friends who are professional wedding photographers, one uses the T2i as his main camera and two use it as their backup body.

Anyone who owns a Canon EOS 7D would not be surprised to find it in the top 5. It is one of the most reliable pieces of photographic equipment I’ve ever used.

One should take statistics on Flickr with a grain of salt. While they are reflective of the relative popularity of certain cameras, not all cameras record the camera type in the meta data, which is particularly true of smartphones, and those tend to be under-represented in the data.

Another factor to consider is that statistics on Flickr evolve slowly and are backward facing. So many of the hot new camera models may not be reflected in the statistics for some time to come.

In the point-and-shoot category, Canon owns all of the top five slots. The wildly successful S95 leads the parade, with the G12 coming in second.

Another factor to consider is that Flickr represents a sub-section of photographers actively sharing their photos. Not all photographers are equally active in social media sharing and many of the old timers are skeptical of using photo sharing services.

It is good to check on the statistics from time to time, just to watch the parade of technology. Judging by the stats, for many of you your new camera is also the device you use to make phone calls.

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Five Alternatives To Flickr

welding photo

Spark up your image sharing with these Flickr alternatives

Many photographers have a love/hate relationship with Flickr. Anyone can get annoyed at a large faceless corporation and maybe you just got that new Nikon and want to shop the photo sharing sites anyway. Sometimes up and coming companies will give you a better deal.

So, the next time your relationship with Flickr swings over to “hate”, here are five alternatives to consider.

500px.com

500px is a site where a photographer can host their portfolio and where other photographers can browse and comment on other artist’s photography.

The site offers a similar combination of features available on Flickr and Vi.sualize.us, with the difference that 500px caters specifically to professional and advanced hobbyists in photography.

Public since 2009, they have nearly 50,000 members and receive 1.4 million visits each month.

Photobucket.com

Photobucket is an image and video sharing service that has a very solid platform, support for mobile platforms, and generous free accounts after lifting the limits on non-commercial accounts.

Photobucket makes it easy to share photos publicly or privately with password protected galleries.

The only downside to Photobucket for some people will be that it’s owned by News Corp and a few may have ethical qualms about financially supporting the parent company of Fox News.

Zooomr.com

Founder Kristopher Tate started zooomr.com to help friends and family share their photos with friends and family.

Zooomr has excellent support for international visitors and is offered in several languages.

Zooomr is not as polished as some of the other photo sharing sites, but it’s free and has excellent search tools.

DeviantArt

Probably the least like Flickr of all the sites mentioned here and darn proud of that fact. DeviantArt is a home not only for photographers, but artists of all stripes with a flair for science fiction and fantasy.

DeviatArt has a wide tolerance for taste but I find the user interface cluttered and disorganized.

Fotki.com

Fotki seems to be working very hard to best Flickr and even offers an API to partner with them for b2b commercial services.

Offers unlimited storage of full resolution images and offers discount printing and the ability to order photo novelties like coffee cups and t-shirts right on the spot.

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Five Things I Wish I’d Known About Photography

pro photographer

Don't expect to luck into jobs like this - by Starscream

A lot of people dream about being professional golfers. Imagine getting paid millions and traveling around the country doing nothing but play golf! Here’s all you have to do to make that dream come true. Start when you’re 5, so go tell your daddy or mommy that you want to be a pro golfer. Then spend the next 10 years with a parent driving you relentlessly and whenever you’re not doing anything else, be outside hitting balls. Then spend the next 8 years with a series of coaches honing every facet of your golf game, driving you relentlessly and then you stand less than a 50-50 chance of making the cut in the junior tournaments.

Professional golf isn’t something people pick up on a weekend, it’s a lifestyle they started when they were young and it’s a job they work every day towards. Photography is not that different.

To be a professional, photography has to be more than a hobby, more than something you do on the weekend. It’s a competitive business that is a demanding, fast-moving professional field that is getting more and more competition from people walking around with smartphones and low-end digital cameras.

Here are five things I wish someone had told me about the business years ago.

You Have To Know How To Run a Business

Take classes in how to run a small business. You have to understand taxes, billing, cash flow, insurance and contracts. You can’t be a successful photographer without knowing how to be a successful business person.

It Will Take a Long Time To Make Any Money

Wedding photographers can sometimes build up a steady income in a couple years but don’t count on it. Mainly figure on starving the first few years until you have a deep portfolio and build up a client base.

I’ve known a few people who managed to claw their way to a living shooting commercial stock photography, but it took them a few years to build up that kind success. The advantage to specializing in stock photography is that once you build up your income, it’s recurring revenue.

Once you have a base of income, you can use that to branch out and experiment.

