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July 2012 Archives

July 3, 2012

Air Show Photography: Getting In and Getting The Shots

By Chris Armold

There's nothing quite like the roar of a high-performance military fighter, flying 30 feet off the deck, screaming past you at just under 700 miles per hour. What's even a bigger rush is when you're in the front row equipped with your camera and armed with the skills and a strategy to get stunning aviation photos. It's not every day one has opportunity to photograph aircraft, especially aircraft that are performing stunts and combat maneuvers. However, with a few pointers and a bit of experienced insight, any professional photographer who understands the basic fundamentals of our craft has the potential to shoot epic air show images.

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©Chris A Photography

Accessing the air show: There are two ways for a photographer to attend an air show. You can pay the admission and walk in the front gate, set up your lawn chair and do your thing. The alternative, and my preference, is to try to work the show as a freelance media photographer. Air shows are huge events that must attract tens of thousands of attendees to be viable. That requires promotion and publicity. Reach out to your local air show organizer, tell them you're a pro shooter and offer your services. If you freelance (as I do) or shoot for any type of media outlet, request a media credential. The worst thing that can happen is the organizers say no. However, if they say yes, the benefits of photographing the show as a freelance media photographer can include a parking pass, access to a media area, preferred shooting locations, and often a shaded area reserved for photographers that's stocked with water and a place to stash gear.

Ask to attend and photograph the air show media/rehearsal day: This is a great way to avoid the crowds. Every air show that features an aerial demonstration team such as the USAF Thunderbirds, the USN Blue Angels, or the US Army Golden Knights will have a non-public practice day. Normally these rehearsal days are open to media and professional photographers. On media day, not only can you photograph the aerial rehearsal, you may have the chance to meet the crew, in addition to being given a close-up opportunity to examine and photograph the aircraft. It's an amazing opportunity for any photographer who has the initiative to ask for it. Finally, media photographers are occasionally given the opportunity to fly in some of the aircraft. I've flown aboard several vintage WWII aircraft including a B-17, a C-47, and with the Blue Angels, simply because I'm a photographer.

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©Chris A Photography

Suggested equipment: A digital SLR with an assortment of lenses is the way to go if you want to get great shots. Depending on where you're shooting from, photographing a single aircraft using your 300mm lens works well, but it may be too much glass when shooting multiple aircraft and aerial demonstration teams. When four or six planes fly past in formation, if you're in the front row with long glass your angle of view can be too tight. I rely on my 70-200mm lens most often when I'm shooting an air show, especially if there is a multiple-aircraft display. Don't neglect to bring along your short glass because there will be dozens of static display aircraft to explore and photograph. I tote a 50mm lens and a 14-24mm super-wide for the majority of my static display compositions. Bring your monopod along, but leave the tripod at home unless you plan to shoot really slow exposure static display images. You're not going to need it as you'll be swinging that glass left and right, up and down far too often.

Continue reading "Air Show Photography: Getting In and Getting The Shots" »

July 5, 2012

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July 6, 2012

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July 10, 2012

New Ilford Papers and a Special Free Print Offer

SPECIAL, LIMITED TIME OFFER: ILFORD is once again partnering with Canon U.S.A Inc for the Try My Photo program, where participants can receive a free print of one of their images on ILFORD GALERIE Prestige Smooth Gloss 310 gsm or Smooth Pearl 310 gsm papers. Each print comes with detailed information about how the image was printed, making it easy for the photographer to replicate and achieve the same results with their home printer. Interested parties can register online at www.TryMyPhoto.com. The program runs from June 17- September 30, 2012.

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Those of us who have been printing our own work for a while recognize Ilford as one of the first paper companies to really embrace the inkjet market. Their Smooth Pearl and Smooth Gloss papers have been staples for inkjet enthusiasts for years, with solid performance and sensible pricing. More recently their top of the line professional papers such as their Galerie Prestige Gold Fibre Silk have really turned heads. Adding to this line of elite papers, Ilford has introduced the Galerie Prestige Smooth Gloss and Galerie Prestige Smooth Pearl papers. Intended to replace the current line of Smooth Gloss and Smooth Pearl papers, these new papers are 2012 TIPA (Technical Image Press Association) award winners for Best Fine Art Inkjet Papers.

I recently received samples of these papers and they perform beautifully on our Epson R3000 and Stylus Photo Pro 4900 printers. The weighty 310 gsm papers feel substantial and are a pleasure to work with. The surfaces of these papers show gorgeous detail and a very deep DMAX. Color reproduction is spot on with the supplied ICC profiles. Ilford has really done a fine job with these new papers.

Learn more about Ilford papers. 

—Mark Levesque, Studio Mark Emile

July 11, 2012

Improve Your Precision with LensAlign MkII

By Ellis Vener

It’s no secret that working professionals need to make sure that the tools of the craft work together smoothly and reliably. It is also true that just because high quality cameras and high quality lenses cost a lot, it doesn’t mean they will work together perfectly straight out of the box. Cinematographers and camerafolk in the broadcast industry, and some still photographers, have known this for decades.

While most of us still photographers are not able to cherry pick our lenses—trying several examples of the same lens to find the best one— and fewer go to the expense and trouble of having the optics in their lenses centered and collimated. Even if you do that does not ensure that the lens will then perfectly match an individual camera body. What is needed is a system for fine-tuning the autofocus system for individual lenses to eliminate the computational errors that result in front focusing or back focusing. Fortunately nearly all mid-range and high-end cameras introduced since 2007 have this. All that is needed is a method for testing and a target.

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Outside of making one yourself, there are a couple of kits available to make the AF fine-tuning process easy, but the most venerable is the LensAlign from Michael Tapes Design. The original LensAlign PRO (ppmag.com review) and LensAlign Lite have now been replaced by the LensAlign MkII and MkII Plus. The difference between the standard MkII and the MkII Plus models is the size of the focusing target and the length of the ruler, with the larger target and longer ruler of the Plus model designed for use with 300mm and longer telephoto lenses. The long ruler and target of the Plus can be purchased separately and used with the basic MkII.

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Continue reading "Improve Your Precision with LensAlign MkII" »

How To Plan, Produce, and Sell Your Photo Book: Part 1 - Planning

Planning Your Photo Book

By David FitzSimmons

Do you have a great idea for a photography book but are unsure how to get it published? The good news is that there are more publishing options today than ever before. Besides working with traditional publishers, doing it yourself is an often practical alternative. In part one of this three-part series, I will cover the preliminary five steps for planning your publication, getting you started down the path of publishing success.

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Researching the ins-and-outs of self-publishing allowed me to find and hire industry experts to help produce "Curious Critters," which sold out its first printing in four months. The nonfiction picture book has won five national book awards.

 

1. Pick a Unique Subject
If everybody is writing about HDR, portrait lighting, or Photoshop techniques, find something else to focus on. Look at your own work. What do you specialize in? Postage stamps? Colorful crystals? Low key portraiture? Survey the field by going to bookstores and libraries. Do a thorough search online. If your book is already available, find a new angle or do something different. If you see nothing on the market like what you are doing, celebrate! Success in publishing often comes from finding your niche.

2. Choose your Audience
Products—yes, your book is a product—are aimed at target audiences. Try to define exactly who will be most interested in your book. Ask yourself: Who is most excited about your subject? Who would come hear you speak on your book? Who would be willing to buy it? The answers to these questions help you describe your audience. If you photograph children, for example, your book might appeal most to females, ages 25 to 45, with families. A common mistake is to believe that your book will appeal to everyone. Trying to attract everyone is most often the fastest route to attracting no one.

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My picture book began as a commercial assignment. Sigma produced two print advertisements using my Curious Critters portraits of common North American critters, one featuring an Eastern box turtle.

3. Determine How Many Books You Want (and Are Able) to Sell
Once you have picked your subject and your audience, then figure out how many books you want (and will be able) to sell. Realistically, are there 500; 5,000; 50,000 people who would buy your book over a period of 3 to 5 years? While there may be thousands of people interested in your subject, can your reach them all?

4. Choose the Best Publishing Option
If you wish to sell 5,000 to 50,000 books, you have a couple options. Most people submit their work to a traditional publisher. Before you prepare a book proposal, go to libraries and bookstores and search online to see who is producing books in your field. Get current copies of Writer’s Market and Photographer’s Market (both by Writer’s Digest Books) to find out each publisher’s requirements for submitting your book proposal. The directories will help you know for which publishers you will need an agent.

The other route—the one that I used in publishing my children’s picture book Curious Critters—is to start your own publishing company. When I founded Wild Iris Publishing, I immediately hired a book shepherd (or consultant) and then a designer, editors, and a publicist, all available for short-term work. Because starting your own publishing company involves a lot of time and effort, a steep learning curve, and a sizeable investment up front, many people prefer working with a traditional publisher, but nearly complete control of the design, production, marketing, and sales may be important to you. I find that knowing many aspects of publishing, from imagining a book to marketing it, helps me craft a product that will sell.

For smaller numbers of books, say, in the hundreds, look into other self-publishing routes. Print-on-Demand (POD) services such as Lulu, Blurb, MILK or Amazon's CreateSpace allow you to design your own books, upload them, and print small numbers at a time. Some companies will sell, print, and ship single copies to buyers. While POD books tend to be simpler to produce, because profit margins are very low, hiring designers, editors, and publicists becomes hard to justify. Generally traditional distributors do not deal in POD books.

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My research included reviewing the National Research Council’s science education standards. "Curious Critters" meets all K-8 national life science standards. The red flat bark beetle teaches young readers about habitats, diet, and—with a half dozen mites crawling on its back—parasitism. The black swallowtail focuses on predator/prey relationships and mimicry.

5. Do Your Publishing Research
Before you begin any of the above, start reading on the subject of publishing. Whether you go the traditional route or self-publish, I recommend reading Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual and Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Self-Publisher. Both books not only offer great insights into traditional and self-publishing but also offer copious lists of individuals and companies that can help you succeed. Also consider subscribing to Publishers Weekly, the industry standard trade publication. Reading PW regularly will help you understand the trade, keep track of current trends, and inspire you to imagine your next project.

Finally, join trade organizations. In producing Curious Critters, I found great help from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Independent Book Publishers Association. Research organizations in your field and join them. Attend their meetings, read their publications, and always ask lots of questions!

Next … Part II: Producing Your Photo Book

Followed by … Part III: Selling Your Photo Book

Writer and photographer David FitzSimmons (fitzsimmonsphotography.com) is one of five Sigma Pro photographers and a professor at Ashland University. Check out his award-winning children's picture book, “Curious Critters,” at curious-critters.com. 

 

July 31, 2012

August 2012 issue

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August 2012 issue

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August 2012 issue

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August 2012 Cover

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About July 2012

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

June 2012 is the previous archive.

August 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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