Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Beautiful Day In The Park"

"Beautiful Day In The Park"
© David A. Ziser

I made this image yesterday while dodging the alligators at this beautiful park. The clouds had rolled in and softened the light beautifully. I had the bride stop about mid-way across the bridge. When I had her look into the camera, the lighting on her face became very severe and contrasty - the last thing it produced was flattering light on my subject. I had my bride turn her face away from me til the light just wrapped around her face beautifully sculpting here features perfectly with the classic loop light pattern so often captured in the paintings of the masters. I love the final result. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 70-300mm DO IS lens at 240mm, F 5.6 @ 1/50 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! -David

Technique Tuesday: My Cheatin' Light - Or How To get Your Flash To Sync At Higher Sync Speeds Than Normal, and Alligators On Location

Good Morning Everybody,
Wow! What a day we had yesterday! Great models, great images, and a great time. We hooked up with Jason, NAPP's top dog videographer about 10 a.m. sorted the day's shooting schedule, and headed out with the rest of the crew, Adam and Steven. Whew! We didn't wrap the shoot until about 7 p.m. but were able to create some terrific images and great info for the Kelby Training videos.

My plan was to work in some of that famous Florida sunshine at the worst of times - high noon - to show how we wedding photographers need to still get the shot under less that optimum conditions. Nature had different plans for us though. The clouds rolled in and we had about the prettiest light ever for just about the entire day. The good news, I shifted gears and talked about how to find the best light and use it to create some outstanding, set yourself apart from the crowd images. We did capture some amazing photographs and tutorial.

We did have a small afternoon surprise though. We were just landing at our second park, started to scope out locations, and ran into an alligator just chillin' in the grass at the side of the water. We, like all goofy tourists, ran toward the gator instead of away, because we wanted to get the shot. We did, the gator didn't care to much, and we continued shooting with everybody watching each other's back the rest of the afternoon. I have to say, alligator time was about 5:30 p.m. and the light was just beautiful - you'll have to check out the video when it goes live. I'll give you the head's up when that happens.

How about on with our Technique Tuesday episode - last week I posted an image entitled, "Afternoon In The Park." It received the most comments ever with the commenter's questioning and explaining how I took the shot at 1/400 second, especially when my Canon 40D which only syncs up to 1/250 second. Let me say here and now, thanks to all who were in on the discussion.

Anyway, that lead me to today's tutorial - My Cheatin' Flash. Why the title, because that's what it's called - cheating the sync. This is one of my favorite techniques to get those dramatic outdoor bridal images I sometimes post as our image of the day. The technique is best used when working in bright sunshine outside and you really need the scene or sky darkened to add to the dramatics of the shoot. In fact, I was using that same technique yesterday during our shoot. So, if you want to hear the rest of the story and see exactly how I pull it off, hit the PLAY button below to see how it's done. Enjoy!

And Now On The Subject Of Lightroom - What In The World Is Luminance?

While on a recent Internet cruise, I came across this short video tutorial which explains in detail, how to use the often misunderstood Luminance sliders in Lightroom. This tutorial was put together by Yanik Chauvin, a professional photographer who runs Yanik's Photo School, an on-line training resource that has some nice gems among it's archives. Hit the link right here for Yanik's Lightroom tutorial. After giving it a peek, take some time to check out his other tutorials too - some great information - way to go Yanik.

Hey gang, that's about it for me today. We are planning to shoot all day today and maybe, if time permits, fit in a Layers TV episode. By the way, RC Conception of Layers fame, was my lighting assistant yesterday for video 3 of the Kelby Training videos. So once again, we are off and running. Check back with me tomorrow, I going to answer the Skribit questions that have been hanging unanswered for a while. See everybody tomorrow. -David

Monday, September 29, 2008

"My Beauty, My Love"

"My Beauty, My Love"
© David A. Ziser

This image was made a few years ago as part of a series of portraits requested by the mother of the bride. The only illumination on the couple was the soft light streaming into the porch area where they were seated. I flipped the bride's veil over both heads then asked the couple to just get close and think about each other. The soft expressions of each make for a beautiful, tender portrait. Camera specs; Nikon D1x fitted with 80-200mm lens at 145mm, F4.0 @ 1/500 second, ISO 640. Enjoy! -David

Monday Morning - Reporting From Florida; Time Magazine Says Photographers Are Weird, Client Ordering In Lightroom, and Blu_Ray Backup

Good Morning Everybody,
LaDawn and I are settled into our hotel, our home away from home for the next few days. We are back in the Tampa, Florida area to wrap a few more videos for Kelby Training. It’s always a kick to come down here and work with the terrific NAPP team in putting these videos together. Yes, it is work, but a lot of times it feels like play. Anyway, we are happy to be here for a few days. I've got a few quick hits for you today, so let's get to it.

Time Magazine Says Photographers Are Weird
Yep, that's what they said. I picked up last week's issue of Time Magazine, I'm a regular reader, and there it was, a story that was discussing Nikon's newly introduced D90. I had just finished doing my first article on, "Where Had All The Business Gone" and now I was presented with another reason right here in a respected national magazine.

Here are the opening lines of the second paragraph, "It's pretty well known that professional photographers are weird, which is why I worship them. They are persnickety about all things yet have pulses that never exceed 60 beats a minute." Here is the Time article link right here. That's it! - That's why business is down for so many photogs - we are just plain weird. Heck, even my own dad always wanted me to get a real job. I know it was a "tongue in cheek" remark, but all the same it speaks to the perception many have for the business of professional photography - 'nough said.

Lightroom Galleries And Client Ordering
Chris, a resident computer gurus at my Fall Master Class, dropped me a note to tell me about this cool little application over at Lightroom Galleries.com. Download their Lightroom template, fire up Lightroom, and create your own gallery where your client can easily browse their up to 800+ images, pick their favs, and comment and order any image. Once they sign off on their selection, you get the email with their picks and you are good to go to process the order. A lot of people are loving it. Sounds great and I think it has possibilities - check it out right here. Thanks Chris!

