Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Desert Princess"

IMG_5365 "Desert Princess"
©David A. Ziser

Here is one of the last shots we made last night at  Valley of Fire. It’s a great location for "people photography" with so much variety of locations. By the time I captured this photograph, the sun had dropped below the mountain horizon. That meant it was still kind of bright since a mountain horizon is much higher than a sea level horizon. Even though the sun is blocked by the mountains, it's higher position in the sky means higher ambient light for shooting.

The background was completely shadowed offering a wonderful collection of desert colors. I positioned Elizabeth between the vertical lines of the rocks in the background which framed her nicely. I adjusted the exposure to under expose the ambient just slightly so that she "popped" from the scene. Additional directional lighting was provided from my of camera flash.

The off-camera illumination was supplied by my Quantum T5d-r firing directly at my bride at 1/4 power approximately 10 feet away from my subject. I love the unique location along with the elegant, classic positioning of the bride. This is an image you can sit back and enjoy just on the merits of the lighting and composition. It's a portrait study in the truest sense of the word. I hope you enjoy it too.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 100mm, F6.3 @ 1/30 second, ISO 640. Enjoy! -David

Technique Tuesday: Change The Light - Change The Look

Good Morning Everybody,

Today is the day - Photoshop World kicks off with the convention Pre-Cons. Its a day of varied programs - Lighting to Lightroom, Photography to Photoshop and more - talking pace in varied locations around the convention area.

For my Pre-Con, we are heading to a brand new location for our shoot. From my Internet research, the church looks gorgeous - I can't wait to get there! I’m planning to show and teach 3 different lighting techniques today. I'll plan to share them with you over the next few weeks.

From 12:00 p.m. today, things get quite busy for us. I'm still planning to get the DPT out on time, but if I miss my queue, please allow me a little blogging "wiggle room" :~)

OK, let's see if I can get today's post up - here we go....

Change The Light - Change The Look

We arrived at Valley of Fire a little later than expected. That meant that the light was changing fast. Today's post covers how to shoot in those rapidly changing lighting conditions.

I'll show you images shot in complete direct sunlight and move to shooting in the same location 2 hours later in much more subdued light with auxiliary flash and getting a completely different result. The final shot was made in the shade of the mountains against the fantastically beautiful red rocks of the valley.

Uhhhh…. No I didn’t make it.  I’ve got to leave in 30 minutes for my class. The rendering of the video is taking to long and slow connection speeds are not going to let me get the post up until very late tonight. Sorry about that.  I’ll get it up as soon as I can.


Coming soon --- Hit the PLAY button below to see the different photographic/lighting results we achieved. Did I have a favorite? You'll have to watch the video to find out. I really think you will enjoy this one.


Hey gang, that's it for me today, we are under the gun and I've got to run. Check back tomorrow and I'll fill you in on today's shoot. Also, I'm planning a second episode of our new series, "The Ones That Got Away" so plan to stop back.

Have a great one, and I'll see you tomorrow,


Monday, August 30, 2010

"It’s Vegas, Baby!”

Its Vegas, Baby

"It’s Vegas, Baby!”
©David A. Ziser

We got into the city mid afternoon on Saturday and got settled into our hotel.  By the time we grabbed dinner and watched the awesome Fountains of Bellagio, we got back to the hotel pretty late – a little too late for us 3:00 pm with our body clocks still set to EDT.  Anyway, I was the only one to stay up a bit longer.  We have a great room with an amazing view. I love just relaxing and looking at the glittering city lights.  I couldn’t resist – I grabbed the camera, held my breath, and fired off a few shots from our window. This was my favorite. Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 80mm, F 5.0 @ 1/8 second (handheld), ISO 3200.  Enjoy! -David

Quick Hit Monday: Fisheye Fisheyes; Canon 60D Thoughts; LR3 Production: and HDR

Good Morning Everybody,

We arrived safe and sound into glittering Las Vegas, Nevada mid Saturday afternoon. We got settled into our hotel and enjoyed a relaxing weekend. My daughter, Elizabeth, is joining us on this trip – only her second time to Vegas and a first to Photoshop World. Only this time she is over 21 - uh oh.

O - Bellagio All kidding aside, I wanted to show her around the city and introduce her to the world famous Photoshop World experience. We began the trip with a bang seeing our favorite Cirque du Soleil Las Vegas show "O" [link] on Sunday evening. We spending today making a short day trip over to Valley Of Fire, one of the most unique desserts in the US. I hope I have a few images to post from the visit.

Tomorrow is pre-con day at Photoshop World which means it will be lots of fun. I’m excited for this presentation/workshop because of some of the new techniques I've got planned for the shoot. Reflectors, 7 foot umbrellas, and my new LOVE LightZ.

This week may be a light blog week just because we are so busy with 3 programs, 4 booth demos, and the regular programming. I'll do my best to keep you posted on show happenings and keep up the DPT blog schedule too.

How about we get right to it. Here are a few of my Quick Hits for today.

A Zoomable Fisheye - Are You Kidding Me?

Fish ZoomBelieve me, I couldn't believe it when I read it either. Most of you know that I'm a big fan of the fisheye lens, but a zoomable fisheye - wow! Canon just announced this lens [link] with all their recent flurry of gear announcements and this one caught my eye.

Here is the deal as best as I can tell. On a full frame camera like the Canon 5D Mark II when zoomed down to 8mm you get a complete circle 180 degree view. I've been taking that same image on my Sigma 8mm fisheye for several years.

But here is the cool thing - zoom it to 15mm and you get a complete full frame 180 degree diagonal view on a full frame camera. It’s sort of like getting two lenses in one. Its not due to ship till January 2011 and will cost in the neighborhood of $1,400.

Hey, it could be worse. Canon's newly announced 400mm F2.8 IS lens is coming in at around $7,100! [link] I think this zoom fisheye really looks interesting. I can't wait to get my hands on it. Once again, here is the link to the complete story right here.

How About Canon's New 60D Camera?

I've been working on the CBTL tour this week and have been under water news-wise for most of last week. But, you can always catch up on the latest and greatest gear announcements at Über gear blogger, 1001 Noisy Cameras [link].  1001 must have spy microphones everywhere to come up with all the info his blog generates!

Canon 60D Anyway, I wanted to see what was up with the new camera and headed over to 1001's site right here. If you are thinking of selecting this camera, before to you make your purchase check out 1001's post. It is the “go to” Canon 60D post because of all the other links to blogs reporting on this camera.

My first impression is that the camera might be better suited for the video shooter. Yes, HD video is built in as well as an adjustable microphone - interesting. The camera is a bit more plastic, not a good thing, but does have a swivel viewfinder - a good thing for the video shooter.

It's rated up to ISO 12,800 but is definitely noisy at that range. Supposedly it has a chip similar to the 7D and T2i which means it should be useable up to ISO 1600 or even 3200 with a little LR3 thrown in.

The deal breaker for me is the fact that, just like the T2i, no external sync connection. I just don't get why Canon did that. It just neuters the convenience of using off-camera flash and there are no easy work arounds if you want to use off-camera and on- camera flash simultaneously.

Don't get me wrong, the video aspects of the camera look to be the latest greatest with the swivel finder and all the added elements. So, maybe for me it works as a high end vacation camera, just not as a second camera in my gear bag, that is until I amp up my video shooting. I think that's where the 60D will find it's best fit.

Lightroom Post Production - The 10 Best Steps To Great Looking Images

One of my favorite Lightroom folks to follow is Victoria Brampton, the Lightroom Queen [link]. She just completed her latest Lightroom 3 book, “Lightroom 3, The Missing FAQs”. She really knows her stuff, always has some cool Lightroom tips and tricks, and points you to other solid content Lightroom posts.

GagetwiseIn one of her tweets, she pointed to a great post  at the NY Times Gadgetwise blog entitled, "Ten Photo-Editing Tips From a Pro" [link]. As I read through it, I'm thinking that's a lot of what I do - hey, maybe that's why I like the post so much - because they're doing it, as Ol' Blue Eyes would say, "my way" ;~)

Hey, all kidding aside, this post really shows an intelligent step-by-step process to obtain better images. Here is the link right here.

One Of The Best HDR Tutorials I've Seen

I think I found this post somewhat by accident during my GoGo Inflight Internet surfing at 30,000 feet on the way to Las Vegas on Saturday. StuckInCustoms.com [link] is a fascinating blog by Trey Ratcliff for the traveling photographer.

I landed on the front page of the site and then began to explore the site a bit more. In the right hand column was a link to this HDR tutorial [link]. If you are an HDR junkie, you probably know all this stuff.

HDR Trey Ratcliff

Hit Trey’s site anyway and check out his beautiful HDR images. But, if you are like me, and only dabble in the dark sciences of HDR infrequently, this is a good post on the subject. Once again, here is the link.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. We are heading out to the Valley Of Fire for the day. We've packed a wedding gown with us and have talked my daughter, Elizabeth, into being my model for a few hours. My gosh, my daughter in a wedding gown - that's a scary thought ;~)

Oh. one last thing – LaDawn still needs volunteers for our CBTL tour especially in the earliest scheduled venues of Phoenix and Houston. You won’t miss a minute of the presentation. At the end of the evening, I’m buying the soft drinks or beers for any of the volunteers that want to stick around! E-Mail her at LaDawn@ziser.com and she’ll give you all the details.

Anyway, I'm going to run. Tomorrow is Pre-Con day but I'm still panning to get a Technique Tuesday up and on the air.

Hope to see everybody tomorrow,


Friday, August 27, 2010

"Wide Angle Wonderfulness"

0001-Wide Angle Wonderfulness-IMG_4720-Edit

"Wide Angle Wonderfulness"
©David A. Ziser

Here is another image I created from Wednesday's session. I love the contrasting colors in the image. I bounced the warm light of the setting sun off of my new SUNSPOTZ reflector. By balancing out the warm tones on the bride's face parts of the rest of the scene not receiving the warm light shifted to the cooler tones.

I think it works in the shot because the extreme wide angle view yields a very unique image. The combination of the two effects plus the sunbeams in the distance presents a very usual bridal portrait. Light from my SUNSPOTZ reflector, camera left, reflecting back the warm sunlight in a very narrow light pattern onto the bride's face.

Camera specs: Canon. 7D fitted with Sigma 8-16 super wide angle zoom lens at 8mm, F 5.0 @ 1/320 second, ISO 200. Enjoy! -David

To Gel Or Not To Gel, That Is The Question

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Tunnel-Vegas Whew! We are almost at the end of the week and that ol' bear is receding into the distance. We got just about everything wrapped and packed for Photoshop World and are looking forward to heading to Las Vegas tomorrow. Hopefully that means a little R&R over the weekend.

I spent today putting together a 1 hour long demo video on a brand new lighting technique I'm going to be first showing at Photoshop World. Let's just say it has to do with my old Mini Z-Rays now renamed "LOVE Lightz".  I know, I know, you're thinking what is Ziser up to now. Can't tell ya' yet, but I promise I will real soon ;~) WAY cool and way fun!!!

To Gel Or Not To Gel, That Is The Question

Do Not Gel Today, I’m going to the Skribit widget for our topic today. The question that was raised recently was, "Do you gel your flash to match your ambient light or post process the image to remove the yellow tint?

The quick answer in no on both counts. I've gotten this question a number of times over the years. When people see my "shutter drag" images from church interiors, they always wonder how I soften the warm tones. The fact of the matter is that I LIKE the warm tones.

Magnificent Beauty Think about it. If I light my subject with a cool light source like my flash at 5600 K, slow down the shutter to pick up some of the ambient, and balance the final print for the cooler light source, you would think the background would really shift orange.

Why doesn't it shift that much? Here's one of the reasons. For those of you that have read my CBTL book, in Chapter 1 in the section entitled, "Balancing the Flash With The Ambient" starting on page 40, I mention that I underexpose the background slightly. That amount of under exposure may be up to 2 stops underexposed from the correct exposure on the subject.

Groom Shot

That means what? It means that the orange cast is two stops less noticeable. I still get a warm cast to the background, but I said earlier, I like the warm tones surrounding the properly color balanced subject. Compositionally it makes the subject project out from the scene.

Once I did gel the flash and made the exposure for the tungsten color balance. The result for me was that the subject sort of blended into the background. I just didn't like the result and I decided to return to my original procedure NOT gelling my flash.

Said another way, it you expose the ambient without underexposing it by a stop or two, you will definitely see the orange cast. You will also have problems with it mixing with your flash illumination which could cause you fits in Lightroom and Photoshop. So remember, under expose the ambient to reduce the amount of orange cast in your images.

Max Fish

One last thing, if you do follow my technique, you may sometimes get a bit too much warmth in the shadows. The easy fix is to desaturate the Yellow color channel in Lightroom slightly. This works like a charm. I actually showed the technique in a recent Technique Tuesday entitled, "Go Away Green". In that case I was dealing with the green tint of overhead florescent fixtures. Here is the link to the post right here.

So there you have it folks. That's an update on how I photograph in ambient light situations. Give it a try and see if it works for you.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. One more busy day and then we head west. I'll plan to see everyone next Monday, with my pixel winnings falling from my pockets:~). Have a great weekend.

If you are going to be at Photoshop World, come on by and say HI. You can catch me at one of my programs or we will be hanging out in the Tech Expo at Booth #342. You just might find me at the Peachpit, Manfrotto, and Westcott booths too.

See ya' in Vegas!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

“My Favorite Shoes”

My Favorite Shoes-IMG_4624

"My Favorite Shoes"
©David A. Ziser

I just captured this image yesterday. The plan was to do some shooting for some new portfolio images. I haven't done much in the way of "Urban Bridals" so I thought it would be cool to see what I could create.

This is one of my favorites from yesterday's shoot. As we were cruising around the neighborhood, I noticed the flowers on the porch stoop were the same color as my bride’s shoes. I had her rest comfortably on the steps, gave a little direction for the best look and fired away.

Lighting was all natural light coming in from camera left. I had the bride turn her head into the light to give me my favorite loop lighting pattern on her face. The flowers and shoes punctuate the scene with the perfect spots of color.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 70mm, F 5.6 @ 1/400 second, ISO 200, Enjoy! David

Looking For Volunteers

[HelpWanted_thumb25.jpg]That's right everybody, the “Captured By The Light 2010” tour [link] is kicking off in less than two weeks and LaDawn is looking for energetic, smiling, happy people willing to help her get things organized for the evening's program.

She's looking for help getting the room set up, checking in all the attendees before the program, and keeping things organized during the breaks. You won’t miss a minute of the program, I promise! A small collection of goodies for your efforts at the end of the evening. If you would like to be part of the excitement, drop her a note at LaDawn@Ziser.com and she can fill you in on the details.

Business Day Thursday: For Promotions It’s All In The Name

Business Day Thursday: For Promotions It’s All In The Name

Good Afternoon Everybody,

We spent some time yesterday wondering the streets of downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. I was trying out some new gear and new lighting techniques to feature in my CBTL tour which begins in 10 days. Man oh man, did we get some great photographs.

0001-Z-Cloud-IMG_4419 I was using super large umbrellas - like 6 feet big! My oh my, what pretty light. I was also using my newly designed SUNSPOTZ Super Silver / Black 40 inch reflector. Black you say, why black? I can't tell you right now, but I promise to fill you in very soon.

We wrapped about 11:00 pm. last night. But wait till you see the images I've got for you from my evening shoot . Very fun… more on this later.

I plan on sharing a few with you over the next few days. We are still going a million miles an hour at the studio yet today and tomorrow, hence the sporadic posting times. Hope you don't mind. Hey everybody, thanks too on the very positive feedback on yesterday's post. I enjoyed doing the piece. You can count on more in the future.

That said, I better get on with today's post before the day gets completely away from me. Here we go....

For Promotions It’s All In The Name

You know, too many photographers just sit and wait for the phone to ring and wonder why they don't have any business. Business success is always about promoting one's product and the photography business is no different.

I was recently talking with a photographer friend and she mentioned that she had just sent out her newsletter for all of her upcoming fall promotions. I asked her to send me a copy so I could take a peek at what promotions and news she shared with her client list. She kindly obliged and seeing what she sent prompted today's post.

Angel Babies Each of her promotions had a catchy named attached to it. NONE of her promotions used any of the mundane language so many photographers sometimes use. You would never see my friend advertising something like "Baby Special - One Week Only". She would class it up and make it fun - something like "Angel Babies" and follow that up with the description of the promotion. Sounds fun and whimsical doesn't it?

She also had a "Angels In The Garden" child promo and "Spooky Day" Halloween promotion listed - all fun, all very specific and all with the possibility of becoming very profitable. In my follow-up phone visit with my friend, she told me she had booked 20 sessions so far. Her average per session is over $500 dollars! And, the newsletter just went out last week.

PROMOTION, PROMOTION, PROMOTION!!! Three secret words of success.

Here are a few more name you might consider too for your upcoming photography specials:

"Babylicious" - I love it! Babylicious just sounds like delicious portraits of kids which is exactly what they are, but doesn't it have a nice catchy ring to it?

"Top of The Class" for your high school senior promotions.

"Going To The Dogs" - this is the promotional title for a pet promotion that has been extremely successful for one of my Cincy buddies.

I think you get the idea. It's always about the promotions. But more importantly, it's about a catchy, memorable sounding name you decide to dedicate to your promotions. Have fun coming up with some of your own ideas. Hey, post your suggestions in our Comment Section below for the benefit of our DPT readers.


Hey gang, that's got to be it for me today. I've got a family portrait shoot in a short while and we still need to get packed for Photoshop World and the tour.

I'll see you sometime tomorrow.

Have a great one, David

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"Ready and Waiting"

Ready and Waiting

"Ready and Waiting"
©David A. Ziser

I know I’m posting a lot of images from my old Nikon days.  I was  poking around in the 2002 archives and was enjoying some of the images in our digital transitional period. I just really like the soft, gentle feel of this image. 

Everyone was just relaxing in the bride’s room at the church.  I was shooting some detail shots but when I turned, I saw the bride softly reassuring her little flower girl that she was going to do a great job. 

They spotted me, gave me easy smiles, and rest is history - a really cute totally natural photograph of the bride and flower girl.

Camera specs:  Nikon D1x fitted with 50mm F1.4 lens at F 1.4 @1/40 second, ISO 320. Enjoy!  -David

Wednesday: The Ones That Got Away – A New Series

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Las Vegas I can’t believe it, Photoshop World [link] is only a few days away.  We actually are heading to Las Vegas on Saturday and then staying the week.  We’ll have a few days of R&R on the front end and back end of PSW and then on to Phoenix for the start of our Captured By The Light Tour [link].

That explains the super business around the studio. We’ve been working on three big projects that need to be completed by Friday.

Weddings, Seniors, Family Portrait Webcast

We just announced and launched the Weddings, Seniors, Family Portrait Webcast [link] coming up September 26, 2010. This is a not to missed webcast.  The three presenters are top photographers in their fields. 

KPPA Webcast logo w-Disk Our door prizes are now totaling over $1,800 which we will give away during the webcast. It’s going to be a not to be missed educational experience for only $14.95.  Please be sure to check it out right here

Most webcasts cost at least 3x more for only 60 minutes.  This webcast is 4 hours long with a gazillion door prizes – it doesn’t get any better than that!

Photoshop World Las Vegas 2010

PSW10LV2 This is the second BIG project I’ve been working on.  I’ve got a lot of new tips and lighting techniques I’m planning to show at my pre-con this year. And we get to work at a brand new church – WoHo!

I’ll plan to post a few images next week of what we were up to. Also I’ve put together a lot more Lightroom 3 tutorials for my Lightroom  program on Wednesday evening [link]. 

Captured By The Light 2010 Tour

CBTL BH3This is the real biggy I’ve been working on.  Folks have been asking if it is going to be different from last year’s program.  I can promise you it will be totally different! 

You’re going to get new lighting and photography techniques, lots more marketing ideas, and some great new news on LumaPix:FotoFusion! Plus, 9 hours of additional tutorials on Tour DVD, Workbook (being printed as we speak), and $6,000 worth of door prizes given away each night! We’ve tried to make this the most ROCKIN’ tour of the fall! INFO HERE! Don’t forget to use PROMO CODE CBLDPT10

OK, that’s what I’ve been up to lately.  I’m still polishing up the CDTL 2010 presentation but it’s 95% complete – whew!  Anyway, that said, let’s get right on with today’s post – the first in a new series.

The Ones That Got Away

There was a Sarah Brightman CD that was released a few years ago entitled “The Songs That Got Away” [link].  I’m a big Sarah fan and loved the album.  Anyway, the title gave me an idea for this new series.

Here’s the deal.  I’m going to select a “near miss” image taken by on of the class members from a few of my recent Master Classes, point out the “nearly missed” compositional elements, and then list what could have been done to improve it.

Think of it as a print critique.  I’ve been working on this idea for DPT for a while whereby I can critique some of our readers work too. Maybe we could do something over at Flickr – let me know what you think. Here we go…

One Got Away1

Take a look at this photograph.  When I first saw it I loved the setting, the expressions, and the surrounding colors.  I even loved how the bride’s bouquet harmonized with the flowers in the background.

But, it’s a “near miss” shot. Here’s why.

1. There’s a tree growing out of the bride’s head.

2. The bride is leaning in a bit awkwardly to the groom.  It’s not how a “real” bride would be relating to her groom. 

3. The background could be greatly improved upon with a different lens selection or positioning of the couple.

OK, those are a few of the negative aspects of the shot – now how can it be improved?

An Easy Day At Mandalay 2 Mk3 24mm 56 1-25 800 1.  When bringing couples together, be sure the are standing naturally.  That is, the way you would relate to your spouse, mate, partner if you were just hanging out.

Typically I ask my couples to turn about 45 degrees to each other with their body weight on their inside feet and their outside feet coming towards camera.  Here is a shot of a comfortably posed couple.

2. I want to shoot from a higher camera position so that I can have the foliage  provide a complete background.  Basically, I want to lose the white sky, tree, and building I see in the background.

Using a longer lens would have helped too, because it would have compressed around the couple even more.  I’m a big fan of long lenses when shooting outside for just that reason.

3. The off camera lighting coming from camera left looks pretty good, but notice the shadow of the bride’s arm on her dress.  Turning her a bit more towards camera would have alleviated that issue. 

You may suggest that the light be repositioned to camera right, but then the bride’s bouquet would have thrown and ugly shadow of her gown.  The lesson to be learned:  Know where your shadows are falling in the shot.

That’s about it and that’s how we can turn this “near miss” into a home run.

Hey folks, give me some feed back on this kind of posting.  If you think it’s  good idea, I’ll continue the series for a while.  Also let’s figure out how we can bring your prints into the mix too.  I’m thinking DPT Flickr Critique group – what do you think?


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  It’s back to my CBTL PowerPoint for me and then off on an afternoon, evening shoot.  How about I see everybody back here tomorrow for another addition of Business Day Thursday episode.

See ya’ then, pixel lovers!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"A Million Smiles"

A Million Smiles

"A Million Smiles"
©David A. Ziser

This image is another from our early digital days. I remember really fighting to keep the highlights from blowing out. White satin gown - a bit "ouch" to my pixels, white tux, and white wedding cake. We pulled it off and the images looked great. Oh yea, that was back in my JPEG days too.

This was one of those weddings you just love to shoot - great couple, great families, and lots of fun loving guests. Many times we get the call for the big college group shot and this wedding was no exception, but what a BIG group it was.

We managed to get everyone arranged so we could see all the faces and I started shooting away. As I’ve mentioned here at DPT many times, I love to wrap my group shots with group hugs. This was the crowd for that shot. you can see the fun and excitement on everyone's faces - a great double page spread in the album.

Camera specs: Nikon D1x fitted with Nikkor 18-35mm lens at 18mm, F 8 @ 1/40 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! -David

Technique Tuesday: Designer Portraits – A Cool Photography / Photoshop Tutorial

Good Morning Everybody,

Banner - MeganWhew! Yesterday sure was a long day but we made it through and are just as bust today. LaDawn worked up about 10 new banners for the CBTL tour.  She designed everything in Lumapix:FotoFusion, added her Swirls and Twirls, polished the images and they look great. They are coming off the Canon iPF 8100 printer as we speak and they look marvelous.  Here is a peek at a few of them right here.  

Designer Portraits: Designer Portraits – A Cool Photography / Photoshop

OK, I have to admit, I’m taking an easier way out with today’s Technique Tuesday.  I’m post a “blast from the past” but I love it.  Today’s video is one of those rare little gems not seen by many people, yet I love the tutorial lesson.

Banner Outdoors Here is the back story.  I have a client who was having a Bat Mitzvah for their daughter.  The theme was “Winter Wonderland”. Now when you throw a themed party, it’s nice to have the guest of honor show in the context of the party theme.

OK, it’s summer in Cincinnati, Ohio; the weather is hot, yet the party theme is cold and wintry.  How can I capture that wintry feeling in the banners I planned to create for the party.  It sounds like a job for iStockPhoto and Photoshop.

I scheduled a shoot with my 13 year old Bat Mitzvah girl.  We would do the photographs in her mom and dad’s home in an area that provided a nice white background.  I added a light to the background to be sure I could easily isolate her in my Photoshop section of the project. We did several winter clothing changes and got some great shots.

Next I headed to iStockPhoto, nabbed some great winter scenes and graphics and began the process of marrying the stock photos with my shots.  The result was really fun and exactly what the client wanted. 

Hit the PLAY button below for the rest of the story - I think you will love it.
Banner PillarHey gang, that’s it for me today.  I know I’ve been rushed these last few days so thanks for hanging in there with me. Our KPPA Webcast [link], Photoshop World [link], and the CBTL tour [link] in two weeks have us gasping for a bit of air. BUT……

Like Scott Peck said, “Life is Difficult...”; like Eric the Viking said, “If it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger”; But then like Bobby McFarren said, “Don’t worry, be happy...”.  I’m hangin’ with Bobby today ;~)

Have a good one and a happy one everybody - see ya’ tomorrow.

Tour Help Wanted!

Tour Help Wanted

Help Wanted_thumb[2] That's right everybody, the “Captured By The Light 2010” tour [link] is kicking off in two weeks and LaDawn is looking for energetic, smiling, happy people willing to help her get things organized for the evening's program.

She's looking for help first in Phoenix, Dallas, and Houston in getting the room set up, checking in all the attendees before the program, and keeping things organized in the back of the room during the program. She promises a nice collection of goodies for your efforts. If you would like to be part of the excitement, drop her a note at LaDawn@Ziser.com and she can fill you in on the details.

Monday, August 23, 2010

"Garden Smiles"

Garden Smiles

"Garden Smiles"
©David A. Ziser

This image was captured in my pre-Canon days early into our transition into digital shooting.  I always loved the fisheye lens on my Hasselblad and was just getting used to using one on my digital gear. 

I decided I like the 8mm fisheye on an APS sized sensor.  I still get a nice effect and the image is easy to crop.  When taking these shots, it always looks like I’m taking a photograph of the flowers since I am so close to them because of their prominence in the foreground. 

I lit the image simply – assistant was behind the couple about 10 feet, flash on full power – 200 W.S.  We did a few takes and this one was my favorite.

Camera specs: Nikon D1x fitted with Sigma 8mm fisheye, F7.1 @ 1/250 second, ISO 400.  Enjoy!  -David

Quick Hit Monday: Weddings, Seniors, Family Portraits: Worldwide Webcast 9-26-10

Good Late Afternoon Everybody,

Frazzled Sorry for the late post today. We are all pretty much frazzled around here! We’ve a few too many irons in the fire that needed to be addressed before the blog.

I wrapped my presentation for Photoshop World and can’t wait to see everyone in Las Vegas next week.

Also, give a full read to the webcast news below – an unbelievable line up of talent, door prizes, and all for only $14.95!

Also check out what you can do to help the National Wildlife Federation in the gulf. Let's get right to it.

Weddings, Seniors, and Family Portraits: Worldwide Webcast September 26, 2101

KPPA Webcast Logo Folks, this is the hottest news of the day. I've mentioned before that I'm VP of the Kentucky Professional Photographers Association, KPPA. 

We are throwing one of the biggest, most exciting educational shindigs of the year on Sunday, September 26, 2010 from 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. EDT. Check out the detailed story right here.

Program Highlights:

Matt Mcgraw1 World Class Photography!

3 World Class Photographers!

Matt McGraw on Weddings, Nancy Emmerich on High School Seniors, and Drake Busath on Family Portraits.

Nancy 1 One relaxing Sunday Afternoon

September 26, 2010 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. EDT

4 Full Hours with David Ziser as your moderator

Over $1,600 in Door Prizes awarded during Webcast

Unbelievable offers from our sponsors for attendees only!

Unlawful to copy or print Early Bird Special - Register by midnight on 9/12/10 for a super low price of only $14.95!

Add a DVD of program for only $10 more.

Registration after 9/12/10 - $19.95.

This is HUGE so I hope you plan to join us.

What Can You Do To Help The Victims Of The BP Gulf Disaster?

National WildlifeI recently received a note from blogging buddy and friend of our DPT blog, Yanik of Yanik's Photo School blog [link].

In collaboration with the National Wildlife Federation, Yanik is doing a fund raiser where 100% of the profits will be donated directly to the NWF. His post explains his great idea right here.

Zazzle store He's created dynamic series of cool, fun photography designs and launched his Zazzle store [link]! Until the end of August, 100% of the profits made by the purchase of any of these products will be donated to NWF!

His objective is to raise $3000 by the end of the month but to do that he needs our help. Check out his Zazzle store right here, have some fun, and help save the gulf wildlife.

CBTL Tour Update

The way the numbers are coming in, our Captured By The Light 2010 tour looks like it's going to be a BIG hit. We already have over 100 signed up for Dallas, and it's still 2 1/2 weeks away! Phoenix and Houston aren't far behind either! Remember to use PROMO CODE CBLDPT10 when registering to save $20.


Hey gang, that has got to be it for me today.  We are utterly swamped around here.  I hope to see you tomorrow for another Technique Tuesday.  See ya’ then.


Friday, August 20, 2010

"Cabo Cruzin'"

Cabo Crusin-1614_Smith,Tiff-Ed W07-Edit

"Cabo Cruzin'"
©David A. Ziser

This image is from a destination wedding I photographed in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico a few years ago. We had an opportunity to capture some photographs around the resort before the wedding ceremony was to start. I was looking for any interesting lines or strong colors that would capture the feeling of this beautiful location. This location was perfect for the shot. The long lines and bright yellow color of this building filled the bill for me. I'm not usually a "tilty" kind of a guy, but I think tilting the camera with it's super wide angle lens attached added a bit of fun to the image. I even like the little bit of grain added as a finishing touch. Camera specs: Canon 5D fitted with my Sigma 12-24mm lens at 12mm, F5.6 @ 1/100 second, ISO 200. Enjoy! -David

Friday: CBTL Tour DVD Now Over 9 Hours Of Additional Tutorials; and Your Questions Please

Good Morning Everybody,

Well yesterday, the bear almost got us. I got back from my early morning appointment about 11:00 a.m. and never stopped till after 7:00 p.m. yesterday evening.

9 Hours We thought we had 99% of everything wrapped - we only needed a few things from two sponsors to complete the tour DVD. That last 1% took 8 hours and two people to complete! But we did it. The CBTL2010 Tour DVD in now jammed packed with OVER 9 HOURS of additional tutorials. That’s over one additional entire day of seminars for free!

Yesterday we added 3 mores hours of Lightroom 3, Photoshop CS5, and Photography, and Lighting to the DVD. Not only that, but I also added 160 pages of additional information from my favorite Peachpit books. Now the Tour DVD alone is worth the price of admission to the program ;~)

Anyway, we always try to bring the absolute most value to those that  attend my programs. I think we have hit it out of the park with this Fall's "Captured By The Light 2010" tour [link].

Now, Your Questions, Please

Skribit For today's post I thought I would do a quick scan of the Skribit suggestions (widget on far right) that have come in over the last several weeks. Yes, I read each and everyone of them and save the questions most pertinent to our DPT readers. The questions range from our DPT readers asking about technique, equipment issues, business building and more.

Many of the questions asked can already be found right here at DigitalProTalk.com. Search BoxIt may require a little diligence on your part by using the search box at the top left of this blog. But heck, I've posted over 2,400 posts since July, 2007 so what your looking for will probably already have been posted.

The truth of the matter is that I try to answer nearly every question asked via Skribit or comments on the posts themselves. That being said let's get started with today's post.

Strobe Radio Control Units: Secrets To Consistent Results With Your Off-Camera Flash

One question that came up recently from a reader asking about the lack of reliable performance from their radio control flash triggers. Most of you know I'm a BIG fan of off camera flash.

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

The Flash Trigger Back Story

Back in my collage days I worked as the yearbook photographer for the local college. Even then I was experimenting with off camera flash techniques to try to obtain a direction of light on the scene. I simply placed the camera on a tripod, set the shutter speed at 1/2 second, and signaled an assistant to fire the flash on my signal. With a 3-count, It was easy for us to sync the flash to the 1/2 second exposure.

Over the years I have owned flash triggers from about every manufacturer with Quantum being my favorite for the pass several years. So, what about the reliability of the flash triggers. Back in the day, that means pre-35mm DSLRs, most of us shot medium format cameras - Hasselblads, Bronicas, and Mamiyas.

The flashes we used were called "head and handle" flashes. My favorite was a Metz 45CT-1. It was powerful and reliable. My off camera flash back, in the day, was a 200 watt second Lumadyne. The radio control units we used attached to the various camera and flash brackets we used with the medium format cameras. That was standard gear for film shooters pre-2000.

Digital Photography Started To Change Things

Well as we all know, bigger flashes and medium format cameras began to lose favor when digital started gaining traction in 2000 with the introduction of the Fuji S-1 Pro. OK, fast forward to today. Now everything is cheaper, faster, and better! The shoe mount flashes have taken over the on-camera lighting chores for the professional wedding photographer. But many of us were still using off-camera flash to add the detail, texture, and dimension to our images. That's when some of the reliability issues started to crop up with attached radio flash triggers.

Radio on flash Instead of attaching the radio transmitter to a flash bracket, I just velcroed my transmitter to the top of the flash head as shown in the image on right. That always worked fine with my Canon 580 EX, but when I upgraded to the 580 EXII, I noticed that occasionally I would experience a misfire. If I repositioned the transmitter further to the rear of the top of the flash that solved the problem most of the time.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to shoot with a complete set of Nikon gear for a few events. Once again I attached the transmitter to the top of the Nikon SB800. This time I had major problems with the radio transmitter's performance. I had to completely remove it from the flash head to assure consistent flash performance with the off-camera flash.

What's The Problem?

RF It turns out that all flashes produce what's called RF or radio frequency that can interfere and "jam" the radio flash transmitters if they are placed too close to the source of the RF, the shoe mount flash in this case. With the transmitter velcroed directly to the top of my on-camera flash, I could be asking for trouble.

In the medium format film days, I always had the radio transmitter attached to a flash bracket several inches away from the RF created by the on-camera flash and never had a problem. Like I’ve said, that changed when I changed to the shoe mount flash units.

This issue seems to have gotten worse with the newer, more powerful shoe mount flash units. I was particularly surprised by the amount of RF interference the Nikon SB800 produced. Remember, the RF "jamming" effect is easily solved my placing the radio transmitter a few inches away from the RF source. I ended up placing the flash trigger in my shirt pocket and the problem went away. A camera bracket should do the trick.

Pocket Wizards discovered the problem early. When their MiniTT1 was introduced about 18 months ago the RF problem quickly became evident because the shoe mount flash units mounted directly on the MiniTT1. Reliability was an issue. 

RF SockThey have since developed a electrostatic shield, think of it as a sock for your flash, that you place around your shoe mount flash. The flash sock effectively blocks the RF from interfering with the Pocket Wizard transmitter.

I'm sure the electrostatic flash sock would work for me, too. I just hate the fact that now I have to dress up my flash before I can take it to a wedding;~)

Anyway, that's the long story as to why you may experience some intermittent flash misfires. The problem probably can be traced back to the RF radiation being emitted from your shoe mount flash. The easy solution, if you are using Quantum transmitters, is to just position the units a few inches away from the flash itself and all should be fine. Or pick up one of the flash socks from Pocket Wizards - that should solve the problem too.

Happy Flashing!


Hey gang, that's going to wrap it up for me today. We've got a few more "irons in the fire" around here that need some attention. How about I plan to see everyone back here Monday, same time, same channel.

Have a great weekend everybody,


Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Beauty In Motion"

1-2 second - 0726_DZ-5D_Hawaii Z07

"Beauty In Motion"
©David A. Ziser

This image was made on a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii a few years ago. LaDawn and I were wondering through this wonderfully lush botanical garden luxuriating in the beautiful surrounds. During our stroll, we happened upon this small waterfall. A simple click of the camera would not have done this image justice.

The secret was to catch the motion of the water and the only way I could do that was with a super slow shutter speed. I had no tripod with me so I had to resort to plan B - an image stabilized lens, a tree, and me.

That's right, this is a handheld image at 1/2 second! I took several to be sure I had at least one sharp. I love the color, composition, and motion of this image. It hangs as a large print in our living room at home.

Camera specs: Canon 5D fitted with 24-105mm IS lens at 35mm, F22 @ 1/2 second, ISO 800. Enjoy! -David

It's Good Business - You've Got To Get Them To Come Back For More

Good Morning Everybody,

Tour DVD We have been working like a bunch of buzzin’ honey bees around here on lots of projects and are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The tour CBTL DVD continues to grow – over 6 hours of additional rock solid content FREE for all CBTL attendees [link] – I’m still amazed it’s grown from 2 hours to now over 6 hours – wow!

I have super early morning appointment so let’s get on with today’s post.  I think you are going to love it.  Here we go.

It's Good Business - You've Got To Get Them To Come Back For More

I have to admit, I get a lot of my ideas for my Business Day Thursday posts from real life experiences I've had with other companies that I feel have it right. That's the case for today's post.

As the title today suggests, growing your business is not just about finding new customers, it's also about having them come back for more - more of your what you offer, that is. So, how can you make that happen?

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

A Superb Customer Service Experience

A few weeks ago, we were in Chicago doing an episode for Will Crocket's Friday Photo School. While up there we grabbed dinner at a restaurant I had never been to - Famous Dave's [link]. They serve some terrific barbecue but that's not what left an impression on me that evening.

Famous Daves I was impressed by how they engaged us and by the effort they put forth to be sure we returned. The lessons learned from that visit would be beneficial to any business. Let me show you how it can apply to your photography business.

We were escorted to our table by the friendly hostess and within a few minutes someone came up to us and offered refreshments - all pretty normal up to his point. We were then asked if this was our first visit to Famous Dave's - customer engagement #1. I have to admit, we have a Famous Dave's just a few miles from us and have never been there. My first famous Dave visit was in Oswego, Illinois - go figure.

The Engagement Process

Answering in the affirmative started the Famous Dave experience for first timers like us. Our server returned a few minutes later with a basket of chips. She then pointed to the row of barbecue sauces on our table and invited us to try the many samples which she described in detail to us - customer engagement #2.

All three of us proceeded to sample the tasty sauces, each of us having a favorite. I kind of like the hotter, spicy variety. LaDawn preferred the sweeter sauce. Our server returned again to take our order and while doing so, asked which sauce we preferred. We were happy to share our tasting experience with her. She took our order and was off- customer engagement #3.

A Very Nice Surprise

Sauces A few minutes later she returned, not with the food, but with two large bottles of our favorite Famous Dave's Barbecue Sauce, one for me and one for LaDawn - customer engagement #4. I was surprised and impressed.

A short while later, our food arrived and we dug in pouring on our favorite sauces over our briskets, pork, and chicken entrees. Everything was delicious! As we were finishing our meal, another gentlemen, the store manager, came by to check on us. We exclaimed our content, he thanked us, smiled, and left only to return a few minutes later with discount coupons for our next Famous Dave's visit - customer engagement #5.

The Brand Stays With Us

In our relatively short 90 minute stay, we were engaged 5 times with the Famous Dave's brand and we were made to feel like the most important diners in the restaurant. We were given two bottles of Famous Dave's Barbecue Sauce, which I am sure the store realizes, will be a constant reminder of our dinning experience at Famous Dave's as they sit on our refrigerator shelf for the next several weeks.

The final coupon offer nearly guarantees that we will make a return visit to sample some more of their great barbecue entrees.

Lessons Learned

So what is the lesson learned? To continue to grow your business, it's more than just serving up your best when you engage a new customer and hoping they come back for more. It's about serving up your best, giving them first a reminder of your brand, and finally a reason to come back again.

So how can this business building strategy be made to work for wedding photographers? Here are my first thoughts on how to make it work.

Here Is My Plan For Photographers

Wedding Albums First, engage the client with your best, most thorough, passionate presentation of your photography. Get them fired up about your product. Let them sample what you have to offer. What you offer better be more than just "one flavor" of photography too.

Ask yourself the question, is it time to evaluate you current product offerings and maybe spice things up a bit? You want to sizzle that first time client experience just the way they did it at Famous Dave's.

Wedding Planning Guide Second, give them something that keeps your brand in front of their eyeballs as they continue to make their wedding plans. This could be something as simple as a little wedding planning guide you've put together with your preferred vendor list, wedding planning suggestions, how to look good for their wedding photos - you get the idea. Design your wedding planning guide to be a convenient, useful, ready reference for them as they continue to plan their wedding celebration.

This is an ideal opportunity to work with your favorite vendors in creating your planner. Your favorite vendors will have their own ideas and resources on the planning process making it an even more valuable tool for your customer. The additional benefit comes when you encourage your vendor buddies to give the planner to their new customers as well. I call that "cross pollination".

Gift CardsAnd thirdly, after you wrap your meeting with your first time clients, why not give them a few vouchers for a complimentary 8x10 or two explaining that they can use the vouchers for a few gift photos for family or friends. Now you've given them a reason to come back.

I still think of my buddy, Frank Wilson, who gives each of his prospective clients a $50 gift card at the end of each interview. WOW! Now that is a BIG reason for you new client to return.

In Conclusion

I hope you can see the power of Famous Dave's customer engagement strategy. None of these ideas "break the bank". They can easily be implemented immediately giving a jump-start on the competition and get you on the road towards successfully building your own business.


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  Everybody have a great rest of the day and I'll plan on seeing you tomorrow.

See ya' then, David