Setting up a SmugMug gallery

I am happy to announce that I have created a SmugMug gallery! I did a lot of research and a SmugMug gallery together with this blog seemed like the best solution for me. In this entry I am sharing what I did to help others who might be considering starting one.

I intend to use my SmugMug gallery to:

  • Showcase my photos to friends and photo editors that I might contact in the future so they can see samples.
  • Make event photos available for download for groups. These will mostly be photos of events that I am making available for free to the event organizers.
  • Maybe even sell a photo or two…

Selecting a Format

I looked for a “clean” format, chose one named Dina, and adapted it just a bit to have a “White Duotone” background to have a slightly different color in the menu portion on the left. It was very easy to add sections to the menu:

Uploading photos

Uploading photos was very easy, and I could place them in “galleries” that can be organized into “folders:”

I just uploaded them from my laptop, but you also have the option to upload from other sources, e.g. Lightroom. Arranging folders and galleries was very intuitive. I have reorganized the galleries and folders easily, e.g. I had a “photojournalism” folder for “events,” then decided to move “events” to the top layer, nothing to it, just scoot galleries around like you would folders on your computer.

Displaying the photos within a gallery

There are many ways to display the photos. I went with Collage Landscape, but there are many other ways, and it would be trivial to change that if I were to change my mind, either for individual galleries or globally. You can also determine whether to include a slideshow, and many other features:

Help features very useful

SmugMug has a very helpful support center that walks you through the whole process, a search for help lands you on very relevant and useful articles:

Photo security options

SmugMug gives you many options to secure your photos. After much research I decided to take three steps:

  • Set a small image size for the displayed image, so if someone downloads an image it’s not of great quality, not suitable for framing, etc. I might decide to go even smaller in the future, we’ll see
  • Add a “right-click message,” also in the “Photo Protection” section when you create the gallery. The idea is when someone right-clicks to download your photo they instead get a message that you can personalize. Mine reads: “All photos are © Susan Montgomery. Look for the buy button to buy a print for yourself. Thanks!”
  • Add a watermark to the photos – SmugMug makes this trivially easy, you can save a watermark image, or create on within SmugMug, which I did, then when you create a gallery you can tell it to add a watermark to all photos in the “Photo Protection” section. So the watermark shows up on the screen and downloaded photos, but not in ordered ones.

I realize none of these are totally foolproof, they can take a screenshot, etc. but I’ve done what I can, I’ll leave it at that.

Selecting a subscription

I also had to decide which subscription to get. The current options are:

As a professional photographer the plan is to have some sales, so I went with the Portfolio option. I originally selected the Pro option, then I realized that was overdoing it for my purposes so I changed it to Portfolio and they updated it right away and gave me a credit, didn’t have to wait until renewal time, which I very much appreciated.

As for prices for sales, I decided to just go with the SmugMug presets, we’ll see how it goes.

Next steps

If you have any other questions about setting up a SmugMug website let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them. In the meantime, if you decide to proceed yourself, you can get 20% off your first year subscription if you use this link , or the one at the top of the page, to get started. Full disclosure, I also get 20% off your subscription price toward my next update, thanks!

Best wishes on YOUR photography (and SmugMug!) adventures!

Susan

Shooting stock photos – Roller Derby again!

(A special note for the folks I know through the University of Michigan: I’m a photographer in my other life and realized a few months ago that LinkedIn rules state you can only have one LinkedIn page, so I had to merge my UM and photography pages, so expect some photo related entries when I update my photography blog…)

I got my camera fixed in time to attend another Ann Arbor Derby Dimes bout last Friday, those wonderfully supportive women who give me free passes to their bouts and a nifty Media Pass…  I got to try my new lens, a Nikon 24-70 mm f/2.8 that I’m proud to say I bought with my photography earnings. I got it at Camera Mall, a very nice relatively new camera shop in Ann Arbor. The folks there are super helpful and supportive. I also took along my “nifty fifty,” a Nikon 50 m f/1.8G that I got a few years ago then didn’t ever use as I got shy about street photography, sigh… But I’m learning to say “oh, well,” figure out the lesson to be learned and move on rather than linger on past mistakes, so, oh, well, at least I had it to use now.

