Setting Up Your WordPress Blog :: The Essentials in Less Than an Hour.

Starting a WordPress blog? Read this and have your website up to par in less than an hour.

Also, this tutorial assume you already know how to make posts, pages and categories. If you don’t know how to do these things, look them up first. Here are two good places to start:

http://codex.wordpress.org/Pages

http://codex.wordpress.org/Manage_Categories_SubPanel

Hey Guys,

So recently I helped my friend out by recommending way she could tighten up her blog a bit. I thought that actually these points could help anyone starting a WordPress blog; these tips are for anyone starting to blog and who wants to start out with a base level of quality. These are very easy steps and I have images to guide you through, if you found this post helpful PLEASE show it your friends.

Hyperlink EVERYTHING

Hyper-Linking is really important because not only are you helping your readers out by saving them work, but your also sourcing content and potentially gaining referrals (when a website sees you have linked to them, and therefor link back to you).

In the image below, I have selected the only tools I use from the visual editor on the New Post screen of WordPress (the visual editor is by far easier to use for people starting out, don’t worry about the HTML one).

Click Image For Full Size

These are the only button I use, and all I think the basic blogger really needs; I won’t explain them all in detail because most of you will be familiar to most office-type document programs (For many of you this means Microsoft Word). However the WordPress interface makes it easier to hyper-link than you may be used to.

See below step-by-step instructions on hyper-linking (Image will probably have to be viewed full size as it’s very long, sorry!).

Click Image For Full Size

1) Click the icon that looks like a chain.

2) The hyper-link box appears, leave it for now.

3) Go to your desired website, select the address and click ‘copy’.

4) Right-click in the address bar and select paste (Make sure there is only one ‘http’)

5) After link is pasted just click ‘Add Link’ it’s that easy!

6) You will know your word has been linked to something if it turns purple and is under-lined (The text will also become a different colour on your blog, this depends on your blog theme).

So that’s all there is to hyper-linking; it’s quick, easy and very useful! Use it for ANYTHING that links to another web-page. It doesn’t even have to be the address itself, it can also be a single word. It is often popular to link to web-pages in these two styles:

Visit Matt Knight’s web-site.

Check out Matt Knight by clicking here.

Have A Contact Form

The internet moves fast, we don’t want to be wasting time copying email addresses and then pasting them and then… Jeez, I’m bored already!

Contact forms make it easier for your readers to contact you directly, plus it means that you don’t have to give out your email address to any potential deviants (NOTE: WordPress does not promote deviancy!).

WordPress actually offers a very comprehensive tutorial on adding contact forms, I promise that all it essentially takes is two clicks.

I just wanted to include this as a note, because it’s very tempting to just post your email address and leave it, but I promise this is a lot better way to promote contact with your readers, plus, it just plain looks better.

Read the tutorial here: http://en.support.wordpress.com/contact-form/

Have An About Page

You’ve heard of friendly faces right? Well you’ve probably never heard of friendly names, that’s because putting a face to a name creates another dimension to your blog, it grants it humanity.

An About page does not have to be labored over, going over each detail until it’s perfect. It needs to be short and to the point; people aren’t going to try and trip you up, usually they just want to know a little about the person who’s website they are visiting.

Below I’ve mocked up my ideal About page, there of course are a lot of variations on what you can do, but I feel these are the detail that MUST be included-add any personal flair after you’ve administered these steps.

Click Image For Full Size

The picture says it all really, but here’s a few more details.

i) The school/ organisation area is a place to ground yourself in reality, there’s no need for any real detail here.

ii) In the picture of yourself, make sure it’s you and only you. People don’t want to be trying to work out who you are from a group photo and make sure you are smiling! (If you don’t have picture of yourself anywhere else on the blog, this is a really important addition).

iii) When you add some personality to the page, keep it concise and relevant; if you blog about films say what you love about them and perhaps mention your favorites but don’t talk about directors or effects you like-this about you, not about your subject. This applies to any subject: art, culture, gaming… anything. Talk about why you’re invested in your subject area and leave it at that.

iv) ONLY list skills that employers will recognize; there is no need for school grades here. Mention things that will make people respect your opinion. The majority of you probably won’t have these (I know I don’t!) in which case just try and win over your audience with this space; just be nice.

v) You may think you’re the most original person in the world, but you’re probably not. Have a look at other blogs before adding something you think is funny and original. This isn’t a set rule, but it’s often nice to stand out if possible. For my blog I added a list of things you shouldn’t know about me, it’s a dig at myself and I hope it reflects good humour! I’m sure though you can think of much better ways to promote yourself, so experiment and be creative!

Have A Homepage Tab

By default WordPress gives you this; so don’t be stupid like I was and delete it, because you can’t get it back! However if you do, you can apply my very (un-elegant) solution. It’s straight out of the idiots guide to blogging, but it does the trick. Simply create a Category called ‘Home’, add it to your menu and and then tag EVERY post in this category. If you have a lot of posts already, just give up on them (apart from your 5 most recent) they are just lost to cyber-space, move on. As long as you remember to click this category before you publish no-one will ever know!

So, that’s it. I hope this post helped you and if the clock ran over one hour I’m sorry, but there are no refunds. If you have any questions just leave a comment on this post or of course you can message me via my contact form.

Take it easy,

Matt  :)

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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  :)

Top 5 Videos of the Week [02/01/2011]

Hey guys,

Sorry for the lack of proper posts this week but sadly as my exams are looming I have less free time to contribute to the blog. However they will all be over in a fortnight and hopefully I can become more active again! However I could not desert my new feature seeing as I only started it last week! So here are the top videos from the last 7 days; it’s a mixed bag this week with: one tutorial, two graduation pieces, a gorgeous short film and something a little bit different. Please leave a comment letting me know what you think!

1. Growing is Forever

This is a stunning visual piece by Jesse Rosten who like me has a great passion for forests. I have always adored the beauty and might of forest vistas and I think Rosten captures these beautifully, set alongside a perfectly appropriate monologue.

Video: Jess Rosten (Click for website)

Music: Window by The Album Leaf

 

2. Time Warp Project

This is the first of this weeks two graduation pieces; it’s an almost photorealistic animation of a car crash from the first person. It’s a visual treat with the perfect moments slowed down to almost a stop, I must say my favorite moment is at 1:07 where the lighting effects are perfect. incredible in every way, this man deserves your subscription.

Video: Urialamour

Music: You Only Live Once by The Strokes

 

3. Slow Motion/Pin Warp

Time for something a little bit different now; this is a tutorial from one of my youtube subscriptions who predominately makes gaming videos. Now this isn’t something I intend to blog about at any particular length, but the technique in this tutorial can be applied to any still image, not just gaming. It’s a simple enough effect where we are taught how the pin warp tool in Adobe After Effects can create the illusion of super slow-motion.

Video: oDcreyfish

 

4. Train of Thought

This is the second of this weeks graduation pieces from the Arts Institute in Bournemouth (Woop!) as these guys are just across the road from where I study am I very proud to hopefully create a little more awareness about this incredible piece of work. Though the effect looks relatively simple it actual took a painstaking amount of work to achieve and you can watch the ‘making of’ video here. Truly this is a masterful piece of work.

Video: Leo Bridle

Music: Portico Quartet arranged by Jack Wyllie

Sound Design: Andrew South

Official Website: www.leobridlefilms.co.uk/trainofthought/

 

5. Holiday Portrait

And now for something a little different, I just wanted to repost the example of video of the latest vimeo weekend project. It’s a simple enough premise with the idea that you set up a self-timer photo then sit with your friends and see how long they will wait, the idea of course that actually no photo is going to be taken they are just being filmed! The concept is called a fauxtograph and I thought this was a really neat little idea.

Video: Blake Whitman

Project Group: Vimeo Weekend Projects

What video was your favorite? Please leave a comment below letting me know what you think. You can see last weeks Top 5 Videos here.

Peace Guys,

Matt  :)

Framing and Cropping (A Beginner’s Guide)

Example 1 © Peter West Carey

Example 2 © Peter West Carey

Hey guys,

I came across this tutorial today and I thought I definatley had to re-post it here. The tutorial isn’t too long and covers some really important elements that all photographers should consider before they shoot (or when they post-edit). The tutorial is aimed at beginners and may seem a little simplistic but regardless, framing and cropping is a key skill that all photographers should have in their repetoire. You can read the tutorial here.

Peace,

Matt  :)

Don’t Take Any Photos Until You Read This First!

3 Tutorials EVERY Photographer Needs to Read.

Hey guys,
So I’m a big fan of the ‘tuts+ range of sites (ranging from 3d design to sound mixing) and I came across 3 must read tutorials that I urge you to digest before you take any photographs. Personally when I bought my SLR camera I went to a local camera shop and asked the guy over the counter to explain everything to me, how it worked, what aperture means etc and I recommend you to do this too. However if you are in the position where this is not a viable option, everything I was told is covered in these three tutorials. I have also read through all of these and they are laid out very simply and I picked up a few new things as well. Whilst I may be new to SLR photography I do have a prior knowledge of composition due to my computer design work; yet these tutorials proved very useful even to myself and I urge you to read them.

  • The first is a tutorial on all the functions of your camera. Whilst personally you may not have all the functions listed, this tutorial covers eveything and though it’s long, it’s an essential read.
  • The second tutorial is almost worth more than the first, if you are in a rush (or just incredibly ignorant) you can probably still point and click an SLR, the chances are though is that you won’t understand how to adjust the exposure, or even know what it does. This is something I personally needed a little help understanding and I certainly would have benifited from reading this before my first ever SLR shoot where some of the shots came a little washed out. In a nutshell though, exposure controls the amount of light let into the lens of the camera; the more light there is, the more washed out it will look; the less light there is, the harder it is to see detail. Read the tutorial on exposure here.
  • Next is a tutorial that I wouldn’t have thought of off the top of my head, but when I read it a found absoloutley invaluable. This tutorial is about always choosing the best photo in a series. This tutorial outlines everything you should look to keep or exclude from a photo and goes into accute detail to define what is and is not the best. A surprising, but essential read.

Also, for those of you that don’t like reading, here is a video overview of all the topics covered. Click here.

I hope this tutorial helps you guys, I think anyone who takes the time to read this content will benifit greatly from it.

P.S: Just in case you’re interested, I shoot with a Pentax ME super finished in chrome. A sexy little camera I got second hand and half price because the aperture didn’t work. But luckily a guy fixed it for me for free! Woo Hoo!

Peace,

Matt :)