Friday, April 29, 2011

"Turn Around, Look At Me"

Turn Around, Look At Me0140_DZ-Walker W10-Edit

"Turn Around, Look At Me"
©David A. Ziser

This is an image I made last year.  I was reviewing it for another project and stumbled upon this image which I like a lot.  I was shooting several available light images around their home, hence the high ISO you’ll see below.  The bride started heading out the door to get into the waiting limo.  I called to her an she turned and I captured this image – great expression, soft tonalities, all the qualities of a nice wedding photograph.

It was in the post processing that the final image came together for me.  I de-saturated the image then kicked the Fill Light slider to about 40.  I just like that kind of soft, airy look in my B&W images.

The finishing touch was to slide the Clarity slider all the way down to –77.  Because of the tonalities that the Clarity slide affects, you get almost a kind of “halation” effect we got back in the film days when the background was super overexposed.  For me, the –77 Clarity setting just added that last little bit of softness and airiness to the image.

Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark II fitted with Canon 24-105 IS lens at 47mm, F4.0 @ 1/1250 second, ISO 1600.  Enjoy!  -David


p.s.  Hey gang, I got the image up today but I’m bailing on the second post.  We are heading to the airport shortly and time is at a bit of a crunch.

How about I see you bright and early on Monday.  Have a great weekend and I’ll see you then,  David

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Things Are Looking Up At The Fairmont"

Things Are Looking Up At The FairmontIMG_4870-Edit

"Things Are Looking Up At The Fairmont"
©David A. Ziser

This is another image I made while exploring Banff, Alberta, Canada and the surrounds.  We took a day trip over to Lake Louise and stopped in the beautiful Fairmont Hotel to warm up after our freezing walk across the frozen lake.

I was just resting in the lobby waiting on LaDawn who was wondering the nearby gift shop when I leaned back and noticed this really cool looking upper level of the hotel.  As luck would have it, my trusty Sigma 8-16mm lens was in place on my camera.

I simply leaned back as far as I could, framed up the image and shot away. Granted, this is no image for Architectural Digest, but the experience was a nice “eye exercise” in composition.  First of all I like all the strongly converging lines created by the super wide angle lens.  Next, I like the contrasting warm and cool colors. I also like the contrasting elements the curving arches, chandelier, and corner railings against the straight lines of the second floor soffit and pillars.

I thought the combination of all these elements made for an interesting and pleasing visual experience.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm, F4.5 @ 1/30 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Business Day Thursday: Rethinking The Sales Pitch

Good Morning Everybody,

Texas School2Well, the bags are packed (almost) and we’re ready to hit the trail again.  Tomorrow we head off to Dallas, Texas where I’ll be teaching at Texas School for a week.  I taught at the school years ago so I’m really looking forward to see how things have changed since presenting there a few years ago.  A lot of our fiends are teaching during the week so it will be good to catch up with them too.

From the looks at the schedule, it seems like one busy week with about every spare minute in our schedules accounted for.  Blogging may be on the short and sweet side next week – we’ll see ;~)

On with today’s post…

Business Day Thursday: Rethinking The Sales Pitch

Zookbinder bookI was visiting with a couple of my wedding photography buddies recently and, as usual, the topic of how our wedding photography industry has changed so dramatically over just the last few years.  To the point - wedding averages are WAY down and everybody seems to be looking for a deal.

I addressed several reasons for this back in February when I did the two part blog post for my good friend and blogging buddy, Scott Kelby [link]. Since that post I have a few more observations on the same topic. 

I think the biggest reason for this situation lies in the fact that the folks making the “buying” decisions for wedding photography are no longer the bride’s parents.  I think in today’s market, it’s the bride and groom themselves and I think these younger adults are more conscious of the dollars they want to spend on wedding photography. 

Anyway, without me going into a long debate on that subject, let’s discuss how we might approach our new customer when it comes to making the sale. For years I’ve always “pitched” my top coverages first. 

Suit LR - Fotolia_4257823_Subscription_LI always liked to use the fine clothing store as an example.  I mean, how would you feel if you were browsing for a suit or dress in your local department store and the clerk came over, sized you up, and suggested you check out the less expensive inventory on the sale rack.  You’d probable feel a tinge insulted by the experience.

I felt the same way about selling my photography – show the best to sell the best.  Always start with your top product offering.  It’s how I’ve been doing things successfully at my studio for years.

Today’s market may call for a re-thinking of that strategy in light of the way folks are making their buying decisions.  Maybe it would be better to sell from the bottom up.  I know of one “high end” photographer doing just that and his percentages on closing the sale have improved dramatically!

Maybe the example of how a jeweler sells engagement rings works better in this market climate.  Most of us guys remember our experience buying the engagement ring for our brides.  We have a budgeted figure in mind for our purchase.  We want our loved one to have the best, but we know we still need to make the car payment, pay the electric bill, water, heat, buy food and occasionally some new clothing……  – right?

Ring LR - Fotolia_6328310_Subscription_XLWhat happens? The jeweler begins showing us the various engagement ring options.  The one that was within our budget is about the size of a grain of sand even under the magnifying loupe.  He then proceeds to tell us about “color, cut. clarity, and caret weight” and our budget is blown to smithereens.

Think about it. The jeweler has educated us to why the nice diamonds cost more  money and we’re appreciative of that fact and do what?  WE SPEND MORE MONEY on the ring, sometimes much more that we ever intended – and worry about the car payment and other living expenses later.  Why? Because our girl is really worth the extra expense.

Now let’s put that experience into the context of selling wedding photography.  Maybe after we get an idea where the bride and groom’s budget lands, and we should have a pretty good idea before our appointment with them, we simply show them what they can get for that budgeted amount.

After offering the first option, it’s time to show them the “photographic” version of color, cut, clarity, and caret weight.  That might include more hours of coverage, a second or even third photographer, professionally bound albums, included digital images – the list goes on and on.

