Blog posts from others that you should not miss...

The first one comes from Scott Kelby, Scott has shoot all over the world, done so many things, and has forgotten more about Photoshop and Lightroom than I will ever know. He is not a person who is easily impressed, so you will want to read what he thinks is the best posts about photography this year, maybe one of the best ever!

Next up is David Hobby of Strobist fame. I owe much of what I know about lighting a portrait with Speedlight's, heck, what I know about Speedlight's in general from what he has written on his blog and all the the lighting information he has been able to stuff into his educational DVD's. On Monday he took us all along one of his portrait sessions and he doesn't leave anything out. Great learning experience. Be sure to check it out.

DIY photography has three really interesting posts this week,  "how to shoot a water splash" and for you video folks "the easiest DIY slider" and a "DIY turntable for videos".

Neil van Niekerk gives a great demonstration on how a whiff of off camera fill light can make a dramatic difference when shooting an outdoor engagement session. Lots of information regarding gear, settings, and details on how it's done.

Enjoy, and see you next week.

Today is a rare day...

Because I never go off topic during the week, that's a weekend only kinda deal, but today is my twins birthday... their sweet 16 birthday no less.

It seems like just yesterday that we brought them home, and just a couple days later they were running around in their little footy pajamas and life was all about being a Disney princess.

When it was time to play “beauty salon” I was their guinea pig. I can’t tell you how many times I’d forget what they had done to me and would head off to the grocery store with clips in my hair, makeup smeared on my face with, and well coordinated nail polish.

The looks I would get while standing in the checkout line.

One of their birthday big deals was decorating the van with glass paint, streamers, balloons, and on the back window it would say “honk for the birthday girls”. They would count each and every honk throughout the day and write down the total so they could compare it to the year before.

I can still hear them say “when I grow up, I want to marry you”.

They thought my tricks were truly magical, and that I was the funniest man alive.

Now they are young women, they don’t makeup my face, they won’t let me decorate the van, and they certainly don’t want to marry me. And I could not be more lame (just ask them).

Now they’re so hip it hurts, it’s all about boys, texting, and skinny jeans and they talk in acronyms like – IDK (I don’t know), OMG (Oh MY God), and JK (just kidding).

Right now they are running around, planning the day (and their party) with their friends, but I don’t see those hip young sweet 16 year old women in their skinny jeans... texting faster than I can talk.

I see my little girls in their pretty sun dresses, getting into a decorated van, and as I taxi them to their destination I’ll start counting the honks in my head.

Happy birthday Peanut, happy birthday Boo Boo.

Want some free Photo gear?...

We are giving away the gear we showed in our last video, two lucky (random) winners will get one "mini" tripod and one flash bracket each.

As always entering could not be simpler:

1. Leave a comment on any of our blog posts or any of our YouTube videos.

2. Upload any image that you shot to our Flickr group.

3. "Like" The Photography Podcast on Facebook (only because "Love" is not an option)


If you are new to Flickr (and have never joined) you can get the details on how to join our Flickr group here.

This contest starts right now (August 28th), it's open to everyone, and the winners will be chosen at random from among all of the qualifying entries.

The winners will be announced on Friday September 7th right here on the blog.

Here is the small print (literally):

All rights and ownership of submitted images remain with the photographer who took it.

1 image upload + 1 comment + 1 "Like" = 1 contest entry. We realize you can only "Like" us once, so after the first "Like" 1 image upload + 1 comment = 1 contest entry.

You can enter the contest as many times as you like, no limit.

Lastly, the contest is open to everyone world wide, if the winner does come from outside the contagious 48 United States, they (the winner) will be responsible (only) for the cost of shipping.

Here is the video that shows the gear we are giving away:

Good luck everyone.

If you'd like a good laugh...

It's the weekend and longtime fans of the blog know that if I post on the weekend it will most likely be (way) off topic.

That being said, let's get there.

If you are a dog lover (or even if you're not) and would like to laugh out loud, follow this link.

You'll find many images just like this one.

A look at some Flashpoint gear...

Today we are going to share with you a few inexpensive pieces of Flashpoint gear.

Adorama sent us a box full of photography gear that we will share through a series of videos, gear we have tried, liked, and thought you might be interested in.

And all you see here today (and what you see in future videos) we will be giving  away in future contests.

