Smugmug for photographers

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Ever since I bought my new camera, the Olympus OM-D EM5 Mark II, I have been using Flickr and WordPress to first, store the images, and then showcase some of my very best images through WordPress. It worked well for a while. Flickr is free with 1TB of space to store your photos. That is more than enough for most users, including me, since I don’t upload all my photos taken, but instead, only the ones that I want to showcase through WordPress.

But I realize that it doesn’t really integrate well, especially when you need to showcase lots of photos on one blog post, it can get quite manual, getting the links to the photos from Flickr, and then arranging them properly so that it displays well.

Recently I stumbled upon Smugmug, a place where you can store and share your photos at the same time. As an added bonus, in the last couple of years, they have completely revamped the look and how you share those photos. They now have many beautiful templates to choose from based on how you want to present your works, at the same time, having complete control on how it looks.

It’s not free. As a Power user, one of many tiers of subscriptions based on your needs, I pay USD 60 a year for various features that are useful for me. That includes the ability to choose the templates I want to present my images, and allow full customization. Also, with a paid subscription, I can upload an unlimited number of photos I want, organized to my needs. This full control and full flexibility is what I personally feel, that the cost is worth the subscription.

I registered for an account and got a 14-day trial. I was initially quite overwhelmed at the sheer level customization you are allowed to do based on the templates designed by the people of Smugmug. But within the hour, I had the basics of a working website in order and already it looks more or less presentable. As smugmug is a web service catered to photographers for novices and professionals, naturally, the templates designed by Smugmug, are designed in a away to put your photos at the forefront in any website designed by the tools provided for users. And those templates are remarkably gorgeous. And having a more gorgeous website does not come with the added complexity. That’s the beauty of Smugmug in my opinion. It comes with a powerful and intuitive tool to design the website you want. You can see the changes in real time, you can make sweeping changes to the overall layout of the website, but also give you granular control of each and minute detail in every photo gallery you created in showcasing your works. That, in my opinion was what sold me the very instant I realized that I have the control to design it my own way.

Another aspect that comes as part of a sweet deal is that Smugmug is also a place where you can store all your photos, not just the edited or enhanced ones, but your entire folio in an easy to create Folders and Galleries. Just like how you would organize your entire photo collection into folders based on either date, subject or location, you can do all that in Smugmug just like how you do it in when you back up your photos on your own personal hard drives. Because Smugmug give you unlimited storage space, you can use it as a cloud service to back up your entire photo collection. This is particularly useful is some catastrophe were to happen to your own physical hard drives where your photos are stored. And if you do need to download the entire collection again, you can download the entire folder at one go, not just individual photos. Thus, having a systematic way to organize your photos is possible in Smugmug and the tools provided by them to do so, is easy and works remarkably well.

I would highly recommend Smugmug to any photographers out there who are either starting photography as a hobby, or a current enthusiast or a professional to try it out and see how you can integrate Smugmug in your workflow.

Do visit my Smugmug page as well.

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Embracing photography once again.

Ever since I lost my DSLR a few years ago, I never made an effort to revisit photography as a hobby or maintained my passion for photography. I was heartbroken, when my Canon 550D DSLR was stolen from me while backpacking in Europe. It was my favourite DSLR and I just got the hang of photography. I was actively learning new skills in photography and applying them. Eventually my shots were getting better and I felt really comfortable around my DSLR. And then suddenly, it got stolen. Photography is an expensive hobby. So while I had insurance covered that partially paid the items lost while traveling, I happen to lose my passion for it. Somehow my passion got stolen from me as well.

Now, close to 4 years later, with some cash to spare, I started to relook and revisit the world of photography. For a couple of months I have been reading up on the DSLRs and micro four thirds that are out there on the market. I have been reading various reviews and technological advancements made in the world of photography as well as the latest trends. It took me a while to settle on a suitable camera for me to buy, but eventually, with great timing involved, I settled on the popular micro four thirds camera, the brand new Olympus OM-D EM5 Mark II.

The picture you see above is the camera body and the new Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm 1:4-5.6 II. This particular model is the successor to the midrange EM5 released several years ago with additional features found from their flagship EM1. It was released just mere days again from the time I bought it. I bought the body and lens together for a whopping $2,000. It’s more expensive than the Canon 550D that I owned more than 5 years ago.

For a short while, just prior to purchase, I was worried that this was an impulse buy. But I had been reading on photography for a while now and somehow, it felt right getting this particular camera. I knew photography already. So getting back into the fray wasn’t very difficult. Sure, I’d need to invest on a good tripod and an additional prime lens if I am up for it, but that can wait. The only biggest challenge right now is getting used to the new smaller form factor. The micro four thirds is essentially a mirrorless camera with all the features of a typical DSLR, except in a smaller body. Another challenge in which I will have to tackle along the way is getting used to the complex controls this camera has to offer. This is a totally different beast from the Canon DSLR. Choke full of features and buttons and menus that I need to navigate and remember to access all the features on the fly. But eventually I will get used to it.

I am really excited about this new camera. The potential is limitless. And I have renewed vigor in going out there, to different places and not just be a mere spectator anymore, but actually doing something active for the first time in a long time.

Meanwhile, I have revamped my old blog and used it to post some selected photos I shot using the new camera. You can visit them here. It’s still barebones, but hopefully it will eventually fill with beautiful shots using my new camera.

NTU photo album

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I recently selected 40 photos to be developed that best represented my time in NTU. It has been a wonderful 4 years in NTU and I felt that it would be good to search for photos, either from my own collection or through my Facebook photo gallery that would reflect my wonderful time there. As I searched, it came down to 40 photos spanning a period of 4 years.

I bought a photo album, those sticky kinds where you lift up the plastic flap, and then you place the photo and place that flap over it, making it look like it has been laminated into the album. I bought the album that would just fit 40 photos nicely.

I chose those photos, often group shots of my classmates and friends. People who matter a lot to me. People who made a difference in my life in so many different ways, big and small. They are all there, in that photo album. To be remembered always in the years to come. Never forgotten. For they are the ones that mean a lot to me.

I arranged those photos loosely on chronological order, starting with the earliest photos taken while in NTU on the first page, and right up to the graduation photos towards the end. The end result; a story told from my perspective. A story of my life told through pictures with my friends and the events that highlighted the best moments of my life. 40 photos is not enough to tell a comprehensive story, but it is enough to highlight the good moments I experienced in life while in school.  I have tons of pictures, but I had to distil it to just 40. And I think it was a great project to do, now that I have graduated. My friends won’t know that I created such an album. But it doesn’t matter if they know it or not. What matters is that they matter a lot to me. And remembering them is one way to pay tribute to the friendships I have forged with them.

Some of the events covered were my friends’ birthdays, my birthday, sending my friends off at the airport while they went on exchange, freshman orientation camps, various school events my committee organised and participated, graduation, outings and more.

The picture you see above is a snapshot of the final page in the album, commemorating the graduation event.

This is truly a precious piece of treasure that I have created.

1TB offer by Flickr

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After the recent acquisition of Tumblr by Yahoo, Yahoo also updated and ravamped the ios and web based version of Flickr and at the same time increased the storage limits that you can upload to Flickr to 1TB. That is a pretty slick deal. And a deal I have been waiting for for a very long time.

I have tons of photos taken over the years using my DSLR and my iPhone that I’m dying to offload to the cloud. About 200GB and counting. This new flickr offering 1TB of space is just such a sweet deal. Now I can dump my entire collection and need not worry too much about harddrive failure and such. And in the long term, my photos will be safe and I can retrieve it anytime I want. I can even browse using my phone and can show my collection to virtually anyone in the future. This is such a sweet deal, and one of the biggest storage offering I have come across so far. Avid photographers will surely like this deal on top of the ability to upload really high resolution pictures that they have taken using their professional DSLR. Browsing the pictures are so much easier and so much more beautiful. Now, flickr has become a beautiful site, offering stunning images in large formats and ultra high definitions.