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March 2009 Archives

March 1, 2009

Canon EOS 5D Mark II Wins Best Digital SLR in PP's 2009 Product Awards

200903we_HotOne_logo_09.jpgProfessional Photographer’s annual competition to determine the hottest products on the market has always been fierce, and its tenth installment was no different. Canon's EOS 5D Mark II, with its groundbreaking full-frame HD video capability, was the most highly anticipated camera model to be released this year, and it impressed the judges enough to secure Professional Photographer’s 2009 Hot One Award in the highly contested Digital SLR, $1,000 to $3,000, category. The Nikon D90, which was the first DSLR to feature HD video, landed a tie with Canon’s EOS Rebel XSi in the Under $1,000 slot.

Every year, Professional Photographer magazine opens the Hot One Awards competition to hundreds of professional products, from cameras and software to online services and studio gear. This year 60 photographic products and services won first place in their category. The Hot One Awards received more than 325 entries from 180 companies—the largest competition in its 10-year history. Check out the 2009 Hot One Award winners now. CLICK HERE.

Tips for Greener Photography: Eco-Friendly Studio/Meeting Space

By Thea Dodds of GreenerPhotography.org

This is the first in a series of tips on how to make your photography business greener. We'll start with taking a look at your physical space—office, studio and client meeting space. What does a greener photography studio or meeting space look like? Here are a few ways that you can make your space greener … and save money, too. Look for more Tips for Greener Photography each month!

Location, Location, Location
   • Be convenient. Have your space easily accessible by public transportation, close to other convenient locations.
   • Look for a studio with good natural light to minimize use of electric lighting.
   • Consider the sun exposure of your space and the needs of your climate.
   • Make it multi-functional! Coffee shops, cooperative artist spaces, and home offices are an easy way to share the impact of your studio/meeting space.

What's on the Inside? Paint, Stain, Flooring, Plastering.
   • Use milk- or clay-based paints for walls and ceilings.
   • Look for zero- or low-VOC paint and other materials.
   • Use natural flooring made from local materials and/or reclaimed materials
   • Avoid synthetic carpet.

Furnish It Green
   • Buy used furniture.
   • Buy furnishings locally.
   • Look for certifications, such as Forest Steward Certification (FSC) and organic furniture/components.
   • Look for uncertified, but still important claims, such as Made in the USA, Non-toxic, Sustainable.

Continue reading "Tips for Greener Photography: Eco-Friendly Studio/Meeting Space" »

March 12, 2009

PPA Sheds Light on Facebook License Policy

What happens to image licenses when those images are posted to a third-party site?

Facebook found itself in hot water in early February after stating it would continue to hold a usage license on artistic works posted to its pages after the owner of those works deleted them from the site or closed his account. A public outcry elicited a quick about-face from the company. The following day, Facebook issued a statement clearly articulating that its license to use posted images expires when users delete them from the site or close their account.

In a letter sent to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, PPA stressed the importance of adhering to U.S. copyright laws and explained that copyright protection is integral to the livelihood of professional photographers.

The majority of Facebook’s 175 million users post photographs to their pages and many pro photographers incorporate Facebook in their marketing plan.

As content-sharers on Facebook, users have given the site a license to distribute and display their work. When any user (including a professional artist) posts an image to the site, he hasn't given away rights to that image, but allowed Facebook to show and share it. Facebook does not assume ownership of the work posted.

With the volume of online content sharing, PPA understands any website owner’s desire for protection when handling copyrighted creations. That’s why Facebook asks photographers to grant usage licenses for the images posted on its site.

Whenever someone views your images on your Web pages or a communal site, or when an image you created is queued up in a search, it qualifies as a reproduction of your work. Facebook is bound to ensure that you, as a site user, agree to the display and distributionof your images within its online community.

Content-sharing website owners will also use their terms of service statement to help content creators manage their copyrights. Facebook, for example, requires users to affirm that they’ve obtained permission to use any information or creative works they post to the site. Further, Facebook provides information on its adherence to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and the procedures copyright owners can easily follow to get infringed works quickly removed from the site.

—Maria Matthews, PPA copyright andgovernment affairs manager

Raster Image Processors: RIPs 101

What is a RIP, and what can it do for your workflow and output quality? Sophisticated raster image processors maximize print control. 

By Andrew Darlow

Inkjet printing revolutionized the way photographers produce exhibition prints, proof books, albums, cards, portfolios, promo pieces, competition prints and many other projects. A RIP, or raster image processor, is usually software-based and converts digital data into a format that a printer or other device can understand. Printer drivers are a type of RIP, but the term RIP is generally used to describe software applications designed to enhance the printing process in various ways.

Photographers want to make quality prints efficiently and consistently, and a RIP helps do that. If you are perfectly happy with your current workflow and the quality of your prints, it may not be worth the investment to purchase a RIP. If not, you may be surprised at how much a RIP can do for you, especially if you use a wide variety of papers or other media.

Many RIPs provide tools for a better workflow, such as the ability to easily gang up multiple images on one sheet to conserve paper. RIPs usually control the printer as well, giving it specific instructions, like how much ink to use for a specific paper, print quality settings and whether or not to cut the paper when the job is complete. And RIPs are not limited to inkjet printers. Many devices, including pro lab machines, use some type of RIP to print files. 

To help you decide whether a specific RIP might be right for your workflow, we’ve listed some of the most popular RIPs designed for pro photographers, and described their major functions. We’ve also included a few RIP-like applications that are popular for their flexibility and affordability. Prices vary considerably depending on the product’s features and the kind and make of the printer they’re made for.

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Review: Kodak Professional Ektar 100

By Curtis Joe Walker


Kodak has reintroduced its Ektar film after an 11-year hiatus. The new film is rated at ISO 100 and sets out to be the finest grained color negative film on the market while complementing their existing Portra line. Film has become a specialty area for professional photographers, causing the arguably untimely demise of many popular emulsions. With this film, Kodak is striving to bridge the gap between analog and digital by creating a film ideal for scanning. In addition to the fine grain, Kodak has engineered the film to be more saturated while maintaining similar contrast and sharpness as their VC films. Kodak developed the film with nature, travel, fashion and product photographers in mind.

Any time a new film comes out, it's a good idea to test it under a variety of lighting conditions. For these tests, the film was run through a Lomo Fisheye and a Nikon F3 with  Lensbaby 3G and Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lenses. Scanning was done with a Nikon Super CoolScan 5000ED film scanner with GEM and ROC (grain reduction and color enhancement) disabled to better illustrate the raw grain structure and color characteristics of the film. Some color correction was applied as needed as most of the images recorded slightly blue.

Click images for larger view. All photos ©Curtis Walker

Nikon F3, Lensbaby 3G, f/2
This first image was taken inside an atrium with mixed sunlight and tungsten lighting. The first thing to notice is the vivid color saturation without blocking up in the reds. At 100% zoom, grain is smooth and details are only as soft as they are because of the characteristics of the Lensbaby.

Nikon F3, Lensbaby 3G, f/8
Here we have a photo of Las Vegas's Fremont East district in the afternoon with mixed sunlight and shade. Dynamic range is pleasing and the colors are realistically vibrant, but not over the top. Grain is a bit more evident at 100%, but still incredibly smooth.

Continue reading "Review: Kodak Professional Ektar 100" »

March 13, 2009

PPA Member's Photography Is a Focal Point of March 15 "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"

Dallas Photographer Kimberly Wylie and BWC Photo Imaging teamed up to donate fine art photography and multiple Photographic Art Master Pieces valued at $50,000 to  the ABC hit TV Show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” The episode will air on ABC at 7pm CST on March 15, 2009. 

According to the Extreme Makeover Team, this episode is one of the first to feature the personal touch of the family portrait through out every room of the home. Photographs are regularly in a family home but never to this extent. 

Wylie, a PPA member, photographed the Ruiz family and then worked with the BWC team to convert the images into art masterpieces for the home decor. Her talent is clearly demonstrated in the Ruiz Family portraits. She captured the heart and soul of the family group, as well as each member individually.

