Friday, January 30, 2009

"Forgotten Moments"

"Forgotten Moments"
©David A. Ziser

This image is from a trip to Chicago a few years ago. We were staying at an historic hotel in one of the suburbs. As we were leaving the hotel one morning, I was taken by the lonely chair at the end of the hall. It seemed to be inviting, even pleading for someone, anyone to please have a seat. The old classic draperies, the dark shadows in the long hallway seems to beckon to many memories of years gone by. Camera specs; Canon 30D fitted wit 17-85mm IS lens at 17mm, F10 @ 1/200 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! -David

Gear Bag Friday: Canon 5D Auction and One More Camera In The Bag

Good Morning Everybody,
Things are hopping around here today. We've got to get the ads and website wrapped for the Digital WakeUp Call tour kicking off March 30, 2009 in Jacksonville, FL. And, we are doing a little website housekeeping. It's about time as I have been very delinquent updating my websites. We are yanking the old site that shows the Digital WakeUp Call 2 DVD set, so if your interested in purchasing this set of DVDs then only for the next few days will they remain available. That is at least for a while until the new site is up and functioning. Here is the link.

Auction Time:
Also, I'm terrible at getting rid of equipment I don't use so most of the time it just sits around for example my Canon 5D, the predecessor to the 5DMk II. I've used it once in the last 18 months and it had little use on it then. I thought I would give this a try. If any of our DigitalProTalk readers are interested in my 5D, drop Jennifer an email at with your bid by next Friday, February 6th. If the high bid is reasonable, I'm happy to part with the camera. Do me one favor though - if you plan to bid, please don't read today's Gear Bag Friday ;~)

One More Camera In The Bag
OK, you knew it was coming. I've been yakking about it for the last few months - yep, it's the Canon 5D Mark II. It's my favorite piece of gear in the bag. I love the images. I love the ergonomics. I love the video capabilities. But that's just a few of the reasons this piece of camera equipment quickly became a favorite.

Here are a eight more.
1 -- ISO, ISO, ISO - yep, speed freaks like me love the new higher ISOs. Nikon had it, we Canon shooters wanted it. And now we have it - hey Nikon guys, no rubbing our noses in our long wait for the camera please. Anyway, I love the high use-able ISO's. I shot an entire reception event at ISO 3200 a few weeks ago and the images look amazing.

I love the noise reduction built into the camera when shooting JPEGs. NIK's DFine 2.0 has to work a little harder when I bring the RAW image into Photoshop from Lightroom. Both Noise Ninja and NIK's DFine 2.0 do a better job of noise reduction than Lightroom - that's why the trip to Photoshop.

2 -- I love the larger crisper viewfinder and it's ability to give me a decent indication of the correct exposure. I didn't mention this last week when I talked about the 40D, but one thing that made me a very "happy camper" with the 40D was the accuracy of the viewfinder in helping me determining correct exposure - just like the 5D Mk II.

Let me explain. The Canon 20D did a pretty good job at that - when you looked at the viewfinder, the image, density, looked reasonably close to what I saw on my computer monitor. The 30D and the original 5D was inaccurate, really awful in that department and there was no way to fiddle with the cameras to fix it.

Still today, when my assistant uses my 30D, I check the viewfinder and the images look good till I download them and check again. Then they are about 3/4 stop underexposed. Granted, the histogram reflects the under-exposure on the camera, but in the heat of the shoot, I'd like a quicker feedback device to tell me I'm in the ball park. The 40D and now the 5D Mk II viewfinders fixed the problem - the images look very close to the same feedback I received when viewing on my monitor.

There was a comment on last week's post about the 40D's viewfinder failing in that department - sorry, I have never had the problem.

3 -- I like it's focusing ability, yep, I said focus. I hated - wait, maybe that was too strong - I was always disappointed in the focusing capabilities of the old 5D at the wedding reception. So much so that I finally decided to NEVER use it for reception coverage. I just kept missing shots waiting for the camera to find it's focus.

The new 5D Mk II fixed that too. It's still a little slower that the 40D, but only a little and I can live with the subtle difference in focus speed.

4 -- Motor speed - the fist 5D was just a tad slow in the motor speed department at 3 FPS. Be sure to shut off "Silent running" or what ever it's called (Silent Shooting) and you kick the speed up to 3.9 FPS. Hey, I know it's not that much, but my shooting routine just feels a bit more comfortable at the slightly higher speed.

5 -- 3, count them, 3 Custom user definable settings just like on the 40D. I love it - 3 cameras in one at the turn of the knob. This is a super handy feature of the 40D, 50D, and 5D Mk II - check it out - it really adds to ease of operation on the wedding day.

6 -- Resolution - 21.1 mega-pixels. Ummm... Canon 1Ds Mark III - $8000 or 5D Mk II $2700 - what a tough choice. OK, no nasty emails for the Canon 1Ds Mark III shooters, please. I'm just trying to save a buck. For me, buy a lens or maybe 3 with the savings.

7 -- sRAW setting. OK, I've wrestled with this one ever since I burned through 56 gigs at a Bar Mitzvah a few weeks ago. Heck, I almost blew a tire coming home with the weight of all those RAW files in the case:~) But, I think I found the solution - sRAW. At that setting the 5D Mk II gives me a file size about 30% smaller than the full RAW with an image size approximating those from the 40D (3888x2592). More on this in a future post.

One little problem - Apple's Aperture and a few other RAW processing programs won't open them yet. Lightroom does just fine.
8 -- Love my 12-24mm Sigma lens on that full frame camera body. It's about as wide as you can go.

9 -- And what don't I like about the 5D Mk II? No pop up flash - what can I say, I still like that little guy every now and then. But with all the other 5D goodies, I guess I can live with it missing.

