Friday, July 29, 2011

"A Dance of Color"

A Dance of Color "A Dance of Color"
© David A. Ziser

I photographed this image while traveling the Big Island of Hawaii a few years ago. This is one on my drive-by shooting images.  LaDawn was driving which means we were flying down the road at a pretty fast clip about 41 miles from Hilo just leaving from Waimea.

The original scene was not much to look at – kind of a weeded lot with some construction going on.  Still I liked the cascade of bright red flowers meandering through the scene.  Could I grab the shot in time?  I raised the camera to my eye while trying to frame up the scene at the same time. Panning to the right with the car moving quickly past the scene, I managed to capture the image.

OK, the image I shot was a far cry from what you see above.  The original shot was a good beginning. With some cropping and a little judicious pixel bending I thought the original image held some potential.  I headed over to Photoshop, this was a pre-Lightroom image, and worked the colors, contrasts till I had manipulated the image close to what I was looking for.

Still the image was not quite there.  I was looking for a more “impressionistic” rendering of the scene. More Monet if you will, like you see in his painting, Woman In A Garden [link]. In that painting the reds just danced through the canvas. I wanted my reds to look the same way.

I added the painterly effect by hitting Filter -> Brush Strokes –> Angled Strokes and finally had the result I wanted.  I love it. I plan to eventually print this image on canvass and frame it for a nice wall display.

Camera specs: Canon 5D (Mk I) fitted with 24-105mm IS lens at 90mm, F11 @1/160 second, ISO 800. Enjoy! –David


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  This is our first day back and I’ve got to catch up on a few things around the studio.  How about I see everybody bright and early on Monday with another scintillating collection of links for your enjoyment.

And remember, in this heat, don’t let your pixels run around outside without at least an SPF 80 sunscreen lathered on them ;~)

See ya’ on Monday everybody,


p.s. Hit the “Read More…” link below to see the “Before” image from today’s post. You might be surprised.

Here is what the original scene looked like as we flew by at about 50 mph – not much before a little Photoshop magic was applied.  Don’t you just love our digital world? Heck yeah!

Hawaii Before

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Summer Smiles"


"Summer Smiles"
© David A. Ziser

This was an image I made during my Sedona workshop last month.  We were walking through Sedona's popular Tlaquepaque shopping area where I spotted a walkway on the second level.  The arch and the scenery were beckoning my camera for a photograph.

I asked our model to get comfortable on the railing under the arch. I knew I had to throw the background as much out of focus as I could with meant opting for a large aperture.  The large aperture meant higher shutter speeds in this bright daylight situation and that meant I could use my off camera flash.  The flash would only sync up to 1/250 second and here I am sitting at 1/640 second for my exposure.

The easiest solution to this lighting dilemma was to use my super reflective Sunspotz reflector to bounce the sun's rays back onto my subject.  It worked like a charm.  The reflected light gave me the highlights I wanted while still holding detail in the shadows.  Alex's easy expression, long lanky diagonal pose in the center of the arch's opening, and radiant smile finished the portrait.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 120mm, F3.2 @ 1/640 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Business Day Thursday: Creating Customers For Life Video & Another FREE Webcast Next Week

Good Afternoon Everybody,

NYC Walking We wrapped our last day in NYC yesterday and are heading back home today.  In fact  I'm writing today's post at 30,000 feet ;~)

We had a wonderful visit to New York City enjoying our stay at one of the cities nicest hotels, seeing three of the best plays on Broadway, sampling the culinary delights of a few  excellent restaurants, catching up with my daughter, Elizabeth, and strolling over 25 miles from one end of the city to the other.  It was a wonderful visit!  But, like they say, there's no place like home.  It will be good to return to the wide open spaces of our Midwest backyard.

My Animoto Webcast Was A Hit!

DAZ at Animoto My webcast at Animoto went really well yesterday.  Becky, who you see on the right, co-hosted with me and also said it was an Animoto FIRST – the first time they had done a webcast out of their main offices. We had about 350 folks on line watching and listening.  I was kind of on a time crunch and was moving through my presentation rather quickly but I don't think anyone minded by all the nice remarks that were coming in through the chat screen. Thank you to all that took the time to listen and to participate with your very kind remarks.

LaDawn suggested I run yesterday's webcast for today's Business Day Thursday post for all those that couldn't work the presentation time into your schedule.  I agreed and worked up the video yesterday afternoon. I'll tell ya', you get a special bonus in the video too.  Megan, from Animoto,  did a 10 minute tutorial on how easy Animoto is to use.  So if you are new to Animoto, don't miss Megan's demo.  Megan also mentioned a special promo code to get you 3 months free ($100 value) with a 1-year Animoto subscription.  You'll have to watch the video to get the code;~)

Creating Customers For Life Video

In preparing for yesterday's webcast, I reviewed years of content I had put together about finding new customers, treating them with the absolute best  customer service, building customer relationships into a successful business building strategy.  This video is the 45 minute distillation from my notes.

In the video I cover 6 key areas necessary in creating lifelong clients. They can be summarized as follows; Connect, Engage, Sizzle, Innovate, Serve, and Appreciate.  Why not hit the PLAY button below and get the rest of the story.  I really think you'll enjoy the webcast.

FREE - LIVE Sales Webcast With Charles Lewis Next Week

Mark your calendars and register now [link] - Thursday, August 4, 3:30 p.m. EDT.  Next week I’ll be hosting a sales  webcast with the pre-eminent sales trainer in the field, Mr. Charles Lewis. And next week, I'm letting the world know about it via my newsletter.

