Making custom Facebook Timeline Covers...

Something you may want to consider offering your clients (or for yourself) is a customized Facebook Timeline Covers.

Here is one we recently did for one of our seniors:

And another that we did for an engagement/save the date session:

Next week will be sharing with you where you can find and download free templates, along with a video tutorial on how (easy it is) to customize them with images and text.

Click on either image to view larger.

It's just 7 days away...

If you've been following Weekly Photo Tips for very long, you know that Monday through Friday we are all about photography, and if we post on the weekend it's usually whacky, funny, and/or way off topic.

But today I am breaking the rules - it's a Tuesday but I am going to head off topic.

Why? Because in one week, exactly 7 days from today, it's election day and I hope that if you are of voting age, you'll not squander the opportunity to let your voice be heard.

I am not going to tell you who you should vote for or even who I am voting for, I simply want to encourage you to take a few minutes and cast your ballot.

Use the Google election tool to find your polling place and ballot summary, if your town/state is offering an early voting option the Google election tool will tell you how and where to do so.

Wish I had shared this sooner...

I have an outstanding deal to share with you at the end of this post, but don't delay because it expires on October 31st.

But more on that in a minute.

I don't think anyone (or anything) has been written about on this blog more than (or as much as) Kevin Kubota, I have attended his seminars, interviewed him, raved about his training DVD's, his books, and his image processing tools.

Needless to say I am a huge fan... often referring to his website and all it has to offer as "Disneyworld for photographers".

Today I want to talk about Kevin's most recent educational offering, a three day seminar called "Lightweight Location Lighting".

During the 3 days Kevin walks you through multiple challenging on location photo shoots while using the simplest of lighting tools.

Those simple tools are Speedlight's, flashlights, diffusers, with few DIY tools sprinkled in as well.

Instead of trying to cram all the information about the different shooting situations and topics covered each day I am going to suggest that you following this link to the seminar page, it will cover the details from each day far better than I could here.

But what I am going to do is show you just a few images that demonstrate the results achievable using the tools and techniques taught by Kevin in this seminar and you'll be so intrigued that CreativeLIVE will be your next stop

Here is an image shot with just two flashlights, one in front, the other in back. It doesn't get much simpler than this.

Actually it does, here is a maternity shot, lit with just a single flashlight!

In this next image Kevin was trying to achieve the look of a moonlit, romantic couple shot, I think he hit the nail on the head.

Here is the setup, which I think was the more gear used in any other setup over the three days.

The reflection behind the couple is actually the sun and the shot was achieved by using a variable ND filter, three Speedlight's to light the couple from the front, gels, and the sun in the background.

By using the ND filter Kevin was able to "knock down" the sunlight (lowering his shutter speed and making the Speedlights more affective), the ambient blue color was achieved by setting the cameras white balance to tungsten, and by putting tungsten sticky filters over the Speedlight's the couple were lit "correctly".

What you will get from Lightweight Location Lighting is over 13 hours of education that will cover on location shooting, setups using low cost (and DIY) gear, how and where to use reflectors, diffusers, along with something I haven't even touch on, post processing in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Not only does Kevin know these techniques inside and out, he can teach it so no matter what your skill level is you won't be lost or board.

And here is where the deal comes in, if you use the code "KEVIN2012" at checkout you will get the seminar for 33% off the list price!

The coupon code "KEVIN2012" does expire at the end of this month (October 31st), so you have just three days left to save some serious money on an outstanding learning tool.

Trust me, I know $99 is nothing to sneeze at, but the money you will save in lighting gear alone will far exceed what you will pay for Lightweight Location Lighting. That doesn't even touch how much it will expand your skill set.

LL Bean pumpkin festival...

Yesterday was a photography kinda day, foggy coast in the morning, pumpkin festival in the evening.

It was the 10th Annual Pumpkin Festival held at LL Bean in Freeport Maine, there is another "sister" festival 7th Annual Weston Pumpkin Festival held in Weston Massachusetts.

The Freeport festival kicked of last night (10/27) and Weston started on October 21st, but both will have their gaggle of gourds on display until Halloween (and maybe a few days after).

Both are put on to support of Camp Sunshine, an outstanding organization which runs a retreat for children with life threatening illnesses AND their families. You can learn more Camp Sunshine and what they do here at their website.

If you are looking for other pumpkin festivals check out the New England mac daddy, the "Keene Pumpkin Festival" (Keene New Hampshire), which came in second this year to the "Highwood Pumpkin Festival" (Highwood Illinois).

If you don't live near any of the above locations you can head over to "Pumpkin Patches and More" where you'll fin every pumpkin festivals, pumpkin weigh-offs, corn mazes, and pumpkin funfests from Maine to California.

This is a pumpkin from last night that was in the 600 pound range.

And though this was one of the smallest, it was one of my favorites.

Click on any of the images to view larger.

It was a very foggy morning...

Yup, along the coast (of Maine) it was just a bit foggy this morning, so I decided to grab my camera and head to Cape Porpoise and take a few pictures.

