Tuesday, October 31, 2006

10/31/06: Happy Halloween!

Remember to take some photos of your favorite little trick-or-treaters! When they grow up and wonder what they were for Halloween each year, you'll be able to show them. :)

Monday, October 30, 2006

10/30/06: National Park Service - Artist-In-Residence Program

The National Park Service sponsors a number of "Artist-In-Residence" opportunities for photographers (and other artists) to volunteer their services and practice their craft while, in most cases, having their lodging provided at no cost. Many artists apply each year to the various parks that have artist-in-residence programs and few are chosen. What nature photographer wouldn't want to live in a National Park for several weeks photographing all kinds of beautiful sights?

Click here for more information about which parks have artist-in-residence programs and more specific details about the program at each park.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

10/29/06: Tips from some "retro" camera devices!

My wife's parents -- God love them -- are pack-rats when it comes to stuff my wife had since she was a little girl. Granted, they are probably the neatest, most well-organized pack-rats the world has ever seen. Every time they come to visit, they bring another box of treasures from my wife's youth. While unpacking one of the boxes my wife came across some old unused flash cubes from the 1970s -- you know (well, some of you don't!), back in the days of the 110 and 126 "instamatic" cameras.

For those of you who don't know -- flash cubes were small devices that attached to (the equivalent of old point and shoot) cameras and they were good for 4 flashes. After the 4 flashes, the cube was discarded. I really got a kick out of seeing these old on-camera lighting devices. Here are what the packages looked like...

On the back of one of the packages is a list of "ABC" tips for taking better pictures with flash cubes. I figured I should post these on the daily photo tips site in case anyone needs a 1970s era refresher on the use of flash devices! :)

10/28/06: Be Careful With Heavy Lenses on Tripods!

Sorry this post is delayed by a day -- had a busy day photographing a wedding on Saturday.

While shooting the wedding yesterday, I learned an important lessson. Recently I took ownership of a Canon 24-70 f2.8 L series lens -- great piece of glass -- but a heavy one. The lens weighs a little over 2 pounds. I had the lens attached to my Canon 5D (which has a battery grip attachment too) mounted on a tripod for formal portraits. The tripod -- a Bogen / Manfrotto 3021 model -- has a quick-release head. I love the quick release feature about the tripod, but you do have to use two hands to release the camera from the tripod. Not being used to a lens that is heavier than the camera (well, not one where the lens isn't attached to the tripod anyway!), I released the camera from the tripod thinking I still had a firm grip on the base of the camera. I did not! The weight of the new lens took the who deal flying forward REALLY FAST! Fortunately I still have cat-like reflexes left from my ice hockey playing days and I was able to snag the camera strap as the camera was falling quickly toward the marble floor. Several groomsmen witnessed this and said "nice save!" They don't know how right they were!

So the tip for the day is to be careful when quick-releasing your camera from a tripod -- especially when using a heavy (and expensive) lens!

Friday, October 27, 2006

10/27/06: Some of my favorite "Author Unknown" photo quotes...

I'm in a great mood today (being a St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan) so I thought I'd share some of my favorite "author unknown" photography quotes...enjoy!

"Everyone has a photographic memory, but not everyone has film."

"A picture is worth a thousand words; a slide show is both."

"One photo out of focus is a mistake, ten photo out of focus are an experimentation, one hundred photo out of focus are a style."

"Buying a Nikon doesn't make you a photographer. It makes you a Nikon owner."

"The goal is not to change your subjects, but for the subject to change the photographer."

"If you saw a man drowning and you could either save him or photograph the event...what kind of film would you use?"

"It's not the camera, but who's behind the camera."

"Once photography enters your bloodstream, it's like a disease."

"The camera cannot lie, but it cannot help being selective."

"You don't take a photograph. You ask, quietly, to borrow it."

Have a great weekend! ~DJW

Thursday, October 26, 2006

10/26/06: Quick and Easy Protection From the Elements

A friend of mine contacted me yesterday for some photo advice. She and her husband got tickets to see the World Series here in St. Louis and she wanted to take her camera, however, the weather forecast included a lot of rain. She said someone at the local camera store just told her to leave her camera at home. Blasphemy!! In addition to the normal rain gear I have for keeping dry (umbrella, poncho, etc.), I always have a large ziplock bag in my camera bag. In the event of a sudden down pour, the camera goes inside the ziplock bag which then goes back into the camera bag (which is then usually under my rain poncho).

Fortunately I've never really been caught in a situation where I needed to employ the ziplock bag for very long...but I couldn't believe someone at a camera store would tell her to leave her camera at home -- especially to a rare photography opportunity like a baseball World Series game.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

10/25/06: Your Favorite Places to Photograph

Outdoor Photography magazine hosts a section on their web-site where photographers can submit pictures from their favorite place(s) to shoot. Click here to check out the galleries and learn how you can submit an image or images from your favorite photo spots. There is also a section for you to find your next photo travel adventure or workshop. Check it out!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

10/24/06: "Shooting Cars"

I love cars and I love photography. I don't get to watch much TV but I do try to watch the Speed Channel's "Shooting Cars." It's a very awesome show featuring photo shoots (and video shoots) of cars. Click here to see the show schedule.

Vroom!! Vroom!! (Click-click!!)

Monday, October 23, 2006

10/23/06: Check this out -- from Canon

Click here to download the EOS Digital Photo Guidebook for Professionals. The free 48 page e-book contains great information about Canon products (as expected), shooting tips, and workflow. The book retails for $19.95 at authorized Canon retails -- but it's a free downloand (file size - 7.6 mb).

Awesome information in there -- thanks Canon!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

10/22/06: Sports Photography - Yes You Can Take It With You!

I've heard photographers talk about "sneaking" cameras into professional sporting events such as baseball, football, hockey, etc. for recreational shooting (no intention to sell the photos). Most sporting events / facilities will allow you to take pictures -- you just have to know the camera policy. I've encountered no problems taking professional cameras / lenses to pro baseball games. I've also had no problems with pro football training camps and pro hockey practices. Check out the stadium's camera policy online -- visit the facility's web-site to see if the camera policy is online. Sometimes a team or stadium will have specific limits on focal length (e.g. no lens longer than 200 mm) and aperature / speed (e.g. no aperature of 2.8 or faster).

Just be advised that every camera policy I've ever encountered specifies that you are not allowed to sell photos without permission from the league and / or team.

So as long as you are in compliance with the camera policy -- don't be afraid to take your camera with you to pro sporting events!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

10/21/06: The "One Lens" Approach...

Some friends of mine recently attended a Joe Buissink workshop in Vermont. Joe challenged each photographer to only shoot with one lens each day of the workshop. Try that sometime -- go shooting and only use one lens all day...it will challenge you to make the most of that lens. You may find yourself "thinking outside the box" and getting more from that particular lens than you may have thought possible. Good luck!

Friday, October 20, 2006

10/20/06: Quote of the day...

"It matters little how much equipment we use; it matters much that we be masters of all we do use."
-- Sam Abell

Thursday, October 19, 2006

10/19/06: Check out the "flare buster"

Yesterday's post was about a site run by David Beckstead -- a photographer well known for his creative use of sun flare in his photos.

There are shooting situations where you don't want sun flare -- for these shots, check out the "Flare Buster." The Flare Buster is a device that attaches to your camera's tripod socket and can be positioned to block annoying sun flare from entering your lens. Click here to check out and order the "Flare Buster."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

10/18/06: A site for photo inspiration...

I'm a big fan of checking out other photographers' work in order to be inspired. A really cool site is admiredbybeckstead.com -- a site run by famous wedding photographer David Beckstead. Photographers submit pictures for David to check out and he showcases the ones he really likes. Click here to go to "Admired by Beckstead."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

10/17/06: "A Better Bounce Card"

My friend Phil Pool who runs Omni Photo by Phil in West Burlington, IA, tipped me off to this...

Click here to see "A Better Bounce Card." The video runs 18 minutes long and is pretty, uh, thought provoking from an equipment perspective!

I think I'll stick with my Lightsphere by Gary Fong -- but it's nice to see other photographers thinking outside the box (or the sphere, or the 3"x5" card...).

10/16/06: Take A Day Off...

Okay so Monday I didn't get a chance to post -- sorry -- I was in bed much of the day fighting a cold (and losing). But here is another funny "What the Duck?" cartoon I thought I'd share. Kinda hits home for me...maybe for some of you too! :)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

10/15/06: More Advice for Photographing Toddlers

John Hedgecoe, in his book "Photographing Babies & Toddlers" (ISBN 1-85585-999-8) says that by the time children are toddlers they are usually very active in the photography process. Hedgecoe recommends letting them suggest locations, clothes, poses and props.

From my experiences, this is particularly true of little girls! :)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

10/14/06: The Cost of Doing Business as a Photographer

The National Press Photographer's Association (the NPPA) has a nifty little utility on their web-site - a cost of doing business as a photographer calculator.

Click here to access the site and the cost of doing business calculator. You might be surprised by what you see.

Friday, October 13, 2006

10/13/06: "Double Quote Friday!"

Happy Friday!! I have two more quotes for the day -- while neither of them are specific to photography, they both certainly apply to photography:

"You can’t copy your way to 'greatness', it can only be achieved through original thinking and ideas." -- Anonymous

"Learn from other people’s mistakes; you won’t live long enough to make them all yourself." -- Milton Berle

Thursday, October 12, 2006

10/12/06: Develop a "Soft" Shutter Finger

Probably one of the most common problems affecting otherwise well captured images is camera shake. In low light situations your primary solution is a tripod with a cable release and / or self-timer option employed. However, if you are finding that your images are fuzzy and you have reason to believe the lighting was sufficient to hand-hold your camera to capture the image...you may be pressing the shutter release button too hard!

I photograph a lot of weddings (for pay) and sports / nature (for fun)...I have different cameras for different shooting situations. My Canon EOS 5D is an ideal wedding / portrait camera and my Canon EOS 20D is better suited for sports / fast action photography since it delivers a higher frames per second image capture rate. But on occasion I find myself with the wrong camera when the shooting situation is fast action (sometimes those brides and grooms RUN out of the church!). In these situations -- instinct takes over -- I find myself pushing harder on the shutter to get the camera up to the speed I want. That's a bad habit -- because I could be introducing unwelcome camera shake in these situations.

So whatever the shooting situation and gear you have...learn to develop a "soft-touch" when pressing the shutter -- you'll likely end up with fewer blurry images!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

10/11/06: Sell Your Photos for Stock!

If you have an image or images that you might want to sell for stock photo use but you have no idea how much to charge, you need to check out this site:


It's a great tool for determining about what to expect for a non-royalty free stock photo sale. You can choose from what type of use (corporate, advertising, editorial), the placement of the image (cover, back-cover, inside pages, etc.), as well as the size of the image to be used and the index generator will give you a basic idea of how much to charge (based on surveys from existing stock photo sellers).

Check it out! :)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

10/10/06: Plan "B" Shots...

Last weekend I was photographing a wedding where the bride and groom had hired a horse and carriage to bring them to their reception which was held at a country club. But the horse and carriage service got the directions or the time (or both) mixed up...much to the chagrin of the bride and groom.

While the couple was trying to figure out an alternate plan for the "grand entrance," some wedding party members were able to get the golf course to loan them a bunch of golf carts. When the horse and carriage wasn't where they were supposed to be at the right time, there was discussion of having a golf cart parade entrance. The horse and carriage eventually showed up (delivering the bride and groom about 30 minutes late), but I didn't let the opportunity slip to capture this image of the bride and groom pondering their plan "B" grand entrance.

What this illustrates is that we photographers should always be prepared to "go with the flow" -- just because one photo opportunity appears lost doesn't mean another (or several more) won't pop up!

