Zenphoto: playing around with the css

So I have used gallery3 project as my gallery portal since 2013, though
the developers have stepped back from it and I was left reluctantly
dragging my feet to find a new method for displaying the gallery section
of soft-graphix.

Zenphoto is an option on my host, and after a quick bit of research, I
decided to give them a try. Reviews looked promising, the community was
active and there are some nice examples of what their gallery is capable
of. In fact, the more I use it, the more excited I am about using it
(although at this point, I’m knee-deep in migrating the existing files
from the gallery3 project to zenphoto – that and my daily life leaves me
with very little time!).

So this post is primarily my learning process in minor css editing to
change the general look of my new gallery page. First, it should be
noted that I copied the default theme page (make sure you activate this theme in http://YOUR-WEB-SITE.com/zp-core/admin-themes.php); we’ll be working off of that.

Here’s a snippet of code from the index.php file:

<?php zp_apply_filter(‘theme_body_open’); ?>

The css for this is located in:
/clickandbuilds/ZenPhoto/themes/YOUR FOLDER*/styles
In my case, “YOUR FOLDER” is copy_of_default


I’m using the default light.css theme. Here’s the default style for:

#main {
text-align: left;
margin: 20px auto;
width: 685px;
background: #fff;
padding: 20px 30px 70px;
border-top: 1px solid #E6E6DF;
border-right: 1px solid #E6E6DF;
border-bottom: 5px solid #E6E6DF;
border-left: 1px solid #E6E6DF;


Lets see what happens when we change the width:
#main {
text-align: left;
margin: 20px auto;
width: 100%;
background: #fff;
padding: 20px 30px 70px;
border-top: 1px solid #E6E6DF;
border-right: 1px solid #E6E6DF;
border-bottom: 5px solid #E6E6DF;
border-left: 1px solid #E6E6DF;


Awesome. So I have located the css to make style changes. At this point, I’m going to end this post (and hopefully remember to continue to the next step) and eat dinner.

My next step is actually going to be to head back to step one and start fresh on ANOTHER complete over-do of my main page as well as continue down the path of migrating images and adding title, tags & descriptions.

So here I leave it, a mess as usual. Setting a deadline for myself: have site redone by this weekend, including styling new gallery page.


What I Learned Doing My 1st Photo Challenge

Over the weekend I entered a photo challenge titled “artificial light”. This was the first photography challenge I’ve entered and at first I was very pleased with what results I was able to present; however, the more I look at it the more I second guess some of the decisions I’ve made. This post is dedicated to that experience and what I’ve learned in the process.


This was my entry – I wish I had less exposure & changed the angle of the camera so the corner of the table was not visible.

My first camera was a Canon AE-1 that I bought in college many moons ago. The price tag at that time: $500.00.  There is something powerful about capturing an image only from a view finder and then developing pictures in a dark room by placing sheets into a chemical bath. While I may not make it sound all that romantic, the outcome was always awe-inspiring – partly because, as the photographer, you were finally presented with the outcome of your art. I know I’m rambling, but my point was that you captured that image looking through a view finder and basically cropping, framing, angling and capturing the light content right then and there. We didn’t have photo editing software to nit-pick the imperfections out (though we could control how long we allowed the negative to expose on the sheet and also crop the image). This forced us as students to become very conscious of what we were looking at and how the camera was interpreting it.

As life continued on for me, I put my camera aside for many years – only pulling it out when I had an extra $20 to spend on film and developing said film. Then digital cameras became the go-to (and I’m not complaining; cost-wise & ease of use, I love what the digital cameras have brought to the table). Looking back at my experience with the two different technologies and joining that photo challenge opened my eyes to the fact that I’ve been treating my personal digital photo taking adventure poorly. I look at the small screen on the back of my point-and-shoot, click the button and [usually] edit my digital photo. By no means is this a bad or wrong way to go about it,  but the recent challenge presented a problem if that’s the way I’ve been doing things (unless of course I’ve misinterpreted the rules of the challenge). Upload unedited, raw images straight from the camera.

The benefits of these restraints from the eyes of an amateur photographer:

You need to compose in the shot. Your whole thought process changes when you can only upload one photo, and that photo may not have any edits. I began thinking of what I could shoot that entailed ‘artificial light’. When I finally decided to do a photo shoot of a board game I set up the game and started playing by myself just to get pieces out organically. I placed this cheap drafting / table lamp I had on the table. The original idea was to get the whole lamp in the shot so you could see the neck of it angled, hopefully centered over the board game. Behind it I placed a cheap white form board that we had bought for a school project some time ago, though never used. As I playing with positioning my camera it became apparent that that shot I WANTED was not going to happen because the board was too small to get the whole image without the wall and window blinds peaking out from behind it.

