Zack Arias OneLight Workshop review...

I can save you the time of reading this review and tell you straight up that the OneLight Workshop DVD from Zack Arias is number one on the list of things you should own of you want to learn photography. There is no close second, this is by far the leader of the pack.

Which relly only leaves you two choices, you can head over and buy the OneLight DVD right now, or take a few minutes to read this and THEN head over to buy it.

Before I slipped the first DVD into the machine I already new I was a HUGE Zack Arias fan, because unlike many folks I read covers, inserts, and anything else that comes with the DVD and as I came to the end of the insert in the OneLight DVD case I read the following:

"My goal with the DVD is to give you a solid foundation of how light works and how to manipulate it... but I also want to be a voice in your life that encourages you to take care of your family FIRST. Put away your credit cards, turn off your computer, and enjoy the life this industry affords us. Photography will require everything of you if you let it. Even your family. Don't let it take your family."

I knew right then it did not matter how good (or bad) the DVD was, I could not respect Zack any more than I did right then.

The DVD started out great and ended the same way.

Now, for the review.

Zack says in the very beginning that if you take a shot thinking "I can fix that in Photoshop" that "you need to slap yourself as hard as you can in the head because you are being lazy and mediocre" and I could not agree more.

Everything in this workshop DVD is taught (and learned) in manual mode on both the camera and the flash, which means ALL of the thinking will be done by you, NOT your gear.

Fear not, there is no math involved.

The first "Chapter" starts with explaining the five variables of exposure:

1. Shutter speed

2. Aperture

3. Flash Power

4. Flash to subject distance

5. ISO

This is then followed by one of the best demonstrations I have ever seen of how shutter speed (which controls ambient exposure) impacts your image by including or excluding ambient light.

Zack then moves through the remaining 4 exposure variables with equally impressive demonstrations.

Once we have been given what we need to know about exposure Zack walks us through a basic lighting gear talk (stands, hot shoes, cold shoes, sync cords, triggers, modifiers, and lights), what we need to know about the gear we can use in the studio and on the road to "get the light right".

I found every bit of this interesting, informative, and essential to know before you ever touch the camera.

Then the real fun begins, Zack then takes us into the studio where we start applying all of the "stuff" that came before.

But before he starts shooting he talks about how to act as a professional photographer with your clients, especially when it comes to female clients.

When he does start using the camera Zack starts by shooting images that suck, by using on camera flash (with and with flash modifiers). Yup, images with hard, harsh shadows and flat subjects.

He then start shooting with off camera flash and Zack made them suck too... just so he could show us how we would go about fixing them.

Then for the next several hours we are taken to (and through) different shooting scenarios, inside and out, daylight (learn how to over power it) and night, each with it's own set of difficulties to overcome and Zack shows us how to shoot it correctly so that the shot is great "in camera".

Even something simple like an electrical outlet on the studio wall, it would be a quick and simple fix in Photoshop but Zack shows us how to work around that too. He covers them all, from big to little and everything in-between.

Before this DVD I never would have thought of shooting a subject with the umbrella closed around my flash, But I would now.

There are a ton of new things I am thinking now and you will be too, I promise. There is also so much more in this workshop DVD than I can cover here (like post production in Lightroom and Photoshop), but know that if you buy this you'll be getting one phenomenal educational opportunity.

The OneLight DVD should be on the top of your Christmas list, email it to your friends and family, leave every computer browser window opened to the order page, or if you want to be less subtle ask every day "did you order my OneLight DVD yet?".

Do whatever it takes.

Here is a 7 minute video montage from the 2 DVD worskhop. Enjoy.

Black Friday memory specials!

The memory listed below are on sale at Adorama and every single one of them comes with free shipping!

SanDisk 4GB Ultra Compact Flash Memory Card with 30MB/SEC Speed
Regular Price $27.95 - Sale Price $17.95

SanDisk 4GB Extreme III Secure Digital (SDHC) Memory Card
Regular - Price $29.95 - Sale Price $19.95

Lexar 16GB Platinum II Memory Stick Pro Duo Memory Card
Regular Price $47.95 - Sale Price $27.95

Lexar 8GB Professional 400x CompactFlash Card
Regular Price $79.95 - Sale Price $47.95

Lexar 16GB Professional 400x CompactFlash Card
Regular Price $129.95 - Sale Price $79.95

Two must watch shows on Photography...

Over the next several days (depending in where you live) PBS will be airing two very interesting shows on photography.

