Friday, February 27, 2009

A great new weekly Nikon DSLR resource...

This week Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski launched a new education resource dedicated specifically to tips and techniques for Nikon's D-series cameras.

DTownTV will air a 10-12 minute education video every Thursday and will cover camera tips and photographic techniques for all levels of today’s digital photographers. You can expect a wide range of topics.

The "Photoshop Boys" never do anything halfway, I know Scott and Matt will be providing a bunch of useful information for Nikon shooters, so be sure to bookmark DTownTV.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Professional Wedding Photography...

Some books present great imagery, others cover the business side of professional photography, this book does a wonderful job at both.

The book is - "Professional Wedding Photography: Techniques and Images from Master Photographers".

Sadly, photographers who are not looking to be a full time professional, or have no interest in shooting weddings may pass right by this book because of its title, but they would be making a terrible mistake as this book is for anyone interested in being a better photographer.

Maybe they should re-title the book to something like - "If you are interested in stunning imagery, the inside workings of a studio, how to better organize your workflow, grow your business, and become a better photography, this is your book".

Here are just a few things I liked about this book:

In this book there are 10 very different, very successful photographers that come from varied geographic settings and equally diverse shooting styles that are interviewed, so you get their style, their ideas, and the business approach of each of these very successful photographers.

Every page has more space dedicated to image presentation than words (if you’ve read this blog for very long, you know that always get high marks from me). The images are stunning and you can see these photographers are looking at (and thinking about) just prior to hitting the shutter.

Of all the questions asked of each photographer, one of my favorite is "who are your influences and mentors?" because it provides a great insight into who and/or what has influenced them, giving you an even broader look into the world of successful photography.

It asks (and answers) the questions that every photographer starting out in business struggles with, here are just a few of them:

1. How do clients find you (and you them)?
2. How do you handle retainers and fees?
3. How do you address the needs for contracts with your clients?
4. Do you have any tips for handling the unexpected?
5. How do you light your subjects?
6. What is your workflow?
7. How do you promote your business?

Again, you get the answers from 10 different sources, and what lends more weight to all their answers is that they come from professional photographers who have "been there, done that". 10 photographers that started out with nothing but a camera and an idea and each one of them has grown into nationally recognized, award winning photographers.

A business coach will tell you that one of the keys to success is to learn from those who are already successful.

If you are looking to take a better picture, improve your workflow, or start a studio, the first step to achieving your goals, your first step to success, would be to get this book and learn from those who are successful.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Blog subscribers, the Jonas Brothers, and winter...

None of those three things are related, but I wanted to touch on each one.

1. Blog Subscribers: At the end of last week this blog hit yet another milestone, it surpassed 900 subscribers. Holy crap! I want to thank each and every single one of you for making this blog the success that it is. I could write posts until the cows come home (exactly where they have been I don't know), but if no one came to spend time, to read, and then come back again and again, this would be just so much hot air.

So the success (and my thanks) go to you the readers. THANK YOU!

2. The Jonas Brothers: It has come home to me (yet again) that we are role models for our children. My girls have watched me write this blog and have had to suffer through the boredom of looking at my visitor stats/maps and have decided they wanted to embark on their own blog.

Their subject? The Jonas Brothers, or as they would say "OMG, the Jo Bro's".

So they asked for my help setting up their blog, but that wasn't enough, they wanted Google Analytics too! So now they check their stats and maps each day to see who is coming and where they are coming from.

This is where I want to ask you folks a favor, it would be a hoot of they checked their stats and saw a big spike in visitors, so if you have girls in your family, please head over to my daughters blog and give them a big time thrill. Plus you will learn really important things like "Selena Gomez dumps Nick Jonas!!!"

;)

3. Winter: Last year we had over 100 inches of snow fall, and at the time thought "boy, I may never see that again in my lifetime". Well, after three more storms this past week we are creeping towards that 100 inch mark again.

Here are some pictures from this morning:




Friday, February 20, 2009

Starting your own Photography business...

If you have thought about taking the plunge into professional photography, have recently done so, or did so awhile ago but are looking for some fresh ideas and insights, I have an interview for you to listen to.

Recently Michael and Scott (over at Digital Photography life) interviewed Laurel Housden, she talks about her transition (just one year ago) from being an enthusiastic amateur to a busy professional photographer.

Laurel shares with the listeners the steps she went through from the beginning when she had nothing but a camera to becoming the success she is today.

I am a big fan of charity work and Laurel shares with us how she does charity work solely for the sake of doing good, and why that act of kindness will often translate into more business.

