Sunday, July 29, 2007

Digital ProTalk Blog to Kick off

This is the start of a new blog entitled “Digital ProTalk” that will incorporate “All the photo news that’s fit to print.” (Where have I heard that before?) Well, maybe not all the news, but news, ideas, techniques, etc. Topics will include Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and anything else I think might be of interest to our readers.

You can check it out right now. I’ve posted a few interesting articles in RED on the right hand side of the site – take a peek. These will change a few times a week so check back often. I want it to be a great – need I say “geek surf spot” for anyone in this wonderful profession of ours. It will be a work in process, so give me your feedback on it.

A Stepping Stone to Stardom – Marketing-Sales

How many of us get phone calls asking us to participate in a fundraiser or similar charity event. It goes something like this – “Hi, I’m with ‘Best Charity Events’ and we would like you to participate by doing the photography for us at cost – we will give you a free ad in the program guide – can we count you in?”

Now I know all the calls are being made by well meaning volunteers for very deserving causes. Many of us jump on the chance to cover the event and settle for the ad.

How can we get more mileage out of our efforts? Well, first of all, offer to do it at no cost to the organization. Yes, take your complimentary ad in the program, but here is the key point. Ask for a level of sponsorship consistent with the product and services you will be performing for the organization. For instance, if you will making several hundred images of the event and special images of the board of directors, creating an album for their archives, providing them with a CD of the high-res images for unlimited use, etc. – the value of your services ads up quite quickly. These services may be in the “thousands of dollars” category, which should trade quite nicely for a significant sponsorship level.

Once you have negotiated a fair sponsorship level for your business involvement, be sure that your company name appears wherever they list the sponsors – newsprint, radio, TV, program guide, etc. Now you have some real “bragging rights” to include in your studio promotions. It’s a “win-win” situation – great PR for you because of your community involvement and great photography for your charity client. Good Luck!

Fall Workshop filling Fast!

We are almost 2/3’s booked for the Fall Digital Master Class, and we are more than two months out! We try to keep these classes to 20 - 25 participants so everyone has a chance to be involved. So, if you are considering coming, please give Susan a call at 800-292-2994 to register. You can get all the info at

Web Site of the Month

OK – here is a really good one. I was cruising the net the other day - using Google Reader, of course - and came across one of the more fascinating web sites I had ever seen – KITE PHOTOGRAPHY! Craig Wilson is the photographer and kite flyer.

Yep, he somehow attaches a camera to a kite and sends it soaring. His images are outstanding. He even has a book available – I’ve ordered mine already. Check it out at – you will get a “kick” out of it.

And You Were Worried Before !

80% of Americans will own digital phones by 2008. 903 million camera phones will be shipped by 2010. Now it gets really interesting. Gone are the days when mobile phone cameras had poor VGA quality of less than 1 megapixel. Today's camera phones average 2 megapixels, while the top-notch models from Nokia and Sony Ericsson now offer 5 megapixels and also come with an array of camera-specific features such as auto-focus, red-eye reduction, and xenon flashes.
So becoming a photographer is now even less of a big deal.

And the megapixel trend will rise further as cameras with 8 megapixels will be out soon. NEC plans to launch a camera phone chip in October and hopes to change things drastically. Top end camera phones will be equipped with 8-megapixel resolution in 2008, with mid-range phones ramping up to 5 megapixels and low-end phones at with 3.2 megapixels. I’m really not trying to put up a “big scare” but too many photogs out there are complaining about the downturn in business, and in many parts of the country, it’s true. That’s why it behooves us to constantly re-invent our products and ourselves so we stand out from the crowd.

Easy Terabyte Network Attached Storage

I came across an article in PC magazine a while back talking about this new company –Hammer Storage. John Dvorak, the columnist, was mentioning what a great piece of backup hardware they made called ‘myshare”. “Myshare” is a network attached storage (NAS) device in the very reasonable $429 range.

NAS is very convenient when you have a number of workstations needing access to the same data – like image files. I thought I would give it a try and, so far have been quite happy with the results. It was fairly easy to set up – about 15 minutes – and when I ran into one “hitch” the company’s tech support was quick to pick up the phone and resolve the issue. That was a pleasant experience in this digital day and age.

We have it plugged into our gigabyte switch and can easily access our data quickly over the network. I set up the drive as a stand- alone 1 terabyte drive. The device can also be set up as RAID 0 (Stripe), 1 (Mirror), JBOD (Span) configurations.

I chose not to set the drive up as a "RAID" device with the data redundancy built in, but when it is coupled with another "myshare" drive for backup, it becomes a pretty reasonable solution for data integrity. I'll talk about some back-up solutions in an upcoming newsletter.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Rocky Mountain High - Photoshop Tutorial

How many times have you been in a situation when taking wedding and/or family portraits where the location, lighting, exposure, and background "wrestled" with each other in trying to get a good final print? Getting the right exposure on the subject would lead to not enough exposure on the background or some other areas of the image.

Of course, this happens frequently in the fast paced world of wedding photography where we have little control over time of day and location of the wedding. Being a JPEG shooter notches up the "degree of difficulty" a bit too. Let's take a look at one of these dilemmas and see how easy it was to rectify in Photoshop. By the way, this fix works on all versions of Photoshop from PS7 through CS3. Enjoy!