Photography self assignments, a good idea?...


Self assignments are an outstanding idea, because if done correctly it will have us taking pictures during what would normally be a down time (photographically) along with challenging our skills and thus ourselves.

To that end, I found out that there was going to be a Taste of Home cooking show here in southern Maine and I thought this would make a great self assignment.

I had to make a few phone calls and send more than handful of emails to finally get the permission to go and it was well worth the effort.

This was a challenge because I had never photographed an event like this and there are a lot of components to it, lots of things going on, and I would have control of absolutely nothing. Not the light, not the surroundings, not the people, not a thing.

Yup, a perfect self assignment

There were two things I did have to do, stay out of the way while taking photographs that would represent "the day".

Shortly I will share more about the show and Taste of Home, but today I want to share my single favorite shot of the day, it was of chef Michael Barna, this was his day, his show. He was who the people had come to see. Not too much pressure.

Chef Barna had a packed house (almost a thousand people) and his job was to cook, to teach, and to be entertaining all at the same time. Heck, if I was standing in front of a crowd like that I couldn't do even one of those things, never mind all three.

Back to the photograph and why I like it, Chef Barna had about ten assistants and helpers supporting him for the show and he was a blur of activity, getting all the ingredients ready, giving each person their assignments, and making sure everyone understood the big things and the small (like exactly where the potholders should be placed and how dishes were to be washed).

All while greeting visitors who were brought back stage to meet him.

But there was one moment just before the show began, while Chef Barna was standing back stage and everyone was off taking care of those last minute details when I snapped this image. For just a second he was perfectly still and somewhere else, I don't know if he was thinking about the show that was about to start or if he was a million miles away with a margarita in his hand and digging his toes into warm sand on the beach.

I do know it was a moment of quiet contemplation.

(click on any image to view larger)

Whenever I need a good laugh...

Or even when I only need a smile, I watch this video.

I dare you to watch it and NOT laugh. Seriously.

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More good news from Adobe...

Adobe has announced a new tool within Photoshop called "Shake Reduction", a phenomenal tool for those photographs taken in low light situations.

This will be life saver for wedding photographers who regularly have to shoot in those dark, poorly lit churches and reception halls.

The only question I have (for now) is will "Shake Reduction" be added to the current version of Photoshop, or the version upcoming.

I have my fingers crossed for the current version option.

Check out the 45 second video below for a demonstration of shake reduction in action.

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An accidental photo shoot…

Since Weekly Photo Tips first started back in 2007 we've received well over 100 packages containing photo gear for review and I have never EVER done an "unboxing" before, for no particular reason other than I just never found cardboard, packing tape, and bubble wrap to be all that interesting.

That all changed on Monday.

That's the day my Ruck Strap camera strap arrived from Hold Fast Gear.

The first thing I noticed when I picked up the package were the markings on the outside of the box, I thought "hey, that's cool" but when I cracked open the box I knew I had to stop, grab my camera, and document the grand unboxing.

The deeper I got into the box the more impressed I became with the thought and care that went into the packaging of a single camera strap.

These are the images I grabbed as I made my way to the Ruck Strap.

Keep in mind this is not our review of the camera strap, that will follow later, but for now I will say that as impressive as the packaging was, the Ruck Strap blew that all away.

(click on any image to view larger)

Lightroom 5 is now in free public beta!...

Yup, just follow this link and you can download the free public beta of Adobe Lightroom 5 and play with it until your mouse wears out or the end of June (2013), whichever comes first.

And trust me, you'll want to jump on board as there are some pretty significant changes and improvements.

Two that I really like are the improved healing:

And "Upright":

(click on either image to view larger) 

Once you've downloaded it you'll want to know what it can do and learn the new features, there are already several outstanding resources that will help you learn, the first is the Adobe Lightroom 5 YouTube channel, another is from Kelby Training, the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Launch Center, and lastly Lr 5 beta resources from the Lightroom Journal.

The first two resources have a bunch of well done instructional videos demonstrating the very new and the very cool features that you will find in Lightroom 5.

If you are wondering if you should try Lightroom 5 the answer is HELL YES!

But don't just take my word for it it, check out the "7 hottest features" as demonstrated by Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski in the video below.

(subscribers will need to return to the blog to watch the video)

"Secret" Nikon D800 firmware update...

I often visit the Nikon Download Center to check for Software and firmware updates, and I go there for two reasons.

Reason one, if you use Nikon software (View NX, Capture NX, etc.) and use the "check for updates" option within the software you are using chances are really good that it will respond by telling you that there are no updates available when in fact there are, so I check "manually".

Reason two, if there is a firmware update for my cameras I want to know it and apply it sooner rather than later. It's not uncommon to see a firmware update for a new camera in the months following its release, so I was surprised that I haven't seen a firmware update for the Nikon D800.

But for some reason this weekend when I checked and saw that it was the same firmware version (A 1.00/B 1.02) I decided to click on it anyway, low and behold there is a new Firmware version (A 1.01/B 1.02 released 4/2/13).

Before folks start emailing me, I know its not meant to be a "secret" update, it's simply an error on the main page, I just wanted to let all of you Nikon D800 (and D800E) users know there is a firmware update available for your camera and you can get it right here.