Listening to this interview will be time well spent.

You can find the interview here, and check out the show notes here.

Once you've listened to her interview, be sure to take the time to visit Laurel's website and read her blog.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

David Ziser takes his show on the road...


For the first time in 3 years David Ziser is taking his show on the road with his "Digital WakeUp Call - A New Dawn" tour.

The tour starts on March 30th in Jacksonville Florida, ends in Nashville Tennessee on November 12th, and spans 75 cities throughout the country in between.


Use the promo code "DWCDPT09" and you can get your seat for just $59 (regularly $79).

Just some of what you will learn:

32 ways to use your on and off-camera flashes for creative and dramatic effects.

10 of the best camera settings and lens choices for creating striking images on every job.

7 ways to use the new DSLR video capabilities to transform your product offerings.

10 "Magic Bullet" techniques to make your digital workflow nearly effortless, highly efficient, and fun.

20 new solid marketing ideas targeted to add substantially to your bottom line.

And all attendees will receive these program bonuses:

Tour Handbook including: program notes, photography, marketing and more.

2 Hour DVD with extended program content.

$100 Rebate from American Color Imaging.

1 year membership to WPPI and Rangefinder magazine, a $99 value.

FREE 3 month membership to DigitalProTalkPlus.com, a $45 value.

Over $2,500 in door prizes awarded each evening.

And a chance to win 1 of 4 Grand Prizes worth over $5,000.

I will be at the Boston seminar on October 6th and hope to see some of you there!

Monday, February 16, 2009

50% 0ff any SmugMug account!...

If you are looking for an online source for online image storage, to share your images with your family, or you are a professional photographer looking for an online store, SmugMug is a great choice.

There are three account options, Standard ($39.95), Power ($59.95), and Pro accounts ($149.95).

Every one of these options comes with Unlimited storage, Unlimited traffic, Customizable themes, Password protected galleries, and so much more.

Still need convincing? How about getting any of these accounts for half price?

Enter the code "Flickr" at checkout and you will get your Standard, Power, or Pro accounts for half off!

Stop by SmugMug, take a look around and if your still not quite sure, take it for a free 14 day test drive before you commit.

But I promise you, once you try it, commit you will.

Friday, February 13, 2009

del Sol Photography Best of 2008 Slideshow...

Flash Flavor is one of my favorite places to go for inspiration.

As if visiting their website wasn't enough to get your creative juices flowing, they have come out with their "Best of 2008" slideshow that is a must see.

Enjoy!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lightroom 2 training DVD with Kevin Kubota...

Just about this time last year I wrote a review of the Kubota Lightroom 1 DVD, at the time I called it “the best Lightroom training DVD I have ever seen”.

Well, Adobe has upgraded Lightroom to V2 and Kevin Kubota has followed with "RAW Workflow for Lightroom V2".

Kevin has built upon the excellence of his first DVD, effectively raising the bar on what folks should expect from a training DVD. Not just his, but anybodies.

The very first thing I noticed about this DVD is that the interface has been streamlined and is easier to use, much more intuitive.

The second thing I noticed was that Kevin is better too, he seems smoother and more confident in his presentation style, having grown more comfortable in his role as a teacher.

The DVD begins with an overview of what's new and different in Lightroom 2 (like two monitor support, post crop vignette, the adjustment brush, etc.).

If you shoot often and/or much, one of the (many) things you will learn from Kevin is the best method for labeling and sorting your images, because it is soooo much more than deciding "good" or "bad" and what is shared on this topic alone is almost worth the price of admission. Kevin will take you to the next level and expand this beyond Lightroom, demonstrating how he organizes his image files and folders on his computer hard drive.

He shares a bunch of information with you before he ever gets into image editing, like what your Lightroom preferences should be and why, and how to synchronize images shot with different cameras that do not have their clocks synchronized.

Kevin's goal is to make you a Lightroom power user, so you can provide your client with the best possible image in the least amount of time.

Because really, is your goal to sit in front of your computer editing images, or to be behind your camera taking them?

It's only after squeezing out every bit of information on Lightroom efficiencies that Kevin then moves into the image editing workflow.

Most of you have heard the expression, "you don't know what you don't know", but when you finish this DVD you will know just how much you did not know before. Kevin walks you through the entire image editing workflow process from A to Z, sharing with you all the possibilities along the way.

If knowledge is power, this DVD that runs for almost 3 1/2 hours, will make you feel like a king.

Finally there are two other significant upgrades that come with this DVD:

1. The client database that was available to folks who bought version 1 (yes, the same client database Kevin uses for his own photography business) is new and improved, and is an outstanding tool for any studio. You will be given the link to download this free of charge.

