User Friendly And Idiot Proof Website


Inoxfire is a site providing free website templates, images and icons. The whole website is extremely user-friendly and nobody should be lost while navigating the site.


The layout is pretty straight forward with 2 columns and main navigation on the left. The navigation is simple, effective and idiot proof. The homepage looks cool but I don’t think it is convincing enough to arouse my interest. The homepage should provide a glimpse of what the entire website can really offer. Perhaps adding more description and images to the news might be a good idea. I also feel that the “Free Newsletter” section should go down because it is less important.

The left menu leads to 4 main categories in the site, ie free templates, free images, free icons and guestbook. The layout of each category is also very simple. For example under the template section, you only see thumbnail display of the web templates. Though I would like to see more description of the thumbnails, the idea of “keeping it simple” may just work here.

Some of the listing in the category page might be too long and take up alot of bandwidth. For example under the “Free Images” section , the author might consider splitting up the thumbnails into different pages. I think this step is important especially when the database gets bigger.

The colors used in the site are soothing and pleasing to the eye. However, the adsense in the header seems to be a distraction and out of place. I am not a fan of putting adsense in the header especially for content-based sites because the eyes will be focusing on the body. It might therefore be a better idea to integrate it into the body, something like what has done.


The only serious problem I have with the site is the lacking of a footer. To me, every webpage tells a story with the header as introduction, body as content and footer as ending or conclusion. After scrolling down to the end, I might think that the page is suddenly chipped off due to scripting error or some unknown reason.


Inoxfire is definitely a cool site with strength in its navigation, simplicity and free content. Though the idea is not new, it is still a great way to generate traffic. People love freebies. If the site can be updated regularly with quality images and templates, it is sure to get popular in the near future. The biggest challenge for Inoxfire is perhaps to let people know about the site.

Reducing Red Eye In Photos

How many countless photos have you taken at birthday parties, weddings, or bar mitzvahs that came back from your film developer with annoying red eye? The same thing can happen with animals, however, the result is usually a greenish or silvery glow. One of the most common problems novice photographers encounter when photographing people or animals is red eye. The problem is caused by the flash of the camera illuminating the rentina of the eye. With people the retina is made up of hundreds of tiny blood vessels. When lit by the camera’s flash it reflects the red color of these vessels.
Today many point and shoot cameras offer a red eye reduction feature. A tiny strobe light will pulse from the camera prior to the camera shutter opening and closing. The theory is that the iris of the eye will narrow when exposed to the bright light. This offers a smaller area of the retina, containing the tiny blood vessels, to be exposed while the photo is taken. However, this doesn’t always eliminate the problem. The reason is the proximity of the flash to the camera lens, it’s just too close.

I have a friend who is now on his fourth camera within the past five years due to photos coming back from the lab with red eye. The red eye reduction feature on these cameras has never been consistent and still continues to result in red eye more often than not.

One of the ways to eliminate red eye if you own a point and shoot that doesn’t allow for an attached accessory flash, is to either photograph the subject in the brightest ambient light possible or make sure the subject is not standing directly in front of you. Bright ambient light gives you, the photographer, the advantage of narrowing down the iris naturally before the strobe goes to work. The other option is to photograph the subject at an angle, so the lens will not have a direct line to the back of the eye’s retina. This decreases the chance for the film to see the red retina.

Now, if you own or use a higher end camera, you most likely have the opportunity to utilize an external or accessory flash. These are usually mounted on a bracket off to the side of the camera. The advantage here is that the camera and the flash have some distance between them. We want to create as much distance between the flash and the lens of the camera as possible, this way the lens won’t see the light bounce directly off the retina. The result is little to no red eye.

My biggest breakthrough in regard to reduction of red eye came when I was introduced to a diffuser that mounts to the top of the flash unit over the light. I use what’s called a 80/20 (80% / 20%) diffuser. When photographing people or animals, I use it in the following manner. I aim my flash at a 90 degree angle up from my subject, basically into the sky. Because I am utilizing the 80/20 diffuser, 20% of that light is directed, in a diffuse fashion, back down at my subject. The results are fantastic! I eliminate red eye and create a softer more natural looking light for my subject. Not only does this reduce red eye but produces a softer light for the subject without harsh or annoying shadows behind them.

A couple of last things to consider would be the difference between photographing children and adults as well as complexion. A rule of thumb is that the younger the subject the wider the retina and the greater opportunity for red eye. The other point is that fairer skinned persons and people with blue eyes have a tendency to produce the red eye effect more than their counterparts. Consider these and the other suggestions the next time you photograph people and animals and you should have better results when you pick up your prints.

About The Author

Bill Bales has been in and around photography for over 20 years. He attended Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois, where he received his bachelor of arts, and invaluable experience from working professionals in photography, film and television broadcasting. It was there that he honed his documentary/photojournalistic approach towards picture taking. Currently, he resides in Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL where he finds himself photographing events such as weddings, doing portraiture, as well as freelancing for various print publications. You can visit his web site and see his work at or e-mail him at

Capturing the Image

The entire process of capturing a photo is a different experience for every person. Sometimes the shot of a lifetime happens by accident; sometimes it has been planned out for days, no rx weeks or even years in advance. Other times its something seen after the photo is taken, generic something hidden and brought forward from the background. Many people take photos to try and hold onto a special moment in time. A vacation, shop a birthday, awards, a new car, a wedding or even a new baby.

My process for capturing most of my freelance work comes from a little bit of everything. I do plan on where I am going. I usually like to select a place with lots of activity. A park, a public market, a fair or even a busy downtown street. Once I get to that place, I sit and watch what’s going on around me. Where are people coming from, where are they going, and what are they doing.

I get my bearings on the flow of the place, and then I walk around looking for spots of interest. Is there nice filtered light coming from under the tree, is the water bouncing of the sidewalk in the water park and twinkling in the sun, Is the sky reflecting off the glass windows of a building, is a bench creating an interesting shadow on the children sitting on the grass near by?

Once I have noted my places of interest, I select my lens. I usually like to use a long range lens, I like my 75 – 300mm for freelance work, as you can get in close without getting in too close. Anything bigger and people think you’re a private detective or the paparazzi. Anything smaller and you can’t get in close enough without then noticing you.

Most of my best work is done when the people don’t even know I am there. Many times I have had to look away and pretend to focus on a pigeon or a taxi cab, in order to avert the sudden glare from someone who has spotted me. If you get caught, the person will usually shy away from you, clown around or get angry. There are a few people who will just ignore you and keep doing what they were doing, but those people are far and few between.

I have never taken a tripod with me on these expeditions, as I find it hard to move around freely while weighted down with too much equipment. I pack light and take only what I need. I make sure to be prepared with extra batteries, lens’s, and am always ready for a change in weather. One of my instructors said “it sucks to be wet and cold” and it really, really does.

The most important thing is to take your time when shooting. Don’t have any other place to be, don’t be in a time crunch. Patience is the key to great photos.

I usually shoot a full 1 GB card (jpg) and only look at the photos when I get home rather than viewing them as I go. I have a different perspective after I am out of the situation and it also curbs me from deleting things I think are bad at the time but might be gems in a different place and time.

The finished photo here was taken in the summer at a popular public market. A street performer was getting ready to perform and people had gathered around and were waiting for the show to start. I saw these two sets of children so different but so alike. One set had huge ice cream cones and the others did not. I knew it would not take long before the ones without, couldn’t resist watching the other two eating those cones. I only waited a few moments before I had the shot I wanted.

The last step is going over the actual shots you have taken. Once I have selected the ones I really love, I will crop them out and make any corrections if necessary. I always try to leave the photo in its rawest and purest form even though shooting digital always offers the temptation to change things around. This photo is now hanging at my father’s summer home after winning an honorable mention in the International Photography Competition last year.

Freelance is about getting out there and taking photos. Just remember that anywhere, anytime – great photos happen, you have just got to be there to catch them!

About The Author

Trish Connolly has been taking photos for over ten years. Working mostly with nature and freelance work, she moved over into portraits and children. With a special gift and the never ending help and support of her father Bob, Trish now has two photo studios operating and is now working in the fashion industry as well as teaching local modeling courses. She has also trained for the past two years at Focal Point Photography, in Vancouver Canada. Visit her website at

Car Review Website

Introduction is an Australian automotive review and information website. By providing extensive reviews on cars, buy the author hopes to help people to choose the right car to buy. The website looks just OK to me but some of the reviews are cool.


