Sunday, June 29, 2008

Shooting with Stacey Kane...

The wedding season has finally started and I had the pleasure of second shooting for Stacey Kane yesterday.

Ever have something happen to you that at the time seemed like no big deal, and it's not until later that you realize the significance of that event in your life?

When I first met Stacey little did I know the level of friendship that would develop or the force that she would become in my development as a photographer.

For those of you not familiar with Stacey Kane (or listened to me gush about her before) she is an award winning photographer who shoots weddings worldwide, and children's portraiture that truly "captures the moment".

Check out her website and her blog if you want to see some great photography.

I remembered the first time I shot with her, I was excited thinking I was going to learn the "secrets" of her images, WRONG! It was like thinking that watching Tom Brady throw a football would make me a super bowl caliber quarterback. DUH!

What I learned that first day was that it wasn't how Stacey used her camera, it's what she saw when she looked through her camera. I learned that I had to find "my eye", and that was huge.

Since that first lesson Stacey has continued to be a mentor - generous with her time, her equipment, and her expertise.

I want to thank her publicly for being such a great teacher and resource, but mostly for being an even a better friend.

(click on image to view larger)



Friday, June 27, 2008

John Paul Caponigro - Drawing With Light...

I just finished watching John Paul Caponigro's DVD "Drawing With Light - 21st Century Dodging & Burning" from Acme Educational and the first word that comes to mind is "WOW".

Because I was never a film photographer (my little 110 camera doesn't count) I never did the "dodging & burning" dance in the darkroom, so it was extremely informative and educational to listen to John Paul explain/demonstrate that process, it was a great foundation on which to build on with his Photoshop dodging & burning techniques.

Before getting into the DVD's content, let me say a few things about John Paul Caponigro. He has a great voice, he's the Barry White of the photography world, he's brilliant but not in a threatening way, he goes in depth with even the smallest of details and regardless of the viewers competency level you never feel talked down to because it's totally new to you, or bored because it is a concept you my have been familiar with. And he uses the English language beautifully, if John Paul were instructing you on how to change the cat box his teaching style would make it seem like an interesting and worthwhile endeavor.

Anyone with even the most rudimentary knowledge of Photoshop knows of and understands what dodging & burning is and does. After watching these DVD's I now realize just how much is possible with these simple tools.

John Paul will walk you through the process of taking several "ordinary" shots of nature and show you how to make it "pop". You watch him use gradient, luminance, and contour masking, with edge definition and dodging & burning to turn a "flat" image into one with so much depth you feel like reaching (or walking) into it.

I've heard comments like "too bad it isn't real" regarding images that have been "photoshopped". I could not disagree more, because what John Paul is teaching you is how to put back into the image what your eyes can see, but your camera cannot capture - the depth, subtly, and the details found in the shadows and in the light.

Two things I really appreciated about his teaching style were: 1. John Paul spends about 1/3 of the time looking into the camera talking to you, explaining the concepts and theory (how's and why's) of what he was doing, trying to achieve and 2. throughout the entire DVD he is encouraging the viewer to "find your own voice", not to simply try and emulate what he was teaching.

This 3 DVD set is almost 4 hours long and believe me when I tell you, there is not a single minute of wasted time.

The only problem I did have was watching John Paul edit images on his big honkin' Wacom Cintiq, I have mentioned in previous blog entries just how much I love this monitor. It was kinda like having a conversation with a guy who is leaning against his new Porsche Targa, your eyes keep drifting from him to his car and you start hearing "blah, bah, blah".

;)

But seriously, "Drawing With Light - 21st Century Dodging & Burning" is worth your time and your money. It's one of those rare instances when you get back far more than you put in.

Be sure to visit John Paul's website, his blog, and the other education opportunities he offers.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How to photograph reflective surfaces...

One of the more challenging things to light is glass (and other highly reflective surfaces), because normally when we photograph a subject we are putting our light on that subject.

But with glass we do the opposite, we are lighting around the subject.

You will find a couple well done tutorials for lighting glass here and here.

Now I'm off to Nikon Pro Photography seminar to stare and drool.

Funny, as I get older the things that make me go "hhhmmmm" change. ;)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Find out who’s using your images…

Every wonder who might be using your image(s) without your knowledge or approval?

With a new image search engine from TinEye you can now find out. No typing in keywords, descriptions or tags, TinEye will first take a look at your image and then search the internet for a match.

The folks at TinEye claim that even if your image has been cropped, resized, or "photoshopped" they can find it.

You can click on the search results and it will toggle between your mage and the image found to compare them, a pretty cool feature.

To make life even easier, there is a plug-in for Internet Explorer and Firefox that allows you to simply right click on an image on any webpage and perform a search for that image.

You can view some searches and the results here and here.



Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hey everybody!...

I'm finally back - between my two seminars last week (that took up 5 days), out of state visitors, and my daughters softball playoffs, things were just a bit hectic!

Starting this Thursday (maybe sooner) I'll be back posting photography stuff. But in the mean time let me share a story about one of my Twins.

Emma is my only daughter playing softball this season and is not having her best year, things (at times) have been a struggle for her, but bless her heart she is at every practice and every game giving it her all. Here is a story from one of her last games.

There Emma sat in left field when up to the plate comes one of the other teams power hitters and I know she is praying that the ball goes anywhere but to her.

Doesn’t this girl hit the farthest highest fly ball to left field I have seen this year (or maybe it just seemed that way to me).

I am watching Emma as she runs to get under the ball and I hear her say (as did everyone else in the stands) “OH NO”…

You would have thought by my reaction that she had caught the last out in the seventh game of the world series. After the game she came over to me and said sheepishly "I didn't mean to say that out loud".

Her team made it to the championship game, and we go to the banquet to pick up her trophy tonight.

;)
(click on image to enlarge)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A little about HDR...

HDR (High Dynamic Range) seems to be the rage lately, though it has been around since the 1930's.

HDR is the combination (bracketing) of 2 or more images in an effort to better capture (and display) the highlights, mid-tones, and shadows.

Matt Kloskowski has had several recent blog entries specific to HDR, one is a video about HDR, the other contains "Links, News, and Inspiration".

Here is a very good High Dynamic Range Tutorial, here is another, and here is one more from Pop Photo.

Some folks (including Mr. Kloskowski) are not big fans of using Photoshop for HDR and prefer to us Photomatix, you can view tutorials here and download a free trial here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Fathers Day thought...

A couple months back, just before I turned 52, I was having lunch with my friend Bob, we have lunch weekly and I always enjoy our conversations as Bob is thoughtful and insightful man.

When Bob talks, I listen.

At this particular lunch I was telling Bob about my dad, who left when I was 6, and how it had been decades since I last saw him.

That on my 40th birthday a card and letter arrived from my dad telling me of his regrets, that a lot of water had passed under the bridge, and that he would love to visit. Reading his words didn’t provoke any emotions, the anger of him leaving us had long since gone, but I didn’t feel the need for a reunion either. The letter went into a drawer and I never replied.

Bob asked why; I told him that “at this point in my life I didn’t feel the need for father”. Bob nodded thoughtfully then responded, “ya, but maybe he has a need for a son”.

It was like I had been struck by lighting. I got it.

I found out where my dad was living and made arrangements to go see him.

He died before I got there.

Regrets don’t come from the things we do, sure there are things we won’t do again, but we learn from them, there was a lesson there somewhere for us.

The true regret comes from the things we don’t do.

You too may be at a point in your life where you don’t feel the need for a father, but maybe your dad needs you.

Something to think about.

Happy Fathers Day dad.
(dad & me)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Some quick hits, then I'm outa here...

Here are some recent posts from other blogs that you really should read:

1. Digital Photography School has a couple you good posts (actually more, but I am limiting it to two), "Best Camera Accessories for Beginners" and "Food Photography Tips & Techniques".

2. Camera Porn has "60 Photography Links You Can't Live Without", though I think they should add Weekly Pho Tips and make it 61.

3. Studio Lighting has recently added "Photography Video Tutorials".

4. PixSylated will show you how to "Pimp Your McNally". I only recently stumbled onto this site and have added it to my bookmarks, you should too.

5. Speaking of Joe McNally, bottom line, reading Joe will make you a better photographer, and isn't that what its all about?

Now for the "I'm outa here" part:

I am heading to Boston today (Thursday) and will be there until Sunday learning from the great Lou Jones, then spending Monday getting ready for the Lighting Essentials workshop we are hosting next Tuesday and Wednesday, so if blog entries are few and far between it's not because I don't love you, it's just that I am a little busy.

See ya when I get back.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I hate spam!...

Anyone who has had an email address for more than a week finds themselves squarely in the sites of spammers. I am usually a loving and tolerant man, but when it comes to spammers the image comes to mind of a person buried neck deep next to an anthill and covered with honey.

They (spammers) seem to fall into three categories:

1. Those who want me to help them to sneak millions of dollars out of Africa. Let's think about this for a minute, they could deal with honest professionals (accountants, and attorneys) to move their money, or go to a complete stranger. Ya, that makes perfect sense, sign me up!

2. Porn. Please, like porn is soooo hard to find on the internet that you have to fill my inbox with it. And I like it even more when you send it to my daughters. Keep up the good work.

3. Viagra. You would think that every man in America was impotent, and that married people actually have sex.

Anyway, my point was not to rage on, but to give you a couple tools to keep these leaches from our inbox.

The first tool is for those who use Outlook, it's called SpamBayes and works incredibly well. You can get it for free, it's really easy to setup, and you can download it here.

If you use Outlook Express you need to stop, friends don't let friends use Outlook Express. Two big negatives about OE is that you can't backup your address book and mail boxes without buying a third party program, and you can't control spam without buying yet another program.

You should move over to Thunderbird.

Thunderbird is a wonderful email program, you can easily backup all your mailboxes, it has powerful anti-spam capabilities as part of the program, and most important, very secure!

You can also find a ton of templates and themes that allow you to customize it to your liking.

If you use OE and install Thunderbird, it will import all your settings, address books and mail folders for you. You'll be up and running a snap.

So once you are done transferring those millions of dollars, looking at porn, and popping Viagra, grab one of these free options for taking back control of your inbox!

(caught spammers - click to enlarge)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Another cool thing about living in Maine...

Is being so close to the ocean...
(click on images to view larger)



Friday, June 6, 2008

A motion shot of mine...

Called "moving water"...
(click to enlarge)

Even David Ziser is shooting RAW...

Those who know David understand the significance of that statement, for those who don't, let me explain.

David has been a photographer for quite some time and his approach to how he shoots and how he runs his business is purposeful, pragmatic and without wasted time or steps.

He believes in getting his client the best product possible in the fewest steps. David can tell you how much time (on average) is spent on every image that passes through his studio.

There is a (good) reason for everything he does in his workflow, he doesn't make changes willy nilly, change is always purpose driven, which is one reason why so many people flock to his classes and seminars.

Part of that workflow has been shooting jpeg, small file size, thus lending itself to efficient processing.

David has been "dabbling" with shooting RAW lately and sharing his experience with his readers, and finally this last weekend he shot his first wedding in RAW.

Which fits perfectly with his philosophy of making change when it means giving his clients their monies worth.

Here are three blog entries about his RAW experiences:

Superior RAW white balance

RAW and Lightroom

David's first RAW wedding part I & part II

If you haven't tried shooting RAW you should, you'll be amazed at your post processing options.

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Advancing your photographic education...

One of the keys to my photographic education was provided by PhotoVision.

They have an outstanding library of educational photography DVD's - I have their 6 DVD (each) sets Portrait Techniques Vol. I & Vol. II, Wedding Techniques Vol. I & Vol. II, as well as the 2 DVD set Marketing & Management.

