Happy New Year to Everyone!

For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better person.

I will seek elegance rather than luxury, refinement rather than fashion. I will seek to be worthy more than respectable, wealthy and not rich. I will study hard, think quietly, talk gently, and act frankly. I will listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with an open heart. I will bear all things cheerfully, do all things bravely await occasions and hurry never. In a word I will let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common..

What will you do in the New Year to come?

Happy New Year to you all! And thanks to everyone who has been following my blog. Wish you a new year full of joy, happiness and good health.

Photography tip (31)


The ability to see a picture in everything is what differentiates a top photographer from the ordinary.

Photography tip (30)


Don't just put a frame around it & call it a “photograph”, the story should go far beyond the frame.

Photography tip (29)


Stay up to date with new trends & techniques, but remember not to lose what differentiates you from others.

Glowing tree bud!


It was the perfect timing that was never planned or scheduled.

I was walking back home from the train station, I had just arrived from Groningen after a shopping spree. The media Market (electronic store) had a 19% off sale.

On my way home, I took the route through a park and while enjoying the sun sink, I noticed a beautiful tree bud glowing, as if it was an electric lamp.

Luckily for me, I had my camera with me and was able to capture this beauty on photo.

Photography tip (28)


Light is a photographers best friend. Good photographers use any source of light to their advantage.

Bunch of white daisies


I'm a flower lover!

Even though I don't often buy flowers for anyone & also never get flower as a gift, I still see a lot of flowers in my daily life.

Believe it or not, beautiful flowers draw my attention as quickly as beautiful women do. No matter where they are at that moment, I always make sure I get a closer look to enjoy their beauty (I meant the flowers & not the ladies). They also easily make it to my photo collection whenever I had a camera in hand.

I find flowers very relaxing, especially when I'm in stress.

Photography tip (27)


Creativity in photography is a lot about letting yourself get lost. And implementing the techniques you learn along the way.

Did you enjoy your sleep?


On her way to the airport a year and half ago, Paulien fell asleep in the train and I took the opportunity to capture that on photo.

I managed to get one shot of her sleeping, but this one seemed to attract me more, because it shows the curiosity on her face.

Photography tip (26)


Experiment with different angles, don't just take photos from the same angles or from your height's level.

Try taking photos from your knee level, from higher grounds, from the sides or from the back.

Be creative!

Circus horse


Poor horse! It does nothing other than perform in a daily circus that travels all over the world. This poor beast does an act day in, day out, year in, year out until it's too old to move. And only God knows what happens to it when it retires.

Humans can be cruel!

Photography tip (25)


The first thing a good portrait photographer would do is make their subject feel comfortable.

Comfortable & confident subjects take better photographs & makes photographing them much easier.

Bordering Israel


Those clouds seen over Israel, traveled via Lebanon and they didn't require any documents to cross the border.

Unfortunately, we humans require more than a document from each other to cross a border, because we believe whole-heartedly that we inherited our land and that it belongs to us only.

Humans have become so selfish that they tend to forget that the entire universe belongs to every living thing in it.

Photography tip (24)


Top photographers knows exactly where to place their subject or object within the frame to get a much more interesting photograph (Composition is the photography term for that).

Purple Orchid (Macro mode)


Amazing how the Labellum of an orchid resembles a tongue, in-fact that piece is also called Lips.

Orchidaceae, commonly referred to as the Orchid family, is a morphologically diverse and widespread family of monocots in the order Asparagales.

More information can be found here Orchid Wiki

Photography tip (23)


Don't be ashamed to look stupid or to do anything foolish in the eyes of others if that would lead to the perfect photo.

Sunbathing ladybug


It was cold outside, but the warm sunlight got the attention of this beautiful ladybug, as it seemed to be sunbathing on a fence in my backyard.

This photo is not a recent one, it was taken a little more than 2 years ago with a P&S camera, and it lacked proper composition, so I recomposed it and published it on Dec 14, 2010.

The original photo was not as beautiful.

Photography tip (22)


A photographer must use his/her surrounding to enhance each and every photo he/she takes.

Mountains of Lebanon


These mountains are seen on the way to the border between Lebanon & Israel. Lebanon is where my entire family originated from, they live in the south, a little less than 30 minutes (driving) from the Israeli border.

I took this shot 2,5 years ago, long before I fell in love with photography. I never liked it, till I cropped it as a panorama shot two days ago.

Photography tip (21)


Saying a camera takes nice pictures is like saying a guitar plays nice melodies.

A posing wasp!