200 Year Archival Storage Now Available From Delkin
Delkin just announced their new USB 2.0 outboard Blu-Ray drive. Now you can burn all those RAW multi-gigabyte wedding images to just one or two discs. Delkin says it only takes about 30 minutes to burn a full 25 gigs to one of their "200 year life" archival discs - not bad. Hey, this looks like the way to proceed, but $25 per disc - Whew!! I do believe this is the way to go - eventually, but I'm waiting for the price to drop on the disks. Anyway, here is the link to the Delkin info.

How To Improve Your Photography And Have A Great Time Doing It Too

That’s right, every 3 months the Kentucky Professional Photographers Association puts on a great series of programs for two full days presented by some of the best photographic talent around for only $89 and that includes Sunday dinner. It’s a steal of a deal!
Next week over 100 photographers will be heading to the Hyatt Regency in downtown Louisville, Kentucky for the Fall series of programs. Here is the link to all the info.

It’s a great time of learning and sharing for all that attend, and no, you don’t have to be a member. There's a mini trade show with many great specials. Just come on down for the fun and the knowledge. LaDawn and I will be there Sunday and Monday for sure. Maybe we will see some of our DigitalProTalk readers in Louisville too.

Hey gang
that’s about it for me today. We are heading over to NAPP World Headquarters in just a bit, catching up with our video crew, and getting started some more info packed videos. See you tomorrow for this week’s Technique Tuesday entitled, "My Cheatin' Flash or How To Use Higher Than Native Sync Shutter Speeds" when shooting outdoors. Hope to see you then, David

Friday, September 26, 2008

"The End Of A Good Day"

"The End Of A Good Day"
© David A. Ziser

This image was made earlier this year while traveling the East Coast. I feel this scene elicits such a sense of peace and calm as you view the setting sun over the smooth water. I love the complimentary colors of the scene which I tweaked a bit in Lightroom 2. The image was then cropped to best perspective for the composition. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 24-105mm IS lens at 24mm, F16 @ 1/400 second, ISO 1699. Enjoy! -David

Inspiration Friday: Game Changing Camera Technologies - Who Cares About Video On My DSLR

Good Afternoon Everybody,
What's the most inspiring thing that happened to you this week? While not trying to think about the current state of our economy and while looking forward to the presidential debates this evening, for me, it would be the inclusion of video on Canon and Nikon's new cameras. I was bummed to learn that the Nikon's video, even though lower res, didn't give us auto-focus. But heck, it's $1,600 less than the Canon.

Now, hold on one second before "flying off the handle" and saying, "I'm a photographer, I don't want to be a videographer too!" Hey gang, let me be clear, that is NOT my intention or the direction I'm coming from either. The last thing I want to be is a videographer. They know what their gig is and I know mine. But hey, they are always in our way anyway at a wedding - these new cameras might be just the ticket in solving that problem. Wait, wait - it was just a joke!

Anyway, let's get back on track here. Why do I think this is such an BIG - BIG - BIG thing for photographers? Just look at the last two Business Day Thursday posts. The bottom line is that we need to be offering our clients exciting products that the competition down the street is not. This new camera functionality points the way for innovative, forward thinking photographers to do just that!

You know what the coolest thing is about the built in video feature is, don't you? It's just trying to think up ways we can offer it to our clients! I'm totally fired up because it's available. I'm most excited for what it brings to my ability as a trainer/teacher/instructor to even more easily demonstrate what I teach. I can't wait to get my hands on one.

But let's set the teaching aspect aside and talk about what it brings to our studio. How can we use this new innovation to create some dramatic new products for our clients. Lots of photographers are presenting slide shows on there computers at the wedding reception - heck, we were doing it 25 years ago with Kodak projectors. Can you imagine the client response now with live video cut into the presentation. It's a double WIN - WIN!

How about adding some short snippets to your web site? The new camera will now make it "easy as pie" now to get the footage. How about selling the client a video of their favorite images with some of the live footage cut in. What are the other possibilities? If we all put our thinking caps on, I think we could come up with many new and exciting ideas. What do you think, anybody else fired up about this as much as I am? If you are, throw some suggestions in the comments section below.

If we hit 20 suggestions, I'll give a way another Digital WakeUp Call 2 DVD set worth $75. Get your brain juices flowing and let's see what we can come up with with these wonderful and powerful story telling tools.

Three Quick Inspirational Hits For The Road

I don't know how I found myself at the American Society Of Magazine Editors site, but once I got there, it was pretty cool. Hey, it's not wedding photography, but it has some great imagery by the top contenders in this year's competition. Here is the link. Wait, there's more. Also check out to the top magazine covers over the past 40 years - it's a nice peek at our society's history, our interests, current affairs at the time. It's a quick, fascinating and sometimes surprising look back. Here is the link.

If you want to see something really awesome, then check out TimeCatcher.com. It is a beautiful site with some outstanding photography. Here is the story. The site is supported by images of six photographers as they travel the world. Hit the Gallery tab, then click on any of the points on the map to see what images were captured there. The photographs are amazing. This is a great weekend diversion and very inspiring. Here is the link.

And last, but not least - check out Lance Burns Photography.com. Lance was one of the wild one's - I mean that in the most complimentary way, Lance - at my Summer Digital Master Class. Lance keeps me on his mailing list and it is always a pleasure to see what he is up to. The image I've posted here is one of my favorites. Check our Lance's site right here for additional images. Outstanding - way to go Lance.
Hey gang, that's it for me today. LaDawn and I are packing up and heading to Oldsmar, Florida - Photoshop World and NAPP World Headquarters on Sunday. We are down there for a few days to wrap a few more training videos for Kelby Training. You will catch me posting from sunny Florida for most of the week. Boy, the trip to Florida has me pondering about one thing - do pixels turn red if they get sunburned? I'll check with the Floridian pixels while I'm visiting ;~) See ya' next week everybody. -David

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"At Mystery's Edge"

"At Mystery's Edge"
© David A. Ziser

This image was made while on a trip to Aberdeen, Scotland about two years ago. The scenery was breathtaking and from my view, quite different from what I was used to here in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. It was the hearty ruggedness of these trees that amazed me. Although this image has no particular focal point, it is primarily the textures and subtle colors that intrigue me. The eye can easily wander the scene and though we can't touch the trees, we can still feel the coarseness of these textures. Camera specs; Canon 5D fitted with 24-105mm IS lens at 47mm, F4 @ 1/13 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! -David

Business Day Thursday: Where Has All The Business Gone - Part 2 - Running Scared!

