For years, meetup.com let us use “custom domains”. As part of their rebranding and refocus efforts, they are doing away with this feature. Fortunately they are grandfathering (kinda) those of us who were smart enough to brand our groups with a unique URL. But this change has broken access to Google’s Webmaster Tools.
And by Kinda Grandfathering, I mean that Meetup.com will accomodate those who already have a domain pointing at meetup.com, but then submit a redirect to your group on their domain. In other words, if you own “houstonphotowalks.com” and point it at meetup before June of 2013, everything worked pretty snazzy. After June ’13, your group members started being redirected to http://www.meetup.com/HoustonPhotowalks/.
Ok, as if that wasn’t bad enough, for those of you tracking your branding and traffic using Webmaster tools, you suddenly realize Webmaster Tools says you don’t own the domain. The reason is your domain cannot be Verified with the Google Webmaster Tools. And to add yet more insult, a lot of the Webmaster Tools aren’t going to be useful because any “houstonphotowalk.com” traffic is automatically shifted to “meetup.com/HoustonPhotowalks”. [sigh] (One note, so far Google Analytics will still work as long as Meetup doesn’t disable those too.)
Google will also search your Zone File for TXT entries when trying to verify a domain. If your domain management software (I use godaddy) allows you direct access to edit the Zone File, then open the Webmaster Tools, go to Verification methods, and select Alternative Methods. Simply add a TXT entry with the google-generated TXT Value and pop, you’re verified!
Let me know in comments if you found this helpful!
White Balance is a fundamental photography concept, but it’s often not discussed — or discussed incorrectly — in many fast-paced “Introduction to Photography” classes. Photos are sometimes too “orange” or too “blue”. This is often caused by selecting the wrong white balance setting, or using Auto mode. We use the camera’s “White Balance” settings to compensate for the off-color, ambient lighting. And in some cases, we use “customized” white balance settings.
Your camera, monitor and printer all lie to you!
White Balance (or incorrect White Balance) is one of the biggest things that can make an image look “first-class” or “amateur”. There are too many factors working against you when trying to correct an image’s color. So we often rely on “Auto-White Balance” (AWB). This basically wild-cards your photographs, promising inconsistently incorrect color on a consistent basis. (Like how I did that?) 🙂
White Balance settings, good bad and ugly
Believe it or not, there are white balance settings you should absolutely avoid. We’ll discuss each white-balance type, what they were intended for, what makes them useful, and which ones to completely avoid using.
Using bad White Balance Creatively!
You can get some very interesting and beautiful images by incorrectly using White Balance. We’ll even discuss how your flash impacts creative color photography.
Using Custom White Balance tools
There are several tools for creating color-perfect images in-camera (before you take the photograph). We’ll look at each of these tools and discus what they are used for. Then we will focus on the “White Balance Lens Cap”, and how to use it.
To help you best understand these concepts, you will be provided a FREE WHITE BALANCE LENS CAP, and we will work several exercises to learn how to use it correctly.
Summary: White Balance is a fundamental photography concept, but it’s often not discussed — or discussed incorrectly — in many fast-paced “Introduction to Photography” classes. Photos are sometimes too “orange” or too “blue”. This is often caused by selecting the wrong white balance setting, or using Auto mode. We use the camera’s “White Balance” settings to compensate for the off-color, ambient lighting. And in some cases, we use “customized” white balance settings.
Group (20 ppl): $35.00
Instructor: Joe Lippeatt
Bring to Class: Camera, lens(es), paper & pen, enthusiasm!
Provided: Class Notes. “White Balance Lens Cap” so you can start using CUSTOM white balance during class!
Length: 2-3 Hours
Group Classes Available at: HoustonPhotowalks
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Sometimes people ask me “what lens should I buy”. I joke that picking a new lens is harder than picking a baby name — you don’t ask others to pick your baby name (“Joseph” is quite nice though). 🙂
It can be really confusing for new DSLR owners to buy that next lens. There are an insane number of choices, an insane array of acronyms and number specifications, and many seemingly identical lenses have a price difference of $1,000 or more.
And some folks (more than once) have bought lenses based on the focal length (MM) and price, and 6 months later realized they made a very bad, and expensive, lens choice.
What this class is *NOT* about:
It’s really easy to “geek-out” on lens specifications. If you’re a high-end, pro-minded kinda person who likes to read MTF charts and study lens grouping schematics to help you wake up in the morning,this class is NOT for you.
