A few free goodies, not all just for photographers:
Another photographer's blogpost really hit home with me a while back when he cited the reasons for his sporadic blogging as his compulsive need to blog events in chronological order and his obsession with research. I've really struggled with the personal need to stay in chronological order and I'm vowing here and now to break out of that. I also tend to spend considerable time researching the locations I photograph before I blog about them (and anyone who is concerned with keywording knows the need for good research) and being somewhat of a knowledge junky I find myself going off in tangents whenever I find something interesting until I have 75 tabs open of things I want to look into when I have more time. Evernote is my life (time) saver and if you're like me you need this tool. Installing the Web Clipper for my browser lets me click a button and automatically save either the page URL or clip the entire contents of the page and file it in a notebook for future reference. I have notebooks set up for my most used categories and projects I'm working on. For example I have one for Future Blog Posts where I clip things I find that are inspriration for, what else....future blog posts. Whenever I need an idea I can open that notebook and see everything that caught my interest while browsing other topics. I especially love it when I'm researching one location and stumble across another location that I'd like to visit; rather than get sidetracked researching the new location (or even worse, make a note and forget about it) I can just clip the page and continue doing what I'm doing, then pull up my notebook of interesting locations when I'm ready to plan the next trip. You can add tags to your clipped content to make it easy to find using Evernote's search function. Awesome stuff, I love this tool. Desktop and mobile versions available.
Anyone who shoots outdoors should grab a copy of The Photographer's Ephemeris (TPE) developed by Stephen Trainor. It calculates when and where the sun and moon rises and sets (and the azimuth) on any given day in any given location and overlays the results on a Google topographical Map so you can visualize the effect. It calculates civil, nautical and astronomical twilight. Best of all for landscape photographers is the Geodetics panel. Geodetics is a bit technical, but anyone who shoots in canyons/mountains knows that you can lose your light hours before sunset because the sun can disappear behind a higher ridge. TPE's Geodetics panel lets you calculate when you will lose the light, or for sunrise when the light should hit the geological feature you want to photograph. There are many sites on the web that photographers use for finding sun and moon times, but having the info overlayed on a topographical map with the geodetics panel so you can actual visualize the scene makes this an essential tool I plan to get a lot of use from. It runs on Adobe Air (download link on TPE's page), free for desktop version (Mac, PC and Linux) and $8.99 for iPhone.
If you love playing with color as much as I do you may find yourself wandering around COLOURlovers for days as I have been (I designed my site years ago and I've done a horrible job updating/maintaining it, so I decided it was time for a complete overhaul and rebranding, which leads to the need for a cohesive color palette for my site and branding). COLOURlovers has some great tools for creating palettes, including the ability to upload a photo and create a palette using the colors in your image, a great way to find the perfect mat color or design any creative around an image. Trend information, blog posts, design guides and as of today 1,340,680 gorgeous color palettes to inspire you. Don't say I didn't warn you about how addictive this site is!
If you're a photographer whose site is hosted by SmugMug (as I know many of my readers are) make sure you get your free copy of Zack Prez's SmugMug SEO How To Guide. It's filled with tips specific to SmugMug to help you make the most of your SEO efforts. All photographers should go check out his blog filled with many more great tips that go beyond the basics you find at most SEO sites, like "3 Places to Find Your SEO was Hacked" and "Does Geotagging Photos Help Google Maps and Earth Searches?". Zack Prez is the author of "Photographer's SEO Book" and "Blog SEO Zen", both available on his website as downloadable e-books.
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