How to Make a Fashion Book With Blurb lets you make books about anything that interests you. I’ve used them to fill orders for my book December Rose as well as some other titles. Their selection of papers and covers is exceptional; high-quality books made to order.

Whether you’re interested in fashion, family or photographing your life, you most likely have a Blurb book in you just waiting to get out. Although the price of good-quality digital cameras are low enough for almost anyone to purchase, their automatic settings can be helped with attention to the following details:

1. It’s all about lighting: photography literally means writing with light.
To make your subject pop, choose natural light or studio light with a soft box (you can even make one from a lamp and last season’s white t-shirt). If you’re using a flash, you’ll probably want to bounce it or stick a diffusion filter on it. Anything that avoids the dreaded ‘red eye’ (or other colour in certain pets) and the flatness that comes from a bare flash striking your subject head on.

2. Make a shot list
It’s easy to overlook a shot you want, or run out of time, without your list. This is a critical step if you are photographing models. Even if your model is just your best friend who owes you a favor, they’ll appreciate it if you know exactly what you want to shoot. Think about the poses you want to capture, the outfits you want them to wear, and the details that you want to highlight in every shot.

3. White balance (WB)
Accurate color and skin tones come from making sure the WB function on your camera is set to your lighting situation; our eyes and brain adjust what we think we see while a camera just records what is actually in front of us. For example, sunlight is very yellow compared to light filtered through the leaves of trees or bounced off a building.

4. Choose the right lens/zoom setting
If you’re using a wide angle, you’re going to lose your beautiful lines (and your model may never forgive you). On a ‘full frame’ camera the lens or zoom setting used for people portraits should be at least 70mm- cameras with a slightly smaller digital sensor may work with a 50mm lens. Unless you know what sort of distortion a shorter lens will give and specifically want that effect. If you are using a zoom lens try to avoid using the extremes on either end; the middle of the range will give you better results.

5. Keep it interesting
Whether a fashion shoot, pets or family- play music or chat with your subjects to keep things moving. Don’t be afraid to try new angles. Attitude, attitude, attitude.

6. Dress it up
Make your book as fashionable as the images featured inside. Choose a simple design that doesn’t upstage the subject, but still looks chic. Pick a size and paper type that showcases the work brilliantly. Remember the focus should be on your images, not the crazy quilt background on the page. If you are giving a special gift or preparing a portfolio, invest in the quality papers and added features that Blurb has available.

Start your Blurb book now and Save 25% on print book orders of $75 or more at Blurb through March 26**.

Bonus Advice
If you are taking photographs of dogs or cats, also check out my Photo Tips for Rescues.

** Offer valid until March 26, 2014 (11:59 p.m. local time). A 25% discount is applied to your product total with a minimum purchase of USD $75, CAD $75, AUD $75, EUR €60 or GBP £50. Maximum discount is USD $150, CAD $150, AUD $150, EUR €100, or GBP £100 off product total. This offer is good for one-time use, for new accounts, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders. See the Blurb web-site for more information.

++ This post contains ‘affiliate links’- I will earn a small fee should you make a purchase at Blurb after clicking on one.

@@ You may use Blurb’s web-based design program to create your book at no additional charge. You may also use your own software, or hire me (or another designer) to design & lay out your book for an additional fee.

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Easter 2014 – Make Mine Chocolate

Three years ago I wrote an essay for a college English class that required researching an issue and then drafting a letter to a local newspaper or an official who could address the subject. I decided to investigate the issue of people giving kids live rabbits as a pet at Easter. You can read it as a pdf file here.

Although the total number of live rabbits given as Easter gifts is much less than the number of puppies or kittens given as pets, those bunns have a greater chance of being thrown out or ignored (left in an outdoor hutch or a garage corner). And a domesticated rabbit has virtually no chance of survival in the wild; they will not form a colony as many feral cats do, and are likely to be killed by a dog or large birds. As a loving parent (grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc) it is our duty not to give a child a gift without knowing and understanding what is involved. My research suggests that rabbits are much more complex creatures than the images found in popular culture; they require and deserve a home that will appreciate them and meet their needs. They are social animals that will pair-bond if given the chance; two bunns are much better than one.

Please consider giving someone a stuffed toy, a chocolate rabbit, or some other gift. If you are still interested in giving a live rabbit, please talk to your local House Rabbit Society.

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Why We Should Continue to Celebrate ‘Coming Out’

Just over four years ago I wroteYes, there will come a day when we should be blase about people coming out- when most of the world will be blase about it.. but as our current struggles clearly show, we are not yet there.

While I stand by my belief that we must work to achieve a society where one’s sexual orientation(s) and gender identity(s) are not grounds for hatred, discrimination or bullying, I do feel I need to slightly revise my earlier comment. For some time I”ve believed we in the ‘modern’ Western world have gone too far and lost too much by abandoning any- and every-thing that hints at our ‘primitive’ past.

I posted the following at my Celebrant/ Officiant Website:

      There is no doubt we have, collectively, gained much from the progress experienced over the past centuries; longer life-expectancy, better living conditions (at least in some cultures) and the ability to explore (in person or virtually) virtually any other location on Earth; and in time, in space. Much of this progress has come through advances in understanding this world through the prism of rational thought and the scientific method. But there is also a principle or concept known as unintended consequences – a term popularized by sociologist Robert K. Merton to describe outcomes that are not the ones intended by a purposeful action. While some are positive (variously thought of as a bonus, new benefit, or lucky coincidence) all too often the term refers to a negative consequence; a bug, drawback, side-effect or down-side.
      We now live in a culture that has lost sight of thousands of years of ritual, that has replaced wisdom learned from living in earth-centric communities with a blend of psycho-babble and a patriarchal fear-driven illusion of what makes “a real man” or, for that matter, “a real woman”. Some say that we no longer need ritual and ceremony because they are basically nothing but religious practises and “god is dead“.
      Yet we continue to engage in ceremonies from birth to death; baptism (or baby-naming), circumcision, marriage and funerals being perhaps the most obvious. While we in the ‘modern world’ no longer engage in pagan/ heathen ‘coming of age’ rituals centred on wilderness survival or various gender-segregated ceremonies, many a youngster still has a Mitzvah or their Senior Prom or a ritual around getting their first car. Some therapists (practitioners of various ‘soft sciences’ in the minds of some ‘real scientists’) have come to recognize there is, or can be, some benefit to be gained through rituals marking other events; loss of a personal or business relationship (divorce or getting laid off) is recognized as having a major impact on one’s mental health. We hold the spirits of those four-leggeds who have blessed us with their love very close to our heart and know just how deeply such losses are felt.
      Neo-pagans have long recognized this and have ceremonies and rituals to mark any number of milestones in the cycle of life. With this in mind, we are available to commemorate those events you consider important milestones in your journey on this planet; we will work with you to prepare and facilitate a suitable ceremony.

And so I argue that instead of being blase about people coming out, we need to celebrate such ‘cycle of life’ moments. Certainly if we hold Graduation Ceremonies for everyone who survives Kindergarten we can and should make noise when someone recognizes and embraces such an important aspect of their humanity.

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