Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Soft Curves of Beauty"

Soft Curves of beauty-3077

"Soft Curves of Beauty"
© David A. Ziser

OK, I agree, the title may not be the best in the world but it’s the first one that popped into my mind when I viewed the image.  It’s like “curves, curves everywhere. And each one of those curves leads the viewer’s eye right back to our lovely bride. Of course, that was the idea when I composed the image.

I did crop the image in from the right just a bit because the flash really lit up the wall to the bride’s right and was quite a distraction within the image.  I also added a slight LR4 gradient from the left and right to tone down those areas of the image to once more bring the viewer’s eye to my subject.

Lighting was very simple.  I positioned my Quantum flash just out of camera range - camera right to give me the perfect loop lighting pattern on my bride’s face. Next I adjusted the power to 1/4 power through my Zumbrella, balanced the flash with the ambient, and shot away.  I think the result is a nice portrait of our beautiful young lady.

Camera specs: canon 5D Mark II fitted with Sigma 12-24mm lens at 12nn, F5.6 @ 1/10 second (handheld), ISO 2500.  Enjoy!  -David

Technique Tuesday On Wednesday: Looking For Lines In All The Right Places: Part 1

Good Afternoon Everybody,

No ExcusesOK, no excuses for not making yesterday’s post on time – ok, one excuse.  I just ran out of time. I was about to sit down and get started at 4:00 p.m. yesterday and then we had an unexpected visitor show up – LaDawn’s son, Joshua.  We both decided the blog could wait until today and instead had a nice visit.

In all honesty, sometimes the blog can be overwhelming and seem to take precedence over everything else in the day, including family.  Yesterday I just decided that it was not going to happen.

The delay let me put even more time into today’s post making it a really strong Technique Tuesday (on Wednesday) and I hope you enjoy it. 

Looking For Lines In All The Right Places: Part 1

Today the topic is one of my favorites, composition.  I don’t care if you’re a wedding, portrait, commercial, or senior photographer – a great photograph always has great composition.

In today’s post I’m going to walk you through one of my favorite places to work in Cincinnati, OH – the Cincinnati Club, a very popular venue for weddings and other social events. You’ll see why in today’s tutorial.

After the video walk through I did a series of images in the same space.  This tutorial will show you what goes on during my creative process when composing images for my clients and how that pre-visualization and some simple creative lighting helps me capture the final result I’m looking for.

Why not hit the PLAY button below and enjoy the show.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I still have to complete three articles for Photoshop World happening in just a couple of weeks, get a newsletter together, and pack for the North Carolina State Convention.  I hate to say it…. then it gets busier in March – and I thought I was trying to slow things down – maybe next year ;~)

Have a good one everybody and I hope to see you tomorrow,  -David

Monday, February 27, 2012

"Landing Shadows"

Landing Shadows

"Landing Shadows"
© David A. Ziser

This was one of the prettiest views I’ve been lucky enough to witness upon our approach as we make our landing into The Greater Cincinnati/Northern KY Airport on Saturday evening.  It was the perfect time of day with the sun casting the long shadows of the trees across the rolling hills and fields below.  It was hard to believe it was mid February from this image.

I tweaked the Clarity and Sharpness in ACR to compensate for some of the lack of sharpness introduced by the less than optically correct Lexan plane window:~)

The flow of the hills, the long shadows, and the stands of leafless trees still gives a image with wonderful textures throughout.  I hope you enjoy it, too.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 50mm, F6.3 @ 1/125 second, ISO 400.  Enjoy!  -David

Inspiration Sunday and Quick Hit Monday: Music, Weddings, Brushes, Fonts, and Patterns!

Good Morning Everybody,

River CityEven though we had a great time in Las Vegas it still felt good touching down in Northern KY at six o'clock Saturday evening. The sky was blue, the air was brisk, and the sun was setting low in the sky casting long shadows on the landscape below.  It was about the prettiest approach and landing into our river city I can remember making into the Greater Cincinnati/ Northern Kentucky Airport. Like they say, "There's no place like home."

Sunday was again a beautiful day which made it perfect for relaxing and taking it easy as we caught our breath from the week-long Las Vegas trip. Before we get into our this Monday's quick hits though, I want to tell you about a very special experience that I had last evening. It has nothing to do with photography but everything to do with inspiration.

Inspiration Sunday - It's All About The Music!

We recently completed a project at our church where we installed video streaming of all the church services. I had to joke our pastor yesterday that was kind of fun to drink a couple coffee during his homily last Sunday while we were in Las Vegas. The deacon also came by in as I was preparing for Sunday's stream and also mentioned that he was enjoying his cup of coffee in Los Angeles. We both smiled and decided that we really liked the technical escalation, be it very basic at this time, of our Sunday services.

LIVE from KYDuring yesterday morning's announcements it was mentioned that there was going to be a free concert a Mother of God Church that evening 7 PM. I'm thinking to myself, "Why not stream this concert "LIVE" as well?" I quickly called my contact at  Brian was a former vice president of Cincinnati Bell – our local phone service provider and head geek at his new venture.  Brian told me that it would be no problem at all to set up the stream. He sent me the link to the on-line form which I quickly filled out and scheduled the seven o'clock concert.

Now, you know me – I'm kind of a geek. I love the new technology and I also love being a guy that gets to fiddle with the technical stuff the most. A few minutes before 7:00 p.m. the scheduled streaming began and I could see the musicians gathering their instruments and the conductor ascending the podium.

The concert began with one of my favorite pieces of organ music - Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor. The pipe organ at Mother God Church is truly one historic musical instrument  with its sister instrument at Plum Street Temple in Cincinnati (see below).  Both instruments, built in the late 1860's, sound magnificent!

