Main

Features Archives

September 24, 2014

Music Licensing for Film and Video

By Ron Dawson

There is perhaps no topic as important and contentious in the industry as the legal use of music in the production of videos, particularly event videos. Even if you or your client buys a song on iTunes, you’re still not freed from the obligation to attain proper licensing. And using copyrighted music in a clients’ personal videos does not constitute fair use.

By law, in order to use a song in a film or video you need two types of licenses: a master use license (controlled by the record label) and a synchronization license (controlled by the publisher). The former is for the rights to the song from the originator. The latter is for the rights of the specific version of the song you want to use. In some cases, the label and the publisher may be the same entity. But in many cases they are not.

Let’s say you want to use the 2010 Haiti Charity remake of R.E.M.’s classic “Everybody Hurts” for some non-profit video you’ve made. You’d need to get a master use license from Warner Bros. music label (from which the original R.E.M. version hails), and a synchronization license from Simon Cowell’s company (which produced the remake).

If a song is older than 70 years, it may be in the public domain, but you still may need a sync license. For instance, if you wanted to use Chris Tomlin’s “Amazing Grace,” as a hymn older than 70 years, the song is in the public domain, so there’s no master use license needed. However, you’d still need to get the sync license from Chris Tomlin’s publisher. However, if you got your 16-year-old daughter to write and sing her own arrangement, you wouldn’t need any license.

For a while the record companies did not seem to mind that there were literally hundreds (if not thousands) of professionally produced wedding videos online, all with illegal use of copyrighted music. But in late 2011 they started taking wedding videographers to court and winning large settlements, so take this very seriously.

Fortunately, there is a growing number of music licensing companies that make licensing quality music easy and affordable. Keep in mind that traditional music licenses can cost many hundreds, even tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the type of film or video, where it’s played, and how it’s distributed.

There are many quality resources out there, but a few rise to the top in terms of the variety and quality of songs in their catalogs, and in particular, their connection and understanding of DSLR filmmakers. Pay close attention to the license terms such as how long you can use a song and in how many productions.

Triple Scoop Music (triplescoopmusic.com): Triple Scoop Music’s service is tuned specifically to wedding and event photographers and videographers. Many of their songs are from Grammy-award winning artists, and you can find high-quality songs, both with and without lyrics. As of this writing, their licenses for personal videos such as a fusion wedding presentation is only $60 for an indefinite use, perpetual license. Commercial related licenses range from $99 to $299.

tsm.png

The Music Bed (themusicbed.com): TMB has a particularly strong connection to the filmmaking industry. They have an eclectic mix of high-quality music, including some from well-known bands like Need to Breathe. Their licenses start at $49 for single use, perpetual wedding or portrait licenses. Corporate licenses range from $199 to $399 depending on the size of the organization.

tmb.png

PremiumBeat: (premiumbeat.com): PremiumBeat is a poplar go-to site for small companies and agencies shooting commercial work. All the songs in their curated catalog are just $39.95 for unlimited use in perpetuity. None of their songs have lyrics (aside from a few with background vocals), so they may not be the best choice if you need songs to prime emotion, but for commercial work they’re hard to beat.

premiumbeat.png

Marmoset Music (marmosetmusic.com): Marmoset Music has a tool on their site that allows you to search for songs by pacing, type of project, energy level, etc. Their licenses start at $99 for wedding and portrait perpetual, single use. Corporate rates start at $199 and climb to $999, depending on company size.

marmoset filter.png

Song Freedom (songfreedom.com): Song Freedom made a name for themselves by being one of the first sites to provide pop songs from artists like One Republic and Colbie Collait. Their license rates are $49.99 for wedding and portrait single use, and $199 for commercial. Their licensing is a little confusing in that they also have a corporate licensing rate, which to me seems the same thing as commercial. Be sure to read their FAQs on the difference.

songfreedom.png

Other popular sites worth checking are AudioJungle.net and Stock20.com.

Free

There’s one music resource on the Internet that allows you to use music for free under Creative Commons 3.0, so long as you put proper credits in the video: incompetech.com by Kevin MacLeod. You may not find the quality of music as high as the sites mentioned above, but it’s a great resource if you need a fun silent movie era song, or a popular classical music piece. If you have a client with a small budget (or no budget), this is a great resource.

Know Your Codecs (and other useful technical information)

By Ron Dawson

Some seemingly minor video technical video details are seldom taught in workshops, but they're definitely worth learning as they can help you decide how to compress for the web, what camera to choose, how to solve that pesky editing problem, and whether or not to get that fancy new HDTV.

Decoding Codecs

Codec stands for compression-decompression and it’s the algorithms used to compress large video files into something more manageable. Some of the most widely used codecs are MPEG-4 (including .M4V and .MP4), H.264, DivX, MPEG-2 (typically used for DVDs) and Apple’s ProRes.

Apple’s ProRes is a favorite among video editors because of its quality and how easily it's handled by various non-linear editing programs (NLEs). There are five popular versions of ProRes (from lowest to highest quality): ProRes Proxy, ProResLT, ProRes 422, ProRes HQ, and ProRes 4444.

QuickTime (.MOV) is not a codec. It’s a video format, also called a wrapper. You could have a .MOV video format compressed with H.264, one compressed with ProRes, or one compressed with MPEG-4. They all would technically be QuickTime files, but would perform very differently in NLEs.

AVCHD is a proprietary video format created by Sony and Panasonic, originally for the consumer video market. A number of years ago professional and prosumer camcorders adopted the format as well. Sony’s FS100, the Panasonic AF100, and Canon’s C100 currently all use this format.

Transcoding is when you convert one form of codec into another. For instance, although most NLEs can manage most codecs, many of them still have a much easier time handling ProRes. So many editors will transcode DSLR files from H.264 into one of the “flavors” of ProRes and spit it out into a .MOV wrapper. MPEG Streamclip is a free transcoding software and one of the most popular used to perform this task.

Fields, Frame Rates & Flavors of HD

Progressive vs. Interlaced: To conserve bandwidth over the airwaves, traditional video was interlaced. Each frame was comprised of two fields with 60 alternating vertical lines (thus the 60i you often see) that when played back at 29.97 frames per second (aka 30 fps) gave you a solid image (and giving you that stark “video” look). Progressive video is when each frame of video is one solid frame and field, like traditional film (thus the more cinematic look).

Frames per second: Also referred to as fps (frames per second), the number you usually see isn’t the actual rate. When you hear people talk about 24 fps (sometimes shown as 23.98), in actuality it’s 23.976. Here are some other values:

25 fps (Pal) = 25

30 fps = 29.97

60 fps = 59.94

Resolution Values:

Standard Definition = 720 x 480
High Definition 720p = 1280 x 720 progressive
HD 1080i = 1920 x 1080 interlaced
HD 1080p = 1920 x 1080 progressive
HD 2K = 2048 x 1080
Ultra High Def, aka UHD, aka “fake 4K” = 3840 x 2160
HD 4K = 4096 x 2160

There is lots of discussion and debate about whether or not it makes sense to shoot in 4K. A lot of factors go into making that decision: your intended audience, how they will view the video, the kind of story you’re telling, etc. As always, make the best decision you can afford given the resources at your disposal. Some of the most powerful and poignant videos I’ve seen on the internet were shot on a Flip Video camera.

Video SEO Myth vs. Reality

By Ron Dawson

You’ve prepped, shot, and edited your video. It’s ready for prime time. But the question is, How do I host it? YouTube? Vimeo? Do I upload it to my website? And what about video SEO? Where does that come into play? This article will answer those questions, and likely challenge you a bit, too. 

Myth #1: Good Video SEO Is Getting As Many Views as Possible

I see a lot of video producers writing blog posts and telling clients that video SEO is about getting as many views as possible for your video and racking them up on YouTube. That’s well and good, but it isn’t SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s about optimizing search engine results for the people searching and for the sites being searched. You want the right people to find you and your business via organic search results. Getting lots of views may be a good ego boost, and it definitely can help with brand recognition, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into good SEO. Are those views leading people to your site? Are they converting into business? This is not to minimize the positive effect of lots of views. Just don’t confuse it with SEO.

Myth #2: Putting Your Videos on YouTube Increases Your Search Rankings

The rankings of your page are based on a range of factors like relevance of content, keywords, link backs from other sites, etc. Whereas having a relevant video can help boost search engine results overall since rich content like video is a plus for SEO, all things being equal, a YouTube video won’t rank your page any higher than any other video.

Myth #3: YouTube Is Good for SEO Because It’s the Second Largest Search Engine

This is perhaps the most frustrating myth. You often hear people proclaim that because YouTube is the second largest search engine (second only to Google), that is reason alone to put all your videos on YouTube. The problem with that thinking is that people aren’t searching for promotional videos or show reels on YouTube. They’re looking for education or entertainment. If they need a product or service they’ll start their search on Google (or Bing or Yahoo! or some other popular search engine). The goal of a good video SEO strategy is to get the search engine result to link to your page, not YouTube.

What is Good Video SEO?

The primary objective of an effective video SEO strategy is to maximize the traffic to your website via the effective production and distribution of video. You accomplish this three ways:

  • Host your video on a self-hosted, professional platform (e.g. Wistia, Vimeo Pro, etc.)
  • Use video sitemaps to register your videos with search engines
  • Post the right kind of content to YouTube to drive traffic which is already there back to your site.

Using a service like Vimeo Pro or Wistia, in conjunction with video sitemaps, will allow you to establish the web pages on which you post your videos as the canonical version of the video. Basically, all that means is that when search engines see your video, they consider those web pages as the “owners” and will link people there when those videos show up in search engine results. (How to create a video sitemap is beyond the scope of this article. Wistia will create one automatically for you. If you need to create one manually, just Google it and read Google’s support page on the topic.)

Using sitemaps can also increase the chance of you getting a rich snippet video thumbnail in your search results. People are more likely to click on a rich snippet than a plain link. And if you establish your site as the canonical owner of the video, search results for your video will rank higher than their YouTube counterparts. (see image).

ghionis-ypd.jpg 

The short film about Jerry Ghionis I produced (see top result) has a rich snippet, links directly to my site, and ranks higher than the YouTube version of the video I uploaded.

So, that’s how you drive traffic using video from search engine results. But you may be wondering: “What about all those people already on YouTube?” Let’s address that.

A More Effective YouTube Strategy

As I mentioned above, people conducting searches on YouTube are looking for educational or entertaining content. So here’s a small list of ideas of how you may use YouTube to improve your SEO:

  • A wedding videographer creates an online video podcast or show interviewing local vendors, giving wedding tips, etc.
  • A family portrait photographer starts a series  giving moms tips on how to use their DSLRs to get great photos of their kids.
  • A senior portrait photographer creates a YouTube channel giving seniors advice about prom fashion, makeup tips for photo sessions, tips for photographing groups of friends.
  • A commercial video producer creates a series of tips on how to effectively use video in your marketing strategy.
  • A creative brand or ad agency creates a series on how to effectively build a brand or use social media

You can spend hours during research on proper video SEO. Save yourself the time, improve your SEO, impress your clients, and just follow the tips in this article. You’ll thank me later.

January 20, 2014

Creativity and Inspiration, an Excerpt from "Inspiration in Photography" by Brooke Shaden

Inspiration-in-Photo_500px.jpgThe following is an excerpt from Brooke Shaden's "Inspiration in Photography" (Focal Press, $34.95). 

Creativity Can Be Learned 

What is it speci­fically about creativity that so many people shy away from? Why is it normal to think that creativity is something reserved for the obviously artistic? The reason lies in our perception of creativity and how we interact with that notion. Creativity is often nothing more than problem-solving. To come up against a problem during a project—be it an obstacle or a desire—and then ­figure out a way to resolve the issue: that is being creative.

So often creativity and inspiration are treated as being the same or very similar things, when actually they have separate meanings. Creativity is the application of a thought, while inspiration is the force that originates that thought. Not everyone is always inspired, but everyone can be creative. We all have our own ways of bringing forth our creativity; the key is learning how to embrace our own personal style.

How then does one learn creativity? If everyone is creative, there must be little learning involved to actually be so. The real work is in ­figuring out how we personally are creative and how we can apply that energy to our work. Think about your life as it currently stands. I am willing to bet that you do something creative every day, whether you see it as such or not. Take your job, for example, or school. Every single day, in order to be productive, you need to make decisions that keep progress moving. So you are being creative, because you are problem-solving to move your desires to completion.

201401we_shadenInspiration-p16.jpg

RUNNING FROM WIND (2010)

This picture was taken in the very early morning in a foggy field. I was out shooting with my friend, the amazing photographer Miss Aniela, and we ran through cold, wet grass so that I could get this picture. The inspiration behind this image is the recurring theme in my dreams that something or someone is chasing me. This picture creates an atmosphere of pursuit, giving the feeling that something or someone is chasing the subjects through the field.

What about more obvious creative endeavors? Here I’m talking about what we do with our spare time. It doesn’t matter if the answer is watching television or mountain biking. Anything can be fuel for inspiration. For example: I watch television and movies as a way of relaxing after working hard. Specifically, I watch Game of Thrones, not only because I ­find it wonderfully exciting, but because it shows me a different world. I take inspiration from it visually, as well as narratively. That inspiration then feeds into building my photographs, because it informs the way I see the world and the way I de­ne beauty and intrigue.

Now take my other favorite hobby: hiking. I love going hiking because it clears my mind, but I also try to see it as a creative endeavor. Hiking shows me settings that I can use for my photographs, and frees my mind from the daily grind. It allows me to fi­nd inspiration in every step, because I am not only doing what I enjoy, but also applying it to my photography on a daily basis.

So it is worth thinking about what we love and how we can turn that into something creative.

201401we_shadenInspiration-p17.jpg

TALLY (2009)

Skin photographs beautifully with window light on it, so I decided to challenge myself for this series and use natural window light and a plain white wall as a background as often and interestingly as possible. By using chocolate sauce to add an unsettling element, I was able to distract from the dull surroundings and focus the eye on the subject, who is posed displaying unease and tension. Never underestimate the power of giving yourself projects to work to.

Inspiration is Everywhere

Thus far I have been presenting inspiration as an abstract feeling that appears on a whim. This certainly does happen—no matter what we do for a living or for fun, we all know the power of a great idea hitting us from nowhere or a beautiful daydream sucking us in whole. This is the type of inspiration that is wonderful to experience, but is often fleeting, and impossible to control. What happens when a client needs a photograph in a hurry and no ideas come to mind? What happens when life takes over and things do not work out as planned? What happens when our usual method of brainstorming fails and there is no time left to sit and wonder?

The answer to these questions is the answer to how we de­fine inspiration. I believe that there is no clear de­finition for what inspiration is, and even less of a concrete method of how to ­find it. I believe that inspiration is everywhere. We just have to look for it. In life, if we look for something hard enough, chances are we will ­find it. I might never have another amazing idea completely off the cuff again, but if I can train myself to ­find inspiration in everything, then I will be constantly inspired.

The commonly held view is that inspiration is reserved for an elite few artists who are so in touch with their inner workings that they fi­nd themselves inspired constantly, as if by some kind of magic. While this might be how some people function, I have never met an artist who has not been frustrated at some point by a lack of inspiration. We all need help sometimes ­finding it, and luckily there are some techniques that help a lot.

I’ll talk about these techniques in greater depth in the next section, but in general, they involve changing our personal perspective. From fi­nding meaning in every little part of our routine, to looking back on memories to ­find stories we can use, there is potential inspiration in our whole life if we choose to open our eyes to it. I believe that most people turn a blind eye to inspiration, not because they do not seek it, but because they have been conditioned not to see it. How often do you take the same route to work each morning? How often do you eat the same breakfast, visit the same restaurants, or travel to the same vacation spots? Human beings are creatures of habit, and breaking some of those habits might well be the key to opening up our minds to ­find inspiration.

201401we_shaden018-Liquify-X-BINS.jpg

FETUS (2009)

The subject of rebirth is prevalent throughout my images, particularly in Fetus. I found myself in Walmart trying various containers on my head to find one big enough to use in this shoot. Shooting, I had a remote in my hand and I did a back bend over a couch to dip my head into the container. I had two people on standby should something go wrong, but luckily I got the shot in three tries. It was intensely claustrophobic, and remains the most terrifying photo shoot I’ve ever done. If you’re stuck for inspiration, think about what scares you—is it something you could incorporate into a shot or series?

201401we_shaden019-shaden_an-unheard-cry-X-BINS.jpg

AN UNHEARD CRY (2009)

Underwater photography was something that I had never tried before creating this image. I learned a lot about what works underwater and what doesn’t when creating this picture, and that in itself can be motivating and inspirational. I took a lot of bad pictures that day, and realized that sometimes complete failure is the best form of inspiration because it pushes us to try harder and learn more. Oddly enough, this final picture from that day remains a favorite of mine across my whole portfolio. Maybe I like it so much because I know how hard-won it was.

 

 

December 12, 2013

Pride in Your Ride: Motorcycle Photography by Steve Isaacs

We asked photographer Steve Isaacs, featured on pages 22-23 in our December issue, to tell us about his studio design and the setup behind his motorcycle portrait photography.

By Steve Isaacs

We’ve put together a very effective lighting and backdrop setup, which you see here, for our in-studio motorcycle photography. 

isaacsstudio_overhead.jpeg

To get an idea of scale the back studio wall is 24 feet across and the white roll-up flooring is 12 feet wide by 24 feet long. I set this at an angle in the studio because the concrete floor is not level. In this position the floor is fairly level, making it easier to stand the panels and not have large gaps at the bottom of a panel where it sits on the floor. I had a problem with the foam core bending if left standing for very long, so I taped 1-inch PVC pipe to the back side of the foam core. Those are the white ribs you see against the black side of the panels. This kept the panels light weight, making setup and teardown easy, even with one person. The canvas you see on the floor and under the table provides a surface to roll the bike in and not leave tire tracks everywhere.

The motorcycle studio setup uses an 18-foot truss to suspend three Paul C. Buff Einstein flash heads in soft boxes overhead to provide the main lighting. The reverse side of a 12x24-foot linoleum floor, painted white, serves as the floor and can be rolled up for transport. Foam core is suspended at each side using simple backdrop stands and bars to create 12-foot false walls at each side with angled panels at the front to reflect more light to the side of the motorcycle. We drape black cloth over the setup to black out anything overhead that would otherwise be reflected off the motorcycle.

isaacsstudio_rearview.jpeg 

When I don’t have a motorcycle in studio, I use this gray stool with a 10-foot PVC pipe as stand-in to set exposure and the flash settings. I can check shadows and adjust the light for a usable (maskable) separation from the white background.

It's the combination of all of these white surfaces that produce the even lighting at the side of the motorcycle. The overhead soft boxes create the highlights that accent the curves of the tank and fenders. The back wall is also made of foam core suspended on backdrop stands, making a 16-foot false wall. Additional flash heads at each side and pointed toward the back wall illuminate the wall to create a complete white background when desired. Two more flash heads located at the front of the setup add depth and highlights when creating portraits with the motorcycles. We use Paul C. Buff heads because I can control them using a remote mounted on the camera. This saves considerable effort when adjusting the intensity of the overhead flash heads.

isaacsstudio_frontview.jpeg 

We use two cameras during the session. One camera is mounted on a tripod some 40 feet from the motorcycle and at a low angle (18 inches) for the profile images and stays on the tripod. This is tethered to a laptop computer using a USB interface. We use the second camera hand-held to capture closeup detail images and for the portrait images. An Eye-Fi card in the second camera wirelessly transmits the images to the laptop where the client can view the images as they are being captured. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is configured to automatically import from a watched folder, which simplifies workflow later and shows the images as they are captured.

isaacsstudio_tether.jpeg 

Having the client immediately see the images live during the session has helped tremendously to produce the images the client wants. Though some photographers don’t like the client to see the images before they're finaled, I find the immediate feedback very important. I liken it to a jazz musician playing to a live audience. I do have to educate the client a bit so that the he or she understands the images are only the starting point for the final result. I don't want skewed expectations to confuse the session. 

After capturing the images I spend time in Photoshop to create the composites, which become the final images. This is where my work is distinct from others’.

celtic_bike.jpg

©Steve Isaacs Photography

This finished family portrait shows the type of composite we’re known for. The bike owner didn't want to have his picture taken, so he had his bike stand in. That’s the family crest in the corner. A local airbrush artist created the Celtic theme, and the bike was built by a local custom house, the culmination of a four-year labor of love. The owner wanted me to photograph the bike before he started the engine for the first time, and the family portrait was impromptu on the spot. 

The image above was taken using the prototype portable indoor setup. All of the parts are there and can be loaded into a trailer to be transported to different indoor locations.

This studio setup is one commonly used for advertising and magazine photography. I’d like to construct a slightly larger version of this setup to use with automobiles at some point. With the addition of flash heads with snoots for depth is working quite well for product photography (see below).

isaacs_productshot.jpeg

Steve Isaacs Photography hopes to unveil a portable version of this studio at the 2014 Inland Northwest Motorcycle Show with a goal of one hour for setup and one hour for teardown. We considered designing a setup that we could use outdoors, but we’ve tabled that idea due to of concerns about wind and rain along with dust control, which would require a tent and additional flooring, making the setup significantly more expensive and difficult to transport and set up.

 

October 11, 2013

Behind the Scenes: Jaime DeMarco Workflow with Capture One Pro 7

JAIME DEMARCO, fashion and lifestyle photographer

Jaime DeMarco began his career as senior photographer for Urban Outfitters at age 22. Today as a successful fashion and lifestyle photographer, with clients such as DKNY, Free People, E! Entertainment Television, and People Magazine, Jaime is known for his ability to bring to life the unique character of each of his subjects. Like his idol Helmut Newton, he plays the role of a professional 'hired gun,' bringing with him the highest level of creativity, energy and photographic experience to every single assignment.

“What is remarkable with Capture One Pro is that people shooting today who are using the Nikon D800 or Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera can get the same software functionality as I get with a $40,000 Phase One digital back. Granted, the camera itself makes a difference—the hardware, lenses, 16-bit capture. But basically, the software will take whatever you throw at it —whether it’s raw from Leaf, Canon, whatever, no hicupping … From a workflow standpoint it’s unbelievable that it can work in all formats so seamlessly.” —Jaime DeMarco

COP7_box_300px.jpg

 

PROJECT: EMPIRE BEAUTY SCHOOLS  
EQUIPMENT: Nikon D800e, Capture One Pro 7

BACKGROUND/INTRO: Capture One Pro 7 has an exceptionally versatile workflow. It was designed originally as one of the first available ‘digital presses’ and was created for professionals and agency people who needed to capture and process as quickly as possible. I’ve been using the software for many years. Some people still don’t know that it supports more than 300 different DSLR camera models (as well as medium format).

Capture One Pro 7 now offers two different ways of working: its traditional Sessions and a new Catalog structure. I prefer to work with Sessions because I can control everything from one pane. (Though if I were a stock or wedding photographer, the catalog feature would make a lot of sense, because I’d want to use tag and search, and it would save me time doing that.)

For this workflow, I am describing how I worked with my client Empire Beauty Schools and Nick Arrojo, who joined forces for a collaborative advertising project. I chose to use a Nikon D800E tethered to Capture One Pro 7 and strobes to accomplish it. The shoot took place in a room in the Hershey Convention Center that was made into an impromptu photo studio. I dropped canvas backdrops instead of using set paper. The shoot took place there, because it was the only time both creative teams could get together during a large hair show. 

 

Step One:
Create New Session

The first step on this or any other job is to create a new session. I clicked the plus button in the Library/File pane and named the session because I split the job into 4 sessions. There were a lot of planned looks, so I wanted to make sure it was easier to find them later. I also changed the capture name to a simpler one from the same windows. Finally, I selected where I wanted the images to go.

Where I store images depends on the client and how critical the save is. Right from the initial Session setup paneI I can choose to capture images on the laptop SSD or send them through to my RAID drive, bypassing the computer’s main SSD entirely.

 

01_Image-1_Session-Dialog.jpg

Image 1_Session Dialog.jpeg

Click any image in this article for larger view.

STEP TWO:
Camera Set-up

I navigate to the camera pane, which I have customized with the tools that I use during capture.

