I will be offline for a few days...

One of my girls in the hospital with mono that is kicking her butt (and ours)...

So I will be offline for a few days as we ride this through with her.

Want to be a better photographer... Really?

If you do I have a great opportunity to tell you about.

Over at Strobist David Hobby has started Boot Camp III, a great chance to learn by reading and more importantly, to learn by doing.

What I like about Boot Camp III as that David has designed to to be a fun learning experience, NOT a competition or to be "better than".

Another cool thing is it has a "2 light rule", meaning that any image submitted can be lit by no more than two lights (to keep the "gear hogs" from having an unfair advantage).

There are cool prizes to be awarded at the end of the boot camp, but the real prize is in becoming a better photographer, which is exactly what will happen if you participate.

Assignment 1 has just been posted so it's not too late to get involved.

Have fun, learn good stuff, doesn't get any better than that.

I got me a new camera bag...

I share that fact with you not to brag, but to let you know the great deal I got and that you can get too!

My previous bag was a LowePro Rolling CompuTrekker, I really liked it but the one thing that really frosted my muffins was the bag was not deep enough to hold a Nikon D3 with an attached lens. I know some of you are rolling your eyes right now thinking "well that makes world hunger look like a booger!", but I liked to be prepared as possible when heading to a shoot so I like to have my first lens attached and ready to go. I also do not like changing lenses at the beach (or when it's windy), so I want to "expose" my sensor to the elements as little as possible.

Well, I found a LowePro Fastpack 350 at an incredible price, just $75 with FREE shipping! This bag is well made, will take (and protect) a 17" laptop, has all the room I need, AND will take my camera with an attached lens.

They liked the Fastpack 350 over at the Digital Photography School too, you can read their review here.

If you follow this link you'll see the price of $125, it's when you use the coupon code "S7654321" that the price will drop to $75.

This offwe/deal expires on the last day of June (6/30) so you only have a few days to "make the deal".

Below is a 3 minute video that nicely demonstrates the features and space of the Fastpack 350.

A 16" x 20" canvas wrap for $45...

Sorry to say it's too late for for this deal, but it will be back in a couple months and I want you to be prepared.

I signed up for Groupon a while back and get email notifications of outstanding deals, but those deals are available for a limited time, so you need to act quickly. One of those deals was a 16" x 20" gallery wrap from Canvas on Demand.

There has been more than one post here about why I love Canvas on Demand and recommend them so highly (you can read some of those posts here, here, and here). They are a great place to buy your canvas prints (I know because I just ordered the 6th canvas for my house), but when you can get such a large canvas wrap for just $45 it would be silly not to.

The normal price is $127 so $45 (which includes shipping) represents a 65% savings (and a far better price than I can get even with my pro account).

An interesting fact about canvas prints that I learned from Earl Christie was that it has a slightly wider color range than paper prints, so you will actually see more color and more details, especially in the blacks.

So sign up for Groupon discounts so you are ready to pounce the next time around.

You guys take great pictures...

Not sure if many of you wander over to the Weekly Photo Tips Flickr group but you really should as folks upload some pretty darn good images over there.

If you would like to join our Flickr group and share some of your images ('cuz we'd love to see them) you can get instructions on how to join here.

In the mean time take a look at these beauties.

And to those of you who have joined, thanks for sharing your work.

(clicking on any image will open it larger and in a new window)

Not your mothers Reynolds Wrap...

Rosco has recently come with "PhotoFoil", it's a smaller and more convenient version of the old standby CineFoil.

It comes in 10 foot rolls and you can get it either 12 or 24 inches wide.

Chances are good this is one of those products you will only buy once as it's very heavy duty and can be used over and over again.

It's very versatile and can be used in a lot of different applications, you can follow this link to see how I used to to kill a reflective surface while shooting some products.

In the example below I use PhotoFoil to turn an Westcott Apollo softbox into a strip light.

The first image is just a "standard" one light portrait, in it the subject is pretty evenly lit.

In the example below I covered the outer thirds of the Westcott Apollo with PhotoFoil leaving just a center strip exposed, you can see that the subjects face is well lit but the light falls off quickly as you move to either side of center (of her face).

I first started using Cine/PhotoFoil several years ago and still have every piece I have pulled off the roll, this stuff just doesn't wear out!

Below is a quick video, if you're a subscriber you will need to return to the blog or head directly over to our YouTube channel to watch it.

A Father's Day thought...

(this is a post from a Father's Day past)

A few months back, just before I turned 52, I was having lunch with my friend Bob. Bob and I have lunch every Thursday and I always enjoy our conversations as he is a thoughtful, insightful man.

When Bob talks, I listen.

At this particular lunch I was telling Bob about my dad, who left when I was 6, and how it had been decades since I saw him last.

That on my 40th birthday a card and letter arrived from my dad telling me of his regrets, that a lot of water had passed under the bridge, and that he would love to visit. Reading his words didn’t provoke any emotions, the anger of him leaving us had long since gone, but I didn’t feel the need for a reunion either. The letter went into a drawer and I never replied.

Bob asked why; I told him that “at this point in my life I didn’t feel the need for father”. Bob nodded thoughtfully then responded, “ya, but maybe he has the need for a son”.

It was like I had been struck by lighting. I got it.

I found out where my dad was living and made arrangements to go see him.

He died before I got there.

Regrets don’t come from the things we do, sure there are things we might not do again, but we learn from them as there was a lesson in there somewhere for us.

The true regret comes from the things we don’t do.

You too may be at a point in your life where you don’t feel the need for a father, but maybe your dad needs you.

Something to think about.

Happy Father's Day dad.

(dad & me)

Check out this DIY beauty dish!...

First, credit where credit is due, I saw this posted on Strobist today and thought that it was so darn brilliant I wanted to make sure as many people as possible knew about it.

