my flickr photostream

Friday, May 29, 2009


© 2009 Simon Hucko

If you're like me, the first thing you do when you get a new camera (or other gadget) is to pull it out of the box and start playing with it. However, fairly soon afterward (usually that night before bed) I'll get out the manual and read it cover to cover. Having spent some time with my new camera, the references to buttons and dials and menus will make some sense, and I'm likely to have a list of "how do I...?" questions stored up that will be answered as I read. (If you don't do this, you are seriously missing out, and likely have spent way too much time scratching your head or settling for mediocre results.)

At this point, most people toss the manual back into the box or into the junk drawer and forget about it. If you do, you're throwing away a great opportunity to really get the most out of your gear. I keep my camera manual in my camera bag, so it's always there if I need to look something up. There will come a time when you're shooting and part of your brain goes "hm, I remember that there's a setting for ________, but darned if I know how to find it and change it." Manual to the rescue!

I also advise that you re-visit the manual after you've shot with your camera for a while and are comfortable using it. You can skim through most of the basic information, but there are likely to be a few features in there that you forgot about, or that didn't make sense the first time through. Learning a new shortcut can make the difference between capturing a moment and missing it because you're diving through menus. Knowing how to finely adjust parameters in camera can help cut down on post processing time, especially when shooting .jpg.

Camera manuals tend to be surprisingly well written, and will help you fully utilize the tool that you plunked down your hard earned cash for. If you haven't ever read your manual, read it! If you have, pick it up again and take a look through - you will probably go "ohhhhh! so that's what that setting means" at least once. Either way, find a spot for it in your camera bag and always have it available for reference. It might save your butt some day.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dan Coogan Photography

© Coogan Photography

Today's photo link is to Dan Coogan's online portfolio. Dan Coogan is a master of environmental portraiture, and has done some absolutely stunning work. Take a minute and flip through his galleries, especially the Editorial/Magazine portfolio.


Also, in case you missed the addendum to yesterday's post, I have the full set of pictures up from Sunday on Picasa. Check it out, and please feel free to post comments :)


Friday, May 22, 2009

Flickr badge generator

sunset (2)
© 2009 Simon Hucko

Yesterday turned into a pretty busy day, so I never had the chance to take pictures. Such is life. So it looks like my "macro week" will be more like "macro 3 days." Honestly, I'm itching to start shooting with my D70 again, so the point n shoot is getting put away. It was a fun experiment, and I think I got some nice shots from it, but I really miss the control and quality that I get with my DSLR. My point n shoot will go back to what it's best for - being a small unobtrusive camera that I can carry with me anywhere and not worry about being "that guy with a camera."

Today's link is to flickr's badge generator. Found this today and have replaced the 3rd party gadget on the blog here with it (see above). I chose to use the html version because of where I wanted it. There is also a flash version that will create a more interactive interface. Either way, you can choose to display your most recent work (what I'm using it for), a specific set, filtered by tags, or a random sampling of your photostream. You can also set it up to display work from the flickr community using various filtering methods. If you have a blog or another website, this is a great way to get your work on display there.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quick and dirty monitor "calibration"

© 2009 Simon Hucko

We've all been there - working on a computer that isn't ours, trying to look at pictures, and wondering why shadows look like bottomless pits, or why all of the highlights suddenly look blown out. There are a lot of bad uncalibrated monitors out there, especially old CRT units that have been sitting at the local public library for the last 7 years.

Well, has a page that gives you an easy way to check brightness levels of the monitor you're working on. Note: this will NOT help with color calibration, or truly "calibrate" the monitor, but it will help you get it to a normal state of brightness and contrast for better image viewing.

My suggestion is to e-mail yourself the link to a searchable webmail account (ie gmail) so that you can find it whenever you need to.


Macro Week, Day 3

Pine cone
© 2009 Simon Hucko

Macro week continues! Click the picture above or the link here for the set from yesterday.

