Creative Digital Design


30 Fantastic 404 Pages – Inspirational Post!

Posted by | Content Marketing and Optimisation, Creative Digital Design, Marketing Tips, Olivia Naire | One Comment

30 Fantastic 404 Pages You will Love!

Now, we all agree that nobody likes to land on a 404 errors, but in the world of the web, sometimes landing on a 404 error is slightly inevitable. For those of you who don’t know what a 404 error page is; a 404 error page  shows up when user tries to browse to a web page that doesn’t exist anymore. The link may be broken, moved, or never existed. In this roundup we are featuring 30 interesting 404 pages for your inspiration. Enjoy!!





















































I have to say, I wouldn’t mind landing on a beautifully designed 404 error pages like those highlighted above.  Please share, comment and share the love! Thank you.


26 Amazing Business Card Designs – Inspirational Post!

Posted by | Creative Digital Design | 2 Comments

Marketing and brand identity is a huge part of building any company. And with proper marketing comes human networking which often involves the exchange of business cards. These bits of paper often contain information about your website, phone number, email address, and location of your company headquarters.


With letterpress style business cards the type of relief printing uses a printing press accessible to a type-high bed. This allows for movable type and imagery which can be transposed over the card stock. Raised surface ink is pressed into the sheet of paper which allows for same-color stock to contain unique messages. Check out the fantastic gallery below and feel free to share your thoughts within the comments section below!




























Is Web Streaming the New Wave of Television Programming?

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Is web streaming is the new wave of television programming?




Viewers are becoming more attached to this type of viewing protocol because of its flexibility, customization capabilities and mobility. Currently, many of these companies are competing with each other for viewers. Standard programming units are losing money to Internet television because it is more affordable than cable television. Even Internet companies are competing against one another and have begun to block viewers to delineate themselves from the competition. The result has been fluctuating fees and viewers with a number of choices.

Television Wars and Channel Blocking


Image Source:


Many people that are evaluating this practice of blocking certain shows from certain providers refer to this practice as “greed.” This practice encourages viewers to remain loyal to a certain Internet television provider rather than their preferred provider. One example of this practice is demonstrated by Hulu’s blocking of Google TV. In this instance, certain television show episodes were only available on Hulu, but were not available on Google Television. Alternatively, certain episodes or shows may be available on Hulu Plus but not on Hulu.


This practice continues with other Internet television providers as well. For instance, Netflix may be offered in conjunction with Hulu and Hulu Plus on a Roku Player. However, some of the episodes may not be present with these players and thus, viewers are forced to purchase additional Internet television options to view all episodes of a particular programming show. The censoring forces Internet television watchers to support nearly all Internet television providers to receive full programming.
Television Monitors vs. Computer Monitors


Image source:


As the bridge closes between the television screen and the computer monitor, viewers find it more difficult to rationalize paying exorbitant fees for satellite television programming or cable television programming. Internet television programming is far more economical, although you may still be plagued by the advertisements that are so annoying on regular television. Some Internet television allows viewers to skip the advertisements.


All things considered equal, such as the programming channels, then Internet television is more affordable. In some cases, it may be free. The buffering is the main concern of viewers that select this method of television programming. Most people would prefer Internet television because of its affordability. Again, the only pitfalls are the buffering and the inability to obtain all of the shows through one Internet television provider. The overall costs may be comparable if you have to buy multiple subscriptions to Internet television programming to receive all of the shows.
IPTV Set Top Boxes and Viewing


Many of the IPTV Set Top Boxes will allow viewers to stream their television programming to a 1080p or a 720p television. This is preferable to a computer monitor only because they are larger in many instances. However, the picture quality on comparable size screens is nearly equal in many instances.


Many viewers have also decided to customize and host their own channels. By hosting their own channel on Exchange Server 2010 from for instance and soliciting viewers through Pay-Per-View or other paid subscriptions, clients may earn income from their customized channels. Clients may also receive money from the advertising “click-throughs” that are on this particular site. When other viewers become interested in this website, then they can place advertisements that viewers must view in order to view the intended programming.


