Friday, September 30, 2011

Portland Maine Photo Walk moved to Sunday...



Sadly, the forecast for Portland (Maine) is calling for rain and drizzle starting in the wee hours Saturday morning and continuing throughout the entire day, so we are moving the walk to our "rain date".

So the Portland Maine photo walk is now "officially" moved to Sunday (10/2).

The walk time is 11am-1pm and we'll still be meeting in front of the Casco Bay Lines which is at 56 Commercial Street in Portland (meeting on commercial street side, not the side entrance).

Sorry if this is a problem and I hope to see all you walkers on Sunday.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Image editing part 3, monitor recommendations...



This is one of those subjects that has taken on a life of its own (which is just fine with me).

As with "Part II", this post was prompted by a readers comment.

This from Miguel:

"I usually calibrate my monitor about once a month (and it's surprising the difference between the calibrated and non-calibrated results). However, I am getting a little tired of processing images on a 13" screen, and was hoping that you had some recommendations on monitors. From what I understand, I want an IPS monitor (for viewing angle purposes). However, I have found that for a 24" monitor, prices can range from $200-$2000+. I'm sure you get what you pay for, but I was hoping that you knew of the "best bang for your buck" monitor."

Don't get too excited because I am not going to tell you "the" monitor to buy, but I will give you the tools and resources that will help you make the best possible monitor decision when it comes time to make your purchase.

First, more from Earl Christie, this was taken from an article he wrote "Predictable Color":

"Step 1: Get a Good Monitor

Not all displays are created equal. At the time I wrote this, one could buy-

♦ 24″ Acer Display for about $330

♦ 24″ Apple Display for around $900

♦ 24″ NEC Multisync Monitor for about $1,150

♦ 22″ EIZO ColorEdge display for around $4,400"

Second, the monitor my friend Michelle Turner raves about is the 24" NEC MultiSync (number 3 on the list above), you can get it for under $950 and it even includes a monitor calibration tool.

Third, Mansurovs Photography has put together an outstanding post "The Best Monitor for Photography", in it they cover monitor technologies, brands, what to look for, and then they give their recommendations that cover all budget ranges. This post is very well done and a must read if you are in the market for a monitor.

Fourth (and last), TFT Central has both a HUGE list of monitor reviews and a selector tool that allows you to plug in your specific needs and parameters and provides recommendations based on your input.

Hope this comes in handy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Image editing, part II...


Two things I wanted to follow up on from yesterdays post.

First, Marion had a great question:

"I calibrate my monitor! My monitor id darker and bluer when I am finished. However, when I send pictures to others who do not calibrate, they complain that my pictures are too bright or too yellow. It is very frustrating to get negative comments when I know I am doing the right thing. What do you do about this?"

Great question, many photographers will include a "disclaimer" similar to this as part of the gallery link email they send to their client:

Please note: All of the images in your gallery have been processed and edited on a color corrected and calibrated monitor to ensure true, accurate representation of both color and light.

If the images appear too bright, too dark, or the color just seems "off" chances are very good that you are viewing these images on an un-calibrated computer monitor.

All prints made will be representative of the image as it accurately appears.

Including this disclaimer (or one like it) may stop a few of the "why does my picture look funny?" emails.

All are certainly welcome to use this disclaimer if they like (no need to reinvent the wheel).

Second, if you are interested in learning more about monitor calibration DataColor is presenting a free webinar “Monitor Calibration & More” on October 4th.

Not only will the one hour seminar cover the whys and hows of calibrating all kinds of monitors and you will also have the opportunity to win a Spyder3 Elite.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Image editing with your eyes closed…


Be warned, I am about to get on my soapbox.

Every once and awhile I have the "desire" to reinforce the need for and importance of monitor calibration (usually after a conversation with someone who "poo poo's" its significance).

Monitor calibration is not sexy (heck, it's not even fun), it's mere mention causes peoples eyes glaze over and they start looking for the nearest exit (or the closest ledge from which to jump).

But it's such an important part of photography workflow that if you ignore it, your images will be less than they could be.

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

Here are several educational/informational resources to check out:

1. Earle Christie gave a very informative 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, you'll find many great articles on calibration, calibration tools, and profiles.

3. My take on 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 image editing, 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 PopPhoto.com, 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


Okay, move away, I am about to step down from my soapbox now.

Monday, September 26, 2011

One quarter of a million...



That's what my new rate is for shooting a wedding...

;)

Okay, back to reality, this past weekend we passed two hundred and fifty thousand views on the Weekly Photo Tips YouTube channel!

That is (in my simple mind) a bunch of views, and certainly not something I did all by myself.

I have a few folks I would like to (need to) thank for hitting this milestone.

First, I need to thank those who are generous enough to send us their products for review. I am sure they are inundated by review requests and I feel privileged that they select us to receive their products.

Second, I need to thank my friend Mark Hensley who is the driving force behind the production of our videos, and if you don't think "production" is a very important aspect, just go check out my very first video review (that I did all by myself) and you'll be sending Mark thank you emails as well. Be warned, if you do go to watch that video don't be surprised if you are
suddenly overcome with hysterical laughter, waves of nausea, or both.

Third (and last), I need to thank you, our loyal readers and viewers. If not for you I would be sitting here talking to myself. Your being a part of this is more appreciated than I can express in words.

Thank you all for making Weekly Photo Tips on YouTube what it is.



Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weddings and high ISO...


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

I love what the newer cameras and their crazy high ISO abilities allow us to capture.

This image was shot in a relatively dark church and only with available light.

And as much as I love shooting weddings there are just three weeks left in this wedding season (for me) and I am looking forward to its end.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Photographing fall foliage...



Well (sadly), it's the first day of fall and Bing just came out with their list of the best places to shoot fall foliage.

It was nice to see that many of their selections are here in the northeast.

The weather channel has put together both national and regional maps tracking peak foliage.

Here is a list of state by state fall foliage links, tips, and videos, so you can check on the best shooting opportunities close to where you live:

AL - AR - CA - CO - CT - DE - GA - ID - IL - IN - IA - ME - MD - MA - MI - MN - MO - NH - NJ - NY - NC -OH - OK - OR - PA - RI - SC - TN - VT - VA - WA - WV - WI

Below is a Q&A on shooting fall foliage (and is part one of a four part series, so you here is part two, three, and four), enjoy.



Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's baaaaaaack....



I know, I know, we just posted info this special offer a few weeks back (and this will be the third time in 2011), but as we are always picking up new readers and subscribers they may not have been "around" last time we posted it.

And those who have seen it before may be interested in seeing it again as well, for me personally every time this special comes up I buy it, that's why I (and my relatives) have so many canvases hanging in our homes.

So here it is again, Groupon is offering this great deal, a 16" x 20" gallery wrap from Canvas on Demand for just $45 (it even includes free shipping).

There has been more than one post here about why I LOVE Canvas on Demand so much (and have them all over my house) and why I recommend them so highly (you can read some of those posts here, here, and here).

The normal price for a canvas this size is $127, so the price of $45 is a 65% savings (and a far better price than I can get even with my pro account).

As of this writing you have just 30 hours to purchase your canvas.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

DIY snoot from David Hobby's "Lighting in Layers"...


Not that long ago we reviewed the DVD set "Lighting in Layers" from David Hobby (aka Strobist).

One of the (many) cool things we did not include in the review was this DIY snoot made from a pasta box.

It's quick, simple, and very inexpensive. And it's very modifiable!

But this is the last "nugget" we are going to reveal from "Lighting in Layers", you will need to buy the DVD's, it's just $159 (or download for $99) to see the rest.

So here is the video, those who do not get the video with their feed need to return to the blog or head over to our YouTube channel to watch it.



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I should have posted this yesterday...



As part of yesterdays book review "The Wedding Photography Field Guide" by Michelle Turner I meant (but forgot) to include an interview she did with Ibarionex Perello over at The Candid Frame.

So here is the link to the interview, enjoy.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Review of "The Wedding Photography Field Guide"...



Today I am reviewing the book "The Wedding Photography Field Guide" from my friend
Michelle Turner.

In the book Michelle plays to her strengths, she speaks about what she knows (and knows so well) and doesn't try to be all things to all people.

Michelle shares with you what has made her the successful wedding photographer she is, meaning she tells you what she uses and why she uses it in a thoughtful informative way. Sometimes (too often) authors will try to cover everything on a given subject, moving outside the realm of the personal "hands-on" knowledge and experience in an effort to give you "more".

In "The Wedding Photography Field Guide" you get rock solid knowledge acquired through years of experience.

The book starts out with gear: lenses, cameras, memory, computers, software, etc., if it's needed for wedding photography, it's covered. And I love how its presented, in the style of "this is what I do and this is why I do it this way".


RAW vs. .JPG, she doesn't tell you which to shoot, she tells you why RAW is her choice format if she's shooting a wedding in England or her daughters soccer game at home.

Michelle takes a couple pages just to explain why she shoots Aperture Priority at a wedding (fast changes in lighting, soft focus, etc.) and then how exposure compensation allows her to quickly adjust between shooting the bride (lots of white) and the groom (lots of dark clothing).


Once gear has been covered the book moves into environmental portraits and posing, covered more thoroughly than I have seen before (shadows, elements and patterns, leading lines, reflections, etc.), placing the couple in the frame, perspective, action, and interaction.

There are a ton of beautiful images in this book, which is not that uncommon for photography books, but what is different is that Michelle has a commentary for each one of them, the rationale behind why she took the shot, what made her click the shutter at that very moment.

You will find subjects not usually covered as well, like how to artistically capture flair in your image, how about fireworks, or a silhouette at sunset, all covered in detail with stunning example images.

Once you get to page 62 much of the rest of the book is like second shooting with Michelle, you'll go with her to shoot three different engagement sessions and seven different weddings.


There is so much more that is covered (like photographing toasts, the first dance, cutting the cake, or post production, proofing, and blogging), but I will leave those for you to read when you get the book.

And get "The Wedding Photography Field Guide" you should, because it's the best book on wedding photography I have read and you can get it for under $12 at Amazon.

In closing I want to say that in the interest of full disclosure that Michelle and I are friends, but that in no way influenced this review. I would never try to "pull a fast one" by slipping in a review for a friend and run the risk of ruining the credibility and trust it has taken me years to earn with you my readers.

I posted this review because this is an outstanding book and it has much to offer. Period.

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


Thursday, September 15, 2011

A bad exposure doesn't mean a bad picture...


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

Well, I think it's a good picture, but then again I could be a little biased.

But my point is this, are we really shooting for the "perfect" exposure every time? Or are we shooting for an image the evokes an emotion, that "speaks" to us and to our clients?

There are many situations when we can "nail" the exposure, and we should, but I think this image is a great example of the impossibility of getting it perfect.

If I exposed for the bottom half of the dress (which is blown out), the top half of the dress would be way too dark (essentially I would have ended up with a picture of half of a dress and nothing else).

If I exposed for the interior of the church (which was as dark as a cave), the bride would be so blown out she would simply be a big white blotch.

What I went for was getting as much of the bride as I could and all else be damned.

When I first got into photography... oh how I would go crazy when taking an outdoor shot and trying to preserve detail in the sky and my subject at the same time, then it (finally) dawned on me one day, "does the client really care what the sky looks like in this senior portrait?".

It was then that I started asking myself better and smarter questions, what's the subject of my shot? What's important to my client? What do they want to see?

So when my bride sees this picture will she be disappointed with the blown out area of her dress? Will she wonder why the inside of the church is so dark?

Or will she smile because I captured the feeling of her walking through the door of the church and was able to bring her back to that moment of that day?

That's my 2 cents on exposure, I would love to hear yours, so please take the time to write a comment and share your thoughts.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

And the winning continues...



Here are the results of our quick little contest.

Folks had to identify what movie the quote "I am a bit behind my time", it is from the movie (play and book) "A Christmas Carol". It was said by Bob Cratchit when he apologizes for coming in late the day after Christmas. "I was making rather merry...".

Two people were drawn form the correct entries and the winners are... Janet and Moria!

Janet will get a set of the "Strobist Lighting Cards" (you can read our review of them here).



Moria will get a set of the "Chase Jarvis: The Portrait Sessions Vol. 1" cards (our review is here).



The winners will need to send me an email with their snail mail address and we will get the prizes right out to them.

Congratulations!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11th...



I have always loved this image, it was sent in by reader Mark Pellegrino as part of a contest in 2008.

Clicking on the image will open it larger and in a new window for better viewing.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 11 2001 as seen from space...


(Clicking on the image will open it larger and in a new window)

This image was taken from the international space station on September 11, 2001.

Smoke can clearly be seen billowing across the sky.



Friday, September 9, 2011

Our food contest winner is...



Two things...

First, sorry, I really did want to post this earlier in the day but "I am a bit behind my time".

Second, be sure to read to the very end of this post (you'll be mad if you don't).

Now, to the task at hand, announcing the winner.

As always, a big thank you to everyone who took the time to participate in this contest, a bunch of people left comments, joined our Flickr group, and uploaded some outstanding images.

Be sure to check out the Weekly Photo Tips Flickr page as our readers really do upload some inspirational work

The winner of our "Food" image contest, as always, was randomly selected from all who entered using a program called "The Hat", the person who will get a copy of the book "Food Photography" by Nicole Young is....

Drum roll please...

(Flickr name) AJones14!!!!

Here are a few of the images he uploaded for the contest:




So AJones14, drop me a note with your snail mail and we'll get the book right out to you.

Because I had to make you wait I want to sweeten the pot just a bit, if you drop me an email and tell me what movie (my absolute favorite movie in the world) the quote "I am a bit behind my time" came from I will send you a little somthin' somthin' (though I am not sure what just yet).

PLEASE, don't cheat by doing a word search.

I will throw all the correct answers into a pot and announce this winner on Tuesday, September 13th (oh no, Tuesday the 13th!).

So there isn't much time so email your answer soon.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Where to go for camera and lens repairs...



This did not start out with the intention of being a blog post, it was much simpler than that, I had a couple of broken lenses and was looking for a place to repair them.

I have used this big "pro" services for repair services in the past but was never left with the feeling of being satisfied. I found them to be (rather) expensive, slow, and impersonal.

So when a friend shared with me his experience with MidState Camera Repair (which he had found on SportsShooter.com) I figured, why not send them in for an estimate. What do I have to lose?

The entire experience was outstanding, within a few days of them getting my lens I received a call detailing the problem, the cost of repair, and how long the entire process would take.

From the time the package left my hands until the repaired lens landed at my front door took about two and a half weeks.

It took the "big pro service" three weeks just to get back to me with their diagnosis and estimate for repair, that estimate (by the way) was twice what I paid at MidState Camera.

If you let them know you're a professional photographer (meaning you generate your income from your gear) they will make every effort to get it back to you even faster.

MidState Camera Repair is located in the quaint little New England town of Warwick Rhode Island and but regardless of where you live, you can ship your broken gear to them for an estimate.

It has been said that "long after people forget what you've did for them, they'll remember how you made them feel".

I feel great about recomending MidState Camera Repair.



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

You really need to take a look at these images...






Here are a few food images from our Flickr group and that have been entered into our latest contest.

I am blown away with the quality of the images you guys are uploading.

You have until this Friday (around noon, September 9th) to get your image in and leave a comment on a blog entry or one of our YouTube videos.

All of the contest details can be found here.






An offer just too good to pass up...



Every few months Groupon offers this great deal, a 16" x 20" gallery wrap from Canvas on Demand for just $45 (it even includes free shipping).

There has been more than one post here about why I LOVE Canvas on Demand (and have them all over my house) and why I recommend them so highly (you can read some of those posts here, here, and here).

The normal price for a canvas this size is $127, the price of $45 is a 65% savings (and a far better price than I can get even with my pro account).

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

So sign up for Groupon and grab this great deal before it's gone!

Christmas is not that far away and I am sure someone would love to get one of your images on canvas.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Review of Strobist DVD "Lighting in Layers"...



This is one of those reviews that is difficult for me to write, because I want to make sure you understand what an outstanding piece of work this is, but am fearful it will simply come across as a big David Hobby butt kissing love fest.

There is a lot to like about "Lighting in Layers", starting with the price, it's only $159 for a hard copy or $99 for the download.

Yes the price is low, but the value and quality of the content is high, very high. You will be getting 7 discs full of 9 hours of non-stop learning, no wasted time, no fluff, no filler (6 DVD's are "Lighting in layers", the 7th disc is the complete seminar in a lower res format that can be loaded on a portable media player). Though you are getting hours and hours of video the segments are relatively short, ranging from just 5-20 minutes long, so you attack it in small, manageable, easy to digest bites.

The DVD starts out teaching us the basics, shooting with just Window Light:


Then shows us how to shoot with a single flash (key light) and a window (fill light):


Then shooting with a flash only:


And from here is where it really takes off, with David showing us how to "Light in Layers", how to properly use of the building blocks of light, where to add light, in what order to add them, in shooting scenarios that become more challenging, more demanding.

He does it with a combination of easily accessible (and inexpensive) gear and many DIY alternatives (like aluminum foil reflectors, spaghetti box snoots, and Home Depot clamps). In fact you can see the complete list of gear used for each of the shoots.

Not only is "Lighting in Layers" affordable, it will teach you how to light affordably as well, all while giving your client the best possible product.

It is NOT meant to be a cookie cutter lighting recipe, it is meant to teach us how light(s) impact our subject.

There are six full shoots in total, all start at the very beginning - understanding the location, what the end result needs to be and how it will be lit. It then proceeds to actually setting up the equipment and then shoot and all that comes with it (the adjustments, changes, etc.). Five the the shoots are "on the road" assignments, and all are very different and provide a unique lighting/learning opportunities.

During each there are three different conversations going on, David is talking to (and teaching) us the viewer, he is talking to the model(s) (learning how to talk to/guide a person you are shooting is so important), and he is talking to his VALS (voice activated light stand, aka lighting assistant).

I really like the fact that as he presses the shutter the images appear immediately on the screen, even the clunkers, this makes it so much easier to follow the process and make the connection between what he is doing, the setup, and the image it produces.

Speaking of clunkers, there are times that David comes into a shoot with an idea, or tries something that doesn't work or needs to be changed and we get to see it (and he shares it) all, because that's what happens in real life and it's an important to learn how to adapt.

Each session wraps up with the "Lighting Notebook", David lays out a blank piece of paper and steps us through the lighting diagram, reinforcing what we just learned, which I found valuable.

And no opportunity is lost when it comes to teaching, there are a handful of studio shot "mini lectures" where Mr. Hobby challenges the viewers to figure out how it is lit, so we are learning from what he is saying, and learning to recognize how a scene is lit. "Deconstructing" is a pretty good learning tool. At the end of the lecture the camera zooms out, the lighting is revealed (and explained).

I was pleasantly surprised about the inclusion of the business aspect of photography (just wasn't expecting it), David has started a new local blog called HOCO360, a visual journal for Howard County Maryland, and he walks us through the decisions he made when setting it up, selecting assignments, client relations, and much more. So if you are looking to start your site, or improve the one you already have there are some real gems to learn from here too.

I also learned David is a funny guy, has a phenomenal sense of family, of community, and makes decisions based on "doing what is right". The kind of person you would want to have lunch with.

Well, his butt should be sufficiently wrinkled from all my kissing... but seriously, if you ever struggle with lighting, or simply don't shoot certain things because of a lack of confidence or know-how please invest in yourself, invest in your photography by purchasing (and watching) "Lighting in Layers", you will learn much from it, I did.



Thursday, September 1, 2011

Today only - Lightroom 3 for just $149!!...



If you've been on the fence about getting Lightroom 3, you can jump off now and get yourself the full version (either Windows or MAC) for just $149 over at Adorama (shipping is free too!).

But you won't have long to to think about it because it's a one day sale that ends at midnight tonight (September 1st), so time is (very) limited.

Below is a video from Terry White, Lightroom teacher extraordinaire, in it he shares his five favorite things in Lightroom 3.

Another Lightroom learning resource is from the kind folks at NAPP, they have put together their very thorough (full of videos & links) Lightroom 3 learning center.