According to Danielle “Lou” George, President of BWC Photo Imaging, no one knows how many art pieces and photographs were actually produced for the home. "Not one of us had time to count the pieces. The production was done so fast and so many people were working around the clock to create the perfect output for the artful images Kimberly had captured we can only guess that well over 50 portraits line the walls of the family home and every other usable space for display,” she said. “In my 34 years with BWC, I have never experienced such an innovative use of photographic art than Kimberly Wylie and our team members at BWC were able to bring together for the Ruiz family.”

Continue reading "PPA Member's Photography Is a Focal Point of March 15 "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"" »

Review: Phase One Capture One 4.6 PRO

By Stan Sholik

Nikon photographers rejoice! With the release of Capture One 4.6 PRO, we can now shoot NEF raw files directly into Phase One’s software. Currently supported Nikon digital SLRs include the D3, D700, D300, D200, D80, D60, D40x and D40.  Best of all, if you already own Capture One 4 PRO or a v3.x version (even if you have no activations left on Capture One 3), the 4.6 update is free of charge!

While this is a major addition for some of us, it is only one of the new features and updates incorporated into v4.6. The others are primarily concerned with further improving your productivity when using the software.

Tethered shooting has always been the ideal way to work in the studio. It allows you and your clients to see and evaluate the evolution of an image’s creation on a large, color-corrected monitor. Photographers using Phase One digital backs and Canon digital SLRs have long enjoyed this privilege with Phase One PRO software. Now Nikon users can do the same.

Capture One software automates your setting up the tethered capture process. Selecting New Session from the File menu opens a set of folders to hold captures, deleted files, output files and a folder into which you can move your best images rather than rating them, although ratings and color tags are also available. You are given the option of naming these folders to your liking and storing them wherever you want on your local computer or on your network. This is all done in the Library module.

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March 16, 2009

Tutorial: iDC Textures v2

By Joe Farace

The use of texture screens is nothing new for portraiture and has been around for more than seventy years. In the traditional darkroom, a texture screen is a piece of film that has a texture printed on it and is placed over photographic paper or sandwiched with the negative during exposure. In the digital darkroom, you can accomplish this effect using Photoshop layers, but in a busy studio where productivity is as important as creativity, there’s an easier way.

IDC Photography offers a set of Photoshop actions and a plug-in that not only makes the job painless but lets you be creative, too. iDC Textures v1 Actions is set of 16 art textures that add interesting surface effects to your photographs, producing a layered Photoshop file for further processing. Included in the package are also seven workflow actions called Hollywood Glam, Silent Movie B&W, ShowBiz Snap, Faded Technicolor, Colortone and Uninhibited Resize.

Textures v2 is a Photoshop-compatible plug-in that includes 18 different textures and requires Adobe Photoshop CS3 or CS4. The interface provides a visual reference thumbnail for each texture. All you have to do is click on the one you want to apply, position it for the best effect, and brush away texture where you don’t want it.

Continue reading "Tutorial: iDC Textures v2" »

March 17, 2009

What Makes a Good Monitor?

By Tom Hauenstein

While on the road for the Great Output Seminar tour, I’m often asked which monitors I recommend. I usually respond with two questions. First: What is the ratio of time spent behind the camera compared to the amount of time spent behind the monitor? The most conservative answer has been 60 percent behind the monitor, 40 percent behind the camera. More commonly, photographers respond that the split is closer to 15 percent behind the camera, 85 percent behind the monitor. Next, I ask: How much money did you spend on your camera and lenses compared to how much you spent on your monitor? Some photographers spend $3,000 to $40,000 on camera equipment, but only around $500 on their monitors.

There are two major reasons to invest in a better monitor. First, it is most likely where you spend most of your time. Second, the monitor is the primary tool to view and edit your files.

The three major factors to consider in selecting a monitor are color gamut, bit depth, and calibration ability. Depending on the nature of your work, other factors to consider might include viewing angle, contrast range, and refresh rate (for video work).

The new RGB-LED technology in LaCie’s new 700 series of 14-bit monitors enables them to achieve significantly larger color gamuts. The 20-in. model (720) can achieve 114% of Adobe RGB and the 24- and 30-inch models (724 and 730) can achieve 123% of Adobe 1998.