There Is New Competition Every Year

Just when you claw and starve your way to some kind of a living, you’ll find one day that clients start telling you about someone offering the services you’ve been providing for less than half of what you’re charging. While that happens in almost any business, in photography it tends to be particularly devastating.

You have to spend a lot of time monitoring your market, checking on your competition and staying one step ahead.

You Trade Regular Hours For Working All The Time

Being a photographer means trading the security of a regular paycheck for being an independent businessperson. In other words, you trade regular hours for working all the time. And some assignments take the concept of working hours to new and bizarre extremes.

I don’t know any professional photographer who doesn’t work all the time, nights and weekends included.

You Will Need a Emergency Fund

At some point it’s going to happen: You will get sick, hurt, sued or, in the case of PJ, arrested. When that happens you’ll need an emergency fund to get through it. Even if you prevail in court, you can still end up being out of business.

If you’re injured and can’t work, you have to have enough cash in the bank to keep the doors open and pay the bills.

Photography as a business is a job and you have to approach it that way. If it’s not a job you eat, sleep and breath, you’re going to have  a hard time makeing it.

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Family Discovers Photography Treasure Trove

old photo

A photo of who is believed to be Henry Capewell (seated center) along with family and friends. The string used to activate the shutter is plainly visible in the foreground - courtesy of willceau.com

When Joe Williams and Tina Garceau inherited several boxes from a neighbor of Joe’s father, the last thing they expected to find was a treasure trove of glass negatives dating from the early 1900s.

After going through the boxes the couple discovered nearly 200 glass negatives of photos that were shot by a gentleman named Henry Capewell, who owned a factory that manufactured glassware in South Philadelphia. Mr. Capewell was also an amateur photographer and spent a lot of time taking photographs of himself and his friends around the region.

Joe describes the process he went through to digitize the negatives here and the results are glimpse back in time to another era. The very first shot he developed was a picture of Niagara Falls frozen over, which happened in 1911.

In many of the photos you can Mr. Capewell, surrounded by friends and relatives, activating the shutter with a length of string. It must have been a trick to hold still while tripping the shutter as those old, glass plates would require very long shutter times.

frozen falls

Niagara Falls frozen solid in space and time in a photo believed to be taken by Henry Capewell - courtesy willceau.com

What’s fascinating is trying to figure out how something like this would happen a 100 years in the future? Is someone going to find an old hard drive in an attic box…that’s if homes even still have attics? It seems unlikely images could be recovered from technology that old, but who knows what recovery technology will exist then. We as humans are simply not conditioned to think in time frames that long.

More of the collection can be seen here.

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When Does Photo Manipulation Go Too Far?

image manipulation

These retouches are considered minor by today's standards

It all started innocently enough; editing out a pimple here, a blemish there, maybe a chipped tooth. It was easy, it made the client feel better, and it was, for the most part, harmless.

Fast forward to today and digital manipulation has gotten totally out of hand. It’s not just blemishes and pimples anymore. Today we shave years off a face and pounds off a body, lengthen necks and make eyes bigger, lips pouty, and change hair color on a whim. Clickity, clickity done.

Color and lighting are now skills that can be mastered in post. With Photoshop plugins like Color Efex Pro 4 you can change the color scheme, lighting and almost anything else you desire.

All that taken together is bad enough, now comes along a product like LayerCake Elements and now the manipulations to the subject are just the beginning. Now you can add trees, grass and flowers. Don’t like the sky? How about nice sunset sky instead? Add a few clouds for dramatic effect. Put the moon over there, add a few stars because we have to pay attention to details. Need a horse? No problem, drag and drop, resize to fit the scene. Done and done.

Time, date, and place are now meaningless. It reminds me of the sunset scene in the John Wayne movie Green Berets (1968), supposedly set in Vietnam but featuring the sun setting behind the ocean. Those with a 5th grade understanding of geography know that Vietnam doesn’t have a westward facing ocean view. But that didn’t stop the filmmakers and it doesn’t stop the photographer with LayerCake. You can have a sunset anywhere.

So where does all this stop? Or does it? It’s easy to smirk and wonder if grandpa is having trouble adjusting to the new digital reality but keep in mind I was digitally manipulating images when most of you still had training wheels on your bike. At some point do we in the photography community have to say enough and start asserting ourselves in favor of reality? How will we know when we’ve gone too far?

In some fields that question has already been answered. Like photojournalism, where retouching, even adding a little smoke is a non-starter. You’ll not only get fired, you’ll be vilified and humiliated as a value added bonus. Your career will be over.

But what about the rest of us? Do we owe reality a nod, or is reality merely a canvas for us to paint our vision? Are master photo manipulators actual photographers, or something less?

Where it all ends is with H&M’s new lingerie catalog where the faces of the models are real, but the bodies are computer generated.  What do you think is “too far” in digital manipulation?

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