Kickstarter: Photographer looks at what happened to the Olympic Mascots

I can't lie - I'm pretty partial to Kickstarter (and that's not just because I'm a prolific backer on there, nor because I've done a campaign myself)... So when our old friend Joe Giacomet reached out and told Photocritic about his project Cash for Gold, I was hooked... Struggling a bit there, Wenlock?!

Cash for Gold is a satirical look at the London 2012 Olympic Legacy and sees London Olympics mascot Wenlock a year on from the end of the Olympics.

Poor Wenlock is now an alcoholic, depressed and disheveled inside a cash for gold shop cashing in his 3 gold medals.

The image is being crowd-funded through Kickstarter -- quite possibly the first Kickstarter campaign I've seen that's targeted at funding just a single image - but what an image it is!

Check out the video below, and then bounce along to the Kickstarter page for Cash for Gold, for the rest of the deets.

Snapseed says hello to Android

Snapseed editing awesomeness now available for Android

When Google snapped up Snapseed, which is undoubtedly my favourite editing app for mobile photography, earlier this year there was a lot of groaning and sighing around the Intergoogles. There's been a nasty tendancy to acquire successful companies for their talent, but shutter the product itself. Snapseed, however, might have been a trend-bucker. When Google bought out Nik Software, Snapseed's owners, it was an iOS-only app. But not from today. Now it's all hunky-dory and Android-ified.

Phones and tablets that are running Ice Cream Sandwich or later are able to make use of Snapseed's comprehensive and intuitive editing package. Sure you can do fun things with your photos using Snapseed, for example adding grunge effects or a vintage look, but it offers you the ability to adjust and control the fundamentals–such as the white balance, the contrast, and the sharpening–and make selective adjustments easily, too. Snapseed lets you edit 'properly'; it isn't just about fun filters.

It's this solid base that's made Snapseed so popular, and allowed Dan Chung to live blog from Olympics with his iPhone

Snapseed, whether on iOS or Android supports nine different languages, and as of today is now free, too.

You can download Snapseed from the App Store or Google Play.

August is a metallic month

Hello lovely people! If you haven't guessed from my Twitter stream, I'm utterly glued to the Olympics at the moment. Apart from it producing some fantastic photography, it's also par-for-the-course because as anyone who knows me will confirm, I'll watch, or listen to, just about any sport going and I've been known to participate a bit, too. I get very excited and jump up and down and scream and shout. And I'll admit that I can cry on occasion.

Anyway, all of that is my rather round-about preamble to announcing our tenuously Olympic-themed competition. Think of all those glorious gold, silver, and bronze medals made out of shiny, shiny metal. Mmm shiny! Yes, we're looking for metallic images throughout August. From antique jewellery to modern art installations that you don't quite understand, we'll take it all. It just has to be metal.

The glinting entry to catch our eyes will win a 12" Fracture.

Entries can be submitted to the Small Aperture Flickr pool from today (Friday 3 August) until Friday 31 August 2012. That gives you four weeks. But please remember that it's one entry per person, so pick your best.

I've had a couple queries about what we look for when we're selecting the winners. Both Haje and I have written on the subject of winning photography competitions, so you might want to look at those articles. It's probably also worth knowing that for both us, the story in your image is key. Haje's a stickler for good lighting, I'm hot on composition, and if Gareth joins the party he'll always comment on sharpness.

For reference, I shall reproduce the rules, but all that remains is for me to wish you good luck and tell you how much I'm looking forward to your entries!

The Rules

  • If you decide to enter, you agree to The Rules.
  • You can’t be related to either me or Haje to enter.
  • One entry per person – so choose your best!
  • Entries need to be submitted to the right place, which is the Small Aperture Flickr group.
  • There’s a closing date for entries, so make sure you’ve submitted before then.
  • You have to own the copyright to your entry and be at liberty to submit it to a competition. Using other people’s photos is most uncool.
  • It probably goes without saying, but entries do need to be photographs. It’d be a bit of strange photo competition otherwise.
  • Don’t do anything icky – you know, be obscene or defame someone or sell your granny to get the photo.
  • We (that being me and Haje) get to choose the winner and we’ll do our best to do so within a week of the competition closing.
  • You get to keep all the rights to your images. We just want to be able to show off the winners (and maybe some honourable mentions) here on Pixiq.
  • Entry is at your own risk. I can’t see us eating you or anything, but we can’t be responsible for anything that happens to you because you submit a photo to our competition.
  • We are allowed to change The Rules, or even suspend or end the competition, if we want or need to. Obviously we’ll try not to, but just so that you know.

If you've any questions, please just ask!

You are bad at photography: Improving your work whilst managing self-confidence

Flipping Nora Madcakes - this is proper rubbish!

After a manic six weeks, I'm finally taking a day off. It will involve Olympics-watching, novel-reading, and cake-baking. Whilst I'm lounging on the sofa, I shall leave you in Gareth's capable hands to tell you that you're a bad photographer, but it isn't as terrible and soul-crushing as you might think.

You'll be glad to hear that I'm not here to shamelessly plug something, or big myself up (I think that phrase went out of fashion in the mid-nineties), or to give you the bottom line on how to use a particular lens, or how you should photograph faces, or plants, or the sky, or... anything, actually. I'm not here to shove a project in your face, either (the next edition of that will be in a couple of weeks or so, I imagine).

I'm here to tell you that you are bad at photography.

You are a bad, bad photo person. Yes, I know that shot you posted got favourited twenty times on Flickr and you were invited to add your image to the group called "Baffling HDRs of Random Nonsense!", but you are bad at photography. I know that portait session with your friend was a lot of fun, and she loved all the images, and she put them up on Facebook where they got dozens of likes, but you are bad at photography.

You are bad at photography and so am I. Why do I say this? To be honest, I mainly say it to get a reaction out of you so you actually bother reading my nonsense (it's known as "The Tabloid Tactic"). Manipulative, I know. I imagine you are currently puce with pure, unbridled photo-rage, clawing and scratching at the screen with your bare hands, fingernails now bleeding, in the (utterly insane) belief that you can physically harm me via The Internet: you're shouting "I think you'll find I came third in The Guardian's Photo Competition last week, you ingrate! The theme was 'tranquility'! TRANQUILITY!", before breaking down and sobbing into your brunch. Which you just took an Instagram photo of. Tear-sodden Eggs Benedict.

Calm down, this is not a personal attack, I promise. What I'm really trying to say, or rather ask, is, what do we gain from considering ourselves "good" photographers? What use is there in looking at an image you've taken and thinking 'Yep. Maximum art achieved. I have mastered the art of photography, right there. Nothing left for me to learn'?

Here's where I get serious for a whole three sentences: I think "good" is a dangerous word in photography, because it lets you settle. You snuggle up in that comfy 'I'm good now' seat and you remain at that skill level; in short, you stagnate creatively.

I know it's not nice, but it's necessary: critique, both self and from others, is what improves our images. If there's one thing you should do to every photograph that you take, it's to evaluate it. It should be noted, however, that it is very possible to go too far the other way: maintaining a healthy balance is the key. Instead of saying 'This photo is great,' I tend to go with 'I'm happy with this shot.' Similarly, it's better to identify what you could have done better with a photo you're not happy with, as opposed to sitting, head in hands, wailing uncontrollably because your subject isn't quite on the rule of thirds. Not that I've ever done this. Nope.

So where the piggles do I get such critique, I hear you collectively ask? Well, I happen to know that Daniela is turning her attentions to this very question in the not-too-distant future, but until then, one place to get some useful feedback is on DPChallenge. It's a good place to begin, but my personal advice would be to take critiques with a pinch of salt – the members of DPChallenge tend to be very focused on technical elements of critique. This certainly isn't an awful thing to focus on, but there will come a time where you are much more comfortable with the technical basics and you want to experiment with rule breaking. It all depends on your current skill level, really, but you'll definitely learn a thing or two, regardless of experience.

Immerse yourself in as much critique as possible – look at images that you really like on the site, images that you think are stunning and you feel a million miles away from, ability-wise. Now have a look at the critiques and what people think the photographer could have done better. The more critique you read, the better you will get at critiquing images yourself, including your own. Hey, look: you're getting better! Soon you'll be looking at work you create six months ago and thinking 'I can't believe all the mistakes there are in that photo – what a load of rubbish!' You see that? That's progress.

Here's your homework, then: get some proper, constructive feedback and critique on your work and learn something from the experience. It's daunting at first, but take it on the chin and keep working at getting better. Not "good", not "great", just better.