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May 2012 Archives

May 16, 2012

Portfolio Pro Improves Integration for iPad

By Curtis Joe Walker

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Portfolio Pro ($9.99) is a new app for creating a digital portfolio on the iPad, introducing Flickr and Dropbox integration as a welcome addition to the genre. Last year, we reviewed MediaPad Pro, and while we still like that app, Portfolio Pro greatly simplifies the process of populating and updating portfolios. It opens many new possibilities for photographers, and people in other fields as well, due to its ease of use.

The ease of use comes from integration with the Flickr and Dropbox APIs, allowing users to pull images directly from either of these cloud services into their portfolio. For photographers who have galleries already on Flickr, they can be imported on a set by set basis, speeding up the population of the app, using organization that many photographers already have in place.

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Using Dropbox is similarly easy, and will work well for people who don’t want to use Flickr. Both services offer a free subscription level. Adding a step to your workflow that involves sending portfolio-worthy shots to either service directly from Lightroom or Aperture yields the benefit of having remote access to your best shots at any time, and the ability to tweak content during downtime.

The app also works beautifully in conjunction with images stored directly on the iPad. For photographers whose favorite online image services haven’t been linked to, it’s still possible to pull selections from them with the browser. The same holds true for photographers who want to pull images directly from their own site. For those using the iPad’s Camera Connection kit, it’s possible to upload images directly from the camera to the device and then into the app.

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May 17, 2012

Travel Photography: How to Get Fabulous Images and Still Have Fun

By Stephanie Millner, Cr.Photog., CPP

Your bags are packed, and you’re ready to go? Not so fast! Travel photography is very different from everyday client work, and how you travel is every bit as important as what you actually shoot. Consider the following tips for travel photography and your next trip should be smooth sailing as far as your camera is concerned.

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©Stephanie Millner

Pack Light

This applies to your luggage and your camera gear. The fun you’ll have on your trip is inversely proportionate to the amount of stuff you have to lug around. Unless you’re traveling for a commissioned job, pack only the barest of bare essentials. Bring one camera, two batteries, a few media cards, your charger, and two lenses at most. I’ve traveled for weeks at a time without any other gear, and I promise you do not need to carry more.

Over-packing is uncomfortable due to weight and bulk, and it can be risky in some environments. Someone carrying a big expensive camera bag is enticing to pickpockets and thieves.

Also, think twice about using a backpack; it will make you a target. Because the pack is behind you, it’s easily accessible to thieves, particularly in large crowds. Leave it at the hotel. When you carry gear with you in a bag, remove any indications that expensive equipment is inside and wear it on your front in crowded areas and on public transit. Stay aware.

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©Stephanie Millner

Three Must-HaveAccessories 

There are three more things you need to round out your travel kit: rain sleeves, a multi-plug adaptor, and a dry bag.

Bring several rain sleeves that fit your camera with your longest lens attached. A good rule of thumb is to bring one sleeve per week of travel. A good rain sleeve will keep your gear dry and sand-free, regardless of what Mother Nature dishes out. Keep one in your coat, one in your purse or day bag, and one in your luggage so it’s always easily accessible. A rain sleeve only works if it’s actually on your camera, not back in your hotel room. You can buy them online or from a camera store for less than $10 each.

Always carry a universal multiple-plug adaptor when traveling abroad. Most laptops, cell phones, and camera chargers have built-in transformers (or are dual-voltage), so you usually just need a plug adaptor and not a heavy travel transformer. Be sure to buy a multi-plug adaptor to accommodate different countries. Searching for an open electronics store because you have two dead camera batteries and you left your plug adaptor back home is not fun. I recommend bringing a USB-to-power plug and USB cord as well. You can buy a good one (or two) online for less than $10.

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Vatican from Ponte Sant’Angelo, Rome ©Stephanie Millner

Most important, if you’re going anywhere that even remotely involves water, bring a dry sack. This single purchase has saved me from potentially thousands of dollars in damage. Purchase a sack that has at least a level-two water resistance, and get a bigger bag than you think you’ll actually need. In addition to keeping your gear bone-dry, even when completely submerged, they make handy beach bags and day totes. Use a dry sack any time you’re even thinking about traveling near water (beach days, boat trips, cruises). You can find dry sacks online or at a local dive shop or sporting goods store, usually for around $20. It will be the one of the best investments you’ll ever make for your gear.

Bonus item: The Grid-It organizer system is a fabric-covered board with sewn elastic pieces that securely hold everything in place. It fits into any backpack, dry sack or purse. I pack two: one for camera gear and another for toiletries—inside a clear plastic bag—so they’re easily accessible at airport security. 

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May 21, 2012

Easy Transmitting and Remote Firing with MicroSync II Digital

By Betsy Finn, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

If you've been in search of a compact wireless transmission system that fires your camera or strobes, then you may want to consider MicroSync Digital products. I was initially drawn to them because of the small size of the transmitter; it is just a little bigger than my thumb.

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The transmitter has an LCD screen that displays the channel you're on and the battery level. There is a button next to the LCD screen that you can use to manually fire strobes (or the DSLR). On the flip side, there is an LED light (visible in image below) that flashes when in use. The transmitter also has an input for a sync cord if you'd like to connect to your DSLR that way, rather than using the hot shoe attachment. This unit comes pre-installed with a watch battery (CR2032); according to my user manual the battery should last approximately three years.

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The receiver is larger than the transmitter, but still fit (mostly) in the palm of my hand. It also features an LCD screen and LED light; there is a receiver output and several strobe sync plugs that can be swapped out for compatibility with most lights (mono plug, mini plug, two prong plug). Each receiver takes two AA batteries; these won't last as long as the transmitter's battery, but should be good for about a year.

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Receiver plugged into mono plug on a strobe unit (Strobe firing)

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Receiver connected to DSLR via cable release cord (DSLR remote firing)

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Choosing and Using Macro Lenses for Portraits

By Stan Sholik

Without question, macro lenses are among the most versatile type of lens for general photography. All true macro lenses focus from infinity to half life size, and most focus all the way to full life size. That ability allows you to fill the frame with the subject’s eye if you desire. In portrait sessions, a macro enables you to frame and compose your subject without being restricted to the minimum focusing distance of a non macro lens. Don’t be fooled by zoom lenses with “macro” in their names. These are not true macro lenses as they don’t focus to at least half life size and are not well corrected even for close-up photography.

True macro lenses as a class are the sharpest lenses available. Sharpness can be a blessing or a curse in portraiture, depending on your subject’s skin. But with the vast array of software tools available for softening and smoothing skin, this is not really the issue it was in the days of film. With digital capture, it is far easier to remove blemishes and smooth skin in a natural way than it is to sharpen the subject’s eyes and retain a natural look.

The biggest photographic disadvantage to using macro lenses for portraiture is their maximum aperture. While there are many portrait lenses available with apertures of f/1.4 to f/2.5, there are only a few macro lenses available with apertures larger than f/2.8. If you prefer shooting wide open to give maximum separation of your subject from the background, or your portraiture style is journalistic or uses available light, macro lenses may not be right for you.

You must have precise focus with a macro lens, so it is always best to use a tripod or camera stand. Many of the latest macro lenses incorporate image stabilization now, and this is a real advantage if you have to hand-hold the camera for a portrait or you're not using flash as your main light. If you aren't using TTL metering, remember to correct your exposure as you move closer: increase exposure by one EV step at half life size and two EV steps at 1:1.

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Full frame head and shoulders portrait with the D3s and Nikkor 105mm f/4 macro lens, hand held at f/11 with studio electronic flash. Skin retouched in Lightroom 4 by brushing on negative Clarity. ©Stan Sholik

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Walking closer to the model, I took more photos at various distances. This is my favorite. Same lens and exposure with a small exposure compensation and skin retouching in Lightroom 4. ©Stan Sholik

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In Pursuit of the Perfect Print

While a photographer’s skill and talent are fundamental to the artistic value of a photo, Douglas Dubler believes that printing is the final and most important part of the art of photography.

“The end result of the cycle of inspiration, execution and observation is the print. I go through all the trouble with the capture to get to the print; it’s a means to an end, and the end is the print,” he says. “When it comes to printing, the key to perfection lies in calibration and profiling.”

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Dubler is an award-winning fashion, beauty and fine art photographer. Over the last 40 years, his pictures have captured some of the most famous names in the world for countless magazine covers and cosmetic ads. His training in fine and liberal arts gave him an attuned sense of form, color, and composition. His early experience as a plastic sculptor and silk screen artist instilled the dedication to detail and craft that appears in his photography.

For years, Dubler has used X-Rite color management solutions, most recently the new i1Publish Pro 2, which includes the next generation i1Pro 2 handheld spectrophotometer and the latest release of i1Profiler software.

“Your final print is really only as good as the paper profile you use to print it,” says Dubler. One of the i1Profiler features he appreciates most is its ability to compensate for the use of optical brightening agents (OBAs), using X-Rite’s incorporated Optical Brightener Compensation (OBC) technology together with either his i1iSis or the i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer. “i1iSis has long been my instrument of choice, but with the new i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer, I’m amazed at the high-quality results from this incredibly versatile device,” he says.

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© Douglas Dubler

Continue reading "In Pursuit of the Perfect Print" »

May 22, 2012

May 2012 issue

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May 2012 issue

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May 2012 issue

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May 2012 issue

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May 2012 issue

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May 2012 issue

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May 2012 Cover

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May 23, 2012

News: PickPic Acquired from WHCC by Colorati Team, Improvements in Development

By Jen Christensen

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ProofPro, the award-winning photo studio management system, is about to get even better. Its parent company, PickPic, was recently purchased from White House Custom Colour (WHCC) by a management company that already has significant improvement plans underway.

The new CEO of PickPic, Sanjay Ahuja, is part of a team of investors that owns the post-production specialist and industry leader Colorati who are also behind this latest acquisition. ProofPro is the best in the business, Ahuja says, but it was time for an upgrade.

"We understand the big challenges photographers face," Ahuja said. "With our improvements, we will help ProofPro better engage with the customer and will help photographers sell more prints."

ProofPro lets photographers take control of their online photo proofing galleries and order fulfillment. It features large gallery images, a simplified shopping process, unlimited low-resolution image uploads, a personalized domain name of the user's choice, a PCI-complaint server environment with tight security, unlimited phone and email technical support, and a seamless design that blends in with the look and feel of an existing website. It won a 2011 Professional Photographer magazine Hot One Award.

One of the system's biggest improvements is that it will work on mobile platforms, giving photographers greater opportunity to showcase their work on an iPhone or iPad—something the system could not do before.

Another planned enhancement is better lab integration with WHCC and other top printing and fulfillment partners. Photographers will still be able to use the lab of their choice, but if they pick a lab in PickPic's network, then their orders will go straight to the lab. ProofPro users will also immediately get discounts with Colorati, a popular post-production company for wedding and portrait photographers.

ProofPro will still be available to photographers on a paid subscription basis. That's particularly good news for high-volume photographers who prefer not to pay by the print, which can cost up to 24 percent more per photo.

"It's a simple and elegant system that photographers already love," Ahuja said. "In enhancing the user experience, we believe that in the end the customer will buy more photos. We are very excited about the future of this significant development push."

About May 2012

This page contains all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in May 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.

April 2012 is the previous archive.

June 2012 is the next archive.

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


 
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