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What is the difference between shooting photographs in automatic vs. manual?

Manual mode refers to the settings on your camera that allows you to manually control aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Together, these three elements combine to effect the exposure of your photographs (how light or dark they may be), which in turn impacts the general appearance—and sometimes quality—of your photos.


The difference between shooting your photographs in automatic vs. manual means that when you shoot in automatic mode, you are letting your camera have control over these aforementioned settings as opposed to you having direct control over them.


Many people are very intimidated by shooting in manual mode, especially those who are relatively inexperienced or new to the art of photography. So while you can choose to let your camera do the heavy lifting for you, choosing to operate in manual mode gives you way more creative control than the former.


For example, if you choose to shoot in manual mode, you have direct and explicit control of just how your photos turn out. When you have complete control over shutter speed and aperture, you get to decide how your completed work of art will turn out. If you let your camera determine these things for you, you lose a lot of your creative control and opportunities to truly make the shot your own.


If you surrender control to automatic mode, you cannot physically and personally control your aperture, which means you don’t get to choose how focused or unfocused your shot will be.


Moreover, you cannot control the shutter speed if you choose to work in an automatic mode. Maybe you want more blur or less blur—if you want to dictate that choice, shoot in manual mode!


Additionally, manual mode lets you take the reigns on how bright your shot will turn out. This is made possible by manually determining the shutter speed, aperture and ISO, which you cannot personally determine in automatic mode.


So the choice is pretty clear: if you want to make sure your shots come out exactly the way you personally desire, you should consider ditching the automatic in favor of the manual.


Be aware that mastering the manual settings takes time, so practice is a necessary activity. At the end of the day, shoot in the setting that makes you happiest because that will really show through in your end product.

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What is F-Stoppers?

When it comes to the amount of photography terms, tricks and tips, it can be easy to get lost and confused—especially if you are an amateur or casual photographer. Today, it’s time to dive into what F-stoppers is—and no, it is not reffering to f-stops, which is a technical terms.

F-stoppers is an online organization for photographers of all levels. Whether, you’re a causal photographer or a highly professional one, this community is a hub for all things photography.

F-stoppers features a feed of photography-related articles, containing everything from industry news to helpful tricks and methods you might want to try out yourself.

Beyond its feed of photography articles, F-stoppers has a catalog of premium photography tutorials you can flip through on the site and shop from the comfort of your own home.

These tutorials offer helpful tips for different types and styles of photography, such as architectural photography, fashion photography, landscape photography and many more. You can brush up on Adobe Lightroom or learn how to work your wedding photography.

As if all of these valuable features weren’t enough, F-stoppers also hosts various community groups. On the site, you can skim through the work of your fellow photographers and share industry secrets, tips, and updates.

You can join all sorts of groups like the Glamour Photography group, the Before & After-Post-Production group or even the Nude Art Photography group. Whatever your interests may be or wherever your skill sets resides, you can totally find a group on F-stoppers.

Beyond group-based interactions, you can connect with individual members through the community forum. Connect with fellow photogs from all over the world and share your passion.

If you have even a passing interest in photography, is a worth a visit. If you’re not careful, you can get totally lost in it!

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The Professional Association for Design

Here at PPT, we have been proud, longtime supporters of AIGA (The Professional Association for Design). Their mission to bring design to the greater world and also to bring the world to designers is one that fosters the right creative environment.


One of the most exciting and engaging aspects of AIGA is that they regard design as multifaceted and diverse. They endeavor to advance design in the professional sense, the strategic sense and, perhaps most importantly, the cultural sense. Without design, what would the world and its societies look like? It is hard to imagine a world devoid of design as anything but sorrowful and uninspired.


The global reach of AIGA is possible because of the people who make it up and the force they provide. In the world of design, AIGA is known to be both the oldest and largest professional membership organization. To put this into perspective, AIGA is 70 chapters wide and more than 25,000 members deep. There is no denying the humanity at the foundation of the group is the reason for its longstanding success. Better yet, designers from all backgrounds and skill levels are welcomed in with open arms—there are no barriers to sharing the love and power of design.


So know that you know exactly who they are, you need to know just what they do. One of the biggest missions of AIGA is to make sure society understands the intrinsic value of design and how designers are important members of various industries and practices.


Moreover, AIGA encourages professional development for designers and serves as a tool for networking and education. Another educational component comes in the form of their desire to inspire the larger community by impressive design and illuminating minds. They do so by hosting events and programs to encourage the celebration of design.


Without the guiding presence of AIGA, the design community would not be so robust, celebrated and inspiring as it is today. Visit to find the chapter closest to you and to explore the magic that is the organization. Start getting connected with your fellow artists and designers today to start helping AIGA on this mission tomorrow.