As the prospective client sees the exciting options, albeit at a higher cost, I’m thinking we photographers would experience the same results that most jewelers experience when selling that engagement ring we discussed above.

Wedding LR - Fotolia_30673233_Subscription_XXLIn today’s market I think starting with your lowest price, then educating your clients about the myriad of options available and selling up may be the way to go.  Showing the “sticker shocker” first and then relieving the potential buyer’s anxiety as the the price is lowered may not be as effective as doing the reverse.  Maybe  now is the time to introduce the client to something they thought they wanted pricewise and then educate them why the larger coverages are such a better value and excite then even more.

Food For Thought  -David


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I’ve got calls to make, people to see and bags to pack – I’m out of here.  I’m planning to take the day off tomorrow because of our early wakeup call. If I miss you tomorrow, I’ll see you Monday morning hailing from Dallas, Texas.

Have a great one and I’ll see ya’ soon.

See ya’ Pardner,  David

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Afternoon Blues"

Afternoon BluesIMG_4092

"Afternoon Blues"
©David A. Ziser

Here is another image I captured during my Master Class a few weeks ago.  We were working in one of the most popular parks in the city for wedding photographers, Ault Park.  During the busy season you could find yourself, along with as many as 4 or 5 other photographers vying for that best location for their wedding photographs.

This image was made on top of the pavilion, a place not selected by many photographers.  It’s usually in the direct sunlight making it fairly challenging to capture a good photograph. 

We were lucky on this day.  The sun was above the horizon but still fairly low in the sky coming in from camera left. I still needed to get the bright rays off my bride so I had one of our classmates hold a large translucent umbrella out of camera range, just to camera left.  That, in effect, cast a shadow on the back of the bride that you don’t see. And that, in effect, eliminated the sun’s bright rays from the back of the dress.

Now all I had to do was light the front of the bride.  That was easy – I just brought my full power flash in from camera right at the correct position to create my loop lighting pattern on my subject. The low ISO, small aperture, and faster shutter speed underexposed the blue sky a bit adding the rich blue color to the background.

The lighting, camera settings, and wide angle lens all combined for a fairly dramatic portrait of our bride.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with a Sigma 8-16mm lens at 11mm, F11 @ 1/125 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Update: The One That Got Away – It’s The Little Things That Count

Good Morning Everybody,

OK, I’m coming out of the closet today.  I know it’s shocking news, but it’s true.  Are you ready, I’m a Gleek.  That’s right, I’m a really big gleek – a big fan of the hit TV show Glee, that is ;~)

Come the end of the day, LaDawn and I are your fairly boring couple who sits around watching Law and Order, CSI, or House enjoying a glass or wonderful wine or an adult beverage.  I don’t even remember how we stumbled across our first episode of Glee, but I have to tell you – it was a defining moment in our TV viewing habits.

Gleek outNetflix just picked up the show too and you know what that meant – we could now get caught up on all the past episodes!  We have been happily watching about three episodes an evening these last few weeks and finished the 21st episode last evening.  The ensemble acting, the sometimes outrageous plots, the cast of characters (Come on – deep down – wouldn’t you really love playing Sue Sylvester’s part just one time?) -  I just giggle my way through each episode.  Oh, BTW, the singing is fantastic too. 

What does this have to do with anything photographic?  Absolutely nothing, but I just couldn’t go along living, blogging, existing till I came clean with our DPT readers.  There, it’s out, I’m out, I’m or more accurately - we’re Gleeks,  life can go on – I feel so relieved ;~)

Now on with today’s post.

The One That Got Away – It’s The Little Things That Count

During my Master Class, one of the highlights of the week is the student image review we do on Wednesday and Thursday morning.  Each class member selects their 5 favorite images, submits them anonymously, and LaDawn and I review them.  The cool thing is that we record the entire image review and then give each class member a DVD of the entire review.  Like I said, it’s a big hit at my class and a wonderful learning opportunity.

It’s become the basis for this series.  With the class’s permission, I’ll select a few image these next few weeks and share with you the near misses and what could have enhanced these images even more.  Lets take a look at this week’s image below.

Near Miss 1

First, what do I like about this image:

1. The lighting is perfect on the bride’s face.  Just look at the beautiful loop lighting pattern on her face.  The maker nailed it. 

2. The balance of highlight to shadow is also nicely handled.  The background is underexposed about a stop which makes our subject pop out of the scene. 

3.  I like, too, how the maker framed up the background, the front of a church in downtown Cincy – it’s perfectly centered.  It makes a great background for this portrait of our bride.

4. The pose is easy, comfortable, and believable. Like I said, this image has a lot going for it.

So, you’re wondering why this image is a near miss – right?  It comes down to a couple of little items. First – I would have liked a slightly better expression from the bride. Next I would have just slightly relaxed the the bouquet to a lower position on the bride’s left hip. These two critiques are very minor.

The major fault in my opinion is the position of the bride in the image.  I mentioned above in #3 that the maker did a great job defining the background and then consciously framed it up for what looked to be a very symmetrical composition.

Now bring in the bride.  The big question for me is why the bride wasn’t centered.  The entire composition indicated at least to me, that the perfect position for the bride was “dead center” as we see in the next image – yes, I centered her up in Photoshop.

Near Miss 2

But do you see that moving the bride just a few inches to the right really makes the image come alive. As the viewer, my eye is lead right to the center of the image because of how the maker framed up the background. 

Take a quick peek at the the setting without the bride – where does you eye go – right to that center door.

Miss 3

My quick rule of thumb is to place your subject where the eye is being directed, and in this case, that would be the center of the frame.

Miss 3a

The original is still a nice photograph, but with the bride centered in the composition, it’s nearly a home run!

