Thursday, October 29, 2009

Topics List Updates

The promised updated list of topics has been posted on the side panel. At the very top of the side panel are the topics for November and down below under 'Suggested Topics' the list has been numbered to '9' [as high as blogger allows me to number] and A-M. Number 9 will be December 25 and will be our last topic for 2009. Mid-December I will put the list in order again and maybe call for more suggestions so keep thinking.

I tried to juggle the topics so that they don't seem to be repetitious (as NanU suggested) but this is often hard to do, being all 'our town' related. But I tried. I hope that no one has a famous Church or Cathedral as their towns Premier attraction or they will have to hunt up a second (segundo) attraction for topic 4!

Topics 6-9 all seemed to me to have Christmas like flavors but creativity is this groups strong suit and you will all find ways to show your town off during this most important season.

I am always open to comments and suggestion so leave them for me and I will listen and sometimes act. Enjoy the shoot-outs for the next two months..... GingerV

Cathedral at night - Gramado, Brasil by GingerV

Monday, October 26, 2009

newsy post

Some of you read my personal blog, some do not. So, for some of you this is old news, and for others it isn't! :)

I won't be available to do the weekly spotlight photos for the next few weeks.
"Why?" you ask...well, the reason is an exciting one!

My husband and I are moving to Texas!

We are so thrilled...and a tad overwhelmed. We also won't have internet for a short while - I'm not sure how I'm going to cope with that...LOL!

Anyways, wanted to let you know why I will be MIA. I will schedule my parks post - sort of as a last tribute to FSO in Michigan for me. After that, I'm going to be a FSO gang member from Texas!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Classics of Childhood - Spotlight Photos

What a FUN theme! Sharing is so sweet, isn't it? What I loved best about this theme was that I am a younger blogger than some, and I had some of the same classics as the bloggers older than me AND the bloggers younger than me had that stuff too! Truly classic.

I could ramble on forever, so without further ado, here are the spotlight photos - in no particular order:

Pauline - "my sister cut my hair":

Kerry: fun in the mud!

NanU: on the beach:

Ginger V - a self proclaimed "Gringa with a camera!" LOL - too cute! - and playing ball in the street - now who didn't do that! They even do it in other countries! Way cool!

Chef E: fishing with a master fisherman - usually dad or grandpa!

And, Ann - if you haven't read the remarkable story about her photos, you really should. Her father and grandfather left quite a legacy.

What a wonderful shoot out!

Have a great week, all!

Member Voice - Jarie Lynn

Topic October 30 - Park landscapes -
by JarieLyn -

"When I think of park landscapes, I think about the design of an entire park. This could be a local park or a state park. A park landscape not only includes trees, plants, grass, ponds and bushes but also could include functionality such as playgrounds, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, skateboard parks, tennis courts, swimming pools, etc. Some parks also have decorative items scattered about such as statues, monuments, benches, courtyards, buildings, etc. What makes the parks in your town special and/or fun? Tell us in pictures what it is about your park(s) that captivates you. ... here is a photo of one of the state parks located in my town of Las Vegas, Nevada." Jarie Lynn
I think this is a great 'my town' topic. What is better for defining the personality of a town then its parks. I hope everyone enjoys this week's shoot out. Ginger V

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Town Photos Needed For Banner

I am ready to make the new banner for this site. I would like to do a collage each month, or so of your photos. I have received two photos so far from members. I was going to just go steal them from past FSO posts on your site, but found myself spending lots of time on your sites. I appreciate you sending them to me.

This may be any points of interest, or favorite spots you would like to share around 'Your Town', and I will watermark it with your town and state name... Send photos as an attachment, and you may send two or three if you would like.

Thanks Everyone!

Chef E

Future Topics

On the Left side panel about midway down is a list of suggested topics given by members. I was going to verify participation and then post the future topics (top of side panel) for November. But if No ONE minds, I would like to shake up the order a bit. We (in the USA) have Thanksgiving and (World Wide) Christmas coming up. I thought that for the next few weeks we can really focus on topics that can showcase our town's (i.e. park landscapes, premier attactions) then during the week of Thanksgiving bring forward a more FAMILY oriented topic, and during Christmas easy to show Christmas ones (the best store window, or the best decoration on your street?). Kim's Angels would be a good Christmas topic don't you think? Kim if you don't mind being moved down the list a bit I will do this. I will give you all 2 DAYS to give suggestions / comments / objections? Then I will make an executive decision about our next couple of months....