You can also follow them on social media, like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. In this way you can access the vast network of designers and design enthusiasts from anywhere in the world at anytime of the day. There is no right time for design except for all of the time.

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Amateur Photography Tips








Admit it: the idea of being a professional photographer is an enticing idea. What could be better than telling stories through beautiful photos? You do not have to be a certified professional photographer to make your dreams a reality, but you should know some basic photography tips to ensure you are cultivating and producing the best content to tell the most intriguing stories. Here are some of the most helpful amateur photography tips to help you on your journey.


Did you know photography (and good photos) is mostly about capturing the right light and manipulating it to your favor? Even if you have a sub-par camera, you can produce a fantastic photograph if you just pay attention to the light and know how to use it to your advantage. Therefore, you must learn the exposure triangle. To get going, you need to know the three components of said triangle: aperture (size of lens opening), shutter speed (the length of time the shutter is left open), and ISO (sensitivity to light). Familiarize yourself with these terms and how to implement them and you are off to a great start.


Next up is the rule of thirds. This theory entails mentally and visually segmenting your shot into—you guessed it—thirds. By using two horizontal and two vertical lines and focusing on the positioning of the resulting intersections, you are on your way to shooting your best possible shot.


To get a great shot you need to by dynamic and willing to make yourself uncomfortable or push yourself outside of what feels normal. Lie on the ground and shoot from below or climb up high and shoot from that perspective. Whatever you do, make sure you are approaching your shot with personality. Make it your own and let the image tell the rest. Follow your subject or watch your landscape to search for the right moment to communicate your desired message.


Finally, you should familiarize yourself with the appropriate editing tools. This is not to say you should over-edit or make your hard-earned photograph unrecognizable with post-processing tools. Instead, you should utilize this technology to bring out the best elements of your shot. Less is often more, and if you follow the aforementioned tips, you should not need to completely edit your image.


Finally, fulfill your passions and make sure you are having a good time. At the end of the day, if you are not enjoying yourself it will show in your resulting photos.


Grab your camera and get in the best headspace for capturing some great content. Trial and error are your friends and your camera is your artistic instrument.

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Different types of photo paper

Much of the general population likely assumes the only type of photo paper is the kind from the one-hour printers from places like pharmacies and convenience stores. However, the reality is much different and way more varied. For example, there are many commonly used types of photo paper including glossy finish, matte finish, luster finish and metallic finish. Read on to find out more about each type of finish and which kind works best for you and your photos.


Glossy Finish

Much like the name suggests, photos touting a glossy finish feature a visually reflective and shiny surface along with a smooth physical texture. Photos with a glossy finish are known for showcasing vibrant and bright colors that are more saturated. For your most basic, everyday photo needs a glossy finish is one you should consider.


Matte Finish

Unlike its glossy counterpart, a photo with a matte finish is not reflective or shiny; instead, it emits no glare at all. Photos with a matte finish are good candidates for framing and portraiture. Moreover, matte finish photos are less likely to be scratched or harmed by fingerprints. For your special and keepsake photos, like wedding and baby pictures, choose a matte finish.


Luster Finish

Photos with a luster finish are sort of in between those with a glossy or matte finish. This is to say luster finish photos are a little bit shiny with saturated color, but are also anti-glare and scratch.


Metallic Finish

This last finish is bold and eye-catching. As the name infers, photos with a metallic finish look almost like chrome or metal when printed. For photos that really pack a colorful punch, a metallic finish is a great option.


Now it’s time to get to printing! Pick the finish best suited for your photos and the visual affect you wish for them to have. Just remember: not all finishes are created equal. Depending upon what you want your photos to convey or how you want to present them, you should pick the corresponding finish to optimize your goals.

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Shooting in Black and White








There is just something about a black and white picture. The color scheme seems to make everything about the photo classier, chicer and generally more special. But did you know there are certain steps you can take to specifically improve your black and white photography skills? If you want to know just how to capture the best black and white photograph you can produce, follow our tips on how to optimize your outcome and end up with an image you can be proud of.


Visualize in black and white

Take a second to think about your shot. Now think about it in the black and white color scheme. What do you see? You should notice how shadows, shapes and lines truly constitute a great black and white image and you should therefore shoot with this in mind. Just because you are shooting in color does not mean you cannot visualize the optimal end product.


Seek out contrast

Just as you should be visualizing your shot in shadows, shapes and lines, you should also visualize and choose your shot based on contrast. Contrast will often make a black and white photo more dramatic and engaging. Moreover, if you seek out contrast you will surely be able to notice the shadows, shapes and lines that make all the difference in a good black and white visual. It is important to remember your best black and white photo is not just about Photoshop edits or affects, but about how you set it up.