OK, now you’re thinking, “What’s Ziser mean – nearly a home run?”  That’s right, nearly a home run. What would it take to make this image the rest of the way?

Glad you asked.  It has to do with one more tiny little detail – the veil. Notice in the second photo above everything is pretty much symmetrically centered – the building, the bride, her arms and flowers.  What’s missing – one final FIX of the veil.  Let’s get it centered on the bride’s head.  That should do it – all super simple, easy fixes that only would have taken a second or two to correct.  Check out the final image below.

Miss 4

Now go take a peek at the first image one more time - what do you think?  Like they say, sometimes it’s the little things that count ;~)

Update: The One That Got Away – It’s The Little Things That Count

A few of our DPT readers think the bride would look better in the bottom right hand corner at my “Nodal Point #4. See comments below.  OK, let’s take a peek.

Miss Right Corner

My thoughts with this subject placement – I think now the image becomes more an image of the church with the bride, who should be the primary compositional element, playing second fiddle.  My eye still wants to go to that middle door as I showed in the 4th image above.

My vote still goes to image #5 above showing the bride centered in the composition. Simple, classic, no hesitation what you’re looking at – the bride.  Now the background is playing second fiddle in the scene as it should.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I’ve got a client coming by in about an hour to review images and make final album selections.

How about I see everyone tomorrow for another episode of Business Day Thursday.

Adios for now,  David

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Cover Girl"

Cover GirlIMG_3858-Edit-2

"Cover Girl"
©David A. Ziser

I posted several landscapes last week so I thought I better get back to wedding photographs again this week ;~)  This is one of my favorite images from my Master Class a few weeks ago. I was trying out my new really portable radio slaves I picked up about a month ago at  and was having a good time adding even more lights on my wedding portraits. This wedding portrait is one such example.

The main light is coming from camera right, a Canon 580 EXII through my Zumbrella, a believe at about 1/4 power. The accent light, just a little unit I picked up at B&H [link] is directly behind the bride and was positioned there to illuminate her veil. The third unit, a 580 EX at 1/8 power, was being held by one of the class members camera left and slightly behind the bride.  This third flash really adds a nice separation of the subject from the background. It just adds a bit more dimension to the image. Think of this light as a second accent light on the scene.

The wide angle lens really emphasizes the beautiful architecture of the church with the lens’ super wide field of view. When composing for this kind of image, always try to visualize where the lines are leading, then place your subject at that point as I’ve done in this image.  Underexposing the ambient light 1 stop emphasized the subject even more in the finished composition.

CAmera specs:  Canon 7D fitted with 8-16mm Sigma lens at 10mm, F 6.3 @ 1/30 second, ISO 400.  Enjoy!  -David

Technique Tuesday: It’s All About The Lines, Leading Lines That Is

Good Afternoon Everybody,

You know, even though we had a great week in Banff, it still feels good to be back home.  The rain has let up a bit, the weather has warmed nicely, and the sun has even come out for a minute or two  Sorry for yesterday's later than usual post, but I sure hope you had a chance to check out some of the links in my link heavy Quick Hit Monday.

I’ve got a meeting in just a few minutes so let’s get on with today’s post – here we go…

It’s All About The Lines, Leading Lines That Is

You know, during my Master Class, we give the attendees plenty of time to shoot and work with each other in learning about lighting and composition.  I keep my lighting pretty simple and it’s fairly easy to understand.  The concepts of composition, it seems, are not that easy to grasp.

All About The LinesIMG_3940-Edit-EditI have to chuckle a bit a few weeks ago when I was trying to show some of the class members all the leading lines all around the staircase in the location where we were working. But even though the leading lines were everywhere, many of the students had their long telephoto lens on their cameras shooting away.

I finally told all of them to put their telephotos away and replace it with the widest angle lens they had in their gear bag.  It was only then that I heard many of them exclaim, “Oh, I see the lines now!”  It’s a funny thing about wide angle lenses – it’s really easy to see the leading lines with such a wide field of view.  Now all you have to do is see where they lead and place your subject there.

In today’s tutorial, I’ll walk you through the process of learning how to “see” with wide angle lenses.  I hope you’ll see what I’m trying to describe in the video because if you do, it will change your photographic lives and give you a peek at why I like wide angle lenses so much.

Why not hit the PLAY button and enjoy the show.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I’ve got a quick meeting across town and need to be hitting the road.  Tomorrow I continuing my series, “The One That Got Away.”  I select an image or two and show you what went right and what went wrong and how to make it an even stronger more impacting image.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

Hope to see you then,  David

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Queen Of The Ball"

Queen Of The BallIMG_4539-Edit

"Queen Of The Ball"
©David A. Ziser

Here is another image I made during my early bird shoot while in Banff last week.  It’s a simple yet elegant portrait of our beautiful model who looks like she is about to attend the formal ball.  It almost has a “debutant” feel about it – elegant, classic, timeless.

I was struck by the six arches you see surrounding Jenna and thought with her centered in the composition all lines would lead to her.  I had to be careful not to get the camera too low for the image.  Had I lowered the camera a bit more, her head would not have been framed by the arch you see above her head. Even with a centered composition, I think I captured Jenna’s placement just right.

The biggest challenge  was getting the lighting on the subject.  Had I shot through my Zumbrella, the light would have flooded heavily onto the background on the left.  I needed a much more direct light source to avoid that happening.

I chose my handy, dandy Z-Ray which did the trick perfectly.  I was able to have one of the class attendees point the light directly at Jenna’s face and give me the beautiful loop lighting you see.  The very  narrow cone of light coming from my Z-Ray also creates a nice lighting vignette on the subject, as well.  It almost appears that she is in a spotlight – which, of course, she is.