Monday, October 09, 2006

10/09/06: Rainy Days & Mondays...

Yesterday I spoke of taking still pictures with a digital video camera. Not long ago my family and I were attending a special function at the local zoo -- only it was raining cats and dogs (and lions, and tigers, and bears...sorry...couldn't resist). We had to take a shuttle to the parking lot and I managed to take this photo using my video camera while looking out of the bus window...

It just goes to show you that even on a rainy day you can look for and capture interesting photos.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

10/08/06: Video Cameras That Take Still Photos...

If you are considering a point and shoot digital still camera that shoots video vs. a digital video camera that shoots stills...I have a bit of advice for you (since I have both).

Last night we had family over and I wanted to take a few quick snapshots of the people we haven't seen in awhile. I grabbed my video camera (knowing that it didn't have a tape loaded but it had a card for still photos) and intended to shoot a couple of pictures. Here is the problem when trying to photograph people using a digital video camera -- they think you are recording video! Even if you say...I'm just taking some still pictures, instinct takes over and they assume that need to be saying or doing something for the rolling video. Most consumer digital video cameras don't have the advanced shutter capabilities that a DSLR (or point and shoot digital) would have...so while your loved ones are bouncing around acting goofy thinking they are being videotaped...you are getting worthless blurry still images (unless that's what you were going for, then they aren't worthless!).

Just thought I'd pass this tip a long -- when shooting still images using a digital video camera, just shoot landscapes!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

10/07/06: A Little Photography Humor - Wedding Style

I thought I'd pass along a little wedding photography humor today. "What The Duck" is a funny comic strip just for photographers...

You can check out more "What The Duck" comics by clicking here. Enjoy! :c)

Friday, October 06, 2006

10/06/06: Quote of the day...

I couldn't make up my mind...so today I'm posting TWO photo-related quotes...

"The still must tease with the promise of a story the viewer of it itches to be told."

-- Cindy Sherman
"As I have practiced it, photography produces pleasure by simplicity. I see something special and show it to the camera. A picture is produced. The moment is held until someone sees it. Then it is theirs."
-- Sam Abell

Thursday, October 05, 2006

10/05/06: Rocky Mountain School of Photography

I know there are loads of places to get intensive photo education these days...my personal favorite is the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, Montana. If you are considering a career in photography, check out the career training options available thru RMSP. On the other hand if you are an advanced amateur or part-time pro looking to advance your skills...click here to request a catalog of their class options -- the catalog is packed with amazing images taken by both RMSP instructors and students. I highly recommend the pro studies courses as well as the digital weekends / photo weekends.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

10/04/06: Put Your Photos In a Museum!

Here's a fun little thing you can do with your photos -- using images hosted on Flickr.com (Yahoo's free image hosting service), you can create images that show people looking your images in a museum. Go check out "Museumr" and have some fun...like this:

I found this fun little application by reading fellow photographer Samuel Barr's blog -- thanks Sam!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

10/03/06: Building Community

Photographers feed off of other photographers -- we see each others' work and it inspires us. If you want to be inspired...set a goal...try to visit 5-10 new photographer blogs each week. Leave comments for the photographers -- you'll find that many of them will visit your blog and leave comments for you. All of this serves to make us better photographers. You'll probably also find yourself making many new photographer friends -- "building community" as they say.

Oh, feel free to comment! ;)


Monday, October 02, 2006

10/02/06: Border Patrol

One creative way to showcase your online images is thru the use of custom or "sloppy" borders. You can find very easy-to-use and very affordable border actions for use with Photoshop. I tend to favor those by Kevin Kubota and David Jay. Kubota has a few more options but David Jay's borders come with a very easy user interface for selecting differnt borders. Below are some samples of borders I've used.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

10/01/06: And In Case You Forget...

Label your precious camera equipment with your name and phone number. Quite often we can get caught up in the moment of making a great image...and we'll forget that lens or flash that we set down. Get an inexpensive label maker from an office supply store and make labels for all of your valuable camera gear.