Plum-Street-Pipe-Organ_thumb2If you're into organ music, and I am, Bach's signature piece will raise goose bumps all over your body when you hear it. I sat there mesmerize for 45 min. watching the performances of these young adults, all of them high school kids, who were reaching to the stars for the best performances of their lives. I was so transfixed by their performances I told LaDawn that I was going to drive down the church to hear the performance in person.

10 minutes later I was entering the front door the church and my ears were awash with the inspirational sounds of the hundred piece orchestra and choir of the Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy. I simply could not believe what I was hearing. More impressive to me was the fact that all these kids were in their mid to late teens and were producing some of the most beautiful and inspirational music that my ears have ever heard!

AmboI moved through the entire church taking as many photographs as I possibly could. LaDawn texted me – "Where are you, I hear the camera clicking." I happened to be near the Ambo (pulpit) microphone which was one of the "live" mics picking up the sounds of this beautiful concert. I smiled to myself and decided I probably needed to back away just a bit. I was also cautioned by the conductor to not be so close to the action. Once again I smiled and decided to take up a more discreet location as I my continued my photography.

Full HouseWhether I'm photographing a wedding or concert I just fall into the "groove of the shoot" and enjoy every moment of the process. Part of that enjoyment, inspiration if you will, may have been the music itself which kept the packed house of over 600 people transfixed for over 90 minutes on this wonderful Sunday evening. I'm taking the liberty in today's post to share the concert's finale with you. The music Finale from St. Paul's Suite by Gustav Holst was amazing. Please sit back, crank up the volume on your speakers, and enjoy this fabulous musical presentation by these gifted young musicians.


DAZNOTE: Many of us find inspiration in many places – beautiful sunsets and sunrises, soft ocean breezes, beautiful vistas, and for me – soaring symphonic music.  Since this blog is just as much about inspiration as it is about photography, I really wanted to share with you last night's experience. I hope you find similar inspiration in your lives too as we begin this new week together. I know my Sunday night experience is certainly getting me off to the right start this week.

Time To Get Back To Work

Hey gang, time to get back to our regular Quick Hit Monday post. I've got lots of goodies for you this week so get ready to dig right in and enjoy every one of the links.

Jerry AlbumMy favorites is from my friend Jerry Ghionis who posted on his blog his experiences at WPPI.  Although I didn't mention it last week mainly because I didn't know he had won, but Jerry also won the top wedding album award of the convention print competition! High-fives to Jerry for winning 8 out 10 years running! In this [link] Jerry shares with all of us all the pages of that outstanding award-winning wedding album. Give it a peek and let that add to your Monday morning inspiration.

In our Photoshop freebies section this week, I got more free goodies than you can possibly explore in one day. I think I would bookmark this post just so you can get back and explore all the goodies that are listed. That said let's get on with it.

All Wedding Photography All Day Long

1. My 2012 Wedding Album of the Year…8 out of 10! My first wedding with the Nikon D3S: A great “READ” – don’t miss it! [link]

2. Wedding Photography Advice: Seek Out Untapped Markets: A good “READ” and some nice images. [link]

Wedding Inspration3. Oh Happy Day! Wedding Inspiration: Shy on bridal photography but some great “scene setters” [link]

4.Wedding Photography: Five Tips For Second Shooters:  I disagree with the dress code suggestion but the other advice is solid. [link]

5.How to Pose for Wedding Pictures - Martha Stewart Weddings Planning & Tools: Now even Martha Stewart is getting into the wedding photo action. I suspect to help her readers look better in their photos when the wedding is not photographed by a Pro. Nevertheless, even the pros could pick up a tip or two here. [link]

Engagement pics6.The Best Engagement Portraits of 2011: Some are cool and some I’d take a pass on – what do you think! [link]

7. Outstanding Wedding Photos from New Junebug Member Photographers [link]

8. Weddingbee’s Inspiration Board, Brought to Life by The Lab Event!: More cool “scene setters”. [link]

9.  Mike’s Muse: Why Is Wedding Photography So Expensive?: The best “READ” of the day – every bride and “cheap charging” photographer should see this. [link]

Photoshop Freebies - Giant Helpings of Fonts, Brushes, and Textures - Dig In!

1.  67 Best Photoshop Brushes Collection – 1000s of Brushes: It’s the mother load of “Brush” downloads! [link]

2. 25 Most Popular Free Photoshop Brushes: and even more here. [link]

3. 29 Useful and Free Thin Fonts To Download: Good looking fonts. [link]

4. A Collection of 100+ Attractive Striped Patterns:  OK, what are some good uses for these patterns? [link]_________________________________________________________

Hey gang, that's it for me today. We've got another gorgeous day and I for one want to enjoy some of the brisk air and beautiful sunshine. As far as the rest of the week goes, look for brand-new Technique Tuesday tomorrow. I'm also prepping my newsletter to go out either Wednesday or Thursday so if you haven't signed up or have recently changed email addresses, you can still do that with the link in the right-hand column of the blog.

DAZ Master Class Spr 2012Also we still have several seats available for my Digital Master Class happening April 16-20,2012. And for the first time ever were offering our attendees a special promotion of $300 off the regular registration price for any friends or family you may wish to invite to come along with you.

PSW12This week I'm also putting finishing touches on my three programs that I’ll be presenting at Photoshop World Washington DC March 23 - 27.

PPNC12And then come Friday, we jump on a plane to Raleigh - Durham where I will be presenting at the North Carolina Professional Photographers “Creativity – Make It Happen” Convention. We'll only be there about four days but it will still be fun to catch up with some old friends in that part of the country. I sure hope you get a chance to come on over and see their great lineup. Want more information? – Here is the link.

