This Guy Tricked His Girlfriend to Shoot a Cinematic Proposal Video
When freelance filmmaker Matthew Paquette went to the carnival with his girlfriend Clara last weekend, she had no idea that he would propose on the Ferris wheel. What’s more, Paquette managed to trick Clara and secretly film this 4-minute cinematic proposal video.
The couple first met two years ago, and one of their first memories was sitting on the carnival’s Ferris wheel together. Each year the couple also takes the time to shoot photos and cinematic videos at the carnival.
This year, Paquette asked Clara if she’d like to shoot some couple-themed stock video at the carnival, and she agreed.
Instead of operating his RED Scarlet-W and Sigma 24mm Art lens himself, one of Paquette’s friends lent a hand and followed the couple around.
“I’ve [owned the RED camera] for a little over a year now but I’m usually filming stock video packs couple times a month for a stock video site some friends and I own,” Paquette tells PetaPixel. “I usually ask my friends if they want to be actors in the videos so it wasn’t out of the ordinary for me to ask Clara.”
“She had no idea what was actually going on,” Paquette writes.
While there wasn’t a still photographer on the ride with them, “it was pretty awesome we were able to get raw screen grabs from the video,” Paquette says.
Instead of appearing in a generic stock video, Clara left the carnival with a beautiful video and memory she’ll treasure a whole lot more.
This is How Nikon Tests the Durability of the D850
Nikon Asia released this promo video for the D850 that offers a peek at how the company tests the DSLR for durability in harsh environments, ensuring that it’s reliable through things like drops, impacts, vibrations, extreme temperatures, and humidity.
Nikon says that although the camera officially has an operating temperature range of 32 to 104°F (0 to 40°C), it’s actually designed with a wider tolerance than that to hold up in even more extreme conditions.
The company places and shoots the camera in special chambers with high humidity.
The camera is also covered with dust to ensure that the sealing keeps particles out.
“We wanted to design a camera that wouldn’t let a single drop of water in, even after a long time in the rain,” Nikon says.
Imagine, you’re partaking in Pedestrian Sunday at Kensington Market on a sunny summer afternoon in Toronto, Canada, walking around with your Fuji X100F in hand looking for that Cartier-Bresson “decisive moment.” Suddenly you see a child leaning against a dilapidated, graffiti-splashed wall the likes of which would make Banksy nod in approval.
The child has his mug buried into an ice cream cone, working it over like a worldwide ban on ice cream is but hours away. Maybe he has a red, child-sized “Make America Great Again” cap on, along with a pair of oversized “Blues Brothers” sunglasses and a face full of attitude.
Now there’s an image just crying to be captured. Amazing!
But where are the kid’s parents? Can’t be snapping a shot of their child without permission, right? I’m sure your “decisive moment” will hold a minute or two while you chat up the parents, yes?
Here’s a newsflash for you, it won’t. You’ll be lucky if you can get your camera to your eye before the kid turns and, frustratingly, makes waste of your perfect shot. We’ve all been there.
There’s a reason Cartier-Bresson didn’t call it the “decisive minute or two,” and if you take the time to seek out permission you’ll quickly find out why.
Plus, here in Ontario, Canada the law is on your side when it comes to photographing people in public, and that includes children and pets. Let me repeat that for clarity: you have every right to photograph people and children in public, without permission. Period. That clears up that debate nicely, doesn’t it?
If only it was that easy.
Just because the law is on your side doesn’t necessarily make it morally right. While an experienced street photographer might see no harm in photographing kids, the average neophyte might find it wildly offensive and wrong, especially if said neophyte happens to be a proud parent of a young tyke or two. Parents are, after all, a protective lot. Who can blame them?
Times have changed and the days when master street photographers like Helen Levitt, William Klein, and Vivian Maier wandered the mean streets of New York and Chicago capturing their “decisive moments” with carefree abandon are long gone. We live in an era where social media has become ubiquitous, after all. When a person notices you with your camera it’s not unreasonable for them to wonder if their image will end up on the Internet for all the world to see, whether they like it or not. They have every right to be unhappy about it, irrespective of whose side the law is on. This especially holds true if they see you surreptitiously snapping a shot of their child. I’m sure I’d feel the same way if I had children.
If it sounds like there are no easy answers, that’s because there aren’t.
Every situation involving you, your camera and someone else’s child should be approached thoughtfully. Sure, no street photographer worth his or her salt wants to miss that decisive moment, but I suspect none of us wants to end up in some argument (or worse) with an angry parent. It’s just not worth it.