REMINDER: Please remember to visit the Thirst Relief Auction place your winning bid. You have until Sunday, February 1st at midnight EST. You'll find several truly wonderful items from leading photographers across the country as well as I've donated a space, $895. value, in my week-long Master Class. [link] All of the proceeds from the auction go to help women, children, and families to have clean drinking water. Right now, one in five children die from a drinking related illness or disease. Something this simple can easily be avoided and treated. So far, the Thirst Relief has saved over 100,000 people. Please help us again this year. Go here to learn more:

Everybody have a great weekend and I'll see ya' on Monday. See ya' then, -David

Thursday, January 29, 2009


©David A. Ziser

I've been photographing this young lady since she was 13 years old. I originally photographed her Bat Mitzvah back in my film days. Her parents ask that I take her senior portrait too. This was her favorite from the session. She has long since graduated high school and college and as long as I have known her she has been confident and known what she has wanted. This image is strangely reminiscent of one I posted last week entitled, "Emerging Manhood." That's because last week's image was of her younger brother. The image was made in my studio with only one light, a Paul Buff White Lightning strobe inside a Westcott halo with a 36 inch silver reflector opposite the main light to fill the shadows. This is my studio lighting setup of choice. Camera specs; Nikon D1x fitted with 24-135mm lens at 70mm, F5.6 @ 1/50 second, ISO 200. Enjoy! -David

Business Day Thursday: Motivating Employees; Promises Made, Promises Kept

Good Morning Everybody,
Well, we are in a bit of a thaw around here and the city seems to be moving again. That's good news for everybody except the kids that will have to go back to school today. I have to admit though, that I loved "snow days" with my kids. My entire staff, only two employees then, all had kids in the same school system so when a "snow day" was called - hip, hip, hooray - we headed for the hills for some good tubing and sledding. Ahh!!! the good old days ;~)

Hey everybody, I just wanted to give you a heads up about the podcast I did for CameraDoJo right here. We talk about RAW vs. JPEG vs. BOTH; Video and the Canon 5D Mark II and much more for about 90 minutes. By the way, that's not me in the picture.

UPDATE: The auction for Thirst Relief International that I'm participating in opens today at 10:00 p.m. EST. Here is the link for the auction right here. You can read the whole story in yesterday's post [link]. I'm checking it out myself tonight - see you there.

Motivating Employees; Promises Made, Promises Kept
I got a note from one of my Facebook buddies, Stacey Friedlein, about how to motivate employees. I thought it was perfect idea for our Business Day Thursday post. Don't have any employees, then be sure to read No Employees, No Problem article I've thrown in at the end - worth the read.

Hit the "Read More..." link below for the rest of the story.

A good friend of mine and former associate photographer here at the studio worked for the Cincinnati Park District as his regular day job. Bill and I had several conversations about how to handle employee evaluations. He managed a large staff so he had quite a bit of experience in that department. When I read Stacey's article, it echoed back to so much of what Bill advised me in the past so I wanted to share it with you today.

The Employee Covenant
The question for so many small businesses is how do we motivate our employees to perform and not just meet but exceed expectations. One very good way is through the use of a personal covenant. It works like this. During employee reviews (and if your not having these as least every six-months now is the time to start) you provide the employee with a form with "I promise to…" written across the top.

During the review you explain to the employee that they are to write on this form the things they will do in fulfilling their position with your company. It can include everything from showing up on-time, a time-line for completing assigned tasks, reaching sales goals, completing projects accurately, additional studies and just about anything which relates to their job performance.

Ask them to spend time and complete the form during the review. Discuss their list and set quantitative and measurable goals. Then you and the employee sign it. This form becomes an important tool in future employee reviews.

At the future review you now have a measuring stick, which the employee himself has created, to measure job performance. You should find the employee feels much more accountable based on the list they created. Now they are being judged on what they said they would do, not what you said they should.

This process allows for the employee to feel they are an essential part of your company. It helps them to understand the importance of doing their job correctly and in a timely manner. You should see a boost in employee morale and job performance by using this system.

Stacey has a lot of good information. Want more, check out his blog Helping Small Business $ucced [link]- tons of good stuff here, highly recommend.

No Employees, No Problem
If your business is an employee of one - you, the how about making your own covenant with yourself. What do you promise to do for your business? Write down anything that pops into your mind. Here are ten to get you started.

1. I promise to spend 30 minutes each day reading a sales/marketing book.
2. I promise to reach out to a new vendor buddy at least once a week/ once a month to tell them what my business is about.
3. I promise to continue to practice and improve my photographic technique.
4. I promise to develop at least 3 new products or services I can offer my clients.
5. I promise to attend one major convention this year and see what other photogs are doing.
6. I promise to read at least one photography book outside my area of expertise.
7. I promise to attend one seminar that comes near or through my town.
8. I promise to call at least 2 clients a week just to touch base and thank them for their business.
9. I promise to read my camera's manual from cover to cover so I really know what my equipment is capable of producing.
10. I promise to offer my services to at least one charitable organization this year.

OK, you get the idea. Now you have put yourself on notice to make some moves that could substantially impact your business and its growth. Put the list where you can see it everyday. That way it won't become a long forgotten memory in a week. Check your "Promise List" progress monthly - are you ahead of schedule or are you falling behind. Six months later - the day of reckoning - how did you do?

There are three possibilities:
1. You followed through on all your promises and are thrilled with the results of all your efforts. Give yourself a pat on the back, and get started on your next list - you are on your way to achieving the success you want for yourself and your business.

2. Well, you got some of the things done. Feel good about the small accomplishments, but know you need to work harder to keep your job performance in tip top shape and your business on the road to success. Start your second list with your first promise to yourself to try harder.

3. Nothing got accomplished, all promises broken. At this point many people will start making a gazillion excuses why it happened, why the promise list didn't work, why they couldn't keep up with the goals set. Well, what do you do with an underachieving employee? You FIRE them. Maybe it's time to fire yourself and find another line of work or try again even harder to meet your goals.

The bottom line is this:
Excuse makers NEVER succeed. Planning and working always trump wishing and hoping.

--Food for thought.

Hey everybody, I scootin' out of here early today. I'm trying to wrap the book this week and still have a chapter or two to finish. See ya' tomorrow for the second last Gear Bag Friday - One More Camera In The Bag. Don't forget to check out the Thirst Relief Auction when it opens for bidding today. See ya' tomorrow. -David

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Cherishing The Moment"

"Cherishing The Moment"
©David A. Ziser

Here is an image I captured just 16 seconds after yesterday's image entitled, "The Softness Of Her Touch" This time I focused on the bride's ring which also kept the couple mostly in focus. It has a completely different feel than yesterday's image, but still quite effective as a romantic portrait of the couple. Thoughts anybody? Camera specs; Nikon D1x fitted with 80-200 lens at 82mm, F3.5 @ 1/60 second, ISO 640. Enjoy! -David

Wednesday: Important Announcement - Please Read

Good Afternoon Everybody,
Today I feel like Nanook of the North. We received 8 inches of snow yesterday, about an inch of ice over night and 5 more inches of snow on top of the ice between 8am and noon today. Where is my pan sled, I'm ready to go? Hope all is well in your "neck of the woods."

Anyway, on with the post. First things first - I have to tell you about something I'm involved in. I teaming up David Jay and Michael Colon and many others trying to raise awareness and monies for Thirst Relief International.

The Thirst Relief Mentor Benefit is an opportunity for you to bid on a 90 minute session with one of your favorite photographers. When you enter the winning bid you get an opportunity to sit one-on-one for at least 90 minutes and talk about your business, your shooting style, your portfolio, the needs of your studio, or whatever else you'd like to discuss with the photographer you placed the winning, highest, bid on. Many of these photographers are giving much more than just their time, though! Which is very exciting! Some are giving away a space to their workshop, actions, products...all kinds of things! So you'll want to make sure to read each auction that you are interested in carefully.