Cathedral, Gramado, Brasil
Christmas 2007
GingerV if you want to send a personl message.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

FIXED: What's wrong with this photo? The fix...

*Apparently, I can't post a photo once as the original and then edit it and post it as the edit. No wonder everyone was so confused. Don't know how I didn't save the fixed one...sorry!

Ok, how to fix that photo? Simple - crop it! (Then save it!)

Here is the original:

Here is a cropped version*:

Many of you said "turn off the flash!"

Had I used flash, I probably would have agreed. Onboard flashes usually do more harm than good, and I keep mine set to off.

Almost everyone commented on the color. It looked fine on my monitor; maybe cropped the color looks better? Does it look better to you? I see what Ann means about putting the fruit on a plate instead of the cutting board to make it really stand out.

A lot of you said to zoom in - also exactly right. Zooming in (and still maintaining good focus) it better than cropping. I use a prime lens for most of my photography. A prime is simply a lens that does not twist or pull to zoom in or out. When I want to zoom, I have to move my body. The focal length is always the same, my distance from the subject is what changes.

Regardless of the type of lens you use, photos look good when you fill the frame. Filling the frame with the subject doesn't let those distracting backgrounds to take away from your subject.

The downside of cropping is that you can lose clarity in your photo. I read this a while ago, and forgot why this is true.
Some cameras will crop the image in camera; I usually crop using Picasa 3 (free!). The best thing to do - fill the frame when taking the shot, that way you don't sacrifice the clarity of the original image.


See, people email me this stuff :D - it will be posted as "Voice of a Member - photo tips". What you all said about color, space, all of it - awesome tips! Send them in!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What's wrong with this photo?

***UPDATE - I did not use a flash. I try to avoid flash as much as possible. This was taken in natural light, in my kitchen. I took it specifically for this blog. :)

ISO 200
f 1/6
1/30 second exposure

If you'd like to see more raw data, click here, then go to the "Problem Photos" Album. Find this picture, then on the right, click 'more info'.

What do you think is wrong with this picture? Hint - it isn't rule of thirds, but that would be a good possible fix!

How could you make this photo better, in camera? Actually, post processing (editing) could do the same thing, depending on your camera's abilities.

OK, I'm off to enjoy this papaya - the answer will be posted tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Member Voice

October 23 - Classics of Childhood - by Ellisa
"What are your childhood memories made of? A game? A park? A special place you used to visit? OR Look around you. Watch for places and things you'd like your children to remember. Or maybe you see children creating memories as we speak. What will be the thing they remember as classic?" Ellisa

My favorite ballarina
by GingerV

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunrise/Sunset - Photos of the week

I think, as a group, we LOVE sunsets and sunrises! There were some spectacular photos - am I surprised? No! :)

The spotlight photos, in no particular order:






And, Mark:

Last time I picked Bagman's silhouette as an honorable mention...this time Mark gets the real spotlight photo. :)

Please don't feel like I am overlooking you, I'm not. Honest! Keep taking those great photos!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

they're more like guidelines, really

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to post a few of my thoughts about photography and the weekly tips.

#1. The weekly tips are not directed at anyone. They are just there if you want them. Kind of like advice - free, and you don't have to take it. :)

#2. I have seen stunning images taken on totally non-fancy cameras. The best photo tip anyone can ever give is this: know your camera.
You don't need a DSLR with different lenses to get beautiful photos. You just need to know what your camera can do, and what you can do with it.

#3. I would love it if the tips came from you guys. Send 'em in! You don't have to have 'could be better' and 'how to fix' photos for examples if you don't want to. (email:

I visit every member's blog every week. (It's a lot, I know.) I can say, with 100 percent confidence, this is an EXTREMELY talented group. As an example, for the silhouette shoot out, there were several silhouettes in the center of frame, and it worked. They were beautiful photos, that actively engaged the eye. This totally blows 'rule of thirds' out the window. Remember - your eye knows best.

