Friday, November 28, 2008

"A Study In Violet"

"A Study In Violet"
©David A. Ziser

In keeping with the Gear Bag Friday post, I'd thought I'd post this image taken with the lens discussed below. The image was taken on a photowalk in Mexico about a year ago. The 100mm lens was the only lens I used on that particular walk and I was lucky to photograph some of my favorite subjects - flowers. This image shows the power of a macro lens to easily isolate the subject and create some really cool compositions. This is one of my favorites from that shoot. Camera specs; Canon 30D fitted with 100mm F2.8 macro, F 8.0 @ 1/800 second, ISO 800. Enjoy! -David

Gear Bag Friday: How Close Is Close - Review: Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro Lens

Good Morning Everybody,

Warning! Warning! Do not get on the scales this morning - so many bathroom scales in grave danger - it boggles the mind ;~) Hey gang, hope everyone had a great day - eating, drinking, relaxing and being merry. Even though this is an "off" day for many Americans, I'm still sneaking in a Gear Bag Friday this week. This will be a review of the final lens in my gear bag. Don't worry, I've got more stuff to cover next week too. So, let's get to it...

Review: Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro Lens

Ever since I was a kid, I always enjoyed photographing things close up. I remember getting my first 35mm camera and spent a lot of time photographing flowers, shells, leaves and bugs.....and the like. My mother always complained, "Why don't you take more people pictures?" Well, I guess the fact of the matter was I just liked taking close-up photographs, seeing things much closer than the way most people ever really saw them.

My love of macro photography has endured over these many, many years. Last year I picked up the Canon 100mm F 2.8 lens so I could get back into the swing of things with macro photography. I thought the primary application of this lens would be in picking up detail shots of the wedding, the reception, and whatever else I thought looked interesting.

Yes, I do pull out this lens occasionally, but not nearly as often as I thought I would. It's probably my most underused lens in my gear bag. I think the main reason for this is the fact that the other lenses that I prefer using, the 24-105mm, 17-85mm, and now the 18-200mm, all seem to focus close enough to capture the details of what I need on the wedding day. That isn't to say that there aren't opportunities in which I should pull out that lens and be using it. In too many instances on the day of the event, things are just moving way too quickly, to pull the macro lens out to capture only a couple of photographs. And, the other more often used lenses work 95% of the time and are then available in other shooting situations without the hassle of changing from lens to lens.

So, why am I discussing that lens today? Well, as I said, I still enjoy using it in some instances on the wedding day and I reflected that in some of the images accompanying this article. But, I have to say that I find the greatest pleasure in using this lens when I'm just shooting for myself. For example when time restrictions aren't part of the shooting routine. I really enjoy this lens when I'm on a neighborhood walk or hiking through a nature reserve.... It's kind of a throw back to when I was younger and really enjoying my macro photography.

When on vacation, I love doing a photo walk with just this lens on the camera. It's interesting to behold what the viewfinder renders when this is the only optic of choice for the shot. For me, I always try to get just as close as I can when I use this lens. I just love the close-up peek at nature it gives me.

There is a downside to using this macro lens. I've actually complained to Canon about it on the number of occasions. What's the problem? The problem, dear readers, is the camera shake involved when using this lens in so close a range. Actually the camera shake parallels to the camera shake that we get with our long telephoto lenses, especially when not using a tripod. Canon and Nikon both have terrific image stabilization built into their various lenses. It obviously makes the most difference with the long throw telephotos.

I think Nikon made a very smart move when they added image stabilization to their macro lenses. I sure wish Canon would do the same thing.

Let me give you five tips to get the best results when using your macro lens.

1 -- Set the aperture to F 4.0, or even F 5.6 if you want a really shallow depth of field. I personally would stay away from F 2.8 simply because the depth of field is so narrow at that F-Stop. I also don't like using a lens wide open because I don't think I get maximum image quality out of my finished photograph. I preferred the sweet spot of the lens which is generally a stop or two down.

2 -- Shoot at F16 or F22. One of the really cool things about using a macro lens is obviously how close it allows you get to your subject. There are times when you want the subject to be completely in focus. That may be when you're trying to render textures, say in a photograph of an insect. You may also want this added detail and depth of field when photographing some floral or fauna subjects. In any case, don't think that there is only one best F stop to use. The best F stop is determined by the subject matter and the finished result that you want.

3 -- I have found that the best focus setting when using this lens is the A I Servo Focus setting on my camera. In this mode, the lens will actually follow the focus of the subject. You may think this is no big deal, but it is a very big deal. At least it is for me, because I don't carry a tripod with me when I'm photographing my macro images. That being the case, when I am not moving in and out on the subject to keep it in focus, or when a slight breeze is blowing the subject in and out of my plane of focus, AI Servo mode works pretty darn good. With the lens following the focus, I'm much more assured of obtaining an "in focus" final result.

4 -- Explore different focus points of your subject matter. When I'm photographing a wedding band with a special inscription on the inside of the band, I want to be sure that the inscription is in perfect focus with the rest of the band going slightly out of focus. This is also true of my floral subjects I occasionally photographed too. I may just want to concentrate the photograph on the pestle of the flower blossom in sharp focus while letting all the colors of the flower go into soft focus behind my main point of interest. Then I'll reverse the focus to the blossom area while allowing the pestle to go soft.

So my advice here is, when photographing your subject, try a "front plane" focus point, "center plane" focus point, and or even a "rear plane" focus point. Explore the subject! Remember, when using your macro lens, composition is just as much about the "plane of focus" as it is the other rules of composition we apply to our regular photography.

5 -- Try some auxiliary lighting on your macro subject matter. As you know, I'm a big, (not just big HUGE) fan of off-camera flash. So, when I'm photographing wedding details, I’m generally using an off-camera flash to give me a direction of light to really enhance the presentation of the subject matter in the finished photograph.

Also try this for your other macro subject matter too. I remember going out on a photo walk about a year ago, planning to use high shutter speeds and small f-stops to guarantee that very little ambient light would be part of the exposure. My only light source, in this case, was my small Canon 580 EX2 fired with my Quantum Free-Wire radio transmitter/receiver combination. It was a great exercise shooting in a way that I don't happen to use in my day-to-day business and more importantly I was able to obtain some great shots on that shoot.

6 -- Be sure that you're using a high enough shutter speed when using a macro lens. The closer you get, the more magnified the subject matter will be, and the more camera shake you introduce into your shot. I find that many times, I need to be at least 1/100th of a second. I notice that as my shutter speed slows down, I get less consistent results. One way of guaranteeing a higher shutter speed is simply by increasing your ISO on your camera. I have no compunction whatsoever of shooting at ISO 800 on my Canon cameras. This surely is no problem with our new breed of Nikon and Canon cameras on the market today. The phenomenally high ISOs that each of these cameras is capable of reaching really make this a moot point at this time.

7 -- If you're a Canon shooter and really want to explore the world of macro photography, then write Canon a note asking them to make the smart move of incorporating image stabilization into their macro lenses. As I said, the closer you get to your subject the more camera shake you will introduce. That camera shake could be very easily ameliorated with image stabilization built into the Canon lenses.

So folks, that pretty well wraps it up for this week's Gear Bag Friday. The post today wasn't heavily weighted towards wedding photography, but, hopefully it still will give you some insights into how you might use your new macro lens you might be planning to get for yourself or from Santa during these upcoming holidays ;~)

Anyway, that's about it for me today. LaDawn and I are jumping on another plane early tomorrow morning and heading for Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. No, it's not all fun and games -- I'm trying to find some quiet time to continue working on the wedding book that is well underway. I know the sky will be a bright blue filled with puffy white clouds, the sun will be warm, and the San Lucas breeze totally refreshing -- to say nothing of the margaritas!! But, let me assure you, I expect none of those tropical temptations to pull me away from my work at hand ;~)

So until next week, everybody have a great weekend, enjoy your leftover Thanksgiving Day turkey, and I'll see you on Monday. I've heard that down Mexico way - pixels like margaritas too. Adios, -- David

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"A Reason To Be Thankful"

"A Reason To Be Thankful"
©David A. Ziser

I made this image while visiting Manzanillo, Mexico this past February. Nearly every evening presented itself with this spectacular "end of day" show - just breathtaking! Reason enough to be thankful. Camera specs; Nikon D300 fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 46mm, F 14 @ 1/1250 second, ISO 800. Enjoy! -David

Thursday: Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody,
You know, it was 387 years ago that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated - people coming together to celebrate the bountiful harvest. But for the Pilgrims, it was much more than a harvest celebration. The fact that they survived their first year - only 47, about half of those that crossed on the Mayflower, were still alive on that first Thanksgiving. That meant that this was truly a celebration of life for them.

Many of us take Thanksgiving for granted - today is Turkey Day, presidents and governors will pardon one lucky turkey, families will gather and eat way too much food. Don't get me wrong - this is all good stuff. But, I want to offer a different view. Let's think about the Pilgrims again who were giving a very sincere thanks from the bottom of their hearts on that special day.

I think the best time to celebrate Thanksgiving is not at the big, sometimes rowdy Thanksgiving Day dinner, but rather the moment you open your eyes on this day. The public celebration with families and friends is surely the high point of the day for many, but our private Thanksgiving, seems to me, to be the more important moment to savor.

Here are my Thanksgiving Day photography centric thoughts for today;

- Thank you for letting me see, feel and experience a beautiful new day today.
- Thank you for letting today's air be brisk, exciting my senses.
- Thank you for letting me see and feel the rich blue sky and the brightly shining sun .
- Thank you for my talent as a photographer.
- Thank you for letting that talent let me experience so many wonderful things in our world.
- Thank for letting my images bring great joy to so many others.
- Thank you for my enthusiasm and excitement when I bring the camera to my eye and see the wonderful compositions in my viewfinder.
- Thank you for letting me know how and when to press the shutter to capture that perfect moment.
- Thank you for all today's technologies that bring a new level of excitement to this wonderful endeavor.
- Thank you for keeping my enthusiasm for photography so vibrantly alive in my life.
- Thank you for giving so many others the same feelings of joy as they enjoy their photography.
- Thank you all over again for all of the above.

And, thank you to all our DigitalProTalk readers who are truly energized by photography, digital or analogue, and find exciting challenges, curiosity, fun, income, peace and joy in this endeavor.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! -David

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"Evening At Tower Bridge"

"Evening At Tower Bridge"
©David A. Ziser

Here is another image I made as we were touring the Tower of London while visiting England. There is a great view of the bridge from one of the walkways near one of the towers. The evening light was just beautiful in London - skies were fairly clear all week and we had some really beautiful sunsets - albeit, sunsets occurred about 4:30 p.m. Anyway, that evening the incredible after glow held on for quite a while longer giving me some wonderfully rich color in the sky balancing the bridge illumination perfectly. Camera specs; Canon 40 D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 32mm, F 4.5 @ 1/40 second, ISO 1600. Enjoy! -David

Quick Hit Wednesday: The Analysis of a Wedding Shoot - Part 2

Good Afternoon Everybody,
Sorry for the late post yesterday which is why I am posting later than usual today. Things just got real crazy at the studio and I wasn't able to get the post up until late in the afternoon. We had three portrait clients come by to view their "Portrait Presentations" and everyone loved their images. My last appointment went a little long - we got talking wall portraits and portrait albums - as the client truly loved their images. I'm visiting with them at their home on Friday to finalize the size of the wall portraits and wrap the order. You know, it's always about "bending over backward" to serve your client. Heck, I might even post an image or two from the shoot - stay tuned...

The Analysis of a Wedding Shoot - Part 2
Anyway, how about we get on with The Analysis of a Wedding Shoot - Part 2. Last week I posted what happens gear wise as we prep for the weekend shoot [link]. Now lets head to the site and get to work...

The Start of The Wedding Shoot -
1 -- My team arrives at the studio about one hour before we are due to be on site. We review all the details of the wedding and what each person responsibilities will be on the event and time sync the cameras. 2 -- We arrive on site usually about 30 minutes before were due to start photography. This gives us a chance to review locations for group photographs and other special photographs of the bride and groom. It also gives us a chance to introduce ourselves to wedding consultants, florists, lighting technicians, hotel staff, etc. All this PR just helps the day go much more smoothly.

3 -- Typically the shoot goes like this for me. If the event is happening at a large hotel like Netherland Hilton, which I've discussed several times previously at Digital Pro Talk, we ring the bride's room to announce our arrival and just see how everybody is progressing getting ready. The girls are generally at some stage of hair and makeup. I love to make this part of our coverage. My first images are usually images of the bride and her bridesmaids and other female family members getting ready. That, as I said, could be in the hotel suite or at the bride's home or even at the church.

4 -- We then seek out the groom and his groomsman and his parents and try to get some photographs of them as well. I have to say, it's always a lot more exciting covering the girls. The guys are usually just hanging around, usually drinking a beer or two, and watching a ball game on TV. Nevertheless it's an important part of the story and needs to be recorded. Many of these images are recorded with just the available light but, sometimes I use my off-camera flash or my on-camera flash bounced off of the side wall to give me some direction of the light illuminating the scene.

5 -- At this point we generally check back with the bride as she goes into her final moments of preparation. This is a great time to get some great detail photographs of maybe her attendants buttoning up the back of a gown, for adjusting the jewelry, and mother placing the veil on her head, her jewelry, shoes......
This is also a great time to get those wonderful and often emotional images of the bride's father seeing his daughter for the first time in her wedding gown. It’s a terrific time to capture all those actions and reactions – the special moments - the special feelings - of the day. We take several images during this part of the day knowing that only a few select chosen images will be in the wedding album. We also know that capturing at least one spectacular expression or wonderful emotion will add priceless memories for my client.

6 -- The next series of images is usually going to be at the church or even better said at the location of the ceremony. We arrive, survey the surrounds, and start shooting several scene setters of the location. That includes exterior views, close-up of the Church, it’s signage, details of the structure, the wedding programs, floral arrangements, receiving guest book and anything else we might see that is interesting.

