How to Properly Hang Your Photo Or Art Frames

Pictures frames, art work, and even butterfly collections truly make a room more beautiful. They bring life to otherwise boring and plain walls. They also show photos of memorable events and artsy craftwork whether done by family members or other well-known people.

Hanging frames is an art in itself and how you place them and hang them can really emphasize or otherwise diminish the beauty of the photo or art work. Just like any other thing you put on your wall, hanging framed artwork should be done with a keen eye to the surrounding decor.

Here are some basic steps to ensure that your frames will look more beautiful and that the photo or art work in them will be highlighted and focused on.

– Determine the layout that you want to have. It can be a series of frames in a slightly arched position or maybe arrangements similar to layouts seen on a dice.
– Next, try out this layout by placing cardboard or any piece of paper across the wall using the layout that you want. You can immediately see whether it is exactly what you have in mind. Remember to use paper or cardboard that is almost the same size as your frames. You can outline the frames and then cut them out to get the sizes. This way, you can also identify the placements of the frames according to size. A visual trial always works best.
– If your placement doesn’t seem too appealing, try another layout. Your layout will also be affected when you have items hanging from the ceiling at low elevation.
– It is important that the frames can be seen at eye level.
– Have prominent markings when you finalize your placement. Placing nails in the wall will not be easy to remove in case you change your mind or miscalculate. That scar on the wall will not look too good, so be sure to measure carefully.
– Have equal distance between the frames and do not put one too far or too close to the next one. This way, you will be able to have balance in the room through the placement of the frames.
– Note the positions of lights in the room as well. Since framed art is generally composed of glass material on the front, you may want to keep the frames a bit farther from the lights as the light can reflect on the glass making the image of the picture less visible.

Make sure that the frames and the clips are sturdy so they do not fall. Especially if you are hanging frames on a wooden wall, be mindful about the strength of the nails and how they are attached. One important factor is the depth or how deep the nail is inside the wall. For thin double-faced walls, use smaller nails so that the frames on the other side are not affected. With a little planning and coordination, you can make your walls look beautiful with your framed artwork and photographs.

HTC Butterfly

OVERVIEW

The HTC Butterfly is a pretty interesting device with some really great technology in it. Its screen is one of the fortes as it uses that new screen technology – Super LCD3. It’s a pretty rare screen type which hasn’t really spread all that much as of yet. What it’s particularly great at is being able to make 5.0 inch screens support 1080p full HD resolutions and it generally has a pixel density that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Also, the hardware of the Butterfly is extremely powerful, even for today’s standards. However, with all things considered, this device being one of the strongest out there and such, it will mean that it costs a little bit more to purchase. While an estimated price was of 600 euros, the true price will actually depend a lot on the carrier and provider, as most add a bit more to the price in order to generate a profit for themselves.

GENERAL

This phone, depending on the market in which you purchase it from, can be a 4G phone with LTE enabled, or one with regular 2G and 3G networks. The SIM of this device is a Micro-SIM, so if you have one of those good for you, otherwise you will have to go to your local network provider and change your SIM into a Micro one. This phone was initially announced in December of 2012 and it came out the next month in January 2013. It is currently available for purchase and depending on where you get it from, certain offers and deals may apply for it.

BODY

The phone is pretty massive, so if you’re uncomfortable with phones that have 5.0 inch screens, this may not be the best alternative. Personally, it doesn’t really bother me that the phone is 5.0 inches big (screen-wise). I personally find even the Note 2 of a decent size, despite people claiming that it’s too big to be a phone. Then again, some people even use 7.0 tablets which have SIM support as phones (I have seen it with my own eyes, and it’s a pretty amusing sight). Back to the point: the specific size of the phone is 143 x 70.5 x 9.1 mm big (or 5.63 x 2.78 x 0.36 in, if you prefer this system) and it weighs around 140 g (or 4.94 oz, if you’d rather have this system).

DISPLAY

As I already mentioned, this phone has a Super LCD3 capacitive touchscreen with 16 million colors. This screen isn’t really all that famous worldwide as there are very few phones that actually have it already implemented. I understand it’s not the cheapest to manufacture, but for the quality it offers it’s understandable. The resolution of this 5.0 inch screen is 1080 x 1920 pixels (the standard 1080p full HD resolution you’re used to from your movies / games). The pixel density is one of the more impressing things. A tad overkill, if you ask me, but if that is their choice who am I to argue. The Super LCD3 has a pixel density of around 441 ppi (considering the maximum perceived by the human eye is 300, all other extra will just server to make the image slightly better, but the human eye won’t perceive it). The HTC Butterfly also has Multitouch and a very efficient screen protection – Gorilla Glass 2. Therefore, it should be safe from any accidental falls and eventual scratches. Also, the phone has the HTC Sense UI 4+ on it, should you want to keep it (I think you need to root the phone in order to remove it, though).