2. Kubota Lightroom Presets V2 (sold separately for $49) also are included with this DVD at no additional charge. I know I've said this before but it's worth repeating, these are the only presets I use. Why? Because these are the best presets I have used. I have wasted more money purchasing presets and have been given a bunch as well but every one of them have been removed.

This DVD is $99 and to me (and many of you) $99 is not a small sum of money, but purchasing this DVD is not spending money, it's making an investment. An investment that ensures you will get the most out of Lightroom and it ensures your clients will get the best possible images out of you.

If you are one of the many folks who purchased Kubota Workflow for Lightroom 1 DVD, you can upgrade for just $39.

"RAW Workflow for Lightroom V2" will give you back a precious commodity, time. How often have you said, "if I only had a little more time"? Well, here's your chance.

I can say without hesitation or reservation that if you could buy just one thing to improve your photography this year, this DVD should be it.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Why you should use Canvas on Demand...

First, let me apologize for my absence, but there has been a bug running through my house (literally) that has stayed too long occupied too many resources.

Now on to the subject at hand.

I have been looking for a vendor for printing canvases and thought I would have an image done by each of the major canvas companies, then pick what I thought to be the best one.

The first image went out to Canvas on Demand and it turned out to be one of the best experiences I have had with any vendor in quite some time. Nothing could have been handled better, the product quality, customer service, and communications were outstanding.

1. I placed my order on Saturday.

2. I received an email the following Monday informing me that because of the way the imaged was cropped it would not fit properly on the 16x20 canvas that I ordered and instead it would be printed on a 16 x 24 canvas, an upgrade at no charge.

3. The following day (Tuesday) another email arrived telling me the canvas had shipped.

4. That Thursday morning the canvas arrived at my door.

5. Thursday afternoon yet another email arrived asking me if I was pleased with my order.

You can't beat that kind of service, not even with a stick. To me good customer service will trump a bad product everytime, but a good product will never overcome bad customer service.

With Canvas on Demand both were outstanding. I could not be happier with my canvas.

They also offer a Pro Account and one of the services included is called a "Canvasizer" (see below), where you upload a web quality image and within 24 hours Canvas on Demand will email the image to you as a "simulated canvas" so that you (or your client) can visualize what the canvas will look like.

Please keep in mind that the "Canvasizer" image is a simulation and will not match the quality of the end product.

I never did send an image to a second company and have no intension of doing so, Canvas on Demand is my canvas company and if you give them a try, they will be yours as well.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Review of the PRESSlite VerteX...

When I saw the PRESSlite VerteX the first thing that flashed through my mind was "think of the possibilities!"

Now had I seen the VerteX on the first day I picked up a camera, I don't think I would have "gotten it", the potential of this tool would have been lost to me. But now that I understand how light moves (or flows) and what we as photographers can do to change and control that movement (that flow), I grasp the power and potential the VerteX has.

It's the only light modifier I know of that lets you to achieve multiple lighting effects simultaneously from one tool and a single strobe. In a matter of seconds, with just two fingers you can twist, pull, or rotate the panels to completely change your lighting configuration.

This will likely be the shortest review I ever do, as I can ramble on about how great the PRESSlite VerteX is and all of the different ways it could be used, but nothing I say will be nearly as impressive as seeing it in action. So here are the resources you need to check out:

This is a 3D demo that allows you to select different configurations and see their impact on the movement of light.

You can also take a look at the user guide that nicely demonstrates (visually) the different configuration possibilities.

Camera Dojo recently did a review of the VerteX Light modifier that you will want to read as well.

Lastly, Kerry Garrison was kind enough to let me use his video showing off the VerteX, thanks Kerry.

Final thoughts - two thumbs waaaay up!


Monday, February 2, 2009

The new Canon 5D Mark II...

Here is a video that demonstrates beautifully the abilities of the new Canon 5D Mark II.

All of the footage and stills were shot with the Canon 5D Mark II.

As you watch your thoughts move back and forth between the images and what a wonderful family.

Thanks to Sarah Quiara for producing and sharing this great video.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hang your images in a museum...

This is a way cool and fun toy.

Ever fantasize about having your images hang in The Museum of Modern Art or the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart Art Museum?

I know, I know, kinda lame as fantasies go, but as you get older priorities change.

;)

Stop by Museumr, upload your image and you're done.

You can also turn your images into a jigsaw puzzle, a pencil sketch, or pick from a half dozen other image transformation tools.

Enjoy!