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August 2013 Archives

August 30, 2013

"Natural Newborn Baby Photography" Excerpt: The Chin Pose

The Chin Pose

Excerpted from Natural Newborn Baby Photography: A Guide to Posing, Shooting, and Business by Robin Long. Copyright © 2013. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and Peachpit Press.

The Chin Pose The chin pose can be challenging at times. It generally takes the baby a little extra time to settle than it does with the side or tushie pose. Therefore, you’ll want to take your time and continue soothing the baby as you make the transition. Refer to Chapter 5 for soothing techniques.

I always have one of the parents help with this pose because I need extra hands and eyes to ensure that the baby’s head is stable. The parent is given strict instructions to remain right next to the beanbag and watch the baby the entire time.

While the baby is still in the tushie pose, bring up both arms with elbows out and cross the hands, one on top of the other, right underneath the chin. There’s no need to pick up the baby at this point, unless she becomes upset and you need to comfort her further. Hold the baby’s arms in this position until she is settled.


Here are two sets of a side view chin pose.
I typically always start with this position
before moving on to the full chin up position.
ISO 400, 1/800 sec., f/1.8, 50mm lens


This is another variation of the chin pose
coming around to the side of the baby
and shooting down so you can see
his whole body in the frame.
ISO 400, 1/1600 sec., f/1.8, 50mm lens

If you have layered the blankets on the beanbag as suggested in Chapter 3, this is a good time to switch to the next blanket. Place one hand underneath the crossed arms and head with the other hand under the bottom. Have the parent pick up the top blanket and waterproof pad and throw them over the background. Pick up the baby about six inches off the beanbag, turn and place him with his head toward the front of the beanbag and his bottom toward the back. Hold the baby until he is settled. When the baby is comfortable, have the parent place their hands on the baby while you adjust the blankets.


The baby is now moved into the full chin up pose.
ISO 400, 1/1600 sec., f/1.8, 50mm lens


Begin by placing the rolled up receiving blankets underneath all the layers of blankets, directly under the baby’s arms. Typically, I’ll use three stacked on top of one another as shown in the blanket views images in the section “Forming the Pillow” at the beginning of this chapter. While holding the baby’s head, slide the blankets underneath to support the chest and elbows. The key is to support the baby’s head and balance him as he lies on his hands. Sometimes you’ll need to push down with your fingers on one side or the other on the stack to obtain balance on both sides. Start with the baby laying his head sideways on his arms and take a couple shots in this position; then move to the full chin pose. This allows the baby time to settle into the pose. You can then move on to the full chin up pose where the baby’s head is up and the chin is resting on the hands. Cup both your hands around the baby’s face and gently move it facing forward. If the baby’s head is wobbly, you’ll need to have the parent support the baby’s head. Have the parent hold the side of the baby’s head with one finger and take the shot. Then you can clone out the parent’s hand in post processing.


My favorite position to stand in while shooting this pose is directly in front of the baby. The baby in the preceding photo had the cutest little cupid hair, so I knew this pose was perfect for him! Most of the time I shoot in landscape orientation, but shooting this pose in portrait orientation works just as well. If you step to the side a little and shoot from that direction, you’ll also be able to see a portion of his body. Tip: When you need something small, use washcloths to add extra support under the baby’s arms.

August 7, 2013

August 2013 Issue


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August 2013 Issue

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August 2013 Issue


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August 8, 2013

August 2013 Issue


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August 2013 Issue

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Keep Your Paper and Stay Digitally Organized: Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine

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

These days, it’s hard to have a paper idea book. Everything, it seems, needs to end up in the digital world at some point. Which is rough for me, because I have a soft spot for brainstorming, note taking, and list making on old fashioned paper. A year or so ago, I was cajoled into using Evernote by a fellow photographer and was pleasantly surprised about how useful the note-syncing app could be. Having digital notes and the ability to clip content from the internet, email, wherever—all saved to the cloud—was actually quite useful. But I was still pining over my nostalgic desire to jot down notes in a notebook, which obviously couldn’t be synced with Evernote.

