Make Your Own Photo Book

May 5th, 2011

Online Photo Books
Guidelines for Creating Image Based Books
Compiled by Wendy Shattil and Bob Rozinski
www.dancingpelican.com

One of the best ways to share your images is by creating custom photo books. There are plenty of choices in size, price and other features to make a book your own.

Things to Consider

Size – Everything from mini 5×5  and small 8×8  books are available. The most popular size is 8×10  or 8×11  in horizontal or vertical format. For coffee table books, 11×14  or 14×14  are good choices.

Cover – The most economical book is a soft cover. Hardcover styles can be more durable, feel more substantial, but cost a little more. A dust jacket adds a certain elegance and is an option on most hard cover books. Photographs or embossed text can be featured on covers.

Finish – Standard paper stock varies among companies. Options can include glossy, matte or lustre. Glossy paper may present a more saturated look, but watch out for glossy paper with a black background, where fingerprints might show with handling. Matte finish is quite durable. Lustre can be an attractive compromise, allowing vibrant color that’s enduring.

Pages – A standard number of pages included in the basic book package. Additional pages can be added for an extra charge. It always seems like pages fill up well before your selected photos have been placed in the layout. Extras are a good buy.

Layout – Photo based books offers plenty of choices for expressing yourself through design. Horizontal, vertical and square templates placed one, two, three or more to the page invite variety. Keep your reader’s interest by mixing the number and size of images throughout the book.

Design – It is most satisfying to produce your book from start to finish, and most companies make the process easy. Some offer design options, as well. If manual layout isn’t for you, look for automated features that place photos throughout the book based on date captured, filename, or other straightforward organization processes. Many companies even provide design service. You provide the photos, they do the rest for an additional charge.

Processing – Every company provides software to produce your book. Some have you work directly on their website. This is useful if you want to access your work in progress from more than one computer. Simply login to the website and access your account. Others have you download their software, which is convenient if you build your book offline. Apple’s software is part of the proprietary program, iPhoto. Images loaded into that image database are easily added to your book, which can then be ordered directly from within iPhoto.

Price – Online book publishing is a competitive business, so shop around. Compare costs equally based on the same features for each book. Watch for periodic discounts, specials or coupon codes. Many companies even offer free books as an introductory pitch, though you’re still likely to pay for shipping.

Here’s a list of some companies worth considering for your photo book as of this date:

Apple                 http://www.apple.com/ilife/iphoto/print-products.html
Blurb.com          http://www.blurb.com/
Kodak Gallery    http://www.kodakgallery.com/gallery/welcome.jsp
PhotoWorks       http://www.photoworks.com/
Shutterfly           http://www.shutterfly.com/
SmileBooks           http://www.smilebooks.com/
Snapfish             http://www.snapfish.com/

Wildlife Photo Workshop and the Telluride Photo Festival

July 14th, 2010

What? Something new and different in wildlife photography? You bet! Wendy Shattil and Bob Rozinski invite you to join them in gorgeous Telluride, Colorado September 20-26, 2010 for an innovative workshop and festival that will expand your perspective and photographic skills forever.

Begin with Wendy and Bob’s three day wildlife workshop and stay for a stellar lineup of the world’s most renowned outdoor and adventure photographers. The weeklong event, geared toward professional and experienced amateur photographers, features photography workshops, seminars, symposiums, portfolio reviews and exhibits. Events will feature iLCP Fellows Robert Glenn Ketchum, Jack Dykinga, Wendy Shattil, and Bob Rozinski, plus numerous others. ILCP President, Cristina Mittermeier will be speaking at the festival, and an iLCP RAVE Retrospective exhibit will be on display.

So what’s different about Wendy and Bob’s workshop? Well, wildlife photography encompasses more than just the showy megafauna such as bears, eagles, and wolves and many shooters seek out these subjects thinking that’s all there is to being a wildlife photographer. Chances are, their images look just like the millions of other photos already in existence. Simply having one’s own picture of an animal may be personally satisfying, but, every photographer has the potential to create a story and make a unique statement. This is what Wendy Shattil and Bob Rozinski will explore with you in the “Wildlife Photography Skills” workshop. We’ll follow this concept from start to finish – from envisioning the idea, creating images with a purpose and transforming the story in a meaningful way to share with others.

Wildlife includes everything from mosquitoes to mountain lions and the habitats they live in. This workshop will look at a diversity of species and fresh ways to capture their essence, approaching wildlife with a photojournalistic sensibility. Tight portraits only show how big your lens is. Subjects in context with their environment tell a far more meaningful story and can make a strong and purposeful statement. You will learn to express yourself in a broader context and through your photos, to develop an appreciation and understanding of the natural world in others. Think ILCP and National Geographic!