From the past: "Documenting the Face of America" brings to life the remarkable stories behind the legendary group of New Deal-sponsored photographers who traversed the country in the 1930s and early 1940s and created what has become a national treasure.

It was the first time Americans saw each other’s faces and witnessed what life was like across the nation: north to south, east to west, rich and poor, black and white.

The film explores the personal vision and the struggles experienced by photographers who created some of the most iconic images in history. Still recognized today, Dorothea Lange’s haunting photograph of the “Migrant Mother” remains one of the most famous images of all time.

From the Present: "The President's Photographer" tags along with the president's chief photographer, Pete Souza, who is never far behind President Obama.

This National Geographic Special, gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the everyday workings of the American presidency as we follow Souza, offering a chance to see what it's like to cover the most powerful man in the world, while attempting to capture for history. It also provides us a history of the presidential photographers who have come before him.

I have seen both of these shows (more than one) and give them both two thumbs way up, so check your local listings, grab a piece of leftover Thanksgiving pie, and enjoy the shows.

Happy Thanksgiving...

I hope that today (and every day) you are surrounded by those you love, that you feel blessed, rich in spirit, and that you carry hope and charity in your heart.

There are many of you who are struggling and I hope even more for you... that people reach out to support and comfort you, that your burdens become lighter, that you never feel alone, and I pray that in the days to come you can worry less, love more, and that when strangers see you on the street they wonder what you are smiling about.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Dinner...

If you want to do something really moving...

Saturday December 4th is Help-Portrait Day.

The premise is quite simple:

1. Find someone in need

2. Take their portrait

3. Print their portrait

4. Give them their portrait

And do it all for free.

As I write this the memories from last year come rushing back, it was moving, emotional, and one of the most gratifying things I have done in the last 12 months.

One story from last year... a man brought his son in for a portrait and after we handed him the print he stared at it for awhile smiling, he then shook our hands and thanked us (repeatedly), explaining that this was going to be a Christmas gift for his wife... the only gift he was able to give her.

You can read our entire post from last year here.

If you are interested in getting involved by helping out at an event in your area (or starting one) you can get the details here.

Let me leave you with a short 2 minute video our our humble Help-Portrait day.

Subscribers will need to return to the blog or head directly over to our YouTube channel to watch it.

Here are a couple images...

Here are a couple shots from this past Monday night at the Maine Photographer Coalition.

Mark your calendar for the next meeting scheduled for January 10 (2011) and you will want to bring your laptop as the evenings instruction will be (hands-on) Lightroom workflow.

Hope your face is in next months picture!

Color management and monitor calibration...

I know, I know, when you start talking about color management and/or monitor calibration peoples eyes glaze over and they start looking for the nearest exit (or the closest ledge from which to jump).

But it is such an important part of photography workflow that if you ignore it, it will surely come back to bite you in the butt.

So... if you would be happy with Stevie Wonder editing your images you can stop right here, otherwise please read on.

Here are a couple educational/informational resources to check out:

1. Last night Earle Christie did a great presentation/Q&A at the Maine Photographer Coalition and an online article he wrote on the subject "Predictable Color"is a must read.

2. If you want to delve even deeper into the subject then head over to Digital Dog and you'll feed your need to knowledge.

3. Monitor calibration (back to Stevie) - if you are editing your images on an un-calibrated monitor it's like putting on rose colored glasses before you start editing your images, which makes it a huge exercise in futility, because I don't know anybody who can make precise (and accurate) color corrections and adjustments when they're not even looking at the real colors!

There are a handful of really good tools out there to help you calibrate your monitor and after looking at the different options I settled on what I think is the best and easiest calibration tools available, the Spyder3Elite from DataColor.

I could ramble on about why I like this product more than any other, but you can take a quick tour of it here and see how it would fit into your workflow.

If you think I am overstating the importance of monitor calibration then don't take my word for it, take the word of someone many believe to be one of the finest photographers of our day, Vincent Versace.

Below is an audio excerpt from an interview he did with, and is his response to the question about the importance of calibrating your monitor (it's only 4 minutes long and worth every second of listening):

Vincent Versace on monitor calibration

Let the (snow) games begin!...

Watching the weather this morning I saw that they were calling for snow which made me just a little sad (and utter an unprintable word or two).

Not that there is much snow coming, it just seems way too early for this to be starting.

I think I'll refill my coffee and move just a little closer to the stove.

Sorry for such a late notice...

This post is for local photographers - there will be a meeting tomorrow evening (Monday November 22) of the Maine Photographer Coalition which will be holding its inaugural meeting at the studio of Stacey Kane (134 Black Point Road Scarborough, ME).