I suspect this webcast will fill up quickly which is why I am giving you an early "heads up." If you want to how to double your sales in only two weeks, you need to hear Chuck's program.  Again, here is the link to register for this FREE webcast.


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  It will be good to get home even in spite of the high 90's temperatures were having in Northern Kentucky.  I hope it's cooler in your neck of the woods.  Anyway, plan to stop back tomorrow for a short post.  I hope to see you then.

Have a great rest of the day, David

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Soho Neon"

0001- Soho Neon IMG_4872

"Soho Neon"
© David A. Ziser

Here is another image from Saturday’s photowalk.  Don’t worry, next week, I get around to posting a few more wedding and portrait images ;~)  This image was taken of a brightly lit shop window which was dressed up with lots of these diagonal ribbons.

I don’t even remember the name of the shop or what they were selling, I just liked the patterns and lines of color I saw in the window.

I framed up the crossing of the ribbons at nodal point #3 – the upper right hand corner.  A few color and contrast tweaks in Lightroom finished the presentation.  I simply enjoy the colors, the fun abstract feel of the image.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 120mm, F5.6 @ 1/200 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

FREE Marketing Webcast Today; New Series: No Excuses For Not Getting The Shot!

Good Morning Everybody,

PetanqueWe spent a great day in the city yesterday ending up our walking tour at Bryant Park, one of the nicest parks in the city.  We spent a little time watching the lawn bowlers finessing their skills for an upcoming tournament and before long I was asked to join in.  The game was Petanque and it was quite fun.

David ChoNext it was over to the Bryant Part outdoor reading room to listen to poetry by David Cho.  His poems were almost a verbal “Thank You” to his parents and grandparents for his Korean heritage. It was quite pleasant to hear his story and enjoy the artistry of his poetic words. I did a short video during one of his readings which you can watch right here.

No NYC park experience is complete without the chess players challenging themselves to the mental gymnastics of the game.  We caught the end of one game that did not end happily for either player.  One of the players knocked over a chess piece, delayed the game, and caused the other to lose by 1 second. We wondered off quickly ;~)

My FREE “LIVE” Animoto Webcast Today

Today is the day for my webcast at Animoto [link] - I hope to see you there.  In today's photography market, it's not always about finding new clients but more importantly about keeping the ones you have. 

Microphone[4]I remember years ago reading that 80% of our business comes from 20% of our clients, and most of the 20% client base is our current client base!  That's why, when we find and are hired by a new client, we need to know that each and everyone of them are important to our success and we must do our best to keep them in the fold. Please sign in today at 2:00p.m. EDT to hear my key points on how to make that happen.  Here is the link to register right here.

Hey gang, today also marks the beginning of a brand new Photography/Lighting series here at I'm calling it "No Excuse For Not Getting The Shot" for the next several weeks. I'll be discussing how to always come home with your best wedding photographs in spite of lousy lighting and/or weather conditions. You know, as a wedding photographer there simply are NEVER any excuses for not getting the shot.  It's what we're hired to do and as professionals, it’s ALWAYS our job to do it, NO excuses excepted.  Let's get to today's post.

No Excuses For Not Getting The Shot: Rainey Day Woes

Probably the weather I dislike photographing in the most is cold, rainy weather.  It's not good for the gear, my suit, or me.  But that still doesn't change the fact that under those circumstances, there are any excuses and you still need to come home with the photographs for your clients.

Rainy2A few years ago I was photographing a wedding in Canton, Ohio.  The days leading up to the wedding were beautiful sunny summer days but as the big day arrived the clouds gathered in the morning and by the time we arrived at the bride's home the warm drizzle had begun. To the real disappointment of the bride and her mother, that meant no outdoor photographs.  The drizzle would not be good for the bridal gown, the girls' hair, or my gear.

Rainy1The bride was really hoping to get some beautiful outdoor images on her wedding day so what's a wedding photographer to do?  My plan was quite simple - I could still give the look and feel of outdoor photographs by somehow working the outdoors into the background. 

0963That's right, if I could find a location to keep the wedding party dry but still have the greenery in the background, I should be able to get some really beautiful images.

Brides and grooms love sunny days - as a photographer, I prefer cloudy overcast days.  Overcast days really work best for photographs - no harsh shadows, soft light - everything I need to capture great images.  A rainy day is nothing more than a wet overcast day.  In fact the wetness saturated the green foliage even more. (At this point of writing the post, I' m humming to myself, "Always look on the bright side of life... ;~)

0899OK, all joking aside, let's look at a few images taken in the rain.  In all instances, I was able to position the subject on a porch attached to the house or the drop off area of the country club.

All the photographs shown in this post were taken on rainy days.  The first two were taken on the bride’s parents back porch.  The last two were taken under the drop off at the entrance to the country club.

I expose the background to give me good balance and color.  Since the subject’s are positioned on a porch or drive through, the light is both flat and darker than the background.  That means I easily add the light I need by firing my strobe through my Zumbrella to get the beautiful dimensional lighting I strive for as you can see in the images above.

Both clients got exactly what they were expecting in their wedding photography, outdoor photographs, and most importantly they loved the results.  At this point, I should mention that it’s up to you to build the expectation that they ARE going to love the photographs in spite of the weather.  It’s also up to you to make it happen. Get creative, think outside the box, get the shots – there are no excuses!


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  I've got to get across town for my webcast.  I’ll see you shortly "on the air".  I hope to see you tomorrow for another addition of Business Day Thursday..  Because of our early wake up call, we head back home tomorrow, look for the post sometime in the afternoon after we land back home in Kentucky.

See ya' then, David   

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Church Soldiers"

0001- Church SoldiersIMG_4822-Edit

"Church Soldiers"
© David A. Ziser

Here is another image I made during our Photowalk this past Saturday in NYC.  As I’ve said earlier, it was quite a colorful walk.  This is an image taken of the front door of one of the churches we strolled by.  I thought the unique rail leading to the bright red front doors of the church looking like the congregants marching up the Sunday service in single file.

I liked the original image, but decided to give it a different perspective.  How about two groups in single file almost soldier-like heading up to the entrance?  It was easy to do – head over to Photoshop, crop to the left door section of the image, and then create a mirror image of the crop on the right side. Tweak the colors and contrasts in Lightroom 3 a bit more and I had the result I was looking for.

Now I thought I really had a fairly interesting composition happening.  What do you think?

Camera specs:  Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 80mm, F5.6 @ 1/160 second, ISO 1000.  Enjoy!  -David

Technique Tuesday: Lightroom Secrets Revealed: Auto Mask Magic

Good Morning Everybody,

We've only got two more days in the city and then we head back home on Thursday morning. Yesterday did not go quite as planned.  We worked in our hotel room into the early afternoon and finally left the hotel around 3:00 p.m.

Rainy DayThe minute we hit the street we saw that there was a slight drizzle coming down – back to the room to grab an umbrella.  I bought one from one the several street vendors that miraculously appear the moment raindrops begin to fall. We joined the NYC umbrella-ed masses.

LaDawn suggested a walk up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art – heck, it was only 35 blocks away, it was raining – why not, and off we went. About 45 minutes later and only a block or two away I pulled up the website and saw – Whoops! – the Museum is closed on Monday. 

With it still raining, we heading back the 2 miles to the hotel in even heavier falling rain.  Oh well, we got our exercise in for the day.  We’ve walked about 20 miles through  NYC so far.  Oh, did I mention that the “cheap” umbrella I purchased 3 hours earlier was falling apart on me as we walked back.  What a day – I just began humming that song from Annie, “The Sun Will Come Up Tomorrow…” ;~)

Don't Forget!  Two FREE Webcasts Coming Your Way!

Tomorrow I'm over at Animoto World Headquarters for my "LIVE" webcast – “Creating Livelong Customers.”  I promise you, it's going to be face paced and full of great ideas for you! Sign up right here.  You don't want to miss it!

ChuckLewis7Then next week, August 4, Thursday at 3:30 EDT, we have as my guest right here on DigitalProTalk, my long time friend, Chuck Lewis, a master portrait photographer and master salesman.  Chuck has been showing photographers how to be successful for years.  I was an early student and have to say Chuck's knowledge and advice have aerated me really well.

This will be a 90 minute "LIVE" webcast entitled "Double Your Sales In Only 17 Days".  Don't just read this title, click the image above or this link right here and prepare to be amazed by what Chuck promises to cover.  You really don't want to miss this one!

Time to get moving with this week's brand new Technique Tuesday.  Here we go.

Amazing Secrets Of Lightroom 3 - Making The Adjustment Brush Auto Mask Actually Work

Lightroom's Auto Mask feature in the Adjustment Brush pallet has been frustrating at best.  I just wish it would work as promised.  I'm a heavy handed retoucher meaning that I like to get the job done quickly and efficiently but still without compromise.  With my heavy handed use, I sometimes tend to leave a halo around some of the edges of buildings against skies in some of my projects.  I'm usually able to finesse around the issue but that means using precious extra time.

But in today's tutorial I want to share with you how I got the Adjustment Brush's Auto Mask feature to work beautifully.  It's all a matter of thinking in reverse, thinking backwards as it were.  I’m hinting at what I recently discovered about the Auto Mask feature.  Why not hit the PLAY button below and check out my new Lightroom secret.  Prepared to be amazed!  OK, maybe that's over the top a bit, but I still think you'll like this short tip.  Enjoy!


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  Hope you'll join me on tomorrow's webcast.  And don't forget to register for the Sales webcast next week with Chuck Lewis.  I'm letting the world know via email next week and I suspect the seats will go fast. Our DPT readers have first notice - just remember, if you snooze, you might just lose a space;~)

And, don't forget to check back in tomorrow for the beginning of my brand new Photography/Lighting Series – “It Was The Best Of Days, It Was The Worst Of Days - How To Get Your Best Image Under Any Conditions.”

See ya' then,  David

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Things Are Looking Up In NYC"

0001-Looking Up NYC-IMG_4745

"Things Are Looking Up In NYC"
© David A. Ziser

I made this image as we were strolling NYC over the weekend.  And, this image was made in the heat of the day on Friday.  We were soaked with sweat on our two hour walk but the sights are always worth in when in New York City.

This image was made at 6th Avenue and 48th in front of the McGraw Hill offices and Del Frisco’s, one of the best steak restaurants in the city. The soaring buildings offered a imposing background to the street light in the foreground.  I was careful to position two of the lighting fixtures against the blue of the sky and between the two buildings.

I wanted the red banner to stand out from the scene and that took a little compositional doing.  It was slightly overexposed and lacking in detail and saturation but with a little help from Lightroom, I was able to bring the tonalities under control.

Mostly I like the strong lines contrasting with the rich color of the banner – a typical “looking up” NYC urban portrait.

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

Quick Hit Monday: Broadway Reviews; FREE Webcast; Inspiring Photography; & Photoshop Freebies

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Animoto Web seriesThis is mostly a work day for me, working and completing a few projects.  I'm presenting a FREE webcast live from Animoto's World Headquarters on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. The topic is, "Creating Lifelong Customers".  Hey, I've built and maintained my business for more than 25 years on what Ill be discussing on Wednesday. I'm wrapping up the Power Point as we speak - I hope you'll join me.  Here is the link to register right here.

Also, I'm announcing today that I'm beginning a brand new photography/lighting series on Wednesday of this week. The series will revolve around getting your best shots in the worse and the best lighting and weather conditions.  I hope you'll join me on Wednesday and the next few Wednesdays for this new series of posts.

We Enjoyed A Tony Award Winning Broadway Weekend

0001-DAZ LD Spiderman-DSC00383-EditI going off on a personal note for starters today.  We had quite the weekend in the NYC and I'd like to share a few of the highlights with you. In spite of the record breaking heat wave (heat index 107 - 115 degrees and more at pavement level) that settled down on New York City and many other cities across the USA. We kicked off the weekend by heading down to Times Square and nabbing some tickets to the hit Broadway play, Spiderman.  We had great seats and the show was amazing.  I've never seen aerial stunts [link]  so excitedly pulled off the way they did in this performance.  The crowd gave the performance a thematic standing ovation at the end!

0001-Animoto Photowalk-IMG_4781Saturday we began the day with my Animoto Charity Photowalk beginning at Washington Square Park Arch and wondering through Soho and other interesting neighborhoods around the area - all very colorful and FUN to say the least.  0001-Photowalk 2-IMG_9027

We had a great walk, made a few new friends, and had some lively conversations as we walked the areas. It is always interesting to see what someone else is pointing their camera towards. 

0001-Reds To Heaven-IMG_4820After our 2 1/2 hour walk we finished up at Animoto World Headquarters for some refreshments and a tour of their facilities. 

We were able to raise several hundred dollars for the PPA Charities which is always a good thing – thanks to all those who participated.  You can check out the images from our photowalk over at the Flickr Group we just set up right here. Here’s a quick Animoto video I put together of LaDawn and my images.  Enjoy!


Later in the afternoon we headed over to Katz's Deli, you know, where Harry met Sally, and caught up with Jesica, a good and very insightful friend from B&H.  If you ever get to New York, Katz's has the BEST corned beef and pastrami in the world - highly recommended. But even better is a visit to B&H. It’s truly a photographers play land.

On Friday, while walking the Theater district in Times Square, we also nabbed 3 great box seats for the hottest show on Broadway, The Book Of Mormon!  It's nearly impossible to get seats for this show because of it's HUGE popularity - we just got lucky being at the right place at the right time - clean living, I guess ;~)

Book of MormonAlthough after seeing the show, in my opinion it might just lose a few points in popularity rating if you ask us.  This is definitely NOT a show to take your kids too.  Oh, and I wouldn’t recommend it to your grandmother either. 

Call me a little old fashion, but I don't believe one of the best Broadway experiences of the decade (singing and choreography) has to descend quite so far into the raunchy level the Book of Mormon did.  If you are a true fan of South Park humor then this show is for you. For the most part, the talent and creativity was outstanding. We just didn’t like the use of so much profane language.

St BartsThe real treat came Sunday for two reasons. First, We decided to take in historic St. Bart’s for Sunday service - it's right across the street from the Waldorf-Astoria.  To our very pleasant surprise, the service was a choral service featuring the works of Joseph Haydn.  It was simply a beautiful experience.

An hour later my daughter Elizabeth joined us and we headed over to Lincoln Center to see the absolute most mesmerizing, creative, unbelievably crafted, theater experiences of our lives - we saw War Horse


Voted Tony award winning best play and for our experience nothing beats it on Broadway.  It is, without a doubt, the must see play in NYC - no exceptions!  Amazing, breathtaking, awesome, emotional, unbelievable - adding more words would still not complete the description of this one of a kind play.

If you haven't guessed it so far, LaDawn and I love our plays.  Every time we hit the city, we try to get caught up on a few of Broadway’s best.  I think we hit it out of the park on this visit ;~)

Now back to photography.  I've got quite a few interesting things for you to check out for today's Quick Hit Monday post.  I hope you enjoy the post.  Here we go...

My Favorite Inspirational Photographs This Week

  • 90 Inspiring Sunrise & Sunset Photos: Always inspiring – DAZ [link]
  • Photos of Clouds and Storms by Sean R. Heavey: He tracks the storms with his iPad – Un- frigging – believable! – DAZ: [link]

Storms by iPad

  • Magnificent Mountain Reflections: Simply gorgeous – DAZ: [link]

Reflections 2

  • 500 Pixels Review: The hot new photo site – DAZ: [link]

A Few Photography Websites and Blogs To Check Out

  • Blog of a Hong Kong Wedding Photographer: Good stuff here –beautiful and amazing images DAZ [link]

China wedding blog

  • 37 Websites Every Photographer Should be Reading: I missed the cut again ;~)  [link]
  • 6 Free Websites For Public Domain Images & Free Stock Photos: Need a free image or two, decent sources –DAZ [link]