Continue reading "What Makes a Good Monitor?" »

Studio Design From The Ground Up

By Sarah Petty, Cr.Photog., CPP

It’s so exhilarating for a small business owner to imagine building his very own building, a space with smooth new walls, plumbing that works, windows that are easy to clean, a place for which each monthly payment brings him closer to outright ownership, a place he could sell 20 years down the road. My husband, Joe, owns a small architectural firm, and we have long dreamed of building something together.

We’ve just begun a venture in creating a custom-designed, functional new building to house both our businesses. The two businesses can share a lot of spaces, and even personnel. We’d both love to have a dedicated receptionist to answer the phone and greet clients, but neither of us needs a full-time employee. We plan to share one full-time employee who can help us both stay organized and be a gatekeeper of sorts, while helping us make a professional and consistent first impression with our clients.

We’ve been working for years for the finances to make our dream a reality. The PPA Studio Benchmark Survey showed us that to be profitable, no more than 10 percent of our gross sales should go toward overhead (assuming you manage the other costs of business). So, for example, if your business grosses $200,000 per year, it’s safe to pay out about $1,700 per month ($20,000 per year) for rent, utilities, and other overhead expenses. 

It’s my philosophy that your business should grow only as fast as you can justify financially. You don’t need to take out huge loans to build a building—in fact, I believe the opposite. The Benchmark Survey also shows that home-based studios are generally more profitable than retail studios, a correlation of less overhead expenses. If you understand your financial statements and grow your business as supported by those figures, you’ll have a successful business and sleep soundly at night. Those figures will tell whether or not that success can support building a new studio.

Rendering:Joe Petty; Photo: Andria Crawford-Whitehead

Continue reading "Studio Design From The Ground Up" »

March 19, 2009

Droplets No Longer An Unsung Automation Feature

Press Release—Digital imaging master and unlikely crooner Deke McClelland tenders an original new love song to kick off the next round of his popular video podcast series, dekePod. Titled "The Droplet Song (A Love Song to a Lost Feature in Photoshop)," Deke's goofily romantic new tune honors one of Photoshop's most arcane but useful automation features.

Why devote a romantic ballad to Photoshop?

"I wanted to kick off the new round of dekePods with a kinder, gentler Deke. And what better way to do that than with a love song? A love song that just so happens to be about a Photoshop automation feature called droplets," explains Deke, author of over 80 books and a popular lecturer on Adobe Photoshop and the larger realm of computer graphics and design. Sponsored by O'Reilly Media and lynda.com, Deke's all new, sentimental yet laugh-out-load music video not only entertains, but also captures the intense enthusiasm essential to most (if not all) creative endeavors.

"The thing about droplets is that they're actually really useful, but there's virtually no documentation about them, which makes our music video one of the rare training pieces on the topic. And even though it's wrapped up in this over-the-top love song, the way you make a droplet, my recommended settings, and how you use the finished product are all there," adds Deke, the creator of O'Reilly Media's bestselling One-on-One book and video series. "I wrote the melody and lyrics, and my buddies at The Jellybricks put together the music. Someone showed me a few videos from 1960s folk singer Rod McKuen, and everything fell into place."


Continue reading "Droplets No Longer An Unsung Automation Feature" »

March 25, 2009

Canon Announces Rebel T1i with HD Video, New Speedlite 270EX

Press Release—Canon has announced it will release the Canon EOS Rebel T1i, an entry-level DSLR with HD video capture capability, in May for less than $1,000 (body only). The new Rebel T1i will will have a 15.1 megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor and inherits some of the technologies from the EOS 50D and EOS 5D Mark II models. Video capabilities are 16:9 720p HD video capture at 30 fps, Full HD 1080p video capture at 20 fps, and 4:3 standard TV quality (SD) video capture at 640 x 480 pixels at 30 fps. The EOS Rebel T1i will use the  DIGIC 4 Imaging Processor with 14-bit analog-to-digital conversion.

The video capture mode is part of the camera's Live View function, using the Picture Style that has been set for Live View still image shooting. Photographers can adjust image sharpness, contrast, color saturation and white balance, and have those settings apply to the movie image. When recording video, the camera's rear LCD screen is letter-boxed by a semi-transparent border to match the aspect ratio of the movie recording size.

