Last day to enter Scott Kelby giveaway...

Today is the last day you can enter to win the Scott Kelby DVD "Mastering Camera RAW".

To be eligible all you need do is write a comment on ANY blog post by midnight June 30th (today) and we will pick (randomly) from those comments to determine the winner.

There is no limit on the number of blog posts you can comment on, the winner will be announced here on July 2nd.

Good Luck!

Grid hack from David Hobby...

I got this idea from a post David Hobby made on Strobist a few days back.

It's an easy, inexpensive, and fast DIY project that will improve your store bought or "home made" grids.

For subscribers (and you know who you are), because videos aren't pushed through you'll need to return to the blog or directly to our YouTube channel to watch this short (2 minute) video.

Some macro photography...

One of my favorite things to do after it rains is to wander through my yard and take some close-up photos using my Nikon 60mm macro (what Nikon calls Micro).

Luckily I live in Maine and there is plenty of opportunity to do this.

Motion photography...

We went to Old Orchard Beach last night for their balloon festival but sadly it was too windy to send them aloft.

So I decided to grab a few shots of the rides with slow shutter speed before we left.

Can't go back to the balloon festival tonight was we will be watching some muscle bound men in bejeweled man-panties.

Free Facebook marketing tools...

I wanted to share a valuable marketing resource for you photography business.

The good folks at HubSpot are (for a short period of time) giving away three resources that will help you understand Facebook as a business tool and providing the information that will help you develop a sound marketing plan.

They start with explaining what Facebook is, how it works, and and then walk you through the do's and don'ts of setting up a business Facebook page.

And don't make the mistake of thinking "how good can this be if it's free?", I promise you it may be free but it's extremely valuable.

With 250,000 people a day signing up for Facebook it's a marketplace you need to be involved in.

You will need to fill out an "application" page to get to the downloads, but you won't be inundated with unwanted email, when I do get the occasional email from HubSpot I am thankful as it contains some kind of useful marketing information.

"On-Camera Flash" book review...

I know, I know, the goal of most photographers is to get their flash off camera, but let's be honest, there are some fast paced, fast moving events (like weddings, Bar mitzvahs, corporate events) where this is neither practical or even possible.

"On-Camera Flash" by Neil van Niekerk is the best book I have read on the subject of shooting with you Speedlight on your hot shoe (you can get it at Amazon for as little as $19).

Several things I liked about the book:

1. There are a bazillion light modifiers out there and though Neil talks about them the results he shows us in the book are achieved using a foam card and/or the stofen diffuser that comes with your Speedlight.

2. Too often authors will give us "easy" examples, not in "On-Camera Flash", Neil takes us to some difficult to light places (like a restaurant that is essentially a black hole) to show us how to light a subject.

3. This is probably the first book I've seen that shows examples of lighting both very fair skinned to very dark skinned people.

4. You will find sample images on almost every page (sometimes up to 4 images per page) and each is thoroughly explained, what made the shot difficult and how those difficulties were overcome, and done in a writing style that is easy to understand and follow.

Don't think you'll get this book as an easy way out, it's not a lazy mans solution. Neil will make you use your brain. The first two sections are the things you need to know before you even turn on your flash. Section 1 covers the direction, intensity, and color balance of light. Section 2 is the "technical" stuff like exposure metering techniques, flash modes, sync speeds, and how to add flash to ambient light. In section 3 he shows us how to use what we learned in the first 2 sections to take the shot and "get the light right".

If you own a flash and especially if you shoot event photography, you really need to own this book.

To learn more about Neil van Niekerk be sure to check out his website, it has a ton of information on photography from metering, composition, (lots about) flash, and equipment reviews.

To all you dads out there...

Happy Father's Day.

I hope this day is turning into a wonderful celebration of your fatherhood.

The best thing about today (for me) is not the cards, the gifts, or the fact that I am treated like a king (but only for a day), it's a day that focuses on how lucky I am to be a father.

And then it spreads out from there. How lucky I am to have such wonderful children, happy, healthy children, and that being their dad completes me.

I am sure there is a day here and there when they don't feel quite so lucky...


I was driving to my brothers house for a family cookout and just a block away I saw this sign on a lawn and I couldn't help but think about the level of worry that was behind placing a sign like this on your lawn.

So to add hope to his Father's Day I am posting it here for all of you to see and ask that you forward it on to everyone you know with the request that they do the same.

And maybe, just maybe with a little help from people he will never meet Mark will find a kidney.

Happy Father's Day Mark!

Another great resource for you...

