Twitter Crash Course

I’ve been on Twitterfor a few months now, and to be honest, I was quite confused about it when I first signed up, am still learning how to use it beneficially and have a lot to learn about Twitter, so if I don’t understand something please correct me.

Twitter is essentially a mini-blog entry, much like the status of your Facebook, but it limits the user to 140 characters. I like this because it forces users to get to the point and quickly so. “Following” someone allows you to see their Tweets to the world, and when you have several people involved, its like bunch of mini-conversations going on.

The thing I really like about Twitter is that it is coming from individuals, in real time so it’s faster than news. Another thing is that many celebrities have Twitter, so it allows you to get to know them anonymously.

I personally see a need for Twitter because there are rare occasions I cannot connect with the internet to make a blog post (think Haiti) but Twitter would allow me to mini-blog wherever I have an internet connection. It’s short, fast and easy to do.

Here are some of the things I have learned:

You can send a Tweet to the world in general by just typing anything you want in there.

The “@” symbol essentially basically means “at” someone. For example, my twitter name is “MichaelTheMaven” and if you wanted to send a tweet specifically in my direction, it would be @MichaelTheMaven. I am able to see all the tweets that come in my direction.

“RT” means – “Repeat Tweet”, it also shows up as a little yin/yang symbol. It’s a quick way to re-tweet something someone else said and give them credit for it.

The Hash Mark “#” means to put your tweet into the results of anything that comes up in a search for those terms. Say you want anyone interested in photography to see your tweet if they search for that term, you would write “#photography” at the end of your tweet.

Because URL’s can be exceptionally long, there are websites like Tiny Url and Bit Url, that will shorten a website address to a few characters and it saves some space. In order to do this for so many links, the URLs have really weird and random combinations of letters. This explains the weird link addresses you see at the end of many tweets.

Lists allow you to organize people you follow into categories and subjects, such as “photography” or “mac stuff”- these are things you decide and arrange. By viewing your custom “lists” it filters out everyone but those people you have added. Great for reading the latest news about a particular subject.

One exciting feature of the new Maven App (coming very soon, it was submitted today) was that everyone who downloads this App will be able to read my Twitter feeds, even if you do not have a Twitter account. If you do have one, it will also allow you to message me directly, (which is more likely to get an answer than a long email) as well as your and my friends. I know this is going to sound weird, but there are quite a few of you out there who have formed some pretty good friendships with other Michael The Mentor forum users or school students. This feature will allow us to all stay connected better.

Here is a screen shot of the Twitter feature on the new Maven App. For now it is pretty simple and straight forward, but we have some new features coming soon:I originally thought the Icon for “Michael” was a coach with a whistle, turns out it is actually a “rapper”. Oh well… 🙂

Michael The Maven in Twitter

Michael The Maven 2010 Photography Contest

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am happy to announce this year’s Photography Contest! Grand Prize winner will take home this:Ladies and Gentlemen, I am happy to announce this year’s Photography Contest! Grand Prize winner will take home this:If you guys could help me get the word out on this I would greatly appreciate it! These contests take up a tremendous amount of time and money to put on and I would like to make it a yearly event. We are super lucky to have the following celebrity photographers on board to help with judging and I am extremely grateful to them for offering to help:

Terry White , Guru Educator/Instructor, App Yoda & Photoshop Magazine Author – He is the guy you see teaching anything Adobe or Mac related.
Arden Ward – Wedding Photographer Extraordanaire.
– The Fabulous Michael Norwood Esquire (I think all Mammoth Men rank directly below a Knight…Ill have to check on this).
– The Infamous F Stoppers gang! I wonder what controversy they are stirring up next?
– I am working on adding one more…

Contest Divisions/Categories, Prizes, & Submission Rules

This post is to announce the official start of the Michael The Maven 2010 Photography Contest. To keep things simple I am going to combine both the Cell Phone contest and the Main Photography contest together, so there are 2 divisions; “iPhone/Cell Phone Division” and the “Main Photography Division”.

I also assume this post will grow with details, information, etc, so be sure to link back to it. I will be adding a Contest Banner shortly at the top of the blog. This is a free contest to enter (meaning there are no submission fees, and anyone can enter. (Including last year’s winners). You may also enter both divisions, as long as submission rules are followed- I hate to have long posts and rules, but we have to do this to keep some kind of order.

