Friday, August 29, 2008

"Freedom Breeze"
© David A. Ziser

One last image from the the Scott Kelby Photowalk: Cincinnati. The blowing American flag, positioned against the powerfully rising building beaming from the sunlight of the day back to the viewer creates a vibrant composition that, for me, makes a strong statement about our freedom, liberty, power and our optimistic future. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 10-22mm lens at 19mm, F 16 @ 1/400 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! -David

Quick Hit Friday With A Little Inspiration Thrown In

Good afternoon everybody,
Today's posts are a little different than in the past "Inspiration" posts, but the news is still very inspirational to me. Did you see Nikon's announcement about their new D90 [link] - it been all over the Internet - 12.3 mega-pixels, 4.5 fps or 24 fps! But, folks, you need to read the fine print because we are looking at a gender-bending new camera here.

Here is the part of the camera's description that tickled my creative brain cells by hitting me up the side of the head, "Fusing 12.3-mega-pixel image quality and a cinematic 24fps D-Movie Mode" Yep, this camera also does video - and I mean really good video. Check out the link to the Nikon videos right here. It's only five minutes of video. Why, because, get this - the sensor has to cool down. What's going on inside that little puppy anyway? Actually, you can get up to 20 minutes at a lower resolution video, but on the slightly down side, it's manual focus for the video.
I wonder how many out of focus videos will be made on a camera that's normally always set to auto focus. David Hobbie aka "The Strobist" is even speculating that because of this capability , it may be one of those high native sync cameras like the Nikon D70. Anyway, it's still way cool.

OK, so your thinking, so what? What? - Can you see the opportunities for weddings, family portraits, senior portraits? The creativity and possibilities are endless. OK, let me explain more. I see myself shooting the wedding, click, click, click, getting great images. Now as part of the shoot, just getting the bride and groom to "ham it up" a bit with their friends and capturing these moments on video.

Or how about not just grabbing that quick candid image, but capturing the whole candid moment - Wow! Or capturing the laughs and giggles, the children's horseplay as the family members come together for their formal portraits. OK, where am I going here? Folks, we deliver albums to our wedding and portrait clients, many of us also deliver DVD's. Who cares which is your chosen final delivery product? These little snippets of movies can now be used to really enhance the entire image viewing experience for the client if cut into the regular presentation of images in an exciting way.

All I'm saying is that we have a wonderful opportunity to become a Cecil B. DeMille - cinematographer and photographer! Well, I'm very excited and think it will enhance our creativity and bottom line in the coming years with these new features being built into our equipment.

Hey gang, it doesn't stop here. Now we can easily grab some quick footage for our web sites that will blow the competition away. I mentioned last week, that we spent some time with my buddy, David Jay. DJ was introducing this new line of cool websites - Showit Sites - that are super easy to set up and they include the addition of video to the site presentation. Check out Jasmine Star's site to see how she incorporated some exciting video into her Showit Site web site - it's way cool! Using the new Nikon D90 would be a great way to get some of these video clips.

Also, think of the possibilities on the type of video you could get - long telephotos to fisheye lens, to night video with a super wide aperture lenses. I'm sorry my brain is flying with ideas and possibilities. I think this new coupling of the technologies, image capture + video, is not just a new gimmick to sell cameras, but can possibly become the borderline earth-shattering feature that will change how we approach and manage our photographic assignments.

How much for the new Nikon D90 - only $999 MSP - the video is worth the price of admission alone. If you couldn't tell....I'm stoked!!

A Meeting Of The Cincy Blogging Minds

Earlier this week, I mentioned I was getting together with fellow Cincy blogger, Jim Talkington of fame. We did just that this past Wednesday. Jim has only been blogging for 6 month's but his site is really starting to get traction.

One of the reasons might be because it is so chocked full of great info and over 30 video tutorials covering all aspects of outdoor lighting, studio light, product photography, and so much more!

We spent the whole afternoon together in geek-speak Nirvana. All LaDawn could do was check in with us occasionally and roll her eyes. Anyway, we were talking about joining up on some future projects nothing specific yet, but I'll keep you posted.

And speaking of Cincy bloggers, you've got to check out RRD PhotoBlog by Ryan Dlugosz. Ryan was also on the Cincy Photowalk with us last week. It was great to meet him in person since I've been following his blog for many months.

Well, here's what's so cool. When we wrapped the photowalk, Ryan shows me his little GPS he had been carrying with him throughout the walk. It seem the unit can output a time/location file to your local computer. Ryan's intent was to some how geo-tag his images from the photowalk with that file info. Last Saturday he wasn't quite sure how he was going to do it, but since then he has figured it out, found a "donation only" piece of software (GeoSetter) that syncs the GPS data to you image files metadata, and gives you the whole story and the solution right here.

It is fascinating to look at the route we walked, click on the geo-tag pins, which takes you to Flickr for the geo-tagged images. Just click on any of the little pink dots to see exactly where the image was captured based on the GPS data. It's almost enough to give you "goose bumps" - at least for some of us at least. "I'm rolling my eyes again!" -LaDawn High Fives to Ryan for the effort to figure it out and a great post!

One More For The Road On Inspiration Friday

OK, I'm doing my (almost) daily work out at the health club a few weeks ago and all the TVs are tuned into Martha Stewart's show - not very "manly" workout TV fare - but I only watch for the high butter/high fat recipes anyway ;~)

OK, just kidding about the recipes, what caught my attention was Martha's daily guest for this show - none other than world famous photographer, Anne Geddes - one of my favorites. You'll remember Anne as the photographer who had all the babies dressed up as "flower" children.
Anyway, Anne has a new book that was just released entitled, "A Labor of Love: An Autobiography." What was so fascinating about the interview was the fact that Anne was showing current photographs of some of her former very young photographic subjects. It was a great interview and worth the watch if you are an Anne Geddes fan. Here is the link to Martha's site for the show. Hey, you might want to check out the recipes while you're there.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. We hit the road on Labor Day for Las Vegas and Photoshop World. If you spot me, please come up and say HI. Also, LaDawn and I will have a spot in the Tech Expo, so come by our booth and visit us there if you get a chance. See everybody next week in Las Vegas. Just remember, don't gamble away any pixels you'll need for a rainy day ;~)
See ya' -David