I'm one of the guys giving away a place at my week long Digital Master Class. [link] An $895.00 value.

All of the proceeds from the auction go to help women, children, and families to have clean drinking water. Right now, one in five children die from a drinking related illness or disease. Something this simple can easily be avoided and treated. So far, the Thirst Relief has saved over 100,000 people. Please help us again this year. (You can also become a donor by giving just $5 a month. Five dollars saves a life. Go here to learn more:

The auction will open on Thursday, January 29th at 5pm EST. When the auction goes live you can click here:
The auction will close on Sunday, February 1st at midnight EST.

Be sure to check it out!!! Dig deep into your pockets, place your bid for a good cause and obtain a little something for yourself even beyond the great feeling of helping those who really have a basic human need, clean drinking water.

Wednesday: Analysis Of A Wedding Shoot - Part 9; Cake Cutting

Cutting the cake by the bride and groom is one of the reception high points and should have thorough photographic coverage. There is usually a lot of paramount opportunities to capture some great action and reaction shots during the cake cutting festivities. Let me walk you through the steps that we take to be sure that we have a total coverage of the cake cutting event at the wedding reception. 1 -- We take several photographs of the cake by itself. This includes close-ups and detail photographs of the entire wedding cake. Many times the cake is illuminated with the spotlight or additional lighting at the wedding reception and we can make most of these images with our camera set on the tungsten mode and not use any additional lighting.

2 -- It's important how we position the bride and groom around the wedding cake for two reasons. First of all - to have a balance of the tonalities in the scene and secondly to get the best lighting on the couple as well as the cake. If I'm looking at the cake and I want my bride and groom on the right-hand side of the cake I would ask the groom to step in the first behind the cake table and then I ask the bride after in after the groom. As in the photo below I have a pleasant trio of balance between the white, in this case cream, wedding cake, the dark tuxedo of the groom and then the beautiful white wedding gown.

3 -- I always coax one image of the bride and groom, asking them to look back into the camera and smiling as I take two or three images. Once I know I've got the image I asked them just to go ahead and cut the cake.

4 -- As they're cutting the cake I am making several more images. I’m photographing close-ups of their hands on the knife as they make their first cut from the bottom layer of the cake. I may also capture some of their expressions that they make with each other as they are cutting the cake as well. What is equally important is to momentarily turn away from the couple and explore the guests watching them cut the cake and capturing some reactions from them as well.

5 -- After they cut a small slice of cake and place it on the plate, I may have to help by becoming a director at this point. I may ask them to step in front of their cake so all their guests can easily witness the feeding of each other or to jest help coax them along as to how to proceed. It's now time for them to feed each other the cake. Yes, I know, things can get a bit messy at this point but I don't see the messy cake feeding much anymore. The bride and groom each take a piece of cake and offer each other a bite. We are taking several photographs at this point. Once again we are surveying the attendees and capturing any other special reactions, giggles, smiles, ahhhh expressions..... that the guests may be offering during this special moment of the reception.

6 -- After they fed each other the cake, they may give each other kiss and toast with champagne. Keep the cameras rolling – it’s digital, every shot is free.
That pretty much wraps this part of the wedding reception. There are times as I said, that things have gotten quite messy. If they do you got another opportunity to get some great candids. But remember, that you are capturing the moment and the moment is a combination of the action of the bride and groom feeding each other the cake and the reaction of the guests should anything really funny happen.

I encourage you to develop a sixth sense about you. Know who is standing around – left, right, and behind you - watching the bride and groom during the cake cutting. Anticipate any reactions from those people as the bride and groom go through the motions. That way you're assured of a great series of images of the bride and groom at this wedding reception high point.

Hey everybody, that's it for me today. I'm going to see if I can flag down a snow plow truck to help dig us out ;~) See everybody tomorrow for another episode of Business Day Thursday. See ya' then. -David

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"The Softness Of Her Touch"

"The Softness Of Her Touch"
©David A. Ziser

This is another image I made a few years ago. It's a bit different that what we normally see in wedding images. Both subjects are very much out of focus with the veil providing the only focus point in the scene. What I like about this image is the fact that it hints at the intimacy of the couple, their anonymity protected by the very soft focus, yet their feelings very much revealed by the bride's soft touch on the groom's cheek. How do you feel about the image? Camera specs; Nikon D1x fitted with 80-200 lens at 82mm, F3.5 @ 1/60 second, ISO 640. Enjoy! -David

Technique Tuesday: Lightroom 2 In Reverse, Visiting With Friends, and You Can Be A hero Too

Good Afternoon Everybody,
Help!! We are snowed in today. That's why things are moving a bit slow including the late post. This morning we woke up to 8 inches of new snow on the ground with the weather forecast predicting at least 4 more inches by tomorrow morning. That means that our fair hilly city grinds to a standstill. We should be dug out by tomorrow ....hopefully.

Last night LaDawn and I had dinner with my buddy and outstanding wedding photographer, Joe Buissink. Susan Michal another great friend and outstanding portrait photographer from Jacksonville Florida [link] also joined our group. Mary Mannix, our friend and our Canon rep was also part of the wonderful evening of just visiting and not necessary talking about photography. I kind of like it when a group of photographers can get together and talk, laugh and share events and moments that have touched our lives outside our photography profession.

Having said that let me share with you a story, as related by Joe during our dinner conversation. It's about an amazing young man who just happens to be autistic. Jason amazed his teammates, family and friends when he scored 20 points with 6 3-pointers at the last high school basketball game of the season. It is truly an emotional and uplifting story. Here is YouTube link to the story - definitely worth a peek. So many times, we saddle ourselves with our own less than the best expectations to achieve our own success. This young man, Jason McElwain, did no such thing and became a hero for all of us - pointing the way for us to be heroes too.

Technique Tuesday: Lightroom 2 In Reverse
Time to move on to our Technique Tuesday today. Today's tutorial is part 1 of a Lightroom double-header technique. Today I want to offer a creative way to use Lightroom 2 to enhance your images.

I'm certain most of you have witnessed the Photoshop techniques showing how to highlight a certain color in a B&W image. Let me show you a little trick I picked up at Matt Kloskowski's Lightroom 2 program which I attended last Friday. His little tip about using the Erase brush in Lightroom really opens a up a few doors to creative image processing within the software. Hit the PLAY button below to see the rest of the story...