So if you want to include candid photos of kids in your portfolio, make sure the photo is indeed worth the risk. Simply, the moment you are trying to capture better be a pretty damn special one; a decisive moment. Anything less isn’t worth the effort.
If you are caught in the act, the worst thing you can do is deny it or be uncooperative with the parents. Offer to show them the photo. If they like it, offer to email them a copy. Explain exactly why you took the photo (what caught your eye) and what you intend to do with it. If they are still unhappy, offer to delete it. Be friendly. Apologize, if need be. Don’t antagonize them needlessly.
What you don’t want to do is begin shooting off your mouth about how the law is on your side and how you have every right to photograph whatever you please. I guarantee you the parents aren’t going to give a rat’s rear end about the laws when it comes to a stranger photographing their child.
And to them, that’s all you are. Sure, you might think you’re the next Cartier-Bresson, street photographer extraordinaire, but to them, you’re nothing but some creepy stranger pointing a camera at their kid without permission. Always keep that in mind.
Now, while the law here in Ontario, Canada, permits the photography of people in public places sans permission, it might not be the same in your province, state or country. In Paris, France, for instance, an ambiguously written law protects the privacy of people out in public. Strictly speaking, one would have to ask permission to photograph strangers in candid situations on the cobblestoned avenues of this timeless European metropolis. By law, Parisians have an exclusive right to their image and its use.
So whether you’re just starting out in street photography or a seasoned street shooter, it’s always a good idea to know the laws around photography in public places.
It’s also just as important to engage in the application of common sense when you’re out running around sticking your camera into the faces of strangers. After all, behaving in a disrespectful and rude manner will only ruin it for the rest of us and no one wants that.
About the author: Dave Bottoms has spent the past decade exploring the streets of Toronto, Canada, where he calls home. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Around Bottoms’ neck hangs a Fujifilm X Pro 2 sporting an 18/2 prime most of the time. Dave is also an Admin for the Toronto Street Photography and Canadian Street Photographers groups on Facebook. When not taking pictures he is a freelance writer/editor for hire and is currently working on a street/documentary photography book of his work. You can find more of his work on his Instagram and blog.
How the Original Canon 5D Stacks Up Against the 5D Mark IV
Photographer Pablo Strong recently did a shootout to see how the original Canon 5D from 2005 stacks up against the latest Canon 5D Mark IV from 2016. The 7.5-minute video above is a report of his findings.
The Canon 5D, which Strong calls “arguably the best deal in photography” when paired with the 50mm f/1.8 II lens, was a camera that helped full frame cameras break into the mainstream. It was the first full-frame DSLR in a smaller, standard camera body and its price tag of $3,300 also set a new standard for how affordable full-frame cameras could be.
The camera is 13-years-old now and can be purchased used for about $350 these days. Pair it with the 50mm f/1.8 II (which costs about $75 used) and you have yourself a full-frame DSLR kit for around $400.
Strong compared that affordable full-frame kit against the $3,100 Canon 5D Mark IV and $1,300 50mm f/1.2L lens, a camera kit with the same sensor format and focal length that will cost you $4,400 if purchased brand new.
Strong took the two camera setups into central London and shot the same portraits with both. Here are some of the portraits side by side, with the original 5D and 50mm f/1.8 II on the left and the 5D Mark IV and 50mm f/1.2L on the right:
“Even today, the output from [the original 5D] is way up there with modern cameras,” Strong says.
Strong then loaded the portraits onto his computer and edited them in Lightroom before comparing them side-by-side.
“It is exactly as I thought,” Strong says. “The difference is so small that it’s really, really hard to tell the difference between these two setups.
“[Canon] kind of nailed it the first time. They got it right with this camera. […] This is 13-year-old technology but it’s really, really holding its own against a brand new modern camera.”
Before you go out (or online) and buy a 5D Mark IV, do keep in mind that the 5D Mark IV will be noticeably superior in other scenarios that Strong didn’t test — things like dynamic range and ISO performance in low light.
Image credits: Photographs by Pablo Strong and used with permission
Nicki Minaj is the ‘Queen’
Today, Nicki Minaj released her highly-anticipated album Queen, a 19-track tour de force of driven beats and lyrics with a freshly focused, new era Minaj voice.
