Over fifty inches of snow...

So far just in the month of February (here in Maine) we have had over fifty (yes, five zero) inches of snow dumped on us and that was before this latest "event" that is supposed to leave yet another 10-14 inches before it ends later today.


Here are a few shots I took after the last storm.

If you have been experiencing crazy weather in your neck of the woods I hope you would consider uploading some of your images to our Flickr group for all to see.

Reader image Wednesdays...

Starting today and for the foreseeable future each Wednesday we are going to feature the images that our readers have uploaded to the Weekly Photo Tips Flickr page.

This week we are featuring two images from Marco Romani of Rome, Italy.

I just love the "feel" of both of these images.

You can check out more from Marco at his Flickr stream, his Getty's Images page, or his website.

"The Waiting" 


If you are not already part of our Flick group we would love for you to join us, you can get all the details on joining right here.

Review of Joey L. and Lara Jade DVD...

If you have followed Weekly Photo Tips for very long you know I am a big fan of Joey L. (you can find previous posts here and here).

Well I had the pleasure of spending the past snowy weekend watching another of his tutorial DVD's "Photographer Shoot-Off: Lara Jade vs. Joey L.".

This DVD features Joey L. and Lara Jade and though it is labeled as a shoot off/challenge but it really is an educational/tutorial DVD in which both photographers shoot in similar situations but in their own contrasting styles. I would think it fair to describe Joey as a photographer who uses "bold lighting" and Lara leans more toward the minimalist lighting/natural lighting kind of photographer.

The DVD is over four hours long (was shot over two years) and has four unique challenges:

1. Color Portrait

2. On Location

3. Photographing a stranger

4. Studio Shoot

Each challenge (photographer) has two parts, the shoot itself and the editing of the images from that shoot.

I like the fact that nothing seems to have been left out. They discuss their shoots in great detail, what the concept is, how (and why) they approached the shoot as they did and then you watch them execute their plan with the "behind the scenes" video of the shoot.

That is followed by Joey and Lara explaining why they picked the images that they did and then take us step by step through their editing process.

And I love to watch the editing style of other photographers, it would be easy for one to assume that Lara and Joey would sit down, open Photoshop, hit a few keys and editing would be done. Nothing could be further from the truth, they try new things, experiments with ideas, techniques, and Photoshop tools to arrive at their final image.

It was very cool to watch Joey scroll through the blending modes and see what best matches his vision for the image.

We all prefer to get it right in a single frame, but that's not always possible and in one shoot Joey does a great job capturing the overall theme and then grabbing some of the small details and individual components, then adding them in Photoshop to "pull it all together".

And just as their shooting styles are different, so is their editing styles. I was stuck to the screen watching Lara take the "plain" image on the left and turn it into the stunning fashion image on the right.

I think with this (and any) DVD that I review people want to know "is it worth the money?"... and I can't answer that with a "yes" or "no" because I don't know what value other people put on education, on knowledge.

For me personally it was a yes, I can tell you with full confidence that I learned from watching this and will watch it all again.

There were things I learned that I will incorporate in my photography and my editing with the end result of becoming a better photographer.

You can get "Photographer Shoot-Off: Lara Jade vs. Joey L." at a significantly reduced price ($129) and part of the proceeds from each sale will go will go towards Joey's latest philanthropy project, helping indigenous tribes in Africa. So you will save 35%, do good for others, and learn new things.

So check out Joey and Lara's websites, watch the two and a half  "preview" below and I think you will come to the same conclusion I did, they both have something to offer and I didn't want to miss out on it.

Photographer Shoot-Off: Lara Jade VS Joey L - Tutorial Preview from Joey L on Vimeo.

Nikon Announces the new D7100 camera!...

Yesterday Nikon announcement the new Nikon D7100 HD-SLR camera, the new flagship of Nikon’s DX-format HD-SLR lineup.

Achieve a thrilling new level of image quality and sharpness thanks to a specially designed 24.1-MP DX-format CMOS sensor.

You can pre-order now and get your name at the top of the list so that when they arrive on March 21 yours can be sent right out to you.

You have a couple of options, you can buy the Nikon D7100 body body only for $1196, or buy it in combination with a Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S DX (VR) Vibration Reduction Lens for $1596.

If you are interested in the lens only it is available for $396.

All of those purchasing options come with free shipping.