But wait. Evernote added page capture technology so that you can photograph your notes, handouts, or printed documents to be filed away in the cloud. Initially it was only available for iOS devices, but this feature is now available for Android devices, too. The Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine has specially formatted pages to help Evernote render your notes, designs, and diagrams properly. It is less than half an inch thick, and comes in two sizes (pocket and large). The photos in this review show the large notebook, and I’ve included a pencil and cell phone in the photo to give you a sense of scale.

Evernote Moleskine Notebook

Evernote Moleskine Notebook

And there are even snazzy “smart stickers” you can put on your notebook pages that will tell Evernote to automatically tag the note with a specific category. I used one of the arrow stickers and the purple “work” sticker in this lighting diagram I drew. The stickers store in a pocket inside the back cover of your notebook, so you’ll always have them when you need them.

Evernote Moleskine Notebook Stickers

Evernote Moleskine Notebook

What’s more, you can customize the smart stickers so that the categories actually fit your needs.


Evernote Moleskine Notebook settings

The Evernote app's page camera will let you photograph pretty much any kind of document. I also tested it out on a few newsletters from my chiropractor’s office, as they were printed on color paper, which I figured would be tricky to render. While you’re capturing pages, the page camera will also show you how many captures you’ve gotten. In the screenshot below, from my smartphone, I uploaded four pages to Evernote. It did a pretty good job of rotating, adjusting contrast for readability, and cropping out the background junk.

Evernote Page Camera

Once scanned in and processed, you can see the pages as individual thumbnails within a particular Evernote app note. Clicking on a thumbail will allow you to view and edit the page.

Evernote Page Camera Capture

Overall, I was pleased with the unlikely marriage of two opposites—technology and paper. I appreciate that the page camera function has been expanded to work with pages from other sources besides the Evernote Smart Notebook, as I will frequently jot down thoughts on whatever I can find. Now, I don’t have remember to copy down my great lunch idea from that paper napkin at the cafe; I can just take a picture of it with my phone, sync my thoughts to Evernote, and then toss the napkin.

The Evernote Smart Notebook is available directly from Moleskine in pocket (3.5x5.5, $24.95) and large (5x8.25, $29.95) sizes with either ruled or squared pages. You can also find them online at Amazon, Staples, or other large retailers. All purchases of a notebook include a three month trial of Evernote Premium. For more information, visit http://www.moleskineus.com/evernote-smart-notebooks.html

Betsy Finn, M.Photog.Cr.,CPP has a portrait studio in Michigan (BPhotoArt.com) and blogs at betsyfinn.com.

Hot One Readers' Choice Award Winners

Inevitably, every year when our judges vote for the top products competing in the Hot One Awards, we have a few ties and close seconds, and even close thirds. Those close votes are an indicator of the superior quality of these contenders, and they deserve recognition. This year we got our readers in on the action with a Readers’ Choice poll featuring five of these neck-and-neck races. We gave each contest a two-week window for voting, and we encouraged the competing companies to rally their loyal users to weigh in, and we promoted the polls on our Facebook page. Combined, the contests racked up more than 140,000 votes. Here are the results!

Hot One Awards Readers' Choice Winner


Best DSLR Camera $1,000 to $3,000 

The Nikon D800 trumped the Canon EOS 6D.


Best Macro Lens

The Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di VC USD 1:1 Macro won over the Sigma APO Macro 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens.


Best Mobile Business App

Shoot & Sell topped Preveal and StudioCloud.


Best Presentation Software

Animoto Pro narrowly edged out ProSelect 2012r2.


Best Background or Set

Denny Duet Reversible Backdrops led the way over drop it MODERN Sequin Backdrop and Floors from Backdrops by WHCC.