SOUND

The audio output of this phone is quite special. While I may not be a big fan of Beats Audio (particularly due to its pricing of the headphones), I am no fool and can easily admit that it’s one of the more powerful sound enhancements out there. I believe that with the purchase of the phone, you also receive a pair of Beats Ear-Buds for the phone (at least that’s how it was for the One X+ that also had this enhancement). The rest of the audio components are standard ones.

MEMORY

The memory of this device is quite interesting, to say the least. There is a minor problem with the internal storage space as the phone has 16 GB internal space, but only 11 GB are user-available. If you require more, the phone also has a Micro SD card slot that takes any card of up to 32 GB. The RAM of this device is one of the better sums as the phone has 2 GB (which I believe is currently the maximum right now).

DATA CONNECTION

The HTC Butterfly has both GPRS and EDGE on it. Provided you choose the LTE version, it speed with be HSPA+ and LTE Cat 3 with a speed of 100 MB/s Download and 50 MB/s Upload. The phone also has Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n with Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA and Wi-Fi hotspot. The Bluetooth of this device is v4.0 and it also has A2DP. The phone has support for NFC as well and its USB port is a Micro-USB v2.0 one with MHL (therefore, you won’t need a HDMI port on it – all you’ll need is a MHL A/V Link cable and you’re set).

CAMERA

The main camera of this device is one of the finer ones. It is an 8 MP one that can photograph at resolutions of 3264 x 2448 pixels and record video in 1080p full HD at 30 frames per second. The features of this camera are: autofocus, LED flash, simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging and face and smile detection. As far as the video features go, they are: stereo sound recording and video stabilization (very useful if you plan on using Zoom). The secondary frontal camera of this device is a 2.1 MP one that can record video in 1080p full HD at 30 frames per second. The secondary camera of the HTC Butterfly should come in quite handy for video calls.

BATTERY LIFE

One thing that worries me about the battery, and perhaps the only true disadvantage of this phone (every phone needs to have at least 1 disadvantage – it’s how things go) is the fact that the battery is non-removable. Other than that, it’s a Li-Po 2020 mAh battery. The thing isn’t really all that big a problem, but in the long run it can cause some amount of trouble. What if in an year or so the battery starts showing signs of degradation – you will have to send the phone to a service instead of being able to personally go out and buy a new battery.

HARDWARE

The hardware of this phone is quite exquisite, the phone having a Quad-Core 1.5 GHz Krait processor and an Adreno 320 GPU. Put together with its 2 GB of RAM, this phone will be able to run even the most complex of apps and games out there with ease.

SOFTWARE

The Android OS version of this device is v4.1 Jelly Bean, however, the phone can also be upgraded to 4.2 Jelly Bean. Therefore, I’d say we’re pretty much set on the software side of things.

FEATURES

This phone is literally packed with all sorts of features. The sensors of this device are: accelerometer, gyro, proximity and compass. The messaging on this phone is done via: SMS (with Threaded View), MMS, E-Mail and Push E-Mail. The browser of this device uses HTML5 and has no apparent support for Flash (which may prove troublesome at some point, but it’s manageable). The phone also has Java though Java MIDP emulation and has a GPS with A-GPS support and GLONASS. This device is only available in 1 color: Black.

Here is a brief list of what the HTC Butterfly can do:

SNS integration
Dropbox (25 GB storage)
Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
TV-out (via MHL A/V link)
DivX/XviD/MP4/H.263/H.264/WMV player
MP3/eAAC+/WMA/WAV player
Google Search, Maps, Gmail, YouTube, Calendar, Google Talk
Organizer
Document viewer/editor
Photo viewer/editor
Voice memo/dial/commands
Predictive text input

This concludes our little review of the HTC Butterfly.

Thank you for reading this review. I hope it has been as helpful as possible. If you feel that anything is lacking from this review feel free to leave your suggestions in the comment section below for things which should be added and I will be sure to take them into consideration when writing my future projects. In the meantime, I sincerely hope you had as much fun reading my little review as I had writing it.

