You can blame Matt Damon for this post...

I saw the commercial below tonight and really felt the need to share it... it tackles a very serious topic with just a little levity.

And it made me think of my own experiences. We know there is hunger out there but until we see the actual faces of the people standing in line at the food pantry, it's really rather abstract, a bit impersonal.

A couple years ago years ago I started using part of my Sundays to pick up food donations from some very generous stores and restaurants. There are days that my minivan is filled from the back of the drivers seat to the rear hatch and from floor to ceiling.

Then on Monday morning I deliver to local food pantries.

It seems the most important thing I deliver is bread, sliced bread.

One Monday I was running a little late and when I arrived there was a good amount of people who had gone through the line (as they had their bags) but were still hanging around, come to find out they were waiting for me. They were waiting for "the bread man".

It truly dawned on me that day the importance of what I was involved in. If not for those Monday morning deliveries these people would be going home without something most of us take for granted. A few slices of bread.

Then there are the days I see people I know... you never know who is at risk, who doesn't have enough food.

I don't usually talk about this, I don't do it for the recognition, I don't want a pat on the back. I do it because I can, and because the thought of children going to bed hungry haunts me.

But I am beginning to ramble, the point of this post was to share this commercial with you. In 30 seconds it drives home a very serious point AND makes you smile, that doesn't happen very often.

For you people new to the blog and are wondering what this has to do with photography, it has nothing to do with taking pictures. Chances a extremely good that on the weekends (if I post) I will wander of topic, sometimes WAY off topic, writing about whatever moves me.

So, now you've been warned, be prepared for anything on weekends. Tomorrow is Monday and I promise to be on topic then.


For subscribers, as usual you will need to return to Weekly Photo Tips to see the video as they still don't get pushed through with your subscription.

the BEATLES...

For those with children, you will (hopefully) appreciate this post, for those without children, probably not so much.

Don't you just love it when your children come to you with something not so new (or not so unknown) that they think 1.) they were the ones who finally discovered it and 2.) we are too stupid to have ever known about it on our own.

That's how my girls are about the Beatles, every time they find a new Beatles song the feel the need to come tell their silly old dad who is obviously too unaware to have known about it before.

But being the good dad I nod my head in agreement "wow, that is good", while inside I am thinking "yup, that was good 40 years ago too".

Thank goodness for the enlightenment that our children bring to us.


What version of Photoshop are you using?

I am one of those people who upgrades my software as soon as a new version is available (if I need it or not), and I assume everone else does as well.

But I know that the truth is quite different.

So if you are not using Photoshop CS5 yet I want to give you some resources that will help you determine if upgrading is for you and if it is, options that will make it less painful to your wallet.

Resource #1: Terry White. There are a bunch of reasons to visit Terry's blog (like his must have iPad apps for photographers, 3 ways to show your work to clients, and taking advantage of Virtual Copies in Lightroom 3 to name just a few) but the first thing I want you to see there is his walk through of the new features in Photoshop CS5.

The video is over 45 minutes long and in it Terry gives us a detailed demonstration of the new and cool features of CS5. I like the fact that you can download the video to your computer (or mobile device) for future viewing at a time most convenient to you (or when you don't have internet access).

Resource #2: You don't think I could talk about Photoshop and NOT mention the Photoshop Guys, do you? Scott Kelby, Matt Kloskowski, Dave Cross, and the rest of the crew put together a series of video tutorials over at the NAPP CS5 Learning Center demonstrating content aware fill, HDR Pro, improved noise removal, lens correction, and more. Not only will you find some great videos here, you'll also find links to other Photoshop CS5 resources available on the web, including their (NAPP's) 5 day CS5 launch webinar that has about 8 hours of tutorial/instructional CS5 videos.