Make sure to incorporate gray and texture

It may be called a “black and white’ photograph, but a good black and white shot is nothing without a good amount and assortment of gray tones and textures. To create a visually diverse and engaging image, you cannot just rely on the stark contrast between black and white. Instead, you need to be sure to have layers of elements that will enhance your visual.


Grab your camera and go

You can read all the tips in the world on how to take the perfect shot but when it comes down to capturing it, you need to just grab your camera and get to shooting. Find what interests you and captivates your imagination—this is what will truly produce your best work.

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The FineTouch Brand

Not all printing paper is created equal, and this much is easy to see once you start using the FineTouch brand over any other brand out there on the market. So what makes FineTouch that much better or different? Read on to find out why you should only shop for Professional Plotter Technologies’ FineTouch media.

The experience behind the brand is unbeatable

The team behind the FineTouch brand has over 10 years of experience in wide format printing, so it’s clear they really know what they are doing and how to do it better. You can visit their showroom to find out just how knowledgeable the Professional Plotter Technology team truly is.

Their product range is extensive

Once you find a brand you love and can trust you want to use that brand for all of your various printing needs. With the FineTouch brand, you can do just this. They have over 60 media products on their roster ranging from clear film to graphic tack removable fabric. Needless to say, once you fall in love with one product from their line you’re sure to fall in love with another.

If you buy FineTouch, you’re buying local

It is so important to support the community in which you live, which is exactly what you would be doing by shopping for FineTouch products. Though PPT is nation wide, it is an Austin based business. Stacked with a team of experts. The folks behind the brand (Professional Plotter Technologies) poured their knowledge, passion and expertise into the product line.

The product quality cannot be matched
Because the brand is directly attached to the company’s name, you know that the products are topnotch—why would they soil their name or reputation by putting out sub-par products? You can trust the products and the people who create them, which is integral when printing your content.

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Own The Process: Why in-house printing is integral to owning the process

It’s no secret that printing can be quite pricey, which is why many photographers turn to third parties to process prints. For many photographers—both amateur and professional, the thought of dropping major money on an at-home printer is a daunting option, and therefore many end up continuing to send their work off to printing centers instead.

But did you know that in house printing is an absolutely integral element in owning the process? First of all, owning the process essentially refers to retaining your creative control and direction over the entire process—from the moment you snap a picture until the moment you grab it hot off the printing tray.

When you send off your work—work that you have more than likely spent hours sifting through and editing—to an out of house printer, you no longer totally own the process. Basically, you lose the critical time in which the prints are electronically sent over and formatted for print. You do not get to make sure everything is exactly how you intended for it to be, and you do not even get make sure you actually like the finished product.

For these reasons, in house printing is the production method you need to be following. After all, you took the shot and did all of the hard work that comes with getting that perfect snap so why would you hand over your perfect bundle to someone else to physically produce?

If the cost is still a deterrent for you, you should know that investing in an at-home printer will actually be way less expensive in the long run. Sure, it hurts a little bit when you have to front a large amount of capital for a machine, but when you do the research, it quickly becomes clear how in house printing is far superior than any other option—both financially and creatively speaking.

So if you, as a photographer of any level, want to completely own your process from start to finish, and to have total creative direction in order to make your vision come to life, you absolutely have to begin in house printing.

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Plotter Pro Teams up with The National Forest Foundation

Austin, TX (May 2017)

FineTouch is the house branded, private label media introduced by Professional Plotter Technologies / Plotter Pro, to meet the needs of their growing customer base.

Taking care of the environment has never been more important. Here at Professional Plotter Technology, we strive to do our part by practicing extreme sustainability and recycling programs to ensure we give our environment the care and attention it deserves. As part of our new campaign, we have teamed up with The National Forest Foundation in an effort to educate others on the importance of keeping our lands and its forests as healthy as can be.

For every box of FineTouch brand paper that is purchased, we will donate $1 to The NFF to plant a tree through our tree-planting program, helping restore National Forests damaged by wildfires, insects, diseases and other impacts. 

The land upon which we live sustains and provides for us, so it is natural to want to give something back. Our interactive initiative not only benefits our planet, but it educates its inhabitants about how to leave it better than we found it. We look forward to this partnership and the positive impacts sure to come.

About PlotterPro: Since 2004, PlotterPro has been a preferred provider of wide format imaging solutions, with satisfied customers in the US and beyond. Well known as the Wide-Format Digital Output Specialists, PlotterPro delivers both new and reconditioned HP, Canon, Epson, Contex and Dietzgen products. Additionally PlotterPro is the exclusive source for FineTouch media, a complete range of product solutions for the CAD, Signage, Graphics, Photo, and Fine Art printing marketplace.


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