Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The work of which I am most proud... again...

Robert N. Dechene, 23 / Army – Tour of duty 7/16/67 – 9/17/67

Raymond A. Borduas, 20 / Marine – tour of duty 5/5/68 – 6/4/68

This story was originally posted when I first started this blog, and because of the significance of the work (to me) and the dramatic increase on folks visiting this blog I wanted to dust it off for more people to see.

Of all the work (photographically) I have done, these two images are what I am most proud of. Though they may have little to do necessarily with photographic skills, the families (and fellow veterans) think them to be wonderful “pictures”.

I was a green beret during Vietnam, so the fact that seven boys (literally, boys) from this small town in southern Maine where I live did not come home is of significance to the people who live here.

After more than 30 years (and for the first time) I finally visited the Vietnam War Memorial. While there I took a picture of the panels that have the names of these two of young men inscribed on them.

Here is a (very abbreviated) overview of what I did In Photoshop:

1. Burnt all but their names so they were pushed to the background but still viewable
2. Painted their names white to make them stand out
3. Took one of their old pictures and converted it to digital
4. Combined their old photo with the photo of the wall that bore their name

It was difficult at times working on these images, having these young men literally “looking” back at me… and at one point the Pink Floyd song “Wish You Were Here” came on the radio… I will save you the details; suffice it to say I was glad no one else was at home.

Then it came time to give them to the families. Roberts family had been told something was going to be delivered to them, all of the family and friends in the area had gathered at the house and were waiting… after they passed the picture around several times and looked at it for awhile, they all climbed in their cars and headed to the nursing home where his mom now resides, so she could see it.

Rays family was equally as grateful; his brother has been to my studio more than once to thank me.

I did not do these for praise or recognition, but because these boys deserve to be remembered and I wanted to do my part to make sure that happens.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Photography and the law...

I recently listened to a podcast that really opened my eyes and made me think (is that a double cliché?), it had to do with all the things I thought I knew about photography and the law.

Episode #71 if The Digital Photography Show has an interview with Carolyn Wright and she covers the ten misconceptions of the law for photographers. What makes her an authority in this area is that she is a professional photographer, she is an attorney, and she has a law practice that focuses on law that impacts photographers. The content covered is done in an informative, interesting, and easy to understand way.

Here is just a taste of what is covered in this interview: Do you need permission to photograph a work of art in a public area? If you make money off a piece, is it automatically a commercial work? Can you put someone’s picture on your book cover without a model release?

This interview is a must listen.

Once you finish the podcast, do what I did and head directly to Carolyn’s blog "PhotoAttorney". At the PhotoAttorney blog you will find even more timely and pertinent information about photography and the law. Be sure to book mark PhotoAttorney and go back frequently as there are new entries are every 2-3 days and you do not want to miss a single one.


Carolyn has also written a book "The Photographers Legal Guide" and she was kind enough to send me a copy for review. Now normally reading a law book presents me with a difficult decision, reading the book or poking myself in the eye with a stick.... book, stick in the eye... being fond of my eyes, I read the book.

Once I read the following, I could not put the book down, I needed to know what else Carolyn had to say:

"Photographers have certain rights but often are concerned about exercising those rights for fear of being sued. It’s a legitimate concern because lawsuits can be costly and stressful, even when you win. The counter-concern is that if photographers don’t exercise their rights, they may lose them.

Take, for example, the property release. The law does not require permission to take and use a photograph of property, so no release is required. Most photographers understand that you may stand on publicly accessible land to take a photograph of a building without a release. But some photographers and users of photographs (such as stock agencies) will want a property release to use the photograph of that building to allay concerns of being sued. Some may require one only if the photograph is used commercially. Will it hurt to get one? Not in the short run, but there may be a long term negative effect.

If the building’s owner signs the property release, then you have little concern that he will sue you for the use of the photo (but it is still a possibility). But what if he refuses to sign? Then you will have to find another building to photograph and ask for permission again. What if he demands payment? You then must pay for something that you are entitled to have for free.

If the building owner signs the release, he will expect the next photographer to ask for a property release, too. If permission is not requested, will the owner sue the second photographer for doing something within his rights? Will all photog­raphers then have to get permission or pay for something when it is not legally required?

What other photographers’ rights will erode from fear of exercising them? The first step towards protecting your rights is to know them. The second is to stand up for them."