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

Adios, David

Friday, February 24, 2012

"Beach Walk"

Beach Walk3

"Beach Walk"
© David A. Ziser

I made this image after a photo shoot with a client. We were just heading back to the car and the last of the evening glow was just starting to leave the scene. This was one of the last exposures I made of our visit to the beach.

I love the line the rail gives to the composition leading right to the sea. The textures of the weathered walkway against the enhanced evening colors complete the image.

As you view the image, it seems to draw you into the tranquility of the scene where you just want to rest a while and enjoy the last of the evening glow. Take this peaceful thought with you as you enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 10-22mm lens at 22mm, F5.6 @ 1/50 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! -David

Lighting: A Look Back At A Little Industry History

Good Morning Everybody,

Heading HomeToday marks our last day in Las Vegas.  Tomorrow we hop the plane back home to Cincinnati, OH landing in the early evening.  We have had a great time in Las Vegas on this visit.

Yesterday was kind of an “off day” but I never quite figure out what I mean by that.  I was up fairly early, worked on the blog for a couple of hours, checked in with my Executive Director at PhotoPro Network, reviewed a book for Focal Press, caught up on over 500 emails, and was at a stopping point about 4:00 p.m. Yep, that’s how my “day offs” go ;~)  Anyway, I’m not really griping – it really did feel good to have the “day off” and work on the things I really enjoy doing.

A Look Back At A Little Industry History

WestcottLater in the day we caught up with my good friend, Tom Waltz, president and CEO of F.J.Westcott.  I think Tom and I are “cut from the same cloth” as they say because we really enjoy just hanging out, talking about the trends in the industry, and reminiscing about old memories and friends.

In our conversation over dinner at one of my favorite restaurants here in Las Vegas, Piero’s, Tom shared a bit of Westcott’s history with LaDawn and I.  Westcott’s beginning go all the way back to 1899.  Tom’s grandfather was in charge of the company by the early 1900’s.  Westcott, one of the industry’s leading manufacturers of lighting modifiers, began as a manufacture of umbrellas.

Golf Umbrellas and Byron Nelson

Here’s what I didn’t know.  The company eventually segued into the manufacturer of golf umbrellas in the early 1940’s.  It was Tom’s grandfather who asked a young up and coming pro to work as the head golf pro for a golf club he was working with.  That golf pro – Byron Nelson, one of the all time great names in golf!

Haas JordonByron told Tom’s grandfather that he really wanted to be a traveling pro, eventually gave up his club pro position and went on to win 11 consecutive tournaments and 18 total tournaments in 1945! Because of Byron’s success on the golf circuit, Westcott (under the name of Haas Jordon) and the PGA became synonymous names in the sport.  Tom’s brother continues to run that part of the business.

F.J.Westcott Makes The Move Into Photography

Tom was always interested in photography even working in a local camera store in Toledo, Ohio while growing up. He continued that interest in photography and his path eventually crossed with another of the industry icons, John Shirilla, who was president of the Photogenic Machine Company (now shortened to Photogenic), the leading studio lighting manufacturer at the time.

Halo Early designJohn had an idea for a new light modifier and showed it to Tom asking him if his company could manufacture it.  That was back in 1984.  It was kind of a folding umbrella with a special diffusional panel attached to it. Tom thought that he could and worked out the rest of the manufacturing details. The rest is history – the Westcott Halo received it patent, Patent # 4,633, 374, on December 30, 1986 [link] with both Tom and John listed as the inventors on the patent and Westcott as the assignee.

Time To Tell The World About The New Halo

It was shortly before the patent was issued that John and I got together and he asked me to try out his (and Tom’s ) new light modifier. I was teaching one of my first week-long classes at Tri-Angle Institute in Pittsburgh and was glad to give it a try.

The rest is history and I fell in love with the Halo and started using in all my portrait and wedding sessions from that point on – even today. My speaking career was just beginning to take off and I began telling the world, even the photographers in Australia and New Zealand, about this great new light modifier.

That’s also about the time John introduced me to Tom.  We hit it off immediately and have stayed close friends ever since. I still continue to do my booth demos at the Westcott booth every time we are both at the same show which is quite often.

A New Umbrella Is Born

Because of my friendship with Tom I was continuing to “bug” him about a special collapsible umbrella I wanted him to manufacture for me. I wanted a collapsible shoot-through umbrella but I wanted my umbrella to use the special and more translucent Halo fabric instead of the fabric Westcott used in their collapsible umbrella.  I started “bugging” Tom about it in 2006 and continued every year until Tom finally relented in January 2009.

Zumbrella ComboWe ran several prototypes before I approved the final design. That final design became the best selling collapsible umbrella on the market even hailed by Scott Kelby receiving his high praise on his 2009 Holiday Gift Guide that year.  Yes, the Zumbrella [link] was born and 2009 was the year of the Zumbrella!

Why Go To Conventions? – This Is Why

If you’ve been following my blog all week you know I’ve been touting the benefits of being at a convention in person.  LaDawn and my visit with Tom and his wife Judy is another one of the strongest reasons to attend these types of events.

It’s not just about making new friends, which we have really enjoyed this trip.  It’s just as important to hook up with your old friends and acquaintances too. It is the reconnecting with friends that  brings the added richness to the entire convention experience.  Anyone who has been coming to these events as long as Tom and I will tell you the very same thing. That’s why it’s important to be part of the bigger picture. These added benefits, that add a richness to one’s life, you simply can’t enjoy if you only stay in front of a computer! These are truly the unadvertised benefits of attendance!!

LaDawn, Judy, Tom, and I wrapped our evening by seeing the hot show, Beatles LOVE Production at the Mirage last evening.  It was a wonderful evening with friends filled with laughs, a fabulous show, good food and great memories.  THANKS Tom and Judy! I hope your present and future holds the same terrific experiences.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  Hoped you enjoyed a little peek into this great profession’s industry history.  It was fun for me to look back, too.