You can read on Androidized.com more useful reviews.

Make Your Photos Supersharp Part 5 – Using Lenses

OK, now we come to:

Using Lenses.

How can we use our lenses to get super sharp photos?

There’s bad news, good news and even better news.

The bad news is that even if you’ve chosen good lenses you won’t get sharp photos if you don’t use them properly. The good news is that if you use even half way decent lenses with proper care you can get sharp pictures and the even better news is that if you choose and use your lenses wisely you have a great chance of super sharp photos.

I’m going to be honest. Photography is pretty easy if you just snap on auto everything but if you want to get to the next level, it takes some effort.

Using your lenses is crucial and I’m going to concentrate on these two vital areas:

  • Finding the Sweet Spot
  • Focussing – Auto and Manual

The first thing is to have a good look at your lenses and make sure you know what the good and bad points are. Even the best lenses are imperfect.

So Let’s go to the Sweet Spot First.

What is the Sweet Spot?

The sweet spot is the aperture which delivers the maximum resolution.

For every lens you can find a sweet spot.

Every lens has a maximum aperture where the lens is wide open and lets in most light and a minimum aperture where the lens is closed down.

You won’t get the best super sharp pictures at either the maximum or minimum apertures.

At the maximum aperture you’ll have a very narrow depth of field (DOF) and because of the limitations of lens design your pictures will not be sharp at the corners and the corners will be relatively dark.

If you have a good lens it will still be very sharp in the centre even when wide open and you can can get a sharp photo if your main subject is in the centre.

You might think that the obvious solution to this is to close the lens down as far as you can. The problem is that once you close your lens down to f16, f22, f32 and so on you’re going to get hit by diffraction.

What is Diffraction?

Diffraction is quite a complicated concept but briefly it means that straight rays of light do not like being pushed through little holes. They react badly and your pictures will be blurred and soft.

All this means that somewhere between the maximum and minimum aperture there’s an aperture that will give you the best definition. In most lenses this is two or three stops down from the maximum so somewhere round about f5.6, f8 or f11 will give you the best definition. If you read reliable lens reviews you’ll probably see a diagram which shows you the sweet spot aperture.

This shouldn’t stop you using other apertures when you need to but it’s worth understanding that you’ll lose some sharpness.

When it comes to zoom lenses there’s another factor to take into account.

Many photographers use wide angle and telephoto zoom lenses.

These can deliver excellent results but it’s usually the case that they have problems when used at the widest or longest settings. Wide angle zoom lenses usually have maximum distortions at their widest settings and often are softer and darker in the corners. Telephoto zooms are typically poorer at their longest settings. If you have a telephoto lens that goes to say 300mm, you may find that after 250mm or so the performance drops off.

You can still use the widest and the longest settings but again you might lose some sharpness.

Now we need to address one of the central questions of super sharp photography:

Focussing.

If we can’t focus accurately, we won’t get sharp photos.

A camera lens can only focus on one plane.

Only objects at the actual distance focussed on can be really super sharp. If you focus the lens at 10 ft or 20 metres only objects at 10 ft or 20 metres away can be really sharp.

This means than when you see a super sharp photo, it’s not equally sharp all over. It’s an illusion. This is because the human eye has limited ability to see certain things. You can easily check this for yourself. As you drive down the road you’ll see many gaily coloured billboards which seem sharp and clear. Get up close and you’ll see that they are blurred and fuzzy.

It’s the same with a photo whether film or digital. You really have to bear in mind the DOF, how big you want your picture to be, the viewing distance, how good the lighting is, how good the viewer’s eyesight is.

There’s no point in judging from your camera’s screen or a small enlargement.

You need to think big. A super sharp picture needs to look good when it’s printed on good quality paper at full or double page size or viewed at 100% on a good quality screen.

All this means that focussing is crucial but unfortunately accurate focussing is no easy matter.

It’s easy to believe that modern technology is always a matter of improvement.

Modern digital cameras often emphasis convenience over accuracy. They have smaller and duller viewing systems than many older designs and are not well equipped for manual focussing.

Manual focussing? Surely with auto focus systems we have solved the problems.

In the short the answer is no!

There’s a general problem. Auto exposure, focussing and auto everything just results in auto photos. If you want your photos to be striking and individual, creative and arresting you need them to reflect your view of the world.

And it’s a sad fact that autofocus works best when you need it least.

