Archive for the ‘photo’ Category

Nice PayPal Button Lite

Friday, March 29th, 2013

If you’re just tuning in…

Your erstwhile blogger/webdeveloper is trying to overcome his aversion to website-in-a-box development platforms and find a simple Paypal payment solution for a prospective client. If I happen to sell some of my own photography along the way, that’s OK. too.

I’m trying to come up with a simple “buy now” button for a site that doesn’t need a real shopping cart; people will only need one widget at a time, so there’s no need for many of the shopping cart complications.

Let’s stick with the same photo. This image is available as a 12×16 inch, canvas print, gallery-wrapped on a stretcher frame for $250:

moonrise over mendocino

“Moon and the Maiden”, a 12×16 gallery wrapped canvas photo print. $250.

Let’s see if this one works without a lot of recombobulation.

Yeah! That seems to be OK.

Now, for testing porpoises only, a test widget, so I can actually consummate a deal with myself and make sure everything works:

“Test Widget”, nothing in particular. $0.23

Hooray! And the winner of the Paypal Buy Button Derby is:

Nice PayPal Button Lite

OK, you can go ahead and buy that photo now.

 

WordPress Paypal Plugins

Friday, March 29th, 2013

A possible new client wants to do some hyper-simple e-commerce. Usually, I create custom sites, but WordPress has a lot of advantages, starting with easy set-up and maintenance, and this site will be so simple, it shouldn’t really require anything I can’t do with WP. But, I’ve never used the WP add ons for e-commerce. Let’s try a “buy now” button for one of my photos. I just took this one a few evenings ago, and it’s been getting lotsa “likes” on Facebook, so I’ll do a live test. If somebody actually orders this, I’ll ship it.

 

moonrise over mendocino

I’m offering this as a 12×16 canvas print gallery-wrapped on a stretcher frame, for $250.

Are the WP gods smiling on me today? I’ll click “publish” and check it in another browser.

Well, poo. That plugin requires more setup than I want to do, and it has more features than I need. For that particular client, anyway. They just need a few “buy now” buttons, and than plugin is a more complicated shopping cart.

Now I’ll try the Easy Paypal Payment or Donation Accept plugin from the same folks (tipsandtricks-hq.com)

Let’s see if I can get that one to work easily.

Moon and the Maiden Photo



Well… making progress. How about this method with the same plugin?



Barfarooni. Let’s try another plugin.

Adventures in Smugmug Land

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Oh my, time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like… nevermind, everybody’s heard that one. Anyway, long time, no blog, and it’s not because nothing blog-worthy has happened. It’s more like stuff happens faster than I can type it, or something.

Anyway, I’ve been putting some time and energy into promoting my nature photography online again. From a business standpoint, that’s just dumb. There are about a gazillion good photographers out there, and about three people who occasionally buy nature photography. Not a good ratio.

Ten to twelve years ago, I actually made a significant portion of my income from selling nature photography at art fairs. I had pretty much the only color darkroom in the area, so I had a nice niche selling my custom printed local scenics. My few competitors sold cheapy drug store prints or horrifically expensive custom lab prints.

As digital technology has advanced, my work has improved, but everyone else’s has, too. Now everybody and their grandma has a nice inkjet printer and a ten megapixel camera. Quite a few people even know how to use them. So, my product has improved and my sales have dropped to near zero, even while I have my own “gallery”… OK, it’s mostly a web design office.

But, I digress… this post was supposed to be about Smugmug.

A couple of months ago, a guy I met in a bar emailed me a link to some pics he’d taken. The photos were good, but the gallery site was even more interesting. The layout was attractive, the organization excellent. As I poked around more, I learned that they had “Pro” accounts, where you could set up galleries of your photos, and sell them without actually filling the orders yourself. The orders are sent straight to a specialty lab which prints and ships the orders.

I haven’t been getting many orders from my web site lately, but when it happens it’s consistently at a very inconvenient time: I’m off camping, I’m out of mat board, the jets on my printer are clogged, I’m drowning in a sea of urgent web work, or some combination of the above. With Smugmug, all that doesn’t matter; the order gets shipped promptly anyway. I was a little sceptical of the quality of their printing, so I ordered a few of my own photos (once you have the pro account, you can order at low wholesale pricing) and they turned out quite nice.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I plunked down the $150 for a year’s worth of Pro, and started uploading photos. It’s a frightfully time-consuming process, to get the right versions of the right photos uploaded and placed in the right galleries with the right keywords and looking up latitude and longitude data so the pics are listed on maps.smugmug.com and getting the pricing right and yadda yadda yadda.

But, the time has come to formally start promoting my Smugmug site. It’s still fairly small; I’ll keep plugging away with adding new images, and new localized galleries. But, there’s enough there for the world to look at.

Photos of coastal Mendocino County

Photos of California’s Lost Coast

Photos of the Sierra Nevada

And there’s plenty more. I’ll try to find some time in the next few days to blog about the particulars of setting up the Smugmug site, tips I’ve figured out, etc. But for now, one last little thing: If you should find yourself setting up you own Smugmug account, use this magic personal coupon code: tFHWQQZiHZTI2. You’ll get a discount, and I’ll get a credit against next year’s account fee.

Plunging into video production

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

For several years now, it’s seemed inevitable that I’d take a serious plunge into the shark-infested waters of video production. The inevitability has a lot to do with some sort of metaphorical mathematics: theatre + photography + computer graphics = video. Or something like that.

A year and a half or so ago, I bought a cheap little Samsung SC-DC575 video camera. I realized that this cheap little thing would get frustrating quickly, and I was right on that front. Nevertheless, I’ve been using footage from it to learn Final Cut Pro, and get a sense of what sorts of shots translate well into the new (for me) medium. For example, no matter how lovely the scenery, handheld walking shots never work as anything other than scary clichés; we always expect someone with a machete to pop out from behind a bush and chop us to bits. I’m still trying to figure out ways of capturing the feel of nice, quiet hikes on video.

Recently, one of my web/graphic design clients offered to fund my plunge as an advance on future work. This set off a batch of research projects and contemplations: which camera? can I get indoor shooting space? how much/which light and sound equipment should I get right away? what sorts of productions am I going to do, anyway? is the shed at my house big enough to set up a little chroma key rig?

On the gear front, the recurring theme is the giant chasm between “consumer” gear and “professional” gear. In the camera realm, the best consumer cameras top out at a little over $1000; the pro cameras start at about $3000. It’s a similar tale with tripods, microphones, lights, etc. I can’t afford the pro gear, and I don’t want cheap junk. The adventure is finding the best gear I can afford, and using the still camera gear I have when it’ll work well.

The decisions are starting… I’ve ordered a Canon Vixia HF S100 camera from the always reliable Newegg.com. The Canons seem to have the best lenses and features in the prosumer realm; the only competition I was seriously considering after the first round was a Panasonic model. The Canon S100 has a more expensive sibling, the S10, which costs $300 more and has 32GB on board memory. When I checked the prices on compatible flash memory—$75 for a 32GB card—I giggled a little and ordered the S100. The camera should arrive in a couple of days. I’ll blog about it and post a YouTube clip quickly.

In anticipation of many large files, I’ve also ordered a couple of new, large harddrives. A 1TB external drive for backups, and a 1.5TB internal drive for the main video files and projects. A 1.5 Terrabyte harddrive for $160. The mind reels.

Sound. Arg. On camera microphones really suck. Cheap microphones really suck. Pro microphones are too expensive. So, what to do? On the one hand, the reviews say the on board mic on the Canon S100 are better than most. Plus, with flash memory, there’s no motor sound. So maybe, just maybe the on board mic would be adequate. For some projects. After several hours of research, I decided to get a Rode VideoMic, too. It should be a big improvement, especially in eliminating extraneous noises. I found a “blemished” one at a firm called zZounds.com for a little over a hundred bucks. We’ll see.

Lights. I’m still in research mode on this one. I might start with newfangled compact fluorescent bulbs for my old photo flood lights, or mayble I’ll get some umbrellas or softboxes with a backdrop stand and greenscreen background.

Forward and onward…

 

fire at usal

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

I just posted a video on YouTube. It’s old and new at the same time. While I just barely did the video editting, I took the footage in July of 2006.

Andi and I were walking up the bed of Usal Creek, on Calfornia’s Lost Coast. We heard an odd crackling sound. We looked around… was it water gurgling over rocks? Was it… we looked up at the ridge above us. It was a wildfire! We walked through the nearby campground, making sure people knew what was happening. One group had a cell phone, and knew where the nearest place with reception was. They hopped in their truck and sped off to report the fire. Other groups started rounding up their people so they could evacuate quickly if they needed to. Andi and I got in our car and started to leave.

Usal Creek and the campground are in the bottom of a canyon. The fire was on the ridge to the north. The road back to civilization goes south, over another ridge. From about halfway up that ridge there is a large clearing with a view across the canyon. Here, at a safe distance from the fire, I set up my tripod and shot some video and some stills.

You can view the video here.

Here’s one of the stills:

A Cal Fire helicopter battles a wildfire on the Lost Coast

big prints, photo merge, epson 7600

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

A couple of months ago, a long-time photo buddy of mine stopped by my office. He had a proposition for me. No, not that kind of proposition. He’d just made a great deal on a used Epson 7600 printer. It was cheap, since it had clogged jets. He was confident he could fix it, but his home office was too small, so he needed a place to keep it. Now, I have a fully functional large format printer in my office; I use it regularly, he stops by once in a while when he needs a big print.

My other photo printer is another Epson, an R1800. It has a 13″ wide carriage. While it can take roll paper, printing long panoramas on it is a big pain in the backside. If there’s some way to define a custom paper size and use the roll feeder for it, I haven’t figured it out. I’ve spent hours scouring the internet, and discovered that many other people have the same problem. The only “solution” is to define the custom paper size, cut off a length of paper from the roll, and carefully cajole the printer to take the long piece through the sheet feeder. Yuck. For regular sheets, this printer is wonderful. But for panoramas…

The Epson 7600, in contrast, loves roll paper. Plus, it has a 24″ wide carriage, so I can make monster prints. Now, I need images with enough pixels to make nice prints at huge sizes. My camera these days is a 10 mega pixel digital SLR, an Olympus E-510. Carefully taken photos from this camera look really nice at 18×24, and pretty good at 24×36. For the long panoramas, though, I use the photo merge feature in PhotoShop and stitch together several frames.

Around Thanksgiving, Andi and I took a trip from Mendocino to Southern Oregon. I took several multi-frame panoramas on this trip with the intention of printing them as big prints. Here’s one of them, taken at Crater Lake:

Autumn afternoon at Crater Lake National ParkThis is made from five vertical frames. The PhotoShop file is 162MB without interpolating; 22×56 inches at 216dpi. You’ll have to take my word for how it looks printed big. The word is stunning.

The preferred technique for creating these panoramas is pretty simple: I use a tripod, carefully level it, and set an exposure value for the middle of the scene. With the camera on manual mode, I start at the left side of the scene, making sure I remember a landmark near the right edge of each frame so I can overlap the frames by 10-20%. You need enough overlap so that PhotoShop can find details in both frames to align them properly. I always shoot RAW format, to maximize control of the tonal scale and color balance.

Back at the computer, I open the files in Photoshop (I use CS3), carefully processing the images the same way so that their colors and exposures match. Then, I go to file > automate > photomerge. The layout setting I prefer is “reposition only”; the other settings skew the pano in strange ways. Once PS has done its magic, it’s a fairly simple matter to transform the image into a better rectangle, crop it, and make final adjustments for printing.

On the way back from Southern Oregon, we took a walk near the town of Dunsmuir, to a place called Mossbrae Falls. Here, a series of springs send water cascading down a cliff and into a two hundred yard stretch of the Sacramento River. Here’s a pano from that spot:

Waterfall on the Sacramento River near Dunsmuir, CaliforniaThis image was a little trickier to put together, since most of the scene is in the shade, but the ends include areas of much brighter sky. In the field, I took three bracketted exposures of each of the frames. I used the middle series of exposures for the main pano. For the end frames, I combined the dark exposures for sky tones with the middle exposure, then did a photomerge to create the panorama. The result is a 131MB file which I print at 20×47 inches, 205dpi.

All of this creates a new problem for me: now that I have these great big prints, what do I do with them? I have no way of cutting mats big enough for a 22×56 inch print, and the paper is very delicate. It’s difficult to pin them on the wall without making permanent ding marks.

My plan, at this point, is to start printing on canvas. Then, I can treat the canvas prints as paintings, stretching the prints over a wood frame. I’ve printed on some small sample sheets of canvas, and those prints look nice. Over the next few weeks, I’ll work out the procedure for mounting large canvas prints on stretcher frames. Then, hopefully, I’ll have huge prints in a format I can sell and ship.

adventures in youtube land

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

I really should spend my time more productively…

I’ve caught the youtube bug lately, mostly watching and commenting on ads and news videos relating to the upcoming presidential election. Oh, my goodness there are some incredibly stupid people out there! The comment forums there are such a sewer that I figured anything I type would raise the level of discourse a little. Hey, at least I can spell and punctuate. I doubt I’ve changed anybody’s mind about anything, but all I can do is try.

One particularly irritating theme is taking something Obama says, stripping it from context, and trying to turn it into an outrageous gaffe. The classic is the now hot, but soon-to-be-forgotten, lipstick on a pig statement. Obama was talking about McCain (McSame? McWorse?) trying to position himself as the candidate of change. Obama listed a whole host of ways McCain’s policies are the same as Bush’s, and compared the re-branding to putting lipstick on a pig. An apt metaphor. But, somehow, the rightwingers are shocked, just shocked I tell you, that Obama would say such a crude and sexist thing about Palin, despite the fact that he wasn’t talking about Palin. Since Palin had used the word “lipstick” a week before, all subsequent mentions of lipstick are automatically a reference to her. I guess that’s what passes for “logic” these days.

Was it disgustingly sexist when McCain used the same figure of speech in reference to Hillary Clinton’s health care proposals? No. McCain was a POW. That makes it OK.

Anyway, since I was commenting and stuff, I figured I should type up a profile, and, while I was at it, upload a video. So I posted a montage of my nature photography. Check it out:

Floating Rocks, Living Water video

photo workshop: breath of plein air II

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

I’ll be teaching a field photography workshop as part of A Breath of Plein Air II, in Westport, CA on September 27 & 28. Here are a few of my pics from last year’s event. One of our locations was Blue’s Beach, AKA Chadbourne Gulch:

blues beach (chadbourne gulch)

We also walked out to nearby Bruhel Point and watched the waves roll in:

wave at bruhel point

Later, we walked in the hills above Westport, where there is some photogenic debris left over from an old commune:

junk car doors, westport CA

This year’s event includes workshops in painting, woodwork, wrought iron, and other media besides my photo whorkshop, plus continental breakfast, box lunch, and evening party.

Here’s the text from the event’s official flyer:

An invitation to
“A Breath of Plein Air II”
Westport, California September 27-28, 2008
Westport Village Society and Gallery This! invite you to participate
in the plein air outing of your choice:
Painting with John Hewitt
Oil or Acrylic with Erin Dertner
Watercolor with Carol Deetch
Photography with Garth Hagerman
Saturday activities will include:
Continental breakfast
A six-hour group outing with your preferred level of support,
from companionship to technical instruction
Box lunch
Blacksmithing by Toby Hickman and Barry Kulmann
Evening party with wine, hors d’oeuvres, and music on the
Westport Headlands
Special show of instructors’, students’, and local images
Optional Sunday activities include:
Gala champagne Brunch/lunch
Additional outing as arranged with your instructor
Saturday cost will be $125. To enroll, contact Liza at 964-1749
or e-mail: art at westportca dot org.
Benefits Westport Village Society Community Center Fund.

montgomery woods fire report

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

The fire situation has calmed nicely around Mendocino County. The roads are open, the evacuations have been called off, the fires are contained or out. On the Coast, we hadn’t seen the sun for a week or so, so I thought I’d go inland to Montgomery Woods for an afternoon.
There were several fires near Montgomery Woods, a nearby hot spring resort—Orr Springs—had been evacuated, and the road through the area had been closed. Since the main old growth grove at Montgomery Woods is in a low, damp drainage, it seemed likely that the grove had been spared. When I got there, I found signs saying the park was closed. So, I loaned my camera to my evil twin Skippy and sent him into the main grove. He filed this report.
From the road, there is no sign of fire. As soon as you start up the trail to the grove, though, you encounter a whole burned hillside. More specifically, the understory is burned. The larger trees look OK. (For those of you unfamiliar with the biology of redwood trees, it’s worth noting that they have thick, fire resistant bark.)
In the main Montgomery Grove, some areas are just fine, lush and green and healthy:

 

In much of the grove, the ground had been burned and ash covered the ground, making it look like it had been snowing:

Some places had oases of lush greenery surrounded by scorched earth:

In a few areas, the devastation is terrible:

Some places were still smoldering:

A few downed logs were glowing red hot:

Through it all, there is still lots of bird life in the grove. I heard a normal amount of sounds from chickadees, wrens, thrushes, etc. I even saw this (I’m pretty sure it’s a) juvenile northern spotted owl:

I’m not sure if this owl was terribly stressed by the fire or not. Did its nest burn? Did it get any barbequed mouse treats from the fire?

Over all, it’s very sad to see the beautiful treasure of Montgomery Woods in such a charred state. The good news is that the big trees are almost all ok, and the understory should recover fairly quickly. It will be interesting to watch the recovery process over the next few years.

the lost coast: an overview

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Note: This is a rough draft of content for my future Lost Coast website. I’ll do research and stuff later.

California Highway 1 runs along the Pacific Coast from the border with Mexico northward. A few miles north of the tiny town of Westport—roughly 180 miles north of San Francisco—Hwy. 1 suddenly veers inland, intersects with US 101 at the town of Leggett, and ends. Hwy 101 doesn’t hit the coast until near the Humboldt Bay, leaving an 80 mile stretch of the California Coast highway-free. This no-highway zone is the Lost Coast.

From a viewpoint near Juan Creek, just before Hwy. 1 turns inland, you can get a view to the north which explains why the highway builders opted not to continue along the coast: mountains rise abruptly from the ocean two, or even three, thousand feet high. If you look to the south from this point, you’ll see a considerably gentler coast; it’s still fairly rugged, but there’s a flat terrace about a hundred feet above sea level which makes a great place to put a highway. To the north, there’s no sign of terraces, only cliffs, and high cliffs made of crumbly stuff at that.

This photo doesn’t really do justice to the cliffs or the abrupt change of geology, but it’s kinda pretty, so I’ll use it for now:

view north from juan creek

The Loast Coast is divisible into three regions: in the south, there’s public access through the Sinkyone Widerness State Park; in the central zone the Bureau of Land Management owns most of the land, and administers it as the King Range Natural Conservation Area; the northern section is nearly all privately owned, but there is some public access to beaches near Cape Mendocino.

To a purist, the Lost Coast is not truly wilderness. Europeans have been logging tanoak, douglas fir, and redwood in the region since the late nineteenth century. There are only a few groves remaining of the original forest. There are old mill sites, and even old town sites, scattered throughout the region. Still, the remoteness, the ruggedness, the current land use practices, and the low human population of the area make it feel pretty gosh darned wild. And if you get injured out here, help is a long, long ways away.

There are only two towns of any significance in the Lost Coast region. Shelter Cove is a resort community at the end of a thirty-mile paved—but narrow, steep, and twisty—road from Hwy 101 at Garberville. It can also be reached by air or sea. Petrolia, near the mouth of the Mattole River, is a more traditional town servicing the local farmers and ranchers.

The view from one of the rooms at an inn in Shelter Cove:

shelter cove deck view

For hikers, there are many places to explore in the region. The most popular backpacking trip in the area is a forty-mile beach stretch of the California Coastal Trail, from the mouth of the Mattole to Shelter Cove.

The beach near the mouth of the Mattole:

beach near mouth of mattole river

The other end of the great wilderness beach backpack, Black Sands Beach:

black sands beach

South from the Shelter Cove Road, there’s another excellent stretch of the Coastal Trail, running over Chamise Mountain, down steeply into the Sinkyone at Whale Gulch, and then up and down and up and down through a series of gulches to Usal Campground. There are also plentiful options for day hikes in the region.

Needle Rock in the Sinkyone:

needle rock

Looking down to Usal Beach from the Coastal Trail:

usal beach from coastal trail


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