Now LaDawn and I are taking the rest of the day off – for real!  Have an amazing weekend and I’ll see you back in Cincy on Monday.

See you on the flip side,  -David

Thursday, February 23, 2012

"Morning Glory"

Morning Glory

"Morning Glory"
© David A. Ziser

I created this image while hiking through the Valley of Fire a few years ago. This State Park, one of our favorites, is a magnificently beautiful locale just 45 minutes outside Las Vegas. LaDawn and I head there every year because of the shear beauty of this geographic wonder in the middle of the desert and are planning another excursion to this amazingly picturesque location again tomorrow.

This is actually a mid afternoon shot of some spring wildflowers taken from an extremely low perspective. My camera was just inches off the ground giving the vantage point of the flowers reaching to the sky. The wide angle lens accentuated the effect.

The contrasting colors of the wildflowers framed by the red sandstone and against the blue sky makes for a very pleasing composition.

Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 10-22mm lens at 10mm, F14 @ 1/500 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! -David

Best Of Show – WPPI 2012

Good Morning Everybody,

I knew it was going to be a late post yesterday but then it turned into a NO post yesterday.  It just wasn't in the stars.  On Tuesday we were out at nine in the morning and finally returned around midnight - a very long day.  Yesterday morning we were out the door early again and been in the trade show day today. In fact I was sitting in the back of Dane Sanders program as I began yesterday's post. With so much going on we never made it back to the hotel till about 9:00 p.m.  By then I was wiped out - no energy for a blog post.

Today is our first day off since we landed in Vegas last Saturday and I mentioned to LaDawn I was going to spend a leisurely day working on the blog and relaxing a bit. That said, let's get right to it.

Most Amazing New Software Demo's At The Show

Here is a quick recap of what’s been happening the last two days. We visited with soooo many vendors over these last 3 days.  I think we must have walked about 20 miles, at least it felt like 25 miles. One of the highlights of the show was catching up with my buddy, Michael Sheasby, the President and CEO of LumaPix, the makers of FotoFusion.  Mike and I first met 8 WPPI's ago just as most of the the world was beginning to embrace the new digital technologies.

Mike and his partner Mike Monroy were demonstrating the first version of LumaPix.  I was blown away and knew they had the winning app for wedding album design.  I made my introduction and we have remained friends ever since with me becoming their biggest evangelist over these many years since.

Lumapix to the cloudAnyway, FotoFusion has evolved into the most robust piece of collaging software on the planet earth.  FotoFusion has been sitting at version 4 for a few years but at the show they were showing the soon to be released version 5.  Both LaDawn and I were blown away by the power of the new version. In addition to some powerful new text features, they are also introducing a brand new "Publish To The Cloud" feature! 

You just had to see this feature in action. After Michael quickly designed an album, one press of the "Publish" button sent it to the Cloud where your clients could easily view it on their computer, iPhone, and iPad and also share the link with friends.  The service is free and allows the album to stay "LIVE" for 30 days.  It was WAY cool new feature.  I'm looking forward to getting the link to the BETA, hopefully later today.  I'll give you the details once I've had a chance so I can give the new FotoFusion a spin. I can't wait!

Most Amazing People We Met

At a convention you always meet so many fascinating people.  For me, that's what’s so cool about coming to a show - IT'S THE PEOPLE!  I've said it before and I'll say it again - too many of today's photographers are locked behind their computer screens Facebooking away and are completely "missing the boat" on meeting like minded photographers, making friends in person, and creating relationships, finding inspration that could take their career to brand new heights.

Peachpit partyLet me give you a good example.  We were invited to the Peachpit cocktail party - Peachpit is about the best known and most active publisher in the photography, Photoshop space. They published my book Captured By The Light in 2010. Anyway, a few of us were introducing ourselves to each other and eventually this great group came together and we all really enjoyed the conversation and insights we were able to share with each other.

Roberto - 2011-09-28_022Above is a photo of our group. From left to right; Roberto Valenzuela, an amazing wedding photographer from Beverly Hills.  Roberto is on the Grace Ormond Platinum list and named one of the top wedding photographers in the world by Junebug Weddings.  Check out his work right here.

Next to Roberto is Suzy Clement who wrote the book, Weddings: From Snapshots to Great Shots.  It’s a great book for anyone aspiring to enter the wedding photography field. In the center of the group is Sarah Jane Todd, from Peachpit and the editor we all work with on our projects. 

Khara Plicanic bikingNext is Khara Plicanic, who wrote Your Camera Loves You: Learn to Love It Back.  Khara and her husband recently completed a cross country bike ride from San Diego to Florida in 65 days, 45 of those days peddling, 3,300 miles and 23 flat tires!  It was an amazing story!  She blogged the entire trip – here is the link right here. What a great experience!

And The Winner Is…

Last night we made it back to join the Awards ceremony in time  to see my buddy, Cliff Mautner win Photographer of The Year.  What a thrill it was for Cliff and all of us that know him.  Hi Fives and Congrats!  Cliff – no one deserves it more!

Cliff Pic

And you know what, everyone attending this year’s WPPI was a winner one way or another.  It was a great convention with great talent, unbelievable programs, and a fabulous trade show.  We all will take home many wonderful memories from this year’s WPPI!  Hope to see you again next year!


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  We have most of the day and are planning a little R&R.  How about I see you tomorrow for a short post before the weekend.

Hope to see you then,  David

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Digital Sunrise"

Digital Fantasy

"Digital Sunrise"
© David A. Ziser

Early this morning I could hear LaDawn up much earlier than I wanted to arise as she went into the adjoining room of our suite.  It was a long day yesterday and I was still snoozing away.  When I joined her a bit later she mentioned that she had grabbed a few shots of the sunrise.  I grabbed the camera to what she had.  Her images were really cool.

