Friday, October 31, 2008

It's Halloween and it's Molly's birthday...

My Daughter Molly turns 14 today and I am not really happy about time stealing my little girls.

When she was really little molly thought all the hoopla for Halloween was to celebrate her birthday, and of course I did nothing to dissuade her from thinking that.

Let me share two quick stories that shows what kind of person my Molly is.

Story 1:

She was 6 at the time, had long hair, way down her back long hair and one day came into the kitchen and announced to us that she wanted to have her hair cut off so she should could "donate to the company that makes wigs for sick kids", then she turned and walked away. Her mom and I just looked at each other until one of us finally said "where did that come from?".

Our plan was to just wait and see if it was something she still wanted in a few days. Well, by the end of the week she had bugged us so much that I was ready to let her shave her head, get tattoos, and join a biker gang.

So down to the hair solon, off came the hair and sent off to Locks of Love.

Story 2:

We really get into Christmas at our house, for weeks we'll tell elaborate stories about what we want most and why, and that year (it just happened to be the same year Molly cut her hair) I wanted a telescope. We had marked the day on the calendar when Santa was going to be at the fire station (he lands on the roof and comes down the big ladder to see the kids) and when the day finally arrived it was cold and the line was long, long, long, so it took some time before we reached the big guy. When it was finally her turn Santa asked Molly what she wanted and without hesitation she said "I want you to bring my dad a telescope".

Ya, I was speechless.

Now she is taller than her mom, has mounds in her sweater that are absolutely unnecessary, and looks far more like a woman than I like. But she still kisses me before she leaves the house, will tell me she loves me in front of her friends, and is still the same caring girl who gave her hair to another and used her time with Santa for someone else.

Happy birthday Molly, I love you!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Review of the new book "PhoDOGraphy"...

Never ever have I gotten a new photography book and had every person in my family pick it up and thumb through it from cover to cover, but the new book "PhoDOGraphy - how to get great pictures of your dog" by Kim Levin changed that.

Why?

Every other page has a full size dog portrait on it while the opposing page not only has the chapter content, but often has 1-3 more thumbnail images. And these images aren't there as "window dressing", every single image is an example of what that chapter is covering with a full explanation of the "how's & why's" behind each of the sample images.

The first thing that came through was that Kim is a real dog lover, and of course this hit home with me as I am the proud dad of two miniature schnauzers, one of the ways this was apparent is Kim's emphasis on the safety of the dog when shooting outside of the confines of the dogs home.

While the book covers every topic you can imagine regarding photographing dogs, it's a quick read, I read it from cover to cover (each time) in just a couple hours (which means normal people could read it even faster).

Kim covers it all, from photographing dogs indoors, outdoors, dogs in motion, how to make use of different weather and seasons, photographing single dogs, multiple dogs, puppies... and more.

Ever see a picture of a dog and they're looking into the camera with its head cocked to one side? Kim walks you through how to capture that exact image.

One of my dogs is black and I can never seem to get a good picture of her, well Kim devotes and entire chapter, "The Black Dog", to this problem.

If you haven't picked up on it yet, I loved this book. It is well written, extremely informative and stuffed with outstanding images from cover to cover.

If you put a copy on your coffee table I guarantee that not only will every person who walks in your house pick it up, you will here things like "oooooh" and "aaaaah".

And you'll learn a heck of a lot about photographing dogs too.

After I finished reading the book I had a few questions regarding the business of dog photography, so I emailed Kim and she was kind enough to answer them:

WPT: When you started your business as a dog portraiture photographer, what were some of the successful techniques you used to market your business?

Kim: I had worked in advertising for almost seven years at that point, so I had a good background in branding and marketing. When I first started out, I made postcards and placed them at local pet boutique stores and vet hospitals in NYC. I also partnered with the Center for Animal Care and Control and the ASPCA and created adoption posters to help animals get adopted. My name was on the posters and that also helped promote my photography.

WPT: Now that you are a success, has your marketing changed, (other than word of mouth) if so how, and what works for you?