There was nothing in the index page that motivated me to stay when I first entered the site. However, case I must admit that I am not a fan of cars. Some images are nice but they are too far below and I have to scroll down alot to access them. The author might consider cutting down the text with additional links like “read more” for each review. I think that making the user scroll too much on the index page is not a good idea.

The first page is heavy because of the strong visuals. I thought there are nice images but they are abit far down. Why not move it closer to the top so that people see it once they enter the site? Nice images often attracts attention. I am also not too sure of the page header. I just feel that there are too much empty space in there.

The detail page of each review looks good and interesting. The images can be enhanced to increase the visual appeal. Under the review section, buy viagra the images of the cars are stacked one on top of each other which forms a long list again. The author might consider utilizing tables to organize the thumbnails of the cars to cut down on the scrolling.


The top menu is pretty straight forward but I am not too sure of the left menu. People always like to search for something interesting in the left menu. The current left menu consist of boring resource links which is standard across all the pages. The white comment boxes that appear while hovering the left menu seems to be too big for me. The right column consists of long menu items on car reviews. The list is long and I think it should not be on every page. I would recommend putting other links such as advertisements or even remove the whole column altogether.

To me, the reviews on the different models of cars could have been better organized. Instead of listing all the models in one page, the author might want to categorize them into different brands such as “Toyota”, “Hyundai”, “Ford” and so on.

The author can work harder on the title and meta description of the pages. Every page should have certain targeted keywords to optimize. In many cases, the use of images for the headers are unnecessary. For example, the “Welcome to” in the index page need not be an image. Using images inappropriately can hurt the SEO of the page. All images used should also have alt tags. The author might want to use more h1 and h2 tags.


The car reviews are very detail and professional. I am sure it will help alot of people who are looking to buy a car. However, the image layout in the site could have been better. The author might also look into what to put into the left and right columns.

Cartoon Character Design

When I was a kid, viagra the first thing I would do in the morning was rip open the newspaper and flip to the comics sections. Multiple bowls of cereal and lots of orange juice were spilled while scrutinizing the latest Calvin and Hobbes or Doonesbury. What still amazes me is the ability of Bill Watterson and Gary Trudeau to convey the emotions and thoughts of their characters through simple, clean line drawings. Artists like those guys (and certainly many others) are the real deal.

While I’m no Bill Watterson, I strive to bring complexities to my character design with clean lines. I think the single most important aspect of drawing characters is to develop their background. Give them a story. Write it out or just go through it in your mind. This doesn’t have to be complex, but it will give a better idea of what the character should be wearing, how they should be postured, and whether or not they need any props. This is an excellent way to get those development juices flowing if you hit a dead end.

Many other artists like to sketch out their characters. They’ll draw out the ovals and rectangles to represent various body parts. Not me. I like to jump right in. I picture the character in my mind and it seems like I can’t get the character on the paper quickly enough. Even though I may have to draw the character multiple times, my drawing process seems to just flow and it either clicks or it doesn’t. However, I would caution anyone starting out from using this technique. Even if you don’t want to sketch out the entire character, I would suggest trying out a few body parts before jumping in headfirst.

I like to begin with just a paper and mechanical pencil. Mechanical pencils do a great job of providing smooth lines, rather than the rougher and easily smudged lines left by wooden pencils. Also, never underestimate the power of a quality eraser. This is where the fun begins.

I start with the eyebrows. When you are designing a 2D character, and especially in comic or cartoon styles, the eyebrows are your best expressive weapon. Image 1 shows how you can convey many different expressions with the same eyes and expressive eyebrows.

Once the eyebrows and eyes are settled, I will naturally complete the rest of the face and head. The mouth is almost as important as the eyebrows, and Image 2 shows how various mouths can really seal the deal on your character.