Many channel hosts may earn the costs that are required to host the channel and view the programming back. Additionally, hosts may also earn a profit, if the channel is particularly popular. This is incredible for people that may need an extra income. Through viral marketing, many hosts have grown their programming channels significantly.


As the web streaming television wars rage on, viewers will be forced to decide which Internet television programming is the best. Experts expect the wars to continue until there is an amicable solution to the problem. If the same episodes are offered by every Internet television provider and the Internet connections are faster to prevent buffering, more users may select Internet television programming over cable television programming. Until then, satellite programming and cable programming will continue to dominate the market.


Colgate uses Facebook followers in digital outdoor campaign

Posted by | Creative Digital Design, Facebook, Link Building (SEO), News & Insight, Olivia Naire, Search Engine Marketing, Search Marketing (SEO, PPC), Social Media Advice, Social Media Marketing, Twitter | No Comments

Colgate uses Facebook followers in digital outdoor campaign

Toothpaste brand Colgate has launched an interactive outdoor campaign, featuring pictures of its Facebook followers smiling in support of children’s charity Barnardo’s.

Colgate:launches interactive campaign featuring Facebook followers

Colgate: launches interactive campaign featuring Facebook followers

Created by VML London, the campaign uses UGC content from Colgate’s Facebook page, where people are asked to “share a smile” for Barnardo’s by uploading their picture of themselves smiling.

Uploaded Facebook pictures are randomly displayed on digital billboards across Birmingham, Liverpool and London.

The digital campaign was booked by Kinetic and is also running across JCDecaux’s Transvison network, and on CBS Outdoor’s XTP screens on the London Underground. The campaign is managed through Grand Visual’s OpenLoop platform.

The campaign aims to collect one million “smiles” throughout the summer. The brand has pledged to donate £100,000 to Barnardo’s when that target has been reached.

The outdoor campaign is part of Colgate’s broader online, radio, digital and experiential activity, produced by a collaboration of agencies including MEC, Cohn & Wolfe, VML London, Grand Visual, Mars and RKCR/Y&R.

Gemma Brown, account manager at VML London, said: “Digital outdoor is the perfect platform to leverage Colgate’s social media activity. Integrating the photos of Facebook users is a good fun incentive for anyone who’s dreamed of starring in their own billboard campaign.”


Frequently Asked Photo Questions for June 2011

Posted by | Creative Digital Design | 14 Comments

Have a question about digital photography? Send it to me. I reply to as many as I can–though given the quantity of e-mails that I get, I can’t promise a personal reply to each one. I round up the most interesting questions about once a month here in Digital Focus.


What’s the Best Photo File Format?


I recently had some prints made from photos I took with my digital SLR. I am not impressed with the quality–they are very grainy and some have a slight blur. Is this because of the picture format? I can shoot JPEG, RAW, and others. Which file type should I use, and for what occasion would I use others?


Most digital SLRs and even many point and shoot cameras give you the option of JPEG or RAW, Dennis. Some cameras also throw in the TIF format. In general, most people will get the best results from their camera’s highest quality JPG mode. The RAW format captures more color and exposure information than is visible in the JPG, which is ideal if you plan to edit the photo afterwards in a program like Adobe Photoshop. (Read “Using Your Camera’s RAW Mode” for more on this.) But if you aren’t the sort of person who tinkers with your photos, avoid the RAW format; it isn’t white balanced or sharpened, so unedited RAW results are generally inferior to a well-shot JPEG.


In your specific case, grain and blur are not the sort of thing caused by–or solved by–any particular file format. Instead, those are issues that can be fixed by learning the photography basics, like how to use your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. For tips on dealing with common photo problems like the ones you describe, read “5 Common Photo Problems, Avoided or Solved.”