The Queen of Rap takes her fans on a journey with this album starting the engine with the sway-inducing “Ganja Burns” followed by “Majesty” featuring Labrinth and icon living Eminem. Other features on the album include The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, Lil Wayne, Swae Lee, and Future. The album hits its climax at the end with the hard-hitti…
The Company Behind Hit Lens Revivals on Kickstarter is on Life Support
net SE, the German company that has raised millions of dollars on Kickstarter through reviving a number of classic lenses, is running into major issues that may threaten its existence and perhaps even the lenses that are owed to thousands of backers.
net SE is behind several classic camera brands that have come back to life in recent times, including Meyer Optik Görlitz, Emil Busch A.-G. Rathenau, Oprema Jena, C.P. Goerz, Ihagee Elbaflex and A. Schacht.
As if having financial issues and filing for bankruptcy weren’t enough, this week net SE announced through its Kickstarter campaigns that its founder and CEO Stefan Immes had gotten into a traffic accident from which he barely survived. Immes’ injuries are purportedly so great that he can no longer run the company for the foreseeable future.
Here’s the full statement from the company:
We have a rather sad message for you today. A few weeks ago, our founder, CEO and main investor Stefan Immes had a serious traffic accident, which he barely survived. Although we have been able to talk to him and although, for a very short time of the day he has become the astute, humorous and positive entrepreneur we know, it is now clear that due to the severity of the injuries he will not be able to continue running the company in the foreseeable future.
For a company of 15 employees only, this entails a large number of changes. Currently, we are in the process of reorganization and are trying to establish a working system as no successor regulation can yet be found for the Net SE Group. For this reason, we are currently undergoing a restructuring process with an as yet unknown outcome for the individual divisions.
Especially as far as Crowdfunding is concerned, we think that we will need until the end of October to be able to share our conclusions on how to proceed. One of the top priorities of the Oprema Crowdfunding team is, of course, to deliver the orders we receive as promised. However, we ask for your understanding that, for legal reasons alone, we cannot make any faster decisions without having reorganized the company. For technical questions, our support team is of course still available, but we can only make limited forecasts about the development progress of our projects.
We are honestly touched and the shock still sits deep. We are also extremely sorry that we are not able to spread better and more positive news at the moment, but we are working very hard to change this at short notice.
It’s well known that Kickstarter campaigns can leave backers with nothing to show for their financial contributions if the projects fail for any reason (case in point: the sad story of Triggertrap), but given the amounts raised by net SE across its many campaigns and the number of photographers waiting for their lenses to arrive, a complete collapse of net SE would surely leave a sour taste throughout the photo industry.
Demystifying Aerochrome: A Chat with Photographer Mark Schneider
Are you a photographer who’s looking into shooting a roll of Aerochrome? Or maybe you have a roll in your freezer and have no idea how or when to use it? You’re not the only one.
I purchased two rolls of Aerochrome from Dean Bennici, one of the few sources you can purchase Aerochrome from in 120 rolls and 4×5 sheets, and it took me 6 months to shoot a roll. After my interview with Mark Schneider, I felt comfortable enough to pull a roll out of the freezer and shoot it.
I interviewed photographer Mark Schneider about shooting Aerochrome. I had a lot of questions about it, and Schneider clears up many common ones beginners have about the film in the 56-minute interview below:
The History of Aerochrome
Aerochrome was a false color infrared film packaged in formats not seen today. What was the primary reason? These rolls of film would be loaded into airplanes and helicopters for various purposes. The Department of Natural Resources and The National Park Service used the film to survey vegetation. Chlorophyl from the vegetation reflects infrared light.
Aerochrome is sensitive to the color spectrum and infrared light. With the right filter color, you can filter out a spectrum of color which yields these red/magenta colors. The healthier the vegetation, the more vibrant the colors. The film was also used as a form of aerial surveillance to filter people attempting to camouflage themselves in the woods.
Early Artistic Applications of Aerochrome
One of the earliest known photographers credited to using Aerochrome was Richard Mosse. He traveled into the Congo with this film to reveal the unseen conflict and humanitarian disasters taking place there. This is a metaphor on revealing the unseen light spectrum, infrared. This project was called “The Enclave” (2012).
Since the exhibitions in 2012 and 2014, photographers have expressed great interest in shooting Aerochrome.
Mark Schneider is a Washington D.C. based photographer who has shot a lot of Aerochrome. His current project involves photographing various locations around the area documenting the country’s capital in a ‘new light.’ Many people living around the area take national monuments and other various national landmarks for granted. His goal is to provide people with a new way of seeing those places in a different way. With his experience and expertise in shooting Aerochrome, Mark provided valuable advice for beginners in shooting Aerochrome.
Advice from Mark
While Mark gave amazing advice in the interview and I highly recommend listening to the interview for more specific details, here are a few key details for shooting Aerochrome.