Good Afternoon Everybody,
Wow! Last week's Business day Thursday post created quite a bit of buzz. Between the emails I received all the comments left by our loyal readers, I think we got a good cross section of what people are thinking. A lot of you thought it was simple market conditions and even with the Wall Street chaos over these last several days, I still don't buy that reason as the MAJOR contributor to the situation.

Sure, mortgages are being foreclosed upon, but folks, that's because of the greed-mongers set those unfortunate people up to fail with their predatory lending practices. I feel these were not really our clients anyway. Am I missing something here? A person who can't really afford to buy a home, but can afford a $10,000 - $20,000 wedding where photography is about 10% of the budget historically - I don't think so.

Let me be also be clear here - I was not putting down any "part timers" or "emerging pros". I continue to have the highest respect for all those working hard to improve their photography and their business success. That's the purpose of DigitalProTalk.com for all pros, semi-pros, and emerging pros alike. DigitalProTalk.com's purpose is to also raise the level of professionalism in photography. That includes how we conduct our businesses and interact and service our clients.

The bottom line for me is this; Digital has brought a lot more enthusiasts into the market where the "PIE" is only so big, but now there are many more slices taken out of that pie. Consider that the number of photographers offering services has grown exponentially over the last 5 years. You can verify that with the exponential growth of digital cameras being sold in that same 5 year period. The greatest growth has been - surprising in the DSLR department - up over 75% for the second half of 2007 over the first half of the year! From January to July 2008 there have been nearly 11,000,000 DSLRs shipped to North America - 120% more than last year for the same period.

Folks, for me the "writing is on the wall" - digital photography is fun, it's easy to learn, it's a kick to play and experiment, and many new digital adopters see it as a way to make some extra money. Oh, and speaking of the economy, it seems to me that those buying these new digital SLR wonders are unaware of the downturn.

Here is the bottom line as I see it - there are a lot more pieces coming out of that pie and the pieces are a lot smaller, but all those small pieces add up quickly. But it's even more than that. What many of these new photogs are charging for the pieces of the pie is only "beer money" - my term for a little extra cash many photographers make selling cheap prints. Look at so many Craig's List listings - "Will do your wedding photography for free for the experience". Yep, that's the guy/gal I want shooting my special day. But, as Anonymous said in the second comment - "good enough" has replaced quality on the part of the buying public's mentality these days.

So is cheap and "good enough" the direction professional photography is trending these days? Unfortunately, I think to a large part - YES. Why, because if we have experienced a 10 fold increase in photographers offering their services and the level of experience is tentative at best. Add to that - the buying public's perception of professional photography is seriously downgraded. Basically, they can't see the forest (good photography) from the trees (so much mediocre stuff being presented as professional photography) by a huge percentage of new practitioners of the craft.

Yes, I do believe the photographic sea is awash with mediocrity, witch is to be expected especially when I hear comments like, "I need to get a better camera because this one just does not do a good enough job." In a huge advertising campaign by Nikon last year stated, "Anyone can take great pictures with a Nikon D40 in their hands." In fact the poll they published with the ad verified that 33% of the respondents agreed!

I agree that the market is changing and that the buying public is looking for something different, and yes, in many cases, cheaper too. But the reality is this. If you want to sell it cheap, don't expect to give up your day job anytime soon. Because once you've gone down that road it's hard to change the course later.

I was just visiting with our upcoming president of the state association. She shared a story with me about a photographer she met at a class she was presenting. That photographer said she was as busy as she wanted to be but was making no many! She had just shoot 90 pregnancy sittings and there was not much left in the kitty at the end of the day. When my friend asked her for specifics on her costs, overhead, etc..... it was determined that she was going to lose $10,000 for the year! After hearing that fact, the photographer confided that her accountant told he she made $4.00 profit from the year before!

This is the mentality of way too many new photographers penetrating the market. "I sure am busy, it sure is fun, and I don't have a clue as to how much money I'm making or losing on each job." Remember, these are the people taking pieces out of that pie as well.

If this is the new competition, then what's the solution? For starters, the "forest" (good photography) needs to be more visible to the buying public. Marketing is absolutely key here. We need to be marketing more than ever before. I talked with my friend Tim Walden who owns Walden's House Of Photography in Lexington, Kentucky. He reported that his business is up for the year, but he has never worked harder at marketing his business. My friends, Kent and Sara Smith said exactly the same thing. They will crack a million dollars this year, and have been busting their behinds harder than ever to keep getting the word out. I think, therein lies the secret, as Clayton said in his comments, "... to be viable to our clients... to be relevant..." Yes, we need to constantly re-evaluate our photographic style and product offerings. We need to keep our websites fresh and slick - our website is the window dressing for our business. We need to blog - today's clients want to feel they know the person they are hiring.

And, finally, we need to run scared, constantly evaluating the market, the competition, and the economics and working pro-actively to fine tune all aspects of our business both photographically and financially! I love this African proverb - it says it all.

"Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed...every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle...when the sun comes up, you'd better be running."

Hey gang, that's it for me today. Thanks you to everyone who offered their comments, suggestions, and insights to this discussion - it was much appreciated. I'll see everyone tomorrow for Inspiration Friday: What Inspired Me The Most This Week. See ya' then, -David

Links related to this post:
The Complete Photographer - My Guest Blog for Scott Kelby
Is Wedding Photography Dead?
What It Takes To Be Great

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"A Big Day For The Little Girls"

"A Big Day For The Little Girls"
© David A. Ziser

I made this image during my very first digital wedding shoot on December 30, 2000. The Hasselblad was safely in the trunk of my car, just in case. As my confidence grew throughout the day - that's where it stayed. Yes, after much anxiety I made it through that first complete digital wedding. Do you remember the first day you threw caution to the wind and made the leap from film to digital?
It was a pretty scary prospect for a lot of film shooters, but we made it and I for one have never looked back. Now I have photographers in my classes/audiences who have never shot film! That's a shocker for most film guys and girls out there.