August 9, 2013

Compact Design, Pro Quality: Fujifilm X-E1 Review

By Stan Sholik

Hybrid cameras—mirrorless digital cameras with interchangeable lenses—have found a ready market among advanced amateurs moving up from camera phones and compact digitals, but they have been slow to find acceptance among professional photographers who already own a full-featured digital SLR and an array of lenses. Making hybrid cameras more difficult to sell to professionals is their small sensor size, limited feature sets, and often inferior lens quality. While the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and Sony Alpha NEX-7 are notable exceptions to many of these limitations, the Fujifilm X-Pro1 was the best offering for professionals looking for a compact camera that delivers the features and image quality they expect from their digital SLR. Its high cost and surprising bulk for a small camera has slowed its acceptance.

Fujifilm X-E1 review

©Stan Sholik

Fuji has answered the concerns regarding the X-Pro1 with the introduction of the Fujifilm X-E1 and in doing so has created a camera system that professionals could use for event, wedding, school, portrait, and possibly even some commercial assignments. It also serves as an excellent system for personal photographs, street photography, family outings, vacations, and any other time where a big, bulky, multi-lens digital SLR isn’t needed, but the high image quality is wanted.

Fujifilm X-E1 next to Nikon D3s

©Stan Sholik

Where the X-Pro1 gained its bulk from its complex and expensive hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder, the X-E1 is trimmed down by replacing that system with a purely electronic viewfinder. If it weren’t for a slight “shimmering” as you pan the camera while looking through the viewfinder, and the occasional visible moiré, you would think you were looking through an optical viewfinder.

The viewfinder's image quality is so good that you can use it to view the images or videos you have captured when the ambient light is so bright that images on the rear LCD are impossible to see. There is a built-in eye sensor that activates the viewfinder only when your eye is about to look through and a diopter adjustment that works well, unlike the diopter on the X-Pro1.

While it is a little difficult for a Leica rangefinder user like me to admit it, there are a number of advantages to electronic over optical viewfinders in rangefinder-style bodies. One is the ability to use zoom lenses. The image-stabilized 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens supplied with the camera surely contributed to the excellent image quality, and Fuji plans to introduce other zooms in the future.

Another advantage of an electronic viewfinder is the ability to choose a focus point anywhere in the field of view, something that is even an advantage over SLR cameras. This is compromised somewhat in the X-E1 by the poor placement of the focus point selector button. It is located at the lower left of the LCD screen, making it difficult to reach without poking yourself in the nose when looking through the viewfinder. Moving it to the front would be a big improvement. And having a focus confirmation for manual focus operation would be a big help.

Fujifilm X-E1 body, back

©Stan Sholik

Other differences from the X-Pro1 include a pop-up flash, a 2.5mm stereo microphone input for video sound recording, and the ability to use a remote electronic release (but not at the same time as the microphone). Autofocusing speed is much improved, and you can focus the X-E1 manually with the lens at maximum aperture. Write speed is also improved, but there is still about a two-second delay between single-frame captures, or capture and image review.

The X-E1 inherits the APS-C sensor and image processor from the X-Pro1. The 16.3-megapixel X-Trans sensor is mounted without an anti-alias filter. Image sharpness is exceptional for a compact camera, and though it lacks the 36.3 megapixels of my D800E, I would not be ashamed to deliver X-E1 images to any of my clients. And now that Adobe Lightroom 4.4 and later, as well as Camera Raw 7 and Capture One 7 have algorithms to demosaic the X-Trans sensor, processing raw X-E1 files should fit within your established workflow.

Fujifilm X-E1 review

The camera is a pleasure to carry around when you are just out with visiting friends seeing the sights. ©Stan Sholik

While I rarely shoot anything but raw files, I did test out the RAW+FINE setting and was amazed to find that the JPEG files were excellent quality. I would think that school, event, and even some wedding photographers could shoot JPEGs with the X-E1 and save a lot of post-processing time. Overall, image quality is excellent in all respects. Metering and auto white balance are perfect in nearly every situation. Noise is reasonably well controlled even at the extended ISOs of 12,800 and 25,600, which are only available for JPEG capture, although the images can look more like watercolor paintings than photographs.