Being In NYC This Week, I’ve Checked Out These Two Links

  • Street Photography Tips and Techniques: [link]
  • The 10 Best Street Photography Blogs on the Web (and more) [link]

Photoshop Freebies – Always Fun And Free

  • Lace LoveVintage Photo + High Dynamic Range = Cool Look [link]
  • Creating Textures in Photoshop [link]
  • 30 Creative Photoshop Text Effects Tutorials [link]
  • PSD Files: 60+ Must Have Photoshop Files For Designers (Part2) [link]
  • 11 Most Efficient Free Fonts to Create Elegant Designs [link]

For You iPhone/iPad Junkies Like Me

  • Essential iPhone and iPad Apps For The Travelling Photographer: [link]
  • Free Productivity Enhancement iPad Apps for Professionals: [link]


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  Don't miss my FREE webcast live from Animoto's World Headquarters on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. Again, the topic is, "Creating Lifelong Customers".  Here is the link to register right here. I hope you'll join me.

See ya' tomorrow for a brand new Technique Tuesday: Hidden Gem's in Lightroom 3. I promise, this is something you've never seen before anywhere - don't miss it.

Adios, David

Friday, July 22, 2011

"Watercolors "


"Watercolors "
© David A. Ziser

I thought I'd leave you with a little of the beauty we found at the Botanical Gardens yesterday.  There wasn't much color this time of year - according to the guide, Spring is the best time to visit - but we did find some color in the Water Lily ponds.  Water Lilies are simply beautiful but the photographic challenge is being able to photograph them with an unobtrusive background.

That was the case yesterday - lots of beautiful water lilies, but many times with a less than attractive background.  I managed to find one water lily that filled the bill - it was beautifully lit from my vantage point and the background was mostly working for the image.  I like how the green Lilly pad offers a nice contrast to the rich, vibrant color of the flower.

I composed the flower in the bottom right side of the frame which allows the eye to enter from the left side of the frame, travel across the textures of the pad and finally stopping on the full color brilliance of the water lily.  I think it makes a nice still life photograph.

I did tweak the image a bit in Lightroom and also made the trip to Photoshop to remove a few small distractions from the scene. Hope you like it.

Camera specs:  Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 200mm, F8.0 @1/500 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy! -David

My NYC Charity Photo-walk Happens Tomorrow – Come On Down!

Good Morning Everybody,

HeatwaveOne thing I like about the folks in NYC is how friendly they are.  For some reason that's not been the perception of visitors to the city.  I always enjoy walking up and talking with just about anybody and that's what I've been doing while visiting in NYC.  Everybody has been friendly, helpful, and smiling in every instance - NYC is a great city to visit.

We spent our second day, a city with temperatures slowing rising up to the broiling level.  It only went down to 87 degrees last night and is it heading up to 102 today with a heat index of 115!  A lot of the northeast is in the grip of this record setting heat wave, but we still need to be thankful - it's 119 in Desert City, CA - WOW!

Let me just say, yesterday was not the day to head to the New York Botanical Gardens - way too hot on our "walk-around". We're trying to stay cooler today.

My NYC Charity Photo-walk Happens Tomorrow – Come on Down!

Photowalk shoesThe heat is on but I still hope we have a few photographers show up. Apparently there was a snafu in the registration process so I'm not sure how many folks will show up for the walk.  We're meeting at the Washington Square Park Arch at 10:00 a.m. and then heading out for a two hour stroll around the city.

I'll be joined by my friends from Animoto and maybe a friend or two from B&H.  It should be fun and we're looking forward to making a few new friends.  I sure hope you'll join us.  Remember, proceeds benefit Operation Smile, a well respected worldwide organization dedicated to bringing smiles back to children with cleft pallet.  You can get all the info right here.  See ya' tomorrow.

And speaking of Animoto, I'm doing a guest webcast for them next Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. I don't have any details yet but check back Monday and I should have more information for you.


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  It’s going to be just other day trying to stay cool in the BIG Apple.  You try to do the same in what ever part of the world you live ;~). I'll see you next week same time, same station.

Stay cool,  David

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Dramatic Moments Of Love"

Wedding Drama

"Dramatic Moments Of Love"
© David A. Ziser

OK, maybe I'm a little weak on the title today, but I still really like this image.  It is one of my very first digital wedding images made over 11 years ago.  Yes, the sky looked something like that and yes, a soft gust of wind lifted the brides veil for just long enough for me to capture this photograph.

In it's original form, this image is very exciting to view.  It still hangs in my studio today.  But on the way up to New York yesterday I was playing with Snapseed, NIK Software's new iPad image adjusting app.  A few finger taps later I had his image - an image with quite a bit more drama that the original. How did I do it?  Simply by hitting the drama button on the app and scrolling through till I got the effect I wanted.  Yep, it's just that easy.

Julieanne Kost once cracked to me as I was waxing fantastic over Lightroom that I was just another "slider person".  I had to chuckle at her joke, it was all in good fun, but I admit it, I’m a "slider person" through and through and on the plane at 30,000 feet it's really fun!

Camera specs;  Fuji S1 Pro fitted with 8mm fishers lens, F5.6 @1/500 second, ISO 400.  Enjoy!  -David

Paint The Picture, Build The Expectation

Good Morning Everybody,

Empire State BldgWe had a great first day in NYC. In spite of the heat, a nice breeze made walking the city quite nice.  I hear that back in Cincinnati they have 98 degree weather with high humidity making the heat index at 115 degrees, one of the highest in the country!  I’m kind of glad we're in NYC.

We caught up with my daughter, Elizabeth, for diner last nice and plan to spend some more time with her over the weekend.  I've mentioned previously that she's going to school in the city and working for my good buddies at Animoto too. 

Movie stuffOne the way walking back from dinner last night, we were making our way up Park Avenue and at about 48th Street saw lots of trucks, lights, cameras, people everywhere.  I t seems we had walked onto the filming of the new Tom Hanks/Sandra Bullock movie, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close [link].  No, we didn't see Tom or Sandra - they had finished their scenes two months ago.  Yesterday evening was the last day for the final scene of the movie- all very interesting to watch.  Hey, you never know what stories will unfold in the Big Apple ;~)

On with Business Day Thursday---

Paint The Picture, Build The Expectation

This post is prompted by our check in experience at our hotel, the Waldorf-Astoria, yesterday.  We travel quite a bit and are reasonably high in the Hilton Honors membership level.  We headed to the Diamond Desk to begin the check in process.  There we met Jackie, I would venture to say the most personable person in the hotel.

Waldorf LobbyWe were immediately disarmed by her charm, wit, and a desire to make our stay it's absolute best.  Here is the lesson today.  What was her secret weapon to making that happen for us?  It was her way of constantly building our expectations for our stay.  I have to tell you, when your staying at one of the nicest places in the city, you already have pretty high expectations anyway.  Jackie wanted to take it over the top.

I was a little worried about what room we would be staying in since the hotel was overbooked by 6%.  I was just hoping that it would be better than a broom closet, although a broom closet at the Waldorf should still be pretty nice.  Jackie assured us that we would simply love the room.  She was familiar with it and it was one of her favorites. It was also the favorite of many of the regular guests.  Jackie had my attention - she was working her magic.

She was telling me not to worry, I would love the room.  Secondly she was affirming that others have loved it too. And thirdly she was putting her seal of approval on it with her own past experience with the room. 

Waldorf guest roomThen she took it to the next level.  She sensed that maybe I was still a bit hesitant about the room.  She paused looked at the computer one more time and revealed that an even larger room would become available Sunday morning.  She could arrange us moving into that room if we desired.  Now she had insured our comfort in the rare instance that the room she was pointing us toward was less than expected - what service!

The room she told us that we would love was must perfect.  With the addition of the refrigerator and microwave, we are set for the week.  Add to that the daily continental breakfasts, bootled water every day, and several "adult beverage" vouchers, we are set for the week! We can't wait!

How Do You Build Expectations In Your Own Business?

Sparklers Shot2441_SchulerW11-Edit-Edit-EditDo you and your staff build expectations for your customers?  I believe its vital to your business success that you do.  I always said, "One of the best ways to run a business is to make promises to your clients about your products and services, then  over-exceed those promises!

Zook-Books-and-PhotoBooksI am always building the expectations for my clients – “You're going to love the album”;  “What a fabulous wedding your planning, I can't wait.”  “Because of your fabulous chosen location the images we're going to get will be amazing”;  “I just wanted to call you and tell you how great the images turned out, you're going to love them”;  "Your album just came back from the bookbinder.  It looks fabulous.  I can't wait for you to see it."

Do you get the idea?  For some it may need to be practiced, but if you truly want to deliver the best for your clients and you do, it's easy to say the words.  Why? Because you ARE keeping your promises and hopefully delivering beyond the clients expectations.


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  We are really going to take the rest of the day off and enjoy the sites and sounds of the city.  I'll see you tomorrow of a short post.

Have a good one and I'll see you then,  David

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Drama Queen"

Drama Queen 2

"Drama Queen"
© David A. Ziser

Here is an image I made during our Sedona Experience seminar last month.  I was reviewing some of the images on the plane while traveling to New Your this morning. This series of images are still some of my favorite from that shoot.

What I love about the image is the strong play of textures throughout the photograph.  Those textures are created by the wall treatment, a faux painted Italian plaster that was just beautiful to both see and feel - it was sooooo smooth and silky along with the shadowing from the light fixtures.  There seems to be a roughness implied in the wall textures by those shadows and it’s those implied textures that add enhancement and drama to this image.

Lighting on my subject was supplied by my Z-Ray flashlight coming in from camera left.  It's narrow cone of light let me direct the light just to her face thereby not affecting the strong shadows on the wall cast by the wall fixtures.

In order to tweak the image, I loaded it up into Snapseed, NIK Software's iPad app which is just a kick to play with.  After adding a filter here and there and selectively tweaking densities regionally in the image I had the result I wanted.  The expression on the young lady's face and the dramatic lighting I believe, fit the title perfectly.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm ID lens at 18mm, F6.3 @ 1/30 second, ISO 1000.  Enjoy!  -David

Uncle Harry and Cousin Mary - Get Out Of My Way!

Good Afternoon Everybody,

NYC PhotowalkI coming to you today from NYC. We left early this morning, landed just before noon, and were settled in to our hotel by about 1:00 p.m.  And speaking of New York City, how many of you are going to join me on our Photowalk on Saturday?  Here is the link to sign up. We still have plenty of room.  And remember, it's for a good cause, Operation Smile, so I really hope we that we have a large number of participants. Hey, refreshments on me after the photowalk;~)

It's a light day today but I picked up an idea from one of our DPT readers, Eric Cameron, who emailed me with a question and the image below, "How do you handle all the bride and groom's relatives with cameras shooting while you're trying to get your shot?".