Choosing a Scanner Setting

I’m scanning old negatives with a film scanner. I can chose from many different settings, such as TIF or JPEG, and various levels of compression. The default setting gives me a TIF with a file size of 67MB. If I capture in JPEG format, excellent quality file size is still 67MB, and high quality gives me 11-14MB files, and good quality is about 5MB. When I edit photos with Picnik, the maximum file size the program can process is 16MB, so scanning with excellent settings doesn’t seem to make sense. So should I use the Excellent setting, or the High setting? Am I losing any quality, and if so, how much? When I compare the same picture with both Good and Excellent settings, I don’t see a difference on my monitor.


The answer all depends upon how you plan to use your photos and how picky you are about image quality, Vincent. Consider music lovers for a moment. Many folks are perfectly happy listening to low-quality digital music on tinny ear buds. Me? I consider myself an audiophile; I am meticulous about ripping CDs at 320 kbps (the highest bitrate for the MP3 format). I won’t listen to music sampled at 128 kbps or streaming radio. But it turns out that there are even more dedicated audio snobs who put me to shame. I know folks who listen to vinyl only because they think CDs and all digital music, regardless of the sample rate, sounds terrible.


So, back to the issue at hand. If you are scanning these slides as true “archival quality” or “reference quality” originals, then you would want to scan them at the very highest quality possible: TIF, which is a “lossless” format. But there’s a cost to doing that because TIF is a cumbersome format to work with. Instead, the highest-quality JPEG is probably good enough if you are not a professional photographer. If you are even more casual about your photos and aren’t worried about preserving every bit of color, tone, and resolution, then the Excellent–or even Good–quality setting on your scanner is probably fine for your taste. Of course, if you plan to edit your photos in an online tool like Picnik, you probably aren’t concerned about preserving reference quality fidelity in your photos anyway, and lower-quality scans are adequate.

Photo Quality, Size, and Resolution Explained

I have seen pictures that completely fill my 22-inch monitor with excellent quality, and when you check the size they might only be 200KB or even less. How do megapixels relate to this?


This issue always seems to confuse folks, so thanks for asking, Shahid. There are a variety of values associated with photo size/resolution/quality, and they are only somewhat related to each other.


Let’s start with megapixels. That’s the key spec by which most cameras are sold, and it refers to the sheer number of pixels in the photos. A 1-megapixel camera takes photos with a million pixels in them; a 20-megapixel camera captures 20 million pixel photos. Think of it like a grid that tells you how wide and tall the photo is. For example, my 16-megapixel camera takes photos that measure 4928 by 3264 pixels. Multiple those numbers and you get 16 million pixels. Note that this says absolutely nothing about the actual quality of the photo–just the size.


Then there’s the file size. A photo might be 16MB, 2MB, or even just 100KB in size. This measures how much space the photo takes up on your computer’s hard drive. There’s no direct relationship between file size and megapixels, because file size also depends upon the amount of compression used to save the photo. A TIFF or a RAW photo generally has no compression, so all 16-megapixel RAW photos are always exactly the same size. But if you look at a hundred 16-megapixel JPGs, you’ll find that no two are the same size. The file size depends upon the compression used to save the photo and the amount of detail and color in the image to begin with. So the file size can give you some hints about the quality of the photo, but I wouldn’t try to read too much into that, either.


You mentioned that even seemingly small photos look excellent on your computer monitor. That’s not surprising. No matter how many millions of pixels are in a photo, it’ll always be resized to just 1280 by 1024 on your monitor, or however many pixels your display is set to.


As you can see, measuring image size and quality is difficult. And I’ve overlooked the most important consideration: taking a great photo to begin with. The photo needs to be focused sharply and properly exposed. All the megapixels in the world can’t fix a bad photo.

High Dynamic Range Revisited

Loved the article on creating high dynamic range photos using Ulead’s PhotoImpact. Is there a way to achieve similar results using Adobe Photoshop Elements 8?