We have another resource for you, it is a combination of two of my favorites, Mark Wallace and Adorama.

Individually they are great but combined even better, kinda like the "you got peanut butter on my chocolate" scenario, you'll find the new team at AdoramaTV on YouTube.

The goal of AdoramaTV is pretty simple, to help us take better photographs.

In the video below Mark will introduce their new partnership and I encourage you to go check them out.

My new man crush... Zack Arias!

I often write reviews for items/products that have something to offer photographers, sometimes it's a good solid product, other times it's so good it's hard for me to sit still.

This is just such a time, I am wiggling in my seat like a kid on his way to Disney.

Before I get into the seminar itself I am going to do something I have only done one other time in the entire history of this blog, take money out of my pocket to guarantee someone else's product.

I wrote about the Zack Arias 3 "Studio Photography" seminar that happened over this past weekend (here and here) to recommend that folks attend, let me tell you it was freaking incredible.

First, a few words about creativeLive, there is a reason you don't see much live TV, it's hard to do, and even harder to do well. Sure there was a couple (production) warts and foibles over the 3 days, but what a great job they did presenting this seminar. I think the folks who attended the seminar via the internet had a better seat than those that were present in the building.

They sent out reminder emails to seminar attendees each day reminding us that the seminar would begin in an hour. If you pre-purchased the seminar video downloads (I did), you got an email that the high def videos of the previous days seminar were available for download. For anyone who has done video work, that is a phenomenally fast turn around.

I can't even imagine how hard that crew worked to provide the product that they did and they have won me over, I am a creativeLive fan.

Second, the Zack Arias seminar. I don't even know where to begin.

The first day (about 4 1/2 hours) is lecture, it lays the foundation that days 2 and 3 are built upon. Zack covers exposure beautifully. He then covers lighting considerations, what you need to think about when getting your first studio space, and takes a bazillion questions from his live and internet audience.

Just as important (for me) was that I learned about Zack the man, how blessed he believes he is and the importance of giving back to others.

Q & A was a major part of the seminar all three days, chances are very good that questions you have been carrying around were asked by someone and answered (thoughtfully) by Zack.

Another theme that was carried through all 3 days was money, the financial considerations that we are confronted with when purchasing gear and supplies and how we can do it wisely and without wasting a penny.

I would call him "intelligently frugal".

Days 2 and 3 were all about shooting, first Zack would set up his lighting by using the back of the camera (for those who don't have light meters) and then did it again using a light meter.

And there was nothing taken for granted, he started with hanging up his white seamless, demonstrated how best to unroll it and even covered what the "swoop" should be as it comes down onto the floor.

Speaking of seamless, do you know how it should be stored? Why you should not use it over a rug? Or the best way to keep it clean? Zack covers that.

Zack demonstrates great posing tips, techniques for interacting with your clients that will help them be at ease, and respectful ways to deal with women in the studio with even the smallest of things like an exposed bra strap.

Another great demonstration was when he showed that if you set up your lights correctly you could shoot a person in all white then another in all black without changing a single thing and have a great exposure with both.

Wanna know the (shooting) difference between a softbox, beauty dish, octabank, shoot through, or reflective umbrella? Not only does Zack give you a good explanation, he gives you an even better demonstration (see sample images from the seminar here).

Should you shoot at your cameras max sync speed? It will probably depend on the kind of lights you are using (again, see seminar sample images here).

It would be impossible to touch on all the useful information that Zack covered over the 3 days.

Nothing was assumed or taken for granted regarding what viewers knowledge or what their skill level may be. Zack started at the absolute begining brought us through to the very end, never missing or skipping a single step.

If you are considering purchasing a DSLR camera or have owned one for years and have a studio this seminar is for you.

The downloads are available for purchase for $129 and if you are serious about taking a good picture, if you want to make good decisions when purchasing gear, or want to interact with a client in a way that makes them comfortable while demonstrating you know what you're doing, you MUST purchase the videos of this seminar.

I have no relationship with creativeLive or Zack, I don't get a penny if you make a purchase, and I was not given the videos (I purchased mine just like everyone else), so I have no incentive for promoting them other than the goal of this blog which is to make our readers aware of the resources that will help them become better photographers.

And I am such a huge fan and believe that this is one of the best instructional/training resources I have ever seen that the first person who purchases these video downloads and doesn't think it was worth every penny will get their money back. I will reach into my pocket and give you back your purchase price.

In closing I want to say that prior to watching this seminar I had a lot of respect for Zack the photographer, I now have a lot of respect for Zack the man.