Moments after I took a direct shot of this wasp, it moved down to the side of the fence and started walking towards my camera.

I think it was either trying to attack my camera or it was curious about the other wasp in my the lens.

Photography tip (20)


Don't be afraid to act or look stupid if you're aiming to get the perfect photo. Just go for it!

Are you taking a picture of me?


On it's way to the circus tent last year, this elephant decided to pose for me ;). Or maybe it didn't like the idea that someone was standing in the middle of the road trying to take a photo of it.

Photography tip (19)


Don’t let your zoom lens make u lazy. U still need to work those feet! Sometimes, taking a step closer works better than zooming in.

A flower for you!


I just don't visit a restaurant because the food is delicious, to me a good restaurant means, good food & serenity.

So, if the choice of restaurant is mine whenever I go out with friends or family members, I'll certainly choose a restaurant that has a beautiful and serene setting. I would love a restaurant with soft classic music at the background and tables decorated with candles and beautiful flowers.

That kind of atmosphere makes me relax & enjoy the food more.

Photography Tip (18)


Never lose sight of your camera, so make sure it's always there with you. You'll never know when the perfect photo opportunity would come.

Mother & Child


I think the most amazing thing ever that mother earth gave us, is the bond between a Mother & her child. This bond is never equaled and nor breakable.

It's the ultimate & everlasting bond ever!

Photography tip (17)


You are the boss of your gear & not the other way round. So, be creative!

Why the change of Title?

Welcome on-board!

I quited the 365 project I was working on as of yesterday and decided to make a fresh start. With a realistic goal in mind, I knew I needed a plan this time.

Here's my plan in short:
  1. Save money and buy a DSLR & Lens as soon as possible (Checked)
  2. Have a website (Checked)
  3. Have a Flickr page (Checked)
  4. Buy a Pro account for my Flickr account (Checked)
  5. Have a blog (Checked)
  6. Have a twitter page (Checked)
  7. Have a Facebook page (Checked)
  8. Make sure the title and description of all the above mentioned webpages are related to my work (That is why I changed my blog's title today)

I'm not a quitter, but I'm quiting the 365 project

On Jan 1, 2010, I started a 365 project, which to me was a test of self discipline & motivation. To fulfill this project I would have to post a photo to my blog every single day for a whole year, without cheating. That meant that, every photo I posted should be of that particular day and not any other day.

Before I started the project, I whole-heartedly believed I had all it took to finish it. I had no doubts in my motivation & self discipline. What I didn't know back then, was that I didn't have some other things in hand, like; financial income.

It took less than 2 months to realize that I might not be able to finish the project. The first obstacle I encountered was the lack of money, money to pay my bills as I had been jobless for almost 2 months due to the crisis . To solve that, I had to sell things I didn't need and amongst them, was my newly bought DSLR camera. Oeps, did I really do that? Well unfortunately, I did.

Not having a camera at that time was not a disaster, because I could borrow or use a camera from someone else. I survived the pressure of coming up with a photo everyday, untill I went on a 2 months family visit to Lebanon. Once there, I tried to burrow a camera, but it turned out to be more difficult than I thought it would be.

So, 2 months past without photos and when I came back to Holland, I had no other choice but to start cheating, hmmm, did I just say that? YES I DID... I started posting photos that were taken in the past editing the date and time and also posting them as if it was captured on that particular day.

Well today, I asked myself; was this project meant to transform me to a photographer or a liar. was it meant to test my ability, motivation & self discipline? And the correct answer to all what was; No it was not meant to turn me into a liar, but as a test of self discipline & motivation. With those two being the idea behind the project, one has to re-assess the project, realize they can't complete it and give in to the situations behind their failure.

Today, I'm quitting, not because I lack the self discipline and motivation needed for such a project, but because I found myself in a situation where I couldn't afford the gear I needed. Also, I think this is the honest thing to do, instead of continuing a path I personally know I stopped following since my vacation. I hope you can understand the reason behind my decision.

OK, THAT MIGHT SOUND AS BAD NEWS TO MY FOLLOWERS, BUT THERE'S A GOOD SIDE TO THIS STORY. I'M NOT QUITTING PHOTOGRAPHY AND BLOGGING!

As from today, I will be posting a photo I took in the past, present or future and as time goes by, I will re-assess my work and move more closer towards the kind of photographer I will like to become. So, I hope that by taking this decision, I have made a honest and first positive step towards the goal I'm aiming for and hope you support me in every single step on the way.

Thanks for your understanding & support!

Photography tip (16)


Be well prepared before a shootout. It helps to take a pen & write down the things you'll need to take with you and what you'll like to shoot.

