Monday, October 27, 2008

Alright, here's the newest photo from last night

And as of this weekend, the total is $273. Still lots to go, keep sending in that money if you want to see me shave my head :-D

Thanks again to everyone that has donated, and thanks in advance to anyone planning on donating!

Monday, October 20, 2008

10/20/08 - Beards BeCAUSE update

Alright folks, I'm going to get everyone up to date on the cause. First, here are the first three photos:

Here I am clean shaven at the beginning of it all.

And here's week 1.

And week 2, this last weekend.

Now that we're up to date with the photos, here's the total for donations. So far, we've raised $143. Keep it comin' if you want to see me go bald. In December, that is, cause I'm pretty sure we all know I'll get there eventually ;-)

Thanks again for all of your support :-D

Friday, October 17, 2008

Beards BeCAUSE

Hey everyone! I hope this finds you all in good spirits as we near my favorite part of the year: Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas! I get to dress goofy, eat til I'm goofy, then see my goofy family back home ;-D. I know I'm looking forward to all of the above! This is a lengthy post, but I think it'll be worth it to read to the end (or at least to the bolded text below :-P)

The reason for this post is to let you all know about what I'm doing during the next couple of months. I decided to help support a good cause and join Beards BeCAUSE this year. As their website states:
"Beards BeCAUSE is a two month fundraising campaign that raises awareness for domestic violence and supports the United Family Services Shelter for Battered Women in Charlotte, North Carolina. It involves a group of volunteer men and women working together to raise donations in a variety of categories from beard growers, men with existing beards, and those who cannot grow beards at all. It is our hope that our efforts will help wipe out domestic violence."

The kickoff party for Beards BeCAUSE was two weeks ago, at which point I shaved off my beard (all 'growers', as they call us, had to be clean shaven on the night of the kickoff party). In show of my support for the cause, I won't be shaving for 2 months, until December 5th to be exact. During this time, I will be raising money for the shelter via donations. I will also be scratching my face off as the first month or so of growing a beard involves lots of itchiness. Good times indeed :-D

If you are able, we would love your donations for the cause. You can donate online using the link below, or you can get me a check as well, just shoot me an email and I'll get you my info.

But for those of you that know me well, you know that I like spicing things up every now and then. And when it comes to raising money, I'll do a lot of interesting (for lack of a better word...) things. So here's my twist:

If you all help me raise over $2500, I will shave my head.

For those good with math: Donations>$2500=(-Hair)
Or those who write computer programs: If Donations>$2500, Then I go bald.

Any way you put it, if you raise the bread, you'll see my head. Bare, that is. Though the beard stays.

I'm doing this for two reasons. One, anything I can do to raise a little extra money is worth it. And two, I don't think I can raise that much money. That's not to say I won't try, I'll be asking everyone I know to donate. And I encourage you to send this to people you know as well, make a game of it. But I do like my hair ;-)

If, by chance, I am able to raise over $2500, I will have a party for the head shaving. You will all be invited. And for those that are not in the Charlotte area, I will make sure to have my friends take lots of photos and videos, and will post them online for all to see. Simply get me your email address when you donate and I'll send you the link if it happens. If it happens. I'll keep track of my activity here on my blog, I'll post photos weekly to show the progress of my beard, and I'll try to keep you up to date with money totals. You can also track my progress online at the Beards BeCAUSE website ( on the 'Participants' page. My name is approx. 1/2 of the way down the page. That's also where you'll see the link to donate online with my name as a reference.

Alright, I thank you all in advance for whatever donation you are able to give. Also, donations are all tax deductible. And if you can't donate right now, remember, you've got all the way through November to donate, or if you'd like to volunteer at the shelter you can click the link below to get you to their website. All of the pertinent information will be listed below for you. I hope you're all having a great day, and I'll talk to you all later :-D

Thanks again,
Jeremy Kuster

PS: Feel free to send this on to anyone you think might be willing to help out :-D Thanks again!