Uncle HarryThis is actually a REAL Uncle Harry who literally jumped in front of Erik during his wedding session! He couldn’t resist and snapped off this classic Uncle Harry image. 

You know, it's a great question and I've got a simple solution.

Uncle Harry and Cousin Mary - Get Out Of My Way!

OK, I don't quite go that far in handling a situation that has only gotten worse with everybody and their brother owning a digital camera.  But the fact of the matter is that every Tom, Dick, Harry, and Cousin Mary could be seriously affecting the final result and quality of your wedding images.

Before I go any further, let me say that I really don't get upset when I see all the cameras coming out during my "alter return" session with the moms and dads, wedding party, and family members.  It's all in how you handle the Uncle Harry/Cousin Mary situation.  And now let me say that the situation MUST be handled with the upmost level of professionalism and courtesy!

Here's what I do:

GroupHugsEverybodyChpt10Pt050131859D[2]1. Ask the bride and groom to join you in the front of the church.  With the bride and groom standing in the front of church with me and with me doing all the instructional talking, their close presence gives you a greater air of authority in speaking to the crowd. In effect, it's implied that all three of us are giving the directions.

2. Get everybody sitting away from the wedding party and family members.  I usually ask the the wedding party and family members to have a seat comfortably on the left side of the church about 5 pews back.  Anyone else is asked to please be seated behind them.

3.  Let everybody know that you've got to work quickly so everyone can get to the wedding reception without delay and to do that you(and the bride and groom) needs everyone's cooperation.

4. Give the speech that makes it happen and keeps Uncle Harry and Cousin Mary at bay during your shooting session.  Here it is:

"Hi everybody.  My name is David Ziser (get your plug in) and I know you are all anxious to get to the reception.  I'm going to be working very quickly and need your help to make everything go quickly and smoothly.

I'll begin with the moms, dads, and grandparents so they an be on their way to host the guests at the reception.  Next we'll need the wedding party standing by for the wedding party group photographs.  Please try not to wander off (for a smoke) - we'll be taking those images in just a few minutes. 

After we get the wedding party photographs you guys and girls can head for the limos, check that all dressing rooms have been cleared, get the air conditioning turned on (and grab a beer).  I need just a few more minutes with the bride and groom so we will be right behind you.

(Now to handle the Uncle Harry/Cousin Mary issue). I know a lot of you are anxious to get photos too, but PLEASE wait till I take my photographs.  If you take your photos at the same time as I'm taking mine, there is a good chance several of the "eyes" will be looking into your camera instead of mine.  That means quite a bit of additional cost to the bride and groom for the expensive Photoshop corrections that would need to be completed on the final images.

Also, I'm going to be working very quickly so as to not hold up everyone getting to the reception, so if you could please hold your photographs until we get to the reception, that would be greatly appreciated."

0010DPTWedPost0250DZ_IMG_86666DAZNOTE:  I'm trying to message three things here.  First, that the request is coming from the bride, groom and myself. All three of us are standing in the front of the church with me making the request on their behalf.

And secondly, that the errant family photog could cost the couple money. They usually get he message.  And finally, that we don't have much time to get the photographs so please don’t slow down the process.  Back to my speech...

"So if you could please hold you photographs till I get mine, the bride and groom(Mary and John) sure would appreciate it."

I will only need approximately 35 minutes to capture all the photographs so get ready to give me your best smiles.  Thanks everybody.  Ok, can I ask Mary's mom and dad to come forward...."

DAZNOTE: BTW, at one of you pre-wedding meetings with the couple, be sure to cover this point so they know what to expect too.  The couple may do the job for you by passing on the message to the camera toting relatives.

That is how I've engaged the cooperation of the bride and groom, wedding party, and family members for years. This procedure has all but eliminated any major interference from the Uncle Harrys and Cousin Mary's tagging along at a wedding.  Give it a try, it works like a charm ;~) But of course be charming yourself too ;~)


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  We just touched down and I'm getting told to switch off my iPad.  I'll plan to see you tomorrow for another Business Day Thursday post.

Have a good one, stay cool -  David

Tuesday, July 19, 2011



© David A. Ziser

Here is another image from our photowalk on Sunday.  I have to tell you, I love it!  Sure, it's a simple smear of paint on public property - that part I don't like - but I really like the powerful stroke of the letters across the textures of this bright red wall.  Nothing special was done in making this image.  It was there, LaDawn spotted it first, and I took the photograph.

I did a bit of tweaking in Lightroom; I juiced the colors and pushed the clarity slider quite a bit to the right.  A final fiddle with curves gave me the result I was looking for.

Just view the image for a moment – doesn’t it just draw you in? The textures, it’s aggressive color pallet, the vibrant deliberate stroking of the work.  It all works for me – hope you enjoy it, too.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens 50mm, F8.0 @1/250 second, ISO 200. Enjoy!  -David

Lumapix:Fotofusion Available On A MAC – YES!!!!! & One Light Window Light

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Hey gang, right out of the gate I've got some GREAT news to tell you about.  Anybody that knows me or has been to any of my seminars knows that I'm a HUGE fan of Lumapix:Fotofusion!  It is simply the best collating and album design software on the planet. Actually we use it for all our design pieces, marketing pieces and 

LumaPix: FotoFusion Now On A MAC

Lumapix on MAC

OK, the good news for all MAC users out there - LumaPix:Fotofusion is officially now available for the MAC!!!  I just got off the phone with Michael Sheasby, the president of Lumapix, who just called to give me the great news.  Press releases will go out in a few days, but you did hear it first right here at

Here is the great news - we are shipping the MAC version as we speak and we have it bundled with some money saving offers for you at our Digital Resource Center - here is the link right here.  Check it out - way cool stuff!!!

