Use a Tripod
After you finish nerding out to this 300 step Rube Goldberg machine, watch it one more time.
See the shake? See how it makes you crazy because it’s out of focus and shaking? When you create video or photos, do you have similiar feelings when viewing your creations? Your old pal db have a keen fix for you. Easy and can be relatively inexpensive and will improve everything that you do with a camera.
Use a tripod. Here is a good one to start with. It’s less than $30 and will work with any camera. If you need this for your iPhone, check out the Glif to give it a place to connect to a tripod. I swear by mine and think you will do.
Sure, we all want to feel and try to look like a professional photographer, dancing around the room snapping away as if our subject was a top super model and we are making mad bank from our photos. Truth be told, we aren’t professional photographers (yet), aren’t shooting super models with $10k worth of gear. We are taking pictures and videos of our kids, food and ourselves riding bikes.
When I take photos and video, I really like them to be clear, in focus and as shake free as possible. That’s why I use a tripod. Also, when shooting with a tripod, you will find that those shots in rooms that have less than ideal light will come out nicer, no matter what camera you are shooting with. No need to get into the nerdery of why, just know that a tripod makes things better.
Stop taking crappy video and photos. Motion blur is only cool when you are photographing F1 cars, not when you are trying to snap the kids and Grandma in front of the Christmas tree. Get a tripod and use it.
For those times when you don’t have a tripod handy, here are some of my favorite tricks to keep the shots steady.
- Find a solid flat surface and use the camera timer
- Hold the camera very tight while leaning up against a wall
- Keep your elbows in
- Get string and a eyehook. Yes, this works
- Try a monopod
The Trouble with Premium Themes
As previously mentioned, I’ve been offering the service of installing and configuring premium WordPress themes. It’s a quick and inexpensive way to get a nice looking WordPress site up and running, but it’s not without problems.
Premium themes, to stand apart, have taken to have quite a few moving pieces. Home page sliders, lots of widget areas and features that can be very specific to a particular industry or activity. I always sell WordPress by letting users know if they can use MS Office, they can use WordPress. Until you start getting into premium themes.
All of the moving pieces that got you to drop down your $35 can really make things complicated. Many times they add non-standard features to your WordPress installation that are difficult to find, poorly documented (if at all) or both. Feature rich is cool, but do you really need all of that?
I consider myself an expert in WordPress. But even I have had a difficult time with more than a few premium themes. Trying to figure out what the logo size is supposed to be because it’s not documented or the docs are out of date, or what short codes do what since they never include samples or trying to figure out how the home page slider works. There have been instances where, in the time it took me to figure out a custom theme, I could have built one from scratch that would have better suited my clients need.
Premium themes are a great way to get a WordPress site up and running quickly and inexpensively, and unlike others that work with WordPress, I don’t mind them. Especially if it’s one that is well documented and has a feature set that is perfect for my clients usage. I do mind when the docs are poor, outdated and incomplete. If you ever see an extra charge for setup, that’s why.
Yet another reason to check with the person that you have hired to setup your site first. They will most likely be able to point you in the direction of a theme author they are familiar with and creates themes with the features you need.
Let Me Choose the Host
One of the services that I’ve been offering lately is setup and installation (and a little training) of premium WordPress themes. It’s cheaper than getting a custom site built and the results are usually pretty nice. Not without issues however.
Among the issues are selecting a host for your spiffy new site. Your first instinct is to go cheap, to help keep your start up costs low. I get that. You also aren’t a nerd or live on the internet as much as I do. While you think you are being smooth by getting a web host prior to contacting me, you are actually doing more harm than good.
Keeping in mind that I charge by the hour for anything above and beyond a basic setup/install, it’s best to come to me for a recommendation about a hosting service. If you aren’t using me, you should always go to your person about which host to use. We all have our favorites and know how their systems work. It allows us to rapidly get your site up and running, saving you money and us headache of learning yet another new host.
I have 2 hosts that I recommend as listed in the above tweet. To keep costs low, I prefer Site 5. For $120 for 2 years, you get some of the most reliable hosting that I have ever used. I’ve been using Site5 since 2004 and they have been very reliable for every site that I host with, including White Roof Radio, which Site5 serves over 50,000 mp3 files per month for, all without breaking a sweat.
If you have a little more breathing room in your budget, then dedicated WordPress hosting is definitely a great idea. For that I like WP Engine. Super fast WordPress with great support. You will need someone to help you get started most likely, and they don’t offer anything beyond WordPress hosting (like email), so you will still need that service, but they rock for WordPress.
The big point being when it comes time for you to start a new website and you don’t have a person, making that step 1. Once you have retained someone to help you build your site, allow them to make recommendations for hosting and other related services that you may or may not need. It will save you time, money and aggravation.