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February 2010 Archives

February 1, 2010

Checkout: RedCart, Photo Cart, Lightbox


By Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP

In this month’s print edition of Professional Photographer magazine, I discussed my experiences with three web cart systems for photographers: RedCart, Photo Cart, and Lightbox Photo Gallery. While each cart system is different, they do all accomplish the same end goal—that is, to allow you to sell your images and products online.

To help you get an idea of what each cart will (and will not) do, I’ve compiled features into categories: investment, interface, pricing, products, and setup. With that being said, let’s take a closer look at the features these web carts have to offer.

Investment: With a one-time investment upfront for a single domain license, all three carts allow you to benefit from commission-free sales. Depending on which interface you choose, you’ll end up investing anywhere from $329 to $1,099 (see end of article). Photo Cart includes lifetime free upgrades, Lightbox includes free upgrades for one year, and RedCart includes minor upgrades unless you spring for their monthly investment … and then you’ll receive all upgrades.

Interface: All three carts have the capability to display public galleries (or keep them private), e-mail invoices, save client favorites, and even display images in a slideshow. RedCart is the only cart to operate on a Flash-based front end—the other two are HTML-based. Photo Cart and Lightbox both have integrated batch uploading, watermarking, and auto thumbnail generation; the upcoming version of RedCart (soon to be released) relies on a desktop application to accomplish these tasks. Since Lightbox is geared to commercial/stock photography, it has several unique features, including SEO URLs, a multi-photographer manager, and even a keyword search log. Both Photo Cart and Lightbox can display IPTC metadata if that information is present in your image files.

cart-LB-config.jpg   cart-LB-home.jpg

Above: Lightbox Photo Gallery configuration interface and the gallery view for clients. (Click for large view.)


Above: Photo Cart's client gallery. (Click for large view.)


Above: RedCart's client gallery. (Click for large view.)

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Wrap it up: Options for Eco-Friendly Packaging

Dawn Tacker and Thea Dodds, co-founders of Greener Photography


Packaging is an important part of your studio's brand identity. What you wrap your product in tells your client more about who you are and adds value to your products. Using environmentally-friendly packaging and educating your clients about it will help brand you as an eco-aware photographer.

Eco-friendly packaging options include:

• Reduce your packaging.

~ Re-use the original packaging in which your prints arrived.
—TIP: A hot iron can remove the unsightly labels from a re-used shipping box.
—TIP: Make a stamp that says: reused is better then recycled. Turn your box into a message.
~ When hand-delivering, use protective but minimal wrapping instead of boxes.

• Provide something useful and re-usable.

~ Dual purpose—protective and in line with your branding
~ Branded canvas totes
~ Branded reusable folders, boxes or tins
~ Wrap your product in a gift for the client, such as a scarf, baby blanket, or company t-shirt, something branded and in-line with how you want to be identified.

• When new packaging is necessary use something recycled, recyclable and/or compostable and sustainable produced from domestic sources if possible.

~ Nashville Wraps for branded packaging
~ Biodegradable bags for your prints
~ Recycled packaging from Rice Studio Supplies
~ FSC-certified paper products
~ Handmade paper
~ Look for natural materials such as cotton, hemp, or silk.

Remember that packaging adds value; consider adding your values into the equation. If the planet is important to you and your business, wrap it up in a eco-friendly way. Do you have other ideas for eco-friendly packaging? Please share them in the comments!

February 3, 2010

Review: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens

By Don Chick, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

Canon’s new EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens (MSRP $1,049) is quite a lens! Even though it has a fixed focal length, the image stabilization, speed (f/2.8) and life-size close-up capabilities without an adapter, (1:1 maximum magnification) make it a very desirable lens to own. Quoting from Canon’s website, “the lens was developed to expand users' photographing range and allow a wider range of users to easily enjoy macro photography.” I recently had the opportunity to evaluate this new lens from  while photographing a wedding as well as creating macro images at my leisure.


