What’s the worst family photo you never took?

What’s the worst family photo you never took?

If you’re thinking about the worst family photo you ever took, go back and read the title and think about it.

It’s probably the time of year, in addition to wondering what to write about, that led me to this topic.  I have yet to find a good photo of my Great-Grandmother to put on our family photo wall.  That’s been bugging me for a while.

And then, there’s a song I heard the other day that always puts me in one of those melancholy, reflective, contemplative moods – “Time Passages” by Al Stewart.  Take a ride on the Wayback Machine and check out this video on YouTube of Al and Shot in the Dark performing the song back in 1978 when it was released: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRKyGhgoNE8

So, where am I going with this?

Well, way back when, some families were great with taking family pictures during the holidays – or any time for that matter- and some weren’t.  Some stored their family pictures well, and some didn’t. 

All things considered, if you go back let’s say 50 years ago – it was a lot more complicated than it is today.  There were flashbulbs to load in the flash gun, and then exposures to calculate and settings to set on the camera.  Fast forward a couple of years to the Instamatic camera that took 126 roll film and flash cubes!  An absolutely (well, almost) people proof system that while easy to use unfortunately didn’t take great pictures – but preserved memories to stimulate the mental hard drive nonetheless.  And then the 110 roll film cameras became a brief rage because they were small.  Never mind that so were their negatives, which meant that their practical use was limited.

Fast forward a bit to 1976 and the introduction of the Canon AE-1 35mm film camera.  It was the first “camera with a brain” (a microprocessor) and it began the transformation of amateur photography.  Load it with film, put the lens on the automatic setting, put the flash on and set it to automatic, set the shutter speed to 1/60 of a second – and indoor family holiday photography was transformed again.  (My AE-1, passed down from my Father, is a few feet away.)

37 years later, we have digital cameras in our phones as well as DSLR cameras that represent the great-great grandchildren of the AE-1.  A majority of people are using digital instead of film these days.  The cameras have great metering systems, automatic flashes, flashes that adjust their brightness for the scene, red-eye reduction settings.  It’s actually pretty easy these days to take a good picture.  Maybe it’s not so good for professional portrait photographers, though.

In the old days, you had to wait days or hours to see if the pictures were good or not.  More often than not, if you weren’t happy with your results, you didn’t get a chance for a “do-over” until the next family gathering.  Even then, you may not have been able to replicate the picture.

Perhaps the best thing about digital photography is that you can look at your picture seconds later and see who had their eyes closed, or mouth open, or who was making a funny face or obscene gesture.  If you don’t like what you got – yell at everyone (politely, of course, because it is the holidays) and take the picture again.  And, repeat as necessary… 

Filum is virtually free in the form of memory cards.  No – that’s not a typo.  It’s film as my maternal Grandfather called it.  It’s Pittsburghese.  Don’t believe me?  Look it up! 

And – no more having to spend $3.00 extra per roll for 1-Hour processing of your 4×6 prints.

So, where am I going with this?  Well, I’m almost there now.  Thanks for bearing with me.

OK, I’m there now. 

Here goes:

Take pictures this family season.  Lots of them.  Get ‘em with their eyes closed.  Get ‘em with that glob of gravy on their chin.  Get ‘em when they’re groaning.  Get ‘em when their smiling.  Just get ‘em.

That way, you can always talk about the worst family picture you took. 

It’s better than lamenting about the picture you never took.  That could well be the worst one…

Oh – almost forgot – this post could be a great pre-holiday gift for someone you know.  Don’t be afraid to share it.

Tripods. Underutilized and unappreciated.

I’m probably like most of us when it comes to tripods.  I have one.  It’s not always with me when I’m shooting, and sometimes, I’m not quite sure where it is.

Actually, I might be a little worse than some, as I actually have two tripods.  One is an absolute monster that could probably hold up the corner of a small building.  The other is a sturdy but compact unit that fits inside of a carry-on suitcase.  And, neither of them gets used as much as they should.

In reviewing and selecting images for the Frog’s launch, I came across more photos than I wanted to that were great.  At least until they were examined at 100% they were great.  Most of them were dawn or dusk shots, or at slow shutter speed shots where I wanted to emphasize the motion of something, most often water.

In wasn’t that I didn’t have a tripod in most cases.  It was that I was simply too lazy to use a tripod.  Or, I didn’t take the time to go back and get it out of my vehicle.  Or, I didn’t want to carry it.  Or, well, you get the point.  Coulda.  Woulda.  Shoulda.  Didn’t.

Where that reality really sunk in was during the review of some (almost but not quite) absolutely phenomenal images of the Niagara River just above the American Falls.  If all anyone ever wanted was a 3”x5” print (Remember those?  You’re dating yourself if you do…) or a 4”x6” print, I would have made them available.  The reality is that not many of us – me included – would want those shots in those sizes.  So, they will languish in obscurity on my hard drive until someone invents a program to fix them (there’s an opportunity for some code guru, as I’m not the only one out there with slightly fuzzy shots).

Somewhere out there, someone is saying “well, why didn’t you use a vibration reduction or optically stabilized lens for those shots of the Niagara River?”  Well smartypants, I did…. And, in trying to really emphasize the fluidity of the flowing water, I managed to go so low with my shutter speed that the water looks great – but the foliage in the background is just a wee tiny little bit fuzzy. 

So, the moral of this week’s story is simple.

Get a tripod for your landscape, scenic, and “special effects” shots.  Make sure it will hold your camera and heaviest lens combination.  Get the best you can afford – it doesn’t have to be carbon fiber, it just needs to be sturdy.  But don’t be like me – USE IT! 

If your camera can use a remote release or a cable release, use that too!  If your camera can’t use a remote or candle release, use your self-timer to avoid camera shake.  If all else fails, then use your finger.  Slowly and gently….

And, if you are using a vibration reduction or optically stabilized lens, don’t forget to turn off that function when you’re using a tripod.  Really.  Yes, I’m serious.  Read the instructions if you don’t believe me.

And me?

I’ll be practicing what I’m preaching after this post.  I don’t know when I’ll get a chance at a do-over at the Niagara River again.  But, I do know how to avoid the same problem in the future. 

I just need to remember my tripod…

Viewing and Ordering: What We’ve Learned


Browsers.  Operating Systems.  Versions.  Settings.

Who really thinks about these things?  Do they matter?

The answer to the first question is web designers and website IT folks… and now, me. 

As to the second question, sort of.

Depending on what you’re using to view the Frog, and what version software you’re using, and what the settings are on the device – it will probably look a little different.  It’s been viewed in Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and probably some other browsers I don’t even know exist.  Operating systems include iOS, Windows, Android and who knows what else.  I won’t even get into versions and settings – too many topics and variables there!

Based on user feedback, it seems safe to say that the best user environments for the Frog as far as features and functionality are Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox.  Everything is “there” in these browsers, and the ordering / customizing processes function smoothly.  This isn’t to say that it doesn’t work on Safari – it does work, but the quick links to Facebook, etc., don’t always appear on the screen.  Those links have become important, as the Frog is a very small operation that relies on word-of-mouth and social media for “advertising” and growth.

There are new galleries in the works, and we hope to have some of them up in time to allow for holiday deliveries (well, at least one anyways!).  That’s not to say that we don’t already offer a great deal of possibilities for creative and unique holiday gifts.

As always, thanks for visiting.  We appreciate the Likes and sharing on Facebook.  And remember, only 23 shopping days left until Christmas…!