Guest Post: Five Musts for Pictures That Pop

[Professional photographer Morgan Ione Yeager is our guest writer today, sharing tips for making your online images better. Want more tips for using pictures on the Web? Check out Communicate Better Through Imagery.]

By Morgan Ione Yeager

Very often the simple inclusion or exclusion of a particular element can either result in a great photo or in a great photo gone wrong. Here are some details to pay attention to while choosing the photos you upload to your website or use for other media. Also, learn some simple tricks to capture better images in the first place and therefore cut down on editing time.

1. The man who grew a pole out of his head.

Are you looking at the chef or the pole on his head?

Are you looking at the chef or the pole on his head?

This one is really common. Once you start looking out for this you will notice it all the time and it will drive you crazy! Be aware of any kind of vertical or horizontal line that is in the background and behind a person’s head. It can create an odd intersection or look as though person has a weird protrusion. Most often this happens with street poles/signs, door frames or tree branches.

2. Remember that bright colors draw the eye.

If the subject of the photo is in the center of the image, then that’s where you want the viewer’s eye to go … not to the person wearing a bright red shirt in the top right corner. Often a simple crop can get rid of distracting peripheral objects or people.

Flash spots are also something to look out for. Generally taking photos of people in front of mirrors or glass can leave you with a blinding white spot, which is very distracting. Professional photographers know how to manipulate light and use off-camera flashes that make these kinds of photos successful.

3. Don’t amputate your subjects.

The father of the bride is cropped at his wrist.

The father of the bride is cropped at his wrist.

This means try not to crop people at their joints. If you crop right at someone’s elbows, knees, neck, wrist, etc. it can often look very awkward.

A better crop, cropping them both mid-thigh.

A better crop, cropping them both mid-thigh.

4. Frame the image.

The vertical edge of the viewfinder was lined up with the vertical edge of the beach sign resulting in a straight and balanced image

The vertical edge of the viewfinder was lined up with the beach sign for a straight and balanced image

If you are taking a photo, try to frame the image by lining the vertical edge of the viewfinder up with something vertical you see through the viewfinder. This will create a more balanced image and will simply look more professional. If you are working with photos that are already shot, use the rotate and crop tool in your editing software to straighten the image. Again, use vertical and horizontal lines to gauge how straight the image is.

5. Simpler is often better.

Morgan-Ione-Photography---b

The photo has been cropped to eliminate the clutter and make the pole less obvious.

If there is too much going on in a photo it can be confusing. The viewer’s eye wanders restlessly, unable to find a place to focus or settle. Be aware of unnecessary props, extra people, any non-essential subjects or objects. Often cropping a bit tighter on the main subject can help.

About the Author

Guest blogger, Morgan Ione Yeager of Morgan Ione Photography, is a professional photographer based in New York. She specializes in shooting people, food, interiors and travel images. She travels all over New England to shoot for online and print publications, small businesses, restaurants and events.

View her portfolio and blog at:

morganionephotography.com

morganione.blogspot.com

Combating E-learning Slackers

Anyone who has facilitated an online course knows the biggest challenge isn’t grading assignments or figuring out how to use the discussion forums. It’s engaging learners. E-learning is a mixed bag of ages and learning styles, and the challenge for instructors is helping students get the most from a course as possible. Ability with technology has less to do with success in an online course as you may think. In Elizabeth Gruenbaum’s article, “Predictors of Success for Adult Online Learners: A Review of the Literature ,” students at the graduate or undergraduate level has more to do with it. Age doesn’t matter much either. Older learners work just as hard as younger ones. Gruenbaum’s lengthy article, which appeared in the February 2010 issue of eLearn Magazine , is rich with insight into how facilitators can anticipate how a learner will fare in a course. Read the whole thing for details, but here are a few takeaways on how to support all online learners:

  • Provide reflective prompts – encourage them to stop and think about the material
  • Make specific and clear syllabi and assignments with progressive calendar deadlines – seeing all the tasks laid out helps learners check them off the list
  • Provide students specific performance feedback on a timely basis – respond asap on activities to keep the momentum of the course going
  • Heavy participation in discussion boards – go beyond a short response: request clarification, reinforce students’ ideas, correct misunderstandings, and ask for consensus within areas of disagreement

Also make sure to read the comments section of Gruenbaum’s article, where online instructors share their experiences.

A Well-Balanced, Healthy Website: Health Imperatives

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A Well-Balanced, Healthy Website: HealthImperatives.org

Health Imperatives, a public health agency in Brockton, Mass., knows that the healthiest clients are the ones they can reach the best. That’s why they worked with Talance to create an innovative new website that brings together their myriad programs under one domain.

The new website brings together several features designed to help guide visitors around the site, including a handy “drawer” style menu (click Programs and Services), plus a robust multi-site format that keeps the various programs, each with its own identity, looking similar. Because the site is built on Drupal, administrators from each program are able to make their own edits.

The site incorporates many features, including an online store, registration for a large online learning program, forums, search and private user areas.

Visit the site.

Web Design Tips for Better Images

[This appeared in our July newsletter.  Subscribe now so you get monthly tasty tech tidbits and special deals.]

The more you pay attention to images, the better your website will be. Good graphics make the difference between a webpage that attracts and one that repels. Here are a few essential graphics tips you can follow to make your whole website better:

1. Save photographic images as JPG and save illustrated images as GIF. Learn more about GIF vs. JPG.

2. Make sure your web graphics are saved as no more than 72 dpi. That’s the standard compression for the web. Anything bigger means slow loading. Learn more about optimizing images from The Comprehensive Guide to Saving Images for the Web.

3. Don’t use HTML to set the width and height. Instead, resize the picture to the appropriate dimensions. Doing otherwise will make your page load slowly and could skew the look of the picture. In other words, if you need

<img width=”200″ height=”200″ src=”boat.jpg” alt=”sailboat” />

then your image (boat.jpg) should be 200x200px rather than a scaled down 500x500px image. Just like this perfectly sized pic:

[[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”668″,”attributes”:{“class”:”media-image size-full wp-image-1402 alignnone”,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”style”:””,”width”:”200″,”height”:”200″,”title”:”boat”,”alt”:”boat”}}]]

Here are more tips on web design from the Talance blog: