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October 27, 2014

5 Things Every Photographer Learning Video Should Know about the Panasonic GH4 and 4K

… (and 4K Video)

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by Ron Dawson

When I first sat down to write this review, I was in a quandary. What could I contribute to the Panasonic GH4 conversation that has been going on since the beginning of this year? My research was quickly swept into an acronym, spec, and nomenclature-heavy stream of information. Then I stumbled on a forum discussion about the claim that the 4K 4:2:0 8-bit video captured by the GH4 could be converted to 2K 10-bit 4:4:4 color space when transcoded to CineForm or ProRes.

If your eyes glazed over reading that last sentence, I’m not surprised. I consider myself a technically capable and informed filmmaker, and I’ve been doing it professionally now for more than a dozen years. I have instructed on the topic for a number of media outlets and national seminars, and even I felt tech-timidated. Photographers who are just learning video don’t need to be dunked into the deep end head-first like that.

Here are five short GH4/4K nuggets of information that will give you enough information to understand and follow the reviews and information out there and to give you the foundation to make an informed decision when considering this camera and other 4K technology.

1. Two flavors of 4K. There’s true 4K, specifically 4,096x2,160-pixel resolution (Cinema 4K), and then there’s Ultra HD (aka UHD), which is 3,840x2,160. UHD is four times the resolution of the standard HD spec: 1,920x1,080 (twice the length and twice the height). Most consumer TVs are UHD.

2. Micro Four Thirds sensor size. The GH4 is a Micro Four Thirds (MFT) sensor size, which has viewing area of 17.3x13.0mm (21.6 mm diagonal). This is important to know because of the crop factor (just over 2X). Here’s how it compares to other DSLRs.

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Now before you write off this camera because of the tiny crop size, consider that an MFT sensor is larger than Super 16mm film, a format that was used to shoot part of Darren Aronofsky’s Oscar-nominated feature “Black Swan.” Many other well-known feature filmmakers have shot some classic films on Super 16 (e.g. Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It,” Aronofsky’s “Primer,” Robert Rodriquez’s “El Mariachi,” and Kevin Smith’s “Clerks”). My point: don’t let sensor size prevent you from making a choice to use a camera, unless there is some very specific aspect of a smaller (or larger) sensor that is truly significant.

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For instance, larger sensors do have a shallower depth of field, so if for any reason you need super shallow DoF, a smaller sensor could be an issue.

Another point about MFT sensors worth noting is that there are so many lenses and lens adaptors already out there that can fit these cameras. The Metabones Speedbooster is a popular adapter that will allow you to connect full-frame lenses. They won’t make your field of view full-frame, but you’ll get a field of view closer to an APS-C (1.6X crop).

3. Recording format and quality. The biggest appeal of this camera is its ability to record 4K (both Cinema and UHD) directly to an SD card. When I was first using the camera, I had a heck of a time finding out how to do that. I discovered there are two menus you need to set. Recording Format (either AVCHD, MP4, MP4 LPCM, or MOV) and Recording Quality. It is in the Quality menu where you make the selection for 4K.

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SIDEBAR: Format and quality primer

Here’s where I’d like to provide some filmmaker insight that may cause some of the aforementioned head-spinning. You’ll notice that the GH4 has literally dozens of format and quality settings:

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Where on earth do you start? Here’s a quick primer:

Mbps is Megabits per second. The higher the number, the better the quality of the video. To give you perspective, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II h.264 video is approximately 45Mbps. The Nikon D7100 is in the neighborhood of 24Mbps. Traditional HD camcorders produced in the early to mid-2000s were also in the mid-20s.

All-I is “intra-frame” compression and IPB is “inter-frame” compression. The former looks at and compresses each frame individually. IPB looks at frames before and after and bases its compression on changes in the image. Theoretically, All-I will give you a better quality, but takes up more space and processing power. Which is why you’ll notice that none of the 4K formats are ALL-I. If you’re concerned about file sizes (i.e. hard drive space or SD card size) and processing power (for instance, if your computer is older), then stick with IPB formats.

The formats are AVCHD, MP4, and MOV. These are all what’s called “wrappers.” In the world of video there are codecs (how the image is compressed) and wrappers (the format the compressed video is placed in). The GH4 uses for the aforementioned wrappers for its H.264 compressed video. (Note: the MP4 wrapper here should NOT be confused with the MPEG4 codec.) You can have any number of different codecs for any one kind of wrapper. On the GH4, you’ll find the 4K quality resolution settings in the MP4 and MOV formats. AVCHD is a format common in consumer camcorders and lower end cinema cameras like Canon’s C100. It provides relatively high quality footage with a low Mbps compression rate. It can be tricky editing AVCHD footage, though, depending on which editing software you use. It’s not as easy as just dropping clips into a folder. AVCHD files are self-contained in a “Package.” Just about all the current versions of the major editing programs can “decode” this package and extract the videos you need. But each handles it differently. Know how you’re editing program works before choosing AVCHD.

LPCM and AAC are different audio compression formats. Frankly, I wouldn’t make any kind of decision on which format to choose based on this. If you’re using this camera to record video, and you need audio too, even though this camera will allow you to record (and monitor) audio, I still highly recommend using an audio digital recorder. Note that when choosing a format though, if you decide to go with the MP4, the LPCM option is best suited for video you want to edit later.

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4. High Speed Recording. For my money, in addition to the 4K recording capability, another huge benefit of this camera is the ability to shoot slow motion IN CAMERA, and at full 1080p resolution. As a quick review: most of you will most likely be shooting in either 29.97 frames per second (aka 30p), 23.98 fps (aka 24p) or 25 fps if you’re in a PAL country. You can always slow down video in your editing software, but this reduces the quality and can make it look muddy. To achieve true slow motion with better quality, you need to shoot at a frame rate higher than the rate in which you’re editing. Most traditional DSLRs have been able to shoot up to 60 fps, which in a 24 fps project will yield 40% slow motion (24/60 = 40%). However, they have to drop their resolution down to 1,280x720 (aka 720p) in order to do that.

The GH4 allows you to record up to 96 fps in camera using the Variable Frame Rate (VFR) function. In fact, using this function, you can step your frame rate anywhere from 2 fps (which will give you a sped up video equivalent to 1200% speed at 24p), up to 96 fps, giving you 25% slow motion at 24 fps. All at full 1,920x1,080 resolution.

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The VFR has to first be turned on in the format menu (either MP4 (LPCM) or MOV mode). Once you’ve set the format, you must change the Quality setting to 1080p at either 29.97 or 23.98 fps. You then exit back to the Motion Picture menu to turn VFR on.

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What is very cool about this feature is that the GH4 will now shoot in the target 24 fps, but take into account the VFR setting, in effect, giving you slow motion in camera. Usually, you have to shoot at the higher frame rate, then change that frame rate to your project frame rate in your editing software. This is known as “conforming.” In short, by using GH4s VFR feature, you don’t have to conform your footage. It will be imported into your editing software already slow.

It’s worth mentioning that you can still shoot regular high speed rates (i.e. 60 fps) at full 1080p, then conform later if you like. Why might you do that? Because the VFR functions are only available at the 100Mbps compression level (remember, the higher the Mbps, the better the quality). In the MOV mode, you can shoot up to 60 fps (technically, it’s 59.94) at 200 Mbps, All-I. If you need that extra quality and you don’t need slower than 40% slow motion, you might select this in lieu of the VFR.

5. Downscaling 4K to 1080p. As amazing as it may be to shoot 4K in camera, the truth is, most people do not have the ability to view videos in 4K. Unless you’re shooting something to be shown in a movie theatre, a full-sized 4K video will be useless to your client. But, fear not. There are two very significant reasons why shooting in 4K is better, even if your final output is traditional 1,920x1,080. And both are related to downscaling the video.

If you take a 4K video and edit it in a 1080p project, you now have a video that is 4X the viewing space. That gives you the ability to “push in” for close ups or reposition your image without losing quality. Here are three screen shots from a video I shot at UHD 4K to illustrate:

A 4K UHD image set to 50% of the video size (which fits perfectly into a 1080p project)

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Here’s the same shot, but with the video size adjusted to 75%

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And here’s the shot at 100%, giving me a nice close-up of the subject.

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It’s not uncommon for commercial video jobs to set up two cameras, one for the wide shot and a second for the close up. If you shoot in 4K, you can get both in one shot. Or, do like I did, and use the second camera for a super wide shot. (My second camera was a Canon C100 shooting at 1080p, ungraded using the Wide Dynamic range profile).

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Just think about all the editing options afforded you by having one of your angles shot at 4K resolution.

The second benefit of shooting in 4K actually relates to the head-spinning experience I mentioned at the beginning of this article: the ability to convert the 4:2:0 8-bit 4K video to 10-bit 4:4:4.

As I promised, my goal with this piece is to prevent you from being overwhelmed with all the technical jargon you may not be familiar with if you’re not a classically trained cinematographer (or a color scientist or mathematician). So I’ll keep this simple as possible.

Most DSLRs shoot in a 4:2:0 color space. This is a ratio of luminance and chroma (Wikipedia: Chroma subsampling). Again, the higher the numbers, the better (4 being the highest). The other color space combinations that are popular in the video world are 4:2:2 (as in ProRes 422) and 4:4:4 (or even 4:4:4:4, with the fourth 4 representing an Alpha channel).

Furthermore, the color depth of the GH4 video is only 8-bit (as opposed to 10-bit). Many Professional Photographer readers are well familiar with bit depth. Without getting into all the math, 10-bit is exponentially higher than 8-bit.

The theory is that if you transcode (i.e. convert) 4K footage to a ProRes 444 or CineForm 444 codec, the 4X resolution, when compressed down to 1080p, actually yields a richer color space. The extra pixels, in essence, increase your chroma values (the 2 and the 0), so that 4:2:0 becomes 4:4:4 (FYI: CineForm is created by GoPro and is most common on Windows machines whereas ProRes is common on Macs). The math for this actually works out. However, there is still debate on whether you actually get a 10-bit image from an 8-bit video. But it doesn’t matter. The 4:4:4 color space will give you a higher quality 1080p image than if you shot the video at 1080p. This will allow for better color grading or motion graphics work.

I ran a test where I compared 4K footage (transcoded to ProRes 4444 at 1,920x1,080) to 4K 4:2:0 footage dropped in a 1080p timeline. I then applied a Curves filter to it and adjusted some of the color values. The transcoded footage is on the left. The 4K footage (dropped in the 1080p timeline) is on the right.

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If you click to view the full-size image at 100%, you should be able to see a noticeable quality difference.

(You can download the 200% image on my blog and check it out at http://j.mp/ddmag-gh4test1.)

You’ll need to use a program like MPEG Streamclip (squared5.com) or Apple Compressor, or GoPro’s CineForm to convert the footage. But it’s well worth having that extra color quality, particularly if you plan to do a lot of color grading and/or motion graphics work.

The Final Verdict

In my opinion, this is an amazing camera and deserves serious consideration. I definitely plan to use it for my shoots for all the reasons I mentioned above. And what I haven’t mentioned yet, which you likely already know, is that it’s only $1,700 U.S. (That boggles the mind!) Still, I strongly encourage you to rent it first. Lensprotogo.com is my go-to rental house, and they were kind enough to loan me the camera for this review (Shipping is included in their rates and that every order ships in Pelican cases. Using the code x180 will give you a 10% discount). Whoever you use, there’s no reason why you can’t invest the time and money to at least try this camera out.

I encourage you to do more research. Hopefully this article will provide some insight, fill in the knowledge gaps, and make your exploration all the more effective.

 

Looking for that "Yum!" Factor

By  Jim Scherer

Try this exercise: Close your eyes and imagine something really really delicious, something that makes you crave. Write down the specific attributes of that mental image. Then cross out everything on your list that relies on senses other than sight. Whatever you finally come up with, those are the things a food photographer has to work with in making an effective image.

What’s on your list? I come up with color, texture, glisten, moisture, and so on. Those are the obvious ones, but there are others. Point of view (where is your eye?), scale (how close are you?), composition (does your eye know where to look?).  What about implied motion—like a drop about to fall, or anything just on the verge of happening. Light itself can sometimes imply motion. Let’s go on … what else is on the list? Mood, which is a broad term, can definitely affect whether something is mouthwatering. Mood comes from a combination of lighting, camera point of view, color, and surroundings, surfaces, and props. 

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In the photo above, bright clean light conveys a happy morning while the softened butter patty says the pancakes are still hot. Each blueberry looks perfectly round, so the viewer knows the skin will pop in the mouth and burst with sweet juice. Even the syrup is ladled on in just the right amount, not too much and not too little. ©Jim Scherer

And of course, there is styling. The presentation of the food, often done by a food stylist,  is a huge factor in appetite appeal. Think of a muffin whole, compared to a muffin broken open with butter melting and some crumbs on the plate. This line of thought leads to lots of new things for our list … seeing inside something, seeing the bits and ingredients, and presenting a plate with the invitation to dig in.

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This photo of coffee-rubbed steak speaks to getting the look of authenticity right. The amount of juice and rub on the cutting board matches the cut pieces of steak, and the antique cutlery adds mood to the image. The overhead angle is bold.  ©Jim Scherer

Here’s yet another aspect of getting appetite appeal—authenticity. Does what you’re looking at look fake? Does it look too perfect? Is it a Disney World simulation of some ideal? These are all unappetizing. Looking real means seeing the imperfections, the personality, and celebrating the fact that a dish looks different every time it comes out of the oven.

As you continue developing your food photography, begin considering all these factors. That’s what will make your viewers say, “Yum”!

When it comes to acquiring the skill it takes to capture food photography that will get you noticed, you must start with the basics and build from there. Here are 13 simple steps you can take to begin to be a better food photographer.

13 Ways to Improve Your Food Photos  

  1. Use a tripod or camera support when possible
  2. Adjust (or correct) your white balance accordingly
  3. Avoid on-camera flash at all costs!
  4. Simplify your composition and decide where you want the eye to look
  5. Come in closer, and sometimes lower!
  6. Pay attention to your background
  7. Learn to use your camera in manual mode
  8. Shoot raw, and learn how to optimize each file for web use
  9. Shoot tethered, unless you are roaming around a market or other location
  10. Try using some silver and white reflector boards, as well as black cards, to modify and shape your light
  11. Buy a simple light source to supplement your window light
  12. Keep shooting, and be sure to take shots from alternate angles, so you can self-critique afterward and learn from your mistakes and successes
  13. Take a workshop

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Jim Scherer has been the photographer of record for the food pages of the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine for the past 32 years in addition to scores of other commercial projects. His work was recognized as some of the Best of 2014 by the American Society of Media Photographers this year. You can see more of his work at jimscherer.com

July 3, 2014

Master Class: Tracks Not Worth the Risk

Train track sessions are both dangerous and illegal

By Robert A. Howard, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

Holders of the PPA Master of Photography degree share essays and ideas in service to the industry.

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As a professional photographer with more than 30 years of experience, I can truly say I’ve seen it all and in many cases done it all. Staying on the cutting edge of the photography profession requires dedication, creativity, and the ability push the limits.

I’ve photographed nearly every type of subject during my career, but nothing challenges my creativity more than capturing the personalities of high school seniors. Their outside-the-box ideas, while sometimes frustrating, are always fascinating. I’ve seen many trends come and go and just as many recycled with a unique spin, but one of the most common requests I’ve received in the past five years is for train track sessions.

Teenagers nationwide are fascinated with those parallel lines of steel, which they see as a symbol of transition in their young lives. Some teens pose between the rails, with the vanishing point of perspective representing their journey into the future. Others walk the tracks strumming a guitar, mimicking musicians they admire.

I admit I’ve done dozens of these sessions, never really taking into account the danger or the potential legal consequences associated with my actions. Yes, that’s correct. Train track sessions are illegal. Hard to believe, given that a Google search for “train track session” churns up hundreds of images of children, families, brides, and high school seniors taken all over the United States. It demonstrates the serious lack of knowledge that these extremely popular sessions can actually get you arrested and fined. Nearly every image I took on or near the tracks was not only very dangerous but involved me breaking the law. At a minimum, I could have been cited for trespassing.

KNOW THE DANGERS

These days, when I’m asked to provide this type of session I am quick to say no and here’s why: First and foremost, it’s dangerous. The railroading industry spends a great deal of time and effort teaching employees safety measures when working around the tracks. In spite of all this training, the industry has hundreds of accidents annually. And it’s not just the risk of being hit by an oncoming train; posing in and around the steel rails and wooden ties can cause physical injury from slips and falls.

If you think you’re safe because you never pose in an area with heavy train traffic—or that you’d see or hear a train long before you’re in danger—you’re wrong. The railroad typically builds tracks in as straight a line as possible between points A and B. However, every track has turns or bends that were designed to avoid an object or an area. Add to this the often dense growth of trees and bushes that line the track, and the train crew’s line of sight is dramatically reduced.

The danger is compounded by the fact that trains are large, heavy, fast-moving objects that don’t stop on a dime. The average freight train engine travels 50 mph, weighs over 120 tons, and requires more than a mile to come to a complete stop. Roughly every three hours in the United States, a person or vehicle is hit by a train.

If those statistics alone don’t put an end to your quest for this type of photography, there are several additional reasons to avoid train tracks cited by the Federal Railroad Administration and Operation Lifesaver, a national nonprofit organization devoted to railroad safety education:

• Trains can’t stop quickly to avoid people or vehicles on the tracks.

• An optical illusion makes it hard to determine a train’s distance from you and its speed.

• The average train overhangs the track by at least 3 feet.

• Railroad tracks, trestles, yards, and rights-of-way are private property.

• No tracks should be assumed to be abandoned or inactive.

• People in your community mimic your behavior.

Some photographers argue that these issues don’t apply to them because they conduct train track sessions only on old or abandoned tracks. But the Federal Railroad Administration notes that all tracks, live or dead, whether owned by private freight or public transit, are dangerous. Nearly all of these tracks are private property, and you’re trespassing by doing anything other than legally crossing them via a marked roadway, grade crossing, or other safely posted location. The bottom line is this: If you’re still considering a train tracks session, think again, because in addition to the safety issues, both you and your client could be fined up to $10,000 or even face arrest.

TRACKS ARE POLICED

Yes, enforcement is real. Every time I did one of these sessions I risked that a police officer or railroad employee would see me engaged in this illegal activity. Most modern locomotives are equipped with cameras, so the chance of being caught and identified is more real than ever. And if you’re still thinking It’ll never happen to me, allow me to add one last deterrent: Nationwide there are hundreds of thousands of “rail fans”—train lovers with cameras. They are trackside nearly every hour of every day. While engaging in their hobby, many are also participating in Protect the Line, a program that asks these individuals to keep a watchful eye out for anything that is unsafe around the tracks. Many of these rail fans have photographed pro photographers and their clients as they engage in this illegal activity. Their images along with license plate numbers are shared with authorities on a regular basis.

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Posing young clients on train tracks is dangerous,
illegal, and not very creative. Steer them toward
more interesting and original settings.
©Robert A. Howard

Up to this point, most of us have been lucky. In many cases, if caught, you may receive a warning, but sooner or later you will have to pay the piper, and that could be a huge check to write. We need to ask ourselves whether taking such a big risk for such an unoriginal style of portrait is really worth jeopardizing the safety of all the people involved.

Safety needs to be a top priority for professional photographers; we need to set the best example. We all need to educate fellow professionals, amateur image-makers, and clients about the real risks associated with train track sessions.

Robert Howard has been a PPA member since 1987. He is the owner of Howard Studios in Lebanon, Pa. howardstudios.com

Related article: "'Midnight Rider' director, producers charged with involuntary manslaughter"

October 10, 2013

Excerpt: Color, Dodging, and Burning Tips from "Digital Image Editing and Special Effects"

The following is an excerpt from Michael Freeman's "Digital Image Editing and Special Effects" (Focal Press, $24.95). 

Color adjustments

There could be any number of reasons why you may feel it necessary to adjust the colors in an image. It might be that you simply want to boost the overall color of an image for a more saturated look; alternatively you may want to single out one particular color to increase or decrease saturation without affecting the rest of the colors in the image. Whatever color adjustment you want to make, you’ll get the best results using the Hue/Saturation command. This is a powerful tool that lets you make color changes quickly and easily.

When you choose your camera's user settings, it's advisable to set the color saturation control to a minimum, unless you're intending to print directly from the camera. Although this will usually result in images that lack color right out of the camera, it does mean that you can color correct the image in a much more controlled manner using image-editing software, rather than relying on your camera's processor to get it right for you.

Once the camera has embedded the color settings, it’s often difficult to change them should you want to—especially if you’re shooting JPEGs—without degrading the image. Here a Hue/Saturation command was used and the Saturation slider moved to the right to boost the overall color. A fairly strong setting was used to make the most of the warm reds of the sunset.

1: This photograph of fishing boats has attractive, nicely saturated colors, but the yellow nets in the foreground are not as vivid as they seemed at the time of shooting.

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2: If we increase the overall saturation of the image so that the nets are brighter, the result is distinctly oversaturated colors across the board. Not the result we want.

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3: One of the benefits of the Hue/Saturation command is that you can select specific colors to enhance using the pull-down menu. By selecting “Yellows” we can increase the saturation of the yellow hues in the image without oversaturating the rest of the image.

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4: If you’re working with raw files, Lightroom offers a powerful color control panel that features three sliders—Hue, Saturation, and Luminence—for each of the key eight colors—Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Aqua, Blue, Purple, and Magenta. The sliders let you target specific color adjustments with accuracy.

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Fine-tuning color

Although the Hue/Saturation dialog is a powerful and relatively versatile tool, when it comes to making really specific color corrections it’s necessary to use the command in combination with other tools. In this example, we need to select and correct a very specific color without affecting any of the other colors in the photograph. This is a good example of a very localized correction that simply would not be possible to accomplish using a raw conversion program.

This striking image of a humming-bird hawkmoth in flight has captured the insect well. However, the Valerian on which it is feeding appears too red (perhaps reflected light from a red colored wall). The Hue/Saturation command on its own will not be able to isolate the color of the plant as it is a mixture of a number of subtle hues.

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Instead, we select the Eyedropper tool from the Toolbox and click on a particularly red part of the plant. Having sampled the color, we’ll next go to Select > Color Range. This brings up the Color Range dialog box. This shows all the elements of the picture that share the sampled color in white. Moving the Fuzziness slider to the right will widen the selection. Here we’ve set the slider so that most of the plant has been selected.

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Having set the Fuzziness slider, clicking OK will make the selection, outlined by the familiar marching ants.

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Now that we’ve isolated the offending color, we can use the Hue/Saturation command to change the color of the selected area. Hiding the marching ants selection by pressing Ctrl/_ + H provides us with a clear view of the plant as we’re making the adjustment.

Experimenting with various Hue settings, and reducing the saturation a little, provides us with a much more accurate color— important to keep the botanists happy! Using the Color Range command is an excellent way of selecting an area of an image for corrections other than just color.

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Dodging & burning

Dodging and burning are old darkroom terms and involve making specific areas of an image either lighter (dodging) or darker (burning). In the days of black-and-white printing, the dodging and burning process was considered a fundamental creative process in order to arrive at the final printed result. Conventionally, dodging was carried out by masking certain areas of the print so they would receive less light as the photo was being exposed, thereby making them lighter.

Other areas that received additional light during exposure became darker when the print was developed—and these areas were said to be “burned” or “burned in.” Using the digital Dodge and Burn tools has the same effect, but they are much easier to control, and you can always go back a step if you don’t like the result.

This photograph of ferns was shot in dappled sunlight, with light scattered by the canopy of the tree’s leaves. The fern shows up quite brightly against the relatively dark bark of the tree behind, but we can use the Dodge and Burn tools to emphasize the effect.

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With the Burn tool selected, a fairly strong exposure was set in the Tool Options bar, and the Range kept to the default Midtones. Next, with an appropriately sized brush, the Burn tool was painted over the trunk of the tree to darken it.

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Once all the areas that needed darkening were burned in, the Burn tool was replaced by the Dodge tool. Similar values were set in the Tool Options bar, and another brush size selected, which covered just the ferns.

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It’s better to Dodge and Burn gradually, making several passes over the relevant areas. That way you remain in control of the adjustment. The finished result picks out the fern, making it stand out against the backdrop.

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TIP You’ll find you’ll get much better results using the Dodge and Burn tools with images in 16-bit mode. So don’t convert any images you’ve opened as raw files into JPEGs (or reduce them to 8-bit) if you’re intending to use these tools. Alternatively use the Adjustment brush in Lightroom or Aperture and adjust the exposure to lighten or darken selected parts of the image.

 

Michael Freeman is a veteran professional editorial photographer. While he has written 66 books on the craft of photography, Freeman has also released a total of 135 books selling more than 4 million copies. Freeman is also the author of "The Black & White Photography Field Guide" and newly released "The Photographer's Eye: A Graphic Guide" and "The Photographer's Eye Course," a book and DVD package, all published by Focal Press.

July 10, 2013

Tutorial: Nikon R1C1 Close-up Speedlight System

By Stan Sholik

The field of photography encompasses many disciplines, and each has its niche. Manufacturers support those niches with products to simplify the technical side of photography and allow the photographer to concentrate on the creative side. For close-up and macro photographers with Nikons, Nikon created the R1C1 Close-up Speedlight System.

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The R1C1 with two SB-R200 Speedlights with ultra close-up diffusers and the SU-800 Commander attached. Product photo courtesy of Nikon

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I captured this female Monarch butterfly with a 3:1 ratio and the camera hand held. I pointed the flash unit on camera right as far as I could to the left to feather it off the wing, and set its power the lowest. ©Stan Sholik

At first glance, the 30-plus pieces in the kit seem impossible to sort out, even when placed in the case supplied with the kit. But all you need to do in order to start taking beautifully lit close-up and macro photos is screw the adapter ring onto your lens, screw the attachment ring to the adapter, attach the two SB-R200 Remote Speedlights, slide the SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander into your hot shoe, make a few simple settings, and shoot.

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For most of the photos I took this day I used a 3:1
lighting ratio. But for this photo of an adult and
juvenile milkweed beetle on an open milkweed pod,
I dropped the ratio to 2:1 to better see the juvenile.
 
©Stan Sholik

You can use the R1C1 with any Nikon that triggers through its hot shoe, but camera models that do not support the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS), my N100 film camera for example, require additional connection cords and manual operation. The system takes advantage of Nikon’s i-TTL through the lens metering system in CLS-compatible cameras and requires no connection cables. The SU-800 is not needed for cameras with a Wireless Commander built into the camera’s onboard Speedlight system, and Nikon offers the R1 system for those cameras.

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With a ringlight, this monarch butterfly pupa would
be flat and dimensionless. With a 3:1 lighting ratio,
the shape is defined and the texture of the pupa is
accentuated.
 ©Stan Sholik

The R1C1 adapter, attachment ring and two flash units add surprisingly little weight to the lens, about 6 ounces. With these attached to the lens and the subject framed, you position the flash heads where needed on the attachment ring. They securely lock into place, and tilt forward through 60 degrees with click stops every 15 degrees.

Now you power on the flash units, your camera, and the SU-800 in your hot shoe. The SU-800 display shows you are in wireless close-up mode with a CLS compatible camera. The Select (SEL) button on the SU-800 is the main control button. You press this until the channel number flashes if you want to set the wireless channel to a channel other than channel 1, the default. Set the channel on each flash unit to the same channel you set on the SU-800.

The SU-800 can control multiple flash units in three groups. With just two flash heads, set the rotary switch on one head to A and on the other head to B. Press the SEL button on the SU-800 and the display of the output ratio of group A and group B flashes. Pressing the left-facing arrow to the left of the SEL button changes the lighting ratio from the 1:1 default. The options are 1.5:1, 2:1, 3:1, 4:1, 6:1, and 8:1 ratios, with the A flash unit increasingly more powerful than the B. Pressing the right-facing arrow to the right of the SEL button, changes the lighting ratio in the same way, with the B flash gaining the power. Optionally, by pressing the A – B button above the SEL button, you can set the lighting ratio using exposure values (EV), from -3.0 EV to +3.0 EV in 1/3 EV steps.

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(1.) With the camera, Speedlights, and Commander powered on, the Commander LCD screen confirms wireless close-up i-TTL operation on channel 1 with the speedlights set to a 1:1 ratio. (2.) Pressing the Mode button switches the Commander from i-TTL mode to Manual mode. In Manual, you can adjust the power of each group from full power to 1/64 power. (3.) With a third group, you can adjust the power of speedlights in that group from full to 1/64 also. (4.) By pressing the left arrow button, you adjust the lighting ratio. Here the speedlights are set to a 3:1 ratio. The bars show which group has the higher power. (5.) The lighting ratio are adjustable from 1:1 to 8:1, with either flash unit having the greater power. (6.) Each SB-R200s must be set to a group, and all of them must be set to the same channel number.  ©Stan Sholik

And that’s all there is to it. Take pictures. Adjust the lighting ratio at will for different looks. It’s that simple.

But the creative capabilities of the R1C1 system only begin here. There are diffusers in the kit, filters the for the SB-R200 flash units, and stand mounts for using the flash units off the attachment ring. And by pressing the Mode button of the SU-800, you can control the power level of each flash unit from full power to 1/64 power. Since the SU-800 controls other Nikon Speedlights such as the SB-910, these can be added into the lighting for additional effects. The creative possibilities are endless, but the simplicity of its basic use, two light sources with easy ratio control, makes it the ideal tool for close-up and macro photography.

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 ©Stan Sholik

Street price of the Nikon R1C1 Close-up Speedlight System is about $720. 

Stan Sholik is a commercial/advertising photographer in Santa Ana, Calif., specializing in still life and macro photography. He is currently working on his second book about close-up and macro photography for Amherst Media.

May 31, 2013

Launch Essentials: Things to do before you begin your Web project

By Jen Basford and Nancy Nardi

For many photographers, getting started with a new website—or updating a current website—can be overwhelming. But when looking at where to start, you have to consider much more than choosing a design. Being clear on your requirements and planning for ongoing management are key to the success of your site.

Creating (or updating) a website should be something you put a lot of thought and planning into. If done correctly, this can be a very smooth process and can give you exactly what you are looking for in a timely and cost-effective manner. So before you start flipping through website themes, let's look at four key things to have ready before you begin.

1. A Clearly Defined Brand

Too often photographers begin the process of creating or updating their website by searching for a template or site that has a design that they like. How a site looks is important, but if it doesn't fit with your studio brand then it's not going to work no matter how nice it looks. So before browsing through website templates you need to be sure you have a clearly defined brand.

A brand is more than just a logo and some pretty colors. Put some time and effort into defining your studio's brand—it is the foundation of your business reputation. Developers and template services cannot create your brand or content for you, and asking them to do so is like asking your home builder to decorate the interior of your home. They are great at constructing and building based on the architectural specifications, but they do not know your taste in decorating and how you want your home to feel.

Without a brand your site and studio have no personality or identity. So before you begin looking for a site, or for a service that will setup a site for you, be sure that you have a logo, brand colors, font selections and graphics ready to go. Ideally you will have a brand style guide with these items already, and this will ensure a consistent brand identity.

2. Know What You Are Looking For

Have you ever gone shopping for something and you don't really know what you are looking for? You end up wandering around the store (or the mall, or the city) for hours looking and looking until something jumps out at you (if it does at all). But once you get it home, you find it wasn't quite what you wanted and you aren't as happy as you could have been if you'd taken the time to figure out what you wanted before you went.

Deciding on the look of your website is the same type of process. If you take the time and effort beforehand to research and define what your wants and needs are, then the time involved in getting what you want is greatly reduced. Take a look at different sites around the Web (especially outside of the photography industry) and make notes about things you like and don't like. It can also be very helpful to create a sketch, or a mockup, of what you want your site to look like. It will save a lot of time and money to have a design ready that includes your page layouts (what pages and links you want on your site), features, and other things that you want to include on your site.

3. Have Your Content Ready To Go

I know what you're thinking. You need a website now. Can't you just get one up and add things to it later? This isn't a good idea for many reasons. This can hurt both your brand and your credibility to start with. There is no sense in spending time on a website if you aren't ready to fill it with content. You are merely adding more time and pressure to yourself (if you are doing your website on your own) or to your developer (if you are using a service), both of which mean delays and increased costs to you.

Content is one of the most important keys to a successful website, and yet it is one of the most often overlooked parts. Content includes things such as copy, images, videos, graphics, page titles, names for your navigation bar, email signup information, contact info, and more. Spend the extra effort needed up front to have all of this information ready to go and you will save both time and money on the back end.

4. Budget

Whether you are using a template and setting up your website yourself, or hiring a professional to do this for you, you will need to know what your budget is and be able to realistically work within it. There are costs associated with your website other than the fee for the service or template itself that need to be factored in. Branding, SEO research, hosting, domain registration, maintenance and updates need to be accounted for and factored into your Web budget. And don't forget to set aside finances for ongoing maintenance and updates once your site is live.

 

OK, I Have Everything Ready So Now What?

By having everything ready before you start looking for a website (be it a template or a service) you will save both time and money. If you are looking to purchase a template and do it on your own, you will have a clear vision for what it is you are looking for. This will allow you to find a site that lets you customize the areas you need to fit the look and feel of what you want. If you are hiring someone to do your site for you, handing them your well-defined brand, a mockup of what you want your site to look like, and your content will cut down tremendously on the time involved to set up your site and will allow them to give you a more cost-effective quote for getting you up and running.

Saying to a website developer or service “How much does a website cost?” or “Call me, I need a new website” is similar to saying to a home builder “I need a house, how much?” Until they know exactly what you want and have the content and branding needed for your site, they do not have enough information to provide you with an estimate. This causes enormous delays while going back and forth trying to get the information, which can add to your time and costs. Do yourself a favor and have this ready beforehand. You will save yourself time, money and a lot of unnecessary frustration.

 

A Few Final Things To Consider

Remember the saying that you get what you pay for? Well this holds true for Web services as well. You can setup a site for less than $100, or spend upwards of $5,000, but what you are getting is vastly different between the two, specifically in the areas of support and customization. Don't expect to purchase a $79 website and get personal attention or on-call service and support. What you save in price you will pay for in time and by having to handle a lot of the work and issues that arise on your own. Some companies offer support via forums or support tickets, but don't expect an immediate response or a phone call. The typical turnaround is 12 to 48 hours for these companies to be able to keep costs affordable to many clients. Keep in mind that “cheap” and “inexpensive” often come with hidden costs in the form of both time and money.

And finally, be sure to set realistic expectations by allowing enough time to plan and work on your site. A little planning and preparation will go a long way, and will also cut down on costs dramatically. As small business owners, most photographers do not need to go through the time and expense of a custom Web project. Would they benefit? Of course. But I think you will find that a unique and customized theme will give you everything you are looking for if you simply put the time and effort needed into the planning process up front.

Jen Basford owns 3 girls photography in Edmond, Okla. She is a PPA Studio Management Services mentor.

Nancy Nardi, a former studio owner, is the founder of Hi-Fi Social Web, providing website design services to photographers and other creative professionals.

May 16, 2013

How To: Video Compression for the Web

By Ron Dawson

Perhaps one of the more challenging issues photographers entering the world of video face is compression for the web. It’s one thing exporting a jpeg. When it comes to creating videos for the web, it’s a whole different ballgame. There are so many different considerations.

Resolution

No doubt the majority of you are editing high definition videos: 1080p (1,920x1080) or 720p (1,280x720). For a majority of the work I do, I edit in 1080p then export at 720p for the web. If the site I’m uploading to will support it and the visuals would benefit from a higher resolution, I may export a 1080p file.

resolutionchart.png

Bits and Bytes

The next decision, and perhaps the most important, is what data rate to set. Most of the data rate figures you see will be in megabits per second (mbps). The capitalization is important, because if you write MBps, this traditionally stands for megabytes per second, not -bits (eight bits make up one byte). Don't be surprised if you ever come across an article using MBps, but meaning mbps. You'll know by the size of the number. Here are some common numbers to give you perspective.

● The .MOV files in popular Canon DSLRs are compressed at approximately 45 mbps.
● The .MOV files in some of the most popular Nikon DSLRs range from about 14 mbps to 24 mbps (depending on the quality setting)
● The popular Apple codec ProRes 422 is about 145 mbps
● Standard Definition DVDs range from 4 to 8 mbps 

Most compression programs will give you the option to do constant bitrate (CBR) or variable bitrate (VBR) compression. CBR will compress the entire video at the same rate. If you're not concerned about file size, this may be a good option as it's faster and takes less processing power. With VBR, the computer will compress different parts of the video at different rates (you will enter some target or average rate). So high motion parts of the video will get a higher rate than sections where there's no motion at all. That way you can better optimize the video.

Formats

There are a few different formats to consider when exporting for the web: mpeg4 (which includes .mv4 files), mpeg2, h.264, wmv, etc. These are all different codecs. Codec is short for "compression-decompression." It's the algorithm used by the computer to compress large video files into something more manageable. All major video sharing sites will accept all the popular formats. So whether you're a Mac or a Windows person, the format you export can yield a video people will be able to watch, regardless of operating system or browser. It should be noted that .MOV does not represent a codec. It's the suffix for a QuickTime video, but that video could be any number of codecs. You can have an h.264 .mov file, a ProRes .mov file, an MPEG-2 .mov file, etc.

The Perfect Recipe

There is no "best" combination of settings. It all depends on things like audience, upload destination, length of video, and such. Here's my usual recipe (using Apple’s Compressor):

Video:
○ AppleTV codec, h.264
○ 1,280x720 resolution
○ 4-7 mbps (depending on varying factors)
○ Frame rate (source, which is usually 24 fps)

Audio:
○ AAC
○ 128 kbps
○ 44.1khz

compressor-settings.png

Video compression is two parts science and one part art. With practice and time you’ll come up with a recipe that works best for you and your clients.

Lensbaby + Video = Dreamy

By Ron Dawson

Every now and then you see one of those films that is a total gem. A film that makes your jaw drop in awe and your heart pound in anticipation of watching it again. “Last Day Dream” [below; brief explicit language] by commercial director and photographer Chris Milk is one of those films for me. It was made four years ago for the 42 Second Dream Film Festival and shot on a Canon 5D Mark II with Lensbaby lenses.

Last Day Dream from Chris Milk on Vimeo.

Lens-what? That’s what I thought when I first heard the word Lensbaby. Was it a lens for tiny cameras? Was it a sort of training-wheels lens for kids? Most of you reading this probably have at least heard of Lensbaby. The best way I can describe them is as a kind of funky-looking, tilt-shift lens.

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Like a tilt-shift, the Lensbaby has a selective focus, creating a dreamlike blur around the perimeter of the focus spot (or sweet spot). It’s a great lens to use if you want to add a dream-like aesthetic to your photography, or if you want to draw attention to a particular part of your image.

Shooting with Video

As you can see from the Chris Milk film, the Lensbaby can achieve an ethereal effect that takes the look of your video to a different level. In using it for video though, keep a couple of things in mind.

First, how does the use of the lens contribute to the story? The selective-focus, dreamy look can easily be over-used and veer into cliché. But as long as you’ve given thought to your story, the Lensbaby can truly enhance it.

Filmmaking story scenarios where you might use the Lensbaby:
Dream sequence
Flashback or flash-forward
Showing a character’s imagination or what they’re thinking
Timelapse
An exaggerated shot of character's visual point of view (e.g. a guy in a club zeroes in on a woman he wants to pick up; a sniper on a building top zeroes in on her target)
Music video
Illustrate a character’s disorientation
Creating an “otherworldly” experience

The second thing to keep in mind is controlling where the sweet spot is when shooting a moving or tracking shot, or shooting a moving subject. If you’re shooting a still image this isn’t an issue. You adjust your camera settings, find your sweet spot, then shoot. But once you introduce motion into the picture, you as the director need to be mindful of how that motion affects your sweet spot. If at all possible, use an external monitor to facilitate monitoring your image and the sweet spot location.

In-camera vs. In-computer

Some of the effects created with Lensbaby can actually be created in post production—Photoshop for stills or a non-linear editing system like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere for video. So you may ask, “Why do this in-camera if you can just add it in post?” That’s a fair question. There are three reasons why I think it’s better to create these effects in-camera.

Focus on Story. As I mentioned before, this (or any) effect in a film or video should be done with a purpose in mind. Creating the effect in-camera forces you as the director to be mindful of that purpose and to compose your shots and direction accordingly. If you wait to do it in post, you’re apt to get lazy, or you may discover that you’ve shot it in a way that makes adding the effect in post less effective due to distractions in the shot that take away from the effect.

Realism. I think shots composed in-camera look more realistic than when something is added in post. They have a more organic feel that subconsciously translates to authenticity. I liken it to shooting slow motion. If you shoot at a higher frame rate (60 frames per second) then convert to a slower frame rate in post, your slow motion looks more smooth and realistic than having the computer create “fake” slow motion.

Render time and quality. Last is the practical consideration of render time and quality. If you achieve your effect in-camera, the computer doesn’t have to render it. Also, depending on the computing power and graphics card you’re using, a lot of heavy effects rendering can result in muddy looking video.

Rookie Moves

It is very important to learn how to use a Lensbaby correctly. The first project I ever used it on was a short, edgy documentary film about celebrity wedding photographer Joe Buissink back in 2010. I was using the Composer and noticed that it came with this little magnetic thingamajiggy connected to a round doohickey. I had no idea what they were for and didn’t bother to find out. So on the day of the shoot, which was a very hot and bright day in Beverly Hills, CA, I started shooting with it and noticed that there was no aperture adjustment on the lens (and naturally you can’t adjust aperture via the camera, which at the time I was used to). So I ended up shooting the Composer scenes wide open and I just increased my shutter speed to compensate. Lucky for me, the high shutter speed combined with the dreamy look actually worked out quite nicely. (It was a perfect example of a happy accident).

Mirrors & Shoes: Celebrity Photographer Joe Buissink Uncensored from Ron Dawson | Dare Dreamer Media on Vimeo.

Later I opened the round doo-hickey and found a stack of metallic rings with holes in them. The rings were numbered: 2.8, 4.0, 5.6, etc. This is where I slapped my forehead and exclaimed a loud, Homer Simpson-esque “Doh!” The aperture was controlled by dropping the metallic rings into the front of the lens using that metallic thingamabob. Lesson learned.

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Nowadays, there is no excuse not to learn all you can about using a Lensbaby. They have a full set of instructional and inspirational videos on their site. After you’ve watched the videos, you should practice. The more the better. It really takes getting used to hitting that sweet spot correctly, especially if you’re going to tilt the lens. With your early tries you may want to avoid the wider aperture settings to keep a deeper depth of field. The wider the aperture, the smaller the sweet spot and the harder it is to find.

The Swivel vs. the Squeeze

There are two primary types of Lensbaby lenses: one where you focus with a traditional focus ring and one where you squeeze the lens. The Composer and Composer Pro (below, with Sweet 35 optic) have the focus ring and are perhaps the most popular. Once you focus, you can move the sweet spot by tilting the lens up, down, or side to side. Once you have your sweet spot, you can lock it in then let go of the lens. So the Composer lenses are great for shooting videos.

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The Spark and the Muse (below) are squeeze lenses. You focus by squeezing the lens toward or away from the camera body. Once you get the focus you want, you can adjust the sweet spot by tilting accordingly, but you cannot lock in that sweet spot. You have to manually keep it in place. This may be a good way to grab some quick and experimental still photographs, but it’s a terrible combination for shooting video (unless your story calls for the focus spot to move around sporadically). For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend either of these for video work.

201305we_Lensbaby-Muse.jpg

Optic Systems

Lensbaby has a whole line of optics to enhance your user experience. While shooting a short film about Jerry Ghionis this past March, I had an opportunity to try the latest Composer Pro using the Sweet 35 optic. Without this optic, the Composer and Composer Pro have a 50mm focal length and you adjust the aperture by inserting the appropriate metallic ring (the optic used in place of the 35 is the Double Glass optic). With the Sweet 35 optic, the focal length drops to 35mm and aperture is adjusted with a 12-blade aperture ring that ranges from f/2.8 to f/22 (in full-stop increments). Remember to keep crop factor in mind if you're shooting a camera with an APS-C size sensor instead of a full-frame sensor. So a Composer with a Double-Glass optic on a 60D, for instance, would have the angle of view of an 80mm lens when factoring in the 1.6X crop.

Depending on the optics you use, with full-frame cameras like Canon’s 5D Mark III or Nikon’s D800, you may get varying results. For instance, with the 12mm fisheye optic, you’ll get a nearly full circular image on a full-frame camera, while on a smaller-sensor camera you’ll get some vignetting around the edges. These two looks would render a very different feel when used in a video. Again, it's about the story you want to tell. I could see using the fisheye lens on a full-frame if you want to emulate someone looking through the peephole in a door. The same lens on an APS-C sensor might create a more dreamlike look and feel.

Motion Picture Mounts

Most Lensbaby lenses come with EF-compatible mounts for Canon cameras and F-compatible mounts for Nikon cameras. Now that more filmmakers are using these lenses, they’ve created PL-mount versions that you can use on digital cinema cameras like the RED, Arri Alexa or a PL-mount version of Canon’s C300.

The Price is Right

Lensbaby lenses are relatively inexpensive, ranging from $80 for the Spark to $380 for the Composer Pro with the Sweet 35 Optic. The PL-mount versions are considerably more expensive though: $1,200 for the Composer Pro PL and $400 for the Muse PL. If you’re only going to selectively use the lenses for various projects, consider renting.

Last Word

Lensbaby lenses can be a lot of fun to use and—in the hands of a competent director who knows her story, has taken the time to practice, and has a creative imagination—the results can be magical.

April 12, 2013

Lighting Shop Talk; More Garage Sets and Setups

By Fuzzy Duenkel

In a previous article—“Park it right here,” Professional PhotographerFebruary 2013—I discussed how to set up a portable background in a typical residential garage and rotate it for various lighting effects using the open garage door as your main. But garages offer more than a large light source and a place to put a background. They offer a wealth of fun stuff to use for themes and backgrounds, such as tires, tools, sports equipment, vehicles, walls, windows, and random things that can inspire you in ways you’d never expect.

You’re already familiar with the lighting techniques I use in garages, so let’s apply that skill with some real backgrounds.

In the first image, I used an open door as the sole source of main light. No other light control devices were needed. My back was to the open garage door. This light can be a bit flat, but sometimes low-contrast light is perfect for the result I want. I added a slight texture to the image to enhance the “oldness” feeling. This image was done in 2006, and textures were more in vogue at that time. But as long as the technique is done appropriately, without drawing attention to itself, enhancements should be able to stand the test of time.

201304we_garage01.jpg 

The next image was lit from the open garage door, but with the door at a 90-degree angle to my camera. This causes more contrast and “modeling.” I had the subject turn his head toward the light to avoid a shadow problem on his face. The refrigerator suggested a nostalgic theme, and I noticed in their house that they had an old Coke bottle to use as another prop.

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The next photo was set deeper in the garage, which produces a bit more specularity in reflections, but it's still flat, which can be an interesting combination. Because of the theme, I gave it some edginess with Nik’s Tonal contrast and reduced the saturation to complete the old, gritty feel. But with the addition of an accent or separation light that was caused by a window. It’s important to recognize and properly utilize existing light sources.

201304we_garage02.jpg

I love walking into a situation not having a clue what to do, and discovering buried treasure. At one location there was some construction materials were leaning against the wall, but I spotted some peeling drywall behind it and thought it might offer an interesting background. I moved it, and liked it, so I asked the senior to wear something white. All she had that was white was a robe, but it was perfect. Seniors have lots of great clothing … just not always what you might have had in mind. Those surprises and tangents are what makes working at their homes a treat. I wanted to accentuate the details, so I chose LucisArt Sculpture, but still wanted softness on her skin and used Imagenomic Portraiture.

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Let’s turn our attention to secondary lighting. I created the next image on film in 1998. I want to point that out because good lighting, composition, and quality don’t change. Clothing or hair styles may, but an image should not be dated by a photography fad. There were two open doors contributing light for this image … the main to my left and the accent to my right. I placed her in between them, allowing the right garage door’s light to accent her figure.

201304we_garage06.jpg

Let’s shift our attention and point of view to using an open door or window from the side. There was skylight and sunlight coming through a window to our left in photo below. Sunlight striking the wood floor reflected back up to the shadow side of the young man’s face, giving me a more unconventional result.

It's a good idea to walk around our original setup to look for other viewpoints and options. Other vantage points can give us a different style to the lighting, pose, and composition.

201304we_garage07.jpg

Part of the process of working on location is to not only create images in a proactive way, but also to be open to inspiration that will let you see possibilities in a reactive way. If all we do is go in with preconceived ideas, we’ll produce images that are simply repeats of what we’ve done before. The beauty of working in new places with every session is the endless stream of discovery.

The capture below happened because I saw the shadows on the wall from the stairway. I asked the senior to find a simple shirt that he’d use to work on a car. The open garage door from the right provided the main light, and the accent light was from a window on our left.

201304we_garage08.jpg

Garages offer a wealth of “stuff” to use, but the lighting where that stuff is isn’t always ideal. I use many different kinds of lighting for my senior portraits because throughout a session, there are many different challenges to overcome. For Image 9, it was easy enough to reflect the light coming through a window behind him onto his face using the mirror side of my Fuzzyflector. Converting the image to brown tone and adding a bit of Nik Tonal Contrast, combined with the low light direction, gave me the tough look the image suggested.

201304we_garage09.jpg

I don’t always use a low reflector as a main light, as in the previous two examples. Here I used it for fill light (below). A window to my right already provided a good main light, in a split light pattern. Since that leaves the other side of the face in shadow, we can fill it with any kind of light we like. I happen to like a low reflector for that touch of drama. I loved the old tools in that workshop/garage.

201304we_garage10.jpg

Garages are usually filled with not only tools and clutter, but also vehicles. When it’s something a bit more interesting than a minivan (sorry, minivan owners), I like to incorporate it if possible. This subject's dad’s Harley definitely qualified. I reflected the open garage door light with my Fuzzyflector for the two images images below. I thought some smoke below the Harley might be fun, so I used a bug sprayer with fog fluid in it for the second image. Even though there’s a trigger to send fog, this kind of fog machine sprays pretty much when it wants to and longer than you want to! I use a battery-operated leaf blower to clear the fog between shots when there isn’t enough of a breeze already.

201304we_garage11.jpg 

 

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Clients often ask if they need to move their vehicles out of the garage for the session, but I usually decline because I can work the light better that way. I use all kinds of lighting techniques, depending on whatever gets the job done. Sunlight through an open window gave me plenty of light for my subject, below, but he needed sunglasses to avoid squinting. The back of the Corvette was in deep shadow. I wanted more definition to show it’s a car, so I fired a small strobe in Auto. I usually start in auto eTTL, and if I need to make change, I will. The second photo shows the effect of that additional flash. 

 

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The next two images were done later in the day, without a lot of ambient light. As seen in the pre-lit image below, there isn’t anything about the light that’s good for portraiture.

 

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I set up a main light, a Canon 580 EXII with a Larson 22 inch soft box. I also added an accent light with another canon 580 EXII without any light modifier. The accent light touched her cheek and lit the side of the old Stingray. Tonal contrast and some Photoshopped grease on her face, arm, and leg completed the story. 

 

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This image with the bike and pink umbrella was done in a garage, not a high key studio. As shown in the setup photo, I used a main flash, fill reflectors and two background lights to evenly light the white drywall. Why the umbrella? I don’t know! I guess because the colors matched.

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We can easily gel small strobes for creative color. Just don’t illuminate the surface you want to gel with the main light. The first image below shows where I started, using a strobe behind her to gently light the drywall. But because the jukebox suggests a more neon feel, I wanted more color. I moved my main light more to the side so the jukebox would shield the drywall from the main light, and I put a blue gel on the background strobe.

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We can experience a fun color shift when using tungsten light in an environment where there is some neutral ambient light. The first photo shows the traditional capture that I started with, but I was bored with all the beige and wanted to try something else. I grabbed my tungsten spotlight and lit her face. Partially compensating for that warm color means that any ambient light will shift toward blue. You can also create this effect by placing a gel on an LED main light. Try different colors, but be sure to start with a gray balanced image to make your life easier in post production.

Most important, have fun discovering the endless potential of working in garages.

February 14, 2013

Posing Is Not Dead, But Overposing Can Suck the Life from Your Moment

By Emanuele Pontoriero

Images ©Photography by Emanuele

Spontaneity is in. Some of the photos professional photographers were producing years ago look as dated as if they belong to a different era. The poses tend to look stiff or awkward, never mind the outdated clothing and hairstyles.

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Many of brides tell me they don’t want to be posed, that it looks fake. I certainly appreciate that no one wishes to look like a store mannequin. “Just take photos when I’m not looking” is another bridal request. I will point to one of my prints on the wall and say, “I understand; perhaps something like this?” “Yes!” is the usual reply. Then I tell her that I did pose the people in the photo. They are posed correctly, and that’s why they look natural.

At seminars I meet up-and-coming photographers who are not as interested in posing as my generation was. They would rather go natural, let the subjects do their own thing. That is certainly appropriate at times. But then there are times when posing will make the difference between an okay photo and one in which the subject looks amazing.

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Why pose anyone in the first place? Because one of my responsibilities as a photographer is to capture the subject at his or her absolute best. Posing goes a long way to achieve this, if it’s done correctly. You don’t have to spend the entire session over-posing your subject to the point where you lose their interest and spontaneity, especially when the subjects are children.

That’s why the photojournalism style caught on so well with the public. It seeks to capture that sparkle of life and uniqueness of personality. In the past I have been guilty of paying so much attention to getting the “perfect pose” that I sacrificed capturing the spirit of the subject. I had a perfectly posed but “lifeless” subject.

Continue reading "Posing Is Not Dead, But Overposing Can Suck the Life from Your Moment" »

January 14, 2013

Essential Selection: Excerpted from "Adobe Photoshop Masking & Compositing"

Explore one of the most powerful tools in Photoshop for making and perfecting accurate selections. 

Excerpted from “Adobe Photoshop Masking & Compositing,” Second Edition, by Katrin Eismann, Seán Duggan, and James Porto. Copyright © 2013. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and New Riders.

Working with Adobe Photoshop can be a lot like a daily commute, and it can seem like you're in a rut and going over the same territory. When making selections, most people simply grab one of the familiar selection tools from the toolbar and hope a quick drag or click will get the job done. To achieve professional results, relying on the standard selection tools may create disappointing results.

Making selections in Photoshop is such a fundamental part of working in the program that an entire menu is devoted to them, the Select menu. Here we'll take a closer look at the amazing power of the Refine Edge dialog.

REFINE EDGE: In the Options bar for the Marquee and Lasso selection tools is a setting for feathering the selection. Feathering creates a softer edge with a more gradual transition between the selected and nonselected areas. The main problem with choosing a Feather setting in the Options bar is that you cannot see the result and must guess at what number might be appropriate. Fortunately, there is a better way to apply edge feathering, as well as other modifications, to a selection and that is to use the Refine Edge dialog.

Refine Edge can be accessed either in the Select menu or via a button in the Options bar when a selection tool is active. In addition to feathering, the Refine Edge dialog includes a number of other very useful controls for modifying the edges of a selection. This section will primarily be a detailed exploration of the possibilities offered by the Refine Edge dialog, not a strict step-by-step exercise. To properly cover all of the options in Refine Edge, however, we need to start with a basic selection so we have a selection edge to modify; for that we'll use the photo of the curious dog (Figure 1).

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Figure 1: This image resource is available to download at ppm.ag/?8. A great majority of the files used throughout the book are available for download at the resource link referenced in the book’s Introduction.  ©Seán Duggan

1. Choose the Quick Selection tool with the Auto-Enhance option selected, and set the brush size to 100 pixels. Start the selection by dragging diagonally down from the top of the dog's left ear. Next, drag down from the right ear to complete the selection of the dog's head. Continue dragging over the dog's body until the selection is expanded to cover the entire dog. A few drags with the Quick Selection tool should do it.

