Sunday, January 31, 2010

Please watch this Scott Kelby video...

There are a couple reasons I want you to watch this video.

First, because Scott always adds something to the "photography" conversation.

Second, because Scott's video will add to what we are going to post tomorrow.

Here's a link where you can learn about (and hopefully buy) Scott's DVD.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Projecting your photography sales...


When we reviewed our "product of the year" we committed to writing about how/what we incorporated into our practice to improved our studio for us and our clients.

The first thing we added/changed was projection viewing, bringing each of our clients back into the studio to see their images.

Before I get too into it let me say a couple things:

First, if you don't have a studio, or your client is not local, projection viewing obviously would not work. For our long distant clients we use the sales guidelines from "How to Sell" by Joyce Smith.

Second, projection sales is not high pressure, it is not hard sell. It is showing your work in the best, "real world" setting. You are walking your clients through the images you took at their session, answering questions, offering suggestions, helping them to make an informed decision.

This blog has provided me the opportunity to talk with some very successful photographers and they will freely admit that one of the keys to their success is in studio projection viewing and the software they use is ProSelect from Time Exposure.

If you were buying some new flooring would you make a purchase from picture on the internet or would you go to their sales room and see what the different options were, look at it life size right in front of you, ask some questions, and make the most informed decision possible.

Too many photographers throw their clients images into an online gallery and then forward them the link. Chances are you uploaded a boat load of images to give your client a good selection, and you sat back and waited for the sales to roll in, and you waited... and you kept waiting. Then wondered why no sales are made. I know because that is exactly what I used to do.

The client has so many image options but they don't have anyone to guide them through the decision making process, no one is there when they view them to answer questions. So the client is confused, frustrated, and often will order an 8 x 10 and call it good.

But if you are sitting with them as the images go by, you talk (and laugh) about the images, about the session, about them. You start to get a feel for what images they like (and why), and how they want to use them (cards, wall hanging, etc.).

The first time I used ProSelect (the 30 day free trial) we were showing an image as a 16 x 20 framed print hanging on a wall behind a couch and I asked what size they had originally thought of purchasing and they responded "8x10" so I reduced the image to an 8x10 and they looked at each other with furrowed brows and the wife said "well, that's too small!".

They bought the 16x20 and it also ended up being the single largest print order I have ever made.

One of the (many cool) features is the ability to import a picture of the clients room so they can see their image hanging on their wall.

When I shot the session it was at their home so I grabbed some room/wall images without letting them know what I was up to, it was pretty darn impressive when they saw their family portrait hanging over their own fireplace.

You can read what other photographers have to say about ProSelect here and please check out the feature list here because it is so much more than just presentation software and has so many more features (like how seamlessly it integrates with Photoshop and Lightroom).

Better yet, download a fully functional copy of ProSelect and use it for 30 days.

To make it even easier they have posted about 40 instructional/tutorial videos that will not only show you how to use the software, but also show you how do others are using it in their presentations.

I promise you, using ProSelect is going to make your clients happier and your studio more profitable.

A true win/win.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Un-Freaking-Believable!...

It's a Kindle, iPhone, laptop, and more all wrapped up into one sweet little device that will cost under $500!

Nothing like cool technology to get me all a twitter.

I have to go wipe drool off my chin.

For a larger version of the video below follow this link.



Wednesday, January 27, 2010

10 Resolutions every photographer should make...


I came across a blog post by Lisa Bettany "10 New Years Resolutions Every Photographer should make" and thought she hit the nail right on the head.

Here are the first three:

1. I will learn how to use my camera.

This seems like an obvious point, but we are all guilty of skipping our camera manual and just fiddling with settings. Ah, this one works right? Spot-metering? Why not. Hey, what does
that button do? Seems to make things darker. Hmm.

I’m going to admit something to you that I ask you to keep hush-hush. I haven’t actually read my 5DMKII manual. I know. Horrible! I’m guilty of arbitrary button pushing and royally messing up shots because I don’t really know how to use my camera. Let’s all become technical experts of our cameras this year. Deal?

2. I will not use the Auto setting on my camera.

Instead of relying on your camera’s dubious Auto settings, force yourself to learn how to use manual settings. Upgrade to Aperture priorty mode (AV) first. Once you understand Depth of Field, jump into Manual mode. You will make mistakes and feel frustrated when you completely blow-out a shot, but this is the way we learn. Don’t get discouraged by your mistakes. Learn from them and push on!

3. I will not use on-camera flash

The only photos you should take with an on-camera flash are ones that end up on your Facebook wall of shame. Tape down that pop-up flash if you have to. Instead rely on your skills as a photographer to capture shots in low-light.