Of all the features and capabilities, the feature that impressed me most is the life-size, 1:1 maximum magnification factor. With the 100mm mounted on a Canon EOS 40D, I borrowed the bride’s bouquet as well as the newlyweds’ rings. Using only afternoon window light and the bouquet, I proceeded to capture images to see just what this lens was capable of doing. The first few images were captured from a more “normal” distance (Figure 1).

My initial idea for the image was to incorporate flowers and rings into a “vignette” image. Images like these are important for recording wedding day details for the bride and groom, as well as to increase the variety of images in their final album. After several images at a lower magnification factor, I began to move closer and closer to the rings until I was at the lens’s minimum focusing distance and maximum magnification factor (Figure 2).

I was very impressed with the lens stabilization feature—none of these images were taken with a tripod-mounted camera. It is worth noting, however, that in order to minimize camera shake, I had my elbows propped on the table and held the camera tightly while releasing the shutter. Because I was using the camera’s TTL metering capability when photographing the subject from such a close distance, I didn’t have to make any exposure compensation.

Figure 1


Figure 2


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February 8, 2010

Event Profile: After Dark Education

The next session from After Dark Education is scheduled for Miami on March 28-31, but what is After Dark anyway? One of the mentors of Austin's hugely successful 3-day education session describes the experience.

By Don Chick, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

[SPECIAL NOTE: Become a Facebook Fan of After Dark Education. If the number of fans reaches 2,500 by Feb. 14, Valentine's Day, After Dark will contribute $1,000 to Operation Smile through PPA Charities!]

After Dark is not just another photography seminar, it’s an educational experience encompassing the art, craft and business of professional photography. As stated on the After Dark Education website “it’s an evolution in photographic education.” Dave Junion, the driving force behind After Dark, has combined his talents with Kevin Jordan and others to bring together several days of high-energy education. All attendees will have one-on-one access to some of the biggest names in the industry in order to get answers to their most pressing questions. The upcoming session is planned for March 28-31 in Miami.

I was fortunate to participate as a mentor at the first After Dark, held last October in Austin, Texas. The event provided hands-on experience and opportunities for attendees. Multiple lighting bays were set up with an extensive array of lighting equipment from Photogenic as well as soft boxes and other light modifiers from Larson Enterprises. Denny Manufacturing provided an assortment of backgrounds and props from which Mentors and students alike could choose to use in each studio lighting setup.

Each bay also had an LCD panel for those watching to view the images captured by the mentor. Students were encouraged to ask questions as well as photograph the setting and models. With multiple studio lighting bays, students could rove the room to find the one bay that best fit their specific lighting needs.


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Recreating the Varga Look

By Joan Sherwood, Senior Editor

Photographer Christopher Gabello was drawn to the Varga look after doing food photography for Philadelphia’s Varga Bar, themed around the distinct Esquire magazine pin-up girl illustrations of painter Alberto Vargas in the 1940s.


“I thought it would be thrilling to recreate the calendar he tried to put out in 1948,” says Gabello. “Vargas left Esquire, but he’d signed over the [the rights to the brand] name Varga to the magazine. They put a cease and desist order on the calendar and pulled it from the newsstands.

Gabello spent hours retouching in Photoshop to recreate the Varga look. “Studying the original paintings, I struggled to mimic his style, but it was the old darkroom technique dodge and burn that helped me achieve the look. Once I established a decent rendering, I was ecstatic to continue the project, one of the most substantial I’ve taken on. This giant undertaking, though, yielded one of the proudest pieces of work I’ve ever completed.”

Caption: To get the soft painted look of an original Varga, Gabello applied techniques of the traditional darkroom in the digital environment of Photoshop. Photo ©Christopher Gabello

Continue reading "Recreating the Varga Look" »

About February 2010

This page contains all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in February 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2010 is the previous archive.

March 2010 is the next archive.

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

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