Friday, August 26, 2011

Photography Tips 101 by John Dersham

In this day of totally automatic cameras that take good looking pictures without working hard for them, could also be the reason for a lot of bad photographs. Here is what I mean. Photography has always been about the finished image and not the medium to get the picture. Good quality images that are interesting to look at require some knowledge and some compositional planning. The ability to take clear photographs easy and fast does not have anything to do with taking GOOD pictures. A good picture is one you or anyone else will enjoy looking at time after time. It will look good in a photo album or on the wall, or in a publication. Here are some important tips for making your photographs stand out.
• Good lighting: For scenery shots the best time is early or late in the day. This time of year you should try 7:00am through 10:00 am and 3:00pm through 7:00pm. When the sun is at an angle in the sky the quality of lighting on your scene is much more interesting then when the sun is straight up as it is mid-day.
• Use your flash: When shooting people outside at a range of ten feet or closer, always use your flash. This helps eliminate unsightly shadows on your subjects’ faces.
• Hold your camera level: If you hold your camera level and parallel to your scene you will avoid distortion. Example: when you are at the beach, water is always level. If you hold your camera at even the slightest angle your water will look like it is going uphill. It is easy to tell if your camera is level by looking at the horizon line of your ocean view. If it is a straight line and not angled, then your camera is being held level. The same holds true for shooting landscapes, buildings, road scenes, etc.
• Composition: Good pictures are composed like a piece of art. Before you take a picture look at your available angles. Pick angles that flatter your scene by having a leading line running from the foreground into your scene. Do not crop important subjects to close the edge of the scene. Your horizon line should not be in the middle of your scene, in most cases your foreground should lead into the primary subject with the sky being a third or less of the scene, unless a primary element of the scene is the sky. Remember to hold your camera level and steady. Look at your lighting, shoot at angles where the lighting contributes to your composition. It is best when your primary subject is not in the dead center of the picture. It should be up or down or left or right of center.
• Use your viewfinder: If you have a viewfinder on your camera it is better to compose through it and not through the LCD panel on the back of your digital camera. Using the LCD panel is less stable, is prone to not holding the camera level and is harder to see your composition, especially outside. If your camera can only be used by viewing through a LCD panel then be aware of camera stability and composition.
• Hold your camera with both hands: Your camera should be held steadily using two hands with the camera held squarely and firmly. One hand shots are unsteady and will rarely be held level and parallel to the scene. This is true even if you are shooting at an unusual angle like down on the ground or crouched.
• Make sure when taking pictures of people, their faces are well lighted and do not have unattractive shadows on their faces. Make sure the background behind your subject is simple and free of distractive clutter, such as trees that appear to be growing out of your subjects head.
• If you are shooting a picture that is intended to deliver a message, such as a festival or fair, make sure you show people in the scene doing things and laughing and smiling. Show kids and babies. Show the action of people participating in the event. When promoting tourism or an attraction, you want it to look well attended.
• Shoot your digital pictures on your camera’s highest resolution then resize them smaller if needed for internet use or small print sizes.
• Download your pictures to your computer chronologically and by subject. Make them easy to find no matter how many folders you have.
• Always back up your image files and keep them stored in a different physical location. Use a storage service or back up to CD, thumb drive or other external drive and store those items in a different building or a safety deposit box. Remember, the purpose of photographs is to capture a moment in time, permanently. Losing your images due to computer crashes or accidental catalog problems is very disappointing and can be an irreplaceable loss.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tourism Legislative Grants by John Dersham

The Alabama Department of Tourism has been awarded a onetime pool of money to offer to tourism CVB’s, cities, communities and attractions to help bring tourists to Alabama. The state tourism budget was cut this year but the Alabama Legislature approved some onetime compensation in the form of this grant to help lure people to Alabama.
If you are interested in applying, time is running out. Grant requests must be filled out and a letter of support must come from Representative Greeson or Senator McGill. The State Department of tourism must have your request by September 1, 2011. The grant is for 2012.
Here are the guidelines:

