Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Some shots from Disney's Animal Kingdom...

There are so many shooting opportunities at Disney World it isn't even funny.

Here are a few shots from Animal Kingdom.

(click on any image to view larger)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

You have to see this shot of the Washington Monument...

This stunning image was taken by Mike Palmer. You may recognize him (or at least his name) as one of the March photo contest winners, if not, let me formally introduce you now - Mike this is the world, world this is Mike.

After Mike won the March contest I paid a visit to his website (just 'cause I'm nosey) and came across this image and was blown away, so I asked him if he would share it here for others to see.

1. Where the image was taken (from what vantage point)?

"The shot was taken at the edge of the tidal basin near the Lincoln Memorial"

2. How did the image come about?

"At the time I took the shot I was living in FL, I had lived in the DC area from 1987-2002 and never took shots of the memorials at night. I had always wanted to, but as per life, never made the time. So in October 2006 I was in DC for a family visit and made the time to go down one night and get some shots. At that time I did not know I would be back living even closer to the city, its only a 20 min drive to downtown DC for me now."

3. What equipment did you use (camera, lens, lighting, etc)?

"A Nikon D200, 18-70mm @ 35mm, F8, shutter speed of 7 seconds, mounted on a tripod"

4. Post production work (what was done and software used)?

"I used Lightroom and Photoshop - I am sure I was still doing my BW conversions in 2006 with the channel mixer adjustment layer, and sharpened"

5. How did you get into photography, how long have you been a photographer?

"I was always interested in photography, I took some class's at a local college when I was in the Army back in the late 80's, did some freelance stuff, and was the DC area manager for a popular 90's photography destination at the mall, yep ole glamour shots, got a little burnt on the business by the late 90's. Our family has been traveling for the past 5 years with my wife's work, I now have the opportunity to indulge my passion for photography! I have had a few jobs in the past year, and this summer with both kids in camp and my youngest starting preschool in the fall, I hope to get a few more paying gigs."

6. If there is just one thing you wanted people to know about you, what would it be?

"I take this Dad thing pretty seriously. = )"

Thanks for sharing Mike, both your image, and a bit of yourself. Though I'm not sure if I would have admitted to the Glamour Shots thing.

;)

If you guys want to see more if Mike's work be sure to stop by his site.
(click in image to view larger)

Monday, April 28, 2008

A serious Lightroom productivity tool...

There is a new productivity tool on the market that is making photographers who use Lightroom as their editing tool of choice sit up and take notice, it's called RPG Keys.

RPG Keys was developed by Tim Riley, an outstanding photographer and avid Lightroom user. Tim photographs a bunch of weddings every year and uses Lightroom as his primary tool for image editing so he understands first hand how long it takes to run though 2000-3000 wedding shots (per event). Which is not an unusually high number of shots for a single wedding, it is more the norm than the exception. Most wedding photographers I know shoot a minimum of (roughly) 1800 images per wedding.

So, what is RPG Keys? Glad you asked, it's a keyboard designed to work specifically with Lightroom to "include reviewing / organizing and editing your photos all in one single step".

Most of the common Lightroom shortcuts can now be handled with a single keystroke (as opposed to the mouse, keyboard, and then mouse again that have been part of my workflow for way too long).

You can also apply the presets standard in Lightroom and 20 custom presets right from RPG Keys.

This is a serious tool. That's why I use it.

I want to provide my clients with the best possible images I can, and I would also like to do it in the shortest time possible. So if I can shave 2 hours off every wedding I shoot, if I can save me 45-60 minutes off every portrait session, it leaves me with more time for other things, like marketing.

Or even better, I can be out playing catch with my kids, or in the house annoying he crap out of my wife.

;)

Regardless of how you spend your time, RPG Keys will give you back more of it.

Another way to look it it is what is your time worth, what would you be willing to pay to have bunch of hours put back in your pocket?

A few bits and pieces about RPG Keys:

1. It comes in both a PC and MAC version.
2. You an get it for left or right handed people.
3. It comes with 1 years worth of free upgrades.
4. When Lightroom v2 is released, that upgrade will be free as well.
5. Sounds good, but not quite sure it's for you? It comes with a 30 day return policy.

