Friday, October 29, 2010

“Confidence Blossoms”



"Confidence Blossoms"
©David A. Ziser

To become a Bat Mitzvah, one must begin studies about a year ahead of time. That means at 12 years old, this young lady began to learn the Hebrew language so that she can read the Torah and give a lesson on her Torah portion in front of the entire congregation on her selected special Saturday morning.

For this young lady, that happens to be tomorrow morning.  As I watched her rehearse with Rabbi yesterday morning, she was definitely ready and her confidence showed.

After the final rehearsal, I like to spend about 30 minutes photographing our soon to be Bat Mitzvah girl throughout the surrounds in which her Saturday service will take place. Plum Street Temple is so gorgeous, almost every angle makes for a breathtaking photograph.

This image was taken in the side aisle of the temple looking back onto the famous Rockwern Organ. The sun was just starting to fill the sanctuary. The sunlight and wonderful warm highlights caressed the  beautiful pipe organ.

Illumination was from camera left, my Quantum through my Zumbrella at 1/4 power at about 10 feet away.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with a 24-105mm IS lens at 32mm, F5.6 @ 1/15 second handheld, ISO 800.  Enjoy!  -David

I Need To Recharge My Batteries Today and Other Battery Strategies

Good Afternoon Everybody,

0629MP-1273-DZ_IMG_1074 We're getting ready for a big Bat Mitzvah this weekend and need to begin at 7:30 a.m tomorrow morning - a pretty early wake up call for all of us. I photographed Olivia's sister's Bat Mitzvah about two years ago so it will be fun hanging out with the family again this weekend.

I have to say, I still enjoy photographing Bar and Bat Mitzvah's. I enjoy watching these young 13 year olds marking their rite of passage into Jewish adulthood. Their year long preparation really pays off as you see them so poised up on the bimah being "Rabbi for the day" to the entire congregation.

And, in the evening, it's always a hoppin' party of the kids and adults enjoying a really good time. Yep, it will be a long day tomorrow but still a fun one.

I Need To Recharge My Batteries Today and Other Battery Strategies

Apple chargerI decided to write today’s post based on a press release I saw recently about Apple announcing their brand new AA battery recharger [link] which is shipped with 6 Ni-MH batteries.  So what’s  the big deal about a new battery charger.  Apple is positioning this new product as a way to constantly be ready to power up a device like a mouse pad, keyboard, etc. once the batteries die – 2 batteries in the keyboard, 2 in the mouse pad, and 2 in the charger.

Now the nice thing about their charger is that once the batteries are charged, the charger drops to a “trickle” charge thereby saving energy and a few cents off your electric bill. The downside for me is that the charger takes about 6-7 hours to recharge the depleted batteries – way to long for me.

Anyway, that’s what got me thinking about today’s post an the battery strategies we use around my studio. So what kind of batteries do you use in your shoe mount strobes?

Energizer chargerI’ve been using good ol’ Energizer rechargeable batteries [link] since I started shooting digital 10 years ago. I usually pick them up at Sam’s Club.  I like the fact that the first sets I picked up came with a 15 minute rapid charger.

The downside of the Energizer batteries is that they only last me about two years and then I need to replace them.  The other downside is that they are NiCad batteries and will begin losing their charge once they come off the charger. I usually charge them up the day of the event and then pack the charger with me just in case I need it, which, BTW is not too often. One set usually lasts me the entire day of shooting.

Enelope batteries Is there a better battery solution available.  I think so, I’ve just been kind of lazy to switch.  The better battery is the Ni-MH battery.  Here is the good news – they hold their charge much, much, much better over the NiCad batteries. Check out the accompanying chart to get an idea how long.

The hot Ni-MH batteries have always been the Sanyo eneloop batteries [link]. And, guess what? They’re even cheaper than the Energizer batteries by about $2 at Amazon. I really do need to make the switch.

IS There A Down Side To The Ni-MH batteries?

The only downside, and I think it is a very slight one is the fact that they don’t come with the rapid charger that I’ve come to prefer. But will they work on my Energizer rapid charger? According to Sanyo, they will but it may reduce the number of charge cycles I could get out of the batteries.

Here is how they answer the question:

“Can I use a "Quick Charger" to charge an eneloop battery?

Though it is possible to charge an eneloop battery in a "Quick Charger", it is not recommended. We recommend charging eneloop batteries in a NiMh charger that is 2 hours or more. Charging eneloop batteries in a "Quick Charger" can reduce the overall life of the battery. It is strongly recommended to use eneloop, GE/Sanyo or Sanyo NiMh battery chargers. We only warrant eneloop if used with an eneloop, GE/Sanyo or Sanyo NiMh battery charger.”

Sanyo eneloop For $10 bucks, I think I want to give it a try.  So, there you have the scoop on battery charging.  All in all, I do plan to switch to the eneloop batteries just because I like the fact that hold their charge so long.  I hate pulling out a flash that’s been sitting in my gear bag for a few days and then finding that the batteries are discharged. I’m going to give them a try on the quick charger too – just ordered 8 – AA’s Ni-MH from Amazon. I’ll keep you posted ;~)


Hey gang, that’s it for today.  I’m cleaning and polishing lenses, charging batteries, and prepping my flash cards.  We head off to the great state of California early Sunday morning where we will be wrapping our Captured Bt The Light 2010 tour. We hit Ontario, CA on Monday; Woodland Hills, CA on Tuesday; and then finish in Sacramento, CA on Thursday.

It’s certainly been a kick – I hope to see many of you there.  There is still plenty of time to register. Hey, we still have $18,000 worth of door prizes to give away! Here is the link to register right here.