With the sun’s reflections playing on the glass surfaces on the back side of the Flamingo Casino, the effect, at least to my eyes, was a cool abstract that implied a digital sound display.  The interplay of large rectangle containing all the various sized smaller rectangles also caught my eye.

Next we have the interplay of warm and cool tones in the scene.Taken by itself without trying to figure out exactly what the scene is leaves one with a cool interplay of colors, textures, and forms. Hope you enjoy your digital sunrises in what ever part of the world you live.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 50mm, F5.6 @ 1/60 second, ISO 800.  Enjoy!  David

Technique Tuesday: You Light Up My Life; One More Time!

Good Morning Everybody,

Yesterday was the first day of the WPPI trade show and it was humongous! This year's show is covering two large halls and one more room with table top displays from even more vendors.  Even though we spent several hours in the trade show, we still only managed to see about 1/3 of it.

Tradeshow floor

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  These kind of trade shows are a great place to learn. Why? Because of all the booth demos going on at so many booths.  These mini sessions feature photographers that are tops in their field and that are making a difference in the profession.  You could spend an entire day just watching the booth presentations and come away with a wealth of knowledge.

And speaking of booth presentations I did one for my good buddies at Westcott yesterday.  We had a huge crowd blocking the aisles for about 30 minutes and everyone was having an interesting time. Today’s Technique Tuesday speaks to what I showed at the Westcott booth yesterday.  I hope you enjoy it.

You Light Up My Life – One More Time!

In my presentation I demonstrated just how easy it is to control nasty light light on the wedding day.  What kind of light is nasty light? How about the burning, bright, high-in-the-sky sunlight you get on those hot July weddings. How do you work with that kind of light?  For me, it’s all about translucent umbrellas and reflecting panels.

It’s all about playing photon ricochet with the light. For me that means always putting a DIRECTIONAL light of my subject creating a highlight next to a shadow to create the detail, depth, and dimension on the subject.  That is what makes a big difference in wedding and portrait images from everyone else with a camera and that’s what sets you apart from the competition.

Make life easy when shooting outdoors in bright sunlight. Outside I
use a lot of off camera flash, but in a bright light situation,
nothing beats the lighting technique I'll show you in this video.
The results are just beautiful. This video is a bit long but jammed packed with good lighting info so don’t miss a minute of it.  Hit the PLAY button and enjoy the show. –David


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  We’re catching another program or two and walking the show floors again.  Hopefully we’ll get through another 1/3 of it today;~)

Tonight we catch up with our buddies at Peachpit and later in the evening we’re visiting with our friends at Animoto.  The Animoto party is called to be very casual with soft, relaxing music, and get this – masseuses available to massage the stresses and strains of the day away! Who knows what time I’ll see you tomorrow ;~)

Have a great day yourself.

Your soon to be relaxed and stress free blogger, David

Monday, February 20, 2012

"Celebration Day"

Celebration Day

"Celebration Day"
© David A. Ziser

I just came across this image and continue to still love how it captures a timeless moment. It was made as part of an ad campaign for Art Leather Manufacturing about 20 years ago. Here was the assignment; photograph the bride and groom in a Spring setting leaving the church showing a lot of excitement and enthusiasm. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it. Well, we were doing the shoot in Toronto, in March! Nothing looks like Spring that far north in March, but we still had to pull it off.

I scouted the church location and decided to use this walkway. The sun was behind them - totally important when shooting outdoors. And, with the sun coming from behind, it added a certain warmth, at least visually, to the scene. In reality, the temperature on this brisk Toronto morning was more like 40 degrees - that's Fahrenheit, not Celsius.

The next challenge was to pick up the Spring look the art director wanted in the photograph. OK, we had warmth. We had excitement. We had enthusiasm. Where do I find green? My telephoto lens helped me isolate on a piece of hedge here and a pine branch there. It was just enough green, coupled with the warm sunlight to pull off a semi-Spring like look. The light on the couple was supplied by my off-camera Lumedyne flash (at the time) being held by my assistant on the right. Anyway, it all came together and was the cover of the album catalogue for many years.

Camera specs; Hasselblad camera fitted with 150mm Sonar lens, F5.6 @ 1/500 second, Kodak Vericolor 400 film. Enjoy! -David

Quick Hit Monday: Off And Running At WPPI! & More Photoshop Freebies

Good Morning Everybody,

First off today, I want to thank everyone for the very nice remarks about my weekend post and all the CONGRATS! to Elizabeth – she sure deserves it and her Dad (me) really appreciates it.

Las Vegas TrafficIMG_7041Hey gang, I’m coming at you today from that little town in the middle of the desert where the lights are bright all night and alarm clocks are never set – Las Vegas.  Yep, we landed before noon on Saturday, checked in, and relaxed the rest of the day reserving our energy for four days of convention excitement at WPPI, the largest photographic convention and trade show in the USA!

We hit the trail early yesterday and wrapped last night taking in about 15 programs in all!  Yes, it was a super busy day – the iPhone went dead, and so did my iPad. And then my pen almost ran out of ink.  You get the picture – I was scribbling notes like a madman.

Zack An Jody Great Bring Down The House!

ZAck and JodyThe programming was awesome with my good buddies Zack and Jody Gray packing the house with about 800 strong for the first program of the day.  This young couple really has their act together when it comes to running a business – check out their website, follow their blog, and soak up everything they have to say when ever you get a chance.  OH, BTW, it looks like they will be coming to next year’s PhotoPro Expo – great news for all of us in the Midwest.

Kevin Kubota – Rockin’ On!