Planning saves you a lot of precious time and discomfort.

How to quickly organize your photos by date & folders in Lightroom

I noticed last year that the photos I had on my hard-drive were increasing by the day. I knew I had to organize them or or get lost in a chaotic photo world. It was getting more and more difficult to find a photo I needed, especially those taken way back. I didn't have to worry about recent photos, because those were sorted automatically as I upload them to my Laptop, but the old ones were all in one giant folder.

It was time I started the sorting process, which by the way turned out to be very painful & which lasted for weeks & maybe months. During the sorting process, I had to create folders for every date and rename every photo that was taken on that particular date. The reason I had to rename them was because they originated from different cameras & had different names.

After months of suffering & frustration, I finally got them all sorted out. Those without a date went into a single folder & were tagged separately.

I was happy with my work, at least I did till I started using Lightroom & found that, what took me months could have been done in a couple of minutes, so I decided to write a quick blog, to prevent you from going through what I went through.

Here is how it's done in Lightroom:
  1. Start Lightroom, go to FILE & select IMPORT FILES.
  2. A menu will pop-up, when it does select the Source (where the photos are) from the top-left menu.
  3. From the top-middle menu, you can either select to COPY, MOVE or COPY AS DNG.
  4. On the top-right menu, select the new destination & then select from the dropdown list below that section to have them organized by DATE & DATE FORMAT.
  5. On the bottom-middle menu, you can save your new settings for future use, so you'll not have to go through that same process again. You can save as much presets as you want.
  6. Click on IMPORT & you're done.
All your photos will be organized by DATE & FOLDERS and then be placed at the destination you chose during import. If you chose to MOVE the files, your old destination will now be empty and you can delete the old folder. Make sure it's empty before you do.

Photography tip (15)


Don't always look too far, because the perfect shot might be a foot from where you are.

How to install Lightroom Presets

Have you come across a nice preset you would like to download, use & install, but don't know how? If you did or do, here's are two ways on how it's done.

Method 1:

  1. Extract the downloaded zip file. 
  2. Copy the archive contents to one of the following destinations, depending upon your system. If you have not already done so, you should create the Web Galleries folder manually. 
  3. Mac Users: Users/username/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom/Lightroom settings/Develop Presets/
  4. Windows XP Users: C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Adobe\Lightroom\Lightroom settings/Develop Presets/
  5. Windows Vista & Win7 Users: C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\Lightroom settings/Develop Presets/

In Windows XP, the “Application Data” directory is usually hidden. The same may apply to the AppData folder in Vista & Win7.

Open Adobe Lightroom, go to develop and access your newly installed Presets module. If you created a folder, you'll find them in that particular folder, if not, it would be enlisted as is.

Method 2:

  1. Open Lightroom, go to Develop module, select User Preset, right click on it and create a new folder.
  2. Right click on the newly created folder and select import.
  3. Go to where you downloaded & extracted the preset, select it and click Import.
  4. The preset will be imported and installed in the folder I mentioned in the first method.

Need help? comment here & I'll get back to you.

Photography tip (14)


Good photographers always think about the end product before they press the shutter. Normal photographer just shoot and hope the photo turns out exactly as what they saw before taking the picture.

How to install Lightroom Web Gallery templates

Have you come across a nice Web Gallery template you can download and use, but don't know how to install it in Lightroom? If you did or do, here's how it's done.

  1. Extract the downloaded zip file. 
  2. Copy the archive contents to one of the following destinations, depending upon your system. If you have not already done so, you should create the Web Galleries folder manually. 
  3. Mac Users: Users/username/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom/Web Galleries/
  4. Windows XP Users: C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Adobe\Lightroom\Web Galleries\
  5. Windows Vista & Win7 Users: C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\Web Galleries\

In Windows XP, the “Application Data” directory is usually hidden. The same may apply to the AppData folder in Vista & Win7.

Open Adobe Lightroom and access the Web module. In the upper right, under “Engine”, you should see your new gallery. Have fun.

    Photography tip (13)


    This tip might sound stupid, but don't forget to take off your lens hood.

    I never have a lens hood on unless I'm in an environment where I think I might bump my lens unto something & damage it.

    Digital white balance made simple

    I recently got a tip from a colleague who saw me photographing in a hall. He looked at my photos and was impressed, but he noticed that the light was not good enough and that I was not using any flash. He asked me why I was not using a Grey card. I told him that I don't have any, but that I had a Grey card shot I made earlier that day at home. I knew that I needed a Grey card but to be sincere, I only started my photographing carrier early this summer, so I was not ashamed to ask him to tell me more.

