Happy New Year 2015

WISH YOU ALL A HAPPY, HEALTHY, PROSPEROUS AND PURPOSEFUL NEW YEAR 2015

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Photo Album-34: "House where my dad lived 70 years ago"


My dad lost both his parents before he was 9. He and his younger brother were brought up by a rich, childless, widowed aunt. This is the house of that aunt where my dad spent more than 10 years of his boyhood. During my recent visit to Tuticorin, I took this photo. Actually, the house is on the right side where the road from Sri Bagampiriyal Temple intersects West Great Cotton Road. Only the middle portion remains as it was; the facade and the rear portions have been modified.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Health News-24: "Swine Flu Scare Spreads"

World Health Organization has raises pandemic alarm as Swine Flu spreads; WHO has labeled it as public health emergency of international concern. Already 149 deaths have been reported in Mexico. Swine flu has been found in other countries like US, Canada, and France. US Govt has cautioned its citizens about visiting Mexico. Swine flu is supposed to be caused by a new strain of virus, H1N1. As the flu virus is constantly mutating, finding full immunity has not been possible so far. The symptoms of SIV or swine influenza virus attack are just like normal flu: fever, cough, sore throat, body pain, headaches, chills and fatigues and sometimes diarrhoea and vomiting also. The US Govt says it has stock of medicines to treat 50 million people and have advised people to take normal precautions and not to panic.

For detailed Wikipedia article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swine_Flu

Swine Flu: 5 Things You Need to Know About the outbreak http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20090427/hl_time/08599189402900;_ylt=AgPgFD8FSl1NTlDyH.rg1toDW7oF

Grateful thanks to Yahoo News and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Letters-73: "Work for Success"

In his conversation with Ravi S Joshi, Infosys chief mentor N R Narayana Murthy has correctly underlined the need for the youngsters to be industrious and innovative for a better India ("Password for confidence in rural India", The New Sunday Express, April 19,2009). In this highly competitive world, nothing is offered on a platter.

As John Ruskin had correctly put it, "Toll is the law". Also, NRN stresses on values such as integrity and humility. One feels, schools and colleges across the country must have a few copies of his new book, A BETTER INDIA; A BETTER WORLD in their libraries. This would certainly help transform the younger generation into invaluable human resources, which are a sine qua non for the nation's all-round growth. - S.Ramakrishnasayee, Ranipet.

Courtesy: The New Sunday Express, Tiruchy, April 26, 2009 ("Letter to the Editor").

Grateful thanks to Mr.S.Ramakrishnasayee and The New Sunday Express.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

How To-59: "How to Pack Your Possessions When Moving"



How to Pack Your Possessions When Moving

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Even if you can't wait to live in your new house, curb your enthusiasm and resist the urge to cram all your possessions any which way into boxes.

Steps

  1. Pack one room at a time if possible, and start with items that are least often used.
  2. Write down a list of everything you are packing, in particular if it's valuable. Books, cds, expensive clothes. Also, take note of which item is in which box.
  3. Use sturdy boxes. Fill the box to the brim and seal the lid. That way, you can easily stack boxes on top of one another.
  4. Tape the bottom of the box securely so that it doesn't give way.
  5. Never fill a box until it is so heavy that you can't lift it safely. Spread the heavy items over a few boxes. Balance boxes with lighter items like towels or soft toys. Pack the lighter items on top.
  6. Use bubble wrap or newspapers when packing fragile items. However, newsprint may smudge so use newspaper selectively. Clean paper can be purchased cheaply from moving supply stores. Boxes should be marked "Fragile" and "This side up" to prevent mishandling.
  7. Label each box clearly and which room it belongs to. Write on the sides of the box as well.
  8. Pack a separate box of essentials you may need for the first night at your new house. Include items like toiletries, toilet paper, bottled water, snacks and a change of clothes in case you cannot unpack everything in time.

Tips

  • Don't pack one box full of books or paperwork - you might not be able to carry it at all. Fill it halfway with books, and fill it up with lighter stuff.

. Digital Photos - use your camera to document the contents of boxes.