Lighting NotebookI’ve never seen Kevin Kubota speak before but was well aware of his reputation as a photographer and Photoshop/Lightroom guru.  Kevin was also rockin’ the MGM ballrooms with a packed house and showing off his easy to understand lighting techniques.  Kevin's book, the Lighting Notebook spent some time at the top of the charts over at Amazon, too.

At the end of Kevin’s program we ran into our friends Jeff Medford and Ross of “Get In Motion” tour fame.  They were showing off the new trailer for Kevin’s just released How To Photoshop Anyone DVD.  It is a “hoot”.  Give it a peek below.

The guys were gracious enough to give me a copy for review.  I can’t wait to watch it – stay tuned.  I hope to have an update after we get back from the convention.  OH, BTW, you may just see Kevin at next year’s PPExpo as well ;~)

Nobody Photographs Babies Like Jessica!

I would have to say the highlight of yesterday’s programing was Jessica Vogel’s program on how to photograph babies.  Never before have I seen a program so full of useful and practical content that any photographer could use to build their baby business.

Jessicas ProgramJessica hails from the small town of Shelbyville, KY which is about an hour from anywhere.  In spite of her rural location it’s easy to see why her business is so successful.  She has the goods – talent, creativity, great photography, and an authentic, genuine way of connecting with people.

LaDawn and I both agreed that the room in which she packed house with about 350 attendees was way too small – they were waiting in line to get into the room to see her program.  Small problem, not one person left her program till the very end and that’s an accomplishment for any speaker!

More Photoshop Freebies Coming Your Way!

Business CArds designHey gang, I’m keeping it short and sweet in the Photoshop Freebies department today.  Programming starts in just a few and we’ve got to hit the road.  Still enjoy a few of these gems today.

1. Photoshop CS6 Can Magically Move Around Any Object In Your Photos [link]: A cool peak at one of most powerful features in CS6 – Amazing!

2. Unlimited In Photoshop Training [link]: This link will keep you busy for a while ;~)

3.  40+ Free and Premium Business Card PSD Templates [link]: Just the ticket to freshen up your brand image.

On that note, we’re out of here.  Plan to check in tomorrow.  I’m not sure what’s exactly going to land on the blog, but I’ll try to keep it interesting ;~)

See you then, David

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Do You Have the Guts To Be Successful?

Hi Everybody,

Yep, it’s a bonus post this weekend.  It has little to to about photography but a lot to do with tenaciousness, guts and glory.

Maybe this should be reserved for one of my Business Day Thursday posts, but I'm running it this weekend.  The reason will be obvious by the end of the post.

Do You Have the Guts To Be Successful?

NYCSeven years ago while in New York, I heard a 15 year old visitor to the city comment that one day she was going to move to New York and make this exciting city her own.  Throughout those ensuing years I kept an eye on that young lady who, BTW, has the "eye of the tiger" and usually accomplishes what see sets her mind to.

After finishing high school she decided to not head right into a major college but instead spend a year at a local community college so she could "bank" a few more dollars for that move to NYC she promised herself four years earlier.  After that year going to school and working at Best Buy nearly full time, she had reached the point both in her planning and in her bank account that she felt it was time to make the move to the BIG city.

At age 20 she cut all purse strings with her parents - remember that "eye of the tiger" part of her personality - she wanted to make the move to New York completely on her own.  In 2008 she packed her bags, moved to New York finding herself an apartment in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn.

Ivanka TrumpShe also landed herself a fairly good job and a digital retoucher at Fred Marcus Studios, the premier photography studio in Manhattan.  Fred Marcus studio is known for doing most of the top celebrity events in the city including Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka whose wedding took place October 24, 2009. In fact, the young lady to whom I refer was instrumental in completing much of the digital enhancement for the bride and groom's wedding album.

After she moved to the city, she felt is was going to take about a year to get settled and check out all the educational options in and around the city before she continued with her schooling in the city.  After visiting several universities, she was intent on attending Pace University concentrating her studies in marketing at one of the leading business schools in the country, the Lubin School of Business. 

PACE UTuition at Pace was rounding out at the "nose bleed" amount of $43,000/yr. Now this young lady's parents had set aside more than enough savings in a college trust fund to finance her college costs at any number of good universities, but it was coming up way short on the funds needed to finance studies at Pace.

Undeterred our NYC heroine set her mind about raising the necessary funds to meet the tuition requirements of Pace University.  About 9 months later she had managed to raise nearly $35,000/yearly in grants and loans to offset most of the university tuition.  Her trust fund would be able to cover housing expenses and carry her the rest of the way in her tuition needs.  Off to Pace she went.

Animoto1During these past two and a half years she has left Fred Marcus Studios for an internship at Animoto, one of the fastest growing and most popular web sites for photographers in New York.  After completing her internship at the end of summer 2009, Animoto asked her to stay on as a part time employee working in their marketing department on special initiatives as she worked towards finishing her degree. 

Her schedule was extremely tight both at school and at work but somehow she dug deep each semester for the strength and fortitude she needed to make it through the school year and all the final exams.  In spite of the hard work and very long hours, she was happy to oblige the web company and continues to work for that same company today.

From the conversations we've had over these last few years, she has been "burning the candle at both ends" in order to complete her school duties and keep up with the demands of her job responsibilities. But she did it!

On Thursday of this past week, I received an email from this young lady which read, "There it is" and with it attached a photograph of the following document. 

That document - her Bachelor Of Arts Degree from Pace University and Magna Cum Laude!

Liz diploma

Liz and MeThe name of the young lady, my daughter, Elizabeth Ziser.

Way to go Liz, you sure made your dad one proud father.  And to the rest of the world, I say clear the way because Elizabeth Ziser has the "eye of the tiger" and she is coming your way.

So, do you have the guts to be successful? I know someone who does and I'm thrilled to be her Dad!


