How Not to Be a Photographer

• Make sure everyone is smiling and pretending to be happy before taking the picture. Candid photography? Never heard of it.

• Don’t take photos of people; they don’t want you to take their photos anyway. Just stick to rocks and plants.

• Make your rocks blurry and your flowers over-exposed. Then claim it’s art.

• Pump up the saturation and contrast on that rose, so it’s just (255,0,0) all over. Then everyone will appreciate the beauty.

• Print your photos, then scan the prints at 600 pixels per inch. Now you have 48 megapixels!

• Never switch from auto mode. Only scary people use aperture priority. Manual mode is for the fully insane.

• Or, switch to manual mode, and refuse to use auto-focus. The camera doesn’t know how to focus. It’s just blocking your artistic vision.

• Always talk about your artistic vision, and the wonderful community of photographers your a part of. Maybe people will start believing it.

• Say a 12 megapixel camera is 20% better than a 10 megapixel camera.

• Buy a $2000 DSLR, then stick a cheap lens on it.

• Set your new $2000 camera down to go to the bathroom. Follow the advice in 10 Ways to Get Your Camera Stolen. Why would anyone want a camera?

• Refuse to use anything but a prime lens. Those zoom lenses are too modern and convenient. They’re not sharp enough either. It’s settled. You’re not a real photographer if you use a zoom lens.

• Constantly talk about “real photographers” versus the non-real photographers that are pervading your art form. Make sure some reference to film vs. digital is included.

• Say that film is useless, because digital is magical and does everything.

• Say that digital is useless, because film is the only true photographic medium.

• Assume you should always keep your camera zoomed out, because whenever you zoom in, you must be losing quality.

• Complain about the scary focal lengths on SLR lenses. 18-55mm? What’s that mean? 3.06x zoom? Why didn’t you just say so?

• Assume that 4x optical zoom is the same for all cameras, and that all cameras have equivalent focal lengths by default. You have no concept of wide-angle or telephoto.

• Keep your new DSLR at 18mm all the time, then wonder why everyone’s so fat and distorted.

• Use big words like barrel distortion, pincushioning, vignetting, chromatic aberration, etc. You have no idea what these mean, but they must make you look smart.

• Refuse to buy a camera that doesn’t use AA batteries.

• Use the flash all the time. If you have beautiful ambient lighting and a fast lens, kill it with a blinding strobe.

• Never use the flash. The flash is evil. Fill flash is eviler.

• Say that digital is no good because all print copies wither and turn green in three months. Chemical prints? For digital? That’s crazy talk.

• Ask if you need a lens to use the camera.

• Print your photos, then DELETE the digital source files. You don’t need them anymore, right?

• Assume anything with “digital” in it must be great. You need a “digital” lens, with which you should use digital “zoom,” because it must be the way to go.

• Keep calling your memory cards “disks” over and over. Windows does it; it must be right.

• Refuse to edit your photos. It’s just not true photography.

• Create a 20-page policy booklet before you snap any photos. You have to stay at 50mm all the time, because that’s most photographic. Certain menus on the camera are off-limits, because they’re too un-photographic. Those menus are: white balance, exposure bias, picture styles, color toning, sharpness and contrast, and several others. You can edit on the computer, but only to make the photo look more like the original scene. Contrast adjustments are okay, but cloning is not. Dodging and burning must be reviewed by a committee.

• RAW beats JPEG. If you use JPEG, you’re an idiot. Make sure to polarize all your friends on this, and then shun the ones who have ever used JPEG.

• JPEG does everything RAW does. The picture quality is identical. You only need RAW if you’re doing lots of editing, but if you need to do that, the photo is no good anyway!

• Plan out a sliding scale of quality settings to save space. 10MP RAW is just for special art photos. 10MP JPEG is for normal shooting, while 5MP JPEG is for birthdays and events (because of the volume of photos). Use the 0.3MP JPEG setting for anything you’ll post online. Heaven forbid you should accidentally shoot a special art photo when you’ve planned for something else.

• Keep no backups of anything. Just one copy of your photos in My Pictures. Or, make a backup copy… on the same hard drive.

• Catalog your photos by giving them descriptive file names. How to give file names to photos is bunk.

• Make eight copies of that photo: one for your flowers folder, one for macros, one for colors/red, etc. Nevermind that you’re wasting 70 megabytes.

• Complain that your DSLR’s LCD screen is broken.

• Complain that new digital cameras immediately become obsolete. I didn’t know they stopped making SD cards and batteries.

• Complain constantly. Be negative all the time. Photography is crap. Print articles like 10 Reasons Photography Sucks and Isn’t an Art Form to prove it to everyone.