Like the EOS 5D Mark II model, the EOS Rebel T1i camera will record video up to 4GB per clip equaling approximately 12 minutes of Full HD video, 18 minutes of 720p HD video, or 24 minutes of SD video depending on the level of detail in the scene. Video clips are recorded in .MOV format using an MPEG-4 video compression and sound is recorded using linear PCMii without compression. The camera features a built-in monaural microphone to record sound and an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) output.

The Canon EOS Rebel T1i Digital SLR Camera is scheduled for delivery by early May and will be sold in a body-only configuration which includes a rechargeable battery pack and charger, USB and video cables, a neckstrap, an EOS Solutions Disk CD and a 1-year Canon U.S.A., Inc. limited warranty at an estimated retail price of $799.99. It will additionally be offered in a kit version with Canon's EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens at an estimated retail price of $899.99.

Canon Speedlite 270EX
The new Canon Speedlite 270EX, the successor to the 220EX Speedlite model, is a compact, lightweight external flash option for Canon cameras including select Canon PowerShot models. Ideal for use with the new EOS Rebel T1i, the new Speedlite 270EX uses two AA batteries and enables bounce flash shooting with four position steps from 0 degrees to 90 degrees. Like Canon's high-end Speedlite flash models, the 270EX allows users to control flash functions and input settings using the camera's LCD monitor on compatible camera models. The flash also features a quick-lock mechanism and a metal mounting foot for secure and easy attachment and reliable contact.


Wacom Announces Intuos4, Boosting Productivity, Pen Performance

Press Release—Wacom has unveiled the long anticipated Intuos4, a new professional pen tablet for photographers, designers and artists. Inspired by members of Wacom’s professional community, the next generation Intuos is anchored by the Intuos4’s amazing new pen performance, capable of capturing the slightest nuance of pen pressure against the tablet surface, as well as offering 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. Other innovative product enhancements include a refined and intelligent industrial design that provides real advancements in looks, comfort and control. Specific workflow and productivity tools include the customizable shortcut and modifier keys with accompanying OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) displays, which allow users to see, via the displays, what the keys are currently set to.

Workflow, Productivity
With its ergonomic design, the ultra-slim Intuos4 pen tablet is the ideal creative instrument for working with digital content in comfort. Available in four sizes, small, medium, large and extra large, all wide-format, the Intuos4’s new asymmetrical design puts all of the customizable ExpressKeys and Touch Ring on one side of the tablet, making them all available to the users’ non-dominant hand. The application-specific ExpressKeys are instrumental in helping improve workflow and boost productivity by placing commonly used commands right at the fingertips. The close proximity of these tools to the actual work area is efficient and comfortable and helps save valuable time by minimizing dependence on the keyboard without taking focus away from the pen hand. New to the Intuos4 are illuminated (OLED) displays (not featured on the Intuos4 small) that provide a helpful reminder as to the current function of each ExpressKey. With past Intuos versions, users had to rely on their memory to recall the position of their specific settings. As these settings can be application specific, the displays will update immediately as the user changes between applications. To switch the tablet from right-handed to left-handed use, simply rotate the tablet 180 degrees and change the orientation of the illuminated icons within the Wacom Tablet driver software.

“Wacom’s new Intuos4 provides Adobe Photoshop CS4 and our latest Creative Suite products with an approachable interface, enhanced pen performance, elegant design and new non-dominant hand features,” said Julieanne Kost, Senior Digital Imaging Evangelist for Adobe. “For me, the Wacom pen tablet has always been particularly beneficial when working on photo compositing projects within Photoshop and it did not take long to discover the vast improvements in workflow this new pen tablet delivers. By combining the super-accurate pen with OLED-displayed keyboard shortcuts, I am able to navigate and complete Photoshop work sessions quickly and efficiently.”

Also new to the Intuos4 is the introduction of a user-defined Touch Ring capable of controlling up to four different functions in any application. A button located in the center of the ring “toggles” the ring between functions such as zoom, scroll, brush size adjustment, canvas rotation and layer selection. The position of the illuminated LED located along the perimeter of the Touch Ring indicates the current function.  

Continue reading "Wacom Announces Intuos4, Boosting Productivity, Pen Performance" »

About March 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in March 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2009 is the previous archive.

April 2009 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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