And for ALL Nikonians out there, you might want to bookmark these pages, the Nikon Software Download Center, which is where you will find software updates, free software, and free trials and the Nikon Firmware Page, is where you'll find updates for Speedlights, DSLR's, and most other Nikon hardware.

One last link you might be interested in is the Nikon Support Center, you'll find the links to download all available manuals in PDF format.

Some really bad voices...

That come together to make some beautiful music.

This video is from the Boston Bruins home game played on Wednesday night, two days after the bombing at the Boston Marathon this past Monday (and before the madness that followed on Thursday and Friday).

It is profoundly touching when a community forgets its differences and comes together as one.

And as usual, if you got this post via a subscription you'll need to head back to Weekly Photo Tips to watch it (sorry it does not come through).

Check out this sale on photography stuff...

Couple of things to keep in mind regarding theses sale items, first is that they all come with free shipping AND second, 100% of every single affiliate check goes towards supporting local food pantries here in southern Maine.

So if you happened to need any of this stuff you will be getting it at  great price and at the same time helping those in need, thank you.

Click on the price to head directly to the product page.

Sony 32GB UHS1 R40 Class 10 High Speed SDHC/SDXC Memory Card - $19.90

Lexar 32GB Professional 400x CompactFlash Card - $69.95 

Lexar 16GB Professional 1000x CompactFlash Memory Card - $77.95

Lexar 32GB Professional 1000x CompactFlash Memory Card, 2 Pack - $249

Spyder Digital PowerShadow i4 Battery Case & Charge/Sync Dock for iPhone 4/4S - $49 

The Joy Factory Tournez C-Clamp Mount with MagConnect for Apple iPad 2 & 3 - $49.99

Adobe Photoshop CS6 Image Editing Software for Windows - $499

This special price is for the Windows version only and you will see the "regular" price when you go to the product page, use coupon code S5698745 during checkout to get the special price.

This above image is what the checkout screen will look like and where you'll enter the coupon code.

Fujifilm X20 Digital Camera, 12 Megapixel,28-112mm F2-2.8 Lens - Silver - $599

It is available in both Silver and Black.

Nikon D90 Digital SLR Camera AND AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens - $799


Boston is my home town, it's where I grew up, and where I go to visit my family, so the bombing on Monday literally hit close to home for me. The first thing my daughter asked when we saw the news was "is that near grandmas house?", I felt fortunate to be able to say no.

One of the things I love about America is how we unite, how our differences are quickly brushed aside and we stand arm in arm in the face of danger and disaster.

So today I just want to share some of the images that have moved me and that reflect that spirit.

Season 2, episode 1 of The Photography Podcast...

Erik Almas on Weekly Photo Tips  

Welcome to season two, episode one of The Photography Podcast.

Today we are proud to announce that we are giving away 100% of our affiliate sales, do a quick review (more like a gushing) of the Scott Kelby iPad App Light It, and finish with an interview with commercial photography Erik Almas.

So here we go, and in order:

1. For awhile now we have been giving away 50% of all of our affiliate sales to support two food banks and one soup kitchen here in southern Maine, but have decided that these projects (and all the families that they support) need this money far more than we do. So if you are looking for photography gear if you buy it using our Adorama affiliate links you will get great prices, equally as good customer service and will be helping those who are truly in need.

 2. We have been Scott Kelby for some time and we love his iPad App since its inception, there are many things to love about it and you can find on iTunes, on the web, and I would strongly suggest you check our our originally review on Weekly Photo Tips. Not only can you read all the details of what makes it a great resource for photographers, you'll also how to get two complete issues for free.

Scott Kelby on Weekly Photo Tips

3. And finally, our interview with photographer extraordinaire Erik Almas. Our interviewer is a guest as well, it's Mike Bowker, studio manager and digital retouch artist of the studios of Irvin Serrano.

Mike has been a big fan of Erik and also wrote the outstanding review of Erik's DVD "Aspects of Image Making". You can read the entire review over at the blog. Here are just a few shots from Erik's gallery, you will really want to visit his website and check out more of his stunning work.

 Click on any of these images to view larger.

Surveyor on Weekly Photo Tips 

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this interview and am sure you will as well and hope you enjoy episode 11 as much as we enjoyed making it for you.

You can listen to the podcast below, or head over to The Photography Podcast.

Veterans, their dogs... and coming home...

If you want a smile on your face and feeling of warmth inside then take just four minutes and watch this "best of" video of veterans being welcomed home by their four legged friends.

It's heartwarming to watch, and amazing to hear how vocal some of the dogs are.

If you got this post via your subscription you'll need to return to Weekly Photo Tips to watch the video as they are not pushed through with your subscription (sorry).

Today is a (late) Flickr Wednesday...

On Flickr Wednesday we usually feature images from just one photographer in our Flickr group, but today we are going to show images from a handful of our readers/photographers.

Click on any of the images to view larger, trust me, it's worth it to see them larger..


"Cerritos Star Storm"

"Bar Harbor"


"Pleasure Pier"


"Ghost Tube"

"Harlan J. Smith Milkyway Pano"

This last image was really quite interesting and this is how it was created - with colorful papers, under a glass jar filled with some water and oil. And it's perfectly titled.   ;)

"And now something completely different"

If you are not currently part of our Flick group we would love for you to join us, you'll find all the details on how to join right here.