Monday, September 29, 2008

SanDisk 16 GB Extreme III Card for $24.95... REALLY!

The good folks at Adorama have some unbelievable prices on SanDisk memory cards, here are a few (the sale ends October 11th, or until they run out, which ever comes first):

SanDisk 2 GB Extreme III Compact Flash Memory Card - $4.95

SanDisk 4 GB Extreme III Compact Flash Memory Card - $17.95

SanDisk 8 GB Extreme III Compact Flash Memory Card - $19.95

SanDisk 16 GB Extreme III Compact Flash Memory Card - $24.95

SanDisk 4 GB Extreme III Secure Digital (SDHC) Memory Card - $17.95

SanDisk 8 GB Extreme III Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Memory Card - $24.95

I use the 8 GB compact flash card and shoot RAW, this card will hold just over 400 images (for a Nikon D300) and even when I shoot fast (machine gunning) I never have to wait while images are written to the card.

The prices you see are after your rebate and the rebate comes in the form of a pre-paid Visa card, but heck, money is money.

You can view rebate information here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A tested a new toy and LOVE IT!...

Have you ever been on a search for something, and when you finally found it was so darn excited you did the happy dance all by yourself?

Since my first digital camera (which I think was wood burning) I have been looking for "just the right" storage device to hold my memory cards and would be embarrassed to tell you how many different card holders I have tried and how much money I have spent in the process (for fear my wife might find out).

About 10 days ago I got a package from the kind folks at Hakuba USA who sent me one of their digital media storage devices and it was love at first site. That love grew even deeper when I started using it.

There are about 10 products waiting for review on this blog but I was so enamored with this memory card wallet that I bumped it to the front of the line.

To test it I have 1) kept it in my back pocket for the entire day (and "tiny" has never been my nick-name), 2) dropped it down a flight of stairs several times, 3) thrown it across the driveway, and 4) dropped it about 10 feet onto concrete surface (all on purpose of course) and it survived my "testing" beautifully.

Not once did the case even pop open.

Of the card cases I have use in the past, they all have had the hinge or clasp (sometimes both) that were separate components attached to the case and after extended use (certainly not abuse) they would either fail or miss-align and I would end up keeping the case closed with a rubber band. Pretty fancy shmancy for a big wig photographer.

The outer case from Hakuba is one solid/contagious piece with a simple but very effective design and made from an extremely rugged material.

But wait, there's more, you can get them at places like Adorama for just under $12. That is a small price to pay for such outstanding protection.

Most photographers I know want the best protection they can get for their media cards and this "armored wallet" is it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Our review policy…

A comment was made to me recently wondering if I “had ever met a product I did not like”.

I make no apologies for the fact that all you have read on this blog are positive reviews, but let me explain the two reasons why.

1. There have been products sent in for review that never made it to the pages of this blog, not because they were bad products, but because they did not enhance or significantly add to my photography or my workflow. It doesn’t mean it was a bad product, it only means it was not for me.

And just because it wasn’t for me does not mean it would not be beneficial to you, so I don’t want to negatively influence you from trying something that in fact may be exactly what you’ve been looking for.

2. The other reason is that there are too many folks who eagerly (and with glee) rip something or someone apart (and think they slick and funny in the process).

I am not quick to complain about poor service, but am to compliment good. Sometimes people have an off or bad day, God knows I have and I appreciate that folks do not eagerly point that out to me.

Basically, it all boils down to what our moms told us “if you don’t have something nice to say, I will slap the snot right out of you”.

Or something like that.

;)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Adobe announces Lightroom 2.1 update...

From Adobe labs:

"Welcome to the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.1 release candidate on Adobe Labs. The ‘release candidate’ label indicates that this update is well tested but would benefit from additional community testing before it is distributed automatically to all of our customers. The Lightroom team would like the community to help verify the quality of this update through normal usage as this will ensure that the application is tested on a diversity of hardware and software configurations not available internally at Adobe."

You can download the update/release candidate here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Review of the book "Digital Food Photography" by Lou Manna...

My good friend and fellow photographer Mike Palmer has been showing off some of his outstanding food photography on his blog.

He gives credit to the Lou Manna book "Digital Food Photography", so I asked him if he would write a review and show some of his work.

Thankfully he said yes, so ladies and gentlemen I present Mike Palmer!

So you want to jump into food photography! I know I did, and with a few tips from Scott Kelby that he posted on his blog (here, here, and here) and the Lou Manna book "Digital Food Photography" later and I had the opportunity to shoot some food with a very notable Chef.

The book starts off with a couple chapters on the technical side of the food photography business. Lou covers in detail each element necessary to take good food shots, what kind of camera, lens, and camera settings are all covered in chapter 1 & 2, it then moves on dealing with clients, food styling, and some very specific lighting set ups for food.

The rest of the book will take you through the COMPLETE process of becoming a food photographer. Lou Mann gives you his real world view of what it takes to be successful and shows you all aspects of the business.