Hair always seems to give me some slight hang-ups. Short hair is relatively easy, but longer, flowing hair is difficult to draw to look natural. Here it is just practice makes perfect. Usually, if there is a particular style I am shooting for; I like to have a picture in front of me. This is one of those places the eraser comes in pretty handy. (Image 3)

From here, I will move down the body creating the torso and arms. If the clothes are tightly fitting, I like to use smooth curves. Rigid lines do a much better job conveying loose fitting clothes such as coats or button down shirts. (Image 4)

Like hair, hands can sometimes be a problem. Sometimes they are too big, fingers are too skinny, or they just don’t feel “right.” The best way I have found to getting better at drawing hands is to draw the characters holding something in their hands. Of course, a quick out is to put the character’s hands in their pockets.

Pants are pretty easy, and it is often easier to draw them slightly larger then they might be naturally. This will allow you to make up any difficulties in drawing body shapes and sizes. The shoes and feet are probably the least important, but are not to be overlooked. Make sure the shoes match the rest of the character. Again, you can always hide any shoes problem by hiding most of them with some pants overlap.

Once you have everything together, I like to add little extras. Maybe some light shading or a logo on the shirt. Maybe the character has a tattoo. This is when you can really have your character’s personality shine through.

From here, I like to ink my drawings using a felt tip pen and scan them into my computer. I like to use Adobe Photoshop to manipulate my drawings and add some color, but there are many good image manipulation software packages out there.

The character I designed for this project just walked into the restaurant where he saw his date flirting with another guy. Notice how the stubble and loose tie give the appearance that he is a bit down on his luck. The drooping flowers give a sense of rejection and the apparent shock and confusion on his face convey a sense of urgency. You will also notice how much color and shading can add to your drawing.

Once you find your own process, hopefully it will just flow naturally. For me another thing is to just have fun. If I don’t enjoy what my character is looking like, I’ll just cut my losses and move on. Especially if you are drawing for someone else, make sure it is still something you’ll enjoy creating and be proud of. Drawing for yourself means you’re drawing with confidence, and that is the best character design tip I can give you.

About The Author

Colin Mann is an avid artist and co-founder of Mercury Effects, where he serves as Art Director. Mercury Effects is an independent video game studio based in Pittsburgh, PA.





Cute idea, big mistakes in web design


This site promotes a book in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi genre that appears to be geared toward younger audiences. “SFX Fantasy: Sarah’s Journey Into A Strange New World” is a tale of fantasy and romance that moves between the light and the dark in a world of strange beasts and amazing powers. The site concept is cute, however the implementation and design lacks in a number of ways that becomes quickly apparent to the visitor after a few clicks.


This site uses simple book-like imagery as the defining design for most pages. Font selection is consistent, if boring, and there’s really no branding as you move around the site. There is very little actual design to anything here, as the font is black on a white background using all of the default link colors. It doesn’t appear that there was a lot of thought and effort put into this site at all.

The home page has an oddly placed hyperlink near the bottom that states, “Here is my sfxfantasy blog.” It uses a different font than the rest of the website, and the link text is placed over the edge of the book in the background graphic, so it’s difficult to read. It honestly just looks like a mistake, as it doesn’t appear on any of the other pages. The “Original layout by…” comment is also misplaced compared to the other pages, and actually throws off the “book look” somewhat due to adding table cells below the book that also book-use the side images as the background. It just looks weird and out of place.

There are major inconsistencies in the various page designs, and there is a strange flickering effect, especially at high screen resolutions, as you move around the site. Also, some of the pages have black backgrounds that just stop arbitrarily part of the way down the page and change to white. Again, this is probably only very noticeable at high resolutions, but it does not help the already lacking design of the website. The Affiliates page is just a plain white page with text that doesn’t look at all like the rest of the site. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.


Navigation is accomplished by utilizing a horizontal menu above the “book” body of the site. There are also links throughout the content that lead to various pages – some of which are accessible from the top menu – some of which are not. Finding something more than once can be a challenge, especially if it buried in a page that only links from some obscure place in the content.

The Store page displays a few images from the book, and when you click on one of the images, it navigates away from the site to an outside shopping cart where you can purchase a vast array of supporting products. The Serpent traps Jake link ends up at a login page displaying “Session expired.” The others go to their respective product pages, although I’m not a fan of links that navigate away from the site without opening a new window in which to do it.


