Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year LR

Good Afternoon Everyone,

I know I’m about 6 hours early with my New Year wishes, but I still want to wish everybody a wonderful, prosperous, peaceful New Year.  Tomorrow we turn all the dials back to zero.  What ever happened in 2010 is now a thing of the past. 

The future lies ahead for each and everyone of us.  I invite each of you to embrace the changes that are upon us in this wonderful profession of ours. What we chose to do and how we chose to do it will determine our success or lack thereof in this new year.

We are making some changes that are a bit scary for me.  But, on the other hand, kind of exciting too and I’m looking forward to it. I wish each and every one of you only the best for 2011 and beyond.

DigitalProTalk will still be a source of knowledge and inspiration for you nearly every day.  And, I look forward to our readers to be an inspiration to me as well. We’ve got some pretty exciting things on the horizon - I can’t wait to get started, and I hope you’ll join me in the exciting new year!

Happy New Year Everyone!!! -David

Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Artist In Residence"

 Artist In Residence

"Artist In Residence"

©David A. Ziser

While in Cabo a few weeks ago, we took a drive to Todos Santos to spend the day.  Todos Santos has a thriving artist’s community and it’s always fun to stroll the small shops and galleries.

This shop is near Hotel California and is always full of eclectic and interesting items.  On the way out, I noticed this beautiful lady standing by the door of her shop.  We struck up a conversation – luckily she spoke a small amount of English.

Her striking appearance was perfect for a photograph.  I asked and she obliged.  The challenge is to work quickly so as to not impose on my subject and still capture a good photograph.  I knew I had great natural light coming in from camera right from the open door.  I asked her to turn her head just a bit to catch the light giving me that very flattering loop lighting (almost Rembrandt lighting) pattern on her face.

Next I selected a camera position that framed her up perfectly against the background of rich colors. The four areas of rich, vibrant colors frame her wonderfully for this image. Also, the fact that she is dressed in mostly dark attire, she just pops out from the colorful scene. I showed her the LCD on the camera and she was quite pleased. I liked how it came out too.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 50mm, F5.0 @ 1/80 second, ISO 2500.  Enjoy!  -David

Business Day Thursday: How To Make $12,000 Over A Weekend!

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Tomorrow at this time we hope to be in sunny, warm Florida.  I hear the weather is supposed to be good for our southern visit. Today we are playing catch-up on lots a small things – that pile has gotten quite large over the last week so our easy week just got busy. That said, why don’t we get on with today’s post.

How To Make $12,000 Over A Weekend!

12,000 Dallors OK, I knew the title would grab you. But, it is true – that’s exactly what happened with friends of ours, Mark Garber and Jennifer Gilman Garber when they ran their Black Friday promotion after the Thanksgiving. Their promotion netted them $12,000 in new sales – not bad.

Here is the back story. Mark and Jennifer, owners of Mark Garber Photography [link], a very successful studio operating in Springfield, Ohio, decided they wanted to do more than just have the same old holiday sale.  They wanted to see if they could kick it up a notch, get their clients to notice, but more importantly – get their clients to buy!

Mark Garber 2These days clients are not motivated by a small 15%-20% discount.  They want “big bucks” savings.  This has never been so conclusively proven than with the explosion of Groupon members [link] – over 9,000,000 strong in over two years!  Big discounts lead to big results.

Hey, it was just the beginning of the holiday season so they thought, “Why not give the Black Friday/Cyber Monday” thing a try. It worked beyond their wildest expectations!

Hit the “Read More…” link below for the rest of the story.

Mark outlined their plan to me as follows:

1. They wanted to take part in that frenetic spending spree lovingly known as Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

2.  It had to be one “kick butt” deal that would make folks jump at the offer.

Black Friday sales3. It was only going to last from Black Friday to Cyber Monday at midnight – 11/26 to 11/29 – one 4 day window to pick up the super deals.

4. They didn’t want to give the “store” away, just part of the store.

5. The discount had to turn heads – how about 50% OFF!!!

And now the PLAN:

They contacted the image hosting company and requested that all 2010 jobs – portraits, weddings, high school seniors, etc. be made “live” on line for that 4 day stretch.

Next they reduced by half the pricing on their 8x10s, 5x7s, and 4x6 prints across the board.

The next part was easy, they collected the email addresses of everyone that previously placed any kind of order from the 2010 jobs. They were readily accessible in their hosting company’s database.

The final part of the plan was to create an email promo that notified all their 2010 customers and pitched the Black Friday/Cyber Monday offer of 50% OFF all prints 8x10 and smaller.

GArber SaleYou can check out the wording of their special offer at their blog right here.  While you’re there, check out all their great images too – very beautiful.

I just spoke to Mark and he said the promo created a “feeding frenzy” among his customers.  When the dust settled on midnight Monday, they had netted just shy of $12,000 in sales!!!

Does anyone other than Mark and me think that his would be a great kick off promotion for the start of the New Year when times are slow?  It’s a great idea with tremendous possibilities – just go out and work the plan.

Mark and Jennifer did a great program at Imaging USA earlier this year and are scheduled for 6 programs around the country this year.  You won’t want to miss them if they comes to a city near you.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I haven’t moved from this computer since 7 a.m. and still need to pack the gear for our trip tomorrow so I’m out of here.

Everybody have a great rest of the day and I’ll see you tomorrow with my New Years wishes.