Every bit of the book is this insightful, this thought provoking, this well written. Still think you have enough of a handle on the legalities of photography - that you "don't need no stinkin' advice"? Unless you can answer ALL of the following questions correctly and with confidence, you need this book.

·When is an image considered to be copyright written?

·Can you assign, sell, transfer or give away any part of your images “exclusive rights” verbally?

·what is the difference between “Copyrighting” and “Registering”?

·can you photograph people are in public?

·Can you take a picture of the best looking house in your town and use it on your business card?

·Does Posting Photos on your website constitute publishing them?

·When you registering your website, does this protect your images as well?

·Do you know what forms you need, where to get them, and how to fill them out?

·what is the best way to protect your copyrights and prosecuting infringe?

·Retainer or Deposit, which do you use and why?

Bottom line, this book is filled with examples of real world situations that could confront any photographer and explains in clear, concise terms how they impact the photographer, and what we must do to protect ourselves..

You can purchase "The Photographers Legal Guide" here for just $9.95 as a download or $19.95 for the printed version and though it will be the least expensive thing you buy for your photography business, it will be by far the most important. You can easily recover from making a bad decision in a lens or other piece of camera equipment, but if you make the wrong legal decision it could cost you far more than you want to lose.

I do have one aspect of the book that I was extremely disappointed with, though it has a handful of the authors images, it did not have nearly enough of them. As the above picture demonstrates, Carolyn is wonderful photographer and I wish the book had a chapter of nothing but her images.

Finally, I know some of you may read this post and think it sounds like a butt kissing love fest, I do not know Carolyn Wright, we have never met, never even talked, and be assured I won't receive a penny from the sale of a single book. I think this is an extremely important topic and have always been a firm believer that it is better to act than to wait for something bad to happen and then react.

The Photographers Legal Guide is your chance to be proactive.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Some cool free software and David Ziser…

First let me give credit where credit is due, I learned of these from David Ziser, he uses these two pieces of software as part of his workflow and if one of the most talented and successful photography studios uses them, why wouldn't I?

The first is IrfanView, a fast and compact image viewer/converter. IrfanView lets you open, view, and edit images, rotate, zoom and so much more. You can also cut, crop images, and apply batch conversions.

What I really like about IrfanView is the ability to copy/move images quickly and easily to different folders. How it works is simple, as you browse through a folder of newly downloaded images for the very first time with a singe keyboard command (F7 to Move or F8 to Copy), you can select from one of ten (customizable) folders to drop images into for later processing.

Another cool feature is the ability to convert an image to grayscale with a single click (not permanently, just to see what it would look like), this is helpful in the sorting process as well, as one of the folders I sort to is specifically for black and white conversion.

Want to batch convert an entire folder to black and white or sepia? IrfanView can do that too.

Lastly (not that this is the last thing it con do, just the last thing I am going to mention) should you be so moved, and again with a single click, you can open any image into the image editing software of your choosing, in the customizable settings you can setup up to three separate external programs to be used for opening an image.

This is an impressively powerful piece of software and there is really so much more you can do with this, what I have mentioned does not even scratch the surface and I would strongly suggest you give IrfanView a try.

The second is Batch Rename .EXE.

Batch Rename .EXE allows you to run your files through an extensive array of filters to label and organize files exactly how you want them. You can add information, remove information, change capitalization and more.

The selection wizard walks you through creating file lists for batch processing and allows you to build a list by using both file directories and drag and drop list creation. You can add single files, directories and sub-directories.

Batch Rename .EXE allows you to include short or long extensions, capitalize words, remove double spaces, make filenames completely upper or lowercase, replace underscores, remove numbers, remove extra periods and to dynamically fix common spacing errors.

You can rename the files into their original folder, or select a new destination folder for them. Though the second option should be your choice, as you always want to be to return to the original files for whatever reason!

Here is a great tutorial on how BatchRename. EXE works.

Back to David Ziser for just a minute, if you are a wedding and/or portrait photographer, this man can teach you something! The best $69 I ever spent was purchasing his "Digital Wakeup Call" a two DVD set I have watched three times (so far). Be sure to check out his blog as well.

Thank you David.

Until next time -take care, and be safe.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 for just $35!...