• When someone shares his photography with you, ask him if it’s Photoshopped. If he says anything like a yes, shun him. If it’s a no, accuse him of lying, then commence the shunning. We photographers are so good like that.

• Print 4×6 photos on an inkjet. You knew it was coming.

The Return from the Vacation

Hello again. I’m back from my exciting four-day vacation. I stayed around Palm Beach for three days with my aunt, uncle, cousin, and grandma. It was 200 miles down there. We had a lot of fun, my aunt cooked great food, there was a cool storm, and we played volleyball in the pool. Afterward, I stayed with my Grandma for Sunday and part of Monday, and my Dad brought me home three hours ago. I’ve been unpacking and clearing out emails.

Here’s some photos. I won’t show family because they don’t want to be shown.











The portrait is me. I’ll be cooking up some edited versions which you’ll see over the next few days. It was hard not having Internet for four days; no computers or Wi-Fi with the family, and all the neighbors had passwords on their networks. I’m glad to be back working on the mission here. I wrote two photography articles I’ll be polishing up tomorrow.

This site and the network chugged along fine while I was gone. 2000 unique visitors across both. The HTML caching + gzip compression is working great. I had about 60 new users, but 30 were blatant spam by the same person, which I deleted on the spot. Two-thirds of the rest are non-blatant spam, but I don’t mind that.

The total number of blogs is 115, and the MySQL database is up to 40MB. Still working fine on SYN shared Hosting, fortunately. I’ve used 4GB of bandwidth in my 10 days with them. I have 120GB/month, so I’m at 10% capacity. Most of the bandwidth is from my photography, especially the high-res stock photos. If the going gets rough, I’ll outsource the busiest to ImageShack and hotlink.

I made a decision: I’m going to switch to for future labeling on my prints and photos here. was the old one, but it’s a bit lengthy and just redirects here like because I’m using subdirectories for users (I’m, so I may as well use the shorter one now. All three addresses will work forever. I set up a regex expression with Apache’s mod_rewrite, so even subdirectories redirect: goes right to, for example. Cool stuff.

I came home to find that I’ve made $6.91 from the Google AdSense advertising on $2.51 is from ads on my photography pages here, while the other $4.40 is from clicks on ads on my users’ pages. While it would only take me an hour to earn this when I was working at the library, this is particularly sweet because I earned it while on vacation, not working at all. So it’s “passive income” instead of “active income.” Instead of working every minute for every dollar, you earn while you sleep. A website with ads is the perfect way to do that.

I’ve got till August 25 (when college resumes) to work on my photography. Expect a lot of stuff from me here. :grin:

Going on Vacation

Hello! If you’ve been following my Twitter updates, you know I had my final test in precalculus algebra today, got my grades back, and passed with an A. I have two months off now. I’m traveling to South Florida with my Grandma to visit family in a few minutes, and I’ll be gone till Monday (2008-06-30). I haven’t been posting as much here, as I’ve been making a lot of progress with, but I’ll come back with some great photos and ideas for articles, plus plenty of time to execute them.

Thanks everyone, and leave me some comments to come back to. Till later. :sunglasses:

Photo: The Dead Auditorium

The Dead Auditorium — empty red chairs in a dark theater

I shot this after my cousin’s dance recital, once everyone left. It was quite dark, so I pushed it to ISO800 and went down to F1.6, taking the opportunity to use a shallow depth of field. The theater is a dead one if I’ve seen one, in this picture at least. I like the colors of the chairs, and the lighting was nice and indirect, despite the dimness.

What did I do to this? First, I cloned out the open door in the background, which was a big, white, ugly distraction. I couldn’t get the wall to look right; it looked fake and too smooth. I didn’t want to deal with it, so I just pumped up the contrast till the background went to black. An effective solution in a pinch, and it adds to the mood of… deadness. Finally, I made the colors less yellow and burned in the corners (vignetting).

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1:1.4, 1/60, F1.6, 50mm, ISO800, 2008-06-22T00:52:14-04, 20080622-005214rxt

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Please credit me as “Photo by Richard Thripp” or something similar.

WordPress Plugins I’m Using

I wrote this for a fellow photographer and photo-blogger named Nokao, since he asked what plugins I’m using for this site. As you may know, Brilliant Photography is powered by WordPress: WordPress MU to be specific, since I’m in the same database as the network with many other bloggers. I’ve been able to leverage all the great plugins people have created; I haven’t had to do any original coding yet.

You can look up any of these plugins in the WordPress repository:

Alakhnor’s Post Thumb Revisited creates the thumbnails for all the images, the JavaScript pop-up effects (Highslide), and the gallery pages (PHP code calling the plugin). I just post photos as normal WordPress posts (just an img src HTML code), and it does the rest. I use it for the random photos in the header and the random stock photo in the sidebar. You can have it just show thumbnails from a particular category, which is what I do.

