Friday, September 30, 2011

"Dancing In The Sunset"

0001 - Dancing In The Sunset-02

"Dancing In The Sunset"
© David A. Ziser

I really enjoy this image.  I made it several years ago in my migration to digital photography.  I had always been a medium format Hasselblad shooter and loved to use wide angle lenses.  After switching to digital shooting, things changed. 

First of all, I was shooting in a rectangular format which was a bit uncomfortable for me since I had been shooting square format for over 20 years.  But, you know, you get used to it.

My biggest problem was finding wide angle and lenses like I had in my Hasselblad gear bag. I eventually purchased my first fisheye lens, a Nikkor 16mm lens – a great piece of glass.  The only problem was that it didn’t work as well on my APS sized Nikon D1x, or so I thought.

The more I played with the lens/camera combo I began to really like the less distorted super wide angle almost fisheye effect.  Now let’s fast forward to June 2010 – Lightroom 3 is released.  I fell in love with this program, especially the lens correction feature.  Now I could take those early fisheye images and transform them into rectilinearly corrected super wide angle images – way cool.

That’s what I did in today’s photograph.  This image was originally taken with a fisheye lens.  But after a little Lightroom 3 magic, I was able to remove the spherical distortion and the converging vertical lines giving me a very cool wide angle bridal image.

Lighting was from camera left, my Quantum on 1/2 power.  I adjusted the shutter speed to under expose the sky slightly for this very dramatic image of my bride.

Camera specs: Nikon D1x fitted with Nikkor 16mm fisheye lens, F5.6 @ 1/500 second, ISO 400.  Enjoy!  -David

p.s. Want to see the original image?  Hit the “Read More…” link below.

0002 - Dancing In The Sunset-02

Here’s what the original image looked like. Pretty cool don’t you think? –David

FREE Webcasts, CBTL Kicks Off, Seats Open For Fall Master Class & More

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Wow!  It seems it’s been quite a whirlwind around my Studio this week.  We got our mini California tour launched late yesterday and seats are beginning to fill. We’re wrapping details on my Fall Master Class and working hard on PhotoPro Expo 2012.  Let me give you the quick updates on everything going on.

FREE Webcast: Photoshop Fashion For The Wedding/Portrait Photographer

DigitalProTalk WebcastsFirst, don’t forget our FREE webcast with Adobe Certified Expert, Suzette Allen next Thursday at 4:00 p.m. EST.  We have nearly 250 signed up already so you will have no problem reserving your space. And, yes, we will be giving away lots of Door Prizes too.


Here is the lowdown of the webcast:

October 6, 2011 4:00 p.m. EST. That’s 1:00 p.m. PST

Suzette is a very talented photographer, studio owner, and she is accredited as an Adobe Certified Expert!  She recently showed me a Photoshop trick or two that easily simplified what I had been doing the hard way for many years. I was blown away!  

Suzette will show you not only what she showed me but lots of her latest Photoshop tips and tricks for the Wedding/Portrait photographer.

I promise you, this is going to be one terrific program!  -David

My Mini Tour Captured By The Light California 2011 Kicked Off This Week

Cbtl priceI’m really stoked about this. Mark your calendars now.Three cities only – San Diego 10/19, LA (Orange County) 10/21, and Napa/Sonoma 10/26.  I’m bring my highly acclaimed Captured By The Light tour to California.  I’m already receiving emails – yes, I would like to get to more cities too but that’s all we can schedule for this year.

I promise you, you will love this program.  Plus you’re going to get the entire recorded seminar to take home with you too!  And that folks, is a first for any seminar!

More program details, door prizes and give-a-way goodies, and registration info right here. Remember to use promo code CBLDPT11 to save the $20!

PhotoPro Expo 2012 – Save $100 & Receive $139 In Great Offeres!

OK, I have to tell you about another great special they’re running at PhotoPro Network.  You can save $100 off the registration price of $279 by using promo code SAVE100.  Here is the link for all the info.

We already have 200 attendees registered for the best photo event in the Midwest for 2012.  We have photographers coming from states around the country - Washington to Florida and have even had inquiries from as far away as Sri Lanka!  Hey, with the talent line up we have scheduled, why wouldn’t they come from around the world ;~)

PPE Logo

Wait, there’s more.  Register at this special price and also receive a $50 Gift Card from Marathon Press, a $50 Gift Card from Nation's Color Lab, and 1 month FREE Animoto Pro ($39 value)!  Wow! that’s like getting PhotoPro Expo 2012 for FREE!

Scott Kelby Photo Walk This Weekend – One Space Left!

Photowalk LogoI can’t believe Scott Kelby’s Photo Walk is this weekend.  The weather is looking great in the Cincinnati, Ohio area and we are looking to have a great time. A few folks had to drop out at the last minute so we still have one space left if you’d like to nab it and join us.  Here is the link to reserve you space right here.

My Fall Master Class – A Few Seats Have Opened Up

DAZ FAll Master Class 2011Hey gang, we’re also getting a lot closer to my Fall Master Class [link] scheduled for October 10 – 14th. It’s only a little over a week away.  We always have a few people that need to change plans at the last minute which opens up a seat or two for someone else. 

Earlier this week we had two photographers who had to reschedule to my Spring 2012 Class so we have 3 seats still open for our Fall class.  You still have time to reserve your space.  Just give Jennifer a call at 800.202.2994 if you would like to nab one of the few remaining spaces.  It’s a great week and  everyone really enjoys the experience.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today. We’ve  got a very busy weekend with Photo Walks, Charity events, family portraits, and more web design.  But who cares, the weather is predicted to be beautiful – blue skies, white puffy clouds, and soft breezes.

I hope things are that good in your part of the world and I wish you a fabulous weekend!  .

I’ll see you on Monday all the pixels willing, David

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Sunflowers Keep You Smiling"

Sunflowers 10.5x10.5

"Sunflowers Keep You Smiling"
© David A. Ziser

This collage is made up of a number of sunflower images I’ve taken over the years. LaDawn caught the “sunflower” bug and decided to combine six of these images for an upbeat home décor item which is now displayed in our family room.  I think it came out great.

She’s combined close ups, medium shots, and more distant panoramas like the bottom image taken on a trip to France a few years ago to really put together a compelling, colorful presentation.  Add to that the Maori quote and you have a nice photo décor item for any home.

Actually, I think there’s a Business Day Thursday post in here somewhere ;~)

Camera specs: Top 5 images; Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at varying focal lengths and settings, ISO 200.  Bottom panorama; Canon 5D fitted with 70-300mm IS lens at 70mm, F11 @ 1/160 second, ISO 800.  Enjoy!  -David

Business Day Thursday: Selling The Wendy’s Way

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Success- iStock_000000432883XSmallI have to tell, my doc told me I’m spending too much time behind the computer (blogging) and was totally out of shape and  needed to begin exercising. Well, for the past three weeks I’ve managed to walk at least 5,000 steps a day on purpose! That totals up to about 3 miles a day.  I’m even going to a gym – what can I say, this exercising might just  kill me ;~)

Actually, I feel MUCH better and much more energetic than I have recently so I guess that’s a good thing. The down side, it’s taking about 1 1/2 hours out of my day and cramping my already SUPER-busy schedule.  Anyway, all good, I suppose ;~)

Hey gang, I’ve got something for you to think about in today’s business post – let’s get right to it.

Selling The Wendy’s Way

Wedding photography and photo studios in general have taken quite a hit in recent years.  With the proliferation of digital cameras, camera phones, Facebook and Craig’s list, photographers are coming out of the woodwork.  I just clipped this from Craig’s List Cincy a few minutes ago.

Craig's list wedding photogsAnd many, as you can see, are offering their services for next to nothing to absolutely FREE.

Nobody Is Making Any Money!

What does that mean to the main street studio who has been around for years.  Well, for one thing, they had better get a lot more creative and competitive in their marketing policies and practices.  Some have and some, sadly have not.

But what about all these new photographers entering the marketplace – are they making any money.  I suspect some are but most are not.  Why, because most have no clue how to sell their product and services.

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

Here is an ad I clipped again from Craig’s List:

Craigs List“For a limited time, ABC Studio Studio is offering wedding photography for only $400. We also offer video for $400. Do them both and receive $200.00 off.  Photography and Video for only $700
We use professional equipment, and have experienced photographers and videographers.  Don't miss out on this great deal.”

What’s the message? We sell cheap and we use real cameras.  Wow!  Where do I sign up! – NOT!!!

That’s what I mean, the huge influx of new photographers we’ve seen a huge drop in any kind of sales expertise.  BTW, Sales Expertise = Business Success. 

There is way to much money left sitting on the table for lots of wedding shooters out there. And, that being the case, I suspect they will be out of business very shortly.  Weddings are hard work and qualified wedding photographers deserve to make a fair profit. Hey, we have families to support too.

It’s About Time Wedding Shooters Learn To Sell

Focus on Success Magnifying GlassWhen I got started in this business years ago, I learned early that if I was going to survive, no thrive in the field of wedding photography, I better ramp up my business and sales skills.  I featured Blair Phillips and Zach and Jody Gray, three of my favorite rising stars in this profession.  All three of them got it.  I liked what Zack Gray said, “I was advised to read at least one business book a  month.  I figured if one is good, two is better”  They were out of debt and building a new studio in just a few years. 

Being successful is about education.  That’s what I try to bring to Digital ProTalk – education not just in photography but is sales, business, and success strategies too.

It Time To Start Selling Like Wendy’s Hamburgers

I know what you’re thinking, “Ziser’s crazy.  I’m selling wedding photography, not hamburgers.” That’s true but how are you really selling your weddings?  Are you giving your prospect client one choice like the previous mentioned ad above.  Most of what I see is that photographers are only offering a one choice menu for their clients.

Now what’s funny is that they may offer many wedding album styles but still only a limited number of coverage's for their clients.  I learned a long time ago, whether the album was green, red, brown, or hippopotamus hide, none of that made any difference to my bottom line.  It was always about the number of images in those albums that affected my bottom line – the more images, the better the sale.

You’ve Got To Show Big To Sell Big

wendys-tripleThankfully this is another concept I learned years ago.  I learn it from my good buddy, Chuck Lewis.  I attended a seminar way back in the 80’s where Chuck was telling me to show big to sell big.  If I wanted to sell that 24x30 inch portrait I needed to show a 30x40 or 40x60 inch portrait on my studio wall.

I was primarily a wedding photographer so I figured I could make the same concept work in wedding photography.  If I wanted  to sell large albums, maybe even double volume sets I better be showing triple volume sets!  I immediately ordered my first triple volume sample album. 

The rest is history.  I remember when I first showed the triple volume set to a new perspective client – they were shocked that ANYONE would consider buying a three volume wedding album! They asked me how much it was.  I told them and they nearly fell off my sofa.  But you know what, now that BIG, FAT single volume album looks just right to them.

So, you can see, it’s about time we start selling like Wendy’s Hamburger’s. Show the Single, the Double, and the Triple and you’ll sell the Double a lot more often.  In fact in my studio, we sell a double volume set over 50% of the time.  In fact, just last week, I sold a double volume parent’s album.

It’s Time To Show Them Or Fold Them

InnovationFolks, I’m note trying to step on any toes or be braggadocios in any way.  What I’m trying to say is this.  Too many photographers are complaining about today’s wedding averages, final sales, and the customers willingness to bargain. With the kind of things we see on Craig’s list and all the folks offering shoot & burn only wedding photography, it’s no wonder complaints are so rampant in the industry.

It’s about time we took some responsibility for our sales and business success and started making decisions the are success oriented.  It’s like exercise, you are never going to get your business in shape unless you do (practice) the business exercises to make that happen.  And guess what, that takes effort and commitment, and that folks, is the difference between success and failure.

Food for thought-  David


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  It’s getting late in the day and LaDawn and I have “date night” tonight. Everybody have a great rest of the day and I’ll see you tomorrow with a short post.

See ya’ then, David

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Evening Fantasy"

Fantasy Evening3

"Evening Fantasy"

©David A. Ziser

This image was taken several months ago. We headed to a local park to see if we could capture some great bridal sunset images. We never did get a vey good sunset but we did get some great cloud features throughout the sky.

The secret to a great shot is to get the subject, my beautiful bride, to pop out of the background. I did that with my off-camera flash coming in from camera right just out of camera range at 1/2 power.

The bride's beautiful profile against this magnificent background made for a striking image. Notice how the warm tones lead to her face and how the cooler tones compliment her gown.

OK, I did "goose" the clouds and the sky with the Vibrancy slider in Lightroom and then added the very soft, ethereal effect in Photoshop - just my way of having some fun.

Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 145mm, F5.6 @ 1/200 second, ISO 200. Enjoy! -David

Social Media Marketing: Do It Or Die! Re-broadcast

Good Morning Everybody,

We officially announced my Captured By The Light California 2011 tour yesterday [link].  Right away I received emails asking us to bring the tour to other cities as well.  Heck, I wish I could bring the tour to a lot more cities but the way hotel and travel costs have escalated over the last few years, it makes it a little tougher to do.

CBTL Web LogoThis time around we are promoting the CBTL 2011 tour by email notices only.  And, making your registration the "deal of the century" by including a full, extended content DVD of my entire presentation.  Each attendee get the full recorded DVD of my presentation and me for only $59 (with Promo Code CBLDZ11).  That should really cut down the note taking chores at our three California stops.  Again, you can register right here.

If this concept is successful, we just may hit the road and visit several more cities next year, Canada included.  Anyway, help spread the word and let's see if we can get this off to a great start.  I'd love to visit a lot of the cities we missed last year.

Social Media Marketing: Do It Or Die! Re-broadcast

Social Media Marketing TitleEvery time we do a webcast at DPT, I know schedules being what they are, many can't attend at the posted webcast time.  That's why I like to get the re-broadcast online whenever possible.  We are doing just that today with social media guru, A.J. Wood's webcast he did for us last week.  This is a great opportunity for you to tune in, especially if you missed it, and gain the knowledge and reap the benefits of A.J.'s well received program.

Here are just a few comments that came across during the first broadcast:

“Thanks very much for presenting the Social Media Marketing webinar with A. J. Wood.  … lots of great ideas!”  Bruce G.

“This was one of the most useful webinars I have attended. Thank you very much for sponsoring it.”  Mary W.

“Great Info. I spent almost 6 hours reviewing the sites mentioned in the Webinar. Keep up the great Work.”  Tom W

“Just wanted to say Thank you so much for this very informative webinar . It was wonderful , and very helpful for a beginner at Networking  and Social Media.”  Patrice K.

My thanks first to A.J. Wood for presenting our webcast and also to everyone who attended the webcast and to those who will watch the re-broadcast.   Hit the PLAY button below and enjoy the show.

AJ WoodWe were unable to answer all the questions during the presentation so I have forwarded all the inquiries to A.J. where he will answer as many as possible at his site right here.  His website is jammed pack with solid info so you'll want to bookmark it anyway - tons of good info available.


PPE ExtendedHey gang, that's it for me today.  I've got to go back to work on PhotoPro Expo 2012 [link].  We're fine tuning the events, speakers, and schedules for what will be the best convention in the Midwest next February.

In fact we have a nice promotion going on right now where you can save $100 off the registration price bringing your cost down to only $179 for the three day event.  The secret code is "Save100".  Be sure to enter it when registering right here . The dates are February 2 - 5 so save yourself $100 and register today..

Have a great rest of the day and I'll plan to see everyone tomorrow for a brand new Business Day Thursday.

See ya' then,  David

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Chairman Of The Board"

0001 - Chairman Of The Board-

"Chairman Of The Board"
© David A. Ziser

This image was captured just a weeks ago in Las Vegas during my Photoshop World wedding shoot out.  That was a challenging session as I have previously described.  We moved outside and luckily it was not too hot, only in the mid 90’s,  and we pulled off  a few images in front of the church where we were working.  This is one of my favorite images from that session.

At first, it appears to be just a simple, straightforward portrait.  But to capture this image, I pulled a lot of lighting tricks out of my bag to make it work. First, I asked Jay to take off his coat and toss it over his shoulder.  This makes for a very relaxed pose, plus it had the added benefit of showing off that great shirt he was wearing.

The light was pretty flat so I asked my assistant to add some light from camera right.  I used just a small shoe mount strobe triggered with a small radio.  That small strobe shooting at 1/4 power gave me just the right amount of light on Jay’s face to give me the dimensional look I wanted.

The problem was that my subject was fading into the background.  I needed to somehow separate him from the dark door behind him.  I still had my Quantum flash available so I asked one of our class members to hide behind Jay and point my Quantum at 1/4 power right at the door just to the right of the door handles.  I needed the strobe to be about two feet away from the surface of the door to get the light spread the way I wanted it.  This light addition really created an interesting effect on the image.

I framed Jay with both the door, the interior frame, and part of the white wall of the church, another interior frame.  This double framing does well to direct the viewer’s eye directly onto the subject.  The rich colors, great lighting, and solid expression help make this a great portrait.