Don't really have anything groundbreaking to say about it today, so just check it out and leave some comments :)


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tilt-shift your photos

vespas tiltshift
© 2009 Simon Hucko

Remember those tilt-shift videos from Keith Loutit that I posted a while back? Tilt-shift lenses have the amazing ability to make scenes look like miniature models by manipulating the depth of field and tricking your brain. It's an awesome effect, but an expensive one to do in camera - most tilt-shift lenses cost around $2000. Yikes.

Fear not, there are plenty of ways to simulate the effect in post. I just tried out an online TiltShift Gadget from, and have to say I really like the results. Click on my photo above to see it larger. Here's the original below:

scooters on parade
© 2007 Simon Hucko

The applet is designed for web use, so it doesn't play as nicely with images larger than 1600p. You can also download it as a stand-alone app, and install a plugin that supports drag-and-drop.

A fun little tool that's easy to use and definitely worth playing with. Give it a try, and share your results in the comments!


Macro Week, Day 2

© 2009 Simon Hucko

New set of pictures up from yesterday's continuation of Macro Week. Please let me know what you think, both good and bad.

I'm also interested to hear what your photography goals are at the moment. Could be as simple as "I want to shoot at least one day a week." Could be something specific, like my mission to use my point n shoot's macro mode every day. Could even be a desire to get better at a certain type of photography or a specific technique. If you don't have one, make one and share it.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Macro Week, Day 1

purple flower
© 2009 Simon Hucko

It's macro week! In case you missed the tail end of my post from yesterday, I gave myself the assignment of shooting with my point n shoot every day this week in macro mode, and posting the results. The above picture is my favorite from yesterday's outing. Click on the picture or the link here to see the whole set. Please feel free to leave feedback - tell what works and what doesn't. This is an experiment for me, so negative feedback is more than welcome (although I prefer constructive criticism - why you don't like it, not just that you don't, but if you can't articulate it that's ok).

My goal for next week will be to explore different aspect ratios in my photos. My D70 shoots in a 2x3 ratio, so that's what I've been working in lately. My point n shoot, however, shoots 3x4, which has a different feeling to it. I really notice it with the verticals - they don't feel as tall. I've been intrigued by some square photos lately, too, and thought the above photo really worked as a square. I'll try to get the original online tonight for comparison.

What's your photography goal for the week?


Flak photo

© 2008 Suzanne Révy

Today's link is to Flak Photo. Flak photo puts out a photo a day, which you can consume on the site, as a daily e-mail, or through your favorite RSS reader [RSS feed].

Today's photo (above) really jumped out at me when I saw it, both for the tones and texture of the corn and the childhood excitement that she captured. There have been some real gems, and even if I don't particularly like a photo it gives me a chance to see fresh work every day. Viewing such a wide variety of work helps you find what you like and don't like. This can then be applied to your own work.

Self-critique is hard, since photography can be a very personal thing, but if you can figure out how to look at your work objectively it'll make you a better photographer. I try to go back through my body of work online every couple weeks and review everything I have posted. I wind up catching some things I missed before, and sometimes am inspired to re-visit old shots or techniques.

Try it - pull up some old photos and be honest with yourself about what you see. I guarantee you'll be surprised by it.


Monday, May 18, 2009

New blog from NYT

bridge to nowhere
© 2009 Simon Hucko

The New York Times has started a new blog called Lens. From the site:
Lens is the photojournalism blog of The New York Times, presenting the finest and most interesting visual and multimedia reporting — photographs, videos and slide shows. A showcase for Times photographers, it also seeks to highlight the best work of other newspapers, magazines and news and picture agencies; in print, in books, in galleries, in museums and on the Web. And it will draw on The Times's own pictorial archive, numbering in the millions of images and going back to the early 20th century.

So far they have been posting frequent updates, so between that and the goofy flash interface on the site it's definitely worth grabbing the RSS feed. Just make sure you click through for the pictures.