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Old Christine"

"Old Christine"
© David A. Ziser

Another image from our recent Photowalk in Cincy last Saturday, and again one of my favorites. This kind of subject matter is so great to photograph. There are so many ways to explore the colors and composition. The old, rusty look of this old Plymouth made me think about the Steven King movie, "Christine" - hence the title. There are just wonderful contrasts in this image - the complementary colors of blues and reds, the rough rusty paint against the smooth chrome, the smooth curved fender lines complimenting and framing the straight lines of the grill work. All these elements lead to a final dynamic composition. There were just so many ways to shoot "Old Christine", I wish I'd had more time. Heck, maybe another visit sometime soon. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 70-300mm DO IS lens at 135mm, F 11 @ 1/800 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! -David

p.s. Don't worry, I'll get back to the wedding/portrait images next week. David

[B]Business Day Thursday: Secrets To Salesroom Success - Part 1

Good afternoon everybody,
Boy, I hope you got a chance to here my conversation with Master Photographer, Frank Cricchio yesterday. Frank is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. His insights and reflections on this wonderful profession of ours is an eye opening peek into the history of our craft. Thanks again Frank.

On with Business Day Thursday....
What kind of operation do you run? Does your business plan include a full time store front studio? Or a nicely appointed residential studio? Or a the dining room/spare bedroom/office (or any other room for that matter) somewhere in your home? The fact of the matter is that it really doesn't matter much as long as the client has a nice customer experience. Previously in a blog, I posted an article entitled, "20 Pointers For Running Your Business Out Of Your Home - What You Need To Know." But today, let's discuss what I call the "Salesflow Process" in your studio set up.

A good customer experience is more than just having pretty pictures on display, although that surely is part of the customer experience. But today let's discuss the client's sales experience as it pertains to your operation.

First of all, let's remember, "Selling is not a dirty word. Selling is simply finding out what the client wants and then helping them get it and having them be thrilled with the result." Selling takes patience, honesty, trust, and practice.

Having the "proper tools" for the process is a good idea, too. Those "tools" include studio (sales room) layout, software to assist in enhancing the client experience in the selection process, and a diversified set of products that are exciting to your client. We have also discussed that in the post, "24 More Ways To Add To Your Bottom Line."

But let's get back to your sales/presentation room. In my case it's a nicely appointed room in my residential studio dedicated solely to that client experience. Please watch the video - it walks you completely through my sales room.

I use certain pieces of software and hardware to do just that. Up to just recently, my software of choice was ProShots, but Kodak no longer supports the product so it was time for me to move on. My current software of choice are Lightroom and ProSelect. Neither is perfect, but I am making them work.

Here is what I like about Lightroom.
1. I can move through the images quickly with the clients and note their favorites with the ratings method - first pass; 1-star, fine tune selection; 2-stars, final album choices; 3-stars. This works pretty well except when there are several clients in my studio at one sitting. I simply run out of stars to keep track of which image was selected by which person. With this exception, it still works 95% of the time.
2. I really like the "second monitor" feature of Lightroom 2.0. I can do the "mousing" on my computer while the client only sees the image projected - see video.
3. I love the fact that I easily show the client how an image looks with a certain crop. They instantly see the improvement and that certainly helps with their decision making process.
4. I love the Presets so I can easy show them variations on any image - again, it helps in the client's decision making process.
5. I like Lightroom's easy ability to print out the client selections from it's print module. It helps us keep track of who ordered what and is essential to our smooth workflow.

What I don't like about Lightroom as a sales tool:
1. I wish I could show a slide show on the second monitor. Even when I use mirroring software like UltraMon, Lightroom's slide show fails to show up. This is a real bummer as it worked great in ProShots.
2. It's not real easy to keep tract of which individual ordered which images. Sure I can keep making up new Collections, but I need to be able to keep tract of how many 8x10's, 5x7's, etc were ordered. I played around with key-wording and the like, but the solution is not very elegant. The jury's still out to find a solution and my work around on that point.

My Wish List for perfect studio sales software.
1. It must work in a two monitor set-up. Lightroom and Proselect both do - ProSelect does a much better job of it.
2. It must have the ability to present the images easily with the added ability to zoom into a hi-res close-up. Lightroom and Proselect both get high marks here.
3. It must let me present a slide show of the images to my clients. Lightroom and Proselect both do, but ProSelect does a much better job.
4. It must be able to keep tract of who ordered what easily, smoothly, and with as few mouse clicks as possible. ProShots was the best at that. Lightroom is not elegant, ProSelect, while good, takes too many mouse clicks.
5. It must be able to show me simultaneously what others have ordered because so many client choices depend on what other family members have selected. Neither Lightroom or ProSelect allows us to do that. ProShots did by the way. Actually Lightroom does, but it's difficult. ProSelect does not - this needs to be addressed.
6. It must talk to Photoshop so I can easily show the client how the image can be enhanced with retouching efets. This again helps with the decision making process. My clients still like to see "Liquefy" work it's magic. Lightroom and Proselect both do.
7. It must be able to print out which individual ordered their selection of images - this is essential to our workflow. ProSelect does a great here.
8. It must save on each mouse click. Lightroom (and ProShots) do, ProSelect does not. That means a system crash after 2 hours meeting with a client loses all your work - this needs to be fixed ASAP.
9. It must be able to show other product lines we have available. We sell lmulti-image frames, the ability to show their selected images in frames, to show the client how the finished image will appear in the client's livingroom, hallway, over their mantle.....or any home setting. ProSelect has available all these options and does it all very well. Lightroom does not have this feature available.
10. It must help with invoicing. Again, ProSelect works well here.

Let me say at this point that both programs have features I love. ProSelect, with just a little tweaking would be the clear choice. That said, ProSelect is still the best out there even with it's slight shortcomings. ProSelect does need to resolve the "save on each mouse click" ASAP.