If you want to be a top photographer you’ve got to be better than auto.

And then there are inbuilt problems.

Are autofocus systems accurate?

Often not.

This is because modern cameras and lenses are mass produced and production variations can result in significant inaccuracy. This is why some top end cameras have special settings where you can actually fine tune your focussing system for your specific lenses. This is tricky and you might have to spend a lot of time and money trying to get it right.

The next problem with autofocus systems is that they rely on autofocus areas or spots. Normally when you look through your viewfinder you’ll see some autofocus guides, maybe a spot in the centre, maybe lights at the edges.

It’s not legitimate to expect your camera to focus on anything unless the autofocus spot is directly over it. You might have seen those films where the hitman uses a laser to guide the bullet to the target. The same principle applies.

This was one of the classic problems in the early days of auto focus and it’s still worth thinking about today. Some years ago a good friend of mine, a top class middle distance runner, told me he’d bought an autofocus camera. Then he showed me his prints. He had carefully posed his two sons and taken their photo.

Why were the boys’ faces blurred and the background pin sharp?

Easy, the central focus spot had missed their faces and picked out the wall behind.

The lesson is simple, auto focus will only work if you actually focus on the subject you want sharp.

Let’s take a couple of real world examples.

The first one is a portrait:

You’re a photographer. Your girlfriend/wife, boyfriend/husband, even your boss would like a portrait.

You’re keen to please. You sit them down against a plain background. You have some nice window light. You know that most good portraits are not head on. Besides your girl friend wants to show you her best side.

So your subject is sitting there and you know that a portrait needs sharp eyes.

But wait a minute, one eye is nearer than the other.

Yes, you want the nearest eye to be sharp. You’re not looking for sharp ears, a sharp nose or great details of the wrinkles in your sitter’s neck. No it’s the eyes that have it.

How are you going to make sure that you focus on the nearest eye?

Well, you can start with your central focus spot and aim it over the nearest eye.

Trouble is that this will mess your composition up. It’s not likely that you want a portrait with an eye bang in the middle.

So how can we deal with this?

First, and often recommended, is to use your central focus spot, focus on the nearest eye and then lock the focus, perhaps by half pressing the shutter release, and then move the camera so that you can compose the picture properly.

This will certainly help but there are still problems with this approach. In the time it takes to move from focussing to composing:

  • You might have moved nearer or further,
  • Your sitter might have moved nearer or further
  • The fleeting expression you were looking for may have vanished.
  • And you’ve introduced some possible camera shake.

It’s really not very satisfactory.

Another thing you can do is to try using one of your off centre focussing points.

It’s just possible that the eye will be exactly where you want it but if not, you’ll still have to move.

I think you’ve got a couple of other options depending on your equipment.

One solution works well if you’ve got plenty of megapixels.

It’s a tip from the old days of medium format photography which is to stand well back so that there’s plenty of empty space around your picture. Use your autofocus directly on the nearest eye and take the picture.

Your picture will be badly composed but later on you can crop the photo exactly the way you want in the computer. Using a 21 megapixel camera like my Canon 5D Mk 11, you’ll still have 10-15 megapixels to play with which is enough for a great personal portrait.

An added bonus is that you can crop your picture several different ways.

The next tip may seem a bit bizarre – switch your auto focus off and focus manually.

Yes, I said manually.

If you have a wide aperture lens and a good bright viewfinder which is properly corrected for your eyesight you might be able to focus fairly well and your composition problems will be solved.

Now let’s have a look at close up or macro photography. It’s easy to get stressed out with technique here but many of us love to take pictures of flowers and butterflies and so on.

So, how are we going to focus on a flower?

The Depth of Field close up is very narrow and if we just aim our camera at the flower and auto focus we’ll simply get the bit in the middle sharp.

For me this is where using a tripod with manual focus works well.

Even better if you have Liview.

With Liveview you can compose and focus on the LCD screen of your DSLR

When I first bought a camera with Liveview I didn’t bother with it at all. But here it’s a great solution. Using Liveview I can compose my picture accurately, move my focus area to exactly where I want, over a stamen or a water drop and then using manual focus I can carefully adjust the sharpness using 5x or 10x magnification.

In many out and about situations autofocus often works pretty well.

But you still might miss some shots.

One possible solution is to consider switching off your autofocus and setting your lens to the hyperfocal distance or use focus zones.

What is the hyperfocal distance?