Wendy Shattil and Bob Rozinski’s workshop is designed to take participants to the next level of their wildlife photography. Expect to refine your skills and make a difference with your images.

This will be an enjoyable ‘hands on’ workshop for those seeking to take full photographic advantage of the beautiful mountains, color and light surrounding Telluride. There will be daily mid-day discussions on field techniques, wildlife animal behavior, composition, shooting from blinds, as well as in-depth equipment demonstrations. Also featured will be media options for packaging wildlife stories through the creation of books online, multi-media programs, magazine submissions, blogs and eBooks.

Students should bring their portfolios, DSLR camera, tripod, laptop and the corresponding digital software and cables to download for critique.

Don’t delay. While space remains, register and learn more at http://www.telluridephotofestival.com/

Creative Photographic Blinds

May 28th, 2010

For a different perspective, try photographing wildlife from a blind.  Blending  in with your surroundings is like becoming the lamp in the corner of a room.  If you’re very successful minimizing motion and staying quiet, you’ll see what happens when wildlife is unaware its being watched. People aren’t often adept at becoming part of nature, but using a blind is an effective method for sneaking a peak at what happens when we’re not around.

Building a cotton picking blind

Our eBook, Cotton Picking Photo Blinds, illustrates some of our most imaginative photo blinds. I invite you to download it if you’re interested in more advanced structures to photograph wildlife from.

When will you benefit from using a blind to photograph wildlife? Well, since a blind doesn’t actually make you invisible, the advantage is really to make yourself a part of the natural surroundings. The goal is to be in proximity to observe and photograph wildlife without it reacting to you. Mammals are challenging, as they are more likely to sense your presence than birds. It’s been said that birds don’t count very well. If two people walk up to a blind and one walks away, they may not realize someone’s left behind.

Cardboard box as photo blind

It isn’t necessary to go to great lengths to camouflage yourself from wildlife subjects. A blind can be as simple as draping yourself under a sheet of camo fabric or behind a stack of strategically placed bales of hay. Even a car or truck can be useful to hide yourself from an animal subject. We’ve had great luck photographing from our truck in urban locations and other places where wildlife is used to seeing vehicles.

Car as photo blind

My entire photo book, City Foxes, consists of images taken from our truck. The subjects, a family of red fox, lived in the middle of a Denver cemetery. Naturally, cars were part of the foxes’ environment. Every day for two months I parked at the curb about sixty feet from the den and photographed with a 600mm lens on a window mount. Mom, Dad and six baby foxes went about the business of living, learning and playing without reacting to my photo blind of a truck.

Quick blind from Len Rue Enterprises

By far the most successful portable blind we’ve ever used is the Rue Ultimate Photo Blind, sold by Leonard Rue Enterprises. Designed by the most published wildlife photographer in North America, Len Rue III created the perfect blind. It sets up in less than a minute, has well constructed shooting ports and enough room to sit quietly and comfortably inside for hours. Check out the Rue blind at http://www.rue.com/ .

South Texas Overview

April 30th, 2010

Boat-tailed Grackles at Sunset

The first thing we notice when we get off the plane in Harlingen is the melodious song of boat-tailed and great-tailed grackles.  We’re  immediately in a different and exotic world. The Lower Rio Grande Valley of south Texas is something else and we love to introduce photographers to the mixture of tropical birds, and harsh habitats outside the busy metro areas.

Cattle Egrets at Roost

South Texas sunsets can have a soft pastel pallet, very different from the high altitude sunsets we’re used to photographing in Colorado. The silhouettes of cattle egrets at their night roost are accented by soft pink and hazy sun.

Preening Snowy Egret

So finally settling into a blind and taking advantage of the beautiful south Texas light is very exciting. There are so many opportunities to blend into the landscape and see and photograph extraordinary wildlife.

Our May, 2010, photo workshop to Texas’  Lower Rio Grande Valley generated memorable experiences and beautiful photos. We explored private ranches, three World Birding Centers and Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, discovering some of the distinctive wildlife south Texas is known for – - caracara, chachalaca, green jays, painted buntings, kiskadee, pyrrhuloxia — WOW! Here are a few favorites taken by our intrepid workshop participants:

Green Jay and Reflection

Scissortail Flycatcher Mobbing Caracara

Cardinal Bathing

Rio Grande Turkey

Blue Grosbeak

Caracara Portrait