To donate to Beards BeCAUSE under my name, go to the Participants page on their website here, then scroll about 1/2 of the way down and find my name. On the right side of the screen across from my name you'll see the 'Donate Now' link. Click that and it will take you to a PayPal site where you can donate under my name. Make sure the reference name is Jeremy Kuster under Beards BeCAUSE on the PayPal site. You can also send cash or a check to me made out to United Family Services, put Beards BeCAUSE in the note line, as well as my name.

Beards BeCAUSE website

United Family Services website

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

CPMG Flickr Tutorial

Flickr Tutorial for The Charlotte Photography Meetup Group

This tutorial will go over the basics of getting you up and running on Flickr for the purpose of sharing images with our group for comments and critiques.

To begin, if you do not yet have an account on Flickr, you can sign up for a free one very easily. Just visit their site and follow the instructions by clicking on the “Create Your Account” button near the top right of the screen. The free account allows up to 100MB of image uploads a month and up to 3 sets (A set is a form of organization for your images, though we’ll get into that more later). One downfall of the free account is that you won’t be able to see your photos at their original size, Flickr will automatically scale them down a bit (though it saves the originals in case you upgrade at a future date). This is not a major problem though, as the photos are still large enough to clearly see and work with, especially for our purposes.

If you choose to do so though, you can upgrade to a Pro account for roughly $25 a year. This allows unlimited uploads and unlimited sets and collections.

Once you’ve signed up, the first thing I’m going to point you to is our group site on Flickr. I’ll ask that you join this right away, is it will make parts of the rest of this tutorial easier to work with if you’re already a group member. It’s very simple, just go to and click on “Join this group?” to the right of the group name. Click “OK, Join” on the next page, and you’re set!

Now that you’ve signed up for the group, I’ll go over uploading photos. To upload your images, go back to your Flickr home site and click on “Upload Photos.” This will bring you to a page for uploading your photos, just follow the directions provided and you should be well on your way. *Hint, you can select multiple photos at once, just be prepared to wait for them all to upload.

When your photos are finished uploading, you’ll be able to titles, tags, and/or descriptions to them. To do this, click on “describe your photos” after they’ve uploaded. This will take you to a page for adding/editing this information. You can edit them here right after you upload them, or you can edit each photo individually anytime afterwards (or by using the “Organize” tab you can edit groups of photos simultaneously, though that’s more advanced than we’re going to go with this tutorial). Before I go any further though, I’m going to explain what it is you’re adding to your photos.

Titles and descriptions should both be pretty obvious. You can title your images whatever you’d like to. Your descriptions are going to come into play more when we’re discussing critiques though. Go ahead and write down anything you’d like us to know about your photo (i.e. where you were, why you took it, what you were thinking, etc.). The more useful information you can give us though, the more people can learn from your image. And the better it can be critiqued (in fact, for certain critiques you’ll be required to put specific information into your description, but I’ll get into that later).
Tags are keywords/phrases that you can assign to your photos to make them more searchable. They can be anything from your name, location, the date the image was taken, subject matter, or themes. They’re usually one word in length or simple phrases or names. They can also be specifically designed to refer to a specific event or shoot, such as we’re doing with our events. Take this photo for instance:

This is a photo I took at our strobist outing on January 19, 2008. I could theoretically add these tags: Jeremy Kuster, Strobist, Angie, car, mini, red, asian, sexy, Charlotte, CPMG11908Strobist. The first is obvious, my name. Strobist refers to the lighting style, and Angie is the models name. Car is pretty self-explanatory. It just so happens the car is Mini-Cooper. Her jacket is red(ish). She’s Asian. The image has a sexy look (though that’s up for interpretation, you could put whatever you thought your image looked like). It was taken in Charlotte. And the last tag refers to our group event tags. All of our shoots and assignments will be given a tag to use in Flickr. Our shoot that Saturday in January was given the tag CPMG11908Strobist. CPMG = Charlotte Photography Meetup Group, 11908 is the date (1/19/08), and Strobist is the event name for the tag. The purpose of this is to allow us to easily search for all the images uploaded from that shoot. If you go to your main Flickr page and put CPMG11908Strobist in the search box and hit enter, all of the photos from that day that have been uploaded will show up. Very useful when trying to find images for comments and critiques. The tags for the events will be created by the organizers of the event, so that everyone uses the same exact tag. They’ll be posted on our group Flickr site under the thread titled “Tag listing for all events/shoots.”