Photoshop Elements does not have a high dynamic range feature built in, Carol, but there are free programs you can try. For example, I have written about Luminance HDR, which works nicely. And if you want to stick with Photoshop Elements, you can “fake” HDR photography in that program using the technique I described in “Improve Your Exposure in Tricky Lighting.”

Hot Pic of the Week

Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality, and technique.


Here’s how to enter: Send us your photograph in JPEG format, at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480 pixels. Entries at higher resolutions will be immediately disqualified. If necessary, use an image editing program to reduce the file size of your image before e-mailing it to us. Include the title of your photo along with a short description and how you photographed it. Don’t forget to send your name, e-mail address, and postal address. Before entering, please read the full description of the contest rules and regulations.




This week’s Hot Pic: “Warrior Dance,” by Ron Lashley, Flora Vista, New Mexico


Ron writes: “I took this photo in Farmington at an Indian dance demonstration which included several tribes like Apache and Navajo. I used a Sony A300 with a shutter speed of 1/160 second; it was somewhat difficult due to the dancer’s motion. I used Topaz Remask to remove the background, and then applied Topaz Clean and Simplify along with some hand painting to complete the effect.”




This week’s runner-up: “Hiding,” by George Fritzsche, Bayport, New York


George writes: “I took this picture while playing with my son. We were playing hide and seek at a local beach on Long Island. I took my camera out and went around the other side of some playground equipment. I got this picture right before my son found me hiding.”


George used a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi.


5 Tips for Shooting Dramatic Silhouettes

Posted by | Creative Digital Design | One Comment

As any horror movie director will tell you, what you don’t see is often scarier than what you do. And while filmmakers know that the unseen can certainly be scary, photographers rely on the fact that often it’s just plain dramatic. That’s the idea behind silhouettes, which engage you by masking details in inky black shadows. By coyly hiding important elements of the photo in plain sight, silhouettes are some of the most iconic elements you can add to your photography repertoire. In the past, I’ve covered the basics of shooting silhouettes. This week, let’s look at five things you can do to take better silhouettes.

1. Set Up the Scene

silhouettesPhoto courtesy Flickr user Lin Fuchshuber.The basic idea behind any silhouette is that your subject is dark and underexposed, but set against a bright background. So for the best results, look for situations in which you can take advantage of a lot of contrast. Sunsets are a perennial favorite for silhouettes, but if you get low to the ground and aim upwards, you can get striking results by placing someone (or something) against a bright blue sky. Your options hardly end there; I’ve seen gorgeous silhouettes set against brightly lit stained glass windows inside churches, for example.

2. Turn Off the Flash

It’s critical to expose for the background. We want to keep light off of the subject, so your camera’s flash should be off. If your flash tends to fire automatically, you’ll want to find the flash setting and turn it off.

3. Expose for the Background, Not the Subject

silhouettesPhoto courtesy Flickr user latteda.Most digital cameras are pretty smart and can expose your scene pretty well even in terribly harsh, high-contrast situations. That’s exactly what we need to avoid in order to capture a good silhouette, though, so you should outsmart your camera by overriding the automatic exposure control. There are a few ways to do this. If your camera has an exposure lock button, you can point the camera at the bright background and then press the exposure lock. Keeping the button pressed, compose the shot and then take the picture.


Another option is to point the camera at the bright background while in automatic exposure mode and take note of the f/stop and shutter speed. Then put your camera in manual mode, dial in those settings, and compose and take the picture. Whatever you do, don’t just compose the photo and take it using auto or shutter or aperture priority, because those settings will average the exposure between the background and subject, and you won’t get a silhouette.

4. Keep the Subject in Focus

Focus is something else to consider when you take a silhouette. Depending upon how you frame the shot and what settings you use to set the exposure, your camera might accidentally lock the focus on the background. For your silhouette to have dramatic impact, though, it needs to be sharp. In most cases, fixing this problem is just a matter of ensuring that the focus locks on the subject when you press the shutter release. You might want to check your camera’s user guide and make sure that the exposure lock button doesn’t also lock the focus, for example. Worst case, you might need to switch to manual focus and set it yourself.

