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Learning How to Quickly Cut Out Table Top Photos and Give Them Web Safe White Backgrounds for Product Photography.

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Make money with product photography


Shooting product photography is a great way to make money with your camera and a small investment in a table top light box. Products can often be shot in your own home with very little cost and a healthy pay out to you as a freelancer, but you need some basic photo editing skills.

In this tutorial I am going to walk you through the background removal process which I used to edit a national level children’s product that was shot on a tabletop in my basement.

The product itself was a prototype which had to be cut out and adapted for packaging layouts, web placement, and social media.

If you are just starting out, consider that in many cases one or two table top photo jobs can pay for new photography equipment while still producing a small profit.

I shot this product using only a portable lighting tent with the included LED lights, a Canon 7D, and a tripod. I purchased the lighting tent primarily for the job and still made a handsome profit. As a considerable bonus, I landed 4 more days of shooting and editing time using the same set up. I do recommend the Manfrotto 405 Geared Head that I used in shooting, as it allowed me to easily make small, 3 angle, adjustments when framing the product hero shot. This was a great help, but doing the shot without it is definitely possible.

After shooting the product it was critical to cut out and replace the background with a pure white backdrop. This insured there was not an off-white box around the product when displayed on the website.

Below are the before and after pictures. The first photo is the camera raw with the product shot in the Light Box, in the second photo the background has been removed and stickers placed for packaging. I also created a slight shadow using Photoshop for the second photo.

This is the process I used to quickly and accurately cut out the product in Photoshop and replace the background without any jagged edges or halos. Just open your table top photo and follow the steps below.

Steps to quickly cut out table top photos and give them web safe white backgrounds for product photography

  1. Select your original layer and hit (Command J) to duplicate. I never work on the original in case I need to go back to it for reference, or need it for a back up when I don’t like a change I made.

  1. Once it is duplicated make a selection close to the main subject using the rectangle Marquee tool. This is selected by hitting (m) on your keyboard.


  1. Create a Vector Mask for the duplicate layer by clicking the icon at the bottom of the layer window.

  1. You should now have a new layer with a layer mask. Choose the Quick Selection tool (w). Select any of the white BG outside of the jewelry. Get it as accurate as you can. The more detailed you can get it, the less work you will have with the Pen tool. If you accidently select parts of the product just hold down the Option key and right click on the part you want to deselect.


  1. Once you have a reasonably close selection of every thing outside of the product then right click in the selection and select “Make Working Path” from the drop down menu. Select a tolerance of 3 or 4 so you don’t have too many points in the path making it harder to work with. You want enough points that the mask is still fairly accurate. Click OK. It should look something like this:

  1. Now select the Pen tool (p) and begin to make your path exact. While adjusting the path with the pen tool you will be pressing different keys to adjust points and handles. Start by holding down the Command key to get the direct selection arrow. Click off the path to deselect it, and then click any point you want to start adjusting.


  1. To adjust an individual handle hold down the option key before clicking on the handle. Remember that you are dragging the handle in the direction you want it to go from that point.


  1. Once you have the path exact, right click and choose “Make Selection” from the drop-down menu. It should look similar to this:

       9. Hit Shift Command I to inverse the selection.


  1. Select the mask in the layers menu. Make sure the background color is black. Hit delete.


  1. Create a new layer and fill it with black using the paint bucket. Move it below the layer you are cutting out. This allows you to check if your mask is accurate.


  1. Choose the Quick Selection tool (w). Select any of the white BG inside of the jewelry. Get it as accurate as you can.


  1. Confirm that you have a reasonably close selection of everything inside of the product you wish to remove. Next, right click in the selection and select “Make Working Path” from the drop down menu. Select a tolerance of 3 or 4 so you don’t have too many points in the path making it harder to work with. Click OK.


  1. Select the Pen tool (p) and begin to make your path exact.


  1. Once you have the path exact, right click and choose “Make Selection” from the drop-down menu.


  1. Select the mask in the layers menu. Make sure the background color is black. Hit delete. Notice this time you do not need to inverse the selection. This is because you were selecting the background and not the product when you were making the path.


