take better pictures

People have been saying more and more how much they like my pictures. Often, their first question is what kind of camera I have. I could prove the camera is of little importance by showing you some of the pictures that have come out after I hand my camera over to a friend for a while. Fact is, with a little effort most people could be taking radically better pictures with their current point-and-shoot camera. Here are just a few hints that will see you taking much better pictures.

  1. The Rule-of-Thirds

    This is a simple compositional rule that is very well known among photographers. We don’t know all the “science” behind it, but for some reason pictures are a lot more interesting to human viewers when the focal point or subject is at the intersection of thirds of the picture. Many cameras allow you to turn on a “grid” so you can visualize this while you shoot. Stop centering all those images. Granted this rule can and must be broken at times, but in general this will show a huge improvement in your photography.

  2. Less Flash

    The cheap flashes on most cameras cause all sorts of problems. Red-eyes, shiny highlights on glasses or oily skin, strange shadows around the edges of your subjects, etc. Try to avoid using your cameras flash when you can. If it’s just plain too dark, there isn’t much you can do to avoid it. But go out of your way to take pictures when and where there is plenty of light available. Your pictures will look more natural, and that’s good.

  3. Hold Steady

    The camera needs to allow light to enter the lens and “expose” the picture. Since there is usually not an infinite amount of light available this exposure takes time. If your camera or your subjects are moving during this time the picture will be blurry from the motion. Be sure to hold your camera steady when shooting. If at all possible set your camera down on a table, or brace it against a hand rail or a wall. If that isn’t possible just hold still, and try to take the picture on an exhale.

  4. Think Background

    Your subject is what’s important, but if your background is full of stuff it will distract people from looking at what you really want them to be focused on. The more simple the background the better. For instance if you are taking a picture of your friend downtown make sure there isn’t a telephone pole sticking out of his head.

These are really just a few tips, but I can honestly say they have improved my photography a lot. I still have problems following my own advice with some of these
occasionally, but getting these things into your head while taking pictures will make your photography better fast.

quicktime contrast

I’ve noticed over the last decade or so that videos played in quicktime are often (if not always) washed out and a little desaturated. If you’re watching a long video you could get a much crisper image spending just a few seconds with the A/V controls beforehand. Just go to Windows->Show A/V Controls (on a Windows machine). The two suggestions I would give are to bump up the Contrast and Color sliders ever so slightly. You should adjust the contrast setting on a frame of video with a good amount of black, and you should adjust the color setting on a frame with, go figure, lots of color. Have fun.

P.S. The same is true for video in iTunes.


If you were at all curious about how ridiculous videogame advertising can get, they just put up some ads for our new game. This is from ds.ign.com, it’s their front page overflowing with promos for our game. Over 51% of the entire screen is just graphical advertising for the game.

game review score

Our first review score has been posted for Lock’s Quest. IGN gave us a 8.6 and an Editor’s Choice Award! IGN gave us a 7.9 for Drawn to Life, so this is quite a step up. We’re excited to see other review scores start to pop up. We’re anticipating Lock’s Quest being really successful. We also, have a website open for the game. Woohoo, game number 2!

internet hotspots

I haven’t done this in a while, but I wanted to highlight some sites to get things done around the internet. Most of these are sites where you can post your own content, which means other people can also post their own content. That usually includes content you don’t want to see. Fortunately, most of these sites provide some levels of protection against content with safe searches or other various guards, but it really falls to you to not browse your way into troublesome areas.

That said, here are some sites I use somewhat regularly around the web. Hopefully, you will find one or more of these useful as well.

Photography: www.flickr.com

Flickr is a free service (with a few limitations) to let you share your images online. It lets you post high quality copies of your photos. It also lets you set up slideshows and connect to other services to let you make prints, books, t-shirts, business cards, etc. from your images. It’s constantly growing with new features and functionality,
and has been one of my favorite spots online for a while. It lets you connect with friends, family, and other contacts so you can keep up with pictures that others are posting along with leaving your comments. The $25/year pro account removes the limitations, and lets you upload just about any amount of pictures you’re able to take, while the free account has a monthly limit for uploads.

Networking: www.facebook.com

This is really one of the central places for a lot of people on the web. In a way you can do just about everything that these other services do in one place, although usually not as well. The coolest thing about facebook is being connected with your friends, and getting updates on what’s going on in your sphere of contacts. Here you can post pictures, video, and notes (like blogs), message and chat with your friends, and much more with various “applications” that you can add. The strong point about facebook is that it’s very simple to use so it draws a lot of people who wouldn’t normally do much on the internet, because they can do so much in one place. It’s definitely dominated by young people, but it’s continually expanding it’s audience.

Blogging (web journal): www.blogger.com (Update: I now recommend tumblr)

This is what I use to make this blog. It’s one of the easiest free tools for blogging out there. Blogging isn’t necessary for everybody. Especially if you are on facebook, and have lots of friends, you will probably have more people read things that you post there. But if you want to make things available to people who aren’t facebook members, blogging is a great way to post to the internet at-large. Blogger has various page layouts that make it really simple to customize your site. I’ve been using it for at least two or three years now (I’ve actually lost count), but it’s a great way to get your thoughts out there.

Status Updating (micro-blogging): www.twitter.com

Tweeting, as it’s called, is a unique way to update people on what you’re doing. For facebookers, this is much like the status message. It lets you post short snippets of text or internet links quickly and easily from a variety of places that people can “subscribe” to and keep track with what you’re doing or anything else you happen to say in your tweets. The most unique thing about tweeting is that you can send and receive messages from the web, google talk instant messenger, or via text message. You can choose to receive text messages on your phone whenever there are updates from the friends you decide to follow, and you can also post your own updates from your phone. It’s a really unique way to converse online, but probably not for everybody. Also, there is a facebook application that let’s your twitter posts update your facebook status.

Video: www.vimeo.com (Update: YouTube has been improving. I’m on the fence.)

Video has been a tricky thing on the internet. YouTube has long stood as king, but there are definitely a number of players trying to get their slice of the video sharing market. Vimeo stands out to me, because of it’s ability to store and play higher quality videos, even high definition, something that has been lacking for a very long time in YouTube. It also has a very simple, clean interface. I can’t say for sure that I think vimeo will be the leader in video forever, because digital video is still a rapidly evolving medium. But today, vimeo
comes out on top.

Everything Else: www.google.com

Then there is Google. The constantly growing beast that seems to be eating up the internet one company at a time. In fact they own Blogger and YouTube, not to mention a host of other companies with various web services. The biggest Google services I use are Gmail (free email account which enables you to use all the other services), Google Talk (chat), Google Reader (rss/feed reader for keeping up-to-date with web postings), and Google Calendar. There are many more features and functions that Google has to offer, and they all integrate very well with eachother. If you don’t have a GMail account I highly recommend it.

Anyways, I hope you find some manner of use out of one or all of these sites. And if you do use them, let me know so we can connect with each other as friends on them. That’s one of the coolest features from all of these sites. They all make new ways to connect with other people. And people are awesome.

@skoda on App.net @technochocolate on App.net