The new lenses made such a difference!  At a larger aperture more light came in, so I could have a faster shutter speed, thus able to capture the action in much better focus, yey! Remember, the aperture is the fraction of the lens that is open, e.g. f/8 on a 50 mm lens means a 6.25 mm diameter opening, so the smaller the f-stop the larger the lens opening when you click the shutter, thus “larger aperture” means “smaller f-stop.”

I also brought my monopod, made me look a bit dorky but at my age I don’t really care much what people think of me anymore, and it added another level of steadiness so the photos came out sharper.

You can see the photos I submitted to them at the Derby Dimes facebook page.  Some of my favorites are:

DSC_9572

50 mm lens, ISO 800, 1/400 sec, f/2.0

DSC_9597

50 mm lens, ISO 800, 1/640 sec, f/2.2

DSC_9745

50 mm lens, ISO 1000, 1/1000 sec, f/1.8

DSC_9892

24-70 mm lens at 42 mm, ISO 1600, 1/500 sec, f/2.8

What I’m pleased about:

  • With the new lenses I had much more light coming in, could go with faster (shorter) shutter speeds, so captured the action better.
  • Taking the time to learn about the sport so I better understand what is going on. Still have much to learn, but I’m getting there, and it helps me anticipate and frame the shots better.
  • How wonderfully supportive the team is of everyone, of each other and of the other teams, and making me feel very welcome.
  • The opportunity to show strong women in action, and never sharing any photos that might embarrass anyone.
  • Including the refs in the photos, for a full shot of the action and to show appreciation for their work.
  • As for backgrounds I like the first photo because the back wall makes for a much nicer background compared to the trees.
  • I notice that 3 of my 4 favorite photos are with the “nifty fifty”, the 50 mm lens, which let much more light in than the 24-70 mm (f/1.8 vs f/2.8). Notice that the aperture it selected for the shutter speed I set is larger than I could have gotten with the 24-70 mm lens.
  • Having the 24-70 mm lens, however, allowed me to also get wider shots than I couldn’t have gotten with the 50 mm, sometimes the 50 mm was too constraining. Notice the last photo is at 42 mm, which allows me to include the refs.

Altogether a very fun evening of roller derby and photography, learning every day.

It really is about getting out there and trying things, messing up, learning from your mistakes, trying again. I got my first “real” DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera in 2004, shot mostly my kids activities and family trips for a short time, took an online photography class at the local community college in 2010, have taken Lynda.com photography and photoshop courses most summers, took two Great Courses video courses by Joel Sartore of National Geographic in 2014, started this blog in 2014…

Just keep chugging away, keep learning and trying, and next thing you know you’ll feel comfortable with aperture, ISO, shutter speed, etc.

Best wishes on YOUR photography adventures!

Susan

Milestone – My first press pass – Thanks AA Derby Dimes!

I got my first press pass!

The ladies at Ann Arbor Derby Dimes, the local roller derby team, which I took photos off a few summers ago, were nice enough to contact me about photographing their bouts this summer. When I showed up last week they had actual media passes for us, cool! I’ll write separately about why I didn’t end up having photos I was happy with, but that’s another story, the big thing here is that someone liked my photos enough to consider me worthy of a media pass… I so appreciate their support!

Derby Dimes Media Pass 2018

Common Cup exhibit in February, 2018

Not many updates since the summer, the day job taking lots of time this year, but I did want to share some exciting recent news:  I’m thrilled that I was selected for a solo show through February at the Common Cup Coffeehouse, a student-centered non-profit coffeehouse affiliated with the University Lutheran chapel, at 1511 Washtenaw, between South University and Hill Street. The 23 photographs exhibited include  car detail photos and travel photos. Really feeling like a real photographer now!
UPDATE: Uros Watchers, one of the photos on this exhibit, shown at the bottom below, SOLD!  I was so excited to learn that someone liked my photo so much they wanted to buy it…
IMG_1228 copyIMG_1241 copyIMG_1234 copyIMG_1233 copy
Montgomery - Uros Watchers.jpg

Milestone – Paris Locks accepted to AAWA Summer 2017 Juried show

I was thrilled that “Paris Locks” was recently accepted to the Ann Arbor Women Artists‘ Summer 2017 juried show:

Paris locks 18x12

… and for the first time part of my photo was even included in the advertising postcard:

riverside_2017_summer (1)

 

We were told that they received 120 entries, of which 64 were accepted.The AAWA selections are particularly meaningful to me because the judge is a working artist, so to have one of my photographs recognized by a working artist sure helps with the Impostor Syndrome concerns.

… and with that I think I’m all caught up on what has been happening with my photography, whew, nice to not have that backlog!

Best wishes on YOUR photography adventures,

Susan

Milestone – Photos accepted by Blueprint 2017

This is another update, for the record… I had three photographs accepted by Blueprint, the College’s literary magazine for their print edition and for their show, in February 2017:

Overlooking Paris 18x12Paris locks 18x12Higgins Lake in Winter

The view from Notre Dame was a fun recreation of other similar ones I have seen over the years. Paris Love took me a bunch of shots and attempts to find just the right composition.  The lakeshore is in Higgins Lake, “up north” as we say here in Michigan, the beauty of a lake in the winter.

It’s always inspiring to see the work of my colleagues and students, and I appreciate the time that the organizers take to put together each year’s edition and art show. I like to be a part of these college events to show students that it’s important to have a balanced life, with interests outside of your career – I’m still working on it as you can see from some past posts, but during the summer the balance is much better…

Best wishes to you on YOUR photography adventures,

Susan

 

 

Shooting stock photos – Tall Ship Celebration, Bay City, MI

This is one from last summer, catching up.  Went with a friend to the Tall Ship Celebration in Bay City, MI last summer, had a great time touring some of the masted ships:

Tall Ship Celebration in Bay City, MI 2016Tall Ship Celebration in Bay City, MI 2016

Since the point was to spend a lot of time looking at the ships I had plenty of time to take photos without my friend having to wait for me.

What I did right:

  • Took both long shots and close-ups
  • Framed the shot as I wanted it, then waited for people to walk into my shot to give it more interest.
  • Was mindful of the crowd, waiting until I got just the right look for those where you could see the people, and everybody looks good – I make a point of not uploading any photos where anybody doesn’t look reasonable, wouldn’t want someone to do that to me…
  • Took photos of the names of the ships as I took them, for future reference
  • Checked camera settings every so often to make sure I had ISO set properly, etc.
  • Took a boat ride that was available, so I could get some shots from the river, allowing for very good looks at some of the ships.
  • Took some photos from the bridge between the two sides of the river, so I could get some overall shots.
  • Took a range of photos, I had over 50 photos, submitted 9 of them – and they all got in :)

What I would change? Really not much, it was a great day, I got some good photos without making my friend have to wait, my settings were pretty good for the most part, I’m happy about this day. You can see the photos in Shutterstock here.

Milestone – Car detail photos at local coffeehouse

I mentioned in May 2016 that some of my car details photos had been accepted for exhibit at Sweetwaters Cafe on Liberty in Ann Arbor, and it actually happened. The organizer, landscape artist Ruth Krzyzowski, of the Ann Arbor Women Artists, was super helpful in making the process run smoothly. Among other things, AAWA handles art exhibits at many local coffeehouses and other locations, so glad I’m a member, feel much more part of the local art community.

After we got the photos up I remarked to Jon that they looked like the work of a “real” photographer, and of course he reminded me that I AM a real photographer.

IMG_0428IMG_0430

… so pleased with how they looked.  No sales, but felt good to have them out and being enjoyed by others, and it does make me feel like a real photographer :)

Thanks again to the Ann Arbor Women Artists group for their support of local artists  – and yes, men can be members too.

Milestone – Third Anniversary!

So today is the third anniversary of my blog. Stats for the first three years:

77 followers

137 posts

3574 visitors

8,528 views

Glad to see people are reading, hope some got some useful ideas and advice from the posts – and I know, it’s not a huge number or anything, and some of you get this many in a day or a week, I’m just doing my little thing in this corner of the internet…  Of course it slowed down quite a bit in 2017, as I took that much needed break from photography and from posting, but I return from my “sabbatical” with a  healthier attitude to photography, and particularly the financial side of it.

Since my last post some of my car photos got a chance to get out of the house with an exhibit at one of the local coffeehouses in March and April, which was exciting. I have cleaned up the backlog of photos that I left in the process of being submitted to various websites, and have started cleaning up those Paris photos I mentioned in my last post, culled down from 1,500 to about 150… and I took photos at the local Women’s March and other marches, and some trips…  Lots to catch up on…

In the meantime, best wishes on your photography adventures,

Susan

End of 2016 reflection – The American Dream?

So in the past few months I’ve done a lot of thinking about my photography, and coincidentally watched “Hope Floats,” one of my favorite movies…  One character, Justin Matisse (Harry Connick Jr.), who didn’t make it big when he left his hometown, returns home to paint houses while designing and building his dream home. The scene that stood out to me is the one where, in response to Birdie Pruitt (Sandra Bullock)’s comment that “you could do so much more,” states: “You’re talking about the American Dream. You find something that you love, and then you twist it, and you torture it, try and find a way to make money at it. You spend a lifetime doing that. At the end, you can’t find a trace of what you started out loving.”  That’s what I had been doing with photography.

Partly this was because I was exploring whether photography could be my retirement career, but then I realized that I’m going to be fine financially without the money, so I’ve been reflecting on what it means to be a photographer if I don’t need to make money out of it…

I used to take photographs because I couldn’t help it, it was who I was, then I started taking photographs that I thought would do well as stock photos, and that changed things, so I stepped back and started questioning myself when I took photographs – Am I doing it for myself, for stock photos, for some sense of obligation, because I should want to take photographs since I call myself a photographer?

I’m glad I took that break, I feel more honest with my photography now.  On a wonderfully leisurely trip to Paris I took about 1500 photographs in 11 days, including this one of an entertainer at a farmer’s market, where I hung out for a while:

entertainer

More on the trip to Paris in another entry some day…  I haven’t had the urge to clean up and submit the photos, but part of the reason for that was that this Fall I worked up to 60 hours a week at my day job, which with my other responsibilities left little bandwidth for photography or exercise. I’m starting to exercise again, and I plan to continue to take photos as I’m moved to do so but processing them will wait until I find/make the time for it. In the meantime, one advantage of the stock photography business is that, without submitting anything in the past 8 months, I’ve made the same income from stock photos in 2016 that I did in 2015, funny that.

I did get two sets of photos (car details and some already-framed travel and nature photos) accepted to two coffeehouses in 2017 through the Ann Arbor Women Artists. I’m delighted that my framed photos will get a chance to get out of the house, who knows, maybe I’ll sell one or two of them.

In the meantime, I invite you to use this blog to find some suggestions to improve your photography, learn from some of my photography adventures, get some photography business tips, and should you decide to pursue stock photography, check out some tips here, and maybe even try out some of these stock photo sites.

Best wishes on your photography adventures in 2017.

Milestone – “White on Black” Accepted to Black and White exhibit!

So the Iceland exhibit I proposed to Gifts of Art didn’t pan out, BUT, “White on Black” was accepted to the Riverside Arts Center’s Black and White Exhibit August 5-27, 2016. I’m tickled to pieces… :)

Glacier Lagoon ice chunks on shore
JOKULSARLON, ICELAND – JUN 18: Chunks of ice sit on the shore near lake Jokulsarlon, Iceland on June 18, 2015. The ice comes from icebergs calved from the nearby Vatnajokull glacier.

Monthly reflections – June 2016 – Taking a break…

So it’s time for the end of June 2016 posting, and I realize that in a month when I would have thought I would have made time for photography… I haven’t.

I think back to two years ago when I had such a blast taking photographs at the Ypsilanti 4th of July parade, I remember really itching to go that morning. This year 4th of July came, and, meh… I wanted to be home with my kids and do some gardening instead.  Photography has been a tremendously rewarding hobby that I have gotten so much pleasure out of, and I greatly enjoyed each photo day that I took to Toledo, Detroit, Lansing, as well as the logo hunts I went on.  This summer, it started to feel like a job, something I had to do versus something I wanted to do, and that’s not at all what it should feel like, so I didn’t go out.

I started to notice that in Iceland last summer, where those last couple days rather than enjoying exploring the country and meeting the people, I was focusing on what shots I should be taking. I will be traveling to Paris later this summer (whee!!!) and I want to experience the country and the people fully, and if the spirit moves me to take photos I will, but not out of any obligation to a stock photo site or to (my perception of) others’ expectations. I need to get back to a place where I do this for me, not for others…

I’m very proud of having produced this blog the past two years, and find it rewarding to have shared some of what I have learned with readers like you. Maybe I’ll be back, we’ll see what the future brings.

In the meantime, best wishes on your photography adventures,

Susan

From Digital Photography School – Composition in Travel Photos

From Digital Photography School, another National Geographic photographer, Bob Holmes, shares composition tips. They include

  • Knowing your equipment inside out, so it doesn’t get in the way of your photography
  • Developing and educating your eye
  • Finding the “punctuation” in a photograph
  • Seeking strong colors, geometry
  • Injecting excitement and interest
  • Taking responsibility for everything that is in the frame
  • Being fully involved with your subject
  • Being a photographer (versus a tourist, etc.)

Terrific advice! I encourage you to see the video here.

Best wishes on your photography adventures,

Susan

From Picture Correct and B&H – Nature Photography Tips from a National Geographic Photographer

Many of us dream of becoming a National Geographic  photographer..  Picture Correct recently posted a video of a B&H sponsored session by photographer Michael Melford, where he describes some of his travels and experiences.  Definitely worth the time! Catch it here.

You can access other B&H-sponsored videos about composition and technique in photography here there are many worthwhile ones!

Best wishes in your photography adventures,

Susan

Milestone – Accepted to AAWA Spring 2016 juried show!

Another update, that Big Blue, one of the photos I had exhibited at the BluePrint magazine exhibit was accepted into the Ann Arbor Women Artists‘ 2016 juried show, which took place March 13 – April 29 at the Ann Arbor District Library Malletts Creek Branch

Glacier Lagoon icebergs on shore
JOKULSARLON, ICELAND – JUN 18: Icebergs reflect on Jokulsarlon, Iceland on June 18, 2015. The icebergs calved from the nearby Vatnajokull glacier.

I had a great time at the opening reception talking to some of the artists and learning from them, so glad I became a part of this generous group!

I encourage you to seek out local artists group in your area.

 

Milestone – Car photos accepted for two month exhibit at local coffeehouse

So I mentioned back in August that I had become a member of the Ann Arbor Women Artists, who organize many of the art exhibits in coffeehouses around town. I was thrilled to learn in March they accepted 11 photos from the Car Details series to be displayed at Sweetwaters Cafe on Liberty in Ann Arbor for two months in March/April 2017. After all those years of admiring artists’ work at the local coffeehouses I’m so excited that I will have my own exhibit!  It took me a while to have the confidence in my work to a) ask to become a member, and b) Apply for consideration for an exhibit, but I’m so glad that I kept at it…

From Picture Correct – How to become a professional photographer

Picture Correct has a great infographic on how to become a professional photographer, with steps to take and resources for each step.  I’m glad to see I can actually consider myself a professional photographer after looking at it!

The major sections they address, with many details within, are:

  • Decide what kind of photographer you want to become
  • Improve your skills and portfolio
  • Build and refine your portfolio
  • Getting a photography job
  • Becoming a small business owner

The infographic was provided by wedding photographer Robert Sail, at  http://www.robertsail.co.uk/

From Picture Correct – 28 Genius Photoshop Tricks

From Picture Correct, a bunch (28!) of really great photoshop tricks. I knew a few but I know I’m going to want to remember these:

  1. Quickly whiten teeth
  2. Merge all layers to new layer
  3. The rotate view tool
  4. Change layer opacity hotkey
  5. Choose layers trick
  6. Move layers trick
  7. Change unit of measure
  8. Undo more steps
  9. Apply pattern along path
  10. Apply layer mask trick
  11. Instantly find center of photoshop document
  12. Quickly change colors
  13. How to paint a selection
  14. Beautiful black and white photos with channel mixer
  15. Quickly fill text and color/shape layers
  16. Scale layer styles with layer
  17. Precise painting with the brush tool
  18. Duplicate anything you want
  19. Before/after preview in layers panel
  20. Straightening the PSD
  21. Bird’s eye view
  22. Clip image to type layer
  23. Instagram “fade” effect
  24. Hacking your selection placement
  25. Quick retro color style
  26. Extract assets
  27. Multiple drop shadows and strokes
  28. Interface color easter egg

You can see it in video form at  http://www.picturecorrect.com/tips/28-genius-photoshop-tricks/ .  You can also read about them at http://tutvid.com/photoshop/tips-and-tricks-photoshop-cc/

Note they’re from 2015, so some things might be different in a more recent version. I often just like to know that something is possible at all, I can always look up how to do it in a more recent version but if you don’t even know it’s possible…

Milestone – Photos accepted by Blueprint 2016

Got some great news recently – The four photos I submitted to Blueprint, my college’s literary magazine, were accepted!  They were:

Alone – From the Skogafoss waterfall in Iceland

Skogafoss waterfall

Big blue – taken at the Glacier Lagoon in Iceland:

Big Blue 300 dpi 3000 px.jpg

White on black – Ice on the sand near the Glacier Lagoon:

White on black 300 dpi 3000 px.jpg

Stand out – It spoke to me of being proud to be yourself, from a garden in Holland, MI:

Stand out 300 dpi 3000 px.jpg

 

They’ll be part of an exhibit on campus, so excited!

Susan

Update – “Alone” received an Honorable Mention at the gallery exhibit :)

Susan at BluePrint release event

 

From Light Stalking – 14 Practical Reasons Your Photos Are Not Quite As Good As You Want Them To Be

Ritesh Saini has a great article in Light Stalking titled 14 Practical Reasons Your Photos Are Not Quite As Good As You Want Them To Be

  1. You don’t pay attention to the composition
  2. You don’t know the basics of exposure
  3. You don’t experiment with the perspective
  4. You don’t understand how lighting affects a photograph
  5. You don’t post-process your photos
  6. You haven’t taken up a photography project
  7. You don’t have a well-defined subject in  your photo
  8. You are not studying other photographers’ works
  9. You are totally ignoring the background
  10. You don’t know your camera well enough
  11. You don’t visualize what you’re going to shoot
  12. Your photograph doesn’t convey a story or message
  13. You don’t get your photos critiqued
  14. You don’t practice enough

Get more details and see some of Ritesh’s great photos here.