I know I post a lot of dramatic pictorials, but I photograph a lot of fun, spontaneous images on the wedding day as well. I love this one. All the little girls, mostly nieces, were gathered around the bride just having a good time, telling stories, teasing, giggling just moments before they were to begin the processional down the aisle. I guess holiday spirits were still running high or maybe it was feeling like a princess as only little girls can feel when they get dressed up. It sure seemed to show on their faces. Camera specs; Fuji S-1 fitted with Tamron 28-105mm lens at 32mm, F 2.8 @ 1/20 second, ISO 320. Enjoy! -David

Podcast Wednesday: A Conversation With Scott Tallyn - Data Recovery Expert

Good Morning Everybody,
Well, it's that time again - time for another podcast here at DigitalProTalk. This week's guest is Scott Tallyn of Tallyn Photographics. I have known Scott for a number of years as our path's have crossed many times at various trade shows and conventions.

That's exactly what happened three weeks ago in Las Vegas at Photoshop World. I hadn't seen Scott in a while so it was great to catch up with him after a few years. Although Scott runs his very successful Tallyn's Professional Photographic Supply, he ventured out into data recovery about 12 years ago and runs one of the few companies that has pioneered flash card data recovery in the mix.

Give a listen to my interview with Scott to hear the latest on hard drive and flash card reliability and failure. His insights and wisdom on the subject may help you avoid what we all fear most - corrupted cards and hard drive failures. Just tab on the Gcast button to the right of this post.

Questions For Scott Tallyn About Disaster Recovery:

1. You have built your data recovery business into one of the nation's leading companies offering data recovery services - What made you take your company in that direction?
2. You pioneered data recovery from flash cards, even disassembling them to get to the data. How successful have you been at that?
3. SanDisc just introduced a 32 gig model. That's a lot of data on that little chip. What do you think of the new high flying card capacities?
4. You talk about these cards having a certain number of Read/Write Cycles, what's that mean, and what's the life of a flash card - do they live forever?
5. Are there any instances where data can't be recovered from a card?
6. What are your best recommended strategies for shooting, saving, and optimizing card usage to avoid disaster?
7. You mentioned you even recover data from CDs and DVDs - I thought once they were scratched up, they were history?
8. How about hard drives? With the drive space getting bigger, are these newer models more or less reliable than in years past? What are the features that we should consider when purchasing a hard drive for my data?
9. You say people send you cards and drives the other data recovery companies have given up on and you can still recover the data - What's your success rate?
10. What's this cost, does it "break the bank"? Will my home owner's insurance cover any of the costs?

Scott is so dedicated to getting your data back and easing that sinking feeling in you stomach after you find out your drive crashed or all your wedding images seem to be history on that one flash card that won't open, you can call him personally on his cell 24/7. Here is his number - 309-696-7575. Here is his office number 800-433-8685 M-F.

Service doesn't get any better than that!

Thanks again Scott for sharing your insights and wisdom with our listeners. -David

Links mentions in this podcast:
Tallyn's Professional Photographic Supply
Tallyn's Data Recovery
Western Digital Caviar Drives
Drobo - Data Robotics, Inc.
Photo Rescue
p.s. You can also down load this podcast or all others right here.

Hold On To Your Hats And Check Out A Real Photographer's Hands On Experience With The Canon 5D Mark II - It Will Blow You Away!

Hey gang, there has been a ton of buzz happening out there with the introduction of CS4 and Canon's new 5D Mark II - it's been all over the web so I let it slide here at DigitalProTalk - that is until now. I'm specifically speaking of Canon's 5D Mark II. We all knew it was coming and now it's here - well, almost - it's real anyway.

Nikon and Canon have been leapfrogging each other for years with Nikon getting the biggest jump lately. Well, now Canon has hit it out of the park with their introduction of their brand new 5d Mark II.
My Canon rep sent me this link to Vincent LaForet's 72 hour hands-on experience with the 5D Mark II. Give Vincent's provocative article on his blog a read right here - really interesting and mind blowing info! Wait, there's more. It's this next link that will blow you away. It's seems Vincent really test drove the new 5D Mark II's video features. I have to say the results are stunning! You must check out the video right here. Be sure your right hand is firmly placed under your jaw before viewing - simply unbelievable!!!

Hey everybody, that's it for me today. Next week, I'm going to answer a number of the Skribit questions that have been piling up so stay tuned. I'll plan to see everybody tomorrow for a new Business Day Thursday article; "Running Scared!" See ya' then. David

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Afternoon In The Park"

"Afternoon In The Park"
© David A. Ziser

Here is one more image from last week's shoot. It demonstrates what can be accomplished in super bright noon-day sun. Nothing extraordinary, just a nice portrait that can be achieved easily on the wedding day. The trick is to keep the sun behind the subjects. That keeps their faces in shade. Then all we have to do is get the proper lighting on their faces and we are good to go. The off-camera flash supplied the loop lighting to our couple's faces with the long lens creating a nice background for the image. Camera specs: Canon 40D fitted with 70-300mm DO IS lens at 180mm, F8.0 @ 1/400 second, ISO 200. Enjoy! -David

Technique Tuesday: Z-Ray Lighting! ZAP, BAM, POP!

Good Morning Everybody,
We got back in town late last night. We were with our friends, Kent and Sarah Smith, in Columbus, Ohio over the weekend and saw a great concert last night by the incredible and ever-inspiring Celine Dion. Sure, we're dragging a little this morning, but not enough to stop a ZAP, BAM, POP Z-Ray Lighting tutorial for this week's Technique Tuesday.

Last week during my Master Class, I pulled out dual barreled, Krytonite powered, "Z-Ray" gun and produced some very cool portraits for the class. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating just a bit about the Krytonite part, but my Z-Ray gun does say Dual Xenon on the side and that sounds pretty cool to me too.

Anyway, all joking aside, a least for the rest of this post, let me tell you what I'm up to. I picked up the idea of using a super powered flash light at one of the conventions earlier this year, bought myself the same model, and have been having a real kick with it ever since.