  • Tape is cheap. Use lots of it. Close box bottoms well. Get masking tape or packing tape and tape screws and other little things that came out of something back against it. You'll want to find the right screw reassemble something without having to pick it out of 100 others when you get there.
  • Buy boxes from a local moving company. When boxes are of uniform size they stack better. These boxes also have rooms listed on the sides of the box so you only have to check the box next to the room the box is going to.
  • Fill empty spaces with additional paper.
  • U-haul and other nation companies offer box buy back services. If you buy too many boxes you can return the unused for a full refund. These boxes are also quite sturdy so you can re-use them or stash in your attic until you move again. Some national companies even offer free shipping and handling so you can have some delivered or go to the local location.
  • Don't label boxes with contents if the contents are valuable. Instead of writing "Silver Service-Fragile" you should write something that makes it sound less theft inviting while showing the fragile nature of the contents. Example: "Mom's old dishes" instead of "Fine China"
  • Throw away or donate junk you don't want to take to your new place. Don't pack it again!!!
  • Pack books and heavy items into smaller boxes.
  • Set aside an area of the house where you can put all the packed boxes. Use a room that isn't used every day such as the formal dining or living room. You won't be tripping over boxes and you can have a better idea of what you have and where things are.
  • National superstores (Wal-mart) will let you walk the store for boxes when they are stocking the stores between 11 pm and 1 am. You can find boxes of all sizes. Cereal, diaper and houseware boxes are a good size and durable. Just take a cart and roam the store. They do check the cart as you leave so don't try to sneak anything past them.

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Pack Your Possessions When Moving. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

How To-58: "How to Move to a New Apartment"



How to Move to a New Apartment

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Moving can be a fun and exciting adventure. But it can also be lots of work--not to mention very stressful. Here are some suggestions that might make your transition a little easier.

Steps

  1. Before you even decide on an apartment, go through everything you own. Do you really want to read that book again? Do you need that many commemorative coffee mugs? Get rid of everything you don't really want. It'll save the time, money and trouble of moving it, and your new place will have an uncluttered look.
  2. Get boxes from grocery stores (or other stores) rather than buying them. Don't disregard the value of large plastic trash bags - just be careful not to throw them out!!
  3. Choose boxes in sizes that will be easy for one person to carry, just in case you find yourself moving most of it on your own.
  4. Start the moving process as soon as you can find time to. The more unessential items you can pack as early on as possible, the less you'll have to worry about when it gets down to the wire.
  5. Make sure that you wrap breakable items (dishes, knick-knacks, pictures, et cetera) in old newspaper, towels, bedsheets, even clothing.
  6. If you have a lot of books, pack a few in many boxes, rather than all in a few.
  7. Label your boxes as you pack - kitchen, living room, bath, etc. Also make a list of contents on each box, to make it easier to find certain things when unpacking. This will save you loads of time and grief when you arrive at your new place (and label BREAKABLES as such so your movers will know to be careful--hopefully they will be). Color-coding can be a good idea too. Just get colored stickers, and slap a red one on the box for kitchen, blue for bedroom, green for living room, etc.
  8. After you have securely packed all of your belongings... now you face the decision of hiring movers, and finding out who your real friends are or being a real friend (and saving $$$) and doing as much of it on your own as you can! (if you CAN afford it, hire a reputable, insured moving service listed with the BBB for the heavy stuff and transporting it all) (*save $ by doing your own packing!)
  9. GOOD LUCK & GET MOVING!!

Tips

  • Make sure you reward helpful friends with pizza and/or beverages for their efforts.
  • Tip your movers accordingly--they work hard. (Just make sure that any damaged items are accounted for and returned at no cost to you.)
  • Clean your old place as well as or better than when you moved in - you will likely get a nice and much-needed deposit in return for your efforts, not to mention a good future reference.
  • Keep a number of rolls of tape, trash bags, and markers around.
  • VERY IMPORTANT SAFETY ISSUE: drive by your potential new place at night, especially on the weekends, to see if the atmosphere is suitable to your lifestyle. (Is it too noisy? too much traffic? too quiet?)
  • Make sure the last tenant of your new place does not still have the keys to your doors.
  • If you have the opportunity to meet anyone who lives in your potential new residence, ask them what they think, but remember that is just their opinion.
  • Always be aware of all aspects of your new manager-tennant contract, and know your rights--and don't abuse them!
  • Your new landlord/manager will let you know what utility options are available to you.
  • make sure you have given your previous apt. mgr. the required notice regarding your anticipated move--but only after you have found your new place
  • If you're not sure where to move, ask friends, fellow employees, local real estate agencies, and of course your local Sunday paper.
  • Get your utilities disconnected at your older home and connected at your new home - Gas, Electricity, Water, Internet, Cable, Telephone. Remember to keep track of any deposits you pay so that you can ensure that they are reimbursed at the time of your next move.
  • Update your address information with any relevant institutions - Cellphone, Insurance, Loans, Financial (Credit Cards, Banks), Government (USPS address change, Car Registration, Drivers license), Employer
  • When looking for a new apartment, be sure to look at the apartment and not a model. This way you can point out issues to the manager that should be addressed prior to your move-in date.

Warnings

  • While all floors are suspect, ground floor apartments and basement levels are the easiest targets for burglars.
  • Moving companies are regulated by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/) and are required by law to provide you with a brochure on your rights and responsibilities when moving. Make sure you get one from your mover.