Michael has also agreed to appear right here at in a "LIVE" webcast within the next few weeks.  We are going to check each others schedules so stay tuned, you won't want to miss this opportunity to take the LumaPix:Fotofusion guided tour from the person who invented the software.  I can't wait!!!

That said, let's get on with today's Technique Tuesday.

One Light Classic Studio Portraits On Location

KidsLast year I ran this tutorial on one light portraits and showed you how easy it was to take some really great studio portraits with only one light and a large umbrella.  The umbrella I used at the time was a large umbrella prototype I was working on the development with Westcott.  Folks have been emailing and calling asking when that umbrella was going to be available.  Well, I've got more good news for you.  Westcott's 84" parabolic umbrella is shipping right now.  You can pick it up over at B&H right here.

I have to admit, I like this very large umbrella.  I use it for diffusing the sun outdoors and shooting with it in the studio as shown in today's tutorial.  Sure, other larger umbrellas will work.  I just prefer the 84" monster.  The video discusses all aspects of using a large umbrella when shooting classic studio portraits.  Why not hit the PLAY button below and enjoy the show.


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  I hope for all those that have been waiting you take advantage of the LumaPix for MAC now available.

I still have lots on my plate before we leave for NYC early tomorrow morning.  I suspect the post will go up after we get settled into our hotel in the afternoon.  I know the posting schedule has been crazy lately, but so has been my life ;~) Like they say, too much to do and too little time. 

Have a great rest of the day and I'll see you from the Big Apple tomorrow.

See ya' then everybody,  David

Monday, July 18, 2011

"Urban Geometrics"

0001-Urban Geometrics-IMG_4274

"Urban Geometrics"
© David A. Ziser

Here is an image I made during Sunday’s photowalk through downtown Covington, KY.  Covington is an old city, founded in 1814, and I really enjoy walking through the history of the city.  It always struck me that when walking through older cities, I’m always amazed by looking up – up above the first floor or two floors of the building.  That where the history and architecture is most often best preserved.

This image was looking at the first floor of this particular building.  The current tenants had installed this fairly modern awning over their store front.  I went in close on just the awning isolating on the geometrics of the composition.

There are really only two primary working colors in this image – blue and yellow against the more neutral gray tones.  Notice how the yellow elements are centered in the frame thereby offsetting the awning seam just slightly.  The eye wants to center the seam, but this composition just won’t let you do it. I kind of like that dichotomy in this image.  It’s just a simple, “what is it?'” image to enjoy.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 170mm, F6.3 @ 1/400 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Quick Hit Monday: Making Friends; Photoshop & Lightroom Tips; Photography & Creativity

Good Afternoon Everybody,

I hope everyone had a great weekend.  We got together with a few friends and spent  2 1/2 hours on a very relaxing photowalk across the John Roebling Suspension Bridge spanning the Ohio and Kentucky banks of the Ohio River.  The weather as most parts of the United States was unseasonably warm. What strikes me about these photo walks is the fact that you don't need to be rushing anywhere.  You just walk, talk, take a few photographs and enjoy each others company.

0003-George-IMG_4336-Edit Sometimes you even run into some nice people to visit with.  As we made our way down to Riverside Drive, a beautiful place to relax right on the river,  lots of folks were doing just that. A very friendly gentle who was enjoying the day with his lady friend, asked me to take his photograph.  I was happy to oblige. 

George, the stranger turned friend, was a minister serving the prison community of Fort Bragg, GA.  He was spending a few day visiting our fair city and seemed to really be enjoying the visit. I got this great shot of George holding up the “McDonald's Bridge.”  It was a nice visit – happy travels, George.

Bear LR Yesterday was one of those days… I felt like the salmon swimming upstream all day and at the end the bear got me anyway.  I'm working on a big project that involves rendering about 15  90-120 minute videos and I've been slowing progressing thru most of the weekend.  Camtasia is my go to solution for these kinds of projects but has not been its typical friendly self to me on this project. Unfortunately, several calls to tech support have not resolved the problems.

It's now 8:00 p.m. and I'm just now taking a break from my video woes to get something posted today. I'm keeping the post short and sweet today so I can get back to the videos.  Anyway, we we go...

Quick Hit Monday:  "Your best digital resource for news you can use."

All links have been thoroughly tested and verified by me to our highest standards for consumable digital fare ;~)

Photography Related:

  • Smoke Portrait 25 Brilliant Examples of Using Mist, Dust and Smoke in Portraiture [link]
  • 21 Things You Can Do Today to Change Your Photography Forever [link]
  • 20 Things I Learned About Photography [link]

Lightroom/Photoshop related:

  • 15 Photoshop Cheat Sheets [link]
  • Tom’s Top Ten Lightroom Tips [link]
  • Exposure vs. Brightness vs. Fill Light [link]

On Creativity:

  • 201 Ways to Arouse Your Creativity [link]
  • Originality Part II [link]


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  I've got to run and get back to my video project.  LaDawn and I head to New York City on Wednesday morning and these need to be completed before our departure. Have a wonderful day/evening and I'll plan to see you sometime tomorrow .

See ya' then,  David