Here are a few more technical details on the D7100 from Nikon:

The D7100 brings a thrilling new level of image quality, speed, connectivity and creative capabilities in a specially designed 24.1-megapixel DX-format image sensor, superior low-light performance, ultra-precise autofocus and metering, advanced video recording features, built-in HDR, mobile connectivity and much, much more.

The D7100 marks an exciting advancement in image quality for high-resolution DX-format cameras. Nikon specially designed its 24.1-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor without using an optical low pass filter (OLPF), resulting in the purest, sharpest images using D7100 DX-format CMOS sensor.

With full-time autofocus and manual exposure control during video recording, a built-in stereo mic and an external stereo mic jack, headphone and HDMI jacks, the D7100 achieves exceptional cinematic reproduction and quality. Record in several high-definition formats: 1080p at 60i/50i/30/25/24 fps or 720p at up to 60p for ultra-smooth slow-motion sequences. Dual SD card slots give you additional recording time, and an all new 60i function enables smooth playback on HDTVs or external monitors. 

You can get all the technical details for the new Nikon D7100 camera here.

Your best shot could win a Nikon D600 or Canon 6D...

One photograph could win you either a Nikon D600 or a Canon 6D (your choice).

Now through March 17th (2013) Adorama is running their "Your Best Shot in 2012" contest.

It's free, simple to enter, and you can get all the details right here.

Good luck!

Review of "Nikon D600 From Snapshots to Great Shots"...

Today we have the pleasure of another guest review, today from wedding photographer extraordinaire (and friend) Michelle Turner.

Here is Michelle's review of the book Review of Nikon D600: From Snapshots to Great Shots:

Aimed at the beginner to intermediate photographer, Nikon D600: From Snapshots to Great Shots is so much more than a manual for the D600; rather, it is a guidebook that can help you improve your shooting. Rob Sylvan's goal is to give his readers an understanding of the features available on the D600, but he also aims to give his readers the tools to evaluate and choose the appropriate settings to achieve the best shots. It's a bold undertaking-- can he possibly deliver?

Sylvan's book is laid out in simple chapters with a logical progression, and there are assignments at the end of each chapter to help the reader start putting their new skills into practice. It starts with the moment readers open the box of the D600-- he takes you through the settings, not only explaining them but also promising to go into greater depth later in the book. Some of them (for example, enabling the setting which locks the shutter in the absence of a memory card) are unbelievably valuable settings that are often overlooked and can save the reader from serious problems down the road. Others are basic settings that are important to the use of any camera, so it's a good primer for the photographer who needs to learn or brush up on the basics of digital photography. From an explanation of the different types of jpeg settings available to a how-to on reading the histogram (as well as why a photographer might want to do that), he covers all of the bases.

Although Sylvan starts by covering the auto modes of the D600 in depth (and provides a detailed explanation regarding the best use of each), he quickly moves on to the "professional modes", providing a good primer for the use of P, A, S, and M modes. Along the way, he touches on some important points, including (but certainly not limited to) lens selection, how to shoot a long exposure, HDR images, panoramas, and using flash. Sylvan goes into some detail about focusing modes, which mode will be useful under which circumstances, and how to change the focus mode on the D600. As he covers each section, he gives tips and tricks and shows the viewer how to create more dynamic images through a thoughtful composition.

If you are a beginner to intermediate, reading this book and heeding much of the advice given could definitely make you a better photographer. After all, good photography is not about the camera you use, but rather understanding how to use it as a tool to capture your vision. Rob Sylvan not only tells you how to use your camera, but also how to use it while stepping up your game. Really, much of the information given in this book could be used no matter what camera you shoot with. And if you are an advanced photographer? You will still pick up a few nuggets about the camera itself, especially if you find the Nikon manuals difficult to get through. Sylvan's description of the menus and the functions available are certainly prettier than Nikon's own work.

Michelle is a wedding and commercial photographer based in Maine and Pennsylvania. She is also coveted national speaker and author and has published two books about fashionable wedding photography. Her work has appeared in many wedding, fashion and travel magazines worldwide.

You can learn more about Michelle (and see some outstanding imagery) at her website and check her out on Facebook.

She also has a course starting today over at "Clickin Moms", "Lighting 101: One Light Off Camera Flash".

Review of the Erik Almas DVD "Aspects of Image Making"...

When I first found out that we would have the pleasure of reviewing “Erik Almas – On aspects of image making” DVD I knew I wanted photographer (and friend) Irvin Serrano to do the review. I thought it would be a perfect match because much like Erik, Irvin has a vision, a voice, and takes image editing more serious that any photographer I know.

So take it away Irvin:

Most of us who are deeply interested in photography or want to make a living creating images have certainly heard of Erik Almas. If you haven’t then I highly recommend that you take the time check out his website to see what you have been missing. The images he creates are thought provoking, beautifully envisioned and expertly executed. Technically and aesthetically they are sure to intrigue fellow photographers. Luckily, for those of us who are fans of his work, (and those who will soon become fans) he has recently released his instructional DVD set “Erik Almas – On aspects of image making”.

I must admit that when I first heard Erik Almas was producing a DVD, my interest was peaked. I had been looking forward to picking it up for more than a year when rumors of it first appeared on the web. As it turns out, shortly after it was released, I was fortunate to be asked if I would be interested in reviewing it for Weekly Photo Tips. Of course I leapt at the opportunity.

In my opinion the greatest merit to Erik’s DVD is the fact that it is presented by someone who has a proven track record and is currently working at a very high level in the industry. His clients are the top advertising agencies, high-end magazines and Fortune 500 companies. That makes a world of difference when it comes to trusting the integrity of the information shared in these DVD’s. As a working photographer I find it refreshing that he is so open with his insights, from his early career to how he approaches his vision, Erik holds nothing back. In fact he gives the viewer step by step instructions that empowers them to very quickly accomplish what took him more than 10 years to figure out on his own. Through out the DVD Erik’s demeanor is like that of a Zen master, completely at peace and at ease with himself. (This is exemplified during the Interview with Chris Orwig as he brushes at a fly buzzing around his head with such a serene motion as to not harm the fly but to merely coax it safely along.) There is no pretense here, no ego, just a humble and talented guy offering you his take on creating images honestly.

The DVD’s are full of valuable information regardless of what stage of photography development that you might find yourself in. The seasoned professional may find some of themes familiar, yet will likely be infused with inspiration and be given plenty of food for thought. Perhaps you are a professional that has fallen into a rut, your looking for a jump-start, then this could be just what the Doctor ordered. However, I think the main target audience are those who are students, serious amateurs or young professionals looking for an edge to get them over the hump and into a solid career as a successful professional photographer. Beyond some of his photographic techniques, are exercises that will help the viewer get in touch with themselves, by recognizing and then developing your own visual identity. I will caution you though, if you are looking for the secret “Erik Almas Photoshop recipe” you will likely be disappointed and you will have missed the point completely. The true strength of Erik’s instruction isn’t in the how’s, it is the why’s. The how’s can only serve to teach you "how" to re-create an Erik Almas image, the why’s have the potential to teach you to successfully create your own voice. To get the most out of this you have to become an active participant. You can’t simply watch his instruction you have to engage your mind, do the hard work (which he guides you through) and invest the time in your craft.

There are three DVD’s included, broken down into two sections. The first section is “Photography tutorials” the second is “Photoshop tutorials”. In the Photography tutorials there is the assumption that you already have a basic understanding of photography so if you are not familiar with aperture, shutter speeds, ISO etc. then you will need to learn about those on your own. Although it’s obvious that these fundamentals are critical to know, you can certainly gain a great deal from Erik’s insights even without having that knowledge to begin with. Just make sure you do learn them eventually. Although this section is called “Photography Tutorials” there is more information included than just that. I think the section can be distilled down to three principle concepts, finding your vision, technical aspects and case studies. The chapters that I would put under finding your vision are what I would consider the core concepts of Erik’s instruction. Everything else is there to support this fundamental principle. There is a strong emphasis through out all of his instruction on finding out who you are so that you can make images that speak to that with a sense of honesty. In the chapter “Finding your photographic voice” Erik guides you through a process of self discovery. He also talks about his visual heritage, the themes and the visual aesthetics that he is drawn to that formed his sense of visual identity. He then lays out a path for you to discover your own "path". Technical aspects cover subjects like “Photography Equipment”, “Composition”, “Light” and an excellent chapter on “Marketing”. Finally he has six chapters of “Case Studies” where he takes you on location and then walks you through his process. From concept to execution you get to be a fly on the wall with the inside track to how he created five of his signature images. I can’t over emphasize the values of hearing Erik’s thought process as he crafts these iconic images. Also included on the first DVD are some great bonus features, DO NOT miss out (or skim through) his Interview with Chris Orwig.

The next two DVD’s are dedicated to his “Photoshop Tutorials”. Here you get to look over his shoulder as he takes the raw files of the five images in the case studies, out of Capture One and edit’s them in Adobe Photoshop. He also takes the time to explain why he chooses to composite images in the first place. (also included on the first DVD) If you are even moderately proficient in Photoshop then the techniques that Erik uses will be nothing new, in fact surprisingly so. Using layer masks, combined with adjustment layers, cloning and a meticulous attention to detail are the keys to compositing any image. If you know these techniques already then you may feel a bit deflated, and I have to be honest, at first I wanted more. I wanted that new Photoshop trick I didn’t already know. I thought there must be something else, something he left out. Then it dawned on me. What truly makes Erik’s work so special happens well before those raw files ever make it into Photoshop. The fact that there isn’t some secret “Photoshop trick” was actually liberating and besides he has already given you his “secret” if you pay attention. The greatest value of watching him edit these images wasn’t how he edited the files but listening to why he made the editing decisions along the way.

The beauty of Erik’s work and his instruction is truly in the fundamentals. It can be said that the artist who doesn’t understand or know their medium intimately will certainly find limitations. Just like the pure technician will find his limits of expression if he has yet to identify what moves him beyond technique. Erik in my opinion recognizes this and is able to combine both vision and technique in an informative and an intuitive way. Here at Irvin Serrano Photography, we are going to commit to working through the exercises that Erik suggests and will follow later this year to see what they have produced. I would challenge you all to do the same and share your results on the Weekly Photo Tips Flickr page.

Here is a quick video preview of the over 9 hours of video in which Erik will walk you through the making of 5 of his images.

If information is power, then the DVD set “Erik Almas – On aspects of image making” will make you feel like a king.

You can learn more about (and from) Erik Almas at his website, his blog, and his YouTube channel.

Can you say "3 plus feet of snow"?...

While I was watching our weather forecast Thursday night and first saw this screen I thought Joe was talking about temperatures, but as I started paying closer attention I realized he was talking about the predictive snowfall! 41 inches, seriously?

My first thought was "ya, right Joe"...

Well, so far Joe's been right on the money, the storm has unfolded exactly as he predicted, as of this writing we have received just over 29 inches of snow and we're expecting another 6 - 10 inches before the storm ends this evening.

And it's been more than just the snow, we've had hurricane force winds (over 75mph) to go along with the snow (officially making it a blizzard), which will thankfully be ending with the snow.

There are spots in my yard where you can see grass and others where the snow is over my (4 foot) fence.

On one hand it's cool to be experiencing this historic storm as it unfolds, but on the other I was pretty much done with winter before this storm ever showed up.

To make myself feel better I think I'm going to spend the rest of the day starting my tomatoes.

You have less than 24 hours to get this free PSD...

One of the things I love about life is learning new things every single day.

Though this has been going on since 2011 I just learned about "Ten Collection" today.

What is Ten Collection? Well, it's 10 Artists - 10 Countries - 10 PSDs done in 10 Months.

So each month they feature 1 image from a single artist, along with an interview with that artist.

But they don't just show you the image, during 1 day that month they give you 24 hours to download the complete PSD that shows exactly what went into making the image.

 I love "deconstructing" images and this is deconstruction at its very best.

Not only do you get the PSD, you are also free to use much of it, here are the use rights from their site (in part): "You can use the different layers for professional purposes, except the ones in red, which represent images from the Fotolia image bank."

Above is the image of this months featured artist, Korean artist Soongyu Gwon.

I've downloaded the PSD and have been playing with it, there are well over 100 layers that make up the image, and here are a couple screen captures (click on them to view larger):

That is just some of the "crow" layers, there are many more.

The problem is there is only about 22 hours left for you get get this months free PSD, so run don't walk over to the Ten Collection right now to get this months PSD, then start your countdown for next months artist.

Here is the "Ten Collection" schedule for the rest of this year:

* Friday, March 8th - Adhemas Batista (Brazil)
* Wednesday, April 10th - Marumiyan (Japan)
* Friday, May 10th - Mike Harrison (England)
* Monday, June 10th - Alexander Otto (Germany)
* Wednesday, July 10th - Alexey Samsonov (Russia)
* Friday, August 9th - Secret special edition (USA)
* Tuesday, September 10th - Sergio Del Puerto (Spain)
* Thursday, October 10th - Alberto Seveso (Italy)
* Friday, November 8th - Peter Jaworowski (Poland)
* Tuesday, December 10th - Secret special edition #2 (France)

For more in-depth information (along with more images and videos) you can visit Ten Collection over on their Facebook page.