2. Zoom in to make sure that you are not missing any areas, such as by the ring on the dog's collar or the bottom edges of the front feet (Figure 2). If you see areas that should be selected but are not, just click on them with the Quick Selection tool (for fine work, make the brush size smaller by tapping on the left bracket key).

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Figure 2: Selecting the dog with the Quick Selection tool and fine-tuning the selection around the dog's collar and feet.

3. With the dog selected, click the Refine Edge button in the Options bar or choose Select > Refine Edge.

Continue reading "Essential Selection: Excerpted from "Adobe Photoshop Masking & Compositing"" »

November 30, 2012

Jim Crotty's Top 13 Tips for Nature Photography

1. Shoot early and stay late. Nature and landscape images are all about the quality of the light. The light on the margins of the day is always best, particularly during autumn and spring. Stick around for at least an hour after sunset; it’s often when the best color occurs with dynamic clouds.

2. For wide landscapes, longer exposures make better images. This is true particularly when working with greater depth of field through smaller aperture settings, like f/16 through f/32.

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This image was exposed for 1/40 second at f/22, ISO 400. ©Jim Crotty

3. A stable shooting platform is essential. I invested in a professional grade tripod and ball head, and it’s worth its weight in gold. (I love the products from Kirk Enterprises in Indiana, especially the L-brackets custom made for my camera bodies.)

4. Bad weather is good, but avoid weather that’s so bad you put yourself and your gear in danger. The subdued light of a rainy morning or afternoon evens out the variation between highlights and shadows, making it easier to gain proper exposure while retaining detail throughout the histogram.

5. Photograph water in low light. Capturing flowing water, such as a waterfall or stream, is best in low, subdued light. Sunlight will completely blow-out highlights when you’re going for that cotton-candy effect with moving water.

6. Manual focus is your friend. Maintaining sharp focus of a subject with close-in and macro photography outdoors can be challenging due to wind and an extremely shallow depth of field. Autofocus on macro lenses can jump all over the place. In my landscape photography, too, I prefer manual focus. Detachable flash and reflectors are great tools to use for macro subjects outdoors.

7. Use a split neutral density filter with landscapes at sunrise and sunset. This brings together the variation between bright sky and dark foreground. Some photographers are making use of post-shoot digital tools that come close to doing the same thing.

Continue reading "Jim Crotty's Top 13 Tips for Nature Photography" »

November 5, 2012

Horse Sense: 12 Tricks for Better Equine Photography

By Ann S. Gordon, CPP

All images ©Gordon Photography

When I was 8 years old, I was photographing horses with my Brownie Flash Six-20. The camera had two settings: 5 to 10 feet and “Beyond 10 feet,” which I probably didn’t use reliably. The horses in those images had bulbous noses, large heads, and very long back legs.

Today, more than 50 years later and having photographed hundreds of equines in my animal portraiture business, I know how to make the animals look their best and reflect the breed or equestrian sport their owners enjoy.

Even if you don't specialize in animal photography, you may be asked by clients to include a horse in a portrait, as was a friend of mine recently. If so, you’ll find the following tips helpful in capturing wonderful images of the large, easily distorted, incredibly beautiful animal that is the horse.

1. Use a long lens. Try a 200mm or 300mm lens, and stand back as far as 1 foot per millimeter. In other words, when using a 200mm lens, shoot from 150 to 200 feet. This helps minimize the distortion that can happen when photographing such a large animal.

2. Use a fast shutter speed. A minimum of 1/250 to 1/500 second is best. You can use shutter priority to make sure things don’t blur if you’re working in an arena where the light is constantly changing, but I like to use my manual setting for most things. Even with a standing horse, those ears move, as does the tail.

3. Have an assistant. You’ll need one to make noises, move horse feet, rattle buckets, and hold onto a fractious horse so the owner can look relaxed. In order to keep the animal calm, the assistant needs to be very comfortable with horses.

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An assistant who is very comfortable with horses helps keep the
horse and owner calm and looking their best.

4. Get down. Your lens should be at the mid-shoulder of the horse. Any higher than that, and the animal’s legs will look short. If you’re too low, the legs will appear long—really long. I wear gel kneepads so I can move quickly without hurting myself.

5. Start with a groomed horse. Make sure the owner understands the horse has to be clean, clipped, brushed, braided (if appropriate), feet painted, and ready to go when you show up. Use Show Sheen and lots of it, except where the saddle or person will sit—you don't want anyone slipping and sliding.

Continue reading "Horse Sense: 12 Tricks for Better Equine Photography" »

September 10, 2012

Shooting Stars: How to Photograph Meteor Showers

By Stan Sholik

Photographing meteors during a meteor shower isn’t as difficult as you may think. All it requires is a little advance planning, a little preparation, a little luck and the camera gear that you already own.

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This is a composite of five captures: four meteor streaks and the foreground hillside. The image shows the meteors radiating from a point that lies close to the constellation Perseus. Nikon D800E, ISO 1600, 25mm f/2.8 Zeiss ZF, 20 seconds at f/2.8 each capture. ©Stan Sholik

Advance Planning

Meteor showers occur for a number of reasons, but the predictable showers happen when the Earth passes through the remnants of a comet or through its tail. Knowing when these meteor showers occur is the easiest part. There are three major events visible in the US: the Perseid shower in August; the Leonid in November and the Geminid in December. The International Meteor Organization publishes detailed information and dates on its website, www.imo.net.

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These events are named for the closest constellation from which they seem to radiate: Perseus for the Perseid, Leo for the Leonid and Gemini for the Geminid. Picking out these constellations from a dark sky full of stars can be tricky. There are laptop and smartphone apps to help, but my favorite astronomy app is StarMap 3D Plus on my iPad. Not only does it have all of the needed astronomical visuals and information, there is a setting that displays the information in red on the screen. The red display preserves your night vision far better than the bright white of a laptop or smartphone screen.

Most meteors during the night are faint streaks in the sky. The darker the sky, the more visible the meteors. That means finding a place where the sky is dark. The best website I have found for this is cleardarksky.com. It lists thousands of locations in the US, Canada, and Mexico and updates conditions daily for cloud cover, atmospheric transparency, darkness and several other factors. It’s a good resource to check before you head out hoping to see meteors. And of course, the presence of the moon, combined with other atmospheric factors, can severely limit your ability to see meteors.

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Preparation

I prepare my camera gear before I leave to save myself the struggle and the possibility of mistakes trying to load film cameras and adjust settings on digital cameras in the dark. I take as many cameras as I have tripods and fast manual-focus wide angle lenses.

Although you know the point of origin of the meteor shower, it’s impossible to predict where in the sky the meteorite will strike the atmosphere. Fast f/1.4 to f/2.8 wide angle lenses with focal lengths from fisheye to 28mm are the best choices. I prefer manual-focus lenses because the infinity setting is at one end of the focus scale and is easy to set in the dark. The infinity position on an autofocus lens is never obvious.

Continue reading "Shooting Stars: How to Photograph Meteor Showers" »

Review: Nikon Speedlight Handbook

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By Allison Earnest

When I teach about lighting for photography it is not uncommon for my students to own different flash units, which has made me more proficient at reading instruction manuals. In many cases manufacturers’ user guides can be convoluted, making learning the product features a bit daunting.

Though I’m quite familiar with using my Nikon Speedlights, I wanted to find a comprehensive easy-to-read book that I could share with my students. I found Stephanie Zettl’s “Nikon Speedlight Handbook: Flash Techniques for Digital Photographers” (Amherst Media) and was quite impressed with Chapters 2 and 3, which I found to be invaluable for users of Nikon Speedlights—a true user’s handbook.

Chapter 2—The Nikon Speedlight System—is very detailed in describing a variety of Nikon Speedlights coupled with detailed diagrams of the many functional aspects of the SB-900, SB-700 and SB-400 flash units. I even learned a thing or two about my SB-900. Additionally, I was pleasantly surprised to see Zettl mentioned the Nikon SU-800 Remote Commander, which I think is a must for Nikon users.

Chapter 3—Settings, Functions and Menus—is a well-written section of valuable information and lighting charts that photographers can reference for information on guide number settings, exposure compensation and custom settings. 

Zettl uses her creative images to illustrate different lighting styles using a variety of small flash light modifiers as well as photographs that demonstrate the beauty of using single and multiple Nikon Speedlights. You can find inspiration and valuable information throughout the book.

August 15, 2012

A Gold Medal Gig: Kevin Jairaj Scores an Olympic Opportunity

By Jeff Kent

The 2012 Olympic Games may have concluded, but the victory celebrations are just beginning. As the U.S. Olympians make their way through the post-Olympics media blitz, many of the images representing them will be from Dallas-based photographer Kevin Jairaj.

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McKayla Maroney   ©Kevin Jairaj/US Presswire

Best known for his upscale wedding work, Jairaj has always loved sports photography. About a year ago, he submitted a portfolio to US Presswire for consideration as one of their freelance sports photographers in the Dallas area. He was accepted, which was a thrill, but the real excitement started when the U.S. Olympic Media Summit came to town this past May. The summit was a day-long press event during which American athletes were shuffled through a series of interviews, press conferences, and photo shoots. US Presswire contracted Jairaj to shoot images for a series of feature stories in USA Today that would run in issues leading up to the Olympic games.

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©Kevin Jairaj

Jairaj’s initial assignment was to photograph 10 pre-selected athletes for the USA Today features. However, as other athletes came through the summit, their handlers and media relations people would bring them to his on-location studio if they had time. By the end of a long day of shooting, he’d around 75 of America’s Olympians, from gymnast Gabby Douglas to soccer star Alex Morgan to swimmer Dana Vollmer.

“A lot of these athletes are amateurs, and weren’t well known at the time,” says Jairaj. “They didn’t have the big egos that you get with a lot of famous professional athletes. This was the first big media event they were doing for the Olympics, so it was very interesting to see them before they became international celebrities.”

Continue reading "A Gold Medal Gig: Kevin Jairaj Scores an Olympic Opportunity" »

August 8, 2012

Identifying an Email Scam Before It's Too Late

By Maria Matthews

Chances are you’ve received scam email, such as one saying you are the lucky winner of a huge cash prize, and all you need do to collect is email back with your address, place of work, and for tax purposes, your Social Security number. You’re on to those, but what about one from a frantic bride begging you to cover her destination wedding in just a few months’ time because the one she had booked suddenly disappeared? Watch out! Not all scam emails are clearly phishing schemes. There are plenty of advanced scams that cast a smaller net, aiming for you.

Whether it’s a wedding, a commercial shoot in an exotic locale, or the cover shot for a high-profile magazine that requires immediate travel, watch for a few things that can alert you that your dream job might hook you into a financial nightmare.

Warning signs

• The client asks to pay you prior to seeing your contract, or even discussing your fees
• The client asks you to be responsible for paying other vendors
• The client says they reside in another country, frequently travel internationally, or require you to travel on fairly short notice
• The client’s “major event” just suddenly came up
• The event is to be held at a venue that does not exist
• The client wishes to deposit payment directly into your bank account
• A check or money order arrives that’s substantially higher than the negotiated fee—the client “accidentally” overpaid and requests a cash refund or wire transfer
• The client asks you to provide your services or products without a contract in place and without paying beforehand
• The client’s email address is the only way to reach him, and they cannot provide a valid physical address or telephone number for whatever reason

If you encounter any of the above, do not reply at all if it’s the initial email, and immediately stop communicating if it happens in subsequent emails. If you fear you’ll be risking your reputation for customer service, tell the prospect you took another booking for the date, due to the prospect’s uncertainty. These scams are often ploys to collect valid email addresses in order to send you additional spam in the future.

Your next step should be to immediately notify the email provider (such as Yahoo!, AOL, Google) of the offending sender and message. Email service providers all have an “abuse” contact online on their customer service contact page or in their Terms of Use or Terms of Service agreement. The provider might then freeze or delete the fraudulent account.

You can also notify federal agencies that collect and investigate such spam. Inform the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov, or you can fill out the online form at ftccomplaintassistant.gov. The Internet Crime Complaint Center, run jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National White Collar Crime Center, and Bureau of Justice Assistance, catalogues online fraud and partners with law enforcement agencies at varying levels to investigate reports; go to IC3.gov.

If it’s a business that emails you, also report the incidence to your own and their state’s Office of the Attorney General. The division that investigates cyber-crime or online fraud typically falls within the attorney general’s jurisdiction. If the firm engaged in the scam seems to be a reputable, well-known or large company, contact the company as well. It could be their identity has been hijacked.

If you’ve already invested a significant amount of time in landing the “prospective” client, and he’s made a payment, do not attempt to deposit a check without verifying its legitimacy, and verify that the funds are in fact available. Take the check to your bank or call the bank of origin and ask for verification of the account. In most cases, the check has been previously deposited or is drawn on a closed account.

In some instances, the “client” might send a money order. Do not cash or deposit it without verifying it with the fraud department of the issuing institution; e.g., Western Union or the U.S. Postal Service.

In addition to phishing schemes, email is also used in cash forwarding scams. For the latest trends in e-scams, visit postalinspectors.uspis.gov and fakechecks.org.

Bottom line, never jump into an assignment without meeting or speaking with your client by phone, and never accept payment of incorrect amounts or in manners outside your norm.

Maria Matthews is manager of the PPA Copyright and Government Affairs Department.

August 7, 2012

How To Plan, Produce, and Sell Your Photo Book: Part 3 - Selling

Selling Your Photo Book

By David FitzSimmons

In Parts 1 and 2 of this feature I discussed planning and producing your own photo book. In this final installment, I will cover what you need to do to sell your product, including building a web site, hiring a publicist, finding a distributor, working with bookstores, planning book events, and working with corporate and nonprofit partners.

1. Build A Website
An engaging, eye-catching, and useful website is the cornerstone of your book's marketing plan. As you, your publicist, reviewers, and readers talk about your book, you need a place to send them for more information. Today that place is a website.

Hire a professional web site designer, and then work together to build a site that you can maintain over time. For "Curious Critters," I worked with my friend and Web guru Brett Mitchell, who helped me set up an attractive and functional Joomla!-based site. Similar to WordPress, Joomla! allows everyday users the ability to update and change content easily. Pre-made templates in both Joomla! and WordPress make putting together your site a snap.

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The home page for my children's picture book, "Curious Critters," matches the design of the book: high key, bold colors, and simple layouts. Created using Joomla!, I can update, add, or subtract content as needed. A slide show of "Curious Critters" images engages visitors to the page, and a limited number of legible links help in navigation.

Your book's website needs to be eye-catching and useful. Make your photos the centerpiece of the site, but pay close attention to including what users will want. Include "In the Media" and "For the Media" pages, the former listing all the places your book has been reviewed (with links). The latter should have downloadable files, including JPGs of your book's cover and PDF copies of your press releases and bio. Other standard pages include "About" and "Contact."

A nice touch is to add sample flipping book pages. To show readers a 12-page teaser of "Curious Critters," I used Flipping Book Publisher to create and upload a portion of my book. If you don't want to buy Flipping Book software, there are free alternatives, such as Issuu or the free version of Flash Page Flip.

Also try to include free downloads for readers. For "Curious Critters" I included PDF coloring pages and word searches along with eCards. You might make several of your photographs into downloadable wall paper or offer a short e-book version.

Continue reading "How To Plan, Produce, and Sell Your Photo Book: Part 3 - Selling" »

How To Plan, Produce, and Sell Your Photo Book: Part 2 - Producing

Producing Your Photo Book

By David FitzSimmons

In Part 1 of this series, I covered planning your photo book, namely picking a subject, identifying your audience, determining how many books you can sell, selecting your publishing option, and researching publishing. Here I will talk about writing, revising, and finding assistants, such as book shepherds, editors, designers, and printers.

1. Write Your Book
Before you begin writing, find books similar to the one you will produce. Visit local libraries and bookstores, and search online. Get a hold of copies to see what other authors do well and to look for areas of improvement. Look especially hard for aspects that no one else has covered. If you fill this gap, then you can point out to your audience how your book is unique.

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Before I wrote Curious Critters, I had a vision: a children’s picture book featuring boldly colored animal portraits (one per page or per two-page spread), lots of white space, and fun, educational text. In surveying the market, I found some books with white-backgrounded animal images but none for ages 4-8. I had found an unfilled niche.

When you sit down to write, always keep in mind that you are creating a product. Focus on what Kitty Locker’s business communication handbook calls “you attitude”: Consider the needs of your audience above your own. What does your audience want and need to hear (as opposed to what you want to say)? Meeting their needs will help you sell your book; you will be able to demonstrate how your product benefits them.

When I wrote “Curious Critters,” for example, I kept elementary school teachers and librarians in mind. I researched national and state life science education standards and then wrote my book to meet all K-8 standards. Now I can demonstrate to educators how “Curious Critters” benefits them.

What if you are not entirely comfortable writing? My advice is to work with others to develop your skills. Identify family and friends who are good writers and seek their help. Enroll in a class at a local adult education program, college, or university. And look for writing groups in your neighborhood or within professional organizations. In writing “Curious Critters,” I sought the advice of other writers in the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, for example, and I asked for help from my colleagues at Ashland University, where I teach writing.

Continue reading "How To Plan, Produce, and Sell Your Photo Book: Part 2 - Producing" »

July 11, 2012

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 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" »

June 13, 2012

"Adobe Photoshop CS6 for Photographers" Excerpt: What's New in Camera Raw 7.0, The New Camera Raw Workflow

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The following has been excerpted and edited from the 10th edition of Martin Evening's book, "Adobe Photoshop CS6 for Photographers." The book is currently available for purchase for $54.95 at FocalPress.com, BN.com and Amazon.com, as well as in major bookstores. To view CS6 video tutorials based on the contents of this book, click here.

(From Chapter 1)

What's new in Camera Raw 7.0 

Camera Raw 7.0 offers some further image processing refinements. In particular, there is now a new Process 2012 option in which the main Basic panel controls have been completely revised to provide more extensive editing capabilities for both raw and non-raw images. In fact, if you are familiar with the image editing controls in Adobe Revel for tablet devices, you'll already have seen how these work. The main Process 2012 sliders are also available as localized adjustments, along with new Temp and Tint adjustment controls. Lastly, the Tone Curve panel now also offers an RGB point curve editing option.

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Figure 1.104 When you select a single raw image in Bridge, and double-click to open, you will see the Camera Raw dialog shown here. The Basic panel controls are a good place to get started, but the Auto button can often apply an adjustment that is ideally suited for most types of images. Once you are happy, click on the Open Image button at the bottom to open it in Photoshop. TIP: If you click on the Full Screen mode button in Camera Raw (circled above in blue), you can quickly switch the Camera Raw view to Full Screen mode.

 

Saving from raw files

If you save an image that's been opened up from a raw file original, Photoshop will by default suggest you save it using the native Photoshop (PSD) file format. You are always forced to save it as something else and never to overwrite the original raw image. Most raw formats have unique extensions anyway like .crw or .nef. However, Canon did once decide to use a .tif extension for some of their raw file formats (so that the thumbnails would show up in their proprietary browser program). The danger here was that if you overrode the Photoshop default behavior and tried saving an opened Canon raw image as a TIFF, you risked overwriting the original raw file.

 

Opening photos from Bridge via Camera Raw

If you double-click to open a raw or DNG image via Bridge, these will automatically open via the Camera Raw dialog shown in Figure 1.104, where Photoshop will host Camera Raw. Alternatively, if you choose File ➯ Open in Camera Raw... via the Bridge menu, this will open the file in Camera Raw hosted by Bridge. The advantage of doing this is that it allows you to free up Photoshop to carry on working on other images. If you choose to open multiple raw images you will see a filmstrip of thumbnails appear down the left-hand side of the Camera Raw dialog, where you can edit one image and then sync the settings across all the other selected photos. There is also a preference setting in Bridge that allows you to open up JPEG and TIFF images via Camera Raw too.

I would say that the main benefit of using Camera Raw is that any edits you apply in Camera Raw are nonpermanent and this latest version in Photoshop CS6 offers yet further major advances in raw image processing. If you are still a little intimidated by the Camera Raw dialog interface, you can for now just click on the Auto button (circled in red in Figure 1.104). When the default settings in Camera Raw are set to Auto, Camera Raw usually does a pretty good job of optimizing the image settings for you. You can then click on the 'Done' or 'Open Image' button without concerning yourself too much just yet with what all the Camera Raw controls do. This should give you a good image to start working with in Photoshop and the beauty of working with Camera Raw is that you never risk overwriting the original master raw file. If you don't like the auto settings Camera Raw gives you, then it is relatively easy to adjust the tone and color sliders and make your own improvements upon the auto adjustment settings.

Easter eggs

There are some hidden items in Photoshop. If you drag down from the system or Apple menu to select About Photoshop..., the splash screen reopens and after about 5 seconds the text starts to scroll telling you lots of stuff about the Adobe team who wrote the program, etc. Hold down opt/alt and the text scrolls faster. Last, but not least, you'll see a special mention to the most important Photoshop user of all... Now hold down cmd/ctrl-alt and choose About Photoshop... Here, you will see the Superstition beta test version of the splash screen (Figure 1.105 below). When the credits have finished scrolling, carefully control/alt-click in the white space above the credits (and below Superstition) to see what are known as Adobe Transient Witticisms appearing one at a time above the credits. Being a member of the team that makes Photoshop has many rewards, but one of the perks is having the opportunity to add little office in-jokes in a secret spot on the Photoshop splash screen. It's a sign of what spending long hours building a new version of Photoshop will do to you. And if you are looking for the Merlin begone Easter egg, associated with the Layers panel options, well, Merlin is truly begone now!

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Figure 1.105 The Superstition beta splash screen.

Continue reading ""Adobe Photoshop CS6 for Photographers" Excerpt: What's New in Camera Raw 7.0, The New Camera Raw Workflow" »

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. 

Continue reading "Travel Photography: How to Get Fabulous Images and Still Have Fun" »

April 4, 2012

Identifying an e-mail scam before it's too late

By Maria Matthews

Chances are you’ve received scam e-mail, such as one saying you are the lucky winner of a huge cash prize, and all you need to do to collect is e-mail back with your address, place of work, and for tax purposes, your Social Security number. You’re on to those, but what about one from a frantic bride begging you to cover her destination wedding in just a few months’ time, because the one she had booked suddenly disappeared? Watch out! Not all scam e-mails are clearly phishing schemes. There are plenty of more advanced scams that cast a smaller net, aiming for you.

Whether it’s a wedding, a commercial shoot in an exotic locale, or the cover shot for a high-profile magazine that requires immediate travel, watch for a few things that can alert you that your dream job might hook you into a financial nightmare.

Warning signs

  • The client asks to pay you prior to seeing your contract, or even discussing your fees
  • The client asks you to be responsible for paying other vendors
  • The client says they reside in another country, frequently travel internationally, or require you to travel on fairly short notice
  • The client’s “major event” just suddenly came up
  • The event is to be held at a venue that does not exist
  • The client wishes to deposit payment directly into your bank account
  • A check or money order arrives that’s substantially higher than the negotiated fee—the client “accidentally” overpaid and requests a cash refund or wire transfer
  • The client asks you to provide your services or products without a contract in place and without paying beforehand
  • The client’s e-mail address is the only way to reach him, and they cannot provide a valid physical address or telephone number for whatever reason

Continue reading "Identifying an e-mail scam before it's too late" »

January 12, 2012

Words of Experience, a Review of "Sketching Light" by Joe McNally

By Ellis Vener

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“Sketching Light: An Illustrated Tour of the Possibilities of Flash”
By Joe Mc Nally
Part of the series, “Voices That Matter,” published by New Riders Press

Read an excerpt from “Sketching Light"

Every well-known successful photographer you can think of knows how to use light to tell stories. By “well known” and “successful,” I don’t mean someone with thousands of friends and followers on social networking sites, I mean photographers who make their living and reputation by working for real-world clients. You likely have your favorites; mine are Dan Winters, Gregory Heisler, Matthew Jordan Smith, Nick Knight and Joe McNally. Perhaps no one on my list is as broadly influential as Joe McNally, mostly because he has successfully taken on the challenge of using social networks and teaching what he knows through seminars, workshops and books.

Fortune has favored McNally with resilience and a great sense of self-deprecating humor. He seems to approach assignments big and small with equally intense levels of preparation, energy and flexibility. Fortunately for us, he brings these traits to his fourth how-to book, “Sketching Light: An Illustrated Tour of the Possibilities of Flash” (New Riders Press).

In this lighting cookbook, McNally provides abundant recipes and results, complete with copious notes, diagrams and “war stories.” These are not the kind of lighting formulas that mandate placing Light A with Modifier X at a 32-degree angle to the left, slightly above and 6 feet from the subject, and placing Light B with Modifier Y here or there with specific key-to-fill-to-accent ratios—you get the point. Instead, McNally gets you to thinking about how to generate and use light to help the story you want the photograph to tell, and to make that story engage with the viewer’s imagination. Even if you think you already know a lot about lighting, I bet you’ll pick up more than a few good ideas from “Sketching Light.”

And really, the book really isn’t so much about how to make nice with light, but how to live. In the first lines in the introduction, he writes:

The key word on the cover of this book is not “flash,” or even “light.” It’s the word “possibilities.” Because that is, at its core, what this book is about. It isn’t about pictures that already exist. It’s about what might be possible to create, in terms of pictures, if you experiment with light.

Continue reading "Words of Experience, a Review of "Sketching Light" by Joe McNally" »

January 9, 2012

Here's Sunshine Up Your Skirt! An excerpt from Joe McNally's "Sketching Light"

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Excerpted from “Sketching Light” by Joe McNally. Copyright © 2012. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and New Riders.

Read the Professional Photographer review of “Sketching Light”

Every once in a while, you try something on a wing and a prayer, and you get a picture that works. You gave it just about zero chance of success when you put the light out there, and then it’s so absurdly first-frame simple, you have one of those “coulda had a V8” moments back at the LCD. Which, of course, you then try to cover up by assuming a knew-it-all-along look, a confident nod, and a quiet, murmured, “Think I’ll just shoot a few more of these.”

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I was on the main plaza in pre-dawn Venice, which is the only time of day that beautiful, historic place is not a sea of backpacks and a jumble of accents and languages. The sun was up and light was bounding out on the waterways, but I was struck by the cool, beautiful nature of the ancient arches, where open shade still ruled.

When trying to work simply and influence a scene with just one small flash, open shade can be your best friend. You don’t have to stress the light by fighting the high, hard sun, and the muted tones introduce the possibility of effectively influencing the color palette of the scene without bringing in movie grip trucks.

This setup was, as I indicated above, crazy simple. I used the little plastic floor stand that comes with the SB-900, put a full CTO warming gel on the light, took off the dome diffuser, and zoomed the flash head to 200mm so the light spread would remain pretty tight, and placed it out there on the ancient stones of the plaza. The zoom feature helps in directing the light right to the dancer, and also keeping floor spill to a minimum. As worn as they are, the tiles on the plaza will pick up light and reflect it pretty well, so if your light is zoomed wide and splashes everywhere, you got a problem. Zooming the light tight sends it where it needs to go—to the dancer—and minimizes the telltale photon path on the floor. A hint of light works fine. A big, blown highlight is not okay. Nuking the floor is always a concern, obviously, when you actually place the light down there. I didn’t need to employ this tactic here, but a couple of simple swatches of gaffer tape on the floor side of the flash head, serving as cutters or flags, works really well, as shown here.

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I just happened to have a ballerina with me. I’d suggested dancers to the group I was shooting with, and it was a notion they embraced vigorously. Bringing a dancer onto the Plaza Venezia in dawn light is definitely stacking the deck in your favor, kinda like flying in a sure thing, but it’s a good thought when seeking subjects for flash portraits. It’s certainly better than wandering the streets hoping an ancient drunk with an interesting hat stumbles into a beautiful highlight. (Unless, of course, you’re street shooting and looking for happenstance. Different mission altogether.)

Continue reading "Here's Sunshine Up Your Skirt! An excerpt from Joe McNally's "Sketching Light"" »

December 9, 2011

Damon Tucci's Essential Techniques for Location Lighting, Part 2

By Damon Tucci
All images ©Damon Tucci

Want to achieve a beautifully lit image in any conditions? Master three lighting techniques and you can make it gorgeous anywhere.

