This week we’re happy to announce new usability improvements to…
There’s nothing like summertime to get the good times rolling. In the spirit of summer, we’re happy to announce our PhotoShelter “Summer 6-Pack”: six fresh enhancements for your website that will help keep you “cool.”
Drink #1: The filmstrip
When you’re viewing a gallery of images, you are either looking at a single image or starting at a whole page of thumbnails. Nobody likes switching back and forth between views just to find a few of their favorite images. The filmstrip allows you to insert a set of scrollable thumbnails for quick navigation. It’s built completely in AJAX (i.e. not Flash), so it works on your desktops, laptops and mobile devices, too.
If you’re using a manual customization, you’ll have even more control over the filmstrip’s look – you can set both the width and the number of thumbnails that you want to appear. And you can use CSS to override the hover colors and even the arrow graphics. In this example, I created a two column design.
Drink #2: Thumbnails can display more metadata
If you’re a lazy bum like me, and you never rename your files, then you’re probably pretty tired of seeing “DSC_0123.jpg” appear under your thumbnails. It certainly doesn’t help your visitors (humans or search engines) figure out what they are looking at.
Now you can also (or alternately) display IPTC Headline, IPTC Caption, or IPTC Title. So if “Sunset over Waikiki Beach” sounds like a better way to attract some clicks, we’re happy to oblige.
Drink #3: Customize your Contact
Getting people to contact you is an early step into converting them into customers. Previously, the contact form didn’t allow for any personalization, but now it uses your site’s branding, and you can customize text on the page and add links and images to give it your personal touch!
Additionally, we’ve now added the option in all themes for you to display your “Contact” link in both the main navigation and your footer. More chances for your customers to drop you a line!
Drink #4: iPad/iPhone gallery slideshows
Let’s say your customer is lounging on the beach with her iPad, checking out your site. She comes across a gallery of fabulous images, then presses the “view slideshow” option. In the olden days, she would have seen a single static image, because our slideshow is built in Flash (not a friend to the iPad). But we’re hip. We’re cool. We have an iPad, too. So now, people viewing your gallery slideshow page on a mobile device see an AJAX-based slideshow. Ain’t that nifty?
Drink #5: Image Theft Guard
Now I know what you’re thinking: “PhotoShelter, I thought you were supportive of image security.” And we are! We’ve always disallowed drag-n-drop of images from your website. But believe it or not, there are photographers who want their clients to be able to “right click” to save their images or drag and drop images off their websites for comping purposes. We still recommend affixing a visible watermark to your images, but this might actually reduce complaints from your clients (and our buyer survey supports this, too). Just click on the “Image Security” section of “My Website” to change your preferences.
Drink #6: Homepage image size
It might sound kind of trivial, but did you ever notice that your homepage feature gallery image size was required to be the same size as the images within the gallery? What if you want a huge image on your homepage, but smaller, more demure images inside of your website? Or vice-versa? We’ve decoupled these two sizing options so that you can control them independently. Just mosey over to your “My Homepage” preferences and choose a different size. Voilà!
And two wedges of lime with that drink:
Wedge #1: Assuming you’ve enabled searching on your site, it’s really easy for your customers to find your public images. But sometimes, you’d like them to see how that image fits into an entire gallery of curated images. You can now display the public galleries in which that image is contained.
Wedge #2: My name is Allen Murabayashi, but on the Internet, my photo company is better known as Allen3 Photography. Previously when you dispatched invites, your name would appear, but now we automatically pull your “Site Name,” which you can find on your Website Settings page.
Now listen, you can use this 6-pack to your heart’s content. But you should drink in moderation, whether it’s beer or soda. That’s what my doctor told me.
BONUS BEHIND THE SCENES
I usually take pictures of people, but every once in a while I do some product shots, like the one above of the non-descript cola cans (what brand is that, anyway?). I was inspired by a little lighting video that Jody Dole did for Nikon (and of course, every blog post by the Strobist), so I borrowed a few Speedlights from Chris Owyoung and went to work.
I pulled six cans of Coke from my fridge and sprayed them with water. The spray bottle is designed for plants, but I use it when I’m ironing my shirts. I placed them on my kitchen counter top.
I put a black foamcore V-flat in the background so that you didn’t have to see my sofa.
I positioned two “kicker” flashes to the right and left of the cans and zoomed them to 200mm. I figured this would help control the spillage of light. I only had one lighting stand, so I balanced the other light on a bag (not recommended). The tricky thing is that the Nikons rely on an IR beam, so sometimes you have to twist the units in weird positions to get them firing. Here’s what it looked like with a single kicker:
Then I added a second from the other side and lowered the camera angle. I like the idea of stacking the lights one by one so that you can really see the effect.
I stuck a Lumiquest diffuser on a third flash (key light) and went low and wide. But I was having trouble holding everything, so I put the camera on a tripod, and held the third flash about 45 degrees to the left of axis. This gave me a nice shadow area down the center of the cans.
I moved the keylight around to play with different heights, but ultimately, having it just a few inches above the can produced the most pleasing light.
In post production, I removed the flash and stand from the image, and applied a very slight S-curve to make the red a little punchier. No other retouching was done because I suck at Photoshop. And there you have it!
Enjoy the dog days of summer.
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