5. Perfect the Silhouette on Your PC

silhouettesFinally, keep in mind that it’s rare to capture a perfect silhouette “in the lens.” Most silhouettes will require some touchup in a photo editing program. The most common problem you’ll have is that the silhouette isn’t perfectly black–you’ll still see some color or detail. Fix that with your photo editor’s Burn tool. Burn is a brush that darkens the scene wherever you paint. So select the Burn tool (if you’re using Photoshop Elements, it’s in the second cubby from the bottom of the toolbar) and paint over the subject to remove all trace of color and detail.

Hot Pic of the Week

Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality, and technique.


Here’s how to enter: Send us your photograph in JPEG format, at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480 pixels. Entries at higher resolutions will be immediately disqualified. If necessary, use an image editing program to reduce the file size of your image before e-mailing it to us. Include the title of your photo along with a short description and how you photographed it. Don’t forget to send your name, e-mail address, and postal address. Before entering, please read the full description of the contest rules and regulations.




This week’s Hot Pic: “Small Balsam” by Phil Wright, Queensland, Australia


Phil writes: “I shot this after a flood in Queensland, using a Canon S95. I later tweaked it using Photoshop. The plants are always the first to recover and look better for it after a flood.”




This week’s runner-up: “Little Plane” by Rob O’Donnell, Mesa, Arizona


Rob says: “Living near an airport, I see a lot of airliners fly over. But when I saw this moon rise in the sky, I waited until I saw this little guy flying where few are able to fly.”


Rob captured this photo with a Sony A500.


6 Handy Tips for Getting Around Photoshop Elements

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Fifty years ago, any serious photographer would have told you that photography was equal parts taking the picture and developing it in the darkroom. Back then, however, few casual photographers bothered with the darkroom, so they missed out on the ability to really fine-tune their images. These days photography is still equal parts taking the picture and editing it–but the difference is that almost everyone does at least a little editing on the PC. Digital photography and image editing software have leveled the playing field: Now neophytes as well as pros can perfect their photos after they’re taken. Last week I explained how to easily improve your photo’s exposure using the Levels tool. This week, let’s go back to basics. I want to show you some essential keyboard shortcuts that make Adobe Photoshop Elements a joy to use.


Let me be clear: I’m generally not a keyboard shortcut sort of guy. I know a lot of people who seem to know every keyboard shortcut under the sun, whereas I hate to take my hand off the mouse. But even I recognize the value in these tricks, because they simplify tasks you need to perform over and over and over again when editing photos.

1. Use the Spacebar to Grab Your Photo

Here’s the most useful keyboard shortcut ever invented for photo editing: No matter what tool you currently have selected, just press and hold the spacebar to temporarily switch to the Hand tool. Drag your photo around until you can see the part you need, and then release. You’ll be returned to your selected tool, so you can keep working without interruption. This works even if you are in the middle of making a selection with something like the Lasso tool.

2. Use the Scroll Wheel to Move Around Your Photo

Suppose you’re zoomed in and want to get around the photo quickly. You could use the aforementioned spacebar trick to switch to the hand tool, but there’s another way: Use your mouse’s scroll wheel. When you roll the wheel, your photo will scroll up and down. But hold down the Ctrl key while you scroll, and it’ll move from right to left. In this way, you can easily go anywhere in the photo without clicking.

3. Zoom In and Out With Scroll-Alt

Before I learned this shortcut, zooming in Photoshop Elements was cumbersome and frustrating because it required clicking the Zoom tool and losing control of whatever tool I had been using. (In contrast, Corel’s Paintshop Pro zooms with the scroll wheel, which I find is much handier.) To zoom with Photoshop Elements, just hold the Alt key and then scroll the mouse wheel. This works for both Zoom In and Zoom Out, and you can do it at any time, no matter what tool you are currently using.