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Move to a New Apartment. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

How To-57: "How to Take Better Photographs"



How to Take Better Photographs

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Many people think they'll improve their photography by buying a spiffy new camera. The truth is, in photography, technique is much more important than equipment. And taking good pictures is something anyone can do with any camera, if you practice enough and avoid some common mistakes.

Steps

  1. Read the camera's manual, and learn what each control, switch, button, and menu item does. At the very least you should know how to turn the flash on, off, and auto, how to zoom in and out, and how to use the shutter button.
  2. Set the camera's resolution to take high quality photos at the highest resolution possible. Low-resolution images are more difficult to digitally alter later on; it also means that you can't crop as enthusiastically as you could with a higher-resolution version (and still end up with something printable). If you have a small memory card, get a bigger one; if you don't want to or can't afford to buy a new one, then use the "fine" quality setting, if your camera has one, with a smaller resolution.
  3. Start off with setting your camera to one of its automatic modes, if you have a choice. Most useful is "Program" or "P" mode on digital SLRs. Ignore advice to the contrary which suggests that you operate your camera fully manually; the advances in the last fifty years in automatic focusing and metering have not happened for nothing. If your photos come out poorly focused or poorly exposed, then start operating certain functions manually.
  4. Take your camera everywhere. When you have your camera with you all the time, you will start to see the world differently; you will look for and find opportunities to take great photographs. And, of course, you will end up taking more photographs; and the more you take, the better a photographer you will become.[1] Furthermore, if you're taking photographs of your friends and family, they will get used to you having your camera with you all the time. Thus, they will feel less awkward or intimidated when you get your camera out; this will lead to more natural-looking, less "posed" photographs. Also, remember to bring batteries or charge it if you are using a digital camera.
  5. Get outside. Motivate yourself to get out and take photographs in natural light. Take several normal 'point and shoot' pictures to get a feel for the lighting at different times of the day and night. Go outside at all times of day, especially those times when anybody with any sense is sleeping, eating, or watching television; lighting at these times is often dramatic and unusual to many people precisely because they never get to see it!
  6. Keep the lens clear of caps, thumbs, straps and other obstructions. It's basic, yes, but it can ruin a photograph completely. This is less of a problem with modern live-preview digital cameras, and even less of a problem with an SLR camera. But people still make these mistakes from time to time.
  7. Set your white balance. Put simply, the human eye automatically compensates for different kinds of lighting; white looks white to us in almost any kind of lighting. A digital camera compensates for this by shifting the colors certain ways. For example, under tungsten (incandescent) lighting, it will shift the colours towards blue to compensate for the redness of this kind of lighting. The white balance is one of the most critical, and most underused, settings on modern cameras. Learn how to set it, and what the various settings mean. If you're not under artificial light, the "Shade" (or "Cloudy") setting is a good bet in most circumstances; it makes for very warm-looking colors. If it comes out too red, it's very easy to correct it in software later on. "Auto", the default for most cameras, sometimes does a good job, but also sometimes results in colours which are a little too cold.[2]
  8. Set a slower ISO speed, if circumstances permit. This is less of an issue with digital SLR cameras, but especially important for point-and-shoot digital cameras (which, usually, have tiny sensors which are more prone to noise). A slower ISO speed (lower number) makes for less noisy photographs; however, it forces you to use slower shutter speeds as well, which restricts your ability to photograph moving subjects, for example. For still subjects in good light (or still subjects in low light, too, if you're using a tripod and remote release), use the very slowest ISO speed that you have.
  9. Compose your shot thoughtfully. Frame the photo in your mind before framing it in the viewfinder. Consider the following rules, but especially the last one:
    • Use the Rule of Thirds, where the primary points of interest in your scene sits along "third" lines. Try not to let any horizon or other lines "cut the picture in half."[3]
    • Get rid of distracting backgrounds and clutter. If this means you and your friend have to move a little so that a tree does not appear to be growing out of her head, then do so. If glare is coming off the windows of the house across the street, change your angle a bit to avoid it. If you're taking vacation photographs, take a moment to get your family to put down all the junk they may be carrying around with them and to remove backpacks or hip packs as well. Keep that mess well out of the frame of the picture, and you will end up with much nicer, less cluttered photos. If you can blur the background in a portrait, then do so. And so on.
    • Fill the frame with your subject. Don't be afraid to get closer to your subject. On the other hand, if you're using a digital camera with plenty of megapixels to spare, you can crop it later in software.