Hey gang, that's it for me today. Sorry for the late post, but the snow has us slowed to a crawl today. Because of the late post, look for tomorrow's post to be a little later in the day too. We'll get back on schedule after the thaw ;~) See ya' tomorrow for another episode of Analysis of a Wedding Shoot. See ya' then, -David

Monday, January 26, 2009

"A Moment In Time"

"A Moment In Time"
©David A. Ziser

I made this image a few years ago and it is still one of my favorite classic wedding images. It shows a beautiful bride in the classic profile view illuminated with a beautiful loop lighting pattern. I think this kind of image is timeless. No, it not like a lot of "run and gun" stuff we see so much of today (not trying to step on toes here,) but it is just a beautiful portrait study of this lovely lady. Many bride's are looking for the more spontaneous look in their images these days which we do capture, but the parents of the bride love these kind of images. Hey, on the wedding day, we need to remember we are shooting for everybody. Camera specs; Canon 5D fitted with 24-105mm IS lens at 50mm, F5.6 @ 1/40 second. ISO 800. Enjoy! -David

Quick Hit Monday: Convention Wraps, Great Speakers, A Special Winner Announced

Good Morning Everybody,
Whew! This weekend has been a whirlwind adventure. I'm on the KPPA Board which means we are responsible for a lot of the behind the scenes stuff that's going on at these convention. I've been super busy and I think I'm the lightweight when it comes to the work that needs to get done.

I can't believe the amount of time and effort the entire board, especially our incoming president, Jessica Vogel, puts into making the convention a huge success. And, she is a great photographer - want to get a few Monday morning goosebumps to start your day, then check out Jessica's site right here. Hit any of the galleries - just gorgeous stuff.
On a personal note, I talked LaDawn into entering this year and she won two blue ribbons with her image CAR-isma taking second place in the "Illustrative" category - Congrats to my Sweetie! OH, I forgot to mention, Michele Celentano [link] was another one of our speakers. Michele hails from Phoenix and was a little concerned about getting out of town before the snow hit around here. I had the honor of driving Michele to the airport and we had a great visit along the way. Michele is an extremely popular, energetic, and talented speaker who you can hear over at WPPI in a few weeks.

Michele is also one of the Canon Explorers of Light - that means she's a real big deal when it comes to her photography. Check out the Canon Explorers of Light site right here if you want to be further "blown away" by gorgeous images. Here's the cool thing, Michele has agreed to a podcast with me in a few weeks at WPPI - I'll keep you posted.

We are wrapping the convention today with celebrity wedding photographer Joe Buissink [link]presenting an all day program. Joe is one of those guys that has such an easy manner about him, but he still shoots extraordinary images. His is also a Canon Explorer of Light. I'm missing the first part of the program, but am heading on down there shortly. Hey gang, time is running short this morning so I've got to go. I'll plan to see everybody tomorrow for another episode of Technique Tuesday - Lightroom In Reverse. See you then. --David

Friday, January 23, 2009

"Lost In The Moment"

"Lost In The Moment"
©David A. Ziser

I made this photograph a few years ago. The bride was just relaxing near a window. I loved what I saw through the viewfinder - the soft light, subtle tones, and gentle expression. The saturated red of the bouquet contrasted nicely with the subtle colors of the Japanese screen behind her. You can almost feel the quiet repose within the entire composition - one of my favs. Camera specs: Nikon D1x fitted with 50mm F1.4 lens, F 2.2 @ 1/320 second, ISO 800. Enjoy! -David

Gear Bag Friday: Matt Is In Town; PhotoProExpo Kicks Off; and How About The Cameras?

Good Morning Everybody,
Today is the day - the day of our PhotoProExpo / MidEast Regional Print Competition/ Kentucky Convention kicking off for the next 5 days. I'm looking forward to catching up with friends, checking out some of the programs, and seeing what new goodies I can find in the trade show.

The convention kicks off with my buddy, Matt Kloskowski, Lightroom and Photoshop guru. A BIG thanks to National Association Of Photoshop Professionals - NAPP - for bringing the Lightroom 2 Tour [link] to the Covington, KY/Metro Cincinnati area and coordinating it with our ProPhotoExpo convention. BIG NEWS - anyone attending the Lightroom 2 program today gets a complimentary trade show pass to the convention! If you're attending one event it's a great opportunity to attend the other!

LaDawn and I had dinner with Matt last night and are stoked to hear his program today! Hey gang, I've got to get scootin', my convention duties are calling. Before I go, let me leave you with another episode of Gear Bag Friday - Enjoy! -David

Gear Bag Friday: How About The Cameras?
In looking back over all the Gear Bag Fridays, it occurred to me that I haven't talked about the cameras in the bag. Sure, it's evident when you look at the images of the day and the accompanying images from the other articles I post, it's probably a Canon camera. Well it is my camera of choice these days – no pokes at Nikons - and most recently the Canon 40D. I do see myself migrating to that Canon 50D soon for two reasons; 1 - the much higher resolution viewfinder, and 2 - the higher usable ISO in the camera. The higher resolution is also a big bonus too.

Up to this point, I would say for the last 18 months, my “hands down” camera of choice has been the 40D. I remember when it hit the market and I was blown away by some of its features. Let me just name the main reasons I was a big fan of the 40D and now most recently the 50D.

Here we go --

1 -- Highlight Tone Priority - this feature alone is what made me switch to the 40D. Sure Nikon has a similar feature called Active D Lighting, but prior to my jump into the Canon camp this was the first time I experienced this feature and it was on a Canon camera. Highlight Tone Priority basically adds a lot of latitude to the image when it comes to over-exposure – actually about one stop. This is particularly useful for a wedding photographer shooting brides in white dresses, often very shiny reflective white dresses, at high noon and late afternoon sun. I loved the added protection this feature allowed me in my shooting routine.

2 -- Also with the introduction of the 40D as with the 50D, was the addition of the 3 custom buttons on the dial. The 30D didn’t have them. The first 5D also had these custom settings which is where I learned to love them. These custom settings, when used correctly, can basically give you three cameras in one. For instance, my 1st custom one button is always set to 1600 ISO 2800K, P for professional, and center spot reading. That means that when I find myself in a tight situation I can simply turn the dial to C1 mode, turn off my on camera flash, and shoot away in the available light of the scene and get some great candid images. The C2 setting on my Canon 40 D is set to 3200 ISO with all the other parameters being the same, 2800 K, P for Professional, and center spot reading, as I mentioned for the C1 setting. The C2 setting isn’t one I use very often but, in a pinch at a wedding reception it may just fit the bill to capture the shot. I reserve the C3 setting for specifics relating to the current job as necessary.

3 -- Another feature I like in the 20D, 30D, 40D and 50D is -- don't laugh now -- the pop-up flash. I can remember when I started shooting my first 20D. The 580EX flash hadn't even been introduced yet. I actually shot a number of jobs for about four weeks with just the pop-up flash as my on camera flash. I know you are still laughing, but remember, I always worked with an assistant with an off-camera flash and also had a room light firing during my wedding reception candids. That little on camera flash still gave me enough light from camera position to fill the shadows if needed and still get the images I desired for my client.

The number one main reason I liked the little pop-up flash is this. At the end of the night after we packed everything up, we've said goodbyes to the bride and groom and their parents, and were walking out the door what invariably happens? Somebody wants one more picture. No problem I don't have to unpack the bag. I don't have to do anything. I know this photograph is going to be a quick grab candid so I simply pop up the flash capture a couple of photographs, wave goodbye, and continue on my way. Mainly I like the little pop-up flash for his convenience at one o'clock in the morning to get that last photograph of whoever, (usually those over indulged with the free alcohol of the evening), feels they need one more picture taken.

4 -- I also like the speed at which the 40D and 50 D shoot. When I tried to use my earlier 5D, I have to say I just didn't like it for reception coverage. It just wasn't fast enough for me. I always switched back to the 30D I was using at the time. The 40D is plenty fast though. It has two speed settings on it – 3fps and 6.3 fps. 3 fps is adequate for most everything that I do. (I have to admit, I like the 5D MkII 3.3 fps just a bit more. 6.3 is just too quick for me in most cases. I've occasionally set it to the faster six frames per second setting but I find that is way too many pictures per second and I really don't need it set to that very often. If you're a fast action event photographer such as a sporting event or race car photographer, then this 6.3 fps setting would be great.

The bottom line is this. I like the 40D the reasons outlined above. I like the new 50D for its higher usable ISOs and much higher resolution viewfinder. I hope that gives you a little insight into why I prefer these cameras and have selected the Canon Family of cameras as my camera choice for shooting my weddings.

I'll fill you in on Monday on some of the convention highlights. So, have a great weekend and I'll see you on the flip-side of the weekend. See you then, -- David

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Our Family"
©David A. Ziser

I don't post many family portraits, but this is one of my favorite family portraits I've captured. I had a conversation with the mom about clothing at our planning session a week or so before the portrait was scheduled. She can up with the wonderful combination of tans and blacks for the family. The image was made in their backyard. Fortunately the trees were so far away from my subjects, so that they went out of focus beautifully with my fairly wide aperture creating a wonderfully beautiful backdrop for the portrait. The direction of light was created with my off-camera flash firing through a translucent umbrella to the left of the group. Camera specs; Nikon D1x fitted with 80-200mm non IS lens at 185mm mounted on a tripod, F4.5 @ 1/500 second (native sync speed on the Nikon D1x was 1/500 second - I loved it), ISO 200.
Enjoy! -David

Business Day Thursday: Are You Working At Your Business Or Working For Your Business?

Good Morning Everybody,
Well, as I write this, I have my too little pets (maybe more) keeping me company. My desk is right next to the fireplace in my sales studio. Check out last week's Business Day Thursday [link] and you can see the fireplace slightly left of center in the shot. Look a bit more to the left and you can see the back of my computer monitor - yep, that's DigitalProTalk's world headquarters.

Anyway, it seems that during our super cold week of weather, a raccoon or a possum family found their way down the chimney and have taken up temporary winter residence. All day long, I hear them sneezing, wheezing, and purring. When I'm meeting with clients, I have to explain it's not me or my stomach making those sounds - the remark is quite the ice-breaker. I'm not quite sure how to solve my dilemma - um-mm.. maybe a fire in the fireplace - just kidding. As long as they are reasonably quiet, they can hang around till I come up with a better idea or Mother Nature blesses us with some warmth. Anyway, on with Business Day Thursday...

Are You Working AT Your Business Or Working FOR Your Business?
This thought occurred to me last week, as we were moving through the hustle and bustle of a typical workday. And although we're not always “pedal to the metal” around here, we do get a break every now and then. It was during one of those breaks that brought this thought to mind.

So many of us are caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of our businesses. We think being busy is making us money. The fact of the matter is being busy is probably not helping us be as successful as we could be. Busyness does not equal success. Some of us could be a lot less busy if we would manage our time differently and organize ourselves differently within our studio. Folks, I'm not talking necessarily about a full time Main Street studio. I'm talking about everybody involved in a photographic endeavor whether it be full-time or part-time or beginning on the road to a photographic career.

To read the rest of the story, hit the "Read More..." link below.

So, are you working at your business or for your business? How can we work for our business? What I mean by this is taking time out of the hectic schedule and spending it on thinking about your business, promoting your business, or just exploring how you might improve procedures and practices that you're doing right within your own workspace. I’m talking about trading “busyness” – working AT the business for strategic planning time where you are working FOR your business. If each and every one of us would spend one hour a week organizing, planning, and promoting; this added time would help “grease the wheels” and really get our businesses moving along.

Being tied up – almost hamstrung - in the day-to-day busy activities really undermines the success of so many businesses. No time to think, no time to plan, no time to succeed – that is the reality.

In my early days, I knew that I had to have a weekly Monday morning quarterback meetings with my studio manager. But, as most people in most studios, I was always too busy. I was always too busy with this or that project and was always falling out of the habit of meeting regularly with my studio manager.

Here is an analogy that I think works. It was kind of like having a sore tooth in the beginning. It doesn't hurt much and you figure you don't need to go to the dentist. But after a while the pain builds and sure enough you find yourself with severe tooth, neck, jaw pain before finally going to the dentist. That's what would happen to me in cycles. I can remember where things seemed to be getting a little bit “out of whack,” things were not running as smoothly as they should be. There seemed to be a slight lack of communication between my staff and myself on some issues.

Only when it got bad enough – things were getting even more disorganized - is when I went to the “doctor” – and started to have my necessary weekly meetings again. Every time I got into the habit of regularly scheduling the meetings, there seemed to be a sense of relief knowing that things were back on an even keel. It happened every time we started those weekly meetings - my business would always get back to running smoothly. It’s still a lesson I need to relearn occasionally. As I sit back and reflect on those times, it is so much “human nature” knowing what you need to do and then for whatever reason or excuse, not doing it.

So are you working AT your business or are you working FOR your business? It behooves each and every one of us to spend at least an hour a week working FOR our businesses success, and its continued growth. My recommendation is to choose any one aspect of your business that needs improvement and just concentrate on that one thing for a 30-day period. For instance, how about self-promotion how do you get the word out about who you are and what you do. I think this should be one of the top priorities.