Capture One Pro 7 allows me to set up and save multiple workspace configurations—my tabs and tools—the way I want them and then save the workspace. This is extremely useful because different shooting situations require different tools, some more and some less. I’m able to avoid having unnecessary distractions during capture, but can have all of the tools available during production.

I navigated to Window > Workspace and selected Beauty Tethered, which is my custom workspace for beauty shots. It moves the browser to the right, and then reconfigures the main categories, capture, color to include only the tools that I use for beauty shoots. My custom workspace includes the following tools under the Capture pane: exposure evaluation up top and capture naming underneath it, along with camera controls, information, and capture pilot. Under the Color pane I have base characteristics, white balance, color balance, and color editor. (I have the option to include or eliminate each tool from my workspace. If I find I need it for some reason, I can always add it again with a right-click.) 

I then look at my capture pilot and camera controls, and create a new server name. I use the basic capture version and create an ad hoc network—basically a private network originating from my MacBookPro—and I start the image server and log on my iPads.

02_Image-2_ColorCard-and-CapturePilot.jpg

Image 2_ColorCard and CapturePilot.jpeg

Next, I also check camera controls, ISO, and make sure the camera is tethered, etc.

Then I check to make sure the ICC profile is what I want it to be. I have created my own custom ICC tool that I’ve named d800e Generic. It has my basic, tweaked D800E color profile, which I created in Capture One Pro 7 using the Color Editor.

I shoot a color target, and once that’s in the camera I go to white balance gray, highlight the dropper, and pick middle gray. Then Capture One Pro 7 will set the balance and temperature of the shot.

For this job the creative director wanted me warm the images and push them a bit yellow. I simply pushed the color temp a few hundred degrees higher than the color picker gray balance detects.

STEP THREE:
Color Editor Tool

03_Image-3_ColorEditor-during-Capture.jpg

Image 3_ColorEditor during Capture.jpeg

This tool allows color editing independent of the simple gray balance; they are separate tools and do different things. The Color editing tool creates a custom profile or LUT for my cinema friends. Basically this process alters how Capture One Pro 7 interprets color information captured by the sensor. This tool lets me fine-tune that whole process and further refine the basic ICC profile correction I have custom made for my cameras.

Assuming you have a calibrated monitor, this is an essential step and probably my favorite tool in Capture One Pro 7. It provides color swatches that correspond to the color swatches on a GretagMacbeth color card. I take the basic color picker to select the color range that corresponds to the square on the color card and adjust the reds, blue, green, etc.

I do this for all of my cameras, but especially with 35mm DSLRs; these cameras just don’t have the same color accuracy as the 16-bit sensors in the medium-format cameras. With medium format, I can just go with the basic profile and the color is close to perfect. With 35mm DSLR sensors, I need to go farther than the profiles provided by the camera manufacturer to get the best result. Properly using the color tool will let you get as close as possible to accurate color and even closely match the color of different cameras used on the same set.

I then go and save it as a user preset, I could also send it out as an ICC profile if I wish.

If I change lighting or location, I can do it over again—it only takes about 5 minutes.

This whole process can also be done later as long as you capture a raw file. In fact, I always repeat it and do a final color pass before final file processing in controlled light on a calibrated monitor.

STEP FOUR:
Set up shooting parameters 

02_Image-2_ColorCard-and-CapturePilot.jpg

As you can see, I use a simplified workspace for capture without a lot of junk on screen. Tools can always be added separately (and saved later as another capture workspace). It saves me a lot of time to be able to save a customized capture space to the needs of each job. My workflow changes as the situation changes, and different tools are relevant for different jobs, but here are some of the key tools that I use:

I select my base style from the adjustments pull-down, which places all of my pre-settings on the following tools. I then just tweak the settings for the job; the whole process takes a few minutes. Capture One Pro 7 allows me to save and name multiple styles so that I save time when working with files, and I can preview and switch on the fly. I can show two options to a creative director with one click instead of having to change multiple setting while they wait.

A) EXPOSURE, CONTRAST, SATURATION I like to add a bit of contrast depending on the camera and how my S-Curve has affected the capture. For this shoot I felt it needed a bit more contrast. I then desaturated the captures a few points. I almost always push the exposure 3/10 or a bit more. I prefer to shoot dark and underexpose, then bring it up in Capture One Pro 7.

It’s a leftover habit form shooting Velvia film 1/3-stop dark and pushing it in the darkroom. With the Nikon D800 and Canon EOS 5D Mark III, the HDR slider comes in very handy; you can cheat and get back some dynamic range that would normally be lost when adding the contrast of a curve. This ability to unlock more of the dynamic range of the high-end DSLRs brings them a step closer to medium-format backs and allows me to use them on a broader range of jobs.

B) CLARITY TOOL I selected Punch mode as opposed to Neutral or Classic. I set Punch to Clarity-18 and Structure-8, which added some artificial contrast to the edges of the images for more of a medium-format look. If used properly it can do a nice job of drawing out eyes in beauty shots. 

C) CURVE I made a basic S-Curve to add some more contrast to the images. I have a base setting that I always use that I didn’t change.

STEP FIVE
The Shoot

After I shot a few test shots for lighting and composition I pulled the best test shot up on the iPad with Capture Pilot and spoke about it with the creative director to make sure it works for both clients and the rest of the creative team. Once we were sure we were all on the same page, I called for final hair, make-up, and styling touches, and I began to shoot. I shot until I felt I had a few strong final options and then gave the creative director, her team, and clients the time to make sure they have the options they need for final selection.

The first round of selections were made with Capture Pilot using the rating system to get the top choices, and they ended up with quite a few selects. Once everyone was satisfied that we had a lot of potential winners to choose from we moved on to the next look.

I use Capture Pilot, because it seems like everyone has an iPad and iPhone. I just have the clients download the Capture Pilot app from the App Store. They start the app and select the Job Name. Then the creative director and everyone else can follow the shoot in real time without crowding around the capture computer. It’s great because I don’t have to worry about a client accidently touching a setting or asking the digital tech or me to navigate and star files for them. It frees us up to do more worthwhile things. The client and creatives can select right from their device independent of what we are doing in Capture One Pro 7.

Finally, I backed up everything to a second SSD after each look is selected. I captured the D800E fils as raw NEF and then converted them all to Phase One EIPs once the day wrapped. I convert all of my captures to EIP whether shooting a Phase back or DSLR because it ensures that when the files are opened or moved to another computer, Capture One shows the images as I intended. My settings and copyright information ae saved as part of the file and it retains all of the raw file information and quality. I also know that my raw (EIP) files are not accessible to anyone with Photoshop. This helps limit the people with access to my raw files.

STEP SIX
Web Gallery Export

04_Image-7_Production-Web-Contact-Tool.jpg

Image 7_Production Web Contact Tool.jpeg

After we wrapped for the day I made a web contact sheet of the first round of selects and uploaded them to my server with a blind link from Capture One Pro 7. The client reviewed and narrowed down from the first round of selects made on set that evening. I then remade the contact sheets with their top 10 selects from each look and allowed them a few days to make final selects for processing and retouching. Using the web contact sheet has become my method for allowing clients to select images. It makes my life easy and clients love that they can see the results in the gallery as soon as it's uploaded. It takes less than 15 minutes to build a gallery and does not cost extra because it’s part of Capture One Pro 7. The web contact sheet tool automates the process, making a preview from the selects for web and letting me choose how big (and therefore how much quality is shown).

STEP SEVEN
Production and Processing

05_Image-5_ProductionCorrections.jpg

Image 5_ProductionCorrections.jpeg

After final selections are made I begin final production and processing. I work on a 10-bit 30-inch color-calibrated monitor. I go through the same steps as earlier and make sure I’m still happy with all of my color and exposure settings. I then go on to correct

A) NOISE REDUCTION I turned this off. I always turn this off when shooting at the native ISO and proper exposure and light with the Nikon D800E, Phase One IQ160, or Mamiya Aptus II.

B) LOCAL ADJUSTMENTS This is a key thing, especially for hair assignments. I can draw my mask over the hair and from there add contrast and exposure. Then, if I get moiré in the clothing, I can correct only the garment. I had seven different zones in one image.  By doing this I’m able to use raw sensor data to add or subtract light and contrast from isolated areas and control light in small areas. No other editing program allows me to edit raw data from the sensor, and it allows so much more latitude than working with a processed file.

C) LENS PROFILES I used the correction filter to add a bit of distortion to narrow the center of the faces. I know it’s the opposite of what the tool is supposed to be used for, but breaking the rules can sometimes bring excellent results.

D) COLOR EDITOR ROUND 2 I fine-tune all of my on-set adjustments in a controlled environment.

06_Image-4-_ColorScreen-Production.jpg

Image 4 _ColorScreen Production.jpeg

07_Image-8_Production-Final-Proscessing.jpgImage 8_Production Final Proscessing.jpeg

E) PROCESSING I processed the final images as .psd files (from the process pane). I used the Adobe 1998 color profile, which is more suitable for Nikon which uses it as its native color space. I processed the finals as a 16-bit file at 100% size for skin correction in Photoshop. I then embedded my copyright info; a nice feature of the processing in Capture One Pro 7 is that files can be output with copyright and camera information embedded. I then renamed the files EmpireArrojoHershey2013_ with a 2-digit counter to the location that I specified (in this case it goes to the default output for my session).

That completes my workflow with Capture One Pro 7 for this job, and I’m ready to send the files to post for skin, liquify, and fly-away hair. My process keeps color and exposure in my control and not in the hands of a retoucher. That’s something I prefer as someone who loved the darkroom.

For me, Capture One Pro 7 is invaluable; I actually could give up Photoshop at this point for all levels and color correction. I rely on the fact that Capture One Pro 7 accepts so many different cameras—I can plug and unplug them and keep shooting tethered (true plug-and-play).

# # #

An editorial note from Jaime DeMarco:

I’m a Creative Cloud member and have downloaded Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, and it’s a decent program, but not for a professional studio. I could not set up an agency shoot with Lightroom and be taken seriously, at least with my group of clients.

I don’t like Adobe’s new strategy. I don’t like that now I’m renting the software and am forced to keep paying for the ability to use it. That’s what I like about Capture One Pro 7—it’s mine for life, it’s my choice to upgrade. I don’t lose my right to use the program I’ve paid for.

I’ve experienced a few Creative Cloud issues during its monthly check to make sure I’m paying my fees. I’ve had Creative Cloud tell me that I’m not registered to use my products at log-in and had to fiddle with it to make it realize that I’m a licensed user. I don’t need another thing to fix; time is money for most of us using stuff at this level. My purchased version of CS6 opened every time once it was registered. 

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.

Digital-Image-Editing-and-Special-Effects---Copy_Page_060_Image_0001.jpg

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.

hsl_overall.jpg

Digital-Image-Editing-and-Special-Effects---Copy_Page_060_Image_0002.jpg

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.

hsl_yellows.jpg

Digital-Image-Editing-and-Special-Effects---Copy_Page_060_Image_0003.jpg

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.

lightroom_hsl_sliders.jpg

 

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.

Digital-Image-Editing-and-Special-Effects---Copy_Page_061_Image_0001.jpg

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.

Digital-Image-Editing-and-Special-Effects---Copy_Page_061_Image_0002.jpg

color_range_select.jpg

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

Digital-Image-Editing-and-Special-Effects---Copy_Page_062_Image_0002.jpg

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.

Digital-Image-Editing-and-Special-Effects---Copy_Page_062_Image_0001.jpg

 

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.

Digital-Image-Editing-and-Special-Effects---Copy_Page_063_Image_0001.jpg

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.

Digital-Image-Editing-and-Special-Effects---Copy_Page_063_Image_0002.jpg

midtones_brush.jpg

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.

Digital-Image-Editing-and-Special-Effects---Copy_Page_064_Image_0001.jpg

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.

Digital-Image-Editing-and-Special-Effects---Copy_Page_064_Image_0002.jpg

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.

August 13, 2013

A Client Experience Lesson for Photographers from an Appliance Repair Guy

By Joan Sherwood, Sr.Ed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 27, 2013

When Products and Ideas Converge

By Joan Sherwood, Senior Editor

A while back Moab by Legion Paper sent me a box of their new Slickrock Metallic Silver paper, a gorgeous glossy metallic ink jet paper with instant dry time. I looked at the sleek model in their example print (below) and thought of my own collection of personal work and couldn’t think of anything that I had photographed that would be suitable for a sleek metallic print like that.

MoabSlickrockSilver.jpg

The image Moab used for their example print, resembling nothing in
my collection of personal photography.
 

A short while after that Alien Skin Software released Exposure 5. It’s a neat piece of plug-in software that gives you easy-to-use sets of presets to apply the look of specific films to your images. The presets are organized in 25 logically named sets, like B&W Films – Vintage, B&W Films – Polaroid 55, Cinema, and Color Films – Slide.

alienskinexp5_nguyen.jpg

Photographer Peter Nguyen uses Alien Skin Exposure as part of his workflow.

I chose one of my typical farm shots that I had taken with a Nikon 1 V2 camera, which is compact but sturdy and delivers great quality, and has some excellent lens options (picture angle is 2.7X focal length). I opened it in Photoshop CS6 and accessed Exposure 5 through the filter menu, but you can also use it with Lightroom and Aperture or as a standalone application. I clicked on the black-and-white vintage set and immediately got an array of large previews, using my image, of every style in the set in the left-hand panel. You can choose whether you want to see the thumbnails in two or three columns. On the right are easy-to-use sliders controlling color, tone curve, focus, grain, IR, vignette, borders, and textures.

201307we_wetplatelucy.jpg

The large thumbnails on the left populate quickly and make it easy to find a style that fits your image. The one selected in this example is called Wet Plate - Damaged. You have extensive control over the color, tone, and amount of effect you want to add in the right-hand panels. Image ©Joan Sherwood

Scolling through the cyanotypes, daguerreotypes, and wet plate styles, I felt a smile spread across my face. Here was a way to match my rural-subject photography with Moab’s Slickrock Metallic Silver paper and the Slickrock Metallic Pearl that preceded it.

I turned on the Epson Stylus Photo R3000 printer on my desk, downloaded and installed the free ICC profile from Moab’s site, applied the filter to one of my images, and in moments, I had a fantastic daguerreotype-style print. The Epson print had the perfect amount of warm brown tone on top of the metallic paper surface. It was interesting to look at from any angle. Ideas for print projects and treatments blazed through my head and my creative soul did a little happy dance.

201307we_Epson-R3000.jpg

The Epson Stylus Photo R3000 makes beautiful prints, and worked perfectly
paired with Moab's free ICC profile for the Slickrock Metallic Silver paper.
I've also used it to print on canvas from the roll feeder. Excellent results.

I’m fortunate to have a job where I’m sent paper samples and offered software to try. But if you consider that most paper companies and labs will send you samples on request for little or no charge, and virtually every software maker offers a free 30- or 60-day trial, you have access to that opportunity as well. Keep your mind open to ideas and product convergences that complement your photographic style. Try it, and it might just become a new product to distinguish yourself in your market.

June 11, 2013

Blogging for Photographers: Creating a Community and Dealing with Negative Comments

Jolie O’Dell's new book, "Blogging for Photographers," is a thorough guide to everything you'll need to know about beginning and succeeding in the blogging process. From early preparation that will save you loads of time to more advanced advice on how to navigate the Internet and the potential pitfalls of putting yourself in front of the public. She goes over the technical side and shows you examples of specific successful blogs to illustrate her points. Here we share a small part of her chapter on community, which also includes information on spam, blogger networking, making good impressions with introductions, moving up networking tiers, and integrating social media.   —Joan Sherwood, Senior Editor, Professional Photographer

This article was excerpted from Jolie O’Dell’s “Blogging for Photographers: Showcase Your Creativity and Build Your Audience” book, published by Focal Press last month. “Blogging for Photographers” is available in stores and online for $24.95.

201306we_odell_bloggingcov.jpg

Community

One of the great parts of being a blogger is the fact that you get to interact with your audience. But when you’ve done your part by creating great content, readers get to do their part by responding to it, sharing it, and getting more involved with you, your blog, and each other.

Building a community is an exciting and sometimes exhausting endeavor, but it brings you close to your audience and creates real connections between you and your readers. And when those connections start to form, you’ll see some interesting “network effects” on your blog.

A thriving network can start to have a gravity-like effect on the surrounding areas of the internet. The stronger your community becomes, the more readers will get pulled into it. One regular reader will share a link in a tweet, another will email his friend about an insightful post you wrote. Little by little, your readership will grow; as you make connections on a personal level, your network will grow. And as your network grows, so does your personal brand, your business, and your overall ranking in the world of photo blogging.

 

Creating a community in comments

Don’t be shy—if your readers were interested enough to leave a comment, you should meet them halfway and start a dialog whenever possible.

The first, easiest, and most obvious way to start building a community is by reading and responding to the comments on your blog.

Note, I did not say by obsessively checking and pondering the deeper meaning of the comments on your blog.

This can be hinky territory for even the most self-assured photo bloggers. Your snaps and scribbles will acquire a diverse crowd of readers, and not all of them will be supportive, pleasant, or sane. That’s the gamble you take when you work in the public eye. Prepare yourself for some positivity, some neutrality, some negativity, and a healthy serving of spam, and try not to take it all too seriously.

If you’re particularly concerned about angry, unpleasant, or profanity-laced comments, your content management system (CMS) will likely give you an option for pre-screening comments before they are publicly published on your blog. If you choose to moderate all your comments this way, try to check for new comments at least once a day, more frequently if you get more than a handful of comments.

With that caveat in mind, know that the comments section on any post can be a lively salon for fascinating conversations between peers. Beginners can ask you questions; you can respond with specific tips. Old pros can offer you suggestions for new techniques to try. Avid fans can give you digital applause, and thoughtful connoisseurs can give you constructive critiques.

You don’t have to respond to every comment you get. In fact, many of your commenters’ thoughts may be along two well-worn lines: “That’s great!” and “Me too!” While these kinds of responses can certainly enliven and flesh out your comments section, they don’t really add much substance to the conversation you started when you published your blog post, and they don’t necessarily require a response from you. If you’d like to respond, you may absolutely do so, but be advised that the blogger who responds to every comment creates a cluttered conversation stream and cultivates an overly eager image.

Rather, it might be best (especially when you start getting more than one or two comments on a given post) to chime into the comments only when you have a specific thought to add, a question to address, or a point to clarify. Think of yourself as the host or hostess at a reception. Your job is to welcome people in, set the tone for the event (both of which you’ve already done in your blog post), and then facilitate a natural and pleasant conversational flow. Too much chatter on your part is as destructive to said flow as stone silence.

When you chime into a conversation in the comments section underneath a post, you can reply to a group or to a specific commenter. Just avoid confusion by being specific about whom you’re addressing, and be as clear as possible with whatever point you’re trying to make or question you’re trying to answer.

In general, your readers will be delighted to know that you’re not only an engaging writer and terrific photographer but also an active participant with your fans and friends online. You’ll probably build ongoing online relationships with at least a few folks who return frequently to read and comment; it’s the very beginning of a community and can end up being one of the strongest parts of your blog if you choose to make it so.

When responding to comments from others, be as personable as you would if you were speaking to them in real life. After all, when you take away all the code and pixels, we’re all flesh and blood, very real and distinct personalities who are quite connected through the internet. Even though we may be physically remote, we should strive to be as polite and respectful as if we were sitting next to one another in a public place.

Practicing such courtesy is easy when you’re answering a simple question or responding to a positive remark from a fan or friend. However, when a reader has a critical comment, it can be difficult to rein yourself in. The web gives us all a powerful feeling of invulnerability, and too often we take this feeling as license to insult and shame others whom we perceive as insulting us.

blogging-Negative comments.jpg

 

DEALING WITH NEGATIVE COMMENTS

No matter how cheerful your posts are, you will invariably have to deal with some naysayers and nasties at some point.

Getting critical comments—be they constructive or otherwise—is absolutely unavoidable for any blogger. In fact, fear of such comments has held many a creative soul back from blogging. But you shouldn’t let your apprehensions about this facet of online life intimidate you or detract your enthusiasm.

In fact, your policy on and reactions to negative comments can be a huge factor in establishing the ethos of your blog’s community. How you respond to these kinds of comments will set you apart and define your character—and, if you’re blogging as a business owner, will send strong signals to your potential commenters.

Different bloggers have different approaches. The thoughtful will carefully engage detractors in an intelligent and reasonable debate. The thick-skinned will poke fun at meanies. The Pollyannas of the internet will post a thorough section on their expectations of positive commenting and will delete anything with a hint of snideness or profanity.

But every seasoned blogger will have developed their own techniques for dealing with negative comments. Here are a few helpful tips and coping mechanisms for the bad/ugly spectrum of comments, from the ugliest insults to well-meant critiques:

Don’t feed the trolls! This is Rule One of online communication. It simply means that while you will encounter “trolls,” i.e., web-dwellers who exist online for the purpose of inflicting emotional pain on others, you are under no circumstances to “feed” them, i.e., show any sign that you notice or are affected in any way by their antics. If you get a “trollish” comment, delete it, do not respond to it, and move forward immediately without paying any further mind.

Take the high road. If someone leaves a nasty comment or one that’s just critical of your work, you can always come out on top by being unflappably gracious. A simple, “I’m sorry you feel that way. Have a great day!” can quickly and successfully close the matter, allowing you to save face, still remain in control of the situation, and not be dragged into a flame war (a heated back-and-forth that sucks everyone involved into a maelstrom of negativity and hyperbole).

Sometimes, you don’t have to respond with a correction or rebuke to an obviously incorrect negative commenter. Your other readers will come to your rescue—a good sign of a healthy community.

Delete, delete, delete. You’re in charge here; this is your playground. You are in no way obliged to publish every comment you get, and you can delete anything that doesn’t fit in with the vibe you’re trying to cultivate. Free speech certainly has its place, but your blog isn’t a public or government-owned property. If detractors want to speak freely, they can darn well set up blogs of their own.

Don’t fear the banhammer. The banhammer is your privilege as a blog owner; in most CMSes, you can permanently ban any commenter who you feel is dragging down the tone of the conversation with verbal abuse, threats, or profanity (if that’s not okay on your blog).

Take a deep breath. If you get a particularly vitriolic comment that just sets your teeth on edge, walk away from your computer (or shut down your smartphone) and go blow off some steam before responding (or not responding, or just deleting the comment altogether). Some low-blow comments will go straight for your emotional jugular. In those moments, you might need a mantra; I have a few of my own! “These people don’t pay my bills” is a perspective-saving personal favorite that reminds me why I blog and reinforces the fact that a bad comment has no real-world impact on me.

Negative isn’t always nasty. Some folks will leave comments that they didn’t like your work or they didn’t understand your story or they hate the lens you’re using, and so on. Don’t let it get to you emotionally, and assume that the commenter meant well. If you start by giving them the benefit of the doubt, you can decide for yourself whether the criticism does, in fact, have any merit; but if it was made without malice, there’s no need to get upset.

Laugh! Sometimes, an overly negative commenter is so off-base that their words go from offensive to just plain bizarre, outlandish, and ludicrous. Feel free to shake your head and chuckle. One seasoned pro in the blogosphere tells me he likes to reply to these commenters with three simple words: “You fascinate me.” It’s a little wink-wink that lets other commenters know you’re in on the joke and don’t take the negativity to heart.

Just remember: Your commenters, positive and negative alike, don’t really know you. Any comments they leave are more a reflection on them than on you. Dark people leave dark comments, and we have to pity them for not having better things to do with their lives.

Finally, there might sometimes be posts that stir up strong reactions or controversies in the community. Likewise, if you do any personal blogging, you might also find yourself delving into some very tender territory. In most blogging software, you can turn comments on and off for an individual post, and on my own blogs, I will very often flip the switch into no-comment mode if I feel that I’ve said all I have to say and I don’t particularly need or want feedback from others.

This might strike some of your readers as a high-handed way of avoiding criticism, but look at all the facts: You took the time and effort to set up a blog, do all your photography, and craft a well-thought-out blog post on a perhaps sensitive subject. It’s your work, and no one is entitled to any part of it. If you don’t feel like subjecting yourself to commentary—positive or negative—you can simply close the comments section.