    He told me that the pre-configured version of my Grey card shot will not work for every light source. He took out a Grey card he was carrying, hold it up and asked me to take a shot of it. After I did, he said, this will be the basis for all of the photos you take here. I'll walk you guys through what he told me to do.

    Working with a grey card

    First of all, its important to buy a grey card and have it with you everywhere you go. Your camera will produce an almost perfect picture if you perfectly set your camera to shoot in the situation you find yourself in, but if you're shooting in an environment where there's lots of different light source, then you're in trouble.

    What you have to do, is to set your camera with the correct settings for the situation you find yourself in and take as much photos as you need. Now, before leaving the area where you took the photos, hold up your Grey card and take a shot of it. The Grey card shot is always my last shot, because its much more easier to find out which photo goes with which Grey card. All the photos before a Grey card goes with the Grey card at its end. So, another light source another Grey card shot.

    Lightroom

    I use Lightroom v3 beta to develop my photos. Its a great software for your photos, but you can use any software of your choice as long as it allows you to customize your "white balance" setting.

    While in the developer's area, select the Grey card photo that you want to use. Go to the right hand panel and select the eyedropper under the "Basic tab", now point anywhere in the Grey card photo and select it. You will notice that the photo's color changes. Now go to the photo that needs a white balance setting, select it, then "right click" on it and choose "settings" then select "paste settings from previous".

    Thats all you have to do to implement the white balance of a particular light source and by doing that, you are able to achieve a much better photo.

    Photography tip (12)


    Head out with a notion of what you’d like to photograph & how, but always keep your eyes open for new objects, subjects & mostly, the unexpected.

    Cleaning your camera sensor, safely!

    I have been an amateur photographer for almost a year now, and I'm still learning a lot of new things. A while ago, I thought about dust particles that get on top of your less and was curious how professional photographers take care of that (clean their lenses). I searched the web and found out that it was not a difficult thing to do. Get the right cloth, a special brush and some cleaning liquid. First step is to use the brush to brush excess dust from the lens body and glass. Then put some drops of the cleaning liquid on the cloth and wipe the lens, and you're done.

    Recently, I came across a website with tutorials on how to clean your camera sensor. I never knew that the sensor was behind a mirror. I once cleaned the mirror, thinking that it was the sensor. Any way, here's the tutorial I found.

    Clean Your Camera's Sensor
    1. Make sure you're in a dust-free area.
    2. Roll up your sleeves so fibers from your clothes don't get into the camera.
    3. Check your manual to put your camera in sensor cleaning mode. It's important to do this, to avert camera shutter mishaps while you're cleaning. Cleaning Digital Cameras has a list of camera models and their manuals so you can find out how to put your camera in cleaning mode.
    4. You do not have to clean the mirror; it does not impact image quality and it's easy to damage. Just move it out of the way to reach the sensor.
    5. Blow air on the sensor. Shutterbug recommends the Giottos Rocket Air Blower. Keep your camera pointing downward as you blow air, so gravity works for you and the dust falls out. It's important to do this before using a brush or wiping the sensor, to remove any dirt or dust on the surface. You can scratch the sensor if you wipe it with a brush or cloth when it still has dust particles on it. Do not use compressed air; it can damage the sensor.
    6. After you've blown air on the sensor, you may feel that the camera is clean enough to use again. If you want to clean it further, you have two basic options: you can wipe your sensor with a sensor cleaning brush, or clean the camera with a wet swab. Gizmodo suggests also using the Delkin Sensor Scope, which can magnify your camera's CCD by a power of 5, making it easier to see the dust on its surface. The sensor scope sells for about $80.
    7. For a comprehensive overview of your cleaning options, with the pros and cons of each one, check Cleaning Digital Cameras' list here.
    I also found this video on YouTube, it's a simple video that demonstrates how you should clean a digital camera sensor. Their are lots of ways to do that, so make sure you do a research before you start cleaning your camera's sensor. This method works for me, but without the vacuum of course. Hope this tutorial is beneficial to you as it was to me.


    Photography tip (11)


    Don't delete your photos after saving & backup, format your card instead? All professional photographer adopt this habit because it better for the card and it might save you from getting memory errors when you need the card the most.

    Its not just about the gear you use

    Most amateur and few professional photographers think you have to have a top notch equipment to be able to take good photos.

    "Saying a camera takes nice pictures is like saying a guitar plays nice melodies"

    Without the skill to use the best and most expensive camera, your picture might still be worthless. Likewise, even if your camera is not top notch, you can still take the best pictures and accomplish wonderful things, as long as you know what your product is capable of.

