Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New, Improved, and better tasting blog...

Unless today is the first time you are visiting Weekly Photo Tips you can't help but notice things look different, real different.

While you were sleeping I applied a "new skin" to the blog and think it looks pretty good.

Though the blog was looking rather dated (much like me) the big reason for the change was not aesthetic, the change was made so we could add new things, new resources to the blog. The basic layout is the same, blog posts are on the left side of the screen and cool resources, links, and other bits of information are on the right side of the screen, on the right is where you will see most of the changes.

At the very top you will find a survey where 3 to 4 times a month you will get to participate by answering (mostly) photography related survey questions. This week we are asking how you feel about the new design, so please, take just a moment and let us know.

There is also a new section that will show screen shots (with links) to our YouTube channel and one of my favorite new whiz bang and do-dads is a "Popular Posts" section.

You will also find many of the old "standards" there as well, including a ton of links to other photography resources, and most importantly the list of all the many products we have reviewed over the years.

So take a look around and see what's new, what's different, and what you recognize.

Your help would be greatly appreciated in two ways:

1. I think we need a graphic at the top of the blog, and though I am a photographer, I am NOT a graphic designer, so please email me with your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas (or if you ARE a graphic designer).

2. As you browse though the many resources on the right, if you should find a broken link please let us know.

The only thing I am not all that fond of is the text links that are part of almost every one of our posts are not as easily recognizable as they were on the old blog, so until we can improve that make sure you look just a little closer.

Oh ya, I was kidding about the better tasting thing... I licked my screen and it tastes exactly the same.

;)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day...




Remember the day I borrowed your brand new car and I wrecked it?
I thought you'd kill me, but you didn't.

And remember the time I dragged you to the beach, and you said it would rain, and it did?
I thought you'd say, "I told you so." But you didn't.

Do you remember the time I flirted with all the guys to make you jealous, and you were?
I thought you'd leave me, but you didn't.

Do you remember the time I spilled a chocolate shake all over your car rug?
I thought you'd get so angry, but you didn't.

And remember the time I forgot to tell you the dance was formal and you showed up in jeans?
I thought you'd go forever, but you didn't.

Yes, there were lots of things you didn't do,
But you put up with me, you loved me, and you protected me.

There were lots of things I wanted to make up to you when you got back from Vietnam.

But you didn't.

~anonymous

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day sales? Really?!...



I'm not sure why but getting emails from retailors all this week touting their Memorial Day sales has irked me.

Not the emails themselves, but the day on which they are hoping to capitalize.

Memorial Day is an American "holiday" that is meant to be a day of remembrance for those who have paid the ultimate price, given the last full measure for their country. A sacrifice for you, and for me.

But sadly, it seems like it has become just another commercialized weekend, a marker for the beginning of summer, a day off from work, a weekend to get a good deal on a car.

It's a day to remember Joseph Brady who died on Omaha beach in France during World War II, Robert Dechene who was killed in Vietnam, Tristan Southworth who recently lost his life in Afghanistan, along with tens of thousand of other women and men who have "gone on ahead".

Too many communities have canceled their parades, too many graves are left unattended.

And the "funny" thing is I have received 2 more "sale" emails while writing this post.

I hope if your town has a parade you will go, or if someone you went to school with lost their life, stop by their resting place. They gave so much, maybe we can give them just a little.

Okay, move back, I will now get off my soapbox.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The best f-stop to shoot for any lens...

By "best" I mean the the lowest aperture that will give you the sharpest focus on the area you have selected on your subject, the "sweet spot".

The other day I was listening to an interview with Nicole Young (aka "Nicolesy") and... wait, before I get into that let me say a few things about Nicole.

First, I LOVE HER, whenever I find a new interview with her I listen to it, I follow her blog, and I check out her iStock portfolio. She is one of those photographers that is on my "lunch list".

You don't have a lunch list? It's a list of those photographers that would be fun to break bread with, to pick their brain about photography and talk about experiences and ideas.

The reason I am such a big fan is simple, I think she is an outstanding photographer AND she shares like no one else I know. She shares her lighting setups, what gear she uses, and how she does her post processing. A great example is her post about "adding steam" to a shot.


