Tuesday, February 05, 2019

It Looked Like A Snow Day to Me, What an Honor & More…

Good Morning Everybody,
I hope everyone survived the “Deep Freeze” last week. I read that parts of the mid-west, including good ol’ KY were colder than Antarctica – WHEW!!! Too cold for me. But, then again, I wasn’t here. 

Holed Up In Whistler, Canada
Yep, I was holed up in Whistler, B.C. Canada – home to the fabulous Whistler/Blackcomb ski resort [link]. The temps only dropped to around 30 degrees on the coldest evenings – I sure loved that considering the temperatures back in the states.
This trip has been part of annual ski trip that goes back 23 years.  I was asked to join this group of illustrious photographers and skiers a number of years ago and finally made it an annual occasion these last several years.

My skiing days are pretty well numbered as gravity treats this “vintage” body of mine with less curtesy and respect, meaning I hit the ground harder these days;~)  But, I still enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery and all things snow related especially on those breathtaking sunny days.  The good news is that we had about four spectacular sun-filled days on this trip and the views were fabulous!

One of the highlights for me of this year’s trip was our day long photo-walk with my good friends Paul Wright of Wright Moment Photography [link] and Dennis Walsh of Walsh Photographic Design [link]. Both Paul and Dennis are great photographers – that’s Paul’s image above of the speed skater on the left and Dennis’ “light painted” car image on the right.  Head over to their respective websites and prepare to be “blown away”!  We all got some beautiful images that day. It was just a really good time to be hanging with like-minded photographers enjoying both the art and craft of the afternoon’s shoot. I highly recommend that everyone stir those creative juices and give a photo walk with friends a try!

What an Honor – ASP Honorary Educational Associate
The week before I traveled to Whistler, Canada LaDawn and I were in Atlanta at Imaging USA, one-of-the-best photography conventions in the country. We both really like attending this convention because, in addition to the wonderful learning experiences, we also love the opportunity to catch up with all our vendor and photography friends that we don’t often see.  But this trip was also extra special this year.

I received a calI in mid-November telling me that I was to be presented with the American Society of Photography’s Honorary Educational Associate Degree. Wow! I couldn't believe it! That’s some pretty good company you are keeping in that league of photographers with the likes of Julianne Kost, Clay Blackmore, Tony Corbell, just to name a few.

You know, one receives these kind of honors because they shared their knowledge with so many photographers worldwide. But for me it was different. I was thrilled to have received the honor because of all that I learned from so many photographers worldwide that I’ve encountered in my life journey.  My THANKS goes to the ASP Board for this special award – Cheers!

Don’t Forget PhotoPro Expo February 21 – 25, 2019!

As you know I was deeply involved in PhotoPro Expo [link] for many years. But about three years ago we handed the reins off to my good friends Bert and Al Behnke.  What I love about Bert and Al running the show is the fact that they can bring to it a brand new perspective keeping it fresh relevant and alive – and they have done that again for this year’s extravaganza! Just check out all the PhotoPro Expo details right here

I think one of this year’s Expo highlights is the day-long program presented by Kevin Dooley, wildlife photographer extraordinaire! Kevin is the photographer/ licensed safari guide LaDawn and I spent 4 weeks with on Safari in South Africa last year at this time. Inexcusably…I’m still editing through over 45,000 images from those weeks!

Kevin’s work is astounding and his program should not be missed! Heck, seeing his program will be almost as good as going on a real live safari;~)  Definitely check it out!

Kevin and I have been working together to put another exciting photo/travel experience together for 2020. This time it’s going to be in Botswana on the exciting Mashatu Preserve [link]. Here are the dates: March 20-30, 2020. 

Registration is limited as on our previous safaris. In fact the Safari is already half sold out with many of last year’s Safari attendees jumping in early on this one, too. Check out some of the details right here. Hope you too can join us on this amazing adventure.

BTW, I’ll be presenting at the PhotoPro Expo convention this year. You can find me in the Expo Theater on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. I’ve put together a brand new program entitled “How My Astral Photography Has Eclipsed My Wedding Photography”.  In it I’ll cover many tips and tricks on how to photograph a Total Eclipse of the Sun.  I promise, it will be a fun program. Many additional free programs to follow after mine on both Saturday and Sunday during the Trade Show hours. Here is the link to all the programing right here.