In today’s fast-paced world of photography, you have to produce on demand, no matter what the conditions may be. This is especially true for wedding photographers. You can’t change the date of the shoot, so you must be able adapt to ever-changing lighting and weather conditions.

But whether you’re a portrait or wedding photographer, time is money; the more efficiently you can use your surroundings and enhance the light, the more effectively you can deliver above average consistent results. We practice and perfect our capture and lighting strategies so that we can tackle any assignment. We know them backward and forward so that we can implement them seamlessly.

Three lighting techniques should be part of any modern photographer’s repertoire: the use of available lightoff-camera flash, and video light techniques.

Available light techniques revolve around working in open shade and using a reflector to accentuate and shape the light on the mask of the face. I use Radio Poppers and Nikon SB800 flashes for my off-camera flash and employ the camera’s high-speed sync capabilities to transform any average scene into a very dramatic one. Video lights enable us to capture images in modern hotels and subtly light the subject’s face without overpowering the background. This method is very fast and what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG).

In these two examples, you can easily see how good dim hotel lighting can look when you add a video light.

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I was covering a wedding at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando, and I was very attracted to the lighting fixtures in this restaurant. By borrowing the videographer's light, I was able to get my shot in three mintues.

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I could not get the light right in her face, so I asked her to look down at her flowers, thus creating a cool full-length image that shows off her dress and provides an establishing shot of the wedding venue. I used a Nikon D700 with a 24-70mm lens at 38mm, and the exposure is 1/60 second at f/2.8, ISO 1250.

I chose the setting below to capture an image for a different hotel.

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I had an assistant hold a Lowell id-light off camera, up and to the left, to light the mask of her face.

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I used the Nikon D700 with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, this time at 24mm, exposing for 1/60 second at f/2.8, ISO 800.

Look for more examples of Damon Tucci's location lighting in the February Wedding Issue of Professional Photographer magazine.

Damon Tucci has been a professional photographer in Central Florida for the past 20 years and has photographed over 2,500 weddings. His award-winning work has been published in Professional Photographer, Rangefinder, Studio Photography and Design, InStyle Weddings, People, Brides and a host of other publications.

Come learn from Damon Tucci at Imaging USA, January 15-17

In My Head: Tapping into the Photographer Mindset
Tuesday, Jan. 17, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
Want to create beautiful images anywhere, anytime? Who doesn’t? Join celebrity wedding and portrait photographer Damon Tucci to learn a methodology and mindset for producing exceptional images on demand. He will delve deep into the psyche of the photo creation process to show you how simple it can be … if you have the acute understanding of timing and technique that he’ll share! You’ll also learn about modern posing and lighting techniques, including off-camera speed lights, available lighting, strobe and video. Come learn Damon’s tried-and-true formula (and reap the benefits).

November 9, 2011

Damon Tucci's Essential Techniques for Location Lighting, Part I

By Damon Tucci
All images ©Damon Tucci

Want to achieve a beautifully lit image in any conditions? Master three lighting techniques and you can make it gorgeous anywhere.

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In today’s fast-paced world of photography, you have to produce on demand, no matter what the conditions may be. This is especially true for wedding photographers. You can’t change the date of the shoot, so you must be able adapt to ever-changing lighting and weather conditions.

But whether you’re a portrait or wedding photographer, time is money; the more efficiently you can use your surroundings and enhance the light, the more effectively you can deliver above average consistent results. We practice and perfect our capture and lighting strategies so that we can tackle any assignment. We know them backward and forward so that we can implement them seamlessly.

Three lighting techniques should be part of any modern photographer’s repertoire: the use of available light, off-camera flash, and video light techniques.

Available light techniques revolve around working in open shade and using a reflector to accentuate and shape the light on the mask of the face. I use Radio Poppers and Nikon SB800 flashes for my off-camera flash and employ the camera’s high-speed sync capabilities to transform any average scene into a very dramatic one. Video lights enable us to capture images in modern hotels and subtly light the subject’s face without overpowering the background. This method is very fast and what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG).

In these two examples of off-camera light usage, you can easily see how underexposing for the ambient light and adding off-camera flash can dramatically improve the look of your image in bland lighting conditions.

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Here we start behind my house against the fireplace on an overcast day. I used a Nikon D700, an 80-200mm lens at 80mm, two Nikon SB900 Speedlights and a RadioPopper to control the flash.  I underexposed for the ambient light 1 to 1.5 stops at 125-second at f/5, ISO 400. The overhead Speedlight is zoomed to 85mm. 

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Below, I had a drab cloudy Orlando day to shoot this couple’s portrait.

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By underexposing the ambient light 1 to 1.5 stops, I get a dramatic sky. I add light from the upper left with an SB800 Speedlight and use the RadioPopper and the camera's high-speed sync to make the exposure 1/2,500 second at f/4, ISO 400, to illuminate the couple. 

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Look for Part II in December’s Web Exclusives, and even more in the February issue of Professional Photographer magazine.

Damon Tucci has been a professional photographer in Central Florida for the past 20 years and has photographed over 2,500 weddings. His award-winning work has been published in Professional Photographer, Rangefinder, Studio Photography and Design, InStyle Weddings, People, Brides and a host of other publications.

Come learn from Damon Tucci at Imaging USA, January 15-17

In My Head: Tapping into the Photographer Mindset
Tuesday, Jan. 17, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
Want to create beautiful images anywhere, anytime? Who doesn’t? Join celebrity wedding and portrait photographer Damon Tucci to learn a methodology and mindset for producing exceptional images on demand. He will delve deep into the psyche of the photo creation process to show you how simple it can be … if you have the acute understanding of timing and technique that he’ll share! You’ll also learn about modern posing and lighting techniques, including off-camera speed lights, available lighting, strobe and video. Come learn Damon’s tried-and-true formula (and reap the benefits).

September 6, 2011

Studio Lighting and Portraiture DVDs Deliver Great Foundation Skills

By Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP

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A fun and educational package recently arrived in my mailbox for review—a pair of instructional DVDs by Don Chick, M.Photog.,Cr., CPP, from his The Confident Photographer instructional series:

• Studio Lighting (with a 4x6 soft box)
• Studio Portraiture (Basic – Intermediate)

Being familiar with Chick’s lighting and teaching styles, I was looking forward to watching these DVDs, and I think you will be, too. While there is some crossover content, I didn’t find it to be too overdone, and considered it more like a review, or introduction, before the meat of the lesson. I think it will be rare that someone will plan to watch both back to back, as I did.  It’s more likely that you’ll refer to one or the other at a given point, and in that situation, the brief review will be helpful.

The Studio Lighting DVD covered white balancing methods, lens selection (distortion), and two basic light setups. In contrast, the Studio Portraiture DVD focused on the different light setups that Chick relies on— three-light and six-light setups, and the use of accent lighting. In the second DVD, Chick also discusses how he creates his signature character study portraits (lighting, clothing, accessories, etc).

On both DVDs, Chick talks you through the lighting setup, explains why he does things a specific way, and then lets you watch him interact with his subject as he creates a series of images. Final images are also shown throughout the DVD, where appropriate. While not a new concept to me, I appreciated that Chick took the time to show the effects of his lights by using each unit’s modeling lamp. This is a particularly useful teaching tool for those who are new to studio lighting.

Some of the techniques that Chick teaches are basic building blocks of studio photography, such as broad vs. short light, but he also includes more advanced techniques. I enjoyed seeing how he uses a handheld reflector to add a little something extra to the lighting setup, and appreciated his discussion of gobos and when they can be effectively used for a studio portrait (your clients with thinning hair or bald spots will thank you).

Continue reading "Studio Lighting and Portraiture DVDs Deliver Great Foundation Skills" »

September 2, 2011

Shoot More Creatively: A Four-step Process

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Image ©Karen Carey

By Karen Carey

Conceptualize. When you start out with a concept, the results will be rewarding. Be adventurous and bold. Let the concept evolve and grow. Don't be afraid to take risks or to be vulnerable. Think it out, write it down, put yourself there. What do you want to say, show, reveal? What does it look like, feel like? What's the mood, texture, tone?

Materialize. Be prepared. With tools you already have, what can you develop? Don't just gather tools, be thoughtful; add tools as needed to grow. As you master a new skill or new technique, go out and play with it. Use it or lose it. Don't try to be an expert at everything. Know your areas of expertise and build on them.

Personalize. Be guided by your intuition. Recognize your strengths and capitalize on them. Use what is naturally yours. When you pay attention to yourself, you find out what your strengths are, and you become in tune with your divinity. Every person is naturally gifted with characteristics uniquely his or her own. Know your gifts. Know your weaknesses, but don't focus on them unless it’s to help bring a concept to life.

Release. Be inspired by the power of the divine spirit within. You’ve done the homework in the first three steps, now it’s time to turn it over to the universe and let the work come through you. Trust the plan to unfold perfectly with grace and divine timing.

The final results may look completely different from your initial concept, or exactly as planned. Either way, your satisfaction is guaranteed because you’ve become part of the process. Rather than taking what you can get, you become connected to the outcome. You begin to understand the power you have within to create your own destiny.

We’re always somewhere between where we’ve been and where we’re going. Start where you are and make a plan for where you want to go. Add the tools you need to get there, to bring yourself into the vision. Decide how and when to make it happen, then release it to the universe to bring it to life.

Look for our interview with Karen Carey in the October, 2011, issue of Professional Photographer. The September THRIVE Workshop, led by Karen Carey and Lena Hyde, has sold out, but you can get more information and sign up for the waiting list at karencareyphoto.com. See more of Karen Carey’s work at karencareyphotography.com.

August 8, 2011

Men In Black: Posing and Lighting a Profile Portrait

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

I love creating beautiful portraits. When I create a portrait, the full-face and two-thirds view are my go-to views of the face. My clients never arrive at the studio saying, “I want you to create a profile portrait for me.” Usually, the profile setup happens by accident. I’ll walk around the subject, adjusting the lighting, then realize just how beautiful his profile actually is. Then with newfound enthusiasm, I position the lighting to create a profile of my subject. Often the subject doesn’t think he has great profile potential, but most of the time a little sincere encouragement is all that’s necessary for him to trust me.

Creating a profile portrait is so easy with a large light modifier. Most of the time I have a 4x6 foot soft box on my main light. You can see in Figure 1 how to position your subject. Bring the subject to the front edge (nearest the camera) of the soft box position turn the body approximately 45 degrees away from the camera. If the body is facing the camera, as in Figure 1, they are in a front profile position. If the body is turned away from the camera, then they are positioned for a back profile portrait. Sometimes I’ll photograph the subject in both positions as it adds more variety, and more variety can lead to increased sales.

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Figure 1

There are two ways to control highlight-to-shadow contrast when using a large soft box. You can move the subject parallel to the soft box. Moving the subject away from the camera and toward the center of the soft box adds more light on the shadow side of the face, decreasing contrast. If you want more contrast—darker shadows on the shadow side—move the subject parallel to the soft box but closer to the camera. This will move the subject into the edge of the light from the soft box, and increase the shadows. A second way to control contrast is to use a reflector. In Figure 1 you can see how to position a reflector on the shadow side of the subject to control the amount of shadow contrast. Moving the reflector closer to the subject will decrease contrast, giving you lighter shadows, and moving the reflector back or away from the subject will increase contrast. Either method works well, but sometimes it’s easier to leave your subject in position rather than making him move and simply use the reflector to control contrast.

Continue reading "Men In Black: Posing and Lighting a Profile Portrait" »

July 13, 2011

The Next Big Thing: Practical and Profitable Implementation of Fusion

By Jeff Kent

Vanessa Joy and Rob Adams are a husband-wife, photographer-videographer team that has been pioneering a progressive, and profitable, approach to the fusion of still photography and video. Joy handles the photography while Adams provides videography and video production services. Their partnership has earned them The Knot’s “Best of Weddings” 2010 award, WeddingWire’s 2010 Bride's Choice Award, numerous publications in magazines, and an eager clientele clamoring for their next big thing in fusion.

Joy and Adams, who are partners but run separate businesses, began offering fusion wedding coverage in 2009 and have spent the last two years perfecting their style, their workflow and their presentation. They stress that fusion is not wedding documentary video; it’s meant to augment the still imagery, not replace a videographer. As such, they caution against making guarantees about what moments will be captured on video. “Fusion is a subjective concept just meant to enhance the photography,” says Joy. “If a client wants a full wedding video, that is a different thing entirely.”

Of course, the ultimate point of fusion is to boost your bottom line. What’s the point of learning all of this if you’re not going to make money? Most fusion products revolve around a multimedia slideshow that incorporates still images, video clips and music. You can burn the slideshow to a disc or flash drive and then sell it to clients as an add-on or part of a package. Several album makers are now producing fusion albums that incorporate space for a digital display, such as an iPod, iPad or even an LCD screen sewn right into the fabric of the book cover.

Joy and Adams also sell digital fusion albums that can be viewed on computers or pad devices, or set up on a video screen and played on a loop. The layout is similar to a magazine-style album, except there is a mix of still images and video clips. The viewer turns the page, virtually speaking, and sees different images and different clips on each page.

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For a fusion slideshow, which Adams creates with Animoto, the charge is $600. A fusion album runs upwards of $1,000. Joy and Adams offer these products not only for weddings but for portrait shoots, trash-the-dress sessions and other events.

Take a look at these examples of their Wedding Fusion Album, and an Engagement Session Fusion Slideshow.

Continue reading "The Next Big Thing: Practical and Profitable Implementation of Fusion" »

June 30, 2011

Taking the Second Step to Becoming Certified

By Marianne Drenthe

In Part I of this series I touched upon my rationale for taking the steps towards becoming a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP). In the comments section was a statement that hit home:

“After all these years, getting a certification only because there is much more competition doesn't really make you all that different than the competition, does it? I think certification has a valuable meaning, but doesn't necessarily mean those without it aren't worthy professional photographers either. Despite that sticker in your window, you still have to prove yourself to your clients and really, only to yourself.”

The reasons for getting certified extend far beyond being above the competition. While you really do have only yourself and your client to answer to, getting certified is simply a goal that you have to set for yourself. While I may think my work is solid, and I have a great base of repeat (as well as new) clients, I still have goals: certification is just one of them.

The added benefit of getting certified is that I will be able to market that added benefit to potential clients. With the influx of new, often technically lacking photographers coming in, becoming certified is having a stamp of approval from a professional commission. Really it’s not much different than other professions. There are board-certified heart surgeons, board-certified pediatric oncologists—though of course I’m not professing that photography is akin to performing brain surgery. Because we’re involved in an industry that doesn’t have licensing or schooling requirements, we do not have that built-in stature that schooling and licensure give.

The question boils down to: As a photographer, how do you show your clients verification of your own excellence? There are many ways, and getting CPP certified is just one of them. Good work is another. Both together? Double whammy.

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A selection of Marianne Drenthe’s image submissions for CPP certification. ©Marianne Drenthe 

Continue reading "Taking the Second Step to Becoming Certified" »

May 6, 2011

No Need for Plug-ins; Create a Vintage Preset in Adobe Camera Raw

By Marianne Drenthe

Vintage processing seems to be the hot thing right now. Vintage washes (where the image looks like a faded print) have long been a favorite of mine. These processed images may be popular because we long for simpler times when Polaroids ruled the instant gratification world. It could also be that creating a signature vintage look that’s all your own is a quick way to customize your own work to be unique to you. Either way the trend is hot.

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Yes there are tons of ways to create this look for yourself, but my preferred method is right in my workflow. There is nothing easier than having your go-to preset created in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and just click on the drop-down menu and batch several images right there, saving your precious pixels in the process.

I use ACR for so many conversions—it’s truly an integral part of my workflow, so quick and easy (as well as non-destructive). Here is my quick and easy method to create beautifully washed vintage photos via ACR.

This image is from an on-location session, and I used bounced flash to capture some storytelling images in this little girls’ room. Your settings vary depending on your lighting situation and exposure.

1. Open your image up in ACR. Tweak your exposure as you see fit, adjusting for your usual color workflow. You can tweak for contrast, I usually bump mine down a bit and bump my brightness up just a notch when creating vintage-look images.

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Continue reading "No Need for Plug-ins; Create a Vintage Preset in Adobe Camera Raw" »

April 14, 2011

Practical Photoshop Instruction for Nature Photographers Is Applicable for All

By Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP

Ellen and Josh Anon, a mother-son photographer team, have partnered to write “Photoshop CS5 for Nature Photographers.” The book is written specifically for nature photographers who want to fully utilize features in Adobe Photoshop CS 5. The authors focus mainly on techniques using the standard version of Photoshop, but also include sidebars in each chapter on how to do particular tasks using Photoshop Elements.

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“Photoshop CS5 for Nature Photographers” is subtitled “A Workshop in a Book” for good reason. As each chapter progresses, you'll find sections titled Try It. These sections are helpful if you learn by doing, allowing you to download the appropriate image file from the companion website and practice the techniques you've learned. In addition to the working files, there are also video tutorials available to give you a better understanding of certain techniques.  I found the section on how to adjust color temperature without relying on visual techniques particularly interesting. This process would be invaluable for any photographer who suffers from color blindness or who has to work on a non-calibrated or improperly calibrated monitor.

The goal of this book is to provide photographers with an easy and efficient workflow. With that in mind, the Anons discus workflow, exposure, color, adjustments, composites, output techniques, and more. They present two workflow options (traditional and flexible) for you to choose from, as fits best into your working style.

Continue reading "Practical Photoshop Instruction for Nature Photographers Is Applicable for All" »

April 5, 2011

Book Review: "Skin" by Lee Varis

By Betsy Finn

As portrait and wedding photographers, it's important we understand how to retouch our subjects’ skin in a realistic manner, and that we understand the concepts behind achieving believable skin tone. "Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies," by Lee Varis, is a book that sets out to help photographers achieve this goal.

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While Varis covers the techniques he uses to achieve a color balanced workflow (and how to get realistic color), he does note that “accurate color is often boring color … most people say they want ‘accurate’ color, but what they prefer (and what clients buy) is ‘pretty’ color.”

While the writing was somewhat technical, I stayed interested and followed along easily. If you’re the type who learns best by doing rather than just reading about something, you will find Varis’ companion website resources to be invaluable. Varis has graciously made available a number of image files that he uses as examples in the book, so you can experiment with the techniques yourself after reading how Varis achieves a particular look. Varis’ website also offers video and PDF tutorials, which may be helpful if you need further instruction.

The book includes a review of the basics in order to set a good foundation for Varis’ theories on color managing skin tones, but unlike some other books I’ve read, this book was able to do so without losing my interest.

I appreciated Varis’ discussion of the digital zone system, managing skin tones via RGB and CMYK, and how he uses the eyedropper tool to gauge what specific adjustments need to be made to an image. As he notes in the text, the eyes tend to compensate for adjacent colors, so relying on hard numbers in addition to your intuition is the best way to achieve the desired color.

Continue reading "Book Review: "Skin" by Lee Varis" »

March 9, 2011

Peter Read Miller Sports Photography Workshop April 4-10

World Class Sports Illustrated Photographer and headliner at the 2011 SEPCON Peter Read Miller will conduct his annual Sports Photography Workshop in Denver, Colorado on April 4-10, 2011. The workshop, now in its 7th year and limited to only 25 attendees, will provide a personal and hands-on approach to teaching a variety of shooting and lighting techniques that have helped Miller’s photos grace more than 100 Sport Illustrated covers. Workshop participants will have an opportunity to apply their new skills to live sporting events throughout the weeklong workshop. Photographers interested in learning more about the workshop or registering to attend can visit Peter Read Miller Sports Photography Workshop.

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Attendees will receive additional instruction from other industry notables including Steve Fine, Director of Photography at Sports Illustrated, Grant Leighton, advertising / portrait photographer and instructor at U. of Colorado (Denver), photographer / videographer Max Morse, and Shawn Cullen, lighting technician at Sports Illustrated. Attendees will learn how to properly light subjects using strobes—in the studio and on location—arena lighting and how to set up and use remote cameras.

“It’s very rewarding for me to see the quality of work students are producing toward the end of the workshop and their enthusiasm and passion for photography makes the entire experience both educational and a lot of fun,” explains Peter Read Miller. “Everyone leaves the workshop a better sports photographer and some have gone on to find work with professional sports teams, Getty Images and other newswires.”

Tuition for the workshop is $1,495 and includes all instruction, one-on-one portfolio review with Peter Read Miller, and all model / location fees. Workshop attendees are responsible for their own travel arrangements including air and hotel. Special hotel rates have been made with the Marriott in Denver.

 

Continue reading "Peter Read Miller Sports Photography Workshop April 4-10" »

January 4, 2011

Taking Steps to Becoming a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP)

By Marianne Drenthe

Part I

You probably already know what the current state of affairs in professional photography is today. The pioneers of the most recent “natural light” revolution are coming to realize that we’ve made it look too easy, too effortless, too fun. If I look, it takes me less than a quick two minute Google search to discover one, 10 or 20 new local pro photographers I didn’t know existed just a few months ago.

That slew of new pros is a mixed bag filled with the good, bad and ugly. On their websites there’s a range of lackluster to good photos mixed with content “borrowed” from other photographers, all presented using relatively easy-to-build and cheap-to-obtain template sites. The result is that in any local area, the bulk of photographers look interchangeable with price being the differentiating factor. A relatively low cost of entry to the profession coupled with the delusion that it’s easy to be a professional photographer has resulted in an industry-wide “it’s easy” sort of mentality. Established pros know that business of photography is in fact, not easy. Balancing the effort behind being an artist, technician, business owner and marketing strategist to make a profit and stay afloat is a tightrope walk without a net.

So what is it that sets me apart from everyone else? Is it my client testimonials? Is it my look? Is it (insert any number of things here)? I know that I am more than the sum of my location, my style, my website, my ideas for posing and clothing choices. I know it’s none of those things; what sets me apart, in many ways, are a number of things that are not quantifiable. Logo, location, shooting style—all are fairly easy for others to imitate and not the key to elevating me and my business.

So how can you take it up a notch, to take your experience, education and knowledge and translate it into something tangible? How do I take those things that make me better and more qualified than the rest and turn them into something that a potential client can understand? The answer is much easier than I thought it would be.

Continue reading "Taking Steps to Becoming a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP)" »

January 3, 2011

Fay Sirkis: Painting Magic, Adobe Photoshop CS5

The following article includes additional content from Fay Sirkis that had to be edited for length in the January issue of Professional Photographer.

IMAGING USA
Fay Sirkis presents “The Art of Portrait Painting” at Imaging USA in San Antonio, January 16-18.

A picture's worth a thousand words, a painting is worth so much more!

There is no better way to capture the essence of a person than from photos of the subject, and there is no better way to portray a subject than through a beautiful painting.

From the beginning of art history, there has been a universal fascination with the representation of the human face. Many of the greatest and most endearing works of art ever created are portrait paintings!

When people refer to the history of art, they often mean the history of portrait painting. Many of the most famous paintings by masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Edgar Degas and John Singer Sargent, were portraits.

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Digital artists face two main challenges in trying to simulate traditional art.

1. Achieving the blending of different colors of paint so that in the fine shading it produces soft transitions between colors and tones.

2. Having the brushstrokes look as realistic and as close as possible to traditional brushstrokes, no matter the medium.

In CS5, Photoshop has overcome both of these challenges in a very big way. With the new Bristle brushes and Mixer Brush, backed up by a powerful new painting engine, photo painting has never been as much fun and as accessible as it is now.

What is Photo Painting?

Photo painting, is a simulation of the painting workflow, tools and brushes, based on the traditional painting styles of the Old Masters and the lessons that we learned from art history.

For centuries, artists have been using the photograph as a reference for their paintings, and the camera or some form of lens to capture their image. Photo art, referred to today as photo painting, was and always will be a sought after art form, only accomplished differently at different times, according to what was available at the specific time period. With the introduction of new painting tools in CS5, it is possible to transform photographs into many different styles of art!

Using Photoshop to transform your photos into paintings is similar to how the Old Masters used the camera obscura, or to Norman Rockwell's technique, hundreds of years later. He used the photograph as a painting reference that enabled him to paint with such amazing detail. Using a balopticon, Rockwell would project a photograph of his subject onto a large sheet of canvas, then trace it in great detail, after it was all sketched out, he would begin adding in his paints, and that is how he created his masterpieces!

If you look back and study the art history of the Old Masters, you will see that nothing has changed, and yet everything has. One thing is for sure, we have not reinvented the wheel! Art today is the same as it was hundreds of years ago … we just use the tools available to us today to create it.

Continue reading "Fay Sirkis: Painting Magic, Adobe Photoshop CS5" »

December 8, 2010

Review: Adobe Press Learn By Video, Lightroom 3

 By Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP

If you have trouble keeping on top of all the new software developments as they roll out, you may want to consider video training. Last month, I reviewed an Adobe Press training video on Photoshop CS5, and in this review, I’m going to evaluate their training video on Lightroom 3.

Learn Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 by Video contains 10 hours of high-quality training, as well as a printed reference book. Together, these resources cover the fundamentals of using Lightroom, as well as highlight what’s new since Lightroom 2.

When you insert the DVD into your computer, you’ll see an easy-to-understand welcome interface:

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This welcome page of the DVD provides you with easy access to the table of contents, a shortcut to “play all” videos, an introduction video featuring your instructors (Tim Grey and Mikkel Aaland), and even links to the “extras” contained on the DVD.

Continue reading "Review: Adobe Press Learn By Video, Lightroom 3" »

Workflow: Checklists and Timeouts

By Chontelle Brown, CPP

Whenever I hear about a business or customer service error, my first thought is, “they should have had a checklist” or “someone didn’t use their checklist.” Checklists are reminders that reduce the risk of error for routine tasks.

For years the airline industry has used checklists and, not coincidentally, now has the lowest fatality rate in decades. Most recently, operating rooms have implemented similar ideas with checklists and timeouts. While we are not in a profession that risks the life or limb of our clients, we do stake our reputation on our performance and run the risk of failing in our business.

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When we become complacent, we create a situation open to latent errors—errors that may not become apparent until later. The more we deviate from norm, the more comfortable we become with this deviance, or the new normal. Before long, you may not immediately back up your images from a session because you skipped this step previously without consequence. As we all know, this is a recipe for disaster.

By creating and using checklists, you ensure each step of your workflow is completed, thus preventing errors or having to redo work because it was done incorrectly the first time. Checklists have helped streamline processes in my studio. I have a checklist for my entire workflow as well as a checklist for each session type. This ensures that I am always prepared when my client arrives, no more last minute searching for a diaper cover or fumbling to find that I forgot paper towels and wipes during a newborn session.

Continue reading "Workflow: Checklists and Timeouts" »

October 12, 2010

Review: Adobe Press Learn By Video, Photoshop CS5

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By Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP

I am a fan of learning how to use software to its fullest extent.  By learning shortcuts and efficiency tricks, you can speed up your workflow and reduce the time you spend in front of a computer.

With that goal in mind, I decided to see what I could learn by watching the Adobe Photoshop CS5 Learn By Video DVD offered by Adobe Press. The video is the only approved video courseware for those individuals looking to become an Adobe Certified Associate, and packs in 21 hours of visual training. It is packaged with a printed book that contains supplemental information such as the DVD table of contents, what’s new in CS5, keyboard shortcuts, a glossary and more.

The DVD contents greet you with an easy-to-understand interface:

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The welcome page of the DVD is divided into three sections. On the left is an overview of the DVD contents. You can choose to play all videos, or navigate to specific sections and watch videos based on your learning needs. The center area introduces you to your instructors (Kelly McCathran, Scott Citron and Ted LoCascio), while the right sidebar informs you that the DVD also comes equipped with extra content:

• Tutorials to Go: videos formatted for viewing on your mobile device. If you’re using an iPhone, you’ll want to copy the .mov files to your device; if you’re an Android user, copy the .3gp files to your device.
• Assets: various files are provided in case you want to work alongside the instructors using the same images they are using. This can be helpful if you are someone who learns by doing.

