Adobe Photoshop CS5.... For $198!

I have already stepped up to the counter, put my money down, and begged them to please send me Adobe Photoshop CS5 as soon as it comes out. In fact I am sitting on the front porch as I write this because I can't wait to get my hands on it.

Usually I hem and haw when it comes to upgrades, sometimes I will skip a version, buying software with every other major release.

Not this time, after hearing the opinions of photographers I respect I knew I was getting on the Adobe CS5 bandwagon.

Two weeks ago when Joel Grimes was here he displayed his workflow and it's obvious by his work that he uses Photoshop, but he uses third party programs to perform some of his tasks, like HDR and making complex selections. More than once he commented that he was looking forward to CS5 as it would eliminate the need to use other programs to perform these tasks.

One greatly improved feature people are raving about are the selection tools, you can watch Terri White separate a woman with long flowing (and blowing) hair from the background using the new edge detection tool here.

Wanna see more new (or improved) features in CS5 like noise reduction, layers improvement, content aware fill, and puppet warp in action? Scott Kelby (and friends) have put together a new Adobe Photoshop CS5 learning center that you will want to visit.

I am sure at this point you are thinking "Please, just tell me where I can get CS5 for $198!". If you are lucky enough to have a student or teacher in your house you can get the full (and boxed) version of Photoshop CS5 Extended at Journey ED for only $198 (Windows version here, MAC version here)!

Crazy, I know! And if you order by April 30th they will ship it to you for free.

You can compare what is new and/or different between "regular" Photoshop and Photoshop Extended at the Adobe website (extended version here and regular version here).

And just in case I haven't provided you with enough links, here's one more, probably the greatest collection of CS5 resources in one place.

I will leave you with a video, probably one of the most talked about features in CS5 is "content aware fill" and this video demonstrates just how well it works.

If you are a subscriber (and you know who you are) you know that videos are not pushed through with your subscription so you'll need to return to the blog or head directly to YouTube to watch it.


DIY studio for product photography...

I wanted to share this video I came across that shows how easy it is to setup and light product photography, it demonstrates that with a little effort (and little money) you can get big results.

The cans with sticks look extremely useful and I will be making some for myself this weekend.

If you find this video interesting/useful you might want to check out the library of videos done by Pro Photo Life, they have over 30 well done photography videos of interest to photographers of all levels.

Subscribers will need to return to the blog or head over to YouTube to watch the video posted below.

Westcott Ultimate Flash Kit Review...

Here are a few points I did not make I didn't make well) in the above video.

The quality of the materials and workmanship in this Westcott softbox is as good as it gets. Two things that really stuck out for me: 1) I loved how the rotating adaptor ring spins 360 degrees so I could position the softbox at any angle I want allowing me to wrap light on my subject in unlimited ways, and 2) the light stand/flash bracket is all metal so it stayed in the position I put it in and I could tighten it without the fear of it breaking (which is pretty common in the less expensive plastic models).

Westcott is currently running a $100 off sale for this kit, you find more about it here, you can also get more product details here.

Below are sample images we took using the Westcott Ultimate Flash Kit, no bounce, no other light modifier or enhancer. Imagine the things you could do in combination with other light modifiers.

The model in these shots is Bethany, she was one of the models that we used at a recent seminar and we will surely be using her in future projects. If you are in southern Maine and are looking for a model for an upcoming shoot/project you can find Bethany on Model Mayhem.

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

Interview with Joel Grimes...

Here is an interview we did with Joel on Sunday and not only does he take great images, he gives great advice and insight too (he's my new man crush).

One thing Joel talked about (but it did not make the interview) is one way to grow as a photographer is to push yourself with weekly self assignments. Great advice.

The interview is (just) under 10 minutes and worth every second, except the parts where my chin wobbles like a freaking turkey gobbler.


You subscribers know the routine, videos don't get pushed thought with your subscription so you'll need to return to the blog or head directly over to Weekly Photo Tips on YouTube to watch it.

A woohoo weekend...

This past weekend was the Joel Grimes seminar and it was a game changer.

There will be a lot more to follow, a video interview, a behind the scenes video covering the two days, and images from the attendees, but for now I am going to leave you with these four images, kindly supplied by Trent Hobbs.

It is important to note that the last image of Bethany has not been edited in any way, it is straight out of the camera and is a great example of how incredible the lighting techniques are that Joel taught us over the weekend.

(a lot) More to come...

More on DIY LED lighting...

I have a couple more links to share with you to "enhance" our post of a few days ago on DIY LED lighting.

Here is a post from Judith on Photojojo showing her LED keychain lighting setup, shots she did along with comments and sample shots from her readers.

You will find a handful of articles here posted on DIY Photography from an introduction to LED lighting to Painting with LED's, all well worth your time.

It would be very cool to see the images you do using this lighting method so please feel free to post them on our Flickr group and share them with the rest of us (I double dog dare you!).

If you need a refresher or missed the original post you can find it here, or you can go directly to our YouTube channel just to watch the video.

Don't be surprised if you don't hear from me again until next week, we are busy getting ready for the two day Joel Grimes workshop being held at our studio this coming weekend.