See ya’ then,  David

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Renaissance Beauty"

Renaisance Beauty

"Renaissance Beauty"
©David A. Ziser

With my bride’s soft expression, big eyes, and subtle smile, this image has an almost Mona Lisa beauty about it. The bride was relaxing just moments before the start of the wedding ceremony.  The natural light was gorgeous on her face.  She was looking down in a quiet moment of reflection, but saw me and threw her gaze in my direction.  I asked her to hold for just a second, framed her up at nodal point #2, and shot away.

The resulting image had a simple European look about it with the soft color and tones of the stucco wall, the settee, and soft light on the bride’s face. I added the painterly effect on the flowers in Photoshop to add to that feeling. I was thrilled with the final result.

Camera specs: Nikon D1x fitted with Tamron 28-105 F2.8 lens at 105,, F 3.5 @ 1/80 second, ISO 400.  Enjoy!  -David

Quick Hit Wednesday: Holiday Specials Expire Friday at Midnight; Super Long Exposures: Pics To iPad-No Wires; Sci-Fi Fantasies; and Geeksville Revisited

Good Afternoon Everybody,

The thaw is in the air. Weather rumors are that the temperature will break above freezing today. Looks like we'll have to move the Christmas leftovers in from the "outdoor refrigerator" ;~).

So, have you ever had this experience? I get LaDawn one of the new  digital LCD TVs for Christmas. Not one of the giant models but a much smaller version so she could check the news while getting ready in the morning. Since she only watches one station for the news, I figured no need for cable.

Since all then analogue stations went to a digital broadcast signal last June, I planned to pick up one of the new digital antennas and just grab what I could from the free airwaves. I did just that - plugged in the antenna, instructed the TV to search for channels, and planned to settle for whatever popped up.

Vizio I figured I'd pick up at least the three network stations and probably 3-4 more UHF stations that we received in the old days. I hit the GO button on the controller and the new TV set out tracking down all the FREE digital stations floating on ten FREE airwaves. About two minutes later and much to my surprise, the TV found not just the 7 stations I was expecting, but found, 30 MORE stations too! WOW! All for FREE and without cable.

The TV also has 58 web apps built in too. That includes Pandora Radio, one of our favorites, and Netflix, another favorite - plus Facebook, Twitter, Weather, News, the New York Times, QVC, CNBC, and a lot more, too. I was blown away. Heck, with all those options, who needs cable or the Dish anyway.

By the way, the TV was a Vizio model MODEL#E322VL - highly recommended.

OK, time to move on with today’s post. Here we go...

Holiday Specials To End In Two More Days!

Holiday Sale - LR Hey gang, just a quick note. All the specials happening right now at out Digital Resource Center go away in just two more days - Friday at midnight! Head on over - here is the link - and check out the goodies. We have the best deals of the year with some discounts ranging all the way up to 70% off! Like they say, "If you snooze, you'll lose."

Shoot It, See It, Show It!

In a previous post I mentioned that I had picked up one of the new (and pricey) Eye-Fi cards. The plan was to shoot wirelessly into my laptop or my iPad. I spent a little time on setting things up while we were in Cabo a few weeks ago but didn't have much luck. I'm planning to give it another try next week while we're in Orlando.

Fstoppers Anyway, for those of you who would like some more info on how to get the EYE-FI card to work, you've got to check out the video at These guys got it together and have it working like a charm. The video shows them shooting on location at Rockefeller Center in NYC and having the image pop up on their iPad a few seconds later.

The applications for his technology is endless - checking your image on a large screen, previewing the shot setup with your client, sizzling your in-studio portrait shoots - the list can go on and on. Once again, check it out right here - way cool!

Super Long Exposures, Super Cool Results!

Long Exposures2 Before the holidays, I mentioned to LaDawn that I would really like a neutral density filter so I could play around with super long exposures. Gladly, Santa obliged and I found the filter under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning.

OK, you're wondering what kind of images you can make with a neutral density filter screwed onto the front of your lens, right? I'm glad you asked. I found this next story at, a fascinating site I've just discovered. This post featured 20 super long exposure photographs - all very interesting. Check out the images right here.

And You Thought James Cameron Did A Great Job With Avatar

Fstoppers vid OK, that was my favorite movie last year - I wish I had seen the 3-D IMAX version. Maybe next time. Anyway, just how far can you push "green screen" shooting and the digital technology these days? The answer to that question can be found in the link right here.

The link points you to a YouTube video showing this phenomenal video created with real people on a Zero budget, green screen, and digital imagery. Be sure to watch the "behind the scenes" video too. All very cool for us digital geeks. This link came from the ever entertaining link finder, John Nack, from Adobe.

Now Kodachrome Is Really Dead

Many of you may or may not know that Kodak discontinued the gold standard of transparency film a number of years ago. That didn't stop photographers from hoarding it though. Those that did could only get it developed at Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas [link] - the only lab on the planet earth that offered the Kodachrome processing service. Heck, you can pick up this nifty t-shirt commemorating the fact right here at Dwayne’s.

Kodachrome Tshirt That is about to end very soon. They will be out of chemicals by the end of the week. Kodak has no plans to remanufacture any more they say - just not enough demand. Anyway, you can read the entire story right here. It's a nostalgic read for many of us who grew up using what most considered the best transparency film in the world. Remember the famous photograph of the 12 year old Afghan girl on the cover of National Geographic years ago - it was shot on Kodachrome film. Anyway those are bygone days now.