Well gang, that gives you a little peek into our sales flow. To have real success with your sales you need to be actively involved with the clients decision making. The bottom line is that it must be professional, effortless, practiced, and an enjoyable experience for the client. This experience depends on you and your knowledge and expertise with your sales tools.

I know I've only touched the surface here, but I spend 8 hours on sales in my Digital Master Class. This is the Cliff's notes short, short version. Next week, I've invited Michael Jonas to be my guest on Podcast Wednesday. He is a successful studio owner, ProSelect beta tester and expert on the software. He's going to give us some insights on how to use the best features of the software - be sure to tune in.

This post went way longer than I expected it, but I hope it was helpful. I'm calling it a wrap today. We are packing up for Photoshop World Las Vegas next week - I hope to see you there.
See you tomorrow for Inspiration Friday. Adios, David

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"Simple Symmetry"
© David A. Ziser

Another image from Saturday's Photowalk - and another of my favorites. We had just crossed the bridge back into Cincinnati as we headed back to our starting point at Fountain Square . We were passing the Bengals football stadium, the sun was quite high in the sky, casting strong shadows from the handrails onto the steps. Study this image closely, then hit the "Read more..." to see the original. Now study the image again. What do you think? Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 70-300mm DO IS lens at 120mm, F 11 @ 1/640 second, ISO 400 Enjoy! -David

p.s. Remember to hit the "Read more..." link below to see the "before" image.

This is what I first saw as we crossed the bridge into Cincy. Alone, it's not bad, but I love the finished result. -David

Welcome To Podcast Wednesday: An Interview With Photographic Legend, Frank Cricchio

I have know Frank Cricchio for nearly 30 years. I remember attending his workshops and seminars way back in my formative years as a budding photographer. Nobody, absolutely nobody taught exposure and lighting the way Frank did.

He still is the grand master in those departments. His articles on exposure techniques have been translated into as many as eight different languages. Frank Cricchio lectures around the world and throughout the United States. He has also photographed President Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Bob Hope.

Frank and I have remained friends all these years and, I have to say, his enthusiasm for all things photography and Photoshop has never waned. If you are going to Photoshop World next week, you can catch up with him at one of his programs he'll be presenting.

Today's Podcast Topics:
10 Questions For Frank Cricchio
1. Is photography what you have always done.
2. How did you get your start in photography?
3. Is photography more exciting today than back in the film days, or is it more daunting?
4. Who in our profession have been your best teachers or influenced you significantly?
5. Can you tell us a little about your transition to "digital" ?
6. What's your biggest "turn on" within our profession today - gear, software, special projects your involved in, etc.?
7. Do you miss film?
8. What do you shoot today?
9. Who in our profession today, do you consider major influences for you and for our profession?
10. What advice would you give to the new "emerging pro" out there?

Please see the related links to references mentioned in this Podcast: everyone one is worth a look - David:
Frank Cricchio's website: [link]
Paul Linwood Gittings: [link]
Don Blair: [link]
Helen Yancy: [link]
Joyce Wilson: [link]
Terry DeGlau: [link]
Don Emmerich: [link]
Al Gilbert: [link]
Louise and Joseph Simone: [link]
Jousuf Karsh: [link]
Dye Transfer Printing: [link]

A Few Newsbits and Tidbits For The Road

I was going to wrap the posts today from "Rumor Mill Central". I was going to tell you about the rumors of the brand new Canon 50D - 15.1 mega-pixels, 6.3 fps, 920,000 dot/VGA resolution - four times the pixel count of the EOS 40D, ISO's up to 12800! But, it seems Canon let the "cat out of the bag" yesterday and announced it to everyone. Here is the press release [link].

The specs look pretty impressive to me. At first glace, the 50D looked to be the replacement for the 40D, but no, the 40D stays in the line. Hey, that's probably good news for us 40D owners, we can still sell them at a better price before they are discontinued. I'm not quite sure where this model fits in within the Canon line. Check out this Canon link right here which shows the 50D below the 5D, above the 40D at $1099, and two steps above the 30D at $1299 - I'm so confused. Rumor has it the the 50D will come in about $1500.

Wait, there's more - you know, when I was test driving the Nikon D3 and D300 - alas, I had to send them back this week - I loved their 18-200mm VR lens. It seemed the perfect zoom range for us wedding guys and girls. Well, guess what Canon just announced? You got it - their new EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens, costing $700, and also availability due in October - finally.

While I'm discussing zoom ranges, did you see this one? Tamron just announced their latest greatest - get this, 18-270mm VC (vibration compensation) lens [link]. I'm guessing it will be priced about $650. I can't wait to get my hands on that one. I got to shoot with their 28-300 VC lens at my last Master Class in July and the jury was still out on that lens for me. I want to try this new puppy before I comment on the 28-300mm lens - I'll keep you posted.

So what's blatantly missing from the Canon announcement? We all know what's missing - no word of the 5D's replacement! I've found the best place for rumors about the 5D happen to be over at our fellow photo blogger's site - 1001 Noisy Cameras. Here is the link to the latest round up of Canon 5D rumors [link].

Hey everybody, that's it for me today. I'm calling it a day today a little early. Fellow Cincy blogger, Jim Talkington of is heading over for lunch and then an afternoon of blog tech-talk. I'm really looking forward to the visit.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow for further discussions on what software to use in your studio for client presentations. Hey everybody, I'll see you tomorrow for Business Day Thursday: Secrets To Salesroom Success. See ya' then, -David

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"A Different View"

"A Different View"
© David A. Ziser

All things are not as they seem to be. That is exactly the case with this final image. I photographed this image on Saturday during our PhotoWalk. The bus stop canopy of a downtown Cincinnati, Ohio was transformed into this very interesting composition. To see how I did it, hit PLAY on our Technique Tuesday section below. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 70-300mm DO IS lens at 185mm, F 6.3 @ 1/250 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! -David

Technique Tuesday: The Art Of Seeing The Image Within The Image

Good Morning Everyone,
Have you taken the opportunity to check out the images from any of the PhotoWalks conducted from around the world this past weekend? The imagery is astounding. Our Cincinnati group has almost 400 images posted right here - I'm loving the HDR images just posted today by darkbond13, aka Jason Hatfield. You should check out Jason's website - Shoot2Capture [link ] Jason has some very dynamic images.

Anyway, on with Technique Tuesday. I've always been a big fan of design in my images - weddings or otherwise. Just grabbing a camera and shooting something other than brides is a good exercise for me to explore those abstract designs all around us.

The final abstract design images are most often not that way to begin with. Most are simple, everyday objects, that with the proper crop and further artistic treatment transform into the final work of art. That's what happened with so many of my images from this past Saturday's Photowalk.

Hit the PLAY button below. I'll walk you through the entire process. This tutorial may help explain what I originally saw, how I approached it, how I shot it, and finally how I processed it to get to my finished results. The final image is not what it seems to be - what ever that was. When I saw the original scene, it was a nice series of harmonious lines that I thought would make a nice abstract B&W image. That was not to be. With a little bit of fiddling in Lightroom and with the final tweaks in Photoshop, I produced one of my favorite images of the day's shoot. Enjoy, David.

10 Ways To Reduce Noise In Your Images, Plus Two

I am such a sucker for new low noise reducing techniques. The reason for that is because I love shooting those really high ISO's. Man, the new Nikon's really make it a kick, too. But, we all know there are inherently noise issues when pushing the high ISO envelope.

What are some of the best ways to reduce the noise while still preserving, even enhancing the image quality? Here are three links that will show you 12 creative ways to reduce noise.

Sean Duggen over at shows 10 ways to reduce noise from within Photoshop - here is the [link] - definitely worth a bookmark right here.
Rufus Deuchler over at has a way to reduce noise with a very cool image stacking technique right here [link].
Corey Barker over at also has yet another method he demos in his video right here [link].

Hey, don't want to do the heavy lifting yourself, then here are three winning programs to do the noise removal for you.
Noise Ninja - The gold standard for the last several years. [link]
NIK's Dfine 2.0 - Another great anti-noise solution and one of my favs. [link]
Imagenomic's NoiseWare - Another great piece of noise removing software that gets great reviews. [link]

A quick "heads up" about tomorrow's Podcast. I talked to my good buddy, Frank Cricchio, yesterday and he agreed to be a guest on tomorrow's podcast. Frank is one of the living legends in portrait photography in our profession. I'll thrilled to share our conversation with you tomorrow.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. We are hoppin' here at the studio again today and the team is calling. See everybody tomorrow for Podcast Wednesday. Have a noise-free day ;~) -David

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Colors Of The City"

"Colors Of The City"
© David A. Ziser

This image I shoot was one of my favorites from the PhotoWalk this past Saturday. I am always intrigued with lines, shapes, and colors and this image had it all. I love how the yellow "side bars frame the complimentary blue and green colors seen in the window reflections to the side of the building. I also like the contrasts in the scene - the strong straight lines of the architecture against the rippling colors of those same reflections. Colors were tweaked a bit in Lightroom 2.0 with the "Vibrancy" button to pop the colors. I think the result is a very pleasing, interesting composition. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted wit 70-300mm DO IS lens at 150mm, F 8.0 @ 1/400 second, ISO 400.

Enjoy! -David

Welcome To Super Long Post Monday - After The PhotoWalk

Good Morning Everybody,
We had a great time at the Scott Kelby Worldwide PhotoWalk; Cincy edition this past Saturday. I thought our walk was a bit ambitious - about 2 3/4 miles, another 3/4 mile to the restaurant, and another 1 1/2 miles back to our start point a total of 5 miles in all. But the beautiful weather, very comfortable temperature, wide, wonderful variety of photo opportunitiests, and the pace of the walk was just perfect. One of the shots from our group has to be the Grand Prize winner. The Cincy group captured some amazing, breath taking images. I'll tell you one thing though, I sure don't want be the one picking the day's winner the next time- man, I started with 46 new friends and ended the day with only one, just kidding ;~) Everybody had some really great pre-production images, but only one could win and that was Hubert Kirchgaessner who had the following really cool image you see below. I really liked the message Hubert put together in his composition. Congrats Hubert - one copy of Scott's Lightroom 2.0 book coming your way.

Now if you weren't able to participate in any of the 236 cities around the world, or if just interested in being truly inspired, here is how to take a peek at all the images submitted from any of the participating cities where a PhotoWalk took place.
1. Head over to Flickr [link ]
2. Fill in the search box with "Kelby photo walk". Right now about 218 groups are available to preview.
3. After the results pop up, hit the Group button at the top of the page. There you are, all the groups posted so far.
4. Select any group, and after it pops, hit the ">>more..." link to the bottom right of the last image.
5. Now you are in that city's pool. I found the best way to view them is by hitting the "Slideshow" button at the top right side of the page.

Now just sit back and enjoy! I've been having a kick seeing the images from the other parts of the world. To realize the amount of people involved from these 236 cities and then speculate on all the images taken by all of us, it has to be an astounding collection of work! Way cool - HIGH FIVES to the man, the legend.....Scott Kelby for pulling it off!

Here is a little Animoto show from our Cincy PhotoWalk - we all had a great time.

Even while most of my time was spent visiting with many in our group, I still managed to capture a few shots during the walk. Here are just a few from my shoot. Hope you like them.

Wait, There's Even More This Monday

Bellies and Babies update -
Just a quick note to say if you can get to Sandy Puc's "Bellies and Babies" tour in any of the remaining eight cites, try to make it happen. LaDawn and I attended the Indianapolis program last Friday and loved it. Sandy runs a multi-million dollar operation in Littleton, Colorado and shows all and tells all in her program. She even did a 20 minute light and posing demo with a set of twin babies and their mom. She starts at 5 p.m. and goes to about 11 p.m. Sandy talks about a million miles an hour too, so you really get an 8 hour seminar in the 6 hours she is on stage. A solid High Fives for her tour. I most highly recommend not missing this program!