I'll be around on Sunday, looking for the spotlight photos for Sunrise/Sunset.

What's wrong with this photo? The fix...

Hello all!

It Thursday, and I'm here with the fix for this photo:

If you said "the eyes should be in focus", you are correct. As a rule of thumb, when photographing faces, the eyes should be tack sharp. The eyes are the window to the soul, so they are the most important element, and therefore deserve the honor of being shown off as crystal clear in the photo.

However, consider this photo:

I think having the nose be perfectly in focus 'works'.

The little lesson, or tip, I was going for sounds simple, keep it in focus.

As far as I know, there is no program that can fix this. If you have a blurry photo, sometimes black and white or sepia can make it look ok, especially if you make it look old by adding grain or other filters/effects. But, the thing is, only you can prevent blur...and forest fires. Our eyes immediately see what is in focus and our brains tell us this is the most important part of the photo.

Of course, that is where you come in, as the photographer. Perhaps you want to show the texture of the dog's nose, or perhaps you want to show the dog's perspective, which is, as Patience pointed out, for a dog life is all about scent. :)

J9 asked about f-stops to change depth of field. Shallow DOF (the black and white photo) is achieved with big f-stops, so the small numbers. If you want more of the background in focus use a small aperture, so a small f-stop, or the bigger numbers.

DOF is important to consider when you are deciding which part of the photo is most important. For cameras that don't allow you to choose your aperture (f-stop) then just make sure the focus bracket is locked on the part you want perfectly sharp.

I think that the reason the focus on the nose in Sasha's portrait (the brown dog) is because her eyes aren't blurred enough. Look at Moonbeam's eyes (the other dog), they are so blurry, you can tell I was trying to get his nose. But, Sasha's eyes look like crappy focus, which that was exactly the case!

So, this week's tip: keep the most important aspect of the photo in sharp focus. If you have a camera that allows you to choose the aperture, go wild! Try photographing the exact same subject at each aperture, you'll be amazed at the level of creativity you have just mastered.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Voice of a Member

October 16 - Sunrise / Sunsets - By Sherri (

"What's not to love about sunrises and sunsets? My favorite times of the day for a photo shoot are the early morning and late afternoon because the constantly changing play of light on and around the objects I am shooting. I love the silver and sepia tones of of the sky and water a couple of hours before sunset and the purples, corals and pinks of the setting sun against azure skies. My husband and I love living close to the Gulf of Mexico in our picturesque little city which is built around 4 salt water bayous off the Anclote River where it meets the Gulf. We have vacationed in the Hawaiian Islands often and the sunrises and sunsets with the added elements of mountain peaks are equally stunning. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's sunrises and sunsets!"

Baring all complications with weather, rain and clouds - I look forward to seeing what sunrises and sunsets in your area of the world look like. Taken on Friday morning or last year, show us your favorite.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Silhouettes - Photos of the Week

Wow, do you all have any idea how talented you are? This isn't an easy job, ya know - and having to choose from such talent...well, I don't envy Olympic judges, that's for sure!

This week's picks, in no particular order:

T's surprise shot:

I loved this one of Mary's, simply for the fact that it seemed so...American. I kept humming the "Amber waves of grain" part in my head.

Jama's stunning shot:

Ellisa's little boy:

Can you believe this - this was a self portrait by Cindy and her fiance!

And, for the guy who makes everyone laugh - I'm pretty sure this is Bagman's silhouette:

This was one of the best shoot outs I have seen - well done, all.

See you next week.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What's wrong with this photo? AND an ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!

Here it is, another ok-but-could-be-better photo. This photo tip is kind of an obvious one, but almost everything I have read about photography spends anywhere from one paragraph to one chapter about this.

What do you think?

I'll post the answer on Thursday. :)

and now - an ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!

I was thinking, if you have photo tips that you find very helpful, or you learned something new that you would love to share, I would LOVE to have you as a guest blogger, right here on the My Town Shoot Out blog.

Just email me exactly what you'd like posted, attach any photos - and indicate where you want them in the post - along with your blog or website URL and I'll gladly post it, with a link back to you.

I will post them as I get them, there are no deadlines.