Plan on spending that first hour of Week 1 thinking about how you might start promoting your business. Then, the second week, put a plan together on exactly what you're going to do. Hey, it doesn’t have to be a perfect plan. We are talking about developing “success” habits. And on the third week start “working at the plan” in starting to reach those potential clients. And then fourth week, evaluate what happened the week before, make mid-course corrections, set goals and proceed ahead again.

You may spot some signs of success early on, hopefully you do. It will give you the incentive to continue on that straight path. This post is about developing success habits, habits that may start small but grow BIG. You have to start somewhere. Doing the same thing over and over again and not seeing any positive results is NOT how to be successful. As I said there are so many ways to work AT your business but to work FOR your business’ success, you need to take the time away from the chaotic, hectic, busyness of your business to make it happen.

Food for thought...

Be sure to check back tomorrow for another edition of, guess what, Gear Bag Friday. I start looking back over the series and noticed that I have some gear conspicuously absent. It was the cameras! So tomorrow I'm just going to walk through some of the settings I use with my cameras when shooting a wedding. I hope you find it helpful and informative, and I'll plan to see you again tomorrow. Adios, -- David

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Emerging Manhood"

"Emerging Manhood"
©David A. Ziser

This image was made as part of a high school senior session for the oldest son of one of my best clients. The young man pictured here wanted nothing to do with a "smiling" portrait. He wanted to show his strength and individuality in his world. I accentuated his expression with the contrasty broad lighting. Converting the image to B&W finished the portrait to just what he wanted to portray in his portrait. Camera specs: Nikon D1x fitted with 80-200mm lens at 105mm, F11 @ 1/100 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! -David

Wednesday: Analysis Of A Wedding Shoot Part 8 - Fast Dance Candids and Party Pics

Good Morning Everybody,
Well, regardless of who you voted for in the November election, we all watched history in the making yesterday. For many of us, it made us feel even more proud to be an American. For those watching around the world, it promised a brand new tomorrow in our world's history. I, as well as so many others around our nation and the world wish our new president success and godspeed with all the challenges he faces as he moves from the celebrations of yesterday to the real work on which he embarks today.

Earlier this week, my buddy Craig Weiglien of Mansion Hill Studios, one of the very talented photographic competition around town set up a movie outing to see Bride Wars on Monday night. It was nice opportunity to hook up with our wedding vendor buddies spending some time just relaxing, laughing and having a good time.

We all had to laugh at the movie though. It seems that only wedding consultants are featured in these kind of shows. Seldom do you see a florist and you just never see a photographer anywhere. It was a nice break in the action from our normal busy studio routine and a wonderful chance to catch up with a few friends. Anyway, how about another episode of Analysis of a Wedding Shoot - here we go...

Analysis of a Wedding Shoot – Part 8
Well everybody, welcome to another episode of Analysis of a Wedding Shoot. In our last episode we discussed shooting the room but now we're ready to party. I've actually planned about three or four segments for the wedding reception coverage before we wrap the series.

In this particular segment I want to talk about fast dance candids. Fast dance candids are those candids of people just out there partying on. Fast dance candids are more than just backing up and putting a wide-angle lens on the camera and shooting away. Fast dance candids are more than going up to the balcony with a wide-angle lens and shooting the whole dance floor. Fast dance candids mean capturing the fun, the excitement, the spontaneity, and all those wonderful party moments during the wedding reception.

So in this section let me step you through the main points I try to cover when doing the dance of fast dance candids. Hit the "Read More..." link below for the rest of the story.

1 -- First of all let me say that I think it's important to have great lighting on your fast dance candids. That's why I set up a room light whenever we’re photographing a wedding reception. We covered that in an earlier Gear Bag Friday post entitled, “Making a Case for The Room Light.” Here is the link. I think the added dimension that the additional room light and my off-camera flash bring to the candids is a huge differentiator from so many other wedding photographers.

2 -- The easiest dance candids are really those that are made with a wide-angle lens. Probably my favorite lens when shooting a 40D or 50D cameras would be the 10-22mm lens. I rack the lens out to 10mm, hold the camera over my head, target on the crowd, and shoot away.

3 -- What do I mean by targeting the crowd? What I mean by this is having a sense of what my camera is capturing as I hold the camera over my head. I'm saying that I'm framing up the shot without ever looking through the viewfinder. This is not hard to learn and the talent can be developed in about 30 minutes of practice at a wedding.

I find that in the early stages of practicing, I generally cut off a lot of the heads of the partiers. These type of images are made periodically over the entire four or more-hour run of the reception. Too many other events and happenings, as all of us know, take place during that entire evening and we don't want to miss any of it.

5 -- Close up fast dance candids. These images, many times, are taken with my regular 17-85mm IS lens on the 40D or with my 24-105mm IS lens on my 5D Mk II. These two lens are typically my favorite lenses I use when doing a fast dance candids. I try to get tight on the action sometimes asking for the revelers to look back into the camera. I found over the years that most of the guests can really ham it up nicely and are happy to give me great fun expressions. I call these coaxed candids. They are a nice addition to our photo-journalistic candids.

5 -- I think the worst fast dance candids are those that simply show a lot of backs of heads and backs, loss of expression and emotion of the crowd.

7 -- There are some songs that really lend themselves to great fast dance candids. That could be YMCA. Yes, we still hear it now and then but it's always great for pictures. Another great opportunity for fast dance candids is when the whole crowd decides to do the alligator and get down on the floor. This is a great opportunity to get that camera high above the crowd shooting down on all the wild and crazy people.

8 -- The most important thing to capture in fast dance candids is obviously the expressions on the guests’ faces. Always go for the best expressions. These kind of images capture the party flavor add to the client’s album and are an integral part of the story. Work at it and don’t ever leave it out.

You know, I said it before but I still think the best way to differentiate our wedding candids from those of so many other photographers is really with the lighting. I think that lighting we put on the scene either makes or breaks that candid. I hate seeing candids that are taken with a wide-angle lens with only an on-camera flash. You see a lot of people partying on but they seem to be partying on in the black hole of Calcutta. There is no depth no dimension to the images.

The added dimension that the room light brings to the scene along with the additional light of my off-camera flash and coupled with my on-camera flash just adds so much more to the scene. It's a triangle of light illuminating the subjects adding that much needed detail, depth and dimension to each image.

So gang, that's it for me today. I hope I’ve given you a little something to think about when you go out and photograph your next wedding. Don't forget to check back tomorrow for Business Day Thursday: Are You Working At Your Business Or For Your Business?" See ya' then, -David

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Dancing In The Park"

"Dancing In The Park"
©David A. Ziser

Here is another image I made during my migration period from film to digital - 2000-2001. Having shot with a Hasselblad for so long, I was having an issue with changing how I composed my images from square to rectangular format, but with the use of wide angle optics, I got over it pretty quickly. This image follows a lot of my rules of composition; bride in 2 quadrant, lots of repeat elements with the arches, with the added bonus of one arch repeating as a shadow helping to frame the bride. Camera specs; Fuji S-1 fitted with 18-35mm lens at 18mm, F 9.0 @ 1/320 second, ISO 320. Enjoy! -David

Technique Tuesday: Lightroom Lighting

Good Morning Everybody,
Things are hopping this week at the studio with clients yesterday and today and the PhotoProExpo kicking off later this week. I got huge chunks of my wedding book wrapped this weekend so that's a good thing.

And, we are putting finishing touches on the Digital WakeUp Call - A New Dawn 2009 Tour. I should be able to point you to the web site by the end of the month. I'm also a volunteer for a lot of the PhotoProExpo activities so time is a bit short around here this week. I sure hope several of you will come on by the convention - it's a HUGE photographic talent fest this year. Here is the ProPhotoExpo link again if you missed it on an earlier post. The trade show looks to be very promising as well. It's a GREAT opportunity to hear some fantastic speakers and I encourage each and everyone of you to register and attend if you live with in the Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia area.

Well, how about on with this week's edition of Technique Tuesday - I think you re going to enjoy it - here we go...

Technique Tuesday: Lightroom Lighting
So how many times didn't you get the image you wanted in the camera. Or you wish you would have tweaked the exposure/lighting a bit more in the camera? Or maybe there wasn't time during the wedding day to tweak the shot and you had to settle for a Lightroom fix after getting back to the studio?

Well today folks I offer the solution to these problems. Lightroom has some wonderful built in tools that literally let us put light on the scene exactly where we want it. We can easily control the densities and tonalities of the image transforming it dramatically to obtain a beautiful finished result.

In this tutorial, I'll take only a few minutes to take an image at first glance appears not that great. After a few Lightroom tweaks and judicious use of Lightroom 2's new tools, you will see the image transformed into a very cool looking portrait of the groom. Hit the PLAY button below and enjoy the show...

Hey gang, that's it for me today. I've got another episode of Analysis Of A Wedding Shoot planned for tomorrow, so be sure to tune in. See everybody then. -David

Monday, January 19, 2009

"Happy Day"

"Happy Day"
©David A. Ziser

Even though this image was in created in 2002, I have always loved this image. Yes, B&W with selective color on the flowers was the rage back then, not so popular today, but I still like it. As a matter of fact, I was with the bride yesterday for her baby naming ceremony of her second son. This image was prominently displayed at her parents home where the festivities were taking place. This image was a very spontaneous moment captured during the pre-wedding portrait series. Let me make a point here. Even though I say portrait series, the images I try to create aren't anything like the very stiff, posed images we used to see in wedding photography of days gone by. I strive for a comfortable, relaxed look from my client. This results in "portraits" that capture much more of the personality of the subject and are a wonderful addition to the wedding album. Camera specs; Fuji S-2 fitted with 50mm lens, F2.0 @ 1/750 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! -David

Monday: Quick Hit Monday: John Nack, Crash Taylor, CameraDoJo, WPPI, and EpicEdits

Good Morning Everybody,
And welcome to another edition of Quick Hit Monday. I hope everybody had a great weekend. We are a bit chilly here in good old Cincy getting down to -6 Fahrenheit over the weekend. But, things are warming up. Now when I walk across our deck it doesn't sound like the ice is breaking below my feet. I've got a lot to cover today.... Quick Hit Monday let's get right to it.

Quick hit Monday
I noticed over at fellow blogging buddy, Jason Moore's site, that he has started a new series of interviews entitled PsI Interviews. His first begins with an in-depth interview with Adobe Photoshop senior project manager, Photoshop Hall of Famer, and monster blogger, John Nack. Jason does a great job on his interviews and this one is particularly well done. Be sure to catch Part 2 in the upcoming weeks. I invite you to go check it out. Here is the link. Oh, I forgot to mention. Jason is doing an interview with my buddy, Larry Becker, Executive ditector for NAPP on February 9, 2009. So mark your calendars and check back for this interview.

Also, blogging buddy, Crash Taylor, from England continues his terrific series of interviews with wedding photographers as well. I took a little time over the weekend to get myself caught up on what he's been up to. Your weekly visit to Crash’s site -- here is the link -- is always worth it if you're a wedding photographer. Not only are the interviews in depth and insightful but they give a great peek into a wedding photographer's brain and how we think. Pictures, heck yes pictures – always a full compliment with each interview. Before you let this slip your mind -be sure to check it out -- here is the link again.

And speaking of interviews, Kerry at asked me to do a podcast with him earlier this year. I was finally able to oblige Kerry last week. plans to run the podcast tomorrow - Tuesday. Here is a link to the site. I have to say, it was quite a nice conversation. I think when we both looked up at the clock, we were shocked to discover that 90 minutes had expired.

We talked about a lot of different things that I think you will find of interest. We discussed RAW versus JPEG, the RAW variations in the new digital cameras and some strategies on how we might use the different settings when photographing weddings with these new mega-mega pixel cameras.

We also discuss the video capabilities of the new cameras and what some of the possibilities may be. So, tune in tomorrow to [link] and check it out. While you're there, check out Kerry’s collection of over 50 more podcasts created over the past several months many of which are just a wealth of knowledge.

Last week seemed to be a busy interview week for me. Scott Sheppard also interviewed me for WPPI radio. This was a much shorter interview - only about 10 minutes long – but you may find it interesting. With WPPI Convention and Trade Show only a few weeks away, there are several photographers who will be speaking and Scott has interviewed many of them. The WPPI Convention is one of the highlights of the year when it comes to wedding/portrait photography – they are expecting 12,000 attendees this year with their biggest trade show ever. It is quite the production and I hope to see many of you there in Las Vegas in mid February. By the way, here's the link to my interview with Scott.

Let me wrap Quick Hit Monday by pointing you to another great website – It's run by my blogging buddy Brian Auer. You know, like you I wish I had more time to cruise the net and take advantage of so much good information that's available out there but, like you, there's only so many hours in the day.