Lightroom 2.0 on a Network and Auto Tone update -
Last week in my post entitled, "Lightroom 2.0 Running On A Network, Well Almost - Really Good News and Almost Good News", we had several comments. Terry Reinert suggested using two pieces of software to check out the LRCAT file - Perforce - kind of pricey, and Subversion. Terry describes the virtues of each so give them a read.

Alas, local drives mapped to a network drive just doesn't work - Lightroom puts up the roadblocks real quick. Our solution is to copy the LRCAT file to the local computer which has the networked drive mapped to it. Then change the name of the LRCAT file on the networked drive so we know some one has it checked out. When the work is completed, the LRCAT file is put back on the networked drive ready for someone to access it for our next step of production. It's then deleted from the local computer to avoid multiple copies floating around. The normal daily back up takes care of the file redundancy.

I also discussed the use of Auto Tone in the same post, but was hoping I could make a global change on several images by changing each of the individual settings by a certain amount for example -.50 without affecting the Auto Tone setting. Thanks to Romgut who pointed me in the right direction. Although the idea works to create a Preset that applies Auto Tone with a Tone Curve adjustment, that wouldn't be the best for all the images being imported. I would still have plenty of images that would need further adjustments.

I like the fact that Auto Tone with a vignette preset does a darn good job and reduces image twiddling significantly after the import. Nevertheless, there are still several that need a tweak.

Here is my current solution:
1. Import into Lightroom with Auto Tone and a vignette preset.
2. Create a new Preset with Auto Tone, a Tone Curve preset, and a vignette preset as well - thanks Romgut.
3. Head to the Develop module, hold down the Control key or Command key on a Mac, and click on the Sync button - that will turn on Auto Sync.
4. Highlight all the images in the Filmstrip that are, as an example, , too light.
5. Float the cursor over the Reset button to reset the selected images to their original state.
6. While they are selected, execute your new action - Presto, Change-o - done!

It works great. I'm in the process of setting up a number of presets that should speed up our work flow substantially with the Auto Tone/Tone Curve/Vignette combo. Kind of looks like maybe a Technique Tuesday to me.

Hey everybody, that's got to be it for me today. We head to Photoshop World next week so I'm polishing the presentations and trying to get some real work done at the studio before we leave. See you tomorrow for one of three Technique Tuesdays I've got planned. Hey, selecting the post will be a surprise to me too ;~) See ya' tomorrow, -David

Friday, August 22, 2008

"Little Angels"

"Little Angels"
© David A. Ziser

This image was made while photographing the family groups for the bride and groom. We were in between groups and as I was gathering another family for the next shot, I noticed the little flower girls having fun with the bride. My assistant still had the off-camera flash, which was shooting through an umbrella pointing in the general direction of the bride and the two girls. It was just enough light to get the shot. At first glace, I didn't think I had much going on, but after tighter cropping and some "stylizing" of the image in Photoshop, I loved the result of those little angels with the bride. As I've mentioned many times, we as professional wedding photographers need to have a sixth sense on the wedding day and be aware of what is not only happening in front of the camera but also behind us and to the sides of us. Camera specs; Nikon D1x fitted with a Tamron 24-135mm lens at 48mm, F5.6 @ 1/60 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! -David

p.s. Hit the "Read More..." button below to see the before shot. -David

Here is the before shot.

Creativity Friday - I'm Heading To The Mountaintop

A couple of things happened recently that leads to today's post. A few weeks ago, I was reading Cory Barker's guest post over at Scott Kelby's Photoshop Insider blog [link]. Now let me say, that I think Cory in on another level of creativity with what he dreams up with those fantastic tutorials over at Planet Photoshop.

That said, I read his post with interest as he discussed his creative process. Cory's process involves a creative exercise he likes to call creativity farming. He'll spend an afternoon at the bookstore, pouring through most of the magazines on the news stands and just feeding that visual data into his brain. That visual data becomes the touch points of his new creative ideas. I found it a fascinating peek into the "brain juices" of a very creative individual.

Along those same lines, I reflected on my own creative process. I've always said that I love going out on a Saturday to shoot a wedding. I don't have the constraints of day to day studio activities on my mind. I feel I'm standing on a tall mountain ready to jump into the air and fly.

I'm sure, at times, many of us have had that wonderful feeling of peace and quietness. That's where I try to get myself before a major shoot. I feel being in that relaxed state puts my mind in a place that's welcomes the creative possibilities of the day. And fortunately, when those creative neurons fire, I'm generally rewarded with some really cool images.

Let's not make this sound too Zen here, but the main point is this; It has been proven that a calm mind is fertile ground for the birth and growth of creative ideas. I have found this over and over in my own life experiences to be very true.
My wife LaDawn will attest to the fact that before any major shoot, lecture, or presentation, that I will take about an hour just to get quiet and centered - I call it Allmmmming - you now, like the Tibetan monks. No I'm not a monk, but the quite time is integral to my preparation to my wedding shoots.

Even when doing my Master class or a workshop with a large group of people, I try to break away for a few minutes of quiet time. My purpose is to allow for that creative process to begin and hopefully pull off some exciting, intriguing and very cool images.

Give it a try yourself and see if it doesn't enhance your own creative process. It doesn't take much practice, but is does demand a slowing of a rapidly whirring brain and getting it in "coast" mode so you can let the creative process have a place to be nurtured. End of Mountaintop Mantra #1

An Evening With David Jay

LaDawn and I attended David Jay's very inspiring "Free To Succeed" presentation in Indianapolis last night. It was a joy to listen to his insights into running your business instead of your business running you. He gave some great tips on workflow speedup. For example, DJ only spends 2 hours prepping each wedding for client presentation.

He also showed, what I would call "magic bullet" software solutions. By "magic bullet" software, I mean software that is so unique and easy to use and give a vastly superior result compared to the alternative solutions available. I'm talking specifically about his Showit Web software. I remember the "days of yesteryear" when we used dissolve units, slide projectors, and special tape recorders. Now you can do the same thing, only better, faster easier and much more efficiently with the Showit Software. You can check it out over at here is the link.

The evening wasn't just a software love-fest. David gave thought provoking insights about prioritizing things in our businesses and in our lives. I loved his presentation and his message -it gets my 5-star (highest) recommendation.
He's about half way through the tour so check it out when if comes to a city near you [link]. Yes, he is touring in that humongous tour bus that's behind us in the shot. That coach was so big - how big is it? It's so big it even has a 9-hole par 3 golf course in the back ;~)

DJ has agreed to be a guest on one of my upcoming podcasts too so stay tuned - it will be worth the listen.

LaDawn and I are staying up here in Indy for Sandy Puc's program tonight. Sam is the consummate marketer and runs a million dollar studio in Denver, CO. I know I'll leave the program with more than my money's worth. She has 9 cities left in her tour. Check out the link "Bellies and Babies" and see if you can catch it if it gets close to you.

One For The Road On Inspiration Friday is one of my favorite websites for interesting topics on just about anything. Let me point you towards and episode by the photo director for National Geographic, David Griffin. Mr. Griffin knows the power of photography to connect us to our world. In a talk filled with glorious images, he talks about how we all use photos to tell our stories. It's well worth making the trip over to take a peek at Mr. Griffin's 15 minute presentation [link ]. Enjoy.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. We get back to Cincy late tonight and then we're up ready to go bright and early tomorrow morning for Scott Kelby's Photowalk - Cincinnati edition. We have quite a crowd showing up and I can't wait - it should be a kick! I'll see everybody on Monday with some great stories and images from Saturday's Photowalk. With that, I'm out of here - just remember, when carrying a lot of "pixels" with you, wear comfortable shoes ;~) See ya' Monday, -David

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"The Littlest Groomsman"

"The Littlest Groomsman"
© David A. Ziser

We were at the park just waiting while the wedding party attendants and family arrived and was gathering for photographs. I had my "candid" camera over my shoulder - fitted with a long lens - and was just cruising the crowd looking for great impromptu, spontaneous expressions. I spotted this little guy hanging with his dad. He was kind of shy, looking somewhat overwhelmed by the excitement and enthusiasm of the adults arriving. The expression was priceless and I just grabbed the shot. I love how the father's hands give both framing and tender support for our little ring-bearer. Camera specs; Canon 5D fitted with 70-300mm IS lens at 250mm, F 5.6 @ 1/100 second, ISO 320. Enjoy! David

Business Day Thursday - Lightroom: Jet Fuel For Production & "Sharpening The Saw: Tools To Make Your Business Run Better," and Incredible Client Exper

Good Morning Everybody,
Today is gearing up to a busy one. We are trying a little different workflow here at the studio and we are excited as things are looking both promising and much more efficient. We are making Lightroom a much bigger player in it's production role. The staff loves it, and we look to cut hours off of our order post-production. Here is the quick take on what's up.

Yes, we use Lightroom to edit and prepare the images for the web - that's fine, but we don't stress about making them perfect for the web. Next, the client goes on-line and selects their favs. Currently we are using Lightroom and ProSelect for that process. I am still in the trial-and-error process of deciding which way to go and which software will be the most efficient.

Both programs have features I like and unfortunately some I don't like for the selection process. I'll keep you posted on this one. Anyway, once we have the client come into the studio and order the final images selected for their albums, our next step has been to design the albums in LumaPix:FotoFusion, enhance them in Photoshop, render the pages as Jpegs, and print. It's the "enhance them in Photoshop" step that takes the most time and has bogged down our post production.

I love the versatility and speed Lightroom brings to the production process in getting the images to about 85% of where they need to be for final approval. Our plan now is to select only ordered images and do a large part of "fine tuning" in Lightroom - color, density, contrast, vibrancy, noise reduction, vignetting, etc. Then it would require only the occasional trip over to Photoshop for retouching on any portrait.

We just gave it our first try yesterday and things went well and the final prints looked great. We are trying it again on another order today - I'll keep you posted, but things are looking good.

So, what are you reading these days? I'm reading this new book my buddy, Kent Smith just sent me. It's entitled, "The Ultimate Sales Machine" by Chet Holmes. I'm only through the first few chapters, but it's a great read. I loved the quick little story he mentioned in the second chapter. It was about two woodcutters. Woodcutter A cut wood all day without stopping. Woodcutter B keeps stopping and sitting down. At the end of the day, Woodcutter B had three times as much wood cut. Woodcutter A exclaims, "How can that be? You were sitting down for most of the day!" Woodcutter B answers, "No I wasn't, I was sharpening my saw."

Well, that little story sure hit home for me. How often do we sharpen our own saws in our businesses? How often do we look at new ways to do things? How often do we discover and then train ourselves and/or our staff to learn the latest, greatest tools, techniques, and methods for doing the job more efficiently? Too many of us get caught up in our day-to-day routines never sharpening our saws and often getting frustrated by the lack of work we get done in our businesses. Or, we find ourselves never being able to come up for air, stuck behind a computer hour after hour.

Things are changing very rapidly in these digital times, almost too fast to stay caught up with the new technologies, many of us think. This is the optimum time to sharpen our saws. Take a half hour each day to sharpen yours and give your staff the opportunity to do the same.

There are "tons" of training materials available on-line,
much of it free - just for the looking. I'm in the process, right now, of steering my staff to the best Lightroom training resources available so they can become proficient with the software. I've mentioned it before, but I think Kelby Training is the best available. Julieanne Kost's new 3 hours worth of free Lightroom training is also a good place to start [link]. Folks, there are no excuses for our failures. Failure is mostly due to our own lack of initiative - failing to sharpen our saws. End of Rant #31.

Want to create an incredible customer experience - then you have to check out this post over at one of my favorite sites, They have a must read article on the subject right here in their article, "30+ Ways to Create an Incredible Client Experience." Why is this so important? In my first podcast, I discussed how the Generation Y's want just that - an incredible customer experience. In my conversation with Kent and Sara Smith in my second podcast, they echoed the same sentiment. Give this article a read right here. It's well worth it and part of your saw sharpening Thursday.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. We are heading to Indianapolis in a few hours to hear my buddy, David Jay present his program "Free To Succeed." Then we are staying over Friday, to hear Sandy Puc present her very hot program, "Bellies and Babies." Both of these folks are top dog photographers, leaders, and trainers in our profession. I know I'll get my money's worth. I also hope to get an interview or two while we are there for an upcoming podcast. Everybody have a good one and I see you in Indy for Inspiration Friday. See ya' tomorrow, -David

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"City Abstract"

"City Abstract"
© David A. Ziser

I'm always looking for lines, shapes, and form when looking through the viewfinder whether it be on the wedding day or just walking down a city street. I think this is an interesting image because of the contrasts among the lines, shapes, and forms. Obviously, it a nice clear day in the city - it's easy to spot the blue sky. The clearly defined glass and steel indicate a skyscraper. But it is the juxtaposition of these clearly defined elements with nearly two thirds of the composition barely revealing itself through the maze of rippling shapes and contrasting colors that make this composition work and enjoyable to view. Camera specs; Canon30D fitted with 70-300mm IS lens at 150mm, F 9.0 @ 1/640 second, ISO 800. Enjoy! -David

Podcast Wednesday: A Conversation With ProPhotoWalker - Jeff Revell

Good Morning Everybody,
So have you ever gone on a PhotoWalk? What the heck is it anyway? Many of us grab our cameras whether it be on vacation, or just walking around the park on a nice weekend. Yes, that would be considered a PhotoWalk of sorts - lonely, solitary, devoid of any social interaction. OK, I'm joking here just a bit, but it's to make a point because it's just the opposite of what a real PhotoWalk is all about.

A Photowalk is about walking the park with a group of people all seeing the same things differently and sharing those different views at the end of the walk. We have Scott Kelby's Worldwide Photowalk happening this weekend. I'm leading the Cincinnati, Ohio edition - so I thought I would give a call to the person whole inspired Scott to put the whole thing together.

That would be Master PhotoWalker, Jeff Revell himself. Jeff has been organizing PhotoWalks for quite a while now, and I think it is such a cool idea too, that I asked Jeff to share his ideas, insights, and experiences with the DigitalProTalk community. Here is the list of things we discussed in our short conversation. I know you will enjoy Jeff's easy and enthusiastic style as you listen to our conversation. Hey, after listening, you've got all the info you need to put your own PhotoWalk together. It's a nice listen - hit the PLAY button on the G-Cast player on the right and enjoy! Again, my thanks to Jeff for taking the time to share his thoughts and insights with our readers and listeners - Thanks again, Jeff.

Topics discussed:
1. How did you get started with Photowalking?
2. Favorite places?
3. How many miles for a scheduled 2 hr photowalk?
4. How many pics generally taken?
5. How do you review them?
6. What's been your best experience?
7. Places in the world you would like to Photowalk?

Links Referred to in our conversation:
Jeff's own Blog - PhotoWalkPro [link] Be sure to check out Jeff's site, he's got some great tutorials
Scott Kelby's Worldwide PhotoWalk [link] [link]

Additional Photowalk Info Links:
MikeLao Photography
Jeff's Guide To Photowalking [link]
Jeff's PhotoWalkPro DC photowalk Flicker group [link]

Download this Podcast right here.

Having A Garage Sale, Radio Poppers, and More Stuff You Might Have Missed

Hey everybody, be sure to read the comments from Monday's post, "Lightroom 2.0 Running On A Network, Well Almost - Really Good News and Almost Good News." Lot's of suggestions about Lightroom's Auto Tone feature and running a network. I'm going to let the comments continue and next week, I'll consolidate the best and most workable and put them up in a more structured post - stay tuned.

If I don't post these now, they may be lost forever so here goes. So do you have a bunch of old gear laying around and would like to dump it on EBay, but just don't know how to do it, well, Terry White over at his TechBlog has the answer for you. Read Terry's review of GarageSale, an easy to use and inexpensive EBay tool to help you clean out your junk closet and make room for all that new gear you are dyin' to buy. Here is the link to Terry's article right here. I'll tell you, it's looks very cool - only for MACs though :~( Who's got a good suggestion for the PC side of things?

Two weeks ago, I posted an Photoshop tutorial entitled, "Picking The Right Color." It demonstrated an alternative way of removing the background from an image. The next day, Lance Burns, a Photoshop guru from Alberta, Canada, and past attendee from our Summer Master Class, posted a refinement on my technique that is definitely worth watching. It's only about 6 minutes long and worth the watch. Here is the link to Lance's tutorial right here.

And lastly, for all you Radio Popper owners, one of my DigitalProTalk readers pointed me to this post, "Lick-n-Stick Attachment of RP Receiver P1 to Sb800 or Sb600" on how to modify your Radio Poppers to work on the Nikon strobes - pretty cool and doesn't void the warranty.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. I'll see you tomorrow for Business Day Thursday - "Sharpening The Saw: Tools To Make Your Business Run Better" See you then, David

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"Caladium Patch"

"Caladium Patch"
© David A. Ziser

I made this image while walking the quaint little neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights, NY. What a great part of the city most people don't get a chance to visit. The small vibrant neighborhood was reminiscent of walking around some of the small neighborhoods in Boston just a few months earlier. The people, the shops, the buildings, and sites and scenes were like a small jewel just on the outskirts of Manhattan. Anyway, I found this Coleus patch while walking the neighborhood and was taken by their colors and design. When I look at the image, it strikes me as a wonderful abstract design full of color and textures. A little stylizing in Photoshop finished the presentation. Camera specs; Canon 30D fitted with 17-85mm IS lens at 70mm, F 7.1 @ 1/100 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! -David

Technique Tuesday: Dancing With The Light Fantastic - Getting The Best Light At Wedding Receptions With Multiple Strobes

Good Morning Everybody,
OK, this is the day - yep, the day where I answer the most requested question I've received to date - How do I light the impromptu candids at wedding receptions? Hey remember, if I'm doing it, it first of all has to be easy.