4. A Fast and Easy Way to Make the Canvas Bigger

Have you ever wanted to make a photo bigger by adding some blank canvas around the image? I’ve explained how to do this in the past by using the Image, Resize, Canvas Size menu option, but that’s clumsy and slow. Instead, you can add blank canvas space around your photo with the Crop tool. To do that, first make sure the photo doesn’t fill the entire program window–zoom out until you can see a grey border around the image. Next, click the Crop tool and use it to select the entire photo. You might think you can’t crop more than the entire photo, but you’d be wrong. Hold the Alt key and then drag a corner of the crop frame away from the photo. When the crop box is big enough, click the check box and voila–you’ll have a larger photo with blank canvas to work on.

5. Draw a Straight Line With Almost Any Tool

I’ve heard many people lament the lack of an easy way to draw a perfectly straight line in Photoshop Elements. Actually, it’s easy to draw straight lines–but even cooler, you can make almost any tool in Photoshop work in a perfectly straight line. The secret is to just hold the Shift key. Here’s how it works: Choose a tool (like the Brush or Pencil), click on the photo, hold Shift, and click somewhere else. You’ll get a line that connects the two points. If you want a perfectly vertical or horizontal line, click and then, without moving the mouse, hold Shift and then click and drag the mouse. If you drag it to the side, you’ll get a horizontal line. Drag up or down, and the line will be vertical.

6. Undo (and Redo) Your Changes

Finally, you should definitely remember the keyboard shortcut for Undo, which is Ctrl-Z. To redo a task, press Ctrl-Y. Photoshop Elements will remember up your last 50 tasks, so you can undo quite a bit before you run out of history. If you want even more undo flexibility, you can increase this value. Choose Edit, Preferences, Performance, and change the number in the History States field–you can set it as high as 1000.

Hot Pic of the Week

Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality, and technique.


Here’s how to enter: Send us your photograph in JPEG format, at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480 pixels. Entries at higher resolutions will be immediately disqualified. If necessary, use an image editing program to reduce the file size of your image before e-mailing it to us. Include the title of your photo along with a short description and how you photographed it. Don’t forget to send your name, e-mail address, and postal address. Before entering, please read the full description of the contest rules and regulations.


Photoshop Elements




This week’s Hot Pic: “Still Life with Ginger Ale and Lemon” by Eric Hoar, Springvale, Maryland


Eric writes: “I took this picture of my beverage with an incandescent table lamp behind it. I positioned a blue LCD flashlight so it would also backlight the glass. I adjusted the brightness and contrast to bring out the colors and used Photoshop Elements to eliminate the lampshade behind the glass.”


Eric shot the photo with a Panasonic Lumix DMC- ZS5.


Photoshop Elements


This week’s runner-up: “Flying” by Bob McMillian, San Diego, California


Bob says: “I was on a whale watching cruise back in February. On the way out, I caught this seagull, cruising in the airflow off the starboard side of the boat. In this shot, he seemed to be looking at me with a rather quizzical, “Why are you looking at me?” expression. I shot it with my Canon 50D.”


Five Simple Tips for Better Fireworks Photos

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This time of year, photographers dust off their cameras while dogs hide under the bed: It’s fireworks season. Trance and Topher (my dogs) notwithstanding, I love fireworks displays–especially on the Fourth of July–and I’m always eager to capture some of the magic on film. In years past, I’ve given you detailed advice for shooting fireworks, but this year I’ve decided to distill it all down to five simple tips. Follow these, and you should have some nifty fireworks photos this year.

1. Use a Tripod, Of Course



This shot–which required an exposure of 2.5 seconds–would have been impossible without a tripod.If you’ve read Digital Focus, you have probably come across my frequent advice about using tripods. I think they’re essential–especially at night. And since fireworks need to be exposed for at least a second, and more likely several seconds, it’s just not practical to get good photos without locking your camera onto the top of a tripod.