Kim: I still rely on many of the marketing techniques that have worked for me in the past. I just recently made new promotional materials for my pet and kid portrait business (i.e. postcards) and placed them at various pet boutiques, kid clothing and toy shops and vet hospitals. I also from time to time, run advertising in my local area as a reminder that I am available for commissioned assignments. I also continue to donate a portion of my proceeds from my books and products to animal humane organizations. This is a way for me to give back to the animal community and it also serves to keep my name and brand in the spotlight. For four years I photographed the ASPCA annual calendar as well as my local Monmouth County SPCA calendar. This time of year there are a lot of animal events (fundraisers for shelters) and I always have a vendor booth where I sign my books and promote my photography business. I invested in updating my website and it has really helped showcase my portfolio of work.

WPT: How did/do you arrive on your pricing, do you charge the same for humans and dogs?

Kim: I actually do charge the same rate for animals and humans. Most of my shoots are dogs and cats but in the last year or two I have been trying to promote my family and kid portraiture as well. I have focused my energies on specializing with kids and pets - which is a natural fit for me. So when someone hires me to photograph their baby and their dog, they get the best of both. I will photograph the baby alone, dog alone and them together. Most photographers tend to focus on one area vs. the other. This is an area that I am still exploring and trying to carve a niche for myself.

Below you will find some of Kim's favorite images from the book, clicking on any of the images will open them in a new & larger window.

Enjoy.




Monday, October 27, 2008

Adobe releases Lightroom 2.1...

If you have been wringing your hands and pacing the floor until late into the night waiting for the Lightroom update, your fretting and worrying is over.

;)

Adobe has released Lightroom 2.1.

You can get the Windows update here, and the MAC update here.

If you are one of the folks (like me) who installed the 2.1 release candidate I would suggest uninstalling it first as Adobe did not included an auto uninstall as part of this update.

To stay on top of Adobes Lightroom updates and news releases you should keep an eye (bookmark) "Lightroom Journal".

Friday, October 24, 2008

Some new resources for Lightroom 2...

I've come across some new resources for Lightroom 2 that I have found very informative/useful and thought you might as well.

The first offering comes from National Association of Photoshop Professionals instructor Raphael "RC" Concepcion.

In "Welcome to Lightroom 2" RC will walks you through all of Lightrooms powerful tools and features with his hands-on, easy to follow, easy to understand instructional style. Does anyone know more about Photoshop and Lightroom than than the folks from NAPP?

Next is "Pixelicious" which is not dedicated exclusively to Lightroom (you will find entries dedicated to Photoshop and digital photography as well), but has too much good stuff not to be in your bookmarks and iTunes list.

Lastly, Jared Platt has a brand new Lightroom podcast (it's just a month old and still got the shine on it) "Adobe Lightroom 2.1 Podcast". If the first two episodes are any indication, there are good things in store from Jared in the future.

So, there's your homework for this weekend and if you know of a Lightroom 2 source that has yet to be covered on this blog PLEASE let us know so we can share it with everybody else.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Here's some exciting contest news!...

We now have a sponsor for the Weekly Photo Tips monthly photo contest.

EDGE Tech Corp has generously offered to sponsor our monthly photo contest by providing great gifts to the winners!

Beginning with this months contest, each winner will receive either a 2 GB memory card (appropriate for their camera) or a 4 GB flash drive.

Now, a shameless plug for our new sponsor. ;)

EDGE Tech Corp is a leading supplier of computer memory upgrades , portable computing products, storage devices, and other technology solutions. Their flash card lineup allows digital photographers to upgrade the devices' memory for maximum performance. EDGE's card line consists of various formats including Compact Flash, SD Memory Cards, SmartMedia, (and other) memory cards. EDGE also offers Flash Drives, Digital Frames, and Portable Hard Drives.

I am extremely happy for our contest winners that our prize packages have taken a huge leap forward and want to thank Edge Tech for making it happen.

Now get your contest entries in!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Horse show part II…

I was pleasantly surprised by how many emails I got from last week’s post of horse show images, thank you for taking the time to write, and for your kind words.

Because you liked them so much (and the fact that I get brownie points from my daughter when she gets blog space) here are a few more images from that show.

Click on any image to view it larger (and in a new window).





Saturday, October 18, 2008

Deke McClelland on CS4...

For those of you who are familiar with Deke, you know he is smart and funny (okay, and kinda cute).

And for those of you still thinking about CS4 here is his video "Photoshop CS4, buy or die!" to help you in your decision making process.

You will also want to bookmark his blog as Deke offers great insight and instruction on his blog.