You need to get creative, even if your first idea starts falling apart before it ever happens. So I had easily sunken an hour into playing this board game by myself and setting up the equipment, I wasn’t going to just pack everything back up because idea #1 was not going smoothly. As I continued to play with the composition and camera position I noticed the lamps figure produced a shadow that bounced off the backdrop board – so I tried using that instead. After that first shot I tried playing with the camera settings to achieve different effects.


You can see the shadow of the lamp in this image. Originally I wanted the board centered in the image with the lamp off to the right and other game pieces on the left to balance it. The board was too small – you could see my walls & blinds when I zoomed out to get it.

With a new found enthusiasm I continued taking pictures; zoomed in and out of the subject, re-positioned the tripod, placed the camera on the table and back on the tripod again. It was actually very enjoyable. The goal was to take a picture that would not be edited in anyway other than camera settings. This forced me to rethink the way I’ve been taking pictures.  I’m not saying that many digital photographers skip this step, I’m saying that I have been skipping this vital step basically since I put my Canon AE-1 in the desk drawer. If you are interested in photography and are an amateur like myself, I highly recommend entering into challenges where your file is your submission – you might find it as helpful and exciting as I did.



New site: Thoughts and so sorry, it’s been awhile

 So it’s been awhile since my last post… Sorry! I feel like life has been keeping me busy, so busy in fact that I think a whole year has swept past and I’ve neglected WordPress and blogging in general.

Completely unhappy with my google analytic results I’m back to the drawing board on my site – this time working with a responsive layout (not completely unfamiliar with it).

As for my idea of a new layout I would like to remove my current navigation. I do not have alot to offer in terms of pages on my site so instead I would like to have the ‘buttons’ be more images – large images/buttons on a desktop that scale down considerably on a mobile device.

Here’s the desktop draft:


I’ve been hitting a wall trying to figure out how to scale the div’s within a container to 100% height with pure css (though I’ve read flexbox is a solution, still wrapping my head around it). At this point I have decided to have large screens display a height in px while the mobile will automatically respond – this probably is not the ‘recommended’ way for a responsive design, but it will work for the time being.

drafted mobile
Here’s the css for desktop view:
@media only screen and (min-width: 768px) {
/* resize height of div */
.dtH350 {
height: 350px;
.dtH175 {
height: 175px;
and the html

< div class=”row” >
< div class=”col-3 dtH350″ >Free Photos< / div >
< div class=”col-6″ >
< div class=”col-6 dtH175″ >Illustrations< / div >
< div class=”col-6 dtH175″ >Nature< / div >
< div class=”col-12 dtH175″ >bottom< / div >
< / div >
< / div >

What that does is size the divs at 350px (or 175px) height on screens with a min-width of 768px and drops that rule for anything smaller.
I’m going for something flashy, fingers are crossed that I can do it as envisioned.
Aside from that, I’ve also set seo goals for my page:
I would like to see at least a 10% increase in organic traffic within 45-60 days after this next update. The web market is actually very saturated with free photo sites. Hopefully once the search engines see my site is more mobile friendly, they will give me a slight boost in position.
I have also tried to be social some of the major social networks.
Will also add more content to my existing pages as well as toss in a few additional (at least that’s the current plan).

Photo A Day & Toledo Casino Night Charity Event Update

Updates since last post:

photo a day challenge

Photo A Day Challenge: One step at a time

Photo A Day Challenge
Been able to make it to day 5 so far: http://galleries.soft-graphix.com/

More info on charity event
I’ve been helping my sons high school parent staff association with a casino night in Toledo charity event. If you are in the Toledo, OH area and you are interested, more information can be found here: http://itstartslocal.com/

Charity events coming to Toledo

I’m very excited about an upcoming charity event this March in Toledo, we will be hosting a Casino event (I love Texas Hold ‘Em!!!!) to raise funds scheduled roughly March 21st or 22nd 2014.

The details are still preliminary, so I don’t have much information yet; however, I may have the opportunity to design the website for the event. I already have a spare domain & host that would work perfectly if my group is in need of one.

About 10 years ago I worked as a poker dealer (though was moved to head of design shortly after hire) and fell in love with Texas Hold ’em. I think this event could draw a large crowd; besides hold ’em, it looks like we may also have (if we can get enough people to help out):

  • roulette
  • craps
  • bingo
  • plinko
  • black jack
  • and more

Will make updates as they come available to me.

Simple color correction with Gimp






For this project I will be working in Gimp. If you are not familiar with the program, I highly recommend checking it out (especially if you do not have any photo editing software): gimp.org

The above image shows some simple techniques for correcting some minor issues with photos. On the left is the edited version and on the right is a copy from my gallery page. My goal was to create more contrast and give the statue a ‘bronze’ appearance –  (this image was taken on a semi cloudy day and has a pane of glass between the camera and the subject. ie: windshield).

The first thing to do, color correction & balance:


On the menu bar, click ‘color’ and then ‘color balance’, this will bring up a window that you see on the screen shot above. I played with each setting: shadows, midtones, & highlights. With careful control of the sliders, I was able to rid the statue of that green washed appearance and bring in tones of red.

Next I further adjusted the coloring with the ‘Levels…’ found in the ‘color’ tab on the menu bar. Because I wanted to wash the green out of the statue, I choose it’s complimentary color on the color wheel, red. Notice that I’m working exclusively with the red channel bar at this point (this option is right above where it says ‘input levels’ and below ‘presents’ on the adjust color levels pop up).


Because I couldn’t stop messing with reds, my leaves in the back ground became slightly discolored and washed out themselves. To try and correct this, I open the ‘Hue-Saturation’ option in the ‘Color’ drop down from the menu. Notice I have the color green selected. These sliders are a little touchy, so take it easy on them by moving in small increments until you are happy with the results. statue-hue-sat

And wah-la, these simple steps allowed me to create more contrast in this image.



Computer problems, other writers, and a photo

I carry my camera everywhere with me. To the store, to work, when visiting family… Even when I get gas in the car. You never know when a good picture might come up; though as someone said on twitter, the difference between and amateur photographer and a professional photographer is knowing when NOT to shoot. I’m an amateur, that’s for sure. But, you gotta start somewhere. The camera case looks kind of like a purse, so I don’t think people assume I’m crazy or a stalker. I was at my sisters the other night in a terribly lit living room. Had to lower the shutter speed down and still produced a crappy image:

bad light, bad stability, just a bad image

bad light, bad stability, just a bad image

I was hellbent on making this photo look at least a little desirable. I tossed it through my photo editing software. The first thing I did was edit the levels and curves to lighten the whole image up and heighten the contrast so you could at least see it. Secondly, I used a stamp tool to get rid of the plug and wires. Thirdly, I added a filter to it and cropped the image. I’m pretty happy with the quick results:

cropped, edited and filtered

Looks like it may have been a painting in another life, except for the window could use some straightening.

On to mundane problems, I think my trusted 2001 Dell XP is finally on it’s way to dying on me, or maybe it could just use a reformatting, which I’m too lazy (or busy, take your pick) to do right now. I’ve got a lot of programs installed on the main drive and surely some files there too. So, I’m in the living room on the kids computer writing now and pondering what to do with my oldy-but-goody computer. Thankfully I remembered most of my passwords, even wordpress, and have been able to at least migrate some of the important things like email and my web host.

Since I did remember my password to WordPress this morning, I logged in and noticed some other blogs that were following mine. First off, if you read this, thanks for following me. I still consider myself new to WordPress and honestly have not taken the time to look around the whole site to figure it out. I can post something and change my theme as well as find the ‘freshly pressed’ button. I can also click on names of people who are following this blog, which I did this morning, and found some really excellent writers! I spent about an hour reading between two other bloggers and instantly recognized that they have a natural talent for writing (something I lack, though always appreciated). I followed them back, because frankly, their writing style rocks and I look forward to reading more from them. Me… I’m not a natural writer.

Playing with squares in simple icon designs

*Yawn* It’s only 11 o’clock and I’m already exhausted. After the 9 to 5 there were chores to do, kids to play with, stores to shop at and a sister to visit. My last whim of the evening was to try and create a squared Christmas tree that might be used for an icon. It’s a simple design, though I found myself addicted for a moment on what other things could be made with gradient squares… So I made a turkey for Thanksgiving too

squared turkey

squared turkey

It’s a cute little thing. The squares were re-sized to try and create the general form of the icons. It was kind of a fun project to play with, has a lot of potential too. With the squared icons/images uploaded, I have hit the mark of 200 photos! Does that mean I can say ‘hundreds of photos’?

I would love to see what others can do with the simple square.

Super honesty time

  • Website – Check
  • Photo Gallery – Check
  • Social Media – Check
  • Great look —– Not Checked

So I got all caught up in the whim of what my goal was… to get pictures uploaded, though in the process I let everything become jumbled and confused. Take a look below, this is the mess I have made:

inconsistent design & layout throughout my sites and social media.

inconsistent design & layout throughout my sites and social media.

So my next step will be creating a consistent feel throughout the sites. Step one: I will get some rough ideas together on paper. My main goal in this will be building consistencies throughout the sites. This probably means major changes but those changes are desperately needed, and at the end of the day, it will be worth it.

What a great day!

A day out on the town!

photo of brick wall and neon sign

Looking up the wall at neon!

Trying to train myself to take pictures of things I wouldn’t normally think to take a picture of… like a wall. I have an automatic setting on the camera that looks like a candle burning for low-light conditions (the camera only allows me to manually get up to 1600 iso, while the candle icon selects 2000+ iso that’s great for low light.  Just have to keep a steady hand as the shutter speed is also low. The black ceiling helps the brick really stand out.