Continue reading "Review: Adobe Press Learn By Video, Photoshop CS5" »

October 11, 2010

The Canon Expo Experience

By Diane Berkenfeld

Once every five years, Canon goes all out and invites the world to see its latest and greatest technologies—in a grand way. This September the company kicked off Canon EXPO 2010 with its theme “We Speak Image.” The EXPO debuted in New York City, and will make appearances in Paris, Tokyo and Shanghai. Not everyone may be aware that Canon has expertise in areas other than cameras and inkjet printers—printing systems and copiers, binoculars, camcorders, both consumer and professional broadcast quality, security and medical imaging systems—all make up the array of product lines. Over 150,000 square feet of exhibition space at the Jacob Javits Center in NYC was filled with Canon innovations and new technologies.

Products on Display

The recently announced EOS 60D DSLR was on display for photographers to handle, along with a range of lenses, Canon EOS camera bodies and accessories. Support personnel were on hand to answer questions on cameras and imaging, Canon software and small- and wide-format printing.

EXPO Education

One of the great aspects of the Canon EXPO was a full lineup of seminars over the course of the two days to discuss best practices, or educate attendees on the benefits of specific Canon products. Photography seminar topics covered wedding photography, the future of print, fashion photography, integrating Canon HD DSLRs into commercial and aerial photography, and celebrity photojournalism.

I attended three such seminars: Eddie Tapp’s “Best in Process and Printing from your CR2 Workflow,” Alex Buono’s "HD DSLR Cinema 101," and Robert Farber’s "Fashion Photography: A Career Overview." All three photographers are Canon Explorers of Light. Tapp and Farber are still photographers but Alex is a cinematographer who happens to use a range of video gear in his job, including Canon DSLRs.

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Eddie Tapp

Eddie Tapp is a color management guru, so he began his presentation reiterating the importance of fully calibrating and profiling your entire workflow, from display to output, if you want consistent results over time.

To illustrate this point, Tapp showed how the video projector being used for the seminar first displayed his images and then with the correct colors after he calibrated it. There was such a noticeable difference, that attendees really understood the importance of doing this, especially if you often show images on equipment that isn’t yours. (However, you do need to regularly recalibrate because bulb life can change over time.)

Continue reading "The Canon Expo Experience" »

September 20, 2010

Reader Discount for Vimeo Festival, Oct. 8-9, NYC

Vimeo offers Professional Photographer magazine readers a discount for the Vimeo Festival, Oct. 8-9, NYC

Online video sharing site Vimeo is offering Professional Photographer magazine readers a special discount for tickets to the Vimeo Festival in New York City, Oct. 8-9. Use the promo code "PPA" (without quotes) at checkout to purchase passes for only $90 each (a $120 value, valid through Oct. 7, pass does not include access to Awards Presentation event, but does include After Party).

The Vimeo Festival is a two-day event for anyone interested in creative video featuring talks, workshops, screenings, and special events. See the full schedule

The two-day Festival is split into themes—Innovation and Inspiration. The first day will offer individual creators an opportunity to learn about innovation across all stages and types of production. Documentary filmmakers Morgan Spurlock and Lucy Walker will discuss the changing landscape of documentary in the digital world. Attendees can sign up for workshops on HD Digital SLR shooting led by Phillip Bloom. Transmedia guru Lance Weiler will lead a talk about storytelling beyond the confines of the 16 by 9 frame.

The second day will start with a series of inspiring micro-talks from Vimeo Awards judges Neville Brody and Pulitzer prize winner Vincent Laforet. The Vimeo Film School course will teach beginner creators the basics of filmmaking, from working with a crew to the fundamentals of editing and distribution. Ted Hope and Brian Newman will discuss how the art and film business is changing. The talks will close with award-winning author and Wired blogger Bruce Sterling envisioning the future of creative digital culture.

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September 15, 2010

Shot in the Dark: Night Photography

By Kevin Adams

Someone once asked me what you can photograph at night. I was dumbfounded. That’s like asking what is there to shoot during the day. The answer is everything! If you can see it, you can photograph it. But the really cool thing about night photography is that you can also shoot things you can’t see.

Night photography is unique in that many subjects look totally different in the photo than they do when you shoot them. The long exposures typically used at night cause any moving lights to record as abstract streaks. The key to making the best images is to pre-visualize the effect for any given subject. In fact, with many night subjects, planning ahead is the only way to get the shot.

I enjoy all types of night photography, but light streaking is my favorite. If an object emits light and it moves, it’s a candidate. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Vehicle Lights

Recording lights from moving vehicles is the easiest type of streaking you can do. Like most nighttime lights, vehicle streaks do not normally make good photo subjects by themselves, but they can make a strong compositional element in any scene. Cars are the obvious sources, but think about other possibilities. Set up near an airport and catch the lights from arriving and departing planes (though be careful of the potential for a “photographer = terrorist” security situation). Shoot boats in a busy harbor. Catch a train crossing a trestle or coming out of a tunnel. Get the neighborhood kids to ride around on their bikes with a headlight attached.

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In this nighttime snow scene, the light path from hiker's headlamps is traced along switchbacks on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail north of Asheville, North Carolina. This section of the MST is located within the boundaries of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Exposure: 1,122 seconds at f/22, ISO 200.

Optimum exposure varies according to the brightness and number of the lights. Typically, you will choose aperture first, based on depth of field requirements, then balance the ISO and shutter speed. In some situations, even with the smallest aperture and lowest ISO, you can’t set a shutter speed long enough to record the light streaks without overexposing the overall scene. Try using a polarizing or neutral density filter to cut the light and allow longer shutter speeds. Also, shoot at twilight, when light from the sky is balanced with vehicle lights.

Star Trails

Back in the film days, we could load ISO 100 film in a camera and open the shutter for hours, never worrying about noise. Try that with digital and you’ll hit the delete button afterwards. However, pro digital cameras are fully capable of producing noise-free images at shutter speeds of several minutes. By shooting a lot of exposures and stacking them, we can achieve an even better result than we could with film.

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Star trails streak across the night sky sky above the telescope known as 26-East. The radio telescope is on the grounds of Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) in the mountains of western North Carolina. Exposure: 41 exposures stacked, each 180 seconds at f/4, ISO 400.

A photo of nothing but star trails might look cool at first glance, but the novelty wears off fast. You need something interesting in the foreground. Try campsite scenes, lighthouses, bridges, and striking buildings. I typically shoot star trails at ISO 200 and f/4. Shutter speed is based on the sky-fog limit, the point at which light pollution or skylight causes overexposure. At very dark sites, you might get by with 30 minutes or more, which would allow you to shoot a star trail scene in one exposure if noise weren’t an issue. In a heavily light-polluted region, you might not get a minute before it blows out. At reasonably dark sites, I’ve found that an exposure of 4 to 6 minutes works pretty well.

Stacking star trails can be extremely simple. If you have a compatible Windows system, you can download the free Startrails application from the startrails.de website. Just load your images and let it do all the work. Or you can stack in Photoshop by loading the files into layers and setting the blend mode to Lighten.

Continue reading "Shot in the Dark: Night Photography" »

August 31, 2010

Our Favorite Workflow Websites (September Issue Supplement)

When you want to discover new shortcuts and ways to make your workflow solid and secure, these are some great online resources.

• dpbestflow.org

• thedambook.com/blog

• tv.adobe.com/product/lightroom

• blogs.adobe.com/lightroomjournal

• tv.adobe.com/channel/photography/photo-management

• ononesoftware.com/university/category/workflow

• photoshelter.com/learn

August 20, 2010

Top Safety Tips for Protecting Digital Image Files

By Chris Bross, Data Recovery Engineer for DriveSavers

With the advent of digital photography and flash memory, a whole new set of potential problems has evolved for photographers. DriveSavers Data Recovery Engineer, Chris Bross, has assembled the following list of tips for how to handle flash memory cards properly and help prevent potential loss of precious photographs.

BACK UP YOUR IMAGES! Protect yourself and your irreplaceable images by backing up onto CD/DVDs, tapes, online storage or an external hard drive. This will help guard against data loss when (not if) your hard drive crashes unexpectedly.

TRANSFER YOUR PHOTOS. Copy the image files from the camera’s flash memory to a computer’s hard drive a soon as you can. We recommend not deleting images or reformatting the memory card while it is still in the camera. Wait until all photos are transferred and verified.

FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS. Take care when removing flash memory from the camera or card reader. Avoid deleting or corrupting images by using the eject command on the computer or moving the card icon from the desktop to the trash/recycle bin before physically removing the card.

VERIFY THE TRANSFER. Open the images on the hard drive before reformatting the card.

MAKE MORE THAN ONE COPY. Back up your backup media and keep a duplicate offsite in a secure location.

PROTECT YOUR FLASH MEMORY CARDS. Use the plastic holder when carrying them around. Simple static buildup can zap the card and make it unreadable. There are other dangers as well, such as breaking a card in our pocket or putting the card, along with your clothing, in the wash.

REPLACE YOUR FLASH MEMORY CARDS. Typically, flash memory cards can be used about 1,000 times before they start to wear out.

AVOID EXTREME TEMPERATURES. Heat, cold and humidity can wreak havoc with digital equipment, especially flash memory.

 

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August 2, 2010

Review: "Inside Contemporary Children's Photography"

By Marianne Drenthe

Educational materials for children’s photographers are a common sight these days and with good reason … there seems to be big business in showcasing the in’s and out’s of this specialty in photography. With so many photographers opening up shop, an equal number of established pros are getting in on the teaching game. It can be tough to know where to turn for good, solid, usable information.

I’ve seen some good, some bad (ok, awful) and some overpriced educational materials. I have heard horror stories about poorly produced DVDs and instructional materials. I admit I may be particularly picky as I do some teaching as well, and I'm particular when it comes to my business and the art and skill involved with photographing children. When you adheres to stringent rules about your own work and what you produce, you tend to be equally hard on others.

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“Inside Contemporary Children's Photography” with Tamara Lackey displays impressive quality. Once you begin, you are immediately sucked into Tamara’s world. Her speaking style is effervescent, friendly and instructional. This DVD is unique, in my opinion, because it’s filmed in an infomercial-like style; it’s the very why of how this DVD pulls you in and keeps you watching. Who can resist a good infomercial? Not me!

Though I was a bit leery to review a photo-education DVD because there’s so much out there that falls short, I’ve only heard good things about Tamara Lackey’s presentations, so I was excited to see what she had to share. Being confident in my own business and experience children’s photography, I was doubtful that I’d get anything new out of watching it. On this point, I was wrong because she gave some great tips.

Continue reading "Review: "Inside Contemporary Children's Photography"" »

July 30, 2010

Reexamining the Greener Print

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By Dawn Tacker
Images by Mark Pawlyszyn

Whether your do your own printing or task that to a competent lab, Greener Photography recommends using natural fiber paper in place of traditional RC/silver halide paper for printmaking as a greener option. Read more about that in our Greener Photographic Prints article. But which natural fiber paper to choose? One important factor to consider: the use of OBAs, or optical brightening agents.

OBAs are used to make paper look more uniform, and more white. But at what cost? As OBAs break down, their effects do as well—and they don't break down uniformly. A paper that is made unnaturally white through the use of OBAs will start to yellow—it is a matter of the paper returning to its "natural" color. However, when OBAs break down they can cause irregular yellowing. OBAs call into question the longevity of a photographic print—what good is a lightfast rating of 200 years if your print will yellow sooner than that? The greenest options for printing are also those that will withstand the test of time.

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What's a photographer to do? To avoid color shifts and yellowing of your fine art prints, chose papers with zero or very low levels of OBAs. How do you find out if your paper has OBAs? Check out the manufacturer's website, and look for information on OBA content. Click on "Continue reading 'Reexamining the Greener Print'" to find our list of a few examples of papers that have zero-to-low levels of OBAs:

Continue reading "Reexamining the Greener Print" »

June 30, 2010

10 Video Tips for HDSLR Beginners

By Lindsay Adler

If you have an HDSLR camera, video is a great way to add an extra dimension to your work and even offer value-added services to your clients. Some photographers are beginning to differentiate themselves through their video capabilities, and others are finding video an exciting new realm for creativity.

If you are just getting into video, here are a few basic but essential tips to keep in mind.

1. Don’t Forget the Rules of Photography: Don't forget everything you’ve learned as a photographer. That the same rules of composition and lighting apply here. Just because you add motion doesn’t mean you should drop in visual quality.

2. Add Movement: We are often used to posing our subjects to capture a still moment in time. If you try this same static approach to video, it might as well have been still images. Add motion, action and interaction to your video. You don’t just have to focus on the movement of the subject, but you can also try moving the camera, like including pans (lateral movement of camera). In video, using zoom may have an amateur look; used correctly, it emphasizes tension or intense focus on a subject.

3. Get the Angles: Try to capture all the different angles for variety. It is often suggested to capture a wide shot to establish the scene, a medium shot to meet the subjects, a close-up to interact with the subjects, and super close-up for visual interest and variety. Instead of zooming in, you capture different angles and draw the viewer into the scene. In many cinematic productions, each shot is only on screen for a matter of seconds, which helps keep up the momentum. Use your different lenses—everything from wide angle to macro.

4. Tell a Story: It is even more important to tell a story in video than with photography because you must engage the viewer for a period of time. When you are telling a story with a plot, quest or some end goal, you will be better able to hold the relatively short attention span of today’s Internet generation.

5. Prepare: Video requires more thought and preparation because the segments must be stitched together into a cohesive piece. Summarize the story you want to tell, and figure out what shots you need to tell the story. Consider drawing out a storyboard to figure out which shots you’ll need, and how you can accomplish these shots.

Continue reading "10 Video Tips for HDSLR Beginners" »

Marketing Yourself as a Greener Portrait Photographer

By Dawn Tacker

It's relatively easy to show the world that you care about the environment. Demonstrate your green-ness in your business as well to connect with the educated, savvy group of families that make wonderful, caring portrait clients. Together you and your clients can help bring positive change.

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Understanding the Eco-Aware Family

Many families who are concerned about the environment view all their purchasing decisions through a green lens. The power of supply demand is a beautiful thing - as more like-minded consumers ask for and purchase greener options, more options are available to them. The photographic industry is in its infancy when it comes to offering greener products. Ride the wave of change by understanding your eco-friendly options in photography, educating your clients about their greener options, and letting your environmentalism shine through all that you do.

Educate consumers

  • Have a well-articulated environmental policy on your website that indicates all the things you do to run a greener business. Going through Greener Photography's certification process will provide a roadmap for writing your statement.
  • Help your clients understand the environmental impact of traditional photographic products. For example, explain why RC prints are not eco-friendly.
  • Ensure all aspects of your business reflect your environmentalism. For example, use recycled paper/natural paper options for printing promotional materials. Start with Greener Photography's list of offset printers offering such products.

Continue reading "Marketing Yourself as a Greener Portrait Photographer" »

March 4, 2010

How To: Large File Transfer

By Zack Davis

As typical image file sizes increase, many photographers are finding it harder to move, share or deliver their files digitally. Whether delivering the final edit to a commercial client, submitting a print-resolution image to a magazine, or wanting to send work to your home computer from the studio, there are simple solutions available. We’ll cover just a few of the more popular services here including Dropbox.com, Box.net, YouSendit.com and Me.com. These services allow you to send large files as easily as you send an e-mail and access your files from multiple computers whether you’re on Windows or Mac.

Dropbox.com works nearly seamlessly on Windows because it appears as a folder inside your computer. Anything inside this folder is automatically sent to the Dropbox servers, which allow instant online access on any Windows or Mac computer. Dropbox also has a complimentary iPhone app that allows you to access and edit your folders on the go.

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If you’re using Dropbox and sharing a folder with other people, you’ll be instantly notified when a new file is added or modified as well. This is great if you often find yourself sending files to a few people over a chat program like Yahoo Instant Messenger.

Continue reading "How To: Large File Transfer" »

Uploading Videos to the Internet: Six Easy-to-Follow Steps

By Philip Bloom

In general, uploading videos to websites is a fairly easy process but there are a few steps you should take to ensure your videos are uploaded properly and offer the best quality possible. Personally, I use Vimeo for sharing my video content and their process for uploading videos is quite easy.

There are many formats you can use to upload your videos, but it is always a good idea to compress your videos before uploading them to the web. Uploading raw, uncompressed files will take a long time and eat up a lot of bandwidth, and the quality will not be that much better than a wel-compressed file. For me, the ideal combination of quality and speed are .MP4 or .MOV files using the h.264 codec. Although Flash streaming is a good compromise of quality and speed, H.264 QuickTime MP4s is a great alternative for great quality.

I have outlined a video upload workflow based on the Mac computer platform, but you can easily apply it to a PC as well. While my own personal workflow is based around Final Cut Pro— and that process is very specific— the following steps will work with most systems.

STEP 1: Secure a free piece of software called MPEG Streamclip from Squared5.com. Once you’ve downloaded it to your computer, open the software and drag-and-drop your finished edit into its main window.

STEP 2: From the top menu of the software, choose Export as MP4 and click.

STEP 3: The next step is to determine which file format and resolution you’d like to use for your video. This depends on whether your video footage is in SD (standard definition), 720p (720 pixels vertical resolution) or 1080p HD (high definition).

My suggestion when using MPEG Streamclip is:
• Go to File, then Export to mp4.
• Select the codec you want the MP4 to be. MP4 is purely a “wrapper” for the video, allowing it to be compressed in all sorts of ways. Personally, I recommend you select H.264.

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Continue reading "Uploading Videos to the Internet: Six Easy-to-Follow Steps" »

March 3, 2010

Search Engine Optimization: Getting Started

By Ellis Vener

SEO is Search Engine Optimization. After either working long and hard designing, coding, debugging, and selecting images for your website, or spending a lot of money for someone else to do the design and coding work, you want your website to be easily found and that means making sure it ranks high, preferably on the first page, on a search engine’s list for photographers with your specialty in your town and in your region. An effective SEO strategy can be a powerful and cost effective marketing tool as the investments you have to make are merely ones of intellectual capital and time. SEO is only one component of your marketing strategy, of course, and all marketing is about building awareness. The fundamental point of marketing is to let potential clients know you exist and then to show off what you can do. Even if you are the most talented and sensitive photographer within 100 miles, if potential clients can’t find you, how will they know you even exist?

After researching and examining a lot of available SEO expertise, Professional Photographer turned to two photographers who successfully use SEO marketing to consistently rank high in different specialties. J Sandifer of emilie inc., a location wedding photography studio based in Portland, Maine, who is also the wedding development manager at liveBooks, and Jon Cornforth, a nature photographer and teacher. 

Continue reading "Search Engine Optimization: Getting Started" »

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.

 

Continue reading "Event Profile: After Dark Education" »

December 31, 2009

Tips for Greener Photography: Water Conservation

By Dawn Tacker

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Winter is a great season to take the time to make your home or retail studio space more efficient. Consider extending that efficiency to your conservation habits. Water covers more than 70% of the earth's surface, but by 2025 more than half of the world’s population will be facing water-based vulnerability. Although most photographers don't use water as part of their manufacturing process anymore, we all continue to consume water in our daily lives and buy water-intensive products, electronics and other supplies. In this article we are going to focus on tips to help do your part to conserve this precious resource in your daily life. Stay tuned for our next article on conserving water in your professional life. Here are some tips to help do your part to conserve this precious resource.

First, track your water usage. You can’t tell if you’re using less water unless you’re aware of how much you’re using in the first place! Second, set water conservation goals. Challenge yourself, your studio, and your family to reduce consumption by 10% to 20% each year. Implement policies that will help meet your conservation goals.

Continue reading "Tips for Greener Photography: Water Conservation" »

Tips for Greener Photography: The Photographer's Water Footprint

By Thea Dodds

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In our last web exclusive we discussed ways to reduce your personal water footprint. In this article we will focus on identifying and reducing the photographer’s water footprint.

Photographers may not realize the extent of water waste associated with our work, but water is consumed in virtually every aspect of our lives and every choice we make for our business. Precious fresh water is used each time you turn on a light, and in the production of every new computer, camera, and photographic print. By learning more about where and how water is used in our professional lives, we are empowered to make choices to keep that use to a minimum. Here is an overview of how water is associated with the products and tools of photography businesses:

Electric Power: According to Rosebro, 2009, it is estimated that over a third of all freshwater withdrawals in the United States are used for energy production. Electricity has a direct connection to water because electric plants use fresh water for pumping crude oil, cleaning plant exhausts, generating steam, regulating heat and washing away unwanted residue.

Photographers use a fair amount of electricity, but the amount we use as individuals is small in comparison to the amount used to produce the tools of our trade. The United Nations University published a paper citing 3,600-8,300 Megajules of electricity are used to manufacture an average desktop computer and 17-inch monitor.

Continue reading "Tips for Greener Photography: The Photographer's Water Footprint" »

December 18, 2009

28 speakers. 14 hours. Serious Money Making Ideas.

Join Sarah Petty and 27 other industry leading photographers for The Joy to the World FREE Marketing Websummit on December 28, 2009 . We'll each share our best money-making ideas for your business in the new year. From promotional ideas, to earning a larger investment from each wedding client, workflow improvements and more, you'll learn so much in these 14 FREE hours to substantially grow your business in 2010. At the same time, we'll be helping fund smiles for children in need of cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries through PPA Charities.

Over 10,000 professional photographers registered for our Master Photographers Free Marketing Telesummit in September. Now they're doing it again to help you get off to a strong start in the New Year … and it's BIGGER and BETTER! This time, you can learn from David Jay, Sam Puc, Julia Woods, Jerry Ghionis, Scott Crosby, Will Crockett and more! The Joy to the World Websummit promises to provide you with serious money making ideas for your business. All you need is a computer with an Internet connection to join us December 28 (and the latest version of Adobe Flash —It's free, too). The Websummit will be available for 24 hours beginning at 12:01 CST on December 28. Listen to only those speakers you like best or watch all 28. You can start, stop and pause each speakers' presentation to learn at your leisure within the 24 hour window. Simply REGISTER NOW for FREE!

If you're not available on December 28, 2009 or want to get a head start on 2010 planning for your business, you can purchase the Adobe Flash files of all 14 hours for $89 and receive access to the speaker presentations IMMEDIATELY. A pre-websummit special price of $59 is available until December 27. Just register before December 28, 2009, and you'll receive this special offer!

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September 30, 2009

Tips for Greener Photography: Greening Your Battery Usage

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By Jessica Riehl

We use batteries in everything from our cameras to our computer mouse. While eliminating batteries from our camera bag is not an option, we can reduce the environmental impact of our battery consumption with a few simple tips.

• Properly store your batteries. Proper storage of your batteries will increase their life. Energizer.com has an excellent list of do’s and don’ts for battery care. For example, when carrying batteries in your pocket, do not allow them to rub against metal objects. This can short-circuit your battery, which can lead to leakage. For the same reason you do not want to mix different types of batteries in a storage container. Use battery cases, such as this one found on Greenbatteries.com, to keep loose batteries organized in your camera case.

• Recycle your batteries. Rechargeable batteries contain heavy metals, which if not properly disposed of can become an environmental hazard. To find a recycling center near you, visit Earth911.org. Earth911.org also has an excellent Rechargeable Batteries 101 help section.

• Buy the right battery. Greenbatteries.com states that “for most high drain electronic devices, like digital cameras, rechargeable batteries will continue to work much longer than alkaline batteries. In fact, in devices like digital cameras, NiMH batteries will run on a single charge for 3-4 times as long as they would on an alkaline battery.” Rechargeable batteries come in different capacities such as 2700 mAh or 1700mAh, so be sure to purchase the highest capacity available. Additionally, all batteries are not created equal. For a review and rating of the current batteries on the market, check Consumerreports.org.

• Be smart about your battery consumption.T urn off your equipment when not in use to eliminate unnecessary battery drainage. Use a battery charger that is specifically designed for the type of battery you are using. For example, you should use a smart fast charger for a battery described as quick charge. Charge batteries only for as long as necessary rather than overnight. Greenbatteries.com states that over charging a battery will reduce the life of the battery.

Continue reading "Tips for Greener Photography: Greening Your Battery Usage" »

September 21, 2009

The Healthy Photographer: Injury Prevention Optimizes Business Success

By Serge Timacheff with Peter Harmer, Ph.D., ATC

It’s not uncommon to catch sight of a photographer skirting a football field, squatting on the sidelines of a basketball court, or crouching in the midst of a wedding reception and carrying multiple camera bodies and lenses, a camera bag, a tripod or monopod, and wearing a vest containing who-knows-what. Equipment is a heavy burden, but carrying it is better than having to run across a room or field to change lenses or attach a flash.

Photography is an athletic occupation. Indeed, it can place many of the same rigors on a photographer as sports do on athletes. Professional photography in the field often requires endurance, strength, flexibility, and even (on occasion) speed. The problem is that many photographers are in less-than-optimal physical condition—much less athletic—and, unlike athletes, they seldom do much to prevent injuries or career-threatening conditions. And despite of the advent of the digital age, photography equipment hasn’t gotten substantially lighter or less bulky.

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Lift with the legs from a steady position. ©Amy Timacheff

For example, many professional photographers complain of back and neck problems as well as sore elbows and wrists from carrying and holding equipment. In addition, poor dietary habits can result in weight problems, which exacerbate back and neck problems. Unlike job-related injuries in more formal corporate settings, little has been done to quantitatively or qualitatively research the rates of injuries and illness or their associated risk factors in the profession. And few photographers have the option to file for Workers’ Compensation.

Moreover, digital photography has the added threat of repetitive-stress injuries such as carpal-tunnel syndrome due to hours spent in post-processing time on the computer. Anecdotally, both acute and over-use injuries are becoming more common in professional photographers.

Continue reading "The Healthy Photographer: Injury Prevention Optimizes Business Success" »

September 17, 2009

Guide to Quantum Instruments Trio QF8 System Situational Setups

By Stan Sholik

The Quantum Instruments Trio QF8/Pilot QF9/Qflash T5d-R equipment forms a powerful and versatile wireless system that can handle many of the tasks that up until now have required larger, less portable lighting equipment. I found that the system will perform extremely well when it has been set up properly. But I also encountered a fairly steep learning curve in setting the units up to perform the way I wanted.

For others who may be trying to work out settings for some common photographic situations, here is what I have found.

1) How to set up a Trio on the camera hot shoe and a T5d-R as a remote to use the camera’s built-in TTL system to determine the exposure.

The T5d-R remote flash must be set to the same Wireless Group and Channel as the Trio, in this case Wireless Group R1 and Channel 1. The remote flash must ALWAYS be set up before the on-camera Trio is turned on.

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On the Trio, you set the mode to QTTL, the first setting in the menu bar at the top of the LCD.

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Continue reading "Guide to Quantum Instruments Trio QF8 System Situational Setups" »

September 16, 2009

Tips for Greener Photography: Shipping

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By Jessica Riehl

Most of us underestimate the impact of shipping our products and supplies. Did you know that components of photographic products are often shipped multiple times before they are assembled? Did you know that air shipping is the most carbon-intensive form of shipping? From Yvon Chouinard’s book “Let My People go Surfing,” here are a few statistics on generic energy costs to ship per ton:

Rail or boat: 400 BTUs per ton mile
Truck: 3,300 BTUs per ton mile
Air Cargo: 21,760 BTUs per ton mile
Air Cargo uses 6.5 times more fuel than shipping by ground.

We should not only ask questions about where things come from, but how they are shipped as well. As Elisabeth Rosenthal reported for The New York Times, “Under longstanding trade agreements, fuel for international freight carried by sea and air is not taxed” (Elisabeth Rosenthal, "Putting Pollution on Grocery Bills," The New York Times). In other words, no one is paying the environmental cost of shipping.

What can you do to reduce the impact of shipping?

• Build the extra time into your workflow to use ground shipping and inform your clients of the ecological benefits.

• Recycle your print boxes and sheets of cardboard used to protect your photographs. Cardboard sheets can be donated to art classes. Most local shipping stores will take your old packing peanuts and reuse them.

• Consolidate your orders. By ordering once a week or every two weeks you will reduce the number of boxes you receive and the number of trips a shipping carrier will make to your door.

Continue reading "Tips for Greener Photography: Shipping" »

September 1, 2009

29 Take-Home Tips from the Two Worlds, One Dream Workshop

Two Days of Intense Study with Doug Gordon and Kevin Kubota

By Diane Berkenfeld

Photographers Doug Gordon and Kevin Kubota presented a special workshop called “Two Worlds, One Dream” on August 4-5, 2009 on Long Island, N.Y.

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Photographer Doug Gordon lies on the ground below the bride and groom, shooting upward. Photographer Kevin Kubota is in the foreground, shooting the couple and crowd in the background. Most of the crowd are workshop attendees. Image ©Diane Berkenfeld

When it comes to technique, Gordon and Kubota are as far from each other as two people can be. Gordon’s studio is located in fast paced New York, Kubota’s is in tranquil Bend, Oregon; Kubota and his wife Claire are the sole photographers in their studio, Gordon employs a staff of shooters, salespeople, and digital imagers; Gordon poses everything, Kubota is a photojournalist; Gordon shoots everything in JPEG, Kubota captures images in RAW.

Over the course of two days, the power duo of Doug Gordon and Kevin Kubota imparted much of their technical, marketing and business wisdom to about 50 photographers who attended the workshop. Both classroom-like discussions as well as on-location shoots provided attendees with the opportunity to see how these two pros worked. From idyllic formal gardens to a neon-light-filled bowling alley; from a trip to New York City at night to a sunrise trash the dress shoot, those who attended learned how to pose and light a Bride and Groom in each of these situations. In the classroom, topics covered everything else, from business and marketing to a day filled with workflow tips and techniques, including Kubota showing off his workflow. 

Here are some of the best nuggets of wisdom, tips and techniques I picked up at the workshop.

10 to Remember:

1.   Open your mind.
2.   Do something different.
3.   Be spontaneous.
4.   Every impression counts, not just the first one.
5.   Let your work speak for itself.
6.   Timing is everything.
7.   Always keep your eyes peeled.
8.    “Our job as photographers is not to show the world as it is, but as we want it to be.” –An insight from the late Monte Zucker, repeated during the workshop.
9.    “You can put a price on a piece of photo paper, but you can never put a price on a moment.” –Kevin Kubota
10.  “You can do every pose under the sun, but if your lighting is wrong, you might as well have never shown up.” –Doug Gordon

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One of the stops during the evening trip to New York City was the South Street Seaport. In the foreground are some of the workshop attendees. The bride has been lit in front by a Torchlight, with the light from the pier shining through her dress. Image ©Diane Berkenfeld

Continue reading "29 Take-Home Tips from the Two Worlds, One Dream Workshop" »

August 10, 2009

Tips for Greener Photography: Mulch Marketing 201

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Presenting Yourself as an Eco-Friendly Photographer

By Whitney Elizabeth

As photographers and business owners, we are constantly looking for ways to produce eye-catching promotional pieces that strengthen your brand. When considering which promotional products to purchase, consider the impact your products will have on the environment. Begin with the following questions:

  • Is the product a useful, reusable product or will it be quickly discarded?
  • What will your client do when they are finished using the product you have given them? Is it recyclable?
  • Where is the product made?
  • Does the product fit in with your branding and mission statement?

Buying promotional products that do not portray your brand appropriately can be negative for your business. Here are some ideas for unique promotional items that will have a reduced environmental impact and will support your branding as an eco-friendly photographer.

Continue reading "Tips for Greener Photography: Mulch Marketing 201" »

July 1, 2009

Tips for Greener Photography: 7 Ways to Pool Resources

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By Megan Just

One of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by pooling resources and combining efforts. Teaming up with other local photographers and businesses is not just good ecological sense, it's good business sense. Pooling resources will reduce your overhead costs and increase your profits. Here are seven tips to help you begin combining efforts:

1. Exchange Information

Develop a directory of green-minded photographers and photography-related businesses in your area. Networking can lead to more local shoots and helps build a stronger local economy. Approach related businesses and establish a referral program for their clients and yours. Make it a point to share information with other nearby photographers about your locale, like new shooting locations or shops that give discounts to locals. With the combined knowledge of your group, everyone can be a local expert.   

2. Go Halfsies

Buying in bulk is better for the environment because it reduces packaging and transportation (and cost!). Team up with other photographers to buy high-count packages of stock items you all use, such as print bags and print boxes.

3. Cooperative Studios

Why pay for a studio space that you only use a few times a week? Organize a cooperative studio space with other photographers. You can share more than just the cost of the space and utilities; in a cooperative space, you can share common tools like studio lights, tripods, backdrops, etc.

Continue reading "Tips for Greener Photography: 7 Ways to Pool Resources" »

June 12, 2009

Tips for Greener Photography: Mulch Marketing 101

Resources for Greener Promotional Materials

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By Thea Dodds and Dawn Tacker

The purpose of all promotional materials is to sell your services and products, and to build your brand. But the methods of marketing have changed drastically with the rising sophistication of electronic media. Are printed materials going the way of the dinosaur? Greening your promotional kit is an opportunity to make your business sell better with less waste and lower costs. Here are some ideas to green your marketing efforts.

Shades of Green

Your promotional strategy should comprise a variety of marketing materials aimed at your target audience. It is rare that one promotional piece alone will be enough of a call to action to turn a window shopper into a client. You have to hit your target market from different angles through different types of media. This article will focus on electronic and printed promotional materials, and we’ll have future Greener Photography articles on other types of promotional materials. Each of the marketing methods here is an opportunity to choose greener marketing materials and brand yourself as an earth-friendly photographer.

Continue reading "Tips for Greener Photography: Mulch Marketing 101" »

April 6, 2009

Lighting Tutorial: The Double Profile

By Jeff Lubin, M.Photog.Cr.

One of the most interesting and challenging but least-taught studio lighting patterns is the double profile. All effective portraits attract the viewer’s attention to where the artist wants to draw the eye. In the case of this portrait of 5-year-old twins, we want to enjoy the great expressions and interaction of the subjects.

In most portraits the photographer wants to light the mask of the face. When the subjects are in profile, the mask is a very slim area showing the forehead, outline of the nose, and chin. Because the subjects are facing each other, a single key light can’t outline each face, and the scene will require lighting from separate light sources. Let me take you through the setup and settings to achieve this high-impact but subtle result.

We are using four lights for this setup, a 60-inch Larson umbrella, a 36-inch Larson strip light and two Photogenic parabolics with white diffusers and 16-inch barn doors. The camera is a Hasselblad H2 with a 39-megapixel digital P45+ back by Phase One. The background was painted by Ron Dupree.


©Jeff Lubin

Continue reading "Lighting Tutorial: The Double Profile" »

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."

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

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?" »

March 12, 2009

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.

Continue reading "Raster Image Processors: RIPs 101" »

March 1, 2009

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" »

January 1, 2009

Liquid Lamination Versus Film Lamination

Compiled by James “Jim” Tatum, VP, Drytac liquid coating division

What are the pros and cons of film lamination versus liquid lamination/coating?

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There are many types of laminating films with adhesives that range from pressure-sensitive (cold) to heat-activated (thermal and heatset) and base films made up of PVC vinyl, polyester (PET), polypropylene (OPP), polycarbonate, and others.

Liquid laminating systems also come in many varieties. Some liquids, such as aqueous and solvent coatings, are cured using ambient,  forced air and/or  sometimes infrared heaters, while UV curable coatings need UV lamps to cure (harden) the liquid.

When we consider the many reasons for lamination, it becomes clear that the answer to “film or liquid” is not so simple. We over-laminate an image, print, photo, poster, banner, brochure, book cover, for any of several reasons.

To protect and preserve:
Prolong the life of image to be laminated
Protect the image from fingerprints, smudges, pollution, graffiti
Protect the “message” on printed post cards from the mail system’s sorters
Protect bus wraps from weekly washes

Continue reading "Liquid Lamination Versus Film Lamination" »

August 1, 2008

Portrait Lighting Tutorial: Character Study

Capture the essence of a male subject in a single image.

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

Though colleagues often kid me about my portraits of “old men with hats and beards,” I’ve found photographing men to be interesting and rewarding. Images of beautiful women dominate magazines and exhibitions. When you do see a male subject, it’s most likely a child, high school senior or groom. Yet every man has a unique personality and a story all his own. A portrait should honor the man and the life that’s made him who he is.

Emerson, an elderly gentleman in our neighborhood, was surprised when I wanted to create a portrait of him. He had a compelling look I wanted to capture, I explained. I promised to delete my images if I didn’t make him look good. At my studio the next day, I asked him about his life as I photographed him. He spoke of the places he’d lived, of his family and the jobs he’d held, and about being in the Navy during World War II. Talking helped him to relax into his natural stance and unstudied gestures. From time to time I would ask him to lift his chin or turn his head to refine the pose. I was especially pleased with a particular image from that session (Figure 1).


Figure 1: "Old Habit" ©Don Chick

For character study portrait lighting, I use a 3x4 Larson Soff Box as the main light; a stand-up reflector with white fabric for fill light; a 10x36 Larson Soff Strip with louvers for a hair light; a Photogenic 1250 deep conical parabolic with barn doors as a background light; a 42x72-inch Larson stand-up reflector with silver fabric for accent lighting, placed on the side opposite the main light; and a Photogenic 2500DR in a 10-degree fine honeycomb grid to add a bit of spot light to the background (Figure 2). I prefer to handhold the camera for these sessions so I can capture angles and moods spontaneously.

Figure 2: Lighting diagram for character study portraiture

 

Continue reading "Portrait Lighting Tutorial: Character Study" »

June 18, 2008

Don Chick Workshop: How to Become a Confident Studio Photographer

Press Release—Come and learn to see light as you never have before. Join Master Photographer Don Chick, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, D.C.Ph., for a daylong workshop to deepen your understanding of the art and craft of studio portraiture. This class will immerse you in the qualities and characteristics of light and shadow through a series of creative and easy-to-understand object lessons and demonstrations.

You will see the various classic lighting patterns, step-by-step, as they unfold before you on a “human” form, and then experience the transformation of light on a real human face for yourself through hands-on studio practicum.

Open your eyes, challenge your intellect, and stir your heart with determination to return to your studio as a more confident portrait photographer.

July 19, Fort White, Forida
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
592 South West Steadman Glen
Fort White, FL 32038

July 27, Tarpon Springs, Florida
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Hampton Inn
39284 US Hwy 19 North
Tarpon Springs, FL 34689

Seating is limited. Early bird registration: $175
Ft. White $200 after June 30
Tarpon Springs $200 after July 12

To register, or for more information call 603-335-4448 or write don@donchick.com. 

PPA C/E: PPA members will receive one PPA service merit for attending. 

June 16, 2008

Nation-wide David Jay Tour to Reveal Secrets of Freedom and Success

David Jay and guests will showcase successful solutions to improve photographers' marketing, workflow, and product fulfillment in "Free To Succeed" tour

Press Release—David Jay, joined by special guests including Jasmine Star, will host one-day training sessions for wedding photographers to offer proven techniques to reach greater business success in less time. Backed by Showit, Adobe, and Couture Book, these training sessions will also reveal powerful tools to improve marketing, streamline workflow, and improve quality and efficiency in product fulfillment.

After being named one of the top 15 Wedding Photojournalists in the world by the WPJA and the #1 Portrait photographer in the world, David Jay created a wedding business that gave him freedom and fulfillment and now he's sharing his secrets with others. David was the first photographer to use a "FreeStyle" approach to marketing while using a "Hands-Free" workflow that allowed him to grow a business charging $15,000 per wedding and shooting weddings all over the world, all in less than four years.

The training sessions will last a half day and will cover the following topics:

• Freedom Packet - David Jay's step-by-step formula on how to set up your business in a way that serves you.
• Three P's of Pricing - How to ensure your pricing structure doesn't put you out of business in the years to come.
• FreeStyle Marketing - Tested techniques used by the top industry leaders that will gain you credibility and get you the dollars you deserve - fast!
• Scale yourself with Webonomics - Creating your unique web identity with the powerfully simple Showit Sites to get yourself in front of thousands of clients!
• Lightroom 2.0 - Be the first to see how to use the power of Lightroom 2.0 and "Find and Fix" correcting to edit your weddings in less than two hours!
• The Final Product - Providing your client with the revolutionary new Couture Book without lifting a finger!

The "Free to Succeed" tour will span three months and hit 21 cities in 16 states across the U.S.

Jul 29, 2008   Houston, TX
Jul 30, 2008   Austin, TX
Jul 31, 2008   Dallas, TX
Aug 3, 2008   Phoenix, AZ
Aug 4, 2008   San Diego, CA
Aug 6, 2008   Los Angeles, CA
Aug 7, 2008   Santa Barbara, CA
Aug 11, 2008   San Francisco, CA
Aug 13, 2008   Salt Lake City, UT
Aug 14, 2008   Denver, CO
Aug 18, 2008   Kansas City, KS
Aug 19, 2008   Chicago, IL
Aug 21, 2008   Indianapolis, IN
Aug 25, 2008   New York City, NY
Aug 26, 2008   Boston, MA
Aug 28, 2008   Washington D.C.
Sep 2, 2008   Charolette, NC
Sep 3, 2008   Charleston, SC
Sep 4, 2008   Orlando, FL
Sep 8, 2008   Atlanta, GA
Sep 9, 2008   Nashville, TN

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Continue reading "Nation-wide David Jay Tour to Reveal Secrets of Freedom and Success" »

June 2, 2008

Tutorial: Simple Composite

By Bob Coates, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

It’s not a bad problem when you’ve captured so many good images that the client can’t narrow the selections down. It gives you the opportunity to sell more and different kinds of product. You can use the techniques in this tutorial to design pages for senior, family and wedding albums as well as framed prints. These images are from a senior portrait session with Heather, who wanted lots of different looks, from casual to fashion.

©Bob Coates

Don’t use too many images on one spread. Usually odd numbers of images work better in design. This helps to keep the eye moving around in the image. Even numbers of images tend to make the layout too static. Here we’ve combined five images to show different composite techniques.

Open all the images you’ll include in the layout. Create a new document at the final print size and resolution you want. Select the Move tool (V) and drag and drop your base image(s) to the new document window. I chose two fashion images to be the base and blended them together using a Layer Mask and Gradient Tool (below).

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©Bob Coates 

Continue reading "Tutorial: Simple Composite" »

May 30, 2008

Light: Learn to See

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

Looking is not seeing.

Seeing involves asking what, why and how as your eyes take in a situation. Seeing is what an artist does while taking in the world around them.

The journey from looking to seeing is part of artistic growth. It’s a conscious decision at first, and with time and experience it becomes a subconscious act of the mind. If you are open to growth, the seeing process never ends. It’s when you think you’ve arrived that you lose the ability to grow and continue to see.

Growth is a uniquely personal experience, but there are ways to facilitate the process. One object lesson is an art classic: photographing a white egg on a white piece of paper. An egg is a perfect piece of sculpture, a gift of nature, that is most likely sitting right in your refrigerator. You don’t even need a large piece of paper.  Simply take a sheet from your printer to use in this lesson.

 

The first element of the lesson involves caring. “Why should I care about an egg?” you ask. The reason for caring is that if you don’t think you can learn anything from the egg, you’re right. You won’t learn a thing. If you think you can learn something from the egg, you will.

 

Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “If you think you can do a thing or you think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” Caring in the beginning and throughout the entire course of your career as an artist is crucial to growth.

 

Continue reading "Light: Learn to See" »

May 1, 2008

The Boutique Photographer: Learn to Love Strobe

By Sara Frances, M.Photog.Cr.

Use of light creates meaning, defines photographic art and sets the pro apart from the beginner. It is the stock in trade of the boutique photographer. Environmental portraiture and events are rife with difficult lighting conditions that require modification and balance, all under time pressure. Wedding photography is perhaps the most exacting specialty because the photographer must know how to handle the light in any situation.
 
Many photographers proudly say that they work only with natural light. But what is natural? They usually mean existing or ambient light, including daylight, shade, incandescent and fluorescent, which can all be broken down into even more specific categories. We use qualitative terms like diffused, direct, spot, down, specular and reflected to further define illumination. If “natural” includes reflectors, light bulbs and tubes, what possible reason is there to exclude strobe?

The photographer who says she doesn’t work with strobe, generally means she doesn’t have the skill or is unwilling to expend the effort required to meld strobe seamlessly with other existing light. Lack of skill is not a style. The boutique photographer knows there is no excuse for poorly lit, contrasty, blurry or noisy images unless she has chosen to use these devices to visually enhance meaning.

Photo by Karl Arndt

Continue reading "The Boutique Photographer: Learn to Love Strobe" »

April 1, 2008

Video Tutorials: Lightroom 1.1 New Features from Chris Orwig, lynda.com

As a special bonus for Professional Photographer Web Exclusives readers, we’re pleased to present two Adobe Photoshop Lightroom video tutorials from Chris Orwig and lynda.com, Applying presets and Converting to black and white, from Photoshop Lightroom 1.1 New Features.

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Applying presets

 

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Converting to black and white

In Photoshop Lightroom 1.1 New Features, instructor Orwig covers the latest additions to both version 1.1 and version 1.2. He explains how to work with each of the application's new features, including the updated interface, database catalogs, and modules. Chris also shares some useful tips and tricks along the way. Exercise files accompany the tutorials. The full set of tutorials is available at lynda.com, the award-winning provider of educational materials and online training.

Chris Orwig is a faculty member of Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA. He is a professional freelance photographer, interactive designer, educator, and consultant. Included among his clients are companies such as Disney, Nissan, Activision, and J-Records.

The lynda.com Online Training Library® and CD-ROM titles include such subjects as Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Office, digital photography, Web design, digital video, and many others. Library subscriptions begin as low as $25 a month, with no long-term commitment required.

 

Review: ExpoImaging ExpoAperture2 Depth-of-Field Guides

By Ron Eggers

One difference between a serious photographer and a casual photographer is the level of expertise honed from years of shooting experience. A variety of tools are available to help you sharpen photographic skills and insights. The depth-of-field guide, which has been around for some 30 years, has been revised recently with the introduction of ExpoAperture2 Depth-of-Field Guides from ExpoImaging.

For too many photographers, depth of field is a relatively vague concept of what's in focus and what isn't. In fact, you can determine depth of field very precisely, mathematically. Many fixed-focus lenses and some zoom lenses have depth-of-field guides marked on their barrels. Some cameras also have depth-of-field preview capabilities. These work well enough while shooting. But they aren't much help in planning a shoot.

Continue reading "Review: ExpoImaging ExpoAperture2 Depth-of-Field Guides" »

March 31, 2008

Sara Frances Teaches Creative Album Design, May 18-20

Press Release—At the Colorado Imaging Workshops, Sara Frances’ Creative Album Design Mini Session, May 18-20, will teach you to be a Photo Hero. The evolution of computerized design and album manufacturing have catapulted our job as documentarians into chroniclers of relationships and emotions that touch every age group. Suddenly we are novelists, telling stories with the poetry of light and feelings. Just like learning to see the light, Sara will lead you to previsualize how any collection of photographs can become an impactful photo story, with rhythm, grace, chapters and details. Differentiate yourself from typical dependence on graphics and preset devices with unique image flow that reads with meaning from start to finish. Everyone will applaud you as the hero, preserving memories that would otherwise remain hidden on the hard drive. Whether you prefer templating or free-form design in Photoshop, this class will bring out your inner artist on the happy way to higher earnings and recognition.

Cost: $495 for PPC, PPA or WPPI members. $595 for non-members. (Balance due 30 days prior to event.)

Call 303-921-4454 or visit Colorado Imaging Workshops

March 1, 2008

Tutorial: Lighting for Impact

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

Let’s face it, photography is about lighting. Yes, composition is important and emotion is important, but without lighting, you have nothing. Light is everything … almost.

As a piece of music has rhythm, harmony, and melody, so there are elements to lighting that must be included for the image to have impact. Light has the ability to invoke emotion on the part of the viewer. We relate emotionally to different types of lighting and even our moods are affected by light. Light is necessary to our very survival and existence.

Light is a force to be harnessed for our photographs as well. One difference between a professional and an amateur photographer is that the professional is in control of the light. On location, the professional photographer has to position the subject within the environment as it exists. They have no control over where trees have grown or where buildings have been built. They must utilize the existing surroundings and lighting conditions, and the client expects beautiful images. Most photographers make the environment the primary factor and then position the subject within that environment. They make lighting secondary to the location.

The correct approach makes lighting the determining factor for the location and then positions the subject within that environment. Often in the first scenario the lighting is flat and diminishes the features of a beautiful environment. By looking for the “sweet” light first and then carefully placing your subjects in the best possible light, you create a better portrait that has both elements working for it: pretty lighting and a beautiful environment.

Continue reading "Tutorial: Lighting for Impact" »

February 20, 2008

Lighting & Digital Training Camp with Jack Reznicki

Press Release—Canon Explorer of Light and author Jack Reznicki is on tour, presenting a full day of “Need to Know” lighting and digital information. If you have ever wanted to work with studio lighting but didn’t know where to start, or you are a pro looking for new ideas, this seminar will be perfect for you.
 
L O C A T I O N S

New York, March 3
Philadelphia, March 4
Atlanta, March 6
Kansas City, March 8
St. Louis, March 10
Portland, March 12
Irvine, March 14

TOPICS

• Creating “natural” light with strobes
• Basic one-light Portrait lighting with live model
• Histograms, camera white balance, and other camera essentials
• Importing, processing, and printing files
• Masking and professional Photoshop techniques
• Copyrights and copywrongs

Full day of live photographic training: $99
Click here for more information and to sign up for the Jack Reznicki Lighting and Digital Training Camp from Software Cinema.

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February 14, 2008

Review: RAW without FUD: How to Shoot RAW without Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt

By Ellis Vener

There are those who like to learn by reading, there are those who prefer classes, seminars and workshops, there are those who like video instruction, and there are those who’ll take it anyway they can get it. Each approach has its merits. Good DVDs in particular blend several of the strengths of other instruction forms: they are portable, and there’s a human leading you through the process, and best of all, you can go at your pace.

How to Shoot RAWMy first impression of the “RAW without FUD: How to Shoot RAW without Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt” DVD was amusement at the FUD acronym; I’d never heard it before. But according to the Wikipedia.com entry on FUD, it stands for  “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.” FUD has explicit roots as a way of describing political disinformation tactics—like those used by many politically oriented talk radio show hosts. But FUD-ing really gained traction in the corporate world in the early 1970s, and since “1991 the term has become generalized to refer to any kind of disinformation used as a competitive weapon" according to Eric S. Raymond’s “The Jargon File.”

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment: who among us hasn’t felt fear, uncertainty and doubt when confronting digital processing? Like it or not we are now not only photographers but also the lab, and to large extent the equivalent of being film manufacturers as well as being photographers and business owners. It’s all on our (or our assistants') shoulders, folks. That can be scary, and many people still stick to a JPEG-based way of working to get around it. That’s not good because to do so means losing a competitive qualitative edge.

Michael Tapes’ educational goal with the “How to Shoot RAW without Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt” DVD of video tutorials is to dispel your phobias about raw processing, engender confidence in your raw workflow abilities, and thereby help you become a more confident photographer.

Continue reading "Review: RAW without FUD: How to Shoot RAW without Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt" »

February 1, 2008

Refocus on elements of photographic vision and form your own conceptual framework

By JR Geoffrion

Are you sometimes uninspired and wanting to get your groove back? Are you trying to develop your very own photographic style? Or are you simply looking for a fresh and new approach to creativity?

Whether you are an amateur or seasoned professional, all can benefit from using a conceptual framework to improve your photography.

Unlike a signature style, a conceptual framework has no rigid rules or recipes. Instead, it is a set of broad and free-flowing concepts open to your own interpretation, based on your unique experiences and journey through life. As such, a conceptual framework allows you to leave your mark on the images without having to fall into a mold that would inhibit creativity. The framework is ever evolving and changing, ensuring endless possibilities.

Defining your conceptual framework

As a wedding photographer, clients often ask me about my approach to photography. Rather than having a checklist of images I must capture, I shoot each wedding very differently by drawing inspiration from its unique elements, details, and from the personality of the couple. In other words, I react to my environment. Though the images I capture look very different from wedding to wedding, something below the surface ties them together. What is this invisible theme linking my images?

To identify what it was that linked my images, I selected more than 100 of my favorite photographs and looked for common recurring themes. How could these images be related to one another? What are the common threads? Why did I capture them the way I did and not another way? Why do I find these images appealing?

What emerged from this study were six distinct elements that are at the foundation of photogaphic style and vision. They are always at the basis of my images but in different proportion. Drawing a parallel to cooking, I didn’t have a recipe but rather signature ingredients on which I based my dishes.

These elements are shapes, colors, lighting, textures and patterns, movement, and point of view.

Continue reading "Refocus on elements of photographic vision and form your own conceptual framework" »

January 3, 2008

Painting Portraits from Collaged Photos in Corel Painter

By Karen Sperling

Many photographers now offer photos with brushstrokes added in Corel Painter as a special high-end product, but the application’s versatile tool set offers much more to the portrait photographer beyond this basic  technique.

For instance, you can create a painterly collage to commemorate the events in someone’s life. Take several photos, collage, paint and you have a fitting tribute for everyone from corporate executives to brides, seniors or children.

You might charge a premium for this sort of portrait above what you'd charge for the basic portrait with brushstrokes because of the additional work done for the collaged background. You can get the photos you need for the background by getting a variety during the photo shoot, whether it's in the studio, at the subject's location or at a wedding. You can also add old family snapshots or mementos, which you can scan, or favorite digital photos that the subject has on hand. The possibilities really are limitless.

I painted this portrait of Laurence Gartel to commemorate the debut of Digital Long Island (DLI), an event he founded to celebrate digital art.

Painting and photos ©2007 Karen Sperling

Continue reading "Painting Portraits from Collaged Photos in Corel Painter" »

January 1, 2008

A Simplified HDR Technique

By Ellis Vener

There were three major problems to solve for this view of the State Capitol Building in Atlanta, Georgia:

  • It is a large multi-level space with lots of fine detail.
  • There were multiple light sources: daylight, fluorescent and tungsten.
  • The interior composition spanned a broad EV range with important detail at both ends.

Solving the first two problems was straightforward, solved with a Nikon D3 and an AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikkor lens set to f/8 at 14mm. I chose f/8 for depth of field and optimal resolution. I set the Nikon D3 to manual focus, ISO 200, and aperture priority 3-D Matrix metering. Once I secured, checked and doubled-checked the camera settings and position, I took seven exposures, bracketing from +3 to -3 stops in one-stop increments. Given the total spectrum hash of light sources, I thought it best to give Auto White Balance a try.

Image ©2007 Ellis Vener 

Continue reading "A Simplified HDR Technique" »

A Photographer’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization

200801we_SEO.jpgBy Bob Coates, Successful-photographer.com

In the old days, 7-12 years ago, you could build a Web site and people would find it because there weren’t that many sites on the World Wide Web. When I launched my first site in 1996 there was immediate response. Within days I fulfilled a job from Norway—never met the people, just e-mail contact and a certified check.

I had no optimization, nothing special to help people find my site. This definitely doesn’t happen the same way today. Oh my, has that changed. Just having a Web site isn’t enough. You need to make sure the search engines recognize your site for what it is.

Do a search for the word photographer and your search engine will return about 27,400,000 results. Be a little more specific and search for wedding photographer: 1,440,000 results, better but still a mighty big list. Even narrowing the search to Sedona wedding photographer yields 264,000 results. Realistically, if your Web site is beyond the third page of results, or even the second, your potential clients won’t see it.

How to help your chances: SEO—Search Engine Optimization

Why do you need to know how it works? If you have an idea of what will help with SEO, you and your webmaster can make your site more viable to the search engines. If your webmaster isn’t versed in SEO, you should find one who is.

Continue reading "A Photographer’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization" »

December 1, 2007

How To Read and Understand a Histogram

By Ellis Vener

“The map is not the territory” – Alfred Korzybski

What is a histogram and what does it tell us about a photograph?

A histogram is nothing more than a bar graph. It shows how the luminance values in a digital or digitized photograph are distributed. The linear scale in a histogram runs from black at one end to white at the opposite end. With the exception of a scanned negative, the scale runs from left (black) to right (white). About 99 percent of the histograms we use in photography today have 256 increments, corresponding to 8-bit data depth. The histogram maps the distribution of the luminance values either as a composite of the red, green, and blue channels or in each channel, as you may have seen in the histogram display on some cameras and as option in Photoshop.

The horizontal scale of the histogram measures exposure latitude, and the vertical scale measures quantity: it tells us how many pixels in the image have a specific luminosity value. While the horizontal scale is measured in absolute values  (0 to 255) the vertical scale is effected by several factors: the color space, bit depth, and if you are shooting jpegs, the compression level.  

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Above, the histogram display from Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw shows channels represented by different colors.  

Continue reading "How To Read and Understand a Histogram" »

November 16, 2007

New York: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Workshop, Jan. 12-13

Manage, Develop, Present your Images with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Presented by Katrin Eismann and Jack Reznicki, this intermediate weekend workshop from Digital Guru Tours  & Workshops delves into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and is ideal for studio and location photographers who need to manage, organize, and find their files in order to process, present, and profit from them.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is a new software program built from the ground up for the professional photographer. Lightroom is designed to move images efficiently from capture through development to presentation and printing. Students will learn how to edit a shoot, add essential metadata and process the perfect file with exposure, tonal and color corrections, custom grayscale conversions, and split toning effects. The class will also address integrating Photoshop Lightroom with Photoshop CS3.

The 2-day workshop is limited to 16 attendees, allowing Katrin and Jack to answer your photography, digital, and software questions in a casual yet professional environment. Questions you were perhaps afraid to ask and questions you didn’t know to ask will be addressed during the workshop, including: 

• What is Lightroom and how does it differ from Adobe Bridge?

• Ranking, rating, and keywording – oh my…do I have to?

• Editing and processing RAW files (and we don’t mean sushi!)

• Can I shoot tethered with Lightroom? Why would I want to do that?

• Can I improve and simplify my lighting to make better images?

• What is image copyright and how can I protect my images?

• The image looks great on my monitor – but now I want to print it. What settings do I need to use?

Katrin and Jack are well-respected and experienced instructors, known for explaining seemingly complex ideas in easy to understand and hopefully humorous non-geek speak. They guarantee an enjoyable, worthwhile weekend dedicated to the development, understanding, and implementation of professional and creative digital imaging skills.

Information

Dates: Saturday & Sunday, January 12-13, 2008

Location: Reznicki Photography Studio in midtown Manhattan

Schedule:

– Saturday: Registration with a schmear 9:30 am

– Saturday & Sunday: Workshop 10 am–5 PM (lunch on your own)

Payment in full of $499 upon registration with credit card or PayPal.

Online Registration

For additional information on this and future studio and travel workshops with Jack Reznicki and Katrin Eismann please send queries to info@digitalgurutours.com or call 212-925-0771 M-F 10 AM–5 PM.

 

With thanks to our Seminar Sponsors:

Gigabyte Sponsors:
Epson America
Canon USA
Adobe Systems

Megabyte Sponsors:
GretagMacbeth
Peachpit Books
O'Reilly Press
Lensbabies
Nik Software

 

November 1, 2007

Creative Color Temperature and Raw Processing

Excerpted by permission from the forthcoming book, "The Creative Digital Darkroom" by Katrin Eismann and Sean Duggan (O'Reilly Media), available Dec. 15.

Color is the musical score of the image, and just as the musical score changes how you feel about a movie scene, the image’s color treatment will influence or, more fittingly said, will “tint” the viewer’s emotional response. The ability to experiment with image adjustment layers and creative color interpretations is a source of inspiration for me, and it is often surprising how the subtlest color adjustment can shift the emotional impact of an image.

We’ve all made the effort to wake before sunrise to take pictures in dawn’s golden hour or skipped dinner to shoot during dusk when the light is raking across the landscape. Although Photoshop can’t change the time of day in which you shot the image, it can influence the image’s color rendition to infer moods and emotions.

Neutral is highly overrated

In most cases the goal of processing digital files is to create color-neutral and well-exposed images, but in many cases neutral is simply not the best choice for an image. Take a look at the comparison in Figure 8-33, which shows how Katrin saw, and the camera recorded, the pre-sunrise shot of the Brooklyn Bridge, and then how a raw converter set to automatic sucked all the passion out of the scene. Adding creative color interpretations during raw processing is a very subjective and emotional progression that can be a welcome break from the dogma of neutral, picture-perfect image production.

   

Figure 8-33. Raw conversion, set to automatic, can suck the passion from a scene.

Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop Lightroom are tremendous tools to enhance the emotional aspect of images by letting you bend the rules of reality-bound image processing to create subtle and moody images. The advantage of doing creative work in Adobe Camera Raw or Photoshop Lightroom is you can rework and reinterpret the same image many times without ever degrading the original file. Additionally, the benefit of experimenting in the raw processor is that all the controls to influence color, contrast, and exposure are close at hand, enabling you to work very fluidly as you tweak one setting and then refine another.



Working Smart with Smart Objects

Before we dive into the world of creative color, always put on your water wings or life preserver to keep your head above the raw waters. In this case, we highly recommend working with Smart Objects, which in Photoshop CS3 with Adobe Camera Raw 4 (or later) is both an easy and convenient feature that gives you access to Adobe Camera Raw controls even after the image has been brought into Photoshop.

Continue reading "Creative Color Temperature and Raw Processing" »

October 12, 2007

Giving: One Laptop Per Child


Child with XO laptopOne Laptop per Child’s mission is to provide a means for learning, self-expression and exploration to the nearly two billion children of the developing world with little or no access to education. While children are by nature eager for knowledge, many countries have insufficient resources to devote to education—sometimes less than $20 a year per child. Imagine the potential that could be unlocked by giving every child in the world the tools they need to learn, no matter who they are, no matter where they live, no matter how little they may have.
 
Our answer to that challenge is the XO laptop, a children's machine designed for “learning.”

A donation of $200 will pay for and deliver one XO laptop to a child in a developing nation.
 
Starting November 12, One Laptop Per Child will be offering a Give 1 Get 1 Program for a brief window of time. For $399, you will be purchasing two XO laptops—one that will be sent to empower a child to learn in a developing nation, and one that will be sent to your child at home.

For more information on the Give 1 Get 1 Program, visit xogiving.org.

 

Editor's note:  While researching products for a holiday wishlist for photographers, I decided I would also like to provide information about opportunities to give. It's easy to get wrapped up in the stresses of personal and professional demands, but it helps bring things into perspective when you think of people in need and causes worthy of support.

The One Laptop Per Child organization caught my eye in particular because the designers and organizers have a forward-thinking goal with longterm benefits: to bring something to children around the globe to help them learn, connect, teach others, and develop on their own. The laptops are designed to withstand harsh conditions and rough use. They're tough, the screen is still viewable in bright sunlight, they require little power to run, and can even be recharged by hand methods in areas where there is no electricity. It uses only open-source software, the interface is designed for children and fosters learning and connection to others, and the laptop itself includes a video camera, audio and wi-fi connectivity.

The more I read about it, the more amazed I was. I believe that education is one of the greatest means to help people help themselves, and so this cause appeals to me, personally.

Please consider giving to a charitible fund or aid group this holiday season. I urge you to contribute more suggestions for giving opportunities in the Comments area below. Tell us about your favorite cause or charity.

—Joan Sherwood, Senior Editor 


 

September 13, 2007

John Paul Caponigro and Mac Holbert to Host Fine Art of Digital Printing Workshop

Press Release—Epson America Inc. has announced that John Paul Caponigro and Mac Holbert, two of the preeminent leaders in digital photography and fine art printing, are joining forces to conduct the “Fine Art of Digital Printing” workshop for a second time in the state-of-the-art digital printing labs of Brooks Institute of Photography. Offered due to the overwhelming response to their first joint session in June, the encore workshop Oct. 29-Nov. 2 in Santa Barbara, Calif., will provide one-on-one instruction with access to today’s leading digital printing technology.

“This workshop format is so unique in that it gives Mac and me the chance to work one-on-one with attendees throughout the week—something that isn’t usually seen with traditional workshops,” said Caponigro. “The first workshop was such a great experience for everyone involved, we couldn’t wait to do it again.”

Caponigro and Holbert created the Fine Art of Digital Printing workshop to foster growth and creativity among professionals and serious advanced amateurs. The workshop covers topics impacting the entire printing workflow and employs innovative techniques with the industry’s leading printing technology. Committed to producing the finest digital photographs, as well as teaching with the highest quality products in the industry, Caponigro and Holbert have arranged again for students to work with Epson’s award-winning Epson Stylus Pro printers, inks and media.

Continue reading "John Paul Caponigro and Mac Holbert to Host Fine Art of Digital Printing Workshop" »

Artistry Retreat Expands, Moves to Malibu

Press Release—Karen Sperling, the original Corel Painter expert, is pleased to announce that Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., will serve as the new home for her Artistry Retreats and The Artistry GARTEL Marketing Seminars, beginning with the upcoming Artistry Retreat and The Artistry GARTEL Marketing Seminars September 24-28.

Photographers will not only learn techniques for creating paintings from photos and marketing them, but will also enjoy the opportunity to bask in the spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean from the world-class luxury of the Villa Graziadio Executive Center at Pepperdine University, nestled in the tranquil Santa Monica mountains of Malibu.

Sperling has also created a new seminar, The Artistry Painting Faces Retreat, to be held in Malibu, October 10-12. While the Artistry Retreat covers faces, portraits and landscapes, the Artistry Painting Faces Retreat will focus completely on faces and portraits.

In the Artistry Retreat you learn to paint facial features, hair and other parts of the portrait.

The Artistry Painting Faces Retreat includes the foundation of portrait lessons from the Artistry Retreat and then delves further into learning about other artists' styles with the goal of developing your own, unique portrait style. Participants study the distinguishing characteristics that separate a John Singer Sargent portrait from a Mary Cassatt portrait. They also learn how to develop the skills to paint a portrait with an Impressionist look or a contemporary style.

In both the Artistry Retreats and Artistry Painting Faces Retreats, find out the art concepts and Painter steps so that you can paint professional-level portraits yourself.

Malibu photo and painting in Corel Painter by Karen Sperling.  

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Continue reading "Artistry Retreat Expands, Moves to Malibu" »

September 1, 2007

The Designer's Apprentice: Automating Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign in Adobe Creative Suite 3, by Rick Ralston

The Designer's Apprentice

Rick Ralston's "The Designer's Apprentice" (Adobe Press, $39.99) shows you how to use the Automation tools in Creative Suite 3 to save time and effort, freeing you for more creative work. Though written for a graphic designer audience, this book has valuable information for professional photographers as well.

Though automation may seem intimidating, it doesn't have to be. You can make your computer and software work better for you. Learn how to combine your customer data with images for personalized communications. Learn how to record macro-like Actions with Photoshop and then reuse them with multiple files.

Also, keep an eye on the magazine for more information from Rick Ralston, written exclusively for the Professional Photographer audience. He'll explain what automation can accomplish for professional photographers, what ROI you can expect from incorporating automation into your workflow, and how you can get started.

In the meantime, enjoy this excerpt that teaches you how to make a Photoshop Action that gives your images the Reflecto effect, familiar from Apple's marketing and featured on the book's cover.

Download the Reflecto Action tutorial from "The Designer's Apprentice," by Rick Ralston 

Excerpted from "The Designer's Apprentice: Automating Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign in Adobe Creative Suite 3" by Rick Ralston. Copyright © 2008. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and Adobe Press.

Straight Talk on Getting the Color Right

Color continuity. What it is and how to get it.

By Sara Frances, M.Photog.CR

All too often I am consulted to help repair an existing wedding album or portrait series where the color does not match picture to picture. The distraught client is usually too angry or too embarrassed to go back to the original photographer, not even to get a rebate on the bill. Image content may be good, but a storyline visually disrupted by lack of color continuity will leave most clients with buyers remorse, an unhappy state that lowers public confidence in our profession as a whole. Who's to blame? The photographer or the photo lab? The client only knows her investment in photography does not live up to her expectations.

In the psychology of color, continuity (color matching print to print) is all about perception. The mind supersedes the eye in the three-dimensional real world by interpreting colors by memory or by simply becoming used to variations caused by different lighting sources and intensities. We don’t give a moment’s concern, for instance, to faces that look dark and green at a summer picnic under heavy cover of tree leaves.

When viewing two-dimensional prints, however, both eye and mind are uncomfortable with colors that don’t match in comparison or have tonal bias contrary to how we think a particular scene or object should look. Think of the green faced interpretive portraits  by Matisse and Van Gogh that caused an outcry in their time. We know intellectually and from experience that faces and fabrics photographed in bright sunlight will look substantially different when shaded by a green tree or in tungsten room light. Nevertheless we prefer a more neutral tone overall for realistic reproduction, and an almost unreasonably close color match when images taken in different situations are shown side by side.

This candid portrait (left) combines some of the toughest elements for a lab to correct: high contrast, delicate white detail, and inaccurate skin tone due to mixed lighting and auto white balance. The corrected image (right) shows an excellent marriage of softer contrast, a more pleasing skin tone, and detail preservation in the fine lace of the designer gown. Images ©Sara Frances 

Continue reading "Straight Talk on Getting the Color Right" »

August 27, 2007

Great Output Seminar: Printing for Profitability in the Digital Darkroom

See how easy and beneficial it can be to use a wide-format inkjet printer in your photography studio. Learn how to reduce annual lab expenditures while gaining the flexibility to create new products and promote your work.

Brought to you by primary sponsors LexJet and Epson, the Great Output Seminar is designed to make in-studio printing easier, more efficient, and more profitable.

Instructor Tom Hauenstein will demonstrate his One and Done method of streamlining the production of professional-quality prints for your portrait, wedding, event, fine art, or commercial photography business.

Registration is only $49, and includes lunch, presentation and educational materials, giveaways, media samples, special sponsor discounts, and more. Great Output’s Printing for Profitability one-day seminars will be presented in 16 cities starting in September and running through February.

Miami, FL – Sept. 10
Charleston, SC – Sept. 17
Austin, TX – Sept. 24
Atlanta, GA – Sept. 26
Seattle, WA – Oct. 8
Denver, CO – Oct. 10
Phoenix, AZ – Oct. 22
Minneapolis, MN – Oct. 24
San Francisco, CA – Nov. 12
San Diego, CA – Nov. 14
Chicago, IL – Jan. 21, 2008
Kansas City, MO – Jan. 23
Richmond, VA – Feb. 11
Philadelphia, PA – Feb. 13
Boston, MA – Feb. 25
New York City, NY – Feb. 27

Visit the Great Output Seminar Tour for information on venues and the seminar schedule and to register online.

Continue reading "Great Output Seminar: Printing for Profitability in the Digital Darkroom" »

August 7, 2007

Understanding color from photo to press

By Eric Olesh

Have you had images printed that appear nothing like the original? Or something that looked great off your inkjet printer looked all wrong when you had your promotional material printed? You are not alone. Many press reproduction problems stem not from technology, but a lack of understanding about color and printing technologies. Trying to achieve output that resembles the original can be extremely frustrating, even for graphic art professionals.

In the darkroom or on a computer, photographers tweak an image until it is visually appealing. Unfortunately, tweaking and retouching may do little to fix the real problem when it's time to go to press. In order to achieve visually pleasing reproduction, photographers must understand the process from input through print run.

Continue reading "Understanding color from photo to press" »

August 1, 2007

The real price of inkjet printing

Printing in-house means more control over your images, but what does it do to the cost of production? Find out before you make a big investment.

By David Saffir

Dozens of variables come into play when you decide whether to use a print service provider or make your own prints in-house—workflow, time, cost, quality control, labor and convenience among them. We compared the cost of in-house inkjet printing and outsourced printing based on U.S. statistics. Variables like regional differences in costs, pricing and accounting will affect bottom-line results, but our figures are in the ballpark. It’s a good starting place for research of your own.

The comparison reveals several notable findings. In-house inkjet printing in many cases is less costly than high-quality lab printing, excluding direct labor costs. Despite the competitive pricing in media and ink, the cost per square foot of output can vary significantly among wide-format inkjet printers, due in large part to wasted consumables. With the technology in inkjet printing, photographers could save significant time printing in-house. The additional labor costs may or may not be significant, depending on the photographer’s knowledge and experience in digital editing and printing.

Continue reading "The real price of inkjet printing" »

Here is New York: Remembering 9/11/01

New York Historical Society to premiere powerful, original exhibition commemorating the 6th anniversary of September 11. More than 1,300 remarkable photographs, oral histories and artifacts create a new remembrance of the World Trade Center Attacks.

Press ReleaseHere is New York: Remembering 9/11/01, a haunting new exhibition commemorating the sixth anniversary of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks, featuring more than a thousand stirring photographs, together with a bold display of artifacts pulled from the rubble and hundreds of oral histories, opens Friday, August 31 and runs through January 1, 2008 at The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West (at 77th Street).

Photograph taken by Christopher Hubble, Franconia, NH

Continue reading "Here is New York: Remembering 9/11/01" »

Compositing Exposures to Light Architecture & Landscapes

Press ReleaseSoftware Cinema Training announces the release of Compositing Exposures to Light Architecture & Landscapes by author Bob Coates. In this CS3 Photoshop tutorial DVD, Coates highlights some of the new features that make extending the dynamic range of images through capture and blending multiple images of the same scene.

“It’s definitely made it easier for me to do my real estate photography,” says Coates. “With the new Align tool in Photoshop, it’s not the disaster it once was if the tripod gets bumped a little while capturing multiple exposures. Used to be if there was even a tiny movement of the pod, that meant extra time allotted to aligning the images in Photoshop in post-production. Now, it’s a breeze. I capture exposures from outside the window, in the shadows, tungsten lamps, flash and more, then blend them all together for a look the eye can see but the camera could never capture in just one exposure without a LOT of extra work on the site. It’s cool!”

Continue reading "Compositing Exposures to Light Architecture & Landscapes" »

July 19, 2007

Photojournalist Harry Benson Shares Personal Thoughts and Memorable Moments in History

Kingston Technology’s Icons of Photography Web Site Features 20 Questions Interview

 

Press ReleaseKingston Technology Company, Inc., has posted an interview with legendary photojournalist Harry Benson on its Icons of Photography microsite. A witness to history, Benson shares what it was like to be standing next to Robert F. Kennedy when he was assassinated, how he got his first big break as the only journalist allowed to interview a mass murderer in prison, and how it felt to march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition to his photographic exploits, Benson expresses personal goals such as his longtime desire to become a professional football (soccer) player.

The interview marks the second in a series called 20 Questions, which gives site visitors an up-close-and-personal look at some of the world’s most respected photographers. Kingston encourages photographers who visit the Icons of Photography microsite to take an active role through features including Ask the Icon, which gives photographers an opportunity to pose their own questions and Critique My Image, which invites photographers to submit a photo to be constructively critiqued by one of Kingston’s Icons.

Continue reading "Photojournalist Harry Benson Shares Personal Thoughts and Memorable Moments in History" »

Lighting & Digital Photography Training Camp: Live with Jack Reznicki

Jack Reznicki Images

Press ReleaseSoftware Cinema has announced a seven-city one-day workshop tour featuring Jack Reznicki, "Lighting and Digital Photography Training Camp." This is your opportunity to learn the secrets and techniques of the legendary Jack Reznicki. PPA President Jack Reznicki is one of the busiest commercial photographers around, and this is your only chance to see him reveal how he works from shoot to finish. You will learn the nuances of lighting, how to get great images in the camera, and how to protect those images. Learn how Jack increases productivity using Photoshop Lightroom. Rarely do you get to learn and ask questions of someone like Jack, and this is his only tour this year. We invite you to sign up early. The seats are limited, and the information is awesome.

Topics include …

  • Histogram, white balance and other camera essentials
  • Lighting overview
  • Basic one-light portrait lighting with live model
  • Pro lighting techniques with live model
  • Importing, processing, printing files in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
  • Masking in Photoshop
  • Copyrights & ‘Copywrongs’

Cities on the tour:

The one-day seminar is $99. Go to Software Cinema for more information.

July 1, 2007

Making Digital Negatives

All contents and images ©Dan Burkholder

Digital negatives have pumped new energy into the alternative printing arena. Since the first edition of my Making Digital Negatives for Contact Printing was published in 1995 (I call that long-past period the Paleolithic era in digital imaging), I've heard from people all over the world who are thrilled with their new power to combine the old (chemical-based photography) with the new (digital capture and control).

Today the friendliest way to make digital negatives is with Photoshop and modern inkjet printers, using these inkjet negatives to print on classic photosensitive materials like cyanotype, platinum/palladium, and silver gelatin. When we do the steps properly, we can make contact prints that rival the quality of prints made from camera-original negatives. You gotta admit, this sounds like fun!

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Figure 1: Windmills, Spain, Platinum/Palladium Print from a Digital Negative, by Dan Burkholder

Continue reading "Making Digital Negatives" »

June 18, 2007

Nationwide Great Output Seminar Tour Starts in September

One-day seminars designed to make photographic and fine-art printing easier, more efficient, and more profitable

Press Release—The Great Output Seminar: Printing for Profitability in the Digital Darkroom, will travel to 16 cities across the nation, beginning in Miami on Sept. 10, and wrapping up in New York City on Feb. 27. Primary sponsors for the one-day color-management, printing, and marketing seminars are LexJet and Epson.

LexJet’s technical support director, Tom Hauenstein, will teach attendees his One-and-Done method of color-managing the workflow to ensure top-quality prints while cutting lab expenditures by more than 80 percent.

Hauenstein will also provide in-depth education on making prints look like the images prepared on-screen, how to obtain and use the right profiles for different types of print materials, proven marketing techniques for using prints to bring in more business, and more.

Continue reading "Nationwide Great Output Seminar Tour Starts in September" »

June 4, 2007

Book Excerpt: "Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Photographers" by Martin Evening

200706we_eveningcover If you've been wondering what's new in Adobe Photoshop CS3, why not get your information from the best? Martin Evening is a fantastic photographer and gifted teacher who makes time in his professional schedule to instruct photographers on digital imaging and Photoshop. Evening’s Adobe Photoshop for Photographers titles have become classic reference sources, written to deal directly with the needs of photographers and filled with a wealth of practical advice, hints and tips to help you achieve professional results.

"Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Photographers," is published by Focal Press, an imprint of Elsevier.
ISBN: 0-240-52028-9 (old style ISBN)
ISBN: 978-0-240-52028-5 (new style ISBN)

Download What's new in Adobe Photoshop CS3 (PDF, 3.6MB), Chapter 1 of the newly released "Photoshop CS3 for Photographers" by Martin Evening.

Printed with permission from Focal Press, a division of Elsevier. Copyright 2007. "Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Photographers" by Martin Evening. For more information about this book, please visit www.focalpress.com.


June 1, 2007

Ringflash technique

200706we_ringflashsholik Ringflash becomes a more versatile lighting tool

By Ellis Vener

Popular with fashion and celebrity photographers, ringlights create a singular look. Typically ringflash illuminates the subject in a clinical light that looks like the camera was mounted in the center of a spotlight, leaving nothing concealed. The effect offers none of the tricks of shadowing and highlight and chiaroscuro we normally use to create the illusion of three-dimensional depth in a two-dimensional medium.

Until recently, most ringlights were designed the same way, with a circular or pair of semi-circular flash tubes wrapped around the barrel of the lens. Some ringlight manufacturers include a larger outer reflector and inner deflector to spread the light out a bit more and soften the light's hardness. But now at least three manufacturers—Broncolor, Profoto, and AlienBees—are looking to make the ring a more versatile lighting tool. AlienBees has been especially creative in this regard, devising an entire set of light modifiers to use with their ABR800 AlienBees Ringflash and the similar head for the forthcoming Zeus system. I’ve used the ABR800 for this tutorial.

AlienBees Ringflash photo above ©Stan Sholik

Continue reading "Ringflash technique" »

May 28, 2007

Book Review: “The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book” by Martin Evening

200705we_lightroomeveing By Ellis Vener

Some how-to books are heavy slogs, poorly structured and jammed to a degree of incomprehensibility. You might refer to them occasionally, but only when you absolutely have no other choice, otherwise they make fine doorstops. Others, written in a breezy jokey style, try to make work seem like capital-F-U-N! Unfortunately either approach buries the truly valuable information, and like a goldrush miner you end up sifting a lot of gravel to find the nuggets. For Lightroom users, Martin Evening’s “The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book” leads you right to the mother lode.

Continue reading "Book Review: “The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book” by Martin Evening" »

May 18, 2007

Kingston Icons of Photography Answer Reader Questions

Press Release—Kingston Technology Company has posted questions submitted by visitors from around the world to its Icons of Photography microsite as part of its Ask the Icon interactive feature. Each question was answered by one of Kingston’s four Icon photographers: Harry Benson, Colin Finlay, Gerd Ludwig and Peter Read Miller. Through Ask the Icon, visitors are encouraged to submit questions on any topic to the photographers.

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Continue reading "Kingston Icons of Photography Answer Reader Questions" »

April 11, 2007

Kingston Invites Visitors to Interact with 'Icons of Photography'

Sports Illustrated photographer Peter Read Miller answers 20 Questions to kick-off the new microsite that encourages visitor participation with Ask the Icon and Critique My Image features

Press Release—Kingston Technology Company, Inc., has launched a series of interviews with photographers on its Icons of Photography Web site. The first interview is with award-winning Sports Illustrated photographer Peter Read Miller. The 20 Questions interview series provides visitors with an up-close and personal look at some of today’s most respected photographers. With this new series, Kingston also debuts a newly-designed Web site created to encourage visitor participation and interaction with Kingston’s Icons.

Kingston wants visitors to its Icons of Photography Web site to take an active role through new features including Ask the Icon, which gives photographers an opportunity to submit their own questions and Critique My Image, which invites photographers to submit their favorite photo to be constructively critiqued by one of Kingston’s Icons.

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“The ‘Icons of Photography’ Web site was originally created as an educational forum where photographers—professional and enthusiast—could learn helpful tips from some of the world’s most respected photographers,” says Jaja Lin, Flash marketing manager, Kingston. “The fact that our customers now have an opportunity to interact with the Icons, either by asking them a direct question or having one of their images critiqued, provides even greater educational value because it promotes the sharing of ideas.”

Continue reading "Kingston Invites Visitors to Interact with 'Icons of Photography'" »

April 10, 2007

New and Upcoming Books Cover Adobe CS3 and Lightroom for Photographers

Press Release—Publishers O'Reilly, Peachpit, and Wiley have announced a slew of current and upcoming titles and free educational resources related to Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Photoshop Lightroom.

200704we_bookslraaland_2 O'Reilly will release Mikkel Aaland's "Photoshop Lightroom Adventure" in early June.  The book is subtitled "Mastering Adobe's next-generation tool for digital photographers. We'll post an excerpt here in Web Exclusives.

O'Reilly's Dynamic Learning Series has five titles for Adobe CS3 applications: "Learning Photoshop CS3," "Learning Dreamweaver CS3," "Learning Illustrator CS3," "Learning Flash CS3," and "Learning InDesign CS3." Each book comes with a DVD with video tutorials, lesson files and review questions. Free PDF Instructor Guides are available for download.

Upcoming releases include Deke McClelland's "Photoshop CS3 One-on-One" and "Eddie Tapp on Digital Photography: Controlling Color and Tone in Photoshop" in June.
 

200704we_bookslrevening New book releases from Peachpit Press include "The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book for Digital Photographers," by Scott Kelby, $39.99; and "The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers," by Martin Evening, $40.00.

Upcoming releases include "Adobe  Photoshop CS3 Classroom in a Book" in April from Adobe Press, "The Photoshop CS3 Book for Digital Photographers" by Scott Kelby in May, and "Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS3" by Bruce Fraser and Jeff Schewe in the fall.

Continue reading "New and Upcoming Books Cover Adobe CS3 and Lightroom for Photographers" »

April 1, 2007

Digital Infrared Travel Photography

Photograph the sights using invisible light

By Joe Farace

Travel photography is an ever-expanding genre. Once it was enough to just be there and take a photograph. Then you were expected to deliver that image in color. Now your image should capture an impression of that faraway place. I’d like to add another tool to your travel shooters toolkit: digital infrared photography. To be sure, there’s nothing new about black-and-white travel photography, but you deliver something special when you capture some of your next travel images with invisible light.

The World of Invisible Light

Every photographer knows about how visible light is used to capture photographic images but there are other kinds of light that we can’t see. Light with wavelengths from 700 and 900nm (nanometers) is called infrared light. Interestingly, this band of infrared light is a thousand times wider than that of visible light but is invisible to our eyes.

Back in the bad old days of shooting infrared film, you had to use special film, and load and unload your camera in total darkness to reduce the damage of fogging. To shoot IR film you also needed special—that part hasn’t changed—filters and either process the film yourself or find an ever-dwindling pool of specialty labs to do it for you. Shooting infrared film it more click-and-hope than a sure thing, but digital IR images can be made in-camera, and you’ll see the results immediately on the LCD screen.


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Caption: The star-shaped Fuerte de San Diego in Acapulco is named for a viceroy of New Spain, Diego Fernández de Córdoba. This is one of its gateways and was originally photographed as a monochrome infrared image with my converted Canon EOS D60. Exposure was 1/60 second at f/11, ISO 400, with +1-stop exposure compensation. Color was added to the original uncorrected image file using Brad Buskey’s InfraRed Adjustment Action. Like all tweaks, the more color you start with, the more color you end up with, but I liked the subtle hand-colored effect. ©2006 Joe Farace

Continue reading "Digital Infrared Travel Photography" »

March 15, 2007

Basic Strobe Portrait In Studio

200703we_wpsportrait Professional Photographer magazine offers our readers free lighting tutorials from Web Photo School.

The basics of portrait photography could fill many large books. Many pro photographers who typically shoot using only available light want to advance their studio lighting skills. In such cases, it's always good to start with the basics. This Web Photo School lesson concentrates on one application with a few variations on the theme for this lesson.

Topics Covered:

  • Using portable flash units
  • Creating drama with one light
  • Using reflective fill
  • Background lighting effects

Go to the Basic Strobe Portrait in Studio lesson at Web Photo School.

March 1, 2007

EXCERPT: Professional Filter Techniques for Digital Photographers

200703we_filtertech_ In his newest book, "Professional Filter Techniques for Digital Photographers" (Amherst Media; $34.95) pro photographer Stan Sholik covers the gamut of possibilities and applications now available to the digital photographer through traditional (hardware) filters and filter software.

He advises on how to select your best filter options for your photographic style and how implementing the device will impact your photos. Covering filters used for color correction, contrast enhancement, soft focus, and a full spectrum of interesting, artistic effects, this book will satisfy your quest for technical precision and your yearning for greater creative expression.

Features:

  • Comparisons of effects achieved using traditional vs. digital filters
  • Charts that allow readers to predict effects of a variety of filter types
  • Page after page of analyses of top filters

In this excerpt, Sholik examines color converting, light balancing and compensation filters.

Continue reading "EXCERPT: Professional Filter Techniques for Digital Photographers" »

Book Review: "Digital Restoration from Start to Finish" by Ctein

200703we_digrestoreBy Theano Nikitas

At first glance, you might think that this is a book about retouching images and, in a sense it is. But then you’d be underestimating not only the contents but the author’s intent to school his readers in the art of digital restoration. With the inclusion of restoration techniques for prints, slides, negatives, newspaper clippings and even black-and-white glass plate negatives, "Digital Restoration From Start to Finish: How to Repair Old and Damaged Photographs" (Focal Press, www.focalpress.com, $39.95) could just as easily be found on the bookshelf of a photo restoration expert in the Library of Congress as on the desk of a digital photographer.

Continue reading "Book Review: "Digital Restoration from Start to Finish" by Ctein" »

February 9, 2007

Apple offers free Aperture workshops for wedding and event photographers

Registration is first come, first serve; attendees get a free Aperture Tutorial DVD

Apple has announced workshop dates in nine cities, with more to come, to introduce wedding and event photographers to Aperture software. Go to Apple's website for more information or to register online.

Cities and dates:
Feb. 20: Las Vegas (Henderson), Nev.
Feb. 22: Boston (Newton), Mass.
Feb. 26: Kahului Maui, Hawaii
March 1: Miami, Fla.
March 1: Honolulu Oahu, Hawaii
March 5: Long Island (Uniondale), N.Y.
March 13: Los Angeles, Calif.
March 13: Dallas, Texas
March 15: Atlanta, Ga.

February 1, 2007

Shooting on the Beach with LitePanels

200702bc_wpsbeachsm Professional Photographer magazine offers our readers free lighting tutorials from Web Photo School.

There are many things to consider when you leave the studio to shoot portraits outside: weather, time of day, and the background to name but a few. With its LitePanel system, Photoflex offers a way to take the control you have in the studio with you on location.

Topics Covered:

  • Assembling an Outdoor Shooting Tent
  • Adjusting the Tripod for Low Angle Shots
  • Programming the Camera Settings
  • Using LitePanels for Fill
  • Balancing Light Outdoors

Go to the Shooting on the Beach with litePanels lesson at Web Photo School.

January 4, 2007

Book Review: "The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography"

200701bc_ircover Reviewed by Ron Eggers

Infrared photography has a sense of mystery about it. Producing ethereal images and false colors, pictures captured in the infrared wavelength evoke fantasy. It's almost like magic, and something that's magical certainly must be difficult. Working with infrared film is challenging. It's difficult to shoot with and even more difficult to process. Fortunately, like with so many things in photography, digital technology has had a significant impact on infrared photography. It is making it simpler than it's ever been.

With his new book "The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography," Joe Farace explains those changes, and in the process, he takes much of the mystery out of infrared photography without dispelling the magic that makes it so fascinating. Published by Lark Books (a division of Sterling Publishing), this book is a detailed and well-written step-by-step guide to infrared photography. It's obvious that the author has a thorough understanding of the subject matter and the processes involved in coming up with striking infrared images.

Continue reading "Book Review: "The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography"" »

January 1, 2007

Shooting Glamour in the Studio

200701bc_wps Professional Photographer magazine offers our readers free lighting tutorials from Web Photo School.

Modifying the standard approach to portraits can add more life and interest to your shot if you know what you're doing. When it comes to shooting glamour, rules should be considered guidelines.

The most interesting glamour shots out there are taken by photographers who have veered from the rules to come up with their own bag of tricks for shooting.

This lesson will show you a couple of simple modifications you can make to a standard portrait lighting setup to enhance the appeal of your images.

Topics Covered:

  • Setting Up the Background
  • Setting Up the Quantum Q Flash
  • Installing the Radio Slaves
  • Setting Up the Main Flash
  • Programming the E-300 Camera Settings
  • Setting Up the Fill Light
  • Setting Up the Separation Light

Go to Shooting Glamour in the Studio at Web Photo School.

Continue reading "Shooting Glamour in the Studio" »

December 1, 2006

Achieving a Pure White Background

200612bc_webphotosch Professional Photographer magazine offers our readers free lighting tutorials from Web Photo School.

Achieving a pure white background may seem simple, but it's not so hard to foul it up. A new photographer usually goes too far in one direction or another when attempting to create a perfect white background.

A) An insufficient amount of light on the background creates a shade of gray.

B) Too much light on the background turns the subject matter 'milky' and saturation is lost.

This lesson shows you the techniques necessary to control your white backgrounds.

Topics Covered:

  • How to prepare for an indoor sports portrait
  • Setting up proper lighting ratios
  • Techniques on using a light meter
  • Special effects using Plexiglas

Go to Achieving a Pure White Background at Web Photo School.

Tamron Produces Pro How-To Videos

4-Minute videos debut the December 1 in the Tamron Pro Learning Center

Press Release—If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a how-to video must be as good as a book, especially if it compresses the knowledge contained in a 45-minute lecture into a concise, well-focused, viewer friendly 4-minute format you can download to your iPod or computer. That’s the exciting concept behind the incisive, entertaining, and informative new podcasts posted in the Tamron Pro Learning Center at www.tamron.com.

Hosted by leading photographers, each one gives clear step-by-step pointers on shooting everything from surfing to portraits to macro in Central Park. The information is presented in simple, direct language with verbal hints and tips immediately illustrated by concrete visual examples. Watching one of these podcasts on the screen feels more like being at a hands-on photo workshop in the field than sitting in the classroom. And by mixing video footage with outstanding still photographs, each technique becomes crystal clear. It’s easy to hook up with this incredible learning experience—just make sure you’ve got QuickTime on your 'pod or PC, click on podcasts at the Pro Learning Center and take a few minutes to download the videos.

Continue reading "Tamron Produces Pro How-To Videos" »

Macworld Conference & Expo 2007, January 8-12

200612bc_macworldlogo Press Release—Macworld Conference & Expo 2007, taking place at the Moscone Center in San Francisco January 8-12, brings together creative professionals from a wide array of disciplines to see and experience the latest in Mac technologies. The 2007 show offers attendees an unprecedented number of world-class interactive exhibits, educational/training sessions and speakers.

For photographers, Macworld presents the Digital Photography Experience where novices and professionals alike can experience the latest tools, hands-on demonstrations, training, tips and techniques and learn from others who use Mac technology for business and for pleasure.

Continue reading "Macworld Conference & Expo 2007, January 8-12" »

November 15, 2006

Documentary photographer Colin Finlay shares lighting techniques

Press Release—Kingston Technology's ‘Icons of Photography’ Web site this month features award-winning documentary photographer Colin  Finlay, offering tips on making the most of existing lighting. “As a photojournalist I’ve learned to use whatever is available to me to capture my images—this includes lighting. I rarely have the luxury of bringing portable strobes on assignments, even my commercial advertising jobs,” Finlay notes. “Keeping the lighting simple is something I always tell students, whether in the studio or on location. Doing this minimizes complications and forces you to look at your subjects from varying angles and perspectives. Many of my best shots were produced because I was forced to move around a subject and change my perspective; the light was stationary and I was the one that needed to move. It is a great exercise and one I am constantly sharing with students.”

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Continue reading "Documentary photographer Colin Finlay shares lighting techniques" »

November 1, 2006

Using Umbrellas in High-Contrast Fashion Shoots

200611bc_wpsumbrella Professional Photographer magazine offers our readers free lighting tutorials from Web Photo School.

Using a softbox gives your subject the soft treatment, but sometimes you want more contrast. Because the umbrella is a bounced light the results have more punch. This lesson uses two Photoflex 45-inch umbrellas (the white ADW and silver ADH) and demonstrates the versatile look they can add to your photo shoot.

Topics Covered:

  • Advantages to the umbrella
  • Contrast comparison
  • Umbrella as a key light
  • LitePanel for fill
  • Lighting a background with an umbrella
  • Using an umbrella as a "split light"

Go to Using Umbrellas in High-Contrast Fashion Shoots at Web Photo School.

Continue reading "Using Umbrellas in High-Contrast Fashion Shoots" »

October 16, 2006

Power Marketing Super Conference announces 2007 dates

Press Release—Power Marketing 101 is proud to announce the dates for the 2007 Power Marketing Super Conference at The Resort at The Mountain in Mount Hood, Oregon. The dates for the four-day event are June 10-13 and will feature over 30 hours of programming, three days of trade show, a marketing exchange, early bird sessions, evening bonus programs plus many other activities. The all-star line-up includes Bruce Hudson, Tim & Bev Walden, Michael Redford, Calvin Hayes, Jeff & Kathleen Hawkins, Louis Tonsmeire, Kent Englebert, Luci Dumas and Mitche Graf.

The PMSC was created to provide professional photographers of all concentrations the opportunity to come together once a year and immerse themselves in quality sales and marketing education.   

The $449 registration includes all programming, all meals, social activities, bonus programs, and $25 of "Trade Show Bucks." For more information or to register log onto www.powermarketing101.com or call Power Marketing 101 at 888.544.4149 extension 2.

October 1, 2006

Contrasting Colors for Vivid Results

200610bc_webphoto Professional Photographer magazine offers our readers free lighting tutorials from Web Photo School.

Fall is here, bringing a riot of rich, natural color. Do you want to push your color palette beyond khaki, denim and black? In this lesson, learn how to determine what color to use, how colors interact with other colors, and how to control saturation.

Topics Covered:

  • Working with a stylist to create a specific look
  • Setting up a high color-contrast set
  • Using props to bind the look of a shot
  • Shooting and reviewing images digitally
  • Using Louvers to control soft light
  • Creating a colored background spotlight with a Dedolight
  • Tips on capturing natural-looking poses

Go to Contrasting Colors for Vivid Results at Web Photo School.

Continue reading "Contrasting Colors for Vivid Results" »

September 29, 2006

Epson Print Academy expands schedule and updates program

School will travel to five more cities offering updated tracks for both professionals and advanced amateurs featuring the Epson Stylus Pro 3800

Press Release—Based on the ongoing success of the award-winning Epson Print Academy traveling school, Epson added new dates and cities to the schedule. Additionally, the program’s content will be updated to reflect Epson’s newest breakthrough in printing technology with information about how to get the best results from the Epson Stylus Pro 3800, announced worldwide at Photokina.

The new expanded schedule includes:

  • Phoenix: Oct. 28, 2006
  • Salt Lake City: Nov. 11, 2006
  • Atlanta: Dec. 2, 2006
  • Los Angeles: Jan. 20, 2007
  • New York: Jan 28. 2007

Continue reading "Epson Print Academy expands schedule and updates program" »

Tapp and Zucker launch 2006 Digital Photo Tour

O'Reilly author Eddie Tapp takes his digital photography know-how on the road, stopping at 18 cities across the county starting early next month. Well-known portrait and wedding photographer Monte Zucker joins him on this educational journey. The seminars give serious students, enthusiasts, and professionals an opportunity to learn from the experts who have influenced successful photographers for over five decades.

Continue reading "Tapp and Zucker launch 2006 Digital Photo Tour" »

September 1, 2006

Finessing Soft Light for Fashion

200609bc_wpsfashionlight In this and future months, Professional Photographer magazine offers our readers free lighting tutorials from Web Photo School.

Project Runway is one of the hottest shows on television and New York Fashion Week begins Sept. 8. What better time to brush up on the haute couture of photographic technique by exploring the use of delicate, soft, flattering light?

This month's lesson covers the advantages of using stylists, setting up a white background sweep, setting up and positioning lighting elements, and using lighting ratios to knock out the background naturally.

Go to Finessing Soft Light for Fashion at Web Photo School.

Continue reading "Finessing Soft Light for Fashion" »

School of Visual Arts to offer Master of Professional Studies in Digital Photography

Press Release—The School of Visual Arts (SVA) has been authorized by the New York State Education Department to offer a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Digital Photography beginning in the fall of 2007. The new one-year degree program addresses the technical needs of experienced photographers who are looking to advance their skills in digital image capture, management and high-quality output, or make a career change into the field of digital photography. The program will be chaired by Katrin Eismann, who is currently on the faculty of the BFA Computer Art Department and the MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department at SVA. Eismann is a computer artist, author and educator specializing in digital photography.

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Continue reading "School of Visual Arts to offer Master of Professional Studies in Digital Photography" »

Training: Secrets to Selling and Publishing Photography

Lyndalogo200_1 As a special bonus for Professional Photographer readers, lynda.com has granted free access to the first six sections of Scott Bourne's Secrets to Selling and Publishing Photography training series.

Scott Bourne, a professional photographer with over 30 years' experience, identifies his tried and true methods for starting and maintaining a successful career as a photographer. In Secrets to Selling and Publishing Photography, Scott explains how to make a profitable living in this demanding field by developing a professional identity, setting realistic goals, getting publicity, finding customers, getting published, and working with agents.

Go to Scott Bourne's Secrets to Selling and Publishing Photography

Continue reading "Training: Secrets to Selling and Publishing Photography" »

July 27, 2006

PhotoPlus Expo Set for November 2

PhotoPlus Expo 2006 Photography & Design Conference, a comprehensive photography expo and eduational conference, is set to open at the Jacob Javits Center in New York on Nov. 2. This is one of the biggest photo industry shows of the year, with a trade show featuring more than 200 manufacturers, speakers and an exhibition of winning entries in an ultimate travel photography contest. 

Continue reading "PhotoPlus Expo Set for November 2" »

July 1, 2006

Call for entries: 2006 O'Reilly Photoshop Cook-Off Contest

Fire up Adobe Photoshop This Summer and Get Cooking

The 2006 O’Reilly Photoshop Cook-Off is underway. Just take up to three of your own photos and manipulate them with Adobe Photoshop, using recipes from any of the five O'Reilly Photoshop Cookbooks (no purchase necessary). Adapt the recipe as necessary for your creative vision. Then use the online entry form to reveal which recipe(s) you used, and submit both your original, unmanipulated digital image and the "cooked" image you've created. Submission deadline: August 15.

Grand Prize

  • Adobe Web Bundle (Creative Suite 2 & Macromedia Studio 8)
  • Epson Stylus Photo R2400 printer
  • Pentax K100D Digital SLR and DA 18 - 55mm Lens Kit
  • Pantone Reference Library
  • GretagMacbeth Eye-One Display 2 Pro monitor calibrator
  • Nik Software Nik Sharpener Pro
  • Premium Subscription to Lynda.com online
  • iView Multimedia iView Media Pro3
  • JupiterImages 1-year subscription to Photos.com
  • Shutterstock.com 3-month subscription
  • Lensbabies Lensbaby 2.0
  • Software Cinema DVDs:
    - Working with Adjustment Layers
    - Photoshop Fundamentals and Advanced Techniques
    - Advanced Masking Techniques;
    - Image Restoration, Repair & Enhancement;
    - Pro Techniques I & II Plus Color Management;
    - Best of Photoshop CS2
  • Total Training DVD: Advanced Photoshop CS2
  • O'Reilly Media Gift Certificate
  • iStockPhoto Gear & Free Credits
  • Lowepro Rolling CompuTrekker Plus AW Bag
  • Wetzel & Co. Backgrounds/Textures 6 CD Bundle
  • Pexagon Technology 1.8" 20 GB Store-It Portable Hard Drive

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Continue reading "Call for entries: 2006 O'Reilly Photoshop Cook-Off Contest" »

Tutorial: Creating unique paintings with automated Tools

By Karen Sperling

Corel Painter IX.5, the latest version of Painter, has new tools that speed up the process of turning photos into paintings, making them ideal for the professional photographer who wants to offer his or her clients painted portraits. These tools let you automate the blending and painting process so that you can produce unique portraits without having to close your photo studio for three months while you paint them.

This tutorial shows you how I turned this photo by Mary Wynn Ball into a painted portrait.

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Photo © 2006 Mary Wynn Ball; Painting © 2006 Karen Sperling

Continue reading "Tutorial: Creating unique paintings with automated Tools" »

June 12, 2006

Photoshop World Conference and Expo Sept. 7-9

Photoshopworldlogo Registration opens with $100 advance sign-up discount

Press Release—Photoshop World Conference & Expo, the largest Photoshop educational event in the world, held Sept. 7-9 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, is offering an advance registration discount of $100 now through Friday, Aug. 4th. Registration is open at http://www.photoshopworld.com or by calling 800-738-8513, Monday-Friday, 8:30 AM – 7:00 PM EST.

Continue reading "Photoshop World Conference and Expo Sept. 7-9" »

June 7, 2006

2006 School of Evidence Photography and Imaging, Nov. 16-19

EPIC training to feature documentation of terrorist activities and underwater crime

Announcing its 2006 School of Evidence Photography and Imaging, to be held in Long Beach, Calif., Nov. 16-19, Evidence Photographers International Council (EPIC) reveals the addition of new timely  and relevant classes, such as how to photograph terrorist activities for evidence. 

The seminar, “Preparation for and Documentation of Terrorist Activities and the Aftermath of Disasters and/or Weapons of Mass Destruction,” will be taught by Leonard Reed, who is qualified as a general instructor in Weapons of Mass Destruction by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and certified in Weapons of Mass Destruction Law Enforcement Protective Measures.  He also holds certification as an instructor on environmental crimes from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and is a certified law enforcement photographer.

Continue reading "2006 School of Evidence Photography and Imaging, Nov. 16-19" »

May 17, 2006

Photons to Ink Workshop

June 24-25, 2006 in New York City
The Lifecycle of a Digital Photograph, with Katrin Eismann and Jack Reznicki

Katrin Eismann (Photoshopdiva and bestselling author) and Jack Reznicki (award-winning photographer and popular instructor) are pleased to announce a new workshop — Photons to Ink an information-packed and fun-filled weekend workshop that addresses:

  • Capturing, processing and refining digital files.
  • Using Photoshop to make your images look their very best
  • Making inkjet prints that are truly WYSIWYG - What You See Is What You Get!

Continue reading "Photons to Ink Workshop" »

May 15, 2006

Call for entries: 2006 O'Reilly Photoshop Cook-Off Contest

Fire up Adobe Photoshop This Summer and Get Cooking

All-Star Judges Includes Katrin Eismann, Deke McClelland, Bert Monroy, Eddie Tapp, Vincent Versace, and more

O'Reilly Media today announced The 2006 O’Reilly Photoshop Cook-Off, a contest featuring eighteen top Photoshop experts as judges, including Mikkel Aaland, Katrin Eismann, Harris Fogel, Tim Grey, Deke McClelland, Bert Monroy, Eddie Tapp, Vincent Versace, and John Beardsworth, among others. O'Reilly is aiming to inspire creativity and discover new and promising talent from the ranks of the 4,000,000 plus Photoshop users. The winners will be recognized with awards and fabulous prizes which will be presented at an event at PhotoPlus Expo in New York on November 2, 2006.

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March 20, 2006

Collaging Workshop April 24-26; Corel Painter Retreat May 9-11

Karen Sperling is pleased to present a Collaging Workshop taught by digital media artist Laurence Gartel, April 24-26. Laurence will cover both the art concepts and Photoshop/Painter tools he uses in his collages as a renowned commissioned illustrator of annual reports, consumer ads and movie posters. These concepts and tools are easily translated into creating unique collaged portraits. Photographers will learn how to think outside the box and to create truly one-of-a-kind masterpiece collaged portraits with images representing a subject's personal hobbies, interests, loved ones, friends, pets, etc.

The Artistry Corel Painter Retreat gives attendees the opportunity to learn to turn photos into paintings and to add painterly details to photos in Corel Painter. Instructor Karen Sperling wrote the original Painter manuals, in addition to several Painter books, and has taught and demostrated Painter since the program's debut 15 years ago. Karen teaches not only the Painter steps, but also the art concepts that photographers and hobbyists need to know to create paintings in Corel Painter.

Continue reading "Collaging Workshop April 24-26; Corel Painter Retreat May 9-11" »

March 10, 2006

Lighting Technique: Make the best of a bright day

200603bc_alyson Why one photographer loves the sun

By Steve Bedell, M.Photog.Cr.

For years, photographers have extolled the virtues of taking portraits on overcast days or during the magic time that occurs near the beginning and end of every day. On cloudy days, the contrast range is reduced, allowing you to capture detail throughout the image, from the brightest area to the deepest shadow. Near sunset, you also get a reduced contrast range, with the added benefit of directional lighting, a wonderful bonus. And while I won't argue that the first and last light of the day offers perhaps the best lighting conditions, I can tell you that I actually prefer sunny days to cloudy ones when shooting. Let me 'splain.

Caption (above right): Sun bouncing off a yellow building across the street created my main light for this image, with trees also blocking overhead light. Open sky behind her also creates a little kicker light on her hair.  This is one of my favorite shooting situations. Model: Alyson Perreault

Continue reading "Lighting Technique: Make the best of a bright day" »

January 1, 2006

2006 PPA Education Guide

Professional Photographers of America (PPA) provides its members with outstanding educational opportunities through its annual events, PPA-Merited classes, and its PPA Affiliate School Network. The downloadable Education Guide below has been made as comprehensive as possible, containing information that was current and available at the time of printing. Please use this guide as a reference tool and visit www.ppa.com for the most current information on PPA and Affiliate School events, or contact each school directly.

Get the 2006 Education Guide.

October 1, 2005

Annual Evidence Photographers' School to Convene in Atlanta

In a four-day series of lectures and workshops, Evidence Photographers International Council will hold its 2005 School of Evidence Photography and Imaging in Atlanta, Georgia, November 3-6.

This year’s curriculum offers the opportunity for participants to learn a new technology that captures 360-degree panoramic images of crime scenes, study the intricacies of lighting and photographing ballistic wounds, and go away with a complementary kit to build a portal axial apparatus for shooting in low-contrast lighting.

Continue reading "Annual Evidence Photographers' School to Convene in Atlanta" »

Karen Sperling presents workshop with Laurence Gartel

200510bc_gartelmozaic Karen Sperling is pleased to present a one-day workshop with pioneer digital artist Laurence Gartel as part of her November 2005 Artistry Corel Painter Retreat.

Laurence Gartel has been creating art with digital tools since before there was a Painter and a Photoshop. And he has had successes internationally with his art, as reflected by his list of accomplishments: http://gartelmuseum.com/resume.html/.

Laurence Gartel's 'Mozaic Lady Land' (right)

Continue reading "Karen Sperling presents workshop with Laurence Gartel" »

August 1, 2005

PPA announces new online community, open to all

Professional Photographers of America (PPA) introduces www.OurPPA.com as a place where photographers can chat, ask questions, share ideas and post image galleries in a robust community that serves PPA members, as well as the photography community at large.

"We're very proud of this exciting new resource," comments PPA President Ann Monteith. "OurPPA.com was created in specific response to members' requests for an online community where they could interact and build a sense of oneness with other photographers. In the process of building the site, we recognized the greater benefit of making the online community available to everyone in the industry, not just PPA members. This means photographers will have instant access to more information, more creative ideas and more photographer friends than any other place online."

Continue reading "PPA announces new online community, open to all" »

May 1, 2005

Artistry Corel Painter IX Painting for Photographers Tutorials Released

For decades, artists have used photographs as reference sources for their paintings. Some artists attach a photo to their easel as they paint. Others have gone so far as to project a photo against a wall and to draw on paper or canvas, following the projection as a template.

200505bc_sperling01 So it isn't that surprising that one of the most popular uses of Corel Painter today is using photos as the basis of paintings. This includes everything from adding painterly touches to a photo to completely transforming the photo into a painting in Painter.

The practice spans many creative fields, too, from traditional artists who use the photo as a springboard for their art to professional photographers who sell painted portraits of their photographs to their clients. And today, with the popularity of digital cameras and archival inkjet prints, more people than ever are getting into turning photographs into paintings.

It's in this atmosphere of excitement that Karen Sperling is happy to announce that she has completed updating her Artistry Painting for Photographers tutorials for Painter IX.

"I've been getting emails begging me for the update," says Karen. "I'd like to think it's because I'm so much in demand, but the truth is, it's the subject that gets people excited. After all, there are lots of Painter tutorials and books out there nowadays, in addition to Painter classes. But there's that much interest in the subject that people can't get enough information about it."

The Artistry Painting for Photographers tutorials are available in Acrobat format, downloadable from the Artistry web site at http://www.artistrymag.com and also on CD. Discounts are being offered for ordering the CD along with the other Artistry tutorials that are available for Painter IX, including a CD with the first six months of the Artistry Tips and Tricks newsletter and an Artistry Beginners CD.

Continue reading "Artistry Corel Painter IX Painting for Photographers Tutorials Released" »

March 13, 2005

Dean Collins Photoshop World Educational Scholarship

March 8, 2005 – Scott Kelby, president of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) announced the establishment of the Dean Collins Photoshop World Educational Scholarship at the opening keynote before more than 3,000 Photoshop World Conference attendees in Las Vegas . Opening ceremony images at Photoshop World available at www.photoshopworld.com.

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“Through this scholarship, Dean’s legacy of Photoshop education will live on as his influence, gift for teaching, and passion for quality are passed on each year to our nation's most dedicated educators in his name,” said Scott Kelby, president of NAPP and the world’s top-selling computer book author for 2004.

This scholarship will be awarded annually to a high school or college educator (nominated by his or her own students). The scholarship provides the recipient an opportunity to attend NAPP’s annual convention, including round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations, and a full conference pass. This scholarship program was developed to honor Dean Collins’ memory, and his lifetime of contributions to the worldwide Photoshop community.

PHOTO: Dean Collins speaking at the PEI Digital Conference in 2002. Photo courtesy Kevin Ames.

About Education

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in the Education category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Downloads is the previous category.

Features is the next category.

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


 
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