We also give a pretty thorough coverage to the interior of the church as well. That would include wide angle views of the church itself, close-ups of the flowers and candles, and various views from the front and the back of the church – whatever can serve as added backgrounds and points of interest that add to the finished album. It's at this point that we begin photographing some of the guests as they arrive. This section of coverage may also include the attendants passing out the programs, any ushers seating the guests, parents greeting guests.

7 -- We want to be sure to capture the bride arriving at the church and making her way to the waiting room in the short moments before the ceremony. We also like to track down the groom as he waits those last few minutes before the ceremony as well. These are great times to capture some wonderful emotional images between the bride and groom and their loved ones on her wedding day.

That wraps The Analysis of a Wedding Shoot – Part 2. Next week I’ll give you the “blow by blow” coverage of the ceremony along with another entire series of images. But, for now, what is that I smell – pumpkin pie? It must be – it’s Turkey Day tomorrow! I’ll see everyone for thoughts about Thanksgiving tomorrow – see you then. -David

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"The Guardian"

"The Guardian"
©David A. Ziser

I made this image as we toured London last week. It was made early in the evening just as the sky was starting to take on some color. I positioned the stature in such a way to make it seem it was protecting Parliament in the background. I also like the contrasts of cool vs. warm colors in this image. Just a little different from a wedding image. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 35mm, F4.0 @ 1/25 second, ISO 800. Enjoy! -David

Technique Tuesday: Brides and Grooms Around London - A Study In Composition

Good Morning, - Eh, Afternoon - Everybody,
Things are hopping around here since we returned. Yes, we call it the Holiday Rush - the busiest time of the year for photographers. We were slammed today but are in pretty good shape around here and are on schedule to make all our deliveries in time for the holidays. Anyway, I've worked up a very cool Technique Tuesday for you today. So how about, on with the show...

Brides and Grooms Around London - A Study In Composition
I got this bright idea on the way home from London this past Sunday. LaDawn and I had taken in the sights and sounds of that great city and I had a lot of great images on some of the most memorable landmarks in the city. I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool to do a tutorial on composition, but instead of using regular local Churches, how about using the great London landmarks?"

Well, it sounded like a good idea at first, that was until last night when I stared extracting my couples from regular wedding scenes around the Cincy area. My intention was to drop them into the London scenes. I know I was making too much work for myself after I got started last night, but I thought is would be a great learning tool as I moved my "subjects" around in the various scenes showing the different compositions. Anyway, it turned out to be a great tutorial an I hope you enjoy it. Hit the PLAY button below to see what I mean.
Hey gang, that's it for me today. Got to get scootin' See everyone tomorrow for Part 2 of "Analysis of a Wedding Shoot." See you then. -David

Monday, November 24, 2008

"Beauty By The River"

"Beauty By The River"
© David A. Ziser

This image is more about composition and lighting than anything else. First, composition - notice how I've placed her head in the top left quadrant of the scene. Also notice how the curve of the river's flow leads right to her. Also notice how the direction of light, coming from my off-camera flash, is coming from the same direction as the river. No fancy poses, just pretty light, and nice placement in the composition. I do wish the foliage would have been in better shape though - still, I like the image. Camera specs; Canon 5D fitted with 24-105 IS lens at 58mm, F5.6 @ 1/250 second, ISO 200. Enjoy! -David

Quick Hit Monday: Scrambled Egg Images, More On Wide Angle Lens; Am I On Canon's Payroll; More On Imagine This The Musical; and London Recap

Good Morning Everybody,
I didn't know if I was going to get this post up this morning - long plane ride yesterday, jet lag, etc., but heck, I feel good as new today. We got back to Cincy about 4 p.m. yesterday afternoon. By the time we cleared customs we were back at the house around five. I have to say, it's always good to be back home.

The weather in Cincy was pretty much the same as the weather in London when we arrived. It looked to be a beautiful sunset yesterday evening so LaDawn and I grabbed two chairs, pointed them westward, and reminisced about our trip as we enjoyed the sunset in Cincinnati.

For all those interested in our London trip, you can follow it over at Dave and LaDawn On the Road - here is the link. There are several photographs and stories about last week's visit to the UK. We do it mostly for family members who like to keep track of where we're traveling and what we are doing. But you might find it interesting, so give it a read if you like.

Scrambled Egg Images
I received an e-mail from one of our DPT readers who was shooting with a Canon 40D, but when he downloaded his images, he found that the image order was scrambled and that some of the images were missing. I had never heard of anything like that happening before, and suggested that his FAT table appears to be scrambled. I find it hard to believe that this could happen in the camera, and I think it must be happening upon download. It may even be a bad card reader.

How about a fix. My best suggestion, should this happen to anybody out there in DPT land is to download my favorite digital image recovery program, PhotoRescue from Data Here is the link. Get a different card reader, insert the card, and run PhotoRescue on it. Hopefully everything will reappear.

Hey, DPT readers, if you've heard of anything like this before or have any solutions to this problem, please post a comment below and see if we can help our fellow DPT reader out there.

More On The 12-24mm Sigma Wide-Angle Lens
I have to say, Friday's post on the Sigma 12-24mm lens was one of my favorites [link]. That's probably because I love the images I get with that lens on a full CMOS sensor camera like the Canon 5D. Many people commented asking if the Canon 17-40mm or 16-35mm lenses would give the same result. Hey gang, I think the Canons lenses are great optics, but for me, I wanted even a wider reach. Sigma’s 12-24mm wide-angle lens is about the widest you can put on a full frame DSLR. Check out the comparison of the field of view of the three lenses below and you'll see what I mean.

Sigma 12-24mm - 122 degrees angle of view - the widest.
Canon 17-40mm – 104 degrees angle of view
Canon 16-35mm - 108 degrees angle of view

I found this interesting link comparing the Sigma lens to the Tokina 12-24mm lens right here - a good read if you are considering one of these very wide babies.

Am I On the Canon Payroll?
I love when I read comments like this. People think that if you really enthusiastic over certain brand of products, then there must be a payoff somewhere. Let me make it clear here and now that I have purchased every piece of camera gear that I own. So, when I find something I really like, I want to share it with you guys and girls, giving you my perspectives on how the gear works and to how I use it in my shooting routine. I occasionally get a piece of gear loaned to me and am happy to share my perceptions of that gear. That's what happened with Canon's new 18-200mm IS lens [link]. I tried it, I bought it!!

Everybody has their favorites, and not everybody's going to agree with me -- although I can't imagine or understand why ;~) But, it still comes down to what works for you and what works for me. Would I like to be on Canon's payroll? Well, heck yeah, I'd love to have a couple comped Canon 5D Mark II’s without having to wear a bit more plastic off of my American Express card – ‘nough said.

More on Imagine This - The Musical And A Contest
I mentioned in last Thursday's blog post [link] that LaDawn and I attended opening night of Imagine This - The Musical. As I said last week, we were blown away. I just got an e-mail from a friend who found a very cool link that reprises the sights and sounds of a spectacular musical. Here is the link right here. Give it a watch for about 3 minutes and you will see what I mean - amazing!!!

I'm even considering a contest to give the winner two complementary tickets to the musical. I know the contest leans heavily in the direction of our Great Britain readers, but if you're contemplating a trip to London, you still might want to enter and play. I'll keep everybody posted.

Don't Miss Tomorrow's Technique Tuesday
Folks, that's it for me today. We've got a busy week ahead with Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday so, I better get back to my real job. Today I'm working on tomorrow's Technique Tuesday which is entitled, “Brides and Grooms Around London.” I think you'll find it really interesting and a very informative tutorial. The tutorial will be on composition discussing where to position the bride and groom within the scene. I'll be using some of the major sites around London for this Technique Tuesday, so it should be quite fun.

So tune in tomorrow, and I'll see everyone then. Adios, -David

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Rocky Mountain High"

"Rocky Mountain High"
©David A. Ziser

This is one of my favorite images from this week's posts. Again, a very simple and beautiful composition with the soft bend of the split rail fence complimenting the curve of the bride's figure as she stands there against the fence. Once again, it's the lighting that makes this such an enjoyable image. Can you imagine how different the result would have been without that directional light coming in from the left side - quite flat, one dimensional, and very, very ordinary. I think this image sings it's Rocky Mountain High theme with the three aspects of color, composition, and lighting all coming together for a great bridal portrait. Camera specs; Canon5D fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 150mm, F 5.6 @ 1/250 second, ISO 100. Enjoy! -David

P.S. You can see exactly how I worked this image in Photoshop to achieve my final result. Here is the link right here.

Gear Bag Friday: About As Wide As You Can Get - Review of the Sigma 12-24mm Lens

Good Morning Everybody,
Well, just two more days in Merry Ol' England and too much more to see. It is kind of cool being here this time of year. We are right next to Regent Street and Carnaby Street is right outside the front door of the hotel. The whole place is decorated for Christmas.

We took in another play last night, Billy Elliot, one of the really HOT plays playing at the beautiful Victoria Palace Theatre. Here is a photograph of the inside interior. I have to say, the star of the show is this 12 year old kid and he is the hardest working kid in London. It again proved to be another great show.

LaDawn and I love the theatre so this is a real treat seeing a few of them in the city known as the birthplace of theatre. Heck we are even going to checkout the recreation of the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre later today.

Tonight, we are heading back to the best, most exciting play in London - "Imagine This". We want to take in one last viewing before we leave for home early Sunday morning. I was suppose to be working on my wedding book while we were over here, but work time just seems to be in short supply while you are having fun - I'll have to really buckle down next week.

Anyway, that's the quick London update.

Hey gang, I think I've got a great Gear Bag Friday for you today. It's all about wide angle lens and about as wide as you can get, so let's get right to it.

About As Wide As You Can Get - Review of the Sigma 12-24mm Lens:
I mentioned many times that I've always been a BIG fan of wide-angle optics. One of my favorite lenses way back in my medium format days was Hasselblad's 40mm disk Distagon lens. It was a wonderfully wide optic and let me capture so many dramatic compositions.Now come the days of digital. I remember one of the first challenges most of us faced in our early digital days was finding a wide enough optic. That would give us a reasonable wide-angle view with our APS sensor sized cameras. The 1.5x magnification factor was just killing us with the then current crop of 35mm lenses that we already owned. That reality necessitated most of us rethinking our lens collection and making additional lens purchases to accommodate that 1.5x magnification factor.

Anyway I digress. When I picked up my Canon 5D a number of years ago, I was thrilled that it was a full frame sensor. That meant that when I put a wide-angle lens on the camera. I was going to get a really wide-angle view. Years ago, a 24 mm optic was considered very, very wide. I even remember the introduction of the 18mm wide-angle optic a number of years ago – WOW, was that wide. It had an unimaginable field of view for its day. We now have lenses that zoom from 18mm- 200mm in both the Canon and Nikon's arsenals – super cool!

But I was greedy, I wanted more. I want it wider. I wanted that lens to take in the entire horizon line without having to resort to a fisheye lens and its inherent distortion. Well, along comes Sigma with their introduction of their 12-24mm lens a few years ago. I got thinking, “What would that look like on my full frame DSLR?” It sure would provide a super wide field of view. I had to do it, I ordered the lens. It cost around $650 at the time, still a far cry from my $5,000 40mm Distagon lens for my Hasselblad – super cheap by comparison.

I remember putting the lens on the camera, looking through the viewfinder, and be blown away by what I saw. I was in “extreme wide-angle” heaven. I had visions of brand-new compositions dancing in my brain. I couldn't wait to go out and shoot with this baby. At the time, this was simply the widest angle optic that you could put on a full frame sensor, and was literally the widest field of view – 122 degrees -you could get on any digital 35mm camera.

I have to say, it was a kick to shoot with. Check out this cool image I did in Cabo San Lucas. It's the view from the balcony of my friend’s home. I just love how the image encompasses such a dramatic view of the surrounds. This, obviously, is one use for this particular lens -- architectural photography. I may have to be careful when I say that because architectural photography generally connotes that all parallel lines need to remain parallel. This is the case most of the time, but I think a super wide-angle optic can really bring some great dramatics into the composition with all converging lines that it can supply to the composition.

As a photographer, I like to see the soaring pillars reaching to the ceiling of the cathedral as shown here. And I like to see those lines converging adding to the sense of height and size and some of these magnificent churches. That’s what I love about this lens – the sense of the dramatic it brings to the image. Just look at the images accounting this article and you'll see what I mean.

You have to be careful though, when using this optic. If you get people or body parts anywhere near the corner of the composition, you will create some severe distortion of those people. But if you're careful, and keep the people on the horizontal and vertical center of the composition, you can create some really exciting images.
I typically shoot this lens at F5.6, which I call my aperture of convenience, because of my shooting routine with my off-camera flash. We'll go into that at another time at That said, I think the lens produces some quite nice results.

So what's the bottom line on this lens for me?
1 -- I just love the super wide-angle view of this lens. Remember, you get the best effects with this lens matched to a full frame digital SLR.

2 -- This is a fantastic lens especially when shooting interiors of some of these beautiful ballrooms in which I get to work.

3 -- This lens is great for pulling off some really, really dramatic views of the ceremony, whether shot from a side aisle, the back of the center aisle, or the balcony.

4 -- This lens is a great backup to my Canon 10-22mm lens when used on my Canon 40D.

5 -- When photographing people, be sure to keep him at the horizontal or vertical center of the frame to avoid any nasty distortion of the body parts.

6 -- Crank up the ISO on your new digital Nikon or Canon cameras, and get really low to the floor really stretching out those party shadows to get some really cool party pictures for your clients.
If you're wide-angle lens fiend, then this lens may be for you. It's a kick to use, it gives you some really unusual views, along with the opportunity to create some really cool compositions.

It takes a little practice to get used to. Be careful to avoid major distortions at the corners of the image, but just being aware of this issue helps you avoid it. Anyway, it’s one of my favorite fun lenses in my gear bag. I just can't wait for somebody to come out with an 8mm, 270° field of view rectilinearly (not sure if that's a real word) corrected wide-angle lens . Who knows, maybe in the next few years ;~)

Hey gang that's it for me today. We jump back on a plane Sunday and head back to the good old USA. I'll check in with everybody after the weekend a little recoup from travel.