You can watch a short (2 minute) intro/demo here, a longer (9 minute) demo here, as well as a PC and MAC workflow video.

It does have a learning curve (just like any of that fancy shmancy equipment us photographers buy) so I don't want you to think you'll pull it out of the box and be a whiz with it, it does not take long at all to get the hang of it and the more you use it, the better and faster you will get.

If you time is important to you, then this deserves your serious consideration.

(click to enlarge image)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Save some money this week....

Like most of you I don't mind spending money, but I sure hate wasting it. So when I see the words "sale" or "rebate" it peaks my interest (and when I see them together I have to take a cold shower to contain my excitement).

Here are a few items on sale this week that may be of interest to my fellow photographers:

At BestBuy:

1. Paint Shop Pro X2 for just $49
2. 100 spindle of Sony DVD's for $22.99
3. PNY - 2GB SD Memory Card for $14.99

At Staples:

1. SanDisk MobileMate Card Reader for $9.99
2. SanDisk 2GB Ultra II SD Card for $24.99
3. SanDisk 2GB SD Card for $19.99
4. SanDisk 1GB SD Card for $9.99

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Our Lighting Essentials workshop has sold out!

The June 18th Lighting Essentials that we are hosting has already filled/sold out.

But if you are interested in attending please let us know as we are giving serious consideration to adding a second date.

For those who have already registered, we are looking forward to seeing you, and those kicking yourself for not registering sooner, let us know and we'll add your name/info to our list.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A chocolate filter from Kimi...

While surfing today I came across the blog "Kimi Kreations", today's tutorial was creating a chocolate filter for black & white images that is both simple and cool.

Kim has a bunch of other cool stuff on her site, be sure to stop by her blog.

Here is her chocolate filter:

1. Open your image in Photoshop
2. Create a new layer
3. Fill the newly created layer with brown (here is the hex code for the brown Kim uses - 3f2c02)
4. Change the blend mode to soft light
5. Reduce the opacity until you have the effect you like

DONE!

Here is my before and after...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The image that started it all...

Four years ago, while vacationing on Wilson Lake (in Acton Maine) I was snapping pictures like crazy of anything that moved (and a bunch of things that didn’t) with my new Fuji point and shoot digital camera.

I downloaded all the images and was pouring through them (almost as fast as I took them) until I came to this one, I paused and just stared at it. I showed it to my wife and our friends and they did the same thing, just paused and looked at it.

It as the first image I ever took that “said something", that evoked an emotion when you looked at it.

And it was soon after I got home from vacation that my photography education began (and continues), but more importantly it was the beginning of my giving large sums of money to Nikon (which also continues).

;)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Some family portraiture...

Here are some images I did from this past weekend.

This is my sixth session for this family, between their engagement, their wedding, maternity, and newborns sessions:

(click on image to view larger)





Not sure about you, but I am always able to pickup on those subtle hints that folks give off when they have lost interest in their portrait session:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Way cool flash toys from Honl Photo...

I recently had the pleasure of playing with some flash accessories from Honl Photo, a Speed Snoot, a Speed Gobo/Bounce Card, and a Speed Strap and four things really jumped out at me:

1. The impact they had on controlling light direction. Like you, I have seen the before and after pictures (or more accurately, the with and without pictures) featuring a snoot. Yes I knew it would control/direct light, but it took experiencing it myself, in the confines of my own studio and on my own subjects to really drive home the control and the power of such a simple tool.

2. The quality. This is not the only snoot I tested, but it was the best when it came to quality of materials and workmanship. These are durable well made items that you will only have to buy once in a lifetime (unless you lend them to a friend, because they'll never find their way back home) Two thumbs way up!

3. Price. The Snoot, Gobo/Bounce Card, and Speed Strap combined are about $40. Great products at an outstanding price. The Speed Strap may seem like a luxury to some, but I have more than one flash so I can easily (and quickly) move these tools from one flash to another, plus I hate putting sticking Velcro all over my SB-800's.