2. Use the Right Exposure Setting

If you have a point-and-shoot camera, you might want to dial in the Fireworks mode. This setting gives you a somewhat slow shutter speed (probably about a half of a second, though it’ll vary depending upon your particular camera) to capture the distinctive light trails formed by fireworks. I should point out that when using this setting, a tripod isn’t essential, especially if you can brace the camera against something solid–like a car, chair, wall, or doorway.


Even better than Fireworks mode, though, is your camera’s manual exposure mode. In manual mode, you can experiment with your own shutter speeds and aperture settings. And you can try longer shutter speeds for more dramatic photos. The great thing about using manual mode for fireworks is that there are few settings that are just plain “wrong,” so you can experiment with a variety of settings to learn what works well, and what doesn’t.

3. Control the Exposure With the Aperture



This scene is the result of a 4-second exposure at f/8.If you’re new to manual mode, you might feel overwhelmed by all the various settings–ISO, shutter speed, and aperture–and not know where to start. Here’s what you should do: set the ISO at 100 (or its lowest value) and the shutter speed at about 1 or 2 seconds. Then take some pictures, varying the aperture setting. The smaller the f/number you dial in, the brighter your fireworks will be. If your photos are getting overexposed, increase the f/number. If the photos are too dark, shoot a smaller f/number.

4. Control the Light Trails with the Shutter



This busy scene is the result of a 6-second exposure at f/5.6.Likewise, you can make the light trails longer by increasing the shutter speed. You might want to start small (around a second), but you can shoot really long exposures (like 8 seconds or more) to fill the sky with multiple fireworks.

5. Focus at Infinity (and Leave It There)

Finally, don’t forget about the focus. If your camera is in Fireworks mode, it’ll automatically set the lens to focus on infinity. But if you’re handling the exposure details manually, set the focus at infinity and leave it there. The fireworks will all be far enough away that infinity is the right setting. If you leave the camera in auto-focus, you’ll no doubt find that you’ll miss shots while the camera “searches” for the right focus.

Hot Pic of the Week

Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality, and technique.


Here’s how to enter: Send us your photograph in JPEG format, at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480 pixels. Entries at higher resolutions will be immediately disqualified. If necessary, use an image editing program to reduce the file size of your image before e-mailing it to us. Include the title of your photo along with a short description and how you photographed it. Don’t forget to send your name, e-mail address, and postal address. Before entering, please read the full description of the contest rules and regulations.




This week’s Hot Pic: “Yellow Flowers #1″ by Jondaar, New Zealand


Jondaar says that he stumbled across this group of flowers as he was experimenting with changing the depth of field using aperture priority mode, and this was the result. He used a Camera Fujifilm Finepix S9600.




This week’s runner-up: “Snowblowing in Maine” by Viki Quinn, Roanoke, Virginia


Viki says: “I used a Canon Power Shot SD1400 IS (its small size makes it so handy to carry!). This was originally a color photo, but I thought it was stronger in black and white.”


Taking a Great Facebook Profile Picture

Posted by | Creative Digital Design, Facebook, Marketing Tips, Social Media Advice | No Comments

Recently, I saw something online that struck me as a little funny: Someone was advertising a service to take portraits for Facebook profile photos. Why, I wondered, would anyone pay money to have their face snapped for a little 100-pixel thumbnail? Then I really started to notice… Forums are filled with people asking for advice on taking profile pictures. Folks seem to change their profile photo frequently rather than choosing a portrait and sticking with it, like you keep a driver’s license photo. (My daughter changes her Facebook profile photo weekly.) I’ve already talked about general tips for taking portraits, but this seems like a great time to dive into tips specifically for taking great profile photos.

Think Square

Facebook Profile PictureTraditional portrait photos usually have a vertical orientation, more tall than wide. It’s the very origin of the term “portrait orientation,” in fact. That’s not true about the photos used by most, if not all, social networking and sharing sites, though. Whether you’re taking a picture for Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, Windows Live, or some other site, the little frame that your photo sits in is probably going to be perfectly square, or very nearly so.