A Little More Geeksville Fun

I caught his story on Sunday morning while watching the CBS show [link] by the same name. It seems that Google has digitized a gazillion books and has coupled that with their NGram app [link]. The results you get are quite interesting.Ngram

Here’s what you do. You enter a word or words into the search box and press the button. The NGram app will search all the millions and millions of words used over the years going back to 1800 and show you the trend of that word's frequency of usage. "Who cares,?" you say.

Well, I've done several searches over the last several days and am constantly amazed by the results. For instance, try searching digital and photography - that tell you anything? Here is the link to the NGram app. Enjoy!


Hey gang, that's it for me today. I've got my entire shooting team coming over this evening for a little holiday cheer and we got to get things organized for our last Holiday celebration.

Plan on stopping by tomorrow for another scintillating episode of Business Day Thursday: Adding $12,000 To Your Bottom Line Over One Weekend. You're going to love it.

See ya' then, David

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"A Look Of Kindness For The Arts"

Kindness For The Arts

"A Look Of Kindness For The Arts"
©David A. Ziser

This is actually one of the images I’m featuring in today’s Technique Tuesday episode exploring on-location portraiture.  Give the next post a read and watch the video for the rest of the story.

The challenge was to find a good location within the Contemporary Art Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio to take this portrait, quickly and efficiently while not disturbing the Center’s daily activities.  This location was a new “install” on the third floor of the facility and  traffic was somewhat light for this day’s shoot.

This was one of my favorite portraits from that particular year’s “Inspiring Volunteers” shoot.  I just loved the lady’s gentle look.  The most interesting observations I made about all the volunteers was how genuinely kind and gentle each person was. Among the entire cross section of all those I photographed, that was the common denominator for all of them.

As I say in today’s tutorial, I needed to work fast – only 60 minutes for each portrait and that included our travel, site survey, and photography. 

Camera specs: Nikon D1x (yes, back in my Nikon days) fitted with 15mm lens*, F5.6 @ 1/20 second, ISO 800.  Enjoy!  -David

*p.s.  I don’t even think Nikon had a lens out in 2004 at that focal length yet my EXIF data is showing a 15-31mm lens shot at 15mm.  It’s a mystery to me since I don’t remember owning a lens at that focal length – ever.

I did own an 18-35mm Nikon lens at that time which was the widest lens I had in my gear bag.  It was my go-to lens for wide angle portraits and that’s what I suspect I used  in this example.  I’m still stumped as to why the EXIF data is showing 15-31mm lens Mfg unknown.  Hey, it’s unknown to me too.

I think it have something to do with how the APS sized sensor D1x camera registered the focal length data for this full frame lens – 18-35 is the same ration as 15-30mm. So, I think the 15mm setting here is equivalent to the 188mm setting on the 18-25mm Nikon lens  -David

Environmental Portraits: Location, Lighting, and Composition - Bringing It All Together

Good Morning Everybody,

Planning Calender Wow!  Only four more days before the end of the year – and what a year it’s been, time has certainly flown by.  As I sit here today, we’ve already began planning for the new year and I’m really looking forward to how it’s shaping up.

I’m also looking forward to jumping on that plane Friday morning and heading to Florida.  That’s when the plans will get locked into place and I grab an opportunity to start my new book.  While in Florida, I get a chance to visit my children, Aaron and Elizabeth. Heck, there’s even talk of us trying to fit a visit to the mouse while we are in Orlando. 

Also on the agenda is a trip to Kelby Media world headquarters which is always fun.  We’ll probably shoot a Photoshop User TV episode or two. Matt K and I have some planning to do for another round of Kelby Training videos. So, lot’s coming attractions later down the pike, for 2011.

Hey gang, I’ve got a nice Technique Tuesday planned today so let’s get right to it.  Here we go…

Environmental Portraits:  Location, Lighting, and Composition - Bringing It All Together

If you follow this blog with any regularity, you know that David “Wedding Photographer” Ziser is my name and brides and grooms are my game ;~)  I’m been discussing how we capture those great bridal portraits in those fabulous locations, how to bring the lighting on the subject to make the bride and groom look amazing, and how to compose the image for it’s best visual impact.

1280x800 - Inspiring Volunteers 1 Today, I want to take all those techniques and apply them to on-location portraiture.  What happens if you don’t have the best place in which to work – the background is not perfect, the lighting is lousy, etc – how do you still pull off a great shot? The answer, of course lies in how we handle the location, lighting, and composition. All the rules are the same – only the names have been changed. Boy, I think I’m starting to sound like Dragnet’s Joe Friday ;~)

Over the last several years I’ve been involved locally in a very special project called the “Most Inspiring Volunteers In The Arts” of Cincinnati, Ohio.  The project showcased those individuals who did the most on a volunteer basis to make the arts more accessible to everyone in the Greater Cincinnati area.  The project was co-sponsored by Inspire Magazine and David A. Ziser Photography.

The biggest part of my job was to photograph and capture great portraits of the 20+ volunteers.  I wanted these portraits to be special and felt they needed to  be made in the locations in which the volunteers were associated.  That meant we would be shooting at Music Hall, The Cincinnati Ballet and Cincinnati Opera offices… you get the idea.

Clock - LRTwenty volunteers, 20 locations, all spread throughout the city.  The challenge was to NOT tie up days of the studio’s time and resources to photograph all the individuals while still knowing we had to capture, produce and deliver outstanding images.  We allowed 60 minutes for each portrait session.  That time included showing up to meet the inspiring volunteer, visiting with them a bit, taking the portrait, and driving to the next location to only then repeat the process. 