Thanks Mike for pointing this video out to me.

If you have already made up your mind, you can get Adobe Photoshop CS4 here.

I am off to shoot a wedding in Cape Cod, have a great weekend, see ya next week.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This weekend’s horse show…

My teenage daughter is into horses. By into, I mean INTO.

She takes lessons every Saturday and Sunday, reads all kinds of horse magazines (who knew horses could read and write) and every inch of her bedroom walls are covered with horse pictures and posters.

I compare it to being a boat owner, a hobby that requires you to throw large sums of good money at it on a regular basis.

Here are a few images from a show we went to this past weekend.

Click on any image to view it larger (and in a new window).





Monday, October 13, 2008

A sneak peak at Photoshop CS4...

If you are like me (no, not fat and old), you're wondering if it's worth the money to upgrade to Photoshop CS4, or because of the significant changes from Photoshop CS3, do you want to invest the time to learn a new program.

Thinking back to the last 2 weddings and portrait sessions that I've edited (about 3000 images) I don't remember opening Photoshop once, all my work was done in Lightroom.

So I was seriously leaning towards "no update", that was until I came across Rich Harrington's website/podcast CSFour.com.

As I was watching his tutorials I kept saying "that's cool", "nice", or "I could really use that". I realized I was sounding much like Homer Simpson, "oooooh doughnut".

So now I am leaning (strongly) to upgrading, not just for me, but for my clients too. Like I often say, if you use something (even once) that makes your client happy it's worth the investment because it's not just about that sale, it's also about that client coming back in the future and singing your praises to all their friends.

I would pay $199 for that kind of good publicity/advertising every time (the cost of the upgrade).

Looking at it strictly from the business side, It only takes one good sale to recoup your investment.

So if you are wondering what CS4 has to offer you, be sure to watch this video from Rich discussing the new interface in CS4, and be sure to check out his podcast because you'll find a bunch of videos showing the features of (and benefits of upgrading to) Photoshop CS4.



Friday, October 10, 2008

The LensPen is a gem!...

Have you ever reached down to take off your lens cap and realize that the cap was already off but not before you smudge your glass? Or blow really hard in an effort to get some dust off only to accidently spit on your lens?

And then pull out the tail of your shirt in an attempt to cleanup your mess only to make it worse?

No hands up? So I'm the only photographer in the world who has ever did this?

;)

For the last couple weeks I have been test driving the LensPen from Hakuba and have found it to be an incredibly useful tool.

It's small (a little larger than your standard pen) and easily fits in your pocket, pouch, or camera bag. And its compact size allows the LensPen to clean in areas that you finger could not fit.

On one end of the LensPen you will find a retractable cleaning brush and on the other you'll find the cleaning pad that will never dry out and is safe for any/all lenses.

Accessories like the LensPen fall into two categories, "nice to have" and "must have". The LensPen is a must have and if you go on an assignment without this tool in your arsenal it would be a big mistake.

It's all about getting the best image you can, and having a LensPen in your bag will help you make that happen.

Such an important tool can be yours from places like Adorama for only $9.49, a small cost for such a big help.

It's pretty easy to understand why the Hakuba LensPen has been the winner of PTN Product of the Year award five times.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A wedding that was for the dogs…

My last wedding had a first for me, dogs in the wedding.

As I was shooting the bridal party heading towards the alter I could see that one of the gentlemen was accompanied by two beautiful black labs, each with a red collar, red leashe, and white roses.

The original plan was to have the dogs in the front row during the ceremony, but as the wedding began both dogs began to softly whimper, until the bride finally had the dogs brought up to be with her and the groom.

It certainly wasn’t a distraction, quite the opposite, because of the personality of the bride and groom it actually added nicely to the day.




Friday, October 3, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Deanna Gomes…

I can’t even tell you how I came across Deanna, but loved looking at the images on her website and reading about the passion she has for photography on her blog… and thought others would enjoy learning about her as much as I did.

World, this is Deanna Gomes, Deanna the world:

I’ve been a hobbyist photographer since I was 10 years old, in the Girl Scouts, were I learned how to make a pinhole camera with a roll of 110 film, some cardboard, and heavy duty tape. It wasn't until I was 37 that it evolved into a business. I was sitting on the beach in Lompoc, California at sunset while contemplating what I was going to be when I grew up. I heard a shriek of laughter from a little girl and turned to see her dancing in the surf. The sun was low and as the waves rolled in around her feet as she danced. It looked like the ocean was filled with glitter! It literally caught my breath!

