Picture yourself a photo pro
May 15, 1997
Web posted at: 1:24 p.m. EDT (1724 GMT)
From CNN Interactive Writer Kristin Lemmerman
(CNN) -- Ah, sweet summer. Time to start planning for your
idyllic getaway to faraway places ... your cousin's wedding
... your sister's graduation ... and sending your kids off to
summer camp, so you can get a break. Far from being a
tranquil time, summer is nearly guaranteed to be packed full
of activities, most of which you're probably planning on
committing to film. Whether you're less than satisfied with
your past photo shoots and want some tips to get up to par,
or if you're ready to enter your work in a Web-wide
competition, there are sites sure to get your shutter finger
The Amateur Photography site, a wonder of
good layout and easy navigation, is one of the few that has
gone out on a limb and opted to maintain a forum in which
you, the user, can actually post your photography questions.
What's more, enough photographers appear to have found the
site that your question stands a good chance of getting a
Not for rank amateurs only, this site gives pointers on
choosing the best film, cameras (which implies that you have
more than one, as many serious photographers do), flashes,
and lenses for different occasions. Another section talks
about good darkroom technique; yet another, the mistakes
amateurs most often make and how to correct them.
And, if you visit the Northwest United States, the site's
founder, who goes to school in Seattle, suggests several
Kodak moment sites in Seattle, Washington State, and Oregon.
The site's layout and content are remarkably well thought out
for a student page; here's hoping that post-graduate school,
its designer can find somebody who will reward him for his
initiative and keep this page up and running.
If you've escaped the travails of red-eyed subjects ... if
the viewfinder is your friend and you no longer accidentally
cut people's heads out of the picture ... if, in fact, you
want a job in pictures ... the New York Institute of Photography may be the place for you.
This frequently updated site offers a catalogue of photo
taking tips, ranging from focusing to good composition. The
site just expanded its offerings in another area -- it now
has not one but two lengthy analyses each month on shooting
specific types of photographs. In April the subject was how
to hit a home-run with baseball action pictures -- whether
you're at a Major League game or in the stands for Little
League. For May, the "action photography" piece looks at car
racing, and the "lifestyle photography" entry is on
You can also take inspiration from the site's gallery of
photographs, which won prizes in the Institute's PhotoWorld
student magazine. And if you think that you took a shot worth
showing off, you can enter it in the Institute's photo
contest -- you need not be an Institute student to enter.
However, it would help to have some experience behind you if
you really want to see your picture on the site, since you'll
be competing against people who take camerawork very, very
The Institute prepares photographers for the professional
world, so it makes sense that much of the discussion is for
people packing serious camera heat. If your idea of taking a
picture is "point-and-click," you don't even know what
aperture is, and you couldn't wager a guess as to the
difference between Kodak's 200 and 3200 speed films, the
discussion in the topic of the month, and elsewhere on this
site, may go over your head.
Needless to say, Kodak's
page on the Web has a list of 10 tips to taking better
photographs, and a list of more comprehensive fact sheets on
topics ranging from choosing film to camera care. Those tips
will come in especially handy if you're into the new e-mail
postcard technology, and if you happen to have a digital
scanner, since Kodak has also set itself up to handle
Internet postcard exchanges.
If you don't have a picture you want to e-mail to a friend,
that's OK too. Choose one of the dozens of patterns
available in the PictureThis! area of the site. They're divided up into nine separate "themes" --
for example, if you're sending a postcard to one of your
gardening buddies, you could send off a "Color in Bloom"
picture (you'll pray for your flowers to be so photogenic).
Or, if you're a hiking type, you could send off a "Natural
Wonders" picture. Then, choose from one of six borders for
the picture, also on the site, and type in your message. You
can even send your message to multiple e-mail addresses
Now, about that scanner -- I'm not suggesting that you rush
out and buy Kodak's digital camera or scanner. But if by the
end of your summer vacation you have your own "Natural
Wonders" picture that you'd rather e-mail to your friends,
either of those tools will let you do it from this site.
Recipients have to download the Picture Postcard viewing
software, but they get it for free.
Wolf Camera's Online Photo Center also falls into the
realm of "cool Web toy." Take your film to a Wolf Camera
developing center (or mail it if you want -- they tell you
how) and when you ask them to develop it, also ask them to
put your photographs on the Web. Wolf will scan your
pictures in as high-resolution images (each one takes up 4.5
megabytes -- yikes!) and in one to two days, you get an
e-mail telling you your pictures are ready to be viewed
online. From there you can e-mail selected pictures to your
friends (up to four addresses simultaneously); enter them in
Wolf Camera's monthly contest; use them in online classifieds
through NetAds; and make postcards and greeting cards using
your pictures, through an agreement with American Greetings.
The service isn't free or even especially cheap -- it costs
up to $9 for a roll of over 25 pictures. But if you want to
share vacation or reunion pictures with your whole family and
everybody has Web access, it might be cheaper to point them
to the Wolf site than to make reprints. And if you were
planning on running a NetAd anyway, and wanted to include a
picture to speed up the sale, it might also be worth it.
Good luck on all your summer pursuits, and may they come out