    • Try an interesting angle. Instead of shooting the object straight on, try looking down to the object, or crouching and looking up. Pick an angle that shows maximum color and minimum shadow. To make things appear longer or taller, a low angle can help. If you want a bold photo, it is best to be even with the object. You may also want to make the object look smaller or make it look like you're hovering over; to get the effect you should put the camera above the object. An uncommon angle makes for a more interesting shot.
    • Ignore the advice above. Regard the above as laws, which work much of the time but are always subject to judicious interpretation -- and not as absolute rules. Too close an adherence to them will lead to boring photographs. For example, clutter and sharply focused backgrounds can add context, contrast and colour; perfect symmetry in a shot can be dramatic, and so on. Every rule can and should be broken for artistic effect, from time to time. This is how many stunning photographs are made.
  10. Focus. Poor focusing is one of the most common ways that photographs are ruined.[4] Use the automatic focus of your camera, if you have it; usually, this is done by half-pressing the shutter button. Use the "macro" mode of your camera for very close-up shots. Don't focus manually unless your auto-focus is having issues; as with metering, automatic focus usually does a far better job of focusing than you can.
  11. Keep still. A lot of people are surprised at how blurry their pictures come out when going for a close-up, or taking the shot from a distance. To minimize blurring: If you're using a full-sized camera with a zoom lens, hold the camera body (finger on the shutter button) with one hand, and steady the lens by cupping your other hand under it. Keep your elbows close to your body, and use this position to brace yourself firmly. If your camera or lens has image stabilisation features, use them (this is called IS on Canon gear, and VR, for Vibration Reduction, on Nikon equipment).
    • Consider using a tripod. If your hands are naturally shaky, or if you're using very large (and slow) telephoto lenses, or if you're trying to take photographs in low light, or if you need to take several identical shots in a row (such as with HDR photography), or if you're taking panoramic photos, then using a tripod is probably a good idea. For very long exposures (more than a second or so), a cable release (for older film cameras) or a remote control is a good idea; you can use the self-timer feature of your camera if you don't have one of these.
    • Consider not using a tripod, especially if you don't already have one. A tripod infringes on your ability to move around, and to rapidly change the framing of your shot. It's also more weight to carry around, which is a disincentive to getting out and taking photographs in the first place. As a general rule,[5] you only need a tripod if your shutter speed is equal to or slower than the reciprocal of your focal length.[6] If you can avoid using a tripod by using faster ISO speeds (and, consequently, faster shutter speeds), or by using image stabilisation features of your camera, or by simply moving to somewhere with better lighting, then do that.
  12. Relax when you push the shutter button. Also, try not to hold the camera up for too long; this will cause your hands and arms to be shakier. Practice bringing the camera up to your eye, focusing and metering, and taking the shot in one swift, smooth action.
  13. Avoid red eye. Red-eye is caused when your eyes dilate in lower lighting. When your pupils are big, the flash actually lights up the blood vessels on the back wall of your eyeball, which is why it looks red. If you must use a flash in poor light, try to get the person to not look directly at the camera, or consider using a "bounce flash". Aiming your flash above the heads of your subjects, especially if the walls surrounding are light, will keep red-eye out. If you don't have a separate flash gun which is adjustable in this way, use the red-eye reduction feature of your camera if available - it flashes a couple of times before opening the shutter, which causes your subject's pupils to contract, thus minimizing red-eye. Better yet, don't take photographs which require a flash to be used; find somewhere with better lighting.
  14. Use your flash judiciously, and don't use it when you don't have to. A flash in poor light can often cause ugly-looking reflections, or make the subject of your photo appear "washed out"; the latter is especially true of people photos. On the other hand, a flash is very useful for filling in shadows; to eliminate the "raccoon eye" effect in bright midday light, for example (if you have a flash sync speed[7] fast enough). If you can avoid using a flash by going outside, or steadying the camera (allowing you to use a slower shutter speed without blur), or setting a faster ISO speed (allowing faster shutter speeds), then do that.
  15. Go through your photos and look for the best ones. Look for what makes the best photos and continue using the methods that got the best shots. Don't be afraid to throw away or delete photos, either. Be brutal about it; if it doesn't strike you as a particularly pleasing shot, then ditch it. If you, like most people, are shooting on a digital camera, then it would not have cost you anything but your time. Before you delete them, remember you can learn a lot from your worst photos; discover why they don't look good, then don't do that.
  16. Practice, practice, and practice. Take lots and lots of photos -- aim to fill your memory card, or to use up as much film as you can afford to have developed. The more pictures you take, the better you'll get, and the more you (and everyone) will like your pictures. Shoot from new or different angles, and find new subjects to take pictures of, and keep at it; you can make even the most boring, everyday thing look amazing if you're creative enough about photographing it. Get to know your camera's limitations, too; how well it performs in different kinds of lighting, how well auto-focus performs at various distances, how well it handles moving subjects, and so on.