Corvettes, Corvettes everywhere!....

This weekend there was a Corvette rally in Old Orchard Beach (Maine), with hundreds of these gorgeous cars. Never in my life have I seen so many vanity plates!


I had only been shooting for about an hour when the rains came, so I did not get nearly the number of images I had planned on (and hoped for).

This was my first slideshow with Animoto and it could not be easier.

To make the upload process quicker I used lower res images, so I would not suggest watching it full screen.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 for only $49!...

For those of you in the market for image editing software Staples has Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 on sale for half off, you can pick it up for just $49.

The sale is for 2 days only, Sunday and Monday (June 13 and 14) so do not doddle.

The final price of $49 reflects both instant and mail in rebates.

If you want to learn more about what Photoshop Elements can do, tips, tricks,and techniques be sure to visit the Photoshop Elements learning center.

David Honl professional lighting gear...

I recently got my paws on the latest photo gear from David Honl, his Traveller8 softbox and a set of gels.

If you look in my "bag O' light" you'll see almost every product he makes (at some point I hope to have them all).

Most folks who have followed this blog know I am big into DIY gear, but there are some instances that it just doesn't make sense.

David Honl's gear is just such a case, take his GOBO, it's $14. I could make one for less (surely), but during the course of my photography career how many times will I have to re-make it? The materials, my time? Even if my DIY cost the same over time (I bet it would be more) they would never have the functionality of David's.

You probably have seen my DIY grids video, it was a fun project and they work great, but problem is I have three different size flashes, so I had to make three different size grids. I good bit of materials along with an afternoon of my time. For $29 I got David's grid that's large enough to fit any flash out there and takes up significantly less real estate in my bag and that's important when you are lugging bags of gear to shoot projects on location.

Lastly, there is a time and place for DIY and doing a product shoot for a company that is investing tens of thousands of dollars on an advertising campaign probably is not one of them.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not an affiliate nor do I get a penny if any you buy a single product. I only talk about things I believe in (see here and here).

Because of quality, functionality, and pricing I believe in Honl Professional photography gear.

(subscribers need to return to the blog or head over our YouTube channel to view the video below, sorry.)

I love content aware fill...

This image is the first one I've used the new Photoshop CS5 feature "content aware fill" on.

This past weekend there was a cruise held at a local shopping center which meant a rather unattractive parking lot, along with people and buildings everywhere.

So I shot tight but it did not change the fact that there was things reflected in the chrome that I did not want in my image, so I select what I wanted removed, used the content aware fill option and shazzam, IT WAS GONE!

If you click on either image they will open larger and in a new window so you can see them in more detail.

And yes, I did do more to the edited image than remove reflections.

Lightroom 3 has arrived!...

Adobe announced the release of Lightroom 3 yesterday.

If you've been using the beta version it will expire at the end of June so you have a few more weeks to use it before it will self destruct (with a sizzling sound along with a mist and smoke rising from your keyboard).

If you didn't play with the beta version you can download and test drive a fully functional copy of version 3 here (for both Windows & MAC).

For all of you who own previous versions of Lightroom you can upgrade for $99.

And whether or not you are looking to improve your Lightroom skills or trying decide if you want to purchase version 3 you will want to visit the new and improved FREE Lightroom 3 Learning Center brought to you by the good folks at NAPP.

Zach Arias... Part 2...

I wanted to add a couple things to yesterdays post.

First, I didn't give you all his links, so here are links to his website, his blog, and his One Light workshops.

Second (and the main reason for the second post), since posting I listened to another interview of Zack done by Rangefinder Radio which is filled with great information, pertinent to anyone who is serious about being a photographer.

You can download the interview here, and get the feature article of Zach done it the April edition.

Lastly, even though I will be attending the "Studio Lighting" workshop I have pre-purchased it because I know it will be something I will refer back to again and again.

After listening to his interviews I get the feeling Zach holds himself to a pretty high standard so with this workshop he will be swinging for the fences (for you non baseball fans you can figure out what that means here), I think it will be something pretty spectacular.

Wanna spend 3 days with Zack Arias?...

I know what you're thinking, "Hell ya!".

Followed by "but he's not coming to my town" and "even if he was I probably couldn't afford it".

All wrong, regardless of where you live you can attend this 3 day workshop (without leaving town, heck, without leaving your house) and you can attend it for free.

Yup, free, zip, nada, nothing.

So let me ask again, wanna attend the 3 day "Studio Lighting Workshop" with Zack Arias?