Corel recently announced the release of their digital imaging software Paint Shop Pro Photo X2. Now let's be honest, at best Paint Shop Pro is the poor cousin to Adobe Photoshop CS3, but for those for whom money is an issue Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 is light-years ahead of having nothing.

But before I get into the details and reviews of Paint Shop Pro Photo X2, let me tell you how you get get if for just $35! The pricing for the upgrade is $59 and for the full version is $99 - but if you use the discount code provided below the price drops to just $35 and $59 respectively! Not too shabby, huh?

Here is the info directly from Corel:

Hello all, We wanted to let you know that a special discount offer has been created for our users to take advantage of. When you order directly from Corel's online store, you can use the following coupon code to get 40% off all full and upgrade software. Coupon Code: UG40OFFSEP. The coupon code can be entered when placing an online order from Corel's website. As always, you receive a 30 day money back guarantee.

Cheers,

Evelyn Watts Corel Solution Specialist - Field Services evelyn.watts@corel.com

Now, for the nuts and bolts, here are just some of the new features available in version X2:

NEW! Express Lab
This all-new, super-fast photo fixing mode is amazing! You'll save hours of time with the Express Lab, because now you can edit dozens of photos in the time it used to take to edit just a few! Just think how easy it will be to breeze through folders full of photos — cropping, rotating, removing red eye, and straightening, — without having to wait for each individual photo to open.

NEW! Graphite Workspace Theme
Not only is Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 packed with all-new features, it looks different too. As soon as you launch the program, you'll see the NEW! Graphite Workspace Theme. This darker theme really makes your photos stand out!

NEW! HDR Photo Merge
With NEW HDR Photo Merge you can easily create photos that give you full detail in the shadows and the highlights of your photos. HDR Photo Merge helps you combine two or more photos taken at different exposures, and then automatically dodge and burn to bring out the contrast!

NEW! Layer Styles
With the NEW Layer Styles you can easily add drop shadows, embossing, outer and inner glows, bevels and even reflections to your text, photos and creative projects. The best part of the new Layer Styles is if you make changes to the layer the effect is automatically changed to match.

NEW! Visible Watermarks
Whether you're a professional photographer or someone who wants to share your photos online, it's a good idea to add a discrete watermark that reminds those viewing your pictures who the photographer was. With the NEW Visible Watermarks feature you can easily create and add a personal watermark to all your photos.

To see more new features, or to see these new features in action just follow this link.

And the following links will take you to a few of the rave reviews you can find online, and to be honest folks, I could not find a single negative review in my search.

This review from PC Magazine gave it 4 our of 5 stars.

ThinkCamera.com review gives it 9 out of 10 (I think they like it!).

The reviewer from Download.com gave it 5 out of 5.

If you should find similar hardware, software, or camera bargains, please Email them to me and I will post them here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Photoshop CS3 Power Tour with Scott Kelby...

I had the good fortune to attend the Photoshop CS3 Power Tour with Scott Kelby last week in Boston and it was outstanding! It was one of those days that started out great and just went up from there.

In coming posts I will share some of the things I learned that day.

Check this link for the remaining dates of the Photoshop CS3 Power Tour (as well as other NAPP seminars), Dave Cross will be the host for the second leg of the tour, and this link will give you the class schedule.

The cost for this day full of great tips and techniques is $99, if you are a NAPP member it is only $79.

Not a NAPP member? You should be and this link will show you how to save 30% on your NAPP membership, you will find it starting on paragraph 3 of this post.

Lastly, if I could ask a favor of you, if you find this blog helpful/informative would you share it with a friend?

Thanks!

Monday, October 8, 2007

6 Days Left To Save Some Money!....

Sorry for my absence, the wedding season has recently come to a hectic ending (as usual) and then some family time tacked on at the end of that and BAM! time quickly flew by.

This is a time sensitive post, as the following list is for photography/photographer related products that are on sale at Staples and the sale ends October 13th, so here goes:

1. SanDisk 2GB SD memory card $19.98

2. SanDisk 2GB Ultra II SD memory card $24.98

3. Kodak 8½" x 11" photo paper 100/pack $9.99

4. HP Advanced photo and specialty paper 50% off

5. Sony CD-R media 100/pack $15.99

6. Sony DVD media 50/pack $12.98

So go save some money, and we will talk again in a few days...