Happy New Year!...

We hope that you and yours have had a wonderful holiday season. The New Year will bring some exciting things to Weekly Photo Tips, we have a bunch of new products that we are reviewing for you and a bag full of tips, tricks, and links to share.

Until then (when the holidays are over and the normal rhythm of life returns), we would like to wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and safe New Year and leave you to consider the following:

Imagine there is a bank that credits your checking account every single morning with $86,400, but it carries over no balance from day to day.

Every evening the bank deletes whatever remaining balance you failed to use that day.

What would you do? Make the effort to spend every cent, every single day of course!!!!

Well, here is your chance because each of us has such a bank. Its called TIME. The great equalizer, you don’t have less because you are poor or more because you are rich. We all have the exact same amount, it is what we do (or don't do) with it that makes all the difference.

Every morning, God credits each of us with 86,400 seconds.

Every night He writes off, as lost forever, whatever time you have failed to spend, failed to invest wisely.

Your time bank carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft.

Each day it fills your account for you.

Each night it empties the remains of that day.

If you fail to use that day's deposits, the loss is yours and those around you.

There is no going back. There is no drawing against the "tomorrow".

You must live in the present, live on today's deposits.

Invest some of that deposit in service to others.

The clock is running. Make the most of today.

To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.

To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the person waiting for an organ transplant.

To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the parent whose child is late coming home from school.

To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who missed the plain home for the holidays.

To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask a person who just avoided an accident.

Treasure every moment that you have!

Remember that time waits for no one.

Yesterday is history.

Tomorrow is mystery.

Today is a gift from God.

That's why it's called the present!

God bless you and your time.

A Very Merry Christmas...

From my family to yours...

Eggnog for the mind...

I once heard it said that those who can read but don't are no better off than those who cannot read at all.

The same can be said for those who have a camera and only know what came to them by flipping a few of the camera control switches or never read anything beyond the "Quick Start" guide. Sure on occasion you will get an outstanding image, but be honest, most of the time your images will fall into the "hey, these don't suck" category.

Or you have Photoshop but never read a book or took a course and when you see others peoples Photoshop work your wonder "how did they do that"? You are missing out on so much!

I know, I know, technical books have been used to put insomniacs to sleep, or worse, attempting to read them can be more painful than a stick in the eye. If you live outside of the "big city" training courses are few and far between. So what do you do?

Well, do I have some news for you! Kelby Training is now offering online training of the highest quality and at an obscenely low price. Here are just some of the instructors:

The Photoshop Studs (Scott Kelby, Dave Cross, Matt Kloskowski)
Bert Monroy
Joe McNally
Terry White
Moose Peterson
Vincent Versace
Dan Margulis

And the subjects that are covered go far beyond Photoshop, they cover on camera flash, lighting, Lightroom, marketing, workflow, landscape photography, black and white artistry, and so much more.

I was truly impressed with the quality of the video and you can too because they are offering everyone a a free test ride, check it out here.

But something this good will surely cost an arm and a leg, right? Nope! You can have access to every single course they offer for a mere $19.99 a month or $199 a year ($17.99 a month/$179 a year for NAPP members).

Instead of just taking a picture, master your camera and your software, make the best darn picture possible, now that is a great new years resolution!

Lensbaby... OH BABY!...

The Lensbaby 3G is the newest select focusing lens from the good folks over at Lensbabies.

A Lensbaby allows you to select an in-focus “sweet-spot” from any point in your image, either for creative purposes or for maximum impact. Though your chosen sweet-spot is in focus the Lensbaby will distort (or blur) the rest of the image just enough so that it adds interest to the photo while at the same time moving (and locking) the viewer’s eye straight to the area of the shot you wanted them to focus on.

These little thing was a blast to play with and produces awesome images that are entertaining to the eye (see below).

The Lensbaby 3G is light in your hand but at the same time feels well constructed, and solid as you hold it. I noticed that there is rubber treads on the movable parts and on the focusing rings, which is a nice touch. It also comes with a handy pouch, a protective case, and a collection of 8 different aperture discs, and a tool for extracting aperture discs.

The instructions that were included with the Lensbaby 3G are just a few pages and could not be any easier to read or follow. The print was large, and the diagrams allowed for fast reference. The entire pamphlet can be read in just a couple minutes and after that you'll be armed with all the info you will need to make great, fun images.

Though this product is fun to use, but don't be fooled, it is a serious tool that should always be in your camera bag. Once you start using it, you will want to see how everything looks through the Lensbaby 3G! Ease of operation and the end results make it a must have item.

Set aside all the features, affordable price, and the do dads of the Lensbaby 3G, I felt good about this company before I even opened the box. There are not many companies who put their values in writing, and fewer still who publish them on the web. To me, that speaks volumes.