So, even though the pose is simple and elegant, I still needed to work out the technical details to capture the image I wanted.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 30mm, F 5.6 @ 1/100 second, ISO 800.  Enjoy!  -David

Quick Hit Monday: Starting Your Wedding Business; Lighting Tricks; Cool Photography: Lots Of Photoshop Tips, Tutorial, and Brushes

Good Morning Everybody,

We left one of the most beautiful places on earth last Saturday and arrived back in rainy Kentucky late Saturday evening. And, it looks like more of the same wet weather all week.  No worries though, we have wonderful memories of our visit to Banff and Spring is in the air here in good ol’ KY.

To JasperIMG_5020After signing off of last Friday’s post, LaDawn and I rented a car and took a breathtaking drive over to Lake Louise and then continued many more miles down the Ice Fields Highway.  I said it many times before, but this drive has to be about the most beautiful in the world.  Just check out my “drive by shooting” image above. The soaring snow capped mountains reaching to the crisp blue sky simply takes your breath away.  We both said we would definitely make a return trip.

We got settled in over the Easter weekend and ready for another busy week around the studio. Then on Friday we head out to Dallas, TX for a week teaching at Texas School, the largest school in the country.  I’ll give you more details as we get closer to the weekend.

Anyway, I’ve got quite a few interesting tidbits for you in today’s Quick Hit Monday, so let’s get right to them.

Creative Thinking & Creative Lighting

Cigar Bar shotI thought this was quite interesting post when I saw it come across over the weekend.  In this photograph by Joey Celis you see 11 people, nicely lit in a dim cigar bar.  How do you light each of the models without taking a photograph of all the gear?  Hey, it’s really kind of easy if you take a minute or two to think it through.  Here is the link right here to how it was created.

Highlight Tone Priority Revisited

A few years ago I did a post entitled “Highlight Tone Priority – Image Salvation” [link] expounding the benefits of using Highlight Tone Priority especially when shooting weddings or shooting anything for that matter.  I have it enabled ALL THE TIME on all my cameras.  In that post I went into quite a bit of detail as to why I liked the feature so much on my Canon cameras.  BTW – it’s called Active D-Lighting on Nikon cameras.

HTP revisitedThe interesting result of the post was the wide range of responses to the post but that’s not the point today.  Well, maybe it is. One recent commenter pointed me to this YouTube video which is about the best explanation I’ve seen on the subject. Here is the link right here – enjoy.

Starting Your own Wedding Photography Business

Jasmine Star has skyrocketed to the top of her field of wedding photography in only a few short years.  How did she do it, considering the amount of competition in today’s market place? It sounds like a secret everyone would like to know.

Wedding Web sitesWell, now you can learn the secret too.  Over at Jasmine recently shared her secret in her guest blog post right here.  Good info and good advice.

Want a little more wedding photography inspiration?  Check out these wedding website of several other successful wedding photographers right here. Notice who tops the list ;~)

A Little Photographic Inspiration For You

WaterscapesI love browsing the kind of sites I’ve got for you today.  Hey, none of them have anything to do with wedding photography and that’s the point.  Sometimes we need to get our brain juices flowing and exploring sites not related to our own field of interest is the best way to do just that.  Let me invite you to explore three sites.

Oh, BTW, would you like to explore a few more photography web sites.  Then hit this link right here for the mother load of tons of photo related sites!  Have fun.

Another Photoshop Mother  Load Of Tips, Tricks, Brushes, and More

Photo Manipulation2I can’t believe how much stuff is on the web these days.  There simply is no way to keep up with it all.  I like to think I point you towards some pretty cool links on Quick Hit Monday and lately many of those links have been Photoshop related. I really hope you enjoy a few of the PS gold nuggets I toss your way.  I think they’re pretty cool ;~)  Anyway, here is this week’s list.

  • Deke McClellan’s tutorial on how to turn a photo into an ink drawing right here.
  • 30 interesting Photoshop text effects tutorials right here.
  • How to enhance B&W photographs in Lightroom and Photoshop right here.
  • Thirty, yes - count them, 30 SETS of FREE Photoshop brushes right here.
  • Thirty prime examples of digital manipulation right here.  (These are always some of my favorite images to check out.)
  • And lastly, how to get Photoshop running at peak performance right here.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I’ve got to check in with my team and see what’s been happening around here since we’ve been gone.  I’ve got a few projects to wrap up this week too.  So, for me it’s my nose back to the grindstone ;~)

I’ll plan to see everybody tomorrow for another episode of Technique Tuesday.

Adios everybody, David

Friday, April 22, 2011

"A Room With A View"

A Room With A ViewIMG_4725

"A Room With A View"
©David A. Ziser

The views in Banff from almost any direction are simply spectacular.  This is another image taken from our hotel room.  The time was later in the afternoon and the sun was just kissing the top of the mountains in the distance with the clouds just beginning to move in.  The combination created an “Ansel Adams” moment.

Compositionally I wanted the viewer’s eye to be led into the scene with the darker mountain in the foreground on the left.  The two pines on the right offered another compositional focal point against my main point of interest, the brightly lit mountains in the distance.

I took the image into Lightroom 3, changed it to B&W and then tweaked the color channels to adjust the grey tones to my liking.  I darkened the sky by sliding the blue channel to the left and lightened the foliage a bit by dragging the yellow and green sliders to the right. Ansel would have used filters and processing back in his day.  I just used the electronic versions instead. A few more tweaks with clarity and contrast finished the composition.

Camera specs: Canon 18-200mm IS lens at 40mm, F10 @ 1/320 second, ISO 400.  Enjoy!  -David

Convention Wrap Up & A Few Personal Observations

Good Morning Everybody,

FairmountIMG_4290-EditToday is our last day in Banff, Alberta after staying at the iconic Banff Springs Fairmont Hotel.  We head back to Calgary tomorrow, jump on our Delta jet, and arrive back home late tomorrow evening.

It has been a wonderful week long visit to this part of the world. We’ve filled our time with convention activities, reconnecting with good friends, making some new ones, good food, and sight seeing.

Trip Highlights:

LaDawn and I were sitting in the Rundle Lounge yesterday afternoon reminiscing about the trip. I was quick to point out the highlights for me.  First and foremost was the friendliness and warm hospitality the Canadian photographers offered to us during our visit. From the day we arrived till the wrap of the convention Wednesday evening, we felt welcomed and grateful.

Hanging With The Photographers

DAZ and AJOne nice surprise was meeting Ajaz Akhter who traveled all the way from Karachi, Pakistan. Yes, AJ certainly received the long distance travel award. AJ introduced himself and honored me by telling me he had traveled the great distance, in addition to attending the convention, he had registered to take my Early Bird program on Wednesday.  He is staying with his brother this upcoming week in Toronto and then flying to Dallas, TX the following week to attend my Texas School class. Hey AJ, can’t wait to see you in Texas!

My long day on Wednesday beginning with my Early Bird program at 7:00 a.m. and wrapping 10 hours later to a standing ovation from the audience of my “Captured By The Light” program was both exciting and quite humbling.  Thank you to all for your enthusiastic response – it will be long remembered.

My Early Bird ProgramPeterIMG_4497-Edit

I have to tell you – getting to shoot in the Banff Springs Fairmont Hotel sure was a treat – so much history, so many beautiful locations, so many opportunities for creating exciting images – the shoot could not have gone better.

JennaIMG_4548The scenery itself offered photographic possibilities I just don’t get back home in good ol’ KY.  I loved every minute of the session and I think my class did too.  My thanks to Peter and Jenna for standing in and being such great models.

The Spectacular Views

As LaDawn and I made the 20 minute walk into town yesterday, I commented that Banff has to be about the most beautiful place in the world.  Regardless of the direction you look the snowcapped mountains rose majestically and picture perfectly to the sky.

As we were crossing the bridge into town I hear my name called and meet Frank from the UK. He is a consistent reader of the blog and has arrived in Banff for Holiday and a wedding of a friend in a few more days. Thanks Frank for stopping to say HI!

Lake Tahoe is the only other place we’ve been that  rivals the sights at Banff.  Needless to say, I burned through a few megapixels during the visit.

The Weather Is A Changing

Snow Falling On CedarsIMG_4228-EditNever in my life have I seen the weather change so suddenly and completely so often.  In many locations around the United States we say, “If you don’t like the weather, just stick around 15 minutes and it will change.”  That is an exaggeration in Cincinnati but it is truly the case in Banff, Alberta.

Walk to BanffIMG_4666Many times during the week we would rise to a socked in view of the mountains only a few hours later the sun was trying to peek through the clouds.  Soon the fog would lift and we were presented with the spectacular views of the Canadian Rockies.

A hour or so later, we would be sitting at the Rundle Lounge enjoying an adult beverage and the snow would be coming down like crazy.  Cloudy, snowy, sunny – it was always breathtaking!

Fabulous Food For Us Foodies

You know, when your sit down in a new restaurant, you always expect the food to be good – why would you be there otherwise.  Our dining experiences while staying at the Banff Springs Fairmont were beyond ordinary. 

Rundle LoungeWe visited every restaurant on the premises and each one offered a range of flavors dining experience that will be long remembered.  The Rundle Lounge offered a wonderful range of mouth watering entrées that we enjoyed more that once.  My favorite was the perfectly prepared Salmon Bouillabaisse – unbelievable!  Oh, I need to say the the Rundle Lounge also offered the most fabulous views of Sundance Canyon which I,ve featured several times in my posts this week.

Castello RestuarntThe Castello Ristorante was another one of our favorites.  We shared dinner with our friends, Tim and Bev Walden, and dined on a range of flavors from appetizers to desserts that made the visit one of our most memorable culinary experience.

Catching Up With Old Friends

Tim and Bev Walden, our good friends from the great state of Kentucky were also presenting at the convention.  You know, we live about 75 minutes from each other but often see each other when traveling.  When in the same city at the same time we always try to get together for a visit. 

It was good to catch up with so many of our Canadian photographer friends too – Joseph and Louise Simone, Don MacGregor, Sam Sciarrino, and Craig Minielly – winner of this year’s Josef Karsh Award.  I’ll tell ya’, connecting with your friends in real life – laughing, joking, talking, and just visiting sure beats the quick hit Facebook hook up any time! That’s one of the best things about being part of your photographic association and going to the annual conventions.


It’s been a great stay and we have one more day.  LaDawn and I are heading out to take in a bit more of the countryside heading over to Lake Louise, one of the geographic gems of the area.  Yes, lot’s more shooting today.

In closing, let me wish everyone a very Happy Easter.  May it be filled with love, family, and lots of chocolate bunnies. 

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you back in Kentucky on Monday.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Stepping Out"

Banff shootIMG_4559-Edit

"Stepping Out"
©David A. Ziser

This is an image I made yesterday during my Early Bird photography session. Jenna was a very beautiful young lady who filled the bill nicely as our model.  She wasn’t dressed as a bride but her attire suited the scene and the shoot perfectly. Her look of elegance against the majestic Canadian Rockies in the beautiful Banff Springs Fairmont Hotel produced what appears to be a magazine shoot at first glance. 

Here was the challenge – I needed to balance the brightness of the mountains in the distance with the lighting on her.  It was almost like shooting her outside since the outside scene figured prominently in my composition.

I needed faster shutter speeds, lower ISO’s and smaller apertures to pull it off.  I decided to “cheat the sync” up to 1/400 second so I could use a larger aperture and not stress my strobe too badly.  I was using my Canon 580 EX II shooting through my Zumbrella, but the Zumbrella was soaking up just a bit too much light for this image so I had to lose the Zumbrella and shoot direct flash.  That in effect, gave me two more stops of light to work with.

Compositionally I wanted Jenna figure in a pleasing and flattering “C” curve line.  From the top of her head to the tip of her toes you can trace a “C” line throughout her body.  I also wanted her positioned between the two mountain valleys you see in the distance. Her centered symmetry in the scene accentuated with her placement against the background gave a very striking image.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 40mm, F8.0 @ 1/400 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Business Day Thursday: 5 Ways To The Ultimate Client Sizzle! Sedona Experience Update!

Good Morning Everybody,

Wow!  Was yesterday a kick or what?  Even with the early morning wake-up call, I think everyone had a great time at my Early Bird shoot.  We had good looking models, great weather, and a fantastic location. What could be better? Yes, that’s me on the floor getting that last terrific shot you see below.

Banff shootIMG_0650Even the techie side of the shoot went perfectly.  Once again I was shooting wirelessly directly from my Canon 7D into my iPad so the class could see the results within a few seconds. I was using the Canon WFT-E5A Wireless Image Transmitter [link] to transmit directly into ShutterSnitch [link], a $15.99 app for the iPad. The 7D was set to capture in RAW and Small JPEG – it was the very small JPEGS I was transmitting over to the iPad.  Because of their small size, only about 800k, the transmission time was about 2-3 seconds – really fast!

Banff shootIMG_4600-EditDAZNOTE:  The secret to seamless transmission is to set the camera and iPad NEVER to shut off.  That way the channel of communication is never broken and never needs to be reset during the shoot.  It took me three tries before I figured that one out.

I have to tell you, it was one fine way to teach and the class loved it.  Talking about my thoughts and what I was planning to create the image, shooting the image, and then seeing it pop up on the iPad 2 seconds later ramped up the learning experience for everyone. That, by the way, brings us to the topic of today’s post.

The Ultimate Client Sizzle!

Ok, having described what I did yesterday with my class, I want you to think of the real world studio possibilities for your own client’s photography sessions using this technology – the possibilities are endless and exciting.  Let me share with you 5 suggestions.

Canon WFT-E5A1. Using the same set up described above I could shoot directly into the iPad at a wedding.  I would suggest two ways of doing this.  Shoot the entire wedding to the iPad.  That way you would have ALL the images ready for a slide show later in the evening during the reception – way cool.

Now even a more way cool application – shoot the reception images directly into the iPad connected to a data projector via the iPad projector connector.  Now the bride and groom and guests will see the excitement of the evening unfolding in real time right before their eyes! The long range transmitting capability of the Canon wireless unit will assure seamless transfer for the duration of the party.

ShutterSnitch2. You’re out shooting a job on location – let’s say two small children.  You’re in the park shooting away and capturing some great images.  Sure, you can show mom the back of the camera occasionally and she’ll be excited seeing the small images.

Now let’s ramp up the excitement a bit.  Shoot wirelessly into the iPad with my set up and let her follow the shooting with the iPad right there in her lap. How cool would that be?

ShutterSnitch even has a Star rating system where your client could begin the selection process right in the field!

3. You’re shooting a high school senior in the studio, out of the studio – wherever. Shoot directly into the iPad and let your client follow the shoot.  You can preview shooting ideas with them right on the spot fine tuning the session with your client’s direct feed back. They’ll feel a greater sense of involvement in the session and their input should result in them liking a larger number of the mages.

ShutterSnitch24. You’ve got your mom’s excited, your high school senior clients excited, you’ve got everybody excited with your very cool wireless shooting set up. Wouldn't it be cool for your clients to post some of those images directly to their Facebook page right there on the spot during the shoot.  Shutter Snitch has that function built right into it – awesome!

5. Your working with a commercial client shooting product, food, interiors, etc.  Now they can have their own private iPad monitor to follow the session offering suggestions and tweaks along the way that enhance the finished result even more.

In conclusion

The bottom line to shooting success in all these instances is the “instant feedback” response going directly to the iPad. The screen is plenty large for several individuals to see the images popping to the screen on and how the image looks in real time.

It’s a win-win for everybody, including you, because the client can offer suggestions, tweaks, changes, etc. along the way that facilitate the best results quickly, effortlessly, and efficiently and at the same time kick lots of “sizzle” into the process!

CBTL DVD setI’d love to get you feedback, ideas and suggestions too.  Why not post them in the comment section below.  If I receive at least a few comments, I‘ll give the person with the best suggestion a copy of my very popular “Captured By The Light” 14 hour DVD [link] set worth $59.  Hey, you can’t beat that and it’s a great way to share with our DPT readers. I hope you’ll take a minute or two to participate.

Sedona Experience Update!

The Sedona Experience 2Hey gang, I just wanted to let you know that we still have just a couple of seats left for our upcoming “The Sedona Experience – A Private Workshop.”  [link] We are keeping the class size super small for maximum interactive benefit to our participants.

I figure we’ll be spending about 30 waking hours together for this intense, exciting, learning experience.  I have to tell you, the HIT of my Master Class last week was when I worked with each small group individually for about an hour at a time.  Now multiply that by 30 hours working exclusively in a small group (limit of 6) and you can see the real impact of this rare learning opportunity!

Give Jennifer a call at 800.292.2994 for more info.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  After our super long day yesterday – about 17 hours – I promised LaDawn a day off.  We’re heading out to see some of the sights today, even though we have gray cloudy skies and a few snow flurries falling. Ahhh, Spring in Banff ;~) Still, we’re looking forward to enjoying the break and the magnificent scenery of this beautiful country.

See everybody tomorrow,  David

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Rocky Mountain High"

Rocky Mountain HighIMG_4437-Edit

"Rocky Mountain High"
©David A. Ziser

I didn’t mention it, but this image was taken out our hotel window yesterday morning.  Yes, we do have a room with a view and the views have been unbelievably beautiful.

They say; “in Banff that if you don’t like the weather, just hang around 5 minutes and it will change”.  They say that about many other locations around the world too, but here in Banff, it is certainly true.  We have seen the town socked in with snow and fog and 30 minutes later, the sun would begin to break through and the fog lift revealing some gorgeous sights.

The same was true yesterday morning – the sun was shining brightly on the mountains and a short while later we were socked in once again with dense clouds and snow beginning to fall.  It has been a wonderful weather experience, especially if you’ve never experienced it before.

Let’s get back to this image.  I think it’s representative of a really good landscape image.  We have the mountain in the foreground proudly exerting itself into the composition – full of color and definition.  But now look at the “big brother” mountains in the distance. They are truly rising to the occasion in this image. Clouds are surrounding the peaks, the blue ultraviolet cast of color implies their dominance and presence in the scene.

I tweaked the image with Perfectly Clear, an image enhancing program I’ve been waiting to try for the last few years. Brad Malcolm, the owner of the company, was at the Canadian Imaging Tradeshow and we hooked up to discuss what he had cooking. I have to say, I like what I see so far.  The software just seemed to make the image really pop. 

Foreground and background reciprocate the message that this is indeed a wonderful place to witness the miracle of this wonderful world in which we live. Lose the headlines, CNN and FOX news reports and revel instead in the beauty and majesty of what abounds around us – right outside our hotel window! 

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 40mm, F16 @ 1/800 second,  ISO 640.  Enjoy!  -David

p.s. Hey gang, no time to get another post up today – 5:30 a.m. made that kind of difficult.  I start my early bird program in 45 minutes. 

We are hitting it hard today for the next 11 hours too – I’ve got three sessions after the early bird shoot, wrap about 5:00 p.m. followed by the awards banquet. 

It’s a gorgeous hotel with some spectacular places to shoot – I can’t wait!  I hope to have a few cool images from today’s shoot ready for you tomorrow.

See ya’ then, David

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"Pipe Dreams 3"

Pipe Dreams 3IMG_3678-Edit

"Pipe Dreams 3"
©David A. Ziser

This is an image I made during last week's Digital Master Class.  The beautiful historic church in which we were working had a fairly large choir loft complete with pipe organ.  Having  photographed with pipe organs in the background before, I knew we could capture a great image.

The dark, colorful stain glass window above the organ pipes would be a welcome feature in the oval composition.  The problem when shooting in a balcony location is that, by design, the subject is positioned much more foreword than my assistant holding a strobe camera right.

I use a monopod to hold the strobe.  When making these balcony images, my assistant has to fully extend the monopod and then extend the light over the safety railing in order to get the light coming in for the proper angle to obtain my desired loop lighting pattern.  With the monopod  at it's full length and extended out over the balcony, it can become quite heavy and a strain for the person holding it. I've got to work quickly.

I was a little concerned how the organ pipes would look. Their light tone worked perfectly in the composition especially with the large stain glass window offering wonderful counterpoint to the organ pipes.

I set the correct exposure for the bride and then underexposed the scene one stop making her stand out from the rest of the tonalities.   The stain glass window held it's color and detail with great vibrancy.  The way it filled the curve of the organ pipes was a nice compositional bonus.

Camera specs:  Canon 7D fitted with 24-105 lens @ 65mm, F5.6 @ 1/60 second, ISO 800.  Enjoy!  David

Technique Tuesday: Light Painting With Lightroom 3

Good Morning Everybody,

Rocky Mountain HighIMG_4437-EditWe awoke to another beautiful sun shining day in Banff, Alberta today.  The trade show wrapped yesterday and we have the day without many obligations or responsibilities to the conference. At the end of the trade show yesterday, I sat down with Bruce Clarke to do an interview for the very popular blog, This Week In Photography.  We had a great conversation and touched on many topics.  I hope you'll give it a listen once it's on-line.  I'll keep you posted as to when that will happen - probably within the next two weeks or so.  Want to see what they're up to right now, then check out their link right here - some pretty good stuff.

Tim and Bev1The next two days are filled with programing so we plan to take in a few.  It's always good to be inspired by the work of others.  Today our good friends Tim and Bev Walden, two of the best portrait photographers in the world are giving their program. Tim is also incoming president for the Professional Photographers of America. Check out Tim and Bev's inspiring images right here.

Simones 2Later today Joseph and Louise Simone, also two of the best portrait photographers/artists in the world, are presenting their program.  It's "Portrait Day"  at Canadian Imaging. Check out their work right here.  Be sure to watch the video - it's amazing!

That's what up for today.  I still have to put finishing touches on my program for tomorrow and rehearse a bit, but most of today will be spent just hanging with friends and seeing programs - not a bad way to spend the day.  That said, why don't we get on with a brand new Technique Tuesday - here we go.

Light Painting With Lightroom 3

Adjustment BrushLightroom is such an amazing piece of software.  I became it's biggest fan when LR2 came out which introduced the Adjustment Brush.  I was a custom B&W printer for a large studio back in my collage days.  A few years later, I went to work for that same large studio as a custom color printer until I could get a job as an engineer. You guessed it, my training and degrees are in Engineering and Physics.

My background in lab work goes back to my teenage years when I first discovered my father's processing trays and books on the subject. I started processing my own film and prints when I was just twelve years old and shot my first wedding when I was 15! I digress……

Anyway, back to Lightroom. I was a JPEG shooter for most of my digital shooting career switching to RAW with the introduction of the Adjustment Brush in LR2.  I finally had a way to "Burn and Dodge" the image they same way I did as a custom printer.  I was hooked.  Today's tutorial shows how I took a fairly standard room image and transformed it with the magic of Lightroom.  The Adjustment Brush and Gradient tools now give the digital control over my images that I had with the darkroom processes I had back in the film days.  Why not hit the PLAY button and enjoy the show.


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  I've got to polish up my Power-point for tomorrow's presentation.  Then it's off for a program or two. The weather has really taken a turn for the best with the sunny clear blue skies. We might even get in a brisk mountain walk later this afternoon. 

I hope to see everybody tomorrow for another installment of "The One That Got Away" - time permitting. This was a very popular series I ran a few months ago. I'll discuss the near misses of an image and then point out what could have been done to hit the image "out of the park."  It's a good read. If I run out of time tomorrow, look for it on Friday.  Anyway, check back tomorrow and see what pops.

Hope to see you then,  David

*p.s.  Tomorrow I am giving an Early bird program at 7:00 a.m. That means a early morning wake up call. After the early bird, I have three programs back to back till 4:30 p.m. Time will be tight, but I'll do my best to have something for you one way or another - see ya' then.  -David

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Snow Falling On Cedars"

Snow Falling On CedarsIMG_4228-Edit

"Snow Falling On Cedars"
©David A. Ziser

I captured this image the first day we arrived in Banff.  The entire area was still covered with snow that should have been long gone weeks ago.  It turns out that the area has experienced the most snow in 50 years.  Even the skiers were saying, “Enough already.” 

Anyway, to this Mid-Westerner, the view was extraordinarily breathtaking.  It was a long trip to Alberta and once here we had a few chores to complete.  It was about 7:00 p.m. Mountain time when we relaxed and took our first break.  We headed for the lounge for an adult beverage and dinner.

As we sat there, the snow began falling, slow at first and continued to pick up with large feather-like snowflakes softly falling. It was a beautiful winter scene and we had seats front and center in the restaurant’s second story.  I grabbed the camera and began shooting away.

I could have photographed the entire valley, but this close view of the evergreens in the foreground with the rhythms and textures of the snow covered evergreens in the  background was my favorite.

The eye seems to dance across the image but is still anchored in the scene by the two evergreens in the foreground.  Black or white or color, the scene still looks beautiful to me.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 180mm, F5.6 @ 1/160 second, ISO 500. Enjoy!  David

Quick Hit Monday: Interview With The Digital Camera Inventor, 10 Photogs You Need To Study, Image Recovery, & More

Good Morning Everybody,

Banff SpringsWe arrived safe and sound in Banff, Alberta, Canada after nearly 9 hours of travel. We are staying in one of the most historic hotels in Canada – the Fairmont Banff Springs.  It is one of those picture postcard hotels you often see  in many travel brochures. We don’t have quite the snow cover you see in this image, but there is still plenty of the white fluff, on the ground .and mountain tops

We are here for the Canadian Imaging Conference. Besides having a trade booth I'm also doing a couple of presentations in the tradeshow yesterday, Sunday and today, Monday. Then on Wednesday I start the morning with an on-location early bird presentation  at seven o'clock. Then a short break before I start my presentation until 4:30 in the afternoon.  I’m really excited to be sharing some information, lighting, Lightroom, album design and sales with the Canadian photographers.

There is an outstanding list of speakers presenting at conference including our good friends Bev and Tim Walden from Lexington Kentucky and Jim DiVitale and Helene Glassman from Atlanta. Also our good friends for many years, Joseph and Louise Simóne, are also speaking. These are just a few as the line-up is talent filled. It will be good to catch up with old friends and make some new friends as we visit the conference over the next few days.

As usual, blogging during conventions is quite challenging. I'll do my best to keep you posted about the week's activities while we’re here. So that being said let we get right on with today's post.

Interview with Steven Sasson, Inventor Of The Digital Camera

Steven SassonCan you believe it? The digital camera was invented way back in 1978. It would be almost 25 years before we wedding and portrait photographers would be utilizing this market changing invention routinely.

If you'd like to hear the back story on the original digital camera then hit the link right here and enjoy a conversation with the inventor.

Top 10 Photographers Every Student & PRO Should Study

Picture did a nice post listing 10 photographers every student should study.  I think this is an important link  whether you're a student or full-time professional photographer. We can find inspiration from several of the old Masters  many of which are listed in the post. When you've got a few minutes, I suggest you give a read to the list  right here .  Enjoy!

Blogging With Lightroom

I caught this post on a couple of sites over the weekend and although I haven't had a chance to try it, I think it looks like a interesting solution for bloggers who are using Lightroom.

Blogging With LightroomRegardless of whether you using WordPress, Blogger, or any other blogging software, this article right here shows you how to post directly to your blog from Lightroom.  As I said, I haven't had an opportunity to personally try it  but it sure looks interesting .  Give it a try let me know how works for you.

The Best Image Recovery Software Out There!

PhotoRescueGot a trashed flash card and can’t recover the images?  Then let me point you to my favorite  recovery software for just this situation. I've been using Photo Rescue for a number of years and found it to be the outstanding choice for recovering images from a flaky, unsteady flash card.

I remember stumbling on the software years ago and it still remains my top choice for image recovery. I've used recovery utilities from SanDisk cards and Lexar cards, but Photo Rescue still stands heads and shoulders above the rest .  You can try a free demo right here. I recommend that you spend the $29 to get the full version – it's worth every penny.

And Now For A Little iPhone Fun

Photo ManipulationOkay, I have to admit I'm kind of a sucker for these image manipulation posts. Nevertheless I still enjoy giving them a peek and sharing the link to you. I stumbled upon this link right here over the weekend at Multi which featured 51 images of photo manipulation using the iPhone.  They are kind of a fun Monday morning view so I hope you enjoy them.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. We've got the tradeshow starting soon and we need to proceed to our booth to get things set up . Everybody have a great rest of the day and I'll see you tomorrow . 

Adios, David