Autumn's vibrant foliage may have fallen by the wayside, but that doesn't mean that your camera should go into hibernation. Thanks to frosted landscapes, holiday cheer, and warm creature comforts, Winter teems with photo ops that ought to keep that shutter snapping from the first snowflake to the first bloom of Spring. So don't get too snug by that toasty fire — take our checklist of must-shoot Winter photos along when you venture out into this chilly season.
Sure, Summer may be considered the most snap-worthy season of them all, what with vacations and beach time galore. But Fall is equally as deserving. Just think of all the beautiful leaves and holiday adventures waiting to be photographed. Before time slips away and you're hearing "ho ho ho" instead of "trick or treat," get that camera ready and start shooting. Ahead, we've rounded up all the photos you're going to want to take and share with all friends and followers. Happy snapping!
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By Adriana Lee
Between social networking, professional networking, Internet dating profiles and other online memberships, our need for profile photos isn't going anywhere. On the contrary, with social sharing, job-hunting, dating, and more, the need will probably only grow. “People with profile pics are 11 times more likely to be viewed,” says Yumi Wilson, a corporate communications manager at LinkedIn.
If you're lucky enough to carry a Nokia Lumia 1020, iPhone 5S, Samsung Galaxy S4 or HTC One, then congratulations—you've got one of the best smartphone cameras on the market with which to shoot it. But even if not, you can still take great shots of yourself, as long as you keep a few basic rules in mind.
So let's say goodbye to "duckface," bathroom pics and "Miley" tongue, and say hello to great self-taken pics that flatter.
Don't Succumb to Duckface
I'm not sure what to blame for the weird, "hoover lip" scenario that keeps playing out in selfies across the land. Maybe it's an odd perversion of pouty mouth — the old modeling trick to purse lips to make them look fuller — or, more likely, a parody of it. Either way, this spectacularly bizarre facial caricature isn't very appealing. Just say "no" to duckface.
Do Choose Good Lighting
Lighting can make or break a photograph. Harsh lights can give your skin a strange hue or cast shadows that change the shape of your face. If you have a choice of setting, pick one with soft lighting and and never use your camera's LED flash when you can avoid it. Although the iPhone 5S now offers what it calls a "True Tone" flash, for warmer, more lifelike images, the result will still never be as good as decent ambient lighting. Finally, never snap a selfie with the light source behind you. Most people shoot with automatic white balance, and that will either make you look incredibly dark or thoroughly wash out your background.
Do Consider Background
A photo of you in front of the Eiffel Tower or the Grand Canyon? Good. Shot of you in front of a bathroom tile or messy sinks? Bad. If there's one selfie that deserves to be retired, it's the bathroom selfie. Let's just agree to put this one to bed, okay?
Don't Look Straight at the Camera
Don't look straight-on at the camera. Only celebrities and movie stars can pull that off and still look good—and even that's hit or miss. The most flattering way to hold your head is slightly turned, so that only one ear is visible in frame. It slims the face and makes cheekbones stand out. Also beware of holding the camera too high: It can make the head look too large in proportion to the body.
Do Watch Your Jawline
When people hold their cameras up for a selfie, some unconsciously cast their heads back. But by doing that, the chin and jawline practically disappears—in some cases, it can even create or emphasize a double chin. Instead, pull your head forward toward the camera for a more flattering look, says photographer Peter Hurley. This is good modeling advice, selfie or no, and Hurley's classic video — "It's all about the Jaw!"— provides one of the best explanations on the Web to illustrate this point.
Imitating Miley Cyrus' lingual antics at the Video Music Awards this year might be tough to resist, but arguably Cyrus—an avid selfie-er herself—can't even get away with shoving her ample tongue out into the spotlight. So what hope is there for the rest of us? The short answer: There isn't any. (Really, the only one who can pull this off is Kiss' Gene Simmons, who has been doing it since before Billy Ray's daughter was born.) To keep selfies from looking dated, or even flat-out bizarre, avoid poses inspired by pop culture news and memes. In other words, keep that tongue in your mouth.
Do Banish Fat, Outstretched Arms
If you're a frequent selfie photographer, the right apps and accessories can make the task easier, while also banishing extended "fat arm" syndrome. Plenty of camera apps feature self-timers (like this and this), and accessory makers offer wireless shutters that let you shoot remotely away from your device, such as the Smartphone Camera Remote, iSnapX, or the Bluetooth ShutterBall remote shutter. Or use the corded Apple stock earbuds or bluetooth headset instead.
And don't forget to experiment with extra features. The iPhone 5S now offers a camera burst mode, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 has "best face" mode, which selects the best shot from a blast of several fast snaps. There are also third-party apps that can put those and many other features at your fingertips.
Indeed, there are more tools available for the budding selfie photographer than ever before. No longer do people need to rely on others to capture their images—which means they can do it themselves wherever and whenever they see fit. And with a little know-how and common sense, they can make sure those photos project their best selves.
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Think Skype and FaceTime are the best video chat software has to offer? Our partners at ReadWrite share how you might be surprised to find out differently.
By Chris McConnell
If you are bored with the likes of Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangouts or simply want to see what else is out there, here is some fun new video-chat candy to check out.
Skype? Dinosaur. Airtime? Flop. FaceTime and Google Hangouts? Bland. As defaults, they are just there with an Apple device or a Google account. Workable, sure, but are they going to blow your mind in terms of functionality? Maybe a few years ago. If you’re ready to see the latest in the world of video chat (and even if you aren’t), I’ve got some goodies for you. Here are a few of my favorite video chat applications as of late. I know you were always told not to take things from strangers, but I promise, this candy for your eyes is totally safe.
Perch bills itself as an always-on video portal. This is perfect for a remote workforce. Let's say you work from home (sorry, Yahoo workers) and you want to stay in touch with the rest of your design team at company HQ. Simply mount an iPad on the wall in your workspace and mount another near a colleague's desk in the office. Fire up Perch and it’s like you’re there. Perch auto-detects a person looking at the screen and knows it’s time to unmute and let you talk. With multiple connected devices it’s easy to switch between different locations.
Sqwiggle is very similar to Perch in that it functions as an always-on video connection that is perfectly suited for the remote workforce. It differs in a few interesting ways, though. First, Sqwiggle lets you break out into teams (group video chats) rather than focusing on one individual portal. Additionally, the entire team can use a feature called stream (a chat box on the side of the screen) to share things like links, code, photos or video. It’s a lightweight version of something like Teambox (which just added video chat, too).
Rabbit has positioned itself for the non-business consumer set. It’s geared toward letting you hang out with your friends when you are all in different places. Like what? You can actually watch videos or listen to music together with your friends online. Want to share your photos with your friends in real time? With Rabbit you can.
Nope, I haven’t forgotten about your smartphone. Enter Glide, an app that facilitates video texting. This is a really cool concept that lets you send your friends video messages that can either be viewed live or later. Since everything gets saved in the cloud, you don’t have to worry about being out of the loop if you are offline for any reason. Glide lets you talk to your fiends either individually or as a group. No need to schedule anything in advance. The autoplay feature lets you relive conversations as they happened. If you need it, texting through Glide is still an option.
ooVoo tries to do it all. It works on your desktop (Mac and PC), as well as on your mobile. It does group video chat (with up to 12 people) and lets you record all the action for later. ooVoo lets you leave video messages up to five minutes long for those absent. You can share files, chat, share your screen or consume content together. On top of all of that, you can make free voice calls. Note: the PC version is currently much more robust than the Mac version.
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