If you have a passion for “good eats” or are looking for a new angle for your business. Lou Manna’s "Digital Food Photography" will not disappoint.

I would also recommend eating something before diving into this book; the photographs are first class and will have you salivating.

The images below are from Mike and can be viewed larger (and in a new window) simply by clicking on it.




Monday, September 15, 2008

Two DVD workshops from Doug Gordon...

I've had the pleasure of watching two different DVD sets produced by Dou Gordon that I would like to share with you.

The first, a 2 DVD set called "The Real Wedding Day", will take you though one of Doug's weddings from beginning to end. Nothing is left out, you will spend hours with Doug and see exactly what he does at a wedding and watch him interact with the wedding party. Believe me what the bride and groom told you they wanted to happen during that short period of time between the ceremony and the reception and making it happen can be in stark contrast. And if the brides initial desires do not come to fruition who do you think will take the blames - the photographer.

There is downtime during weddings and you will also see what Doug does during that downtime to be as productive as psooible.

If you are considering venturing into the filed of wedding photography I would strongly suggest you do two things:

1. Buy this DVD set and see what really happens from the eye of a photographer who shoots hundreds of weddings a year.

2. If after watching this DVD set you still want to shoot weddings, find a wedding photographer who will let you tag along as a second shooter and put into action the things you learned from Doug's DVD.

Assuming you still want to be a wedding photographer you will need clients and that's where the next DVD set comes in.

It's called "The Closer" and there are two important things you will take from this DVD:

1. In the DVD Doug takes you from the initial phone call from a bride to "sealing the deal". An essential lesson you will take away is how to gently prod your bride into making a decision sooner rather than later (either thumbs up or down). The poor bride has so many things to deal with that if you let her, things can drag on, and on, and... and using Doug's techniques will help you book your schedule full and take one thing off the brides plate that she doesn't have to worry about.

2. The accompanying CD has seven different contracts on it, the same contracts Doug uses in his studio use and they are and excellent starting point for you to decide what you need to include in your contracts.

One last point I would like to add regarding your initial client interview, its much like a first date, if it doesn't work you should not go on the second date. If you don't mesh well with the client, don't force it. If you do you'll end up having a very long day and your bride may not truly be happy. This is their day and everything should be perfect.

I know I've send this before "long after people forget what you've done for them, they will remember how you made the feel" and if you didn't really hit it off with your bride she'll never be completely happy and you're likely to never get a referral from the job.

I guess what I am trying to say is that it's about more than just the money.

Follow the links to learn more about Doug, his educational DVD's, his workshops, and his blog.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen... the Shutter Sisters...

I came across the Shutter Sisters in a very convoluted way... I was checking out the blog of Kristin Zecchinelli, the winner of the Portland Maine photo walk and she happened to have a link to their website, which I followed.

The first thing that struck me was "these are real people" which motivated me to dig deeper into their blog, to view more of their images, and to read more of their stories.

The Shutter Sisters are a group of women, led by Tracey Clark, that share their love of photography, their stunning images, and themselves.

It's not about the technical aspect of taking a picture, it's about the feeling, the emotion, the passion that goes into a quality photography.

When I asked Tracey to tell me about their blog, this was her response:

"Well, in a nutshell, I launched the blog in January 2008 as a collaborative photo blog for women who like to take pictures. There are 10 regular contributors and we have featured a number of guest bloggers. Why? Because I am a community loving kind of gal and I know that the massive demographic of women with a passion for photography don’t have very many places to go online or otherwise to be recognized, respected, encouraged, and celebrated. I hope to do all of those things and more for our community at Shutter Sisters. It is our goal to be inclusive of all women who are interested in photography from professionals to beginners with little emphasis on what kinds of equipment they use.

We’ve started out strong and are building a highly creative community. I have lots of plans to grow the site to make it even more special than it already is. There’s a lot to look forward to and as far as I can tell, the sky is the limit!"

Not only do you get to view their remarkable photography, you also get the story behind the shot, what was going on at the time and why the photographer was inspired to click the shutter.

The Shutter Sisters is one of those websites that has depth of character to it, you can tell there good people behind it. So do yourself a favor, stop by and say hello to the Shutter Sisters (not to be confused with the “Lens Ladies”, the “Battery Babes”, or the “Gadget Guys”).

You will come away a richer person for having visited them.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Another weekend another wedding...

Just to warn you, this is the first of three Mondays in a row that you are going to be subjected to my wedding images.

Two more weeks and the wedding season is over (for me at least).

I had the pleasure of shooting this past Saturday with Tim Riley, the other half of Riley Photographic.

It's fun to shoot with other photographers because I always learn something new, sometimes big, sometimes small, but always something that makes me a better photographer (plus it's nice to have someone to talk to).

Take for example the last image in this set, it was Tim's idea to go down to the beach. It was well after sunset (dark AND foggy) but he wanted to shoot with no flash, no image stabilization because he wanted an "impressionistic" look. It's a great shot to use as the background image for a collage page in their wedding album.