  1. Repeat this process until all the inside pieces of the jewelry show the black background.


  1. The final step is to fill the black background layer with white.


That’s it! You now have a clean cut out of the product with a fresh white background. You can also add shadows on a new layer to give it that natural depth.

As a photographer, shooting table top photography products is a great way to make a good profit in your own home with a minimal amount of lighting equipment. A photo lighting tent like this one can cost a $100 or less and a single shoot could earn $500 to $1200 a day. Not a bad ROI.

Easy Steps to Create Motion and Background Blurring that Bring Focus to Your Photos

There are basically only two category’s of photo blur and the difference is in your control

  1. Creative Photo Blurring
  2. Unwanted Blurriness  in Your Photos

Creative Blur – This is the Blur that makes your photos stand out. It is usually a result of understanding how blurring is affected by movement, f-stops, and speed settings. A little knowledge is the key to opening the door to your creativity and insuring the WOW factor for your photo creations. This photo illustrates the power of using blur and focus to guide your viewers eye.

Photo by Budi Astawa

Motion Blur Photography

Unwanted Blur – This is any blur that detracts from your photo. It is usually a result of not understanding why the blur is occurring and how blurring is affected by movement, f stops, and speed settings. A little knowledge is the simple fix for this group of blurring problems.

Unwanted Blurring of Photo

So regardless, if you want to control blur or eliminate blur the information in this tutorial will be of value. The difference between being happy or disappointed with your photos  depends  more on your basic knowledge of how your camera settings work then what your camera costs.

Learning to use a shallow depth of field and or being purposeful with long exposures, means you will be able to control the blur in your photos and achieve the creative blur that makes your photos stand out. Here are some examples of what can be accomplished with the information in this tutorial.

  • A sharp and intentional focal point (photo)

Eric T’Kindts photo demostrates a sharp and intentional focal point using a background that is blurry.

Blurred Background
  • Streaked Lighting Effects Using Long Exposure

Vadim Shuvarskiy uses long exposure to create interesting light effects.

Blurring light effects with long exposure.


  • Silky smooth effects for water and other moving subjects (photo)

Sonlight_LP uses long exposure to create silky looking waterfalls.

Long Exposure can be used to blur moving water making it soft and silky in your photo.

Lets look at the technical elements  of  blurry photos?

  1. Movement

    Any movement of your camera or your subject will cause blur. The bigger the movement and the longer the exposure the more blur. The best way to avoid blurring caused by camera movement is to use a tripod or stabilize your camera.

  • Camera movement will cause the entire photo to be blurry. This is seldom a desired effect unless you are creating a background to be composited with another photo. If your camera is completely still on a tripod and the subject of your focal point is still than your subject will be in focus, even when using a long exposure.


  • A Moving subject will  blur even if your camera is on a tripod. The longer the exposure the more blur you will get. This is because the longer your aperture is open the more the subject will travel across the frame causing a smear effect on the sensor as it is exposed. This technique of using longer aperture speeds is often used as a creative tool to create soft dreamy water in a landscape scene.


  1. Depth of Field (DOF)    Definition

    DOF is determined by how long your lens is, how close you are to your  subject, and the size of your aperture. A large aperture (1.4)  used with a long lens (200mm) is often used to create background blurring(Bokeh) in portrait photography.

  2. Focus (optics)    Definition

    This is simply camera focus achieved from focusing your lens. Choosing your focal point is critical to directing the eye of the viewer to the most important part of your image. In portraits the focal point is usually the subjects eyes.


How do I create a sharp Image in my Photos with a Blurry Background?