So it's almost Christmas and you want to know how to get the point to your significant other that you want a Lensbaby 3G, but how? Here are a few ideas:

1. Set your computers homepage to http://www.lensbabies.com/
2. Cut out their ad and tape it to your pet (learn from me, stapling it was a bad idea)
3. Show your wife some of the cool sample images from their website, then immediately turn to her and ask, "honey, do you like pearls or diamonds better?"

Good luck, and Merry Christmas!

(clicking on the images will open them larger and in a new window)

Wedding Photographer Joe Photo...

In the latest issue of Rangefinder I read a story by Joe Photo, "From Russia with Love". It's about his recent mission trip to 3 Russian orphanages.

If you read just one thing from my blog this week or this year, read "From Russia with Love" because it is about real life and it will remind you of what's important, just how lucky and how blessed you are.

A gallery of images from his trip can be viewed here.

Now, a word about Joe.

For those of you new to wedding photography Joe Photo is a rock star. When I decided wedding photography was what I wanted to do Joe was one of the people who's work I studied (and still do). His work made me realize that shooting a wedding, when done correctly, a good photographer captures the day and the story in images. Done right, the results are art.

Here is Joe Photo's "Best of 2006" wedding images, a stunning body of work. His other galleries are here.

I have three daughters that LOVE Hannah Montana, when she comes on the TV they can't sit still, there's wiggling, giggling and excitement fills the room, which is coincidently what my wife said it was like when I opened my inbox and found an email from Joe.

So, without further delay - ladies and gentlemen - JOE PHOTO!!! (you can just see the crowd of wedding photographers leaping from their seats, clapping their hands over their heads and me standing in my chair screaming like a girly man).


From Russia With Love

"I really want to shout how stoked I am with the article - From Russia with Love - that RangeFinder ran in their December "Pictures of the Year" issue. I'm so proud of so many people that got involved with this project. First, my wife Ingrid, for her loving support and encouragement. Pastor Craig at Capo Calvary and the family of volunteers that I travelled with. All of our fabulous interpreters. Fujifilm for donating the cameras for the kids. Fotoworks for donating the film processing and prints for the kids. Bill Hurter and the staff at RangeFinder for making the story known to so many of their readers. And finally, I'm so proud of the extraordinary children I had the privilege to get to know. I can't wait to go back and see them again next summer. If by chance some of you reading this are inspired to go with us, I'd love to talk to you. The dates are May 30th to June 10th, 2008. The cost is about $2,000. I guarantee, your life would never be the same. We want to take about 30 people with us. Email me if you're interested. Let's spread the love people. We are blessed."


Lightroom Presets from Matt Kloskowski...

I have written about Matt Kloskowski's blog "Lightroom Killer Tips" in the past, but Matt has added a new wrinkle to his blog that I wanted to make sure you all knew about, it's called the "Monday Preset".

On (most) Mondays Matt shares with readers his personal presets, the ones he actually uses in his own workflow and there can be as many as five presets in the bundle. In the past they have included White Balance, Sharpening, and Split Tone just to name a few.

Matt is also kind enough to include an instructional video on how to install presets.

Here is a list of all the Monday Presets so far, but moving forward be sure to read Lightroom Killer Tips, especially on Mondays.

Review of the LumiQuest Big Bounce...

LumiQuest makes a bunch of flash accessories and is without a doubt "the leader in flash solutions". As a wedding photographer my big concern is shadows, you are shooting in cramped places, people are close together or close to walls and the horrid side effect is that big black shadow that outlines your subject and reaches out of the picture and slaps you in the face.

So I asked the good folks at LumiQuest for one of their products to review, to see if it works as good as they say and they were kind enough to send me a Big Bounce to play with.

Before I show you my test results, two things:

1. If you are interested in seeing a very well done tutorial on how all of the LumiQuest products work, check out this link.

2. What you are about to see are not "artistic" images, that is not what I was going for (not even remotely). What I wanted to do (and did) was create a harsh flash scenario by using my flash (a Nikon SB-800) a little hotter than I normally would and I also put my subjects right next to a white wall, normally a recipe for disaster (as seen in my before pictures), but as you can see in the "after" images the Big Bounce did a great job.

If you click on any of the images they will open larger in a new window and you can view the results even better.

I have to say the Big Bounce is a low cost solution with big time reults.

Adobe releases Lightroom update...

Adobe has just released version 1.3.1 of Lightroom, this latest version includes updates for the new cameras from Nikon - their D3 and D300 - and the Canon 1Ds Mark III.

It has includes update for the Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard.

You can download it here for Windows, and here for the Mac.