How to Fix the Big Oops!

Performing photo data recovery is something we all dread but will have to do at some time. Accidentally erasing or formating our card and loosing all our beautiful photographs happens to the best of us. If you have a way to recover your deleted photos, the mistake is a bit less painful.

How Memory Cards Work

Compact Flash and other types of memory cards arrange data in a way that allows us to recover from most accidental erasures and formats.
There is a special file on the card called a FAT or File Allocation Table that tells the camera or computer where on the card the photo is stored. It is kind of like a picture book. The photos are on the pages of the book and the index tells you where to go for a certain photo. So to find a photo the computer or camera looks in the FAT and finds where to go to access the photo.

When you erase or in some cases format your card you are not actually erasing the photo data itself but removing it’s entry from the FAT. The photo is still there but the camera or computer does not know were to look for it.

Digital Photo Recovery Software

So along comes digital photo recovery software that actually searches the card for your photos and tries to put the information together the way it was before. The information for each photo may not be stored all together (like a book with the picture on two pages) so the software has to try and find all the pieces and re-assemble the photo.
One thing to be aware of. If one of the pieces of the image is missing or corrupt, the photo can not be recovered. You might see only a portion of the photo in the recovered file.

Important Precaution

If you plan to try photo data recovery on your memory card, DO NOT CONTINUE TO USE IT. If you continue to write data to the card, you could be writing new data over the old, making recovery impossible.
The Program I Use
If you are using one of Lexar’s Professional Series compact flash or secure digital cards, you would have received a free copy of their recovery software called Image Rescue. The software is also for sale from their website.
This is a great program that I have used a few times to recover from an accidental format. It has saved my butt and it amazes me how much the program is able to recover.

It is really easy to use and works without much help on your part. If you know what you are doing, there are some more advanced recovery techniques available. You can also do a low level format (really erases all the data), check and update the firmware of the card, and a few more utilities.

I found this program recovers more photos than any other program I have tried and well worth the $30 if you have to buy it.


There are many different programs to choose from, some free and some you must buy. Many of the programs have free trial that let you see what they can recover, but you must buy them before the recovery actually takes place.
You will need to weigh the cost of photo data recovery versus the cost of loosing the photos. Sometimes those travel pictures or portraits are just not replaceable.

Outdoor Portrait Photography Tips

Improving your outdoor portrait photography is easy if you remember a few tips. From travel snaps to taking pictures of your kids playing in the fall leaves, outdoor portrait photography is one of the most flexible and fun ways of taking pictures. I take lots of photos outside and I bet you do as well.

Here are a few tips I use when taking outdoor portraits.

Turn your flash on. As long as the people are close enough (max about 15ft), harsh shadows from the sun will be reduced. If the sun is behind your subjects, the flash will even out the light so you can see their faces. See my tips about Digital Flash Photography.

Arrange people so they are not looking directly at the sun. Pictures of squinting friends is probably not what you had in mind. As you choose a direction to have them stand, watch the shadows on their faces. Make it as flattering as possible.

Shoot on a cloudy day. The light is soft with no harsh shadows. Makes for beautiful portraits.

Put the people in the shade with the background in the sun. The people will ‘pop’ out from the background, and they won’t be squinting.

Use a medium telephoto lens. Unless you want an unusual effect, zoom in a little or use a lens in the 80-135mm range. You get the most pleasing facial proportions. Noses and ears are not enlarged or compressed at this range.

Move in close. Make your subjects the feature of the photo.
Choose your background carefully. Choose a plain simple background to highlight the people in the picture. If you want to show people in a scene, use the ‘Rule of Thirds’ to move them to one side of the picture.See my tip about Digital Photography Composition.

Shoot from your subjects level. When you photograph kids and pets at their own level, they look the right size and you see life the way they see it

Show the action. Ask your subjects to do something. Have them interact with the environment; Throw rocks in the river, touch the water fountain or cuddle the baby animal.You will get more natural un-posed photos this way.
Do you see the light? Well get outside with your camera and enjoy the fresh air.

Digital Photography Free Tutorials Selection

To introduce the digital photography free tutorials on this site, and as a bit of an introduction and overview of the tutorials themselves, I decided to give a breakdown here. On this page you will find a list of some of the tutorials on this site.

To find some of the others, make sure you check the tutorials page and also check-back often.

What Makes a Tutorial a Tutorial?
The difference between the digital photography free tutorials and the digital photography tips you will find in the blog, and elsewhere all over, is that a tutorial gives you an in-depth explanation of the background to the particular photography subject matter, as well as technical details, step-by-step instructions and further practice and tips, all in one tutorial.

It is my hope that you will be able to use these tutorials to greatly improve your digital photography.

Work through them, taking your time with each. There is no need to rush, photography is a skill that improves with practice, as with most skills.

The Gravy Train
Macro Digital Photography
One of the really interesting types of digital photography in my opinion, is macro digital photography (not that the others aren’t interesting mind you), the reason being is that macro photography can often highlight a totally different way of seeing and viewing the world, a world that normally passes us by.
We look at so many things everyday, but how many do we truly see? Taking this macro digital photography tutorial will not only give you a brand-new skill set, but also enable you to create striking shots.

Night Photography
Ever wondered how to get great shots of car lights, city-scapes and generally things at night? Thought it was all about your flash? Well think again. Getting great shots at night needn’t be rocket science. In fact once you take the night photography tutorial your sure to be getting some decent shots in no time at all!
This is one of the digital photography free tutorials that has some extra advanced practice you might want to try once you get the hang of the basic principles of photography at night.

Abstract Photography

Abstract photography , ever wondered what it really is?
This tutorial may very well catapult you into a whole new field of digital photography. Packed with tips to train your mind in order to get an almost zen like view into your shots, this tutorial is a bit special.

A great tutorial for those photographers really desiring to experiment with their creative side and expand their mind.

sports photography Tutorial

Thinking about beginning to take some sports photography shots? Well this sports photography tips tutorial should be just right for you.
Using this tutorial you will be able to practice the very important basics and technicalities for doing sports photography.

Start today, no need to even start with a sports event if you don’t feel ready as this tutorial has a great way to practice!

Landscape Photography
So many people want to take those stunning shots of a picturesque scene, yet often fall short in one of the important criteria.
digital landscape photography is much more than just pointing your camera at a beautiful view and hoping to get the same as what your eye sees.

This two-part tutorial delves deep where other photography tutorials fail to go. Make sure you read both parts.

Wedding Photography
Looking to take some shots of a friends wedding?
Or perhaps wondering if you should turn your photography hobby into a lucrative career, full-time or part-time?

Then take a look at this wedding photography tips tutorial where you will learn all about choosing the right backgrounds, some of the traditional ‘must-have’ shots and also 5 winning tips for improving your wedding photography ten-fold.

Cropping Photographs

Digital photography editing: Back in the days when film photography was all there was, photography editing, or post-processing as it was known, was almost as important as taking the picture itself. A photographer would process his film and make a contact strip of all his negatives (small images of his shots on a piece of photographic paper, similar to what we now call ‘thumbnails’ on our computer) and decide which were useable and which needed some editing.

The idea that a photographer would take a shot and it would be ‘as is’ perfect was very seldom the case. There was almost always something that could be done to improve it, technically or creatively. Nowadays is no different, and almost all the techniques and more available at that time, can now be found in image editing software.

In this series of digital photography editing basics we will be using Gimp image editing software (you can find a review and link to download Gimp free photo editing software here), as it’s easily the most versatile of the bunch out there.

Digital Photography Editing – Cropping & Original Image Size
Some photographs seem like a good idea at the time, yet when we see the actual results we realize that they would have been much served had the framing been different (see the Take Better Pictures page for more about framing a shot), either closer, or having a particular element cut out of the shot altogether.

This is when we need to crop the photograph. But firstly, there are some limitations on how much you can crop a photograph and have it still looking decent and this is all dependent on the original image size.

For example, crop a photograph of the size of 1mb or less, and the closer in you get, the more you will notice a rather bad reduction in the picture quality, due to pixelation. This can’t be avoided with an image this small, no matter what software you are using.

Therefore, it’s my advice that you always make sure when you take a photograph that you camera is on the highest possible file size. Although large file sizes take up more space on your memory card, you have to ask yourself what is more important, to be able to crop that photo maybe even years later, or in view of the file size, to never really be able to change it much at all.

If you have to buy another memory card for digital photography storage, so you can take the amount of photographs you want, then it’s a much better option than having a great deal of photographs you can’t alter at a latter stage when you realize the file size is too small.

A decent image file size for cropping comes in at around at least 2 mb+, but the higher the better. Anything above 4 mb is perhaps overkill, unless you plan to have the image blown-up for poster/large print use (in which case it’s much needed).

Digital Photography Editing – How to Crop Photographs on Gimp
1. Assuming you’ve downloaded Gimp, open up your chosen photograph. Click on the crop tool in the ‘tool box’.

Now go over to your photograph and visualize creating the frame you desire by clicking on the image and dragging the selection across to form the framing you desire. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect, as you can change it in the next step should you wish.

2. Move your tool over the edges, you will see certain blocks are highlighted. If you wish to now alter the framing you previously chose, then left click your mouse, and with the mouse button still held down, drag the rectangle framing until you like the look of it. Don’t worry, it’s not set in stone yet, and actually won’t be until we close our photograph in Gimp altogether.

3. In this shot of a Buddhist monk ensuing all worldly concerns by reading a newspaper, I don’t particularly like the shrubs in the bottom left of the shot and I also want to focus more on the monk himself for composition value, so I’ll crop the shot by dragging the frame from the middle bottom bar up-wards. When you are satisfied simply press ‘Enter’ on your PC and it will be cropped to size.

4.If at any stage you are unhappy with the results simply go to edit>undo>undo crop by as many steps as you want to go backwards (I’ve never found an end to the amount of back-steps in Gimp) and you can start again if you so wish.

Go to file>’save as’, and then choose a different file name so you can keep the original, don’t overwrite it, as you never know if you may need it again at some point for future digital photography editing.

Choose the folder you wish to keep it in and save it in its highest possible file size too.

After you have chosen the folder, a box will appear (as pictured left). The top toggle bar chooses the file size which we are going to put at 100%, so as to keep the image quality, and checking the box with an arrow will enable us to see a live view of the actual quality of the image. After checking the ‘show preview in image window’ box, toggle the bar to see how a lower file size would look, although move it back to a 100% before you click save.

Love, Loss, and What I Blog: Spotlight on Lisa Horner

Lisa is returning to the Panasonic Theatre where she was last seen as Claire, David’s mother in My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, the 2009 Toronto Fringe Festival hit that was picked up and expanded by Mirvish Productions.  A critical and financial success,  it played to over 60,000 people in under six months and was recently named number seven in Toronto Life Magazine’s ‘Top Fifty Reasons We Love Toronto’.

Past credits include five seasons with the Shaw Festival (Ruth Sherwood Wonderful Town, Tessie Tura Gypsy, Liz Imbrie High Society, Julia Browne After the Dance, Something on the Side, Diana of Dobson’s, Pal Joey),  two seasons with the Stratford Festival (Fiddler on the Roof, Patience, world premiere of Good Mother),  as well as productions with Canstage, Drayton Entertainment, The Grand Theatre, Neptune Theatre, Red Barn Theatre, Theatre Aquarius, and Stage West Mississauga.

TV and Film credits include Little Mosque on the Prairie (recurring role of Ellen Parvy), Majority Rules, Wind at my Back, Road to Avonlea, Double Wedding and the upcoming feature film Lullaby for Pi.

You may also have seen Lisa yell “Start the Car!” in an award winning Ikea commercial seen literally around the world. Always for Mum.

How to Find the Perfect Wedding Photographer for Your Wedding

best Calgary wedding photographersWeddings are very important occasions as this is the day when sweethearts transition into being a married couple.  Since most people will only get married once in their lifetime, it is very important for them, particularly that of the female, to make sure that the whole wedding occasion goes well and that there are no hurdles or problems encountered during the day of the celebration itself.

The truth is that preparing for a wedding can be troublesome as there are many tiny details that need to be taken into consideration. For those who have not yet experienced getting married, they are still yet to learn the troubles and difficulties of celebrating a wedding, especially when you want to make sure that everything goes perfectly well.  While hiring a wedding planner may help ease the burden a bit, there will still always be some agitation on your part.