Folks will be gathering for the "meet and greet" portion of the evening which starts at 7 with the "formal" meeting starting at 7:30.

The talented Earl Christie will be speaking/instructing the group on color management.

All are welcome and the meeting is free but for planning purposes RSVP is a must (just follow this link).

Hope to see you there!

Our review of the new LumiQuest LTp...

Every time you think it can't get any better it does. LumiQuest recently released its latest small flash modifier, the SoftBox LTp, so named because it will just fit into a laptop pocket of a camera backpack.

Here are two sample images I took (of a project from Emma when she was a wee girl), they were both shot with the exact same camera and flash settings with both on stands.

The first image was shot with the Stofen style light modifier that come with the flash (a Nikon SB-800), the second image was shot with the new SoftBox LTp.

You notice right away that the light with the LTp is a much softer, more even light, and if you look closer you'll notice that the light wraps nicely around "greenie" as it moves towards the back of the subject.

Clicking on either image will open them larger and in a new window for better examination.

Below is the video portion of this review, you subscribers will need to return to the blog or head directly to our YouTube channel to watch the video as they STILL are not pushed through with your subscriptions.

One thing everyone can agree on, I was not built for Hi Def.



A new Lightroom resource...

Well, it's new to me.

While sucking down my mega-gulp coffee this morning I came across a site by Wade Heninger and it's obvious he LOVES Lightroom.

Part of that love is demonstrated through his "Lightroom Tuesday" in which he compiles a ton of relevant and useful links from all over the web representing the best in Lightroom education.

Putting together such a large list of useful resources takes a great deal of time and effort (I know because I've done it too, you go through a bunch of stinkers looking for the diamonds) so folks would be wise to take advantage of this Herculean effort by Wade because he's done us a great service (and saved us hours of online searching and reading)

And as if that isn't enough he also maintains a Lightroom Q&A where you can not only ask your question but read the questions (and answers) of others.

Reading his blog I learned that he was one of the unfortunate souls that was on the Carnival cruise ship that floated aimlessly off the coast of Mexico last week, which alone makes him waaaaaay more interesting than me.

When you get done checking out Wades blog you will want to peruse his portfolio as well.

(click on either image to view larger in a new window)

And the "Sessions with JoeyL" winner is...

Before I announce the winner of our "Sessions With JoeyL" contest let me say (actually write) a few things.

First, this has been our most successful contest ever, we have had more entrants, comments, and images submitted than ever before! Thank you all for making this blog what it is.

Second, this contest was truly random. The name of each person who entered was dropped into a program called "The Hat" which was used to randomly pick the winners name. If a person entered the contest more than once, their name was dropped "into the hat" to match the number of times they entered.

Third, I strongly recommend that everyone go take a look at the images that have been uploaded to our Flickr group, you'll see some really good stuff.

Fourth (and last), despite the contest being random I had strong inclination on who the winner might be, though we had hundreds (and hundreds) of entries there was one person who was the most prolific. They entered the contest well over 50 times! Going waaaay back in the archives (a couple years) to read and leave a comment, and the comments weren't frivolous, they were thoughtful and insightful (and greatly appreciated).

So, I have dragged this out long enough.... the winner is.... HALF BLIND!

Congratulations. If you send me an email I will forward it to Joey Lawrence and he in turn will email you the download link for "Sessions".

Below are a few more of Half Blind's images, be sure to check out his Flickr stream.

Big, BIG announcement coming next week for our Christmas giveaway, so stay tuned.

Thank you everyone.

(click on any of the images to view larger and in a new window)

Odds and ends... bits and pieces...

Here are few very useful websites and resources that you good people will find helpful and/or interesting.

1. Lighten Up and Shoot is a great instructional site if you are looking to master exposure. They have a ton of tutorials not the least of which include the 5 variables of flash exposure, once you visited the site I am sure you will want to bookmark it.

2. I have harped on more than one occasion about the importance of backing up your images and one of the things you need to do is have a backup someplace other than on your desk, well is giving away 10GB of online storage, for FREE.

3. You can watch 5 short videos (3-10 minutes) on using flash, a combination of flash and natural light, and just natural light from photographer Jody Dole, check them out here.

4. You have until midnight tonight to enter our "Sessions with JoeyL" giveaway. The winner will be announced tomorrow (11/16/10). See ya then.

Images from today...

Here are a few shots from today... click on any image to view it larger and in a new window.

