As an amateur photographer, I’m always looking for sources of good information on my craft. I’ve found many, and I intend to dedicate a page of this site to them. The one best source of information for me has been the website and podcast of Scott Bourne et. al. “This Week In Photography“. The site itself is a simple WordPress blog, but Scott posts regularly about all things photographic. The hour-long podcast each week covers news, listener questions, tips & tricks, and usually includes an interview with a well-known photographer or industry insider. For example, their interview with Tom Hogarty of Adobe convinced me to store all my photos in DNG format.
Recently, Scott switched over from Canon to Nikon. He sold all of his Canon gear through his website via Google checkout and I was lucky enough to obtain one of his items – an off-camera cord for my flash (Canon 480 EX). I’ve been experimenting with holding my camera with my right hand, and the flash one- to two feet away in my left hand. To the right is a photo of my favorite model using this technique. No Photoshop here, just an auto-tone with Lightroom.
I’ve been listening to Pandora for a while now. It builds “stations” for you to listen to based on your favorite types of music. Start simple by entering an artist or a song that you like. Pandora plays music that is similar to your choice. As the songs play, guide Pandora by giving the music a thumbs-up or -down.
Pandora is driven by The Music Genome Project which categorizes music not just by genre, but by techical attributes such as “harmony and rhythm, instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony.” Like a radio station, you don’t get to pick what song plays next, but the more feedback you give to Pandora, the more your station(s) play what you like.
Pandora is a great way to discover new music. I’ve discovered many artists and bought (yes, for real $$) their music to add to my collection. You might think the music labels would be eager to see Pandora (and others like it) succeed. On the contrary, the Copyright Royalty Board, backed by the RIAA is raising the royalties on Internet music stations like Pandora. This year, Pandora will pay 70% of it’s revenue in music royalties. Higher rates can have no effect but putting Internet radio out of business. Traditional broadcast radio (owned by corporations with huge lobbying budgets) pay NO royalties; XM and Sirius pay about 2% of their revenue to royalties.
Check Pandora out. If you like it, write your representatives in Washington and tell them that you want to save Internet radio. Representative Howard L. Berman, a Democrat from California, is attempting to work up a deal between Pandora and SoundExchange, the organization that represents artists and labels, but so far there is no movement on the issue.