Race Car Our goal was to complete all the photography in only two days.  That meant 10 portraits a day, one portrait every hour beginning at 9:00 a.m. and wrapping at 7:00 p.m. for two straight days. Lunch breaks, ha – we grabbed a McDonald’s en-route to the next stop.  It was a scheduling nightmare – both for the volunteers and the locations in which we needed to make the portraits.

To make a long story short, with very efficient shooting and lighting style, techniques and judicious use of the settings in which we worked, we captured a terrific set of images which the volunteers and the magazine loved.  Why not hit the PLAY button and let me walk you through a few sessions.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  Next week look forward to Part 2 of the this post.  We got our Columbus, Ohio friends, Kent and Sarah Smith from Kent Smith Photography, stopping by in a few for a holiday visit so I’ve got to get moving.

How about I see you tomorrow for Quick Hit Monday on Wednesday.

Hope to see ya’ then,  David

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Street Smart"

Street Smart 2

"Street Smart"
©David A. Ziser

I was reviewing images for today’s post and came across this image I made of a high school senior a few years ago. This is one of several from the session and is one of my favorites.

I think what I like best about it is the utter simplicity of the image – just a straight head shot against a simple background. The girl’s somber, almost confrontational look show a strength of character in her expression – OK, let’s call it “attitude”. 

That feeling is enhanced even more with the wisp of hair falling across her face. Compositionally she was isolated from the background by my close working distance to her and the long lens I was using. 

Lighting is simple too.  Quantum T5d camera right at 1/2 power through my umbrella about 6 feet away. You may be wondering why the shadows aren’t showing up on the wall next to our subject.  Actually, the shadows are falling on the wall but on the back surface nicely out of view.

Overall, I think this is a strong portrait of this young lady both technically and compositionally.

Camera specs: Canon 30D fitted with 70-300mm IS lens at 300mm, F7.1 @ 1/320 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

2011 New Year Announcements!

Good Morning Everybody,

First off, a great big "Thank you" for all the nice Christmas wishes from our DPT readers - much appreciated!

I hope everybody had a great holiday. We sure did. In fact we have a few more days planned with friends this week too. You know those holidays, the celebrations just keep on coming ;~) .

2011 very coolHey gang, just some quick news about the upcoming new year for me. Personally, we are changing directions around my studio for the next year. I'm planning to put more of my attention to training, writing, and my fine art endeavors.

Expanded Training Coming Your Way!

Training LRI find I really enjoy the training and writing and plan to make that a bigger part of my life. The training and writing will continue to be wedding, portrait, and business centric. That means things should stay pretty much the same on my blog. We are looking to expand on that whole concept - more later. All that should be really good news to our DPT readers out there.

Taking A Road Less Traveled

200px-Cathedral Rock - 0504ps - LR I'm also planning to spend more time pursuing my interests in fine art and landscape photography. That's always been a secret love of mine and I think it's time to take it to the next level. You know, too many people put off what they want to do for too long and then they die - sounds harsh, but it's true.

LaDawn and I have discussed this for the last couple of years and next year is the year we make our move. Hey, and you guys and gals get to come along for the journey too - it should be fun.

Multi Day On Location Workshops Coming Your Way

On the lecture front, we are planning something different too. We still have our 2011 Master Class scheduled - BTW, there are only  two seats left so if you are interested in nabbing one of them give the studio a call at 800.292.2994 to reserve yours.

Workshops LRThe plan for 2011 is to take a smaller yet similar multiple day Master Class on the road. We are planning four classes around the country for next year and maybe one or two out of the country. We are working on the schedule as we speak. Stay tuned to DPT for further developing details. I'm really looking forward to see how this new endeavor continues to develop.

Big News In The Air – A New Book Waiting In The Wings!

And lastly, I'm taking DPT to 3 days a week. Wait, wait - here's why. I hear over and over that I'm a crazed blogger with 1200 word posts 5 days a week. People tell me they just don't have time to keep up. The new schedule should make it easier to do just that. And don't worry, you'll still be seeing Technique Tuesday and Business Day Thursday for sure. And on the third day, who knows, I'll surprise ya' ;~)

Book LRBut there is another reason too and it's the most important reason - here's why I’m cutting back the blog from 5 days to 3 days. I'm beginning a second book next year - working  title: "What Makes An Image Beautiful?". I'll spend the two days I'm not blogging still at the computer working on the book.

I want to take what I started in "Captured By The Light" and take it to a whole new level. Yes, it will be written in the same style as my first book "Captured... was written - lots of step by step techniques, tons of diagrams, and all brand new images! If you have a few ideas for the new book, just let me know. Who knows you;re ideas may make it in my second book - just post your suggestions, ideas… in the Comments section below.

When am I starting the new book? Next week, as a matter of fact. We head to Florida on Friday for 12 days of no studio interruptions or distractions so I can get a good start on the writing. So gang, that's about it - lots of changes and new directions to explore on the horizon for next year. I sure hope you'll join me for the adventures!


Hey gang, that it's for me today. We've got a slow business week around here and we are looking forward to it. Have a great day today and I'll see you tomorrow for another episode of Technique Tuesday: Environmental Portraits

See ya' then, David

PS – cool Quick Hits coming later this week.

Friday, December 24, 2010

"Merry Christmas From The Zisers"

Ziser Christmas 2010 - IMG_5099

"Merry Christmas From The Zisers"
©David A. Ziser

With all the beautiful snowfall this week, I just had to grab a photograph of our snow covered home in the evening. The challenge was to get down the drive, get the shot, and back quickly with out “freezing to death”.

May God continue to bless you and your loved ones this holiday season and throughout 2011.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 40mm, F4.5 @ 1/8 (handheld) second, ISO 2000.  Enjoy!  -David

Christmas Wishes - 2010

Merry Christmas Everybody,

Can you believe it, tomorrow is the BIG day.  Most of us have been busy with delivering orders to our clients, and been on a Christmas shopping spree or two.  But today things must be winding down for all of you and you can relax and enjoy this weekend’s celebration.

My wish to each and every one is that your day be filled with the joy and peace of the season.  Embrace every moment with love this weekend.

Embrace the weather – cold and snowy, enjoying the icy  sensations as you breath in that brisk cold air or the warm glow of the sun on your face. Embrace the wonderful aromas of the season – the scent of pine in the air, homemade cookies in the oven, and hot spiced apple cider on the stove. Close your eyes and take a deep breath, and smile.

Embrace and relish the time spent with family and friends this Christmas season.  Even if some of them can’t be there personally, take a quiet moment by yourself and send your Christmas wishes to them in spirit.

Remember what it is we celebrate tomorrow and embrace that most of all.  Regardless of the faith or religious inclination, the spirit of tomorrow is about peace and has been for over 2,000 years. I wish each of you and your loved ones overflowing feelings of peace and joy!

Have a wonderful holiday everybody!  David and LaDawn

Thursday, December 23, 2010

“Spaceport Alpha”

Spaceport Alpha

"Spaceport Alpha"
©David A. Ziser

This is another image I made while in Cabo a few weeks ago. It was during one of our photo walks that I spotted this very interesting structure crossing the residential street on which we were walking.

Compositionally, I was thinking "wide angle" all the way. I was only carrying the Fuji HS10 but on the short side of the zoom I was still able to get the full frame equivalent of a 24mm lens - pretty darn wide. I framed up the shot two ways - the first with the outcropping of buildings in the distance, and the second without the buildings. I decided I liked the building in the composition.

The image reminds me of some kind of futuristic spaceport - hence, the title. If I was in the spaceship I think I would be relieved that we were close to landing. Metaphorically, the buildings in the distance give that indication for the composition.

OK, you must be thinking I've had just a bit too much of the Christmas cheer thinking spaceships and all. It must go back to my interest in science fiction as a kid - those sci-fi images must still linger somewhere in my brain which is why I saw the image in this context. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

Camera specs: Fuji HS10 with 4.2-120mm lens at 4.2mm (24mm – 35mm FF equiv), F5.6 @ 1/5500 second, ISO 100. Enjoy! -David

Business Day Thursday: Tying Up Your 2010 Sales Loose Ends

Good Afternoon Everybody,

The orders are delivered, the gifts are wrapped and under the Christmas tree, there's snow on the ground, and a few more inches to come - it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here.

Hey gang, we're close to the holidays so let's get on with the post. Here we go...

Tying Up Your 2010 Sales Loose Ends

Lose ends This is the time of the year when everyone is in the middle of the holiday hustle and bustle barely having time to catch your breath. Last week I posted several ideas on how to keep the week between Christmas and New Years busy too [link]. Some may take that advice and some may not.

I, for one, plan to have a nice break the week after Christmas, but that does not mean we are taking the week off. I like to spend the slower paced time cleaning up after the dust has settled and planning for the new year.

But are there still a few loose ends from 2010 that need to be tied up? I think so. I think at the end of the year everybody is just plain happy to be through another year and is ready to look forward to 2011.

But let's look back at 2010 for just a few brief moments. What about those loose ends? I guess I want to say that every sale you had in 2010 probably still has a loose end or two to wrap up. Most people don't even consider the fact that there is gold in those loose ends.

Hit the “Read More…” link below for the rest of the story.

Pot Of GoldI just called one of my clients yesterday about another matter and as we were finishing up the conversation she says, "You know what David, I've got to get back over to your studio. We still have to order a portrait album and a few wall collages". Sounds like a loose end to me. And it sounds like a great opportunity for added sales.

I think you get the point - how many of your clients would still like to order something that maybe they overlooked the first time around? This connect to past clients may be what you want to do during the week between Christmas and New Years.

1- Be sure all your clients are updated in you mailing list - both email and snail mail.

2- Review the order they placed with you during the year and determine what you could suggest to them to enhance the order. For instance, special prices on frames, collage prints, albums, black and white images, etc.

3- Drop them a personal note thanking them for their business and then suggesting some additional items that you think they might enjoy.

4- If you've got the time, and most photographers do after the holidays, give them a call. Again offer them a thank you for their business and then tell them about some of your New Year's specials that would be perfect additions to what they've selected already.

Just like my experience yesterday, "touching" the client with a phone call just enhances the studio/client relationship. Because they completed an order with you earlier in the year doesn't mean there aren't sales opportunities still lingering with those same clients. You'll never know till you ask, will you?

Like someone said to me years ago - the most powerful word in the world is ASK! Just ask and you can have most anything you want, including additional sales.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. We've got a few more holiday happenings to attend to and I'm going to be late if I don't get moving.

With tomorrow being Christmas Eve, I have a short post with some Christmas thoughts. I hope you'll stop back.

See ya' tomorrow, David

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"My Burning Love"

My Burning Love

"My Burning Love"
©David A. Ziser

Here is another one of my favorite images I pulled from the archives.  I’m going to have to revisit the wedding again.  There are some beautiful images from this event. 

I still remember photographing the wedding.  It was an early start on the day, about 9:00 a.m.  It was a very elegant morning/afternoon affair and, as usual, we were there to the end of all the festivities.

We had pre-arranged to head over to one of the local parks and see if we could get some great outdoor pictorial and maybe be lucky enough to catch some sunset photographs.  The day was perfect for for photographs – great looking couple, soft light, and plenty of time to capture some great images.

This was one of the last images I made on that day.  Notice that it is a simple silhouette – no auxiliary lighting was used at all. Just a simple exposure against the background of the setting.  I paid careful attention to composition and exposure to work for the result I wanted.

Camera specs: Nikon D1x fitted with 18-35mm lens at 18mm, F16 @ 1/500 second, ISO 125.  Enjoy!  David

P.S.  Hit the “Read More…” link below for the rest of the story.

Here is what the original image looked like.  How did I phrase the last line of the back story above? I said, “I paid careful attention to composition and exposure to work for the result I wanted.”

Burning Love - Start

We had hit the park well before sunset and the sky was doing nothing special. The client really wanted an image like the one displayed in my studio – same location, spectacular sunset.  It wasn’t going to happen here today.

Time to go to plan B. I felt that if I could get a decent silhouette of the couple in the same location with the sky over exposed, I could easily drop a “sunset” in later.  That was the plan.  I took the photograph you see above, headed over to iStockphoto – I prefer Fotolia these days – grabbed a great sunset and dropped it in.

Presto! – a great image the client loved.  Yes, they ordered a wall portrait for their home too.  Ahhhh…. the magic of “digital.”


What’s Up Wednesday: Time To Pay Attention To The Small Things

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Yesterday turned out to be a fairly busy day around the studio.  The fact that my computer crashed during the posting of Technique Tuesday didn’t help the situation much either.  But, with snow on the ground Zoo3and Christmas in the air, the dampened spirits soon evaporated.

Cincinnati, Ohio is quite famous for it’s “Festival of Lights” held at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens each year.  We decided to check it out.  You know, with the holiday rush putting a “strangle hold” on so many of us during this part of the year, you’ve just got to take a “pause that refreshes”.

Zoo2 We did exactly that last night.  And, I have to say, it was a mild winter night and a beautiful holiday experience.  As usual, I grabbed my camera, goosed the ISO to 2,500 and shot away.


Anyway, let’s get on with today’s post. 

Time To Pay Attention To The Small Things

I’ve been running my series, “The One That Got Away” the last few months which everyone really seemed to enjoy – thanks.  I’m continuing the Wednesday posts in sort of in the same vein – critiquing images on how they they might be improved for the client.

Magnifying Glass - Fotolia_4599026_Subscription_XL[1] You’ve noticed that most of the suggestions always have to do with the small things that get missed in the rush of the shoot.  That’s the case in today’s image but today I want to expand on the topic even more. 

Way too often the shutter button gets pressed far too soon.  Can it be the heat of the shoot, the lack of time to fine tune the image, or simply not paying attention to what needs to be done?  Frankly, I think it’s the latter more often than not.

Let’s take a look at today’s image.

Hit the “Read More…” link for the rest of the story.

For starters, it’s an OK photograph of a beautiful bride in the lovely surrounds of the country club.  You may be looking at it and saying< “Only OK, I think it’s great.”  At first glance I think I may have felt the same way too. Beautiful bride, good expression, flattering pose, great lighting, nice location – all good stuff, right?

Keep A Lookout For The Small Stuff So what “kills” this photograph and how much time would it have taken to solve the issues inherent in the image to really make it a stand out wedding image?  The problem is in the missed details in setting up the shot. 

Let me count the ways:

1 – The most glaring short coming of this image is the bride’s shadow falling in the column to her right. 

Why was this missed?  Because someone, the photographer and his/her assistant was not paying attention to where the shadows were going to fall at the moment of exposure.

From the assistant’s point of view, he/she should have easily seen that the column was behind the bride.  That meant that when the flash fired, it was definitely going to cast the bride’s shadow on the column. Frankly, the photographer should have caught the problem too by simply checking the LCD screen after the shot.

The quick fix: Move the bride slightly forward and about three feet away form the column – the problem goes away.  Fix time, about 30 seconds.

2 – The second issue I notice are the candles growing out of the bride’s shoulders.  It is both distracting and not flattering to the subject.

The Easy Fix: In the previous fix, we moved the bride slightly forward to alleviate the “shadow” issue.  That repositioning of the bride goes a long way to solve this problem too.  With the bride farther from the candles and the candles further from the photographer, they will become smaller in the scene.  That makes them really easy to hide behind the bride as the photographer should had done in composing the image. Fix time – maybe 5 seconds by lowering the camera angle.

3 – Bride’s right arm is hidden by the gown.  It flattered the subject to see the full length of the arm.  This is really just a finessing of the classical bridal pose.

Quick Easy Fix: When I see this, I simply ask the client to bring their right elbow out slightly till I can see at least part of the entire arm. The mistake many photographers make is, that in finessing the pose, the arm sometimes is brought too far forward.  Remember , just a bit forward still looking natural. Fix time – about 15 seconds.

4 – Too much “non interesting” background is in the frame.  I’m mostly talking about empty space on the right side of the image.  Nothing is happening back there so let’s re-frame up the photo to eliminate it.

Quick Easy Fix: In the first point above, I suggested we move the bride forward about 3 feet and away from the column.  That move would solve a lot of the problem I see.

Using a longer focal length on the lens would help compress the background and go a long way to enhancing the final composition. Lens Fix time – maybe 30 more seconds.

Total time to fine tune the image, maybe 75 seconds – not much time at all to really make the image “sing”. 

But that’s my point.  First, learn be be aware of the small things that NEED adjustment, changing, or fixing before you press the shutter button. Or, take a quick test shot and quickly review the image. Then take the few seconds to make those changes and you’ve done yourself and your client a big favor.

It’s always the little things that add up to become a big difference when you take the time to be aware of them.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I’m heading out to do a little last minute shopping today and then a nice dinner with LaDawn this evening.  Hope you scheduled some time off with your family too to enjoy the holiday season.

Plan to check back tomorrow for another episode of Business Day Thursday: Picking Up The Loose Ends Of Past Sales.

See ya’ then, David

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Four Hearts"

Happy Times LR

"Four Hearts"
©David A. Ziser

This photograph is from a family portrait shoot I did a few years ago.  The setting at the client’s home was perfect.  Look how the background really compliments the portrait.  The shades of green, angles of the branches, and the different textures bring a pleasant natural rhythm to the entire image.

I love the expressions on the faces of the family members – everybody looks great!  Lighting is from camera right about 8 feet away with my Quantum shooting through my shoot through umbrella at 1/2 power.

Camera specs: Nikon D1x fitted with 80-200mm non VR lens at 105mm, F 4.0 @ 1/320 second, ISO 400.  Enjoy!  -David

Technique Tuesday: Holiday Savings In Full Swing: and Before and After – Pixel Bending For Wide Angle Bridal Portraits

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Welcome to the first day of Winter - we received 2 more inches of snow last night on top of the 5 inches we already had so once again the landscape looks beautiful.

Ziser House

The word is out that we should have no problem having a White Christmas in our area of the country. The weather gurus are predicting up to 5 more inches on Christmas Eve!

I just finished a podcast with my buddy, Charles J. Lewis [link], one of my first sales trainers.  Chuck is a sales and marketing expert and great photographer.  He has been showing photographers how to make more money for years.  Anyway, we had a great conversation on sales and marketing success – the time flew by.  When it’s ready, I’ll let you know where to check it out.

Holiday Savings In Full Swing At Our Digital Resource Center!

Ultimate Bundle Hey gang, time is running out to take advantage of all the good deals at the DPT Digital Resource Center. 

You’ll find savings up to 70% off of some of your favorite products and training materials and FREE shipping to anywhere in the world on the Ultimate Bundle pictured here.  Don’t miss out!  Here is the link for all the HOT specials!

Before and After – Pixel Bending For Wide Angle Bridal Portraits

Before and After Pixel Bending Sorry about the late post today – holiday madness I guess.  Anyway, I still think you will enjoy it.

In today’s tutorial I’d like it to be an exercise not just about wide angle portraits or lens correction in Lightroom 3.  I’d also like it to be an exercise in “seeing”.  Although you may not like what you see – just joking.

The challenge was to determine which type of wide angle distortion I wanted to “live” with and which I wanted to correct.  The problem was I couldn’t have both. I still think the resulting image is quite unusual in it’s final outcome.

Hit the PLAY button below and enjoy the show.


Hey everybody, that’s it for me today.  The snow is thick on the ground, everything looks beautiful – time to make snow angels and snow ice cream, yum ;~)

I’ll see everybody sometime tomorrow for Wednesday’s post – holiday schedule, you know.

Have a great one and I’ll see you then,  David

Monday, December 20, 2010

"Aimee In The Wild"


"Aimee In The Wild"
©David A. Ziser

This is an image I made during a high school senior session a few years ago.  I had actually been doing work for the family for a number of years so I was happy to oblige Aimee when she called.

I always have to smile when I shoot high school seniors – hardly ever do they select a photograph of themselves smiling.  The image shown here was one of Aimee’s favorites. She liked the “wild child” look in the image and the impression this would make to her friends and family.  Aimee is an amazing young lady, by the way.

The image was taken on an over cast day so the lighting was quite flat.  The light was also coming from almost directly overhead so it pocketed her eye sockets too.  Things were not looking great.

I used a simple 50mm F1.4 lens at F2.5 so that the background would go out of focus and bring the viewer’s attention back to Aimee.  What I had in the original image was not that great.  I decided to crop the original image MUCH CLOSER and go just for Aimee’s expression as you see it above.

The close crop necessitated me throwing out too many pixels leaving me with a slightly soft image – now what to do?  I’ll tell you, the easiest solution is to “artzify” the image by converting it to B&W and adding a little “grain”. That’s exactly the solution I used and it worked just fine.

Camera specs: Canon 20D fitted with 50mm F1.4 lens, F 2.5 @ 1/640 second, ISO 800.  Enjoy!  -David

P.S.  You can see the original image by hitting the “Read More…” link below.

What do you think!


Quick Hit Monday: Free Video Education; Cheap Flash Triggers; Bridge or LR3; Easy HDR; and Matrix Madness

Good Morning Everybody,

Christmas OrnamentIt’s starting to look like Christmas at the Ziser  household. The trees are up and the gifts are wrapped. Yep, LaDawn is pretty well ahead of the game. Me, I think I should probably get a start on my gift shopping this week ;~)

Hey, all joking aside, I’ve been looking forward to this week. Most Photography orders and albums are wrapped up (not just gifts) and delivered to our clients and I am looking forward to having a light week around here enjoying the run-up to Christmas weekend. I hope you get a chance to do the same.

I’m pleased to say that I spent most of the weekend working on my two new programs for Photoshop World coming up in March 2011. The deadline for turning in the articles is today and I’m putting the finishing touches on the last one as we speak.

After I finish, that pretty much clears my calendar for the week – whew!

Hey gang, I’ve got a pretty wide ranging group of quick hits this Monday so I hope you enjoy them. Let’s get right to them. Here we go…

How To Videos: and How To Do Even More

Vimeo Links I received an e-mail not too long ago from one of our DigitalProTalk readers telling me that he had put one of my Technique Tuesday videos into a Vimeo wedding album group. I headed over to Vimeo to just see who I was hanging with.

It turns out that I was in good company. There were ten other videos in the group that covered everything from a pre-wedding shoot, promo videos, and even a fashion shoot in the penthouse of a Las Vegas hotel. Why not head on over and check them out I think you'll find some fun stuff there. Here is the link.

ID ReleaseModel Releases On Your iPhone

OK, I thought this was pretty cool – a model release on your iPhone AND your model can sign it with their finger tip.  It’s called ID Release [link]. I caught the post at Luminous-Landscape right here. They have a nice write up about it too. Oh, did I forget to say the price?  Good news - it’s FREE! I just picked up my copy.

Flash Triggers On The Cheap

If your a regular Digital ProTalk reader you know that I talk a lot about off-camera flash. My off-camera flash choice has always been my Quantum T5d.  This flash puts out 150 W seconds of power. Well, I know it’s kind of a pricey flash but I still think it’s worth every penny. When you use off-camera flash as often as I do and in as many varied situations, I need something that's reliable and powerful. The Quantum fills the bill. I fire the Quantum with my Quantum FreeWire radios. The FreeWire radios add another couple hundred dollars to my lighting set up but I still thinks it the best off-camera flash set-up going.

Nicholas with Strobes Several of our DigitalProTalk readers might not want to make that kind of a $$$ investment at this time but would still like to give off-camera flash a try. A few months ago Ace number one assistant, Nicholas Viltrakis, did a guest blog post illustrating how he uses inexpensive slave triggers to create some really nice off-camera flash images. Here is the link to his post.

While cruising the web over the weekend, and then checking in with fellow blogger Kerry Garrison at, I found that he did a piece on what appears to be the same inexpensive flash triggers. Here is the link to that post.

Cheap Wireless Kerry also has a short video showing how to hook the strobe triggers up to your flash and your camera. Kerry also has the them available at this site which really makes it convenient for anyone wanting. You may want to give these inexpensive triggers a try. Anyway, why not check it out and see what you think.

Adobe versus Bridge – Which Way To Go?

Lightroom I had a chance to meet A.J. Wood a couple years ago during our Digital WakeUp Call tour in 2009. We've since bumped into each other many times at various conventions and trade shows and continue to stay in touch.

Bridge A.J. has a very handy blog [link] which I featured recently on DigitalProTalk. His blogs covers many, many tips and techniques about Photoshop and Lightroom. In a recent post he discussed the burning question on several photographers mind. Why use Lightroom when I can use Bridge?

A.J. has completed an entire post on the subject. If you want to get the lowdown on what the big differences are in workflow in using Bridge versus Lightroom 3, check it out right here.

Way Cool, Way Easy, Way HDR

Another one of my favorite sites to visit is Jeff Revell's, site. Many times Jeff will do a review of one of the new pieces of software just recently introduced. His reviews are always concise, in-depth, and very informational.

HDR Efex Recently Jeff did a review of Nik Software's new HDR Efex Pro. Once again it's a great tutorial and really give you a good peek under the hood of Nik's new software product. Here is the link right here.

HDR Efex Pro has been getting rave reviews everywhere on the net. Sure, there's been the old standby, Photomadix, but Nik’s HDR Efex Pro software seems to make the process that much easier. I personally never really dabbled in HDR mostly because of a lack of time but, after seeing Jeff tutorial I think I might have to roll up my sleeves and give HDR Efex Pro a try myself

By the way, I think our Captured by the Light tour special Nik discount code might still be active. If you're planning to slip a Nik software product under the Christmas tree this weekend, head over to Nik and check out all their products. If you use our DZISER discount code, you might just find yourself getting an additional 15% - 20% off of your purchase. Not a bad boost to your wallet savings in this year's holiday shopping season.

Matrix Revisited: Stopping Bullets In Mid Air

You know, I really enjoy checking in with some of my favorite websites during my Internet cruise over the weekend. It's always cool to check-in and just see if I can find some gold nuggets for posting on Quick Hit Monday.

Edgerton images One of the cool sites I enjoy visiting is DYI It's always featuring the latest gadget or explaining a very cool way to do something yourself. In a recent post the topic was how to stop bullets in midair. Since I was a kid I have been a fan of stop-action photography. I still remember being amazed when I first saw the stop-action photographs of Harold Edgerton. I always thought it would be cool if I could take those kinds of photographs too.

Anyway, now you can by just following easy steps outlined in this post right here.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. Please plan on stopping back tomorrow for another episode of Technique Tuesday. I'll try to sneak a new episode in this week in between all my last-minute shopping.

Have a great day, and I'll see you tomorrow.

Adios, David