While leaving everything to be organized by the wedding planner, one aspect of the wedding that will take snapshots of the memories that happens on that event is something that the couple will have to take care of themselves.  Hiring a wedding photographer is very important as it will be his skills with the camera that will showcase glimpse of that memorable event in your life.  A wedding photographer who is not really skilled will only be able to project acceptable images of the event.  However, if you hire a professional that perfectly suits your taste and style, it is likely that the resulting images captured during the event will be magical.  A feat commonly delivered by her work ranges from indie movies to some politics including our own prime minster in canada.

When hiring a wedding photographer, it is important that you do not settle with the one that has the lowest offer.  After all, in wedding photography, as the saying goes: you get what you pay for.  This is why it is important not to be cheap when it comes to hiring a wedding photographer as it will be your lifetime memories of the event that rests in their shoulders.  Here are some tips on how to find the perfect wedding photographer:

Ask around – ask friends and families if they can recommend any particular wedding photographer they may have had the opportunity to meet or become acquainted with.  It is likely that there will be some who will be able to recommend someone they know, at the very least.

View Work Samples – once you’ve gotten a few names, try searching online for their blog as well as their social media page.  It is likely that some of their work are showcased and advertised there, thus allowing you to view samples of their work.

Schedule a Meeting – after viewing the works of different wedding photographers, try scheduling an appointment with the one you think has the better skill among those you have viewed.  Once you meet up with your potential wedding photographer, try asking more about them as well as certain details involving the work at hand and the schedule you have for the wedding.

Pricing – wedding photographers will usually have different packages available, some of which may include additional coverage of the wedding such as video coverage or perhaps artistic prenuptial photography.

Contract – once you have both agreed to the terms, there should be a contract written as this safeguards you as the client that the person you have hired to cover your wedding day event will be the one who will be showing up during that day and not any substitute.

Love, Loss, and What I Blog: Spotlight on Barbara Budd

As co-host of CBC Radio’s “As It Happens” for 17 years, Barbara’s  voice has become recognized around the world. But prior to taking up her place behind the mic, she was an accomplished actor appearing in major theatres across Canada. In five seasons (and over 20 productions) at the Stratford Festival, she played leading roles in The Beggars Opera, Othello, As You Like It, The Servant Of Two Masters, etc.

When she became a Mom, Barbara changed course, concentrating on voice work and  limiting her stage appearances to hosting concerts with the major symphony orchestras of Canada. For 8 years she hosted The Jeunesse Musicale Concerts at Roy Thomson Hall and Harbourfront Centre, and she is featured on 5 internationally acclaimed Classical Kids CDs.  Less recognizable is her voice on the scores of animation series for which she has created a wide range of wacky characters. Writing credits include The Joni Mitchell Tribute Night and The Phillipe Starke Night for The International Festival of Creative Genius.

She is presently recording her fourth season as Narrator of the very successful TV series, “Mighty Ships” on The Discovery Channel.

After a brief, 17-year scene change, Barbara is delighted to be back on stage in Love, Loss, And What I Wore.

Love, Loss, and What I Blog: Spotlight on Luba Goy

Luba considers herself to be the luckiest Ukrainian Canadian Comedienne in Canada! A graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada, she began her professional career with the Stratford Festival. She then spent a joyful career making the country laugh with The Royal Canadian Air Farce.

Air Farce has been inducted into the International and Canadian Comedy Halls of Fame, and has won countless awards, including the Governor Generalʼs Performing Arts Award, a Star on Canadaʼs Walk of Fame, 15 ACTRA Awards, a Juno, Gemenis, and two honourary doctorates.

Lubaʼs journeys across Canada have taken her to every major city and town, where she has met millions of incredible fans while fundraising for numerous charities, particularly those focusing on helping children. She is currently working on a One-Woman Show coming to a stage near you!

Luba has a small herd of four cats, is an avid shutter-bug, and plays accordion. She thanks her son, Gabe and his beautiful wife Amanda, for their support and love.

Luba is thrilled to be in the company of such fabulous women!