When I do this on my own blog, I run a brief disclaimer at the bottom of the post, where the comments section would normally be found:

“Comments are closed for this post. You are encouraged to disagree, debate, or expand the conversation on your own blog; you will be linked to via trackbacks and pingbacks.”

It’s a polite but firm way of telling your readers that while you appreciate them, this particular post is a one-way talk or speech or demonstration rather than a roundtable discussion.

It goes without saying that people act differently online than they do in real life. It takes a cool, collected head to rise above the noise sometimes—but patience and an even temper almost always pay off.

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.

201304we_garage03.jpg

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.

201304we_garage04.jpg

201304we_garage05.jpg

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 

 

201304we_garage12.jpg

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. 

 

201304we_garage13.jpg

201304we_garage14.jpg

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.

 

201304we_garage15.jpg

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. 

 

201304we_garage16.jpg

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.

201304we_garage17.jpg

201304we_garage18.jpg

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.

201304we_garage19.jpg

201304we_garage20.jpg

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.

201302we_posingA10.jpg

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.

201302we_posingA2.jpg

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).

201301we_ch7_curious_dog.jpg

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).

201301we_Fig-7-31a.jpg

 201301we_Fig 7-32b.jpg

201301we_fig.7.32.jpg

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.

201212we_crotty_1E2K2211.jpg

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 16, 2012

Aftermath: A Photo Essay in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

By Cate Scaglione, Je Revele Fine Art Photography

In the days following the hurricane, I set out to help deliver donated goods to the hardest hit areas within my community. I brought my camera along, not only to help me process what had happened in the days prior but with the thought that it would allow me to help inspire donations from across the country through our social media network. In the process of delivering supplies, I saw the profound sadness of memories depleted. But even in the wake of such loss, people's spirits were surprisingly resilient. I spoke with so many people who were grateful for their lives and the support they received. They didn't mind being photographed and many welcomed it. They just wanted to share their stories and make it feel concrete. I noticed that when people tearfully described their losses from this storm, it was rarely mentioned in terms of dollars, cars, or jewelry. Not even once. What I heard time and again was the mourned loss of photos, the priceless archives of our memory. I realized that in a way, photos are the currency of the journey our lives. In this photo essay, I attempted to capture the surreal images of a joyful life ravaged by disaster. I tried to create a reverence, to find beauty and meaning in what is now gone. I hope it inspires you and serves as a reminder to continue helping the charities that support these victims. They will need our help long after Sandy's wake.

201211we_scaglione.jpg

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.

201210we_equine04.jpg

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.

201209we_perseid_composite_.jpg

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.

201209we_iPad_small.jpg

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.

201209we_perseid_sky.jpg

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" »

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.

mckaylamaroney0009.jpg

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.

IMG_1241.jpeg

©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 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.

201208we_curiouscrit_goldfish.jpg

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.

201208we_curiouscrit_cover.jpg

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" »

August 3, 2012

The Coiffure Project: Big, Bold and Beautiful

Glenford Nunez grabs attention with a new project featuring curly, glorious, natural hair

201208we_coiffure_nunez06.jpg

All images ©Glenford Nunez

Some attention-grabbing projects are the product of brainstorming or countless hours of intentional artistic exploration. Others just emerge, almost by accident, from the casual creations an artist is already doing.

“The Coiffure Project” fits into the latter category, but it has taken on a life of its own ever since its conception by Baltimore-based fashion photographer Glenford Nunez. “The Coiffure Project” began as a series of cell phone pictures that Nunez captured of his assistant. The African-American woman wears her hair naturally, sporting a variety of large, curly arrangements, and Nunez started photographing a running series of her voluminous hairdos. “She is always around, so I was always photographing her,” he says. “After a while, I noticed that I was starting to accumulate a small collection. I had been trying to come up with ideas for a bigger project, and then suddenly it hit me; images featuring women with natural hair would be perfect.”

201208we_coiffure_nunez02.jpg

Nunez was educated as a graphic designer and worked as a web developer before launching his own studio, TYP Photography Studio, when he was 24. He is a lifelong student of art who has been drawing for as long as he can remember. He considers the camera just another means of expression, like a paintbrush or a pencil. It’s part of him, part of what he does, so much so that he can’t clearly pinpoint when began photographing. “It’s just what I do, what I’ve always done,” he says.

201208we_coiffure_nunez01.jpg

Professionally, however, Nunez is relatively new to the game. With barely two years in professional practice, he has already landed several prominent clients in New York and Los Angeles, though he conducts most of his shoots from his studio in Baltimore. Last fall, he shot New York Fashion Week for Pop Africana magazine and is now working with some additional high-profile media publications.  

Continue reading "The Coiffure Project: Big, Bold and Beautiful" »

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.

201207we_curiouscritters_dfitzsimmons_anim.gif

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.

201207we_david_fitzsimmons_box_turtle_ad.jpg

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.

201207we_david_fitzsimmons_curious_critters_beetle_butterfly.jpg

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.

201207we_airshow02.jpg

©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.

201207we_airshow01.jpg

©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" »

May 21, 2012

In Pursuit of the Perfect Print

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

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

201205we_i1Publish-Pro-2.jpg

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

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

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

201205we_X-Rite_Dubler_1343.jpg

© Douglas Dubler

Continue reading "In Pursuit of the Perfect Print" »

Choosing and Using Macro Lenses for Portraits

By Stan Sholik

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

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

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

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

201205we_macroportrait_001.jpg

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

201205we_macroportrait_002.jpg

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

Continue reading "Choosing and Using Macro Lenses for Portraits" »

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.

201205we_02_1949.jpg

©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.

201205we_16_3714.jpg

©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.

201205we_15_5965.jpg

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" »

March 8, 2012

The Top 5 Social Websites for Photographers

By Curtis Walker

Being a photographer means being a visual communicator, and the Internet is finally catching up to us. We’re now able to casually post a shot during free time, connect with friends, and keep a fresh set of photos where the greatest number of people are likely to find them, all the while providing a source of entertainment and inspiration that doesn’t infringe on the viewers’ usual activities or feel like a sales message. It's also wise to overlay your logo and copyright to any images that can be reshared so that you continue to get credit for it as it spreads to more pairs of eyes.

The best improvements in efficiency come from sites and services that integrate with the services we already find indispensable, Twitter and Facebook chief amongst them.

1. Instagram — This iOS-only "visual Twitter" streamlines the act of photography, editing and sharing into a single app. Using an iPhone as a camera is kind of cheating, but it has honed my craft as a photographer, while letting me follow some of my favorite photographers and their snapshots. Some people prefer to keep their aesthetic pure by posting only photos taken with other cameras. If posting photos to Twitter is already part of your regimen, filtering the flow through Instagram will enhance the experience and promote sharing to a plethora of other sites. Note: An Android version was announced at the end of 2010, but has yet to materialize.

How I use Instagram: On a daily basis. I dedicate myself to posting the most interesting thing in front of me at any given moment. Sometimes it’s old work, sometimes a picture of my food (what better way to share lunch suggestions?!). I can then turn on the geotagging feature, allowing me to check into Foursquare. I can also set the post to forward to Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Flickr and so forth. I feed different content to different networks. Portfolio work goes on Tumblr, which has its own feed to Twitter. If I recycle an old image from my vast archive on Flickr, I might want to turn off posting to Flickr. On the other hand, I may want to shuffle something old to the top of the deck and see who responds.

Bonus Add-on Service: Statigr.am. This service builds detailed reports about Instagram activity and allows full interface with Instagram content. It even makes suggestions about the best time to post images, based on previous interactions. The iPhone app remains the sole way to post content, however.

2. Pinterest — This visual smorgasbord is the mature descendant of the lowly bookmark, and the visual equivalent of Facebook's Like button. Using it as a means of organizing and cataloging content from across the Web, users "pin" sites of their choice, and select the image of interest. These pins are organized by user-defined categories, such as "cool wedding photos" or "props." Photographers can pin photos from their own site as well, adding their work to the conversation and exposing their portfolio to new eyes.

Currently, Pinterest is invitation only, but getting an invitation is usually as easy as asking for one from a contact already on the site.

pinterest01.jpg

Continue reading "The Top 5 Social Websites for Photographers" »

February 9, 2012

Making Large Format Photo Negatives from Digital Images

By David Saffir

Until recently, our main options in photographic printing lived in two worlds—analog and digital. It didn’t seem possible that we’d ever have an option that would let photographers easily move back and forth between them. HP has introduced a solution that extends a bridge between those worlds, one that lets us print our digital images using traditional, darkroom-based silver halide/silver gelatin process. HP calls this the Large Format Photo Negative solution.

It all begins with a digital image. This can be created using a digital camera, or a scan. This digital image can be edited and manipulated in Photoshop or similar application. This original image can start in color or black and white.

To create the negative, you load an HP Designjet Z3200 printer with a transparent or translucent inkjet film manufactured for this purpose. Companies like HP, Pictorico and others manufacture this material. It's readily available; I purchased a roll of the Pictorico material at Freestyle Photographic Supplies in Los Angeles. It's also available at online retailers like B&H Photo and Adorama.

201202we_hpneg_01.jpg

©David Saffir

This image shows the film coming off the printer. I placed a white background underneath the film to help visualization. 

Additionally, HP has created special printing pre-sets that are used through the normal printer driver. Install these on your host computer before the next step.

in Photoshop, create a simple adjustment layer that alters the tone curve of the image, which will optimize the negative for darkroom printing. The positive image is inverted and reversed to a negative, and sent to the printer.

The result is a black-and-white negative printed on the transparent film, which can be used in a conventional darkroom workflow. A contact printing frame is used to "sandwich" the large-format negative and printing paper, and standard chemistry can be used. Any color balanced light source can be used, although I recommend using a color enlarger with a lens and dichroic head.

201202we_hpneg_04.jpg

©Tony Zinnanti

201202we_hpneg_05.jpg

©David Saffir

Continue reading "Making Large Format Photo Negatives from Digital Images" »

January 12, 2012

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

By Ellis Vener

sketching-light_cov_mcnally.jpg

“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" »

December 20, 2011

Care and Repair for Your Equipment

What can you do when your camera fails? Pro manufacturers offer member services for repairs and loans.

By Theano Nikitas

Few professions are more equipment-dependent than photography. Yet regardless of how well you maintain your gear, things can go wrong. In addition to back-up equipment, you should carry the number of the nearest photo rental service. If you’re a professional photographer, there are some other solutions not only for emergencies, but for year-round peace of mind.

We spoke with three of the major camera manufacturers about their programs and services for full-time professionals. It might the perfect time to check them out. If you are a PPA member who has opted in to receive the $15,000 of equipment insurance from PhotoCare, that policy would serve as a secondary policy to these plans and could be used to assist with additional expenses related to covered losses.

201112we_canonservice1.jpg

Image courtesy of Canon Professional Services

Canon USA

The recently revamped Canon Professional Services (CPS) is a three-tier program, beginning with a no-cost entry level. The program is now based on a point system that, according to CPS, is more pro-centered than the earlier program. Each piece of professional gear is assigned a number of CPS points, which cumulatively determine the photographer’s tier of coverage. Qualifying gear includes a long list of camera bodies, lenses, camcorders, flash, wireless transmitters, battery grips and the new PIXMA Pro 1 printer. Most of the EOS line of camera bodies qualify, from the EOS-1Ds Mark III (10 points) through and models such as the 60D (4 points) and older bodies. Lenses and extenders range from 2 to 16 points, with accessories like wireless transmitters at 1 to 2 points each. You’ll find the list of qualifying equipment on the CPS website, along with a list of products that qualify for repair.

Free membership at the Silver level requires 10 CPS points. Benefits include a CPS website profile and program info, CPS ID card and PIN, event support, 24/7 phone support via exclusive member hotline, and repair turnaround of three to five days.

Continue reading "Care and Repair for Your Equipment" »

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.

201112we_tucci01.jpg

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.

201112we_tucci02.jpg

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.

201112we_tucci03.jpg

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

201112we_tucci04.jpg

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.

201111we_tucci_lacrosse2.jpg

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.

201111we_tucci_lacrosse1.jpg

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. 

201111we_tucci_lacrosse2.jpg

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

201111we_tucci_dock1.jpg

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. 

201111we_tucci_dock2.jpg

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).

November 3, 2011

Lighting Styles and Setups from "Kevin Kubota's Lighting Notebook": Kid In A Candystore and More

The following is excerpted from “Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook: 101 Lighting Styles and Setups for Digital Photographers” (Wiley). Look for three more informative excerpts in the November issue of Professional Photographer magazine.

 

Kid In A Candystore

201111we_kubota_kid01.jpg

The final image was processed in Lightroom with my Vintage 2 preset, from the Vintage Delish collection. I like the added warmth in the shadows, which feels like chocolate!

One of the best ways to get children to cooperate on a photo shoot is with good, old-fashioned bribes. Candy works really well, so why not do the entire session in a candy store and save a trip! The image I had in my mind was of this little girl sitting on the counter licking a giant lollipop. When we got there, however, the lollipops they had were not actually very giant. I knew I needed a wideangle lens to exaggerate the perspective and make the lollipop look larger than life.

The RayFlash ringlight attachment is an innovative photo tool. It fits to the front of any camera speedlight and encircles the lens. Unlike most other ringlight setups, the RayFlash is completely portable, allowing you to move about and try different angles. It also allows for normal TTL flash operation, so you don’t have to worry about adjusting the light manually. Normally, the RayFlash is used with semiwide to normal perspective lenses, but I decided to use it with a 10.5mm fisheye lens, which has such a wide angle of view that it actually shows the edges of the ringlight. I loved the effect as it felt like looking through a portal to a fantasy world of delectable treats.

A portable speedlight was placed behind the subject to add an edge light and separation from the background. A PowerSnoot from Gary Fong was used to constrain the light to a narrow beam. I balanced my flash exposure with the existing light in the shop using TTL mode on the oncamera flash and manually for the backlight. The second speedlight was triggered by the built-in optical slave, which works fairly well when in close proximity and indoors.

After taking a few images of our little lady delightfully devouring the lollipop, the candy smeared all over her face and an even better image came to light than I originally imagined. Can you say “sugar rush”?

201111we_kubota_kid02.jpg

I asked Mom to stand very close and keep an eye on her daughter in case she started to scoot off the edge of the counter. Fortunately, she wasn’t going anywhere—as long as the lollipop lasted.

201111we_kubota_kid03.jpg

The original image from the camera

201111we_kubota_kid04.jpg

Exposure Info:
10.5mm lens setting
f/4.0 at 1/160 sec. ISO 500
Exposure comp. +/– 0

Tools Used:
Nikon D300s 10.5mm f/2.8 fisheye Nikkor lens
RayFlash ringlight from Rogue Imaging
Nikon SB800 Speedlight
Gary Fong PowerSnoot

Go to the jump for two more tutorials!

Continue reading "Lighting Styles and Setups from "Kevin Kubota's Lighting Notebook": Kid In A Candystore and More" »

October 11, 2011

Get This Show on the Road: Location Gear Roundup

By Theano Nikitas

When you need to go on location, you want to have everything you need, and nothing you don’t, which can make planning your packing list tricky. We’ve compiled a selection of cool new equipment to make your work in the field easier, safer and top quality.

BACKUP
BAGS & CASES
LIGHT MODIFIERS
POWER, LIGHTS, FLASH, WIRELESS
TRIPODS
MISCELLANEOUS

BACKUP

lacie_lbdthunderbold.jpg 

LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series

If you feel the need for speed—and what photographer doesn’t?—LaCie recently released a trio of Thunderbolt products: two hard drives (1TB and 2TB) and one 240GB SSD drive. Each unit measures 1.6 x 5.5 x 3.3 inches, is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and weighs only 1.4 pounds. The Little Big Disk is housed in aluminum and features a special heat sink design that helps keep the unit cool as it reaches transfer speeds of up to 190MB/s with the hard disk model or up to 480MB/s with the SSD model. Daisy chain two or more units with an optional cable to reach even faster read speeds. Available from the Apple Store, although you may have to wait a while for the supersonic SSD model.

www.lacie.com
www.apple.com
1TB $399.95
2TB $499.95
240GB SSD $899.95

 

 

nextond2730.jpg

NEXTO DI Photo Storage ND2730

Capable of reading, downloading and displaying still and video files from CompactFlash and SD/SDHC/SDXC cards, the NEXTO DI ND2730 photo storage device is available with 500GB, 750GB HDD or SDD drives. The device is forward compatible to 2TB and can be hooked up to computers (Mac and PC) via Firewire 800 and USB 2.0. Equipped with a 1.44-inch color TFT LCD for viewing images, the ND2730 compares the HDD and memory card data to ensure successful back-up. Powered by a 2-hour rechargeable Li-Poly battery, you can leave the laptop at home and have all the mobility you need.

www.nextodiusa.com
Starting at $450

 

westdigmpformac.jpg

Western Digital My Passport for Mac

Cost-per-gigabyte is at an all-time low, so Mac users should check out the latest generation of Western Digital’s My Passport for Mac. Available in 500GB, 750GB and 1TB capacities, these slender high-capacity drives are Mac-formatted and Apple Time Machine ready. Need password protection? No problem, thanks to the WD Security utility. Powered by a USB 2.0 interface, My Passport for Mac has all-around appeal at an affordable price. For rugged location shoots, consider the Western Digital Nomad Rugged Case. 

www.wdc.com 
500GB $99.99
750 GB $119.99
1TB $129.99 

Continue reading "Get This Show on the Road: Location Gear Roundup" »

September 13, 2011

Hot Stuff: Bad Sass Backdrops

By Robyn L. Pollman

Bad Sass Backdrops are printed on quality 100% canvas by Pixel2Canvas. Bad Sass Backdrops offer “split” and “tri-split” backdrop options, which allows the customer to decide how they want to split an 8-foot or 10-foot canvas backdrop. Photographers can select a background design for one half of the canvas, and a faux-flooring option for the other half using the “split” option. Or with the “tri-split” option, use a background design on both ends of the canvas, and a faux-flooring option in the center. By turning the 10-foot canvas around, photographers have two background options in one. 

bad_sass_backdrops_3.jpg

 ©Robyn L. Pollman

bad_sass_backdrops_5.jpg

Professional Photographer readers can take advantage of the following promotion: 30% off any backdrop order using code PPA30 (code not valid on Sassafrass Magnetic Moulding). The coupon code is valid until October 31, 2011.

See more from Robyn L. Pollman at paperieboutique.com and buttonsandbowsphotography.com.

September 2, 2011

Shoot More Creatively: A Four-step Process

201109we_k.carey08.jpg

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.

201108we_profile_Figure_1.jpg

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.

201108we_fusion.jpg

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" »

July 5, 2011

Nice To Meet You, Virtually--Introduce Yourself to Clients with Video

Building trust and forming connections with Web-based videos

When Jasmine Star opened her Irvine, Calif., wedding photography business, one priority was to create an introductory video for her website. The impetus grew from her experience as a bride-to-be a few years earlier. Searching for a photographer, she saw such a video on the website of David Jay of Santa Barbara, and found it both engaging and disarming. Star knew video would play a pivotal role in her Web marketing.

201107we_video6sfw.jpg

“When you enter a website, there’s usually a transactional feeling,” says Star. “But video gives a perspective on the personality of the photographer.”

The video is working. About half of Star’s clients book her purely on what they see on her website. “One bride said my videos were a decision maker she didn’t want a stranger photographing her wedding, but a friend. I talk about becoming friends with my brides in my video, and that convinced her.”  

Continue reading "Nice To Meet You, Virtually--Introduce Yourself to Clients with Video" »

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.

201107we_drenthe2.jpg

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

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

May 27, 2011

More Home Sweet Studios--Home-Based Studios That Work

 By Stephanie Boozer

(Here we feature two additional home-based studios as a supplement to "Home Sweet Studio" in the June issue of Professional Photographer magazine.)

Think that working out of your home will cramp yourstyle? Time for some fresh food for thought. With planning, resourcefulness and creativity, you can run a successful home-based studio without compromising your professionalism. The owners of these six successful home-based studios have found a balance between work place and home space. If they can do it—even with kids and pets—maybe you can, too.

KELLY MUNCE
NEWCASTLE, NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA
SQUARE FEET: 162.5

Kelly Munce positioned her studio (kellymunce.com.au) at the very front of her two-story house, so clients could walk right in without feeling they were entering a private living area. Because the room is slightly set back from the hallway, it engenders a feeling of seclusion and privacy. Munce specializes in baby and maternity photography, so the studio is designed to accommodate the special needs of babies, as well as to be a comfortable site to host pre-session consultations. Other kinds of sessions are done on location.

Images ©Kelly Munce

201106we_bab-1.jpg

Munce uses a chest of drawers to hold and display an array of props and blankets, and has an elaborate hanging system that keeps props visible and handy without looking cluttered. “As they’re out in the open and easily seen, they get clients excited,” says Munce. “They realize they’ve chosen me for a fun experience.”

201106we_bn_4198.jpg

201106we_bn_4192.jpg

One wall is dedicated to a backdrop setup, and the mottled brown wall behind it can be used as a backdrop as well.

Munce handles all of her editing, pack aging and the day-to-day business from a large study that she shares with her children, but is out of sight to clients. It’s perfect for the Munce family, because everyone can be at home during shoots without disturbing clients. Because Munce typically shoots no more than two newborn ses - sions a day, she doesn’t need a permit from the city, as long as she’s mindful of parking.

201106we_bn_4241.jpg

Continue reading "More Home Sweet Studios--Home-Based Studios That Work" »

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.

web_mg_0242.jpg

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.

web2withmyusual_acr_adjust.jpg

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

April 7, 2011

Getting Into Green Screen: Will It Work for You?

By Kurt Robertson 

Backgrounds are a major expense for a photography studio. Over the years, I have worked with countless canvas, muslin, and various other backgrounds. One of the things I always longed for was the ability to change the background to match the theme or subject at will without taking so much time to arrange and light the new background choice.

One of the big developments in the digital imaging world is chroma-key technology. Chroma-key software has the ability to drop out specific colors, usually bright green or sometimes bright blue. Chroma-key in video has been around for many years, but does this technology now have a place in portrait photography as well?

201104we_chroma_050.jpg

I combined a chroma-key portrait with this background from EZ Backgrounds using PhotoKey4. I retouched blemishes and other minor details in Photoshop CS5 and then processed it with Imagenomic Portraiture, adjusted the contrast, and used Nik Color Efex Pro 3 to warm up the image and darken the corners. I sharpened the image with Nik Sharpener Pro and finally added a cement wall texture in the overlay blending mode of CS5. Overall processing took about 20 minutes.  ©Kurt Robertson

Just as film photographers didn't switch to digital SLR cameras without experiencing workflow consequences, adding digital backgrounds to your studio will create new issues. How will you extract the subject from your images? How will you put the backgrounds into your images, and how good will the quality be? How much time can you afford to prepare your images? Most important, how will you present and sell the images?

With that in mind, let’s take a look at two contenders, Green Screen Wizard Pro 5.0 and PhotoKey 4 Pro.

Green Screen Wizard is a PC-only application with several versions available. Green Screen Wizard Pro 5.0 has many useful features for event photography, but our primary focus for this article is image presentation, green screen removal and image output.

201104we_chroma_figure1.JPGImage courtesy Green Screen Wizard 

Green Screen Wizard Pro 5.0 has a simple workflow for portrait studios. You click Load Foreground to load in your green screen photo and Load Background to preview your image. The Pick button allows you to preview the photo on multiple backgrounds at the same time (below), which will be valuable if you want to let clients choose their favorite background. It’s also useful for studio staff to be able to look at several options. You can also output just the subject with a transparent background as a .png file. Once you combine the subject with a background, the file will output with the background and subject combined (flattened).

201104we_chroma_figure2.JPG

Images ©Kurt Robertson

Continue reading "Getting Into Green Screen: Will It Work for You?" »

February 24, 2011

Blogging SEO Secrets

By TJ McDowell

Chances are good that as a photographer, you’ve got a blog that you use to promote your studio, but if you’re not tapping into the power of Search Engine Optimization to bring in more blog readers, you’re missing out on the opportunity to show your work to a lot of potential clients. If your main website is an SEO-killing Flash website, having blog content show up in search results means that you’ll still get your studio name in front of searchers who are looking for photographers. Even if your main website shows up in search results without help from your blog, you can still use your blog to target hundreds of additional search terms that you wouldn’t be able to effectively target on your main site.

Keywords In Post Title And Page Name

Knowing which keywords to target can seem like a guessing game at times, and in some ways it is. If you follow one guideline though, you’ll start to see good results over time. What you want to do is to choose a keyword phrase that includes location-specific words. The location you choose for your keywords could be as general as a city, or it could be as specific as the name of a park. It’s completely up to you. Some keywords get more traffic than others, and you can use the Keyword Tool in Google AdWords to get a general feel for how much traffic a term gets. With some of the smaller locations, like a church or reception venue, the terms won’t get enough traffic to even register with Google. You’d be surprised how quickly the low-volume searches can add up, though, so don’t think of low-volume search terms as irrelevant. Once you have your keywords picked out, include them in your post title. I have my Wordpress blog set up to generate my page name from my post title, so I don't have to worry about changing my page name manually. If your blogging platform doesn't use the right page name automatically, you'll have to set your page name yourself to include your keywords.

keywordsintitle.jpg

Post Frequently

If you’re going to be targeting search terms with lower volume, you’ll need to post more frequently to bring in the kind of traffic that brings regular bookings. Posting frequently with easy-to-rank keywords is a great way to get in front of searchers even in a crowded market. If they’re even considering SEO, most of your competitors will be going after the high competition keywords because that’s where they think all the traffic is. They’re skipping out on the low-hanging fruit because they may not even realize people are including very specific locations in their searches. The more you post on specific locations, the more you bring in traffic that no one else had even thought about targeting.

Interlink Posts

Aside from increasing the number of posts a user visits and the average time spent on your site, interlinking posts can also do wonders for improving the ranking of your blog posts in Google. Adding a link from one post to another can be a little tricky at first—at least if you’re doing it correctly. After a while, it becomes almost second nature though, so stick with it. The key when linking to a post is to fit the link in naturally with the rest of your content. As you get better, you’ll be able to include the link in the middle of a sentence, so the fact that there’s a link in the sentence won’t make the sentence seem awkward. The other trick is to have your keywords included in the link text. So for example, if you’re writing a post on how to prepare for a session, and you’re linking to a previous post on clothing choice, your link text may be “how to choose outfits.”

interlinkposts.jpg

Continue reading "Blogging SEO Secrets" »

February 1, 2011

Interview: Catching Up with Jerry Ghionis

By Stephanie Boozer

This month, Australia-based photographer Jerry Ghionis graces our cover. We last covered him in March 2008, after he had transitioned from his large, bustling studio (Xsight) to a smaller, more intimate boutique studio. We caught up with him recently to find out how it’s been going down under. Here’s what he had to say.

Professional Photographer: Now that you’re two years in with the new boutique studio, how is life as a photographer?

Jerry Ghionis: It is going even better than expected. Even with the amount of traveling that I do between teaching and overseas weddings, I still manage to shoot about 25 weddings a year. A trend that I’ve noticed for my studio is that about 40% of the weddings I’ve been shooting are overseas and strangely enough, many of my clients lately have been fellow photographers. With the exception of a few amazing weddings that I photographed in Rome and New York, most of my clients are working professionals, mainly in the corporate world, who appreciate photography and are willing to pay for it.

Back in March 2008, you had published your first coffee table book and launched an online classroom called The i.c.e.Society. Is that project still going full steam?

I’m very proud to announce that in January 2011, we celebrated the third anniversary of the i.c.e.Society and that we now have over 2,000 members. The i.c.e.Society is stronger than ever and I’m really excited about some big changes coming up over the next year when we upgrade the site. We’re rebuilding it from scratch to be bigger and better, more intuitive, and to make it even easier for everyone to access all of the lessons that are available online.

Any new accolades you’d like to share?

Although I unfortunately didn’t have enough time to enter into the PPA awards [International Photographic Competition] this year, I’m proud to say that in 2009 I achieved diamond level Photographer of the Year for the third year in a row. I also received my Masters at PPA as well as Craftsman this year. Also in 2009, I won WPPI’s Album of the Year award for a record sixth time. And just last year, in 2010, I won first place awards in the traditional, contemporary and photojournalism categories at SWPP and also won wedding album of the year. It was a very big evening for me because I was named Wedding Photojournalist of the Year, Fashion Photographer of the Year and the Overall Photographer of the Year—the top award of the entire competition.

201102we_jghionis_062.jpg

©Jerry Ghionis

Continue reading "Interview: Catching Up with Jerry Ghionis" »

January 4, 2011

IUSA: San Antonio Restaurant Recommendations

Professional Photographer used our Facebook page to ask photographers to share a favorite restaurant and tell us what city it's in. We collected all the San Antonio restaurant recommendations for our Imaging USA attendees, and here are the results!

Erik Almquist: I love the Brazillian steakhouses, so I recommend Chama Gaúcha Brazilian Steakhouse.

Teri Quance: Rosario's

Michael Kent: When in San Antonio check out the Fig Tree Restaurant. It’s on the Riverwalk everything is wonderful!

Mike Rom: Tower of the Americas, Chart House

Crystal Maldonado: Well I'm not from San Antonio, however I go every year. My parents used to take us as kids to Casa Rio. It was just beautiful and delicious. Eating Mexican Food is a must when we go to San Antonio. You can find great authentic Mexican Cuisine at the smaller places as well.

Evangeline Dean: Godai Sushi ;)

Christy Martin Tsiantos: Boudro’s -- Great restaurant in San Antonio!!!! Yum and great location!

Gina Acord Davison: I live in San Antonio. We are blessed with a bounty of yummy restaurants, not just along the riverwalk, LOL! There is Rosario's and Mad Hatter's in Southtown, several new restaurants in the Pearl Brewery complex, Coco's, Wildfish, Big'z Burger Joint in the Stone Oak area. Just the tip of the iceberg!

Jenny and Tony Blair: Boudro's on the Riverwalk!

Dave Wilkinson: Mi Tierra

Cheryl Williams: The County Line (on the Riverwalk)

Karl D. Schubert: Rita’s on the River is a favorite of mine there.

Marianne Sedacki-Drenthe: My San Antonio favorite, which we discovered a few years back while at Imaging is Rio Rio Cantina.

Kristy Isaacson: My husband and I call San Antonio our second home, we love to eat at Landry’s Seafood on the canal. Such great food and a great atmosphere.

Jan Dickson: Casa Rio Restaurant — The best view on the Riverwalk

Jodie Cowan: Alamo Cafe is our all time favorite! They are known for their chicken fried steak, but we usually go for shrimp fajitas. Ooh and the best tortillas!  

Randy Barker: When I get to San Antonio, I never miss going to Mi Tierra Cafe.  

Daniel White: Rocky's Taco House, just off Lackland AFB in San Antonio. The food is really good. They really know how to take care of EMS disaster response teams who are part of a Hurricane response.

Dan Smith: Taco Cabana for cheap, fast breakfast tacos. Also Bill Miller BBQ in for fast, cheap but good bbq brisket. Both are a must if you’re visiting SA and just want an inexpensive, fast meal. (Neither is culinary excellence, but a good Texas-only fast food experience.)

Jake Jaggears: Have to suggest Bill Miller BBQ!

Deanna Ridgway: Dick’s Last Resort on the Riverwalk! I even have pictures having the napkin tied around my neck and a glass from there. :)

Virginia Parker: Koreana Restaurant

Thank you to all the photographers who shared their favorite spots! To brows the rest of the more than 500 recommendations, look through the comments on this post.

 

 

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)" »

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.

tapp.jpg

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 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.

201010we_night_mountains_trail.jpg

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.

201010we_night_radio_telescope.jpg

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 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.

 

201009we_DriveSavers.jpg

 

July 30, 2010

Reexamining the Greener Print

GP_logo.jpg

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.

201008we_pawlyszyn_2.jpg

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" »

July 7, 2010

Harvest Couture, for Clients with Stylish Taste

By Diane Berkenfeld

The word couture is usually associated with fashion, but not anymore. Harvest Pro, the California-based wide-format printer that’s been producing museum quality Giclée prints for more than two decades has turned their sights to the photo industry. Harvest Couture will offer photographers the ability to offer truly unique photographic art pieces to their clients, by printing photographs on acrylic and metal.

Three substrates will be offered: acrylic with hand laid silver leaf, acrylic with white ink printing, and metal with white backgrounds. Out of these three different materials, come four possible ways to print. They currently offer four sizes: 20x30, 24x36, 30x40, and 40x60 inches. Custom printing is possible up to 4x8 feet, and the smallest the company will print is 16x24 inches.

According to Jenny Coulston, Pro Photo Curator for Harvest Couture, these sizes are better for photography. “We do believe if you’re going to do it, do it at least as a 20x30. At that size the images feel like an art piece,” she says. The biggest issue for the company is showing off the end result to prospective customers, because the printing processes create a one-of-a-kind photograph. When you view these prints, slightly altering your viewing angle can change the way the image looks.

Coulston says photographers can have multiple-piece editions created or one-offs.

201007we_bride-on-metal.jpg

This 40x60-inch print on metal hangs in the Wedding Sales Room at the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel, Calif. ©Kathleen Clark Photography

Continue reading "Harvest Couture, for Clients with Stylish Taste" »

July 1, 2010

Feature: An iPad In New York

By Bob Zimmerlich, CPP

A few days after picking up the new iPad with 3G service at a local Apple store here in Phoenix, I was on my way to New York unexpectedly for a funeral of a close family friend. Since I was packing light, I thought this would be a good test to see if the iPad could replace my heavier MacBook Pro on a short trip since I wasn't planning on any photography related work.

Just after I arrived at JFK my sister asked if I could do a headshot of her for her new startup business. My judgment must have been thrown off by the red-eye flight, because I said, “Sure, absolutely,” without a second thought. Problem was, I didn't have any of my gear, not even a camera. That's OK she said, she had a Canon Elph point-and-shoot. Now I'm thinking, oh, golly, gee whiz, sis—that will be swell (thinking in 1950s terms being the more civil alternative to cussing).

Since I wanted to use natural light, I downloaded an app called PhotoCalc onto the iPad to see when sunset on Long Island would be, then checked the local radar with the WeatherBug app's visible satellite radar loop. Seeing that clouds would be rolling in from the west by 5 p.m., and knowing the limitations of her camera, I knew we would want to finish the shoot inside with window light before then. With some proper positioning, a sheet of white foam board as a reflector and a rigged tripod, the shoot went well considering the situation.

Now for a little post processing, but without my trusty MacBook Pro what could I do? I thought, let's put this iPad to a real test.

Continue reading "Feature: An iPad In New York" »

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.

eos_natalie_bamboo.jpg

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" »

June 10, 2010

Leveraging your Greener Photography Business

By Carli Morgan & Alina Prax

Being eco-friendly is more than an expression for certified Greener Photographers: it’s about choosing practices that have less negative impact, and more positive impact. Leveraging your greener photography business attracts like-minded consumers and builds ties within the environmentally conscious community. Here are some ways you can expand your green business network.

Networking

Act Locally! Identify other eco-friendly vendors in your area. A simple internet search can turn up local companies that have green business practices and products. Establishing working partnerships with local companies and organizations can help you reach many more eco-minded consumers than you can reach on your own.

Identify potential businesses with whom you can partner to reach eco-minded clients

o Attend a local Green Drinks
o Search on Etsy for local artisans
o Find out where your eco-minded clients are spending their time and money. For example:

• Are they are doing a beach clean-up with Surfrider Foundation?
• Volunteering for their local private school with the environmental focus?
• Are they members of the Sierra Club?

After identifying the companies and/or organizations with whom you want to partner, foster community by offering your services. For example:

• Photograph their Board of Directors
• Photograph their events
• Provide images for their website
• Photograph and provide prints and albums for green wedding venues, florists, and bakeries

Continue reading "Leveraging your Greener Photography Business" »

June 1, 2010

Good Works: Portraits of Support, Words of Encouragement

"Faces of Survivors" Exhibit by PPA Photographers Features 25 Ohioans Fighting Cancer

Twenty-five cancer survivors and patients are the subject of a new portrait study by Kevin Mears, M.Photog.Cr., and Amy Mears, M.Photog., CPP, of Mears Photography in Chillicothe, Ohio. Called “Faces of Survivors,” this photographic exhibit will hang from June 8-13 at the Pump House Center for the Arts.

201006we_mears.jpg

Above, parents Leighanne and Aaron Johnson with
their cancer-survivor daughter, Caroline.
 

Working with Southern Ohio Survivors, the Mears Photography duo put out a call for subjects. Featured participants in this cancer awareness project range in age from 14 months to 70+ years. The situations for the participants are as diverse as the class of diseases called cancer. Some of the subjects are still in treatment; many have been in remission for some time.

“We asked the survivors to invite one or two people to take part in this photography event with them,” explains Amy Mears, co-owner of Mears Photography. “We also asked them to share words of encouragement that symbolize the part this support person or team played in their fight against cancer.”

The two portrait artists photographed each cancer survivor, along with their support person or people. The Mears then incorporated the words of encouragement—from quotes to Bible verses—into the final image production, creating a one-of-a-kind portrait study in black and white.

“We all know people who are battling cancer: family members, friends, neighbors. So, my husband and I wanted use our time and talent to support the people in our community who are fighting this disease. Our discussions inspired the ‘Faces of Survivors’ project and Southern Ohio Survivors was an ideal partner for this project,” Amy Mears says. Mears Photography contributed the photographic talents of Kevin and Amy to this project, along with studio time and design work.

“We couldn’t have done it without the overwhelming support of Southern Ohio Survivors and the Pump House Center for the Arts,” Mears says.

“Faces of Survivors” will hang from June 8-13. The exhibit will be a featured stop in the Historic Downtown Chillicothe Gallery Stroll on June 12, including a “Faces of Survivors” Meet the Artists and Survivors reception at the Pump House Center for the Arts in Yoctangee Park from 7-9 p.m.

Following the exhibit, the wall portrait size photographs will be gifted to the cancer survivor featured in the image. “We didn’t expect so may volunteers to step forward to become part of the project. Thanks to the overwhelming support we have received for this project, we plan to make this an annual event,” Amy Mears concludes.

March 17, 2010

What's Your Shade of Green?

Bring your environmentalism into your business

By Rebecca Wilkowski and Dawn Tacker

Americans’ interest in things environmentally friendly is booming: from “green weddings” and BPA-free water bottles to solar electric panels and hybrid cars. The photographic industry, long cited for the overuse of packaging, paper and toxic chemicals, is growing a little greener thanks to the nonprofit Greener Photography initiative. By participating in the organization’s certification program, photographers can exhibit their concern for the environment in their marketing and branding.

A member-supported organization, Greener Photography strives to mitigate the environmental impact of the photographic industry by educating photographers, suppliers and the general public about the benefits of going green. In the United States, there are over 155,000 professional photographers and 14,000 photo-related companies generating revenues over $7 billion annually. In just 10 years, annual online photo imaging revenues have grown from $10 million to $7.8 billion. These statistics translate into the largest ecological footprint in photography’s 200-year history, and the opportunity for Greener Photography to make a real difference.

pastedGraphic.jpg

Continue reading "What's Your Shade of Green?" »

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.

dropbox.JPG

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.

201003we_videoexport.jpg

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

Recreating the Varga Look

By Joan Sherwood, Senior Editor

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

201002we_varga03.jpg

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

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

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

Continue reading "Recreating the Varga Look" »

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" »

February 1, 2010

Wrap it up: Options for Eco-Friendly Packaging

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

200906we_GP_logo.jpg

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

Eco-friendly packaging options include:

• Reduce your packaging.

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

• Provide something useful and re-usable.

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

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

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

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

January 4, 2010

Imaging USA Nashville: Look Who's Coming Back!

For some of our wonderful tradeshow exhibitors, signing up for the next Imaging USA is a no-brainer. They bring a unique product to a highly desirable market—you!—and they're eager to please.

Professional Photographer’s Senior Editor, Joan Sherwood, interviewed several of the tradeshow vendors in Phoenix at the 2009 show. Here to serve as a sneak peek are just a few of those vendors who'll be back with us again in Nashville, Jan. 10-12.

Wild Sorbet: The Original Shabby Chic Frame Company
Tana LeMay of Wild Sorbet brings a new line of frames for canvases to Imaging USA this year. It's inspired by our January cover photographer, Kimberly Wylie, and called The Gallery Frame. They've also got a new frame with attention-grabbing curved edges—the Parisian.

2009_wildsorbet_play.jpg

 

Triple Scoop Music
Triple Scoop Music is offering their biggest show special ever at our show! Come by booth #239 on DAY 1 (Sunday, Jan. 10) and get a custom music collection for 50% off, plus an additional $120 in FREE music. Triple Scoop Music has well over 5,000 hand-picked songs and more every month by award-winning artists, including Grammy & Emmy winners. In Phoenix we interviewed Jennifer Herbig, one of the company founders—all musicians themselves.

2009_triplescoop_play.jpg

 

Drop It Modern
Drop It Modern will bring new classic damask designs to Nashville, and you'll get a preview of new modern looks that will be available later in January. Here owner and founder Breane Schapp discusses the origin of the bold, beautiful look of her lush, original designs. In January 2009, her company was only six months old, now it's a big hit with a track record of success.

2009_dropitmodern_play.jpg

 We’ll see you there!

December 31, 2009

Tips for Greener Photography: Water Conservation

By Dawn Tacker

200912we_GP_logo.gif

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

200912we_GP_logo.gif

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" »

November 5, 2009

Tips for Greener Photography: Beyond the Three Rs

200907we_GP_logo.gif

By Jessica Riehl

The heart of any environmental conservation program are tenets that make up the recycling symbol: reduce, reuse, and recycle. But why limit ourselves to just three R's? These are Greener Photography's favorite five R's to help you run a greener photography business.

Reduce:

• Reduce the amount of paper you use on a regular basis by printing front and back; consider implementing a paperless office.
• Reduce the number of shipments you receive from your lab by consolidating orders into as few shipments as possible.
• Reduce your energy consumption by turning off equipment when not in use, replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs, and use natural forms of heating and cooling.

Refuse:

• Refuse that plastic bag when you purchase items where a bag is not necessary, or bring your own bags.
• Refuse bottled water. Invest in a water cooler, filtration system, and/or a water bottle.
• Refuse, or rather refer, jobs that require air travel.
• Refuse shipping upgrades to 2-Day Air. Ground shipping is significantly less polluting.
• Refuse to patronize businesses that do not have an environmental statement.

Continue reading "Tips for Greener Photography: Beyond the Three Rs" »

November 2, 2009

Nikon D3S High ISO

By Ellis Vener

In the gallery linked below you will find full resolution 1,000 x 1,000-pixel crops shot at the Nikon D3S Big Apple Circus event on October 20, 2009. The gallery shows images at all full-stop ISO settings from ISO 100 to 102,400. The final image is an uncropped view.

Exposure and processing information is included with the images. The camera was set for lossless 14-bit NEF mode and High ISO noise reduction was set to Low.

I viewed the files in Nikon ViewNX and then used Photoshop for cropping, captioning, conversion to the sRGB color space and saved at level 12 (minimal) compression.

There is no sharpening applied in the NEF processing or in post processing. Active D-lighting was turned off in the camera, and D-Lighting was turned off in Nikon ViewNX. Beyond what is described above, no other processing was done. The HTML Web gallery was created in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.5

View Nikon D3S images.

September 30, 2009

Tips for Greener Photography: Greening Your Battery Usage

200907we_GP_logo.gif

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.

200910we_healthyphotog001.jpg   200910we_healthyphotog002.jpg
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 16, 2009

Tips for Greener Photography: Shipping

200907we_GP_logo.gif

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" »

August 12, 2009

Tryout: Canon Selphy as a Reception Add-On

By Kim Larson

200908we_slephy_es3.jpg

I had been struggling for a while to find unique ways to set me apart from my local competition, so when PPA gave me the opportunity to try out the Canon Selphy ES3 printer at a wedding reception I jumped at the opportunity—could this be exactly what I was looking for?

SETUP

Although I could have just used the Selphy printer to print off a few photos from the day’s wedding ceremony to display at the reception for guests to enjoy, I decided to do something different. With just about everyone owning point-and-shoot digital cameras now, I decided to put the printer on display at the reception so people could print off their own photos. I allowed everyone free access to the printer, with the ability to print photos for the bride and groom, or even themselves if they desired.

To set up the table for the printer, I used a small 24x48-inch folding table and a white floor-length tablecloth. I arranged scrapbook photo corners on white posterboard to display some of the printed photos and left room for simple instructions on how to re-fill the printer should it run out of paper. I also put up a sign in an 8x10 photo frame that announced the bride and groom’s “photobooth,” and a box where people could put the printed photos to give to the bride and groom.

Supplies

Canon Selphy ES3 Printer: $199 (MSRP)
Printer Ink/Paper Refill Cartridges (100 prints): $30
24x48 Folding Table: $49
Tablecloth: $10
Posterboard and Scrapbooking supplies: $15
Box to hold bride and groom’s photos: $5
8x10 frame: $5

200908we_selphy-2.jpg
Photo table images ©Kim Larson

THE PRINTER

The Canon Selphy ES3 printer is the perfect printer for this kind of work. It is not heavy, so it is easy to transport to the reception with its built-in handle. You do not need a computer to use it, and it will accept most digital camera cards. My favorite feature of this printer is the lack of ink cartridges. Because the ink is actually built into the paper cartridge, you never have to worry about replacing ink. This makes it incredibly easy for guests at the wedding reception to manage the printer themselves. The instructions are simple: When the printer is out of paper, you just open the paper door, slide out the used paper cartridge and slide in a new one!

Continue reading "Tryout: Canon Selphy as a Reception Add-On" »

First Look: StudioPlus Software

It’s a photographer’s dream to be able to create art day in and day out. Only problem? As professionals, we have to do more than photograph; the books need balancing, and finances need tracking. Since its inception, my studio management software has been Intuit QuickBooks. QuickBooks is a versatile tool, adaptable to any industry, yet it’s just not made for photographers. 

200908we_studio-plus-01.jpg

So, for the past year, I’ve been on the lookout for a good solution to my studio management needs.  StudioPlus Software is designed specifically for the photographic industry and includes a range of features that aim to satisfy the needs of both the small boutique studio and the multi-location megastudio. The best part? I’ve been told it integrates with QuickBooks, so I should be able to enhance my current system, instead of starting over.

200908we_studio-plus-03.jpg 

If you’re considering switching software, but are worried about getting overwhelmed, the staff at StudioPlus seems to understand it’s a big task to implement their software. Customers typically receive one-on-one support and training during the StudioPlus installation process. These training sessions are completed on a timeframe that allows you to learn at your own pace. I recently completed my first training session, which consisted of installation of the software, an overview of its features, and a step-by-step walk-through of real-life use. I asked a lot of questions, but left the training session feeling very optimistic about integrating StudioPlus into a typical studio workflow.

—Betsy Finn, CPP
Learnwithbetsy.com

Finn will report on her experience in implementing and working with StudioPlus Software an upcoming issue of Professional Photographer magazine and in PPmag.com Web Exclusives.

August 10, 2009

Tips for Greener Photography: Mulch Marketing 201

200907we_GP_logo.gif

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

200907we_GP_logo.gif

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 25, 2009

Video: Lightroom with Silver Efex Pro Workflow Demo

Earlier this month, Kim Larson wrote about her wedding workflow and how she uses Nik Silver Efex Pro with Adobe Lightroom. Here she provides a screencast to demonstrate how the two applications work together.

Thumbnail image for 200906we_larsonsilverfx.jpg

June 12, 2009

Tips for Greener Photography: Mulch Marketing 101

Resources for Greener Promotional Materials

200906we_GP_logo.gif

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" »

June 3, 2009

Wedding Workflow with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex Pro

By Kim Larson (Images ©Life Is Art Photography)

200906we_silver_efex_pro_box.jpg

In April, Nik Software released an update to Silver Efex Pro, making it compatible with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.3 and higher. The update is available now as a free download to current owners of Silver Efex Pro. We asked photographer Kim Larson to incorporate Silver Efex Pro into her Lightroom workflow and share the details.

My wedding workflow starts the minute I arrive home from a wedding, when I start backing up all of the photographs. Usually backup will take an hour or two, but I cannot sleep peacefully until all the photos are safe! I immediately copy all photos to a drive on my computer that is set to automatically backup to an off-site location every morning at 7:00 a.m. I also burn DVDs of the photos and store them in a file.

As soon as I have all the photos copied, I open Adobe Lightroom 2.0 and begin importing the files. Usually I start this the night of the wedding as well, so the photos will import while I put away my equipment or get ready for bed. I have a default metadata profile set up in Lightroom that applies my copyright information to each imported photo, and I always make sure to apply the proper keywords with the bride and groom’s names and the location of the wedding.

Lightroom is my primary processing application. If I need to fix or enhance a photo, I will edit it in Photoshop while keeping a copy of the edited photo in Lightroom. Likewise, if I apply a black and white tone to the photo with the Nik Silver Efex Pro plug-in, I will keep both copies of the photo in Lightroom. The photos that I show my clients are the finals exported from Lightroom.

When I’m ready to start working on the wedding photos, I open them in Lightroom and first go through all of them with a simple Keep or Trash mentality. I’d love to think I don’t have any “bad” photos to throw away, but it happens. So while making sure my caps lock is on, I quickly go through each photo in Lightroom’s Library module, pressing X to flag the photo as a reject and P to flag as a pick and keep it. Having the caps lock on will make Lightroom automatically advance the photos for you, making this process very quick! When finished I will go to Photo > Delete Rejected Photos and actually delete all my rejected photos. I still have all originals stored with the first backup.

Continue reading "Wedding Workflow with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex Pro" »

May 4, 2009

Tips for Greener Photography: Less Energy, Greater Profits

Energy Conservation for Photographers

By Stephanie A. Smith and Megan Just

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 200905we_GP_logo.jpg

Conserving energy in your photography business is remarkably easy. The changes you can make are so subtle that you'll hardly notice anything is different. But the ecological payoff of your green actions is anything but subtle; small efforts make a huge collective difference to our environment. And while you're busy saving the Earth, you'll be entertained by watching your power bills plummet. Here are some easy ways you can conserve energy in your photography business:

Natural Lighting

It is obvious that shooting outside uses less energy than shooting inside. When possible, make the outdoors your default shooting location. For the inevitable indoor or studio sessions, consider mitigating the power drainers like studio lights. Use a space with skylights and lots of windows if you can.

Swap your traditional light bulbs for Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs). CFLs, although they cost a little more up front, will end up saving you about $100 of electricity for each light bulb per year and they will last 10 to 15 times longer than standard bulbs. Regularly taking little steps like these to reduce the power demand that comes from shooting indoors will add up in the long run.

Continue reading "Tips for Greener Photography: Less Energy, Greater Profits" »

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" »

Tips for Greener Photography: Running an Eco-Friendly Photography Business

By Erica Velasco of Vision Photographs

GP_logo.jpgThe first article in the Tips for Greener Photography series offered tips to make your photography office greener. This month the focus will be on incorporating green practices into your business. There are simple things you can do right now to change your business practices and workflow, make your business greener, and offer greener products.

Here are some ideas to inspire you to make your business more eco-friendly.

Greener business practices and workflow

  • Go paperless by leveraging the power of the Internet and uploading client information and forms to the Web. Your client can book her wedding, sign her contract, and pay invoices online.
  • Utilize online Web galleries to proof your sessions and albums. In-person projection proofing is also a great way to reduce the need to provide your clients with paper proofs.
  • If you provide your clients with digital images, use portable or reusable hard drives to deliver the images instead of a CD or DVD. It is always more desirable to provide a client with a reusable versus a disposable option.
  • Choose online banking, have your bills sent via e-mail and pay them online.
  • Print all of your paperwork double-sided, then recycle your waste paper.
  • Use recycled paper for necessary printing, including marketing collateral, business cards and sample products. Many printing companies offer printing with soy- or wax-based inks and recycled paper; check out the list at Greener Photography (greenerphotography.org/links.html).
  • It is better to reuse than to recycle. Reuse cardboard boxes to ship client orders. Donate extra cardboard boxes to local preschools, art classes, or shipping stores. Reuse shredded documents as packing material.
  • Recycle ink cartridges, CDs and DVDs. For more information on recycling CDs and DVDs check out cdrecyclingcenter.org.
  • Try to eliminate sensitive paperwork that requires shredding.
  • Use short-run printing when it is appropriate. For example, print a small quantity of brochures, then order another small quantity when your inventory is low.

Continue reading "Tips for Greener Photography: Running an Eco-Friendly Photography Business" »

April 2, 2009

Money Savers: Special Offers for Pro Photographers

Professional photographers are gearing up for the busiest time of the year, and companies are vying to attract business special incentives. As a special treat for Web Exclusives readers, here is a convenient one-stop list of current product and service offers from our advertisers.

Read on to find specials including:

25% Off One Hardcover Photobook

Free 16x20 Canvas

25% Off Fine Art Metals and Metal Murals

25% Off Fine Art Acrylics

Free Packaging and Color Correction

25% Off Jewel Case Desktop Calendars (50)

25% Off Metal Art Panels

Diamond Dust Acrylic, 50% Off First Order

50% Off First Canvas Order

50% Off First Order, 20% Off Next 10 Orders

Free One-Stop Wedding Network Event Setup

30% Off One Big Package Wedding Package

25% Off Triple Memory Designer Wedding Album Special Package

25% Off Photo Crystals

$50 Lab Account Credit

Continue reading "Money Savers: Special Offers for Pro Photographers" »

March 17, 2009

Studio Design From The Ground Up

By Sarah Petty, Cr.Photog., CPP

It’s so exhilarating for a small business owner to imagine building his very own building, a space with smooth new walls, plumbing that works, windows that are easy to clean, a place for which each monthly payment brings him closer to outright ownership, a place he could sell 20 years down the road. My husband, Joe, owns a small architectural firm, and we have long dreamed of building something together.

We’ve just begun a venture in creating a custom-designed, functional new building to house both our businesses. The two businesses can share a lot of spaces, and even personnel. We’d both love to have a dedicated receptionist to answer the phone and greet clients, but neither of us needs a full-time employee. We plan to share one full-time employee who can help us both stay organized and be a gatekeeper of sorts, while helping us make a professional and consistent first impression with our clients.

We’ve been working for years for the finances to make our dream a reality. The PPA Studio Benchmark Survey showed us that to be profitable, no more than 10 percent of our gross sales should go toward overhead (assuming you manage the other costs of business). So, for example, if your business grosses $200,000 per year, it’s safe to pay out about $1,700 per month ($20,000 per year) for rent, utilities, and other overhead expenses. 

It’s my philosophy that your business should grow only as fast as you can justify financially. You don’t need to take out huge loans to build a building—in fact, I believe the opposite. The Benchmark Survey also shows that home-based studios are generally more profitable than retail studios, a correlation of less overhead expenses. If you understand your financial statements and grow your business as supported by those figures, you’ll have a successful business and sleep soundly at night. Those figures will tell whether or not that success can support building a new studio.


Rendering:Joe Petty; Photo: Andria Crawford-Whitehead

Continue reading "Studio Design From The Ground Up" »

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" »

Canon EOS 5D Mark II Wins Best Digital SLR in PP's 2009 Product Awards

200903we_HotOne_logo_09.jpgProfessional Photographer’s annual competition to determine the hottest products on the market has always been fierce, and its tenth installment was no different. Canon's EOS 5D Mark II, with its groundbreaking full-frame HD video capability, was the most highly anticipated camera model to be released this year, and it impressed the judges enough to secure Professional Photographer’s 2009 Hot One Award in the highly contested Digital SLR, $1,000 to $3,000, category. The Nikon D90, which was the first DSLR to feature HD video, landed a tie with Canon’s EOS Rebel XSi in the Under $1,000 slot.

Every year, Professional Photographer magazine opens the Hot One Awards competition to hundreds of professional products, from cameras and software to online services and studio gear. This year 60 photographic products and services won first place in their category. The Hot One Awards received more than 325 entries from 180 companies—the largest competition in its 10-year history. Check out the 2009 Hot One Award winners now. CLICK HERE.

February 13, 2009

The liveBooks Process: A Total Website Revamp, Part I

Professional Photographer asked Ellis Vener to work with liveBooks to create a fresh redesign of his website and to report on the process and the results. This report covers the process from concept to design and going live. The next report will cover search engine optimization.

By Ellis Vener

Though it was still generating work and lots of inquiries from potential clients, I hadn't updated my website in any meaningful way since it was launched in January 2002. Since then a lot of things have changed: I moved from Houston to Atlanta, and I had lots of new work I wanted to showcase.

One of the hardest parts of designing or redesigning a website is figuring out exactly what you want. I knew what I didn't want in my website this time: a format and structure that required someone versed in website authoring software to make changes. I wanted flexibility and expandability.

Rebuilding a website from scratch is a huge investment in time and usually a significant amount of money as well. LiveBooks is a well established and highly respected company that specializes in designing and building websites for pro photographers with the features we need most, like easy gallery editing, automated metadata upload, visitor tracking and keywording for search engines. LiveBooks packages are priced with non-recurring, one-time fees plus a $90 annual hosting fee. The Basic plan starts at $800, the Select package is $1,700 and the Unlimited package is $3,200. Each package is organized to come with a certain level of design services and features and storage space.

The design services from liveBooks are the most easily demonstrated benefit. Visual acumen in photography does not translate into skill at Web design.

This was the opening page of my old website. Viewed today, it screams "I haven't bothered to update my website since 2002." That's not exactly the message you want to sent to potential clients.

Below is the page that liveBooks helped me design to make a much more positive first impression. 


Image ©Ellis Vener

It's elegant and professional, shows a single image to full advantage, and has easy-to-find links to the most critical  information a client would be interested in: galleries showing additional work, a client list showing other businesses that value my work, and a contact page.

Continue reading "The liveBooks Process: A Total Website Revamp, Part I" »

February 12, 2009

February Issue Facebook Article Correction: Page Not Profile

In the February issue of Professional Photographer, in Lindsay Adler's article "Facebook: Network With Seniors," we inadvertently suggested readers create both individual and business profiles, which is a violation of Facebook terms of use. We regret the error.

Instead, a photographer can set up a business account or set up a personal profile and then create a Facebook Page for their business identity. Only the official representative of an artist, business, or brand may create a Facebook Page, though that person can choose to allow others to help administrate it. You may transform a business account into a personal account, but once you have created a personal account, you cannot revert back to a business account or create a business account.

The Facebook Help Center has a section that completely explains Pages and business accounts

This is the article republished with corrected text and clarifying information from Facebook's Help Center.

Facebook: network with seniors

Learning to take advantage of the No. 1 Web site among seniors can be a huge sales advantage.

By Lindsay Adler

Quoted text is information that comes directly from Facebook’s Help Center.

What’s the one place nearly every high school senior goes daily? Online, to Facebook.com. This center of mass communication has more than 36 million members. It’s the No. 1 social network for the modern high school student. Facebook users post profiles of themselves containing such information as their age, e-mail address and interests. They post photos and videos of themselves for e-friends the world over to view.

Continue reading "February Issue Facebook Article Correction: Page Not Profile" »

February 2, 2009

Custom Guestbooks Make an Indelible Impression

By Norris Carden

“You look like you fell in love during your engagement session,” the bridesmaid told the bride. While it is certainly a statement about the photography, it is just as much an endorsement of my custom guestbook and an example of how this product helps set me apart as a wedding photographer.

My top tier wedding packages include an extended engagement session and custom guestbook. I always have a sample guestbook on hand at any sales presentation or bridal show. It makes a huge impression and, so far, no bride has turned it down.

Producing the guestbook actually starts with the engagement session. Because of the time involved in selecting images, designing, printing and delivering the book, I prefer to shoot at least two months before the wedding, though I could force one through in just under a month if need be.


The photo guestbook makes a huge impression on your clients and their wedding guests alike. It provides an exciting conversation piece for the big day, and for years to come. Image ©Norris Carden

Continue reading "Custom Guestbooks Make an Indelible Impression" »

January 1, 2009

Audio Interview: Anne Geddes

Some mothers of newborns photographed by Anne Geddes are tempted to call her at 3 a.m. when their infants are screaming. That’s because just as Tiger Woods makes golf look easy, Anne Geddes makes putting babies to sleep and photographing them look effortless.  Geddes may have a natural talent for working with children, but there are more than 25 years of experience and hard work behind her iconic imagery. In this excerpt from Professional Photographer magazine’s exclusive interview with writer Lorna Gentry, Geddes shares some of her methods and tips for photographing babies.

Listen to the interview. (mp3, 3 minutes, 30 seconds)

Read Geddes remarkable story in the January issue of Professional Photographer and hear her inspiring keynote speech at Imaging USA, January 11-13 in Phoenix. 

200901we_Geddes_c_RoyEmerson.jpg
©Roy Emerson

 

Canon EOS 5D Mark II wins best digital SLR in PP’s 2009 best product awards

200903we_HotOne_logo_09.jpgProfessional Photographer’s annual competition to determine the hottest products on the market has always been fierce, and its tenth installment was no different. Canon's EOS 5D Mark II, with its groundbreaking full-frame HD video capability, was the most highly anticipated camera model to be released this year, and it impressed the judges enough to secure the win the Professional Photographer’s 2009 Hot One Award in the highly contested Digital SLR, $1,000 to $3,000, category. The Nikon D90, which was the first DSLR to feature HD video, landed a tie with Canon’s EOS Rebel XSi in the Under $1,000 slot.

Every year, Professional Photographer magazine opens the Hot One Awards competition to hundreds of professional products, from cameras and software to online services and studio gear. This year 60 photographic products and services won first place in their category. The Hot One Awards received more than 325 entries from 180 companies—the largest competition in its 10-year history. Check out the 2009 Hot One Award winners now. CLICK HERE.

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?

200901we_drytac_liquid.jpg 200901_drytac_rolls.jpg

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" »

December 8, 2008

Great Gifts for Photographers

We'd like to share some very special items that we recommend or might wish for under our own tree. What are you hinting for this holiday season? Tell us in the comments section, and we might add it here.

—Joan Sherwood, Senior Editor

"Slide:ology The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations"
By Nancy Duarte

Though it's written for business presenters, this book contains fantastic, straightforward guidelines, instruction and ideas that photographers can use to prepare an unbeatable client, civic group or workshop presentation. Just like a great presentation, it's easy to digest and you'll come away amazed with how much valuable information it contains. It takes you step-by-step through the process of building a presentation, from brainstorming to color design to rehearsal. It leads you to examine the message you want to deliver, how to do it better, what your audience will respond to, and how to organize and design the visual elements. If you use a presentation to close the deal or make the sale, you should be devoting some serious thought to how it's put together and how you deliver it. This book will teach you more than you knew there was to know about creating engaging, professional presentations that get the job done. —JS
$34.99 ($23.09 on Amazon.com)

Look for an interview in the January issue of Professional Photographer with "Slide:ology" author Nancy Duarte, President and CEO of Duarte Design, the firm that created the presentation for Al Gore's Oscar-winning film, "An Inconvenient Truth." 

Calumet ZipDisc Package with ZipDisc Arm & Stand (RM4040K1)
Illuminate curves and details with natural, white light. This 42-inch translucent zipdisc works inside or outside, fits on the arm and stand, plus gives you the freedom to create great images. Check it out.
$99.99

Zion and McKinley Backpacks from M-Rock, currently 20% off
Identical except the McKinley includes large roller wheels and locking telescope handle. The backpacks include a modular interior with a removable Accessory Bag and spare dividers for three set up options. The basic set up is for a regular or Pro DSLR camera with up to a 6-inch lens attached, with room for an additional two to four lenses or photo accessories. The Accessory Bag can hold more electronics, personal items or hiking gear. Replace the Accessory Bag with the extra dividers to use all of the interior space for extra photographic supplies and load your camera with up to a 9-inch lens attached. The removed Accessory Bag has Web & Velcro arms below that can securely attach to the fabric handle on top of the backpacks.
$230-290 (not including discount).

The Bowler by Acme Made
If you're looking for something more in the squee-inducing neighborhood of adorable, you should look into The Bowler. It does double duty as both a camera bag and a purse, is colorful, durable, and sized to fit most smaller DSLR cameras with interior dimensions of 7x3.5x6.25 inches. Materials are high-quality synthetic leather, tricot and YKK zippers; includes hidden exterior accessory pockets and loops for a shoulder strap; padded adjustable divider can be moved or removed entirely. If you can hold out until March for a bigger size, there's a Super Bowler on the way.
$39.99 special offer for the holidays.

drop it MODERN Photography Backdrops
drop it MODERN, is a new line of photography backdrops that have been created to enhance your photographic settings. Our professional photographers have hand-selected fabrics with flattering textures, colors and patterns to bring out the quality and inventiveness of your photographs. drop it MODERN backdrops are made with  luxurious materials including high end velvet, brushed cotton and plush chenille.

These are not your typical muslin backdrops—drop it MODERN has taken the backdrop to a whole other level by utilizing textures and colors only found in designer fabrics. They cannot be found at your local fabric store or on-line. Owner Breanne Schaap, of Schaap Studios Photography, is known for the eye-catching textures and colors she uses in her style of photography. Schaap has personally worked with each backdrop and has chosen distinctive fabrics with textures and colors that best suit the portrait client. The designs are fresh: some modern, some vintage, and they will leave your clients wanting more!
Price varies by size and selection.

Image ©Breanne Schapp

Continue reading "Great Gifts for Photographers" »

November 1, 2008

The Boutique Photographer: Feeling the Pinch

By Sara Frances, M.Photog.Cr.

Think you’re immune to economic downturn because your boutique clients are less affected by ups and downs and will remain faithful buyers? Given the current volatility of the market and social patterns, this is almost certainly naive thinking that can seriously damage your business.

If you work with just 15-20 clients a year like we do, the loss of even one of them means a substantial percentage drop in annual gross income. And carriage trade clients, while they may spend lavishly once they’ve decided to do so, have always been conservative and careful with every purchase. Don’t panic; think of creative ways to keep yourself invested in the people you value most. I certainly don’t recommend sales or deep discounting. Those strategies do nothing good for your reputation as a boutique.

Find ways to add value and put yourself in the public eye. You need to show your “family” of clients how much you care about them. Special people who seek out the boutique photographer are, without fail, involved in civic projects and charities. They give time, effort and money to further all kinds of interesting and worthy events and fundraisers, all of which feel the economic pinch of falling contributions.

200811we_ArtMuseum.jpg
Director of the Denver Art Museum Dr. Lewis Sharp and his wife, Susan, pose outside the entrance to the recently completed Hamilton building, designed by Daniel Libeskind. The perfect holiday card! Image ©Sara Frances

Continue reading "The Boutique Photographer: Feeling the Pinch" »

October 13, 2008

How to ... beat a fall season slowdown

Editor's note: The November issue of Professional Photographer magazine contains a super special "How To Do Everything Better" section. While you're waiting for that to arrive in the mail, here's one that couldn't wait until November.

The Halloween season is a perfect opportunity to do pure marketing in children and family portraiture. The kids dress up in their Halloween costumes and mom and dad are so proud! Seize the opportunity to market your studio to perhaps hundreds of families in a few days.

• Invite parents to bring in their children the day before Halloween for a “complimentary”—never “free”—portrait.

• Advertise in the newspaper, hand out flyers, put up posters. For the cost of a 4x5-inch print and a few hours, you can launch a successful marketing promotion.

• Don’t even attempt to sell additional prints unless asked. The goal is to give clients a sample of the quality and service your studio offers. Do use this opportunity to promote your holiday portraiture and build your client base.

• Arrange a promotion at a nearby shopping mall. Managers of large malls like hosting promotions that cost them nothing. You can even team with a third party, such as a children’s clothing store.

• Ask the manager for space to put up a portrait display on days your clients come to pick up their prints. You could even suggest they sell portrait sessions themselves at a special rate—you get the client, the store keeps the session proceeds as a finder’s fee.

• Include a certificate good for a family portrait during January in the Halloween print package. We call our promotion the January White Sale.

• Ask community-spirited local radio stations about doing a three-way promotion with their largest advertiser. The advertiser could add a 10-second tag to their usual radio spot to promote your portrait event, and the station could air a few free-standing spots as well. You could set up an on-site portrait studio at the advertiser’s business, which would bring them more traffic. When the prints are ready, customers could come to the site yet again to pick up the prints. Some people can’t make it that day? Then they can pick up the prints at your studio. More traffic for you!

—Bill Keane, “Beat the Fall Seasonal Slowdown: Marketing Children & Family Portraiture”
(First appeared in Professional Photographer, August, 2001)
 

Ted Kawalerski: The lure of the river

Making a 20-year passion flow to profit

By Martha Blanchfield

Photographer Ted Kawalerski’s new 60-image exhibit at the Beacon Institute in Upstate New York showcases his 20-year love affair with the Hudson River and life among the people who live along its shores.

When he began to photograph the river in the late 1980s, Kawalerski viewed the it as a personal project rather than a commercial endeavor. “As a resident of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., on the Hudson River 25 miles north of Manhattan, photographing the water and its surroundings was a natural,” says Kawalerski. “I would shoot whatever inspired me, and work on this project as much as my schedule allowed. There would be days, even weeks, when I could not break from my clients to pursue the river project, but I would always return. The pursuit became a creative escape where I could explore my photographic interests without boundaries.”

Navigating Kawalerski’s river
The Hudson River extends from Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondacks to Lower Manhattan, a distance of 315 miles. Kawalerski’s collection of images, a 50-50 mix of landscapes and portraits, captures the essence of life in such river towns as Croton-On-Hudson and Tarrytown in New York and Jersey City, N.J.

“The images are gritty and show life the real way, which is not always beautiful. Each captures the essence of being in the moment at the site. The  Hudson River area is most often portrayed in a romantic and pastoral genre, and even though this is the pervasive context, there is a parallel reality of industrial and often decrepit shoreline,” comments the photographer.

Kawalerski often visited with each subject several times before lifting the camera. The result is a collection of stories told through the eyes of those who invited him into their lives. An important feature of this body of work is that it’s portrayed only in black and white. “I did not want to replicate any romantic painterly styles; after researching the photographs that had already been made, I discovered that there were very few collections of  black and white images. On a very basic and intuitive level, this approach always seemed right,” says the photographer.


©Ted Kawalerski

"Halloween Boxer" was made during a Halloween parade in Tarrytown, N.Y., where, along with Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., is the Halloween capitol of the world.

Continue reading "Ted Kawalerski: The lure of the river" »

September 8, 2008

Lighting Essentials 3: Hair Light

A thorough understanding of lighting fundamentals is vital to your growth as an artist. Learn how to add dimension to your images with hair lights.

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

[Editor's note: To our regret, the last sentence of this article was truncated in the September issue of Professional Photographer. This is the article in full.]

Third in a series on the fundamentals of studio portrait lighting.

We’ve discussed the use of foundational lighting in creating a portrait; now we’ll cover the use of additional lights to add impact to your images.

A hair light in a portrait setup adds dimension and drama to the image by accenting the shoulders and crown of the subject. Like adding spice to a dish, adding a disproportionate amount of hair light can overpower the other lighting and ruin the final image. The brightness of the hair light should never be the first thing you notice about a portrait (Figure 1).


Figure 1: The inset shows excessive hair light. The larger version shows hair light that complements rather than diverting attention. ©Don Chick

The hair light should complement the rest of the image, not divert the viewer’s attention from the center of interest. Notice in Figure 2 how the hair light adds a nice bit of separation for the hat, as well as the subject’s shoulder. Imagine how bland the image would be without it.


Figure 2

©Don Chick

Because the hair light is positioned above and behind the subject, its output should generally be less than the main light—one stop less is a good starting place. For example, if the main light at the subject’s position meters at f/8, you’d adjust the hair light to read f/5.6, one stop less. For the most accurate light measurement, turn off or block out all other light sources. Point the dome of your meter at the light source you’re measuring and take the reading. If the results aren’t to your liking, adjust the hair light output accordingly.