Review of Scott Kelby's "Light It"...

I don't usually take a year and a half to review a product, but when I first downloaded (and subscribed) to iPad App/magazine "Light It" from Scott Kelby it was something I did just for me.

But I have found it such a worthwhile learning opportunity I wanted to makes sure ALL of our readers were aware of it.

First the technical side of it: It's probably one of the coolest Apps on my iPad, a lot of time was spent making sure the functionality met the needs of its readers, photographers. I love the ease and options when moving around the magazine or within a given article. And it may sound odd but one of the features I really like is the advertisements, if there is something that looks interesting I can tap it, visit the website to get more information and details, and as soon as I close it out I am brought right back to where I was before I left.

Not only can I bookmark articles, I can also write all the notes I want on it.

Second, the cost: Light It is published 8 times a year, the App itself is free and you can either buy only the issues that are of interest to you ($2.99 each) or you can subscribe for the entire year for ($19.99 - $2.50 an issue).

Third, the content: It only has one subject, LIGHTING!, and though both studio lighting and off-camera flash is covered, there seems to be a heavier emphasis on off-camera flash.

You will find photographers like Joe McNally, Zack Arias, Joel Grimes, Frank Doorhof, Nicole Young, and many others (and Scott Kelby himself).

What will you find? Just about anything you can imagine photographing, portraits, weddings, food, real estate, lots of discussion about lighting... I could go on but I think you get the point.

Three of my favorite (and regular) columns are "Gear Watch" where I will find what new products are available (or soon to be), "Do It Yourself" with Larry Becker (this month Larry shows you how to make a Speedlight beauty dish), and "Closing Shot" which you will find on the very last page of each issue and is a stunning image of an up and coming photographer.

If I could only have one photography publication, it would be Light It, hands down.

But you don't have to listen to me ramble on about my love for this magazine, head over to iTunes, download the free App, and then download two free issues, the premier issue and the "Best of 2012" (both are the full issues), and discover for yourself why I think every photographer should give this to themselves as a gift.

2 light mobile studio from David Hobby...

I did my daily check of Strobist even earlier than usual this morning, I wanted to see if Mr. Hobby would be dancing and singing about his home town team winning the Super Bowl last night and found something even better (actually anything would have been better as my team lost to his for that precious Super Bowl ticket).

What I found was the second part of his two part series on shooting portraits on location with a mobile studio.

Two Nikon SB800's, two light stands, two modifiers, and some white paper, it could not get much simpler.

And is yet another example on Strobist of the kind of results one can get from just a little gear and a little thinking.

So I (strongly) encourage you to head over to Strobist and read both articles:

On Assignment: Cheap Portable Studio - Part 1

On Assignment: Cheap Portable Studio - Part 2

And after you finish reading them be sure to bookmark Strobist (if you haven't already) because it is the best resource on the web for lighting with a small flash, doing it on the "cheap", and DIY information.

We are giving away 3 seminar seats!...

We have three seminar seats that we are giving away to you our readers, and these are them:

1. Portrait Lighting Secrets - David Piazza, Technical Advisor, F.J. Westcott, Inc.

Tuesday February 5, 5:30PM - 8:00PM - Visit this link for all the details for this seminar

2. Shooting Action Sports and Portraits with Speedlites - Tyler Stableford

Wednesday February 13, 5:30PM - 8:00PM - Visit this link for all the details for this seminar

3. Grow Your Photography Business Using Social Media and Your Website - Rick Sammon

Tuesday February 19, 5:30PM - 7:30PM - Visit this link for all the details for this seminar

And not only will you get a seat to the seminar, you'll also get a $25 coupon/certificate to use at Adorama, either right there at the store or on their website.

These are "live and in person" seminars that are taking place at the Adorama New York store (Adorama Building, 42 West 18th Street 5th floor), you will need to be in New York City on the date of the seminar in order to attend. You can get directions to the store here.

Because the first seminar is so close we really don't have time to run our traditional contest, so all you need to do is email us and we will pick the winner via random drawing, so don't waste anytime, email us today!

But we do have a bit more time on the Tyler Stableford and Rick Sammon seminars and we will do our "traditional" contest.

1. This contest is not themed based and you can submit any type of 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 of our blog posts 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.

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.