That can pose a challenge, since we tend to think about portraits as rectangular. You’ll want to be sure that the camera is zoomed in (or you are physically close enough). When you compose the shot, put the emphasis on your face, not the rest of your body, or the square cropping will tend to make you appear miniscule, or show way too much of the background.

Use a Simple Background

Speaking of the background, you might want to keep it really simple. Remember that your profile photo will be very small. At Facebook, for example, most people see a profile photo that’s just 50 pixels square. That’s like looking at a postage stamp from 3 feet away, so any details in the background will end up looking like noise. You might know what you’re looking at, but that’s only because you saw the photo when it had 10 million pixels in it. Facebook visitors probably won’t have any idea what’s going on.

Facebook Profile Picture

Some people like to use props or a representative setting, but I think the best profile photos have a plain background. Recently, my wife decided she wanted a new profile photo and asked me to take a picture with her camera phone. Unfortunately, we were at a club waiting for a concert to start, and that is rarely the sort of place that’s conducive to good photography. Luckily, I found a wall that was solid red and the lighting wasn’t abysmal–so I took this shot, which she was quite happy with.

Fill the Frame

You already know we’re shooting a picture for an oddball square frame, and a noisy background can be a major distraction (I hope my daughter is reading this–her profile pictures are often an indiscriminate jumble of colored pixels, in which I can barely make her out from the background).

Facebook Profile Picture

So the logical next step? Fill the frame as much as possible. I think that tight, close-up face shots work best for profile photos. That reduces the clutter and lets visitors easily identify you. Here’s the picture I currently use on Facebook, which is mostly me, but has just a single background element–a computer monitor.

Facebook Profile Picture

Don’t go overboard, though. Some folks zoom in so far that you only see a part of their face. It’s not a flattering look–I call this the “help, let me out” pose.

Another thing that rarely works well is profile photos containing multiple people. Frequently, I see photos of two or three people, or even an entire family portrait, wedged into that tiny frame. It becomes challenging to identify anyone or anything in a space that small. My advice: Save the family portrait for the photo section of the site, and keep the profile focused on you.

Use Enough Light

Lighting is always important when taking any kind of photo, and doubly so if you’re using a camera phone. Certainly, your camera’s flash is the enemy. Close-up face shots are easily blown out by camera flash, and in the dark you’re likely to get red eye. When I shot that profile photo of my wife that I showed you earlier, I knew we were in a relatively dark place. But instead of using the flash, which would look horrible, I turned on her camera phone’s HDR mode, which tries to make the best of available light. The result wasn’t something I’d submit in a photo contest, but it was acceptable for Facebook.

Consider the Angle

Finally, one last bit of portrait wisdom: Consider your angle. You can take portraits straight on, for example, from below, or above. Folks are generally somewhat more photogenic when shot from an elevated position, which is why you see a lot of photos of people looking up into the camera on Facebook. It might be a cliché, but it actually works. You can easily get that shot yourself by holding your camera phone at arm’s length, just about at forehead or hair level, or someone can get the shot for you. Shots from below, though, are generally not that attractive.

Hot Pic of the Week

Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality, and technique.

Here’s how to enter: Send us your photograph in JPEG format, at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480 pixels. Entries at higher resolutions will be immediately disqualified. If necessary, use an image editing program to reduce the file size of your image before e-mailing it to us. Include the title of your photo along with a short description and how you photographed it. Don’t forget to send your name, e-mail address, and postal address. Before entering, please read the full description of the contest rules and regulations.

denver street life

This week’s Hot Pic: “Denver Street Life” by Leo Burkey, Denver, Colorado

Leo says that he processed this photo in Photoshop using a filter called Pixel Bender, which he thinks lends the photo a Norman Rockwell sort of feel.

cloudy day

This week’s runner-up: “Cloudy Day” by Nic Jaworski, Charlotte, North Carolina

Nic says that he shot this photo with his LG enV Touch camera phone on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Ice Clear Media are made about Creative Digital Marketing.

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