Monday, August 31, 2009

"All You Need Is Love"

Love "All You Need Is Love" 
©David A. Ziser

Here is a really fun image from this past weekend's wedding. Near the end of the evening, I asked four of the wedding party members to volunteer for this shot.  I gave each of them a small LED flash-light. I picked up these inexpensive flash lights at Micro Center for a buck each.  Each person traced out the letter during the 5 second time exposure.  I queued my assistant to flash them with my Quantum at the end of the exposure. Just a fun shot that I believe the couple will really enjoy.  Camera specs; Canon 5D Mark II fitted with 24-105mm IS lens at 35mm, F22 @ 5 seconds, ISO 1250. Enjoy!  -David

Quick Hit Monday: Brand New Canon Rumors; Some Cool Tutorials; More Lightroom Plug Ins; and More

Good Morning Everybody,

First things first today.  We kick off our Digital WakeUp Call tour again next week - here is the link to all the info right here.  Digital WakeUp Call1 Our first stops are Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Kansas City and LaDawn is looking for volunteers to help her out with set up, registration and tear down.  Please drop her a note at ladawn@ if you would like to help.

Well, we survived the weekend.  After getting back from Vail and Aspen  last Thursday evening and running like a madman to get all the gear ready to go for the big wedding weekend shoot.  Jason and Adam - both from Kelby Media flew in from Tampa to join us for the wedding celebration.  We headed over to the bride's home and had a nice visit with the bride’s parents about the following day's wedding.

Wedding Shoot The wedding went GREAT.  What a day we had for shooting – cooler than normal almost perfect weather, beautiful blue skies, white puffy clouds and great families to work with.

I mentioned last week that my client, who was the daughter of my cousin, by the way, had gladly agreed to have Jason an Adam video me photographing the wedding.  It went great. 

My bride and groom got some great images, and we got some great video for the first and only Kelby Training "Live Wedding Video Shoot."  I can't wait to see the finished result.  It will be several weeks, but I will keep you posted. It will be one rockin' video!

Yesterday, we headed to downtown Cincy for - get this - an ad shoot of yours truly.  I can't spill the beans yet, but you should see the ad in the trade magazines in about a month.  If I can spill the news earlier, I will. OK, I'll give you a little hint. After we printed off the proofs of the shoot, well - all I can say  - is that my staff now works for a super hero boss;~)

I've got one more project in the works too.  There are 16 top photogs from around the country putting together this massive audio marketing webinar - you will hear more about that in about two weeks.  I was putting together my 55 minute segment but some how have to edit my 190 bullet points down to something more manageable for the program. If I get that project behind me I might even get a day off by the end of the week - that would be SO sweet!

Anyway, that's the latest - so let's get to Quick Hit Monday.  Here we go...

New Canon Rumors

Canon 7D That's right folks, the Canon rumors about a new Canon 7D are flying everywhere.  Here is the latest link I found earlier today over at Wired right here with some of the details. The new camera is looking good to me.  Don't you love it when the big guys are battling it out for market share. It sure makes the photogs winners, doesn't it?

Oh, BTW, here are a two more Rumor links you can check out too.

Photography Bay's story right here and 1001 Noisy Cameras right here. The news just gets you itching to see what's up doesn't it?

Check Out These Tutorials

Julieanne Studio Every couple of weeks I like to check in on John Nack's Adobe blog.  He always has some nice tips and tricks and news you just can't find anywhere else.

On this visit I found some short and sweet tutorials by famed wedding photographer, Marcus Bell.  My favorite video link he posted is the one by Julieanne Kost, 20 minutes on cool Lightroom tips - always fun, funny, and informative.  Here is the link to the tutorials - well worth the peek.  Be sure to check out the set Julieanne gets to use for her training.  I can't wait for the day when I've got that kind of set up here at Digital ProTalk ;~)

And A few More For The Road - Light Painting and More

After planning to post my light painting post as my pic of the day, I found the Chase Jarvis tutorial on "HIP HOP" light painting - fun and funny, check it out right here.  My technique is the same - we have a little less HOP than Chase - but just as HIP.

Imagenomics Announces Portraiture For Lightroom

Portraiture Two I have always liked this program for quick retouching touch ups.  The good news - now it works in Lightroom.  This is like way cool news.  One less trip to PS to get the job down quickly.  Here is the link to Imagenomics site for all the info.

Another Cool 5D Mk2 Video

And lastly, check out another cool video over at Jeremy Cowart's Photography blog right here. It was made with the Canon 5D Mark II - pretty cool. Thanks to Rick Wenner, one of our DPT readers for the link.

One More Parting "Wedding" Shot

Karl Bratby Check out Karl Bratby's latest post from his wedding this weekend right here.  Karl hails from England and does some amazing wedding photography. I love his use of color.  Karl has offered to do a guest blog here at DPT. We are discussing topics right now.  I'll keep you posted.

Hey gang, that's it for me today - got to run.  Plan to visit tomorrow for a new Technique Tuesday entitled, "I've Got Ansell Adams In A Box".  See ya' then,  -David

Friday, August 28, 2009

"A Little Color By The Side Of The Road"

Roadside Color2-0133_Vail-Aspen Z09 "A Little Color By The Side Of The Road" 
©David A. Ziser

We were heading from Vail Colorado over to Aspen this past Tuesday early afternoon. LaDawn was driving, or was it flying down the road?  We flew past this barn, she hit the brakes, and asked me to take a photograph of it.  I probably took about a dozen, but this one was my favorite.  The rich, vibrant colors of the red barn stands in stark contrast to the green foliage behind it.  The rustic nature of the old wind mill further adds to the pleasing, simple composition of the shot.  Camera specs; Canon 50D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 70mm, F6.3 @ 1/160 second, ISO 200. 

Enjoy!  -David

Inspiration Friday - Getting The Creative Juices Flowing

Good Evening Everybody,

Man, this day almost got away from me again. We've got a brand new project happening here at the studio - it's called "Hot Shots".  The idea is to show a series of 25 images in the set, and describe what it took to put the image together. 

Lost In The Moment-0169-KT-1280px-Day1-IMG_4428 We are starting the project with a three series set so in other words 75 images.  Set 1- Lighting; Set 2- Lenses and Which One To Use and When; and Set 3- Composition.  Pulling all the images has taken over a week and now we are building the lighting, lenses, and composition diagrams for each image - not a task for the "faint of heart". 

Next, we will add the text to each image describing how it all came together.  It's an ambitious project, but it's going to make a great portable resource for all the working photographers. The project goes to the printer on Monday.  Yep, even with the wedding and the Kelby Training shoot this weekend, we will be burning the midnight oil to complete the project.

I just reviewed the images in all three sets and they look Great!.  The printer's proofs looked terrific too! I can't wait to see the finished result.

I'm inspired by what I was looking at, let me get you guys and girls inspired too.  Here we go...

Getting The Creative Juices Flowing

While in Vail last week, we had the opportunity to visit the "Farmer's Market" in both Minturn and Vail Village.  I know, "Farmer's Market and Vail Village don't seem to go together with all the gazillion dollar real estate everywhere, but it was still a nice stroll with so many artists showing their work.

Me, I'm always attracted to the photographers at these kind of shows and last weekend was the same.  I wasn’t disappointed, as there was some nice work to be seen.

Now I know what some of you are thinking, "What, David isn't talking about wedding photography today?" Well, I am and I'm not.  Here is my thinking.  Sometimes we've got to get out of our "element" and explore other works of art and different genres of photography just to get those parts of our brains exercised a bit.  That's what looking at "non wedding" images does for me.

Let me share with you the work of some very talented photographers I saw at the show.

Threeamigos The first was Crabtree Photoworks with Michael Crabtree, a local artist from right up the road from Vail in Eagle, Colorado.  Michael has been producing some fabulous images of the area for a number of years.  I was taken by his images of horses - being a Kentucky boy and all.  But, his landscapes were beautiful too.  Here is the link to his work right here.

TAylor - columbines The second set of images that caught my eye was the work of Steve Taylor.  The colors in his work just blew me away. Beautiful doesn’t begin to explain it. Check out his gallery right here - it's a feast for the eyes.

Next we stopped at Dale Harp's displayDAle HarpOnce more, the imagery was breathtaking.  Dale's landscapes were beyond comparison at the show.  Here is the link to his on-line gallery right here.

Next, we stopped at the most interesting display of all. Jennifer O'Meara was displaying her very creative images in window panes, yes, window panes.  The look the window panes gave to the images was truly different making both the art and it's presentation a single work to be studied and explored on its own.

Omerea Jennifer was combining her photography and watercolor painting, with Photoshop of course, to produce her truly creative and again very beautiful work. Here is the link to her gallery right here.  Don't forget to check out her "Barn" images right here

There is just something about here imagery that really turns me on.  Visually, it is so simple, but esthetically it just takes my breath away with her simple, colorful, somewhat abstract compositions. Incredible - I just feel a real sense of peace viewing the images.

Hey gang, that's it for me for a another late posting day  at Take some time to view the galleries this weekend.  I think you will love the work.

I just called Jason and Adam from Kelby Media and I'm heading out to pick them up so we can do a few site surveys for tomorrow's wedding. Everybody have a great weekend and I'll see you on the flip-side.  Till then, -David

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Maroon Bells"

Maroon Bells-IMG_6673 "Maroon Bells" 
©David A. Ziser

Yesterday we headed over to one of the most beautiful areas in the Aspen area – Maroon Bells.  I grabbed this shot as we were walking around this pristine crystal clear lake at the foot of the mountains.  I opened the image in Lightroom, tweaked the colors, but wasn’t happy with the grey rocks left from an earlier avalanche on the left side of the image.  The shallow, crystal clear water also gave the reflection of the clouds a brownish cast since you could see through the clear water to the muddy bottom of the lake. My solution, change it to black and white to solve the color issues then tweak the color channels in b&w mode in Lightroom to enhance the tonalities of the image.  That gave me the completed image I wanted. Camera Specs; Canon 50D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 18mm, F10 @ 1/160 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

p.s. Business Day Thursday post coming later today.  -David

Business Day Thursday: The Bunny Rabbit Approach To Marketing

Good Evening Everybody,

Wow, what a day we had yesterday in the Rockies. We headed over to Maroon Bells, made the 3 ½ mile hike, and got some great shots like the one above. I can't wait to sort through all the rest of the images I shot. Today we head home and then things blast off for the weekend.

I'm photographing my cousin's daughter's wedding this weekend and we have the Kelby Training Team, Jason and Adam, coming up to videotape me photographing a wedding. They arrive tomorrow about 3:00 p.m. It will be a first for Kelby Training and I can't wait to see how it comes out! It should be a “kick in the pants” video.

I've got a few more projects to complete over the weekend, but I'm keeping them under wraps for now – stay tuned;~) Let’s get on with today's late post.

The Bunny Rabbit Approach To Marketing

group of bunnies I started this post in the car on the way from Aspen, Colorado to the Denver airport.

Bright skies and twisting roads made it a bit more of a challenge than I had anticipated. I thought we might be on one of the new Wi-Fi equipped Delta jets, but that was not the case either. Hence the very late, but always penitent Business Day Thursday post.

Anyway, here we go...

How would you feel if everywhere your clients looked, they would see the name of your business? That would be cool wouldn't it? Well, let me tell you how you can make that happen.

Most of us are operating small businesses and always looking for new ways to get our name and our brand in front of our customers' eyes. Most of us don't work with big ad agencies and have the luxury of a huge advertising budget. Fortunately, there have been some great books published – one of my favorites - Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson – have offered wonderfully simple ideas for smaller entrepreneurs to spread the word about their businesses.

Today I want to share with you an experience I had years ago that shows just how simply one company used Bunny Rabbit Marketing to get their name in front of every one of their contacts and clients every single day of the week. Their marketing plan was utterly simple, inexpensive to implement, and wonderfully effective in producing the desired result.

Hit the “Read More...” link below for the rest of the story.

Here is the story. My friend Denis Reggie and I were scheduled to present a series of seminars around the United States in 1990. Our program was entitled, “Engaged In Excellence”. It was sponsored by Eastman Kodak and Hasselblads USA just to name a few of the sponsors. It turned out to be the most successful wedding photography seminar series of the year.

Anyway, putting a major lecture series together takes a lot of time and resources to pull it off. The script had to be written, the show had to be produced, and the presentation to be rehearsed.

We were working with a company in Rochester New York – Visual In Sietz. They were creating all the visual support for the program.

Pens - 478 I can still remember getting my first letter from Bob Sietz, the owner of the company. I opened the envelope and four ball point pens fell onto my desk. Each pen was a different color and shape and I thought, “These would be handy to have around the studio.” Heck, they were free and we can always use some extra pens.

I forwarded Bob what he needed for the presentation and it wasn't 10 days later when I received a second request from Visual In Sietz. Once again I remember opening the envelope and having three or four more pens drop out of the envelope. Each pen was inscribed with the company name, Visual In Sietz, and their phone number. I thought, “Great, more pens.”

Well, the project took about 8 weeks to complete and Denis and I had received many communications from Visual In Sietz. Needless to say, we had “Visual In Sietz” pens everywhere. They were multiplying like rabbits!!

I remember by the time the project was nearing completion we had around 100 Visual In Sietz pens in every size and shape all over my home, my office, my studio, next to every telephone, on my staff's desks….. Where ever you looked you saw one of Bob's company pens.

To this day, 19 years later, I still remember the name of the company and it's owner. The phone number is a faded memory but Bob's simple marketing idea was never forgotten. How can we use Bob Sietz' bunny rabbit marketing idea to keep our name in front of our contacts and customers?

Why couldn't each of us use Bob's “pen attack” in our own businesses? It's simple, easy, and cost effect. There are plenty of places online that sell personalized pens from $.10 each up to a couple of dollars each. I suggest finding a vendor to offer a fairly wide variety of pen choices in a fairly reasonable $.10-$.25 per pen category. Now order 1000 of them.

Every time a client or potential client contacts you, follow up that contact with a short note and a few pens with your studio name and phone number on them. Send notes and pens for inquiry calls, confirmation notes, thank you notes – send pens with every written communication with every customer – no exceptions.

In no time your client too will become the victim of your own “pen attack.”  Your studio's name and phone number will be on their kitchen tables, on their work desks, next to the computers, and in their jacket pockets and purses.

You know, we always think it's a nice idea to sign our work, give our client a little gift for doing business with us, and sending thank you cards, etc. but the “pen attack” puts a whole different slant on keeping your name in front of your customer.

A pen is something we all use every single day. If those pens have your studio name and phone number on them, the client can't help to not remember you. Now every time your client reaches for a pen, and you have been diligent about getting those pens to rapidly multiply like bunny rabbits so they are everywhere, you create another mental impression of your studio with your client every time they just see your pens in a desk drawer or a pen jar.

Who else is your contact and customer going to think of first when they need a photography project completed. They have an easy  reminder of your name and phone number with your pens everywhere.

The good news is that this idea doesn't break the bank, it can be fun, and quite effective.

I still giggle today about all those pens we collected from Visual In Sietz – and that was almost 20 years ago!

Hey gang, that's it for me today. It's 8:00 p.m. And we just got off the plane and back home. It’s time for an adult beverage and some dinner. See everybody tomorrow for Inspiration Friday. Adios, -David

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Aspen High"

Aspen High-IMG_6533 "Aspen High" 
©David A. Ziser

On our drive from Vail, Colorado we drove along Independence Pass and wound our way down the mountains heading to Aspen.  As we got closer to the city of Aspen we passed the by this wonder glen of of Aspen trees.  I jumped out of the car and started shooting away.  This is a quick image I pulled from the shoot.  I love the tonalities and textures in this image.  The "verticals" of the Aspens softened and broken up by the leaves created a simple composition of these natural elements.  Camera specs; Canon 50D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 100mm, F5.6 @ 1/160 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Open Day Wednesday - Canon 5D Video Day

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Independence Pass We made the drive across Independence Pass on our trek to Aspen yesterday.  The views were gorgeous!  Just as we were getting close to Aspen, we passed by some beautiful Aspen groves and I was able to capture some great shots of these amazing trees.

Today is an easy day with friends before we head out bright and early tomorrow morning for the drive back to Denver and catch the flight home.  Then it's "pedal to the metal" with the tour kicking off in just about 10 days.  Lots of cool projects in the works - I'll keep you posted over these next couple of days.

Today is going to short and sweet. That was my promise to LaDawn if I wanted to keep our marriage together;~)  So here we go...

Canon 5D Video Day

I'm really trying to get my head around all the video capabilities of Canon's 5D Mark II.  There are  many photographers producing some great videos, from simple to super sophisticated. So today, If you are into the still/video fusion possibilities of these cool new cameras I want to point you towards some great resources for your consideration.

Best Dynamic Range For 5D Mk II Video

ProLost Stu Maschwitz at has a nice informational piece on how to get the maximum dynamic range out of your videos created using the Canon 5D Mark II.  Here is the link.  He has another post about how to shoot the 5D Mk II in "manual" mode too.  Here is that link right here. Good stuff, great info at - so check it out.

Shooting the 5D Remotely With Your iPhone

On One has some content to help you get the most out of the camera.  On-One Software introduced an App for the iPhone that lets you use the iPhone to fire the 5D MkII remotely [link]. has an in-depth review on just how it works - all pretty interesting.  Give it a read right here.  And, here is the follow up post right here - also worth the read. I've bought the gear to give it a try, so I'll give you my thoughts once I'm up and running with it.

Practical Video Shooting With The 5D Mk II

A few weeks ago I posted what I thought was a really interesting 5D Mk II video.  Some of our DPT readers thought it was just a bit over the top.  What struck me was the complexity and sophistication of the finished result.  Here is the link again if you missed it.

Still MotionTo day, let me point you towards a more practical application of the 5D Mk II's video capabilities for us wedding/portrait guys.  The videos are posted at Vimeo's StillMotionFilms channel right here.  There are several videos posted from engagement sessions to weddings.  I think they will give you a good idea on how you may incorporate the technology into your studio product mix. I think these videos offer the beginnings of a simple road map to get you up and running too.  Anyway, check it out - more cool stuff.

Hey gang, that's it for me today.  We've hangin' here in Aspen today and just taking it easy.  I'll plan to see everybody tomorrow for another Business Day Thursday  - all the pixels willing.  See ya' then,  -David

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

“River Of Dreams”

River of Dreams-0262_Kelby Training Cincy Z08

"River Of Dreams"
©David A. Ziser

When shooting at the Marriott River Center in Northern Kentucky, I always try to pull off this shot.  The City of Cincinnati, the Ohio River, the historical Roebling Suspension Bridge in the background all come together as a wonderful background for the couple in this shot.  Look how the implied lines of the city, river, bridge, and railing all lead the eye to the couple who I have positioned in the bottom right quadrant of the image. The strong composition, rich blue sky (thanks to a little Lightroom), and great expressions on the couple’s faces makes for a great addition to any wedding album.  Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 10-22mm lens at 14mm, F 5.6 @ 1/200 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Technique Tuesday: A Peek On How To See - Brides and Groom's Around London - Part 2

Good Morning Everybody,

Composition2 Final specs on the Vail wedding these past four days - 28 hours of shooting, 5700 images, and lots of tired muscles. But, a great weekend it was, a beautiful bride, handsome groom, loving family and friends made the celebration fun and memorable.

I took a quick look at the images we shot over the weekend and loved the results.  I got this great idea about doing kind of a highlight recap of the wedding, pointing out what was going through my mind as I put the entire coverage together for my couple.  I think you will enjoy what I've got planned so stay tuned.

Today we head over to Aspen to visit some good friends for a day or two.  Postings might be a little later in the day, but after this past weekend, LaDawn and I need a little recharge of the ol' batteries. Heck, you might even see a "Rocky Mountain High" image or two. 

Anyway, let get on with today's post.

Brides and Groom's Around London - Part 2

Last week I ran one of my favorite tutorials on composition. Here is the link again. Just scroll down a bit to get to the video. I was going to post a new video today but I thought, "Heck, last week's lesson was a two part series and I would be remiss if I didn't point you to the second part this week."

I asked many times how I "see" a shot and "design" my finished image.  These two tutorials are kind of the "secret handshake" to how my brain works in that department. (Heck if anyone figures out how DAZ’s brain works – let me know…LaDawn) Give them both a view and a review and go out and see if the concepts presented  don't enhance your images regardless of your subject matter.  Hit the PLAY button below and enjoy the show.

Hey gang, that's it for me today.  Hotel check out is just minutes away and we've got to hit the road.  One last thing, don't forget to check out the Digital Resource Center "Specials" Jennifer has put together for this week - some "hot" items and some very "cool" prices - see the next post.  On that note, gang, we are westbound and down.  See ya' tomorrow hailing from Aspen.  Adios, -David

Digital Resource Center Specials!

Zumbrella3Webinars After last week's Webcast, Jennifer decided to put together a few store specials  at the Digital Resource Center for our DPT readers. Here's the specials she put together - all a pretty darn good deal at nearly 50% off the regular retail value.

1. My super popular Zumbrella with all three Webinars - over 5 hours of great lighting and photography information.  Here is the link right here.

2. My Zumbrella together with my latest Webinar "Let my Light Shine On" (almost 2 hours long) and my "Shooting At The Speed Of Light" 60 minute DVD - another great combo.  Here is the link.

3. My Zumbrella and my latest Webinar "Let my Light Shine On".  Here is the link right here.

If you missed any of the Webcasts, they were chocked full of information and images and a great resource for any wedding/portrait photographer.  These three presentations offer a clear road map to anyone wanting to take their photography to the next level.  Check them out and see if it's a good fit for your photography.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"Looking To Heaven"

Looking To Heaven-0301-Training - IMG_3276 "Looking To Heaven"
©David A. Ziser

I captured this image a few weeks ago while working on some more training videos. We were wrapping the shoot at beautiful Mother of God church and I decided to pull out my fisheye lens for one last shot. I was nearly sitting on the floor to get the angle I wanted.  The soaring pillar behind the bride carries the "viewer's eye" directly to the beautiful ceiling of the church.  Although a portrait of the bride, it's the church's architecture that carries the composition.  Camera specs; Canon 50D fitted with 8mm Sigma Fisheye lens, F6.3 @ 1/25 second, ISO 1250. Enjoy!  -David

Quick Hit Monday: Lighting, Lighting, and More Lighting

Good Morning Everybody,

Vail Wow! What a weekend and I've still have the Brunch to shoot this morning.  Here is a quick "play by play" of the weekend.  We arrived safe and sound on Friday, made the beautiful 2 hour drive from Denver over to Vail, and took a few minutes to get settled into the historic Lodge At Vail hotel before scouting out the town. Boy, it is beautiful in the summer time

We joined  family and friends for dinner Friday evening and I was able to capture some fun shots of everyone coming together and begin gearing up for the wedding weekend.  Saturday was a light day until the fun, western themed rehearsal dinner at the famous Saloon in Minturn - a watering hole for many famous faces over the years.  I scoped out the hotel and surrounds for some great locations so I' was ready for the wedding on Sunday.

Well, the best laid plans.... We got a great start on the wedding Sunday . Great images of the bride while my assistant cover the groom and the groomsmen. Next we were scheduled to photograph all the groups outside starting at 3:00 p.m. Well, the sky opened upwith a BIG down pour of rain  about 3:30 p.m. and we were quickly into Plan B mode moving the photos into the hotel restaurant . The restaurant staff was amazing in moving around tables and chairs to open a large enough space to accommodate photographing the groups. It was truly no problem and we were still able to capture some nice images.

I thought the coolest part of the wedding planning was the fact that the bride and groom had hooked up a "video link" with some relatives and grandparents that were unable to travel to Vail for the wedding.  One of the groomsmen kept the Mac Book web-cam on all the Ketubah signing action for the long distant relatives and grandparents' enjoyment.  I hope to get the rest of the story today. Don't you love technology?

Grants Oakes2 My special thanks to Grant Oakes who came in from Denver to assist on the shoot.  Grant is a very talented photog whom I have known for several years. His images will be a great addition to the coverage. Grant, whom I've mentioned  before is the force behind - a super easy website design resource for any photog who wants a site that is quick and easy to set up and keep updated.  Here is the Tafota link.  Hey Grant - A great BIG "Thank You" once again.

On that note....

OK gang, now it's time to get to Quick Hit Monday. Here we go...

Quick Hit Monday: Lighting, Lighting, and More Lighting

I feel I'm on so many mailing lists that I can't get through it all sometimes.  Don't get me wrong, that's a good thing - there are just so many sources of good information available.  I try to bring you the cream of the crop here at DPT.  That is no exception today.  Let me tell you what we've got going on this week - please read on.

Prairie Fire Productions - A New Kid On  The Block

I've been on Stephen J. Herzberg's newsletter for quite a while and love the content he shares.  Well, it seems Steve is joining the force of Photo Bloggers and has just started 

Prairie Fire ContrastsHe already has some good content on his new site for example; a great article from Dean Collins’ DVD on 3 Dimensional Contrasts.  This is an in depth article which should be a must read for all photogs.

I had the honor of studying with Dean years ago and loved his systematic, logical approach to lighting.  Check out Steve's site and his posts right here. It's a very nice read that brought back lots of memories for me. Well worth it.

Wait, Another New Kid On The Block Too!

Courvoisier Jerry Courvoisier, the former Digital Programs Director at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops for 14 years has just fired up his new site too.  Jerry has put together some educational as well as inspirational content too.  Just check out his very solid first 5 Photoshop/Lightroom/Photography posts right here

I love his article on using your flatbed scanner for creating fine art images - here is the link. Hey, Jerry, way to go - hope to see a lot more from you real soon!

Who Says There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch?

Quantum Lessons Well, I'm about to point you to one right now.  That's right. my good buddies at Quantum are offering a free DVD featuring how to use their ever popular T5D flash and their newly introduced Trio flashes.  The DVD was produced by Will Crocket of - Will always does a great job on his videos. Here is the link to your free DVD right here.

Now you might be saying, "Hey, I don't own a Quantum." Hey gang, it about the light and there is ton's of lighting info on this DVD. Request your copy now - like they say "As long as supplies last." You can't go wrong.  Heck, you might even want to pick up my favorite flash, the Quantum, after seeing his DVD:~)

McNally's At It Again!

Joe McNally Article I just saw the article in the latest issue of  They featured a nice piece about master of light location - light expert, Joe McNally.  Man, it’s a long article, but fun to read complete with Joe's wit and wisdom generously sprinkled throughout.  Give it a read right here.  Want more of Joe, check out his blog right here.  Way to go Joe!

Hey gang, that's it for me today.  I'm shooting the Monday wedding brunch in just a few minutes and need to get going.  Plan to check in tomorrow of another great on location Technique Tuesday video.  I think you will enjoy it!  See ya' then, -David

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Urban Mosaic"

Uban Angles "Urban Mosaic" 
©David A. Ziser

OK,I was going to post a wedding image today, but the early wake up call just wouldn't let it happen. I like this image pretty much though.  From the 29th floor of our hotel, we were looking directly down onto the walkway to the San Diego Convention Center.  The geometric shapes were quite intriguing to me.  The warm tones of the walkway complimented the cooler tones of the  triangular structures on the right side of the image.  The long telephoto shot flattened the shapes giving me an image where only the angles and shapes remained to create this urban mosaic.  Camera specs; Canon 50D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 155mm, F5.6 @ 1/160 second, ISO 640.  Enjoy!  -David

Food For Thought Friday - Are You Stealing Your Material?

Good Morning Everybody,

The Vail Lodge Well, today we head out bright and early to fly into Denver Colorado and then on to Vail for my wedding celebration this weekend at the Lodge At Vail – a gorgeous location.

We've got about four days of shooting, but Sunday is the big day where we be cranking for about 12 hours at 8,000 feet shooting the wedding for some of my favorite clients.

This will be the fourth shoot for me with the family.  I photographed the Bar/Bat Mitzvahs of both children several years ago, and photographed the daughter's wedding just a few years ago.  This weekend I am photographing the  son's wedding.  Vail is one of their most favorite places in the country.  I was thrilled to get the call to shoot the event for the them. 

Anyway, I'll fill you in on Monday. Hey, let's get on with today's post. Here we go...

Food For Thought Friday - Are You Stealing Your Material?

Last Friday I posted a piece about how to be a good student when attending seminars, workshops, and classes. I thought it would have generated a bit more "comment" activity. Thanks to those who did comment, I always appreciate hearing your thoughts and insights.  Maybe the article was too long to read, but I felt strongly about it and thought it was an important post.  If you want to give it a quick read, you can find it right here.

Theif2 - iStock_000004755173XSmall Anyway, what I learned that week with Rocky Gunn was not the end of the story.  Here is the rest of the story. During that week, we had a beautiful couple who was posing for us or rather Rocky. Each of the class was going to receive Rocky's top 50 images for the week.  That was like a really BIG thing - we got a chance to take a bit of Rocky home with us so we could study his images, refresh our memories and eventually take our own photography to the next level. 

Sure, everybody was shooting over Rocky's shoulder to try to capture the shot. Everybody had their cameras blazing taking photographs of the couple. I remember at one point Rocky found a spectacular location, posed the bride and groom into a beautiful composition.  Next, he grabbed a 40mm Distagon lens super wide angle lens and placed it on his Hasselblad.

Wow! In my camera bag I had the identical lens - a $6000 optic that only a few photogs even owned. I quickly attached it to my camera. I watched how Rocky framed the shot. I framed the image identically and I took the shot. I thought, “Wow that shot will make a great sample print for me when I get home.”

Here is the rest of the story. After getting back home, I couldn't wait to get my film off to the lab.  It would only be a few weeks till I got the proofs back I was able to see my results.

Anyway, they finally arrived and I started looking through MY (emphasis on purpose)  images.  There was – the shot – the most beautiful shot that Rocky had done all week. Yes, I was holding a nearly perfect replica of Rocky's gorgeous shot in my hands that I had taken! 

My intent was to have this negative enlarged to a 30” x 40” photograph, frame it, and hang it in my studio as the example of MY (emphasis again) work. Don't ask me exactly what happened at this point. Maybe it was my photographic guardian angel sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear saying, "But David you didn't take that shot.  Rocky set it up and you copied the shot. It wasn't your original creative thought. Why do you think making a large wall sized portrait is representative of your work - it's not.  It's still Rocky's shot!"

Well, the words my little photographic guardian angel in my head hit me in a profound way.  It was at that moment that I realized that I had indeed copied the shot. It wasn't my original idea or composition. It was not my shot at all.

I quietly reinserted the negative back into the negative glassine and placed it back into the envelope with all the negatives from the week. I never printed any of those negatives up for samples. They were filed away. And to this day I have no clue where those negatives are.

If I had decided to make up the samples, I would have been stealing - I guess the correct term is plagiarizing Rocky's work.  What credit is that to my own creativity and ability as a wedding photographer - the answer is none. What was important to me that special week was that I learned what Rocky was doing. I was able to take his lessons and let them mix with my own creative juices.  That combination of creativity has allowed me to create an image that I could call uniquely my own.

There are lots of students out there shooting over the Masters shoulders.  Many students think they are there for the Master to set up the images so they can shoot the shot  to what - call it their own for their "portfolio" images. Folks, nothing could be more unethical. 

It's not about copying the work of the Master.  It's about learning the techniques from the Master, blending and mixing them with your own creative processes, and then truly producing an original work on your own. 

My best advice to every "student" reading this is to, with the teachers permission, time sync your camera to his/her camera and shoot wide-angle overall views of whatever they are doing. In my classes, I always give the students a class CD with all the my favorite images I shot from the week. Their time synced overviews with my favorite shots gives them a wonderful learning tool whereby then can revisit the week anytime they want and study any of the shots I've put together.

What an efficient way to ramp up learning if indeed you are trying to emulate the work of somebody you truly admire in the profession. When I was attending classes - back in the film days, we never had that kind of luxury. In today's digital world, every student today has the luxury of learning more quickly, the ability to fine-tune our techniques, and become a much better photographers in your own right if you make the effort.

It's not about copying the master, it's about you becoming a master.

Food for thought--

Hey gang, we've got a plane to catch bright and early today.  We land in Denver about 10 a.m. and then head to Vail for Sunday's wedding. I hope the snow pixels are ready to boogie this weekend!  I can't wait to get there and get shooting.  I'll keep you posted on how things went next week.  Until then, have a wonderful weekend and I'll see ya' on Monday.  -David

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Into The Sunset"

Into The Sunset "Into The Sunset" 
©David A. Ziser

I made this image while in San Diego last week.  We had returned from an early day and were just relaxing in our hotel room.  The sun was starting to set and as I looked out our hotel window from the 29th floor, I saw this small sail boat crossing the beam of light on the water.  I quickly grabbed the camera, waited for the boat to get near the edge of the light's reflection in the water and shot away.  I believe, the positioning of the sail boat in the composition adds to the impact of the photograph.  The design elements of the image are  minimum.  This image is all about color, contrasts, and motion. Camera specs; Canon 50D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 200mm, F10 @1/800, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Business Day Thursday: Wal-mart vs. Nordstrom Customers - Who's Your Market?

Good Afternoon Everybody,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Wow, we had a great time last night with my "Let My Light Shine On" webinar. Thank you everyone for the "rave" reviews. The presentation went a little longer than the scheduled 90 minutes - almost two hours - but heck, just that much more "bang for the buck."

We had about 95 people in the audience and ton's of questions from the participants.  What I loved about the presentation was the fact that I had Nicholas standing by fielding all the questions and answering ALL Of THEM with the exception of the one's he passed on to me. 

If you missed it and would still like to get in on all the information I covered, you can head on over to the Digital Resource Center [link] and download your own personal copy.  It's a great resource for anyone wanting to take their outdoor photography to the next level.

Because the presentation is in "real" time it certainly brings a sense of spontaneity to the the presentation for all, including me. I've got a few things up my sleeve for the next presentation so stay tuned to DigitalProTalk for details.

Hey gang, I've still have a busy day on my plate and need to pack for the wedding celebration this weekend so let's get right to this week's Business Day Thursday episode.  Here we go...

Wal-mart vs. Nordstrom Customers - Who's Your Market?

A few weeks ago while on my training shoot with my two assistants we were just discussing "customers" over lunch. We have a new Nordstrom's - one of my favorite stores - opening up in Cincinnati in just a few weeks.  In fact, I'm shooting the grand opening for them.

Happy Shoppers - iStock_000006404809XSmallAnyway, the topic of customers and customer service came up.  One of my assistants made a remark about the state of mind of two different customers - the Nordstrom customer and the Wal-Mart customer. 

He put it something like this. "You know, when you observe the Wal-Mart customer, they are always in a hurry - they just want to get in and get out and be on their way.  The whole shopping experience is just that - rushed.  Add to that, a few hungry kids in tow and more errands to run, the shopping experience may even be a hassle."

He continued, " But now consider the Nordstrom customer.  They are generally upscale with a few more disposable dollars to spend.  When they visit Nordstrom's it is truly a pleasant shopping experience.  Nordstrom's helps make it a pleasant experience with impeccably kept stores, very knowledgeable personnel, and a customer is always right policy.  People are generally relaxed and happy when they shop Nordstrom's."

You know his comments jolted me to a realization of what kind of experience do we want our customers to have - a Wal-Mart experience or a Nordstrom experience.  I like to think we provide the Nordstrom experience at my studio.

What kind of experience do you provide at your studio - is it classy, warm, friendly, upscale?  It needs to be if we want to sell our products and services to a client who is willing to spend more for the Nordstrom experience. 

Sure, each of us is in a different place in our careers and in growing our businesses. But regardless of where we are, the Nordstrom "road map" is a good road map to follow. I found this wonderful piece on the "Nordstrom Experience" right here.  It's in PDF form so I suggest you download it, print it, tape it up in your work place, read it every day, and point yourself and your studio employees in that direction.

Hey gang, that's it for me today.  I've got bags to pack, batteries to charge, and flash cards to clear.  I’ll see you from 30,000 feet tomorrow. Adios, David

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Bathed In The Light - Variation #2"

Bathed In The Light #2-0168-Training - IMG_3116 "Bathed In The Light - Variation #2"
©David A. Ziser

This is pretty much the same image as I posted last week [link].  The only difference is in how I turned the bride's head to a profile view.  Does it make a difference to the shot?  I think each image speaks a different message.  One is more mysterious – last Tuesday's image.  While this image is a bit more traditional, at least in the placement and profile position of the subject.  The Lightroom treatment presented both images as beautiful bridal portrait studies.  Camera specs; Canon 5D Mark II fitted with 24-70mm lens at 24mm, F5.6 @ 1/60 second, ISO 800. 

Enjoy!  -David

What's Up Wednesday: A Brand New Webinar Tonight & I'm Out Of The Closet - I Bought An iPhone

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Webinar - Light Shine On2 800pxI know, I know another afternoon post here at DPT. First things first for me today. I’ve been up to my eyeballs wrapping the presentation for tonight's "Let my Light Shine On" webinar.  I just finished it minutes ago and gave if a quick run through - it's going to be a "mile a minute" presentation to present all the information in the allotted 90 minute time slot.

0054-Chapter 6 -0002_FrankW05 You still have  time to register - here is the link right here.  Also, remember, your registration entitles you to a free download of the entire 90 minute presentation so you can watch it as many times as you want! 

0003-Webinar Outdoor Bridals-DSCF2220bw I have to tell you, it really turned out cool - ton's of solid info, great lighting techniques, solid solutions to outdoor lighting issues, and lots of great images. 

I moved the time to eight o'clock based on feedback I received from our DPT readers and there are still seats available if you want to attend.

Here is another treat.  Damien, who has ridden "shotgun" with me the last two webinars was busy this evening and won't be here tonight. 

NicholasNo problem, we have on hand this evening my ace number one assistant, Nicholas Viltrakis, standing by to answer questions for our listeners one on one.  Nicholas will also be informing me of major questions pertaining to the presentation in general which I will answer at length.  This evening promises to be fun, informative, and exciting.  I hope to "see" you there.

One quick note, the last time, folks were registering right up to last minute - no problem this time either.  Jennifer and LaDawn will be standing by to get you signed in right up to 8:00 P.M. EDT - any problems, please call 859.341.5900 and they will be glad to help.

I'm Out Of The Closet - I Bought An iPhone

OK, it's true - I've been "hemming and hawing" for the last few months about purchasing the new iPhone. Well, I finally did it - yep, I picked it up right before we headed out on vacation to San Diego last week.  I figured I'd have a entire week trying to figure the darn thing out.