Tips

  • Your camera doesn't matter. Nearly any camera is capable of taking good photographs in the right conditions. Even a modern camera phone is good enough for many kinds of shots. [8] Learn your camera's limitations and work around them; don't buy new equipment until you know exactly what these limitations are, and are certain that they are hindering you.
  • Pick up a big-city newspaper or a copy of National Geographic and see how professional photojournalists tell stories in pictures. It's often worth poking around photo sites like Flickr for inspiration, too. Try Flickr's camera finder to see what people have done with the cheapest point-and-shoot cameras. Just don't spend so much time getting inspired that it stops you from getting out there.
  • When shooting photos of children, get down to their level! Pictures looking down at the top of a child's head are usually pretty lame. Stop being lazy and get on your knees.
  • If you shoot digital it's better to underexpose the shot, as underexposure is easy to correct later on in software. Shadow detail can be recovered; blown highlights (the pure white areas in an overexposed photo) can never be recovered, as there is nothing there to recover. Film is the opposite; shadow detail tends to be poor compared to digital cameras, but blown highlights are rare even with massive overexposure.[9]
  • Get your photos off your memory card ASAP. Make backups; make several backups if you can. Every photographer has, or will, experience the heartbreak of losing a precious image/images unless he or she cultivates this habit. Back-up, back-up, back-up!
  • If the camera has a neck strap, use it! Hold the camera out so that that the neck strap is pulled as far as a can, this will help steady the camera. Furthermore, it'll also stop you from dropping the camera.
  • Install photo-editing software and learn how to use it. This will allow you to correct color balance, adjust lighting, crop your photos, and much more. Most cameras will come with software to make these basic adjustments. For more complicated operations, consider buying Photoshop, downloading and installing the free GIMP image editor, or using Paint.NET, a free light-weight photo editing program for Windows users.
  • Keep a notebook handy and make notes about what worked well and what didn't. Review your notes often as you practice.
  • Upload to Flickr or the Wikimedia Commons and maybe one day you will see your photos used on wikiHow!

Warnings

  • Beware of taking photographs of statues, artwork, and even architecture; even if it is located in public places, in many jurisdictions this can often constitute a violation of the copyright in these works.[10]
  • When taking photos of people, their pets, or even their property, ask for permission. Legally, you may or may not need it, but it's polite to do so; that and people may get annoyed at it if you don't ask first.

Things You'll Need

  • A camera. Whatever you have, or can borrow, will be good enough.
  • The biggest memory card you can get, if you're on digital, or as much film as you can afford to have developed if you're not.

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

  1. See 5 Reasons to Take Your Camera Everywhere in 2008.

  2. For more on white balance, see How to Set White Balance by Ken Rockwell.

  3. See the Wikipedia article on the subject for a fuller explanation of this.

  4. From Seven Common Mistakes When Taking Digital Photos.

  5. Shutter speed and the difference between fast and slow shutter speeds.

  6. For example, if you have a 300mm lens, then you want a shutter speed faster than 1/300th of a second.

  7. See Ken Rockwell's page on sync speed for more details on this.

  8. See Your Camera Doesn't Matter by Ken Rockwell.

  9. See Film vs. Digital for a more in-depth discussion.

  10. See this page on the Wikimedia Commons for a country-by-country breakdown of local laws.

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Take Better Photographs. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

How To-56: "How to Take Portrait Photographs"



How to Take Portrait Photographs
from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Have you ever felt that you have far too many "snapshots" of your family, and want a more professional-looking photograph to hang on your wall? Or perhaps you've been roped in to take a photograph for your company's magazine or website. Whatever the reason for wanting them, you don't need a photo studio and a ton of expensive lighting and camera gear to take portraits. With intelligent use of your equipment, thoughtful framing and due attention paid to lighting, anybody can take good portraits. Here's how.

Steps

  1. Set up your camera. Where circumstances permit, use a slow ISO speed (lower number). In natural light, use "shade" or "cloudy" white balance if you have it; this leads to much warmer colours.[1] See How to Take Better Photographs for further elaboration and advice.
  2. Get the lighting right. Those fortunate enough to have a photo studio can precisely control their lighting. They also aren't reading this; the rest of us will have to go out and find the right light. What you're looking for is consistent, and diffused lighting.
    • Avoid direct, harsh sunlight from any direction. Apart from a few hours of soft light in the early morning and afternoon, direct sunlight is largely unfavourable for taking portrait photos. Looking into the sunlight will cause your subject to squint, and harsh light from behind will make it more difficult to get a consistent exposure.[2] From any other angle, it will cast harsh shadows on the face (including the horrid "raccoon eye" effect from direct overhead light). Overcast days are best, as clouds will diffuse the sunlight;[3] although since making your own cloud isn't typically an option, head for the shade.
    • Fill the shadows. Sometimes you'll have no choice but to take photos in direct, harsh sunlight. If your camera has a flash sync speed fast enough, use your flash to fill the shadows. If not, get your subject or an assistant to hold a piece of white or colored card to bounce the sunlight into the shadows. You could use your self-timer and hold it yourself.[4]
    • Don't rely on your flash. That is to say, if you don't have a ton of studio lighting (and you probably don't, since you're reading this), don't count on your flash to illuminate your scene or your subject. Using it to fill in shadows is fine; depending on it as your only source of lighting is usually a bad thing. Go outside if weather permits, or get more natural light into your scene by getting closer to windows if it does not.

  3. Make your subject comfortable. A comfortable subject will feel happier, more relaxed and less "posed". This will make for much better shots.
    • Get to like your subject, and have them like you. If you have time, talk to your subject. Learn to be genuinely interested in other people (or if you're terminally sociopathic, fake it). As one photographer writes about the famous photographer Elsa Dorfman,
      Elsa has the same kind of studio, background, lights, and equipment as a lot of folks with more technical skill. Yet those folks aren't portrait photographers and Elsa is. What's the difference? Elsa cares about people. She is genuinely curious about people she has never met and can connect with them in just a few minutes. After a one-hour session, she knows more about her average subject's life than I do about my sister's.[5]
    • Get them comfortable with you having a camera around, time permitting. Many, probably most, people freeze up and feel awkward the moment you pull the camera out.
    • Factor your subject's feelings in with your lens choices. This is not as strange as it might sound. A super-wide angle lens will require you to travel halfway up the nose of your subject in order to frame the photo properly. On the other hand, a subject might feel distinctly awkward at a monster Howitzer-sized telephoto pointing at them from 50 feet away.
    • Give your subject something to play with. People with something in their hands will relax their shoulders more and feel less awkward than they would if they were standing around doing nothing.[6] If you're taking body shots, have them hold something relevant to them as a person (for example, an executive might hold a book,[6] a child might hold a teddy bear, a photographer might hold a camera, and so on). If you're not taking body shots, even better; find something to keep their hands occupied. Try a stress ball or something else that gives your subject something to do.
  4. Choose your lens and frame your shot. There are three primary ways to frame a portrait; which you will choose is a matter of artistic judgment.

The head-and-shoulders shot. If you're starting out taking portraits, this is probably the best place to start. For this, use a telephoto lens. Ignore the myth of a "portrait lens". There is no optimal lens focal length for portraits.[7] Longer lenses are good, because they force you to stand further back, and consequently, due to perspective, facial features like noses are de-emphasised (but see "factor in your subject's feelings with your lens choices" above). They also give the illusion of a shallower depth of field (i.e. blurring the background more).[8] In accordance with the rule of thirds, have the subject's eyes one third of the way from the top of the frame. Set your camera to aperture-priority (Av) mode and use a large aperture to blur the background to make it less distracting (or if you have a "Portrait" mode on your camera, use that instead).

  • The body shot. All of the above applies. Have your subject stand at a slight angle to the camera; they will look slimmer and more relaxed.[6]
  • The "environmental" portrait, of people in action and in context. Compared to the above, this is difficult to get right and very easy to make into a mere snapshot, so tread carefully. Use a wider-angle lens for this sort of thing.
  • Everything else. The cost of experimentation with digital cameras is almost exactly zero. If you have time, try different and drastic angles, strange framing, zooming in "too close", and so on (see also "ignore this article", below).


  1. Focus and take your pictures. If your camera has an auto-exposure and auto-focus lock, then meter and focus on the subject's face, lock, reframe, and then take your photo.
  2. Post-process your photo. Use advanced photo editing software like GIMP or Photoshop. Correct the colour balance and remove any haziness. You might want to sharpen features like hair and clothing; smooth out lines and imperfections in faces (this latter part might not be necessary; the sharpening of other features in the photo will make skin look smoother, because our eyes perceive sharpness and softness relative to other things in the photo). Brighten the eyes using the "Levels" tool.
  3. Ignore this article. Photography is an art, not a set of methods. You can follow all these steps and still take an uninteresting photograph that you dislike. Technically "incorrect" photos can be the most stunning, such as those which are hugely over-exposed, harshly lit, packed with "distracting" background detail, strangely composed, and so on.[9] Know the rules, but know that you can, and should, break them whenever you see fit.