The catch? you need to register at creativeLIVE before all the "seats" are gone. That's it, that's all you have to do.

creativeLIVE is the brainchild of Chase Jarvis and how it works is simple, you can watch their seminars live (and free) no strings attached, but should you not be able to "attend" live you can buy the entire 3 day workshop (recorded) for a ridiculously low price.

The Zack Arias 3 day seminar (8 hours each day) is free when you watch it live and only $79 to purchase the downloads.

So head over to creativeLIVE to sign up for the Zack Arias workshop, or one of the other (free) outstanding workshops they have coming up.

Back to Zack for a minute, I was listening to one of his interviews last night and he had a great suggestion for building your business/portfolio. He mentioned a specific piece of glass that cost almost $1,900, and too often folks will buy it because the think it is important to their photography business. Zack's suggestion was if you really want to build your business purchase the same glass used and with the money you saved spend 2-3 days in the big apple shooting/building a "New York Portfolio" for your website. I thought that was freaking brilliant.

You can listen to the entire interview here.

Let me close with one more piece of hero worship, this is one of the most innovative portraits I have ever seen, it's of 30 people shot with a single flash.

Lastly, watch the video below to learn how you can win a real/actual seat at the 3 day workshop in Seattle, yup, you can be one of the studio attendees, sipping that great Seattle coffee and that would be free too (well, the seat would be free, not the coffee)!

Win a Scott Kelby instructional DVD...

Not sure if you caught this at the end of my review of Scott Kelby's "Mastering Camera RAW", but we are giving that DVD away to one lucky reader.

To be eligible all you need do is comment on ANY blog post between now and June 30th, there will be a (random) drawing on July 1st to determine the winner.

There is no limit on the number of post you can comment on, the winner will be announced here on July 2nd.

Good luck.

A Pet photography must!...

Some of the most important information contained in this post is included in the very last paragraph, so if you skip anything DON'T skip the last paragraph.

I can describe Jed & Vicki Taufer and their photography business in just four words "great people, outstanding products".

Their latest offering is "Unleashed", a pet photography resource full of detailed information and resources for any photographer that is considering adding pets to their business, or if you already offer pet photography "Unleashed" will help you do it better and with greater success.

You will get a DVD with 72 folders, 165 files, and stuffed with over 2 1/2 gigabytes of information.

What you'll get isn't theory, or what someone thinks is a good idea, what you will get are the tools and blueprints the Taufer's have used (and continue to use) to make their pet photography so successful.

You name it and it's in there, email marketing, press releases, Photoshop .psd samples and templates for cards, prints, and canvases, how to videos, price lists, and more.

They've even included almost a dozen royalty free stock video clips that you can use to fill out slideshows and promotional pieces you may want to create.

And its not just about making money, its also about giving back. They show you how to team up with local animal shelters and organizations to run fundraisers that benefit the shelters, your clients, and your studio. True win, win, win.

I could go on and on about the depth of information that's included on the DVD but the video below will give you a great visual demonstration of the contents of "Unleashed", so please take the time to watch it all the way through.

Here comes the REALLY important part(s) - until the end of the day on Friday (June 4th) you can purchase "Unleashed" for only $84.50. That's half off the regular price! Simply use the discount code "UNLEMAIL" during check out and you'll receive the 50% off special. And because I am so impressed with "Unleashed" I'm going to do something I've never done before, guarantee someone else's product. The first person who purchases this and doesn't think they got their moneys worth, I'll give you your $84.50 back. How's that for believing in a product I review?

Strobist just got better...

I know that's hard to believe but it has.

If you want to learn how to light, Strobist is THE place to go.

Because it has been in existence so long (4 years) and has had so many posts (over 1,000) it is easy to miss or not find articles that would be significant to your learning.

That has changed as David Hobby has taken the time to index the most useful posts for us.

Thank you David!

Follow this link (bookmark it) and let the learning begin!

Free Lens Hoods! Seriously...

Every once and awhile (while wandering aimlessly through the net) I stumble across a sight that A) is phenomenally useful and B) I can't believe I did not know about.

This is one of those sites.

The importance of lens hoods cannot be overstated and if you are missing one, head over to Free Lens Hood, print out the hood you need (on a firm gray card stock) and you are good to go.

They have hoods for:








And if you can't find your lens in their long list, you can even design a custom lens hood too.

Free Lens Hood is just that, FREE, but if you find it useful (meaning you print out a lens hood or two) you might want to consider donating a buck to help defray the cost of keeping this valuable resource available.