- NOT a “Joe, what lens should I buy?” Q&A – I’ll show you how to evaluate lenses so YOU can make this decision!
- NOT a Specifications / Mathematics / Physics / Geek-fest
- NOT an argument over “Bokeh” quality
- NOT a debate over “third-party lens options”
- NOT a tutorial on reading MTF and Adoration charts
What this class *IS* all about:
- The basics of understanding lens specifications
- The different classifications of lens types
- Know which specifications to pay attention to
- Understand why 3 lenses with the same “mm” are drastically different prices
- Evaluating lenses based on what you intend to do rather than what you think you need or can afford
- Why lenses with a smaller focal range is better than those with a larger range.
- How to evaluate conflicting “Reviews” on Amazon
- The one lens that everyone should own
Bonus 1: Discussing using UV Filters for lens protection – are they worth it?
Bonus 2: Discussing the basics of lens care
Summary: Sometimes people ask me “what lens should I buy”. I joke that picking a new lens is harder than picking a baby name — you don’t ask others to pick your baby name (“Joseph” is quite nice though). 🙂 It can be really confusing for new DSLR owners to buy that next lens. There are an insane number of choices, an insane array of acrynums and number specefications, and many seemingly identical lenses have a price difference of $1,000 or more. And some folks (more than once) have bought lenses based on the focal length (MM) and price, and 6 months later realized they made a very bad, and expensive, lens choice.
Bring to Class: Camera, lens(es), paper & pen, enthusiasm!
Don’t let the Comment Haters slow you down.
Most people appreciate and maybe even crave feedback, especially positive. When it comes to photography, there are those who are very comfortable providing constructive, well crafted critiques. These paragraphs of personal opinions are often (at least hopefully, always) provided with the best intentions in mind, to help the photographer understand what works, and what doesn’t, in a particular photograph.
But there has been a growing trend of fellow photographers withholding their positive encouragement for the most silly of reasons: embarrassment and shame.
How Can Leaving A Comment Be Embarrassing?
Recently I have seen or heard photographers suggest (or outright telling) someone that if they can’t “intelligently” explain why they like someone’s image, they shouldn’t bother posting a comment. In other words, if a photograph catchers your attention, you show your own ignorance by posting “Nice image!” Telling someone they are unqualified to post a comment on photographs is frankly one of the most degrading remarks one photographer can say to another.
I’ve heard HoustonPhotowalks.com members mention mention occasionally that they loved one image or another from their fellow community member, but didn’t comment because Joe Blow Pro Photog told them that “Love it!” Or “great pic!” is amateur. Frankly, telling you that you are not qualified to “like” a photo makes Joe Blow Pro Photog lame and amateur-ish. (Point him to this blog post is he disagrees).
All Feedback is Important
It’s true that learning to read a photograph, how to detect subtle use of intersecting lines, angles, strong color (or not), and other composition techniques is very important. And providing details when commenting on a work is always helpful and informative, even if that feedback may include some “suggestions for improvement”. The end result is that we help each other grow, right?
As we grow as artists, we slowly learn to talk the trade, learn the language, etc. And as we grow, we can spot areas that seem to “not work” both in our own photographs and others. These are important steps for an artist’s maturity. So by no means am I saying that learning how to “Read” a photograph or provide constructive critiques aren’t important skills to grow into.
But someone should never feel intimidated or uncomfortable telling another photographer that their work had an emotional effect … even if the viewer is not prepared to specifically explain why.
It is Rude to Look at a Sketch Without Making a Nice Comment …
We are not required to withhold friendly feedback for other art forms. If someone shows you a quilt, lawn, drawing, or pottery, do you withhold positive feedback because you don’t know specific technical terms?
If someone shows you their drawing with stunning detail, strokes, and perspective … do you just hand the image back with no comment because you haven’t taken a proper sketching class? No, you say “OMG”, because you recognize skill, and its polite and encouraging to our peers!
So if someone creates a composition that affects your perception positively, they have knowingly or unknowingly tapped into the skills of artistic expression. They would like to see your “Like”, “Fav”, or “Amazing” just as much as a three paragraph examination. Don’t let the rules of a staid and inflexible photography critiques keep you from telling a fellow photographer, “I really love your work.”
If you like it, Like it! Don’t be shy, don’t feel judged. The recipient will really appreciate the time you took to comment. Don’t let some cranky old photographer make you to think you are unqualified to like something … or to express your appreciation for someone else’s work!
Feel free to post comments on the subject, I’m interested in hearing your view … or if you find this article helpful.