    The Dominican photographer Wilfredo GarcĂ­a, when going on photography trips with his students, and clubs, always came back with the best picture. He was known for having a huge collection of cameras, going well over a hundred.

    During one of these trips, a student challenged him, saying he would obviously bring back the best photograph, as he had the fanciest cameras. He replied “So why don’t you choose a camera for me, for the next trip?”

    He went with a disposable film camera, and still bought back the best picture. So, you see, its not the gear that matters, but what you are capable of doing with that particular gear.

    Photography tip (10)


    There's a story behind every photo, do your photos have a story? If not, try to think about what you would like your photo to tell it's viewers before you take it. By doing that, each photo you take will be unique.

    Photography tip (9)


    Study your subject carefully and explore every angle before starting to shoot. Move it to a better place with better lighting or rotate it to get the best angle if space is a problem.

    You don't need a professional camera to become a photographer

    Its been almost a year ago since I decided to buy a professional camera. I had to make a choice out of thousands of trademarks and hundred thousand designs. After some research I decided to go either for one of the Sony Digital SLR or a Canon EOS (Rebel), but money was my greatest concern.

    I decided to save some money for a good camera, but instead of waiting till I get enough money, I decided to search the Internet for tips on becoming a top photographer. I also interviewed few photographers I came across at work or through friends. I also read some magazines on photography, which by the way helps a lot. Reading alone was not enough, practice was needed, but I was very convinced that only a professional camera produces good photos. I never thought that a normal digital camera could make any difference, but I had no other choice than to use a normal compact digital camera. I never owned one my self, but I have through friends and family got the chance to use about 3 different types since a little more than a year.

    I started with a Fuji FinePix F410, but was not really satisfied. I made according to viewer one great photo though, which happen to make it to our company's monthly magazine (http://gallery.zoom.nl/image/478695/html/). I wanted something much better, so I decided to use a Kodak camera I got from my girlfriend. It produced better pictures than the Fuji, but didn't really impress me. I tried a Sanyo camera that belongs to my father in-law and then tried another Kodak camera, but was still not satisfied.

    I was losing my hope on becoming a photographer, because I still could not afford the price of a professional camera. My girlfriend then decided to buy another compact camera, after the Kodak she had got defected when orange juice accidentally got poured over it. I decided to help her search for something good, at least something we could both be proud of. After a good research and with the amount of money in mind, we decided to buy the compact digital camera of the year 2007 (NV10). We wanted a canon camera, but could not afford it, but we were both impressed when we saw the NV10 in a camera shop and decided to buy one immediately. My first impression was "wow, what a camera", but that soon disappeared when I tested it and saw the pictures after my vacation. I was really disappointed and wanted to either bring it back to the dealer or sell it.

    I never realized something, till I received a new laptop from my boss, which was intended to be used for my job. I was still taking photos of anything I came across on my daily life, while waiting for a buy. I decided to put the photos I was taking on the new laptop, and it was only then that I noticed that the pictures were really good. What I never realized before was that my old laptop was not portraying the photos as they were because the quality of the video card on it was very poor and the LCD screen was also from a very poor quality.

    I was so impressed with one of the photos and decided to check all the features on the camera and try to get the best out of it. I have come to realize that its not only the camera that makes you a top photographer, but one himself. The right camera and lenses help, but a gifted person can become a top photographer with or without a professional camera.

    My passion for photography is back!

    Photography tip (8)


    Good photographers are not ashamed to do crazy things or look stupid as long as it delivers them the shot they want.

    Photography tip (7)


    Take a keen look at other photographer's work and try to figure out what attracts u to their work, then learn from that.

    Photography tip (6)


    Using or having the best photography gear in the world does not make u a good photographer, it's what you can do with that particular gear.

    Photography tip (5)


    A good photographer sees the picture before he takes it.

    Do you also see the picture? If you don't then try to take a little more time to think about the end product before you start shooting.

    Photography tip (4)


    The fewer options there is on your camera, the harder you'll try to get the photo right & thus the beter you'll become as a photographer.

    Photography tip (3)


    A camera to a real photographer is like his/her shadow that's always by his/her side.

    Photography tip (2)


    Use your fingers as a camera frame http://goo.gl/4Lx8. This technique is very useful when you're learning photography composition, and the good thing is that you don't need a camera ;).

    Photography Tips (1)


    Having a camera eye (being able to see what others don't) makes you a better photographer than having a camera.