Friday, February 17, 2012

"A Father's Special Day"

A Fathers Special Day

"A Father's Special Day"
© David A. Ziser

Today I want to share with you another one of my favorite photographs circa, the film days. I truly believe that a wedding is not just the bride's day. It is a day when families come together and celebrate this wonderful occasion.

It is just as much a day for the parents as it is for the bride and groom. And as a father who has watched many other fathers shed a tear or two at their daughter's wedding, it must be a truly special moment to dance with your daughter on her wonderful wedding day. I think that moment is captured in this beautiful image.

The spotlight following the bride and her dad created the perfect lighting for this image. The long shadows coming back towards the camera combined with the musicians in the foreground create a wonderful composition capturing that moment.

Camera specs; Hasselblad camera fitted with 50mm Distagon lens at F4.0 at 1/30 second, Kodak ISO 800 Vericolor film. Enjoy! -David

Announcing My Spring Master Class: April 16-20, 2012.

Hey Everybody,

I just want to let you know we still have spaces available in my Spring Master Class.  Save the dates: April 16-20, 2012. As you know we’ve shaken things up a bit  in the last two classes.  Now the class is less about weddings and more about Lighting, Lenses, Composition, and Business building.

DAZ Master Class Spr 2012

Wedding Shoot & Fashion Shoot

Don’t worry, we still spend a day in one of our beautiful churches in the area where you get hands on experience shooting on location with models.  The following day, it’s an all day fashion shoot!  This has been great fun for me, our attendees, and the models – and, everybody gets some fabulous images for their portfolio!

Special Pricing For Second Person!

That’s right.  This time we’re trying something new.  Many times our attendees wish they could bring a college or spouse along to share in the class experience.  Heck, it helps defer the cost the travel (if driving), and the hotel room. 

This year the cost to bring a friend is only $895 – a $300 saving off the regular cost of the class.  If you’ve checked around, this is a wonderful value anywhere for a week long class!

We arrange a block of rooms at the Homewood Suites Hotel a great venue for our Master Class complete with morning breakfast and a light dinner meal. The entire week is a outstanding educational opportunity and a fantastic time for everyone!

The Week’s Schedule

Here is how we are shaking it up for the Spring 2012 session.

-Monday: NEW! Class discussion of over 40 On/Off-camera flash techniques, Dramatic Composition, and Lighting - the finer points. A Welcome Party in the evening including a studio visit, LumaPix FotoFusion demonstration and simply getting to know each other.

DAZ MC2-Tuesday: NEW! On location shooting opportunities all day. For most of the day we will break into 4 smaller groups for shooting on your own with models and my assistants at you side to answer any questions you may have and guide you to your best images.

-Wednesday: NEW! Review and critique of class images. An introduction to software "magic bullets" that will change your digital lives when it comes to production. Then back out in the afternoon and into the evening.  This session will include our Sunset/Night shoot - weather permitting.

DAZ MC3-Thursday: NEW! Studio life - what happens at my studio during the week. Topics to be covered will include proper phone etiquette, wedding etiquette, "gorilla" sales and marketing techniques that won't break the bank and will optimize you adding to you bottom line right away! Revisit our studio, meet again with staff with a full dinner provided in the evening.

-Friday: We wrap up at 12 P.M.- don't try to sneak out early. We stay busy with photography, marketing, and sales right up to noon.
We have a few more ideas in the works - I'll keep you posted.
Added Bonus:
• Full breakfast included for all attendees staying at the hotel.
• Welcome party at David’s studio Monday night.
• Dinner at David's home Thursday night.
In order to maximize the learning experience for all attendees, only the first 24 reservations will be accepted!

How To Reserve Your Space

Contact our office for additional info:  800.292.2994 or 859.341.5900 or simply email LaDawn at:

More info RIGHT HERE.

Frenzied Friday–Heading Out To WPPI Tomorrow

Good Afternoon Everybody,

WPPI 2012I’m just checking in to let you know we’ll be attending WPPI Convention in Las Vegas all next week.  WPPI is one of the best photography conventions in the US to attend, after PhotoPro Expo of course ;~)

They have the largest trade show ever this year and are expecting in excess of 12,000 attendees!  Yep, it’s one “monster” show.  I suspect I’ll see several of our DPT readers in Las Vegas, so be sure to say Hi.

WPPI trdaeshow

WHY?  LaDawn and I will be looking for the top speakers at the show and inviting them to do a series of webcasts for us at DPT this year.  I expect this will be one super BIG highlight of for 2013.

Here are a few of the speakers who programs we will try to attend.

Zach and Jody Gray – Two of my favorite young photographers.

Jason Groupp – The Speedlight  world record holder

The Boudoir Divas – Shaking up the photography scene

Quin and DaveDave and Quin Cheung – Two of my favorite young and happening wedding photographers

Jeremy Cowart – of Help-Portrait fame

Clay Blackmore – A good friend and one of the top wedding photographers in the world.

Jeff Medford and Ross Hockrow – Experts in Fusion projects

Bill McIntosh and Leslie McIntosh – Bill is one of the legends in this profession.

Scott Robert Lim – One of the top wedding photographers from California

Neil Van Niekirk – Master of the on-camera flash.

Hey gang, that’s my TOP 10 list.  Wish me luck – it’s going to be an exciting year at  I sure hope you will spread the word!


Time to finish packing the bags.  Have a great weekend everyone and I see you in Vegas baby!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

"Swept Off Her Feet"

Swept Off Her Feet

"Swept Off Her Feet"
© David A. Ziser

This image represents one of my all time favorite wedding images.  It is one of the featured images in the entrance of my studio.  Even though it was made a number of years ago in the early days of our digital transition(note camera used below) it still retains the lasting quality of an exciting wedding image capturing the “peak” action of the moment the groom dips the bride during their first wedding dance.

Anyone photographing the couple’s first dance know that this is a rare photograph to capture.  In addition to anticipating this “dance maneuver”, you also have to be at the right place on the dance floor at the right time. That happens only rarely, but it this case, I nailed it!

More than just capturing this special moment, I also wanted to capture the beautiful dappled lighting on the bride’s gown.  The room décor included special lighting treatment on the dance floor which gave it a very textured look overall.  That same light was falling on the bride’s dress during the couple’s wedding dance and I thought the effect looked very cool.

To capture that effect I needed to use a slower than normal shutter speed and a reasonably fast ISO. My resultant setting worked just fine for this image.

Backlighting was also key in getting the feeling I wanted in this image.  My assistant followed the couple as they moved around the floor being careful to stay hidden behind the couple till I could find the perfect moment to make my exposure. Yes, my assistant looks like a “hopping frog” as he stays in position and hidden from my camera ;~)  Anyway, with his flash on 1/2 power, about 100 watt seconds, we get the very dramatic rim lighting you see in this image.

I used Photoshop to finish the image by removing extraneous ceiling fixtures,  shiny objects, and a few guests or two to give the effect that the bride and groom were enjoying a very special private moment together.

Camera specs: Nikon D1x fitted with Nikkor 24-105mm F2.8 Tamron lens at 24mm, F5.6 @ 1/50 second, ISO 400.  Enjoy!  -David

Business Day Thursday: You’ve Got To Strike While The Iron Is HOT!

Good Morning Everybody,

I’m getting a much earlier start on the post today in hopes of getting up before the day ramps up again for us. Part of the reason for the continued workload has to do with sales, yes, sales and promotion and brand building. 

PhotoPro Expo 2013We just wrapped our PhotoPro Expo and many of you may be getting pretty darn tired of hearing about it ;~)  Sure, it’s been an important part of my life these last few weeks and I’ve enjoyed sharing my excitement with my DPT readers. We’re already planning PhotoPro Expo 2013!

But what happens after a big convention? Most of the convention planners, and I know from experience, wrap their shows, take a deep breath, sigh, and plan to take the next few weeks off rationalizing that they can finally take that much deserved rest.

The same is true for many of those who photograph weddings. “What a day, 8-10 solid hours of shooting, I’m whipped. I think I’ll take a few days off.” Sound familiar?  The fact of the matter is that in the days following your wedding event – these are the days that should be the busiest for you just as they are the busiest for us after our convention.

You’ve Got To Strike While The Iron Is HOT!

Strike while the iron is hotThese are the days that you should be processing images, uploading to your blog, Facebook, and Animoto.  These are the days you should be sending the bride and groom and moms and dads a few images that they can share immediately with friends.  This is the time to strike while the iron is HOT!  HOT with the excitement of the previous weekend!

Why do so many photographers let the excitement of the wedding day cool off and then try to rekindle those embers by waiting many weeks before getting the important things done that the client expects?  At that point, as B.B. King says, “The thrill is gone!”

Fanning the nearly burnt out embers of the wedding day excitement is an exercise in futility and hinders a “client experience” that could be so much richer if we had fanned those flames when they were burning brightly 24 hours after the wedding.

Don’t Get Left Behind!

Overwhelmed - iStock_000003579983XSmallToday’s digital world is moving much more quickly than ever before.  The lesson to be learned is, “Don’t get left behind!”  Act NOW – as soon as possible after the wedding to share those images, at least a select few of those images, in front of your clients’ eyes.

By doing that you are adding oxygen to the roaring flame of that wedding day excitement. And, when that excitement and anticipation is peaking with the bride and groom and their families, that is the time they will want to share that excitement, thanks to your quick response – YOUR IMAGES and YOUR BRAND – with their friends and family! As I’ve said earlier, you’ve got to “strike while the iron is hot” if you expect continued growth and success in this business.

That brings me back to why we are still so busy.  I’m practicing my own advice. Let me reiterate my third paragraph above:

“But what happens after a big convention? Most of the planners, and I know from experience, wrap there shows, take a deep breath, sigh, and plan to take the next few weeks off rationalizing that they can finally take that mush deserved rest.”

And that folks, is the worst thing I could be doing in the these days after our hugely successful convention. We have been spending many, many hours after the convention reviewing every nuance of the planning, procedures, missteps of the convention looking closely at what we did right and where we can do better next year. Why? Because we want next year’s convention to be even bigger and better.

Do It NOW!

Photographers should be doing the same thing – reviewing, modifying, planning, and improving their plan for their next wedding. But is doesn’t stop there either.

The BIG push for us in these last two days before we leave for WPPI on Saturday is to finish preparing a vendor proposal which we can present to all the exhibitors at WPPI inviting them to be part of PhotoPro Expo 2013.

With the excitement and buzz we’ve created from this year’s super successful convention, booking exhibitors for next years convention will be much easier NOW and not 9-10-11 months from now when the thrill of this years’ show is only a faint memory in their minds.

Value Added-iStock_000004222575XSmallThe same is true for wedding photographers around the world. If you want to break through to a richer sales and success you need to move NOW! In those days immediately after the wedding, you too must be calling on all the vendors you worked with on the wedding day just 48 hours earlier.  This is the time to reach out to them with your enthusiasm, passion, and wedding images and begin to forge stronger relationships with them. 

Once again, it is that mentality of “striking while the iron is HOT” that puts you above the crowd of so many other wedding photographers who are just resting on the sidelines after their big weekend. Being Pro-active instead of reactive is the one way to assure your success in this business.  I’m doing the same with our convention for next year.  You need to do the same for your next wedding.


Hey folks, time for me to get back to work, probably you too.  I’ll see you tomorrow for a short post and WPPI preview. Have a great rest of the day.

See you tomorrow,  David