Category Archives: Tutorials

Compressed Cats

So whilst watching a course on DSLR lenses on Lynda.com like the studious media producer I (occasionally) am, I learnt something interesting about focal lengths and their relationship to image depth. The difference between taking a photo whilst standing physically close to an object and taking that same photo from a distance but zoomed in is remarkable.

Standing close, your focal length is smaller (or shorter? Forgive me if my technical jargon isn’t 100%) and so there is a greater sense of depth, allowing you capture a larger amount of the background. Standing further away and zoomed in, your focal length is larger/longer and so the image becomes compressed, making objects in the background appear closer.

To illustrate this, I enlisted the help of a small furry animal called Millie, who happens to live in my house:

CLOSE UP
ZOOMED IN

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see from this effortlessly photogenic feline, close up the photo captures more of the background, whilst zoomed in the image looks more compressed with the background much closer. Personally I prefer the first photo, which accentuates the shape of her head, whereas the second gives her a bit of a Garfield aesthetic.

You can clearly see, however, that even though the photos are framed in a virtually identical way, their overall look is noticeably different. This can work the other way around as well. I took two photo’s of Millie’s brother, Ollie, again close-up and then further away:

CLOSE UP
ZOOMED IN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This time the zoomed in picture looks better, that compression helping to clearly define his facial features. Granted, the first picture is from a slightly higher angle, but you get the point. This serves to show that there isn’t a set focal length which is best for everything, and that experimentation with different focal lengths can drastically affect the quality of your image.

Because I’m feeling particularly zealous today I’ve also included the comparison in GIF form. Anyone seen discussing the pronunciation in the comments will be blocked.

 

 

SEO – A Beginner’s Guide

So yesterday I was curious about how people would actually come across my site using search engines like Google. Doing some research, I found out that my blog in its current state wasn’t really easily found. Search engine optimisation (or SEO) is a big part of running a website, and one which I have only begun to examine. The first step for someone with a WordPress site is to download the All in One SEO Pack. This is a really great plugin which pretty much does all this stuff for you once it’s set up. To download it, just go to the Plugins menu on your WordPress blog and search ‘All in One SEO Pack’, download and activate it.

From here I would use the Beginner’s Guide to help get you set up. You’ll have to do a bit of reading to get yourself acquainted with all the terminology, but here are a few of the main concepts as I understand them:

  • Metadata – When you search something on Google, you see a list of websites by their title and a short description underneath. This is called metadata, and is how search engines display your website on their search pages. Generally in WordPress, the default title would probably be your post’s title, with the description being the first few lines of your post. With SEO you can change that to make your post more appealing to people searching for it.
  • XML Sitemap – Still getting my head around this one, but it’s essentially a list of all the URLs for your site. You put this into All in One SEO and it makes it easier for web crawlers to index your site.
  • Web Crawlers – If, like me, you don’t immediately understand that last sentence, web crawlers (or spiders) are bots used by search engines to index your site into their databases – think of them as mapping out the internet for their search engine. Once indexed, your site is more easily reached by that search engine (and so more likely to show up on people’s screens).

There’s probably a fair bit I haven’t covered (and what I have definitely isn’t 100% there) but this should get you started. Don’t hesitate to use the description hyperlinks provided by the All in One SEO tutorials or look things up. I’d also recommend getting google Webmasters set up – it helps show you how well your site is working within Google’s search engine.

There’s quite a lot of stuff to cover, I spent the day setting it up, but once you do your blog should be easier to find by other people. It’s a worthwhile investment if you’re serious about building your online presence.