Don Burnside

Recipes, technology, personal stuff and a crap load of archives.

How about a Photo Booth?

As previously mentioned, next week I’ll be in Vegas doing something that I haven’t done before; running a photobooth. Don’t think carnival-style photo booth. Think more a creative way to take portrait photos where they are shared on the internet as quickly as possible. The camera will be stationary and there will be silly props. Photos will be shared online instead of being printed. Like I said, something completely new for me.

Using my Nikon D5100, a tripod, my Macbook Air, the Sofortbild app and some magic, it has come together nicely. The Sofortbild app is used to take the pictures, which are then saved. Once the photos are saved, our friend Photoshop comes in to run a few actions on the photos to shape them and place them into a custom framed before being saved. Saved where? I’m glad you asked.

Using a combination of DrobBox and (aka “The Nerd Machine”), those image will be automatically uploaded to Flickr and posted to the White Roof Photo Facebook page so that the attendees can download them, tag themselves in them or do whatever they want.

Poolside Vegas. DIY Photobooth. Should be fun! Hope to see you there!

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

Doesn’t matter if you are using an old point and shoot or a brand new fancy DSLR, a tripod will make your photos better.

Long Term Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3

In 2007 I purchased the above camera, primarily so I would have something to take pictures with at MINI United in Zaandvort, Netherlands. I did some research, asked around and that’s the camera that was recommended more than others for high-end point and shoots. I sit here today, 5 years and close to 100,000 shots (I think) later, and it’s still a great camera.

It was with this camera that I became excited about my photography. It was with this camera that I’ve taken photos in 5 different countries and damned near every state in the US. It was with this camera that I discovered how fun it is to take photographs.

It was also, most recently, this camera that captured the following shots. Continue reading “Long Term Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3”

Use What You Have

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If I had a dollar (US$1.00) for every time I forgot the battery for my ‘good’ camera, I would have exactly 2 dollars (US$2.00). Really not that big of a deal, but I also did **not** have my old and busted and trusty Panasonic DMC-TZ3. What did I have?

My Droid Incredible.

Again, not that big of a deal, but this was for work. And the Canon takes _really_ good photos, especially since I think I might have figured out how to actually get it to take good photos. And the photos get used to create documents that our sales staff then uses to help sell our products.

But I only had the Droid Incredible. And my **only** battery was a hour away and an hour back.

I kept remembering everyone that has ever told me it’s the photographer, not the camera. This week I put that to the test and, if I’m honest, everyone was right. The photos below all came directly out of my phone. Ok, maybe not _directly_ in the strictest sense, but if directly-via-photoshop counts, then yes, directly from my phone.

Sure I could have used an app like Vignette to process them, but in my experience with this phone, the photos that it produces aren’t suitable for my needs. Photos apps on the Droid introduce a lot of noise, do weird things with color and only make a photos that fans of Instagram seem to like.

While I had the right tool for the job, I had the _wrong_ tool. So, I made due with a little trickery. And I think they turned out pretty ok.

The Sunday Post #94

Recently I’m reminded that many of you have digital cameras. I also know from previous experience that, once you have taken the photos, you have no idea what to do with them.

Handle Your Photos

Just like our good friend John says above, your camera is not the best place to store your photos. I mean, why look at those old pictures on that tiny screen of your camera when you can upload them to your computer and view them on the screen or **easily** get them printed? Let’s jump right in!

This is going to be geared toward you Windows users among us. But many of things we are going to discuss, like getting prints made, will work for anyone.

The first thing you need to do is find a way to suck your photos off of your camera to your computer, keep them organized and be able to do some light processing on them (cropping, red eye removal, color adjustments). If you have anything installed on your PC now that contains the words Sony, Adobe, Kodak or Roxio along with the word(s) photo, picture or image, go into the control panel and uninstall them. While some people may like them, I find they are too complicated, move your photos to odd places on your hard drive and usually not terribly stable.

Done? Good! Now, go over to and click the download button. Once downloaded, click run and let it install. **VERY IMPORTANT**. You will see 2 screens once Picasa is installed. One of them is to let it handle all of your images. Leave that one alone. The other will be asking you where you want Picasa to look for images. Unless you want to see every image on your computer (including those from your internet cache), I highly recommend selecting the Desktop and Documents option. Once that is done, Picasa will start building a database that contains all of the photos on your desktop and in your photo folder.

Easy right?

As soon as the database build is complete, plug your camera into your computer either by the supplied USB cable or by inserting the memory card into a slot on the front/side. Picasa should open automatically and ask to import those photos to your computer. Go ahead. Heck, you can even let it delete the photos when you are done. No, really, it’s ok.

Now that your photos are organized and easily accessible in Picasa, spend more than a few minutes poking around to see what it can do. Don’t worry about making changes to anything because Picasa, much like iPhoto on the Mac, does non-destructive edits. That means no matter what you do to a photo, you can always revert back to the original.

How about some prints to show those photos off to friends and family? This one is equally easy and there are more than a few ways to do it.

You can burn the photos you want prints of to a CD and take them to your local CostCo and they will happily print them for you. Good quality, fast turn around and not too expensive. You can also go to, upload the photos you want printed and **pick them up at your local Walgreens Drug Store**. Again, good quality, fast turn around and not to expensive. Not to mention super duper easy!

The only thing left is backing those photos up! I’m gonna hammer on you about this until the end of time, you know that, right? I don’t care if you email yourself the most important documents and photos, get an external drive or sign-up for an account at Carbonite, just make it happen, ok?

Comments are open if you have any questions! Myself and the rest of the readers would **love** to help!

Happy 4th of July! Be safe and sane out there. If you can’t manage that, at least blow something up with enough explosives to leave a good sized divot in the backyard.