Hey Gang,
That’s it for me today. I hope you enjoyed the update. There are some great learning opportunities coming up – hope to see you at a few of them.
Cheers for now, David

Friday, January 18, 2019

I’m Back In The Saddle Again & I’m Going To Photoshop World!!!

Good Morning Everybody,
I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me – as you know LaDawn and I are traveling the world very extensively these days and enjoying the heck out of it! That has kept my writing – I hate to say – at a minimum. Check out the globe to the right – 2018 was crazy!!!  Whoops, I see I missed Ireland and Iceland too ;~)

I was just saying to LaDawn just a few days ago that I miss the writing quite a bit and wanted to get back to it again. That opportunity is going to present itself to me in the very near future and that is very cool news!

I’ve got so many great images to share with you from our travels and so many photo tips and tricks I’ve picked up over these last several months, it’s time to write them down right here at DigitalProTalk.com and share them with you. So, stay tuned, things are going to start popping around here in the next few weeks!

Hey Gang, I’m Going To Be At Photoshop World Again!!!
That’s right, we were somewhere on the road, Mexico I think, when I got a request from my buddy, Scott Kelby, to speak at an upcoming Photoshop World – I have to say I was thrilled!!!  I kicked around the possible dates and program topics with his team and we settled in on Photoshop World Las Vegas in August 21 –23, 2019.

Topics still to be announced.

Oh,  You Can Attend – All Expenses Paid - For Free!!!
Well, that is if you are the big winner – you even get your choice of convention locations.
OK, all kidding aside – it takes about two seconds to enter and the deadline for entering - January 31, 2019 - is just two weeks away!

Just head over to this [link right here] to get all the details and get your name in the “hopper” to win! I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to being at Photoshop World again.

Anyone who has been to Photoshop in the past knows it’s a BLAST to attend.

I still remember my first Photoshop World experience many years ago in San Francisco – I attended with my buddy Kent.  We soaked up everything were could over those three days, we took copious notes, we were fired up with our new found knowledge, we couldn’t wait to put all those great ideas to work once we returned home – we were crazy excited!!!

BUT…. somewhere at about 30,000 feet above the earth while traveling home, some kind of cosmic energy sort of erased parts of all that valuable knowledge we thought we picked up in California.  We found out that once we landed and got back in our respective studios, we were missing key parts of that knowledge – OMG!!!!
But not to worry, that’s why it’s so great to go to Photoshop World.  Because…. the more you attend, the more your retain all that fantastic knowledge!  And, what a great set of friends you make on those return visits. That said, Photoshop World is not to be missed!!! I sure hope I see you there!

Hey gang, that’s it from me today but like I said, stay tuned, more on the way!!!
Cheers for now, DavidType your summary here Type rest of the post here

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Announcing My 2019 Photo Safari To the Galapagos Islands! and a Quick Wrap up of 2017!

Happy New Year Everybody,

David Ziser

I hope everyone had a fantastic 2017, wonderful holiday season, and a great welcome to our brand new year - 2018.  I've got three things I want to share with you in this quick newsletter. First, a few exciting personal notes - at least for LaDawn and I; secondly, my "once in a lifetime" event - don't miss this read; and finally, details of our 2019 Photo Safari to the Galapagos Islands.  Here we go...


World Travels - 50,000 Miles, 8 Countries, and 34,000 Photos!

Since I last visited with you LaDawn and I have been around the world, well, not all the way around, but half-way at least. It's been quite a series of Fall adventures for us to say the least.

We started with a 5-day visit to Vancouver, Canada, then crossed the Pacific on a cruise ship hanging out in Hawaii, the lava was really flowing as we circumvented the Big Island around midnight and even with a rocking ship and misty rains I was able to capture some amazing images. Check out my favorite below.

Hawaii Lava Flows

Then it was on to Tahiti, Bora Bora, and New Zealand finally completing our 4 weeks on water in Sydney, Australia. Below is a photo from the aft of the ship as we departed Auckland - pretty cool!!!

