5 Reasons Why You Should Sign Up to 500px

Hey guys,

So I recently signed up to this great site called 500px and if I’m being honest, I’ve turned into a bit of a fanboy! Regardless of that though, it’s a genuinely great site with the functions and implementation to really rank highly in your social networking resources. 500px is best described by the creators as ‘a photographic community powered by creative people from all over the world that lets you share and discover inspiring photographs’. Except that may perhaps be an understatement; with comprehensive blogging tools, social networking updates and a friend based community 500px may just be your new internet homepage. So here are 5 reasons you should sign up, starting with…

1) It works.

Now, this may sound like a stupid reason; but it’s completely relevant. If a site doesn’t work, people can’t use it, they can’t become users. I would best describe 500px’s user page [Example is my page] as a blend between Facebook and twitter, featuring all the elements you could want from a social networking hub, but laying it out in a cleaner way than Facebook by using a tab based system, which keeps all of your other main directions open. If you want to follow someone, just click the appropriate box and you follow them. Keeping tabs on what you and other people are doing is so easy, because the information is just there; Ian and  Oleg (The sites founders) have somehow seemed to strip away all that is unimportant and leave only that which matters without making anything seem cluttered. Click where you want to go, and go there. Simple, elegant, functional. However, if you are having problems, why don’t you look to the next reason…

2) The Staff Are Great.

Ok, now I may have gotten a bit carried away, referring to the sites founders on a first name basis, something that I cannot justify-but it’s sad to say just how much they feel like your friends. It is one of my most commendable points in this article, to highlight just how impressed I have been by the sites customer service so far. After encountering a little befuddlement with the interface, I decided to make use of the blogging feature built into the site. After a short post expressing some concern, I got a reply and a string of tweet mentions via Oleg, Ian and the 500px official twitter [Click to follow]. It was great to engage with the staff on such a personal level, and you can see from their tweets just how eager the team at 500px are to communicate with their users, with a lot of retweet and @mentions to other users. I cannot pretend that should the site take off on the scale of  Facebook or twitter that this personability may fade, but the site is already servicing tens of thousands of members and it is really nice to see this level of effort.

3) Portfolios.

Can’t afford to a run a portfolio site, showing off your work? Well 500px accommodates users with an online portfolio for FREE. It’s a simple enough slide show generator, but the feature provides you with a personal URL and shows off your photography in a clean, sleek and stylish way; saving technophobes the world over. People checking out your portfolio are also provided with contact details and a brief ‘About’ section based on the information you submitted when signing up to the 500px main site. It’s a simple feature that works really well; have a look at mine to see how it looks.

4) It’s Classy.

Have you ever heard of a site called 1x? If not, you really should check that out too; I say this because like 500px-it’s classy. Class is something that’s hard to pin down but I would summarise it in this context as something that represents quality and design on an industry level. You can’t submit any old tat to 500px; I mean, do your best and upload only your best (as requested by the site admins), but this isn’t a place for your party snaps or your upload tests. 500px stands for a community of quality, not a photo sharing network; the difference being that 500px functions on a more objective level than the happy snappers on Facebook photos. However, if you’ve tried submitting to 1x and been rejected, don’t worry, 500px as far as I know don’t scrub apparently ‘amateur’ photographs, they just ask you to do your best. Couple this with usability far superior to 1x’s interface, and you can start to see why people are claiming 500px is to flickr, what vimeo is to youtube.

5) It’s Young.

One of my favorite things about 500px is its tender age, or perhaps instead I should refer to its tender size. The site started out in 2003 but refers to their 2.0 version being completed in 2009; in that time 500px has won over a few thousand users but I saw a tweet earlier today speculating to the size increase that they estimate for the end of the month. This is what I really think should push readers of this article to sign up, it’s a fantastic experience getting involved in something that has the potential to grow exponentially and since my sign up, I have been rating, commenting and of course posting to try to become a truly active member of this community (Even if I’m not going to be the best photographer on the site!). Because that’s what it’s all about, being sociable, kind and sharing your mutual interests with people in a way that only the internet can accommodate.

Go on, just sign up already.

Peace,

Matt  :)

 

Light Painting: Post Editing Tips

Hey guys, it’s been a long break for me and I know the blog is pretty bare at the moment. But my exams are over and I hope to start posting regularly once again!

So I see that online there are a LOT of tutorials of home to do light painting; I think it’s a wonderful effect and you can read a couple of great tutorials of how to do it here, here and here. This tutorial is for intermediates and does assume some prior photo editing knowledge.

Now light painting is a fantastic medium to create stellar images, usually people like to write their name or super-impose something like a flower; personally I love the abstract patterns that can come from swirling your light around in the dark. However this is inconsequential to this tutorial, as there are plenty of resources to create your photo I’d like to show you the process I went through to get my shots looking a little more polished.

I am using a free programme called Paint.net which is a fantastic free alternative to Photoshop. The interface is very similar and only lacks a few of Photoshop features (Though as Photoshop advances, Paint.net does not). I strongly urge you to download this programme here.

Step 1. So you have your shots, but you might have som stuff in the background obscuring it, in this case, there is a computer screen. I am going to clone stamp it out, if you aren’t familiar with clone stamping I suggest you read this tutorial here. In light painting if you’re just looking to erase (which I recommend) look to set your anchor point in a dark patch that is near the object you want to get rid of, there may be darker patches on the photo but there will always be subtle balance differences and choosing an area near your object just makes it easier. See the photos below for a step by step example.

(If you’re worried that you can see the area affected by the clone stamp, it’s ok we’ll be addressing that next)

Step 2. Now we are going to balance our light and dark areas in the best possible way. There are two methods in doing this, you can use the brightness and contrast adjuster, or you can use the luminosity adjuster on the curves tool. I actually use both,because I find the curves tool better for fine tuning whilst the B+C effect is better in more general usage. You are only going to want to make very subtle changes so that they don’t look typically ‘edited’, this is a common problem among editors. There is an old saying that goes ‘If you can’t tell what the editor did, they did a great job’. I can’t really tell you how to adjust your own photo, but I will just show you the settings I used for my own.

Step 3. Now this photo is already looking pretty nice, I was lucky in this shot that the trail came out a nice gold, but your colours always won’t always pop this well and this photo can still use a little colour adjusting. You can do this by boosting the saturation slightly, however my prefered method is to use the curves tool again, by just booting the colours slightly you can really make those colours stand out, which just look great against the black background. For this shot I’m going to boost the yellows, but like the previous step have an experiment and see what looks best for you, I’ll post an example with some vivid greens that look great with an approximation of the settings I used.

You should be at a point where you are happy with your shots, personally to just give them that final, professional feel, I like to trim about 5 pixels or so off the top and bottom but that’s completely up to you. Here are two full resolution examples of my own shots, please leave a comment with any questions or links to your own light painting photo gallery.

[CLICK HERE TO VISIT MY FLICKR PAGE]

Peace,

Matt  :)