Okay, back the the interview. Nicole was being interviewed at the Typical Shutterbug Podcast when the subject turned to image sharpness and it was suggested that to get the best sharpness you should use an f-stop 2 stops higher than the lowest f-stop for that lens (so a 2.8 lens would give you a better sharpness at 5.6).

Just to be clear (so there is no misunderstanding), yes the area of sharpness (or in focus) becomes larger as the f-stop increases, but what we are talking about here is that the same area that was in focus at 2.8 will be significantly sharper at 5.6.

Then Nicole shared a post in which she did a test shoot using a 2.8 lens, she shot it at 2.8, 4, and 5.6 and the results were an eye opener for me (you can see the post here, and the hi-res test shot here).

She also did a post about lens compression and depth of field that nicely demonstrated those very same results.

Some pretty cool stuff.

So today I am going to break out the camera and play around with this, if you do as well please share your results with us on our Flickr page.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Small in size and price, but HUGE in functionality...


I was looking forward to getting the Frio coldshoe adapter as I've heard so many good things about it from others (including from David Hobby over at Strobist) and because I shoot Speedlight's pretty much exclusively I figured it would be a pretty handy accessory to have in my "bag-o-light".

And even though I was expecting something good, I was still pleasantly surprised just how good they were the moment I pulled them out of the box.

It may be small and made of plastic but as soon as the Frio hits your hand you know it's not just some cheap "do-hicky", it has substance. To ensure a secure fit and longer more durable life the connecting thread is all metal construction.

The Frio is the ONLY hotshoe adapter with a dual-locking mechanism so you can be secure in the knowledge that whatever you attach to it is staying in place. And it's pretty darn universal too, not only will it hold you flash, it will hold an LED panel, a microphone, a monitor, and almost anything else that has a hotshoe mount.

Not only is it designed to live a long life (under normal conditions) it's also designed to break, yes... to break, let me explain: if exposed to extreme shock because something hit your lightstand (or your lightstand hit something) the Frio is designed to break away before the shoe of whatever you have mounted breaks. This little feature could easily save you big bucks in repairs (or replacing) whatever was mounted on your Frio. Ingenious.

My only disappointment? I only got 3.

;)

You get all this for under $14, and shipping won't cost you a penny either, it's free free free.

Below is a quickie Frio demonstration video, for those of you who receive our posts via email can return to the blog to to watch it or head directly over to our YouTube channel to give it a gander.



Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Guys, I can't find my dad...."


My daughter was having a bit of fun with yesterdays prediction of the "coming of the end".

She took my clothes, laid them out on the lawn, and posted the picture on Facebook proclaiming I was "one of the missing".

The girl has a good sense of humor (and is cute as a button too).



Thursday, May 19, 2011

Timing is everything...


Timing is everything... in photography and in life.

Recently I have been feeling as if I was getting "a bit stale", like I had taken Weekly Photo Tips as far as it could go.

And I did not want to be like the guest who overstayed their welcome or an athlete that played beyond when they should have retired (not that I would over be confused with an athlete, at least not a living one).

Plus, even though I see the stats of our visitors, get the emails and comments, writing this blog still happens in a vacuum. I sit here early in the morning (often still in my jammy pants) writing down my thoughts and putting them online, but sometimes the thoughts do creep in, "are people really reading this, is it really that interesting?".

So I was considering a change and weighing out the options, reducing how often I posted (so that when I did post it would be more relevant and interesting), maybe transitioning into a once a week podcast, or just bringing the blog to an end.

As I was kicking these ideas around a couple things happened that "interrupted" my thought process.

First, Weekly Photo Tips was named one of the "10 Best Photography Blogs" along with folks like Scott Kelby and Joe McNally by the online tech magazine PluggedIn... that's some pretty darn impressive company. They said "The blog is a good mixture of the personal and professional: with good photos to browse". What made me me feel best was that they recognized the "personal" side.

Second, very shortly after this I received a comment from JW Stovall "I discover new and different products and services, that you have checked out. I appreciate that, but what I like the most, is that you are usually very 'upbeat' throughout your posts. This is refreshing, and encourages me to check in often. Thanks!"

These were reaffirming events for me... it made me realize that there are people out there, they do read this, and they do find it interesting.

Thank you!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Have I got a great deal for you!...


A 6 pack of SanDisk 4GB Ultra compact flash memory cards with a Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket case for only $69 with FREE shipping! That is a 50% savings (and even more savings if you include the free shipping).

SanDisk Ultra cards are fast, featuring fast 15/MB/sec Read/Write speeds, that will help reduce the time it takes for your camera to write to the card and to transfer data from your camera to your computer.

They also come with a lifetime limited warranty.

And (this is the part that will impress the heck out of you), these are the cards I use. Blown away, huh?

;)

I shoot fast and these cards keep right up with me and it's true what they say about the transfer speed, fast.

So if you are in the market for cards this is an opportunity to get very good memory cards at an outstanding price.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Reserve your seat at our David Tejada workshop...

This workshop is limited to just 8-10 seats so that each attendee is assured of plenty of personalized attention, so be sure to signup before those precious (and few) seats are gone.


Come join us on the weekend of September 17 & 18 for a two day workshop with small strobe photographer extraordinaire David Tejada.

David is one of the most highly regarded (and sought after) location corporate photographers out there, known for his dramatic and innovative photographic lighting techniques and graphic style.


He shoots both domestic and international assignments for graphic design firms and Fortune 500 companies. With 25 years of annual report photography experience, David is equally at home hovering in a helicopter over a drill rig in the Andes, creating dramatic lighting in a laboratory setting, or shooting a CEO portrait in New York City.

During the workshop David will demonstrate how to control and modify the quality of light produced from a typical shoe mounted flash. You’ll learn how to properly use umbrellas, soft boxes, snoots, grids, silks and bounce techniques. We’ll discuss using a single strobe combined with existing light as well as more complicated multiple light set-ups.

This workshop is designed for the emerging pro or for those contemplating doing so.

This workshop does not show you how to use your camera, you should understand the relationship between shutter speeds and F-stops and what the difference is between f/1.4 and f/22.

Learn more about David Tejada at his website, his blog, the "Small Strobes Big Results" site, or head over at Strobist and see why David Hobby is such a big fan (here and here).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

3 day photography seminar... FREE!


Chase Jarvis had done it again over at Creative Live, he has put together a 3 day seminar for this weekend "Food Photography with Penny De Los Santos".

You can spend this coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (May 13, 14, 15) with National Geographic photographer Penny De Los Santos learning the principles of food photography, image critiques, business of food photography, studio food photography, lots of shooting, and so much more.

And you and watch it live the entire three days for free (you can register here).

If it is anything like the Zack Arias three day extravaganza it will be worth your time and money (you can see the posts here, here, and here). Like this seminar it was $99 to "pre" buy the video downloads (which I did and have done for this one already) and it truly was the best $99 I have ever spent in the field of photography.

You really need to check out Penny's website as it is not only full of stunning imagery, it's so much more than food photography, she also captures the people and the culture behind the food wonderfully.

So here are the links for the workshop, to register, and to pre-buy the videos.

Here is a short (3 minute) video that will give you more of an insight on Penny and her work, if you would like to see more follow this link to watch an interview with Chase talking with Penny and Foodista.com founder Barnaby Dorfman where they discuss food, food culture, and photography.

Lastly, a big thanks to Miguel for letting me know about this event.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shoot (and eat) some food...


I wanted to share with you a new (to me) website dedicated to teaching folks how to shoot food called, "Learn Food Photography".

You will find some great resources including a collection of 45 amazing free tips and tutorials to learn (or improve your) food photography.

They are also currently having a contest that includes prizes like a seat in a class taught by food photographer and instructor Ron Goldman and a Think Tank camera bag, so go check it out.

Here are a few more very good, very useful online (and free) food photography resources:

Big and Tasty

Digital Photography School

Food Photography for Bloggers

Learn Food Photography

PixSylAted

Wright Food

And for those photographers who take themselves just a bit too seriously we'll wrap up this post with a (funny) food photography video. Enjoy


Sunday, May 8, 2011

I wet my pants watching this...

Not because I am old but because I laughed sooooo darn hard. This is by far the funniest thing I have seen in quite some time.

Wake the kids, get the neighbors, and get ready for a big old belly laugh - way out loud!

If you get this post via email you MUST return to the blog and watch this.



Thursday, May 5, 2011

Please come and join me on Tuesday May 10th...


Well, not just me, but a bunch of other photographers too, because that's when stock photography and Lightroom expert Rob Sylvan will be speaking to the Maine Photographers Coalition.

If Rob's name sounds familiar it's because we recently reviewed his new book "Taking Stock: Make money in microstock creating photos that sell".

I am sure some out there are thinking "why should I go, I'm not a stock photographer"... oh contraire, if you're a wedding photographer, a portrait photographer, a commercial photographer, or just "a photographer", you are ALREADY a stock photographer and you very likely have hundreds of stock images just waiting to be discovered on your hard drive that could become another revenue stream for you.

So come meet, mingle, and learn how to create images that can be sold as stock and how to earn an income from images that you already have. Heck, it’s the equivalent of putting on last winters jacket and finding $20 in the pocket - and who doesn’t like found money?

More about Rob, he's a photographer, a trainer, author, and a web developer. He's a NAPP help desk specialist, and instructor for the Perfect picture School of Photography and the host of Peachpit’s Lightroom Resource Center, and the site director and inspector for iStockphoto.

Rob writes the “Under the Loupe” column for Photoshop User Magazine and is the author of “Lightroom for Dummies”, and “Taking Stock”. Check out his Lightroom-focused blog at llightroomers.com (he's a busy, busy guy).

Not only has he been an Stockphoto inspector since 2002, Rob has also made tens of thousands of dollars from his own stock photography. So, no one knows better than he about what it takes to get your photos accepted to stock sites—and what to do to make them sell.

Our Other Special Guest

We will also be joined by StockFood America, an international stock agency with an office right here in Maine. They will share with us what sells and why in this lucrative industry and will offer tips to ensure your success.

As always there will be some great photography related giveaways so be sure to bring a business card to drop into the fishbowl.

The Details:

* 7:30 pm (doors open at 7pm)
* Held at the studio of Stacey Kane - 134 Black Point Road in Scarborough
* PLEASE RSVP via Facebook so we know how many to expect.
* There is a $10 admin fee due at the door

Hope to see you there.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

$15 DIY camera stabilizer project...


I love DIY projects and this one is both very useful and VERY inexpensive... and I NEVER would have thought to use a monopod this way.

My friend Mark (A DSLR video zealot) turned me onto a DSLR video site called "CheesyCam" and though it's video based site (and you aren't), this is still a site you will want to bookmark as it's full of great tips, techniques, reviews, and DIY projects that will hold the interest of all us "still" photographers.

This project shows you how to turn a traditional monopod into a camera stabilizer.

Below is a video about this DIY project that you will want to watch and here is the link back to the original post that contains all the information and additional still images that will help you make your own.



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Here is a very cool free offer...


If you have an iPad and would like to extend you desktop this is the way to do it.

For a very limited time you can get DisplayLink for free, not sure when this offer will expire but why wait, get the PC version here now.

And you can find the iTunes link here.

I do use my iPad to extend my desktop, like when using Photoshop I dumped all my tools into my iPad so that I had the entire laptop screen to view my images as large as possible.

Because my laptop screen is color corrected and my iPad is not, I actually put Lightroom (the program) on the iPad and have the image I am editing on my (color corrected) laptop screen.

I know that someone out there is going to say "my gosh Scott, you are really old", they might also say "an iPad is a pretty expensive second monitor".

Just a couple of things I'll say to that, if you add the cost of a second monitor AND a dual monitor card you are are going to exceed the cost of an iPad. A dual monitor setup is just that, two monitors.

An iPad will allow you to have a dual monitor setup and much more, not the least of which is a mobile office. It is your marketing tool on the move by allowing presentation of your work ANYWHERE, and many other things, not the least of which is to have a client sign a contract (right on the iPad) regardless of where you are.

Below is a very short (3 minute) demonstration/review video showing DisplayLink in action.