After our quick arrival in Sydney we flew back to Auckland, NZ where I discovered my driver's license expired two days before we were to pick up our rental car - WHOOPS!!! You guessed it - LaDawn had to rent the car with the steering wheel on the right side of the car and had to drive on the left side of the highway, which she had never experienced - YIKES!!! 1400 beautiful miles later we returned the car safe and sound to Queenstown, NZ. Actually…. she really did a great job driving!! Here's a photo of a stunning sunset on our first evening in Rotorua, NZ.

Rotorua Sunset

After 14 days of adventures in New Zealand we flew  to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and spent two weeks traveling up the Mekong River through Vietnam and Cambodia - our most astounding two weeks travel EVER!!! Check out the Angkor Wat sunrise below. Sadly it required waking-up at 5:00 a.m. to capture this image. But… well worth it!!

Angkor Wat Sunrise

Our next city of adventure included a 5-day stop in Seoul, South Korea stopping off at the DMZ or Demilitarized Zone which USA Today called the most dangerous places on earth [link] – hey, who knew;~) It was just for a little additional excitement.  That’s a photo of North Korea below.  Our family was "freaking" out when we told them  we planned to visit the DMZ. Hey, you only go around once;~)

It was home for Thanksgiving with family and then off to Cabo, Mexico for 3 more weeks and returning home a week before Christmas. Thus completing our three months of travels.

North Korea

On top of that LaDawn has become a grandmother for the third time on Christmas Eve - her best Christmas present ever!Samuel Dwight

Here is a quick photo of handsome Sam about 6 hours after he was born - Wow, just look at all that hair!

Speaking of our travels, we are looking forward to our African Photo Safari [link] in just a few weeks. If interested we had two people that had to cancel so we still have one room (1-2 people) left at the main lodge for either safaris.


Announcing My 2019 Photo Safari To the Galapagos Islands!

That's right everybody, we're heading to the Galapagos Islands in mid-May, 2019. Join me as we follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin. The Galapagos Islands  are considered one of the world's foremost destinations for wildlife viewing. It should be a photographer's paradise. I’ve spent some time talking with other photographers and travel enthusiasts who have been there, they say that it truly is amazing!


Space is super-duper limited - only 12 seats total! If you are interested please drop and email to me at david@ziser.com or Kevin at idubephotosafaris@yahoo.com.

Kevin tells me that he is also planning another two Safaris to Africa next year.  This time he’s going to be doing one in February and one in March. One will go to Zambia [link] and the other to Namibia [link], both locations are home to utterly beautiful scenery, interesting history, and amazing African culture.  It sounds like a great trip, too.  I'll keep you posted when I have more details.

Anyway, if you have even the slightest interest in the Galapagos trip drop myself or Kevin a line at our emails addresses above and let us know so we can at least get you on the waiting list.  It's going to be a first-come-first-served booking opportunity with only 12 seats available.


Oh, I Almost Forgot!!! PhotoPro Expo 2018 Is Right Around The Corner

That's right PhotoPro Expo is coming up next month, February 8 - 12, 2018 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center located just across the river from Cincinnati OH. This year the Expo is being planned by my good friends Bert and Al Behnke. Bert has been extremely active with the Professional Photographers of America Imaging convention for years and was a natural fit to take over the reigns of PhotoPro Expo.

PPE 2018

Click the banner above for all the details.  It's shaping up to be a great show with a fantastic 24 person/speaker line-up, the best in the industry and BIG trade show.  I plan to be there - I hope you will too.  See ya' there!______________________________________________________

Hey Gang,

That's it for today - I've got to get "scooting" out of here. I hope you enjoyed the images and the article links in the newsletter this time around.

I'm heading up to Whistler Mountain in beautiful British Columbia, Canada tomorrow morning to join 21 of my photography buddies for a guys week of skiing, fine wine, and good food (I'm the guest chef on Monday evening's dinner). It should be a blast!