4. Convenience. Both the Snoot and the Gobo/Bounce Card store flat and take up about as much room as a business size envelope, so they will fit easily into even the smallest of camera bags.

It was a tossup between showing you a couple of the images I took, or a video that (is short) and really lets you see the product "first hand".

Enjoy the video.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Backing up your images...

This week the latest version of Replicator was released and though it is (still) free, Replicator is as good or better than most of the "pay" versions of backup software available, so do yourself a favor, make this the week that you (really, really, really) implement your backup/disaster recovery plan for all those stunning images you have been shooting.

To go with Replicator, Staples has a 500 GB external hard drive on sale for $125. They (Staples) also have a 50 Pack of HP CD's for $8.95 and a 50 pack of HP DVD's for $14.95. They have various PNY memory cards on sale as well.

And if you are a Best Buy kinda person, they too have good stuff at great prices, 50 pack of Memorex CD's for $8.95, 50 pack of Verbatim DVD's for $12.95, and a 1 TB Western Digital external Hard Drive for $239. They too have various SanDisk memory cards on sale.

Making beautiful pictures is only half the equation, making sure they are saved is the other half.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Battery caddy, small item, big help...

Sometimes it's the little things that make a big deal, for me, it's AA batteries. Lots and lots of AA batteries.

I use two Nikon SB-800 flashes when shooting (they take 5 batteries each), and when it's a fast moving event (like a wedding) changing batteries needs to go off without a hitch.

The trouble for me is organization and accessibility. I have tried zip lock bags, Tupperware, pouches, and.... well you get the picture.

And as soon as the flash seems to slow (even a little) I change batteries, so I don't want to throw them away as they still have lots of life left in them (for my girls CD players and other energy sucking devices), so my problem is compounded organizing my fully charged batteries and (keeping them separate from) from my "take homes".

Then the Personal Battery Caddy came to the rescue (cue dramatic music here). I have three of the 12 pAAck battery caddy's in my bag and they work like a charm, no fumbling in a bag for batteries, no cover coming off the Tupperware and AA batteries going everywhere. No wondering which batteries are good.

These battery caddy's keep me organized, they're compact, and get two thumbs way up for their ease of accessibility. Convenience is another word that comes to mind.

And as I change batteries I put the used ones back into the battery caddy upside down so I can tell at a glance which is new battery and which is a take home.

Personal Battery Caddy is available for different battery sizes and mixed configurations, they are rugged, well made, and very inexpensive($6.95). There is even a 10% discount if you order three or more, and free shipping for orders over $50.

If you use batteries in your photography, you need to give these bad boys serious consideration!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

We're hosting a Lighting Essentials workshop!...

I have written in the past about Don @ Lighting Essentials, great information, tons of resources, and a website every photographer should bookmark.

When I found out that Don was taking his talents on the road and doing seminars around the country (and Canada, ay!) I asked if he would be interested in coming to Maine and much to my surprise he said yes!

So mark your calendar for June 18th (actually the get together will start the evening before) for the only Lighting Essentials workshop to be held in Maine.

The workshop is limited to 8-10 participants, there are 6 attendees already listed on the seminar site and 2 more folks have enrolled but not "made the list" yet, so what I am saying (in a long round about way) is that there are only two slots left.

The seminar is being hosted @ my studio in Biddeford Maine (the town next door to Kennebunkport Maine, and about 20 minutes south of Portland). My studio is in some old (refurbished) factory buildings that run along the river, we are also just minutes from the rocky coastline of Maine.

To show you some of the local shooting opportunities, here are some links from when Scott Kelby was in town last year, here, here, here, and here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'm back - with Matt Kloskowski...

If I have never made it clear before let me do so now, I LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY, and I would be hard pressed to confess to my wife exactly how much I have (really) spent in pursuit of that obsession.

But as strongly as I feel about photography (and despite all of my Nikon tattoos), I also understand there are things in life that are more important.

Read the dedication page in Matt's new book "Layers" and you will learn of his depth as a person, what he holds as dear. The fact that he seems so grounded in reality, and what is truly important in life not only increased my respect for him as a person but also let me know I can trust his opinion in far less important areas like photo editing.

Now onto the book itself.