One of the things we want you to know is that Adorama is an advertiser, the sole advertiser here on Weekly Photo Tips, and is so because they are the company we believe in and have been using since before there was this blog.

Because they are an advertiser it helps offset the cost of hosting, production, and all the other things related to running a blog, a podcast, and a video channel.

Even more important, it also provides us the opportunity to donate 25% of every penny that comes in to Operation Smile and in delivering hundreds of pounds of food to soup kitchens and food backs here in southern Maine.

So if you buy gear that you need (and would have bought anyway) not only do you help support us, you are feeding the hungry and helping children in need around the world.

The four pieces of gear you will see in the video todays are:

Universal Swivel Holder (for $9.95/free shipping)

Suction Cup Ball Head ($9.95/free shipping)

So thank you for supporting the blog, thank you for supporting our sponsor, and thank you for supporting our causes.

Well that was fun...

Thanks to everyone who took the time to participate in our first Facebook photo challenge "things I have grown" and for making it such a success.

Two folks have been picked at random to receive the following photography books:

"Google+ for Photographers" by Colby Brown

Robin Storesund will be receiving the Google+ book and Kristina Ulmer will get Your Camera Loves You.

So, Robin and Kristina, email me your snail mail address and we will get your books right out to you.

Thanks again everyone.

Just 24 hours left...

You have until noon tomorrow (Tuesday 8/21) to enter your image into our Facebook album "things I have grown".

Simply email us your image (please keep the image size to 300k or under) and we will add it to our Facebook album.

Though the rules are (very) few, you can find all of the  details here.

Check back tomorrow afternoon and find if you are one of the folks who will be picked at random to receive a new photography book.

Tips and tricks for shooting reflective surfaces...

Here is one of our most popular (all time) posts, edited and updated:

One of the most challenging things to light is glass (and other highly reflective surfaces), because normally when we photograph a subject we are putting our light on that subject. But with glass we do the opposite, we are lighting around the subject.

I have put together some incredible examples of how to light reflective surfaces, so hang on, here goes:

The first resource is from us, here is the post of a shoot we did with our client Mastercam.

Resource number two is from one of my photography heroes David Hobby (aka Strobist), it was an assignment he shot of flavored vodkas, so follow this link to see all the shiny details.

Number three is from Strobist as well (see, I told you he was a hero), and it too involves alcohol, this time it's beer, check it out.

This link is from DIY Photography (yet more beer).

These three links are from Pixiq (one, two, and three) and show dramatically different ways of shooting the same product (Vodka).

Here are the last two well done tutorials for lighting glass here and here (sorry, no alcohol in these).

We will close with two video tutorials, the first is how to shoot glass, the second is how to shoot metal..

Subscribers, you know the routine, you will need to return to the blog to watch these videos (as they do not get pushed through with your subscription).

My absolute favorite ball head...

Of the ball heads I own, this pistol style ball head is the one I use (and love) the most.

One of the things I am so fond of is the ability adjust your cameras position quickly and with a single hand, I have a very nice (very expensive) traditional style ball head and when adjusting your camera you have to hold/support your camera with one hand while you loosen and tighten knobs with the other.

Let's face it. there are situations when we are shooting that time IS critical and this pistol ball head makes fast easy adjustments... squeeze, adjust your camera position, release, done.

Now I share this tidbit of information with you not because I think that my ball head likes & dislikes are all that interesting, it's because you can get this on sale for a phenomenally low price of just $34 (with free shipping).

Not sure how long it will be on sale, so if you are interested don't dottle.

First photo challenge images are in...

We received the first images for our (first) photo challenge and you will find them posted on our Facebook album "things I have grown".

Noel McCarthy, who writes the "Blog of Good Cheer" was the first person to send in his images, way to go Noel.

I am slightly jealous of Noel as he lives in a place I have always wanted to visit, Ireland (insert really big sigh here).

Please join us by emailing us your image (please keep the size to 300k or under) and we will add it to our Facebook album.

Though the rules are few, you can find all of the  details here.

The "things I have grown" photography challenge...

Welcome to our first ever photography challenge!

The theme is "things I have grown" and as we usually take a very broad view of things, we are letting you include children as part of the theme.

But how we do it is going to be a little different than usual.

1. You will need to email us your image (please keep the size to 300k or under) because the challenge images will be posted in our Facebook album of the same name.

2. "Like" The Photography Podcast on Facebook (only because "Love" is not an option)


This challenge starts right now (August 13), it's open to everyone, and will last for 7 days (ending August 20).

Though there will be no "winner" we will randomly pick one person (or two) to win some kind of cool photography related thing-a-ma-jig.

And we encourage you to watermark your image with your web address so other folks can see who you are and easily find you!

So time is short, email us your image so we can add it to our Facebook album "things I have grown".

Here is the small print (literally):

All rights and ownership of submitted images remain with the photographer who took it.

You can enter as many images as you like, no limit.

Winners outside of the US will need to cover the cost of shipping their prize package.

Are you up for a photo challenge?...

Starting next week we are going to have our first ever photo challenge and though all the particulars have not been worked out just yet we do have the first "theme"... That theme will be "something you have grown".

For those of you relatively new to Weekly Photo Tips you have not been subjected to my tomato madness (like here, here, and here).

Here are two images I grabbed with my iPhone of some tomatoes I picked just yesterday, in the second shot I even included some sea salt that I made (yes I know, the salt was not grown, it was made).

Also, in that second image I used our fancy shmancy "Tilt Shift Action".

So start thinking about things you have grown and check back on Monday to get all the details of how our "things I have grown" photography challenge will work along with how to submit your image(s).

Canvas on Demand offers you don't want to miss...

Several times a year 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 on Weekly Photo Tips about why I LOVE Canvas on Demand (and have them hanging all over my house) and why I recommend them so highly to others (you can read some of those posts here, here, and here).

The normal price for a 16" x 20" canvas wrap is $127, so $45 represents a 65% savings (and is a far better price than I can get with my pro account).

You can get three different sizes:

    $45 for a 16"x20"x1.5" (retails for $126.95)
    $52 for a 20”x24”x1.5” (retails for $149.95)
    $75 for a 24”x36”x1.5” (retails for $202.95)

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 (as of this posting there is just 36 hours left in this deal)!

I have given canvas prints many times as gifts and I am sure someone in your life would love to receive one of your photographs on canvas.

Battery caddy, small item, big help...

In the history of Weekly Photo Tips I can't remember EVER re-posting a product review, but today we are going to change that.

We are in the heat of "wedding season" and of all the do-dads and thing-a-ma-jigs I have in my camera bags, my favorite is the least expensive piece of gear I own and find it to be the biggest help, they are my battery caddy's.

Sometimes it's the little things that make a big deal and for me it's "AA" batteries. Lots and lots (and lots more) "AA" batteries.

I have a bag full of Nikon Speedlights and depending on the model will take 4 or 5 "AA" batteries each, and when it's a fast moving event (like a wedding) changing batteries needs to happen fast and go off without a hitch.

And as soon as the flash recycle starts to slow (even a little) I change batteries because what is going on in front of my camera won't wait for a flash to recycle.

The trouble for me used to be organization and accessibility. I had tried zip lock bags, Tupperware containers, pouches, and.... well, you get what I'm saying.

Then the Personal Battery Caddy came into my life (cue dramatic music here) and have been using them for 4 years now. I have 3 of the 12 pack "AA" battery caddy's in my bag now and they work like a charm, no fumbling in a plastic bag for batteries, no cover coming off the Tupperware and batteries rolling everywhere, no wondering which batteries are good.

My battery caddy's keep me organized and get two thumbs way up for being compact, their portability, and their ease of use. Convenience is another word that comes to mind.

And as I change batteries I put the used ones back into the caddy upside down so I can tell at a glance which is a new battery and which ones are used (aka "take homes" for remotes, CD players, and other energy sucking devices).

The Battery Caddy comes in different battery sizes, colors, and configurations, like "AA" (holds 12 - $6.95), "AAA" (holds 4 - $4.95), "9V" (holds 4 - $5.95), a combination of all three (holding 8 AA, 4 AAA, 1 9V - $4.95).

They even make one for those pesky CR123 batteries (holds 4 - $4.95).

Not only are they extremely affordable, they all come with free shipping as well!

If you use batteries in your photography, especially if you are lugging them on location, you need to give these cool tools serious consideration.