Continue reading "Lighting Essentials 3: Hair Light" »

September 2, 2008

Protecting Your Pixels

By Sara Frances, M.Photog.Cr.

Copy and remix. No industry is immune. Competing businesses try to improve on each other’s products or duplicate them outright, seeking greater profit, lower cost basis and market share. Mining the Internet is the norm; search engines themselves are a form of information scraping. No one thinks twice about harvesting quotes, music, scientific formulas or images. I’ve witnessed advanced degree university classes where information scraping without regard to copyright is not only tolerated, but encouraged.

Photographers need to wake up to the fact that our industry is no different. Even though we insist our product is not a commodity, customers see only square inches of a print, not the result of years of artistic development. “It’s my portrait anyway.”

Same old argument; new rules and consequences. Shawn Davis, manager of internet services at Marathon Press, says “There is simply no foolproof protection for your images once they leave your studio in any form. Showing session proofs on the Internet essentially means making them available and accessible.” Internet posting in itself tends to equate images with products sold via catalogues, validating the hated commodity comparison. Check back with Marathon soon, as the buzz is they’re working on an underlying image protection tool for session proofing that will not be so easily defeated.

Facts about exposure to theft on the web:

• Copyright notice added on an image-viewing site is usually only a facsimile, and therefore easily defeated.

• Logo and copyright embedded in Photoshop is harder to eliminate, but doable with pirate-friendly software.

• Logo and copyright placed less conspicuously at the bottom or in a corner of an image need only be cropped off.

• Many small, low-res images can be successfully interpolated to 8x10 and larger with current software.

• While right-click disabling with a Java script may deter the laziest of image thieves, it's virtually useless against anyone marginally computer savvy.

• Posting enhanced or greatly retouched images prior to a substantial client purchase commitment elevates the studio’s financial risk.

• Clients can become dissatisfied and sales drop if you post images that are not color/density corrected, or if wedding images are jumbled out of logical storytelling order.

"That’s optimism?" you ask. Well, there is a brighter side, particularly though product innovations that help clients fulfill contemporary needs for social site postings, iPod movies and limited licensing for small size consumer prints.

Continue reading "Protecting Your Pixels" »

September 1, 2008

Lightroom's best-kept secret

By David Ziser, M.Photog.Cr., F-ASP

Editor’s note: In his new column in Professional Photographer magazine, renowned wedding photographer and popular instructor David Ziser shares his insights on the art and business of photography.

I have to tell you that I'm becoming a really big fan of Lightroom 2. There are a couple of features in the new version that simply make it one of the most remarkable pieces of software on the planet earth. Watch this video from my blog and see if you don't agree with me. 

200809we_Lightroom2adjbrush.jpg

The full release of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 is now available for purchase ($299, $99 upgrade), or you can download a free trial version.

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" »

July 22, 2008

So happy together? 3 tips for working side-by-side with your spouse

By Julia Woods

Is it possible to make living and working together a happy affair? “How do you do it?” It’s a question my husband, Jeff Woods, and I get asked on a regular basis.

Being side-by-side 24/7 is definitely not for the weak at heart.

Jeff and I got married seventeen years ago this month and stumbled into photography a few years later. Our greatest desire was to work together side-by-side while doing something we both enjoyed. Photography seemed to be the perfect solution. “Perfect” was not going to be achieved easily. Trying to be happily married and come together with similar visions in the work place has proven much harder than we could have imagined.

We have experienced a lot of emotional, mental, and physical strain while trying to find a sense of peace. I’ll touch briefly on our key solutions:

1. Making time for us. Two people fall in love while investing their time and energy into each other’s lives. If every night during our courtship Jeff had sat at one end of the sofa with his work while I sat on the other with my work, wedding bells would not have followed. However, once we got married and started our business, we could not understand why that same type of behavior did not create wedded bliss. After some counseling, we realized that “falling in love” is a fundamental quality that has to be sought after throughout an entire marriage if happiness is the goal. Ten years after it’s start, date night still remains on our calendar every other Thursday evening. The babysitter is set and investing in each other and our relationship is the goal. Most of the time, it is just a movie or dinner, but the results are astounding.

2. Making our business work for us. This was one of the hardest solutions to figure out. Our business controlled our lives. We worked non-stop and our family was suffering because of it. With some help in business education from Ann Monteith, PPA’s Studio Management Services, and a lot of hard work, we learned how to properly price and attract a higher level of clientele. This allowed us to work less but make more money. We now work four days a week at the office and about twenty Saturdays a year at weddings. Some workdays are very long, but play days are revitalizing for our relationship and our young family of four children.

3. Allowing each other to be authentic. As individuals, we have the tendency to assume our thoughts and passions are the right ones. However, when you choose to partner with your spouse, the art of blending your thoughts and passions is necessary. Jeff and I face this challenge both in art and business because we choose to photograph everything together. Within the business, we have come to respect each other’s gifts and give each other ownership in our respective roles.

However, about 25 percent of the business is left to joint efforts. Intermingling our creative vision and opinions has gotten easier over time, but it continues to be a work in progress.

The application of these solutions has been extremely helpful. We know that surrounding ourselves with other couples in similar life situations is vital to gain new ideas and fresh perspectives for continued happiness.

Jeff and Julia Woods have launched a marriage workshop called ”One” to help address the struggles married couples face while working together. The first workshop will be held September 15-17, in Washington, Ill. For more information, go to www.sidebyside247.com or call 309-444-8514.

July 17, 2008

Roundup: Entry-level DSLR Cameras

By Ron Eggers

It’s difficult to get a clear picture of what's available in entry-level digital SLR cameras before another generation comes along. There are still considerable differences in feature sets, performance and potential image quality between entry-level models and professional DSLRs, but the resolution gap gets smaller and smaller all the time. All but the least expensive entry-level models have 10-megapixel or larger sensors. Some have resolutions topping 14 megapixels. But resolution doesn’t equal image quality.

The technological advances of the high-end models trickle down to entry-level DSLRs over time, bringing better responsiveness and less shutter lag to the current generation. Focusing is still slower on lower-end models, but again, the performance of the least expensive models is getting closer to that of the mid-range pro cameras.

Entry-level DSLR features such as scene modes, which aren't all that important to professionals, help less experienced shooters get better shots by allowing the photographer to set the type of picture to be taken (e.g. night shot, portrait, action) and having the camera makes all the technical decisions, like aperture size and shutter speed.
 
Photographers can increase image quality with entry-level models by upgrading the glass. Low-end models frequently come with inexpensive kit lenses. For their price, they're quite good, but no one claims that they match the quality of professional lenses. Sometimes just upgrading a lens can make a noticeable difference in image quality.

Continue reading "Roundup: Entry-level DSLR Cameras" »

July 1, 2008

Pro Selection: Professional Digital SLR Camera Image Samples

In the July issue of Professional Photographer magazine, Ron Eggers assessed the current top models of pro DSLR cameras. Here you can see sample images from those cameras along with a 1:1 pixel selection (click for full view). Images were saved in Photoshop for Web viewing as JPEGs at Quality: 85 in sRGB.

All images ©Ron Eggers unless otherwise noted. Eggers was not given access to a review unit of the Leica Digilux 3 to create independent sample images.

Canon EOS 40D: 1/250 second at f/11 (+.67), ISO 200

Continue reading "Pro Selection: Professional Digital SLR Camera Image Samples" »

June 13, 2008

Transylvania: Travel Photographer Manages File Backup and Language Barrier with Epson Multimedia Storage Viewer

Travel photographer Bob Krist uses his photo viewers to secure backups and gain access to locals' lives in rural Transylvania.

All images ©Bob Krist 

What do a freelance travel photographer and a Transylvanian count have in common? Both are making sure that Transylvanian culture does not vanish into thin air. As Count Tibor Kálnoky preserves his family’s 13th century ancestral home seized during the communist regime, photographer Bob Krist is busy making “backups of backups of backups,” archiving his many digital photographs to document the story for future generations.
 
The count and photographer recently crossed paths when Krist stayed on assignment at a luxury guesthouse on Count Kálnoky’s estate in Miklosvar, Romania, a remote spot in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. Miklosvar is only an hour’s drive from the tourist trap known as “Dracula’s Castle,” but this little village of 500 souls seems frozen in time.
 
During his many trips abroad, Krist has had a variety of interesting adventures, including being stranded on a glacier in Iceland, knighted with a cutlass during a Trinidad voodoo ceremony, and nearly run down by charging bulls in southern India.

Krist found himself on yet another adventure on the eastern edge of Transylvanian countryside. Despite the thrill of the chase, Krist admits that a travel photographer’s life has its challenges, with inevitable airport delays, lonely hotel rooms, weeks away from his family, and constant worry about how to effectively save the digital images he shoots on the road. He readily confesses that he is a “maniac” about backing up his photographs. “After years of shooting chrome, I know that the slides in my storage cabinets will be there, short of a flood or fire," he said. “But I didn’t have the same confidence when it came to digital media.”

Continue reading "Transylvania: Travel Photographer Manages File Backup and Language Barrier with Epson Multimedia Storage Viewer" »

June 6, 2008

The Boutique Photographer: Keeping Up Appearances

By Sara Frances, M.Photog.Cr.

So many small businesses look … well … small. By small I'm referring to a quality that has less to do with physical size and more with appearances, specifically those that are unattractive to high-end boutique clientele. A dirty front door, less than spotless lavatory, untidy sales area or shop-worn samples shout limited technical expertise, carelessness with details and unresponsive customer service.

In recent years the public has been very tolerant of home-based businesses, yet going that route can easily profile you along with multi-level marketing and part-time, low-budget services. Only a really great home studio space and loads of personality can make this scenario work well over time. Yet rent and upkeep on a substantial studio space befitting the boutique operation are beyond many photographers’ resources, especially those who’ve just started out in business. Maintenance and basic service costs for our 1,400 square foot business-zoned building and two inner city lots of portrait garden is equivalent to many photographers’ annual gross income. And we already own the property free and clear.

If you’re in business for love, money and long-term commitment, purchasing a property in the right location at the right price is a great way to spread out your investment in your business, similar to how financial counselors recommend diversification when purchasing stocks and mutual funds. I believe storefront studio galleries are a rising industry trend.

Continue reading "The Boutique Photographer: Keeping Up Appearances" »

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 2, 2008

Books: Richard Ettlinger's "On Feathered Wings" Showcases Stunning Aerial Photographs

Six years in the making, ‘On Feathered Wings’ features the work
of seven extraordinary action photographers

American Museum of Natural History to host year-long photo exhibition

Barred Owl photo taken with a Canon EOS-1D Mark IIn and Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM lens for 1/1,250 second at f/7.1, ISO 400, hand held. ©Richard Ettlinger 

Press Release—Nature photographer and author Richard Ettlinger is being honored by the American Museum of Natural History for his 6-year project photographing and collaborating with professional photographers on five continents to capture the beauty of birds in flight. “On Feathered Wings: Birds in Flight” (Abrams Books, $40) will be on sale in May, and the American Museum of Natural History will feature 35 images in a photo exhibition June 21, 2008–May 25, 2009.

“The work I did with six of the world's greatest action photographers took hours of study and endless patience,” said Ettlinger. “Our dedication paid off, and I am delighted to be recognized by both Abrams Books and the museum.”

Through 175 color images, the photography delivers amazing images of hunters, migrators, waterfowl and songbirds living on the wing—hunting, feeding, fighting, traveling and gliding.

The international group of photographers includes Ettlinger, David G. Hemmings, K.K. Hui, Miguel Lasa, Ofer Levy, Jim Neiger, and Rob Palmer, all specialize in capturing birds in flight, each striving to outdo the others. But the indisputable stars of “On Feathered Wings” are the birds themselves, seen in vivid sharp focus and amazing detail: a Peregrine Falcon in a 100-mph dive; two Black Skimmers fighting in mid-air; a Snowy Owl keying on dinner; an Atlantic Puffin coming in for a landing; an Arctic Tern fishing; and a Barn Swallow feeding her young. 

 

Continue reading "Books: Richard Ettlinger's "On Feathered Wings" Showcases Stunning Aerial Photographs" »

May 1, 2008

The Joy of Marketing: Win-Win-Sell

By Sarah Petty, CPP

When you’re new to the business, you’ve got time to be creative. Invest that time in your marketing technique and win in more ways than one.

When you start out in business, you have much more time than money. Time is something money can’t buy, so it must be a priceless. On the other hand, although you can spend time and you can waste time, you sure can’t eat it. You can invest your time, though, in thinking up creative marketing ploys that will grow your business. If you invested some time in, say, looking up the addresses of people featured in the newspaper and mailed them a custom-designed note card saying “way to go,” or “you’re so right,” or “thank you for the insight,” that investment could pay off well.

One of the best ways to learn, grow and challenge your marketing acumen is to enter PPA’s AN-NE Awards. More than a competition among peers, the AN-NE Awards are an opportunity to test and measure your marketing skills and learn how to capitalize on them.

New businesses can win, too. PPA just added a special category for emerging pros who have been in business five years or less. You don’t need to feel insecure—unlike print competitions, which are judged in front of an audience, the AN-NE awards are critiqued confidentially, and unless you come in first, the judges comments will go to you alone.
 

Continue reading "The Joy of Marketing: Win-Win-Sell" »

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 14, 2008

Decorating Spaces With Meaning


Image ©Anita Marquis 

Branching out from portrait photography, Anita Marquis now designs and prints custom wall murals and large prints for commercial and residential spaces. For this 38 x 72-inch print at the Parkcrest Dental Group in Springfield, Mo., she combined the firm’s brand colors and slogan with portraits of the 12 children of the six dentists who work in the office. She created the design in Adobe Photoshop CS and output it using the ImagePrint RIP with a 44-inch Epson Stylus Pro 9600 printer and LexJet Sunset Select Matte Canvas. She sprayed the print with PremierArt Eco Print Shield, then hung it using Popco Snap Rails. “Now, when the dentists come to work each day, they can always see their children smiling at them,” says Marquis. “Plus, many of the dentists’ patients see my work as well.”  

200804we_MarquisPoster.jpg

Image ©Anita Marquis 

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2008 issue of Great Output and is published here with permission, courtesy of Great Output and LexJet. Great Output is LexJet’s bi-monthly publication for photographers who want to know more about how to print, finish, display, and sell digital images. LexJet also publishes a monthly educational eNewsletter for photographers called In Focus. For more information about subscribing to these resources, go to www.lexjet.com/lexjet/newsletters.asp, or contact a LexJet account specialist at 800-453-9538.

 

Choosing the Right Wide-Format Printer to Grow Your Photography Business

Some criteria to consider when comparing pro-photo printers

By Eileen Fritsch


This article originally appeared in the March/April 2008 issue of Great Output and is published here with permission, courtesy of Great Output and LexJet. Great Output is LexJet’s bi-monthly publication for photographers who want to know more about how to print, finish, display, and sell digital images.

A wide-format inkjet printer is a great investment. Every day LexJet customers tell us about creative ways they’re using wide-format printers to generate additional revenue. And, the potential for using wide-format printers to improve studio profitability has just begun to be tapped.

For example, you can combine your wide-format printing capabilities with your photography expertise to help some of the millions of photo enthusiasts equipped with digital SLRs create enlargements that look far more artistic and refined than any of the poster-size prints they can now buy at their nearest Office Max or Staples.

A 2007 survey of professional photographers suggests that many of you haven’t considered buying a wide-format printer because you think it might distract you from keeping pace with camera and workflow software upgrades or dealing with intensifying price competition and the shifting demand for photography services. But if growing your photography business is a top priority, consider the dozens of ways a wide-format printer can help you stabilize, diversify, and grow your photography business.

Which wide-format inkjet printer is best for you? 

Download a comparison chart that details the features and specs of the Epson Stylus Pro, HP Designjet and Canon imagePROGRAPH models. 

Read on to learn more about the features and functions you need to understand when evaluating a wide-format printer for your business. 

Continue reading "Choosing the Right Wide-Format Printer to Grow Your Photography Business" »

April 1, 2008

The Boutique Photographer: Outsourcing or In-House?

In-house computer work and printing or lab services? How to decide what works best for you?

By Sara Frances, M.Photog.Cr.

Like many other boutique artisans, I want to handle as much of the post-production work as possible. Our theme: integrated imaging from concept to delivery. Here’s how I weighed the pro and con before becoming my own lab.

I love the magic of Zone System film technique, retouching and book design. It was easy to preserve those same concepts once our digital light bulb turned on. Being a “pixel surgeon” and printer gives me creative joy I never felt when outsourcing production. My best images have found artistic life through experimentation with materials, collaboration on cinematic projects and even serendipity. My friend the late film maker Stan Brakage said, “To make art you have to set yourself up to let your subconscious come through.”

Ask these questions to determine which workflow suits your temperament and business model.

    • Learning Skills: Can you take the time and have the patience to learn Photoshop, Painter and other software? How to print and finish images? Money is made equally behind the camera and in post, but can you afford to become a technician?
    • Attention Span: Can you take the strain of hours at the computer, just like in the darkroom? Retouching can become a repetitive chore. Unique album design can eat huge amounts of time.
    • Techie Stuff: Are you detail oriented enough to conquer resolution and color space, sharpening and interpolation? Do your have the colorist’s eye to maintain continuity in your look from start to finish?
    • Investment: Can you afford a sophisticated computer, the latest software, peripherals, inkjet printers and a finishing and storage facility? Who will manage equipment maintenance? Are frequent upgrades too costly to justify?
    • Space: Postproduction takes sizable space, cleanliness and organization. Can you allocate a dedicated workshop with lots of accessories like cutters, assembly tables, scanner, drying racks, sink, tools, glues, spray, etc.?
    • Collaboration: Are you clients intrigued with your process, or would they rather not be involved in too many artistic choices?
    • Sales: Who is selling your next job while you’re doing the art work? Are you charging enough to be able to do just a couple of jobs at a time?
    • Seasonal Rush: Can you handle fluctuating workload? Seasonal employees?
    • Free Time: If you do everything yourself, or with a small staff, how will you take a vacation or allocate family time?

Printing in house is an easy and economical way to compare image variations before deciding on a final version. Pictured left to right are noted photographers Bruce Elsey, Lito Tejada-Flores, Linde Waidhofer, Burnham Arndt and Sara Frances.

 

Continue reading "The Boutique Photographer: Outsourcing or In-House?" »

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.

200804we_orwigpresets.jpg

Applying presets

 

200804we_orwigbw.jpg

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.

 

March 4, 2008

Enter the Professional Photographer Cover Contest

Professional Photographer’s cover photo contest kicks off March 1.

Have you always wanted to see your work on the cover of a magazine? Well, here’s your chance! Beginning March 1, 2008, you’re invited to submit photographs for a chance to have your image featured on our cover. Just one talented photographer will see his or her image published on the cover of a 2008 issue of Professional Photographer (mailing to almost 50,000 readers monthly).

Images will be judged on technical, artistic and compositional merit. You may submit as many images as you wish, provided they are representative of the work you sell to your clients. What we’re seeking are real-world examples of portrait, wedding, commercial and event photography.

All work submitted must be previously unpublished and original, with written releases on file from any subjects pictured in the image.  

Helping Professional Photographer magazine editors choose the best entries will be guest judge Helen K. Yancy, M.Photog.M.Artist.MEI.Cr.Hon.M.Photog., CPP, F-ASP, Hon. F-ASP, currently serving as the chairman of PPA’s Print Exhibition Committee.

In addition to landing the cover of a 2008 edition of Professional Photographer, the winner will receive generous prizes from our contest sponsors, Bogen, Canon, Kodak, Microsoft and Miller’s Lab.

Prizes will be awarded to 2nd-, 3rd-, 4th- and 5th-place winners, and as many as 25 entrants will receive prizes for honorable mention.

How to Enter
Go to www.ppmag.com to enter. Only digital files uploaded at www.ppmag.com will be accepted. Mailed print images and e-mailed electronic images will NOT be accepted.

Format/Specifications: Submit low-resolution images only, in standard digital formats (.jpg, .pdf). Images should be 525x700 pixels; file size should not be more than 250k. A high-resolution, print-quality version (300ppi at 9x12 inches) must be available for each image. The submission deadline is Saturday, May 31, 2008.

Don’t miss your chance to show the world your talent! Head over to www.ppmag.com to learn more.

200803we_covercontest.jpg

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" »

How To: Saving Images for Web Viewing

By Josh Kill

As a serious modern photographer I am obsessed with controlling every aspect of color management, from camera to monitor to print. With careful attention to the details I can recreate the exact colors that I saw through the viewfinder or accurately print specially brewed color and contrast tweaks. Ahh … perfection!

It would be nice if portraying your images on the web could be that precise. But, alas, it is not so. As with most objects for mass consumption, the final quality is out of your hands. So … What do you do for all of those millions of people (real or imaginary) who will want to view your beautiful creations online? Online portfolios are essential, and you will be judged on the way they look, despite the known issues of onscreen viewing.

Is there any hope for our poor images as they go out to be viewed on monitors with stock calibration, laptops in direct sunlight, fluorescent-lit cubicles, Wii’s, PS3’s and cell phones?

Maybe. We can hope.

As I see it, there are two approaches that can help:

Approach #1: Denial.

This approach is simple and effective.

Step 1. Post images to your Web site (or Flickr, Smugmug, etc.)

Step 2. Walk away.
DO NOT view your images with a web browser (not even your own). Doing so will utterly ruin this approach and immediately force you into approach #2!


Approach #2. Process your images for the web.

A few extra steps will give your images the best shot at accurate web rendering. There are a few common issues that I come across when rendering my images on the web. I will now describe my personal methods for preparing images for the web.

Step 1. Initial edits.
Prepare your image from RAW (basic contrast, color correction, and input sharpening). Open in Photoshop as an 8-bit image with sRGB as your color workspace.

Step 2. Resize.
Since I am working on a copy of the image (you always work on copies, too, right?) I resize my images right away to enhance editing speed and give me a clear view of the image details at the target size. Typically, I stick to the standard resize method in Photoshop: Image > Image Size - set resolution to 72 pixels/inch, set the target width or height in pixels, and choose Bicubic Sharper in the Resample Image drop-down menu. The resized image will usually need a bit of sharpening at this point to bring out the little details that are lost in the resize. Something like Unsharp Mask (Amount: 30%, Radius: 0.5 pixels, Threshold: 0, will get you close)

200803we_kill01.jpg

200803we_kill02.jpg

Step 3. Preview your image without color management.
Selecting View > Proof Setup > Monitor RGB. You should immediately see some changes to your image on screen. Generally the image contrast and color saturation increase (which is pretty much the opposite of what happens when you are printing an image!)

200803we_kill03.jpg

Continue reading "How To: Saving Images for Web Viewing" »

The Boutique Photographer: Paperwork

By Sara Frances, M.Photog.Cr.

Once you’ve acquired the skills and artistic voice to launch a boutique photography business, it should be easy to price jobs and write detailed, binding contracts for a limited number of clients. I’d like to be able to report that high-rolling clients are always agreeable, easy to please and flexible, but my experience proves that a gentlewoman’s oral agreement is no more valuable than the paper it’s written on.

A raft of specific paperwork should accompany big-money events and portrait commissions. No client likes surprises, so prepare for situations that are otherwise guaranteed to cause aggravation, escalate costs and lower satisfaction, such as location weather conditions or inevitable change-order fees before, during and after the job. The photographer without safeguards could become the victim of his own job, scrambling to meet each new client demand and to maintain his trust.

For weddings, you have to find out who’s the boss, the one who makes the hiring decision, controls the event in progress, writes the checks for it all. Is it the mother of the bride, an event planner, the bridal couple together? With the potential for interacting with multiple players, be prepared to peel away layers of relationships to reveal the info and gain the cooperation you need.

Quoting a price before knowing the scope and pertinent details of the event is usually disastrous. The first must-have paperwork is the complete job information, beginning with the date, time, place and number of people. Save minute details like clothing options and the color of the tablecloths for later information gathering. At the point of sale, what you really need to know is the significant participants’ tastes and relationships to one another, the purpose of the photographs and how they’ll be displayed or made into gifts.