Now that I’ve gone over what tags are, you should be ready to enter your tags and descriptions. From the “Describe your photos” page, you have two options for entering tags. You can use the batch function at the top of the page to add the same tags to all of your images (enter in the tags you want and then click “Add”), or you can enter tags one by one under each individual image. You can also enter in your descriptions for each image.

Now that you’ve got that done, let’s move on to working with our Flickr group. I’ll start by explaining what we want to use our Flickr group for and what we hope to get out of it. While our Meetup site is great for organizing events and gaining new members, it lacks a bit when it comes to its options for showing and critiquing images. It just wasn’t meant to be a photography site, and that’s perfectly alright. But because of that, we want to use Flickr to allow us to better comment on and critique each other’s images, because the only way you can get better is to find out where you need to improve.
To do this, a few things are required. First, you have to have a Flickr account (check). Second, your photos need to be uploaded to your account (check). Third, you need to have them tagged and described properly. While you may have them tagged properly (with the event tag and whatnot), you may not have a suitable description in there for critique just yet. The quick way to think of it is this: The more valuable information you provide (i.e. lighting info, exposure info, thoughts behind the image, who/what the image is meant for or its target market, etc.), the more in depth a critique can be given. There will be three levels of critique. The first is the most simple: No critique please. Obviously this means you don’t want a critique, which is perfectly fine and is a good way to make sure we understand that. The second is: Basic critique. This may be as simple as suggesting another camera angle or moving a light, but either way it will most likely be brief and involve only one or two elements of the photo. This is a good one to start with until you’re sure you can handle and understand more involved critiques. For this level, you’ll need some basic info in the description, like lighting information and exposure information. Without that information, critique will be difficult to give, even basic critique. The third level of critique is: Advanced critique. Ultimately, this is usually the most helpful critique, but it is also the most involved and requires the most information. You’ll need to provide all available technical information on the photo (lighting setup, exposure, different kinds of lights, other variables, etc.) as well as a target market for the image and/or what your intended purpose is for the image. Without a target market/intended purpose it’s almost impossible to give a detailed advanced critique, as every photo can have multiple purposes, and it will work better for some than for others.

When determining what level of critique you want on your image, write in the description the level you decide on, as well as all of the pertinent information. It’d be easiest if you wrote the level of critique desired at the very bottom of the description.

Once you have your description finished for the photos you want critiqued or just to show, then we need to put them in our group photo pool. The pool is all of the images that members of our group want everyone to see. Simply uploading them into Flickr will not enter them into the group, you must send them there yourself. To do this, you can go to the photo you wish to send, then hit the button labeled “Send to Group” (it’s under the title of the photo, second one from the left). A list of your groups will pop up, just select the one you wish to send it to and off it goes. You can only send 15 images per week to the group. This is to prevent overloading the pool with one person’s images, and to remind you that the images you upload to the group need to be related to an event or meetup of the group. If you send an image to the group that does not have an event or meetup tag, it will most likely be deleted. We want to keep the pool clear of random images, there are plenty of other places to show your images, plus we’ll be able to see your other images on your own pages.

This should put you on a good start to using Flickr. Though there’s much much more to learn about Flickr, this is only meant to be a basic tutorial. If you need more help, don’t hesitate to ask any of us that have experience on the site, we’d be glad to help.