Set a goal for your photography this week. Mine is to play with my point n shoot's macro mode. Every post this week will showcase my favorite shot from the day before. Didn't have one for today, so I put up one of my recent favorites instead.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Document your summer

Barrrrack Obama
© 2009 Pete Souza, used under Creative Commons license

Ok, so the picture above has (almost) nothing to do with my link today, but I felt the need to share. Taken from the Official White House Photostream on Flickr by photographer Pete Souza (official White House photographer), who has probably the best job of any working photographer right now and does a darn good job at it.

Today's link is to a project being run by the Art House co-op in Atlanta, GA called A Million Little Pictures. The co-op is trying to recruit 1,000 people from around the world to take one 24 exposure roll of film using a disposable camera to document their summer. From the site:

We want to give people a glimpse into your life. You can choose how much or how little to document and at how broad a scope. For instance, you can pick a single day to document or spread it out over time. Or, you can break away from a timeline completely. Another example would be that in order to know you, we first need to know your family or friends or pets. Get creative with it and simply use the term "document" as a guideline, not a restriction.

You can sign up on the website to participate. The fee is $18 which covers the cost of the camera and shipping, and probably helps with their exhibition costs. Shoot 24 frames of your choice, get the film developed, and mail back 24 4x6 prints for them to display. You retain the negatives, copyright, etc. Deadline for signing up is July 1st, and prints must be postmarked by September 1st to be included in the exhibit.

Even if you don't sign up for the project, you should think about documenting more of your day to day life with photography. I'm not suggesting that you take a picture of every single thing you do, but try to pull out the camera for more than just the big occasions. In my opinion, capturing the every day is much more rewarding than staged group shots at the family picnic (not that those aren't great photos to have, too). Tell a story with your photos other than "say cheese!" Take the following photo, for example:

© 2009 Simon Hucko

This was taken on a sunny evening on our front porch a few weeks ago. I came home from work, grabbed a beer, took my shoes off, and joined Rachel outside to enjoy the warm sunshine. No special occasion, but I captured the feeling of the evening and told my story in a simple photograph.

Take a picture today that tells a story, and share it with the world.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Big Huge Labs

Bob the Builder
© 2009 Simon Hucko. Created using fd's Flickr Toys

Today's link is to fd's Flickr Toys at It will interface with your Flickr account and let you do a variety of things to your images. You can also use it without a Flickr account, just upload the image you want. I mostly use it for the "view on black" application, since Flickr insists that everything be put on a white background, but they have some other neat toys to play with. I used their motivational poster applet for the picture above. It's easy to use, and worth checking out.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

RSS feeds

GH (2)
© 2009 Simon Hucko

Today I'm going to talk about RSS feeds. If you're already familiar with the magic of RSS, you can just scroll down to my list of recommendations below. For those of you new to the RSS world, let me tell you that you've been missing out.

Tired of scrolling through a long list of bookmarks to keep up with your favorite blogs/news/comics/whatever? RSS will set you free. Most sites that are frequently updated will also have an RSS feed associated with them. You can take this feed into a reader, and the reader will ping the feed and display the most recent additions to that feed. In other words, if you have a blog that you follow closely (like mine, for instance?) you don't have to remember to check it daily to keep up with it. Just keep your RSS reader open and it will alert you whenever something new is posted.

The beauty of this is that you can subscribe to as many feeds as you want. Come across a website that you like? Subscribe, and you'll get all the updates sent to you, free of charge. Have an interesting blog that only updates occasionally? The RSS reader will let you know when they finally post new material, so you won't have to keep coming back to check. Even if it's a site that only occasionally posts something you're interested in, you'll be able to ignore everything else and only spend your time on it when something good comes along. Think of it as your Facebook newsfeed for the entire web.

My reader of choice happens to be google reader, but there are many many out there to choose from, and all give you the same basic functionality. I like google because a. I am a google whore, and b. they have their search built in similar to gmail, so it's easy to find what you're looking for. They also have a little javascript widget that you can put in your bookmarks toolbar enabling one-click subscribing to a website.

RSS - it's simple, it's easy, it's free, so give it a try. Here are some of my favorite RSS streams. Copy the links into your reader of choice and check it out:

- [title of blog]
- CNN's top stories
- Craigslist (this is a GREAT way to keep an eye out for bargains without having to wade through everything)
-'s big picture
- Various webcomics (PHD comics, What the Duck?, xkcd)
- I Can Has Cheezburger

I also have a whole bunch of photography blogs in there, and whenever I come across something interesting I add it. I can always take it off my reader if I decide I don't want it.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Elliott Erwitt

© Elliott Erwitt

Today's link is to photographer Elliott Erwitt. He has some big names to his credit (see his portrait portfolio), but I was really fascinated by his documentary style. Take a look through his portfolios (I especially love "snaps").

WARNING: there is some mild nudity in his sets, so this falls into the NSFW category.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Print your own lens hood

Today's link is to, which has a giant selection of .pdf templates for printable lens hoods. Can't find what you need? They even have a little "make your own" applet, where you can select shape and size.

Why print your own lens hood? Some lenses don't ship with one, most notably the 50mm and the 18-55mm kit zoom. Some lenses only have round hoods available, which don't offer the same protection from flare that petal hoods do. Replacement hoods can be expensive, especially for a specialty lens you only use occasionally. Paper hoods are lightweight, and can fold down to almost nothing for easy storage and transportation (a good choice for travel).

50mm lens hood
© 2009 Simon Hucko

I used their template for my 50mm f1.8 lens and got a custom, DX formatted petal hood that fits snugly over my lens. When I don't need it, it folds down flat and takes up essentially zero room in my gear bag.

A few caveats with this. The first is that these hoods are designed for 1.5x or 1.6x crop bodies. If you're shooting film/full frame, check out their sister site: The second is that the templates are designed on the A3/4/5 standard paper size. Most are still usable with letter paper, but make sure that you set it to center on the paper and print 100%, not scale to the paper/margins. Finally, depending on the lens design these hoods may cover up the manual focus ring (such as on the 50mm). This doesn't bother me too much, since I only manual focus in one of two situations - shooting static objects like flowers with a very shallow depth of field, or shooting in low light where the auto-focus has trouble. In the first case, I can slip the hood off to focus and slip it back on again. In the second, I probably won't have to worry about flare anyway. Either way, the low cost and effectively zero bulk make it worth having even if it only gets used occasionally.


Photo link archive

An archive of the photo links that I've been posting on twitter:

Learn to light at strobist, a blog by David Hobby (4/29)

Commercial photographer/videographer Chase Jarvis. Follow him on twitter @chasejarvis (4/30)

Pete Souza's official White House flickr stream (5/1)

Follow a photography workshop in Nepal at Everest Trek 2009. GPS locator, Twitter stream, and twitpic updates (5/4)

The completion of the Earth Day mosaic. See if you can find my picture. hint: It's off the north-west corner of Australia (5/5)

Fantastic environmental portraits and candids by state of the nation. Most are lit by only one or two bare flashes (5/6)'s Big Picture, a collection of journalism photos from events. Updated frequently, a great RSS feed to pick up (5/7)

Some awesome tilt-shift videos by Keith Loutit (5/8)

All caught up. Check back here daily for a new link, or better yet, subscribe to my RSS feed! (see link to the right)



sky (1)

The main reason for this blog is to extend a concept I've been working on for a few weeks now - posting a photography link of the day on twitter (@simonhucko). I was home visiting family this weekend for Mother's Day, and my dad suggested that I consider starting a blog so that I could have more than 140 characters to post and talk about a link. It was totally one of those "duh" moments, and I'm surprised I didn't think of it sooner.

Not only will I be posting interesting links here, I will be sharing some of my own work and experiences, and putting up some helpful information that I've gleaned from my time reading other photo blogs/forums. I'm still going to attempt to publish daily, even if it's just a quick link. Enjoy!