I said out loud, “I wish I had my camera!” and it was right then that I knew I’d be a professional photographer some day!

In my search for knowledge and information on photography I realized how difficult it was to find. There seemed to be more websites and forums for photography than any other craft, but they only contained hints of what I needed. I was frustrated, but I was determined.

Yearning is such a creative force me. It drove me to find the knowledge and develop the skills that would help me create the images that lived in my imagination. As my portfolio and my business grew, the desire pushed me to understand the trinity of good exposure, to create a beautiful website and so on. No matter how much I learn and what I become skilled at, the drive for more remains in me.

It was shortly after moving to Colorado Springs that I joined a photography club that was just starting, I wanted to hang out with the beginners and hobbyists with the hunger to learn. There’s nothing like standing beside photographers with passion coursing through their veins, reaching out, sharing what they know and opening their minds in amazement.

We have 300 members in various stages of skill and development. Some of our members are seasoned professionals with fully outfitted studios and other members are moms with point and shoot cameras who just want to get better snapshots of their kids.

The group meets twice a month for education based instruction as well as once or twice a month for some fun photography outings. We are very active and very social group!

“Friday Nights with Studio Lights” started as an extension of the club members' interest in learning more about studio photography. I vividly remembered what it was like to hunger for the knowledge and have it be so difficult to come by, so I opened my small studio on a Friday night and invited 6 brand new, fresh out of the gates photographers in to learn and play. The only requirements for participation were that they had to bring an SLR camera and a bottle of wine! One of our fellow photographers modeled for us, we drank wine, moved the lights around, discussed lighting patterns, f-stop, shutter speed, focal length, posing, backdrop choices, and drank more wine.

We laughed hard and bonded strongly! Word spread, and as the photos were passed around I started getting calls from other photographers asking to join us on “Friday Nights with Studio Lights”.

Today the event still hosts only 6 photographers at a time as well as two models. I enjoy bringing other professionals in for these studio nights as it rounds out the experience and knowledge sharing quite nicely. We all learn from each other, the environment is so rich… and the best part is that it's totally free!

If you are interested in participating in a “Studio Night” feel free to contact me.



Thursday, October 2, 2008

Professional Wedding Photography...

Yesterday a new book was released: "Professional Wedding Photography: Techniques and Images from Master Photographers" and you can find it here on Amazon.com.

I wanted to congratulate my friend Stacey (Kane) for not only contributing one of the books chapters, but for having her image featured on the cover of the book.

The fact that I get to shoot with her on a regular basis makes me feel incredibly lucky, and luckier still to count her as a friend.

Congratulations Stacey!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The September 2008 Photo Contest Winners...

Another month has flown by and it's time to announce the photo contest winners for September.

Feel free to click on either image to view it larger and in a new window.

The fist winner is "Seen better days" from Marcus Brammer, you may remember Marcus as he was featured on our blog here (some many months ago)


Location: At his home in Texas
Equipment Used: Canon 5 a with a17-40mm lens with an exposure of 1/50 sec at f/5.0
Post Production: Lightroom was used to remove all but the color green

From Marcus: "My photo "Seen better days" was taken in my house with light coming thru the window. I used Lightroom to removed color except the color green."

Marcus is a member of the Fort Worth Camera Club.

And our second winner this month (and first ever international winner) is Drew Lawrence and it's called "Pier at Dusk".

Location: Clevedon Pier, Somerset England
Equipment Used: Olympus E-3, a 14-45mm lens; iso 100; EFL 40mm; 1.3 sec; f22. Natural light.
Post Production: CS3, added an Alien Skin color film filter, sharpened, and levels balanced.

From Drew: "The only Grade 1 listed pier in the UK and was a favorite of John Betjeman. I had to wait for the pier lights to come on, then took a series of shots."

Prizes: Marcus Brammer will be getting the Pocket Bouncer from Lumiquest and and Drew Lawrence will be receiving the Photoshop plug-in "Ultra Image", also from Lumiquest.

You can read our reviews of the Pocket Bouncer here, and Ultra Image here.

Please start sending in your October Photo Contest images.