While Aerochrome is a very specialized film, shooting it is not much different than shooting traditional slide film. Slide film does have it’s limitations when it comes to exposure. Slide film is known for having roughly three stops of dynamic range. So shooting this film in a high contrast scene may not produce a good image. Choose your scene carefully. While the film is meant to be shot during the day, choose a scene that may receive even light throughout the entire frame.
When shooting Aerochrome, you generally don’t want to overexpose it. Shoot it at the suggested rated speed, ISO 400. With that being said, there is a caveat. Elevation affects the exposure. For every 1,000 feet, you should adjust you should increase exposure by 1/3 stop. For example, if shooting at 3,000 feet, treat the film as ISO 200.
To get the popular effect of the magenta, you’ll have to filter down the blue color spectrum. You can use various yellow and orange filters. Yellow filters provide more detail in the imagery, but it’s slightly lower in contrast. Orange filters will give more vibrant colors, but at a cost of the magenta color detail. An orange 16 filter is a great starting point. Reds can produce an interesting deep purple effect, but these results vary and generally not recommended. Avoid using an R72 infrared filter. All light from the color light spectrum will be filtered out and will result in a monochrome image.
The exposure latitude of the film is maybe half a stop. So you really need to nail your exposure. Start off with the Sunny 16 rule and make your conversions. And don’t forget to compensate for your filter. Some filters can result in 1-2 stops of light loss. If your camera has TTL metering, then there is no need to adjust for the filter.
Selecting your camera is crucial. Many auto-advance cameras have infrared sensors for advancing your film to the next frame. Avoid using a camera with that function. Your best bet is to shoot on a fully manual camera. Cameras that operate with DX coding will not interfere with the film since the contacts are purely electrical.
Alternatives to Aerochrome
Aerochrome is no longer made. But as time passes, more photographers are finding this film interesting, increasing the demand. However, the supply is becoming more difficult. Fortunately, there are alternative solutions.
You can still find expired 35mm infrared EKTACHROME on places like eBay. But if you buy your film this way, be sure to question how this film was stored. It can expire and have bad color shifts if it has been stored outside of a frozen state. Lomography makes a faux-aerochrome color negative called Lomography Lomochrome Purple. This film is usually made in batches. The second Lomography releases it, it sells out quickly. Sign up for their newsletters to find out when they plan to release their next batches. Lastly, Dean offers a color negative, color infrared film called Color Negative Infrared or CIR. While different from Aerochrome, the effects are similar.
About the author: Bill Manning is the co-host of Studio C-41, a podcast about film photography. You can also connect with Studio C-41 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here.
Image credits: All images used with permission by Mark Schneider. Images may not be used without his permission.
7 Actionable Steps to Capturing Photos That Grab Attention
Capturing images that grab attention is a goal of any photographer. It’s exactly this skill that separates a good photographer from an average one.
An image can grab the viewers attention in many ways. A typical one (especially in recent years) is through the use of strong and vivid colors. However, such images (with many exceptions, of course) tend to give only a momentarily “wow”-effect, just to be forgotten as quickly. You want to do more than this, though. You want the viewer to remember your image. You want them to come back and look at it again and again. You want to trigger a certain emotion.
This is easier said than done and it’s a skill that takes years to develop. Even after years, it’s something photographers struggle to achieve.
These tips will help you on the way to capture attention-grabbing images; Follow them and implement them and you’ll be one step closer.
#1. Have a Point of Interest
Your image must have a point of interest in order for it to grab attention. Without a strong point of interest, people are likely to pass by your image without even noticing it.
A strong point of interest doesn’t need to be a spectacular subject. Mountains are great but anything has the possibility to be a POI if used right.
Put yourself in the viewer’s shoes: is there an obvious point of interest in the image? If there isn’t a natural place for your eyes to rest, the answer is no and you need to re-evaluate the image.
Perhaps you have an interesting subject but there aren’t any elements leading your eyes towards it. In that case, try to work with the elements around you to emphasize this subject.
#2. Use Lines to Guide the Viewer
Having a point of interest is only step number one. As I mentioned above, even when you have a point of interest it might not be obvious as you don’t have any elements leading towards it.
That’s where leading lines come in. Leading lines are compositional elements found almost everywhere that will dramatically improve your images. They help guide the viewer through the frame and in many ways tell them where to look.
A very obvious leading line is a tree or a road leading directly towards the main subject. Your eyes will naturally follow these lines up to this point.
Leading lines are more than just roads and paths, though. It can be rocks, branches, cracks, mud, bushes, flowers; you name it. Anything that helps guide your eyes to the subject is considered a leading line.