Camera specs: canon 5D Mark II fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 130mm, F9.0 @ 1/200 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Technique Tuesday: Pipe Dreams: Stretching, Bending, and Pulling The Pixels

Good Afternoon Everybody,

I thought there was light at the end of the tunnel yesterday, but in reality it turned out to be a freight train coming right at me.  I think things are a bit more under control today - but who knows, I don’t even want to look over my shoulder today ;~)

That said, I better get on with today’s post.  A few things first though.  A lot of folks have been asking about a re-broadcast of last week’s webcast, “Social Media Marketing: Do It Or Die”.  I’m hoping to have that on-line for tomorrow’s post so look for it then.

600x170px- Digital ProTalk Webcast Series

Secondly, continuing with our DPT webcast series, we’re planning another new FREE webcast, “Photoshop Fashion for Wedding and Portrait Photographers” next week, Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. EST or 1:00 p.m. PST.  You can get more info on the webcast and register right here.

And lastly, I just want to give you a “heads up” about my upcoming workshop entitled “Make Your Lighting Exciting” in Oldsmar Florida at the Dave Cross Workshops [link].  It’s coming up on October 17, 2011 and limited to only 25 participants. I hope to see you there.

OK, time to get moving with today’s post – here we go.

Pipe Dreams: Stretching, Bending, and Pulling The Pixels

Plum Street Pipe OrganLast week I ran a photograph of a famous pipe organ installed and renovated in Cincinnati, Ohio. [link] I loved the image but I also posted the “before” image too.  The “before” image was a far cry from the final posted image.  That caused a lot of readers to ask me if I could do a quick tutorial on how I arrived at the final result.

Pipe dreams beforeI agreed, I thought it would make a cool Technique Tuesday for us.  On seeing the “before” image, you may just think it’s a quick fix in Lightroom 3, but that is not the case.  You can get a good start in Lightroom 3, but the “finish work” has to be completed in Photoshop.  Why not hit the PLAY button below and see how I got to the final result.  Enjoy!


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  Enjoy the tutorial and I’ll see you again tomorrow. Oh, and don’t forget to check out my Captured By The Light: California 2011 [link] coming your way in just a few weeks.

See ya’ tomorrow,  David

Monday, September 26, 2011

"Conner Pass - Ireland"

Conner Pass"Conner Pass - Ireland"
© David A. Ziser

I made this image while on a trip to Ireland a number of years ago it was just after I had started shooting digitally. As we were traveling across the nearly one lane rising roadway of Conner Pass on the way to Dingle, this beautiful vista presented itself.

We pulled cautiously off the side of the road so I could take the shot. I love the rich greens of the composition contrasting with the red tones and blue waters of the sweeping landscape.

The wide angle lens gave importance to the old fence which offers it's own visual pathway through the image.

Camera specs; Fuji S-1 fitted with Nikon 18-35mm lens at 23 mm, F5.6 @ 1/125 second, ISO 320. Enjoy! -David

A Little Reminiscing Today

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Today's post is going to be on a more thoughtful note and not photo-centric but I still hope you enjoy the read.

I hope everybody had a great weekend.  The highlight of my weekend was attending my high school reunion.  I know what you're thinking - like, who cares, right?  But hear me out.  Having attended a few of these in the past, high school reunions have never been one of the high points on my social calendar.  Many of you may have the same feelings about high school reunions. You show up, everybody looks a lot older, and still most people haven't changed much, the same cliques are still hanging together, you make a little small talk, and leave promising yourself that that's the last reunion you'll ever attend.

ReunionsThat's how I felt 10 years ago when I left my reunion.  This time things were different though.  Everyone looked way older than the last time.  In fact when, my friend and fellow graduate, Terry, and I walked into the hospitality room Friday night, I recognized only one person - I had no clue who the other 20 people were!

But this year, like I said, something was different. One of the folks at Friday's get together, who I didn't know, immediately came up and introduced himself.  Then one after the other, everyone else did the same. It was a lot different than 10 years ago when only a few in attendance made the effort. Everyone was warm, hospitable and friendly - no more “cliquish” groups, braggadocios conversations, and very little small talk.  Everyone seemed genuinely interested in each other and what each other had been doing for the last several years.  At the end of the evening you felt you had not renewed friendships, but made new friends, friends you would like to see again in another five years or maybe even sooner ;~)

I think the reason for this change was that his time the entire group seemed "otherated" that is genuinely interested in all the others in the room.  This continued through Saturday's festivities too.  Heck, maybe getting older makes you friendlier and a little wiser. This may have been because of the personal histories of so many of the attendees.  Some were retired, some were busier than ever like yours truly, others were enjoying grand kids, GRAND KIDS, I'm not even close to the grand kid stage. But everyone seemed very content, satisfied and really happy with where they were in their lives.

Now having said that, the fact of the matter was, that many would not have a reason to be happy.  A few had lost their jobs. One of our classmates had gone through a horrible cancer operation that had severely and cruelly altered his face.  He can no longer eat normally, and he is very hard to understand when he speaks.  But you know what, he was there all dressed up shaking hands, slapping everyone on the back, and wishing everyone the best.  Another, the first to say HI to us on Friday, had two shoulders and one knee replaced - must have been after the 17 Boston Marathons he had participated in - but he was getting around fine and was now happily retired.  The going joke was that John has his PhD in Psychology and if you talked with him for more that 30 minutes, he would have to charge you ;~)

Many of the classmates in attendance have really become quite successful.  Terry had finished 7 terms in the state legislature, is president of the Board of Reagents at one of our local universities.  He can't retire he says, because his new business he started a few years ago now has 67 employees and operates in several states around the country. Others were at the top of their professions, another retired early from American airlines and spends a lot of time on the golf course. Another classmate who unfortunately could not attend, and the guy that cheated off of me in high school, went on to be a well respected attorney and author.  Another, the tall, gangling, fun loving classmate from years ago now is extremely successful and runs the advertising campaigns for Toyota.  

The list goes on and on, but what was most important was how everyone wanted to genuinely connect with everyone else.  We can get so wrapped up in our own lives, we sometimes miss how important it is to be connected, concerned, and interested in other people's lives too.


It was an important lesson to see first hand that we are pretty lucky, lucky to be alive, lucky to have friends who care, and lucky to be able to make old acquaintances into new friends who care too.  Like I said, it was a great weekend.


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  We'll get back to the regular DigitalProTalk lineup tomorrow with a brand new Technique Tuesday for you and some cool new announcements too. 

Have a good one and I'll see you tomorrow.


Friday, September 23, 2011

"Dream Dancer"

Desert DancerIMG_5662

"Dream Dancer"
©David A. Ziser

I love the technique used in this image so I’d thought I’d share it again with you. What makes this image interesting is the fact that it was made on a residential street right outside the church. Yet, it appears to be made at a beautiful park location. This is the kind of situation wedding photographers encounter all the time - no shade, bright afternoon sun, and not much to work with in the background.

I chose a 100mm F2.8 lens for the shot. I figured I could shoot it nearly wide open thus making the background go softly out of focus. The longer focal length lens also served to expand and enlarge the foliage in the background too.

The sun was Las Vegas intense so I had the bride standing facing me with the sun behind her right shoulder. I still needed to get her face illuminated. I chose to use my SUN SPOTZ reflector[link]. It's super silver on one side and black on the other.

My assistant caught the sun's rays and bounced them back onto the bride's face creating the beautiful loop lighting pattern I prefer in my images. You've got to be careful not to blind your subject with the bright sun reflecting back onto your subject. Even looking back into the camera was too bright for my bride to keep her eyes opened without squinting. I opted to have her just look at the ground in a more reflective pose. I love how the image turned out in a very difficult situation.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 100mm F2.8 IS macro lens, F3.2 @ 1/2500 second, ISO 200. Enjoy! –David

California, Here We Come!

Good Afternoon Everybody,

California - CBTL 2011I’m excited to be announcing a very hot piece of news. I was going to let it wait till next week. OK, I’ll tell ya’.  Yesterday we just finished putting the finishing touches on our upcoming Captured By The Light 2011 California Road TripSunrise in  Coronado

Details & Registration right here.

Save $20 - Use Promo Code CBLDZ11 when registering

That’s right, we’re heading to California for 3 cities only – San Diego, October 19; LA (Orange County) October 21; and Napa/Sonoma/San Francisco area October 26, 2011.  Seating is limited so you’ll want to book early.

And , you want to know the best news, everyone attending will receive our complete Summer Success Collection at NO CHARGE!  That makes it a real “no-brainer” to attend – the entire Summer Success Collection and me for only $59!

Cbtl priceI’ll be honest, this is a test promotion and may be the only time we ever do anything like this. We missed so many cities last year and photographers were requesting that we come to their cities, we thought we would give it a try. Last year we missed San Diego and San Francisco area which is one of the reasons we’re making those locations a must stop.

Anyway, check out all the info right here.  Our trip begins in just a few weeks so don’t delay – I hope to see you there.  -David


Hey gang, I’m bailing on the rest of today’s post. This weekend we have our – ##, no numbers please ;~) - high school year reunion. My good friend Terry, just arrived from Allentown, PA last evening and is staying the weekend with LaDawn and I.

We’re spending a good deal of the weekend catching up with old, but not that old, friends and just hanging out and relaxing.  I hope you get a chance to do the same this weekend.  How about I see everyone next Monday relaxed and rested.

See ya’ then, David

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Sounds Of Magnificence"

Plum Street Pipe Organ

"Sounds Of Magnificence"
© David A. Ziser

I just received a call from an old acquaintance, Fritz Noack, a master pipe organ builder and restorer and owner of Noack Organ Company [link].  We worked together about five years ago on the Plum Street Köhnken organ restoration – me doing the photography and Fritz doing the restoration.

Anyway, Fritz asked me if I could go back through my archives and find an image of that magnificent pipe organ.  This is the image I sent to Fritz.  It actually appeared on the cover of the prestigious publication, International Society of Organists Journal in 2007 [link].  It was one of my favorites.

The image is photographed in the natural light of the sanctuary.  There was quite a bit of enhancement and pixel bending done in Photoshop to complete my final result. Everyone loved it.

Camera specs: Canon 5D fitted with 24-105mm IS lens at 28mm, F5.0 @ 1/20 second, ISO 800.  Enjoy! –David

p.s. You can see the original photograph by hitting the “Read More…” link below.  I think you’ll be surprised ;~)

Original un-retouched image – yep, lots of Photoshop going on here.

Original Pipe organ

Business Day Thursday: Bar/Bat Mitzvahs – The Back Story

Good Morning Everybody,

0404MP-0870-DZ_IMG_0671I know has been a bit Jewish centric with the posts over these last few days.  And after today’s post everyone reading my blog should be an expert on Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, know how to photograph them, and heck, maybe even be able to read the Torah ;~) Hey, just kidding but I can’t tell you how many requests we get for more information on the topic of Bar Mitzvahs.

I should probably mention that I am not Jewish but have been heavily involved in the Jewish community and photographing Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Weddings, and Bris’s here in Cincinnati, Ohio since 1983 and have thoroughly enjoyed my relationship with my clients over all these many years. That said, how about one more Jewish centric post for today?  Here we go…

Bar/Bat Mitzvahs – The Back Story

I am often -asked about photographing a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Cincinnati is the birthplace of Reformed Judaism and I have had the privilege of photographing many, many Mitzvahs. I cannot explain everything that is involved in this exciting event in this short post but hopefully this article will provide a glimpse into some of the important Hebrew terms, aspects and traditions of this very rewarding experience.

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The crux of the day is the religious ceremony. It usually takes place on Saturday (the Sabbath) which begins at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday. There are many different types of Jewish congregations from Orthodox to Conservative to Reform.

Most Orthodox and Conservative do not allow photographs taken during Sabbath. As the photographer you will need to plan for an additional shooting session most often on a day other than the Saturday service, in which to photograph the Mitzvah and family members in the same attire as they plan to wear at the Saturday celebration. You will re-enact reading from the Torah, environmental portraits in the synagogue, and I take my portable canvas background for more formal images. This is extra time involvement on you, but well worth the effort.

As the hired photographer to record this special event, you must become aware of some of the basic concepts to be able to accurately, artistically and sensitively capture the essence of the day. While photographing a Mitzvah has many similarities to photographing a wedding, such as photographing formal family groups, a religious service and completing the day with a party of celebration.

Bat Mitzvah pageAs a professional photographer I highly recommend you consult with the clergy prior to a wedding. I also suggest you meet with the Rabbi and ask the rules and practices of the synagogue. PLEASE remember this is their house of worship. We are guests within their house. Often befriending the Rabbi, understanding what is and is not acceptable will provide many additional benefits to you and for your clients.

Some of the terminology may become frustrating and seem foreign. To help with the terms and language here is a brief vocabulary list.

Bar Mitzvah - "Bar" means "Son (of)". "Mitzvah" means "Commandments". A your Jewish boy after the age of thirteen is called to the Torah. Many months of study and preparation have been involved with learning and practicing passages from the Torah.  "Bat" is a young lady. In Orthodox communities, a Bat Mitzvah is celebrated when a girl reaches the age of 12.  According to Jewish law, when Jewish children reach 13 years of age they become responsible for their actions, and "become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah".  In addition to being considered responsible for their actions from a religious perspective. 

The age of Mitzvah was selected because it roughly coincides with physical puberty. Prior to a child reaching Bar or Bat Mitzvah, the child's parents hold the responsibility for the child's adherence to Jewish law and tradition. After this age, children bear their own responsibility for Jewish ritual law, tradition, and ethics and are privileged to participate in all areas of their Jewish community life.

0010-For Pat - Silverman-1211-DZ_IMG_1012Aliyah - Selected important family members and/or friends mays be called to give a blessing on the Torah during the service meaning "to rise, to ascend; to go up". It is considered a great honor to be called to the Torah. He or she may also lead part or all of the morning prayer services. Precisely what the Bar/Bat Mitzvah should lead during the service varies from one congregation to another and is not fixed by Jewish law.

Bimah - The Bimah is the altar in the synagogue. On it is the Sacred Ark, which houses the Torah. Most often, non-Jews are not permitted to handle the Torah.

Candle lighting - Occasionally this is done at the reception, at other times this service may be held during the Shabbat dinner on the Friday evening prior to Saturday's service. It is a way of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah to honor family and friends by the lighting of a candle. The person or persons being honored also assist with the lighting of the candle. This has no major religious significance.

Challah- Sweet braided bread.

Haftah - Today, it is common practice for the Mitzvah to do much more than just say the blessing. It is most common for the young adult to learn the entire haftarah portion, including its traditional chant, and recite that. In some congregations, the young person reads the entire weekly Torah portion, or leads part of the service, or leads the congregation in certain important prayers. He is basically “Rabbi for a day”.

The Mitzvah is also generally required to make a speech, which traditionally begins with the phrase "today I am a man." The father traditionally recites a blessing thanking God for removing the burden of being responsible for the son's sins (because now the child is old enough to be held responsible for his own actions).

Horah - A festive circle dance including everyone at the reception. Each immediate family member is seated into a chair then hoisted into the air during the horah.

Kiddush - This is the blessing recited over wine on the Jewish Sabbath and other Jewish holy days. Kiddush derives from the Hebrew word “kadosh,” which means “holy.” By saying kiddush, one is proclaiming the holiness of the day.

Motzi - The blessing recited over bread, which allows the subsequent eating of the meal.  On the Sabbath and other holy days, the festive braided white bread called challah is used.

Siddur - Prayer book

Simcha - The literal definition of simcha is “joy.” Simcha refers to a special happy occasion in a Jewish life, such as a bar or bat mitzvah, bris, or wedding.

Tallis - This is similar to a shawl and is a religious outer garment.  It is representative that God is all around us.

Torah - The Torah is the holy scrolls of the Jewish faith. It is made of parchment and consists of Hebrew lettering all handwritten by scribes. The Torah consists of the Five Books of Moses. It is not permitted to touch the Torah's parchment as the oils from ones hands may damage and deteriorate the parchment paper.

Bat Mitzvah page 2Yad - This is the pointer, usually silver, that looks like an outstretched finger and is used to touch the Torah's parchment. Usually the print is small and the Yad acts as finger-like guide to follow the readings.

Often a brunch/lunch is served after the religious service. The actual party may occur immediately after the morning/noon service, but most often is later in the evening. In that case the family will wear different clothing depending upon the party theme and you will want to again capture family groups in these new outfits. So plan your time accordingly.

The party may be geared to the attending children in a separate party area from the adults. In that case you will find yourself needing to be in two places at the same time. Just know that you will need to have coverage of both the children and the adults. You will also need to have time to photograph all the details of the party, the centerpieces, place cards,  floral arrangements, etc. just as you would the details from a wedding reception.

Judaism is not only a religion but a way of life. At the Bar/Bat Mitzvah the social gathering of family and friends is extremely important,  not only as a religious phenomena, but also as a time for celebration. Through your art, creativity and sensitive photography you will create a lasting memory for generations to share and enjoy.

Enjoy these Related Links too:

"Keeping The Faith" - When Shooting A Bar Mitzvah

Quick Hit Monday: One Great Weekend!


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  My thanks to LaDawn for getting the post together today – I really appreciate it.  And, I hope you enjoyed reading it.  Heck, even if you don’t shoot Jewish events, it’s still a good idea to have some knowledge of them should a potential client, looking for a Bat Mitzvah photographer, give you a call.

I’ll plan to see everyone tomorrow for a short post to take you into the weekend.  Have a good one everybody!

Till tomorrow,  David

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Hot Salsa"

Hot Salsa

"Hot Salsa"
©David A. Ziser

I think this image really speaks to the topic discussed in the following post.  It was dark, dark, dark, but I still captured a great image. Here is the back story. A few years ago on our last night in San Jose del Cabo Mexico, we headed to Morgan's restaurant, one   very nice restaurant in town.

We had a great dinner, but me - I had my brand new Canon 5D Mark II in tow. I decided to take portraits of each of us around the restaurant. Don't get me wrong - these were going to be really fast portraits - I didn't want to disturb the other diners.

I had to find the space, hit the composition, and light my subjects -  and it had to be done quickly, quietly, and very discreetly. This is one of those portraits.

It's a portrait of our friend Sarah Smith sitting in the stairwell leading to the second floor of the restaurant. It was really,REALLY dark and I had to add auxiliary lighting to illuminate Sarah. The additional lighting was from a very small pocket flash light I had with me which Kent held camera left.

Sarah’s easy believable pose adds to what I think is a great portrait. Look at the leading lines within the composition - all lines lead to our beautiful subject. The super warm tonalities just add a definite glow and warm feeling to the final result.

Camera specs; Canon 5D Mark II fitted with 24-105 IS lens at 35mm, F4.0 @ 1/8 second, ISO 5000. Enjoy! -David

5 Strategies For Shooting In Less Than Beautiful Locations?

Good Morning Everybody,

Social Media WebcastJust a quick reminder – we still have a few seats left for tomorrow’s webcast, Social Media Marketing – Do It Or Die!”  A.J. Wood is a true master on the topic.  He presented earlier this summer at our PhotoPro Summer School and was the hit of the party. 

And now with Google + making such a big impact on the marketplace in just the last few months, it’s an ever changing playing field. Whether you’re a seasoned expert in social media or struggling to figure it out like so many others, this webcast is not to be missed.  

I have to admit I was a bit frazzled yesterday and really had no idea what was going to write about today. But then I decided to go back to my DPT suggestion box and see what some of our Digital ProTalk readers have been requesting. I only had to review a couple of the suggestions when I found the perfect topic for today's post.

For the last eight Wednesdays [link] I've been blogging about how you always need to come back with the photographs regardless of bad weather, lousy lighting, or any other excuse one might come up with. You know, as professionals it's our job to make things happen and come back with the photograph.

That brings me to today's post. It was a simple question.

What's Your Strategy For Shooting In Less Than Beautiful Locations?

If you've been following my blog for the last week or so you know that I've been working in some really beautiful locations. That included the beautiful temple I photographed in last week and also the beautiful reception venue this past Saturday. Not all of us are lucky to be working in some of these gorgeous locations – heck, I'm not always that lucky either.

Earlier this year I was teaching a class at Texas School in Dallas, Texas. I always request a church location so I can show the students how I photograph the formal bridal portraits in a typical wedding situation. Now let me say I've have never been surprised when I walked into a church before. That is until this year - 2011! This seemed to be the year for disastrous locations. I'm sitting here smiling because this year I encountered near disasters on three separate occasions!

I remember walking into the first church in Dallas, Texas thinking to myself, “How in the world am I going to pull off any descent/cool/dramatic/even acceptable photographs in this location?” The next day at the second church location actually turned out to be even a worst situation. And then just a week ago with Photoshop World it happened again when 45 photographers and I walked into the chapel of the Church of the Redeemer in Las Vegas and found that it only seated 25 people. YIKES!

Bad Location 8I was quite surprised but, put yourself in my shoes, in all three instances people paid money to see me produce images in a church location, in fact, most of the time they want to see if I can pull it off in a really less-than-perfect situation. It’s the same thing with your clients too – they paid you to do your job regardless of the challenge involved.

Now I have to admit, that when you're the instructor, “life” sure is easier when you walk into a beautiful location – you think, “Wow, no problem.”  But, the fact of the matter is you still have to come back with the photograph regardless of the location – beautiful or not.

So how do I handle situations when I'm faced with shooting in less than beautiful locations? The answer is quite easy - get creative. Let me explain how I handled these three situations.

1 – The Little Church In Dallas:

I knew when I walked in the back door I was faced with a very challenging situation. The church was very small and the center aisle was not very long. Whenever I'm in these kinds of situations the absolute first thing I make myself do is relax! I have to admit that I also enjoy the challenge too, but relaxing is of the utmost importance whenever you need to think through a problem. I looked around at this location and looked for the good points. The architecture seem quite interesting with the interior’s round design and soaring ceiling supports.

After a minute or two the solution seemed obvious. How do you make a small space appear large? You grab the widest angle optic you have in your gear bag, and that's exactly what I did. When I put the wide-angle lens on my camera look through the viewfinder I was seeing a brand new location. And, this location looked spectacular!

I had solved the problem, it was time to go to work. Take a look at the images accompanying this post.  In figure 1, you can see the normal perspective most of us saw as we got our first glance at the interior of this church.

Bad Location 0

In figure 2 you see the interior of the church as recorded with my wide-angle lens.

Bad Location 4

The wide-angle lens made an enormous difference to the perspective in which I can now shoot.

Check out the next two photographs and you will obtain a better understanding and see what I'm talking about.

Bad Locations 1

I was thrilled with the results. You can catch the entire post I did about my shoot in this location right here.

Bad Locations 2

2 – From Bad To Worse:

The next day we were scheduled to shoot at yet another church and I was sure that after are first day’s experience the second church was going to be a far better – NOT!  What can I say another big surprise! The second church wasn't even as good as the first church we visited the day before. It was going to be even a more challenging location.

Another solution I’ll turn to when working in less than beautiful locations is to scout the surrounding areas outdoors to see if I can put together some beautiful images in the natural surrounds. Take a look at figure 5. This shows the overall view of the location in which I had to work – nothing or at least not much going on.

Bad Location 3

Once again, what you need to do is get relaxed, smile, and accept the challenge. I knew I could “cheat” my way to a decent photograph even in this very plain location. One of my strategies under these circumstances is to shoot low with the sky and clouds behind the bride and simply crop the subject around the knees. This accomplishes a couple of things for me. First, it gives me a nice background for the photograph and I can control the density of that background with my flash and my exposure settings.

I decided to use the fastest shutter speed I could use and the smallest aperture I could get away with using my 150 w.s. Quantum flash. That would really give me a very dramatic sky with it underexposed a stop or two.

If I cropped the bride for a full-length photograph, I would've picked up the parking lot in the background. That really wasn't an option unless I really wanted to be facing a lot of Photoshop work later.

Bad Locations 9

I chose instead to crop my beautiful subject at about the knees and, with me literally lying on the ground I was able to crop out the cars and the building in the background quite effectively. What we end up with in Figure 6 is a really exciting photograph of my bride in our less than pleasing outdoor location.

3 – Shooting In The Las Vegas Chapel:

Although I just blogged about this in depth last week [link], let me  refer to it one more time. Once again, as in the first situation, I was faced with very, very tight quarters. My preferred manner of solving the problem is nearly always the use of a wide-angle lens. In this situation I was shooting my Canon 5D Mark II and I chose the Sigma 12–24mm lens at it’s widest setting to really open up the cramped space of this very small, little chapel. You can see in the photograph below and the article I linked to above that we really captured some nice images in these extremely cramped surrounds.

Bad Locations 6

I could go on at length solving problem after problem but let me  leave you with my five favorite problem-solving strategies when I'm shooting in less than beautiful locations.

5 Problem Solving Shooting Strategies You Can Use

1.  Make a small space larger with a wide-angle lens.

2.  Use long focal lengths at wide apertures.

When working outdoors in a less than satisfactory location use the longest focal length you can add to a wide aperture, at least F4. That will put the background well out of focus. The secret, by the way, is to keep the subject well in front of whatever you want to throw out of focus.

3. Use the sky as your background.

When shooting outdoors with not much happening in the background, I will many times get my camera as close to the ground as possible shooting up on the subject with the sky and clouds in the background. I then use my off-camera flash to control the density and dramatic affect of the sky as in the example above.

4.  Overexpose the background like crazy.

I can remember photographing a beautiful wedding in downtown Cincinnati a few years ago. The bride was amazing, the lighting was gorgeous on her face, but the background was a street in downtown Cincinnati with cars, parking meters, poles and electrical wires.

Bad Locations 11

By purposely overexposing a background while still maintaining detail in the bride's facial features I was able to create beautiful high key images of the bride. This image eventually became one of her favorite images in her wedding album.

5.  Make Photoshop Your Friend.

You might be able to guess what I'm going to say here. If you find yourself working in the less than beautiful location then don't forget the Photoshop option. That's right, after shooting digital for nearly 12 years I've learned that many times software can be my friend. It opens up lots of problem-solving possibilities when faced with less than ideal locations.

A perfect example happened a few years ago when I was shooting another Bat Mitzvah. The parents wanted me to create a beautiful sign up board of their daughter for the weekend event. It had been pouring down rain for a number of days, everything was gray and very soggy wet at the location we were shooting. Everyone was very disappointed. There was simply no way I could capture an outdoor portrait of our young 13-year-old in the natural surrounds. I ended up photographing her against a beige colored wall which I blasted white with my flash. I knew software was going to be the solution.

After the shoot at the Temple I came home that rainy afternoon and walked around our home looking for a pleasing green foliage background. I eventually found the background I was looking for, I attached my 70-200mm IS lens on my camera, threw the background well out of focus with a large aperture, and took a couple photographs.

Bad Locations 10

These photographs would be used as the background for the portrait I had taken of my young subject just hours before. A little Photoshop saved the day, produced a nice, pleasing but more importantly an image to surprise and negate any earlier disappointment from my clients.

So there you have it. All is not lost when you're faced with shooting in the less than beautiful locations. Just try a couple of the suggestions outlined above and I think you'll see most your problems evaporate. I said at the beginning of this post – the secret to success is to stay calm and relaxed. The secret is to know that the challenge is fun. The secret is to know that you're going to pull it off regardless. With a positive assumptive attitude, I promise, you’ll find a solution to your next difficult shooting situation. Welcome the challenges and the solutions will easily follow.
Hey gang, that's it for me today. I hope you enjoy the images and the solutions in today's post and I’ll see you again tomorrow for another episode of Business Day Thursday.

I’ve got clients coming shortly so I’ve got to run.

Adios, David

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"A Very Special Evening"

Lady Of The Evening-

"A Very Special Evening"
© David A. Ziser

You read yesterday’s post – things were really moving quickly during our photography session at Saturday’s Bat Mitzvah.  I thought I had taken my last photograph when it occurred to me that I hadn’t photographed Hannah by herself among the splendor of the beautiful party room.

Nicholas quickly tracked her down and she graciously obliged us by returning for just a few more photographs. 2 1/2 minutes later I had the photographs I wanted.

These are always my favorites of the evening.  They are very dramatic portraits that befit this wonderful occasion.  Compositionally I want you to see how the curved lines of the chair tops lead your eye directly to Hannah.  In fact all the lines in the scene lead to our subject.

Lighting was from camera right, my Z-Ray held by my assistant placing the perfect loop lighting pattern on her face. I think we got a great portrait in a very short amount, 2 minutes,  of time.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm, F4.5 @ 1/15 second (handheld), IOS 1000.  Enjoy!  -David