Martha Stewart weddings...

If you've been following this blog for very long, you may remember posts from a wedding last September that involved some crazy weather.

I had traveled to Long Beach Island on the Jersey Shore to shoot a wedding with Stacey Kane (I'm known as her "boy Friday") and we ran into the most outrageous weather - heavy rains, gale force winds, along with astronomical high tides that led to some serious flooding (you can read the originals posts here and here).

Luckily the weather broke just in time for the ceremony to be held on the beach and all went perfectly.

A few days ago Stacey emailed me to let me know that the wedding is being featured on Martha Stewart Weddings!

How cool is that... ;)

Here are a couple screen shots, if you click on either they will open up larger in a new window, or you can just head over to Martha Stewart and see the entire post.

We are heading back to Long Beach Island for another wedding next month, I hope the weather is just a bit better.

Just one more week to go...

Until I'll plunk my ample butt in a chair to absorb everything Joel Grimes has to offer.

Joel will spend two days (April 1th & 18th) teaching his workshop "Taking your creative vision to the next level" at our new studio here in Biddeford Maine.

I'm also excited about the chance to meet with and share information, techniques, and business ideas with other like minded photographers.

For complete workshop details and to reserve your seat visit the workshop page here, and please feel free to email me if you have any questions.

See ya there!

DIY lighting for macro photography...

Here is our most recent video showing some (very) inexpensive DIY lighting for macro photography.

The online store where I bought my LED lights is currently out of stock but I do have some alternatives for you. You can get them here for $3.98 for 10 (free shipping), here they are $3.95 for 7 or $6.40 for 14 (free shipping), and here they are $3.50 (but there is a shipping charge).

To give you an idea of how well these LED lights work, the first three images were taken in a dark room (after sunset with no other lights on) using 9 LED's and the final images were taken with a lamp on in the background using 7 LED's. All were shot with a 60mm macro the lens within 6-8 inches of the subject.

If you are a subscriber you know the drill, the YouTube video does not come though with your subscription so you really will want to return to the blog or head over to YouTube to watch it.

Getting gear back to baseline...

Ever pull out your camera and start to shoot and wonder why what you see on the display just isn't right then realize that your ISO was at 1600 or you were using the custom white balance from a previous shoot?

Yup, me too. Unless of course you're a client reading this, then I NEVER do that!

So I put together a “back to default” list to go through after each and every session, so that when I grab my gear for the next shoot I’m ready to go.

I do this after a shoot rather than before so I can be concentrating on the task at hand, the shoot (NOT resetting gear).

This was not an “original thought” on my part but an idea I got from the list Scott Bourne uses for himself.

So here’s my list:

1. Remove any and all filters (NOT lens protector/UV filters)
2. Turn off VR on all stabilized lenses
3. Set all lenses to autofocus
4. Set white balance to AUTO
5. Set ISO to 200
6. Put camera on MANUAL set shutter @ 1/200 & f11
7. Put camera on APERTURE priority and set @ f2.8
8. Put camera on SHUTTER priority and set @ 1/125
9. Reset focus point to the center
10. Run camera auto sensor cleaning
11. Turn camera bodies off
12. Remove and recharge all camera batteries
13. Set all flashes to MANUAL (1)
14. Flashes off
15. Remove all flash batteries (2)
16. Break out goat hair brushes, cleaning cloths, and canned air (3)
17. Remove all equipment from camera bag and my “bag of light”
18. Thoroughly vacuum both bags
19. Clean all parts (4) of all gear
20. As it's cleaned, return it to its appropriate bag/place (5)

(1) I use my flashes in manual 99% of the time which is why it's my default setting, if you use your flash in a different mode then that should be your default setting.

(2) I take these batteries home as there is plenty of life for game controllers and remotes. I start each shoot with new AA batteries (incorporated in my pricing). I have had just enough problems with rechargeable batteries that I no longer use them. Plus they won’t hold a charge for very long at all, so recharging 36 batteries just before a shoot is a task I do not need.

(3) Don’t grab just any can of air, get something made specifically to be used with cameras (like Beseler).

(4) By “all parts” I mean ALL PARTS - things like brushing both sides of the lens cap, removing (and cleaning) the screen protector, and using a rocket air blower in the cameras battery chamber.

(5) If you shot with me last year or shoot with me next, you will find everything in the exact same place (not only in the same place but positioned the same way too), so that when I need it during a shoot I know exactly where to find it (some would call that anal, I call it organized).

A little more about our winner...

The winner of our March contest of the book "The Photoshop Elements 8 Book for Digital Photographers" by Scott Kelby & Matt Kloskowski was Alexis Coxon and I asked if she would share a bit of herself here on Weekly Photo Tips and she graciously said yes.

How (and why) did you became a photographer?

"Oh, gosh ... calling me a photographer is a stretch! It sounds so serious! I first started getting interested in DSLRs last year, and got my first, a Nikon D3000, last summer. I believe I bargained for it by telling my husband he could get MSU season football tickets if I could get my camera :). I was getting tired of always missing photos of our kids because our point-and-shoot was too slow, or took too long to turn on, or took terrible photos in dim light, etc. An online friend was talking about how much she loved her Canon DSLR, and it didn't sound as intimidating as I'd always thought they'd be."