Shoot with a wide-open aperture, as low as your lens will go. Decrease your shutter speed & increase your ISO. Steady your camera on a tripod, gorilla pod or table top. Invest in a good lens. I suggest the 50mm f/1.4 or the f/1.8 if you are on a budget.


Now you have to head over to her blog and read the entire article.

You'll find other good posts at "Mostly Lisa" and I bet you'll bookmark her site before you leave.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

And they just keep coming...


It was just a month ago that we celebrated reaching 1,400 subscribers and in the blink of an eye we have crossed the 1,500 subscriber threshold!

Add to that the comments you have been leaving:

"You have a simply awesome blog! I love coming here for inspiration and practical tips that both help me take better pictures but also help me to stay inspired."

"I follow your blog daily because in many ways you make me think about photography in different ways than what I had before. You help to ground me, and keep me focused."

"I LOVE YOUR BLOG !!!!"

"I enjoy your humor and your style, and you come across as a genuinely nice guy, which I'm sure you are. Your "off topic" posts are often very heartfelt and leave me with a good feeling."

And I realize that I have more friends than I deserve.

Thanks for coming and thanks for taking the time to leave such kind and thoughtful comments.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Here are the contest details...


It's going to be a drawing. A random drawing.

I thought of (and had suggested) a bunch of different (and good) scenarios but it was important to me that everyone who entered had the same chance of winning and I was also looking for a bit of the unexpectedness, with some unpredictability thrown in.

No matter what the task there will be some people who can do it better than others, and then there would be those who might not enter because they didn't feel it was one of their strong points.

So with a random drawing everyone who enters has the same chance of walking away with this outstanding prize package.

It could not be easier, all you have to do is send an email with your name, email, and snail mail address (and if you wanted to jot down a small paragraph about why you read this blog, or one of your favorite posts from Weekly Photo Tips all the better but it won't change your chances), all entries will go into a bowl and the winner will be drawn on February 15th (2010).

The drawing will be videoed, posted here and also posted on our YouTube channel.

This contest is open to everyone, regardless of where you live, but if you do live outside the US you will need to pay shipping (see here for details).

You might want to get your friend(s) to enter, then you can have a better chance of winning by the two (or more of you) splitting the prize.

One entry per person and good luck to you!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Going to the dogs...

Not sure why but my readership has been sky rocketing the last several months, so I want to let the new folks know that on weekends it's not uncommon for me to "wander off the reservation" and post something (way) off the topic from photography.

Today is just such a day.

Someone sent me a "Dogs Ten Commandments" and it made me think about my dogs and how essentially it's their world and they let me live in it.

;)

It was not that long ago that I thought "dogs are stupid", you couldn't go away without either taking them with you or finding a sitter, get up in the middle of the night to let them out, take them on walks, and don't get me started in picking up their "little gifts".

So needless to say, I was NEVER going to be a dog owner.

But seven years ago our daughters REALLY wanted a dog, mind you we had gotten them every pet you can imagine in an effort to avoid that very thing, but gerbils won't fetch, cats are too cool for people and goats, well they just smell way too bad and hate it when you put ribbons in their hair.

I finally caved and got a miniature schnauzer as it's small and doesn't shed.

Well 30 seconds into dog ownership I realized the error of my ways. I loved my dog.

Two years later we got another schnauzer and just last year we rescued a third.

We put in a pellet stove and our first dog, Bonnie, can be found daily warmer her buns in front of the fire and has no problem letting me know when the pellets are getting low.

I got my wife this canvas (of Bonnie ~ Cali ~ Gracie) for Christmas because the last things she sees every time she leaves the house are these three little faces peering out from between the fence posts begging her to stay.


People who don't have dogs will think the following is goofy (no pun intended, well, maybe a little), dog owners will appreciate it though (unless of course you are Michael Vick):

A Dogs Ten Commandments.........

1. Before you take me home know that my life is likely to last 10-15 years, so please be sure you are in it for the long haul.

2. Give me time to understand what you want from me

3. Place your trust in me. I will always trust you.

4. Don't be angry with me for long and don't lock me up as punishment.

5. You have your work, your entertainment, and your friends. I only have you and any separation from you is painful.

6. Talk to me. Even if I don't understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.

7. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.

8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be wrong. Perhaps I'm not getting the right food, I’ve been in the sun too long, or my heart might be getting old or weak.

9. Please take care of me when I grow old.

10. When it is time for me to “go on ahead”, please stay with me. Don’t say “I can't bear to watch” because I won’t want to face it alone. Everything is easier for ME if you are there, because I love you so.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A good question about our contest...

