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Day of the Dead: Memorial Photography
Our first Photo Safari in San Francisco is this Saturday!
parents with daughter
Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2

In honor of the Dia de los Muertos (November 2nd), we’re digging up a lesser-known piece of photographic history.

Memorial photography was the common practice of taking a person’s portrait after they passed away.

Since our culture now fears death more than we mourn it, these photos are seen today as macabre. But it was actually a beautiful tradition that helped families keep a small memento of the loved ones they had lost.

Though it’s a bit of a departure from our usual fare, we wanted to share some history that’s gone but not forgotten.

Memorial Photography
Thanks to reader Blake Nolan for the idea!

p.s. This article does show photos of dead people, so don’t click through if that kind of thing freaks you out.

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Photojojo’s Ultimate Guide to Taking Portraits at Night
night portrait

Nights on the Riviera…
Costume balls in Cancun…
Dancing until dawn in the glittering palaces of Monaco…

Life at Photojojo is one mad whirl of unbridled hedonism.

What? It totally is. Mad, we tell you. Whirly.

Okay, fine, we didn’t really think you’d buy that. But if we did lead lives like that, you better believe we’d have some great photos to show for it.

If there’s one thing we know, it’s how to take an awesome portrait at night. Use a tripod, moderate your flash… oh heck, just keep reading. Everything you need to know is in here.

Photojojo’s Guide to Night Portraits

p.s. We had a great turnout for the Macro-zoom-ography Contest! The winners are: subbyguy, mazzer, and Jana. Thanks to everyone who entered- you made it really hard to choose!

p.p.s. Want to take some spooky ghost pictures this Halloween? Try capturing the mystery of entopic phenomena!

Photo credit: sgoralnick.

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Four Reasons to Love Phoenix
Phoenix logo

Why do we like Phoenix?

  1. It’s an image editor that works just like Photoshop. It’s got magic wands, layers, masks, blend modes: the whole enchilada.
  2. It’s web-based, so you don’t have to download any software or use up space on your hard drive. You can use photos already on the web, too: Flickr, Facebook and Picasa all work.
  3. There are 40+ free tutorials that range from beginner to advanced, so you can learn how to use all them fancy tools.
  4. There’s a very good free version, as well as a souped-up hotrod version that’s actually worth paying for.

And, after months of invitation-only anticipation, Phoenix launches tomorrow to the general public!

But you, dear chums, you are not the general public. Far from it. You are the faithful cadre of the Photojojo elite. Which is why we wrangled, bargained, and mud-wrestled a live alligator to obtain (just for you) special passes!

The first 2000 Photojojo readers to sign up will get $55 off a year’s subscription to the premium version. Fly quick, chickadees!

Phoenix Web-based Image Editor

p.s. While you’re there, be sure to check out Aviary’s other tools (they work together like Adobe’s Creative Suite). Toucan creates color swatches and palettes, Peacock generates patterns and terrain, and Raven (the newest hatchling) is a vector editor similar to Illustrator.


   
   
Vote With Your Camera: The Polling Place Photo Project
polling place

If you happen to live in the United States, all you’ve heard about lately is the elections. (Chances are you’ve heard a lot about it even if you don’t live here.)

But when you get right down to it, the actual act of voting is so mundane, so taken-for granted, that more than a third of Americans didn’t even bother in 2004.

That’s why we like the New York Times’ Polling Place Photo Project. It elevates the ordinary, bland places where history is made.

Photographing your polling place is a great challenge: it makes you rethink the importance of what goes on there.

We challenge you to cast that church basement or high-school auditorium in heroic light, to raise the sleepy, coffee-deprived people lining up before work onto their proper civic pedestal.

And why stop there? Why not get out and document the process leading up to the election? Photograph the rallies, the clever posters, your friends arguing politics. If there was ever a year for political photography, this is it.

The Polling Place Photo Project

If you’re not in the United States, we’re dying to see how politics work in your country. What do the campaign posters look like? Do you have voter registration cards? Where do you vote? Post your pictures on the Photojojo Forum and tell us all about it!

Submit Photos of Your Country’s Political Process

p.s. New to the neighborhood? Don’t know where your polling place is? Google can tell you where to go.

p.p.s. Don’t forget to enter our Macro-zoom-ography Contest before it ends this Sunday, 10/26! The Nature Photography Contest is still going strong, too: enter here!

p.p.p.s. Some cities/counties/states allow photography in the polling place and some don’t. If yours doesn’t, please respect the rules, and be nice to your polling officer!


   
   
Photojojo’s Guide to Scary Photo Pumpkins
Live in NYC or San Francisco? Come to our Photo Safaris, starting this weekend!
scary pumpkin!
Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2

We love Halloween.

The costumes, the candy, the parties: we love it all. What other holiday is completely devoted to making you feel like you never have to grow up?

And what better way to celebrate your arrested development than plunging your hand into a pumpkin, scooping out its guts, and carving scary faces on it?

We’ll tell you what better way: carving your own scary photos onto that pumpkin instead of the usual triangle eyes and pointy teeth. All you need is a scary picture and a little know-how. Read on for the full details on how to make your own photo pumpkins.