Tips

  • Don't bother with a tripod unless poor light mandates it. This will give you greater freedom to experiment with angles, as well as giving you less gear to carry around.
  • Don't read the discussion of lenses above as an excuse to wait until you have a certain lens (or even a digital SLR at all). Use what you have and work according to its strengths and limitations. Remember that even a 50mm lens effectively becomes a 75-80mm lens on digital SLRs with small sensors (nearly all of them) -- a useful length for portraits.

Things You'll Need

A camera. An SLR and a bunch of lenses (or a single, versatile zoom) are nice if you have them; whatever else you have is fine if you do not.

  • Someone to photograph. Start with family and close friends; they're the most likely to be comfortable around you and, consequently, will look less "posed" and more comfortable in a photo.

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

  1. Ken Rockwell, How to Set White Balance.

  2. Bill Hunter, Portrait Photographer's Handbook (ISBN 9781584282075), p. 77.

  3. Ross Hoddinott, The Digital Photographer's Guide to Filters (ISBN 9780715326541), pp. 40-41.

  4. AnandTech Guide to Better Photos: Portraits

  5. Quoted from Portrait Photography, by Phillip Greenspun.

  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Photography tips: taking portrait photos

  7. See Portrait Lenses by Ken Rockwell.

  8. Niell Benvie, The Art of Nature Photography (ISBN 0817433112) says, "The illusion of a telephoto's shallow depth of field anses from the magnification of an out-of-focus background".. See also Paul van Walree's page on misconceptions in photographic optics. "Yes, a telephoto lens may give rise to a large (absolute) blur of the background, but this is not a matter of DOF. From the definition of the depth of field it is clear that DOF should should be judged by the in-focus parts of the image, now matter how unsharp the out-of-focus parts may be."

  9. See 16 Inspirational Portrait Photography Techniques by Brian Auer.


Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Take Portrait Photographs. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Eyecatchers-137: "100 Milestone Documents of U.S.A."

100 Milestone Documents
www.ourdocuments.gov
U.S. National Archives & Records Administration
700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20408 • 1-86-NARA-NARA • 1-866-272-6272

A list of 100 milestone documents which chronicle United States history from 1776 to 1965 has been compiled by the National Archives and Records Administration. These documents are drawn primarily from its nationwide holdings. They contain some important Public laws, Supreme Court decisions, Inaugural speeches, Treaties, Constitutional Amendments, and other documents that have influenced the course of U.S. history. According to the U.S.National Archives & Records Administration: "They have helped shape the national character, and they reflect our diversity, our unity, and our commitment as a nation to continue our work toward forming “a more perfect union.”

Grateful thanks to U.S.National Archives & Records Administration (www.ourdocuments.gov).

Letters-72: "Politicisation"

1. It is unfortunate that the Sri Lankan Tamils issue is occupying centre stage in Tamil Nadu politics. Every party is trying to outdo the other in portraying itself as the champion of the Tamils' cause. The ruling DMK is resorting to flipflops to ensure that even while it remains part of the UPA, it is not compelled to yield ground to other parties. The real issue has been obfuscated and the plight of the Sri Lankan Tamils has become secondary in comparison with the LTTE, which is getting undue coverage and misplaced sympathy. - G.Gokul Kishore, New Delhi.

2. Our leaders do not seem to have genuine concern for the innocent Tamils caught in the crossfire between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan army. They seem to be more worried about the LTTE and its chief Prabakaran. They are engaged in a war of statements. Have they taken any step other than going on strikes, organising human chains and writing to the Centre on the issue? - D.Asokan, Tiruvarur.

3. Thousands of innocent Sri Lankan Tamils are caught between the LTTE and the armed forces. Both sides are militant in achieving their goals and the poor people have become pawns in their game. Their misery is a godsend to our politicians. It helps them remain in the limelight and divert people's attention from price rise, misrule, unemployment, power shortage etc. - A.K.Chari, New Delhi.

4. Colombo is fighting a dreaded terrorist outfit. I fail to understand how anybody can demand that Sri Lanka should stop the war against the LTTE, which is holding the civilians as a human shield. It is the LTTE which should be persuaded to release the people. - P.Senthil Kumar, Gurgaon.

5. The strike called by Mr.Karunanidhi to protest against the killing of Sri Lankan Tamils is unwarranted. We have had enough of strikes, bandhs, fasts, etc. on the issue. It is quite apparent that the move is the result of political compulsions. - N.Nagesh, Chennai.

6. It is frustrating to see bandhs and strikes being organised for some reason or the other. The DMK government should understand the pulse of the common man, who is burdened with day-to-day problems in view of the recession. It should not thrust its outdated ideas on the people to get political mileage in the coming election. - S.Balasubramanian, Chennai.

7. Why are not our politicians talking about development issues? When will we see the end of hartals, strikes, etc., which make the life of the common man a nightmare for no fault of his? - A.C.Krishnan, Chennai.