Yesterday we announced that we would be giving away the "Studio in a Box" from the good folks at VGallery.

A question came in asking if the contest was open to folks outside of the US and the answer is yes!

I am happy to open the contest worldwide, but as international shipping can be a bit pricey the winner will need to pay postage.

The winner would pay only the exact cost of shipping, no processing, no handling, no hidden charges, only the exact cost of moving the box from me to you.

Come back on Monday and we will have all the details on how you can enter.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

An exciting big time announcement!...

This is blog post number 500 and I did not want such a milestone event to be just a ho-hum post, so here's the news.

We are giving away the 2009 Weekly Photo Tips product of the year!

That's right, the entire package could be yours, here's and excerpt from the original post:

"The Evolution Collection with FLO is the most complete "studio in a box" that you can get and contains enough information (16 gigabytes of how to videos, templates, actions, presets, edges, overlays, marketing tips, workflow techniques, forms, price lists, relationship building with vendors and clients, fund raisers, and so, so much more...) that if you use the information contained on the 4 DVD's you will be assured of success."

You can read the entire post here.

But there's a catch, I'm not quite sure how to give it away, I don't want to have another photo contest, been there done that, got the t-shirt.

Perhaps an essay of some sort?

This is where you come in, I hope you the readers will give me your input on what would be the most interesting, fairest way to give this studio changing product to one very lucky reader.

So leave a comment here or drop me an email with your idea of how to drop this into the lap of a deserving photographer.



Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Another great memory card sale!...

Adorama is having another outstanding memory card sale.

All of the cards come with free shipping and the sale price reflects rebates (you can get the rebate form here).

Last time they ran a sale (mid November) I had my rebate before Christmas!

The sale (and rebates) end January 31.


SanDisk 8GB Extreme III Compact Flash Memory - 3 Pack

Regular Price $149.95
Sale Price $69.95

SanDisk 16GB Extreme III Compact Flash Memory

Regular Price $84.95
Sale Price $64.95

SanDisk 32GB Extreme III Compact Flash Memory

Regular Price $159.95
Sale Price $119.95

SanDisk 32GB Extreme III Compact Flash Memory - 3 Pack

Regular Price $459.95
Sale Price $259.95

SanDisk 8GB Extreme IV Compact Flash Memory

Regular Price e $114.95
Sale Price $54.95

SanDisk 8GB Extreme IV Compact Flash Memory - 3 Pack

Regular Price $324.95
Sale Price $124.95

SanDisk 16 GB Extreme IV Compact Flash Memory

Regular Price $199
Sale Price $139

SanDisk 16GB Extreme IV Compact Flash Memory - 3 Pack

Regular Price $569.95
Sale Price $369.95

SanDisk 4GB Extreme III SDHC Memory

Regular Price $44.95
Sale Price $34.95

SanDisk 4GB Extreme III SDHC Memory 3 Pack

Regular Price $134.95
Sale Price $74.95

SanDisk 8GB Extreme III SDHC Memory

Regular Price $74.95
Sale Price $54.95

SanDisk 8GB Extreme III SDHC Memory - 3 Pack

Regular Price $129.95
Sale Price $219.95

SanDisk 16GB Extreme III SDHC Memory

Regular Price $108.95
Sale Price $88.95

SanDisk 16GB Extreme III SDHC Memory - 3 Pack

Regular Price $324.95
Sale Price $234.95

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Easy 2 & 3 light portrait setups...

These are images recently taken for a model portfolio and were shot using just 2 and 3 SB-800s, each flash was set to manual and all fired with Pocket Wizards.

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

These first images were done with two Nikon SB-800's. The primary/key light was bare bulb with a snoot on it and the fill light had on a LiteDome xs.





The next group of images were done with three Nikon SB-800's. We used a LiteDome xs on each of the primary (front) lights, the rear hair light had a snoot on it and even at it's lowest setting the light was still a bit hot so we stuffed the snoot with a little cheese cloth.







Monday, January 18, 2010

Run, don't walk, over to DTown!...


The Second season of DTown TV with hosts Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski is underway and you don't want to miss it.

Unlike last year when the focus was strictly on Nikon gear, this year it is "all things DSLR". So if you shoot digital, there is something there for you.

Shooting tips, techniques, and great guest appearances by folks like Moose Peterson and Joe McNally.

Last season shows are still available on the site so you Nikon shooters (and you know who you are) should head over and watch them. I learned something new on each episode, be it lens information, hardware tips, or camera body Easter eggs.

So head on over and I'll see ya at DTown.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Definitions of friendship…

I was listening to a podcast the other day and they were talking about what it means to be a true friend and definitions of friendship.

“A friend is one who multiplies our joys and divides our grief.”

“A friend is one who understands our silence.”


“A friend is one who knows us, but loves us anyway.”

And my favorite is…

“A friends is one who comes in when all the world has gone out”

It made me think about who my friends were, what they meant to me, and how empty my life would be without them.

I hope it does the same for you.



Friday, January 15, 2010

DIY Beauty Dish...

Below is our latest video showing the DIY beauty dish I made for well under $20.

The link to my original post on making your own beauty dish can be found here.

Here are some links to some other plans as well that you may find helpful:

1. David Tejada plans

2. Plans from Light & Pixels

3. One I found in Flickr

4. From Isaac Lane Koval

5. Plastic Bucket Beauty Dish

6. Turkey Pan Beauty Dish

7. Turkey Pan Beauty Dish II (the return of the Gobbler!)

8. DIY Beauty Dish For Alien Bees

Here's the video, if you can not view it just follow this link to watch it on YouTube.



Here are two sample images I took this morning to demonstrate the kind of light I got from my DIY beauty dish. Click on either image to view larger and in a new window.

The first image was shot with an SB-800 using the Sto-Fen style diffuser that comes standard with it. Notice the harshness of the light and the sharp distinct shadows.


This image was shot with my beauty dish, the light is more diffuse, the shadows much softer, resulting in a better picutre.



Thursday, January 14, 2010

Workshop with photographer Joel Grimes...

I have some very exciting news, this coming April we will be sponsoring a 2 day lighting workshop with photographer Joel Grimes.

We'll have more details in the coming weeks, but in the mean time take a look at his knockout images below, visit his website, or check out his tutorials.

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







Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Top 10 best photography blogs of 2010...

About a week ago Canon Blogger came out with the 10 best photography blogs for 2010 and much to my surprise Weekly Photo Tips was on the list at number six.

When I see stuff like that I am truly humbled that something I started as a way to keep my photography friends informed of things I found on my endless internet wandering has turned into something very different.

But the bottom line is any popularity this blog may enjoy is because of you, the good folks spend some of your precious time here.

Be sure to stop by Canon Blogger and see who else is on the list and thanks to Jason for his high opinion of Weekly Photo Tips and to you for making it what it is.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This may not be about photography...

But I think you are really going to find it quite handy.

Have you ever had to reinstall your computer software, or bought a new computer and needed to install all those indispensable free programs like iTunes, Adobe Reader, Skype, AVG, Firefox, and... well, I think you get my point.

There is a new (and free) site called Ninite that allows you to select from over 65 of the most popular (free) programs and then creates a custom installer so it's all done at once.

A few really cool features include:

1. Ninite installs software with the default settings and always says "no" to browser toolbars and other junk add-ons.

2. Ninite checks your computers language and 64-bit support to install the latest, best version of
each program.

3. Ninite runs on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7, works in the background providing an unattended 100% hands-free install.

A very convenient time saver.




Monday, January 11, 2010

"Happy birthday to me"...


Yup today is my birthday, I won't say how old I am but they found my birth certificate with the dead sea scrolls.

Tonight I am having dinner at my favorite restaurant, Fore Street. If you ever have the chance to go please do and have the roast pork loin, if it's not the best meal you've ever had I will be more than just a little surprised.

For my gift my family is taking me to a Cirque du Soleil show on Wednesday night.

But the older I get the more I recognize my true gifts.

I give thanks every morning just for being alive, I am warm, dry, and well fed (maybe fed a little too well). I have family and friends that are far more valuable than any material thing I own (or could ever hope to own).

All these things (and more) make me feel like a very wealthy man.

Later tonight my mom will call exactly at my birth minute and the day will be complete.

After I apologize (yet again) for my teenage years I will have to give her a hard time though, when I scanned in this picture I realized (looking at the date) that it took her six months to develop the pictures from my first birthday.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Softbox & light tent for under $10!...

I was paroozing through IKEA and came across their white laundry bag ($9.99) and thought to myself "man, I can't believe it's 4 below zero, I wish I was somewhere warmer"... and then I thought "hey, this would make a cool light tent".


So off to Google to do a search and sure enough other people had the same idea.

Now if you really can't figure out how to actually use it as a light tent you can head over to instructables for the details.


But what I had not considered and Mikko Reinikainen did was using the IKEA hamper for a diffuser/soft box.

Below you will see his setup using a Nikon SB-24 to shoot through the hamper for soft portrait light and a sample of one of those portraits.

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




Saturday, January 9, 2010

Unattainable beauty...

This video is both interesting and eerie, but mostly, it's sad.

Sad because the message is telling young women (my daughters) that this artificially created women is a standard to which they should aspire.

If this video does not appear in your email just follow this link.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Review of the Infinity ProScrim...

Like many photographers I prefer to shoot outside, the backgrounds are far more interesting and people more natural.

But shooting outside (and controlling the light) becomes more of a challenge and that is where reflectors and diffusers come in handy.

The bigger the light modifier, the more difficult it is to control, and if you throw in a breeze it will flop in the wind like a sheet drying on a clothes line. At that point you are no longer modifying light but having a good laugh watching your assistant becoming airborne.

Even without any wind, if you try to hold a diffuser by the end, up and over your subject, chances are 100% that it will flop down. It's simply not rigid enough to maintain its shape.

These are just some of the reasons why I like the Infinity ProScrim from Savage. It has a sturdy, light weight aluminum frame that maintains its shape, is rigid, and far easier to control, which may be less entertaining, but way more useful in getting the shot.

Two things were important to me, the quality of the construction and it's affordability (available at Adorama for $142).

A comparable 5 in 1 portable reflector, one full foot shorter than the Infinity ProScrim, will cost you $110.

My suggestion is to spend your money once and get the right tool the first time.

Please take just two minutes to watch the video below and I think you will come to love the Infinity PoScrim as much as I do.

For our subscribers, you will need to return to the blog or head over to YouTube to view the video as it is not be pushed through with your subscription


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A readers question... and my answer...


I recently received a question from a reader and wanted to share it (and the answer) with you.

The question:

"Scott, have you always been so good looking?"... no wait, that wasn't it... this is...

"I actually own my own photography studio - YET - have never known how to set my D300 up to my computer so my clients can immediately see their pics (much as you did on your "Help Day"). Can you give me some tips? Or write about it?"

The Answer:

Nikon shooters can use Camera Control Pro, but it's not free (though you can download a fully functional free 30 day trial here). You can get Camera Control Pro 2 at Adorama for $145 (with free shipping) and in my humble opinion worth every single penny.

It was pretty cool the first time I used it and found out I had complete control of all of my camera settings while sitting in from of my laptop and now I can't imagine shooting products or food without Camera Control Pro.

There are other options.

StudioTether is a free application that (as the name implies) will allow you to tether your Nikon camera to your Mac (no Windows version is available)

Another free Windows option is from DiyPhotoBits.com, they offer a free tethered shooting script for Nikon Cameras (Windows only), you can get the latest version here.

Canon shooters have it MUCH easier, they can can use their FREE EOS utility for shooting tethered (Windows manual here, Mac manual here).

My friend Jason Anderson over at Canon Blogger has a well done tutorial on Shooting Tethered with Canon Gear that you should check out.

I really love shooting tethered and you can read why at a previous post "Why Shoot Tethered" and get more details and resources at "Shooting tethered with Nikon, Canon, Windows, & Mac".

In closing I want to say thank you for your comments and many emails of condolences, thank you.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My Uncle Dick...


From my earliest memories I looked up to my uncle Dick.

First, he played pro football (for the Patriots), what isn't cool about having an uncle that was a pro football player.

He always had a big new car, and the first in ground pool I ever saw was at his house.

But as I got older I began to pick up on the truly important things.

He spoke with a booming voice, had a laugh that could fill a room, and despite his impressive size it was obvious he was a kind and gentle man.

He would help you in any way he could, without you even asking, he was a "fixer".

While I was "away" in the service my grandfather was on his last days and I could not get me home to see him. Uncle Dick got wind of it and within 24 hours I was on a plane home.

Just last year I needed a new furnace, guess who got me a new top of the line furnace at wholesale cost?

It's like he knew everybody, and everybody respected him.

Regardless of how old I was he always called me "Scottie", but that was okay, I liked how it sounded when he said it.

He was a good man and the world was a better place with him in it.

I got a call early this morning from my mother, letting me know that last night my uncle Dick "went on ahead".

And I wanted people to know my uncle Dick was somebody.


The first snow storm of 2010...


Four continuous days of snow has finally come to an end.

Oh to be back in Florida!

;)





Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!...


I hope that 2010 will be your best year yet!

Love, be loved, eat life up with both hands.

Don't wonder "what if?", put it all out there.

And as often as you can, perform an act of kindness for someone that has no way of paying you back.

Happy New Year to you and yours.