The product being sold is cute and appears appealing to its target market. Although I can’t really speak to the overall quality of the book as I have not read it in its entirely, the three chapters that I skimmed over seemed clean and well written. As for itself…

The just site screams, “Amateur!” It doesn’t get much worse than this. Professional design help desperately needed.

Interesting Group Shots

When we get together with family or friends and the camera comes out, we methodically line up, put our hands awkwardly to our sides or in front of us, and painfully grin. Group shots are challenging and often turn out mediocre and best. This is an opportunity to try something new.

First thing’s first. You need an idea, a concept. You need to pre-visualize your photo. One of the best resources for getting ideas on group shots are music magazines. There are lots of ideas of intersting ways to pose groups, and bands usually have intersting location shoots and positioning of its members. These are magazines like Filter or Spin, etc. Plan on going to Borders one evening, grab a cup of coffee, and browse their magazine section. Bring along your sketch book as well to jot down concepts you like so you don’t forget when it comes time to shoot.

With this image I wanted to do something different with my friends. Sping was coming and the sun was out, and the clouds were clearing. I wanted the image to feel like summer as well as capture the enjoyment of being with each other. The challenge with this shot was lighting. With the sun behinds us, all the faces were in the shade. To expose their faces right, I would lose the lovely blue sky. Here, i used a camera flash to fill in the subjects’ faces in order to keep my blue sky. Here’s how you do that. First, you meter the sky. Let’s say it’s f/16 at 1/250. The best way to control the intensity of the flash is through aperture. Next, set the camera on aperture priority and set the f-stop to f/16 (to match the sky behind them). This way, when you shoot, your subjects will be lit to match the background, in this case, the sky. If you want the sky darker, close down the aperture (make it smaller so less light comes through), in this case changing the aperture to f/22. When I got my exposure right (i’m laying on the ground for this shot), I had my friends lean in over me. It was a fun shot, and they were good sports about it. You’ll find that most people are willing to try new things for a photograph, especially if you send them a copy later.

About The Author

Heather graduated from Utah Valley State College with a BFA in photography. She is currently working for Rubberball Productions as well as freelancing. Her clients include the Los Angeles Times, Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Regional Ballet, and Utah Valley State College. Heather was the featured artist in GrayMatter Magaizine and has been a finalist in the Nikon International College Competition the last three years in a row. She has been shooting a lot of fashion, editorial/travel, and fine art photography. See more of her work at

Great Content Needs To Be Organized And Presentable


Preferred Seating is a company in United States, doctor providing design, layouts and installs superior quality theatre seating and stadium seats. I think their website has great content but alot of work needs to be done on the layout.


The home page is very important because it is usually the first landing page of your website. It is therefore important that the homepage must motivate your visitors to stay. I could already pick up alot of things by just glancing at the homepage of “Preferred Seating”. The 2 things that came into my mind immediately were a) The site has layout problems. b) They need to re-organize their content.

The first rule in designing any website is not to overwhelm your readers with tonnes of information. Too much information confuses your readers and makes your website boring. I feel that the author has alot of things to tell but is abit too impatient, displaying too much details in the home page.

There are alot of words in other pages well but many them are redundant. For example, when the author is describing church seatings, he need not tell long stories about how important comfort is to people in the church. Chair industry is quite specialized and does not have a wide appeal. People must have arrived at the site with a purpose. This means that they want to buy something and want to know what you have to offer. What is the point of beating around the bush? It might be a better idea though to talk more about the products in a separate window or let the user download pdf a file if they wish to know more.

I like to use the website of another furniture company, to illustrate the importance of “Uncluttering Your Website”.


Though the main navigation menu is easily identifiable, the submenu is not. The current submenu is sandwiched between some images and text, making it hard to detect. I would suggest some mouse over effects or even move the whole thing to the top. There are currently no links back to the home page and I do not know where I am. While surfing the site, I also realized some pages have alot of empty spaces that make you scroll for no reason.

I feel that the “Contact Us” link should not be the first item in the menu. People usually want to look at your products before contacting you. The company should also talk more about themselves. Information like how long they have been in the industry, their work philosophy, major projects, awards won…etc are good ideas.

I think the author needs to work alot harder on the images. The image on the right shows how a chair without a background looks better than one with a background. While browsing the entire site, I found that the layout is different in every pages. The inconsistency extends to the empty spaces around the images and text. Also, I cannot see how the blue line between the menu and content fits into the theme of the site. Instead of changing the images in the header for every page, I would suggest perhaps to leave the header with a fix image because some images are not cropped properly.

Many header text in the body are not aligned properly. The author might consider using CSS to provide custom alignment. To me, I feel that the page that set a better example should be
I would strongly suggest the author to use the layout in this page as a guide(or template) for all the other webpages. The use of a template is very effective in generating consistent layout.

The coding needs a big fix as well and I think the main concern now should be on the design and layout. One of the big problems in designing website yourself is the generation of redundant codes which is very unhealthy in terms of search engine optimization.


The website has alot of nice content which needs to be manually filtered and organized for user-friendliness. The author has a long way to go if he wants to turn this website into something more presentable and marketable. I would suggest re-designing the website with some professional help.

Cross Processing

Cross processing is, as Forrest Gump would say, like a box of chocolates. You really don’t know what you’re going to get. And that’s what makes it so fun. The results will depend mostly on what type of film you use and what your lighting source is .

Something that can really make photographs more interesting is to cross-process the film when developing it. Technically this means shooting C-41 (negative print film) and processing it as E-6 (slides) or visa versa. You are purposely developing your film in the wrong chemicals. This changes the color palette. How much and to what colors will depend on the film you shoot with and the type of lighting you’re shooting in (sunlight, indoor light, tungsten or flourescent light, etc.). In this case, I shot Fuji Sensia ASA 100, a consumer-grade slide film, under tungsten lights, but had it developed as regular negative film. That is why the colors are different. A little punchy, more saturated, those yellow skin tones. Fuji films, in general, will give you lots of greens and yellows. Kodak film tend to be warmer giving you more reds, roses, pinks, and peaches.
When going from slides to film (E-6 to C-41) you do not need to compensate exposure. You shoot it like you normally would. However, when you are shooting film and developing it as a slide (C-41 to E-6) you must OVEREXPOSE it two to five stops. This, of course, will depend on the type of film you’re using, but I usually push it 3 stops. Bracketing is good in situations like these where you don’t know how much to push the film.

About The Author

Heather graduated from Utah Valley State College with a BFA in photography. She is currently working for Rubberball Productions as well as freelancing. Her clients include the Los Angeles Times, Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Regional Ballet, and Utah Valley State College. Heather was the featured artist in GrayMatter Magaizine and has been a finalist in the Nikon International College Competition the last three years in a row. She has been shooting a lot of fashion, editorial/travel, and fine art photography. See more of her work at

Web Design Company Knows Design


Upon first landing on the home page for TwoSpots Web Design, one thing immediately went through my mind: “This is a website for a web and graphics design company. I really hope it measures up to standard.” Well…it did! TwoSpots definitely “gets it” when it comes to building a good website.


It was easy to settle in spend some time here. Right away, I felt this would be a clean and friendly experience. Their logo is simple, catchy, and says exactly what they do. Branding is strong, as they have a common header placing their logo at the top left of every page, and their content is meaningful and well written. The picture in the header changes with each page, and placement is consistent. The site images are relevant to the content throughout. Everything is well organized and follows a standard from one page to the next. The font choices are simple and not a strain on the eye. This creates and easy, pleasant read. The random articles at the bottom left of the home page are a nice touch.

After exploring the site for some time, I was relieved to find that the pleasantries of the first few pages did indeed extend to the rest of the site. More consistency; more information; yet never an undue regurgitation of the same-old/same-old like so many other websites. I just didn’t get bored looking around here. Navigation is simple and clean – like everything else here – and is controlled through a vertical main menu system at the top right, a topic-specific submenu running horizontally just below it, and various links in the content itself that take you right where you need to go next. There is also a site search available on every page just under the menus, and I found no broken links on the site during my visit.


TwoSpots offers web and graphic design, as well as a number of other related services such as photography, business printing, website hosting, and Internet marketing. In each case, they offer examples of their work, so it’s easy to feel comfortable and trusting towards this company with your web design needs.


This is a nice, clean website. What they do, they do well. I was impressed with everything I saw on the site, and I actually enjoyed the time I spent there. A lot of websites could learn a thing or two from