Cheers, David

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

"From Here To Eternity”


"From Here To Eternity”
©David A. Ziser

LaDawn and I headed down to Nashville, Tennessee on Monday and had great fun photographing the Great American Eclipse.  You can read the entire story below. The experience was not without it’s pitfalls and dramas but in the very brief 71 seconds of “Totality”  I managed to pull off a few good images.

In the photograph above, I tweaked the original image in Lightroom CC to bring out the sun’s corona more predominantly. Even with the high ISO I was using Lightroom saved the day with it’s marvelous noise reduction capabilities. Lot’s more images below.

Camera specs: Canon 7D Mark II fitted with Sigma 150-600mm lens and Sigma’s 1.4X tele-extender giving me at an effective focal length of 1366mm, F14 @1/250 second, ISO 3200.  Enjoy!  -David

It’s Eclipse Time! Photographing The Great American Eclipse.

Good Morning Everybody,

I’m pretty darn excited about my post today. The topic is completely different from anything I've blogged about before.  Why, because today I'm blogging about a once in a lifetime event.  That's right, today I'm writing about the Great American Eclipse!

What happens if you take this…


and place it in front of this…


You get this… the Great American Eclipse!


First, The Back Story

About 6 weeks ago news about the first Solar eclipse to cross the US in years was really starting to intrigue me. On August 21, 2017 the epicenter of the eclipse was going to be pass over Hopkinsville, KY, just about 3 1/2 hours down the road from us. Nashville was only about an hour more and it seemed that it offered a lot more to experience so we decided that we would head to Nashville, TN to check out the eclipse.

Eclipse Path

Now the challenges of photographing the eclipse began to appear. Hotels throughout the eclipse's path were all but sold out but we did manage to secure a suite at Embassy Suites  very close to downtown Nashville - a very nice property BTW.

Next, where should we view the eclipse? A check with the Nashville website gave many suggestions - we opted for the beautiful Cheekwood Estate and Gardens, the old Maxwell Coffee estate and now a beautiful arboretum and museum, about 8 miles outside the city.

Sigma-150-600_thumb2And finally what gear should I use to capture the best images. I had just picked up Sigma's new 150-600mm Contemporary lens which I just previously blogged about here on my blog [link]. With my 1.4x tele-extender and the 1.6 magnification factor of the lens and tell-extender on my Canon 7D Mark 2 I would have an effective maximum focal length of over 1350 mm - practically a small telescope - and that should do the trick. Check out my hands-on review of this lens right here [link].

Those of you who have read this blog regularly know I'm not a big fan of tripods in most cases but in this case it was absolutely a necessity. I dug out my old Gitzo tripod of years past, prepped it for the shoot, and re-familiarize myself with using a tripod.  I know that sounds crazy for a professional photographer to say but after about an hour of trial and error I thought I had developed a satisfactory eclipse routine with my tripod.

We had our approved eyeglasses but oh no… what was I forgetting? The eclipse filter so I could actually photograph the sun. Heck, I didn't want to take a chance on going blind during this adventure. After a little research I ordered and 8x8 filter from Thousand Oaks Optical and a 95mm UV filter. I simply cut the Mylar to fit my UV glass filter and secured, with a few drops of glue, one to the other and I was good-to-go.

Thousand Oaks Optical also sells a 95mm solar filter for about $80 but they were out of stock by the time I got around to ordering one - it would have been a better choice. OK! I think that's good for the back story - let's head to Nashville for the Great American Eclipse!

Heading Down the Road

We were up and packing about 4:45 a.m. Monday mourning - we had commitments all day Sunday which prevented us from leaving the day before.  Besides, we were hoping our later departure would help us avoid the dreaded traffic jams predicted by all the news stations.

Well, as they say the best laid plans....  Just 15 minutes into our trip Google Maps alerts us of a major traffic jam just north of Louisville, KY and directs us down to Lexington, KY and then west to the I-65 corridor adding about 25 minutes to our drive time.  No problem, it was still a beautiful drive through the horse farms in central Kentucky.

IMG_4594We were nearly to the on ramp for I-65 when Google Maps alerted us of a 22 minute delay just to progress onto the road - more darn construction - the upside - as we crawled along we passed a awe inspiring field of sunflowers. Our very slow progress allowed LaDawn time to retrieve one of our favorite vacation cameras, the Canon SX-60, and began firing away.  She managed a very nice collection of sunflower images in our 15 minute drive by.