Fujifilm X-E1 review, noise

Noise is visible at higher ISO settings, but easily controlled in post-production. This is a 1:1 crop of an event photo taken at ISO 4000 with noise reduction applied in Lightroom 4.4. ©Stan Sholik

Fujifilm X-E1 event photo ISO 400

I shot a client’s birthday party with the camera using only available light in a fairly dark room with mixed lighting. Using the camera’s Auto ISO setting, the majority of photos were shot at 1/30 second at f/4, ISO 4000. The results were sharp thanks to image stabilization in the 18-55mm lens, with good color and minimal noise. Most of the time people were unaware that I was taking pictures. ©Stan Sholik

The X-E1 abounds in other features, including film simulation presets for Fuji Provia (the default), Velvia, and Astia color films. There are obvious color differences in the files with the presets, and they seem to deliver accurate simulations. You can even bracket through three film simulations, which could be these three (the default), or include negative film with high or normal saturation, monochrome, monochrome with a yellow filter, monochrome with a red filter, monochrome with a green filter, or sepia.

Fujifilm X-E1 color bracket

You can bracket through film simulations while shooting. This is a bracket of Provia (left), Velvia (center), and Astia (right). Also available are negative film with high or normal saturation, monochrome, monochrome with a yellow filter, monochrome with a red filter, monochrome with a green filter, or sepia. ©Stan Sholik

Other features include a panorama mode that automatically stitches a series of images into a JPEG panorama, dynamic range bracketing, multiple exposures, exposure bracketing and pretty much every custom function you would find on a digital SLR. There is even a setting for capturing JPEG images in square format, reminiscent of the 2-1/4 medium-format film cameras.

Fujifilm X-E1 review, square format

One of the built-in crop options for capturing JPEGs
is the square format, which is perfect for portraits
and many other subjects. JPEG quality is so good,
as is the white balance and color, that not shooting
in raw format is a real option with the camera. 
©Stan Sholik

However, while it can capture both 720p and 1080p HD video with excellent quality and good stereo sound, the video controls are limited in comparison to its competition. For example, the frame rate is limited to 24 frames per second, and you have no control over shutter speed, although you can control aperture. As with the first generation of digital SLRs with video capabilities, video seems more of an afterthought with the X-E1 than a fully developed feature.

Video aside, the X-E1 is a camera a professional photographer could love for personal work and use for many professional assignments. Although I only tested the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens, fast f/2.8 14mm and 18mm primes are available along with a 35mm f/1.4 and a 60mm f/2.4 macro. Future lenses include 23mm f/1.4, 27mm f/2.8 and 56mm f/1.4 primes and a 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 telephoto zoom and a 10-24 f/4 super wide zoom.

Street price of the Fujifilm X-E1 body in silver or black is about $1,000. The body with kit zoom lens is $1,400. More information is available at fujifilm.com

Stan Sholik is a commercial/advertising photographer in Santa Ana, Calif., specializing in still life and macro photography. His latest book "Photoshop CC: Top 100 Tips and Tricks" (Wiley Publishing).

Fuji X-E1 Specifications

Sensor: 16.3 effective megapixel X-Trans sensor without anti-aliasing filter "
Image sensor: 23.6x15.6mm APS-C CMOS sensor
Lens: FujiFilm X mount
Exposure modes: Programmed AE, Shutter priority AE, Aperture priority AE, Manual exposure
Flash: Built-in, 1/180-second sync
          Three dedicated TTL hot-shoe flash units available
Display: 2.8-in, approx. 460,000-dot, TFT color LCD monitor
Electronic viewfinder: 0.5-inch, 2,360,000-dot OLED viewfinder
Media: SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS-I) memory card
Image Stabilization: Lens-based image stabilization
Dimensions (W×H×D): Approx. 127 x 74.9 x 38.3mm (5.1 x 2.9 x 1.5 in.)
Weight: Approx. 350 g (12.3 oz) with battery and SD memory card

Professional features
Full 1080p video
Light-weight, all-metal body
Excellent image sharpness

Focus point selector button position
RAW mode limited to ISO 6400
Two second delay between exposures
No PC-flash connection
Minimal video controls

August 13, 2013

A Client Experience Lesson for Photographers from an Appliance Repair Guy

By Joan Sherwood, Sr.Ed.

Professional Photographer magazine has covered instances of notable customer service before, but I feel it’s always worth sharing new ones to encourage photographers to step back and evaluate the level customer service they deliver to their clients.

After some failed attempts to thaw out and resuscitate my refrigerator this weekend, I declared it definitely broken on Sunday afternoon and texted a friend who I knew had a good appliance repair person. She replied with the contact information, and added, “Or you could try CityBoysRUs. They’ve been getting good reviews from neighbors, and you might be able to get service today.”

That sounded worth trying. I wrote down my refrigerator make and model number and called. The person who answered was polite and concise and listened to the diagnostic information I could give him. He took my information and let me know he would check out parts availability for my fridge and call me back within 15 minutes.

He did so and let me know what my options were. Parts for my model wouldn’t be available until the next day, but he could come out that evening and diagnose the problem so that he could pick up the right part Monday morning, and no, it wouldn’t add to the cost for him to come to my house twice.

He called when he was on his way, gave me an ETA, and arrived at the  promisedtime, which was 7:30 p.m. On a Sunday. He even had one more call to go to after mine.

When you think of appliance repair guys, you may picture an older guy, kind of slobby, taking their time with things, a little low energy. Let me tell you, Curtis from CityBoysRUs was professional, courteous, friendly, and highly efficient. With his well-organized case of tools he disassembled the parts of my freezer compartment as if he had a drill sergeant timing him for speed. 

He showed me the problem, gave me the diagnosis, priced the replacement part with a short call to his home base, secured my agreement for the repair and the cost, took half payment up front, and scheduled his return visit the next day at a time that was convenient for me.

He arrived as scheduled, again calling beforehand with his ETA, and introduced me to his equally polite and professional assistant, who was in training. They efficiently performed the part replacement. The assistant not only wiped down the inside of the refrigerator with disinfectant, he swept the floor around it. Believe me, that dirt was there when they got there.

Curtis settled my bill, and I chatted with them as they finished up and told them how impressed I was with the quality of their service.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. Curtis asked, “Would you mind leaving us a review?”

“No, not at all,” I said. “Where would you prefer? Yelp?”

“I can show you if your Internet is up,” he said.

“Great.” I led the way to my Mac in the next room.

He directed me to search Google not for his business name, but for the SEO search term they are targeting to land as a top search result. CityBoysRUs was on the first page in the top three or four unpaid results. I clicked on the link to “61 reviews” and an easy-to-fill-out review form was at the top of the page. He said, “All we ask is that you be specific about the appliance we repaired for you; yours was a GE refrigerator.” Then he left me to write whatever I wanted, but his simple and reasonable request would seed my review with additional valuable search keywords for his business' reviews.

Really, it’s just brilliant. I’m sure that they gauge which clients they ask to do online reviews on the spot, the ones like me who are obviously Internet savvy, who had a great experience, and who wouldn't feel put out by the request. These guys delivered a great customer experience, and they were confident in their service.

When they were all packed up and ready to go, Curtis shook my hand and said, “Thank you for letting me help.” Nice touch.

Now, look at your business, the kind of energy you exude when you’re with clients, how you treat them, the confidence you show in your product, and what you’re doing to parlay great customer experience into rave reviews and referrals that will send more business your way.

How are you doing? Can you do better? Because there is another photographer out there who, like Curtis, knows how to do the job well, deliver great customer experience, and ensure that more business will be coming his way.

August 14, 2013

Review: Portraits on Porcelain

By Betsy Finn, M.Photog.,Cr.

In the search for new products to offer, it may be worth looking to the past. I remember seeing porcelain plates on display in my grandmother’s home as a child, and the porcelain portraits offered by Memory Lane Porcelain Portraits are a contemporary take on the timeless wall hanging. Memory Lane is a wholesaler that creates porcelain and marble pieces from your photographs.

The ordering process is very personal. You can fill out an order form and email your image files or print the form and mail a photo the old fashioned way, and there's a number to call if you have any questions. To evaluate the end product, I ordered two porcelain pieces and one laser-etched marble piece. The porcelain square was easy to design on my end, and I did a pretty good job of estimating how the oval images would look … or so I thought. Fortunately, the folks at Memory Lane are very thorough and emailed me about a potential issue with one of the oval portraits; due to the cropping of the oval, they suggested rotating the image slightly to make it feel more natural. I happily accepted their suggestion.

The three pieces arrived, well packaged in bubble wrap, in a timely manner. Here are the originals I submitted and the three finished pieces:

Finn Family Images

Memory Lane Porcelain Portrait examples

Both the porcelain and marble pieces are about 1/4-inch in thickness. In this image, taken of the laser etched marble, you can see the shiny and non-shiny aspects of the etching process (which results in a black and white image).

Memory Lane Marble Portrait side view

Memory Lane offers a quality guarantee if any porcelain portrait discolors under normal conditions or proves defective in any way that is attributable to their workmanship. It is reassuring to know that they won’t fade or discolor as printed photographs can with direct exposure to sunlight. These porcelain pieces, since they are glazed, should hold up under exposure by a sunny window!

Overall, I have mixed feelings about the produt. I really liked how the landscape picture turned out as a square porcelain. The colors on the oval porcelain didn’t hold true closely enough for my taste—the reddish skin tone hues in the glaze were a little more pronounced than the original image, and the contrast was not as defined. Having worked with ceramics, I understand that the properties of glaze are not going to allow an exact color replication of a printed photo; it’s similar to working in different color spaces. That being said, I would love to see how these would work in black and white on the porcelain.

One other caveat about the differences between a photographic print and the porcelain: these are not as crisp as a print. Based on my understanding of ceramics, that’s just the nature of the beast (it all depends on the smoothness of the ceramic tile and the detail that can be retained with the glaze). I chose a “busy” family portrait for the marble piece to see how the etching would handle detail. It did preserve all the detail, but a simpler image would have more impact on this medium.

 [How Porcelain Portraits Are Made]

When I asked about the image quality, a company representative explained, “The ink is actually crushed minerals, which create a glaze that becomes a permanent part of the porcelain once placed in the kiln. Because of this, the images may not look as crisp to a photographer. Due to the type of keepsake these are, however, we have found that most of our photographers' clients are fond of the softer look on the porcelain.” When you register as a preferred customer, your client ID can be flagged with a preference for softer or crisper images so that they can adjust the image prior to being placed on the porcelain and fired in the kiln. The only other thing you’ll need to know is that the finished pieces do not come ready to hang. You will need to buy wall hangers for plates, or self-standing easels if you want to provide your clients with an immediate display option (or direct them to purchase their own). Typical turnaround time is 5 business days.

Potential applications? I could see these being sold for families, children, and weddings. In talking with the sales rep, she told me about a client who ordered a number of heart tiles as wedding table centerpieces. For a newborn portrait, it would be precious to have a portrait of the baby or little toes along with the birth stats. Personally, I think these are more intriguing as a design add-on rather than a straight portrait.

Pricing for porcelain portraits is $56 to $300, depending on the size, which ranges from 1.96 x 2.75 inches all the way up to 9.45 x 11.81 inches. Several porcelain shapes are available (oval, heart, circle, square, rectangle). Marble pieces are available as rectangles and ovals, in either 5x7 or 8x10 (starting at $75). Sample packages start at $100 and allow access to preferred client benefits such as 20% off porcelain pricing. For more information about Memory Lane Porcelain Portraits, visit www.porcelainportraits.com.

Betsy Finn, M.Photog.,Cr. has a portrait studio in Michigan (bphotoart.com); she also blogs at betsyfinn.com.

August 21, 2013

August 2013 Issue


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About August 2013

This page contains all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in August 2013. They are listed from oldest to newest.

July 2013 is the previous archive.

September 2013 is the next archive.

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

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