It’s a pretty easy concept to understand: Focus your lens at the hyperfocal distance and everything from from quite near to infinity will look sharp.

In practice it means making sure you have plenty of Depth of Field.

For example it might mean setting your lens to f11, focussing on 6m/20ft and then every picture taken between 3m/10ft and infinity will look sharp.

The hyperfocal distance is different for every aperture/focal length combination.

If you want to use this approach you might get some tables from the manufacturers a website or a photobook or try some tests yourself.

If you want to shoot super sharp pictures you’ll need to take a critical approach.

A variation is to use focus zones.

What are Focus Zones?

Focus zones follow the same principles but they don’t include infinity.

For example you might find that if you set the same lens at f5.6 then everything from 5m/15ft to 15m/35ft will look sharp.

Before I finish this section it’s worth saying a couple of things.

Super sharp pictures are not necessarily great pictures – they can be super boring as well.

Still, I’ve seen lots of well composed, beautifully coloured or toned pictures that lack the final wow factor because there nothing in them super sharp.

If we really want to move on and develop our photography we’ve got to improve in lots of different ways.

So to recap:

To get super sharp photos we need to:

  • Use a low ISO to avoid digital grain or ‘noise”.
  • Eliminate camera shake and unwanted subject movement.
  • Use a sweet spot aperture
  • Focus our lenses precisely on the main area of interest.

I’ve more or less finished with my views on super sharp photos but I’ve got one last section coming with a couple of ideas for super sharp pictures which are based on special techniques and post processing.

There’s a lot to think about in using lenses. Hope this is of some help

How Do You Photograph Butterflies?

As a longtime nature photographer, I’ve observed that people who are just beginning to take photographs of nature often face the same difficulties. To help you avoid frustration when you take nature photos, I would like to share some of my knowledge with you.

This article may be helpful to you, if you already have some basic knowledge about photography in general but have not yet tried to photograph butterflies. For the purposes of this article, I am going to assume that you are familiar with the terms F-stop, shutter speed, depth of field, focal length of lens, magnification, exposure, ISO sensitivity. If these are new terms for you – don’t worry. I will be writing about some of those basic terms in other articles that you can find on EzineArticles.com. If you read those, you’ll find the rest of this article much easier to follow.

Butterflies are fascinating, colorful creatures, which makes them so popular among any age group. Even people who are not necessarily involved in wildlife conservation seem to be attracted to these gorgeous insects.

So let’s assume that you have discovered a beautiful Swallowtail Butterfly in your backyard that you want to photograph. You have your camera ready. The Swallowtail is resting on a flower. There are two ideal positions that the butterfly can be in that will make it easier for you to get an excellent shot. I’m going to describe them and then give you a strategy for getting a great photo in each situation.

1. The butterfly has fully spread its wings.

Carefully approach the butterfly from above, avoiding any hasty movement or loud noise.

The sunlight is on your back – do not cast a shadow on the butterfly. This would most likely spook the butterfly and spoil the lighting on your subject. Once you are close enough that the Swallowtail’s wingspan fills the frame about halfway to three quarters of the way, you will need to adjust your camera and lens so that the back of your camera (or film or sensor plane) is aligned parallel to the wings’ top surface.

Misalignment may cause parts of the butterfly to be out of focus. The same happens if the butterfly lifts the wings up to a V. Then it becomes impossible to get the entire butterfly in focus.

Stopping down may improve the situation slightly, but the gain of depth of field becomes less the closer you are and the longer the focal length of the lens. With the available light, the shutter speed may drop too far and you will have to take measures to avoid blurring the picture. Using a tripod would be ideal, but it restricts mobility. A monopod would be a compromise. Use the vibration reduction feature, if available.

2. The butterfly has folded up the wings. This is a good opportunity to photograph the bottom side of the butterfly’s wings. The undersurface of the wings of some butterfly species, like the Swallowtail, reveals an attractive color pattern. The same applies for camera lens alignment as in the first example. The film or sensor plane must be parallel to the underside of the butterfly’s wing. This time you need to move in even closer than you did in the previous situation, because the wings are folded, leaving you with only half as much of the wing surface to photograph as you had in the previous example.

Here are two ways to improve your chances of getting that great butterfly photo you’re aiming for. As you’ve probably guessed, there’s a lot more to know about taking pictures of these beautiful but difficult models. I wish you the best of luck as you begin your new hobby; may it bring you much enjoyment!