Thursday, August 30, 2007

Adobe Lightroom 1.1, Part III...

I know that this is my third post on Adobe Lightroom (pretty amazing math skills, huh?), but it is such a great tool for photographers and there is new stuff available on an almost daily basis, and I just want to keep my Lightroom buddies informed.

But before I give you the new links, let me share another reason why I think Lightroom is such a cool tool.

When I shoot a wedding there can easily be 4 cameras involved (2 of mine and 2 from a second shooter) and a problem I’ve always had is getting the images from all 4 cameras into correct chronological order. Many programs will sort files by date but NOT by hour (or even minute and seconds). Manually syncing some 1400-2000 images is a HUGE task (and a huge pain in the buttocks).

Well, I imported my last wedding into Lightroom and TA DAH! Every image was in the correct order. So before you go out and shoot with multiple cameras, be sure to sync up their dates and times.

I love Lightroom and would give a full mouth kiss to every one of its developers to prove it.

;)

here are some more great Lightrooom links:

1. Inside Lightroom (same name but different website than the one mentioned in my first Lightroom post) has more than just a few articles, tutorials and getting started guides.

2. George Jardine on Lightroom and Digital Photography is a site you do not want to miss.

3. And be sure to visit Adobe on del.icio.us.

thanks for the emails of support, please keep them coming!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Take the flash off your camera...

For those of you who have been "embracing your flash", you may want to consider taking it to the next step, taking the flash "off camera".

For Nikon shooters out there (of which I am one - D200 with SB-800 flahses), you already have that option by using "Commander Mode", but because it is IR (infrared) it is predicated on line of site - if your camera trigger can't see the off camera flash, then it won't fire, no flash - no picture, and if you're shooting a wedding (or other live event) you most likely will not have a chance for a "do over".

Pocket Wizards are an option, but a very, very expensive option.

I recently bought (on eBay) a trigger/receiver set with an extra receiver from Gadget Infinity and with shipping it all came to just over $60. They ship from Hong Kong but much to my surprise these bad boys were knocking on my door in just 6 days (that's right, from order to delivery was less than a week). From talking to others, this is the rule, NOT the exception. The quickest delivery has thus far been 5 days.

They even come with batteries so you can start flashing right out of the box. Though to be honest, they are not the greatest of batteries so do your self a favor and get some batteries to have at the ready. They take the CR2 type battery, which is not the cheapest in the world, but again, on eBay, I got 5 brand name (Energizer Lithium) batteries for $9, yes - that included delivery.

I love eBay!

These are 4 channel triggers and for some reason (mostly with Canon flashes) some channels are more reliable than others. Duncan Babbage has done us all a great service by extensively testing theses radio triggers and he can tell you which are the "God Channels". You can see his complete write-up and view the results of his testing here. So far (here the sound of knocking on wood) I have not had a single missfire.

If you have read this far and are still wondering why you might want to take the flash of your camera, go to Flash Flavor and view the stunning work of Matt Adcock and Sol Tamargo, work done with off camera flashes. Be sure to take the time and scroll (slowly) to the bottom of their page and see everything stunning image they have to offer.

For under $100 you can truly take your work to another level.

At this point I want to talk strictly to the Nikon shooters, so all you Canon folks return to your lives, there is nothing to see here.

If you own Nikon gear, you have to visit Nikonians.org, a great place with a ton of resources and references. If you want to see a great tutorial on hw to uses your flash, they have it, how about an in-depth look at Nikons Creative Lighting System (all that Commander Mode Stuff), product reviews, FAQ's, eBooks, and a library of information is at your finger tips at this website, so be sure to take advantage of it, 'cause it's all free.

That's it for this entry, I am off to shoot a wedding with Stacey Kane, have yourselves a great weekend.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Learn from David Jay... NOT me...


The above image is from a recent portrait shoot that we did.

This shoot was for a client who came to me after seeing work we did for another family, work that the wife loved and she wanted to have us shoot her and her family (including the family dog) at the beach.

Imagine my surprise when I posted the images from the shoot and the wife rejected them.

Was she being difficult, overly critical? ABSOLUTELY NOT, the problem was mine, all 100% of it belonged to me.

And it wasn't that the images were technically or aesthetically bad, they simply weren't the type of image she was looking for, because of her comments of my previous work and wanting to go to the beach, I assumed I knew what she was looking for, I did not take the time to truly listen to what it was she wanted to achieve.

It was not until she rejected the initial images that I listened, that I sought to understand their desires. We have scheduled another shoot, but this time we will capture the images that the CLIENT has in mind and (obviously) will do so at no charge.

Within days of of this experience I was turned on to a new online forum that covers a wide range of topics, including these very types of client/photographer situations and how to avoid them.

David Jay has recently launched Freedom Club, an online forum for (wedding) photographers that is an outstanding resource on gear, marketing, and of course shooting.

IMHO, David Jay is at the top of the pyramid when it comes to wedding photographers (forget the fact that he is as cute as a button), so anytime he talks, I am going to listen. You should too.

One of the (many) forum videos I watched at the Freedom Club was DJ talking about our competition:

“who is your real competition?”

"Many photographers have the idea that other photographers are our competition… when the real competition is the consumer not valuing the product, not valuing the service that we offer…”

He talks about what should and should not be discussed with a client, how (and why) the conversation should always be kept positive and geared around the most important thing, giving the client the most beautiful pictures possible.

You can visit the forum for free, but I would strongly suggest signing up for at least a month (heck, it’s only $15) and seeing all that David and the Freedom Club has to offer, you’ll be glad you did.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Embrace your flash!...

For most photographers it only takes one word to have them on the floor in the fetal position and blubbering like a baby- FLASH!

Okay, I have no idea about other photographers, but that's what it did to me.

;)

But seriously, if you think working with your flash is more painful than a stick in the eye, you can use your flash well enough so that your pictures don't suck, or you think you know your flash well, you need to to visit the website STROBIST.

Do not pass go, do not collect $200, RUN (don't walk) to this website.

There is almost too much information, so much good stuff that it's overwhelming, but it's like the old saying "how can an ant eat an elephant? One bite at a time", attack this site one article at a time.

Here are some of the areas I found most useful:

1. Lighting 101 - This is a great introduction to your flash and getting it off your camera. we are not talking about lessons that have you spending a ton of money, nope, you will learn about making snoots from cereal boxes, making your own pc-sync cord, using bungee cords, and improving your light by bouncing it off existing items like shirts, walls, and ceilings. GO TAKE THIS COURSE!

2. This was followed with Lighting Boot Camp which is a series of assignments that build upon the Lighting 101 course and will further expand your knowledge.

3. Just when you thought it could not get any better, they roll out Lighting 102! From the site: " L102 is designed to be a comprehensive course that starts from square one and is designed to build a broader and organic understanding of how to control light.There will be full assignments and small exercises. But where Boot Camp skipped straight to dessert, this time we'll eat our veggies first.We will start by exploring the different ways in which light can be controlled. Along the way we will be doing exercises to build a strong understanding of each of those variables. As we start to get some of the control factors under out belt, there will be assignments that make use of what we have learned so far."

And if you're wondering if it's worth the effort, take a look at the images by some who have taken the time to master their flash, Flash Flavor is dedicated to showing the images some "pretty amazing lighting masters". And they don't just show you the images, they show you (in words and graphics) how they accomplished these world class images.

Flash Flavor is the brain child of Matt Adcock and Sol Tamargo, if you want to see one of the coolest things ever, what their "trash the dress" video.

If you are going to take the time to take picture, why not take the best picture you can?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

A review of Lou Jones latest photography book…


travel + PHOTOGRAPHY Off the Charts by Lou Jones

This book is a delight, one of those books that you feel fortunate to have in your hands.

And it’s really more than one book – it’s five books slipped into one cover, this is how I read it.

Book 1: It’s a picture book.

You can’t just open it and start reading; it’s just not that easy. Why? Because starting with the very first page you are greeted with Lou Jones images. Lou’s pictures are more than what you first see, more than the initial point of focus. As your eyes start to move it is grabbed by another point of interest, and then another. And then you realize that what you were looking at was not a picture about one thing; it was a story about many things.

After you absorb all of the pictures on page one, curiosity has you turn the page to see if there are more to follow. With each turn of the page, you are rewarded with up to four images. And before you know it, you’ve come to the end of the book, grateful for the almost 200 pages that make up this book, but just a little disappointed that you have reached the end.

Book 2: It’s an instruction manual.

There are roughly 150 images in this book, some taken for commercial clients, others taken over almost two decades of covering the Olympics, and still more taken during Lou’s travels all over the world. Along with each image you also get the how and why the images were taken, information that would interest anyone with even the slightest curiosity of photography and the photographic process.