Shorty after that delay we were finally southbound and down…. 10-4 Good Buddy - we were on our way albeit about 55 minutes behind schedule. We would still arrive about an hour before the start of the eclipse so no problem.

Pulling Into Nashville - It's Almost Eclipse Time!

About three hours later we're pulling into Nashville. It's almost eclipse time and we are fired up.  You could tell this was an "eclipse town" by the messaging on the signs over the expressway - "No Parking during eclipse". 


I have to say, I've never seen anything like that before! We followed Google Maps directions to Cheekwood Estate and Gardens and were soon slowed again by the fellow "eclipse watchers" heading to the arboretum   But in a short time we arrived, parked our car and made our way to Reception to pick up our tickets.  The place was a buzz with fellow eclipse enthusiasts of all sizes, shapes, and ages.

It's Eclipse Time!

IMG_6198We walked the short distance to what looked to be a good viewing area and I began to set up tripods, cameras, long lenses, and filters. Another gentleman  was already set up with a nice looking setup.  We introduced ourselves to each other and I quickly struck up a conversation.  It turns out that he was a professor of Physics at NC State.  And boy, was he helpful - he had recently attended a local astronomy club meeting and picked up a "ton" of info on how to photograph the eclipse from beginning to end.  His info was invaluable and sure added to the success of our shoot.

Michael and I kept checking our time - the eclipse was due to begin in just a few short minutes.  Everyone was excited!  The moon was to touch the sun at 11:58 a.m. I was looking through my viewfinder and in just seconds I was witnessing the beginning of the Great American Eclipse – Wow! It was cool!  LaDawn was using our little Canon SX-60 camera fitted with its own eclipse filter.  Both of our camera setups gave both of us effective focal lengths of over 1300mm – plenty to witness the eclipse.

We were ready and the crowd of our fellow eclipse watchers were ready too.


But alarmingly clouds began to float in over the sun – horrors of horrors – were we going to miss the eclipse!!!??? The clouds kept coming and were getting thicker – we were all a bit panicked but could do nothing about it except hope and pray that they would surely pass. We did have time on our side.  The full eclipse was not scheduled to happen until 1:27 p.m. – we had plenty of time for the clouds to clear and the clouds were relatively scattered in the sky above. Check out the two photos below – YIKES!!!



As luck would have it the clouds did clear and I got some great images as the moon made its way across the disk of the sun. Check out the next image below I was seeing something nobody else saw if there were wearing their eclipse glasses – Sunspots – three of them right in a row just next to the moon’s disc. Way Cool! Check out the next two images. You can really see them clearly.



The image below is a quick HDR I made in-camera on my Canon 7D Mark 2. I think it looks kind of cool with the halo around the sun.


As the eclipse progressed I continued to shoot. The eclipse went from looking like Ms. Packman to a banana and beyond – it really was amazing to watch the progression. You could feel the temperature drop significantly too.



We were getting close now.  With just a few minutes from totality…. and then – I couldn’t believe it, nobody could!  We were just seconds from totality and then it happened - we ran out of luck again!!! Those friggin’ clouds rolled back in just as we were about to hit totality.  Was the Great American Eclipse over for us? Were we all going to miss our-once-in-a-lifetime event? It sure was looking that way. Check out the next two photos and you can easily understand our panic and disappointment.


I kept shooting anyway, shooting through the clouds hoping all the time that the clouds would somehow pass quickly and we could still at least capture a few seconds of the total eclipse. In this next photo, even through the clouds you can make out the beginning of the Baily Beads effect, those sparkling little specks at about 7 o,clock on the disk, morphing from the Diamond ring effect. Darn, if those clouds would just disappear!!!


Luck of all luck – the clouds finally dissipated just a few seconds later just as the moon totally covered the sun and hit eclipse totality.  A loud cheer went up from the 2500 eclipse watchers – the it was – our first total solar eclipse – amazing!!! The image below clearly shows the Baily Beads twinkling near the bottom of the disk.


