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Professional Photograper Magazine 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

July 8, 2014

Phase One IQ250 High ISO Milky Way Capture

Find the complete review of the Phase One IQ250 in an upcoming issue of Professional Photographer magazine.

By Stan Sholik

Through the years, Phase One has advanced the technology of charge-coupled device (CCD) sensors, but the needs of some photographers are incompatible with the CCD technology itself. To address those needs, Phase One is introducing the IQ250 back.

The IQ250 sensor is based on complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology rather than CCD, which was abandoned by the makers of professional digital SLR cameras years ago. Phase One is retaining its CCDbased backs and adding to its line with this, and presumably other, CMOS-based backs.

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Although the time of year wasn’t optimum and there were distant city lights glowing over the horizon, I was able to capture the Milky Way using an ISO of 6400 and an exposure of 8 seconds at f/2.8 with the Phase One IQ250 and Schneider Kreuznach 55mm f/2.8 lens. [Click for high-resolution image; use arrow keys to navigate around the image.]

The most welcomed feature of the IQ250 for most photographers is its ability to shoot at high ISOs. While the lowest ISO on the IQ250 is 100, the highest is now 6400. Every ISO setting up to and including ISO 1600 is completely usable for all subjects. ISO 1600 seems to deliver about the same tight luminance noise and lack of chrominance noise as my Nikon D700 at ISO 800. At ISO 3200, noise is visible, but Capture One software can easily remove it with minimal sharpness loss. By ISO 6400 it is still possible to eliminate the chrominance noise, but luminance noise is present unless you really crank up the noise reduction. However, in order to shoot the Milky Way with the Schneider Kreuznach 55mm f/2.8 at 8 seconds (to eliminate star trails), I needed ISO 6400, and the result (above) is totally acceptable to me until I enlarge the 8,200x6,208-pixel image to 1:1 on a high-end monitor.

July 3, 2014

Master Class: Tracks Not Worth the Risk

Train track sessions are both dangerous and illegal

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

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

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

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

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

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

KNOW THE DANGERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• People in your community mimic your behavior.

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

TRACKS ARE POLICED

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 25, 2014

A Guide to Wireless Flash Triggers

A complementary supplement to "Trigger Happy," our July issue technical breakdown of optical and radio flash triggers

By Stan Sholik

It’s a daunting task to sort through and evaluate the more than 60 models of wireless triggers for electronic flash that currently exist on the market. Despite the large number, they all can be categorized into one of two types: optical triggers or radio frequency triggers. Each has advantages and disadvantages. The majority are radio frequency based. Still, there is no shortage of optical triggers available. Prices quoted are approximate street prices.

Speedlight and hot shoe TTL optical flash triggers

Both Canon and Nikon offer powerful speedlights and non-speedlight hot shoe IR triggers. From Canon the Speedlite 430EX II ($259) and Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 ($220) provide these capabilities. Comparable Nikon offerings are the SB-910 AF Speedlight ($550) and the SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander ($250). Other camera manufacturers offer similar models for their cameras.

There are also speedlights with built-in IR wireless capabilities from third party manufacturers for Canon and Nikon bodies. Examples of these would be Metz mecablitz AF 44-1 ($190) and the Sigma EF-610 DG Super Flash ($135).

Non-TTL hot shoe trigger

If your need is for a simple IR trigger for studio flash units with optical slaves, the Wein Sync-Link Universal IR Flash Trigger ($70) may fit your needs. It will also trigger remote speedlights, but does not provide TTL exposure capability.

For Broncolor users, the IRX-2 transmitter ($530) attaches to the camera hotshoe and triggers Broncolor packs, including the Minipuls C, with built-in IR slaves.

Basic radio triggers

Basic radio triggers do not provide TTL exposure control, but can trigger both speedlights and studio flash. The RadioPopper Nano System that operates on four channels consists of two separate units, the Nano transmitter ($70) and the Nano receiver ($70). The system is compatible with other RadioPopper speedlight triggers as well as non-speedlight flash units. The PocketWizard PlusX ($99) is a transceiver capable of operating on 10 channels. 

Radio triggers with separate zones

By assigning remote flash units to separate zones you can test the output of each zone to ensure it is firing, and turn off zones to quickly change the lighting. With the PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver ($150) you can manage four zones, but without TTL capability. The PocketWizard MultiMax 32 Channel Transceiver ($295) also provides this capability along with other advanced capabilities.

TTL radio triggers with separate zones

The ability to assign remote flash units to separate zones gives you the capability to set and adjust light levels in each zone independently of other zones. The speedlights mentioned above provide this capability with IR signals. The PocketWizard FlexTT5 Transceiver ($220) with the PocketWizard AC3 Zone Controller ($80) provides this capability with radio signals.

The Quantum Instruments FreeXwire Radio TTL system separately controls several zones of flash, giving you control of flash exposure ratios from each.  Various FreeXwire components coordinate wireless TTL exposures with Qflash 5, Trio, Pilot, CoPilot, and even Nikon and Canon speedlights. The FreeXwire FW89 Transmitter/Receiver Set ($390) provides eight independent channels and, with the appropriate set of accessories, full TTL exposure control with Quantum flashes as well as speedlights.

Hybrid radio trigger

The RadioPopper PX system consists of a separate transmitter and receiver for Nikon and Canon speedlights and provides wireless radio TTL exposure control. The transmitter ($190) attaches to an on-camera speedlight or hot shoe IR transmitter and converts the IR signal from the unit to a radio signal that it transmits to the receiver attached to a remote speedlight. The receiver ($190) converts the radio signal back to an IR signal to trigger the remote flash.

Semi-proprietary and proprietary radio triggers

A trigger system such as the Elinchrom EL-Skyport Trigger Set ($305) consisting of a transmitter and two receivers is semi-proprietary. Used with select Elinchrom flash units you can change the flash output and control the modeling light and flash synchronization from the on-camera transmitter. With an appropriate flash cable you can also use the Skyport to trigger non-Elinchrom flash units attached to the receivers.

The Paul C. Buff Cyber Commander ($180) is the transmitter for another semi-proprietary radio trigger system. The Cyber Commander controls up to 16 lights on 16 channels. The transmitter controls all of the Paul C. Buff flashes as well as speedlights and flash units from other manufacturers. Each remote unit must be connected to a Paul C. Buff receiver ($90).

A system such as the Profoto Air Remote Transceiver ($300) is proprietary to Profoto Pro-8AAir packs and D-1 Air monoblocs. You can use it to control power and modeling light output of the Profoto flash units. Used in conjunction with the Air Sync Transceiver ($225), the Air Remote can trigger non-Profoto packs. The new Air Remote TTL transmitter ($395), for Canon at present but with a Nikon unit available soon, provides TTL exposure when triggering Profoto B1 500 AirTTL flash units.

Broncolor offers a similar system. The Broncolor RFS 2.1 transmitter ($167) provides wireless triggering and power output control of Broncolor Senso and Move as well as Scoro flash units equipped with RFS 2. When non-Broncolor flash units are connected to a RFS 2.1 receiver ($200) the transmitter operates as a trigger to fire them.

The Bowens Pulsar Tx Rx Set ($210) is available only for Bowens moonlights and only those units with a Pulsar Control slot on the back. The tiny receiver mounts into the Pulsar Control slot and the small transmitter onto the camera hot shoe. The system provides 24 channels. Paired with the Gemini R and Pro Remote Control ($90), you have complete control over power, test flash, modeling lights, and channel setting.

April 18, 2014

People and Their Trash: Menzel Records What We Throw Away

Peter Menzel’s latest portraits educate the public about the importance of recycling

By Amanda Arnold

“The idea of showing what Americans throw away is something we’ve been thinking about doing for years,” says photojournalist Peter Menzel. “But that doesn’t seem like the kind of [photo] book people would buy, and we do our projects unsponsored and unfunded, so we had to table the idea.”

That is until The Glad Products Company approached Menzel and his partner, writer Faith D’Aluisio, offering both funding and creative freedom in return for a series of photos addressing just that topic. The series, dubbed “Waste in Focus,” and its website wasteinfocus.com were unveiled at a press conference on April 10. On Earth Day, April 22, eight photos from the project will be on exhibit in Times Square.

One challenge was finding a way to display the trash in a visually interesting way for the photos. Ultimately, Menzel and D’Aluisio decided to string the items from two rolling clothes racks using bird netting, with the recyclables and compost items featured to the left and the landfill items to the right. The displays were then loaded into a truck and set up inside the family’s home.

Learn more and read our interview with Peter Menzel in the July issue of Professional Photographer magazine. [Click for larger image.]

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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).

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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.

 

November 19, 2013

Sigma USB Dock: Improving Autofocus Performance

By Ellis Vener

Reliable autofocus is the result of a technological dance between two complex systems: the lens and the camera. Modern high-end DSLR cameras that have active live view come with a second autofocus system based on contrast detection. To avoid overcomplicating things I'll just set contrast-detection autofocus aside to discuss another time. 

So how does standard autofocus, the kind you use when viewing your scene through the viewfinder, work? The big reflex mirror — the one that directs the image-forming light up through the ground glass, pentaprism, and eventually out through the viewfinder has multiple semi-transparent spots in it and some of the light passes through these spots to a secondary mirror that directs the light downward to an array of autofocus sensors in the bottom of the mirror box. The light rays are now directed to a pair of receptors and the computers behind the receptors turn the light into electronic signals and analyze the signal for differences that signify an edge or a tonal differences. As the late Bruce Fraser liked to say, "Difference is detail." The image is in focus when the peaks and valleys in the two signals coincide and come into phase with each other. This is why this is called phase detection autofocus. All this happened in milliseconds.

When it works, and it mostly does, phase detection autofocus works really well. But the individual lens and individual camera body are two complex systems working together. If you want really sharp photos and are not willing to settle for photos that are slightly out of focus, the two unique components need to be calibrated so they work together perfectly, otherwise you get some degree of back focusing or front focusing. This happens because the computer in the camera and the autofocus motor in the lens are not communicating properly.

Until a few years ago this kind of lens/camera tuning could only be done by an authorized repair center. The potential for misalignment also predates both the introduction of digital imaging and autofocus. Some photographers would test multiple lenses of the same model to find one with a real sweet spot for their camera body and would then have the focusing alignment of cameras and lenses recalibrated every so often.

In 2007 both Canon and Nikon started including autofocus micro-adjustment tools into their higher end cameras so individual photographers could do their own testing and AF tuning. Starting with the EOS 5D Mark III and EOS-1DX cameras, Canon went a step further and gave users the ability to tune autofocus accuracy can at the longest and shortest focal lengths of a zoom lens. 

While you can make your own target and use your naked eyes to evaluate the results, there are at least three companies which make targets and software to automate and improve the accuracy of the results. Even though I prefer the LensAlign Mark II plus FocusTune software combination from Michael Tapes Design, Datacolor SpyderLensCal (target only, no software), and Reikan FoCal software also work well.

Whichever target and software you use the process is the same: you shoot several frames of the target at different AF Micro adjust settings and repeat until you find the best setting. I start by shooting 5 frames each at -20, -15, -10, -05, 0, +05, +10, +15, and +20 and have the FocusTune software evaluate the results. I then shoot a second round of tests around the best results. If both my eye and FocusTune agree that the best results were at -05, I'll shoot a second round of five frames each at the -07 to -03 settings. Once I've nailed down an adjustment setting that looks best I go out and make real world photos.

The qualitative difference between the untuned and tuned result are usually pretty obvious. Having your focus perfectly dialed in also has a psychological benefit of boosting your confidence in the quality of your work.

As good as the adjustment might be, though, there can still be problems: the AF might work great at one range of subject-to-camera distances but not quite so great at others. To solve this problem a more complete reprogramming of the lens is necessary.

Recognizing this, Sigma has recently has gone a step further and introduced the Sigma USB Dock and Sigma Optimization Pro software. The dock and software allow you to reprogram autofocus performance and update firmware for the new Global Vision line of Art, Contemporary, and Sports lenses. The 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Sports lens (there is only one sport lens currently in the Global Vision line) allows for AF speed, focus limiter, and optical stabilization customization as well. 

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To tune the AF performance, shoot a target at four specified distances. With the zoom lenses you can do this for four focal length settings. My experience with Sigma Optimization Pro and the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM is that you can get lucky and need no fine tuning at one distance, but it takes a minimum of two and often three rounds per distance. The process takes roughly 40 minutes with a fixed focal length lens, so plan on about two hours for a zoom.

There are a couple things to consider. First, all of this fine-tuning takes time. Second, you must be very precise about how you attach and remove the lens from the dock. Attach the lens to the dock and then the dock to the computer. After adjusting a lens's setting, the process goes in reverse: disconnect the dock from the computer and then the lens from the dock. I discussed this with a Sigma technician and he advises users to never hot-swap lenses on a camera; turn the camera off first and then swap lenses. Turning off all power to the lens removes the possibility of bridging the contacts on a lens or on a camera body.

If you are using the lens with more than one camera, set your primary body's AF micro adjustment to zero and then fine-tune the focusing using Sigma's software. Set your backup camera bodies' AF Micro-adjustment to match your primary body's AF performance. In practice this works very well.

That's a lot of testing and you are probably wondering if it's really worth all of the time or is it just pointless hairsplitting. The argument for doing it is pretty straightforward: In return for a small investment in time and money (the dock retails for just under $60 and the software is free) you get your full money's worth of image quality out of both your lenses and camera.  

I'm glad to see Sigma innovate in this manner. They seem to really be making an all out quality push these days and perhaps Canon, Nikon and Sony will release similar products to Sigma's Optimization Pro and USB Dock.  It won't take care of all of the performance tuning an authorized service center can perform but it's a start. 

August 8, 2013

Hot One Readers' Choice Award Winners

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

Hot One Awards Readers' Choice Winner

 

Best DSLR Camera $1,000 to $3,000 

The Nikon D800 trumped the Canon EOS 6D.

 

Best Macro Lens

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

 

Best Mobile Business App

Shoot & Sell topped Preveal and StudioCloud.

 

Best Presentation Software

Animoto Pro narrowly edged out ProSelect 2012r2.

 

Best Background or Set

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

August 30, 2013

"Natural Newborn Baby Photography" Excerpt: The Chin Pose

The Chin Pose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Positioning

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

Shooting

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

May 31, 2013

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

By Jen Basford and Nancy Nardi

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

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

1. A Clearly Defined Brand

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

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

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

2. Know What You Are Looking For

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

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

3. Have Your Content Ready To Go

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

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

4. Budget

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

 

OK, I Have Everything Ready So Now What?

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

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

 

A Few Final Things To Consider

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

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

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

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

March 20, 2013

More Bags and Cases (May Issue Extra)

Add these to the fine selection of camera bags and cases featured in the May issue of Professional Photographer magazine.

 

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ONA: The Brixton

A classically styled messenger bag, the Brixton features four removable dividers to customize the interior. There’s enough room for a DSLR, two to three lenses, and up to a 13-inch laptop, with a duo of front pockets for miscellaneous accessories, including lens caps, batteries, and media cards. Side flaps protect gear from the elements.

Constructed of either weather-resistant waxed canvas or leather, design details such as an antique brass tuck-clasp closure add to this bag’s visual appeal. The leather model is available in antique cognac, while the canvas models come in black, smoke, or field tan. Additional camera bag dividers, straps and wax to maintain the canvas bag surface can be purchased separately. Both handsome and practical, Brixton works well for stylishly and inconspicuously carrying basic camera gear and a laptop. $269; $469 in leather, onabags.com 

 

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Tamrac: Evolution Speed Roller Backpack (model 5797)

Easily converted from roller bag to backpack, the Tamrac Evolution Speed Roller makes it a breeze to truck gear through airports, Drop the telescoping handle into place, untuck the harness straps, and you have a handy backpack. Large enough to fit a wide range of gear as well as personal items and up to a 15.6-inch screen laptop, the Evolution is great for assignments that require a couple of DSLRs and several lenses. The bottom compartment accommodates a DSLR with up to 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached.

This bag’s duality extends to its two foam-padded compartments. Interior and exterior pockets provide options for organizing memory cards, batteries, and other accessories as well as travel documents and a water bottle. Add a tripod with Tamrac’s Quick-Clip tripod attachment system and you—and your gear—are good to go.

Given its durability and rollerbag-to-backpack design, the Evolution weighs a hefty 7.8 pounds, but with this pack, the only thing you’ll have to leave behind is the kitchen sink (and studio lighting). $380, tamrac.com

 

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Tenba: Photo/Laptop Messenger Bag

Available in a trio of sizes (mini, small, and large), the Photo/Laptop Messenger Bag has been one of my go-to’s for a while for its great combination of ruggedness and flexibility. With a 1,000 denier nylon exterior, he bag has a removable and configurable photo insert and offers lots of pockets inside and out.

A padded interior compartment holds up to a 17-inch laptop (large model), and the rear exterior features a full-size, padded zipper pocket. Velcro and strap closures keep the bag snuggly closed, while a top zipper allows easy top access. The main handle and detachable shoulder strap (on the large model) are comfortably padded.

Web straps at the sides accommodate optional clip-on accessories. Although it’s designed for a DSLR, 2-3 lenses and a flash, I manage to fit two smaller DSLRs, a 70-200mm f/4 lens, a flash, a wide angle lens, and a 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Choose one of seven colors (black, olive, blue, burnt orange, plum, chocolate, or platinum) to add a little pizzazz to your gear. It’s a great bag for traveling when you need to bring basic gear and a laptop. Mini: $94, small: $105, large: $110, tenba.com

—Theano Nikitas

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).

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

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

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

November 30, 2012

Jim Crotty's Top 13 Tips for Nature Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 5, 2012

Horse Sense: 12 Tricks for Better Equine Photography

By Ann S. Gordon, CPP

All images ©Gordon Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 8, 2012

Identifying an Email Scam Before It's Too Late

By Maria Matthews

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

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

Warning signs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 3, 2012

The Coiffure Project: Big, Bold and Beautiful

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

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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.”

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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.

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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 3, 2012

Air Show Photography: Getting In and Getting The Shots

By Chris Armold

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

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©Chris A Photography

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

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

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©Chris A Photography

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

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

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" »

September 2, 2011

Shoot More Creatively: A Four-step Process

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Image ©Karen Carey

By Karen Carey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.”

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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.

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

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.

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©Jerry Ghionis

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

January 4, 2011

Two Paths to Retouching

By Stan Sholik

Is portrait retouching software worth the investment or should you stick with what you have? We compared the process, advantages and limitations, comparing Anthropics Portrait Professional and Adobe Photoshop CS5 (and a subsequent comparison using Craig's Actions).

Portrait retouching is far more art than science. Even with a firm intent in your mind for the final form of a project, there are many paths to that end. This article will explore two popular portrait retouching paths, Anthropics Portrait Professional v9 and Adobe Photoshop CS5. I hope when we are finished that you will see the advantages and disadvantages of each technique and maybe learn a few tricks along the way.

The image I have chosen is a capture I made in the studio of a high school student. She’s a California girl with freckles and skin issues that will make the retouching interesting. My intent is not to produce a poreless high-fashion portrait, but rather one that is faithful to reality while minimizing any skin issues. Admittedly, once I was into it, I did take liberties to tweak reality. My goal was to complete the retouching using Portrait Professional and Photoshop in the same amount of time, though I doubted it could be done. I’ll start with Portrait Professional.

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But before we get started I want to have the original image correctly color balanced. I had the model hold an X-Rite ColorChecker Passport for one of the captures (above, click image for large view). After importing the RAW files into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, I used the eyedropper to select a neutral balance with one of the gray patches. Then using the exposure slider I adjusted the lightest patch (red circle) to 95%/95%/95% and the darkest patch (blue circle) to 10%/10%/10%. But neutral color balance is always too cool for a portrait in my opinion, so I selected the eyedropper again and clicked on one of the warming patches (orange circle) for my final color balance. I then processed the portrait to an 8-bit RGB TIFF.

 

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Continue reading "Two Paths to Retouching" »

January 3, 2011

Fay Sirkis: Painting Magic, Adobe Photoshop CS5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is Photo Painting?

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

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

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

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

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

December 1, 2010

Good Works: Angela's Baby Project

Michigan photographer Angela Carson, Cr.Photog., API, decided to challenge herself to do a creative project related to newborn babies, and began by photographing one newborn a week, pushing her creative boundaries with each new portrait session. When she began to realize the collected portraits would make a handsome book, her personal challenge became “Angela’s Baby Project.” She wasn’t looking to make money for herself with the project, so she partnered with Just for Kids, a Michigan-based charity dedicated to helping sick and handicapped children.

Carson chose Just for Kids because of its regional focus and lean operation. Just for Kids provides services ranging from support groups to care packages to family vacations. In Carson’s view, there was no better organization to link to her newborn baby project.

To learn more about Angela’s Baby Project, watch this video created by Konrad Czystowski. You can learn more about Just for Kids at justforkidsmichigan. org.

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Review: Zoom H4N

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By Ron Dawson

If you want to be a serious DSLR filmmaker, it’s imperative that you capture high-quality audio to a separate device, like the Zoom H4N, one of the most widely used digital audio recorders by DSLR filmmakers.

The H4N records to the popular SD/SDHC card format and comes with a 1GB card. It can record up to four separate channels of audio in formats from low-quality .mp3 or high-quality 96k, 24-bit .wav files for true audiophiles. If you’re using it for video, record at the 48k/16-bit setting. That is the sample rate and bit-depth of digital video, and a 1 GB SD card can hold just under 90 minutes of audio at that setting.

The Zoom is not a device you can just pick up and start using. I am pretty adept at gizmos and gadgets, but even I had to pick up the manual to figure out how to access and use the various menus. Give yourself 30 minutes to an hour to peruse the main parts of the manual and get familiar with the H4N. Once you’ve done that, using it will be a breeze.

The H4N has built-in mics at its top and is designed to take two XLR audio inputs at the bottom for higher quality microphones. It also has a mini-jack mic connection. I use the Sennheiser Evolution G2 (or G3) series microphone. It’s rugged, with a metal casing, and a favorite among my colleagues.

What’s great about the H4N is that you can connect headphones to monitor sound. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. Always monitor your audio to make sure everything sounds okay. Sometimes mics short out, or the recording level dips in and out, and you need to hear that. Also, you have to hit the H4N record button twice: once to get it in standby mode (the red record button will blink and you’ll be able to hear audio) and once again to actually start recording. If you’re not hearing anything in your headphones, it could be you forgot to hit the record button. Once you do start recording, double check the screen to make sure you see the time counter progressing and that you are actually in record mode and not just standby mode.

The H4N has a great form, too. At 6 inches long and just under 2.5 inches wide, it's easy to handle and is compact enough to attach to your DSLR shooting rig. It’s powered by either two AA batteries, or with the AC adaptor that comes with it. WARNING: if you are using the device to capture a long, uninterrupted event like a bar/bat mitzvah, corporate speech, or seminar, make sure you have plenty of power. If the power runs out before you stop recording, the audio file won’t write to the card. For lengthy recording, use the AC adapter if at all possible. If you must use batteries, use fresh ones.

I absolutely love my Zoom H4N and won’t go to a gig without it. At just under $300, it’s a great investment.

Audio Acquisition for Photographers

By Ron Dawson

Have you ever seen “The Greatest American Hero?” It was an ’80s television show in which a mild-mannered teacher is visited by aliens and given a suit that gives him super-human powers, but he doesn’t know how to use it. Instead of looking heroic when he flies, he flops and flails as he zooms through the air.

As a filmmaker who does quite a bit of work in the professional photography industry, I get to see a lot of videos shot by aspiring photographers-cum-filmmakers. But like the hero, they have this powerful filmmaking tool in their hands, but they aren’t quite “flying right.”

With the flood of HD DSLR cameras, many of you have taken on the role of capturing video segments to enhance your artistry. This article will help you with one of the most crucial aspects of video production: audio acquisition.

AUDIO CAPTURE: Perhaps the single most prevalent issue I’ve seen with HD DSLR videos by newbies is poor audio acquisition—the audio recorded and used in the final production. Many photographers are using only the on-camera microphone for audio acquisition. The resulting end product sounds echo-y, or there’s significant obtrusive ambient noise (air conditioners, traffic noise, extraneous conversations). Even if you use a directional microphone like the Rode (a popular choice), you don’t always get the best results.

The reason is that the audio captured by DSLR cameras is highly compressed, and in many models there is no way to control the audio recording level. Many DSLRs are set to auto-gain, which means the volume of audio you record will go up and down depending on how loud the source is. If the source is very soft, the camera will automatically boost the levels and you get a hissing background sound, which is to audio what visual noise is to a high ISO setting. Some of the cameras (like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II) have released firmware updates that at least allow you to set your audio levels. But even so, you still get the compressed audio issue and that echo-y sound.

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The Zoom H4N is a popular video recorder choice
for filmmakers and videographers.

Continue reading "Audio Acquisition for Photographers" »

20,000 Facebook Follower Celebration Giveaway (Day 7 - final day)

Thanks so much to our readers for contributing to the success of our Facebook page and the community of photographers there. To have gathered more than 20,000 followers in just over 10 months really says something about the passion people feel for photography, and the commitment that PPA members and Professional Photographer readers have to their profession.

To celebrate this milestone, we're presenting seven days of product giveaways. December 1 is the final giveaway day, and we'll draw for the winner on the morning of Dec. 2.  

Our Facebook Giveaway tradition has always involved asking the entrants to contribute a positive piece of information or advice when you make your Comment to enter the drawing. This time, we'd like you to go just a little further.

HOW TO ENTER AND GIVEAWAY ETIQUETTE

1. Please visit the Facebook pages of the companies that have donated the prizes and click on their Like button. This does not statistically increase your chances of winning, but it is a nice thing to do. You'll find links to their Facebook page below where we list the day's prizes. 

2. We'll post each day's comment question or request here with the prize listing. Return to the Professional Photographer Facebook Page and POST YOUR COMMENT, answering that question or request, ON THE GIVEAWAY POST ONLY to be included in the drawing (look for the post with DAY SEVEN GIVEAWAY in all caps). 

3. DO NOT post your entry request on the Professional Photographer Facebook page WALL. We'll delete it. The only method of entry is through COMMENTS on FACEBOOK on the specific GIVEAWAY DAY post. If you don't see a "Write a comment …" field, it means you have not clicked Like on our page. You'll find that button at the top of the page. DO NOT comment on this instruction post. That will not count as an entry.

4. If you are one of our lucky winners but cannot use a portion of the prizes that you've won, please return to that Giveaway post, find another photographer who entered the drawing, and make a new friend and share your winnings!

There will be ONE WINNER for each day's package of prizes. You can enter all of the Giveaways. We'll announce the winner just prior to the next Giveaway announcement and contact the winners via their Facebook page (So be sure that your Facebook settings allow an individual to send you a private message!).

Now, let's get on with the giving!

DAY SEVEN COMMENT QUESTION: What made you fall in love with photography? 

DAY SEVEN PRIZES:

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From PocketWizard, one AC3 ZoneController, one MiniTT1 Transmitter (Canon or Nikon) and two FlexTT5 Transceivers (Canon or Nikon), a combined value of $740! Please visit the PocketWizard Facebook page!

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From Nik Software, the Complete Collection Ultimate Edition, which includes Dfine 2.0, Viveza2, HDR Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro 3.0, Silver Efex Pro, and Sharpener Pro 3.0! This collection has a $600 value. Please visit the Nik Software Facebook page

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One Anza flush mount album and 12 months of a customizable online storefront Web Gallery service from DigiLabs, together valued at $300. Please visit the DigiLabs Facebook page!

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A one-year subscription to Animoto Pro, valued at $249. Go click Like at the Animoto Pro Facebook page!

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A "Bride Alone Fashionable Flow Posing" workshop DVD from Doug Gordon Workshops, valued at $149. Please visit the Doug Gordon Workshops Facebook page.

and ...

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An X-Rite ColorChecker Passport. A $99 value. Visit the X-Rite Photo Facebook page

That's a total value of $2,137! Now return to the Professional Photographer Facebook page and comment on the DAY SEVEN GIVEAWAY post to enter the drawing. We'll pick our winner on Thursday morning, Dec. 2. And thanks for making this such a wonderful celebration! We hope you enjoyed all the great comments contributed by our fantastic fans!

November 30, 2010

Pro Review: Nik Software HDR Efex Pro

By Stan Sholik

Equipment and software suppliers are continually providing photographers with a wide array of tools. The best photographic tools can point us in new directions by opening our minds to possibilities we had never considered before. Nik HDR Efex Pro is such a tool.

Nik is late in entering the HDR arena. There are a number of HDR programs with varying capabilities already available.

But not being first has allowed Nik to overcome many of the shortcomings of these early programs. HDR Efex Pro incorporates a number of tone mapping algorithms where most other HDR programs include only one. It offers a wide range of presets and quickly produces thumbnail previews of the presets using the image on which you are working. It includes a wide range of user adjustments to the built-in presets including the ability to save custom presets. And it incorporates Nik Software’s proprietary U Point technology that allows you to target HDR options to specific areas of the image. These features plus responsive operation, an elegant interface and more, make HDR Efex Pro the most powerful yet most user friendly HDR software currently available.

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HDR Efex Pro incorporates Nik’s U Point tool that allows you to target adjustments to particular areas of the image. Here I used it to add additional structure to the clouds and to decrease the warmth of the clouds that was added by my choice of preset. Image ©Stan Sholik

Nik recommends installing HDR Efex Pro as a plug-in for 64-bit Adobe Photoshop and Bridge CS4 through CS5, or as a 32-bit or 64-bit plug-in for Lightroom 2.6 (or later) or Apple Aperture 2.1.4 (or later). While it will open as a stand-alone application, this is not recommended.

How you access HDR Efex Pro varies slightly depending on the host application you are using and whether you want to merge a series of images or work with a single image. In Photoshop, when merging single or multiple images, the best path is from the File>Automate menu. In other host software you can find the program in Aperture’s Photos>Edit with Plug-in menu, in Bridge it is found in the Tools menu and in Lightroom in the File>Export with Preset menu. The HDR Efex Pro multiple image Merge dialog is compatible with all 8- or 16-bit or RAW file formats supported by Photoshop. You can apply HDR Efex Pro to a single 8-, 16-, or 32-bit image from the File>Automate menu.

201012we_nik_bridge.jpg

There are a number of ways to access HDR Efex Pro to merge images. I recommend right/Option-clicking on the series of exposures in Bridge and selecting “Merge to HDR Efex Pro” from the Nik Software dropdown menu. Selecting Nik Software>Merge to HDR Efex Pro from the Tools menu in Bridge accomplishes the same thing.

Continue reading "Pro Review: Nik Software HDR Efex Pro" »

20,000 Facebook Follower Celebration Giveaway (Day 6)

Thanks so much to our readers for contributing to the success of our Facebook page and the community of photographers there. To have gathered more than 20,000 followers in just over 10 months really says something about the passion people feel for photography, and the commitment that PPA members and Professional Photographer readers have to their profession.

To celebrate this milestone, we're presenting seven days of product giveaways. The remaining GIVEAWAY DAYS are November 30 and December 1

Our Facebook Giveaway tradition has always involved asking the entrants to contribute a positive piece of information or advice when you make your Comment to enter the drawing. This time, we'd like you to go just a little further.

HOW TO ENTER AND GIVEAWAY ETIQUETTE

1. Please visit the Facebook pages of the companies that have donated the prizes and click on their Like button. This does not statistically increase your chances of winning, but it is a nice thing to do. You'll find links to their Facebook page below where we list the day's prizes. 

2. We'll post each day's comment question or request here with the prize listing. Return to the Professional Photographer Facebook Page and POST YOUR COMMENT, answering that question or request, ON THE GIVEAWAY POST ONLY to be included in the drawing (look for the post with DAY SIX GIVEAWAY in all caps). 

3. DO NOT post your entry request on the Professional Photographer Facebook page WALL. We'll delete it. The only method of entry is through COMMENTS on FACEBOOK on the specific GIVEAWAY DAY post. If you don't see a "Write a comment …" field, it means you have not clicked Like on our page. You'll find that button at the top of the page. DO NOT comment on this instruction post. That will not count as an entry.

4. If you are one of our lucky winners but cannot use a portion of the prizes that you've won, please return to that Giveaway post, find another photographer who entered the drawing, and make a new friend and share your winnings!

There will be ONE WINNER for each day's package of prizes. You can enter all of the Giveaways. We'll announce the winner just prior to the next Giveaway announcement and contact the winners via their Facebook page (So be sure that your Facebook settings allow an individual to send you a private message!).

Now, let's get on with the giving!

DAY SIX COMMENT REQUEST: If I couldn't be a photographer, I would like to be a(an) __fill in the blank__. 

DAY SIX PRIZES:

 

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A Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM lens, valued at $730 (your choice of mount: Sigma, Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax, Four-thirds). Please visit the Sigma Facebook page!

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X-Rite ColorMunki Photo, a color control solution designed specifically for wedding, portrait and event photographers, plus an X-Rite ColorChecker Passport. A total $599 value. Visit the X-Rite Photo Facebook page!

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Viveza 2 and HDR EFEX Pro from Nik Software, valued at $360. Go visit the Nik Software Facebook page!

 

and ...

digilabs_anza_album.jpg 

One Anza flush mount album and 12 months of a customizable online storefront Web Gallery service from DigiLabs, together valued at $300. Please visit the DigiLabs Facebook page!

That's a total value of $1,989, and tomorrow, the final giveaway day, will be even bigger! Now return to the Professional Photographer Facebook page and comment on the DAY SIX GIVEAWAY post to enter the drawing. We'll pick our winner on Wednesday morning, Dec. 1.

November 29, 2010

20,000 Facebook Follower Celebration Giveaway (Day 5)

Thanks so much to our readers for contributing to the success of our Facebook page and the community of photographers there. To have gathered more than 20,000 followers in just over 10 months really says something about the passion people feel for photography, and the commitment that PPA members and Professional Photographer readers have to their profession.

To celebrate this milestone, we're presenting SEVEN DAYS of product giveaways. The remaining GIVEAWAY DAYS are November 29, 30 and December 1

Our Facebook Giveaway tradition has always involved asking the entrants to contribute a positive piece of information or advice when you make your Comment to enter the drawing. This time, we'd like you to go just a little further.

HOW TO ENTER AND GIVEAWAY ETIQUETTE

1. Please visit the Facebook pages of the companies that have donated the prizes and click on their Like button. This does not statistically increase your chances of winning, but it is a nice thing to do. You'll find links to their Facebook page below where we list the day's prizes. 

2. We'll post each day's comment question or request here with the prize listing. Return to the Professional Photographer Facebook Page and POST YOUR COMMENT, answering that question or request, ON THE GIVEAWAY POST ONLY to be included in the drawing (look for the post with DAY FIVE GIVEAWAY in all caps). 

3. DO NOT post your entry request on the Professional Photographer Facebook page WALL. We'll delete it. The only method of entry is through COMMENTS on FACEBOOK on the specific GIVEAWAY DAY post. If you don't see a "Write a comment …" field, it means you have not clicked Like on our page. You'll find that button at the top of the page. DO NOT comment on this instruction post. That will not count as an entry.

4. If you are one of our lucky winners but cannot use a portion of the prizes that you've won, please return to that Giveaway post, find another photographer who entered the drawing, and make a new friend and share your winnings!

There will be ONE WINNER for each day's package of prizes. You can enter all of the Giveaways. We'll announce the winner just prior to the next Giveaway announcement and contact the winners via their Facebook page (So be sure that your Facebook settings allow an individual to send you a private message!).

Now, let's get on with the giving!

DAY FIVE COMMENT QUESTION: What are your goals for 2011? 

DAY FIVE PRIZES:

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A full enrollment in the New York Institute of Photography Complete Course in Professional Photography, a $1,198 value. Please visit the New York Institute of Photography Facebook page

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Perfectly Clear, the Photoshop Plug-in by Athentech Imaging. A $199 value. Visit the Perfectly Clear Facebook page.

and ... 

em_logo_full.jpg

 

A  one-year Event Account subscription to ExposureManager. A $99 value. Visit the ExposureManager Facebook page.

That's a total value of $1,496, and it's just going to get bigger as the giveaways continue! Now return to the Professional Photographer Facebook page and comment on the DAY FIVE GIVEAWAY post to enter the drawing. We'll pick our winner on Tuesday morning, Nov. 30.

November 24, 2010

20,000 Facebook Follower Celebration Giveaway (Day 4)

Thanks so much to our readers for contributing to the success of our Facebook page and the community of photographers there. To have gathered more than 20,000 followers in just over 10 months really says something about the passion people feel for photography, and the commitment that PPA members andProfessional Photographer readers have to their profession.

To celebrate this milestone, we're going to have SEVEN DAYS of product giveaways. We want you to be able to concentrate on your clients or your family on the weekends and holidays, so the remaining GIVEAWAY DAYS are November 24, 29, 30 and December 1

Our Facebook Giveaway tradition has always involved asking the entrants to contribute a positive piece of information or advice when you make your Comment to enter the drawing. This time, we'd like you to go just a little further.

HOW TO ENTER AND GIVEAWAY ETIQUETTE

1. Please visit the Facebook pages of the companies that have donated the prizes and click on their Like button. This does not statistically increase your chances of winning, but it is a nice thing to do. You'll find links to their Facebook page below where we list the day's prizes. 

2. We'll post each day's comment question or request here with the prize listing. Return to theProfessional Photographer Facebook Page and POST YOUR COMMENT, answering that question or request, ON THE GIVEAWAY POST ONLY to be included in the drawing (look for the post with DAY FOUR GIVEAWAY in all caps). 

3. DO NOT post your entry request on the Professional Photographer Facebook page WALL. We'll delete it. The only method of entry is through COMMENTS on FACEBOOK on the specific GIVEAWAY DAY post. If you don't see a "Write a comment …" field, it means you have not clicked Like on our page. You'll find that button at the top of the page. DO NOT comment on this instruction post. That will not count as an entry.

4. If you are one of our lucky winners but cannot use a portion of the prizes that you've won, please return to that Giveaway post, find another photographer who entered the drawing, and make a new friend and share your winnings!

There will be ONE WINNER for each day's package of prizes. You can enter all of the Giveaways. We'll announce the winner just prior to the next Giveaway announcement and contact the winners via their Facebook page (So be sure that your Facebook settings allow an individual to send you a private message!).

Now, let's get on with the giving!

DAY FOUR COMMENT COMMENT: Share a favorite vocal artist, musician or album.

DAY FOUR PRIZES:

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One full year of the PhotoShelter Standard Account, a $360 value. Please go click on Like at the PhotoShelter Facebook page!

 

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A complete Imagenomic Pro Plugin Suite, which includes Portraiture, Noiseware and RealGrain. A $300 value. Visit the Imagenomic Facebook page.

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A Lowepro Classified 160 AW camera bag, valued at $175. Go visit the Lowepro Facebook page

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 An Innergie mCube Pro Universal Power Adapter, valued at $119. Visit the Innergie Facebook page

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The ViewRanger GPS app for iPhone or Android, plus extra map credit, a $50 total value. Go to the ViewRanger Facebook page!

and just for fun ...

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The Gary Fong Flip-Cage and Tripod Adaptor for iPhone. Value $40. Go visit the Gary Fong Facebook page.

That's a total value of $1,044, and it's just going to get bigger as the giveaways continue! Now return to the Professional Photographer Facebook page and comment on the DAY FOUR GIVEAWAY post to enter the drawing. The Day Four entry will stay open through the holiday weekend, and we'll pick our winner on Monday morning, Nov. 29.

November 23, 2010

20,000 Facebook Follower Celebration Giveaway (Day 3)

Thanks so much to our readers for contributing to the success of our Facebook page and the community of photographers there. To have gathered more than 20,000 followers in just over 10 months really says something about the passion people feel for photography, and the commitment that PPA members and Professional Photographer readers have to their profession.

To celebrate this milestone, we're going to have SEVEN DAYS of product giveaways. We want you to be able to concentrate on your clients or your family on the weekends and holidays, so the remaining GIVEAWAY DAYS are November 23, 24, 29, 30 and December 1

Our Facebook Giveaway tradition has always involved asking the entrants to contribute a positive piece of information or advice when you make your Comment to enter the drawing. This time, we'd like you to go just a little further.

HOW TO ENTER AND GIVEAWAY ETIQUETTE

1. Please visit the Facebook pages of the companies that have donated the prizes and click on their Like button. This does not statistically increase your chances of winning, but it is a nice thing to do. You'll find links to their Facebook page below where we list the day's prizes. 

2. We'll post each day's comment question or request here with the prize listing. Return to the Professional Photographer Facebook Page and POST YOUR COMMENT, answering that question or request, ON THE GIVEAWAY POST ONLY to be included in the drawing (look for the post with DAY THREE GIVEAWAY in all caps). 

3. DO NOT post your entry request on the Professional Photographer Facebook page WALL. We'll delete it. The only method of entry is through COMMENTS on FACEBOOK on the specific GIVEAWAY DAY post. If you don't see a "Write a comment …" field, it means you have not clicked Like on our page. You'll find that button at the top of the page. DO NOT comment on this instruction post. That will not count as an entry.

4. If you are one of our lucky winners but cannot use a portion of the prizes that you've won, please return to that Giveaway post, find another photographer who entered the drawing, and make a new friend and share your winnings!

There will be ONE WINNER for each day's package of prizes. You can enter all of the Giveaways. We'll announce the winner just prior to the next Giveaway announcement and contact the winners via their Facebook page (So be sure that your Facebook settings allow an individual to send you a private message!)

Now, let's get on with the giving!

DAY THREE COMMENT QUESTION: What was the first item on your work agenda today?

DAY THREE PRIZES:

perfectphotosuite.jpg

onOne Software Perfect Photo Suite 5.5, which includes Perfect Resize 7, Mask Pro 4, Photo Tune 3, FocalPoint 2, PhotoTools 2.6, and PhotoFrame 4.6. This is a $500 value. Go to the onOne Software Facebook page

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A Western Digital My Passport Studio 640GB portable hard drive, valued at $169. Go to the Western Digital Facebook page!

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The Bride and Groom Flow Posing DVD from Doug Gordon Workshops, valued at $149. Go to the Doug Gordon Workshops Facebook page!

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A MOO MosaicFrame and credit for 100 Mini-Cards, valued at $60. Go to the MOO Facebook page!

viewranger.jpg

The ViewRanger GPS app for iPhone or Android, plus extra map credit, a $50 total value. Go to the ViewRanger Facebook page!

That's a total value of $928, and it's just going to get bigger as the giveaways continue! Now return to the Professional Photographer Facebook page and comment on the DAY THREE GIVEAWAY post to enter the drawing. 

November 22, 2010

20,000 Facebook Follower Celebration Giveaway (Day 2)

Thanks so much to our readers for contributing to the success of our Facebook page and the community of photographers there. To have gathered more than 20,000 followers in just over 10 months really says something about the passion people feel for photography, and the commitment that PPA members and Professional Photographer readers have to their profession.

To celebrate this milestone, we're going to have SEVEN DAYS of product giveaways. We want you to be able to concentrate on your clients or your family on the weekends and holidays, so the remaining GIVEAWAY DAYS are November 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 and December 1

Our Facebook Giveaway tradition has always involved asking the entrants to contribute a positive piece of information or advice when you make your Comment to enter the drawing. This time, we'd like you to go just a little further.

HOW TO ENTER AND GIVEAWAY ETIQUETTE

1. Please visit the Facebook pages of the companies that have donated the prizes and click on their Like button. This does not statistically increase your chances of winning, but it is a nice thing to do. You'll find links to their Facebook page below where we list the day's prizes. 

2. We'll post each day's comment question or request here with the prize listing. Return to the Professional Photographer Facebook Page and POST YOUR COMMENT, answering that question or request, ON THE GIVEAWAY POST ONLY to be included in the drawing (look for the post with DAY TWO GIVEAWAY in all caps). 

3. DO NOT post your entry request on the Professional Photographer Facebook page WALL. We'll delete it. The only method of entry is through COMMENTS on FACEBOOK on the specific GIVEAWAY DAY post. If you don't see a "Write a comment …" field, it means you have not clicked Like on our page. You'll find that button at the top of the page. DO NOT comment on this instruction post. That will not count as an entry.

4. If you are one of our lucky winners but cannot use a portion of the prizes that you've won, please return to that Giveaway post, find another photographer who entered the drawing, and make a new friend and share your winnings!

There will be ONE WINNER for each day's package of prizes. You can enter all of the Giveaways. We'll announce the winner just prior to the next Giveaway announcement and contact the winners via their Facebook page (So be sure that your Facebook settings allow an individual to send you a private message!)

Now, let's get on with the giving!

DAY TWO COMMENT QUESTION: What lifts your spirits and gets you going on a Monday morning?

DAY TWO PRIZES:

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 X-Rite ColorMunki Photo, a color control solution designed specifically for wedding, portrait and event photographers. A $500 value. Visit the X-Rite Photo Facebook page!

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One brick of Kodak Professional PORTRA 400 Film (35mm, or cost equivalent in another format). To go with that, Kodak offers a $150 credit at any lab using KODAK PROFESSIONAL Endura Media. That's a $285 value. Visit the Kodak Facebook page!

photoplusx4_box.jpgSerif PhotoPlus X4 photo editing application, a $90 value. 

And ...

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The new Gary Fong Lightsphere Collapsible flash diffuser, a $60 value. Go visit the Gary Fong Flash Diffusers Facebook page!

That's a total value of $935, and it's just going to get bigger as the giveaways continue! Now return to the Professional Photographer Facebook page and comment on the DAY TWO GIVEAWAY post to enter the drawing. 

November 19, 2010

20,000 Facebook Follower Celebration Giveaway

Thanks so much to our readers for contributing to the success of our Facebook page and the community of photographers there. To have gathered more than 20,000 followers in just over 10 months really says something about the passion people feel for photography, and the commitment that PPA members and Professional Photographer readers have to their profession.

To celebrate this milestone, we're going to have SEVEN DAYS of product giveaways. We want you to be able to concentrate on your clients or your family on the weekends and holidays, so the GIVEAWAY DAYS will be November 19, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 and December 1. There will be ONE WINNER for each day's package of prizes. You can enter all of the Giveaways. We'll select a random number (via an online random number generator) from the number of comments submitted for each giveaway, and the commenter corresponding to that number will win. We'll announce the winner just prior to the next Giveaway announcement and contact the winners via their Facebook page (so be sure that your settings allow us to send you a private message!). 

Our Facebook Giveaway tradition has always involved asking the entrants to contribute a positive piece of information or advice when you make your Comment to enter the drawing. This time, we'd like you to go just a little further.

HOW TO ENTER AND GIVEAWAY ETIQUETTE

1. Please visit the Facebook pages of the companies that have donated the prizes and click on their Like button. This does not statistically increase your chances of winning, but it is a nice thing to do. You'll find links to their Facebook page here where we'll list the day's prizes. 

2. We'll post each day's comment question or request here with the prize listing. Return to the Professional Photographer Facebook Page and POST YOUR COMMENT, answering that question or request, ON THE GIVEAWAY ENTRY ONLY to be included in the drawing. 

3. DO NOT post your entry request on the Professional Photographer Facebook page WALL. We'll delete it. The only method of entry is through COMMENTS on FACEBOOK on the specific GIVEAWAY DAY post. If you don't see a "Write a comment …" field, it means you have not clicked Like on our page. You'll find that button at the top of the page. DO NOT comment on this instruction post. That will not count as an entry.

4. If you are one of our lucky winners but cannot use a portion of the prizes that you've won, please return to that Giveaway post, find another photographer who entered the drawing, and make a new friend and share your winnings!

Now, let's get on with the giving!

DAY ONE COMMENT REQUEST: Share the name of one of your favorite restaurants and what city it's in (particularly if it's in San Antonio).

DAY ONE PRIZES:

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Imagenomic Pro Plugin Suite, which includes Portraiture Plug-in, Noiseware Pro Plug-in, and RealGrain Plug-in. A $300 value. Visit the Imagenomic Facebook Page!

 

animoto_logo_a_sm.jpg

 

A one-year subscription to Animoto Pro! A $249 value. Visit the Animoto Pro Facebook Page!

 

em_logo_full.jpg

 

A one-year Event Account subscription to ExposureManager! A $99 value. Visit the ExposureManager Facebook Page!

and ...

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A Lexar Professional 600x 8GB UDMA CompactFlash card. An $80 value. Visit the Lexar Media Facebook Page!

That's a total value of $728, and it's just going to get bigger as the giveaway goes on! 

 

 

November 8, 2010

Tutorial: Textures as Layer Styles

By Thom Rouse

Texture layers and blending modes have become a standard method for post-production image enhancement. When you find yourself using a favorite texture over and over, it’s time to save time, and streamline the production. Here’s a method for using textures as layer styles for speed and efficiency.

Step 1. Find and open a texture you use regularly. Either select the entire image (command/control + A) or select a portion of the texture with the rectangular Marquee tool. (Fig. 1)

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Figure 1

Step 2. From the edit menu choose Define Pattern … and name it descriptively so that you can identify it when you are looking for it. For instance “beige rock” or “green stucco wall”

Step 3. Open a subject image and create a duplicate layer above the original (command/control + J). (Fig. 2)

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Figure 2

Continue reading "Tutorial: Textures as Layer Styles" »

October 13, 2010

Review: iPad Portfolio Apps

By Joan Sherwood, Senior Editor
Images ©Cheryl Pearson

This supplement includes additional interface illustrations along with the iPad portfolio app review published in the November 2010 issue of Professional Photographer magazine.

The clear, gorgeous display screen of the Apple iPad makes it an ideal mobile presentation device for photographers—it can really draw a crowd. The iPad’s native Photos app, though, with only a simple slideshow function, doesn’t offer much for professional branding, utility and customization.

The iPad was released in April, so apps designed for it are relatively new as well. Because new apps tend to be updated frequently, we contacted the developers of the four reviewed here to get the scoop on what features to expect in upgrades planned for release before November.

With all four, you have to add images one at a time from a photo picker to the app’s library; a tap on the thumbnail loads the image. The current iPad OS doesn’t support a select-all function to import a folder of images from your iPad photo albums. The new iOS4 might have improvements, but it will be awhile before it’s available for iPad. The iPad also has a RAM fragmentation problem. If you’ve been using it with lots of different apps, any crashes you get are likely due to the iPad, not one of these apps. Just restart.

It’s best to downsize your photos before transferring them to the iPad. Syncing a folder of full-res photos takes its own sweet time, and large images will likely clog the system’s memory anyway. Find out if your portfolio app has a recommended image resolution; you’ll probably be safe with 1,024 pixels on the long side.

ff_icon.jpg

FLEXFOLIOS

Flexfolios v 1.33 has a simple interface and a helpful reference manual accessible from the home menu. The app can be used to transfer documents between iPad and computer (music, video, pdfs, text files). You can “associate” one or more of these files with any image in your portfolio, but, for instance, you cannot play a single music file while you display a slideshow.

You can touch-and-drag up to 36 images in each portfolio. The most efficient way to build a portfolio is bottom-up, so start with the images you want to appear last. As you build, you’ll see only four images at a time; the rest are pushed offscreen to the right. To rearrange images, move them back to the picture library, slide the portfolio images to the new insertion spot, then move the image back in. You could also move the four images in view. Reordering images in the picture library is easy.

There’s currently no auto-play slideshow option; instead, you advance the images by swiping left or right. You can select a background color or custom image. You can choose to view vertical images side-by-side when they’re next to each other in the collection. You can also set up 700x400- pixel e-cards to send out to prospects. 

In the works: a slideshow mode and VGA compatibility to connect the iPad to a projector or display.

Price: $9.99. flexfolios.com

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Flexfolios Info setup interface

Continue reading "Review: iPad Portfolio Apps" »

October 7, 2010

Reader Offer: Buy "The DAM Book," Get Expression Media 2 Free

Phase One and digital asset management expert Peter Krogh have a special offer for Professional Photographer readers. If you buy a copy of “The DAM Book, Second Edition” from our special offer page, you will get a fully licensed copy of Microsoft Expression Media 2 absolutely free. So with a $49.99 book purchase, you receive $199 software value for free.

Just make your purchase from this special offer page for Professional Photographer readers

The offer is for a free, fully licensed, downloaded copy of Expression Media 2, which is compatible with both Windows and Mac platforms. Expression Media 2 is an image cataloging and media management application (images, audio, video, documents) that also integrates well with Phase One Capture One, Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom workflows. Expression Media 2 is especially suitable for image collections that have grown too large for a single Lightroom catalog.

The offer is valid through October 31st. Your purchase must be made at www.theDAMbook.com/ppmag in order to qualify for the offer. Visit the special offer link for additional details.

September 30, 2010

Supplement: Mamiya RZ33 Kit

This post shows additional product illustrations for Stan Sholik's review of the Mamiya RZ33 Kit, published in the October issue of Professional Photographer magazine.

By Stan Sholik

All images ©Stan Sholik

Professional photographers want reliable equipment they can count on long-term, that won’t be rendered obsolete by the next new thing. PhaseOne (through its Mamiya and Leaf operations) has stepped in to help provide that for owners of Mamiya RB67 and RZ67, as well as newcomers to mediumformat digital photography.

The RZ33 digital camera kit upgrades those cameras for cordless digital operation. RZ67 users can still use all their existing accessories, including the film backs and power winder, on the upgraded body. RB67 owners can use the kit to upgrade to a digital system that will feel totally familiar, although they’ll need to get RZ lenses. And the newcomers get yet another digital camera option that includes a broad range of superb leaf-shutter-equipped lenses.

The RZ33 kit comprises an updated Mamiya RZ67 Pro IID body and Mamiya DM33 digital back. All you need do is attach a lens, load a CF card, charge the DM33 battery, and start shooting. The RZ33 body looks identical to the RZ67, but the body in the RZ33 kit has updated communications boards and a new digital integration plate between the body and the back. These enable the body and back to communicate without external cables, thus making setup simpler and operation more reliable. 

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The RZ33 kit with the bellows slightly extended.

Continue reading "Supplement: Mamiya RZ33 Kit" »

September 20, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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September 17, 2010

Apps for Photographers

Android and Apple are expanding how we work and play on the go. Check out 11 nifty tools for your mobile device. 

By Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP

Apps have become an integral part of life for many of us. There are apps that organize, apps that amuse, apps that manage your social networking. No matter what you need to do, as Apple’s ad campaign proclaims, “there’s an app for that.” But what about apps for photographers? There is a plethora of chintzy photo filters and other fluff apps that don’t really perform up to the developers’ claims. Where are those apps that are actually useful? We’ve found eleven apps for both Android and iPhone that every photographer should consider adding to their arsenal.

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BUBBLE LEVEL
If you offer installation services for your wall portraits, then these bubble level apps make it easy to quickly check that the piece is hanging properly. The ’droid version, Bubble, is free and comes with bubble levels for both vertical and flat surfaces. The iPhone app I prefer is iHandy Level. It’s free, but only has the vertical surface bubble. If you want the flat surface bubble, upgrade to iHandy Carpenter ($1.99).
www.ktk.bz 
www.ihandysoft.com

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__________

 

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ADOBE PHOTOSHOP EXPRESS
This application is the newest version of the recently rebranded Photoshop.com Mobile. You probably already have this app on your phone, but if not, it might be worth checking out. From Photoshop Express, you can crop, rotate, or flip your pictures, as well as enhance the image by adjusting exposure, saturation, tint, contrast, brightness, or by adding effects and borders. The interface is pretty intuitive, and allows you to share to social networking sites once you’ve saved your revised photograph. This app is free for both iPhone and Android devices; you will need a Photoshop.com account to make the app fully functional.
mobile.photoshop.com  

 

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__________

 

Continue reading "Apps for Photographers" »

September 7, 2010

Businesses get a makeover

Be Stronger contest helped lucky photographers revamp the bottom line

Professional Photographer recently gave away several thousand dollars in products as part of a contest themed “Be Stronger in 2010.” With the goal of helping the readers revamp their businesses, the magazine partnered with GP Albums, LustreColor, Photobiz and Ron Nichols Digital Solutions to offer a variety of prizes specifically designed for pro photographers. The contest’s grand prize winner, Phil Merutka of Memories to Treasure Photography in Chicago, took home $10,000 in products and services—$2,500 from each sponsor. Addressing four different areas of Merutka’s business, the prizes have offered the wedding and portrait photographer a chance at totally renovating his operation.

“There is no doubt that these prizes will help improve my sales and help me grow my business,” says Merutka. “Overall, it’s an amazing gift to be given. This is a job I truly love, and these prizes make my job easier. It’s just a good feeling being able to make people happy doing work that I enjoy. “

Online Optimized

Merutka has a new, search-engine-optimized website from Photobiz. The site offers a combination of graphically pleasing Flash animation with searchable HTML code. It also includes mobile-device-compatible versions so that on-the-go customers can view it.

“For a lot of photographers, especially those who don’t have a studio, their website is their presentation space,” says David Hutnik of Photobiz. “It’s critical that this space represents the photographer well and provides a good connection with clients.”

Hutnik stresses that today’s photographers should take into account all the different ways that their clients get information, including traditional websites, mobile-enabled sites, social networking, blogs and other multimedia communications. The key is to present a cross-platform presence that can engage clients on multiple levels.

Continue reading "Businesses get a makeover" »

August 31, 2010

Our Favorite Workflow Websites (September Issue Supplement)

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

• dpbestflow.org

• thedambook.com/blog

• tv.adobe.com/product/lightroom

• blogs.adobe.com/lightroomjournal

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

• ononesoftware.com/university/category/workflow

• photoshelter.com/learn

June 1, 2010

Flash Demo: Einstein 640 Monolight

In the June issue of Professional Photographer magazine, Ellis Vener reviewed the Einstein 640 monolight from Paul C. Buff. In this test, Ellis pushed the limits of the Einstein’s recycle speed. He captured 145 frames at 10 frames per second with the Einstein set to 18.7 watt-seconds. The Canon EOS-1D Mark IV exposures were set for 1/250 second at f/8, ISO 400, capturing large JPEGS recorded to a Lexar Professional 600X CompactFlash card. Ellis compiled the frame animation using Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended.

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Continue reading "Flash Demo: Einstein 640 Monolight" »

March 26, 2010

Download: Bridal makeup tips for a picture-perfect face

Our March issue featured a useful article titled "Glamourpuss," offering bridal makeup tips from makeup artists Steve Moore of The Moore Agency in Atlanta, Deanna Rene of Scottsdale, Ariz., and wedding photographer Holly Schumacher. We encouraged readers to pass these tips on to brides and post them on your website.

Here are the tips in downloadable text form to make that easier for you: Bridal Makeup Tips

 

February 1, 2010

Checkout: RedCart, Photo Cart, Lightbox

Supplement

By Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP

In this month’s print edition of Professional Photographer magazine, I discussed my experiences with three web cart systems for photographers: RedCart, Photo Cart, and Lightbox Photo Gallery. While each cart system is different, they do all accomplish the same end goal—that is, to allow you to sell your images and products online.

To help you get an idea of what each cart will (and will not) do, I’ve compiled features into categories: investment, interface, pricing, products, and setup. With that being said, let’s take a closer look at the features these web carts have to offer.

Investment: With a one-time investment upfront for a single domain license, all three carts allow you to benefit from commission-free sales. Depending on which interface you choose, you’ll end up investing anywhere from $329 to $1,099 (see end of article). Photo Cart includes lifetime free upgrades, Lightbox includes free upgrades for one year, and RedCart includes minor upgrades unless you spring for their monthly investment … and then you’ll receive all upgrades.

Interface: All three carts have the capability to display public galleries (or keep them private), e-mail invoices, save client favorites, and even display images in a slideshow. RedCart is the only cart to operate on a Flash-based front end—the other two are HTML-based. Photo Cart and Lightbox both have integrated batch uploading, watermarking, and auto thumbnail generation; the upcoming version of RedCart (soon to be released) relies on a desktop application to accomplish these tasks. Since Lightbox is geared to commercial/stock photography, it has several unique features, including SEO URLs, a multi-photographer manager, and even a keyword search log. Both Photo Cart and Lightbox can display IPTC metadata if that information is present in your image files.

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Above: Lightbox Photo Gallery configuration interface and the gallery view for clients. (Click for large view.)

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Above: Photo Cart's client gallery. (Click for large view.)

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Above: RedCart's client gallery. (Click for large view.)

Continue reading "Checkout: RedCart, Photo Cart, Lightbox" »

July 28, 2009

Seeking Reader Input: Photo Industry Inventors

Professional Photographer magazine is planning an article that takes a look at the innovators among us. Men and women who were photographers first have invented some of the handiest and inspiring gadgets and gear that we use today—people like Lensbaby inventor Craig Strong, camera bag creator Jim Domke, and Jean-François O'Kane, who patented the PhotoMasterTarget.

Do you know an inventor you'd like to recommend for our story, or love a particular product and would like to know more about who came up with the idea? We're looking for living inventors who were photographers when they conceived their innovation. Let us know about it in our comments below.

July 13, 2009

First Look: Creative Light

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

“You get what you pay for” is an adage you’ll often hear amongst any group of photographers. They’ll discuss quality, service and price and how it pertains to either their business or that of a competitor. High quality products and great service don’t typically accompany a low price; you can have two of the three factors but not all three. Creative Light (www.creativelight.com), distributed by the MAC Group in the U.S., has a new line of lighting accessories that are definitely worth taking a second look. They have done a great job providing a quality product at a very fair price.

I recently had the opportunity to review their new 90x120 (3’x4’) soft box in both the flat front (FF) and recessed front (RF) models. I must say that I am impressed. The soft box I got for review is well made. Not only does the fabric have a quality feel to it, but the actual stitching and construction of the soft box do too. Combine a well made product with very competitive pricing and I think you’ll find many satisfied customers. I’ll have more to say in an upcoming review for Professional Photographer magazine.

Image ©Don Chick

July 6, 2009

Correction: Phase One P65+ Review

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In the July issue of Professional Photographer, information in the Phase One P65+ review (p. 48) regarding Sensor+ technology should have read:

"Sensor+ technology was developed under the guidance of Phase One—holder of the proprietary rights to its use—by Dalsa, one of the two companies producing sensors for use in medium-format backs."

For a detailed explanation of Sensor+ technology, download "Phase One Patent Pending Sensor+ Explained."

The incorrect information was inadvertantly introduced in editing and should not be attributed to the reviewer. We regret the error.


 

June 29, 2009

Supplement: Noise-reduction Software Image Examples

By Diane Berkenfeld

Sometimes though, you have to push the ISO capability of the camera or shoot with less light than you’d like. That’s where noise reduction software comes in. Adobe Photoshop has a noise reduction feature, but it's not as robust as the plug-ins and standalone applications whose primary function is to reduce noise. Most raw conversion software also incorporates noise reduction, which works well for raw file shooters.

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These comparison examples from Nik Software Dfine 2.0, Imagenomic Noiseware 4.0, and Picture Code Noise Ninja supplement that article from the July issue of Professional Photographer magazine. All images ©Diane Berkenfeld.

This original (left) was captured with an Olympus E-20 at ISO 160. Click for larger view.

Click through for 100% detail image comparisons.

Continue reading "Supplement: Noise-reduction Software Image Examples" »

May 29, 2009

Supplement: Light Modifier Image Examples

By Ron Eggers

Innovative commercial light modifiers and huge technological advances have vastly improved on-camera flash. Ranging from simple reflectors to light channeling devices to sophisticated diffusers and mini soft boxes, these modifiers give you considerable control over the quality, temperature, direction and shape of light. Many of them can be used to simulate studio lighting techniques. Some modify light subtly, others dramatically.

Click through to view additional samples of light modification using the products mentioned in the June issue of Professional Photographer magazine: ExpoImaging Honl Photo Speed System, LumiQuest ProMax System, Sto-Fen Omni Bounce, Presslite VerteX, and Gary Fong's Lightsphere Universal.

Continue reading "Supplement: Light Modifier Image Examples" »

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" »

April 1, 2009

Review Supplement: Nikon D3X 30-second Exposure, Specs

Ellis Vener reviewed the Nikon D3X for the April issue of Professional Photographer magazine. He took this 30-second exposure in San Antonio using the D3X with no tripod, braced by hand against a stair landing, aperture at f/10, ISO 100, camera long exposure noise reduction on, Active D-lighting set to extra-high. NEF to DNG processing in Adobe Lightroom v2.3. Click image to see a 900x600-pixel view.

Click here for complete Nikon D3X features and specifications.

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" »

March 12, 2009

PPA Sheds Light on Facebook License Policy

What happens to image licenses when those images are posted to a third-party site?

Facebook found itself in hot water in early February after stating it would continue to hold a usage license on artistic works posted to its pages after the owner of those works deleted them from the site or closed his account. A public outcry elicited a quick about-face from the company. The following day, Facebook issued a statement clearly articulating that its license to use posted images expires when users delete them from the site or close their account.

In a letter sent to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, PPA stressed the importance of adhering to U.S. copyright laws and explained that copyright protection is integral to the livelihood of professional photographers.

The majority of Facebook’s 175 million users post photographs to their pages and many pro photographers incorporate Facebook in their marketing plan.

As content-sharers on Facebook, users have given the site a license to distribute and display their work. When any user (including a professional artist) posts an image to the site, he hasn't given away rights to that image, but allowed Facebook to show and share it. Facebook does not assume ownership of the work posted.

With the volume of online content sharing, PPA understands any website owner’s desire for protection when handling copyrighted creations. That’s why Facebook asks photographers to grant usage licenses for the images posted on its site.

Whenever someone views your images on your Web pages or a communal site, or when an image you created is queued up in a search, it qualifies as a reproduction of your work. Facebook is bound to ensure that you, as a site user, agree to the display and distributionof your images within its online community.

Content-sharing website owners will also use their terms of service statement to help content creators manage their copyrights. Facebook, for example, requires users to affirm that they’ve obtained permission to use any information or creative works they post to the site. Further, Facebook provides information on its adherence to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and the procedures copyright owners can easily follow to get infringed works quickly removed from the site.

—Maria Matthews, PPA copyright andgovernment affairs manager

March 1, 2009

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 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" »

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. 

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©Roy Emerson

 

Supplement: RadioPopper PX

Overcoming the drawbacks of infrared wireless systems, the new RadioPopper PX can be an extension of your wireless flash, and your creativity. Mike Fulton and the crew at TriCoast Photography provided great information about how they use the RadioPoppers and what a difference they make in our January issue of Professional Photographer magazine. Here are some more examples of behind-the-scenes and the final results.

Behind the scenes:

Cody Clinton is shooting and Cindy Williams acts as the lighting assistant at this "Day After" session on a Florida beach. The sun is coming in from the left to right across the subjects’ face, so the lightstick is being used as a fill light to even out the shadows. In the final result, the very shallow depth of field is thanks to the High Speed Sync settings—something you can only get using this method and part of what makes the TriCoast photographers prefer it to PocketWizards.

Final image ©TriCoast Photography:

Continue reading "Supplement: RadioPopper PX" »

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.

Supplement: Product Lighting Diagrams

In the January issue of Professional Photographer magazine, Stan Sholik demonstrated three different types of product shot. Each required a lighting setup that fulfilled the needs of the client, including budget and time restraints, and that suited the intended purpose of the photograph and its eventual use.

Here Sholik provides lighting diagrams for each final image in the article. Click the diagram for a larger view.

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Images and diagram ©Stan Sholik

Continue reading "Supplement: Product Lighting Diagrams" »

November 1, 2008

Strobist.com Links

Our November issue of Professional Photographer magazine featured an article on David Hobby and Strobist.com, a Web site dedicated to encouraging photographers to experiment and learn new techniques with the versatile yet unsung hot-shoe flash. Here are direct links to various popular Strobist projects, tutorials and groups mentioned in the article.

Strobist Ring Flash Week

Super Cheap DIY Ring Flash

Lighting 101

Strobist Group on Flickr


©David Hobby, Strobist.com

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.

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November 30, 2007

100-Year Anniversary: Share Your Thoughts

We value your opinions. What technology, person, event or image has had a significant impact on photography over the last century? Who or what do you think is the most significant influence over the last century? Simply add your comments to this entry.

About Professional Photograper Magazine

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in the Professional Photograper Magazine category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Products is the previous category.

Tutorials is the next category.

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


 
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