There are many things to like about the book (actually, there is absolutely nothing to dislike about it):

1. There are waaaay more pictures than words, so every step of every lesson is easy to follow.

2. Matt writes like he talks, very down to earth, very matter of fact, he is easy to follow and despite the fact that he has forgotten more about layers than most people will ever know, Matt is always talking to you, NOT down to you.

3. Just to make the lessons easy, Matt provides all the same images he uses in the book as a download, so you can follow along each and every lesson exactly as he lays it out. This is a great help, sometimes if you (specifically me) try to follow a tutorial using an image other than original, it will always look different, so you are never confident that you're getting the desired effect, or even grasping the concept correctly. So though providing the images may not seem like a big deal, it really is.

4. To help drive home the points you will also find online videos explaining what the easier (just what layers are) and the harder (type and shape layers) concepts are.

5. If it has to do with layers, you will find it contained within the pages of this book.

And because layers is the most important, most powerful aspect in Photoshop you owe it to yourself to get this book.

You use Photoshop because it is the best photo editing software available, if you are going to use the best, you might as well learn from the best.


And now, for something completely different:

As you may have noticed I have been absent from my blog for a week, as there as been a bug running through my house (literally) which has put me way behind on posts.

So I have some catching up to do and things should be coming at you fast and furious over the next week or so (product reviews, cool links, etc.) so be prepared.

It's good to be back among the living.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Lightroom 2 is out, go catch it!...

Adobe has announce a public Beta for Lightroom 2.0. Run, don't walk, to get this today!

Here is everything you will need:

1. Here is the link to download Lightroom 2.

2. NAPP already has a learning center for LR 2, this should be the first place you go after installing it. Heck, maybe even before you download it.

3. Matt Kloskowski has a great post on LR 2, including his "top ten list" of things he likes about it.

4. Kelby Training has a Lightroom 2 Beta Power Session.

5. And speaking of Kelby, Scott Kelby has weighed in in LR 2 as well.

6. Jack Nack has in in-depth, "The Deuce is Loose", review of LR 2 which is a must read.

So, if you don't see any posts from me for a few days, it is most likely because I am undergoing LR 2 emersion therapy.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The March photo contest winners are....

Before I present the winners, I want to say thank you to everyone who took the time to send an image and enter the contest, thank you, thank you, thank you...

And in no particular order, THE WINNERS!

Mike Palmer shot this last month, his son's school needed a picture of children reading in a quiet place, for a project at school.

Location: Potomac, MD
Equipment Used: Nikon D200 with a 12-24 lens, F4 @ 1/15 sec, shot with available light
Post Production: CS3 BW , Sharpen

The next winning image is from Roland and is of a footbridge crossing a highway.

Location: I-25 in Denver Colorado
Equipment Used: Canon EOS10d /with a 28-135 I.S. lens
Post Production: Converted to black & white in Lightroom with some editing in Photoshop CS3.

The final winner this month is of a "wall of fish" and was sent in by Amy Rader.

Location: The Georgia Aquarium (while attending a class at PPA headquarters).
Equipment Used: Canon EOS 5D, 17-40 mm f.4 L USM Canon lens (shot in RAW at 17mm, 1/40 sec, f.4.5, ISO 1000)
Post Production: N/A

Mike and Roland are going to get the Kubota Raw Workflow for Lightroom DVD and Amy will receive the LumiQuest Big Bounce.

Congratulations to the March winners and a big thank you to Kubota Imaging and LumiQuest for providing such great prizes.

And it's only coincidental that I put the Nikon shooter first.

;)

The April photo contest is now open, so please, send in your images!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Some images from today...

I don't usually post my images just to show them, usually they appear in a "support" role in relationship to some other topic (to make point, review a product, or demonstrate a technique), but today was a good day to shoot, I liked how they came out, and I wanted to share.

Here in Maine we still have a bunch of snow in the ground (in some places it is still being measured in feet), but today is warm (50 degrees... oooohhhhhh) and the combination makes for some cool foggy conditions.

So after I dropped my kids off at school this morning I trekked out to some local horse farms to snag some shots, and here they are: