Wednesday, February 28, 2007

02/28/07: The Radiant Vista Podcast

I've mentioned in the past how I've been inspired by photographer Craig M. Tanner. The Radiant Vista is a web-site featuring content from a number of amazing photographers including Craig Tanner, Mark Johnson, Nancy Rotenberg and Matthew Gibson. You can check out their podcasts for great tips on all types of photography.

While you are checking out the Radiant Vista web-site, be sure to review the daily critique section -- where photographers submit images for review by Radiant Vista contributors. My experience from critique session is that they are tremendously educational -- even when you are listening to critiques of others''ll learn a lot about how to make good pictures even better.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

02/27/07: The Magic of "Car Light?"

I'm in Indianapolis today attending an Opensource Photo conference. Uber-amazing Indy photographer Jessica Strickland spoke at this morning's session about "car light" -- it was something that really struck me as brilliant in it's simplicity (yes, this happens to me regularly now that you mention it!).

Jess asked the attendees to think about how good they look when looking in car vanity or rear view mirrors...and then she pointed out that the magic of car light comes from being surrounded by indirect light of the car windows while the roof of the car acts as a natural gobo (or light blocker) of the harshness of direct light. I thought that was a great analogy to help photographers search for nice indirect light sources that flatter the subject without creating harsh shadows (or cause the subject to squint and create unflattering wrinkles).

Thanks for the great tip Jess! :)

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Monday, February 26, 2007

02/26/07: The Business of Photography - on DVD

Liana Lehman with Kentucky photographer, Jim Cook.

Atlanta-based wedding photographer and entrepreneur Liana Lehman has recently introduced a new DVD set designed to help make photographers better businesspersons. Her new DVD, Profit Center, is loaded with lessons for photographers to learn more about making sound business decisions -- everything from salary planning, budgets, expense tracking / management, to pricing and housekeeping, is covered in the DVD. Be sure to check out Liana's Photo Biz Bootcamp seminars if you would like more one on one instruction.

Great stuff Liana -- we look forward to more amazing stuff from you in the near future!

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

02/25/07: "Make Light Real" by Neil Cowley

Rochester, New York photographer Neil Cowley is probably one of the most amazing masters of light that I've ever come across. Check out Neil's "Make Light Real" tutorials and workshops. Click here to go to Neil's site.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

02/24/07: Lightroom 1.0 Review

Here is pretty good technical review of Adobe Lightroom 1.0. Click here to read the article.


Friday, February 23, 2007

02/23/07: Quote of the day...

Here is a great quote for healthy debate when you are hanging out with fellow photographers. I don't know said this originally, but it's kind of cliche in professional photography circles...

“It’s the photographer that takes the picture, not the camera.”


Daily Photo Tips reader Henrik, from the Netherlands, aptly pointed out this was portrayed in a "What The Duck?" cartoon panel last year. Thanks for the post Henrik! Here is the cartoon...

Friday Bonus:

Check out all of the new books on Adobe Lightroom that are due to come out in the next few weeks / months.

Check out these cool Lightroom tutorial videos by Michael Tapes.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

02/22/07: Distinguish Yourself From "Uncle Bob"

Professional wedding photographers often have to compete with the "Uncle Bob's" of the world while shooting wedding portraits. "Uncle Bob" is an affectionate term for any amateur photographer who tends to shoot over the shoulder of the professional photographer or, in worst case scenarios, gets completely in the way of the professional photographer's shots. I was listening to a podcast interview with Kevin Kubota where he spoke of the importance of shooting with lenses that Uncle Bob does NOT have.
Kubota prefers shooting with ultra-wide lenses (in the 10-22mm range) or long telephoto lenses (in the 70-200mm range) to make his shots at focal lengths that most Uncle Bob's can't produce. He referred to this as "shooting at the extremes."
Even if you find yourself confined to standard focal lengths (in the 28-70 range), shoot wide open -- f1.4, f1.8, f2.0, etc. -- to give your shots the shallow depth of field that most "kit" DSLR lenses can't produce.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

02/21/07: Exciting News for Our 300th Post -- Canon Mark III Coming Soon!!

This is our 300th Daily Photo Tips post...and it's an exciting one!

Rumors about Canon introducing an amazing new camera this spring are all over the photo forums. My friend Phil Pool of Omni Photo by Phil just sent me this little tidbit about the NEW Canon Mark III camera and other new products from our friends at Canon. Thanks for the tip, Phil!

According to the article, the Mark III will be a 10 MP, APS-H sensor (1.3X factor), beast capable of shooting 10 frames per second...making it the world's fastest D-SLR. Other cool features include live-view LCD screen, ISO ranging from 50 to 6400, and the EOS integrated sensor cleaning system first introduced in 2006 on the Xti model. Canon has also improved the auto-focus technology and introduces all new Digic III image processors -- for improved fine image detail.

Read the rest of the article for more details about the Mark III and other great new products from Canon. (Must go call my broker now to buy more Canon stock!)