In this video, I'll show how to use a continuous light source - a high intensity flash light - to produce some gorgeous portraits. The technique is easy, but you do need to know the "secret handshake" to make the images come out just right. Hit PLAY below and check out some examples and what I believe to be very cool images. I even throw a little twist in at the end that I think you will enjoy. -David

Light to Brinkman Dual Xenon Z-Ray ray gun right here.

Let's Follow The Histogram Trail

This topic comes up quite often and although many have a rudimentary understanding of the subject, these four articles go into great depth deciphering the histogram's finer points. All are extremely well illustrated and deserve a thorough read. Remember; Knowledge is power, power to make better images.

I just came across this first article on histograms right here. It's an excellent and comprehensive explanation of the subject we all need to know about. One of my favorite discussions on the subject can be found over at Luminous-Landscape.com right here. CambridgeInColor.com also has a great tutorial right here too. Wait, there's more, check out Steve Hoffman's super all-encompassing 5 page discussion entitled, "A Practical Guide To Histograms." right here. Spend some time reading each of these posts and you will never have to ask what a histogram means again.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. Tomorrow I'm back with Podcast Wednesday and will be interviewing Scott Tallyn on flash card and hard drive failure and what to do about it if disaster strikes you. It's a good listen, so be sure to tune in. See ya' tomorrow. -David

Monday, September 22, 2008

"Beauty All Around"

"Beauty All Around"
© David A. Ziser

Here is another one of my favorite images from last week. The interior of Mother of God Church is breathtaking, especially when looking at the ceiling. All the curves of the architecture disguise the apparent distortion of the Sigma Fisheye lens in this image. The primary illumination on the bride's face is coming from the ceiling fixture seen at the middle left of the scene. Camera Specs; Canon 40D fitted with Sigma 8mm Fisheye, F 5.6 @ 1/15 second, ISO 800. Enjoy! -David

Monday Morning Meanderings

Good Morning Everybody,
Well, we wrapped a great class last week with a terrific group of photographers from around the world. I have to say, it is always an honor for me when photographers travel 1000's of miles to attend my Master Class. This time around Stefan from Belgium and Yemmi from Nigeria won the long distance awards. You know, it's the experiences that every class member brings to the mix that makes each class different, exciting, and memorable. I know this class felt the same way - they've already started their own Flickr group to stay in touch.

You know, a lot of people think my class is a wedding class because all you see are bride's and grooms in the majority of imagery. But in reality, it's an advanced lighting class - my models just happen to be brides and grooms. In my class, we discuss how to get the best lighting in some of the most difficult situations. And you know what, just like in any new learning situation, it looks easy on the surface, that is till you try to pull off some of the things demonstrated during the week.

This week, we spent more time with the class shooting than ever before - two days and one evening. But it's more than just shooting, it's learning flattering lighting and composition too. We reviewed each image each class member shoot and I think that played a big part in understanding what we were trying to accomplish during the week. So gang, I'm convinced, more shooting at the next Spring Master Class, April 27-May 1, 2009.

Anyway, I invite you to take a peek at the images from the week's shoot. We ran the gamut of technique from available light, window light, direct sun, on-camera flash, off-camera flash, and on and on and on...

Here's a short Animoto show that recapped the week in pictures. Enjoy!

A Very Sincere Thank You!!!

What else can I say? THANK YOU for the support we receive from my Vendor Buddies and the nearly $3200 in door prizes we gave away last week. WOW it sure adds to the excitement and is a real kick for the class.

I said it during the class, and I'll say it again - I love recommending these products and services from the vendors that support the class. These are the same vendors that I use in my own business and have helped me become successful in this profession over the years.

My relationship with many of them spans several years. I am always happy to recommend and promote the best of the best.

My sincere thanks to:

WPPI - an association I have been associated with since I started my business 30 years ago. This convention is a must. Thanks for the 2 WPPI registrations for the 2009 convention in Las Vegas, February 14-19, 2009. I'll see you there!

LumaPix:FotoFusion - The absolute fastest and best album and project design software on the planet earth. Using this software has saved us thousands of hours in design time.

Zookbinders - makers of the finest wedding albums on the planet. Quality exceptional, service phenomenal and I love to watch the tears of joy and excitement as we present our clients their finished images in the Zook Albums.

NIK Software - Their newly introduced Viveza software along with all their other products are revolutionizing our work flow. If you've got a problem, most likely Nik has a solution.

Canon Cameras - And especially Mary Mannix, our Canon rep who always let's me borrow the lens, radio transmitters, and what ever else I need for the week to enrich the shooting experience.

Marathon Press - Their marketing seminars and supporting products are second to none.

Datacolor - Maker of Spyder3 Pro, my monitor calibration tool of choice - accurate, fast, and easy to use.

Triple Scoop Music - No one does it better than Triple Scoop when it comes to reasonably priced royalty free music. They offer hundreds of selections and the quality is outstanding. Look for the Ziser collection coming soon.

NAPP - Where else would you go to learn Photoshop, Lightroom, or anything Adobe? Another must attend convention! It's a "brain-fry" of latest tips and information but the convention offers a whole lot more--it's fun and exciting to attend.

Kelby Training division is the go to place for "all you can eat" Photoshop, Lightroom, Photography, and more. Their new Kelby on-line training provides step-by-step learning at your fingertips and in the comfort of your home.

Lexjet - My only source for all things ink jet - a great company with great advice and support.

B&H - Some of the best prices anywhere for anything photographic. If you can't find it at B&H it's probably no longer available anywhere. A special thanks to Steve Schwartz from B&H for dropping by this week and provide those extra discounts to the class.

Tallyn's Professional - I've know Scott for over 20 years and Scott knows his stuff. He has the best prices on data recovery and offers a full line of products and services to the professional photographer.

ExpoImaging - Eric knocked digital white balance on it's ear with his introduction of the Expo-disc. It's now the standard easy way to balance your way to perfect color.

Neil Enterprises - Still my favorite choice for self-stick albums, CD and DVD covers and other promotional products that let me promote the heck out of my business. Reasonably priced, outstanding customer service, their catalog is filled with tons items!