  1. Choose a Long Lens or shoot close to your subject.
    The longer your lens, the more background blur you can get! A longer lens allows you to get further away from your subject and zoom in, which will create greater amounts of blur. I can get amazing background blur with my 16-35mm 2.8 at close range, See Lens  or my 70-200mm, 2.8 for farther away. See Lens


  1. Choose a Wide Open F-Stop
    A wide f-stop like 1.4, 2.8 or as wide as your lens will go. The wider your f-stop is, the smaller the depth of field will be. A way to remember this is to remember that if you squint, your eyes are more focused. In the same way the smaller your F stop the more in focus your image will be. F stops are fractions so smaller numbers mean bigger openings. 1.4 is a large aperture opening F22 is a very small opening.


  1. Position Your Subject Away from the Background
    The further your subject is from the background, the more blur you will get. If your subject is right up against the background, it will be much harder to not have the background in focus. So, separate your subject from the background as much as you possibly can.
How do I create a sharp scene with silky water flowing through it?

The key to capturing a photo with the silky water caused by blurring is two fold.

  1. Eliminate all movement of your camera by using a sturdy Tripod  and even a remote to trigger your camera. Here are some links to examples of a low cost remote if you do not have one.Nikon    Canon
  2. Use a long exposure setting that will allow you to properly expose the image. You have two options to make this work.
  • Shoot in very low light such as just past sunset.


  • Use a ND filter to block out the Daylight. Usually a ND 10 stop filter is what you will need for daytime shots.

Here are the steps to shooting a long exposure shot

  1. Set up your camera on a Tripod or in a way that it will not move at all during the exposure time. Remember that any small vibration can cause unwanted blurring. This includes small movements from pressing your shutter release button so this is where you might want to use a remote shutter release.
  2. Compose your image. If you are using an ND 10 stop filter  you will have a hard time seeing through them and so will your camera so you will need to set up your shot composition and focus points before putting the ND filter on your lens. This will ensure that your composition is what you want and your focus won’t accidentally “hunt” on you.
  3. Set the correct exposure. Do not shoot in aperture priority mode because a strong ND filter will often fool a camera’s light meter. The first step to finding the correct exposure is to set your f stop to the desired f-number and take note of the shutter speed that gives you the correct exposure. Put the ND filter on your lens and get ready to do a little math. If you do not like math and want to skip this step you can get an app to do the math for you such as this one.

            Doing the Math

  • For each stop you darken your shot with a filter you will need to increase the light with your shutter speed setting. So if you add a 10 stop ND filter (decreasing your light by 10) you will need to increase your shutter speed by 10 stops. (Allow the light to come in 10 times longer. )   Since one stop means doubling your exposure time you will need to double your exposure time 10 times. Do do this the long way on a calculator is to press 2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2 = 1024 The short way is to press 2^10 = 1024.


  • Now multiply 1024 x the original shutter speed number and you will have the correct shutter speed when using the ND 10 filter. For example an original shutter of 1’ x 1024 = 1024 so set your new shutter speed to 1000. (closest rounded off)


  • Lets do the same math with a ND filter of 6.


  • 2^6 = 64 (remember 2x2x2x2x2x2)


  • Original shutter is 125


  • 64 x 125 = 8000 (your new shutter speed setting)

Quick tip – another form of simple math is counting. Most cameras are set so that 3 clicks equal a stop. So if you want to increase your stops by 10 stops multiply it by 3 and then click your shutter speed 30 clicks to increase it 10 times. Again 3 clicks  for each stop you want to go up.


  1. Take the Picture


We would love to see your finished picture in our Cash Contests. You could win up to $600.

Become a Top VotoArt Contest Photographer

Plants & Natural Objects Weekly Contest Competitor
“Yellow rose”
by César Álvarez
Grow With Us!

Thanks to all your great photos, there are 224 photos competing for awards and VotoArt credits in this week’s weekly photography contests, and there are already over 100 qualified for next week. Bigger contests bring more site visitors, bigger prize pools and more exposure, particularly for top photos and photographers. In fact, our contest leaderboard and overall top photographer pages are viewed thousands of times each month.

How Can I Gain More Exposure?

  1. Vote – Simple. With bigger contests, we need quality photographers determining the winners, and active voters are rewarded with position points, which are used to rank top photographers.
  2. Enter Cash Contests – Not only can you potentially win $600 with a single photo, but WonUp Cash Contest champions are some of the most prominently featured photos on and off the VotoArt website. We regularly feature WonUp Cash Contest Champions on social networks. WonUp photos that are defeated have a chance to compete in the Weekly Cash Contest, where they can win VotoArt credits. Lastly, work your way up the top photography leaderboard more quickly, because cash contests award more position points.
  3. Become a Pro Photographer – With our annual gold pro plan, you get 10 credits per month for 12 months (that’s 120 total VotoArt credits), so you can consistently compete for more position points in cash contests. Additionally, all your photos automatically qualify for weekly contests, with a perfect score, and qualifying scores are used as tie-breakers in weekly contests. See where you can improve by studying your full win/loss history of each voting criterion against each opposing photo! Lastly, gold pro photographers earn 3x the position points for all activities that award position points!

Your Photography is Better Than You Think

inlefisher by sunset by Eric T'Kindt
Events & Celebrations Champion
“inlefisher by sunset”
by Eric T’Kindt
Are You the Next Big Winner?

You might be surprised! Most people are their own worst critic. People rarely see the true quality of their own photography. It’s easy to glance at someone else’s images and see the appeal, but so easy to look critically at our own photography and scrutinize the perceived flaws.

Eric T’Kindt is just one of many photographers who decided to let the VotoArt photography community be the judge. These photographers who chose to compete were rewarded with a total of $295 in WonUp Cash Contest award money last week. Perhaps more importantly, everyone participating received valuable feedback on their strengths, and possible areas where they can improve.

WonUp Cash Contests offer a head-to-head, 1-on-1 challenge against the current champion. The winner gets $5 and stays to compete against the next challenger. So, you only have to beat one photo to start winning money!

If your photo is defeated, don’t despair! The Weekly Cash Contest is your second chance. On Wednesday, we awarded nearly $250 worth of VotoArt credits, and this coming Wednesday, we’ll be awarding nearly $1,000 in VotoArt credits! Our biggest payout yet!

Get Off the Sidelines and Get in the Game

Improve Your Chances of Winning Photo Contests

1 to 101 compareVotoArt Photography Contests

The shot on the left was my first shot and the shot on the right is shot 101. All shots were taken with out moving the dice, yet all are different.

I nominate you to take “ The 101 Photo Challenge”

We all know that one of the best ways to get good at photography is to consistently shoot photos, but have you ever thought about shooting the exact same subject in the exact same spot 101 times while trying to make each shot look different. That is the challenge I gave myself and this blog contains the surprising results.

Making a simple subject look different in 101 different photos is a great way  to stretch your creativity , increase your awareness, and challenge your photography skills. The following photos are samples from my experiment with a few notes of what I did to change things up.  Although I took 101 photos, I  only show a few examples in order to keep this post to a reasonable size.

My first 10 shots were hand held and taken with different lenses. My goal was to find a single lens that would be the best for shooting my subject. I planned to use that lens for the remainder of the exercise.  Here are 4  of the 10 shots. All shots were taken in auto mode using just the available overhead lighting in the room.

Shot # 2 – Kit lens 28 -135mm at about 50mm. Shot with available light.
Shot #4 – Shot with 16-35 USM 2.8 lens at 16mm HH Could not avoid bad reflections.
Shot 6 – Shot with 100mm Macro L IS USM
Shot 6 – Shot with 100mm Macro L IS USM
Shot#10 – Shot with 50mm 1.4 fixed lens.
Shot#10 – Shot with 50mm 1.4 fixed lens.


After reviewing my 10  shots I decided that the Macro lens is going to give me the best options for this small subject. I did like the 50mm as well but wanted to be able to get close to the subject and fill the screen with more detail.

Shots 11 – 27  I experimented to discover an interesting angle and distance from the subject that I would then use for the remainder of the photos.  The following photos  are a few samples to illustrate the options I discovered.




IMG_5064 IMG_5066 IMG_5067 IMG_5069

Shot #28 - I used the on camera flash with ISO 100 at f20 ,1/20 MF AWB this created a nice reflection with sharp edges on the dice and the granite top went black.
Shot #28 – I used the on camera flash with ISO 100 at f20 ,1/20 MF AWB this created a nice reflection with sharp edges on the dice and the granite top went black. this was the first shot not taken in Auto mode.

Shots #29 to #85 were all shot in Manual Mode from the same angle on a tripod.

All changes to the look of the subject were made by changing camera settings and lighting. Here are some of the photos with the more drastic changes in appearance.

IMG_5086 IMG_5095 IMG_5097 IMG_5098 IMG_5133 IMG_5145 IMG_5147 IMG_5166 IMG_5174 IMG_5176 IMG_5191 IMG_5209 IMG_5212 IMG_5213 IMG_5220

For my last 16 shots I used the light painting technique to try and get a different look. Here are a few of the photos from this sequence. I left the aperture open for 30 seconds and used a combination of lights.

IMG_5250IMG_5267 IMG_5265 IMG_5255


So there you have it. The results of my own 101 photo challenge. I found taking the time to do this was a great way to expand my awareness and creativity and increase my knowledge and skill levels. The more I utilize the camera settings, and tried different lighting options the more ideas I got for different looks.  There seems to be almost an infinite number possibilities when you begin to consider combinations of lenses , angles, color, lighting etc..   If you love photography I hope you try this challenge and get as much out of it as I did. Remember to enter your best shots in the VotoArt photography contests.

Adding Wi-Fi Capabilities To Your DSLR

WEFE1.1-ORA_1008_72dpi_20150715There is a lot of buzz about the use of Wi-Fi and the new cameras that have Wi-Fi capabilities. This Blog is about how you can access those capabilities without having to buy a different camera if you already own a Canon or Nikon DSLR. I am not an expert on all the different types, styles and brands of cameras so I am only going to speak of my own experience in adding Wi-Fi capabilities to my Canon 7D. For me It was a fairly simple and cost effective way to get my photos to my laptop for editing or on my phone to be broadcast on social networks..

Here is what I used for my set up.

The device I used was XSories Weye Feye which can be found on Amazon.

I mounted it in the top camera shoe of my Canon 7D using this  Phone hot shoe camera mount.

I  used it with a Compatible Android smart phone and Mac Laptop.

camera and Weye Feye Set up

The Weye Feye came in a nice package and included the Weye Feye unit and a USB to Micro cord for charging. It did not include the charger so I had to use my phone charger. The battery to the unit was not charged so the first thing I had to do was charge the battery which was a four hour process. Once charged it lasted 6 to 8 hrs. While waiting for the battery to charge, I went to the Google play store and searched for Weye Feye and downloaded the free app to my phone and Lap top. The manual was not very useful but I was able to get the program up and running with a little effort. The Weye Feye itself cost $149 plus I spent $15 on the camera attachment. There are Velcro straps to attach the Weye Feye to your tripod if you do not want to have it attached directly to your camera. The clamp I purchased, was also useful when I wanted to use my phone for a live view instead of the cameras LCD screen  for shooting. So what else did I get for my  $150 investment?

I got an 80 meter reach from my Canon 7D to my Laptop. this allows me to shoot photos in a park and leave my Laptop locked safely in my car. When I am done shooting I can go to the car get my laptop and started selecting photos with my client.

I am now able to upload my photos directly to my phone so I can share them quickly on my social media channels.

I can control my camera remotely with my phone to get shots where I can not be next to my camera and still  get the shot.

hummingbird 0556 v1

I can now use my phone as a remote monitor for shooting unusual angles where before I would have  to get down on all fours or climb a ladder in order to see what I was shooting.


This is not meant to be a review of the Weye Feye unit so if you want more specific information about the Weye Feye you can go to their product pages on Amazon.

My purpose is to share something I tried in order to greatly increase my workflow and capabilities as a photographer. For me the benefits of Wi-Fi capabilities was well worth the $150 investment.  If you want to spend less money they have a $99 version called the Weye Feye S. It allows you to tether your camera to your phone, or laptop but does not give you the ability to control your camera with those devices.

Light Painting

Photo by Linda KnasellightPaint_Linda Knasel_6542


VotoArt recently ran a workshop for photographers that gave them an opportunity to try some light painting. Light painting is a great way to create interesting photos that can be entered into our abstract photo contests. If you want to win cash in the VotoArt photo contests, light painting is a great tool to have in your tool box. At our recent photo light painting workshop, many of the questions asked, were about how to get the correct settings for shutter-speed, aperture and ISO. For this reason we thought we would provide a little information about these settings so our members, who could not attend the workshop, could still jump in and have some fun experimenting with the art of light painting. We would love to see the photos you create be in our next abstract cash contest.

Shutter Speed is how long your camera aperture will stay open. If it is open for a long period of time, say 2 sec to 30 sec, it will  allow you to paint with different types of lights such as a flash light, LED, camera flash or even a spark as was done in the above photo. Where to set your aperture is determined by how long you need to “paint” in order to create the effect you are looking for.  The above photo had a speed of 30 seconds. This aloud enough time for a whisk full of  burning steel wool to be spun on a rope and throw off lots of sparks. The light streaks from the sparks were created by the long shutter speed.

Setting the Aperture

The aperture setting determines how wide the hole in your lens will be. The smaller the hole the greater the depth of field, so to help insure your subject is in focus you will want to have a higher number f stop. Remember the higher the number of the f stop, the smaller the aperture, and  the more in focus your photo will be. In short a f 22 will allow in less light and provide more depth of field than a F1.4.   The trade off of a higher f stop with a bigger depth of field is that  less light is allowed to reach the sensor due to a smaller opening. You will need to experiment to find the exact exposure and focus you need.

Setting the ISO

The ISO  determines how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to light. The higher the ISO number, the brighter your image will be. The lower the ISO number, the darker your image will be. The trade off is a higher ISO tends to introduce noise to your photo. You want the ISO to be as low as possible and still be able to expose the light source you are using to paint. Brighter lights will help you have a lower ISO.


In order to produce the exact results you want for your photo, you will need to experiment with the three settings. Because each of them will impact the other, you will want to look at the trade offs for the adjustment you make. While making those adjustments keep in mind  the following

Speed – The longer the exposure the more time you will have to paint, but the risk is exposing elements in your photo that you do not want to see, such as people doing the painting

Aperture – The larger the number of your f stop the more depth of field you will have to work with to keep your subject in focus.  The trade off is less light for exposure. You can compensate for less light with Higher ISO or longer exposures.

ISO – A higher ISO produces more exposure by making your sensor more sensitive to light but it  also introduce noise to your  photo.

Some samples from the VotoArt Contests

Photo by Justin Nichols

Justins bridge photo

Photo by Dhoni S


Photo by Dika Photos


Photo by Arie Azdhana

31328b24-ecc5-11e3-bc57-003048cab8f4Kai Leeke



Photo by Dean Bennett




What Makes a Good Photo?

Ganjar Rahayu Winter sanaata

Photo by Ganjar Rahayu

People often ask – What makes a good photo? Most of the answers I have heard to this question, seem to focus on the technical aspects of photography such as the rule of thirds. I,  however, believe the question people  really want to ask is – How can I take photos that others want to see and share?  The fundamental difference in the two questions is that the first question can be answered by you from a technical standpoint while the second question can only be answered by your audience. This is why the feedback you can get from the VotoArt Community is invaluable to you as a photographer.

Is it a Good Photo?

If I enter a photo that I really like into a VotoArt WonUP contest, but the site users  do not vote for it , is that a good photo?  The votes say no but there is good news. Here is the  good news. A photo that does not win still has value, because it provides valuable feedback from your audience.  For example, on VotoArt  I can view the voting history and learn what technical aspects my audience did or did not like. This is invaluable for me as a photographer. I can see if my photo had a good general impression, what voters thought of the color and lighting and how they evaluated the  composition and focus.

You can use the feedback from the VotoArt community in understanding the impact of technical elements  on the viewers and why they may not be connecting with a photo. For example, shooting a puppy from a lower angle will cause the viewer to see that puppy as powerful rather than cute.   So shooting a cute puppy from a low angle may have caused a disconnect with my audience which will show up in the voting.  By understanding the impact that angles, color, lighting, focus and other technical aspects have on your viewers, you can be more effective in connecting with them on an emotional level.

It is important for you to define your success.

What if your photo is deemed a technical zero by a photography expert but it goes viral on the Internet, is that a good photo? Some people will say yes and some people will say no. So the question becomes- how do you define your success? Will you measure your success  by the opinion of a proclaimed expert, by the response of the masses, by your own inner passion or perhaps some other form of measurement? Defining success  comes down to your own purpose for taking photos.No matter how you decide to define your success VotoArt provides a way for you to measure that success. If you want to see if your photos can actually make money VotoArt provides Weekly Cash Contests and Business Sponsorships. If you are selling your prints you can gain exposure and network with others by linking to your own URL and sharing photos and awards  on your social media channels.  If you want lots of feedback from your audience the Pro Account allows you to view the entire voting history of a photo.

No matter how you have defined your own success the key to that success is to get your audience  to emotionally connect with your photo.

Would you like to see the photos that thousands of people have voted for Current Winners

If you would to read what some Top Photographers have to say about this topic here is an article you will want to read. Answers from top Photographers




Photographers ID Birds Online with their Bird Photos.

I was on a bike ride with my daughter when I spotted two large birds in a marshy area not very  far off of the trail . I happen to have brought my camera along in case I saw something interesting to photograph so I quickly got off my bike and started to take pictures.  After  following these birds on foot, and snapping off lots of frames,  I decided I had a few photos that I would like to enter into the VotoArt cash contest.  The problem I faced was I did not know the names of the Birds.  Enter Merlins Beta Photo ID for birds.   A neighbor who new that I liked to photograph birds told me about this site where you upload a photo of a bird, answer a few questions, and it gives you the birds ID.  I went to the site Merlin Bird Photo ID . Merlin Bird Photo ID is an outgrowth of the Visipedia research project, engineers started about 5 years ago as a sort of “visual Wikipedia”. In short I was able to quickly identify the bird in my photo with zero stress or friction. The site was easy and fun to use. Here are the steps it took me through to identify my mystery bird. Continue reading Photographers ID Birds Online with their Bird Photos.

Quick Tips for Award Winning Landscape Photography

Phil Koch is a fine art photographer who has won numerous awards and over $350 with his landscape photos on VotoArt. This blog post features some of his excellent work and gives a few tips of where to start and what to consider if you want to be a successful landscape photographer. To see more of Phil Koch’s photography, visit Phil Koch Fine Art Photography Portfolio

Phil Koch 007
Photo by Phil Koch

Shooting at Dawn

Shooting during the Golden hours is known for producing award winning landscape photos and dawn is one of the Golden hours. At first the light of dawn is a cool blue then just before the sun starts to rise the light is flat and almost colorless. As the sun breaks the horizon the magic starts to happen. The landscape is bathed in beautiful hues of red and orange illuminating everything it touches with its glorious rays. Unless you are naturally a morning person, trying to capture this beauty may mean work and persistence. You must be willing to head out in the gloom when there are lots of reasons for staying in bed at 3am knowing that there is a risk of it being cloudy and cold. Some landscape views may only work well at certain times of the year, depending on the position of the sun. You can determine where this will be by using a sun compass or an app that shows you where the sun will rise each day.

Things to consider
Continue reading Quick Tips for Award Winning Landscape Photography