See everybody back home on Monday. Cheerio, - David

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Music In The Park"

"Music In The Park"
©David A. Ziser

I like this image for it's very simple composition. I've positioned the violinist standing within the curve of the band shell at a local park. The tree in the distance hints at the outdoor setting, while the left side of the band shell provides a perfect - almost moving background for the subject. Primary illumination was provided by my off-camera flash being shot through a 36 inch translucent umbrella to soften the light on the subject. Notice how the soft violin shadows are not distracting as they fall on the subject. Also notice how nicely the shadows next to the highlights provide nice dimension to the musicians face. Camera specs; Canon 5D fitted with 24-105mm IS lens at 58mm, F6.3 @ 1/200 second, ISO 125. Enjoy! -David

"Imagine This" Theatre Review - A Spectacular Accomplishment!

Good Morning Everybody,

WOW! Yesterday was the big day - or rather night. "Imagine This" opened in the West End New London Theatre last night and we, along with a moderately sized contingent from the Cincy area enjoyed one of the best pieces of theatre in London. Without a doubt, it is easily the best play being staged in London at this time.

From the moment the show started, you were figuratively locked to our seats with an outstanding introduction to the play. The play continued to carry us through a range of emotions from laughter, to tears, to joy.

Amazing ensemble acting by Peter Polycarpou and the rest of the cast was a joy to watch. Every detail of the play was beautifully and artistically crafted to tell this stirring and emotional story.

The crowd's utterly unanimous appreciation (with the exception of a sour critic or two) throughout the play climaxed with a sustained cheering and enthusiastic standing ovation at the end of the play. It was hard to clap as we all, including many of the actors, wiped tears from our eyes. But, cheer we did, bringing down the house on London's best play on stage today!

Business Day Thursday: Looking the Part At The Wedding

I know, I know, I got carried away a bit on the play we saw last night, but to our friends from England reading DPT, you owe it to yourself to make the trip to London and see this play - you won't be disappointed - I promise. Anyway, how about today's Business Day Thursday: Looking the Part At The Wedding. I think this is an important post which some may disagree, but I feel strongly about it so please give it a read below. On with the show...

Looking the Part at a Wedding
So the question -- How should a wedding photographer dress for the part? Should he or she be in just jeans and a T-shirt? Should he or she be dressed in casual Friday attire? Should we photographers be dressed in a sports jacket and turtle neck sweater or suit and tie? Or should we photographers wear a tuxedo to every wedding?
I was recently at an event talking to a well known bridal consultant who just happens to also be a friend of mine. She was covering an event and mentioned that these two out-of-town photographers showed up way under dressed for the wedding event which they were covering. She was appalled! I think that gives you some clue to where I'm heading with this post.

If I'm photographing a “black-tie” – read tuxedo - event at one of the top venues in Cincinnati, Ohio, or as a matter of fact any where else, then I'm going to be dressed as the guests are dressed and so are my assistants and that means in tuxedos. In my recap meeting the week of the wedding, we check with the client as to what the dress code is at their particular event. If we are told that it's black-tie requested, then we are in our tuxedos. If it's not stated as black-tie, we're always dressed in a dark suit and a nice tie and a polished pair of black dress shoes. This is basically our dress code at every event we cover.

Are we ever dressed in anything less than that at the event? On the rare occasion when I'm photographing a Bar/Bat mitzvah, my client may ask me to dress in the theme of the party – no problem. As I said, that's the rare occasion.

I'm going out on a limb, but I say what I’m thinking. When our clients hires us to photograph their event, they are doing more than just hiring us. What they are doing is honoring us by asking us to be part of their very special day. We need to respect that honor they have shown us as well. One way we can respect that honor is how we dress for the event.

My main rule of thumb is this - simply dress as a guests dress - never overdressed, and never under dressed for the event. I think under dressing for the event dishonors the client who has asked us to photograph their beautiful party.

I take exception with the fact that too many photographers see themselves as the “artiste” on the job and as the “artiste” they are entitled to dress however they choose. I think this cheapens the profession for all of us. I also think it helps explain why wedding photographers who, as long as I've been in this profession, have been considered little more than used car salesmen on one of the bottom rungs of the professional ladder.

So folks, I think is important how we present ourselves in covering an important event. I think it's important that we look and act professional. I think it's important that we honor our clients when we’re covering their event. I think it's a negative reflection upon our profession if we don't look the part, and that part should be professional.

I think it's interesting that so many large US companies, these days, are rescinding their casual Friday dress policies. I think we need to consider that in our own businesses. Remember too, that looking the part helps you feel the part. Dressing professionally helps you feel professional. I learned an early lesson in my business - Successful people like to do business with successful people. This has always served me as great advice.

I think this is true in our profession as well. Each and every one of us has the right to choose our own dress code when it comes to photographing a wedding. I personally prefer to look the part, to look professional when I photograph someones special event. I feel it's a way for me to honor my clients by how I present myself and how my assistants represent my company as well as present themselves at the wedding.

In closing let me leave you with this thought. I think if you look the part, and look like a million bucks, your clients are apt to be more inclined to see you as a professional, a professional worth the asking price of his/her product and services.

Just food for thought.

Hey everybody, I'll plan on seeing everybody again tomorrow for a really good Gear Bag Friday:About As Wide As You Can Get- Review of the Sigma 12-24mm Lens. See ya' then, -David

Related Links:
Casual Friday, Joy or Headache?
Is Business Casual Becoming a Casualty Of Current Conservative Work Climate?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Artist Among Friends"

"Artist Among Friends"
©David A. Ziser

This image was made for this gentleman as a part of a special portrait series. His specific request was that the kids in his inner city art class be represented in the image as well. I managed to get them arranged randomly and comfortably in the background, climbed a fairly tall ladder (it had to be a vertical portrait), brought the light in from the left, balanced the flash with the ambient exposure, and shot away. I think the shot tells a great story but most importantly I superseded his expectations and he loved the finished image. Camera specs; Canon 5D fitted with 24-105mm IS lens at 24mm, F7.1 @ 1/80 second, ISO 800. Enjoy! -David

Heads-Up Wednesday: No Photos In Westminster Abbey & The Analysis Of A Wedding Shoot - Part 1

Good Morning Everybody,
We had a great second day in London, walking about 10 miles up, down, and around just taking in the city. One BIG disappointment though was getting to Westminster Abbey and being told that no pictures were allowed. It seem the place is, get this copyrighted! Go figure, 500,000 visitors from around the world walking through history and a "No Photos, please." policy in force. In any event, it was a wonderful experience to walk through 1000 years of history.

A good friend of mine from England and I always used to discuss the different aspects of our respective countries. I made a comment about how old our buildings were in the US. His reply back to me was, "The paint wasn't even dry on most of your buildings in the US." It was his second remark that has remained with me the most through the years. He said, "You tear down your history after a few hundred years, we live in ours for 1000's of years." Food for thought.