Kabota Image Tools - Imaging USA's "Hot Pick" for speeding up your digital workflow with very cool Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets to enhance your images.

And finally a great big THANK YOU to LaDawn, Jennifer, Sharon and Martha who spend untold hours planning and in preparation to pull it all together so that the Master Class week is a wonderful experience for everyone who attends. Thanks you to my assistant Damien that sacrificed a couple of work days to come along and help with the class. Thank you again staff, sponsors and students for a wonderful week.

See everybody tomorrow for a very cool Technique Tuesday. See ya' then, -David

Friday, September 19, 2008

"Afternoon Delight"

"Afternoon Delight"
© David A. Ziser

This image was one the class's favorites that I shot this week. We were moving from one location to another when I decided I might get an interesting image shooting directly into the sun with my bride positioned at the top of the steps. The challenge was to get the proper exposure on her while trying not to go blind in the process. I had my assistant bring my off-camera flash - my trusty Quantum - right into the frame so I had strong enough light to overcome the bright light of the sun. The strobe head was easily removed in Photoshop. By keeping the subject in the "flash sync" portion of the viewfinder, I was able to use a sync speed higher that the native sync speed of the camera. That allowed me to darken the sky even more for the dramatic effect. The on-camera flash provided enough fill to open the very dark shadows created with my off-camera flash giving a quite dramatic and pleasing result. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 10-22mm lens at 10mm, F18 @ 1/400 second, ISO 200. Enjoy! -David

Inspiration Friday: Now's The Time To Say Good-Bye To All The Family...

Good Morning Everybody,
Today we wrap up my Fall 2008 Digital Master Class. It's been a fantastic week for all of us. This time around, I restructured the class to allow for more demonstration shooting time and to allow for everyone to shoot on their own in smaller groups at three locations around the city - a church, outdoors, and an evening location.

This gave the smaller groups more time to practice and allowed me to critique many aspects of lighting situations. They also had the opportunity, to interact, help, suggest, and learn from each other while trying to incorporate the ideas we discussed in class. Reviewing those images helped to bring full circle the concepts discussed in class. Many said it was their favorite part of the week.

I think everyone enjoyed the "Z-Ray" lighting technique I was showing too. I know a lot of blog commenter's have asked what I was using to illuminate the subject in the last two day's image posts. Here is the link to the Brinkman MaxFire Dual Xenon Rechargeable Spotlight flashlight I was using right here. It's a pretty cool little flashlight. I use it a lot not only on my subjects but also when shooting the scene setters at my events. Looks like I'm going to have to work this little wonder into a Technique Tuesday - stayed tuned...

In The Totally Unrelated To Wedding Photography Department

I've mentioned that my Inspiration Friday post can go in any number of different directions and is not always wedding related. Why? Because I truly feel that seeing images totally outside our normal photographic niche gets a different set on "brain juices" pumping up there in our grey matter. Those juices, once flowing, can then trigger us to find more creative perspectives within our own field of endeavor. That said, check out these two sites below.

The first is Troy Paiva's site right here. Troy has been traveling the country for many years photographing what many of us would just pass by without much notice. From abandoned gas stations to old rusty cars. He is doing most of his photography at dusk or at night by the light of the full moon using only flashlights (maybe the Brinkman) and gelled strobes. His imagery gives one a sense we missed something, just out of view, and within these very ordinary objects. Check out any of his 12 galleries - it's a nice image browse. Thanks to Brian Auer over at EpicEdits.com for the heads up on this beautiful site.

I'm leaving you today, with the "mother" of all inspirational photography sites - Pixdaus.com. What an amazing site - about 1500 pages, 25 images per page of outstanding photography like this great image by Artemis. Hey folks, that's 37,500 images! The images cover many genres from landscapes to animals - you are sure to find something you like. I've linked to their most popular images right here. It's a wonderful browse - check it out sometime over the weekend. Hey gang, that's it for me today, class is calling. Have a great weekend and remember, "Pixels need light to live." ;~) See ya' next week. -David

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"Evening Beauty"

"Evening Beauty"
© David A. Ziser

This is one of the images, I made late last night. The sun had completely set and we just had the glow of downtown Cincinnati in the background. I lit our bride with my high powered flashlight. This is becoming one of my favorite lighting techniques these days - and we got this terrific result. Again, since the camera needed to be set to 2800 degrees Kelvin to balance with the flashlight, I got these very cool (no pun intended) blue tonalities throughout the image. I think the background, colors, and expression combined resulting in a quite dramatic image.
Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 70mm, F 4.0 @ 1/6 second - handheld, ISO 800.
Enjoy! -David

Thursday: A Quick Master Class Recap

Wow! Yesterday was a long day. We started at 9:30 a.m. and wrapped shooting at 9:00 p. m. - almost a 12 hour day, but it was well worth it as we shot some really great images. We started things off at Ault Park, one of the most popular parks to shoot wedding images on a Saturday. I've seen up to five wedding parties there on a weekend. There is just so much variety and so many cool features to we can use in our compositions. The class had a great time shooting on there own again and we plan on reviewing those images this morning.

We spent the afternoon , actually till six in the evening, taking "geek" talk - that means we were on our computers all afternoon. I know many class attendees were impressed and amazed with what they saw though. We took about a 30 minute late afternoon break and then headed to Drees Pavilion. It's another amazing location and about the prettiest place in the city for wedding pictures.
The high vantage point of this location looks out majestically over the Ohio River valley for one of the best views of the city. Next week I'll do a recap of all this week's images so you get an idea what I mean - pretty cool stuff. Today, it's on with marketing and sales, kind of a fun section of the week for me since I'm such a sales nut anyway.

We wrap a lot earlier today, 5:30p.m., because it's back to our home this evening for a gourmet dinner, questions and answers and a little more R&R. I think we have many about running on empty (heck, me included) so it will good to recharge the batteries at the end of the day.

So there you have it - the week is going great. It's an amazing group of photographers. The class is enjoying the learning process a bunch, and we are getting some really good images, too.

[B]Business Day Thursday: Where Have All The Customers Gone?

