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Sensor Dust Is Evil. Here’s How to Banish It.
dusty camera

First, the good news:

If you have a point & shoot or a film camera, keep it clean and dust specks will never plague you.

And now the bad news: digital SLR sensors are magnets for dust.

Cleaning a digital sensor is nerve-wracking and risky, with enough methods, products, and gimmicks on the market to flummox a rocket scientist.

And that, dear friends, is why you have Photojojo.

We’re breaking it down right now: what works, what doesn’t, and whether the annoyance of having dust spots is worth the trouble of cleaning them. Let’s roll.

Sensor Dust Is Evil And Here’s How to Banish It.

Photo credit: sgoralnick.

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What We Love(d) About JPG Magazine
JPG magazine

New Year’s Day brought crummy news: JPG Magazine is calling it quits.

Ever since husband and wife duo Heather Champ and Derek Powazek founded the picture-filled print pub to create a truly democratic photo magazine, it’s been something very special.

The good news: last-minute efforts to save the business mean the site will be live for a few more days. That’s just enough time to check out some of their greatest hits and download their back issues in PDF.

Here’s a smattering of our all-time favorites to get you started:

Thanks to everybody at JPG for the great work you’ve done over the last two years. What’ll we do without you?

JPG Magazine
Get it while it lasts!

The Top JPG Photographers
From editor-in-chief Laura Brunow Miner.

Every Issue of JPG (PDFs, 223.4MB)
All in one handy zip file, thanks to Derek Steen.

Save JPG
Keep up on the efforts to help JPG stay afloat!

p.s. There’s hope that JPG could be acquired and carry on. Our fingers and toes are crossed.


   
   
New Year’s Just Ain’t New Year’s Without Photo Resolutions. Happy 2009!
Happy New Year!

We didn’t do any of our resolutions from last year, did you?

The problem is, we always pick stuff we ought to do, not stuff we want to do.

Here’s the thing- if it’s not fun, you won’t stick with it. Our advice is, pick ONE resolution that really sounds awesome, and do that one. Why commit to a whole bunch of things that you don’t want to do?

Need help picking that single resolution? Have a look through our humungous list of 22 photo possibilities* for the upcoming year.

(Although one resolution is the strict limit, we invite you to dabble frivolously, irresponsibly and noncommittally with anything else on this list.)

22 Photo New Year’s Resolutions for 2009

*Three more than last year! Holy mackerel!

Photo credit: włodi.

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120 of 2008′s Most Amazing News Photos
Getting a pal with a new camera to subscribe to Photojojo makes an awesome (and free!) gift.
news photos 2008

Due to sporadic distractions this year (sailing the world in our pedal-powered yacht, abduction by hyper-intelligent lemurs, a case of the hantavirus) we missed out on some of 2008′s major headlines.

Luckily, the end of December is our chance to catch up on the news we missed this year.

But which “2008 in Review” article is best? Is it the New York Times? The Economist? The East Weedpatch Herald Tribune?

We just pick the one with the best pictures.

We scored big this year when we found 120 huge photos of practically everything that happened in 2008.

It’s not all fires, floods and wars either: it’s everything from hundreds of performers beating gold drums at the Beijing Olympics to a solar eclipse darkening the afternoon sky into night.

Sure, we may miss some news in 2009 (the old yacht’s a-callin’ and the lemurs are nigh), but at least we’re caught up on 2008.

2008 in Pictures, Part I

2008 in Pictures, Part II

2008 in Pictures, Part III

p.s. Seen it all before? Try the Odd News Review for the news you’ll wish you hadn’t seen.

Photo credits: NASA, Carlos Gutierrez, John Kirk-Anderson, Alex Brandon

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Stocking Stuffers Juuuust For You! Yay!
candy canes and tinsel

You know for a fact that we at Photojojo love you little munchkins.

And, because we love you so very much, we stuffed your stockings last night with twelve little goodies! Merry Christmas everybody!

(If you’re not a Christmas person, we declare today your Unbirthday. That’s the reason we got you all these awesome presents!)

Four things for printing:

Lens hoods: Print these out on cardstock for a disposable alternative to the standard pricey lens protector.

DIY flash bouncer: If you bounce your flash unit’s light off the ceiling, it makes your flash pictures look less harsh. But what do you do if there’s no ceiling or if it’s too far away? Use this handy little device instead, bucko. Ta-dah!

Readymech cameras: Pinhole cameras to print and fold together. Now in five super-stylish designs! Oh my!

Wax paper flash diffuser: You know those little white plastic caps that go over the end of your flash unit to soften the light? That’s what this is, except it’s made out of wax paper and costs about 2 cents to make.

We couldn’t fit everything in your stocking, but there are four more printable projects over at DIY Photography!

Three crafty projects:

Photo ornaments: Got a couple extra prints lyin’ around? Then you got yerself some ornaments, Ace.