Tourism Legislative Grant Guidelines
The 2012 Tourism Legislative Grants Program is designed to attract out-of-state tourists and generate revenues by promoting attendance at attractions and community wide special events. Since out-of-state visitors spent more money than local attendees, the highest priorities will be given to attractions and events that bring tourists from other states. Grants will be capped at $25,000.
It is probable that more money will be requested than the amount appropriated by the Alabama Legislature. Every attempt will be made to disburse funds broadly and fairly across the state to non-profits and historical attractions. Sen. Arthur Orr and Rep. Jim Barton, who chair the General Fund, favor funding as many different applications as possible. Should multiple applications from the same area be received, the highest priorities will be given to the project(s) with the potential of generating the highest returns to the state’s economy. This guideline may be waived depending on the total number of applications received. It should be noted that the amounts that applicants have received from the General Fund in the past will not be a factor in the amounts awarded in this process. The Alabama Historical Commission and the Alabama Tourism Department operate similar General Fund grant programs funded by the Alabama Legislature. No applicant will receive grants from both agencies.
Please attach a letter of support from a Legislator from your district.
A budget for your project should also be submitted. The deadline for applications is September 1, 2011. If your project is approved by Alabama Tourism, you will be notified by the Legislator who wrote your support letter. Funds will be dispersed on a quarterly basis, as funds are available from the State Finance Department.
PLEASE NOTE: A support letter from your Legislator must be submitted with this application. Any application without a support letter will not be considered.
Send questions to 2

Requests for 2012 Tourism Legislative Grant funds must be made on an official form available from the Alabama Tourism Department. No organization, nor any of its subdivisions or affiliated groups, will be approved for more than one Legislative grant (as described in this package) from the Alabama Tourism Department. Each nonprofit organization will be required to submit its tax-exempt identification number or its tax exemption letter from the Internal Revenue Service.
Please Note: Applications must be postmarked by September 1, 2011.
The Tourism Department will release no grant funds until the applicant and the Tourism Department have received a fully executed agreement signed by the grantee, the Director of the Tourism Department, and the Governor of the State of Alabama. Funds will be disbursed on a quarterly basis as funds are available from the State Finance Department.
A. Attractions and Tourism Agencies --
1) Attractions and tourism agencies are eligible for funds for operations, marketing and program enhancements.

B. Festivals and/or Events --

1) Grant funds to be used for marketing community wide festivals and/or events. No monies shall be used for talent or salaries or any other overhead costs.

C. Local Governmental Organizations –

1) Funds may be used for attractions or events as outlined above, or facility enhancements that will attract tourists or events.

A. All applications will be reviewed by the Alabama Tourism Department and recommendations for funding will be based upon the project's impact on tourism in Alabama.
B. The Alabama Tourism Department will make recommendations for funding of applications to the Governor for final approval.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Marketing College in Dahlonega Georgia by John Dersham

Last week I completed my third and final year of Marketing College at North Georgia College. The program hosted by STS (Southeast Tourism Society) is now 20 years old. It is a certified education for people in the travel industry. It has been a wonderful education for me. I have looked forward to all the great educational tools I get each year in class. We also receive updates on the travel industry from people who make their livings forecasting travel trends.
Here are a few of those trends to 2011;
2010 was a rebound year after the 2008-2009 economic downturn which produced little growth or losses in most areas. 2011 has slightly fallen back into the economic downturn status. Here is what the forecasters are saying. People are travelling and spending nights out at a slight increase over 2010 but are spending less money on their trips. Travelers are eating well but not going to as many attractions per trip. Due to the conservative spending travel attractions are forecasted down from a year ago. Most impacted are museums, caves and other historical locations. High action locations like Theme Parks and children related venues are doing fine this year. Consumers are changing travel habits too. Hotels are doing well but B&B’s have suffered as Baby Boomers get older and desires are changing and the X and Y generations lean toward fast action, full service, pools and fast access to internet, good mobile connections, food and entertainment. In looking at our numbers here in DeKalb it appears the national trends are true here too.