In any event I always try to get back and visit my faves. has always been one of those favorite sites to visit. What Brian has put together is a great end of the year compilation of his best articles from all of 2008. Folks, there is a ton of well organized information available and I invite to the make the trip over to check it out. Here is the link to

Hey folks that's it for me today. I’ve got a little different kind of Technique Tuesday put together for tomorrow. It's going to be more Lightroom oriented. I stumbled on the technique I’m showing while editing some photographs for my Kelby Training videos. So plan to stop by tomorrow and see what I got up my sleeve. That's it for today, have a good one, and I'll see you again tomorrow. – David

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Having An Easy Afternoon"

"Having An Easy Afternoon"
©David A. Ziser

I made this image with the new Canon 1D Mark III at the time. I saw 3 things in the scene that I thought would make the image work. 1- Pillars - pillars are always a good thing when it comes to backgrounds and props. 2 - The sun which would act as a backlight for me if I positioned the bride just right. 3 - A beautiful soft direction of light coming in from the left (bride's right). It was subtle, but gave a nice roundness and dimension to the bride's facial features and figure. All combined, we get a very beautiful, well illuminated bridal portrait. Camera specs; Canon 1D Mark III fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 160mm, F5.6 @ 1/250 second, ISO 800.
Enjoy! -David

Friday: “Questions And Answers Revealed” and Editorial Comment

Good Morning Everybody,
Well, I did it. I really did it. I deleted a comment to a blog the other day; a first, except for the occasional comment spam. You ask, "Did you not agree with the comment?" Nope, that wasn't it. I do not moderate comments in any way and have left every comment stay even if I don't necessarily agree with them. Heck, not my fault that they don't see the DigitalProTalk light. OK, just joking.

In reality, some posters will leave a comment that doesn't necessarily agree with what I post in the blog. That's fine with me because it generally encourages good discussion from our readers and, in many cases, helps to clarify a point.

A good case in point is my post Highlight Tone Priority Image Salvation right here. A lot of people didn't like the fact that I shot JPEG and had to let me know about it. I say, "Who cares?" It about getting the image - JPEG, RAW, handdrawn, painted, whatever - but I let the comments stay. There was quite a bit of discussion, most of which was beneficial to our readers, and that's my point.

The comment I recently deleted was different. It contained inappropriate language and was insulting. My mama always told me, "If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all." I agree. For the very rare, less than friendly, reader, please don't bother knocking on the DPT door because you will be asked to leave. This is a friendly blog with lots of friendly readers - friendly people are always welcome. 'Nuff said.

“Questions And Answers Revealed”
I want to begin by saying how much I appreciate all the readers of DPT and especially the helpful, informative comments we get around here. Some of the posts elicit comments that want a bit more info on the subject I posted. As much as I would like to answer each and everyone of those questions, the day simply does not have enough hours in it for me to do so. Many of the answers to the questions can be found simply by searching the DPT blog. But some cannot, which is why I decided to start this new series, “Questions And Answers Revealed”. In it, I will periodically answer questions raised from the comments to bring clarification to that particular topic.

In today's post, I've gone back through a week's worth of posts, scouring the comments for the most scintillating questions asked and will attempt to bring new meaning to the original post by delving even deeper into details in order to bring clarity, satisfaction, and yes, even closure to those, sometimes, unanswered of life ;~) Anyway, let's give it a go and see what happens. Hit the Read More... link below for the rest of the story.

From the posts---
Technique Tuesday: Recession Lighting: A Poor Man's Guide to Lighting Gear
-You are suggesting you must use a 400 dollar GREAT flash to trigger a 25 dollar toy flash?
Nope, I think the point was missed here. The point is that it's always about the light, not about the expense of the light that makes the image. Heck, there are a gazillion other cheaper strobes on the market that I could have used. The 580 was handy while walking the hotel grounds at 7 p.m. I also take issue with the term toy strobe. This strobe is an integral part of my gear bag and has been featured in the series recently.

-How do you grind down the big threads?
Head to your nearest hardware store, pick up a metal file for about $5 bucks, add a little elbow grease and file away. Or, ask a buddy to do it for you with his grinding wheel as I did.

"Having A Great Time"
-What front light do you used to light them? My guess would be a zoomed on-camera flash directly towards them?
Exactly, check out, "I'm "Jellin" with My Zoom Flash" right here for the details.

-...those saturated red colors like you have in your images. Did you bump this up in Photoshop?
Nope, Just a dark red jell over the flash head. Lightroom 2.0 is my favorite color "Juicing" program anyway these days.

"The Bridal Session"
-On average, how many portraits of the bride do you take on the wedding day?
Lets see, 3500 images over 10 hours - I'd say about 30 minutes worth. That would break down to about 15 in total - 5 close up variations, 5 half-length variations, and 5 full length variations. Unless, of course we have less time, then reduce accordingly.

-How close was the umbrella? I thought by looking at it that it was through a snoot-ed light.
Nope, I do like the "snooted" light for SOME shots but not many. In this shot, the lighting MAY have looked "snooted" because of its distance from the subject - about 12 feet away. That's because the further the light is from the subject, the smaller the light source appears to be with respect to the subject, obviously. But the umbrella is still king for me - I use the shoot through umbrella on all portraits; families, wedding formals, and everything that needs a soft light. I use my "snooted" light technique and my Z-Ray lighting much less frequently than my umbrella lighting.

Gear Bag Friday: The Stuff At The Bottom Of The Bag
-Spectral Highlighter, find it almost anywhere?
No you can't. The company that originally sold them is long out of business. I bought mine over 20 years ago. I've actually considered having mine re-fabricated and making them available - any interest?

Hey gang, that's it for me today. Let me know what you thought of this little foray into “Questions And Answers Revealed”. If there is enough interest, I'll continue to bring it back around regularly.

Anyway, got to go. Everybody have a great one and I'll see you next week, assuming we get a thaw around here ;~) See you then, --David

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"Friend Of The Arts"

"Friend Of The Arts"
©David A. Ziser

I made this image very quickly, approximately 15 minutes, a few years ago of this beautiful woman at the Contemporary Arts Center in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. She had generously volunteered of her time and talents for the organization and was being honored as one of the inspiring arts volunteers in the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. I positioned her within the scene opposite the vanishing point. The diagonal lines converging to the left side of the scene would define the vanishing point. With her on the opposite side of the vanishing point, the viewer’s eyes are easily led to her. Because I was working in a downtown Cincinnati location there were quite a lot of distractions outside the plate glass windows seen behind the subject. I needed to disguise pedestrians, cars, buses, power lines, and anything else that would have distracted from the photograph. I accomplished this in two ways. First by using an F5.6 aperture in conjunction with a fairly close working camera distance to the subject to throw most of the background out of focus. Secondly and more importantly, was to overexpose the background substantially. This placed most of the blurred background tonalities into a medium to high key light level. These brighter tonalities, when blurred, really didn't distract from the portrait of my subject. Lighting her was achieved by using my off-camera flash shooting through a translucent umbrella, which was positioned to her right. This put a flattering, classical loop lighting pattern on her face. The ambient light within the museum supplied the fill illumination to the shadow side of the face. I love the finished result. Camera specs; Canon 5D fitted with 24-105mm IS lens at 73mm, F5.6 at 1/125 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! -- David