Gone to "soccer" Moms (& Dads), everyone..." - sung to the tune of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone." I'm hearing this way too often anymore. My of my videographer buddies here in Cincinnati was just lamenting exactly the same thing just last week. She was saying she always has about 30 events a year to photography, but this year - hardly any, and the prospects look even worse for next year.

I hear other photographers saying the same thing. I was talking with a wedding photographer about a year ago who was telling me that he generally does about 70 events in a year and so far for the year in question he had 3 events booked. In hearing this story over and over. I had another photographer tell me that his portrait business is really off this year too - his first year ever he had felt the decline.

Here's the scary part folks, the drop in business has not been gradual for these photogs mentioned here - it's been precipitous! We are talking quick business turn down like in the last 6-8 months.

What's the story here? Many want to blame the economy - just look at the stock market these last few days, look at the price of gas for the tank, look at the housing situation - it's fallen through the floor. I have to sat, I don't think this is the problem - I know, you think I'm crazy here - I don't think so. We all weathered the worst of times in this country - I'm talking 9/11 - and business went on pretty much as usual in spite of the national feelings of anger, fear, and uncertainty of that horrible tragedy. So if that was the worst of times for this country, and just about all we photos weathered the storm without much of a problem, what's the problem today?

As I said, the business turn-down has been precipitous for a lot of photography studios out there - what do you think is going on? Sure we have a lot more shooters out there. Sure, people are settling for just "good enough." I'm taking a different tack today for our Business Day Thursday. I'm put out a request to all our readers on this one. I'm asking you to share with our readers what it's like on your end, how's your business? If you've been in business for quite a while, what are you experiencing for 2008 going into 2009. If you are new to the business, what's your experience been for this year? Are photographers serving the higher end client experiencing the same turn-down?

Let me put this into perspective. A lot of the new "emerging" pros are saying, yea, I booking weddings. portraits, seniors - things are great. But let's look more closely here - how great are they - what kind of averages or they hitting, what kind of gross numbers are they hitting. At the end of the day, a photographer shooting a wedding for $500-$800, even a thousand dollars, can't make the mortgage payment, the car payment, and buy shoes for his/her kids with those kind of numbers.

Granted, is a nice bit of extra income, but that in additional to their job. Is our profession going part time these days, it's that the future of photography? What is the reality of the situation here. I'm been interviewing my vendor buddies here in the Cincy area to get their take on it and so far the jury is out for me. I talk to one of the big florists and they tell me that business is down just a bit and they are not seeing as many of the really big jobs. But hotel venues and caterers are busy as can be.

For other parts of our industry, things seem to be fairly stable. It comes down to the reality, that established photographers and videographers are feeling the pain the most. The reasons seem very nebulous for those feeling the pinch. They can't put their finger on it. Heck, if they could, they could do something about it.

Sorry to be on such a downer today, but it is a real problem for a lot of people, and I think many would like to get some kind of perspective on it. So again, I turn to our DigitalProTalk readers for some input - where has your business been, where it it now, and where is it headed for 2009? Please drop me your comments below, I would love to hear from you as would all our readers.

Hey everybody, I've got class starting in just a few minutes, so I've got to run. I'll see everybody tomorrow for hopefully a bit more upbeat post. Anyway, have a good one where ever you are and I'll see you tomorrow. -David

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Shades Of Blue"

"Shades Of Blue"
© David A. Ziser

I captured this image yesterday during our morning shoot. I illuminated the bride with a high powered flashlight and set my camera to 2800K to match the color temperature of the illumination. The blue shades are the result of the ambient daylight flooding the back wall behind the bride. Since the camera was set to 2800K color temperature, the ambient light took on this rich blue color resulting in this unusual composition. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 10-22mm lens at 20mm, F 5.6 @ 1/10 second, ISO 800. Enjoy! -David

Podcast Wednesday That's Really Technique Tuesday

Good Morning Everybody,
Yep, that's right Hurricane Ike has blown Technique Tuesday off course and it landed here on Podcast Wednesday. Hey, no problem, it landed undamaged and I think it's a really good one. I'll have additional time next week as the Master Class will be completed so look for another podcast posted next week.

Wow! We had a great shoot with the class yesterday - that's one of my favorite images I posted above. I'll get a few more up as the week progresses. We wrapped about 6:00 p.m. last night and then all headed over to my home/studio for our day delayed Welcome Party, a little R&R, a tour of my facilities and a review of Tuesday's shoot.

We are heading out again this morning for an outdoor shoot at one of my favorite places here in town and finishing up later this morning at Drees Pavilion over looking the Ohio River valley - one of the prettiest views of the city. I'll see if I can post a prizewinner in tomorrow's post.

Anyway, on with the Wham! Bam! Thank You Ma'am! Glamor Retouching In Lightroom - LaDawn told me it was OK to use that title. So while not being politically correct, I hope you don't find it offensive. This tutorial demonstrates one of my favorite Lightroom techniques we use regularly at the studio. It involves taking a window single-light portrait and transforming it into a breathtakingly gorgeous high key "glamour" image. I just love the finished result.
Lightroom2 is my glamour retouching buddy now. I'm letting Lightroom do a lot of the "heavy retouch lifting" to produce these beautiful, stunning, images. Hit the PLAY button below to see how I accomplish these results.

One For The Road Quick Tip - I Lost My Lightroom Folder :-O

Quick Hit #1; Ever rename a folder and then open it up in Lightroom only to find you have question marks on the folder names. Oh, no - where are they? I just had that exact experience happen to me this weekend and luckily found a quick solution to my problem. Just right click on the "Questionable" folder - the one with the question mark on it and there is your solution. Hit "Find Missing Folder" and re-path your way to the renamed folder, and presto, life is good again.

Quick Hit #2; I found this cool little tutorial by Steve Patterson over at PhotoshopEssentials.com. Steve shows how to add a really cool effect of adding believable light rays coming through tree branches. It's fascinating to see how he gets to his final result. Here is the link. Give it a peek, it's a nice read. Thanks to ImagingInsider for the heads up on this one.