Anyway, we still had a great time. Today is the BIG day - our play, "Imagine This" opens this evening and we are fired up to see it. I'll give you the low down tomorrow. And one last note, LaDawn is going to blog this week's trip over at Dave and LaDawn on the Road - here is the link. Give it a peek if you like. Anyway, it's time to get to it, so on with "The Analysis Of A Wedding Shoot." Enjoy!

The Analysis of a Wedding Shoot
Okay everybody, this has been the top question on this Skribit Widget in the right column for quite awhile now garnering 528 votes - "Any chance of a down-loadable shot list and pre-wedding gear checklist? That would be awesome!" So today is the big day as I answer this question as best as I can. Here is my problem – the original article went over 5500 words long! I’m going to break it into a series of posts over the next few weeks. I don’t want you to think you are reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace, you know.

Today I'm discussing the studio preparation I to go through the day before the wedding. And I'll also walk you through what I'm thinking as I shoot the wedding over the entire period of the day. So let's get to it.

Studio preparation for a wedding
1 -- The very first step, for me, is the pull the client file. I do this step Monday or Tuesday during the week of the wedding. I review all the pertinent information about the wedding, times, locations and review any additional notes I have made or that my staff had made about the affair. After reviewing all the pertinent details about the event, I contact the bride, and review and confirm these details with her.

I always ask is there anything else I need to know. Are there any special family or friends that are going to be coming in from out of town that we want to be sure to photograph? Are there any changes that may have taken place since we last discussed the wedding? In his conversation with the bride and sometimes with her mother too, I’ve got all the details I need. At this time I also fine tune the timeline of the event as well.

2 -- Now let's get to the gear setup. We work as a three-person team when photographing an event. I’m the main shooter and work with an assistant who carries the gear bag and lighting gear and anything else I might need for the day.

My assistant is also my lighting assistant whose most important role is to not only read my mind but most importantly to get that off-camera flash in the right position 110% of the time.

The third member of the team assists with moving gear around and setting up any lighting gear we need at the wedding reception. But their primary role has evolved into becoming a second shooter on the job. It's the third team member’s responsibility to see and shoot the peripheral happenings around the main event. This is done at their discretion and also with some direction from me. That means I've got two gear bags to set up before we leave.

3 -- I've covered, fairly thoroughly, over the past several weeks in my Gear Bag Friday posts, what’s in my gear bag. My second gear bag is an abbreviated version of the first. Both cases, by the way are Lowepro Pro Roller 1 cases - my favs for years. What's important to me is that the gear itself is in top-notch shape - lenses polished and cleaned, batteries charged, flashcards cleared, sensors clean, and cameras time synced. Any flashcards still not in my camera case from the week before are verified as backed up before they are wiped clean and formatted for the weekend's big event.

4 -- The next step is to get the batteries charged. I charge all my Quantum flash system batteries and all my camera batteries the day before the event. We carry three Quantum batteries with us. Two turbo 2x2 batteries which are fairly high capacity and can really go the distance for most of a single event. I also use the Quantum SC Turbo battery, which is a very light weight battery but with lower capacity. My assistants appreciate the lighter weight battery at the reception. So basically we have more than enough batteries and battery reserve to get us through any type of event.

5 -- We take four cameras with us to an event. My own gear bag includes two Canon 40D's along with the array of lenses I've been discussing in Our Gear Bag Friday series. The second gear bag contains the 5D which gets very little usage and a Canon 30D. Each camera has its own battery and one backup battery with charger that keeps us going should we need to change batteries during the day. I found, that even with our heavy shooting, that we really don't change batteries very much during the shoot. I attribute that to the higher ISO’s at which we shoot, meaning much less power dumped each time the flash fires.
5a. Cameras are also time synced the day of the wedding too. This makes things easy during the Lightroom sort. Thought I had that covered. Thanks, Tom - see comments below.

6 -- I charge the flash batteries up on the day of the wedding. I'm still using the Eveready Ni-Cads that I purchased a couple of years ago and they continue to do just fine. The only problem I found is that they don't continue to hold their charge all that long when charged the day before.
Yes, I know about the other batteries that hold the charge over much longer period of time, but frankly, I've never gotten around to buying them. Charging the batteries on the day of the event has them in peak condition and easily lets us finish the event without running low on battery power. But, just for backup I do carry the NiCad battery charger with me to the event. These chargers can charge four AA NiCad’s in about 15 minutes. I'm generally only shooting with one flash at a time which gives me two spare sets of NiCad's still in my gear bag.

7—Lighting gear also needs to be checked out. I’m still using my trusty old White Lightnings. I always pack two in the lighting gear bag along with all the necessary stands and 50 foot extension cords. We really only use one of these lights on the job, but it's always smart to be prepared with back-up gear. The lighting bag is called, affectionately by my assistants, the “Death Bag” because it seems to have more “stuff” in it than we will ever could need and always weighs a ton ....maybe two tons.

That pretty much wraps what we take to a wedding. It seems like a lot of stuff, but I have to admit, I’m from the old school of thought that always says, “Be prepared for anything that can happen, because it usually does."

Next week in Part II of this series, I review the next segment of exactly how we cover a wedding from the first exposure to the last good-bye.

On that note, gang, I’m calling it a wrap for today. I hear Big Ben in the distance saying it’s time to see some sights. See everybody tomorrow for Business day Thursday: Looking the Part at a Wedding. See ya’ then, -David

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Wild Blue Yonder"

"Wild Blue Yonder"
© David A. Ziser

I had another image planned for today, but after looking at some of the images I made during the flight to London, I decided to go with this one. I love the colors. I remember looking out the window of the plane as we lifted off. After a few minutes, the evening sun started to do it's thing. We were on the opposite side of the plane for the sunset. But still, the way the light caught the clouds in the distance, lit up the sky, and glinted off the jet wing right outside my window. It was just beautiful. I couldn't wait to get a better peek in Lightroom. Here the image, one of my favorites, slightly tweaked in Lightroom. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with (my new) 18-200 IS lens at 32mm, F 5.0 @ 1/160 second, ISO 1600. Enjoy! -David

Technique Tuesday: Lightroom Or NIK Viveza? That Is the Question

Good Morning Everybody,
WOW! Look at the comments from yesterday's post about me coming out of the RAW closet - thanks to everyone for your comments - fun and funny.

Anyway, after a shot nap upon arriving and settling in at our hotel here in London, we were ready to go. As we checked in, we got the word from the front desk that the hotel is officially changing to a Hilton Doubletree on Wednesday - LaDawn can't wait - she loves those warm chocolate chip cookies every Doubletree hotel offers their guests - yum!

I mentioned that we were over here with fellow Cincinnatians to see the opening of a new play in the West End. The name of the play is entitled, "Imagine This" - a brand new original musical opening Wednesday. We actually flew over with Lyricist's, David Goldsmith, mother, a very nice lady - that's LaDawn with our travel buddies in the picture to the right. Imagine (no pun intended) to our surprise when we saw a large poster advertising the play as we were going through the Gatwick Express train station - it was really cool for all of us to see it.

Tomorrow, we are having lunch, with British blogger and wedding photographer extraordinaire, Mr. Crash Taylor. If you haven't checked them out yet, Crash is doing this great series of interviews with some top photographers. His latest interview with Joel Grimes - unbelievable images - can be found right here. Lots of stuff happening this week - I'll keep you posted. Anyway, on with Technique Tuesday...

Lightroom Or NIK Viveza? That Is the Question
You know, I've been hearing this question come up as we explore the many software solutions available. People are asking, “Why do I need NIK Viveza when I’ve got the Lightroom 2 Adjustment tool. Can’t we simply add more or less density and saturation as easily within Lightroom 2?”

It's too bad the NIK Viveza [demo link] software doesn't work with RAW images. Since Viveza only works on JPEG and TIFF images within Photoshop, we don't have quite the range of control that we get with the Adjustment brushes within Lightroom 2.

In this tutorial I'll discuss the features of both pieces of software, demonstrating the benefits and the shortcomings of each solution. But keep in mind, it may be the combination of both of these solutions that gives us the best result. Let's take a peek. Hit the PLAY button below for the rest of the story.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. Tune in tomorrow for a brand new series I'm starting, "The Analysis Of A Wedding Shoot." See you then, Cheerio, -David

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Showing A Little Attitude"

"Showing A Little Attitude"
© David A. Ziser

I love this image of this young lady - how she's dressed, that look in her eyes as she peers directly back into the camera, and the subtle lines trailing off in the background combine to create a quite strong connection with the viewer. This image was made outside where the ambient light was quite bright. I used my "Cheatin' Flash" technique to darken the surrounds an appropriate amount so that the subject would "pop" from the scene. Illumination was provided by my off-camera flash positioned to the subject's right to give that beautiful loop lighting to her face. Camera specs; Canon 30 fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 170mm, F7.1 @ 1/320 second, ISO 200. Enjoy! -David

Confession Day Monday: I'm Out Of the Closet -I'm A RAW Shooter and My New Economic Stimulus Package

Good Morning Everybody,
Well, we arrived, safe and sound, albeit, a bit jet-lagged, but we’ll be fine by later today. We are here this week with many friends from the Cincy area to see the opening of a play in London’s West End – more on that later this week. Anyway, I love visiting this country – so much history, beauty, and adventure. I’ll keep you posted as the week progresses. In the mean time, let me offer you…

I'm Out Of the Closet -I'm A RAW Shooter
Okay, I have to admit it, I've come kicking and screaming to the RAW side. I've been taking flack for shooting JPEG's for the last eight years. The flack has come from my fellow professional photographers, fellow trainers in the field, and several thousand attendees at my seminars.

I had the images to prove that you can indeed produce a great print off of a JPEG. I was showing 24 x 36 inch images at every presentation I gave. I had it figured out - my exposures were dead-on 99% of the time, I was able to shoot quickly and keep within the tight exposure parameters that being a JPEG shooter demanded. I loved the fact that I could backup a wedding in only five gigs of space as opposed to 50 gigs of space if I shot it in RAW.

RAW Image tweaked in Lightroom:

JPEG Image tweaked in Lightroom:
That's where I was. I was ready to stand my ground. I had a whole slew of jokes that I gingerly tossed back to the RAW shooters in the crowd. Things like, “RAW was for sushi and oysters only.” Or “It takes a real photographer to shoot a JPEG. We've got a nail the exposure every time.” And, lastly, “What does RAW really stand for.... R-eally A-wful W-orkflow?” I’d stoke the crowd, encouraging the JPEG shooters to join me - cheering my remarks.

In my heart I knew all this was really just in good fun. I always thought, if you get a great image shooting JPEG then, go for it. If you prefer to shoot RAW, then fine, shoot raw. For me it just wasn't much of a religious argument. And you know, there are three religious digital arguments out there.

1. Mac versus PC;
2. Canon versus Nikon; and
3. RAW versus JPEG.

For me, I always just wanted to get the best looking image I could. I was a film shooter - I always worked for dead-on exposure. I brought that over to my digital shooting and JPEG's filled the bill just fine.

What changed my mind? Was caused me to come out of the closet after shooting RAW for the past eight months and keeping it a secret? What made me switch? It was Adobe’s Lightroom. Check out the two images posted here - I wish you could see the difference more clearly, but on my 27 inch monitor, the first image just sizzles with detail and color. The second - a Jpeg - just doesn't. Playing with these two images in Lightroom was the start of the turning point for me.

When I opened the RAW image, started to play with the Lightroom sliders, and my eyes opened wide-eyed and my jaw dropped low when I saw all the results I was getting with my RAW image. In all honesty, I was really surprised at the range of control I had over my RAW image and how I could make the colors and details pop! The ability to recover the highlights easily in Lightroom, to add the fill light were needed, and to give the image that added vibrancy tweak is what really made me think much more seriously about shooting RAW.

I can remember kind of smiling to myself when I decided to shoot raw for the first time, that is, to shoot the entire event and RAW. I kept thinking myself, do I have enough cards. I mean, normally I'm shooting about 3000 to 4000 images on the job - see Related Links below.

Shooting that many images at a much higher file size, that meant I was going to be packing a whole lot of pixels in my camera bag when I came home. I did the math, bought some new flash cards, and resigned myself to shoot at first wedding and JPEG raw format.

I also have to admit I was really concerned about the hard drive real estate I was going to use up one I downloaded these cards. Anyway, I lived through my first experience and I wasn't too shaken by it. In the beginning, I did find myself shooting more slowly – 11 megs a shot, you know.

The final straw for me was when Adobe introduced Lightroom 2 Beta and made it available for general download. I had been wonderfully surprised with the results I was getting in Lightroom 1 when manipulating my RAW file. But with Lightroom 2 Beta and the added feature of the adjustment brush, all things changed for me. It was the ability to adjust this RAW file with two stops latitude either under exposed or over exposed and be able to do this selectively if need be and much easier than in Photoshop, that convinced me to be a RAW shooter.

Let me say again, it's not just the versatility of the RAW file that convinced me to change. It was the versatility of the RAW file TOGETHER WITH Lightroom 2's new features of the Adjustment brush, Spot removal brush, and the Gradient tool all being used together to produce a final result and being able to do it so effortlessly without my requiring to jump through those too many digital hoops of Photoshop.

So folks, there you have it I'm out of the closet. I'm a RAW shooter - even for my vacation photographs! Will I ever go back to shooting JPEG, the answer is probably not. With the prices of flash cards dropping like a rock and hard drive real estate getting so inexpensive these days -- a terabyte drive for about $140 -- really makes it a “no-brainer” to be shooting RAW.

I still shoot pretty much the way I did when I was a JPEG shooter, trying to nail the exposure every time, checking the histograms and highlight alerts on my viewfinder, and always trying to get the best image I can first in the camera. I only have one problem. I've got to come up with a whole bunch of new jokes now ;~)

Related Links:
DPT - 4000 Images In The Workflow - How Do I Do It?
DPT- 4000 Images, The Rest Of The Story

Point of clarification from last week's post
Regarding last week's post about the Canon 5D; I did shoot all those images in JPEG mode. The simple reason I chose JPEG mode in this instance was because Adobe Camera Raw had not released a version yet to support the new Canon 5D Mark II.