Happy Veterans Day...

Happy Veterans Day... If there is a parade in your town I hope you go.

(subscribers will need to return to the bog to see the video)

Free food for veterans...

Tomorrow (November 11) is Veterans Day and many restaurants, like Applebees, Texas Roadhouse, and Hooters, are offering free food, from appetizers to complete meals.

For a complete list of restaurants you can check out The Military Wallet.

I can't tell you how happy I am to see stuff like this because when I was in the military back in the days of Vietnam we were encouraged to travel in civilian clothes because it was not at all uncommon to be yelled at, called names, and even spit upon.

Not once did I wear civilian clothes.

Just 5 Days left in our "Sessions with JoeyL" contest...

If you would like a chance to win "Sessions with JoeyL" here's all you need to do:

1. Join the Weekly Photo Tips Flickr Group (details on how to join can be found here).

2. Upload one (or more) portraits of a person, animal, or car to our Flickr Group.

3. Leave one (or more) comments on any blog post on Weekly Photo Tips.

The contest ends on midnight November 15th, the winner will be randomly drawn from all contest entries and announced on November 16th.

The winner will receive an email with a link from Joey Lawrence to download "Sessions".

The rules are pretty simple, you can enter as many times as you like (one comment + one image upload = one contest entry), ownership of all images remain with you.

The only thing we will use them (the images) for is to show occasional "samples" of what folks are uploading and to announce the contest winner.

Speaking of samples, here are a handful of images from one of our Flickr members "Half Blind", one of our more prolific contest participants.

In his profile he says "I use a 9 year old 2 megapixel camera", proving yet again it's not the gear that will give you a good image, it the person holding it.

Click on any of the images to view larger and in a new window.

Lightroom 3 training - 3rd time is still a charm...

Ever go to a movie sequel with high expectations because the original was so good, but when it was over you left shaking your head?

The Kevin Kubota Lightroom training trilogy does not fall into this category, his is more like the Toy Story trilogy, where it builds beautifully on what came before it.

Over the weekend I watched Kevin's e:Class "Update Your Workflow with New Lightroom 3 Features" and as is his teaching style Kevin walks you through new features, tips, and tricks in an easy to follow, easy to understand method.

We have reviewed his previous Lightroom training DVD's in the past (Lightroom 1 here and Lightroom 2 here) and LOVED them both so the bar had been set pretty high and this Update Your Workflow e:Class measured up to it predecessors.

One of the things I like about Kevin is that he throws in some extremely useful information that is unrelated to Lightroom, but adds value to my life as a photographer.

Two examples:

1. He suggested that you put your name, telephone number, and (in big letters) "Reward if Found" on your memory cards. As soon as I heard it I sat up in my chair and thought (out loud) "Brilliant".

2. The file and folder structure (how he stores images on his hard drive) has been revised and improved. I have used his technique as part of my workflow since version 1 and in this latest offering Kevin shares with us what's new, different, and how it's setup so that it can easily (and should be) incorporated into your workflow.

The Update Your Workflow e:Class is just that, an update where Kevin demonstrates how to use the the important new features in Lightroom 3, it is NOT a complete Lightroom workflow instructional class from soup to nuts (more on that later).

The things you will learn are how to import your images with some of the new options available in Lightroom 3 that will speedup and automate your workflow.

You will see how to use the tethered capture feature in a photo booth scenario when shooting events that will increase your sales opportunities.

With so many of the new cameras allowing us to shoot with a higher ISO setting you will learn how to setup smart collections to separate and categorize your images based on their shot ISO so that you can then apply automated standardized noise reduction appropriate for the images ISO.

You will learn how to best use the Watermark tool and the secret you need to know if your watermark includes a graphic.

And there's more, much more, in this 1 hour and 15 minute download but I think you're getting the point.

Here's your choices - you can spend endless hours editing your clients images, struggling with features you are unfamiliar with (or miss them because they are unknown to you) or you can give your clients the best images possible photo while spending less time sitting in front of your computer (and more time watching Toy Story).

As I mentioned before this is an update for Lightroom 3, if you own the Kubota Lightroom 2 training DVD this is all you will need to get up to speed (and master) the new features in Lightroom 3 and it can be yours for just $39.

If you are starting from ground zero and really want to master Lightroom 3 you can get the complete workflow training DVD AND the Kubota Lightroom preset collection for just $99.

And if you own either the Lightroom 1 or the Lightroom 2 workflow DVD's you can upgrade to the Lightroom 3 Workflow DVD with presets for $49 and $39 (respectively).