What do you shoot and why?

"I couldn't say why I really chose Nikon, other than my point & shoot, which I was getting really fed up with, was a Canon, and I'd heard really good things about Nikon's entry-level DSLRs."

Do you have a couple of your "most important" images (and what makes them important)?

"I wouldn't really call any of my pictures "important", but these are my two of my favorites and why I love them:"

"This is of my son Eli at the park ... it's one of the first photos I took with my D3000 that I really loved. I love the expression on his face and how the background is blurred -- I was just learning about bokeh!"

"I took this shot of a female cardinal at my parents' house. It was the first time I really was able to put my then-new 55-200mm lens to good use. It also really instilled in me a burning desire for longer, very expensive lenses!"

Congratulations Alexis, I hope you enjoy the book.

Stay tuned as we will be announcing our next contest real soon

Easter post...

"Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends"

We all hope that should the situation arise, we would rise to meet it (though seeing what transpires on reality shows perhaps I am too inclusive using the word "we").

For Michael A. Monsoor the situation came in Ramadi, Iraq.

While on an operation with three other Navy seals a fragment grenade was thrown into their position hitting Michael in the chest before falling to the floor.

The way the position they were defending was constructed there was only one access point for entry or exit and Michael was the closest to it, Michael was the only person who could get out of the room prior to the grenade exploding.

Instead of leaving Monsoor yelled, “Grenade!” then dropped on top of it, covering the grenade with his body and shielding the others in the room from the explosion.

Michael was evacuated to a battalion aid station but died about 30 minutes later from injuries sustained by the grenade blast.

During his funeral, as the coffin was moved from the hearse to the grave, Navy SEALs lined up in columns of twos on both sides of the pallbearers route, with the coffin moving up the center.

As the coffin passed each SEAL, they slapped down the gold Trident each had removed from his own uniform and deeply embedded it into the wooden coffin. For nearly 30 minutes the slaps were audible from across the cemetery.

Michaels parents accepted the nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, on behalf of their son during a White House ceremony April 8, 2008.

You can read more about Michael A. Monsoor, a man who laid down his life for his friends, here and here.

Exactly two weeks from today (April 17 & 18)...

Begins the two day workshop that will be taught by Joel Grimes.

This photographic learning extravaganza will be held in our new studio space here in Biddeford Maine and I really hope to see you there.


Taking your creative vision to the next level

Recognizing your greatest asset

Developing your personal vision

Promoting yourself as an artist, not a technician

The basic fundamentals of lighting

Experimentation is the key to innovation

Hands on lighting demonstrations

Capturing the image is just the beginning

Mastering Photoshop is a necessity

Marketing, competing in today's marketplace

For complete workshop details and to reserve your seat visit the workshop page here.

Follow this link to see a 6 minute highlight video shot last month at Joel's Phoenix workshop.

Below is another (2 minute) video of his "swimmer portriat".

(subscribers will need to come back to Weekly Photo Tips or head directly to YouTube to watch the video below)

Some (Nikon) flash stuff...

I've recently come across a bunch of useful flash posts from Strobist , Larry Becker, and bythom on Nikon SB-900, SB-800, and SB-600's and wanted to share them with you today.

First, the SB-900: "How to Use Your Nikon SB-900 in Optical Slave Mode" is a tutorial walk through on how to setup the built-in slave in a Nikon SB-900 speedlight. There are also pointers on getting better results when using any slaved flash.

Second, the SB-800: "Unlock The Superslave in Your Nikon SB-800" is a similar post to the one above but for the SB-800. You will want to check it out just to see the demonstration photo showing just how far it works outdoors in bright sunlight. I was also surprised to learn that it was not just line of sight, but that it works around corners too.

So what's the big deal about firing your flash optically? if you don't have pocket wizards (or have more flashes than pocket wizards) and want to fire your flash off camera it is a very big deal.

Third, the SB-600: This one comes from Larry Becker, he does a regular segment on DTown TV call "cheap shots" where he features tools and techniques that will help photographers do things for less money. Stretching your photographic dollar is always a good thing and I always pay close attention to what Larry has to say.

Larry loves his Nikon SB600's for a bunch of reasons, a big one is because you can buy it brand new for less than half of what the SB-900 costs. But the down side is that less money also means a few less bells and whistles. But as usual smart people always come up with great (and in this case inexpensive) workarounds.

So check out how Larry overcame the SB-600's lack of a sync cable port and built in optical slave.

You should also check out his blog in general as it is packed with good and useful information.

Finishing up with bits and pieces: You can read a comparison between the SB-800 and SB-900 here and a review of the SB-900 bythom here. If you head over to bythom you can find reviews and resources on just about everything ever produced by Nikon.

And the winner is...

drum roll please....

Alexis Coxon!

Yes Alexis you had been selected as the winner even before chiding me for being so late with my post today.

So email me and we can get your snail mail address to send this book out to you and get some info from you in return to share with our readers.

Thanks to everyone for participating, especially those of you willing to lie about my good looks and charm, it was fun and something we will be doing again real soon.