One question came up in the comments section of the post asking if I had noise reduction turned on or turned off during a shoot. The noise reduction was turned on during that shoot.

DigitalProTalk Economic Stimulus Package Announced!
As I read many of the comments from my readers, which I appreciate very much, many of you are saying that you hope to attend our next Digital Master Class scheduled for April 27 – May 1, 2009.

I know the economy has been a roller coaster these last several weeks, and may stay that way for several more. Many of you, I know, are considering attending the upcoming class and have said as much in the comments. I’ve talked it over with my staff and we've agreed to hold the price to only $795 till the end of this year for anyone who wishes to attend the spring session.

The class is about half full at this point, so if you want to save yourself $100 on the tuition, then give the studio a call at 800.292.2994 within the next six weeks to reserve your place in class. You can get all the class info over at Anyway, we always have a great time and I hope to see many of our Digital Pro talk readers at the spring session of my digital master class.

Hey everybody, that’s it again for me today. See ya’ tomorrow for Technique Tuesday where the topic will be, Lightroom 2 Adjustment brush or NIK Viveza? See you then, Adios, (Are you allowed to say that in Great Britain) -David

Friday, November 14, 2008

"The Final Rehearsal"

"The Final Rehearsal"
© David A. Ziser

Here is another image I made last Friday of my young Bar Mitzvah. He is rehearsing his Torah readings one last time before Saturday - the big day. I have to say, I really like how the image is presented with the fisheye lens. The way it makes the Torah so prominent in the composition speaks to its importance in the Jewish faith. The curved lines created by the Fisheye lens also effectively brings the center of interest directly to our subject. Not everybody is a fan of the fisheye effect - I happen to be a big fan when it's used appropriately. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with Sigma 8mm Fisheye, F 5.6 @ 1/30 second, ISO 800. Enjoy! -David

Gear Bag Friday: My Favorite Full Frame Sensor Lens Canon's 24-105 IS Lens

Good Morning Everybody,
And welcome to another edition of Gear Bag Friday. I've been kind of enjoying writing this series of articles - the only problem is that I'm getting to the end of my gear bag. Heck, I might need a quick trip to B&H so I can do a few more articles ;~) Nice try DAZ, I don't think so!! Hey gang, today I want to talk about one of my favorite lenses. Canon's 24-105mm IS lens. It's one of their sharpest tacks in the (lens) box.

Last week I joked about buying this lens for LaDawn as a Christmas gift. The fact of the matter is that I had owned the Canon 5D and I thought 24-105mm focal length would be the perfect focal length for my full frame DSLR.
When I put that lens on my Canon 5D and looked through the viewfinder, I was indeed impressed with what I saw. I particularly liked the lens at the 24mm setting. It was pretty darn wide for me. I remember the old days when I had a 24mm prime lens for my Nikon F2. It was a pretty darn wide topic too. Now I had that same wide-angle field of view on my DSLR. My Canon 5D fitted with the 24-105 IS lens quickly became my favorite and main shooting camera-lens combo at weddings.

But with the introduction of Canon's 40D, my 5D was relegated to my second gear bag and hardly ever used since. I just loved the 40D’s feature set and it quickly became my camera of choice.

As mentioned in my first edition of Gear Bag Friday, I typically use the 17-85mm image stabilized lens on my 40D. But now having switched back to the 40D, I was missing my experience of the 24-105 mm lens on the 5D. I missed that fixed f 4.0 aperture and added sharpness.
So I eventually started using the 24-105mm lens on my 40D. That worked most of the time, but now I was still missing the wide-angle aspect that I loved with my 17-85mm IS lens. There were just too many times when I needed to be wider for the shot than the 24mm would give me on the 40D. So I found myself switching back to the 17-85mm lens. I was going crraazzzzzy!!

New strategy - anytime I was photographing the really important images for example all photographs of the bride and groom, the altar return photographs, all the family groups, and all the wedding party groups - I would pull out the 24-105mm IS lens and place it on my 40D and shoot away. I was a happy camper again.

With the new Canon 5D Mark II coming out very shortly, I can't wait to get my 24-105mm IS lens back in operation on the new camera. I think a combination of the two will deftly become my default shooting camera for events from this point forward.

Last weekend I mentioned that I got to shoot the Canon 5D Mk 2. The 24-105mm IS lens was optic of choice for most of the day. I didn't really feel I needed to go to any fast glass in this case, because with my 6400 ISO setting f4.0 was plenty wide to capture everything I needed to capture, even in lower light level situations.

So let me quickly recap why this is one of my favorite lenses in my gear bag.

1 -- I love the 24-105mm focal length range of the lens. I particularly like the 24 mm settings since I'm a wide angle nut anyway. On a full frame sensor camera, it is plenty wide to create some of the dramatic wide-angle images that I love to create.

2 -- The 105mm setting is also a very convenient focal length when shooting portraits of the bride, the groom, or both of them together. It lets me get close without getting too close. At the F 4.0 setting on close up portraits, I'm still able to get the background substantially out of focus.

3 -- The intermediate range of the lens also works nicely for all the wedding party group photographs letting me work very quickly in getting those images.

4 -- The F4.0 aperture is certainly fast enough for me in most instances. Now, particularly with the new higher ISO cameras becoming available, F4.0 should be more than adequate.

5 -- I've always been a huge fan of image stabilization. The image stabilization on this lens works beautifully. I have no qualms whatsoever shooting at shutter speeds as slow as 1/10th of a second - handheld. Yes, I do have my motor drive on multiple firings, but I would say, that most of the time the images are more than adequate with image stabilization working beautifully.

Keep an eye on next week's "Images Of The Day" - many were made with the 24-105mm IS lens.

That pretty much wraps up what I love about this lens. It's sharp, nice focal length range, wide enough aperture for most situations, and great image stabilization. If you're a Canon shooter I would certainly give highest recommendation to this lens. It's really the focal length and F4.0 f-stop combination that works for me and lets me be attuned to the actions and reactions of the day without worrying too much about which other lens I may need to capture the wedding day action.

Anyway gang, that's it for me today. LaDawn and I are packing our bags and heading to England on Sunday. I'll fill you in on what we're doing over there next week. We plan to be visiting some photographers from the UK, hopefully interviewing them for upcoming podcasts, and in general just taking in all of the London sites.

So until then, I'll see you on the flip side of the weekend. As I close this post I wonder, do British pixels have an accent ;~) See everybody next week, -- David.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Relaxed Elegance"

"Relaxed Elegance"
© David A. Ziser
This image was made at last Saturday's wedding and is just a simple, easy photograph of the bride taken on the balcony level overlooking the elegant surrounds of the beautiful Netherland Hilton hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio. I didn't want any dramatic posing, the bride was not into that at all, I just wanted a simple statement of my beautiful bride in this elegant setting. Illumination was provided with my Z-Ray technique [link], creating a striking three dimensional lighting on the bride. Light flooding from above needed to be blocked by my assistant who held a small reflector panel blocking the ceiling fixture. Camera specs; Canon 5d Mark II fitted with Sigma 12-24mm lens at 22mm, F5.6 @ 1/40 second, ISO 6400. Enjoy! -David

P.S. You can click on this image for a larger view.