DIY snow globes: What says Xmas better than Ye Olde Snow Globe? Ye Olde Photo Snow Globe, that’s what.

Paper elves: Full disclosure here: these have nothing whatsoever to do with photography. But they were such awesome little figures that we just had to put them in your stocking. You can make Santa too!

Two games for playing:

Elf Yourself: Our favorite holiday photographic dancing elf site is back! Slap your face on an elf’s body and virtually boogie to your heart’s content.

There are some changes this year; you can’t turn yourself into Scrooge anymore (Bah! Humbug!), but you can make five different elves and make all of ‘em dance at the same time. This season’s dance crazes include country, disco, and the Charleston.

Like that? Head on over to Jib Jab and check out their insert-your-photo-here version of It’s a Wonderful Life!

The holiday alphabet game: Take pictures of holiday things that start with each letter of the alphabet. “T” is for tinsel, “C” is for candy cane. Get it? Post your photos on Flickr, or just put ‘em up around the house.

One photo guide:

Photographing the holidays: Everything you need to know about taking photos of lights and presents and shiny shiny baubles.

And a partridge in a pear tree. Hurrah!


   
   
A Photojojo Family Festivus
Happy Festivus!

Here at Photojojo, we’ve dallied with all the major winter holidays. Chrismukkawanzaa, St. Bodagisil’s Day, The Feast of a Thousand Hams… you name it, we’ve tried it.

But Festivus is our favorite.

As many of you know, Festivus was popularized 11 years ago by an episode of “Seinfeld” and is now celebrated by discerning holiday-makers around the globe. Unbeknownst to many, Festivus was in fact started in the 1960s by the father of a future Seinfeld writer.

Festivus (long may it live) has three fine traditions:

  1. The Festivus Pole
  2. The Airing of Grievances
  3. The Feats of Strength

One of these traditions is a bit difficult for us, but we’re leading up to that. If you want to learn how to celebrate the finest winter holiday the Photojojo way (i.e. with cameras, photos and a double helping of silly), keep reading.

A Photojojo Family Festivus

p.s. Like us? Nominate @photojojo for a Shorty Award with a quick twitter.

Photo credit: Mark Demeny

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Polaroid: R.I.P. in 14 Days :(
Orders placed in the Photojojo Shop today will arrive for Christmas
In stock items to the U.S. only, choose flat-rate $6 Priority Mail shipping at checkout
(Or choose 2-Day shipping by 12/21 or Next Day by 12/22)
Poladroid pictures

Well gang, we fought the good fight, but it’s official: Polaroid isn’t making any more film after December 31st, 2008.

Sad though we are, we’ve found a few bits of good news scattered amid the wreckage.

1) The New Instant Camera
Fuji’s instant camera, the Instax, is now available in the United States. The photos are rectangular instead of the old familiar square format, but it’s the next-best-thing to our beloved Polaroid cameras.

Have a look at the Flickr Instax pool to see what the photos look like.

2) There’s Still Some Film Left
Unsaleable, our favorite source for Polaroid goodness, has morphed into Polapremium. You can still buy film there, sorted by camera type or film type, along with books, accessories and stuff like that. (The name’s no lie: it’s quite pricey now that supplies are limited.)

Polaroid no longer sells film on its website, but it lists sources including Calumet, Amazon, and B&H.

3) Fuji Makes Substitutes
Fuji makes versions of Type 100 and 4×5 Polaroid film. That means if you use a medium-format Polaroid back, a Polaroid pinhole or Holga camera, or a 4×5 view camera, you can still get film.

4) New Zink Technology
Instead of making film, Polaroid’s branching out with the portable digital PoGo printer. We were a little disappointed when we tried it, because it’s basically just a tiny printer. It doesn’t feel the same as having instant photos magically pop out of your camera. Sigh.

We have higher hopes for the TOMY xiao, which combines the camera and printer in one, but so far that’s only available in Asia.

5) You Can Take Action
If you refuse to go down without a fight, get an action pack from Save Polaroid. It includes pre-printed postcards to send to the powers-that-be at Polaroid. It’s worth a shot, right?

6) There’s Still Time to Play
While you can still scrounge up some film, you can still mess around with it. Try double exposures or manipulating the emulsion, especially if the film’s already expired. What have you got to lose?

7) There’s Always Poladroid
If all else fails and there is no more film, at least there’s Poladroid. It’s a free application that’s as close to real thing as it gets. You can drag & drop your photos into Poladroid to make them look like Polaroids. You can even shake the picture while it develops. Aaaahhh, that’s nice.

Bye Polaroid! We still love you! Please sell the 600 and Type 80 rights to another manufacturer so we can have them back! Pretty pretty please?