The breadth of topics is wide, and if I get doubles that are sent close together, I'll either combine them or email the person who sent it in second (or third or whatever) back and let you know that it has been covered. If I combine them, it will be because the angle on the same topic is different, and if I email you it's because the angle was very similar.

Any takers?

Can't wait to hear from you!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Voice of a Member

Assignment - October 9 - SILHOUETTES - By: Carrie (

Carrie took a moment to tell us about her Silhouettes choice for this week's topic -

"I chose silhouettes because I think they make such striking photos. It's like getting the best of both worlds in one shot: black/white and color. The first time I got a silhouette shot was quite an accident. My kids were playing on the beach and I was capturing it on camera. When I got the photos uploaded to my computer, I realized I had missed the details of their faces but the resulting silhouette was very nice. I hope this topic isn't intimidating, but a chance to learn something new! Find a familiar object, turn off your flash, and shoot into the sun or against a backdrop of dawn or dusk. I look forward to seeing your results." Carrie

Silhouette Photo by Carrie

I look forward to this week's shoot-out and will be going down the list and making comments on Friday and Saturday. GingerV

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Members- Regular & New

Assignment - October 9 - SILHOUETTES
By: Carrie (

I would like to say 'HELLO' if you do not know me...

Interested in joining Friday Shoot Out? Then you will see my silly polaroid icon. If you click it with the mouse you can come over to my site and say "Hey, I would like to join FSO", or email me at (on my blog profile as well).

I keep a list of request for new members, as as numbers go down here and there I will add new ones. Please email me this information for our list:

Name - City, State
URL site you will be posting for FSO

Each week around Tuesday thru Wednesday I come to your sites and check out your assignment post for that past Friday Shoot Out (I am not coming over to do any judging). Each week I try to say hello to at least 2/3'rds of the group, or all of you if time allows, and switch it depending up on my schedule.

We are asking that you leave a message in place of photos; if you cannot post for that week's assignment, so that I know you are still active. After three weeks of no activity your names will be removed from the members list; unless you come and request to be re-added. We do realize how busy life can be at times, and taking a break from FSO is understood.

I pre-apologize if I remove someone by mistake, and do try to be careful when I monitor the sites. Just communicate to me if you feel a mistake has occurred.

You may also email me any photos you feel would represent 'Your Town' for our new banner; which should be up with in a few weeks (or three).

TOPICS...are on the side bar, and dated for each week...

Some of you are aware I will be heading up to NY to salmon fish along side my hubby and Gordon, and I will have my laptop and internet during that weeks time.

Thanks to all, and I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of such a fun group as you!

Chef E

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Change is good, Right?
I have been playing with our "My Town Shoot-out" blog template and decided that changing the total format is beyond my play skills. I widened the main section and the sidebar a bit so that the information being left on the sidebar is a little easier to read. I want to change up the background colors just to lighten our mood a bit. After all the southern hemisphere is moving into summer and bright colors are right for the season.

There are two other things I would like to propose,
1) changing the collage at the top every month or so, spotlighting photos from your home towns, see the example of the world famous Christ the Redeemer in Rio. You can email a photo to ChefE of a famous place or favorite spot in your area and she has volunteered to take care of this for us. And
2) having each of you write (over time) a paragraph or two - something about blogging, or our group, or topics you found to be your favorites and we post it on the site. I don't think we have to add like a special day for this, just if you feel something write it down and send to me at and I will do a post it, trying not to post when other things are happening so you get bumped off the front page before everyone can read it. I think it would be useful if we start labeling so we can search and find things that we want to reread, i.e. a web site referenced.
let me know what you think or just submit a photo and/or paragraph.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Assignment - October 9 - SILHOUETTES

By: Carrie (
Reference earlier post "GOODBYE GORDON": GORDON IS NOT LEAVING. He, just, will not be administrating.

Goodbye Gordon

Gordon is leaving us as an administrator. His new schedule will prevent him form doing his job as he would like - and we all know Gordon is the kind of person who does not want to do anything halfway.

Gordon says he will participate in the shootouts when he can.

I know everyone respects your decision to bow out, Gordon, and you will be missed. You added a lot of fun and insight to our shootouts. You have been with us for a long time.

We still have GingerV, Jen, and ChefE as admins. ChefE is in charge of the member list, Jen is our very special photo editor, and GingerV - work your magic on the page design.

Come back anytime, Gordon!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Monday Photo Lesson # 2

OK, everyone, let's hear your take on what's wrong with this photo. How could you make it better? Look for the answer this weekend.

Everyone was right about the photo of the man on the bench. My lesson, however, was to show how easy it is to bring someone into a photo.

I did not not know the subject. I had been shooting something in the opposite direction and turned around and saw this man sitting on the bench. He had been talking to someone on the dock earlier on but was now disengaged. I went up to the subject and the person who had been talking to him and engaged them both in conversation. They began to chat again and I got off two shots - one, this one, was when it was least expected. I did not change my settings because I was waiting for a crab boat to come by and had my manual settings as I wanted them

Yes. I should have adjusted my flash so your eyes would not hurt when you looked at the jacket, but sometimes photojurnlasim is about the moment. Sometimes we don't have time to worry about adjusting our flashes or settings a hair to get a moment that only last half-of-a-hair, if you know what I mean.

Now, there are some people who would have liked it better if the subject had been looking at the camera. That is a matter of taste. I like the mystery of not knowing who he is talking to. Could I have gotten a little more of his hands? Yes. But where I was, with the lens I had, and still watching for a crab boat, I clicked the shutter when I got a smile.

As you can see, I moved in close, and changed my angle. Yes. I wanted the flag. Yes. I wish that car was not there.

It is hard to get many people to relax around a camera. That is an art to it. Chat and shoot when they least expect it. Many people who shoot professionally know that the best photograph of someone comes at the exact moment they know the shoot is over. Be ready for it. Surprise them. Your family photos will be much more energetic.

I have a ton of grant work I have to do, so this will be my last photo lesson. Jen, continue on, whenever you feel like it.

Study of a Building - Photos of the Week

Here they are - this theme's spotlighted photos! I have posted them in no particular order.

Sherri's pre Civil War building photo:

Lena's little abandoned red house:

Jarielyn's Brain Institute Building Photo:

Jaime's library photo (it was hard to pick between this one and the one of the windows!)

And, Heather's little unusual building, that reminded me of the Bernstein Bears! :)

Great shoot out, all!

See you next week. :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Lesson 2 - Rule of Thirds


So, I am former high school teacher and all my students used to tell me my tests were way too hard. That simply cannot be true, since pretty much everyone who commented got the main issue of the photo. Good job, you all get an "A+". :)

Rule of Thirds...that means if you print your photo for a dart board and can use the main subject as the bull's eye...your composition might be stagnant and dull.

Sometimes cropping the photo can fix this, sometimes not.

Ok, so what to do? My cameras (both my DSLR and my tiny point and shoot) have options to turn the gridlines on. I take full advatntage. This way the camera shows me what the frame looks like divided.

It's kind of like a tic-tac-toe grid

The circles are the "hotspots" and that is where you want to place your subject. Basically whatever part of the photo is the MOST important should go on one of the hotspots. For example, In a portrait, the person's eyes/face would go on a hotspot.

For example:

This works with all subjects. That's because those clever ancient Greeks figured out some special ratio, but all that is important (for me, and I suspect for you, too) to know about it, is that the human eye is immediately drawn to these hotspots first, then travels over the rest of the photo.

If your camera doesn't have this option (check the manual to be sure) you can always mentally divide your frame and place your subject accordingly.

Always one to give credit - I stole all these images from Google images. I did a simple images search for "rule of thirds", and all these are on the first page of results.

Oh, on a personal note: at first I felt silly putting my subject that far off to the side. In my camera viewfinder, it looked ridiculous. Plus, getting the focus was tougher since most cameras are programmed to focus on the center of the frame. (Manual focus really helped with that.) However, when I would look at my photos on the computer, it didn't look so silly.

Also, these rules can be broken, sometimes it is far more creative to break the rule than to follow it. That's where your "eye" comes in.

I challenge you, though, for one week put ALL your subjects on a hotspot...and get a feel for it, see what it does for your photography.