Each set is about 12 hours in total length and you get to watch over the shoulders of such greats as Gary Fong, David Ziser, Parker Pfister, and Ken Sklute just to name a few.

You will see complete weddings, or portrait sessions from setting up the lights through post production. The photographers will explain what they are doing and why. You will get things like the best place to position yourself during the wedding ceremony, lens selection, and using available light.

I got more useful information from my PhotoVision DVD's than I did from all my other books and tapes combined.

The reason I bring this up is because PhotoVision has an out standing offer that anybody looking to improve their photography should take advantage of.

PhotoVision 2008 is an annual subscription that consists of a 2 hour DVD sent to your door every other month and that includes:

• New Features for Photoshop CS3
• Current Trends and Styles in Portraiture
• Approaches to Location and Studio Lighting
• Successful Marketing Concepts
• Adobe New Lightroom Secrets
• Latest Direction in Wedding Techniques
• Up-to-Date Digital Workflow Solutions
• Studio Walk Throughs

PhotoVision 2008 usually is $149, but you can get if for just $35, no that's not a typo, just $35 will give you a years worth of photography education.

If you use the coupon code "edpierce" while checking out PhotoVision 2008 is yours for $35.

Why are you still here? Go place your order!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Motion Photography...

You have heard me talk about Digital Photography School before, and they should be listed very high in your "places I need to visit often" list.

I wanted to share with you two articles they have on motion photography:

How to Capture Motion Blur in Photography

15 Stunning Images Using Blur to Portray Movement

These should get your creative juices flowing.

Ramona at Full Speed by by WisDoc

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

HyperDrive COLORSPACE revisited...

Back in February I told you about my HyperDrive COLORSPACE (I kinda gushed about it) and one of the things I mentioned was its ability to recover images from a damaged or corrupt memory card. The problem was I didn't have a bad card to prove the point.

Until recently. Not only did I get a bad card, but a wonderful story to go with it.

In Kennebunk Maine there is a great school, the Heartwood College of Art. Once a year the schools president, Berri Kramer, goes to Africa on a photographic mission for Mbali.org.

Here is their Mission statement:

Mbali.org is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness, and understanding for child headed households in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, and elsewhere. Profits from the sale of Mbali’s Bracelets are donated to Community Outreach Centers there. These centers help with the education and well being of orphaned children.

Well, on her last trip (and for the first time) Berri did not shoot film, she "went digital". But when she got back to the states she was in for a shock, no matter what device she used, no matter what she tried, the cards could not be read, the images could not be viewed.

Without these images a lot of time, money, and effort (essentially the reason for the mission to Africa) would be for not.

After all other efforts had been exhausted and no images recovered my phone rang, "can I use your COLORSPACE?".

Within seconds of the first card being plugged into the COLORSPACE images started appearing and being download.

Bottom line, every single image was recovered/downloaded. My COLORSPACE proved its worth.

Because the images were recovered the Mbali’s Bracelets project continues moving forward.

Life is good.

If you are interested in learning more about this project you can visit their website here, or contact them here.

(recovered image – click to enlarge)

Monday, June 2, 2008

May 2008 Photo Contest Winners...

Here are the May 2008 photo contest winners, click on either image to view a larger version:

The first is Richard Stanton, he took this shot while hiking in Italy.

Location: Amalfi Italy
Equipment Used: Nikon D100 with a Nikon 12-120 VR lens, f10 @ 1/40 second
Post Production: shadow detail captured in Photoshop CS3

The Next winner is Danny Morehouse who had passed this church many times before he finally photographed it.

Location: North Plains Oregon
Equipment Used: Canon XTi with a 24-70/2.8 lens, f8 @1/500 second
Post Production: RAW processing in Lightroom with final edits in Photoshop CS3 using NIK Color Efex

Both May winners will be receiving either a LumiQuest Softbox or a LumiQuest Pocket Bouncer and the book "Flash... The Most Available Light".

Congratulations to both May winners and a big thanks to LumiQuest for providing these great prizes.

The June contest is now open!