Doing business is all about the client. Get people to divulge their feelings and expectations so you’ll know how to meet their needs and become a trusted problem solver who fulfills their dreams. Think in ranges of cost; build your suggestion for the right package in logical steps and in terms of finished products and enhancement services. Avoid shocking the client by quoting a high price up front if you haven’t established your value in the mind of the client (as through your reputation and personal referrals).

200803we_Boutique3.jpg

Before your wedding clients sign here, make sure your contract is as trustworthy and valuable as they hope their marriage will be. Image ©Sara Frances Photography

Continue reading "The Boutique Photographer: Paperwork" »

February 22, 2008

Speed Test: Photoshop Actions vs. Lightroom vs. Manual

By Rick Ralston 

As part of a Photoshop actions tutorial I wrote for Professional Photographer Magazine (coming in the March 2008 issue) I did a speed test comparing Photoshop's actions, Adobe Lightroom and the manual process. I took 100 raw images and ran them through a series of tasks. The results are a little surprising.

Lightroom has taken some of the functionality of Photoshop, made it easy to apply settings to multiple images and added some other niceties such as building slideshows and advanced printing—all aimed at the professional photographer. But you still need Photoshop to edit images at the pixel level and for compositing. Lightroom works with raw files and only applies settings to the images upon export.

The Results:
Photoshop actions: 14 minutes, 32 seconds (including action creation time)
Adobe Lightroom: 25 minutes, 20 seconds (including droplet creation time)
Manually: 52 minutes, 10 seconds

pslightroom.jpg

Continue reading "Speed Test: Photoshop Actions vs. Lightroom vs. Manual" »

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 31, 2008

The Boutique Photographer: How Sweet It Is

By Sara Frances, M.Photog.Cr.

Are you ready to be a boutique photographer? Can you offer the products and services that command high price? Can you adjust to the business model of working on just a few projects at any one time, giving up the ostensible security of a constant stream of customers?

Initiating a new order or approach to an existing business is difficult to carry out, and also uncertain of success. Yet boutique businesses are springing up in some unexpected industries. A good example is how some hospitals and medical practices, traditionally egalitarian, are recording unparalleled profits from health care options featuring extra cost boutique style amenities such as personal chefs and same-day test results. Hefty up-charges are not supposed to reflect a difference in basic quality of care, but rather innovative products, attractive presentations and superb experiences. I’ve often noticed how people can be quite concerned about being photographed, just like being nervous about visiting physicians, thus the comparison is a valid one.

What does this mean for the would-be boutique photographer? There are four basic requisites, all of which define how a franchise of one takes on characteristics of a large, mature organization. 

Continue reading "The Boutique Photographer: How Sweet It Is" »

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

The boutique photographer, a franchise of one

Defining Yourself

By Sara Frances, M.Photog.Cr. 

This article inaugurates a year-long monthly series appearing on www.ppmag.com in our Web Exclusives section about the special needs and concerns of boutique photography studios. Frances shares insights on the art and business of the boutique, including converting to digital, remodeling her studio, and  retooling products and pricing.

A franchise of one says it all—the successful boutique photographer does not simply hang out a shingle. Planning for success requires understanding and implementing many of the same business principles as a nationwide franchise. A far cry from the skills and love of art that brought most of us to the photographic profession.

The dreaded term “business plan” was something I avoided until I was led to a eureka moment that made perfect sense. A business plan for a boutique photographer is just a bunch of definitions and verifications made in a step-by-step sequence. Now that’s a concept I can get my mind around.

Yes, you have to gather concrete information about yourself, your skills and products, your market area and your clients. You have to analyze those facts to create definitions of who you are, what you offer and who are your customers. Yes, it’s an ongoing process; that’s the verification part. Your definitions probably will change a lot over time as you recognize errors, refine your business scope and re-vamp to accommodate changes in your own situation or that of your desired clients.

Distilled to the very basic foundation, it’s all about you. Your photographic boutique is defined first and foremost by who and what you are. Each subsequent definition of absolutely all other aspects of your business builds the architecture of the profitable franchise of one.
 

Continue reading "The boutique photographer, a franchise of one" »

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" »

Ten Web Portfolio and Blogging Mistakes

Maintaining a blog with fresh stories and images can attract attention to your business and help your positioining in search engine results with increased traffic. There are a lot of guides that offer tips to create a better web portfolio, but they often don’t mention the things an artist should avoid. Below is a list of blogging mistakes and how to fix them.

1. Adding music or sound effects

Flash animation that is done well can provide an extra touch if it’s not too distracting, but playing sound is an unwelcome surprise to readers in an office environment.

2. Neglecting to include easy-to-find contact information and an About page
Your potential clients want to know who is talking and how to reach you. Transparency in your portfolio is a big aspect of attracting more viewers.

3. Using the default template
If you don't have custom design, there are lots of great templates to choose from. Instead of just using your Web or blog provider's first default option because it’s easy, find the template that best fits your personality or consider creating a new one.

4. Using the hosting platform domain
Everyone needs to start somewhere, and trying out a site hosted on a blog or website-building domain makes a lot of sense. However, professional photographers really should purchase their own domain name. The domain name is part of the URL address people use to navigate to your site, e.g. joecameraphotography.com, and it should be your brand identity, unencumbered by your host site's name.

5. Not tagging your photos
Make sure to add some text information around your images, ideally with some tags, like a title, keywords, and a description. This doesn't need to burden your workflow but significantly helps bring search engine traffic to your site and provides a reference for your viewers.

Continue reading "Ten Web Portfolio and Blogging Mistakes" »

December 1, 2007

What makes a photographer's website great?

A site content and design guide

By Tricia Gellman Holmes

A great website is one that gets you the quality and quantity of work that you want.

In the current age of technology, a high-quality portfolio website is essential for a professional photographer because in many cases, your website is also your potential clients’ first impression of you and your work.

The first and arguably most important aspect of your site are images—make sure they load quickly and are displayed large. Beyond your imagery, here are a few key components to consider: unique and consistent branding, easy to use navigation, updated content, search engine optimization and clear, easy to find contact information. All of these contribute to ensuring your website is working to market your business.  

A distinct and consistent brand identity 

Your website is often the first opportunity you have to establish your brand and distinguish yourself with potential clients. Through the selection of your images, use of color, typography, logos and graphics, and even music, you have the opportunity to create your own unique brand. Use of consistent branding throughout your site shows the attention to detail and level of professionalism you bring to your business.  

In the worlds of portrait and wedding photography, your personality—and that of your brand—may be as important as your images to your potential client's decision. Customers often look for a brand and images that they connect with on an emotional level. Incorporating video into your site is a particularly powerful way to communicate a very personal message to potential customers and reiterate what makes your brand, and you as a photographer, worthy of consideration.

Continue reading "What makes a photographer's website great?" »

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.  

200712we_histogram1.jpg

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 1, 2007

Raw File Converters: Photoshop Camera Raw and Nikon Capture NX

By Wendell Benedetti and Ron Eggers

Over the last few years the raw file has become the de facto standard for high-end professional digital imaging. The raw capture provides a level of image control that just isn't available any other way. This feature takes a look at raw files and how Nikon Capture NX and Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw handle raw processing.

As Adobe underscored with its development of the DNG format, raw files can be equated to film negatives. All the information required for an image is there, it just has to be processed and optimized. The raw file converter compares to the role of darkroom developing.

The fundamental difference between RAW and all the other image file formats is that the camera that captures a raw image doesn't handle the digital processing required to optimize it.

Everything that would have been done by the camera's built-in optimization engines with other JPEG or TIFF formats has to been done in post processing on a computer. Until recently, working with raw file formats could be cumbersome. Each manufacturer had its own conversion software, and many times raw formats for different camera models from the same manufacturer weren't compatible. That meant that manufacturers had to ship proprietary raw converter software applications with each camera they sold.

nx.jpg     photoshop-CameraRaw-boxshot.jpg

Continue reading "Raw File Converters: Photoshop Camera Raw and Nikon Capture NX" »

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 5, 2007

Rick Maiman: Acing the Tennis Shot at the U.S. Open

Andy Roddick, U.S. Open, ©2007 Rick Maiman

Freelance photographer Rick Maiman doesn’t play tennis nor is he a particularly dedicated sports fan, but you wouldn’t know it when he starts talking about the U.S. Open. He’s been capturing images of the Grand Dame of tennis for most of his 25-plus year career, and while he admits “I’m not a tennis player and I’m not a particularly strong sports devotee,” he qualifies that with, “But when I’m courtside watching and photographing tennis, it can be electrifying. I have seen some things there that I’ll always remember.”

Andy Roddick pumps in the third set of his match after winning a point against his good friend and fellow American opponent Justin Gimelstob in the U.S. Open. ©2007 Rick Maiman

He first started shooting the U.S. Open when he worked for Sygma, a photo agency based in France, which was one of the “big three” agencies in the world at the time. Everyone shot slide film, and Maiman remembers rushing “out of the stadium to meet the driver who would take the film to JFK and put it on a plane to Paris, where it would be processed and looked at by the photo editors the next morning.” Digital, of course, has changed all that and while digital photography has its challenges, running out of the stadium to deliver your film isn’t one of them.

Venus Williams in action at the U.S. Open, held at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York. ©2007 Rick Maiman 

Continue reading "Rick Maiman: Acing the Tennis Shot at the U.S. Open" »

September 1, 2007

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" »

Wedding Workflow: Photographer Mike Colón Plays it Safe

When photographer Mike Colón shows up at a celebrity wedding, he doesn’t have to dodge security guards or stake out a spot in the bushes. As a notable celebrity wedding photographer, he is an important part of the event itself, capturing timeless nuptial images for his famous clients.

“If you’re trusted to photograph a $3 million wedding that’s already making entertainment news, everything has to be under control,” said Colón, an international wedding and lifestyle photographer based in Newport Beach, Calif. As one of the first wedding photographers to develop an all-digital workflow, Colón also travels the world teaching other photographers the latest techniques in digital photography. He is a strong believer in a new era of wedding photography in which photographers share their knowledge with each other.

Image ©Mike Colón 

Image ©Mike Colón

Continue reading "Wedding Workflow: Photographer Mike Colón Plays it Safe" »

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" »

July 27, 2007

Product feature: Canon REALiS SX6 Multimedia Projector

Canon shares a real-world testimonial from photographer John Sexton, who chose the Canon REALiS SX6 to use on his lecture tour


Photographer John Sexton needed a projector to accurately display a precise reproduction of color and fine detail for his lecture tour promoting his latest book, “Recollections: Three Decades of Photographs,” a collection of his large-format natural landscape images.

His requirements called for a bright, high-resolution, color-accurate, big-screen – and portable – means of showing his photographs to a large audience. His search for a solution led him to the Canon REALiS SX6 Multimedia Projector, which weighs only 10.4 pounds and uses Canon’s proprietary AISYS-enhanced LCOS projection technology to display sharp SXGA+ (1,400 X 1,050) resolution images with a 1000:1 contrast ratio and 3,500 ANSI lumens of brightness.

“When looking for a new projector, I researched the available options,” explained Sexton. “Prior to conducting the research, I made my ‘wish list’ – something portable, easy to set up and break down, and most importantly, conducive for displaying professional quality productions.”

Continue reading "Product feature: Canon REALiS SX6 Multimedia Projector" »

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" »

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!

Figure_1_final_platinum
Figure 1: Windmills, Spain, Platinum/Palladium Print from a Digital Negative, by Dan Burkholder

Continue reading "Making Digital Negatives" »

Roundup: High-end Digital SLRs

It takes more than megapixels to distinguish a camera in the field of high-end digital SLRs. Find out what the current crop has to offer.

By Ron Eggers

The digital single lens reflex market continues to expand as new companies enter the ring and the established vendors release new models. But changes are coming more slowly now. Resolution isn't nearly the crucial issue it has been. The emphasis now is on speed and quality.

Maximum resolution for DSLRs has hit a plateau, crowned by the 16-megapixel Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II. The rumored 22-megapixel Canon DSLR remains a rumor; instead, Canon released the EOS-1D Mark III, with a 10.1-megapixel sensor, Integrated Cleaning System, 100 percent viewfinder, 45-point AF and support for Live View technology. 

At one point, Olympus was about the only company making DSLRs with live view, giving photographers the option to compose images on the LCD rather than in the viewfinder. Now Canon and Fujifilm also make live-view DSLRs.

Prices on all digital SLRs are dropping, with some entry-level DSLRs selling for as little as $500. The new Canon Mark III comes with a price tag of $4,495.

200707we_eos1dmarkiii 200707we_fujifilms5pro 200707we_leicadigilux3 200707we_nikond2xs 200707we_sigmasd14

Continue reading "Roundup: High-end Digital SLRs" »

June 1, 2007

Review Supplement: Raw Rendering, Highlight Recovery in Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture

In the June issue of Professional Photographer magazine we published a look at the Raw Rendering capabilities of Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture, written by Professional Photographer Technical Editor and Contributing Editor to LightroomNews.com Andrew Rodney, along with commentary from Ben Long, author of "Real World Aperture" (Peachpit Press) and co-author with Orlando Luna of "Apple Training Series: Aperture 1.5 (Peachpit Press).

One point of contention in the article was which application offered the best means in highlight recovery, getting something from nothing in a raw file. We provided our two experts with a digital image featuring blown highlights and asked them each to use their favored application to do their best in bringing back as much information as possible in the highlights without negatively affecting the rest of the image. We asked Long and Rodney to aim for an aesthetic balance between what's possible and what looks good and natural.

200706we_blowndsc_0355 At right is a low-res JPEG created from the NEF file with blown highlights provided to Rodney and Long. It has Adobe Camera Raw default settings applied. The image was taken at Bandelier National Monument using a Nikon D40 with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 ED II AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor lens at 1/80 second, f/4, ISO 400. ©Joan Sherwood

Click here to download the original NEF file for your own highlight recovery attempt.

Read on to see the hightlight recovery results from Aperture and Lightroom.

Continue reading "Review Supplement: Raw Rendering, Highlight Recovery in Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture" »

Review Supplement: Lightroom vs. Aperture, Noise Reduction

By Andrew Rodney

[The June issue of Professional Photographer magazine featured the article "RAW Rendering: Adobe Lightroom vs. Apple Aperture." This information and illustration provides additional evaluation of the noise reduction capabilities of those applications.]

NOISE REDUCTION. I like to shoot at ISO 3200 with my 5D for subjects in available lighting. I prefer a third-party plug-in like Imagenomic Noiseware to reduce noise, but it was still useful to compare the results of Lightroom and Aperture. Both converters provide simple sliders, and here it pays to view the image at a high zoom ratio to see the results. The trick is blurring the noise while keeping detail sharp. Lightroom did a slightly better job here initially; the tiny white bulbs in the shot are sharper, while smooth areas of the building have less noise. By opening the Edge Sharpen controls, I was able to get those bulbs back in focus, but it put back some of the noise. The subtle differences are apparent in the illustration at 300% zoom. Notice the edges around the letters in this photo.

200706we_rendernoise_2

Image ©Andrew Rodney. Right-click to download a larger TIFF file showing Aperture vs. Lightroom Noise Reduction (4.61MB).

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

Product Feature: Capture One PRO and MediaPro

Fashion photographer Drew Gardner weighs in on workflow solutions

Top pro photographers customize their workflow in a manner that best suits their work style and requirements. Just as there are no two photographers who shoot alike, so there appears to be no one-size-fits-all software solution. Photographers instead prefer to choose what works for them.

“In my experience, the all-in-one solution does not provide the in-depth toolset and breadth of features that a professional needs and that I’ve found by using the best available tools for a given job,” said Drew Gardner, British fashion photographer who was recently nominated for the AOP awards, and whose work for the BBC primetime series Roman’s Empire has drawn critical attention. “It’s no different from choosing cameras or lenses; I’m not going to compromise on quality.”

Gardner’s choice for his digital workflow includes RAW capture and processing tool Capture One PRO, from Phase One, and MediaPro, the digital asset management software created by iView Multimedia.

200705we_gardner01
From the Alice in Wonderland series ©Drew Gardner; Designer: Kirstimairie

Continue reading "Product Feature: Capture One PRO and MediaPro" »

May 4, 2007

May mea culpa: Stroboframe PRO-RL correction

The May issue of Professional Photographer features a Product Close-up on flash brackets. With much embarrassment, we have found that the Stroboframe PRO-RL bracket was incorrectly oriented with the camera during our evaluation. The camera should have been mounted so that the hand grip was positioned in front of the camera, below the lens, not in back as the article states and shows in the product photos. Since reviewer Stan Sholik commented that the hand grip on the PRO-RL "takes a little getting used to," we'll try again, mounting the camera in the correct orientation this time, and provide our readers with a reevaluation as soon as possible here in Web Exclusives, and also in the print magazine. Our sincere apologies to Stroboframe and to Professional Photographer readers for the error.

May 1, 2007

Product Feature: Crumpler Bags Brazillion Dollar Home

By Joan T. Sherwood, senior editor

If you've seen their giant cardboard box castles at a photo trade show, you've probably seen Crumpler Bags. Who can resist all that colorful nylon and the beautifully stacked boxes complete with window spaces designed just to intrigue a weary show-goer?  Walk inside and you're greeted with one funky logo and a lot of confounding model names for undeniably well put together gear bags. The latest model for photographers is the Brazillion Dollar Home.

200705we_brazillion1 The Brazillion Dollar Home is a massive laptop and camera case for the photographer who's built up the back and shoulder muscles to haul a big kit like this and won't use a wheeled bag because there are some places wheels just don't go.

I swear, it looks like it's just a trailer hitch away from the all-purpose versatility of a mobile home. Without the wheels, of course. Don't let the funky, trendy, stylish image fool you, though. These bags are solidly built out of durable material, and the function design is top notch down to the small details. The Brazillion Dollar Bag can hold two DSLRs with lenses, speedlights, and a 17-inch laptop.

Continue reading "Product Feature: Crumpler Bags Brazillion Dollar Home" »

Professional Photographer wins GAMMA magazine association awards

Press Release—Professional Photographer magazine, the official magazine of Professional Photographers of America (PPA), received 10 “GAMMA” awards and an honorable mention for its website design from the Magazine Association of the Southeast (MAGS) on April 26, 2007.

Of special note was the Service Journalism Gold award won for the Studio Management Services (SMS) Benchmark Study, made possible through months of research, writing, and editing by PPA's CFO and Director of Studio Management Services Scott Kurkian; Ann Monteith, M.Photog.Cr.Hon.M.Photog.,CPP, ABI, past chairwoman of the board of PPA; Professional Photographer Features Editor Leslie Hunt; and the entire SMS team. The judge described the special report as “compelling, focused, specific, impeccably researched and relevant to its audience.”

For 100 years, Professional Photographer has striven to help readers advance careers in the photographic industry through innovative reporting on the artistic, business, and technological sides of photography. Professional Photographer was awarded four gold awards, three silver, three bronze, and one honorable mention in the GAMMA Awards competition, which recognizes editorial and design excellence in magazine publishing.

2007 GAMMA RESULTS

GOLD
Best Feature: "Senior Style, 3 Ways" by Jeff Kent (Sept. 2006)
Best Service Journalism: "How You Can Make More Money” (Nov. 2006 )
Best Single Cover: Photographed by Greg Gorman/Imaging USA issue. (Jan. 2006)
Best Photography: "Action Packed” Paul Aresu (Dec. 2006)

SILVER
Best Design: November 2006 issue
Best Photography: "Pupil Becomes Master" John Russo (April 2006)
Best Service Journalism: "Hot One Awards" (Jan. 2006)

BRONZE
Best Single Issue: January 2006
Best Feature: "Tough Customer" by Jeff Kent (March 2006)
Best Single Cover: Photography by Matthew Jordan Smith (Nov. 2006)

HONORABLE MENTION
Best Magazine Website

April 4, 2007

Product Feature: Lensbaby Macro Kit

200704we_lensbabymacro By Joan Sherwood

One of the best parts of photography is getting to play and explore. I recently took an afternoon to put the Lensbaby G3 on my Nikon D40 (upcoming review in the May issue) and see what I could make happen. The Lensbaby has a knack for making the ordinary look extraordinary (right, Lensbaby image without macro filter), but I got even more excited when I broke out the Lensbaby Macro Kit, which is compatible with any Lensbaby lens.

The kit includes a +4 and a +10 filter that screws onto the lens. The +4 allows you to focus your Lensbaby from 6 to 13 inches away. The +10 allows focus from 3 to 6 inches. You can even stack the +4 and +10 to focus 2 to 3 inches away.

I grabbed a clamp-on lamp with a 75-watt tungsten bulb and a translucent diffuser gel, set up a table and tripod, and started looking around the house for things that would look interesting close up. I had one of the mid- to large-range aperture rings in the lens, but I'm not sure which. The Nikon D40 performed extremely well with the makeshift lighting and slow shutter speeds.

200704we_lbmacrosentinal
Nikon D40, 1/4 second, ISO 200, tungsten balance, Lensbaby G3 with +4 macro filter. ©2007 Joan T. Sherwood

Continue reading "Product Feature: Lensbaby Macro Kit" »

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.


200704we_irfuerte

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" »

Supplement: Survey of Lab Services

In conjunction with Wendell Benedetti's article, "What a Lab Wants," in the April issue of Professional Photographer, we gathered information from a large sampling of labs that provide  services for professional photographers. We've compiled the information into a chart with links to each lab's Web site.

Download the 2007 Lab Information Chart

March 1, 2007

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" »

Tutorial: Collage Portrait

200703we_sfheartfig01
All Images ©2007 Jeremy Sutton

The art of making "San Francisco Heart" with Corel Painter X

By Jeremy Sutton

[Due to space constraints, we could not include every step of the Collage Portrait tutorial that Sutton wrote for our March issue of Professional Photographer. Here, for our readers, is the complete version of that tutorial.]

I created San Francisco Heart, a collage portrait of San Francisco, using the recently released Corel Painter X . The principles, strategies, workflow and techniques shared here can be applied to creating a collage portrait of any subject—a person, family or couple; a vacation destination, event or city. My goal is to inspire and empower you to create your own personal collage portraits.

The term collage portrait refers to a portrait painting of a subject in which there is usually one main foundation image interwoven with a multitude of subsidiary images, some more subtle than others, but all relating to the subject and contributing to the whole in a harmonious and meaningful way.

San Francisco Heart was inspired by my experience of living in San Francisco and wanting to express my appreciation of the beauty, diversity, creativity, excitement and richness of this City by the Bay.

Read on or DOWNLOAD a PDF of this tutorial.

Continue reading "Tutorial: Collage Portrait" »

February 20, 2007

Kingston Icon of Photography: Gerd Ludwig

National Geographic photographer explains how digital photography changed his perspective on his return to Chernobyl 13 years later

Press Release
—This month, Kingston Technology Company, Inc. features images created by photographer Gerd Ludwig while on assignment in Chernobyl for National Geographic Magazine on its Icons of Photography Web site. On his first trek in 1993, seven years after the nuclear reactor meltdown in Russia, Ludwig carried close to 800 rolls of film to document the tragedy. On his most recent visit, he used Kingston CompactFlash Ultimate cards paired with a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II digital SLR camera.

Kingston recognizes the importance of educating and informing photographers of all levels and is proud to offer its Icons of Photography, an online forum showcasing the talents and advice from several of the world’s most respected photographers. Each month the program spotlights an icon and his/her suggestions for managing a shoot, capturing better images and improving workflow.

In this month’s tip, Ludwig discusses how the flexibility and responsiveness of digital technology, particularly with the Kingston CompactFlash Ultimate card, allowed him to recapture Chernobyl in a way that had been previously impossible using film. Hired by National Geographic to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, Ludwig returned to the region to document progress.  His images have been seen in the magazine as well as exhibits internationally.

200702bc_ludwigsmall

Continue reading "Kingston Icon of Photography: Gerd Ludwig" »

February 1, 2007

Product Feature: Lensbaby

By Bob Coates

My wife tends to refer to any new lens purchase as “adding another toy to my collection of lenses.” The Lensbaby was the first lens I brought home and actually admitted that it belonged in that category. Within a couple of days I was using it for a totally different look for some of my clients and … began using it to make money.