Because it was so foggy colors (and sharpness) was rather muted to say the least, so I opted for black and white on all these images.

Cape Porpoise is a stunningly beautiful place, check out some images from Scott Kelby when last he was here (more here).

There is a beautiful sheep farm that hugs the cost, I snagged this shot on the way home.

Click on any of the images to view larger.

And here they come...

Here is just a taste of the kind of images folks have been submitting to our Flickr group as part of our latest contest.

Good stuff.... really good stuff.

Click on ony of these images to view larger.

And speaking of Nikon...

Nikon has just announced its latest lens to its family of fine glass, the 70-200mm f/4G ED AF-S VR.

This is an excellent piece of glass and is essentially the baby brother (or sister) to the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S VR II Nikkor ED-IF.

This new lens is about 45% less expensive ($1399 vs. $2399) but shares many of the same quality characteristics of the 70-200 2.8 bigger (more expensive) brother.

Here are three resources you where you can learn even more:

1. You can head over to Photography Life and see a side by side comparison of these two lenses.

2. Check out why Ken Rockwell said that if you are looking for a Nikon FX zoom lens, then this "is the lens".

3. Visit the Nikon page for more product details along with their "Compare Tool" (it's at the bottom right of the page).

The 70-200mm f/4G ED AF-S VR can be pre-ordered now and will be shipping very soon.

Tips for shooting fall foliage & free presets...

If you are interested in shooting fall foliage (and really, who isn't?), Nikon has a really well done article "10 Tips for Shooting Autumn Foliage" that you will want to check out.

You also will want to head over to "Lightroom Killer Tips" as Matt has put together some very nice FREE Lightroom "fall colors" presets.

These presets are "tuned" for Lightroom 4, if you are not working with the latest version of Lightroom you can get an older version of the fall color presets here.

This all kinda fits nicely with our latest contest.

Click on either image to view larger.

Get a 50% off SmugMug, seriously!...

Yes seriously, you can signup for your SmugMug account and receive a 50% discount off the price of any of the memberships.

There are two small rules for qualifying for this huge discount.

1. It has to be a new SmugMug account

2. You need to sign up for SmugMug buy downloading (and signing up with) their "Camera Awesome" app for iPhone or Android

This means you can get an annual account for as little as $20 for the basic plan (usually $40) or move all the way up to the full blown Pro account for $150 (usually $300).

You can check out all four levels of membership that SmugMug offers here.

So sign up for your account with the "Camera Awesome" app and then get the membership level that is right for you.

And yes, I use SmugMug.

We got the message, here's our next contest...

Last week I asked for your input on what we could/should do when it comes to our contests, many folks left comments and about another 65 readers sent me an email with their thoughts and ideas.

Thank you, because that's exactly what I was hoping for.

For the most part you wanted us to keep things pretty much as they are, people like the random drawing as everyone has an equal chance at winning, regardless of their photographic abilities. What we will be doing is adding themes to some of our contests along with one contest each year that will be a photography image based (judged by our readers).

Another suggestion was to have readers submit images for critique and receiving a prize for having their image "gone over" for all the world to see. Loved this idea as well and you will be seeing this in the future as well.

Now, on to our next contest which starts this very minute, we will be picking two winners at random from all the folks who follow these rules:

1. This contest is themed based and the theme is nature/landscape photography

2. Like us on Facebook (if you've "liked" us for a previous contest, this requirement is waved)

3. Leave a comment on any blog post or any of our YouTube videos

4. Upload a nature or landscape image that you shot to our Flickr group

If you are new to Flickr (or have never joined) you can get all the details on how to join the Weekly Photo Tips Flickr group here.

Both winners from this contest will receive one year "plus" memberships to

One winner will receive the DVD "Mastering Exposure in Digital Photography" by Tim Grey, and one Umbrella Bracket with Adjustable Flash Mount.

The second winner will get "The Digital Negative: Raw Image Processing in Lightroom, Camera Raw, and Photoshop" by Jeff Schewe, and one Suction Cup Ball Head.

Each winner will be getting a total of three prizes.

The contest starts right now and both winners will be announced on the blog Friday November 9 (2012).

Good luck everyone, we always look forward to seeing your images and reading your comments.

Here is the small print (literally):

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

friend us once, then 1 image upload + 1 comment = 1 contest entry.

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

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

Please tell me what you'd like...

We have a safe full of photo goodies to give away, light stands, flash brackets, instructional books and DVD's, we even have plus memberships to

Right now our contests are setup so that the winners are picked at random (previous contests can be seen here, here, and here) and I like the random aspect because every person who enters has an equal chance of winning, of it's a contest of who has the best picture my fear is newer photographers won't bother entering for fear of losing out to those photographers with more experience.

Another reason for the random aspect of our contests, I don't like saying "this picture is better than that picture".

What I want is to have contests that interest you, making you eager to participate in, and will give everyone an equal chance to win.

So the goal is simple, win some cool stuff while having fun in the process.

If you're happy with the way things are, that's okay, I just don't want to have the same old contest because "we've always done it that way".

So please, leave a comment on this post, or send us an email with your contest ideas/suggestions.

But be quick, we want to start giving some of this stuff away and will announce our next giveaway on Monday (10/22/12).

In the interest of full disclosure (and honesty), we really don't have a safe, just wanted to look real important, real hoity toity... :)

The new Canon EF 24-70mm 2.8L II Lens...

Canon has released the new EF 24-70mm 2.8L II Lens, the "go to" source before I buy a new lens (or almost anything camera related) is Ken Rockwell and he says it's "World's Sharpest Midrange Zoom".

You can read Ken's complete, in-depth review, with all the many test images at this link.

The only problem is this lens is hard to find (which often happens with new releases), well, you can find it (along with free shipping) over at Adorama.

Well that was just a little scary...

I was in the kitchen last night, cleaning up after dinner and suddenly there was a deep rumbling, things started shaking, and glasses were rattling as if a HUGE tank was being driven right by my back door.

My wife thought the washer was out of balance, spinning out of control... I was wondering if my furnace was about to do something terribly unpleasant, but about 5 seconds in we all looked at each other and said "EARTHQUAKE!".

Sure enough, moments later the news came on confirming it, and not only was it an earthquake, we were just 11 miles from the epicenter.

Within 15 minutes of the quake there was a Facebook page "I survived the 10/16/12 earthquake" and as of this morning it has over 81,000 likes.

People are posting some pretty funny stuff there.

Check out these images from our readers...

First. if you didn't know we had a Weekly Photo Tips Flickr group, we do. If you would be interested in joining (and I hope you are), you can find the details on joining here.

Second, just a few things about our group, I usually just look at the images and don't spend a lot of time looking at the stats, but last night I did look at the stats and was taken by surprise at just how big our Flickr group has grown. Right now we have 529 members who have uploaded over 3,600 images!

Third, when I post images from our readers I usually just post the images and say nothing, letting them speak for themselves, but today I am going to share my thoughts on what I like about each of the images.

This image is from Zero Cem, he shares a lot of images of the night sky, they are always colorful and beautiful to look at. I usually look at them with my mouth open and wonderment on my face. In this shot he was lucky enough to capture a falling star. I like the fact that he includes a sliver of land at the bottom of the image so that we have orientation. On the technical side, the rule of thirds is represented on both the placement of the earth and stars.

"Boats" is from psyco babble and as soon as I saw it, it evoked a feeling of stillness, of quiet and isn't that what images are supposed to do, evoke an emotion? Love the composition and the sky. The colorful boats "pop" off the image.

This image from D2 does just the opposite, you see the action and movement and can hear the motorcycle as it goes by. It is suggested to use the corners of your image to control the viewers eye movement and that is done beautifully here, the rider comes from the bottom right corner and is heading out the upper left. Well done.

I love nature/landscape photography and this is a great image from fatlab99. Great use of thirds here as well, bottom third of the field, top two thirds of the trees.

Another nature/landscape Birch Path from Ken Rowland.. He controls the viewers eye beautifully with the use of a vignette and placement of the path.

I am going to close with this portrait of Josiah from lkaldeway. What is not to like about this image, love the catch lights in his eyes, the way his face is framed in the image, and it has a feeling that essence of Josiah was captured in this shot. And how cool is it that they were having fun taking pictures during a power outage.

Be sure to click on each image to view it larger.

These are just a tiny sampling of all the great photos posted on our group page and thanks to everyone that participates. I always look forward to seeing your work. Keep it up!

A Photoshop Friday with suggestions, Q&A...

Before launching into todays "Photoshop Friday" here are the links to the last two "free Photoshop actions and tutorials" and a listing of "my favorite Photoshop podcasts".

Today we have two suggestions for Photoshop resources from our readers, both of which are outstanding and not really sure how I missed either of them.

The first is The Russell Brown Show, how I missed this one is beyond me. A bazillion video tutorials 5 to 10 minutes long and covering Photoshop CS4, CS5, and CS6.

The next is just as big of an omission gaff, especially considering I have been a huge fan for quite some time, Terry White.

If you are (relatively) new to Photoshop you will want to watch his latest offering, "10 Things Beginners Want to Know How to Do", it's just over 40 minutes long and worth every second.

Last week Ed asked the question: "I was wondering if you knew of similar resources for *video* (e.g. "Premiere Pro Killer Tips")"?

Why Ed, yes, yes I do.

Check out Creative Cows Premiere Pro tutorials, it's available on their website or via iTunes.

I've mentioned Creative Cow in previous posts, but not this particular resource. Creative Cow has video tutorials on sooooo many subjects, and one of the things I like is they will offer them in two "different Flavors", a low res version (SD) for quick downloading of the files that will easily fit on a smartphone or tablet, they also have a hi res version (HD) just in case you wanted to watch it on a larger monitor or TV.

If you follow this link you can see a listing of all the educational offerings available from Creative Cow.