Resource #3: Okay, so you visited all the links above and realize that life is just not worth living without Adobe Photoshop CS5, but you really don't want to sell one (or more) of your children in order to get it. The full version of CS5 is around $650 - $750 but if you have a student or teacher in your household you can purchase the full version of Photoshop CS5 Extended for just $198 at Journey ED.. You will need to provide proof of eligibility to Journey ED when you order the product and then again to Adobe when it arrives, so there are two small hoops to jump through but the savings are well worth it.

If you own a previous version of Photoshop (you can only go as far back a CS2), you can upgrade to CS5 for $190.

Don't have a previous version of Photoshop (or have a version earlier than CS2)? You can buy used version on eBay in the $100 - $150 range. You just need to make sure you are buying from a reputable seller, the two things I look for in a seller is a high positive feedback (97% or higher) and one that has a return policy (which tells me they back their sales). Buying from a seller with a return policy will work in your favor if you ever need to involve Paypal.

Some words you should hear..

It's always nice to have something you've said affirmed by another.

That's what happened to me the other when I received an email from the winner from our latest contest.

Anika sent me an email regarding her prize, the OneLight Workshop DVD:

"Hey Scott,

I just got done watching the workshop for the second time. This is the best workshop I have ever seen and I'm really learning a lot. I thought my photography was ok, now I know how much I still have to learn and that I'm not even close to being ok as a photographer.

I have to agree with you on naming this DVD the best purchase 2010, I think this workshop should come with every camera and every single photographer needs a copy.

Thank you so much for doing the give away! I can't even say how happy I am to learn from Zack and you!


So if you have been looking for a learning tool and was on the edge about what to get, I hope Anika and I have convinced you.

Be sure to check out her site "A little piece of me" and it will only take an image or two to realize that it is aptly named.

Getting better light from your umbrella...

I came across a great demonstration over at The Photophile site on how to get a better, softer light when using a small strobe with a shoot through umbrella.

Lanthus was using a single Nikon SB-600 with an umbrella to light the Santa shots he was taking at the mall this past Christmas.

In the first shot he was shooting "bare bulb" and you can see a distinctive hotspot in the middle of the umbrella.

He then flipped down the built in diffuser of the SB-600 which automatically sets the flash to a 14mm wide distribution of the light (zooms out).

As you can see in this next shot there is a much more even distribution of light across the entire surface of the umbrella.

Obviously if you are shooting with a flash that does not have a built in diffuser you can (most likely) manually set your flash to zoom out to a 14mm wide light pattern (or as wide as you flash will allow). If you are not familiar with using the "zoom" feature of your flash check your manual for operating details.

A BIG thanks to Lanthus Clark for letting me share this information (and his photos) with you and be sure to check out his site, The Photophile, you'll find some good stuff there (including the ever popular topic of DIY).

This picture...

Pretty much captures the feeling of the day.

You know it's cold when...

The first thing my dogs do when they come in is to bed down in front of the pellet stove.

As if being blanketed with over two feet of snow in the last couple weeks wasn't enough, today high is supposed to top out at around 10 - 12 degrees. Oooooh, break out the shorts and sandals.


It gets even better, tonight's low will hit (or sink to) -10! With Tomorrows high in the (low) single digits.

To make myself feel better I am placing my seed order today to start the process in motion for this years garden.

But I have to go, my dogs just signaled me that it's time to drag in a few more bags of pellets.

Holy $*#&! A Gitzo ball head for just $24!...

Yup, you read that correctly, a Gitzo magnesium center ball head for $24.95.

But wait, there's more, it also has free shipping! (sorry, but this offer does not come with any Ginsu knifes, pajama jeans, or snuggies)

This is not a mamby pamby ball head, it will hold up to 8.8 pounds and considering a Nikon D3 weighs under 3 pounds I can't imagine any body/lens combo that would exceed the weight limits of this ball head.

Now as usual the devil is in the details, the final price for this Gitzo ball head for $24 after an $80 rebate. The current Adorama price is $109, they give an addition $5 off during the order process, and then the $80 rebate brings the final price down to $24. Again, there is free shipping on this item as well.