1. Where the image was taken
2. Why Lou thought it was an image was worth capturing
3. What the conditions were (weather, lighting, etc.)
4. How the conditions were overcome (lens choice, shutter speed, tripod, etc.)
5. How the time of the day impacted the image

It’s similar to watching the Food Channel; they start by showing you the most delicious food, and then give the list of ingredients followed by step by step instructions so you too can make this marvelous dish yourself.

This is what Lou Jones does for us in this book, he shows you the possibilities, and then arms you with the insight and knowledge to be able to evaluate a given situation and how to select the tools to make it work.

Book 3: It’s a helping of wisdom sprinkled with a dash of humor.

Throughout the book you will find quotes from photographers, from the Bible, and great “thinkers” that make you pause a moment to digest the words.

Here are a few of my favorite:

If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough” - Robert Capa

Imagination is more important that knowledge” – Albert Einstein

Light is an active, aggressive force” – Jay Maisel

Photography in direct sunlight is like drinking from a fire hose” – John Sachs

Clothes make the man, naked people have little or no influence in society” – Mark Twain

Book 4: Pearls (AKA “Yellow Boxes”).

In each chapter you will find one or more “yellow boxes”, highlighted areas on a page that contain a paragraph or two, pearls of wisdom related to that chapters topic. I took it as Lou saying, “If you take only one thing from this chapter be sure this is it!”.

Chapter one is on equipment and the yellow box talks about the importance of a good watch, keeping track of your time zones, and the cultural impact of timeliness.

Chapter seven is about international travel and the need to do your research before you leave, that a simple thing like color can be truly important. Did you know that green is considered bad luck in England, good luck in Ireland, and absolutely sacred in Islam?

Chapter ten focuses on health. You learn why you should bring your own health kit whenever you travel and the reason it should include syringes. Things that a novice traveler would give no thought, but when you hear from an experienced traveler of what to do and why, it goes from no thought to a “no-brainer”.

Book 5: The meat and potatoes.

Once you finish reading the first four “books”, it’s time to sit down and dig into the most in-depth and detailed part of the book, the chapter content.

The first few chapters are dedicated strictly to photography. You will find chapters on cameras, lenses, tripods and filters. There is also an entire chapter on the subject of film vs. digital and how airport security and the effect of x-rays on film is “another compelling reason to switch to digital”.

The chapter on lighting will give you an outstanding explanation on the properties of light, what a histogram is and how to interpret it, exposure, how to use available light to your advantage.

Then Lou moves into the important things you should, no MUST, know and do before you travel, as well as what to do and how to act when you are a guest in another country.

The subjects are covered so well and in such detail that anyone who is considering traveling internationally should seriously consider getting this book, regardless of whether or not you intend to bring a camera.

Lou explains the how’s and why’s of researching prior to leaving on your trip, covering important things to do (and not to do) with your passport, insurance and terrorism.

What about jet lag, water, food, sunburn altitude sickness and bug bites? It’s covered. So is getting there and back – customs, airports, planes, trains, and automobiles.

Lou will also explain that clothing to bring and why for all weather conditions, hot, cold, or wet, and everything in between.

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, this is one of my favorite books, the kind of book that when I lend it out I make a note of who took it, so I will be sure to get it back.

As Men on Film would say, “Two snaps up, and a full circle”.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Scott Kelby Revisited…



I look back at shooting with Scott and man that was fun! If anything surprised me, it was how genuine he is. We have been in touch since he left and I am happy to say I made a new friend. Not only a new friendship with Scott, but other folks who have emailed because of that post. Nothing but good has happened to me because of meeting him (can you hear that sound, the far off and faint kissy sound of lips being placed upon buttocks!)

;)

Here is the original link I sent showing him the old trucks that are around me, and I have posted a couple shots from the day we went out.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Adobe Lightroom 1.1, Part II...

I have just a few more things to add to my previous Lightroom post, so let's get get right to it:

1. CreativePro.com has a 17 minute video "Intelligent Importing" which focuses on getting the absolute most when importing your images into Lightroom.

2. Speaking of videos, Adobe Evangelists (great name, don't you think?) has put together a series of Lightroom tutorial flash movies.

3. You can also get a bunch of tutorials at The Image-Space.

4. Take a listen to how Julieanne Kost uses Lightroom (one of the Adobe Evangelists), and learn about her workflow, you'll be glad you did.

5. LightroomGalleries.com has (free) Flash and HTML based galleries and slideshow templates specifically for Lightroom and they just (today) came out with LRG FlashSlideStrip 2.0, their latest slideshow template for Lightroom.

Thanks to all who wrote in!