Please know that I post these my images here not because I think they are all that (and a bag of chips), it's because I like to hear your comments and critiques (as in constructive criticism, not "hey Scott, you suck", or "who took that picture, Stevie Wonder?").

:)

Feel free to click on any of the images to view it larger (in a new window).

See ya tomorrow.





Friday, September 5, 2008

Friday Lightroom Quickies...


There is a new site that I came across this week that is dedicated to Lightroom presets (I LOVE Lightroom), it's call Presets Heaven.

Though it has been in existence for just a couple weeks now, they have already put a lot of presets out there, so be sure to check them out.

Back in July I did a post that listed where you could get a few hundred free Lightroom presets, one of those resources, ReallyJapan's Darkroom dropped me an email letting me know they have posted a new set of Cinematic presets that you can download here.

And lastly, probably the single best Lightroom resource out there is Matt Kloskowski's Lightroom Killer Tips, Matt adds free presets pretty much weekly (along with a ton of other Lightroom information), so be sure to bookmark his blog.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wedding Photography...

Two weeks ago I wrote about an article from Digital Photography School "Stepping Into Wedding Photography".

Well they have followed up with a handful of new articles that expand upon/add to it:

Wedding Photography Survival Tips: The Preparation

Choosing a Lens for Wedding Photography

Wedding Photography Agreement (Contract) Tips

The One Location Technique for Wedding Photography

Though these articles are geared towards wedding photographers, they hold some great tips and ideas for all photographers.

And speaking of weddings, here are some shots from a recent wedding:





Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A couple great deals!...

Deal #1

17th Street Photo has SanDisk 8GB cards on sale with rebate, final cost for 1 card is $35, if you purchase 2 the final cost is $25 (per card). It's one of those "the more you buy, the more you save" sales.

You'll find the rebate info here.

I ordered 2 on Friday and they were at my door on Tuesday.

This sale ends September 14.

Deal #2

Staples has Paint Shop Pro® Photo X2 on sale (with rebate) and your final cost is only $49.

True, it's no Photoshop CS3 (then again I'm no George Clooney), but it is a very good piece of software. and you can read a review from the July Issue of Rangefinder magazine here.

This sale ends September 6.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A couple from the Photoshop Boys...

#1

Did you know that Adobe has released camera profiles or Lightroom? Me either, but thanks to Matt Kloskowski, I do now.

Last week Matt posted a video on the new camera profiles released by Adobe for Lightroom 2 and the results are pretty darn impressive.

This could be a big deal when it comes to your workflow, imagine a preset that you apply (automatically) to all your images as they are imported that results in a better base image AND less editing.

Pack my bags I'm a goin' to heaven!

;)

You will find Matt's post here (it's a must watch video) and download the camera profiles here.

#2

This one comes from a recent post by Dave Cross and is a great marketing idea.

This is how one photographer uses his existing clients to bring in new ones.

For each print order that he places for clients (portrait, seniors, etc.) he also places an order for custom business cards that includes an image of that client on the front and a promotion on the back.

When the order is delivered it includes these business cards and the client is encouraged to hand them out to their friends and family.

Of course they’re happy to give out “their” cards and it’s a great promotional tool for the studio.

But wait, it gets even better.

He rolls the cost of the cards into the price of the session/print order so there is no cost to him, but he gets to write off the cost of the cards as an advertising/promotion expense.

So not only are his clients bringing him new business, they are also paying for it at the same time.

Now that is genius!

Monday, September 1, 2008

The August 2008 Photo Contest Winners are...

It is hard to believe we are coming to the "end of summer" (bad thing) it's also time for the August photo contest winners (good thing).

As usual, you can click on either image to view it larger (in a separate/new window).

Winner number one is "Bike Rally" sent in by Regenia Brabham from Georgia.

Location: Georgia State Fair in Macon, Georgia
Equipment Used: Canon 20D and a 70-300 mm zoom lens. Natural Light.
Post Production: Photoshop CS3 to crop the image and then to adjust the levels, contrast, and de-saturate.

Regenia: "The police were at the fair for security and had their bikes parked in this line. I seem to be drawn to lines and patterns and I think that is why I like this image so much."

You can visit Regenia's website here.

Our next winner is Tyra from Idaho:

Location: Puyallup, WA
Equipment Used: Nikon D60 and a 18-55mm lens
Post Production: Photoshop elements was used to tint the image black and white and add the inked edge overlay

Tyra: "We were on a walk around a nearby creek and my sons were finding all sorts of beautiful treasures in nature. These tiny pinecones were his favorite. I am totally an amateur photographer, but thought your contest would be fun to enter!"

You can visit Tyra at her blog here.

And the prizes this month are (drum roll please....): Regenia is getting a copy of "Mastering HDR Photography" by Michael Freeman and Tyra will be receiving a copy of "The Advanced Digital Photographer's Workbook".

The September contest is now open, so please keep those mages coming!