Main Photography (SLR/P&S) Division

-The Grand Prize winner will receive a Brand New Canon 7D with 28-135mm Lens WOW!
– All First Place Winner’s will receive a $200 gift coupon to Michael’s Photography Store Products (Includes all training DVDs, Actions, Presets, etc) (BTW- There is a new product due in late Sept that most serious photographers will want, can also be applied towards a Maui Workshop, or other mentoring package.)
– All Second Place Winners will receive a $100 coupon to Michael’s Photography Store.
– All Fifth Place Winners will receive a Free 16 x 20 Canvas Printing from Online Printing services with

(I will add 4th and 5th place winners if we receive over 1000 submissions- last year we had 250 total- Also there are a number of sponsors I am still waiting to hear from, if they come through, we will substitute the gift cards at third place, and/or just add them to 4th and 5th). I also reserve the right to add more prizes depending on the more entries we receive and moving prizes around a bit, but all that will be decided before any finalists are selected. If it gets really big (10,000 participants or more), I will get Canon T2i’s for all other 1st place winners- so spread the word! I know that’s a lofty goal, but hey, dream big right?

We encourage all entrants of the main contest to mail in your entires on an 8 x 10 or 8 x 12 prints- (small borders are ok) to this address:

Michael The Maven Photography Contest
C/O Rick Jacobi
6040 E Main  #512
Mesa, AZ  85205

(Thank you to Rick for volunteering to help with this!)

The reason we are suggesting you submit by physical print is because it will allow you to check for detail and color before submitting.

We are also accepting digital submissions, just know that if you are a finalist, we will be printing it up on an 8×10 or 8×12 to compare with the other finalists. If you are submitting digitally, please email to: with the division and category as the subject. For example, if you are submitting an entry for the Main Contest and it’s a portrait, the subject of the email should be: “Main Photo Division – Portrait” This will help us stay organized. We also need at minimum your name, and basic contact information. If you win and we cannot identify or contact you, you will forfeit your prize.

1. All images must be submitted between: August 29th 2010- October 15th, 2010 at 11:59pm
2. Images must be submitted physically or high resolution digital files emailed to: – You must have the subject properly titled to be considered.
3. Images must be taken between August 28th 2009 – October 15th, 2010 (within the last year)
4. You may enter up to 1 image in each category. Submitting “extras” will lead to disqualification.
5 The 5 Main Division Categories include:

A. Portraits
B. Landscapes / Nature
C. Macro
D. Sports
E. Abstract / Textures

We must have your submissions no later than Oct 15th, 2010. Remember, if you are in a jam, you can submit digitally up until 11:59pm.
Even if you do not have a printer, we would still recommend ordering your image to be printed from MPix or other print company and have them sent to the contest address. Many contestants did this last year and it worked out great. Be sure to include your division, contact info, etc in the shipping notes.Categories, Rules, Prizes for the Cell Phone Division include:

The Grand Prize Winner will be: One Brand NEW Canon Rebel T2i With Kit Lens – (or A Gift Card of Equivalent Amount from BHPhoto)
The other 2 – 1st place winners will receive Canon Point and Shoot Digital Cameras (Or Equivalent Gift Cards from BHPhoto)
For the remaining individuals who place (2nd or 3rd place) there will be additional prizes (yet to be determined).

1. All images must be submitted between: August 11th 2010- October 15th, 2010 at 11:59pm
2. Images must be submitted electronically, either by text message or emailed to:
3. Images must be taken between August 1st 2010 – October 15th,, 2010
4. You may enter up to 2 images in each category. Submitting “extras” will lead to disqualification.
5. The 3 Cell Phone Categories Are:

A. Portrait
B. Landscape
C. Wildcard (this is everything else that isn’t Portrait and Landscape)

6. The Subject of your entry submission must have “Cell Phone Contest” , followed by a category name: “Cell Phone Contest-Protrait” for example.
7. Images may be edited, but must be done on your phone only. Using Apps are allowed as long as you list which Apps were used in your submission.
8. Your name and contact information (name & email are required) must be submitted with each image. If your image wins, and we are unable to contact you, or you do not respond, your prize will be forfeited.
9. By submitting your images, you give Michael The Maven and its representatives, permission to reproduce & show on websites, social media or other materials for promotional purposes. We also reserve the right to print your image to inspect image quality if necessary.
10. We reserve the right to expand the number of winners and make adjustments to the rules at our discretion.
11. There will be an initial selection process by Michael, from which a panel of judges (yet to be determined) will vote for 5 Finalists in each category. The remaining images will be voted on by blog readers.