#3. Use Light to Guide the Viewer
There are more ways to guide the viewer than through leading lines; directional light is another equally important method.
Light is essential in a good photograph. There’s a reason why photographers often revisit locations regularly even after months or years; they are waiting for the light that best showcases the emotions they want to bring forward in the image.
Good light is what makes the difference between a good shot and a decent. Without it, the image lacks life and is simply flat and dull. Just look at the example below. Without the light, the image wouldn’t have been anything special.
Wait for the light to become interesting. If you don’t have time then try to read how the light is impacting the current frame. Is the light harsh? Is it soft? Does it reflect on a subject? Are there sun-rays? Use the given elements to work around the scene and make the most out of the given situation.
#4. Have a Strong Composition
This is perhaps the biggest indicator of the photographer’s skill level. A strong composition makes the image more enjoyable to view and it’s a crucial part of the story told through your image.
The composition is something photographers continuously work on improving. Many believe that you’ll never fully learn compositions and that it’s something that evolves throughout your artistic career.
Guidelines such as The Rule of Thirds and The Golden Ratio are great tools to help improve your compositions but I recommend looking further than these and take other elements such as color harmonies, directional light, and visual weight into consideration as well.
Most importantly, don’t follow these “rules” too strictly. A great composition doesn’t have to be the perfect example of a compositional rule – as long as the visual flow is pleasing.
#5. Be Aware of the Weather
Unfortunately, not all weather is great for all photography. Certain scenes benefit from certain types of weather and that’s something you should take into consideration. There are always subjects to photograph but it’s a matter of being able to find those who excel in the given conditions.
Take the images below as an example. I returned to this spot countless times over a 6-month period searching for the conditions which best suited the scene. The first image shows the conditions I often had and the picture itself is nothing special. However, when the conditions one morning included colorful and quickly moving clouds, as well as a semi-rough ocean, the image became much more interesting.
Similarly, if you’re photographing the forest certain conditions will make the image more appealing; perhaps the sunlight is creating sunrays through the trees or there’s a thick layer of fog.
If you’re planning to visit a local photography spot make sure that you’ve checked the forecast and visit on a day that seems to offer the highest possibility of interesting weather.
#6. Photograph More Selectively
“Photograph as much as possible” is a common advice told to beginner photographers. While it’s a great way to learn how your camera works and to improve your skills, learn to be more selective with what you photograph; or at the very least be more selective with what you post online.
The truth is that attention-grabbing images aren’t occurring on a daily basis. In fact, 99% of the images a professional photographer captures will never see the light of day. They might be decent images but decent isn’t what they’re aiming to capture.
Ask yourself this one simple question before pushing the shutter button: Does this image have the potential to be good? If the answer is yes, then go ahead and capture it. If the answer is no, think of why it doesn’t have the potential; is the composition not good enough? Is the light boring? Is the subject boring?
Answering these questions will give you an indication whether you should make adjustments and capture the image or simply just move on.
#7. Capture More Than Just a Snapshot
That brings us to the 7th and final advice for capturing images that grab attention: Capture more than just a snapshot.
If you’re just capturing images to document your trips and travels and their purpose is to be shared with friends and family, photography anything you want. But if you’re aiming to become a better photographer and capture images that awakes an emotion within the viewer, stop ‘snapping’ images.
Ask yourself the questions given in the previous tip. Use these to determine whether or whether not you’ll capture the image. Don’t be afraid to leave a beautiful place without capturing one single image. Not all beautiful places are photogenic. Learn to enjoy the surroundings instead and don’t worry about ‘snapping’ everything with your camera.
There isn’t a blueprint for a great image, but elements such as light, composition, a point of interest, and weather play an important role. If the image is lacking these elements, will it really grab attention?
About the author: Christian Hoiberg is a full-time landscape photographer who helps aspiring photographers develop the skills needed to capture beautiful and impactful images. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Download Hoiberg’s free guide 30 Tips to Improve Your Landscape Photography and open the doors to your dream life. Hoiberg is also the founder of CaptureLandscapes. You can find more of his work on his website and Instagram. This article was also published here.
I Gave Up on Squarespace and Built My Own Photo Website from Scratch
For the past several years my photography website called Squarespace home. Among online, fully-contained, content management systems, it is hard to go wrong with Squarespace. Offering domain registration and hosting, plus well-crafted templates, Squarespace makes it easy to create a professional looking website.
Squarespace has many benefits. Their choices of templates are great, they are visually appealing and generally function for the purposes for which they were built. Want to add e-commerce to your website? Simple. Want to start blogging? Add a blogging page and the rest is done for you. Need technical support? A chatroom or phone call away.
Squarespace has made available to individuals what would otherwise cost many hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to accomplish through a component web developer, all for a somewhat reasonable monthly cost. While my website doesn’t see much traffic (no fault of Squarespace’s), I decided to transfer my domain from Squarespace to a dedicated hosting service. Which meant I had to start over and build my website from scratch.
Why would I opt to leave the carefully crafted, polished environment of Squarespace? Largely because of content management.
Before I go any further, I should make a couple things clear. First, this is not a criticism of Squarespace per se. Squarespace exists for a very specific purpose. Like I mentioned, Squarespace has made available tools for anyone to develop a professional looking website; whether that is to support a business, portfolio, or project without the need for costly web development. If you are willing to put in the time to get familiar with the Squarespace environment, it will likely suit your needs well.
Secondly, users of Squarespace will already know this. If they needed the extra flexibility of a self-managed website, they most likely would have gone that route in the first place. In my case, I started with Squarespace under the same circumstances. I wanted a well-tailored look with modern functionality, all for very little effort. It was after several years of use, however, when the needs for a self-managed website became more apparent.
Now in terms of content management, you may own your content but you really don’t own your website. Yes, you have a domain name, which you technically own and can take elsewhere, but your content is supported by a template that is managed and owned by Squarespace. Squarespace is a business and like any business, it could shut its doors tomorrow. Leaving you with very few options to recover your efforts in the event of a worst case scenario. To be fair, Squarespace does allow you to download your “site”, but not in any way that would make it easy to seamlessly transfer that content to another provider.
For a portfolio, this is likely not that big of a deal, but can be especially so if you use your website for any means of income. After several years of use, it was this overall lack of ownership that made me decide to leave Squarespace and host my website elsewhere. There is something to be said for having complete control over all areas of your website, from the media you upload on down to the HTML and CSS files that make up the core of a website.
Under this scenario, if worst came to worst, I know that I can easily take my website to any hosting service with little downtime in between. This should be an important consideration for all photographers or creators of any kind.
The following is a narrative about the decisions I made in building and designing this website and that it might be a helpful resource for others looking to do something similar. I tried to approach building this site as logically as I could, so each ‘Part’ is, more or less, in order of consideration. As such, I will begin by discussing my first decision in choosing a hosting platform.
Choosing a Hosting Platform
Choosing a hosting platform was a bit of struggle. With numerous options available you think it would it would be anything but, however, quantity does not always equal quality. Simply Googling “best website hosting 2018” is not a bad place to start to get a handle on the current environment of website hosting. You can then use that information to further filter your choices.
Another option, and the one I eventually chose, was to search Stack Exchange and web developer subreddits on Reddit. Both have a massive user base and what better way to find this kind of information than from the people who are likely to have experience using hosting services? There was plenty of good advice to be had, but many stressed the importance of quality customer service over technical differences.
Speaking of technical differences, one technical decision you will likely have to make is choosing between shared hosting or dedicated hosting. With shared hosting, as the name implies, you are sharing server resources along with other websites. Dedicated hosting, on the other hand, provides dedicated resources for a single website. Both have their benefits. Shared hosting is significantly cheaper, while dedicated hosting favors stability. I would venture to say that for the vast majority of people, shared hosting is more than enough.
After comparing most of the major players in web hosting, I eventually chose a shared hosting plane from Siteground. They received great feedback from users (especially customer service), had reasonable yearly rates for shared hosting, and a solid introductory feature set for users just starting out with their own self-managed website.
When you sign up for a Squarespace account, you will also likely register for your own domain (website) name. It is actually a nice feature that Squarespace offers in that, as a service, everything is self-contained. You can have your domain name and website up and going in the 10 minutes that it takes to create an account; no need to buy a domain from another provider. This was the route I took when I used Squarespace and registered my name as the domain name.
Squarespace, fortunately, makes this a relatively painless experience by offering the tools needed to prepare your domain to be transferred to another provider. I followed the exact steps found here and encountered no issues. The transfer from Squarespace to Siteground took all of 10 minutes (although they do estimate that it can sometimes take as long as 48 hours). With the domain transfer complete, it was time to begin putting the pieces together for this site.
WordPress (CMS) or Static HTML?
The next decision was to decide whether I should use WordPress or static HTML/CSS. Saying that WordPress is the most used CMS in the world is no exaggeration. According to WordPress, 30% of websites are built using WordPress, which include a number of big names such as The New York Times, Forbes, BBC America, TechCrunch.
If WordPress is good enough to manage these websites, it is good enough to manage your own personal website. The ubiquity of WordPress also means that hosting services generally offer easy WordPress installations. So, if you are coming from Squarespace and still like the idea of a CMS, WordPress (or one of the many variants) is a good way to go.
But, there is another consideration, and that is a static HTML website. Static meaning no CMS or dynamically rendered web pages say, via PHP. There are advantages to static HTML websites. First is simplicity. You have an HTML file for every page and a series of CSS files that style them. Once finished, you upload to your preferred hosting service and you are good to go. Also, static HTML websites tend to have faster load times. Another advantage is that static HTML pages can offer more SEO (search engine optimization) flexibility.
There is a significant downside, however, and that is, interestingly enough, content management. A CMS, like WordPress, is built to do just that, manage content. You can write and upload to a page through an easy-to-use text editor as well as upload photos using any number of photo gallery plugins available. Static HTML requires you to directly edit the HTML of the page and then upload that page via FTP to replace the old with the new. It is pretty archaic when compared to WordPress or other CMS systems. If you’re constantly adding new content, this is not exactly ideal.
Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of both WordPress and static HTML, I went with static HTML. In an environment where modern websites have a tendency to be feature heavy, I was looking for speed and simplicity. Static HTML/CSS offers both.
I don’t have much experience with web development. I have managed websites using a CMS, but not coding a website from scratch. My familiarity with HTML/CSS is basic; enough to know some of the terminologies and not a whole lot else. The one piece of information that I was aware of is HTML/CSS boilerplates.
Boilerplates, or skeletons as they are sometimes called, provide the basic foundation for developing and designing a website. Since all HTML pages have a required page structure, boilerplates include this structure as well as other common features that help speed along the website development process. These boilerplates usually include a CSS file (cascading style sheet) that normalizes your webpage to help keep it consistent between web browsers (typically called normalize.css).
Each web browser has the potential to style web pages differently. Including a normalized CSS file will help keep your website looking the same across all browsers. Speaking of web browsers, boilerplates will also include functionality that will make your website mobile-ready. The key is to be able to have your webpage viewed easily across any device; whether it is a cell phone, tablet, or full desktop computer.
Like everything up to this point, choosing a boilerplate required some decisions. For myself, there were two important factors. First, the boilerplate could not be large in size. Boilerplates have a tendency to be quite large depending on the features that are packaged in them. Secondly, the boilerplate had to be user-friendly. At the end of the day, all I needed was the bare minimum. Enter Skeleton.
Skeleton is billed as ‘a dead simple, responsive boilerplate’, which is no joke. The entire download is no more than 26KB. Skeleton also includes some nice, simple stylized features like buttons and forms if you choose to use them. A criticism that I have seen online is that it is not as consistently updated as other boilerplates and not as feature rich, but neither of that mattered for me. As my website is largely driven by photos and text, there isn’t much need for any additional overhead by way of user-experience functionality. Simple is all I needed and Skeleton more than fits that bill. Highly recommended.
I knew that putting together a photo gallery wouldn’t be as straightforward if I had opted to use a CMS like WordPress. Since this website is more hands-on, I knew that a photo gallery would require a little more work. I wanted to minimize not only the amount of potential work/coding but also keep with my theme of simple and lightweight. It took a solid evening but I came across the photo gallery utility called Fresco. It is fast, easy to implement, and provides plenty of customizability to suit most photo gallery needs.
Although design should probably be the first thing that you consider and sketch out rather than the last, it is Part 3 in this series for reason. From using Squarespace for a number of years, I kept mental notes about things that I wish I could have changed but could not because of the limitations of the templates.
The Squarespace templates are nicely designed that generally follow many of today’s most popular web design trends: screen spanning images, large, blocky text and fading transitions between elements. While pleasing, they were personally irritating. I had a long-standing mental vision of how I would arrange my own website, so I did not have to spend much time sketching out the details. My ultimate design philosophy for this website was pretty simple; lightweight and fast, clean and neat.
I chose to go with a pretty standard layout. The container (the part of the website that you are reading now) is 960 pixels wide and centered. Using Skeleton as my boilerplate made this simple as this is the default layout. This 960-pixel working space can be further divided into columns to help support arranging elements on the page. For example, my Home, Blog, and About pages use 100% width of the container (all 960 pixels), or one column.
My photo galleries, on the other hand, are split into thirds so that I can have my photos arranged in a three-column grid.
A single page can have columns of various widths to help accommodate multiple layouts depending on content. Best of all everything is kept responsive so content will scale proportionally.
Choosing the right font is a big deal. I would say it is up there as one of the most important decisions you will have to make design-wise. It does not help that there are thousands of fonts available. A few key considerations will help considerably narrow the field of choices. Regardless of whether a font will be used for a heading or body text, you want a font that will be easily readable and stay consistent between browsers. Thankfully, repositories like Google Fonts offer dynamically hosted fonts that will display regardless of platform and browser.
Another plus one for Google Fonts is that they are free. Not all fonts are free and often require a license to be purchased. As convenient as Google Fonts is, my thoughts are is that you are better off choosing a web safe font.
A web safe font will typically display regardless of what browser you are using. I wanted to use a sans-serif font and Arial is a web-safe font available for display on all browsers. Since Arial is considered a system font I did not have to rely on Google Fonts to serve the styling. Arial is used for both the body text and the headings of this website. While Arial may not have a lot of design wow-factor, it is one of those fonts that goes with almost anything; kind of like the neutral color equivalent of fonts.
I realize that high-resolution, screen-filling photos are hugely popular on websites, but this can also equal slower rendering and possibly expensive downloads. Google has several excellent resources that cover image optimization that are well worth the read. They can be found here and here. The images on this website average a size of 200KB, which strikes a nice balance between size, quality, and speed.
There are a number of programs that can help compress JPEGS without sacrificing too much in terms of quality. Some of them include online utilities such as TinyJPG and Compressor as well as desktop programs such as imageOptim (Mac only. I’m not too familiar with what options are available for Window users). While I have used these, Adobe Photoshop covers all of my image compression needs. If you already have a Creative Cloud account then there is little need to add anything else to your workflow. If not, the utilities mentioned above will work well.
I will use this last part to cover the workflow and applications that I use to maintain and update this website. There are numerous alternatives to what I will cover below but, for now, this is my current setup (may change depending on circumstances. If so, updates will be posted here).
There are numerous HTML/CSS editors available and I don’t really have any specific advice to give for one over another. Unless you are a hardcore developer with very specific needs, there is little reason to purchase HTML/CSS editing software. The only advice I do have is to find one that has robust HTML/CSS autocomplete and Live Preview.
Autocomplete HTML/CSS is extremely useful and helps take the guesswork out of coding while Live Preview lets you view your webpage as if it were live and up on the web. This is useful when reviewing the content of a page before you upload it to your website. I chose to go with Brackets. Mostly because of its simplicity and uncomplicated feature set, as well as the inclusion of autocomplete HTML/CSS and Live Preview. It also allows for extensions of which there are many. I use Beautify which helps organize the HTML/CSS code in a more readable manner.
Since this is a static website, that means that I replace the old HTML files with the new HTML files along with uploading other website content. While hosting services offer online portals to access your FTP site, the easiest route is via an FTP client. FTP clients allow you to store your log-in credentials for later use so once logged in, you can simply reconnect. Like HTML/CSS editors there are many FTP clients to choose from, but I use Filezilla, which is available for both Mac and Windows. It is free and gets the job done.
For word processing, I will use both TextEdit and Brackets. TextEdit (the Mac equivalent of Notepad) is mainly to write the rough draft. Once I have the rough draft complete, I will copy that into Brackets to arrange into sections on the HTML page and then complete the final review. Live Preview is especially useful here as I’m able to get a better sense of the page layout before that page is made live.
In light of the many options available to individuals who want to create and maintain a website, this whole effort seems a little archaic. I am not leveraging any of the automated features of a more robust framework through a CMS or any server-side distribution of pages. On the other hand, though, I have found that I highly enjoy this hands-on management of my content. It is certainly not for everyone, but I would not rule all of this out completely.
About the author: Matthew Nordhagen is a hobbyist photographer based in Alexandria, Virginia. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his work on his website. This article was also published here and here.
A Photojournalist’s Point of View of a Portland Protest Police Crackdown
Last Saturday, a right-wing rally in Portland, Oregon, drew out left-wing counterprotesters as well as riot police. Photojournalist Doug Brown was in the thick of it all with a GoPro camera mounted to the top of his DSLR. The 12-minute video above documents his experience that day (warning: there’s strong language).
The Guardian reports that two hours into the raucous rally, police charged at the left-wing protesters with their batons drawn and used stun grenades and pepper spray rounds in an attempt to disperse the crowds.
“I got roughed up throughout, and particularly at the 9:47 mark,” Brown tells PetaPixel. He posted a clip of himself getting “roughed up” by the charging police officers on Twitter: