Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"A Perfect Day"

A Perfect DayIMG_8593-Edit-2

"A Perfect Day"
© David A. Ziser

It’s been about the girls these past several posts so today I thought I’d give the guys some attention.  This is another image from my shoot last week.  Kapok Gardens is one of the classic event venues in the Tampa/Clearwater, Florida area.  The décor is very eclectic and makes for some exciting locations for the photography we were doing around the venue.

This image was taken in the lounge area of Kapok Gardens. The surrounding décor, the unusual ceiling treatment, and the natural window light is what makes this image work.  Yes, the subject in this image was only illuminated by the light coming in from a large window across the room – camera right.

Because of the distance of the window to the subject, we see a clearly defined loop light pattern on his face. That’s because the light source – the window – is far enough away so, in effect, it becomes a much smaller light source relative to the subject.

I simply turned the subject’s face into the light till I could see both of his cheeks fully illuminated but still keep a shadow on the camera side of his nose – the perfect loop light pattern.

Next I had to compose the image.  My lower vantage point positioned the subject’s face and shoulders higher into the ceiling area of the composition.  Notice too that all the lines are leading right to the subject’s face.  With him in an easy pose in the bottom right quadrant of the composition a nice visual balance is achieved among all the compositional elements giving us a strong, masculine portrait of our subject.

Camera specs:  Canon 7D fitted with Canon 18-200mm IS lens at 18mm, F5.6 @ 1/25 second, ISO 3200.  Enjoy!  -David

Technique Tuesday: Impossible Locations - Amazing Portraits

Good Morning Everybody,

I sure hope everyone had a chance to relax and recharge over the long weekend.  That’s pretty much what LaDawn and I did.  After working VERY hard last week in Tampa Florida, it was good to get back home and just take it easy.

The only downside was the 95 degree weather followed us back up to Kentucky too. It seems we just can’t escape the heat – we head to Phoenix and more hot temperatures tomorrow  ;~)

3 KidsIMG_6409I’m photographing a wedding for a dear client this coming weekend and really looking forward to it.  I received a call from the groom’s mother, Dana, while we were in Las Vegas earlier this year attending the WPPI Convention.  Dana and her family have been portrait clients of mine since 1990.  I’ve been photographing her three children for many years.  I’ve included one of those very early images.  This time the call was to photograph her son’s wedding.  Yes, the little boy in the middle is now going to be the groom.

We land tomorrow, get settled in, then scope out the wedding and reception venues.  Thursday we’ll catch up with Beverly and Jonathon for a few portraits around the resort which I’ll include into a slide presentation we’ll be showing at the rehearsal dinner Thursday evening.

The wedding is on Friday with a brunch on Saturday and then it’s off to Sedona for my private workshop [link] on Sunday.  Hey we still have one seat left if your interested.  Call Jennifer at 800-292-2994 for details.  Anyway lots of things happening…..how about we get on with today’s post!

Impossible Locations – Amazing Portraits

In this video I’m going to revisit our Kelby Training shoot last week.  During that shoot we got a chance to work in some beautiful locations.  But then there were a few places in which we were not so lucky.  In today’s tutorial we will visit one such area.

The entire shoot at the Kapok Gardens began very well.  The first location was ideal for the kind of techniques I wanted to demonstrate.  We had soft lighting, beautiful grounds – everything went very well.

I finished up my shooting and then proceeded to check out a few more areas where I thought we could capture some nice portraits.  We had Greek columns, flowing fountains, beautiful gardens – AND we had this location!  This is where I decided I was going to create my next series of images.

Impossible LocationsIMG_8406I know, you think I’m crazy but the truth of the matter is that beyond what you see at first glance this location offered some of the most exciting portrait possibilities for the entire day’s shoot.

In this tutorial I’ll discuss how to see beyond the obvious and see the potential of a truly beautiful place to photograph.  I’ll discuss the lighting challenges and how I solved them.  I’ll review the compositional considerations I needed to consider to pull off what at first glace seemed impossible. I’ll show you how I had to pose the subject to enhance and flatter my subject.

It’s a fun and informative tutorial.  Why not hit the PLAY button and enjoy the show.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I’m packing my bags for Arizona and it’s a lot of packing considering I’m packing for a wedding and a workshop on the same trip.  Remember, we still have room for one more person at my workshop next week [link]. Like I said, give Jennifer a call at 800-292-2994 if you would like to nab the last seat.

Have a great rest of the week and I’ll plan to see you tomorrow bright and early before we head for the plane.

See ya’ then, David

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Few Thoughts On Memorial Day 2011

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Most of us are spending time with family and friends today with Memorial Day marking the first days of summer. But let us set aside thoughts of burgers and hot dogs for just a few moments as we remember those protecting our country on three war fronts on this day.

Let's also honor all our over 1,000,000 fallen heroes, who have served to protect our freedom.  This memorial inscription at Arlington National Cemetery says it most clearly:

"Not for fame or reward, Not for place or for rank, Not lured by ambition, Or goaded by necessity, But in simple, Obedience to duty, As they understood it, These men suffered all, Sacrificed all, Dared all–and died"

And as I read this morning on another blog [link];

"It is tempting to become a little melancholy when contemplating all those who have given their “last full measure of devotion,” as President Lincoln so eloquently put it.  But as General Patton said, “Thank God that men and women like these lived, rather than regret that they died.”  So with that advice I suggest we honor our fallen for their sacrifices, but also celebrate their lives."

So instead of me wishing all of you a "Happy Memorial Day", let me wish each and everyone of you a "Thoughtful, Loving, Reflective Memorial Day".


Friday, May 27, 2011

"Goddess Of The Sea"


"Goddess Of The Sea"
© David A. Ziser

OK, the title may be a little weak today, but it’s all I could think of.  Sea foam kept sticking in my mind as I was trying to name this image.  Sea foam was the color of the dress she was wearing and the place where this image was made was actually under flowing water.

How about the photograph itself?  It was a straight available light image.  The sun, as usual most of this week, was ducking in and out of the clouds so my exposure was constantly changing.  No problem, just keep your wits about you and make the exposure corrections on the run. This image was made is the worst of locations.  We had to move a bucket of mud, a watering hose, and trip around some debris that was in the area.

Was it worth it – I think so.  The repeat of the the Roman style columns, the rough hewn stones, and the gorgeous lighting came together for the amazing portrait of Hope.

Subject placement was important to me – I decided to have her tilt her body slightly to add a nice diagonal line to the setting.  Next I placed her eyes in the top right quadrant of the viewfinder,  at nodal point #4. That let the rough repeating stone work lead the viewer’s eyes to her beautiful countenance.  The repeat of the columns on the right and the ferns on the left side of the image did a nice job of framing up our subject and also leading the viewer's eye directly to our subject.

I had a little stray light coming in from camera left and used the black side of my Sunspotz to block the light coming in from that direction.  The result was her face was beautifully sculpted by the soft light coming in from camera right and gave us a great portrait.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm lens at 35mm, F5.6 @ 1/200 second, ISO 400.  Enjoy!  -David


Hey gang, I’ve got to hit the road early this morning.  We got to video a few recap segments of my training videos and then it’s off to the airport for an early afternoon flight.

See ya’ in a few,  -David

What A Week – Great People, Great Images, and Two Great Classes Wrapped!

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Day 4 -IMG_8372It was a beautiful Spring day as we boarded our Delta jet and climbed to about 30,000 feet heading for home.  What a week it's been - four days of non-stop shooting, the longest GRID episode and season finale, 3 D-Town episodes in the can, and several wrap up videos completed by this morning. Whew!  But like I said to Adam, our lead videographer, it was a lot of hard work by all of us this week, but it sure was fun too!

Day 4 -IMG_8498-Edit-EditAdam and I both felt that our shooting/training sessions are some of the best we’ve worked on together. I was thinking I had it tough being in my jacket in the blazing hot sun hours at a time, but then I think of Adam carrying around 50+ pounds of Steadicam and video gear.  We all worked hard - Adam, Brandon, and Meredith - my sincere thanks to them for all their great efforts over 4 long days and a few evenings. 

Day 4 -IMG_8593-EditAlso my thanks to my wonderful wife LaDawn, who served as my lighting assistant and part time art director for the shooting sessions - Yes, even she was standing out in that hot sun too.  I think her suggestions and ideas really added a lot to the content I was presenting in these videos.

Also, my thanks to our models, Brittany and Colby on Monday and Tuesday; and Hope and Ben on Wednesday and Thursday.  Thanks to their professional manner, the shooting sessions went smoothly and efficiently.

Day 4 -IMG_8666-EditAnd finally my thanks to Kelby Training and all the folks behind the scenes who magically get the entire class pulled together making me look good and creating a wonderful training experience for all of you.

My excitement with the training sessions rests in the fact that they were NOT wedding specific videos.  I never once pointed my camera at a wedding couple.  That fact was important in the lessons I was trying to teach - the main emphasis being that all the lessons and core content in these training sessions will work cross platform for any assignment regardless of the people photographed.

Day 4 -IMG_8766-Edit-EditEven though the specific intent of the videos was not lighting, we still wrestled with the light many times throughout the week and you will really enjoy how we handled the challenges we encountered. Most challenging was working in the hot, bright, direct, blazing, 90-95 degree Tampa sun.  I would have to call it the worst lighting conditions I have ever tried to photograph in.  In spite of the difficulties, we still pulled off some amazing images and wonderful video instruction.

Another highlight of the week for me was in the variety of locations in which we got to shoot - from an urban park in downtown Tampa, to two more traditional parks around the city, to the Kapok Gardens, and finally a private mansion on the water.  Each location offered a wonderful set of possibilities for creative portraits. I hope you enjoy the several images thru-out this post.

Day 4 -IMG_8812-EditOver the next few days, I'll post a few more with the EXIF data, lighting details, and backstory on each posting.  I hope when you watch the videos after they're completed that you'll find them wildly informative, entertaining, and easy to follow along.  We all worked hard to give you the best training videos ever.


Hey gang, that really is it for me today.  We just landed about an hour ago and it is definite time for an adult beverage ;~). I hope your car wins at Indy this weekend, you don't burn the burgers on the grill, and I hope you have a great time with family and friends if your planning any holiday celebrations,

I'll plan to see you next Monday for a brief holiday message so until then…. Have a great weekend,  David

Thursday, May 26, 2011

"Hot Times In The City"

Hot Times In The CityIMG_8077-Edit-Edit

"Hot Times In The City"
© David A. Ziser

It was very hot times in the city (Tampa) as I was taking this photograph. But in spite of the heat, I think we captured many great images, this one included.  I love working the urban landscapes – the textures and shapes of the buildings and the crystal clear rich blue sky makes for a very striking background for our “Hot Times In The City” image.

I also have to say, it was really fun not having my camera pointing at a bride or groom.  I love Hope’s hot red outfit against our Tampa city scape – she just pops form the scene, doesn’t she?

Compositionally I've placed her in the bottom fourth quadrant of the image.  Her placement in the quadrant and against the large cylindrical building gives a nice visual balance to the entire scene.

Although I’m know as the wedding guy, you can see that all the rules of lighting and composition work for any subject. Anyone could have been standing where Hope was standing and illuminated in the same way – my strobe coming in from camera left at 1/2 power – and we still would have a very dramatic image.

Camera specs:  Canon 7D fitted with Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm, F11 @ 1/250 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

The Engagement Shoot: The Product Possibilities Are Endless! $50 B&H Gift Card Coming Your Way!

Good Morning Everybody,

Boy, I have to tell you, it really was one hot time in the city yesterday as I continued my Kelby Training video shoot. 7 of us, LaDawn and I, our two models, and the 3 person video crew were getting toasty red from our all day shoot in Tampa’s direct, blazingly hot afternoon sun.  Too bad we didn’t think to apply about an SPF 60 screen.  We all were really feeling the heat by the end of the day which ended about 7:00 p.m. – Whew!

Hot City CurvesIMG_8128-Edit-EditOn the upside though, we did get some fantastic images.  I’ll continue to share a few with you these next few days.  The thrill for me was being in non-wedding mode.  All day yesterday, I got to just PLAY.  It was a wonderful exercise in seeing. 

That’s the topic of the second video I’m doing while here in Tampa.  It’s an entire video on the art of seeing – first discerning the location, determining what that location brings to the portrait, and THEN placing the subject within that scene to photograph what you’ve seen in your mind’s eye.  It was a way cool, good time and guess what?  I get to do the same thing again today!

But, how about we get right on with today’s post.  Here we go…

The Engagement Shoot: Bringing It All Together – The Final Product Possibilities Are Endless!

OK, let me ask you – what is the purpose of your engagement portrait sessions?  Is it to go out and just get a few images that your client can use for a 5x7 or two to sit around their home or on their office desks?  I hope not!

Engaged coupleIMG_7424Digital shooting gives us more opportunities than ever to offer our clients a myriad of exciting product possibilities.  Those product possibilities are the result of both the images and video clips we make along with the surprising large number of new products our labs are offering.

The fact of the matter is this;  Back in the film days, we would typically shoot about 50 images – two rolls of 220 film.  Now with digital, the number of images soars to a couple of hundred!  Hey, that’s a good thing.  It’s that greater number of images available that gives us the opportunity to offer our clients so many product options.

Let me point you towards just a 5 rock solid profit building ideas:

1. Videos and DVD’s:  Combine you best stills with the 5 second video clips you made during the photography session.  Animoto makes it totally easy to create both a low res video for posting to your Facebook page. 

Animoto2They also make it just as easy to create a high res version of the same show.  The high res DVD version can be offered as a booking bonus or included in your higher priced image collections.

2. – Engagement Albums:  This one is a no-brainer.  You’ve taken a gazillion pictures – what are you going to do with all of them?  The quick answer is to offer your clients several album options.

Those album options can range from the very elegant (and expensive) leather bound album down to a more affordable press printed book from say, ACI Labs [link].

Save the date3.  Save The Date Items:  Labs including ACI, are offering all kinds of possibilities in that department, too.  Now when the couple sends out their invites, they can easily and affordably include a “Save The Date” reminder with a few of your images on them.  You get the “Save The Date” item sale and extended use of a few of the photographs you took.

4. Wedding Photo Invitations: I just recently saw a photo wedding invitation and it looked very cool.  This is yet another way for you to “repurpose” a few more of your images from your engagement shoot.

Wedding sign in book15. Wedding Sign In Book:  This is another of my favorite ideas and several labs are offering such a product.  The small book sits near the cake or gift table where the gusts are offered the opportunity to offer the newly married couple their best wishes.

Each turn of the page shows another photo of the couple romantically photographed by you.  This is a great way to showcase your work to future possible clients attending this wedding and also allows you to “repurpose” a few more images.

As you can see, the list could go on for pages.  Maybe you even have a few ideas yourself you could share with our DPT readers.  Once again, if I get at least 20 good ideas posted in the comment section below, I’ll award the winner a $50 gift card from B&H camera.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  Shooting begins in less than an hour and we’ve got to get moving.  Have a good one, don’t forget to post a few ideas below, and I’ll see you again tomorrow.  -David

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"Love’s Gentle Touch"

Loves TouchIMG_7688

"Love’s Gentle Touch"
© David A. Ziser

Here is an image made during my Kelby Training session yesterday.  One of the points I wanted to make is that photographs of an engaged couple are not always about the faces of the couple. 

Just as important are their feelings and expressions.  That’s why I love this image so much – you, the viewer, can feel see and feel the love they feel for each other.

I accomplish this with a very close crop that only shows this young lady’s soft touch and gentle smile as she looks into her fiancé's eyes.  By going in tight to only show the smile and the rings we have a wonderful image of how they feel for each other while showcasing the engagement ring in the same photograph.

I finish the image by bringing it into Lightroom, desaturate the image, push the exposure up a bit, move the Fill Light slider up to about +60, the Clarity slider to about –60, and touch up where necessary and I’ve got a great  full-of-expression engagement image.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 150mm, F3.2 @ 1/320 second, ISO 500.  Enjoy!  -David

Engagement Couple Photographs – The Shoot Sheet

Good Morning Everybody,

Engage shootIMG_7126We wrapped my “Engagements Portraits - Location, Lines, and Love” yesterday about 6:30 p.m.  I have to tell you, I am stoked by how the DVD is going to turn out. 

Not only did I cover all the photographs and “poses” I like to make during my engagement sessions, the entire video is jammed packed with great lighting techniques and compositional tips and tricks. Yes, you see me struggle with some tough lighting conditions but you’ll also get to see how I solve them too.

I think it’s about the best Kelby Training video I’ve ever put together – I can’t wait for you to see it!  I’ll let you know the minute it goes “LIVE”.

I thought I’d just give you a peek at what we covered these last two days.  Here’s a quick list.

The Dress Code: Clothing to wear – here are the main points

-Suggestions for best looking portraits 

    .Casual or Dressy

    .Soft subdued colors, earth tones

   .Clothing to compliment each other

Engage shootIMG_6620- Clothing not to wear

  .Too tight for body size

  .Horizontal stripes

  .Clothing with words like favorite rock band t-shirt

  .Too many colors

  .Bold patterns

Places to shoot: Favorite places

- Outdoors

- Indoors

- Special places for them - proposal, 1st date, favorite, etc.

- College surrounds

- Urban/City setting.

- Park

Engage shootIMG_6721- Beach

- Mall with skating rink

- Favorite restaurant

When to shoot and benefits of each

- Early evening “sweet light”

- Any light

- Direct sunlight - Open Shade

Gear to use

- Long/Wide lenses

- Panels

- Big umbrellas

- Flash with & w/o Zumbrella

Techniques Discussed

Engage shootIMG_6907- Shutter speeds and apertures


- Exposure

Posing the couple

- Casual

- Romantic/Sexy

- Edgy/Anti-romantic non-smiling images

- Super close ups - hands, rings, kiss, etc.

- Over shoulder into his/her eyes

- Backlit

- Against a dramatic sky

WEngage shootIMG_6972hat to shoot

- Close ups

- Engagement ring

- Hands

- Coaxing the expressions/having some fun

- Lips

- Kissing

- Soft touches

- Smiles

Engage shootIMG_7061-Edit-EditHey gang, that’s about half the outline for the Engagement video we did.  We also did an entire session on how and what to shoot for your short video segments, too.  I told you we covered a lot of ground.

Use the list above and the accompanying photographs from the Kelby Training shoot as a guide for your next engagement session.  Also, think of it as a “Preview Of Coming Attractions” for my Kelby Training video coming to a computer near you real soon ;~)


Hey everybody, that’s it for me today.  We’re starting my second video today.  I’m covering Image Composition For Portrait Photographers From Start To Finish.  We’ve got the run – the models show up in the next few minutes.

How about checking back tomorrow and let’s see what I’ve got for you…. hot selling items for your engaged couples?

See ya’ then,  David

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"The Look Of Love"

The Look Of LoveIMG_7083-Edit

"The Look Of Love"
© David A. Ziser

Here is one of the images from our “Engagement Session” I was doing for Kelby Training Yesterday.  It’s one of the my favorites.  The secret to this image’s success if the use of a very long lens at a fairly wide aperture.

We were working at the very beautiful Philippe Park in Tampa.  The scenery was gorgeous everywhere.  This image was made later in the afternoon during what I call the “sweet light” time of the day.  The harsh sun is well behind the trees leaving a warm, soft light flooding the park everywhere.

I had our couple stand right in the middle of the road with my assistant taking up her position about 12 feet behind the couple with my Quantum strobe set to full power.  I was working at a slower ISO , hence the need for more light to get the rimming out backlight effect I like for this kind if image.

Look at the flow of the textures and out of focus lines in the background – the sense of depth gave us a result that was amazing! And, more importantly, Brittany and Colby loved it too.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 70-200 IS lens at 180mm, F4.5 @ 1/125 second, ISO 400.  Enjoy!  David

Technique Tuesday: Dancing In The Light

Good Morning Everybody,

I am rushing to get the post up today.  It was a very long day yesterday – we finally finishing about 10:00p.m. and that was without a lunch or dinner break – but we got some amazing images and a ton of video lessons. I’ll post a few more images this week.

DAZ GridIMG_6511Add that to the Grid episode I did with Matt Kloskowski – the final episode for this season, BTW (and the longest on record too), and you get an idea how busy the day was.  Yes, yesterday’s final Grid episode was the longest.  It was funny, Matt said we would go about 35 minutes – after 30 minutes we hadn't even got to the main topic but still covered lots of good info up to that point.  You’ll have to check it out right here.  It should be up later today. It was really fun – heck, I bet Opraha’s last show even goes longer than that tomorrow ;~)

We head out again today with our first stop being an ice skating rink. Yes, I am sacrificing my body to get the shots for our Kelby Training viewers ;~)  We have another great day planned – I’ll fill you in more tomorrow.  Because of the lack of time, I’m re-running an episode “Dancing In The Light”. It covers a lot of of the lighting techniques that I use for my couples photography so I think it’s a good topic for today’s discussion.


Dancing In The Light
Today's tutorial is a continuation of last week's lighting/photography lesson entitled, "Love Lines" [link]. The bride and I knew we could get some great shots at this wonderful location - the Phoenix in downtown Cincinnati. Here is the trick. You don't want to be pulling your bridal couple away from their guests and their reception for too long. It's their wedding, not our photo shoot.

I asked Grace and Chris if we could break away for 10-15 minutes, just long enough for the guests to finish dinner. They had finished first, so if they agreed, this would be the perfect time to slip in and out with their absence only being minimally noticed.

They agreed, of course, and now the clock was ticking. I had to get all the shots I wanted in less that 15 minutes and get them back to the reception and their guests. This tutorial walks you through the next set of images I created for Grace and Chris. Backlighting and cool compositional lines make for some pretty dramatic images.

This week's tutorial shows you how quickly we put the images together and the great result we got. Hit the PLAY button below and enjoy the show!


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  We start shooting in less than an hour.  I’ve got to get the gear packed and hit the road.  I hope to see you again tomorrow assuming the day doesn’t go as long as yesterday did.

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

Monday, May 23, 2011

"The Littlest Groomsman"

Little Grroms man

"The Littlest Groomsman"
© David A. Ziser

This image was captured during a wedding a few years ago. The light was particularly dim so I switched to my 50mm F1.4 and kicked the ISO to 1600. The father's hand on the son's shoulder is more than just one more wedding image. It's the story within the story about "fatherhood." The gentle touch of the dad's hand on his son's shoulder affirms the love the father has for the son as he stands there confidently with the rest of the groomsmen.

Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 50mm F1.4 lens, F 1.4 @ 1/40 second, ISO 1600. Enjoy! -David

Mega Quick Hit Monday: Overload, Overload – She’s Going To Blow Captain – Tons Of Info - Bookmark This Page!

Good Morning Everybody,

We landed safe and sound in Tampa yesterday, rented our car and headed to Oldsmar, FL, home of Kelby Training world headquarters.  We check in today at 9:00 a.m. and will be shooting till 9:00 p.m. tonight.  Yep, it's going to be a long, hot day but it should be fun and I'm really looking forward to the filming process. 

Grid3Also, today you can catch me "LIVE" on the GRID with Matt Kloskowski at 12 noon EDT.  I'm not sure what the plan is or what topics we're discussing but I guess I'll find out by noon;~)

Hey gang, I've got lots of very interesting stories and links for you to check out today so let's get right to it.  Here we go....

Catch Me On The Radio

DP Experience logoOver the past few weeks I’ve done a few interviews; one with Rick Sammon at Digital Photo Experience [link]; and the other with Bruce Clarke, a talented wedding photographer from Edmonton, Canada and one the folks that helps bring you This Week In PhotographyTWiP for short.  Here is the interview  link right here.

Good, Bad and Fun News In The Photo Gear Department

Cameras Coming Soon?

I've been talking with a lot of the camera dealers lately and all are expressing concern about getting gear to sell.  The Tsunami/earthquake disaster in Japan back in March has really cut production of cameras and lenses. In my discussions with Canon, it's not a problem to make the cameras. It's a BIG problem to get the parts from the down-line suppliers to construct the cameras.

Already for many manufacturers many items are close to out of stock - like the radio control for the Canon 7D.  The pipeline needs to be refilled - but when will that happen?  Good news - rumors have it that Canon’s Supply Chain will Back to Normal by end of June.  Here is the link for the entire story right here. Unfortunately, I understand Nikon may be following with shipping of products even later into the summer months.

SandiskOne-Third of the SanDisk Memory Cards on Earth are Counterfeit

This one was a shocker for me.  33% fake cards in the marketplace is a BIG number and most of them are purchased on eBay where the number of counterfeit CF cards soars to 70%!- uhmmmmm.  Here is the story right here.

Ahhhhh! Don't You Love Digital

Speed magyBack in the day, the film days, that is,  we too had a way to see the images instantly.  Back in the film days instantly meant in about a minute.  Yes, you guessed it - with Polaroid backs for our medium format cameras.

What about the 35mm shooters - oh, they had a solution too and Nikon provided the gear to make it happen.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the instant 35mm camera of the past [link].  Like I’ve said so often, digital photographers don't know how easy they have it these days ;~)

A Few Photography Techniques For You Today

Light Painting Taken To The Extreme

Light Painting ExtremeI've always been a fan of light painting but this article takes Light Painting to a brand new level.  You can read the entire story right here.  Don’t miss the video too – way cool!

Your Complete Guide For Photographing Star Trails

Back when my age could be calculated with single digits my hobby was astronomy.  That’s why I enjoy this post so much.

11 Ways To Build A Better Photo

This is a great article that cuts to the chase with good ideas to help one improve their photograph – enjoy the read right here.

Photo school in a box: 250 photography tutorials

OK, here you go – more photograph lessons than you could ever hope to get through in a day right here.  Thanks to Pixiq.com for providing this resourceful list.

Hot Items In The Gadget Department

Like most of you, I stay pretty busy and don't have all the time I would like to just web surf all the sites in my RSS reader.  This weekend I took a little trip over to a few of my favorite sites and stumbled on a few cool projects at DIYPhotography.com. I enjoyed several of the posts I’ve missed lately.  Here are some of my favorites.  I plan to give a few of them a try myself - they look like pretty much fun. Always fun to try something new!

Camera Remote Control - Cool!

I love this idea and it looks super simple to do – count me in.  Here is the link right here.

Texture machineTexture Projector For Your Next Portrait Session

Ok, I’ve been looking at something like this for quite a while.  I think it could be kind of cool for your high school senior portrait.  Here is the link right here.

More On Photography

1 - Stolen Camera Finder – I actually think this is a pretty good idea.  Here is the link.

2 - If you haven't already, check out this new project web site right here.  It’s called The American Wedding Project and their goal is to photograph a wedding in every state and 10 major cities in less than 80 weeks!

One Hot IPad/iPhone Camera App

Fellow blogging buddy, Dave Warner, at Lensflare35 just did an interview with the PhotoForge2 folks that was released today (same as their new version of the app) - a FANTASTIC piece of app software Dave says. Catch the interview and get more info on the app right here.

Card Reader For iPad & iPad2 That Works

Mic Card ReaderA while back I reported that Apple in all their wonderfulness neutered just about every card reader we could use in transferring our images into the iPad by reducing the power output from 100ma to 10ma at the connector.  Most card readers needed more than that to power them up so they just stopped working after one upgraded to iOS 4.x.

I just got a note from Phillip Guyton, one of our DPR who picked up a card reader I mentioned a few months ago that looked like it might solve the problem.  Well, it does.  Here’s the excerpt from Phillip’s note.  “Just wanted to let you know that I purchased one of the cd card readers from MicGadget and I'm happy to report it works like a champ on both the iPad 1 and iPad 2!”

Thanks Philip – here is the link for all the info on the working card reader right here

Photoshop, Lightroom, and Freebies

Lots On Photoshop Today

PS HairThis section of Quick Hit Monday is becoming quite fun for me to put together for you. I'll tell you, my finds are finds that are helpful to me and things we do at my studio.  Most of the articles are Portrait/Wedding specific.  I hope you enjoy them.

1 - 15 Photoshop Cheat Sheets That Will Make Your Task Easier [link]

2 - In Depth BW Conversions [link]

3 - Selecting Hair in Photoshop [link]

A Touch Of Lightroom Too

1 - 100 Ways Lightroom Kicks the Bridge (and Camera Raw’s) A$@! [link]

2 - 10 Quick and Easy Lightroom Tricks Every User Should Know [link]

3 - 5 Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts [link] In this episode of the Adobe Creative Suite Video Podcast Terry White will show you 5 Keyboard Shortcuts for Lightroom that will speed up your day to day workflow!

And Finally, Photoshop Freebies

1 - FREE Adobe Patterns [link]

2 - Tuesday Total Textures 71 [link]

Papers3 - 260+ Free Beautiful Paper Texture Collection For Elegant Designs [link]

4 - Alt Codes You Can Use [link]

Need to type a Copyright symbol but can never remember the Alt code – well, here is the definitive listing of all those special codes right here.

Strange But True Department

Apple causes ‘religious’ reaction in brains of fans, say neuroscientists. [link]  I knew it was true all the time ;~)  Please no nasty grams, but I did find this be an interesting story.

Learning and Training

Lightroom Training

In the month of June, fellow blogger, podcaster, and photographer Gavin Seim has a series of 90 minute Lightroom Webinar Workshops on various skills levels. All the details on them are right here.

Marketing and Design Workshop At Marathon Press

Image(2)LaDawn and I attended a Marathon Workshop a few years ago. Valuable help and definitely worth it.  Check it out right here.

Norfolk, NE • JUNE 13-14, 2011 • learn more »\


Hey gang, that’s it for me today. We’re running late and shooting starts in about an hour at Kelby Training.  Hope to see everyone right here again tomorrow – same time, same station.

See ya’ then, –David

Friday, May 20, 2011

"You’re the Light Of My Life"

You Are The Light Of My LifeIMG_5713

"You’re the Light Of My Life"
©David A. Ziser

OK, one more image from that little church I was shooting in a few weeks ago.  A location that, at first looked very disappointing, turned out to be one of my favorite locations in which I’ve shot in months. 

Just look at how this location comes alive with a wide angle lens! This is one of my traditionally best selling photographs.  I’ve always called it the “aisle shot”. In this church there was no center aisle so I had to use one of two side aisles. That further enhanced the composition with my super wide angle lens.

Look at how the pews in the foreground lead you right to the bride and groom.  The soaring ceiling with the curing lines of the ceiling supports offers a very dramatic background for the image – once again, it’s the wide angle lens working it’s magic.

Finishing off the composition with the strong backlighting -  my Quantum flash at 1/4 power – added the final touch to this very cool, very traditional Ziser, wedding image.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 8-16mm lens at 8mm, F5.6 @ 1/40 second, ISO 800.  Enjoy!  -David


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  We are heading to Oldsmar, Florida (near Tampa) on Sunday and catching up with the Kelby Training crew on Monday for two more training videos – Couples Posing/Engagements Shoots and Composition, Learning To See Differently. Plans are also to have me appear on the Grid LIVE  so I hope you’ll tune in. I’ll be coming to you from NAPP World Headquarters all next week so until then keep you pixels smilin’ and enjoy some R&R over the weekend  -David

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"Maiden Voyage"

Maiden VoyageIMG_5282-Edit-Edit

"Maiden Voyage"
©David A. Ziser

This abstract was taken a few weeks ago.  My first impression when I saw my final interpretation of this image was that it looked like a very contemporarily ocean liner ready to make it’s first voyage.  All that was missing was the bottle of champagne.