Quick Hit #3; You've probably seen this before over the Strobist's site, but Master Strobist, David Hobby has a really nice article on lighting right here. It features UK photographer, Nick Turpin, who walks you through his lighting set up for cool street portraits. He even throws in a free video. Again, definitely worth the watch.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. We have another big day at class including a morning trip to Ault Park and a night shoot way later on today. I'll plan to see everybody tomorrow, if I get any sleep, that is ;~) See ya' then. -David

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Man Of The Moment"

"Man Of The Moment"
© David A. Ziser

For me, this image is all about the leading lines. The pews closest to the subject are leading directly towards him. Even the pews in the distance, with their direction again pointing towards the subject bring your eye right back to the groom. Notice too how the ceiling lines combine with the pew lines to create a > shape helping to frame the subject within the composition. My subject looks natural, comfortable, masculine and dominate within the composition. Illumination was supplied with a high intensity flash light illuminating just the subject's face with the camera set to color temperature of 2800 Kelvin. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 24-105mm IS lens at 24mm, F5.6 @ 1/50 second, ISO 800. Enjoy! -David

Tuesday: Master Class Mania

Good Morning Everybody,
Well, we are getting back to normal slowly but surely here in the Cincy area. We still have over 500, 000 people without power, that's down from 1,120,000 without power on Sunday! The hotel where we are having the class got power reinstated about 2 p.m. LaDawn and I were one of the lucky ones - we got power restored yesterday about 5:30 p.m. although our large mall right next to us is still without power even this morning. The phone company got our downed telephone lines reconnected about 7 p.m. last night. Like I said, we are pretty lucky.

My buddy and ace #1 assistant Nicholas was not so lucky this weekend, he dropped by Sunday night with his wife and told us of his disaster of a large tree falling on his wife's car
- what a mess. Yep, that's the car and the tree in the photo.
As for the class news, 85 mph winds and airport closings, did not deter our class attendees. Nearly everyone showed up at the darken hotel just as we were relocating to the Omni Netherland Hilton yesterday morning. Stefan from Belgium and Adeyemi from Nigeria had quite the final run to class with all the airport closings and flight cancellations but showed up fresh off the planes about 10 a.m. Anyway, we recollected at the Hilton and had a great first day. We didn't wrap till 6:30 p.m. last night and I know everyone was looking forward to a good nights rest.

Today we are on location all day so I'll share a few images tomorrow. As far as blogging goes this week, the schedule will be slightly different. I'll post Technique Tuesday tomorrow so don't miss that - it's a pretty cool one on Lightroom. It's entitled, "Glamour Shots, Lightroom Style." And I'll post a new podcast next Wednesday since we have the class happening this week. Anyway, still great info for the rest of the week, so stay tuned and read on...

4 Quick Hits For Quick Hit Tuesday - News You Need To Know And Some You Don't

Quick Hit #1: So have you heard the latest - Kodak just introduced, you guessed it - a NEW film. Did I spell film correctly - it's been so long since I've even used the word. Please no emails - just a joke. Anyway, thanks to our super news-hound buddies over at ImagingingInsider.com, I spotted this story on Kodak's new film right here. It's the new KODAK PROFESSIONAL EKTAR 100 Film Provides Photographers with the World’s Finest-Grain Colour Negative Film.

I remember introduction of Ektar film in 1989 - it was touted as the finest grain negative film on the market back then, and it really was, but only ISO 25. I used it on a trip to Egypt and got some super results with it. So, film shooters, unite and give it a try. I'd love to join ya' but I no longer own a film camera. Why? Because friends don't let friends shoot film. OK, OK - it was a joke! But I still like it ;~)

Quick Hit #2: Hey, while we are on the subject of film, you have to check out my Cincy blogging buddy, Jim Talkington's post comparing film vs. digital quality - here is the link. I thought it was a nice experiment. Be sure to read his links of interest that follow the article too - good info. While we are on the subject of film and resolution, check out my in depth article I posted last February "How Many Pixels Does It Take To Make A Face?" where I discuss resolution issues as they pertain to wedding photographers shooting wedding party groups. Here is the link. It fits right in with Jim's article and links. Quick Hit #3: So brand the new cameras are all the rage these days!! We had the introduction of Canon's new 50D - looks cool to me. And also, Nikon's introduction of their hot little number, the D90 with Hi-Def video built right in. The best scoop I've seen on this camera to date has been the Chase Jarvis post on Nikon's new D90 right here - give it a read and watch the video too. Nikon fans will love it and Canon shooters (yours truly) will be drooling. Thanks to uber blogger David Hobbie at the Strobist for the original "heads up" on the article.
But no worries, we Canon guys and gals have the new Canon 5D MkII (7D or what ever) lurking right around the corner. Just check out our friends over at rumor mill central - 1001 Noisy Cameras for the latest skinny on Canon's new camera destined to take over the world - here is the link, but you will need to polish up on your French just a bit.

Heck, I even heard 100 mega-pixels, sync to 1/5000 second, ISO 500,000, 2 hours of Hi-Def video built right into the camera, mind control to set ISO, shutter speed, and F-stops. OK, I'm probably exaggerating just a bit, but you know folks, it only gets cheaper, faster, and better for us photogs - long live the "Digital Revolution!"

Quick Hit #4: One last thing before I head off to class - let's talk sensor cleaning. Every now and then we need to clean the sensor - it's usually long over due when we get around to it and it's mostly because we don't want to take a chance on messing anything up. Well, this morning you have come to the right place to get the best and most thorough advice on the subject. I was cruising one of my favorite sites over the weekend - ByThom.com - Nikon centric, but full of general info on all things digital. Thom Hogan, the author of the site, ran an in-depth article on sensor cleaning right here. What do I mean by "In-Depth?" I mean over 5000 words! on the subject. It is really a complete discussion on the subject and worth printing off and filing away with your camera manual. By the way, check out the rest of Thom's site too - he's been around quite a while and has volumes of info in his archives.

Hey gang, that's it for me today, I just heard the school bell ring and class starts in just a few. I'll see everybody tomorrow for a very cool Technique Tuesday: Glamour Retouching In Lightroom. See ya' then. -David