The category feeds are included in WordPress, but not linked anywhere. You can see them on your site; just add “/feed” to the end of a category’s URI. You can link to these in your template if you want. For the RSS feeds and email newsletters, I outsource to, but there are WordPress plugins too (I’d prefer to keep the load off my server).

I use Exec-PHP to put Post Thumb’s PHP code in pages and posts, and Text Control to keep WordPress’ filtering from putting line breaks between thumbnails on gallery pages, by setting it to “No Formatting.” On those posts and pages, I just add HTML myself (paragraph and line break tags).

I use WP-Sticky to keep an introductory post at the top of the home page.

Related Posts, SCF2 Contact Form, SEO Title Tag, Top Level Categories, Ad Rotator (Amazon ads), Post Template, WP-Print, and Simple Tags add good features and help me out.

WP Thread Comment powers the threaded comments system. ShareThis adds social bookmarking. Sem Dofollow removes WordPress’ “nofollow” tags from commenters’ websites. Live Comment Preview does what it says. WP Grins adds clickable smilies to the comment box. Wordbook and LJ Crosspost let me multicast to Facebook and LiveJournal.

And finally, WP Super Cache gzips every page and does static HTML caching, making the site fast and allowing me to hobble by on shared hosting.

Keep in mind that I’m running WordPress MU, and there are many other blogs on Many of these plugins (such as post thumb) are just for me, and I have a special template for my sidebar, header, and footer. I might add the features for my users, but it will be some work.

Hmm, sounds like you’re saying my photos aren’t artistic because I said that about photography. The article is tongue-in-cheek, but I do feel people give too much credit to photography at times. Like it’s something sacred. My photos have meaning to me, and photography is my life and blood.

The last bit is about my latest writing, 10 Reasons Why Photography Sucks and Isn’t an Art Form. I’m glad to be able to get people thinking about photography in different ways, even if by being derogatory and sarcastic. :sunglasses:

Thanks for reading, guys.

Photo: The Ephemeral Branch

The Ephemeral Branch —

A tree branch swaying in the wind, with a UPS truck on the highway behind it. I like how the light and blur turned out. I closed down all the way (F22) so I could use a 1/20 second shutter speed, then holding the camera steady while snapping away to get this. The branch is about to leave this world; it’s just your imagination! That’s what makes it ephemeral. :grin:

I dodged (brightened) the leaves and added contrast with the curves tool.

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1:1.4, 1/20, F22, 50mm, ISO100, 2008-05-09T15:05:17-04, 20080509-190517rxt

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Please credit me as “Photo by Richard Thripp” or something similar.

Photo: Into the Woods

Into the Woods — trees, nature, and green leaves off on the trail

Go into the woods… do not be afraid. :sunglasses: This is my Grandma’s yard. There are houses around, but from where I shot this, they’re all obstructed by trees. The lighting and colors were nice, since we had a rainy white sky.

I added contrast and a glow effect.

Canon Rebel XTi, EFS 18-55mm, 1/60, F3.5, 18mm, ISO100, 2008-06-20T16:31:07-04, 20080620-203107rxt

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Please credit me as “Photo by Richard Thripp” or something similar.

Photo: The Fountain

The Fountain — water from a man-made fountain, frozen in motion

A coquina-rock fountain out front of the City Hall in Holly Hill, Florida. I used a 1/1600 shutter speed to freeze the water drops. The bright green lawn and yellow rocks matched well. I tried a shot from down low, with the water against the sky, but it was too dark and lifeless. This is certainly more attractive.

Just simple contrast improvements. I cloned out two distracting droplets at the bottom of the frame, and a red stop sign in the background.

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1:1.4, 1/1600, F3.5, 50mm, ISO100, 2008-06-12T11:12:14-04, 20080612-151214rxt

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Please credit me as “Photo by Richard Thripp” or something similar.

Photo: The Rebellious Grasshopper

The Rebellious Grasshopper — a yellow bug hanging upside-down

I found this bug in our yard, hanging upside-down from a branch on a tree. He looked at me in a way that made me feel uncomfortable. That’s why he’s rebellious.

This is the sequel to the free stock photo, Yellow Grasshopper.

I added contrast and burned the corners a lot to contain the creature.

Canon Rebel XTi, EFS 18-55mm, 1/100, F5.6, 50mm, ISO800, 2008-06-10T017:16:31-04, 20080610-211631rxt

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Please credit me as “Photo by Richard Thripp” or something similar.