8. How will a general strike here help the Tamils suffering in Sri Lanka? Instead of observing a strike, the political parties can jointly bring pressure on the Centre to request Colombo to ensure the safety of the Tamils. The Prabakaran question can be discussed later. - Chambath Gopalakrishanan, Palakkad.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, April 23, 2009 ('Letters to the Editor').

Grateful thanks to M/s.G.Gokul Kishore, D.Asokan, A.K.Chari, P.Senthil Kumar, N.Nagesh, S.Balasubramanian, Chambath Gopalakrishnan and The Hindu, India's National Newspaper.

Letters-71: "LTTE and Terrorism"

1. The world must allow the Sri Lankan government, which has come so close to eliminating the LTTE menace, to do everything it can to complete the task. By any logic, the military can only limit the extent of civilian damage. Any pause in the current offensive will allow the LTTE to regroup. Once the LTTE is finished, India and the rest of the world can apply pressure on Colombo to address the genuine issues of the Tamils. - V.Govindarajan, Singapore.

2. According to the Oxford Dictionary, a terrorist "is a person using especially organised violence to secure political ends." In the context of Prabakaran and the LTTE, the word should redefined to read as "a sadist who wants to see human blood flow in his relentless pursuit of imaginary ends." - S.Ramakrishnasayee, Ranipet.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, April 23, 2009.

Grateful thanks to M/s.V.Govindarajan, S.Ramakrishnasayee and The Hindu, India's National Newspaper.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Self-Improvement-51: "Promises to Keep"

Promise Yourself ....

1. To be strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
2. To talk Health, Happiness and Prosperity to everyone you meet.
3. To make all your friends feel that there is something of value in them.
4. To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come through.
5. To think only the best, to work only for the best and to expect the best.
6. To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
7. To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
8. To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticise others.

Courtesy: "Imaya Geetam", Tamil Monthly, April 2009.
Grateful thanks to "Imaya Geetam".

Letters-70: "Code of Conduct"

1. Much of the Election Commission's resources have gone into disciplining and pulling up candidates and political parties for their behaviour during the election campaign ("Honouring the code in the breach," The Hindu, April 16) so far. The erring candidates have received excellent help from the electronic media which relayed and analysed every act threadbare and provided hour-after-hour of publicity to them. The campaigning was generally distasteful. What ought to have been issue-based - there is no dearth of local, regional and national issues - became an acrimonious exercise. The voter had an overdose of rallies devoid of intellectual content, with parties releasing meaningless manifestos. - R.Swarnalatha, New Delhi.

2. The editorial, it appears, has been written more in sorrow than in anger at the dismal state of affairs in the largest democracy of the world. As pointed out, increased public awareness is the only solution to prevent further decay. - K.N.Bhagavan, Bangalore.

3. Since it has no statutory backing, the model of code of conduct is like a balloon without air. the campaigning for the first stage of the election was characterized by irresponsible remarks by many leaders. What we need are reforms to make the parties more responsible and the Election Commission more powerful. - Ankit Kumar, Ghaziabad.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, April 17, 2009

Grateful thanks to M/s.R.Swarnalatha, K.N.Bhagavan, Ankit Kumar and The Hindu, India's National Newspaper.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Letters-69: "Election Manifestos"

1. In our country, political parties can promise anything during elections because they know nothing will happen if they do not honour them. The congress has promised a law on food security, under which families living below the poverty line will get rice or wheat for Rs.3 a kg, knowing full well that this and its other promises involve huge financial implications and the funds earmarked for other projects may have to be diverted to turn the promises into reality. We do not have a mechanism to evaluate the performance of a party on the basis of its election manifesto. Till we evolve one, political parties will continue to take us for a ride - Mudgal Venkatesh, Gulbarga

2. Parties announce freebies to woo voters because these will be paid for by the taxpayers. No party has talked about raising agricultural production without which the assurance to give rice at Rs.2 or 3 a kg will remain a mere promise; industrial development to generate employment, and measures to alleviate poverty. - A.K.Rao, Hyderabad.

3. Election manifestos are forgotten once the polls are over. Accountability in public life is an abstract proposition. If one analyses the poll manifestos of political parties over a period of time, it will become clear that very few promises have changed. It seems the parties pull out their old manifestos, decorate them with new covers and make a few modifications. The parties in power should come out with a statement on how much of their promises they delivered on during their tenure, and what they propose to do about the promises they could not fulfil. This calls for high integrity. Slogans like "India shining" and "Jai ho" convey nothing - Samiron Phukan, Hyderabad.

Grateful thanks to M/s.Mudgal Venkatesh, A.K.Rao, Samiron Phukan and The Hindu, India's National Newspaper.