In this video tutorial, I'll walk you through my tried and true techniques for getting the best light on the wedding candids. For candids to look better than good, you need to light your subject with a highlight next to a shadow. It is only then do we get the detail, depth, dimension, and color saturation in our images that separates the men and women from the boys and girls.

It's light that makes them pop out of the background finally giving your images that 3-dimensional polish they deserve. Hit PLAY below to learn more. Enjoy the show! -David

A Quick Change of Gears To Portrait Photography

Over the weekend, I just read this great tutorial over at The article was entitled, "Portrait Lighting Tutorial: Character Study" [link ]by Don Chick, a very talented photographer from New Hampshire.

I have to say, Don's article is well written and very well illustrated. He gives you the low-down on lighting set-up and a down to earth discussion on how he produced the five images included in the article. Spend some time with Don's article, print it out and file it away - very good stuff. Wait, there's more.

Check out Don's other three articles too - all well worth the read:

Lighting for Impact [link ]
Measuring and Adjusting for Light Falloff [link ]
Light: Learn to See [link ]

Hey gang, that's it for me today. But remember, two things happening tomorrow. Number 1- I'm doing my Webinar entitled, "25 Tips, Suggestions, and Just Plain Good Ideas For Building Your Business" over at Marathon Press [info & registration link.] Hope to see you there where you can ask those burning questions and get ideas on improving your sales.

Number 2 - Be sure to tune in tomorrow for my conversation with Jeff Revell of worldwide PhotoWalkPro fame. Jeff is the guy who inspired Scott Kelby to put together Scott's upcoming Worldwide Photowalk this coming weekend. It's a good listen, so until tomorrow, keep you pixels smilin', and I see you for Podcast Wednesday! -David

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Innocent Eyes"

"Innocent Eyes"
© David A. Ziser

This was an image captured at a recent wedding. We rang the door bell to the bride's home, the bride's mother let us in and this beautiful little girl was staring right back at me. I was ready with my Canon 40D fitted with my 50mm F1.4 lens. This camera/lens combo is my second camera and is always on my shoulder ready to go through-out the day and into the evening. I had it set to aperture priority, AWB, and a high ISO because I never know what's going to happen those first moments on the job. This image is one of my favorites from the shoot. The look and feel, the beautiful complexion, the intense color of the eyes, and that innocent direct look back into the camera makes for a captivated image. I hope you enjoy it. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 50mm F1.4 lens, F2.8 @ 1/250 second, ISO 1250. Enjoy! -David

p.s. Hit the "Read More..." link below for the B&W version.

What's your preference? - David

Lightroom 2.0 Running On A Network, Well Almost - Really Good News and Almost Good News

Good Morning Everybody,
Man, "tons" of good stuff today, so let me get right to it.

Really Good News - You know, I was pretty bummed when Lightroom 2.0 came out and was not "network ready" - I've already gripped about it here as have so many others. Here is a simple, almost elegant work around - which works for LR 2.0 and LR 1.41 as well. Hit the "Read More..." link below to see the utterly SUPER COOL solution for Lightroom's network dilemma.

What's the main problem?? It's that Lightroom needs to see it's LRCAT file on a local drive. Ahhh, but do source images need to be on a local drive? Well, the answer is a big fat NO!!!

Park your images on your server or wherever you want on your network now create your LRCAT file on your local computer - remember, I create a new LRCAT file for each job because of the number of images we shoot on a typical job. Lightroom bogs down at about 20-30,000 images so it only makes sense for me to create a new LRCAT file for each big event right away - life is just simpler that way.

Now hit Import from the Library module and just point Lightroom to those images anywhere on your network, and presto, they will populate quite readily on your Lightroom screen - pretty cool! Now work your Lightroom magic on all those images and you are good to go.

Guess what, You can even hit Cntrl-E and Lightroom will find the source image anywhere on the network and pop it right into Photoshop for you, saving the source image right back on your network drive and updating the preview image in your local LRCAT file on the local computer.

Wait, it gets better. Now you want one of your studio employees to work on the order too. Big Problem, the LRCAT file is on your local computer. Actually it's no problem, just park a copy of your local LRCAT file on his/her local computer and they will be good to go to continue working on the order. Just be sure all the local copies of the LRCAT files are all synced up with the most recent save of the LRCAT file.

I actually think this works like a charm and takes the sting out of Lightroom 2.0's "Not Network Ready" flaw. As I said, we work with about 3000-4000 images on a job. Our LRCAT file is about 1 gig big meaning it's not a monstrous file transfer to make the workflow scenario work out. You could even set up you LRCAT file on say a small 4 gig thumb-drive and shuttle it around to each workstation as needed. Give it a try, it's a piece of cake.

Almost Good News - I been hanging with Lightroom 2.0 pretty heavily these last couple of weeks and learning many of it's "ins and outs." There is one feature that is particularly intriguing to me and that's the Auto Tone feature. There were many recent posts claiming that the "Auto Tone" feature works much better that in LR 1.0. Frankly, I didn't think it worked at all in the first version.

That said, I have been giving it a try in LR2, and have to say that I'm "moderately" impressed with the results. Why moderately, because on some images where the background goes dark, like a reception candid, it tends to "blow out" the main subject. If the illumination is fairly consistent though, Auto Tone does do a respectable job (although I still think it "gooses" brightness just a bit too much) I can see it as a big time-saver for our wedding workflow.

That brings me to another point - wouldn't it be cool if Lightroom would let you dial back a bit of the brightness or exposure in the scene after running Auto Tone. I know I can sync similar images, but what I want to do is dial back Brightness say -30 on each Auto Toned image. In other words, I want a customizable Auto Tone feature. Anyone at Adobe listening???

I'm sure Adobe has the defaults built in, I just want to fine tune these defaults to my liking when Auto Tone runs. If anyone has any suggestions on how to make it work any other way, how about sharing it with me and our readers.