It is people like Shibu that I think are so brilliant with their "out of the box" thinking and this is (I think) the best DIY beauty dish I have seen (much better than mine).

You will know to go check out the details of the construction to understand what I am about to say, but the thinking behind "crinkling" of the foil tape just about knocked me over.

So, go check it out!

A picture is worth a thousand words...

Here's your chance at $50,000...

But you have just 4 1/2 days to claim your money.

Here are the details:

"PDN and Artists Wanted invite you to participate in the annual One Life Photography Competition. This worldwide search for photography seeks to illuminate your perspective: what you love, your travels, or anything that reflects your world and experience. Select your best work, submit your photos easily online and have a chance at life-changing awards."

All the details can be found right here.

Funny (that timing thing again), because I was going to post about Lou Jones today, he is (I think) one of the best "street" photographers in the world and he recently posted "31 Street Photography Tips and Tricks" which will come in quite handy when you enter the above contest. You'll find part 1 here and part 2 here.

I'm off to format some memory cards and hit the streets... I hope to see you out there.

Update: I just came across a couple more post on street photography from Chris Osburn that I thought you would find useful, part one is here, part two here.

You'll be mad if you miss out on this...

I have had the pleasure of beta testing a new product that is as close to Lightroom as you can get and when the beta testing is over I'm going to get this for free.

You can too!

If you sign up for PhotoDirector, download the beta (give it a quick spin), and fill out a short survey, then you too will get the full blown package when it's released next month.

There isn't enough room here to talk about all the cool features available in PhotoDirector, but you can read all about it online here (don't fret, there are more pictures than words as well as GREAT examples of what the features will do).

There is already almost 200,000 presets that you can download (yes, for free) or you can easily create your own.

I am not sure how much longer the beta will be open but jump over there right now and sign up before it's too late. Yes I know there are some very good free image editing software packages out there, but none of them (and most of the pay options) can't hold a candle to PhotoDirector.

The image below will show you some of the editng menu options that are available, to view it larger (so you can actually read it) simply click on it. The image will open full size in a new window.

Do you shoot a Canon EOS Rebel?

If you shoot with a Canon EOS Rebel then I can use your help.

Yesterday I received the brand new book "Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D: From Snapshots to Great Shots" written by Jeff Revell.

The problem is I don't shoot Canon. Sure I can read it and tell whether or not it is a good book but that wouldn't be fair to our readers who shoot Canon, nor would it be fair to Jeff.

So to be sure that the review does the book credit I am looking for a Canon shooter who can do the review for us.

If you're interested drop me an email and I will pick (probably randomly) from the submissions and send the "chosen one" the book for review.

Oh, and you will get to keep the book.

Looking forward to hearing from you Canon shooters.

(update: we have our reviewer, thanks to everyone who wrote in offering to help)

I really need your input...

I have decided to let you, the readers, decide which photography DVD's we will review first (and which will be second), here are your choices:

1. Scott Kelby's "Photo Recipes Live 2"

2. David Hobby's "Lighting in Layers"

You will have seven days to enter you choice in our survey box in the upper right of the blog.

And below you will see the results from our first ever survey "Do you like the new blog design?", I was really hoping for more "OMG Scott You Rock".


What a wonderful thing to do...

Is it me or does there seem to be more severe storms, tornadoes, and natural disasters recently than we have seen in the past?

Something amazing has come out of these storms, a woman named Patty Bullion. Though she lives over a hundred and twenty five miles away from Smithville Mississippi, three days after that town was rocked by storms Patty found what turned out to be a pregnant women's ultrasound laying on the ground, then a photograph, and another and decided to post what she had found on Facebook in hopes of matching up the lost photos with their owners.

Patty has been joined by many others who have found hundreds upon hundreds of photographs, documents, letters, and cards that they have posted on their Facebook page "Pictures and Documents found after the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes"

You need to check them out, it is inspiring to see what they are doing. You can also see Patty's blog here.

It's amazing how a simple selfless act can motivate so many and mean so much.

The Art of Photography...

I came across a podcast recently that I think will be of great interest to many of you, it's call "The Art of Photography" hosted by Ted Forbes.

The Art of Photography will be of interest to the novice and professional alike, here is just a few of the topics covered in the 67 videos:



Shutter Speed

Lighting (parts one, two, and three)

Shooting Tethered

Framing on a Budget

Choosing the Right Lens

Promoting Your Work Online

You'll also find interviews (with folks like Annie Leibovitz), book reviews, and something you don't find very often, working with film (developing, working in a dark room, and more).

Ted really covers each subject quite well and the videos are only seven to ten minutes long so it's really easy to squeeze one or two into even the busiest of schedules.

So head over to The Art of Photography, once you see what they have to offer I am sure you'll want to add them to your favorites and while you're there you can watch videos right on their website, subscribe to them via iTunes, or download the videos to watch at a time that is most convenient to you.

You just can't have too many good photography resources.

Prom night...

This past Friday night was prom night in our town and I shot the daughter of a long time family friend.

We shot in the afternoon and it was a bright sunny day, the perfect time bring the lights outside, so I had my assistant handhold a Westcott Apollo softbox to throw in some light around. I love those softboxes because they're portable, setup in seconds, and have a good size to them.

The flash was used on manual and settings were pretty low, from 1/16 - 1/32, depending on the subjects relationship to the sun. When she was back-lit (like when she was leaning against the car) the flash was at 1/16 to help overpower the sun, when she was standing in the shade (leaning against the wall) the flash was at 1/32, just enough to throw a wisp of light on her.

The flash was fired using pocket wizards.

By far the most difficult part of the shoot was photographing this beautiful young woman who I still remember as the little girl she was when we first met the family.

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