You can find the product details here and information about the rebate (including the form) here.

The rebate is good through February 28th (of this year).

Did I mention the free shipping?

Should you work for free?..

If it involves shoveling my driveway then yes, yes you should work for free.


I saw this flowchart which made me smile AND think (the latter being a bit painful).

First about the chart, it is the brainchild (and work) of Jessica Hische, a designer, typographer, and illustrator. Be sure to check out her site as she does beautiful work.

Second, the thinking... "Should I work for free"...

My experience concurs with Jessica's chart, "NO!". For those who think I wasn't clear enough, "HELL NO!".

I promise you this, you will never turn a free client into a paying client, you may have given them stunning photographs but they hold little to no value to the "potential" client because they gave nothing of value in return (money).

Two studies that help support that statement, in one study the participants were given what they were told was new pain medications with one being significantly more expensive than the other (in fact both medications were the exact same placebo). In another study folks were asked to rank the quality of different coffees, again all the coffee was exactly the same, the only difference was what the study participants were told regarding the price per cup.

The results of the pain medication study showed that the participants believed the more expensive the pill the better it worked, and the coffee study was the same, the most expensive coffee was ranked the best, the least expensive was at the bottom.

That being said, let me share two instances when I worked for free and got paying customers.

1. I learned that there were several seniors at a local high school who could not afford to have portraits done, this was troubling to me so I called the person in charge of the yearbook and offered to do free portraits for those truly in need. Well, when seniors (who could afford portraits) came to this person and asked for recommendations for photographers guess whose name she gave them.

2. For those who have read this blog for very long know I love my dogs, which led me to a shelter to do some free photos of animals looking for adoption along with staff portraits. The word got out to some of their donors who liked the work I did which brought in several paying jobs.

In both cases I did the work for free because I wanted to, I was looking to help, I was NOT looking to make a customer.

Bartering is NOT working for free.

I did some food photography for a restaurant that was opening and was paid in "credit" in an amount equal to what I would have charged, this worked out great for me, great for the restaurant, and as the restaurant grew I was paid cash money for future work.

Sometimes I hear from folks who are planning to give away their work because they need to build their portfolio, if that's the case give your work to those who will appreciate, do the portraits for your friends and family, they will appreciate your efforts and praise you to those who see it.

Okay, move back, I am about to step off my soap box.

Here is the flow chart from Jessica, clicking on it will open it larger and in a new window... which will make it waaaaaay easier to read.


I have heard from several people that when they visited the Zack Arias blog they were bombarded with malware. It is my understanding that Zack is in the process of moving his site from his current hosting company for this very reason, they are unable to keep their servers clean and because of that their clients (like Zack) are suffering.

Pleas know that the links to CreativeLIVE and the OneLight Workshop are clean, so feel free to visit them any time.

His new website and blog are not yet live, but they should be shortly.

Sorry to those who took hits... really.

And speaking of Zack Arias...

Here are two posts that you really want to check out.

1. A white seamless tutorial (Part 1 here, part 2 here), in it he covers what gear you need, how best to set it up, and a bunch of other tips that are important to know and at the same time make life a bit easier.

2. During his 3 day workshop (that was free) with CreativeLIVE Zack shot with a ton of modifiers and softboxes and in this post he shows (with images) how they will light your subjects differently. It's one thing to understand (intellectually) how a softbox will work and another to see them compared side by side in pictures. It's interesting to see how much different the light is between a 7 foot and a 4 foot octabank, it was more than subtle.

Yet more proof he is smarter than me, but you knew that.


Back to the CreativeLIVE studio lighting class, I watched it live AND bought the video downloads, it was worth every minute (and penny), you can still purchase the 3 day information filled seminar for just $149.

Weekly Photo Tips 2010 product of the year!...

We get more than our fair share of photography "stuff" to review and share with our readers and of all the things we got this year the leader of the pack was the OneLight Workshop DVD from Zack Arias.

The OneLight DVD will give you the foundation to become a photographer, where as many of the other products we got would simply help us be a better photographer... a big, big difference.

There is no firmer foundation on which you build your skills as a photographer.

If you try to start a career in photography without mastering the knowledge Zack presents on these two DVD's it would be like trying to build a house by starting the construction on the second floor.

Just ain't gonna happen.

Not only is it essential, it's affordable too.

You can read our entire review here and when you're done you can use this link to head on over to the order page.

It finally happened and it's all your fault!...

We started the Weekly Photo Tips YouTube channel a year ago and today we nudged past 100,000 visitors.

One hundred thousand!


Of course (and as usual) when it comes to all the milestones we reach here it's you good people using your most precious resource, time, to visit us that drives our success, that makes us who we are.

So please accept my heartfelt thanks for visiting Weekly Photo Tips, for watching our videos, and (the most fun part for me) for taking the time to leave your comments and writing your emails.

It seems unfair because it feels like I get back far more than I give.

Thank You!

Speaking of the Maine Photographers Coalition...

This past Monday we had the second meeting of the Maine Photographer Coalition and it was a rousing success, in this case we measure success by sharing... sharing information, techniques, and ideas.

The Riley Brothers (Tim and Chris) were our guest speakers and presented an overview of their Lightroom workflow and even the most seasoned Lightroom users at the meeting were able to take home new tips in improving their own workflow.

On top of this we had some great photo gear to give away to those in attendance... things like:

1. RPG Keys (customizable keys that will help you speed through your Lightroom editing)

2. Kelly Moore Bags (beautiful and functional camera bags)

3. Epiphanie Bags (fabulous camera bags for women)

4. Shootsac (a great lens bag)

5. Spider Holster (a belt system for carrying 1 or 2 cameras while keeping your neck and shoulders strap-free)

6. Black Rapid Straps (stay-put straps that allow you to comfortably carry multiple cameras).

Our next meeting will be in March and I will share more details with you as the date gets closer.

If you are attending any of the following shows/gatherings - SWPP (in England), Imaging USA (in Texas), After Dark (in Vegas), WPPI (also in Vegas), or PPINE (Hyannis, MA) the Riley's will be teaching workshops on their Lightroom workflow techniques, so be sure to check them out.

In the mean time, below is video 1 (in a series of 5) that will give you a taste of what is contained in their classes, you can see all 5 videos by following this link.

(for those of you who subscribe you will need to return to the blog to see this video)

Taking pictures and helping others...

It doesn't get much better than doing something you love AND having the opportunity to help others.

Here's your chance to do just that.

Thirst Relief is running a mentor auction that includes a session with the top dogs in the fields of wedding and portrait photography.

From their website:

"The mission of the Mentor Auction is twofold, to save lives and change the world by tapping into the incredible talent and generosity of the wedding industry and to create better and more successful photographers. To accomplish this goal we've asked some of the best and brightest in the wedding and portrait world to donate 90 minutes of their time and anything else they feel like giving to be auctioned off to the highest bidder!

100% of the proceeds directly benefit Thirst Relief International, saving lives and changing the world! Add to that the incredible wisdom and talent that is being shared in the one-on-one mentors sessions and you have better and more successful photographers! So, not only are lives being saved but the lives of many photographers are being made better! It's truly a win win for everyone involved!"

So you will get to hang out with a phenomenal photographer, you will have a great learning experience, you will be helping others, AND you will get a tax write-off.... does it get any better?

There will be many names you will recognize participating in the auction like Jasmine Star, Mike Colon, David Jay, Kevin Kubota, and Sarah Petty but I want to draw attention to personal friend (photographer extraordinaire) and fellow Maine Photographer Coalition cofounder Michelle Turner.

Being a great photographer does not necessarily make you a good instructor, but with Michelle you get both (I have personally seen her teach a one hour course without ever inhaling, not even once). Below you will see just a few samples of her outstanding work.

You can head over to the auction page and browse through all of the photographers listed, or you can save some time and head directly to Michelle's auction page.


But seriously, please consider participating in this worthy cause as it will not only help you and could very possibly save the life of another.

Some Joel Grimes style sports images...

Here a couple shots I did recently of a local high school hockey player.

I used the techniques learned from Joel Grimes at the seminar he taught when he was here last year (here's a link to a seminar post, and here is our interview with Joel).

You may remember the football images I did in the fall (one is below, and here is the link to that post) and I decided to be more subtle, less dramatic with these hockey images.

This is a funny, funny commercial...

No matter what is going on at my house, when this commercial comes on everything stops and we all gather in front of the TV.

Funny stuff, "yes it is".

For those of you new to Weekly Photo Tips, if I post on weekends it is more than likely "off topic"... far from field of photography.

(Subscribers will need to come back to the blog to watch, it will be well worth it)

Lightroom Workflow Workshop...

This coming Monday (1/10/11) the Maine Photographer Coalition will be having the first workshop of the new year and it will be on improving your Lightroom workflow.

It will be taught by Tim and Chris Riley (of Riley Photographic fame and the developers of the RPG Keys). Tim and Chris will be talking/teaching how to improve and streamline your Lightroom workflow.

The doors will open at 7pm and the Riley brothers will take the stage at 7:30pm. The cost for the workshop is $10 and RSVP is mandatory.

Not only will this be a great learning opportunity, you will also have time to meet and speak with fellow photographers from those who have just turned professional to those who have been doing for longer than they care to admit.

It will be held at the studio of Stacey Kane (134 Black Point Road Scarborough, ME) and really, you will need to RSVP to attend.

Hope to see you there.

David Tejada is coming to town!...

Yup, you read that correctly, David Tejada is bringing his two day "small strobes BIG RESULTS" workshop to Maine.

We are in the absolute beginning stages of setting this workshop up so the details are far from complete (or set in stone) but the two things we can say are: 1.) David will be in our studio here in Biddeford (Maine) in the middle of September (this year) and 2.) it will be limited to 10 (maybe 12) attendees, max.

Here is a one sentence blurb from the "small strobes BIG RESULTS" website the lays out who this workshop is designed for:

"This workshop is designed for the emerging pro or for those contemplating doing so, as well as serious hobbyists. This workshop does not show you how to use your camera. You should understand the relationship between shutter speeds and F-stops, such as what the difference is between f/1.4 and f/22."

The reason we are announcing it now, before we have all the info set, is so you can start planning your trip and saving your pennies because this is a workshop you will NOT want to miss!

I will announce the details as soon as they are available and be sure to pay attention because it will be a "first come first registered" kinda situation.

While you wait be sure to check out David Tejada's website and blog.

Very exciting stuff.

The Zack Arias workshop DVD winner is...

The winner of our Zack Arias OneLight Workshop Christmas contest is... Anika Alonzo!

Anika was randomly selected from among all those who entered our Christmas contest using a program called "The Hat".

You can check out more images from Anikaer on her Flickr stream and her blog.

Congratulations to Anika and a big thank you to everyone who took the time to enter our contest.

Anika, drop me an email with your snail mail address and I will get your package out to you.

Here are just a few of her images:

New Year... New Habit...

I wanted to share with you a recent comment from one of our readers as it really made me stop and think and thought it would do the same for you as well.

"I'm reading a book now called "The Happiness Advantage" One of the recommendations is that you either call, verbalize or send an e-mail to someone everyday with a compliment, a kind word, or an encouragement. The dividends are amazing and it does wonders for your attitude as well."

Call, verbalize or send an e-mail to someone everyday with a compliment, kind word, or an encouragement... what a cool idea!

I am ordering "The Happiness Advantage" and you can to at Amazon for $16.50 or at Overstock for $16.34.