Friday, May 30, 2008

One last (free) image browser/editor...

FastStone Image Viewer is another feature rich, user-friendly image browser/editor.

It has an innovative and intuitive full-screen mode that provides quick access to information and functionalities via hidden toolbars that pop-up when ever your mouse touches any of the four screen edges.

Other
FastStone Image Viewer features includes a high quality image magnifier, musical slideshows with over 150 transitional effects, lossless JPEG cropping & re-sizing, drop shadow effects, scanner support, histogram info and much, much more.

It supports a ton of image formats including RAW.

You can
download it here.

I want to thank Stew Turner for bringing this one to our attention.

You can visit
Stew's website here and his blog here.

(Click on image to view larger)

More (really good) free software...

Free software is one thing, but if it doesn't serve a useful purpose, what's the point?

IrfanView is both, it's free and it's extremely useful.

To say IrfanView is a "Windows graphic viewer" is a true statement, but it barely scratches the surface of its capabilities. It does so much more:

Create slideshows
Lossless JPG rotation & Cropping
Tag images for future editing
Open images directly into your image editing software
Batch processing (rename, resize)
Create panoramic images
Email images directly from IrfanView
The only image viewer I know of that shows you the histogram
It allows you do basic editing (like black & white conversion)
soooo much more...

And with the latest version you can now browse your RAW files Too!

You can download IrfanView here (or here), you can also download (one or all) of the plug-ins here.

Tutorials? Sure, view some here, here, and here... or view the FAQ page for a complete list of questions (with the answers), tutorials, and videos.

If you download it and don't like it or find it all that useful (not only will I will be stunned), I will give you back every single penny you paid for it! ;)

(Click on any image to view larger)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Outlook plug-in for photographers...

Microsoft has released a cool (and free) plug-in for Outlook called Pro Photo Shoot.

Pro Photo Shoot will add details to your Outlook appointments that are specific to photographers, including pick list of what equipment you would want to be sure to bring along.

Todd Newman has written an article "NeverForget a Lens Again" detailing the benefits of Pro Photo Shoot.

"NeverForget a Lens Again" will walk you through the features and how best to setup Pro Photo Shoot to benefit your photography business.

It's free and useful, a great combination.

(Click on any image to view larger)


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

And Thank You…

To everyone who emailed me, your kind words of support are appreciated more than I can say.

Here is one more link to the Memorial Day slideshow.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day Slideshow & Pictures...

I want to give a big "thank you" to everyone who made the Memorial Day slideshow what it was, from getting the word out that we were looking for images, to those who sent in images with their heart touching stories, to telling folks were to find it.

This was the effort of many, many people. Thank you all.

If you did not see the slideshow, or wanted to view it again, you can find it here.

Below are some image from the Memorial Day parade in our little town of Biddeford Maine:

(Click on any image to view larger)




Sunday, May 18, 2008

Do it yourself photography....

Here are some links for those photographers who like to "do it themselves".

Their name pretty much says it all - DIYPhotography.net, and this is probably the best site for those who want to do it themselves. They have great ideas and projects that will help you do it better and cheaper. No doubt "Do It Yourself Central".

Dean Collins was one of the original do it yourselfer's, you can download his Tinker Tubes booklet full of plans and ideas here. If you want to learn lighting from the master, you should consider getting his DVD's as well. (you'll need Adobe Reader for the Tinker Tubes booklet, download it here)

If you want a (free) better bounce card, watch Peter Gregg Videos, they are both instructional and entertaining.

You can build a light box/tent for $40 and get plans here and here.

Want a Do-it-Yourself Tungsten OmniBounce? You can get it here.

PC World even has a list of links and DIY projects.

And last on the list, but by no means least (it' just that this post had to end somewhere, and this is it), PhotoCritic.org is a DIY Photography Weblog and has some very useful information. Be sure to check it out.

Enjoy.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A call for the pictures of soldiers...

For the upcoming Memorial Day weekend the Weekly Photo Tips blog will be coming down and will be replaced with a slideshow to honor American soldiers who have "gone on ahead".

I am asking for your help in this project, If any of you would like to submit an image (or images) to be included in the slideshow please email them to me (the sooner the better).

What I am looking for are images of the person while they were alive, their headstone, or both. Please include information like their name, when/where they served, tidbits about their life, fond memories, or simply something that you want to make sure the world knows about your soldier.

I can't promise I will use every word you send in, but I can promise that every picture that is emailed to me will be included in the in the Memorial Day slideshow.

Also generic shots, like images of Arlington, the Vietnam Wall, or memorial statues in the town square where you live will be included as well.

Yes I know that technically Memorial Day is meant to honor men and women who have died in service to our country, but I will be including any service men and women who are not longer with us.