Everybody have a great weekend and I’ll see ya’ on the flip side from the West Coast. -David

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"The Colors Of Autumn"

The Colors Of Autumn

"The Colors Of Autumn"
©David A. Ziser

Fall is about the prettiest time of the year for a lot of people. In the Midwest we get to enjoy those Fall colors for approximately a 3 week stretch throughout October. It's a great time to schedule family and high school senior portraits and pictorial bridal pictorials.

This is an image I made at a recent bridal pictorial session. This year our Fall season was a bit short lived because of our very dry summer. Still, as a professional ,that is no excuse for not being able to pull off a nice portrait of our bride.

The challenge is to find that one spot of color that will make a great background for your image. Many of the leaves had already blown off the trees but I found this small patch in the distance I thought would work. I needed a long lens to really stretch out the background behind the subject.

I also wanted to use a large aperture to throw the background well out of focus so that viewers' attention would go right to my subject. Solving the problems were easy. Place the 70-200mm lens on my camera, rack it out to 200mm and walk away till I had the bride framed up in my view finder. Next set the aperture to f4.0.

How to light the bride - how about I use my super reflective SunSpotz reflector [link] to bounce the sun’s rays back into the subject. When used a reasonable distance from the subject, it is less apt to "blind" them. I find that about 15 feet away works pretty well.  Remember, I’m not using the SunSpotz as a fill light – it’s my main light.

I had the bride strike a pleasing pose, brought the light in on her face creating a flattering loop lighting pattern and shot away. With the shallow depth of field the background colors just blossomed and looked great softly diffused behind the bride.

The light reflected from my SunSpotz - which again was my main light created a pleasing directional light on my subject and brought out the finer details of her gown. I think I pulled off a pretty nice Fall bridal portrait for my bride.

Camera spec: Canon 7D fitted with 70-200 mm IS lens at 200mm, F4.0 @ 1/400 second, ISO 200. Enjoy! -David

Business Day Thursday: LumaPix Rocket Speed Digital Design Webcast Now Live

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Crowd graphic - LR WOW! What a webcast!  We had over 700 folks register for the webcast and had people viewing it from more that 25 countries around the world!  From Australia to Switzerland, South Africa to Russia, Aruba to Sweden, Great Britain, folks signed in to see the program – thanks to everyone for being there.

It was kind of cool having LaDawn co-present - she is just so good at the finer points of LumaPix:FotoFusion. The webcast showcased about every feature we have fallen in love with since we began using LumaPix almost 7 years. Read the rest of the story below if case you missed it.

LumaPix Rocket Speed Digital Design Webcast Now Live

LD C1 So many folks think LumaPix is just for collage design only, but in yesterday's webcast I really gave the audience a thorough and detailed peek under the hood of LumaPix showing how you could use it to confer with your clients on your design projects, enhance relationships with your vendor buddies, various ways to output and share your projects and so much more.

LaDawn did a great job showing the finer points of using LumaPix to create some really fabulous designs.  I quickly covered how to create “Swirls and Twirls” and LaDawn showed just how well they can enhance any project by showcasing how she puts together her Devine Designs.

LD C2The program ran about 2 1/2 hours and everyone hung in there till the end.  Once again, we gave away nearly $1,000 in door prizes! I could hear the crowd cheering through my computer ;~)

From the comments and questions Damien was fielding on our answer line, it sure looked liked everyone enjoyed the program.

I know the webcast time was not convenient for everyone. That's why I recorded it in it's entirety and I've reposted in all it’s HD glory just below. I will keep it live till Sunday at midnight. If you missed it, you still have plenty of time to check it out.

During the webcast I showed you how you can pick up LumaPix, normally $299, only $99. Does it work on a MAC, you'll have to watch the webcast for the special announcement;~)


Hey gang, that's it for me today. I've got an early pre-Bat Mitzvah shoot at Plum Street Temple this morning. Plum Street Temple has always been one of my favorite places to take photographs and I'm looking forward to this morning's shoot. Check back tomorrow, I just might have a pretty cool image to post.

Enjoy the rest of the day and keep smiling - it makes the pixels wonder what you are up to ;~)

See ya’ tomorrow everybody, -David

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"The Beauty Of The Classics"

The Beauty Of The Classics

"The Beauty Of The Classics"
©David A. Ziser

I’m turning back to the classics for our image today.  Call it an old Sinatra standard, but it’s still a classic, beautiful image.  The bride is arranged comfortably next to the pew in such a way that captures the beauty and elegance of her gown and also really enhances the brides gorgeous shape.  Her shoulders are turned away from the light thereby really accentuating the detail in the gown.

Notice too how I brought her face around pointing in the opposite direction of the shoulders and how that arrangement adds a elegant, statuesque look to our bride. Her elbow is popped away from her body defining the bride’s hour-glass figure. She looks like she stepped out of Bride’s Magazine.

The rest of the scene complete with pipe organ and stain glass window complete the composition offering a wonderful visual balance to the image.

I  worked the image slightly in Lightroom 3 to balance the tonalities of the bottom part of the image with the brighter stained glass above, but it was not a big issue and resolved easily.

Lighting is from camera right from a Quantum Trio at 1/2 power just out of camera range.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 20mm, F5.6 @ 1/40 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wednesday: The One That Got Away: Oh So, So Close…

Good Morning Everybody,

Storm Neither rain, nor sleet,60 mile per hour wind gusts, nor torrential downpours could keep our attendees away last night.  And, boy, did the rains come yesterday even knocking out power to our studio for about an hour.

We were originally forecasting around 180 to attend the Columbus presentation but we had over 225 excited photographers turn out for the program last night.  As usual, the program went about 15-20 minutes long but most did not seem to care and stayed till the end.  Many had even driven more than 3-5 hours to attend the presentation.  Once again, my sincere thanks to EVERYONE that attended.

Belt I have one funny story to share with you about last night’s program.  You know you have too much going on in your life when you pack your bags and forget a few key essentials.  LaDawn and I get the the room to change for the program.  I realize I had forgotten a black belt to go with my black and grey pants and slacks. 

Shoes But then disaster really struck when I hear LaDawn utter a “bowling word” from the hotel bedroom.  LaDawn does not use “bowling words” very often.  I asked her what was up. She explained to me her frustration and all I could do was smile.  In a very loving way, I put my arms around her and assured her all would be OK – nobody would even notice.  The BIG catastrophe, she packed one pair of shoes but each shoe was a  DIFFERENT style – whoops!

Being the constant optimist, I said look at the bright side, at least they were not for the same foot;~)  We had a good laugh and headed to the program. Just a few more truals and adventures of being on-the-road!

The One That Got Away: So, So Close…

One thing I enjoy during my Master Class is reviewing the work submitted by our attendees.  Sure, everyone is at different stages in their photographic development and everyone is in the process of developing his/her own style.  That’s what makes it so much fun to see their work, because every now and then someone comes pretty close to hitting it out of the park.

One That Got Away_MG_2658

That’s what happening in this image.  I just love it – why?

1. I love the carefree look of them walking down this cobblestone path.

2. I love how they just seem to be almost bouncing lightly down the path.

3. I love their position within the composition.  See how all the lines – the top and bottom of the hedge on the right and the curb on the left all lead your eye to the happy couple.

I love how the maker has their faces positioned at “nodal point #2”.

For me, the image dances off the page.

So, what makes the image just miss for me?

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

Really, it’s only one minor item. It’s the fact that the couple is NOT fully engaged with each other.  I think the groom looks great smiling at his bride.  I just wish the bride was looking at her groom with a more pleasing expression, maybe even a  big happy smile.


When you look closely at the image, I see just half an expression in the bride’s face.  It’s almost the start of what I want to see.  I can almost see her in the next second or two bursting into a smile as she raises her eyes to her groom. 

The shutter button was pressed milliseconds too soon. So sometimes it’s important to just keep shooting. Don’t just stop with one or two images, capture a dozen then find the best to present to the client. This image is so close, yet so…. – you know what I mean.

No don’t get me wrong.  I think the client might love the photograph – it’s really nice as I pointed out in my opening comments.  But, one soft look, one easy smile from the bride would have hit this image out of the park!


Webcast Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  We head back to Cincy in just a few minutes and should land about noon.  That should give me enough time to put the finishing touches on today’s Rocket Speed Digital Design webcast.  You still have time to register and can do so by hitting the link right here.

How about I see you on-line later this afternoon, or right here at DPT tomorrow for Business Day Thursday.

Have a great one and I’ll see you soon,  -David

"Fountain Dance"

Fountain DanceIMG_0129

"Fountain Dance"
©David A. Ziser

Here is another image I made during my Master Class last week.  The reason I’m posting this image is because I want you to see it as a lighting lesson.  Let me explain.  Everyone knows I’m a big fan of directional lighting – using the light’s direction to create a highlight next to a shadow to create detail, depth, and dimension on the subject.

When you go outside into the bright sunlight, that objective just might change.  Last week during my class I saw that a lot of the students were just “shooting away” at the bride.  I’m thinking, “Why is no one looking for the direction of light?” Heck, it’s the sun, but the sun could be set up to illuminate the bride giving me the flattering loop lighting pattern on her face.

That’s what I set out to do in this image.  I simply orientated the bride to the fixed light source, the sun, till I had created the same light direction on her face as I would have with an off camera flash.

Look too at the added detail in the gown.  We see that added detail because the light is “crossing” the gown, not “blasting” into it.  I think the result is worth it.  Sure, it’s fun “running and gunning” when you’re shooting, but a little more lighting sophistication on the image can add a nice polish to the finished image.

I tweaked the color, clarity, and contrasts in Lightroom 3 to enhance the image for this presentation.  I think it came out kind of cool.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 180mm, F 5.0 @ 1/3400 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Technique Tuesday: The Photographic Flip Side of David Ziser

Good Morning Everybody,

Columbus Well, our best laid plans of yesterday were put on hold and it’s today that we are making the 2 hour drive to Columbus, OH for my CBTL2010 tour this evening.  No big deal, we got a few more projects accomplished around the studio before we head to Columbus.

As I said yesterday, we are looking forward to an excited group of over 200 photographers coming by this evening to hear the presentation. We stay over in Columbus tonight and head on back home tomorrow just in time for my Rocket Speed Digital Design Webcast [link] – yes, we’ve been working on that in between everything else.  We should be able to “rock and roll” with the program by show time of 3:00 p.m. EDT.  Hope a lot of you can stop on by.

Hey gang, I’ve got a brand new Technique Tuesday for you this week.  It’s entitled mysteriously enough, “The Photographic Flip side of David Ziser.”  OK, what’s all the mystery about?  Check out this week’s episode to see what I’m talking about.

Technique Tuesday: The Photographic Flip Side of David Ziser

For just about my entire career, I have been photographing Weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, with a few high school senior and family portrait sessions thrown in for good measure.  Hey, I’ve always enjoyed being an event photographer, but when we travel, an alternate side of my photographic interests surfaces.

Waterfall That interest lies in landscape and fine art photography. And, why don’t we throw a little abstract art in for good measure.  If you follow the DPT blog you know this because I occasionally post one of those types of images as the daily image post.

You know, it’s just a part of photography that I enjoy exploring.  More than that, I enjoy bringing the image into Lightroom and Photoshop to finish the result.  I’ll take the finished image and create wall decor or even the occasional poster for display.  I find the entire process refreshing and relaxing.

I thought what I would do for today’s post is walk you through, not so much how I create the finished image – I’ve done that several times previously at DPT - check out this Technique Tuesday link right here which will point you to two such posts. Today I thought I would give you a peek as to the creative process I go though to create the image. A peek, as to how I see and then compose the final image.  Hit the PLAY button below and enjoy the show.


Hey everybody, that’s it for me today. Off to Columbus we go.  Hope to see you there tonight!  Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for another episode of the one that got away. It’s such a near miss, you don’t want to miss it.

See ya’ then,  David

Monday, October 25, 2010

"An Easy Day At The Park"

An Easy Day At The Park

"An Easy Day At The Park"
©David A. Ziser

Here is an image I captured during my Master Class last week. I love those wide angle lenses, and for me the wider the better. This is the widest angle lens you can put on and APS size sensor.

The super wide nature of this wide angle lens really accentuated the convergence of the lines in this image which I like a lot.  I would have preferred to see a bit more of the right side of the image, but was hampered by some distracting elements which I decided to crop out – not a big deal though.

Compositionally, I like the sweep of the arbor in the top part of the image repeating the sweep of the stone wall on which she is sitting, and the sweep of her gown.

A tweak or two in Lightroom enhanced the sky a bit adding a little more dramatic color to the scene.  I also even like how the cool shadows in the shadows of her gown compliment the sky color.

The lighting is coming in from camera left – Quantum Trio on full power – illuminated the bride nicely and really helped to pick up the detail in the bride’s gown.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with Sigma 8-16mm wide angle lens, F 8.0 @ 1/200 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Quick Hit Monday: New Ansel Adams Book; Animoto Does Lightroom; 3T Western Digital Drive Announced; Lots of Lightroom Freebies; and More

Good Afternoon Everybody,

I have to tell ya' - having the weekend off after a pretty long haul of working sure was a good way to charge the ol' NiCad's. Heck, LaDawn and I even got a chance to fit a movie in over the weekend.

Sitting On DeckFall around the Midwestern parts of the country have been beautiful. It has been just amazing sitting on the deck, breathing the fresh air, and enjoying the fall breezes while sipping on an adult beverage  ;~)

Anyway, today is Monday and it's time to get back to work - and a pretty busy week it is. Today we play "catch up" around the studio, pack up and head to Columbus, OH for tomorrow's CBTL2010 tour presentation.

Then it's back to Cincy on Wednesday for my brand new Rocket Speed Digital Design Webcast [link]. LaDawn, who is truly our LumaPix:FotoFusion guru, will be co-presenting with me.

We worked on the program a bit yesterday and it's shaping up to be the best 2 hours ever on the greatest design software on the planet. Like I said Friday, I'm going to show you some money-making things you never even thought you could do with LumaPix during the webcast. Yes, you can still register right here.

The rest of the week is quite busy with a BIG Bat Mitzvah coming up next weekend. Then it's off to California for the wrap up of the tour - I can't believe it's almost over, and just in time for the holiday rush.

Hey gang, that's this week's quick prevue and since it's going to be a busy one, let's get right to today's post. Here we go...

New Ansel Adams Book Hits The Shelves

Ansel in Parks I've always been a big fan of Ansel Adams and have several of his books. Ansel is the photographer that has inspired me for my scenic's and landscapes. I'll keep trying to aspire to his level of excellence. Anyway, in my leisurely weekend cruise of some of my favorite sites, I saw that blogging buddy, Jim Goldstein, had a book review of the latest Ansel Adams collection of images entitled, "Ansel Adams In The National Parks” [link].

Here is an excerpt:

"Ansel Adams In The National Parks excels in that Andrea G. Stillman, the books editor, has pulled not just amazing photographs from the Adams archive, but also his writing & correspondence that breath life into an otherwise historical photo anthology.

I guess what I'm picking up here in his review is that we get a peak at what Mr. Adams was thinking as he created his wonderful images with his own notes accompanying many of the images. I've been an Ansel Adams fans for years, and even talked with him on the phone once - for real. I'm heading to Amazon to order the book. Here is the link to Jim's entire review.

Just When You Thought You Were Running Out Of Storage Space

3T Drive Western Digital just introduced their brand new 3 terabyte hard drive - cost, only $269! [link] I still remember when I bought my first 1T drive for $700. It sounds like a "ton" of storage, but it also sounds like it takes a lot more time to backup too.

You know, in our digital world, things continue to get cheaper, faster, and better and that's a good thing. I would just hate to face that one mighty crash. What I would like to see is a faster, easier way to back up 50 gigs of raw file image data from a wedding shoot inexpensively on Blu-Ray DVD's.

Delkin offers archival Blu-Ray disks at about $25 a pop or $20 bucks at B&H [link] - to expensive for me. But, I did see that Panasonic just announced archival discs to be shipping by the 3rd quarter of this year [link]. No price announced yet (maybe $10 ea.) - let's wait and see.

Histogram - RAWAnd Speaking Of RAW Files

One of our DPT readers pointed me to this very thorough discussion of how to best shoot RAW files over at Ron Day’s blog [link]. The discussion on exposure was especially illuminating. It's a "geek" read but well worth the time to get your best results when shooting RAW. Enjoy!

Cool Lightroom Features, Freebies, and More

Don't you just love to take a weekend Internet cruise now and then? I like to think of it as a "Duck Tour" for the brain;~). Anyway, this week's foray into the cyberspace yielded some pretty cool Lightroom finds.

Here is the quick list:

Animoto Now Does Lightroom!

Animoto plus Lightroom That's right, select your images from within Lightroom 3 and send them on their way to I'm a BIG fan of Animoto and Lightroom so I'm thrilled to see this new integration. It's just one more easy way to sizzle your client's experience for you and your studio. Here is the link to the announcement and the plug-in.

Adding Edges To Your Images In Lightroom

LR3 EdgesHere is another little tutorial gem I stumbled on over the weekend. I found it at [link] - a nice little Lightroom/Photoshop resource for digital photographers. Anyway, this tutorial - here is the link - shows a clever way to use the Identity Plate in Lightroom to add edges to an image. Heck, the author even points you the free edges he uses - pretty cool idea.

Lightroom Freebies

LR3 Free Presets That's right, more Lightroom freebie presets that you can fit into tour hands! OnOne Software has lots of cool stuff over at their site, but some of the coolest are the links to all the FREE presets they have made available to you and me! [link]

Adobe Guru, Jack Davis, is the brains behind many of the 190 of the Lightroom presets. I have to say, they do look pretty cool. Wait, there's more - explore OnOne's site and you will find 196 more free downloads including edges, Adobe RAW plug-ins, and more. Here is the link again. I think, I've died and gone to Lightroom heaven ;~). Have fun.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. In a few hours, we are packing our bags and heading north to Columbus, OH. We are catching up with our friends, Kent and Sarah Smith, this evening. Then tomorrow it presentation #17 of CBTL2010 tour. We are expecting another large crowd of over 200 strong so I hope to see you there. Please come up and say HI.

Can't make it, then still plan to stop by DPT for a brand new Technique Tuesday: The Other Side Of David Ziser. There, that should keep you guessing a bit ;~) It will fun, I promise.

See ya' then, David

Friday, October 22, 2010

"Autumn Smiles"

 Autumn Smiles

"Autumn Smiles"
©David A. Ziser

Here is an image I made during this week's Master Class.  It’s just a simple, elegant photograph of the bride outdoors in the park – or so it seems.  The fact of the matter is that she was standing in an area of the park that was flooded with direct sunlight.

We wedding photographers are challenged with less than perfect lighting conditions every weekend. Part of the fun of shooting weddings is how we handle the challenges.

Here’s what I did. The area behind the bride was quite a distance away.  I knew I could use a large aperture and really throw the background well out of focus. What about the direct sun – that was easy.  The sun fortunately was coming in from camera left at about a 45 degree angle to the bride – about the same location I would position a studio light.  The problem was the fact that the direct sunlight was quite harsh.

If I could place the bride in the shadow of my large umbrella, that should solve the problem.  The light would be softened while still giving me a nice direction of light on my bride that I wanted.

Another benefit of placing the bride in the shadow of the large umbrella was the fact that I would need to open up the exposure by two stops to maintain proper exposure on her.  That meant that the sunlit foliage in the background would be 2 stops overexposed pushing their color tonalities to a more pleasing pastel tone. With the background being so far out of focus, that should give me a beautiful backdrop to my bridal portrait.

I positioned the bride and shot away.  I think I captured quite a lovely image of our bride in much less than perfect lighting conditions.  Hey, that’s the job of a good wedding photographer, right?

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 173mm, F2.8 @ 1/1000 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

p.s. Class starts in a few so look for my regular post later today.

Thanks, David

Friday: The Master Class Wrap Up: Spring Dates Announced; and a Few Important Updates

Good Afternoon Everybody,

SONY DSCWe just wrapped a wonderful week with my Fall 2010 Master Class.  The class loved it and we loved our class. You can see from a few of the following images that everyone had a great time.

StudentsDSC_9168-Edit (1) In fact it looks like three of our attendees are planning to come back for our Spring 2011 Master Class [link] session April 11-15.  As I was settling up at the hotel’s front desk, Stacy told me one of our classmates already made reservations for next April!  When I got back to the studio this afternoon, I did a quick check and found we are already nearly 1/2 booked – I’m blown away!

It was one full, busy week for staff and attendees alike. Last evening we had everybody over to our home for our last night together wrap up dinner and I showed the class exactly how we present our images to our clients.  It was a nice “behind the scenes” peek at how we do things at David A. ziser Photography.

Students20101020-HE-2432This morning we completed the workshop with more on sales and marketing which many in the class were dying to hear.  And of course you know that anything happening with “David Ziser” ALWAYS has door prizes associated with it so today was no different as we gave away nearly $1,000 worth of door prizes this morning - the class loved it!

I’ll continue to feature a few of my images from the week over the next few days, and maybe even a student image or two ;~)

Hey gang, it’s Friday, it’s beautiful outside, I’m tuckered, and plan to just chill for the rest of the day.  So, before I get too relaxed around here, let’s get onto today’s short post.

Update On our Captured By The Light Tour:

Crowd graphic 2 LR I can’t believe it, but we only have four cities remaining on our CBTL2010 tour.  We’re in Columbus next Tuesday and are looking at over 200 excited photographers showing up. 

On Sunday we head to the great state of California.  I’m presenting in Ontario, CA on Monday, Woodland Hills, CA on Tuesday, and Sacramento, CA on Thursday.  We’re going to have good crowds at each of these locations as well.  I hope to see many of you there. 

You still have plenty of time to register.  Just remember to use PROMO CODE CBLDPT10 to save $20 when registering.  Here is the link to all the info and to register.

FREE WEBCAST ANNOUNCED: Rocket Speed Digital Design With LumaPix: Fotofusion Wednesday October 27, 2010

Register Now LR I announced my brand new FREE webcast entitled “Rocket Speed Digital Design” just about 3 weeks ago [link].  The “Webcast room” holds up to 1,000 attendees and we still have plenty of room for all those who want to attend. 

Remember, the webcast is next Wednesday from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. EDT. That’s 11:00 a.m. PST.

This time I’ll show you a few more exciting tips and techniques you can run Lumapix through. I’ll also show you some things you didn’t even know Lumapix could do – things like:

  1. How to output your collages for printing.
  2. Album proofing and review with your clients.
  3. Fast Facebook posts.
  4. How to post your collages to your website.
  5. And much more.

During the program I’ll also have a very special announcement about Lumapix running on the MAC platform!

Click the secure link HERE to register and for all the info. Remember, maximum capacity is 1,000  so register now to guarantee your seat.

Worldwide Webcast DVD Only Available For 8 More Days!

Just a quick note on the KPPA webcast I hosted a few weeks ago [link].  The webcast featured outstanding wedding photographer Matt McGraw; fabulous high school senior photographer, Nancy Emmerich; and talented family portrait photographer, Drake Busath in an outstanding 4 hour presentation featuring phenomenal photography and wonderful marketing info.

KPPA Webcast logo w-Disk

I recorded the webcast and thought is was just “jammed packed” with great info.  Our KPPA association made it available for only $29 but only till the end of this month.  It you want to get your hands on 4 hours worth of photography, marketing, and inspiration that can take you business to the next level, you’ve got just eight days left.

Check it out right here. This opportunity is  almost gone!

Whoops!  I Posted The Wrong Promo Code

Top Pro Tour2 Hey gang, on Monday I mentioned Westcott’s Top Pro Tour [link]which is traveling around the country as we speak.  I gave the wrong code.  The Promo Code you want to use is TPT7271 to save $20 on registration.  Once again, here is the link

There are still many cities on their schedule so check it out. I’m presenting in Cincinnati, OH on Monday, November 15, 2010.  My presentation is going to based towards real lighting demos  – much different from our CBTL2010 tour. Hope to see a few of you there.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  Fall is in the air and I want to soak a bit more of it in before we hit the road again.  I hope it’s beautiful wherever you are and you get a chance to smell the roses  over the weekend.

Everybody have a great weekend and I’ll see you on the flip side next Monday all the pixels willin’

Adios,  -David

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Ecstasy of Love"


"Ecstasy of  Love"
©David A. Ziser

OK, maybe the title is a bit over the top, but I’ve been up since 6 a.m. getting ready for class and preparing the DPT blog post ;~)

Here is the story on this image.  A few weeks ago we had wedding photographer, Matt McGraw [link]as a guest speaker at our Worldwide webcast [link].  I loved what Matt was doing with his lighting for his dramatic wedding photographs.  I thought I would give it a try.

I had the bride and groom strike this dramatic pose and light them from above with my strobe.  I was pretty close to them with the strobe so I could use a fairly small aperture which was my goal.  The small aperture and fast shutter speed darkened the sky to a very dramatic blue color which added to the effect I wanted for this image.

I’m happy with my first attempt at something different. It’s never too late, or too old, to try a new style or technique.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm, F 11 @ 1/250 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Business Day Thursday: How to Choose a Wedding Photographer & Class Recap

Good Afternoon Everybody,

DAZ 3 Whew!  It was one long day yesterday – we started  at 9 a.m. and finished about 9 p.m. with about 30 minutes for lunch.  Like they say, “No pain, no gain.” ;~) All joking aside, we had a great day yesterday at my Master Class on location shooting even though it was a very long one.

We began the day with a critique of Tuesday’s photographs, but this time I recorded the critique of each group’s images and mine as well.  At this Fall Master Class/Workshop everybody will leave with a a total of 10 recordings of all the critiques, helpful suggestions for improvements and reviews – way cool thing.  I think we just added a few more gold nuggets to our Master Class.

DAZ 2 After lunch we headed out to, Ault Park,  one of Cincy’s most beautiful parks and shot the day away. Next it was up to Drees Pavilion to wrap the day with the evening/nighttime shoot.

The models hung in there all day with us but I think everyone was “whooped” by the end of the day, me included. But, we captured some great images, the students got to put into practice the techniques I’ve been teaching and that’s what makes it worth it!

5 - Nicholas 800x800 px  IMG_0181 Hey gang, I’ve got a special treat for you today. My good buddy and Ace #1 Assistant, Nicholas Viltrakis [link], is covering our Business Day Thursday post today.  Nicholas asked me about it a few weeks ago and I liked his idea. 

Nicholas has been working with me for 4 years. By the way, you’ll even fine his picture in my Captured By The Light book [link] on page 85 – he’s the guy with the “blinkey”.  Anyway, while working with me, Nicholas has been in the ongoing process of building his own business specializing in high school seniors and weddings. He’s working hard at it, does a great job and the building of his business is growing steadily.

Here was his idea - How should a bride go through the process of choosing a wedding photographer?

He really covers all the bases in a matter of fact fashion and really “nails” several solid points in the process.  I like how he talks about selecting a photographer with experience and how good that experience should be.  He also points the perspective bride to how photographers shoot a wedding – are they “run and gunners” or do they go the extra mile when shooting the job.

He also touches on post production to let the prospective bride know that wedding photography is more that just pressing the shutter button. He has several more points he covers as well, points that any bride should consider before hiring a photographer for her most important day. I think it’s a real “eye opener” for any bride looking for a wedding photographer and gives that bride a great roadmap to help her choose someone who is really going to do a good job for her. 

What I also like about his post is that it’s a great piece for a wedding photographer to have on his/her Website/Blog/Facebook page. Why not hit the “Read More…” link below and give it a read – it is very well done!

How to Choose a Wedding Photographer

So you find yourself needing a talented professional to document your big event… You’ve never done this before, but it’s REAL important to get it right. What do you need to know and what kinds of questions do you ask the candidates to find out who will be right for you? There are several things to consider when choosing a wedding photographer. A wedding is a unique situation with unique problems that a professional MUST be prepared for to get the best possible outcome in the least amount of time. Here are some things you may want to think about. (I’m supposing here that money is not an option and you like the style of the photographer.)

TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE: When you think of moments that you only get one chance to capture, your wedding day certainly is one. This is big-time important! The bride has 25-60 seconds of walking down the aisle with her father, that’s it. No do-overs. Once that moment is over, it’s over. For these important moments you need a person who is highly trained and experienced. You deserve an expert, not someone who is using your special moment for on-the-job training. During your search for a wedding photographer, inquire how they learned the art of event photography and how many weddings they have photographed. If they can’t give specifics… watch out!

1. Even if they won’t admit it, the learning curve for self-taught photographers is way longer than someone who has had the latest concepts, timelines, techniques, tips, and tricks-of-the-trade taught to them. It just saves so much time! As I said before, photography is an art and a science. With no formal training it is unlikely a painter will be painting the Mona Lisa anytime soon.

2. Who they learned from is also important! If a photographer learned the trade from a teacher that is inefficient or doesn’t understand lighting, chances are those characteristics will carry over into the student’s work. What about “I went to school for photography”? While colleges may teach theory, practice is a different animal when we are talking about events and weddings. Now I’m NOT trying to say teachers cannot educate you! What I’m saying is that there is a lot of real-life situations not covered in textbooks. The best education for event photography comes from someone who does it all the time. They know what to expect and prepare for at events.

3. How many have they photographed? Sure, you can practice and read, but there’s way more stress the day of the event, trust me. The first 10 weddings are the hardest for sure, the highest volume of mistakes will happen then.

TECHNIQUE: There’s good techniques and slow techniques at fast paced events like weddings. Photographers can get a lot of good technique from training. Ask the photographer what their techniques are. Good photographers should prepare you, the client, for how things will go at your event. (What he/she does, how he/she does it.)

Here’s some questions to ask:

1. What are your techniques? (General)

2. What kinds of images do you take at a wedding? (Are they all posed formals, PJ (photojournalistic), or a mix? What about scene setters?)

3. Do you use off camera flash/Do you use 2 or 3 point lighting? (It is my opinion that the 2 & 3 point lighting technique (demonstrated in my photography) is pretty cool, only 20% of photographers do it!)

4. Do you have an assistant? (Photographers with assistants can get way more done.)

5. How do you plan on photographing the wedding party/families quickly? (Learning from David Ziser, I employ a technique called Flow Posing where we efficiently and systematically photograph all the permutations of wedding party/family groups and still get the couple to the reception before the salads are finished! See, another benefit of good training!!)

6. How many times, and when in the process, does the photographer meet with the bride and groom for consultation and planning?

7. Does he/she visit the locations before you shoot there?

8. What unique services do you offer at events? (“The difference is the difference.” If they can give you light painting, special lighting, extreme wide angle, video clips, stop action gif animations, colored gels, or thousands of other “nice-to-haves” it sure is nice-to-have for your once in a life time event, and some of that stuff takes planning!)

9. What backup equipment do you bring to the event? (HUGE importance! Imagine if the camera breaks half way through!?! How are they guaranteeing your product?)

10. How do you ensure color quality and longevity of your prints?

11. What kind of post processing do you do?

POST PROCESSING: Ten years ago post processing was the print lab but now post processing is almost 50% of photography. In post processing the photographer can make all of your images balanced for brightness, color, crop, accentuate details, or remove unsightly elements! The better your photographer is at post production, the more opportunities to give you the best possible product open up. In my personal experience, great photos come out of the camera but amazing photos come out of Photoshop!

Some areas to consider:

1. Does the photographer balance the images for density and color before you get to pick them out? (Whether or not an image has had a little processing can effect whether or not you select the image.)

2. Will the photographer balance the images when the images are selected or purchased?

3. Will the photographer retouch faces, eyeglasses, smooth skin, remove exit signs or beer bottles out of photographs, etc. (If you don’t think this is important, ask me for some examples of what this kind of retouching can bring to your images. Remember AMAZING photos come out of post production.)

4. How long does your post processing take?

SPEED: There are two prominent areas where you may want to find out how quickly your photographer operates. At the wedding, and how long it takes to get your product into your hands.

1. Wedding Day – No one wants to remember that the photos on your wedding day took FOREVER. Again, poor planning and lack of education can really slow down the process and the wedding day is not a day for the photographer to get it right at all costs. This day is about the bride and groom. A good way to judge speed on the wedding day is to ask how long the formal portraits will take and how many photographs the photographer will take during that time. (If the photographer says “It usually takes about 3 hours before the wedding and an hour after with the end result 30 images to choose from.” That’s not a good sign. If they say “Oh just about 15 min and you’ll see 200 amazing images.” That sounds fishy, too.

2. Where’s my stuff? – Ask what the timeline after the wedding looks like (Cause you’re not done yet). How long until I can see my images? How long after I order them will they be delivered? How long will it take to complete my album? Will I get to approve the design before it’s printed? (Don’t get stuck with nothing to show from your wedding for months! Know what to expect!)


So everything above is pretty obvious, right. But don’t stop at the product. That isn’t the only service your photographer should be delivering on your special day (or after).

A good photographer has a respectful reverence for the solemnity of your special day. Your wedding is unique to you, but to the photographer it’s a common occurrence. We’ve all seen people who treat their job like boring work they “have to” do, and it shows. No matter how many times the photographer has photographed weddings, or weddings in the same church they should treat you, your family and friends, the church or sanctuary, and everyone else with the respect and enthusiasm that’s due on the special day. And it is a special day. This will be hard to measure since any conversation you’ll be having with the photographer he’ll essentially be “selling” to you.

Ask for references (that aren’t related to the photographer!). If you can’t do that, listen to the way he/she talks about what they do. You can get a good sense of what they think by the way they describe answers to the questions like the ones above. Heck, ask him what he’ll do when uncle Harry steps in to take photos right in the middle of the formal portraits (‘cause he ALWAYS does).

A good photographer will:

  1. Understand his/her place in the wedding and not overstep his/her bounds.
  2. Dress better than the minimum standard for your event. (No shorts! NO flip-flops! No outlandish gear backpack, belt, or vest… this is a wedding not a safari! They should wear a suit and tie or a nice dress or pants suit for a woman.)
  3. Address and treat everyone like a foreign dignitary regardless of who they are. (Keep in mind if you hired this person they kind of represent you at your wedding.)
  4. Help out with non-photo related stuff if it’s needed. (Lets be real here, “That’s not my job.” is a crappy attitude.)
  5. Contact the religious person or efficient to ask about the rules of the sanctuary before the wedding.
  6. Communicate well, and communicate what is going on to people involved in the process.
  7. Find something to do to add value if there’s nothing else going on. (Don’t just stand there, take a picture of the ceiling, or the band, or details of the flowers or place settings, anything! They shouldn’t just stand there waiting to go home.)

So even if WE don’t work together, at least you will have a set of reference points to use to find photographic professionals.

I hope this helps!


Hey Nicholas, wonderful, informative post!  Hey gang, hope you enjoyed it too. 

It’s Business Day Thursday in class too today – one of my favorite days to teach.  How about I see everyone tomorrow right here at DPT, same time - same place.

Have a great one everybody,  -David

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Autumn Nymph"

Autumn Nymph

"Autumn Nymph"
©David A. Ziser

Here is an image I made during yesterday’s Master Class on-location shoot. It illustrates just how nice a bridal portrait can look with a little off camera flash coming in from camera right. Using the wider aperture of F4.0 threw the background out of focus thereby making my subject, the bride really “pop out” of the scene.

It was a bit challenged to keep the aperture at F 4.0 because of the brighter ambient light outdoors.  I decided to “cheat the sync” to 1/320 second to make the F 4.0 aperture work.  At the higher than normal sync speed, that meant that 1/3 of left side of the image received no flash.  But, no problem, since my subject was not standing there.

I also like the contrast of the warm fall colors against the “grey” of the building in the background. The simple centered symmetry worked well for this simple, elegant bridal portrait.

Camera Specs:  Canon 7D fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 200mm F 4.0 @ 1/320 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

The One That Got Away: Or The Designing Of A Photograph

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Our Master Class is off with a “bang”.  We spent all day yesterday and a bit of the evening in some gorgeous locations with six great looking models (see below) getting some really beautiful photographs.  We finally made it back to the classroom about 7:30 p.m. but in spite of the long day I believe everyone had a wonderful time putting some simple lighting and posing rules into action. All-in-all a great learning experience.

Models Galore

We covered a lot of “photographic territory” throughout yesterday’s shoot – from magnificent cathedrals to beautiful reception venues, to city parks, to the urban wilderness of downtown Cincinnati – and yes, the “natives” were restless yesterday but that’s another story.

Hey gang, as usual I’m running a little short of time this morning so let’s get right to today's post.  Here we go…

Designing Your Wedding Image: Working To The Finished Result

I thought I’d approach today’s post a little different way.  I thought I would walk you through HOW I design my final image walking you through what I’m seeing through the camera’s viewfinder, how I modify the composition to get closer to the final result I want to obtain, and the final adjustments I make to the image to realize that final result.

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

The image I chose for today’s discussion comes from yesterday’s shoot and walks you through my creative process even as I struggled with a few lighting and composition issues – let me show you.

Take a look at this first image.  My first thought was to have the bride framed up by the wall you see in the background. The problem was the fact that I had two people within view in the reception area at the bottom of the image.  In this case, I decided to not ask them to move and planned to rework the composition.

Design 1

Image 1.

Now take a look at Image 2.  Here I decided to crop a bit more of the folks below out but I still couldn’t get rid of the gentleman in the bottom left of the image.  I did think I could remove him easily in Photoshop so I took the image anyway.  I like how the railing leads right to the bride, but I’m not thrilled with all the steps on the right side of the image. Still, I think the image looks pretty good.

Design 2

 Image 2.

Now let’s look at the third image.  This time I repositioned the bride more in the center of the stairway.  I decided that I liked this framing the best so far.  All the lines visually lead directly to the bride and also framed her nicely.  I’m still dealing with my folks in the background but I felt a little judicious cropping would solve my problem.Design 3

 Image 3.

In the last image this is the photograph I was going for. I brought image 3 into Lightroom and cropped it closer.  I still had the gentleman in the shot, but with judicious use of the Spot Removal tool and the Sharpness brush I was able to “disguise” his presence.  I then use the Lens Correction feature to remove the convergence of the lines caused by my wide angle lens.

Design 4 Image 4.

I love the finished result and I never once had to make the trip to Photoshop.  Sure, I could still work on the bright areas you see near the top of the steps, but heck, it was 11 p.m. last night and I had an early wake up call for class this morning.  I’ll plan to finish it up over the weekend ;~)

I hope you enjoyed my little walk the thought process I go through to capture the final image for presentation.  I think this one came out well and I think a client seeing this image would love it – I’ll have to ask my bride later today what she thinks ;~)


Hey gang, that’s it for me today. My Master Class beckons.  I’ll plan to see everyone tomorrow for another Business Day Thursday – a few more images from our class this week. 

Have a good one, and I’ll see you them,  -David