Photojojo’s Guide to Photo Pumpkin Carving
Thanks to reader Leah Rust for the idea!

p.s. New contest! Submit your macro and zoom photos for a chance to win free rental lenses! Enter here by Sunday, October 26!

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The Amazing Picture-Takin’ Geotaggin’ Solar-Powered Super Bike
Flickr bike

It’s purple. It’s solar-powered. And we’ve got one right here at the Photojojo Workatorium.

What could it be? Why, it’s a super-duper GPS camera bike with special Flickr sauce!

It has a built-in camera mounted on the handlebars that takes pictures as you ride, then automatically geotags and uploads them to its very own Flickr stream.

The only downside to this brilliant bike is that only 20 of them were made, and most of them are already in the clutches of the digerati.

So, how can you get your mitts on one? Choose one of the following:

  • A. Waylay an unsuspecting Photojojo drone and ply us with wine-coolers until we confess the secret coordinates of our precious purple bike.
  • B. Enter the Purple Pedals giveaway contest and win one of your very own.
  • C. Make your own DIY version!

If you answered B or C, we like you. If you answered A, we raise a suspicious eyebrow at you and move the bike to extra-extra-secret coordinates.

How The Solar-Powered GPS Camera Bike Was Made

Make Your Own Camera Bike (the Easy Way)
Adding an Eye-Fi Explore card will automatically geotag and upload your photos, just like the fancy bikes do.

p.s. Contest time everybody! Post your most beauteous nature photos and win an amazing tripod from Trek-Tech. Enter here by October 31st!

p.p.s. If you’re going to be in Austin, TX this weekend (Oct. 18-19) stop by Maker Faire and say hi to Uncommon Projects, the smart kids who made the Purple Pedals bikes.


   
   
Better Lenses for Less Money: How To Use Vintage Lenses with Your DSLR
vintage lenses for DSLRs
Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2

Back in the day (i.e. 7th grade), we “borrowed” our dad’s camera gear. Eventually, when we could afford a camera of our own (i.e. age 27), we finally gave it back.

Now we’re thinking of “borrowing” Dad’s lenses again, because using vintage lenses on our DSLR is a lot easier than we thought.

All you need is a cheap adapter ring that allows you to attach a particular lens to your camera. And manual-focus vintage lenses are all over eBay, dirt-cheap and ripe for the plucking.

Yes, you have to use manual focus, but you won’t miss autofocus as much as you think. Especially when you consider that vintage lenses are better-made, more reliable, and exponentially cheaper than comparable autofocus lenses.

So dust off your dad’s gear. Fling wide the closet doors, and hike up to the attic! Shake down your relatives for all the old lenses they have stashed away. It’s time to become the gear-geek you always wanted to be.

Photojojo’s Guide to Using Vintage Lenses on New DSLRs

p.s. Thanks Dad!

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The Smartest Camera Strap Ever
R strap

We’ve been hearing a lot about the R-Strap lately, but we thought, “Really? It’s just a camera strap. What’s the big deal?”

Turns out it’s a really smart design. The strap hangs diagonally across your chest like a messenger bag, so:

  1. It’s more comfortable than a neck strap, and…
  2. Your camera stays out of the way at your hip.

The smart bit is the little slider attachment that allows you to glide the camera up the strap to your eye so you can take a picture. The camera moves, but the strap doesn’t. See it in action here.

It’s really clever, and we’re kind of kicking ourselves for not thinking of it first.

Added bonus! For all of our thrifty brethren out there, we’re including a couple of ways to make one yourself. Either way, your neck will thank you.

The Original R-Strap ($44)

Make Your Own R-Strap (Version 1)

Make Your Own R-Strap (Version 2)

p.s. For every pink-themed photo added to the Pink 2008 Flickr group this month, Yahoo! will donate 1 euro to breast cancer charities. Add your picture and make a difference!

Photo credit: iBallz


   
   
Ten Ways To Look Fabulous in Pictures
good-lookin' portrait

The photographer’s worst nightmare: being hauled out from behind the lens and forced to stand in front of a camera.

Why must people photograph us? Yes, photographers are adorable, and yes, we have unparalleled style. But we are shy, and we prefer to hide behind our cameras like frightened woodland creatures behind large trees.

Still, people do insist on taking our pictures. So, what to do when you can’t avoid being photographed? Stand tall and follow our tips for instant photogenicity.

The Top Ten Ways To Look Good in Pictures

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Photojojo’s Guide to Macrophotography
photomicrographs

Looking at photomicrography is like walking into a whole new dimension.

It knocks us out that there’s this whole invisible world present, yet utterly ignored, in every aspect of our lives. Plus there’s a whole branch of photography we never even thought of.

The bad news is: 1) most of us don’t have the specialized equipment to really get into photomicrography, and 2) it’s hard to pronounce.

The good news: we can learn to photograph very small things that are visible to the naked eye.

Macro photography is supposed to be for Serious Photographers, but anyone with a decent point-and-shoot can master it.

Come on along and we’ll let you in on the settings, lighting info, and technical gear you need to know about to get started.

Photojojo’s Guide to Macrophotography

Photo credits: Klaus Bolte, Michael Klymkowsky, Dr. Dennis D. Kunkel, and Dr. Heiti Paves.

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