Save Polaroid
News, information, and hope for the lovelorn Polaroid fan.

p.s. We’ve teamed up with our superpals at Vimeo for a contest for the best Stop-Motion Video! Three winners get gift certificates to the Photojojo Store, and 1st place gets their video printed in our upcoming book! Go read all the details and enter. (Already on Vimeo? Just tag your video “PhotojojoBook” to enter.)

p.p.s. Check out some fun Photojojo photo projects in December’s issue of Macworld magazine!


   
   
Best New Photo Gifts of the Season (2 of 2)

Dear friends, ’tis our final installment of photo goodies for the holiday season, and we’ve got a frame, a lens cap, and a tripod — all with an unexpected twist.

(Orders placed by Thursday will arrive in time for Christmas with our flat-rate $6 Priority Mail Shipping to the USA)

Doodle Frame1. The Doodle Frame

With an 80-page paper pad surrounding its 4×6 frame, the Doodle Frame lets you design a custom frame for any photo.

Use it to draw speech or thought bubbles, write notes or reminders for yourself, or write out the story behind your photo.

Affordable and fun at only $15! (Limited quantity available)

White Balance Lens Cap2. White Balance Lens Cap

Proper white balance is critical to getting the most out of your camera. This is, quite simply, the simplest way to get perfect white balance.

You can finally ditch your gray card, because the White Balance Lens Cap lets you white balance without any extra equipment to lug around!

Available in 52, 55, 58, 62, 67, 72 and 77mm. (Limited quantities)

Bottle Cap Tripod3. Bottle Cap Tripod

Push the Bottle Cap Tripod onto any soda or water bottle and you’ve got an instant tripod — perfect for self-timer shots and still night shots.

Stuff this 1-inch marvel in your bag of tricks and you’ll never be without a tripod.

The most perfect stocking stuffer for a photographer (or a new camera owner), ever. Just $10!

The Doodle Frame   Twitter it

White Balance Lens Cap   Twitter it

Bottle Cap Tripod   Twitter it

p.s. Have we gone too commercial? Not quite. But the Photojojo Shop does help put bread on our table, and lets us afford to put together fun photo projects all year long. Plus, we’re quite proud of it. If you’re shopping for fun gifts this holiday season, we hope you’ll give it a look.

p.p.s. There’s plenty of other stocking stuffers in the store! Try our retro Wall Decal Photo Frames, Striped Hoodie Camera Case or Multi-color Magnetic Photo Ropes (now back in stock!)

Flickr t-shirts and Eye-Fi also make great gifts for that special someone.


   
   
Take Family Portraits That Break the Rules. Because You Answer to No One.
family with silly glasses

Since time immemorial, family portraits have been constructed thus:

Everybody put your nice clothes on and pose in front of this decorative interior/ body of water/ big rock. Now smile.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But if you already have that picture and want something new, here are some ideas.

1) Work with contrasts: John Olson did a brilliant series for LIFE in 1970 of rock stars with their parents, including David Crosby, Frank Zappa, and Eric Clapton. The whole set’s on Google now that LIFE has put their archives online.

How you can do it: Olson contrasted scruffy rock stars with their clean-cut families. Try posing your goth cousin with Grandma in her Sunday best and you’ll get the same effect.

2) Use downtime: Katrina D’Autremont takes advantage of quiet moments like watching TV or resting on the comfy chair. Some of her best family photos don’t even have people in them, just the space they occupy.

How you can do it: D’Autremont uses stillness as her ally. Take photos of your family when they’re not posing, just being themselves. And remember to document the rooms and things that mean home to you.

3) Be a complete spaz: Akihiro Furuta takes hilarious (and definitely memorable) family pictures using silly outfits, odd situations, and matching costumes.

How you can do it: Furuta dresses his family in goofy costumes and has a lot of fun. If you must have matching outfits, go for ponchos and bunny-ears instead of white shirts and khakis.

70s Rock Stars with Their Parents
Keep clicking “more” to see the whole set.
via FFFFOUND!

Katrina D’Autremont’s Family Portraits
via Conscientious

Akihiro Furuta’s Goofy Family
via Swiss Miss

Photo credits: Akihiro Furuta and © Katrina D’Autremont

old man at tableman with accordion and doggirl with christmas tree


   
   
Capturing Life from Dawn to Dusk
Don’t miss our *last* San Francisco Photo Safari this Sunday!
Dawn to Dusk photos

Once a year, a small army of photojournalism majors swarms over Athens County, Ohio, taking photos of everyday life from sunup to sundown.

It’s called the Dawn to Dusk project.

Documenting a whole day in a county sounds like a big, complicated undertaking. But break it down, and you’ve got a project doable for just about anyone.

In fact, you can do this with only as many people as you can count on your hand (even if you don’t have extranumery digits).

Read on for our tips on how to do your own Dawn to Dusk project: where to shoot, who to involve, and how to show off all your hard work.

Capturing Life from Dawn to Dusk

Photo credits: Sam Saccone, Alex Snyder, and Rachel O’Hara.

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