Tuesday, September 27, 2011

5 Free Photo Greeting Cards


Snapfish has done it again with offering a great deal for greeting cards. Usually, you see these deals around Mother's Day or Father's Day and sometimes around other big gift giving holidays. This week you have the opportunity to get


Also, with this week's deal for FREE SHIPPING there is no catch on this FREE DEAL.

Create FIVE cards and checkout using the coupon code TRY5CARDS by September 30.


Add coupon code FREESHIPWK by September 27 and get FREE SHIPPING!

This deal makes these five photo cards absolutely free! Start getting your Christmas card photo ideas ready and get your 5 free cards to send out today!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Free Photo Prints at Target

Target has photo prints on sale for $0.10 each until October 1!

For an even better deal, use the Target Coupon printable for $2.00 off of 20 prints.

Go print the Target Coupon and take it with you to the Target Photo Lab closest to you and get 20 photo prints absolutely FREE!

*If you have never printed coupons off of Target.com, you will have to download a coupon printing software in order for the barcodes to be printed correctly. This is easy to do and will automatically pop-up when you select and click to print the coupon.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Free Fall Items at Vistaprint

just pay shipping and handling

Shipping starts at approximately $4, but at Vistaprint the more items you purchase the cheaper your shipping will be per item.

Here are the available items:
- 1 Wall Calendar
- 10 Invitations
- Free Tote Bag
- 1 Free T-Shirt
- Free Photo Flip Book

I added a standard tote bag to my cart, then created a new tote through this clicking the link provided in this post. I was able to get two tote bags in my cart for free plus shipping.

Keep in mind that any of the FREE items that you create will have an additional fee for any uploaded photos that you place on these items (unless the item comes standard with uploaded imagery). When I created a photo tote bag, it only costed me an additional $3.74. I would definitely order one of these totes for a little less than $8 including shipping.

Free Photo Book from Hotprints.com

I was able to get a my photo book from this service when they first started, but I was limited to only one free photo book per month and received free shipping for the photo book.

Now, HotPrints is offering customers 4 FREE PHOTO BOOKS per month!

Just pay shipping and handling of $2.99 per book

HotPrints can offer these photo books for free because they have a 4-page spread in the middle of the book for advertising. My photo book also had these ads but did not hurt the photo book at all.

I was really excited when I got my photo book in the mail. My book was full of engagement photos from the day my fiancé proposed. It was the perfect way to keep all of our photos together from this important moment in our lives. The quality was great, and I would definitely place another order with HotPrints.

- 20 themes to choose from
- 16-page book
- 8" wide x 10" height
- Upload high quality images or pull photos from your Facebook account
- Customize photo tags, borders, and layouts

You can send the books to your address or have them sent to friends and family!

Get your photo book today!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

NC Zoo - Asheboro, NC

Everyone should visit a zoo at least once in their lifetime. If you're in NC or visiting, you should consider visiting the NC Zoo in Asheboro. The NC Zoo offers a wide range of photography opportunities that obviously include wonderful photographs of exotic animals. My fiancé was lucky enough to win four free tickets to the NC Zoo, so most of the family took a day trip to the zoo.

When, we first got there I was extremely excited to see my two favorite animals, the zebra and giraffe. This was the perfect opportunity to snap some "in the wild" photos.

Of course, the zebra's weren't as cooperative, so I won't post a photograph of a zebra bent down eating or a photo from behind.

On a brighter note, the elephants were out and ready for some photographs. Here I took advantage of incorporating the animals with a family portraits.

Brothers Shane and Josh

Keep in mind that this photo worked perfectly because the boys were in the foreground while the elephants were really far away in the background. To get a great shot of only the elephants you would need to use a zoom. For the photo below, I used a 70-300mm telephoto lens; from the viewing deck, I had to zoom to 210mm to get this shot:

Luckily for the kids, we were stumbled across a helicopter display and education area further down the path. Most zoos have some educational booths and displays that are perfect photo opts.

Gabbi and Sierra riding in the helicopter

Not too far from this exhibit Gabbi wanted her picture taken at the Swamp Ghosts display.

Gabbi loves being the center of attention

Swamp Ghost White Alligator

The gorilla exhibit is the most interactive photography opportunity in the park, in my opinion. Most of the time, the gorillas love to approach and taunt the audience that is gathered against the glass. You are able to grab some great still frames of these animals with ease.

Baboons are equally as interactive, if you catch them at the right time. Sometimes you can even catch some great photos that are rare and wonderful surprises to see.

While you're walking between exhibits or taking a break from the heat, be sure to keep your eye out for special moments you can capture to add to your memories of the day. You never know what you're going to catch.

Gabbi cooling off

Finally, there is no way I could end my overview of the photography opportunities at the zoo without including a photograph of a polar bear and a comical snapshot I was able to capture while standing in the crowd at the polar bear exhibit.

Polar Bear

What a wonderful coincidence

The NC Zoo is a wonderful place to visit and take photos, so before you decide to make the trip be sure to check out their website for all that the zoo has to offer. I loved this time spent with family and all of the photos that I was able to capture to share with everyone.

Ticket Prices: Adult, $12; Senior (62+), $10; Child (2-12), $8; and Child (under 2), FREE.

Hours of Operation:
April - October 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
November - March 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
The Zoo is open year round except for Christmas Day

Be sure to check out this venue:

4401 Zoo Parkway,
Asheboro, NC 27205

Memorial Garden - Concord, NC

Located in the heart of downtown Concord, NC, the Memorial Garden is truly a beautiful place to go take photographs or even just to visit. You enter the Gardens through the first wonderful photo spot at this venue: the Front Gate.

You are able to take all kinds of wonderful photographs at this location. The rock backdrop is perfect to let colors pop or to just have a good time!

As soon as you enter the Garden, you see that this place also doubles as a graveyard. Don't worry the weathered and aged graves do not give the venue a completely spooky look. Everywhere you look there are flowers, greenery, and other sculptures.

To your left, there is a nice fountain with a lion head sculpture:

Just past the lion head sculpture, you will come to the Garden's most photographed area:

This tree trunk chair is a popular spot for everyone to shoot at least one photo. The chair is an interesting feature that you don't find most places.

Further into the Garden, you will come across a large fountain and tulip garden. Keep in mind that the tulips are only in bloom during the spring, but in the off season they keep this area well stocked with nice flowers.

Fountain with tulips

Heather by the fountain

Off season with no tulips

Also, adjacent to the fountain is a memorial area with another fountain, vines, and benches. My first visit to the Memorial Garden this area was being used by a bride and her family for photos. Unfortunately, I was not able to get a photo of their use because of the enormous amount of people they had accompanying them to the photo shoot.

Finally, this brings us to my absolute favorite part of the Garden, the lily pad pond. Every chance that I get, I take my subject to this location for a few shots.



The Memorial Garden of Concord has so much more to offer than what I've included as highlights here. With a little creativity some truly unique shots can be taken here.

When taking photographs at the Memorial Garden, be sure to arrive early or wait until later in the day to go. The trees cast harsh shadows when the sun is higher in the sky. Because the hours of operation for the Garden is limited, sometimes the conditions are not ideal, but this doesn't mean that taking photographs here is impossible. During my visit, at least 50 people were touring the Garden and taking photographs.

Family photography

Keep in mind that the Memorial Garden of Concord has a few rules for visitors that include staying off of the grass and out of the flower beds, as well as, no pets, no radios, and no touching the tombstones. These are only a few of the rules and prior to visiting everyone should read the complete list of Garden rules.

Hours of Operation:
Tuesday – Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Closed Monday

Be sure to check out this venue:

36 Spring Street SW
Concord, NC 28025
(704) 786-8009

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Free Photo Editing Software

Taking snapshots on your own is great and even better when you can get the perfect photo without doing anything fancy with your camera. The perfect photo without even trying seems like it's the best you can do, right? Wrong. Even the best photo can use some brief editing to get it looking like a high quality photo.

There is plenty of photo editing programs on the market that with the right knowledge can do anything to your photographs. To the average person interested in taking photographs, the $500 version of any highend editing software is not ideal.

Luckily, there is a free photo editing software that is comparable with other lower priced matches. GIMP is a free download graphics editors that works wonders for photographs. I first downloaded GIMP to my netbook for quick editing when I am not able to sit down and spend time at my stationary laptop for in depth editing. Instantly, I was impressed with the ability to make more adjustments than the standard photo editor that comes on many laptops today. You are able to use painting features that are far more advanced than Windows Paint with a variety of brushes, patterns, and pallettes. Also, the advanced manipulation options include editing layers, transformation tools, and editable text layers. The options do not stop at what I have mentioned here this software offers amazing tools for Google to offer GIMP for free.

All of the photographs from my first photo shoot were edited with this software. Keep in mind that I was completely new at photo editing, but GIMP had wonderful tutorials to help me get my photographs looking great.

ORIGINAL                                                                EDITED

Here is a photo of Angela from my first photo shoot. The photo on the left is the original and the photo on the right is the edited copy. At first glance, the original looks like a good photograph. I was pleased with how it turned on with no editing; however, I used GIMP to polish the photo a little. For the edited photograph, I bumped up the contrast to deep some of the colors in the photo. Angela's hair deepened to its original chocolate color that was faded by the sun in the original color. Also, the greenery around her and the fence darkened to complement the darkening of the her features.

The final product look much more professional with a little touching up.

I highly recommend this free downloadable software for anyone that's looking to get into photography or editing any personal photos. This is the closest you'll get to professional quality without paying a lot of money for the well-known photo editors that are out there.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

$5 off $5 Photo Gift at Walgreens


Walgreens is currently running a special online for $5 off any $5 with coupon code 5OFFANY at checkout. Promotion ends on September 17th, so hurry!

As you can see, some restrictions do apply, but this would be perfect for some upcoming birthdays or even stocking up on Christmas presents.

Check out Walgreens Photo for a list of all of their photo gifts. I've done a little research and have found some of the better deals on using the $5 off with their products.

Items you can get for only their shipping cost:
- Photo Magnet 2x3
- Scrapbook pages
- Stickers
- Flipbooks

Items you can get for $4.99 + shipping:
- Planning Calendar
- Mouse Pad
- Collage Photo Cling
- Baby Bib
- Notebook
- Placemat
and so much more!

THE BEST DEAL (in my opinion) is the

Priced at $5.99 you would be able to get a 24 page mini photo book for only $0.99 plus standard shipping of $1.99! A total of $2.98!

Grab up some of these great deals before they end on September 17th!

Check Shipping and Handling information for each item you purchase because it may differ based on item and location

Monday, September 5, 2011

Taking Photographs in the Backyard with Children and Tweens

Sometimes its just easier to shoot photographs of children and tweens in a space that is familiar to them. Most of the time you will get better results and less fuss.

My previous post about Taking Photographs in the Backyard focused on two adult models, Heather and Angela, and how to utilize things in your backyard to create backsplashes and unconventional props. This post will focus on Mackenzie and benefits of eclectic treasures that can be found in anyone's backyard, but more specifically in a country home's backyard.

Mackenzie's photo shoot wasn't as impromptu as Heather and Angela's. We had planned to utilize the space in her backyard and the yard of her wonderful next door neighbor.

Sometimes porch photographs can seem too boring or only for those old family photographs. Fortunately, the neighbor's porch had a fabulous wooden bench that was perfect for a few shots.

This vintage piece gave Mackenzie a place to lay down and do a fun shot, while still keeping it portrait-like.

Moving around to an old shed in the yard, Mackenzie was finally able to put on her pink Fedora. She'd been excited about wearing it for photos. I loved her outfit because it seemed so edgy with the vibrant colors and the pink hat really set it off. Plus, she accessorized with really down-to-earth bracelets and she wore shorts with Chuck Taylors on her feet. The shed with the netting backdrop was perfect to give the photograph an edgy look without taking away from Mackenzie's awesome look.

Don't be afraid to have your subject stand in front of a trash heap, if you think it'll be a cool feature for the photograph. This shed was shabby but was perfect!

There was also a rundown fence that provided a similar backdrop.

If you don't have any buildings or other wooden structures in your backyard, then don't shun the flowers and other greenery. Again these photos may seem boring, but if done creatively you can really get some beautiful photographs.

Nothing in your backyard is off limits. I cannot stress this enough to other photographers. I grabbed some unedited shots of Mackenzie with an old door propped up by the basement door in her backyard. You never know what you'll find, so be sure to take a look at everything.

Going back to the comforts of the subject being in their own backyard. We began Mackenzie's photo shoot in her backyard, which was a great icebreaker. She warmed up to me taking her photos and experimenting with poses that she felt comfortable doing. Plus, she didn't have to worry about anyone seeing her poses for photos like she would have if we started in a public place. Taking photos at home also eliminates any fear that other people will be watching in a strange place.

Mackenzie did great and we got some great shots in her backyard. You can get some awesome shots in yours too if you just take the time to experiment!

Penny Prints Deal at Snapfish


Snapfish.com is another great photo printing site that I'm sure that I will mention often on this blog. Just by signing up for an account you will get some free 4x6 prints. I say some because I have seen it vary from 20-50 prints depending on what kind of promotion they are running.

Right now, with a Snapfish account you can use coupon code PENNY094U to get 500 prints for .01 each. You have to order 500 prints and any print over that will be charged at full cost.

Here's the fine print straight from the Snapfish website:

Conditions of the Penny Prints offer:
1. Must use code PENNY094U at checkout to receive 4" x 6" prints for 1 cent each, up to a maximum of 500. Offer applies only to the first 500 prints. Additional prints will be charged at regular prices.
2. Due to increased order volume, you may experience delays in upload and delivery times.
3. Offer expires September 10, 2011, while supplies last.
4. Offer applies to mail-order purchases only and cannot be used for in-store pick up. All taxes and shipping fees apply.
5. Coupon may be used up to five times per customer. May not be used in conjunction with any other offer.
6. Offer valid for U.S. customers only.

You've only got until 09/10/11 so hurry up and get your photos uploaded and your order sent! This is a great deal to catch up on all those graduation, summer, holiday, and back-to-school photos you've been meaning to print!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

How to Take a Good Photo

Taking a good photograph isn't as hard as you think. It's not about the subject or the kind of camera you own. It consists of three major components: Shutter Speed, Aperture, and Film Speed (ISO). These three components make a properly exposed photograph.

Component One

Shutter Speed (Tv) is how fast the shutter opens and closes to snap a photo. The faster the shutter speed the less light that enters the camera. A slower shutter speed allows more light to enter.

Fast shutter speeds are perfect for sports photos.

Tyler running down the field for a catch used a shutter speed of 1/1000 second.

Slow shutter speeds produce smooth water photos.

Shutter speed is measured in whole seconds and fractions of a second. Commonly, you will see it scaled like this:

1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000

Depending on the type of camera you own, you may also see it only written in whole numbers:

1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250, 500, 1000

In this case 1 will be equal to one second and everything to the right of it equals a fraction, i.e., 1/2, 1/4 ... 1/1000.

Component Two

Aperture (Av) is a set of blades inside the camera's lens that adjust to let more or less light in. Consider it comparable to the iris of a human eyeball. In a well light area, the iris constricts letting less light in to the eye. On the other hand, in a dark room the iris opens to allow more like to enter the eye.

Aperture is represented by a number scale referred to as f-stops:

f-1, f-1.4, f-2, f-2.8, f-4, f-5.6, f-8, f-11, f-16, f-22, f-32

It is important to remember that the larger the f-stop the smaller the aperture. The smaller the aperture results in less light entering the lens. The smaller the f-stop the more light that enters the lens.

For example, f-32 is the equivalent of standing outside on a sunny day; therefore, not a lot of light is entering the eye (or lens) because of the abundant light surrounding the camera.

The Train Depot in Salisbury, NC was shot with an aperture of f-25.

However, f-1 would be exactly like standing in a pitch black room and your iris opening in order to let more light into your eye. An aperture f-stop this small would let a lot of light so that when the photo is taken in a dark area it will not be too black.

This image of Boots was shot in a basement at night. Aperture = f-4.5

Component Three

Film Speed (ISO) is the ability of the camera's sensor to accurately read the quality of the scene and producing pixels to match the available light. Photographs that have little light can often show noise or grain that results from too many pixels.

When shooting an action scene (sports) or outside where the sun is lighting up your shooting area, then adjust your camera to ISO 400 or ISO 800. This will limit the amount of noise you get and also ensure a smooth photograph.

If you're shooting indoors or in an area with minimal light, then shoot at a higher ISO such as ISO 1600.

How to get a good photograph (if you're shooting in Manual)

1)In most cases you want to go ahead and set your ISO to an appropriate level based on your lighting and setting. Noise reduction is key.

2)Depending on the level of action in your photograph, you will want to go ahead and make sure that your shutter speed is adjusted appropriately.

3)Finally, adjust your aperture based on the amount of light you have available to brighten or darken your image.

Take a few test shots to see the lighting and quality of the photo. If your photo is too dark but you still need to shoot at a faster shutter speed (sports), consider bumping the aperture level down one f-stop. This will allow more light to enter the lens, thus producing a better lit image.

Or, if shutter speed wasn't a priority for you, you could have lowered your shutter speed by another fraction. Lowering the shutter speed allows more time for light to enter the lens and produces brighter images.

If this is something that completely blows your mind, then please do not worry because controlling every aspect of taking the photograph in this manner is usually only done in Manual shooting mode. Most cameras come with other shooting modes that allow you to adjust one of these components and the camera will automatically adjust the rest.

Aperture (Av) Mode allows you to adjust the aperture, while the camera automatically adjusts the ISO and shutter speed.

Shutter Speed (Tv) Mode allows you to adjust the shutter speed, and the camera adjusts the aperture and ISO.

Or, if you're not interested in adjusting anything on your own, then rely on your camera's Automatic Shooting Mode that will adjust everything for you to get a properly exposed photo. Just remember that shooting in this mode does not 100% guarantee the best image that you could produce in a single shot. So, don't be afraid to experiment and take photos with your own adjustments because you can't get a truly unique image until you've adjusted some of the camera's settings to get the look you are going for.