I think this image is a wonderful and playful combination of line, tones, and color.  Does it make any difference what the original subject was – I think not.  These pixels painted on my final digital canvas really don’t care how they got there much like the paint on a regular artist’s canvas. I just view the final presentation and enjoy it.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm lens at 110mm, F5.6 @ 1/160 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David


p.s. So what do you think was the original subject? ;~)

Business Day Thursday: How To Make Yourself A Wedding Album "Buzz Factor"

Good Morning Everybody,

Jerry G picAs you could tell from yesterday's very short and late post, it was quite a day around my studio.  The night before last, I was on a Skype call with legendary wedding photographer, Jerry Ghionis, for well over an hour talking about all things connected with weddings.  It was a great phone visit and in the end, Jerry agreed to come to our PhotoPro Expo next year and give a wedding program - more later.

Yesterday we were going through major changes converting to a new service provider for our phone and Internet service.  I was hanging over the tech's shoulder till everything was up and working properly.  I'm hoping this resolves our ISP issues we've been having lately.

NewsletterNext we wrapped my newsletter and sent it mid-afternoon.  I hope you got your copy because we have one fantastic Spring Cleaning Sale going on - see the post following this one for additional information.  And I spent the rest of the day wrapping things up for our PhotoPro Network Summer School that is quickly approaching on July 9-12, 2011 in Lexington, KY.  By 7:00 p.m. I called it a day and poured myself an adult beverage ;~)

Anyway, I didn't want to miss today's post because I’m sharing a few good ideas with you that I think will help raise the profile of your business just a bit higher.  I's a simple idea, fun to execute, and produces a great result.  Let's get right to it.

How To Make Yourself A Wedding Album "Buzz Factor"

How many of you have second shooters on your events?  For those of you that do, how many times are you in one of the photographs taken by your second shooter? If you are inadvertently included you may want to crop yourself out of the image.  But, let's say your second shooter nabbed a photo of you talking with say the bride and groom or perhaps the mother of the bride?  These are probably the most prominent people at the wedding, right?

First, Show Wedding Slide Shows

Here is the scenario - At my weddings, I always plan to bring along my iPad with the intent of setting up a slide show of the event so the bride and groom can share the events of the day with their guests. 

Slide showBack in the mid-eighties - yes, the film days, we did the same thing in a much more complicated way with something call Polacolor Slide film.  We shot many of the days events on Polacolor slide film, processed it on the spot at the reception, mounted the images into slide mounts, and presented a show of the bride and groom growing up, their engagement session and I included a few images of the ceremony and formals during the reception!  Yes Virginia, some us were doing "same day" slide shows at weddings more than 25 years ago!

You guys and girls have no idea how easy you have it today to create the same wedding day sizzle for your clients ;~)  I'm still utterly amazed that so many photographers who don't take advantage of today's technology to accomplish so easily the same thing today that we worked our butts off accomplishing so many years ago.

iPad Slide showsAnyway, I digress.  It's so easy to shoot the wedding and then easily transfer a collection of 80-100 images to an iPad and set up the show at the reception.  Heck, with the HDMI  or VGA output adapters for the iPads, it's also easy to set up a large monitor somewhere at the wedding reception where the guests can conveniently watch the show during the reception.

Anyway, this could all be part of another blog post one day.  Let's get back to what I want to discuss today - making yourself a "buzz factor" for the event. I said above that I bring an iPad to all my wedding so I can quickly, like in 12 minutes, set up a slide show of the day's festivities which then I let the bride and groom and parents share with their guests.

DAZ and Bs MomI love walking around the reception with iPad in tow showing the wedding show I just put together. Here is an image taken by my assistant at a recent wedding showing the wedding slide show to the mother of the bride.  She was "blown away" when she saw the short presentation. 

OK, enough said, IPad wedding slide shows create quite a buzz and are good for business but how do you make yourself part of that "buzz"? The secret is getting photographs of you engaging with the client in some way.  In this case, it was with me showing the iPad slide show to my client but there are several ways to do the same thing.  How about just having someone take a photo of you with the bride and groom with your camera at some point during the reception?

The First Step To Creating The Wedding Album “Buzz”

OK, your wondering where all this is leading - hang in here with me.  At the end of the evening we pack all of our gear, say our good-byes to the bride and groom, mom's and dad's and maybe a few special guests - all a good time to get a few more photographs of you with the key folks at the wedding - and head back home.

In post production we'll complete the edit of all the images and get them online for our client review. After the client has had a chance to select their favorites, we have them visit the studio in order to help them make their final album decisions as I've blogged about so many times here at DPT.

Let The Fun and the “Buzz” Begin

This is where the fun begins.  They love seeing their images up on the 9-foot BIG screen in my studio and it makes it really easy for them to fine tune their final selection. But here is where the fun begins.  As we're reviewing the images a photo of me engaging with the couple or the parents pops up every now and then. 

In the past the client may or may not select that image for their album - now they select it every time.  Why, because once the image hits the screen, they may comment telling me how much they like me but they don't want to buy a photo of me for their album.  No problem, I quickly point out that we have a studio policy that any photo in which I'm included is no charge. The client giggles and says, "Why sure, we'll take it then."

Getting Famous – Or Least Better Known

This all started out rarely innocently a few years ago but it's been so much fun interacting with my clients when I tell them the photographs are complimentary, I've just continued the policy.  Then I got thinking about it even more and it struck me - it's a good thing.  Now when the client shows their album to family and friends, when they come to the photograph(s) of me, they can now point out who their photographer was in effect putting the name with the face.  The client receives a few complimentary image or two and I get some nice free advertising.

DAZ Album Page2Don't get me wrong, I'm not on some ego trip to get my photo in the bridal album.  What I think is important is that in the course of our long interaction with our clients we really do become friends at some level.  Heck, even now I socialize with several of our clients that have become treasured friends over the years.  Wouldn't it be cool if your client could point out their wedding photograph and friend, The photographer, in their wedding album?  I think so - I think it's fun, sometimes funny, but always good for future business. Oh, by the way, if any of my assistants are in the photo we still give 20% discount ;~)


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  Stop back tomorrow - I plan to have a shot post off for you as we all head into the weekend.

See ya' then,  David

Spring Cleaning Fire Sale! Get Them While They Last!

Fire Sale2That's right, it's a Spring Cleaning Fire Sale at my

Digital Resource Center right here. We've had a few items sitting on the shelves a bit too long, and my staff said, "Let's clear them out!"  My training materials consistently get 5-star reviews all the time! You won't want to miss these deals! Satisfaction guaranteed!

Here is the link to the HOT DEALS! Grab them now while you can, they won't last long at these prices!

My Training DVDs - a steal at only $19.95 each!

  1. Classic Lighting & Posing - 248min 2 DVD Set (Orig $129)
  2. Make Your Lighting Exciting - 148min 2 DVD Set (Orig $129)
  3. Rapid Fire Tips and Tricks - 70min DVD (Orig $69)
  4. Live Wedding Shoot: Start to Finish - 83min (Orig $69)

4 DVDsGet ALL FOUR Training DVD Collections - a total of over 9 hours of jam-packed information for ONLY $69.95 (Orig $399)

Hot Shots Quick Reference Guides

3 Book Collection for ONLY $49.95 (Orig $119)

Captured By the Light: The Essential Guide to Creating Extraordinary Wedding Photography:

ONLY $29.95 (Orig $54.95)

ALL 4 DVDs and add the Captured By the Light Book

ONLY $89.95  (Orig $454)


I want it allGet ALL 4 DVDs add Captured By the Light Book plus the 3 Hot Shots Quick Reference Guides - ALL for ONLY $139.95 (Orig $579)

Spring Cleaning doesn't get any better than this! Snag one of these HOT DEALS! right now right here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"Surrounded By Love"

Surrounded By LoveIMG_5708-Edit

"Surrounded By Love"
©David A. Ziser

Now be forewarned, when using a lens with this wide field of view, you've got to really careful about subject distortion.  That's the reason I kept the couple near the center of the frame.  Even in doing that, the image was showing a slight bit of distortion but not enough to effect the overall impact of the image.

My careful placement of the subjects at nodal point #4 let the super wide angle Sigma lens really soar to the ceiling adding a wonderful dramatic feel to the composition.  It's a simple, straightforward "couples" pose that most of us take of our brides and grooms during a wedding but it's the wide angle view that makes the image be different and impacting.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm, F5.6 @ 1/40 second, ISO 800. Enjoy!  -David


Hey gang, that's it for today.  I got this post in right under the wire - didn't want to miss a post you know.  Yesterday was absolutely crazy with planning for our PhotoPro Network Summer School link and next year's PhotoPro Expo - details to be forthcoming.

Anyway, I wrapped about 12:00 a.m., and was moving a bit more slowly today.  Oh, I did have a nice break in the day when Jason Lykins, co-reviewer for the Best App site with Terry White, stopped by.  We relaxed, enjoyed a nice lunch, and talked iPad stuff for a good part of the afternoon.

Don't worry, Business Day Thursday will back on schedule tomorrow.  I think you'll really get a kick out of tomorrow’s post.

See ya' tomorrow around noon,  David

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Saying Goodbye To Winter"

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"Saying Goodbye To Winter"
©David A. Ziser

Normally I don’t post a non-wedding/portrait image on a Tuesday but since this week’s Technique Tuesday post is on the Content Aware Fill tool in Photoshop, I’m making an exception. Why? Because I used CAF in this image too.  You can look closely but you won’t be able to spot it.  Want to see the original – you can find it right here in a previous Quick Hit Monday post.

This is one of my favorite images from our visit to Banff about a month ago.  The scenery was nothing short of breathtaking EVERYWHERE you looked.  This image was made as a “drive by shooting” as we were driving along the highway back to Banff and this amazing scenery was breath taking to view!

Compositionally and color-wise this image really works for me.  The tallest mountain peek is positioned at nodal point #3 and the trees at #4.  The eye is lead gracefully in from the left hand side of the image with the gentle rise of mountain peeks and tree line.

The rich blue sky and the clouds blowing over the mountain speaks to the brisk crispness of the Spring air this time of year in the Canadian Rockies.  It was a picture postcard scene if there ever was one.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 35mm, F11 @ 1/400 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David