Thank you for your consideration, I look forward to receiving your images.

Image from Mike Palmer

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

June seminar with Lou Jones in Boston...

Next month, June 13th -15th, I will be attending a Lou Jones seminar in Boston and want to encourage others to do the same.

I have great respect for and am a huge fan of Lou Jones, I have written about him here, here, and here.

One of the cool stories about Lou is that even though he is a Nikon shooter, he was hired to photograph the CEO of Canon.

;)

He is a kind man, full of compassion, and just so happens to be an outstanding photographer as well.

So if you want to learn from one of the best photographers in America while capturing Boston’s renown landmarks (Old North Church, Faneuil Hall, Harvard, MIT, Beacon Hill’s cobblestone streets, Boston's architecture, and the waterfront including the USS Constitution), meet me @ Lou’s next month!

Here are the details of the workshop:

Lou Jones in Boston, this workshop emphasizes both extemporaneous photojournalism and more deliberately set up situations. We will pay special attention to using both available light and creating your own light.

Optional Equipment: Laptop (strongly recommended) and tripod.
Maximum Class Size: 12
Schedule: Fri 10AM-6PM; Sat Dawn-Dusk; Sun 9AM-2:30PM
Dates: May 13, 14, 15

There are only a few seats left, so act fast!

I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

David Ziser...

If I had to pick one blog to recommend to photographers, it would be David Ziser's, not only is his blog an educational bonanza, he will also send you to so many other photography resources that it will be hard for you to keep up.

David does not dispense his wisdom with an eyedropper, he heaps it on you with a steam shovel. I doubt there is any other photography blogger more prolific that David Ziser, since last August he has posted well over 1,000 times!

And it's not just the quantity, it's also the quality, he packs in more useful information than anybody else.

How he does it I don't know, because he is a very busy photographer, and teaches seminars all over the country. I picture David sitting at his computer late at night, lit by the glow of his monitor and chugging Red Bulls to keep awake.

Here are just a few reasons to visit his blog:

1. His photography is inspirational, it will show you the possibilities and give you goals to shoot for.
2. It's educational, he not only shows you his work, but explains how his imagery was captured, a great learning experience.
3. David covers one subject that is very important but ignored by most, the business of photography, be sure to check out "Business Day Thursdays".
4. "Legal Eagle Wednesday" will cover, Model Releases, Copy Rights, and more.
5. Want more? How 'bout Technique Tuesdays.

You can also get his 2 DVD set call the "Digital Wakeup call" (like I did), it's packed with 4 1/2 hours of great information, and $69 very well spent.

David will be teaching a one week course, "Digital Master Class" in July and September at his studio in Cincinnati. You can watch a slideshow from his 2007 Master Class here.

Whatever you are trying to achieve with your photography, simply to take better pictures for yourself, or to run a successful studio, David will help you do it better, smarter, and more efficiently.

In the video tutorial below David shows you how cool ways to use your on camera flash and your off camera flash :


Monday, May 12, 2008

Vincent Versace & Burma disaster relief...

I have always had a great deal of respect for Vincent Versace, and not for the reasons you may think, it has more to do with who he is a person and less for his photographic prowess.

When I got his email yesterday that respect shot up even further. I will spare you my ramblings and let Vincent speak for himself:

"You know how much the country of Burma (Myanmar) moved me when I shot there. I truly was taken by the country, so much so I left a piece of my heart and soul there.

I believe that being of service is the rent you pay to live on the planet, which is why I volunteer my time to be the photographer of a first response extreme medical rescue team "Immediate Assistants".

Thomas Jefferson said "The pen is mightier than the sword". I believe that art is mightier than the pen. With that said I am putting my art where my heart is.

With the current death toll at 22,000 and 46,000 still missing, we as a community of creatives have to act with the the most powerful tools that we have, our voice, and in my work that voice is contained.

For the next six weeks 100% of any of my photographic art, what ever size, what ever the price of that the art sells for (except for Shipping and Handling) will be donated to relief efforts in Burma and will be sent directly to the The Nargis Victims of Myanmar Trust.

Please link to my print sales page and buy a print for the cause:

http://versacephotography.com/prints.html

If you want to donate an amount that is less than the cost of one of my prints, or you just want to donate directly out of the kindness of your heart here is the account info:

Washington Mutual
Yorba Linda Financial Center
1358
20385 Yorba Linda Blvd.
Yorba Linda, CA 92886

Phone: 1-800-788-7000

Name of account: "The Nargis Victims of Myanmar Trust"

If you are going to send a check, please use this address and payable to "The Nargis Victims of Myanmar Trust"

Andrew Khaw
4382 Via Miguel
Yorba Linda, CA 92886

Thank You"

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mothers Day…

A happy Mothers Day to all of you moms out there, but especially to my beautiful wife.

It wasn’t until she went to visit her sister for a week that I had a clue of just how much she did, and how hard she works.

Though my girls are now teens (and preteen), this is still one of my favorite pictures of them (taken before the days of digital).

My Girls...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Get Adobe Lightroom for just $99...

Yes, you read that right, Adobe Lightroom for just $99...

That's not a misprint, nor is it a scam. Though there is a slight catch.

The catch is you (or someone in your house) has to be either a student or a teacher, if you match that simple criteria JourneyEd.com will sell you Adobe Lightroom for just $99.

Pretty simple, huh?

You can also get Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended (full, not an upgrade) from JourneyEd.com for just $299.

And if you buy any Adobe CS3 product from JourneyEd.com you can also get Corel Painter X for just $49.

Yes, the same Corel Painter X that is selling at Amazon.com for $379.99!

So get mom something really nice this year.

;)

More from Disney...

Don't go to Disney without your camera...





Friday, May 9, 2008

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I love Bryan Peterson!...

There, I said it and I don't care if the entire world knows.

;)

I just finished reading his latest book Understanding Shutter Speed, which is the companion book (part 2) to Understanding Exposure and was blown away.

But before I get into the new book (Shutter Speed), let me talk about Understanding Exposure, as it is a must for anybody getting into photography, (any photographer really), and is the building block on which his latest book was built.

Learning photography can be a bit overwhelming with all that makes up a good picture - ISO, shutter speed, and aperture (what Bryan calls the "photographic triangle") to name just a few of the variables. It's much like learning to drive a standard shift car, not only do you have both feet and both hands going, you have to do it in the right sequences, and all while watching the road and the other cars on it. A bit overwhelming, and if it doesn't go well at first, you don't want to do it again. And if you don't have a good teacher, you'll never do very well and forever stall at stop lights.

Well, with Understanding Exposure if Bryan was teaching you how to drive, you would be doing it like Mario Andretti.

It starts with first chapter "Defining Exposure" - "what is meant by exposure" where Bryan explains exactly what an exposure is, and how for every situation there are six correct exposures, but only one creatively correct exposure.

Then he moves on to chapters on "Aperture", "Shutter Speed", "Light" and ends with "Special Techniques".

And it's not just the topics that are covered, but how they are covered. In each chapter you will find the following:

1. Thorough and thoughtful explanations of the chapter topics, presented in a way that if this were the first time you ever picked up a camera you would never feel lost or confused. It's one thing to know a lot about a subject, it's another thing to be able to share it with others and few do it as well as Bryan Peterson.
2. Each chapter is filled with Bryans stunning images, with multiple examples of the point he is trying to make. Not only does he provide you with every camera setting that was used to create the image, he tells you from where within the image he metered from. It is one thing to read a point a person is trying to make, it is another to actually see it.
3. The final piece to each chapter (I think the most important) are the exercises. For every point Bryan is trying to drive home, there are accompanying hands on exercises where you have to take your camera, the book and apply the things you just learned before moving on to the next subject/concept.

It just doesn't get any better than this book. I believe this to be one of the (if not THE) best book for learning photography I have ever read.

So when Understanding Shutter Speed came out this month I was wondering what to expect, much like when the sequel comes out for your favorite movie, you're fearful that that there is no way it can be as good as the first one, and you'll just wind up being disappointed.

When I read this in the books introduction - "All of the known techniques for capturing, conveying, and creating movement in a single still photograph are covered in this book in a simple, clear, and concise format, with examples taken from dawn to dusk, and into the dark of night..." I could not wait to read on.

And I was not disappointed, not even close.

He shows you how to take photographs in all of these different lighting situations without ever using an ISO above 400, in fact rarely above ISO 200.

Speaking of ISO, Bryan gives one the best explanations of ISO I have read, he compared it to carpenters building a house, that 400 carpenters may be able to build a house faster than 100, but 400 carpenters will also make much more noise while doing so.

One of (the many) valuable lessons he provides in this book is that "1. You will always attain the fastest possible shutter speed at any given ISO when you use the largest possible lens opening, and 2. you will be able to attain the slowest possible shutter speed at any given ISO by using the smallest possible lens opening." There is much more that goes with this statement, but you'll have to buy the book to find out what it is.

The chapters include "Shutter Speed Facts & Myths", "Fast & Moderates Speeds", "Slow Speeds" and more. And like the first book there are easy to understand explanations of the different shutter concepts, Bryans beautiful photography to reinforce those concepts, and more of those important hands on exercises meant to be the final piece of the learning puzzle.

Someone can explain to you how to drive a standard shift car, and you may fully grasp and understand what needs to be done, but until you actually get behind the wheel, you can't drive a car. Photography is no different, reading is one thing, doing is another.

I read Understanding Shutter Speed from cover to cover in one sitting (which as kinda easy as it has way more pictures than words) and then read it a second time, taking the time to stop and do the exercises.

Information is power, and with these two books Bryan Peterson will make you feel like a king.

My dog-eared copy of "Understanding Exposure"

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A must read story... and buttons...

Part A:

If you take my advice about just one thing, let it be this, READ THIS STORY!

Please don't be turned off when you open the link and see that it's a sport story, it really has nothing to do with sports, it's about humanity.

It's about people doing what's right, not what's best for them.

I promise if you read this, you'll be glad you did.

Part B:

Ever hear something and it really makes you think about how you behave? It happened to me this morning in church when the pastor said, "if people wore buttons, it may change how you relate with them".

If the waiter who just spilled my drink was wearing a button "I was diagnosed with cancer this morning", or the button on the single mom who just cut me off read "I just lost my job" it would certainly make me think about how I responded.

Okay, Ill be off my soapbox and back to photography tomorrow.

Thanks for listening.

Photography things on sale this week...

Here are few things you might need (or want) that are on sale @ Staples this week...

1. SanDisk 2GB Memory Stick Pro -$19.98
2. SanDisk 2GB Ultra II CompactFlash - $14.98
3. SanDisk 4GB Ultra II CompactFlash - $29.98
4. HP 4.7GB DVD-R, 50/pk - $8.99
5. Sony 100/Pack 4.7GB DVD - $22.99
6. Western Digital 250GB My Passport Portable Hard Drive - $109
7. Maxtor 500GB OneTouch External Hard Drive - $89.98

I'm a big sale/rebate kinda guy, as I don't mind spending money (just ask my wife), I just hate wasting it.

So go save some money.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Project 366...

Have you heard of Project 366?

It's a way cool idea with a simple premise, take and post one image for every day for a year.

One picture, from one of 366 themes - each theme is unique and different and one for every day the entire year.

Here was the starting point.

And here are the rules:

•Photos must be taken between 12:01am January 1st 2008 and 11:59pm December 31st 2008. •Photos must be your own, not taken from other people.
•Photos to be posted in your Blog/Blurty/Photobucket (linked to), etc.
•All images remain yours.
•You don't have to take the photo themes in order, nor to take exactly one photo each day - many people work long hours or hours which mean few free daylight hours - you might find you cross off three themes in one day. Think of it as a photographic treasure hunt or quest.
•All images must be original, not photoshopped - the point is to have fun and challenge yourself to improve photography, not how well you can correct your mistakes with manipulation.
•No nudity, porn, or illegality!

Ya, I was disappointed with the last rule too.

;)

Before you even utter the words "that doesn't seem all that hard" try it for just a week, you will find it far more challenging than it seems on the surface.

Below are just some of the folks who have taken up the challenge, they are doing wonderful work that deserves a look:

Dogeared Photo - who appears to be the ring leader
Julies' 366 Photos in 2008
Christin's 366 in 2008
Rick T's 366
Deb's Photo Blog
cmwoodard14's 366 in 2008
Linda's 366 Photos for 2008

Anybody else pickup on the "366" theme?

Weekly Photo Tips reaches a milestone…

On Friday we passed the 500 subscriber mark, which speaks to the kindness of everyone of you who grace the pages if this blog.

For those of you who have not subscribed, I encourage you to do so. I have often written about one gadget or another and techniques that will give you some of your time back, and subscribing will keep some time for yourself.

Speaking to a recent reader drove that point home “I love the fact that I get an email every time you post to your blog”.

No more coming to the blog only to see there that nothing new has been posted since the last time you were here. Give it some thought, add subscribing to your “time recovery” program.

To all of you, thank you for making this blog the success it is, I appreciate it more than words can properly express.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

And the winner of the April photo contest is...

Drum roll please...

The winners of the April 2008 photo contest are: Marcus Brammer and Carol Andrews, coincidentally both are from Texas and both are Canon shooters.

"We Come In Peace" is from Marcus -

Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Equipment Used: Canon 5D - focal length 100mm - aperture f/6.4 - f-stop f/6.3 - shutter speed 1/160 second - ISO 50
Post Production: Changed to b/w and sharpened in Photoshop

"August Roses" is from Carol -

Location: Houston, Texas
Equipment Used: Canon 5 D - natural window light - plastic lens
Post Production: Simple blending in Photoshop

Carol will be receiving a LumiQuest Softbox and 12 pAAck battery caddy, Marcus will be getting a LumiQuest Pocket Bouncer and a 12 pAAck battery caddy.

Congratulations to the April winners and a big thanks to PowerPax and LumiQuest for providing the great prizes.

The May contest is now open!