We were almost there – the Baily Beads were going to disappear in only seconds…


And then it  happened – a total eclipse of the sun – WOW!!! The picture below shows the full eclipse with Lightroom tweaks to bring out the sun’s corona.  Sure looks like a National Geographic photo to me ;~)


But wait a second, what else was I seeing?  What were those specs at about 3 o,clock and 5 o,clock on the eclipse disk?  They look like eruptions of some kind.  They were – they were solar prominences!!!  Check out the next image – you will see them quite clearly in the cropped image.  I’ve only seen this type of phenomena in magazines or on PBS Nova series.  To see them in person was quite a treat! They can shoot out from the sun’s surface up to 500,000 miles!


During those few moment of totality the world around you is eerily different – something special was happening and you probably would never experience it again in your life.  You felt as if you were communing with the universe!

The moon continued it path across the sun and soon we could see the Baily Beads and Diamond Ring effect clearly this time without the clouds distracting from the scene. The image below is just 32 seconds past the image above.


The moon continued its journey across the disk of the sun for another 90 minutes and I continued to shoot to the end still trying to soak up and appreciate what just happened.















IMG_4689Wow! It was over! It sure was exciting! You just couldn’t help but to keep thinking back on what you experienced first hand and what just happened.  The crowds started to disperse. A few folks walking past noticed my camera setup and stopped by and asked if I got any good photos.  I showed the back of my camera – then they began asking if they could buy my eclipse photos – they would pay any price some told me! 

I was amazed – more people wandered up to see what the others were viewing on the back of my camera – they wanted to buy photos too!  Wow! If I had only known I would have brought my Square card reader ;~)

IMG_4692Many even asked if they could snap a photo with their cell phones – I gladly obliged.






So that was our eclipse adventure and what an adventure it was. We had to deal with the drama of cloud cover two times but all worked out perfectly. We were able to see and capture so many cool eclipse images including sunspots, solar prominences, Baily’s Beads and the Diamond Ring effect, and we met a lot of really friendly eclipse watchers too.

Again, my thanks goes out to Michael, for filling me in on so many eclipse photo tips that I wasn’t aware of that really helped make our shoot such a success. Also my thanks for all the folks that stopped by to look through my camera and snap a few of the images off my LCD screen.

DAZNOTE: For all those interested, I really don’t care if you “right-click” on any of the images above and keep them as a souvenir of that special day – August 21, 2017.

Camera Exposure and Shooting Details

Before I leave let me give you a few details about how I handled the shooting session.  I was originally going to shoot everything on manual but that strategy quickly went south as the clouds started rolling in.  I switched to “Program” mode until I was just shooting the final crescents of the sun. Then I switched to “Manual” mode. Typical exposures were F11 at 1/250 second.  All the images above from the first two crescents forward were all shot on “Manual” mode

Here was the kicker though.  My Thousand Oaks filter were extremely dense which necessitated that I shoot at an ISO of 3200.  I know that sounds high and it was. My friend Michael was shooting a ND 5 filter and was using an ISO of only 400.  Nevertheless, I had to go with what I had - I’ll have to check into alternatives in the future.

With my camera, lens, tele-extender combo gave me a maximum aperture of only F9.0 – I wish I could have closed down more than F11 but the density of the filter prevented me from doing so and still shoot at an acceptable shutter speed. And speaking of shutter speeds, the camera sure was bouncing around a lot so I kept “image stabilization” switched on even though it’s recommended not to do so.

So there you have it, my experience photographing the Great American Eclipse.

Oh, BTW, the next “Once In a Lifetime” Great American Eclipse rolls around on April 8, 2024 [link].

2024 Eclipse

That’s just 7 years from now and tracks right up through Indianapolis, just two hours from where we live. It seems to me that these “Once In a Lifetime” events happen more often than you think ;~)


Hey Gang, that’s it for today.  I hope you enjoyed the post and if I met you in Nashville, I sure hope you will leave a comment. LaDawn and I are spending the few days in Panama City, Florida just soaking up unobstructed rays of the sun before heading back home.

Cheers everybody and Adios for now,