The Lensbaby sounds like something you might wrap around your lens for protection. Instead, it’s an inexpensive piece of gear that protects you from getting bored with your photography. Think of the Lensbaby as a cross between a Holga and a Diana that’s been put on steroids.

200702bc_lensbabyart
All images (except Lensbaby 3G product shot) ©Bob Coates

Continue reading "Product Feature: Lensbaby" »

Book Review: "Digital Photography Expert Techniques" by Ken Milburn

200702bc_milburncovdpet Reviewed By Ron Eggers

There are countless photography and digital imaging books on the market, and the list is growing all the time. While some do a good job at covering the topics they're supposed to, few provide as complete an overview of their subject as Ken Milburn's "Digital Photography Expert Techniques," published by O'Reilly.

It is comprehensive, informative and, just as important, very readable. It contains a lot of technical information, but it doesn't get bogged down in mind-numbing photographic formulas and incomprehensible computer jargon. The first time around, it's best to work through it one chapter after another as it's written. After that, it works as well as a reference book as it does an instructional text.

Continue reading "Book Review: "Digital Photography Expert Techniques" by Ken Milburn" »

Product Feature: Epson Perfection V750-M Pro

Jack Reznicki brings legacy files back to life with Epson Perfection V750-M Pro scanner

Like most photographers, Jack Reznicki has seen his work evolve, but lately he’s been on close terms with some of his earlier photographs. That doesn’t mean he’s reverting to what he calls his Norman Rockwell days. He’s just found a more lucrative way to breathe new life into his original body of commercial and editorial work.

“I’ve always wanted to revive my legacy files, but I couldn’t cost-effectively bring those boxes of chromes into the digital age and still get the image quality I wanted,” said Reznicki. He found the answer when he started scanning his 35mm and medium-format transparencies with the Epson Perfection V750-M Pro flatbed scanner in his own studio.

200702bc_reznickidiner
Photo ©Jack Reznicki 

Continue reading "Product Feature: Epson Perfection V750-M Pro" »

January 11, 2007

Audio interview with David DeJonge

The last photographer to take a formal portrait of former President Gerald R. Ford speaks with Professional Photographer

On January 8, 2007, Senior Editor Joan T. Sherwood spoke to photographer David DeJonge about photographing former President Gerald R. Ford during his visits to Grand Rapids, Mich. DeJonge also discusses his experience attending and photographing the ceremonies surrounding the arrival of Air Force One with the former president's remains and the interment ceremony at the Ford Presidential Museum.

Final_return_1
The Ford family (foreground) observes as former President Ford's casket is transferred from Air Force One for the procession to his funeral services in East Grand Rapids, Mich., on January 2, 2007. Image ©David DeJonge

Continue reading "Audio interview with David DeJonge" »

January 10, 2007

Hidden Costs of Inkjet Printing

[Editor's note] In his January newsletter, author and photographer David Saffir delves into the topic of just how much printing your work can cost you and where you can eliminate waste.

By David Saffir

In my view, the hidden costs of ink jet printing can be summed up in one word: waste. In a moderately busy photography studio, this can amount to hundreds of dollars per year. I intend to limit the discussion to large format photo quality ink jet printers, and exclude machines that are used in sign making and similar activities. Later in this summary, I will look at the numbers and add them up.

Read the rest of David Saffir's article.

January 4, 2007

Feature Extra: Hollye Schumacher converts to infrared

200701bc_schumacher Professional Photographer magazine's January issue featured photographer Hollye Schumacher loved shooting infrared film with her Canon EOS-1v 35mm SLR, but security personnel at airports insisted on opening her infrared film canisters. She converted her camera to infrared and now she travels easier.

For more information about the conversion technique, visit LifePixel.com.

Image ©Hollye Schumacher

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" »

Book Review: "Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography"

200701bc_johnsonReviewed by Ellis Vener

The title harkens back to "On Photography," the first of Susan Sontag's two book-length philosophical meditations about the role of photography in society. Like Sontag, Johnson has a well defined philosophical stance about the subject. The difference is that Johnson comes at the subject from the view of someone who is a maker and not a consumer of photographs.

"Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography" (O'Reilly Media, $39.99) begins with a brief history of the origins of digital photography and then zooms through the rapid evolution of technologies and techniques over the past 20 years, much of which the author was deeply engaged with. Johnson makes an eloquent plea for the sanctity of straight photography in photography's digital era, and rightly points out that if we compare it to the evolution of mankind, electronic photography is still in its Stone Age period.

Continue reading "Book Review: "Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography"" »

December 1, 2006

Audio Interview and Book Review: "Travel + Photography: Off the Charts" by Lou Jones

Jonescover_web2 By Joan T. Sherwood

The world is both a small and limitless place, and once you begin to explore it, as Lou Jones has, you find out how little you know and how much there is to see. In his new book "Travel + Photography: Off the Charts" (Focal Press Elsevier; $29.95), Boston-based freelance fine art and commercial photographer Lou Jones helps prepare photographers to venture across the globe, sharing invaluable experience beyond lighting and composition. He broaches the realities of the world when you enter into other countries and cultures with a camera.

200612bc_ljones_001_1

Caption: Construction worker, Alaman, Cuba. ©Lou Jones

Continue reading "Audio Interview and Book Review: "Travel + Photography: Off the Charts" by Lou Jones" »

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.

Epson on Everest

Everest Climb for Peace Takes Epson Multimedia Storage Viewer to New Heights

Can Epson technology survive in the midst of extreme sub-zero temperatures, fierce winds, avalanches and oxygen deprivation? Epson’s P-4000 Multimedia Storage Viewer met the challenge with ease as it aided climbers on their trek during the treacherous 60-day Everest Climb for Peace expedition. The team reached the pinnacle on May 18, 2006.

200612bc_epsoneverest03

Continue reading "Epson on Everest" »

"AMERICAN MASTERS Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens" on PBS, January 3

Features Interviews with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Tina Brown, Graydon Carter, Rosanne Cash, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Whoopi Goldberg, Mick Jagger, Bette Midler, Demi Moore, Mark Morris, Yoko Ono, Keith Richards, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Patti Smith, Gloria Steinem, Jann Wenner, Anna Wintour,  and family members

Press Release
—It’s 1972, the year of Watergate, "The Godfather" and Exile on Main Street. On a suburban Maryland lawn, a young Anna-lou Leibovitz peers into her Nikon as members of her family scramble into place.  As they pose, an ever-present Super 8 camera captures the scene. Although Leibovitz is a Rolling Stone magazine photographer, this event—her first turn as the official family photographer—is as important to her as any arena concert or movie shoot.

Flash forward 34 years to 2006. This time, the now-famous photographer is on the other side of the lens. And this time, her younger sister Barbara is pointing the camera, documenting the life and times of Annie Leibovitz for AMERICAN MASTERS.  "Annie Leibovitz: Life Through A Lens" premieres Wednesday, January 3 at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings).

Annieparis
Caption: Café Flore, Paris, 1997; photo by Martin Schoeller

Continue reading ""AMERICAN MASTERS Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens" on PBS, January 3" »

November 15, 2006

Visual Aids #003: This holiday season, take stock

200611bc_bglenn When nothing seems to be going right, it’s easy to lose your perspective. When you’re stressed out, says Burnie Glenn, CPP, let yourself float for awhile. You might not be a world-famous photographer, but remind yourself that what you do is important to the people you photograph, Glenn says. “Sometimes it takes a blow to the head with a celestial two-by-four to get the message that it’s time to move on and find something better.” It’s a matter of attitude and faith in yourself, he adds. “The Titanic was built by professionals; Noah’s ark was built by amateurs.”

Burnie Glenn, a past president of the Dallas Professional Photographers Association, and his wife, Marcia, own and operate Glenn’s Photo Studio, specializing in weddings and portraits, in Dallas, Texas.

Image ©Burnie Glenn

November 2, 2006

2006 O’Reilly Photoshop Cook-Off Winners Announced

O'Reilly Media announced today the winners of the Photoshop Cook-Off Contest at PhotoPlus Expo 2006. Grand Prize Winner Suzanne Pitts and 10 additional winners in five categories were selected from hundreds of submissions created by Photoshop aficionados.

"What's so wonderful about the Cook-Off contest is that everyone's a winner," says Betsy Waliszewski, who organized the contest along with Cookbooks editor Edie Freedman. "The O'Reilly recipes used to manipulate the images stirred the creative visions of photographers at all levels, from enthusiasts to seasoned professionals."

A panel of 15 A-list photographers chose the winning entries. The winning images range from Pitts' arresting black-and-white photo of a ballet trio to a fancifully surreal image of a flower budding from a peeled orange.

200611bc_oreillygrand
©Suzanne Pitts

Continue reading "2006 O’Reilly Photoshop Cook-Off Winners Announced" »

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 30, 2006

Remembrance

200611bc_remembrance The consequences of the September 11, 2001, attacks touch millions of lives around the globe in more ways than we can imagine. Even now, five years after the event, remains are still being discovered near the former site of the World Trade Center twin towers.

Undertaken as a personal project, “Remembrance” is a collection of images by New York photographer and instructor Marie Triller, who returns to Ground Zero each year to document the 9.11 memorial service and its attendants. Her images record the anniversaries without bias or romance, reflecting the passage of time and tone as seen in the mourning faces, memorials, ceremony, displays of politics, protest and patriotism, and the signs of rebuilding and regeneration.

Continue reading "Remembrance" »

October 16, 2006

Kingston Icon of Photography: Harry Benson

Award-winning photojournalist discusses digital photography tips and building rapport with subjects

Press Release—This month, Kingston Technology Company, Inc., features award-winning photojournalist Harry Benson on its Kingston Icons of Photography Web site. Benson describes how he’s captured riveting photographs for major newspapers, plus Life, People and Vanity Fair magazines.

Kingston’s Icons of Photography Web site profiles some of the world’s most respected photographers. Each month, the company spotlights a different Icon plus their tips, techniques and an online gallery of images. Icons share anecdotes and advice  for taking better pictures, and cover topics ranging from lighting and backgrounds to color profiling and making the most of equipment. Through “try it yourself” suggestions, Icons explain how they tackle their own photography challenges.

October leads with a new profile by Scotland-born Benson, who claims that awareness and attention are very important when working as a photographer. “The biggest mistake photographers make is only looking at the world when they’re holding a camera. Take the time to look around and understand what is going on,” he says. “Photojournalists have a unique way of seeing the world. This is what makes us different.”

200610bc_kingstonbenson

Continue reading "Kingston Icon of Photography: Harry Benson" »

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" »

Feature Extra: Background Resources

In the September issue of Professional Photographer, we published the first part of Stan Sholik's look at the ins, outs, and applications of different types of backgrounds, "Background Check, Part 1: Getting real," which covers seamless paper, muslin, canvas, fabrics, cyc walls and other real drops. In the October issue, Sholik covers virtual backgrounds.

As a complement to the article, click through for a list of background designers, manufacturers and retail sellers with live links and information on the types of backgrounds they sell.

Continue reading "Feature Extra: Background Resources" »

August 24, 2006

Capsule Review: "Window Seat" by Julieanne Kost

Windowseat_1 By Ellis Vener

"Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography and Creative Thinking," by Julieanne Kost, is one of the more profound Photoshop and photography related books I've seen in many years, yet has the least amount of technical content. The photographs are from Kost's collection of photographs made while on business trips over a five year period. As a mainstay in Adobe's Photoshop education program, Adobe Evangelist Kost is on the road "about 200 days" a year. While she has educated many thousands of photographers on Adobe's flagship software through  various Photoshop conferences, workshops, and a DVD series from Software Cinema), the real meat of her book is a plainspoken treatise on how to stay fresh and creative, even in the face of your fears or while mired in the prosaic grind of the workaday world.

Continue reading "Capsule Review: "Window Seat" by Julieanne Kost" »

August 1, 2006

The Moab Experience 2006: Desolation Canyon

Ever want to know what it was like to go on a photo adventure tour? One participant in The Moab Experience, Thomas H. Nevin, shares his journey down the Green River to Arches National Park.

©All photos ©Thomas H. Nevin

Personal journal of Thomas H. Nevin

Host: The Moab Paper Company; Greg Schern, President
Date: June 3-8, 2006
Schedule: One day photography workshop; four days on river; one day photo op at Arches National Park
Accommodations: Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab, Utah

200608bc_dsc0060
Photo: View behind Red Cliffs Lodge

Continue reading "The Moab Experience 2006: Desolation Canyon" »

Illumination: supplement

200608bc_amesintro An excerpt from Kevin Ames' "Photoshop CS2: The Art of Photographing Women" (Wiley Publishing, Inc., avail. Sept. 2006)
All photos ©Kevin Ames

In our August issue of Professional Photographer, we printed an abridged chapter excerpt from Kevin Ames' informative and instructional "Photoshop CS2: The Art of Photographing Women." The following is a collection of sidebars, tips and notes that we couldn't include due to space limitations.

Continue reading "Illumination: supplement" »

July 27, 2006

Visual Aids: #002

Visual Aids is a recurring feature of Professional Photographer magazine Bonus Content, providing you with Web links to spur your creativity, stir your thought process, or liven your mood.

Visual Aid #002

Look into the far reaches—curious and amazing.

Continue reading "Visual Aids: #002" »

July 18, 2006

Visual Aids: #001

Visual Aids is a recurring feature of Professional Photographer magazine Bonus Content, providing you with Web links to spur your creativity, stir your thought process, or liven your mood.

Visual Aid #001

Warning: Contains extreme cuteness, including puppies and kittens. May cause ill effects among the jaded ilk.

Continue reading "Visual Aids: #001" »

July 1, 2006

"AMERICAN MASTERS Marilyn Monroe: Still Life" on PBS, July 19

Features interviews with photographers Arnold Newman, Eve Arnold And Elliott Erwitt

There is an oft told tale of Marilyn Monroe walking down a New York City street, incognito, turning to her companion and saying, “Do you want to see her?” With that, she threw off all vestiges of Norma Jeane and miraculously transformed. There were no grand gestures, no change of clothes, no make-up.  It was a simple shift, a slithering out of one skin into the other. Arguably the most photographed person ever, the “outing” of Marilyn is something she looked at with both skepticism and awe. She once said, “I carry Marilyn Monroe around with me like an albatross.” In a new film, American Masters offers a unique take on one of the world’s first superstars by turning to the still photographs that captured Monroe’s beauty, her complexity and, ultimately, her own complicated relationship with the star side of herself.  AMERICAN MASTERS Marilyn Monroe: Still Life premieres Wednesday, July 19 at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings).      

Seriousmarilyn

Caption:
Marilyn Monroe during a photo shoot for
The Seven Year Itch, 1954, © George S. Zimbel 2005

Continue reading ""AMERICAN MASTERS Marilyn Monroe: Still Life" on PBS, July 19" »

June 23, 2006

Face of Freedom, the 14 Days Project

200606bc_14days Press Release—In 2001 D. William Gibbons created the “14 Days Project,” also known as “The Face of Freedom,” to gain information from around the world, intent on bringing people closer by sharing that information and creating unity through the power of visual arts and film. Gibbons, the founder of production and consultancy services firm Lighthouse Imaging Group, realized the opportunity to help shape the future of international understanding and in 2002 tapped a talented group of photography and film specialists to help him create the first exhibit in the series, “14 Days in America.”

Continue reading "Face of Freedom, the 14 Days Project" »

June 6, 2006

How an interactive Web site has increased my bottom line

By John Russo


[Editor's note: Because our April cover photographer, John Russo, came to our attention through his elegantly designed yet simple Web site, we asked him to write about liveBooks, the company that offers the editable Web site marketing and presentation software that he uses.]

Since the early days of the Internet I have been deeply inspired by its promise of being the ideal marketing tool for photographers. The idea of having one portfolio Web site that I could market simultaneously to photo buyers in New York, Miami, and LA just sounded too good to be true. Unfortunately, as most of you have experienced, it was too good to be true. Countless hours and dollars later, the Web has never lived up to my dream of a simple, cost effective way to market my portfolio. That is, until now!

200606bc_russo1_2

Continue reading "How an interactive Web site has increased my bottom line" »

June 1, 2006

How not to style food

This month in Professional Photographer magazine, we published a feature on food photography from Stan Sholik, giving you a look at some of the tricks of the trade. As a companion to that piece, we therefore give you a link to an excellent example of how not to style and photograph "food" (some descriptions contain strong language).

200606bc_fruitsaladavo 200606bc_orangesalad_1

If you loved this gallery of alleged diet food horrors, perhaps you would enjoy Wendy McClure's new book, The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan: Classic Diet Recipe Cards from the 1970s.

Continue reading "How not to style food" »

Ultimate Home Studio Before and After

With a budget of $10,000, photographer Bryan Linden set out to transform part of his home into the Ultimate Home Studio. Here you can see a QuickTime VR panoramic view of the studio space before and after the work.

Find the first article of a series on Linden's home studio project in the June issue of Professional Photographer magazine.

The Bridge: Todd Shapera

By Jeff Kent

From Westchester to Sri Lanka, Todd Shapera is driven by a passion to capture the inner beauty and resilience of individuals just about everywhere on earth. He's linking disparate worlds through photography.

Todd Shapera has always been a storyteller in one form or another. Among other pursuits, he’s written for National Public Radio, worked on speeches for politicians and UNICEF, and penned articles for numerous financial publications.

Though photography had interested him for a long time, it didn’t present a viable career option until the mid-1990s. While working in public relations for a global investment firm, Shapera frequently traveled the world to attend financial seminars. He made contacts with various journalists and people working with different financial publications. Carrying his camera on his trips, he started documenting the people and places he visited.

Continue reading "The Bridge: Todd Shapera" »

May 9, 2006

Art of Photography hits SoCal

200605bc_artophotogburma This spring, San Diego boasts more than nice scenery. The 2006 “Art of Photography Show” was culled from 9,535 images submitted by 2,700 artists around the world, in the largest art competition in the city’s history. Arthur Ollman, director of the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts, was charged with choosing the 100 best images for an exclusive presentation. He actually picked 104, for a collection that thrills event organizers.

Caption (right): "Suspended, Burma 2005," Monica Denevan, 1st Place

There were no categories for the exhibition. Instead, organizers asked artists to submit images that excited them. The only guiding principle was the exhibition’s theme and the title of the show, the “Art of Photography.”

200605bc_artophotognan

Caption (above): "Nan on Porch," Craig Johnson, Honorable Mention

Continue reading "Art of Photography hits SoCal" »

April 10, 2006

Get tweaked: A roundup of plug-ins and actions

by Wendell Benedetti

The value of actions and plug-ins to professional photographers is indisputable, but finding the right ones can be daunting.

Plug-ins and actions dramatically expand the capabilities of Photoshop. Some provide new and time-saving ways to apply the application's tools, while others provide distinct capabilities. Both streamline the workflow from image capture to final output. No professional photographer should be without them.

But there are literally thousands of these tools available. Instead of Googling through pages of worthless links to find ones for your particular workflow, check out the examples from the Web sites below. All of them offer downloadable plug-ins and actions, and many include reviews, tutorials, instructional DVDs and lively forums.

Continue reading "Get tweaked: A roundup of plug-ins and actions" »

April 1, 2006

Answers to your questions about CD/DVD archival capacity and testing

By Tom Peterson, Product Line Manager for Rimage Corporation

Professional photographers need clear answers to their questions about using CDs and DVDs as archival media.  What causes data loss in CDs and DVDs? How do you avoid that? What is an archival CD/DVD? How do I find archival quality CDs/DVDs? How long should my data last on archival quality CDs/DVDs? What is Blu-ray technology? Do I need it?

Tom Peterson is the Product Line Manager for Rimage Corporation, providers of CD-R and DVD-R publishing, duplication and printing solutions. He is responsible for the purchase of more than two million CD-Rs and DVD-Rs each month for the company and meets monthly with representatives of all major media manufacturers to keep abreast of changes in technology. Peterson led the initiative within Rimage of working with vendors to establish the Rimage 100-year media warranty.

We asked Peterson to provide the answers you wanted.

Continue reading "Answers to your questions about CD/DVD archival capacity and testing" »

March 21, 2006

Gear: Neal Clipper puts his money into speed and efficiency

In the March issue of Professional Photographer magazine we ran an article entitled "A favor they will keep" about Neal Clipper's techniques for making clients happy with onsite printing. Here is the list of equipment he uses in his workflow.

CAMERA: Nikon D2X digital SLR
PRINTER: Mitsubishi CP9550DW dye-sublimation roll printer. “I use two of these
units, which can produce a 5x7 dye-sub print in about 23 seconds,” says Clipper.
“I route images with bigger groups to one printer and smaller groups to the other,
alternating them to keep things moving.”
COMPUTER: Sony VAIO notebook with a high-speed processor. “The key is the
amount of time it takes to get the picture from the computer to the printer,” says
Clipper. “The faster the processor, the faster you can print and move on. Also, get a
unit with lots of USB ports; if you use two printers, you’ll need extra ports.”
WIRELESS TRANSMITTER: Nikon WT-2. Clipper’s photographers often transmit
the images directly to the computer for printing.
MEMORY CARDS: Lexar CompactFlash Cards with a Lexar CF 32-bit CardBus
adapter. “I recommend using a lot of smaller cards rather than big cards with a ton of
information on each,” says Clipper. “Then you don’t get behind in your processing
waiting for the cards to download.”
SOFTWARE: ACDSee Pro Photo Manager. Clipper’s teams use this brand new app
for image sorting, manipulating, renaming and resizing.
LIGHTS: Portable lighting units powered by Dyna-Lite XL packs, modified by
Westcott Halo soft boxes
BACKGROUND: Backgrounds by David Maheu

January 1, 2006

Online presence and ways it can work for you

If there’s truth to the maxim, it may explain why online photo hosting services are flourishing as the world becomes more familiar and more comfortable with digital imagery and sharing photos online with friends and family. Globally, more individuals are shopping, comparing, planning and conducting their business online. The Internet offers not just include specific products, but also services, including those of the professional photographer.

For the professional photographer offering online photo albums creates a great impression. Clients and their family and friends can view, share, and order photos, adding more sales via reprint orders and referrals for future business.

Continue reading "Online presence and ways it can work for you" »

October 29, 2005

OBITUARY: Mike Skurski, software designer, founding member PixelGenius

By Jeff Schewe

It is with a very heavy heart and great sadness that I must announce the passing of Mike Skurski on Thursday, October 27th, 2005. Mike passed away after post-operative complications. He was at home, from the hospital, being cared for by his parents.

Only some of you may have known Mike, but many, many people knew of Mike. He was a very talented software designer and engineer. He liked to mention that he has been doing Photoshop Plug-ins for almost as long as Photoshop has had plug-ins. He received a hand written floppy disk from Thomas Knoll with the then, Photoshop 1.0 SDK-such as it was.

Continue reading "OBITUARY: Mike Skurski, software designer, founding member PixelGenius" »

September 1, 2005

What's in Sandy Puc´s emergency kit?

bobby pins, hair spray, hair elastics, combs, brush, safety pins, mirror, tiny screw drivers, pocket knife, eyeglass repair kit, 2 large clamps, 2 small clamps, duct tape, Band-Aids, insect repellent, pens/pencil, water spray bottle, sewing kit, dishing line, Velcro, lip balm, scissors, first aid kit, AA batteries, super glue, lint brush, aspirin or other pain reliever, black Sharpies, baby wipes, black/white shoe polish, rubber bands, string or twine, lens cleaning solution, cable release, skin lotion, grey card, sunscreen, calamine lotion, bungie cord, hand lotion, water bottle, flashlight, small tissues, allen wrenches, plastic zipper bags, nail clippers, nail file, gloves, hand sanitizer, bubbles, squeaky toy, pliers, lens cleaning cloth, canned air, glue gun, cotton swabs, nail polish remover, shower cap, dog treats
200509bc_emergencykit_1

Visit the New Ideas section of the Forums at OurPPA.com and tell us about your most session-saving Emergency Kit items.

August 1, 2005

View from above: Look at what 8GB can do

A day's work condensed to 60 seconds