Other Rules and Notices

12. By submitting your images for either division, you give Michael The Maven and its representatives, permission to reproduce & show on websites, social media or other materials for promotional purposes. We also reserve the right to print your image to inspect image quality if necessary.
13. We reserve the right to expand the number of winners and make adjustments to the rules at our discretion.
14. There will be an initial selection process by Michael, from which a panel of celebrity photography judges, will vote for 3 Finalists in each category. The remaining images will be voted on by blog readers. The Grand Prize Winner of each category will also be voted on for both divisions.

If you have questions, please ask below in the comments box and I will update with answers.

Both divisions of the contest are now open.

Even if you are not interested in entering, please help get the word out and post this link on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else you may think would help. I would really like to get as many people involved as possible, and by having a “cell phone” part of the contest, it makes it available for everyone!

Need Tips and Suggestions to make your cell phone images great?

Cell Phone Photography Contest Resources:

– Tons of great basic composition lessons at: Michael The Mentor
– Here is a great Video from myself, Terry White and F-Stoppers on using good light sources to improve image quality.

The iPhone Fashion Shoot – Lee Morris Shoots With The 3GS Fstoppers from FStoppers on Vimeo Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I use HDR? – Yes.
2. I dont live in America, can I still enter? – Yes, as long as you follow all the rules, it is open for everyone.
3. Watermarks? – No watermarks on the photo, we do not want know who took it so we may judge without bias.
4. Can I stitch images together for panoramas? Yes
5. Can I stitch many images together, such as compositing? It depends. This is a photography contest, not a photoshop or art contest. If it looks like an natural image, then yes, if it is obvious that several different elements and images were composited, then no.
6. What is max file size if emailing? 5MB is max, but to be honest 2-3 is more than enough. We are not accepting RAW files.
7. Should images be watermarked? No.

Any more questions you have will be answered here or in the comments.


iPhone Portrait Crash Course – How to take great iPhone Picturess

Higher Quality Version on Vimeo:

iPhone Portrait Photography Crash Course – How to get great iphone pictures from MichaelTheMaven on Vimeo

I will be adding the images and updating this post over the next few days. Here is some of the basic information:

Here is one of the images at 1MP, straight out of the camera (Notice the Banding) – It is mostly full size, but I had to crop out the bottom otherwise it would be too big to post here: (more coming)I know there are going to be a lot of questions on this, so this post will probably grow over time. I wanted to make a few notes:

Exposure Control

I found myself using almost dSLR a little more, but Simple Camera is not to be ignored because it’s exposure box is smaller. They both also allow you to lock color temperature.

You lock exposure by double tapping on the screen at the place you want to lock exposure.

To brighten your exposure : Tap on a dark area
To darken your exposure : Tap on a bright area

There were times it was very picky and I found myself locking exposure’s on darker shadows where ever I could find them. It too about 2 minutes to get the hang of, after that it was second nature.

Did you use the iPhone’s Flash?

Not once. I wanted to only use natural light.

App Post Processing Work Flow

After Playing with the Apps for about a week, I found this to be the order of post-processing on the iPhone:

1. Adjust exposure, contrast and saturation sharpness with Photoshop Express (for a free app it did surprisingly well)
2. Add DOF effects with the Tilt Shift Generator
3. Add any final filter effects with Photo Wizard or Photo FX.

In real world Photoshop, typically sharpening is the last thing you do. I tried this, and it just didn’t work the same if you are adding DOF adjustments that are hard to see/aim on a small screen. It could just be me.

Other Apps Tested

I tested many, MANY other apps, including:

– Hipstamatic (Better for taking pics, not so much post processing)
– Photostudio (this was actually a pretty good app as well, just didn’t use it as much).
– Picture Show (Loved it and the effects- very fun for sending to friends)
– Plastic Bullet (I may not have understood how to work this thing)

That said there are many great processing apps out there. If you know of one let me know and I will definitely check it out.

Resolution, Why 5MP vs 1MP?

The reason I turned down the resolution to 1 MP (in fact, it was actually less: 720 x 1280 = 921,600 pixels) was for a few reasons:

1. To act as a control when comparing with the full resolution of the 5MP images (how much did resolution come into play?)

2. To demonstrate / simulate image quality in lower resolution cameras, as I know not everyone has an iPhone 4, yet most cell phones have at least 1MP cameras.

3. I was curious about the question: What are the very best types of images you can take in the worst conditions, assuming you only had good quality light and a limited knowledge of how to take advantage of it?