Getting "flocked"...

I was driving my girls to school yesterday and saw this in my neighbors yard (and of course I had to take a picture).

"Getting flocked" may not be all that rare elsewhere, but it sure is here in Maine.

It certainly did brighten our day.

Free instructional photography videos...

If you are looking to learn about photography we have a great resource for you, the "Lastolite School of Photography".

It's free and online so if you have an internet connection you'll have some very good instructional videos at your finger tips.

You even have the opportunity to download them to watch when you don't have online access.

The Lastolite School of Photography is available to you via their website, iTunes, and/or their YouTube channel.

There are about 30 videos ranging from just 2 and up to 30 minutes long and yes the videos feature Lastolite softboxes, umbrellas, other lights and modifiers but the information and techniques are applicable regardless of the name on the product.

An umbrella is an umbrella, a softbox is a softbox, and.... well, I think you get my point.


Here's a quick two minute video to give you a "taste" of what they offer. A video "hors d'oeuvres" (I am just soooo witty this morning).

Nikon D3000 Book review...

Here is the third (and final) review of the books from "Stay Focused Press", todays book is for the Nikon D3000.

This review has been written by Anika Alonzo.

From Anika:

"The ‘Stay Focused Guide’ to the Nikon D3000 is a great manual for beginners and new users of DSLR cameras. It explains the technical parts of photography in a simple and very understandable way. If you already know these things, you can just skip to the chapter for the specific help you are looking for, since it is organized in a ‘this is the problem-here is the solution’ way.

Super easy to follow instructions are a big plus, since the user doesn’t need to spend too much time understanding and figuring out how to change settings and can have fun learning the basic photography skills. This book really should come with the camera when it is purchased.

Another thing I have to mention is the guide that is in the back that offers recommendations on what to have in your camera bag. Besides bringing the obvious there are some great tips of what to bring.

I really enjoyed reading this book and would definitely recommend it to everybody that is just starting out or wants to make their photos look better. I have to say it again, this is a great book for beginners, if you know all your basics and if you are looking to learn manual shooting, this is not for you.

The ‘Stay Focused Guide’ focuses mainly on achieving better photos with the different settings on the Nikon D3000."

So there you have it, 3 different books, three different reviewers, six thumbs up!

You can get your own copy of the "Nikon D3000" guide (or any of the other books) as a hard copy book ($22), a PDF ($19), as an iPone/iPod app ($4.99), or for your iPad ($9.99).

Thanks to Anika, Chris (Canon XSi review), and Paul.... err.... I mean Paula (Nikon D60 review) for taking the time to read the books and write the reviews for our readers and a big thanks to Stay Focused Press for sending us the books.

Great deal on a Westcott 28" softbox!...

This sale for the Westcott 28" Apollo Speedlight softbox, an outstanding light modifier at an incredible price ($95 and free shipping)!

The reasons I have two of these softboxes are:

1. They are made to be used with Speedlights (or for you Canon shooters - Speedlites)

2. They are made on umbrella frames so they open and close quick and easy

3. It's 28 inches so it gives a big light

4. You can rotate the flash inside the softbox

5. The front panel is recessed for greater (feathering) control of the light

And it comes with a flash shoe mount umbrella bracket.

Here's the link where you can get more details and order (of you are so inclined).

For a good demonstration of the kind of light it throws (and the images you can get) check out this post at Neil van Niekerk's blog.

Neil is actually reviewing RadioPoppers in the post but is using the Westcott 28" Apollo Speedlight softbox as is light source.

More proof I'm an idiot...

Not that most of you need any more proof, I am sure the evidence on file would have been sufficient to confirm the obvious.

Last week I posted a book review for the Nikon D60 written by one of wonderful readers, well not only did I get the reviewers name wrong, I took the liberty of changing their gender as well!

I wrote that the review was written by Paul.... WRONG! It was written by Paula, Paula Apro to be exact.

So I am writing to publically apologize to Paula ( really sorry, sorry, sorry) and also to let her know that I will be sending her a nice little "Scott is truly an idiot" prize package that will include:

1. The book - "Flash...The Most Available Light" from Lumiquest

2. Ultra Image Photoshop action set (also) from Lumiquest (read our review here)

3. Three SlimLine "AA" battery caddy (read our caddy review here)

4. The book - "Photoshop CS4 Down & Dirty Tricks" from Scott Kelby

So please take the time to visit Paula's website and her blog, you'll find a forgiving person who takes a very good picture.