Apps iPhoneWell as things turned out, I had it figured out in no time and was up and running almost right out of the box.  So having been so reticent about making the jump, how do I feel about it a week later.  OK, I can't believe I'm going to say these words but, “It's about the coolest piece of gear, any kind of gear, I've ever owned.” Man, how did I get by without it.

Thanks right, I am now a die hard fan of the iPhone - it just makes life easier!  Sure, I've become an Apps junkie too.  I loved how easy it was to follow Tiger Woods over the weekend at the PGA.  I loved how simple it made life finding a good restaurant in San Diego last week or in finding that gas station on the way back to the rental car return.  I love it, I love it, I love it!!

So what are my 10 favorite Apps so far?  Here is my quick rundown in no particular order:

1. Camera (Video)  - I'm just getting started with this one but it is fun to use.  Heck, you might find a Technique Tuesday heading your way from my new iPhone one of these days;~)

2. Urban Spoon - Need to find a restaurant, this is my favorite so far. I find it much better than Yelp and I think the ratings are more accurate.

Trapster3. Trapster - It tells you where the speed traps are in your area. Not that I'm a fast driver or anything (although when I tell my assistant to hold on  while on our way to a wedding - they brace against the dash and grab the "chicken bar" above the door.)  I guess I like this app because it is so clever. LaDawn wishes there was an app for  radar detection!

4. Wine Guide by the Wine Enthusiast - They have a gazillion listings and you can usually find the best wine value before your server comes back to ask you for your selection from the wine list - it makes you look so smart;~)

5. Fandango - I love it.  The easiest way to find a movie quick and see where and what time it's playing locally.

Around Me6. Around Me - Another great app to find just about anything in your neighborhood - from hotels to Best Buys.

Run Pee7.  Run Pee - A "bladder control" app discovered by Terry White - check out Terry's Tech Blog right here.  This app let's you know when you can leave the movie and how long you have to get back when heading to the concession stand to get your free refills and when it's safe to go p... should you have had too many free refills. Get this, it even gives you a recap of what you missed while you were gone - OK, it's probably more of a "guy" app.

8. Pandora Radio - A GREAT app if you are into music. Plug in the name of a musical artist you like and it will create a web "radio station" of that artist.  The station will also play any similar styles of music from other artists similar to your favorite.  It's works around the Music Genome Project - very slick technology.  Set it up for as many as you like - way cool!

9. Skype - A long time favorite for me.  I'm thrilled it’s available on the iPhone. Now I have cheap calling to anywhere in the world!

iTreadmill10. iTreadmill - LaDawn and I were out walking one morning last week and she commented that she wished she knew how far we walked.  I stopped, said, "There's an app for that." And quickly found iTreadmill.  It works great - we ended up walking about 28 miles while we were in San Diego last week. Now she knows!

Anyway folks, those are my favs for the moment.  It’s been great FUN. Let me know if you've got one or two apps that are your favorites as well - I'd like to give them a try.  Hey gang, on that note, I'm out of here.  Hope to see everybody this evening on line.  See ya' then.  -David

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Summer's Dance"

"Summer's Dance"
©David A. Ziser

This image was made on a very hot summer day. The bride was just "playing" to the camera - I think mostly to stay cool - and I caught this great expression as she was "dancing" in the breeze. In order to keep the direct sun off of her face, I had the sun above and behind her. That put her face in the shade allowing me to use my off camera flash coming in from the right to create a new set of highlights on her face enhancing her wonderful expression. The flash would have been at full power because of the low ISO and small Aperture used for the shot. Camera specs; Canon 1D Mark III fitted with 70-300mm IS DO lens at 100mm, F16 @ 1/250 second, ISO 100. Enjoy! David

Technique Tuesday: A Blast From The Past!

Good Afternoon Everybody,
Well, as it's been said by Robert Burns, the poet, in 1785:
"In proving foresight may be vain:The best laid schemes o' mice an' menGang aft agley..."

OK, OK, in English:
"In proving foresight may be vain: The best laid schemes of mice and men Go often askew..."

Folks, that's where my plans today - went askew. I've got a few too many irons in the fire in the fire this week - portraits, weddings, webinars, and packing for a out-of-town wedding. Today's post is almost ready to go but still needs a few more loose ends tied up so I'm going to reserve it for next week's post.

I promise, it's a very cool post. While in San Diego last week, I put together two Technique Tuesday episodes emphasizing how to compose images even in the surrounds of a modern hotel. Both tutorials are meant to show how I put my shots together and also show what goes through my mind computationally when designing my images - I think you'll like them.

But don't despair, along those same lines I've got another "blast from the past" discussing composition in a completely unique way. I remember putting the tutorial together and think it makes some great points on how to see, how to look for the leading lines in the scene, and where to place your subject within the scene. Hit the PLAY button below and Enjoy! -David

On that note gang, I'm out of here. Don't Forget - "Let My Light Shine On" webinar [link] tomorrow evening - 8 P.M. ! I'll see everybody tomorrow on What's Up Wednesday. See ya' then, -David

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Beauty All Around"

Beauty All Around-0129-Training - IMG_3077 "Beauty All Around" 
©David A. Ziser

Here is one of the images I made just two weeks ago.  We were back at the Cincinnati Club and I was able to capture some really great images.  This is one of my favorites.  During the shoot, I thought I liked another, but after editing the shoot in Lightroom, I kept coming back to this particular image. I love how nearly every single line that our eye sees leads directly to the bride.  There is just no escaping it.  You are drawn completely to her.  Notice too, that her head is at the center part of the image.  No rule of thirds here - just bulls eye composition.  Camera specs; Canon 5D Mark II fitted with Sigma's 12-24mm lens at 12mm, F5.6 @ 1/10 second handheld, ISO 2500. Light is provided by completely natural available light coming in from the right.  Enjoy! -David