Conclusion: I think the 5MP absolutely looked better both out of the camera and after processing, however, I also think that some of the 1MP images were very, very good, and even more so after post processing. The 1MP images seemed to have color balance issues and appeared a little softer. The post processing definitely helped them more than the 5MP images, some of which I think could be printed from the original files. It is my hope that everyone who sees this video will now have some core knowledge about natural light they can use to get better images anywhere, anytime, with any camera.

About the Models

– Neither of the models were full time professionals, and both did their own make-up. The brunette, Terra, is a friend of mine who has only modeled for me in the past for a limited number of projects. Kelly, the blond, works in Real Estate full time but does part time work when available. The important thing here is that yes, beautiful subjects help, just remember most people are beautiful when they smile, or are otherwise happy.

If you are interested in using this information to enter a photography contest, check it out here: Deadline for entires is September 30th 2010!

Netflix goes to iPhone!!

Wanted to post my newest video, but it will have to wait until tonight or tomorrow.

Yesterday Netflix released the iPhone Version of it’s App. While this was a very quiet announcement, in my opinion, it was HUGE as fas as entertainment goes. I love, love, love movies. Don’t watch much TV, but addicted to movies big time.

While Ive been able to stream movies to my iPad now for months, being able to do it over the cell phone network is truly a revolution. One disclaimer, the connection was pretty rough and it didn’t work perfectly, but the technology is now in place and they will eventually get the bugs worked out. To have access to movies nearly anytime, nearly anywhere in the world (assuming you have a connection) on your phone is pretty dang cool.

One thing I like about streaming movies from Netflix is the ability to stop and pickup right where I left off, even on other devices. For $8.99 a month (which also includes DVD rentals), I think Block Buster can pretty much kiss it good bye unless they can adapt and match or exceed what Netfix is doing.

Netflix for iPhone!


First of all, let me say thank you so much for visiting my blog. I really, truly do appreciate it and you taking the time to visit. I also want to give you a very sincere thank you for taking the time to contact me, this makes you and I friends.

I’ve set up a number of resources to help answer different types of questions. We are very busy, but will respond to emails as soon as we can. If it is on a business day, you can expect a response in 1-2 business days.

If you are looking for a link to purchase the NEW Maven Adapter, please click here. For more information about the NEW Maven Adapter please click here.

1. If you have a photography type problem or question, absolutely the best resource is the forum: Michael’s Photography Forum There are many other students there who would love to become friends with you and help you with your photography goals. In fact, there is a really terrific chance your question has already been asked and answered there. It’s free, and I also check it regularly. This is the best place for questions about shooting or issues you are having with photography.

2. If you want to know what I personally use in shooting or what my gear recommendations are, please visit: Whats in Michael’s Bag?

3. If you need assistance placing an order for a DVD by phone, please call: 800-846-2004, the call center is open, 24/7. The call center however, is not very helpful for trouble shooting issues with downloads or apps, in those cases see items 4 & 5 below.

4. If you need assistance a DVD or download you have ordered, please email my assistant Kate, who will be happy and quick to help you:

5. If you need assistance with an App, please email:

While the above will handle most inquiries, I realize there may be a handful of you who still may wish to speak directly with me, which I understand. I also need to say that due to the sheer amount of email I continue receive every single day, there is a good chance I may not be able to respond immediately, and in many cases, ever. It’s not because I do not care or think I am too cool for school, it’s because I am physically unable to answer everything. I am however, able to read most of my emails, so even if I do not get back with you, let me say thank you in advance for writing.

Some common types of emails I get regularly but can no longer answer at this time:

– Questions about which of 2 lenses to purchase (my lens suggestions are on every crash course video and I have many youtube videos about lenses)
– Questions about something I have already answered and posted that information on, be it a blog post or video, or can be found with a basic search on my blog or google.
– Questions about advice on something that I do not have enough information on to answer.
– Photography questions that can, and should be asked on the forum.
– Questions about reviewing your images or portfolio for critical feedback
– Questions that may be interpreted as irrelevant, for example, if the “D600 and 6D preform similarly in a certain function, can you show us how similar”? Sometimes you need to just take my word for it. 😉
– Fanboy, Troll, Baiting, hate, threat emails (yes I do get them).
– You may have a very important, relevant question, but I also may be very, very busy and simply unable to answer. I simply hate to when this happens, unfortunately it happens daily.

In the event you still need to email me, this is my personal email address: Email:

Thanks and happy shooting!