EDIT: Just noticed that info about the new Mark III is now up on the Canon web-site. Check it out here. Canon says that this new beast will be available in April 2007.
EDIT2: More info on the Mark III is available by clicking here to access Imaging Resource dot com's overview of the camera. You can also check out sample images from this page on the Canon-Japan web site.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

02/20/07: Book Publishing for Photographers!

So you've got a gorgeous collection of images centered around a common theme and friends have said you should get them published. Well, there's a web-site just for you! Texas photographer Dudley Harris started My 100 Books dot com (click here to access the site) to allow photographers to publish short-run, high-quality books at very reasonable prices. Doctor Harris (he's an opthamologist "during the day") has self-published a couple of his own books -- you can order a sample of one of his books if you'd like to see what a self-published book through My 100 Books will look like in finished product form.

Renown landscape photography Michael Reichmann used My 100 Books to publish his book, Bangladesh - First Impressions. Reichmann offered up a nice review of his experience self-publishing through My 100 Books on the Luminous Landscape web-site. Click here to check out his review.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

02/19/07: Image Stabilizer Tips

If you use image stabilizer lenses, there are several important things to keep in mind to use the feature optimally. As we've discussed in the past, don't enable image stabilizer (or vibration reduction in Nikon's world) if you don't need it -- the IS or VR device will cause internal movement for a shot that doesn't need IS or VR.

Another thing to keep in mind -- image stabilizer lenses tend to draw significant power from your camera battery. If you have a lot of shots where image stabilizer is needed, be sure to have fully charged batteries / spare batteries.

And, this applies to Canon IS lenses (not sure about Nikon VR lenses), know the difference between IS modes 1 and 2. Mode 1 will adjust for camera shake on both the horizontal and vertical axises, while mode 2 will only adjust for camera shake on the vertical (up and down) axis. You would employ mode 2 in situations where you intend to capture a certain degree of camera movement such as you are panning on the horizon with your subject.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

02/18/07: Experience - The Best Teacher

Yesterday was the first wedding of the season for me...though with only seven weeks off since the last wedding of 2006...I didn't have time to get too rusty. But I do have an "experience is the best teacher" tip based on something that happened to me.

I'm a bit old-fashioned when it comes to formal portraits at church ceremony weddings. If time and the church permit, I will set up my Photogenic monolights to create my on location studio and images that rival medium format studio quality shots. Sure, it's a bit of a pain to lug the extra gear around but, for my clients, it's worth it. I was shooting in an old church so I was concerned that I'd need ground lifts (or 3-prong adapters) to power my lights if this church didn't have grounded electrical outlets. So it's always good to have a couple of those adapters handy.
What ruined my plan to use the monolights was another evil twist -- all of the outlets near the altar were dead. I had to use battery powered strobes (sigh) to get my formal shots. It occured to me that I should have checked these outlets when I popped in for the ceremony rehearsal the night before. I could have either brought along one of those handy little outlet testing devices...but even just taking one of my battery charges and a battery would have told me I had dud outlets as far as my extension chords could reach.

So...I've updated my "pre-flight" wedding checklist to verify power availability (more than just checking to see where the outlets are) at the church! Hope you can learn from my experience!


Saturday, February 17, 2007

02/17/07: Good Romance Music

Town & Country magazine writer Deborah Grave Winer recently listed a half-dozen "in the mood for love" CDs. While I wouldn't recommend using copyrighted music without proper authorization for slideshow use...nothing wrong with putting on appropriate music when you review client proofs and / or albums! :) In fact, why not give one of these CDs to your clients when they get their proof-books and tell them to listen to it while looking at your imags! ;)

Here are the artists / albums that Winer listed in her "Not-So-Standard Romance" feature from the February 2007 edition of Town & Country:

  • John Pizzarelli: Dear Mr. Sinatra (Telarc; $18.98)
  • Ella Fitzgerald: Very Best of the Songbooks--Golden Anniversary Edition (Verve; $19.98)
  • Antonio Carlos Jobim: To Go--Stick It In Your Ear (Verve; $4.98)
  • Julie London: Around Midnight (Blue Note; $11.98)
  • Tony Bennett: Duets--An American Classic (Sony; $18.98)
  • Roberta Gambarini: Easy to Love (Groovin' High/Kindred Rhythm; $15.98)



Friday, February 16, 2007

02/16/07: Quote of the day...

We'll kick off the weekend with a little humor from our friend Aaron Johnson over at "What the Duck?"

And our Friday photo quote of the day is simple yet profound if you stop to think about it...

"The photographer must be a part of the picture."

--Arnold Newman

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

02/15/07: Yet Another Cool Digital Photography Blog

A friend of mine recently passed along this blog to me. I haven't dug to deep into "digital Photography School" but it seems like there are a lot of great posts that are well categorized as well as a forum. There is an "assignments" area go check it out!


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

02/14/07: It's Proposal Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! For a number of lucky ladies, today will also be proposal day! More than 10 years ago when I planned to propose to my then-girlfriend (now she's my wife! ;) ), I really planned to pop the question on Valentine's Day...but I couldn't wait so I did it at Christmas.

However, for those who do get engaged today...we photographers should be prepared. Update your web-site with recent images and do the same for your blog. Be prepared!

Whether you are married or sure to include photography in your Valentine's plans. Give gifts of photos (or cameras / gear...hint-hint...honey...if you see this, I'd like a new Canon 85mm f1.2 L lens, m-kay schnook-ems?) and, if you are out for a nice romantic evening that might include a candle-lit dinner or something like that -- at least have the waiter or waitress take a nice picture of the two of you!

And if you have been married for a number of years...take some time out to look at your wedding photos today.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

02/13/07: Posing for Portraits

About once a month I like to recommend a good photography book based on my own experience or that of a trusted photographer friend. One of the best books I've ever purchased for tips on posing people for portraits is this book -- The Portrait Photographer's Guide to Posing by Bill Hurter (ISBN-10 # 158428126X ).

Bill's advice on posing individuals, small groups and even larger groups is excellent for photographers who have little to no portrait experience. Important advice on posing topics such as making subjects look thinner, showing relationships within the portrait groups, and other great tips are in this book.


Monday, February 12, 2007

02/12/07: Win $1,000 for Photo Gear

I love entering contests (and, yes, I have an e-mail address just for the lovely *mail* that my frequent contesting generates). My wife and I gave my mom a cool Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas last year...and it was a mixer that I won at a local grocery store by just filling out an entry blank.

Popular Photography & Imaging is sponsoring a contest to win $1,000 just for signing up to receive their weekly newsletter. The winner gets a $1,000 shopping spree at one of their "checkrated" retailers. Click here to sign up for the newsletter. Good luck! If I don't win, I hope one of you does. (BTW -- disclaimer -- I am in no way affiliated with this contest...see the contest entry link above for complete rules.)

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02/11/07: Slideshow Timing...

I've been creating slideshows as long as I've been shooting pictures with SLR cameras (almost 25 years). A question I'm often asked long should I make the slideshow or how long should each image be on screen? The answer is -- it totally depends on a multitude of factors (content, music / tempo, audience connection to the show, etc.).

  • Content -- a wedding slideshow may seem short to a bride who would probably sit for hours looking at her images (assuming they are high quality, professional images!) whereas some of her co-workers or distant relatives might only be interested in seeing the best of the best -- perhaps 2 or 3 minutes.
  • Music / tempo -- appropriate music for slideshow content can have a dramatic influence on the impact of the show (e.g. up-tempo for sports or action photos -- or kids!, slow to moderate for romantic or reflective type images). You can pack many more images in a fast-tempo song and get away with it.
  • Audience -- an audience that is attached to the images (i.e. they are IN many of the images, or they are closely related or attached to the photo subjects) will concentrate much longer on slideshows than one who is comparatively detached. However, like cinema, suspenseful and engaging images will hold an audiences' attention for much longer than repititive content and poorly captured images.
A good rule of thumb I've used is 5-6 seconds per image for a slow to moderate paced / themed slideshow and anywhere from 1.5 to 3 seconds for faster action. For slow to moderate pace, I recommend a 1 second fade between images, less than 1 second for fast paced images.

As far as story-boarding your slideshow and selecting the right number of images based on a large assortment to choose from...pick the keepers, then pick the best of the keepers for the slideshow. If it still seems too long (or the # of images seems too quickly paced for your music selection), then keep culling the best of the best until the slideshow "fits" the music and your audience (of course you can also experiment with longer songs!). You can also try short versions and long versions of the same show depending on the audience.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

02/10/07: Pictures Help Us Remember...

One of the things that sets pro wedding photographers apart from amateurs is their ability to recognize relationship in photography. Nothing underscores this like photographs of elderly family members in special events like weddings. An amateur may focus too much on just the bride and groom while a professional photographer knows when and where to capture those special moments of family members.

Too often I've been told that I took a picture of a grandparent or special relative and they passed not long after the wedding date. While it saddens me to learn of the loved one's passing, I'm honored to have had the opportunity to capture memories which will be treasured. So if you are photographing special events...make a concentrated effort to include elderly relatives in photographs (especially candid ones) that show personality and those special relationships in the images.
The bride's grandfather (pictured below with the bride's father, just moments before the bride was escorted down the aisle) passed away less than 7 weeks after attending his grand-daughter's wedding.


Friday, February 09, 2007

02/09/07: Know When You are Smarter Than Your Camera

Not long ago I posted about shooting an engagement session with j-peg and all manual settings. I got "outside the box" again recently. My wife is a former figure skater so we rarely miss professional or competitive figure skating events when they come to town. Last weekend we went to the Stars On Ice show and I had the fun of doing a shootout with myself. I shot the first act with aperature priority and auto-focus, and the second act with manual shutter / aperature and manual focus (5d w/ 85mm 1.8).

Shooting manual was tough in such a dark environment...especially with the constantly changing theatrical lighting and the fast movement of the athletes. I took around 1250 shots and had a very, very small % of keepers. The light being reflected off of the white paint under the ice can really fool a camera meter...even in spot mode depending on the width of the spot light and the costumes of the skaters.

What I like about doing this type of exercise is that it forces you to learn when to trust yourself over your camera's meter. You could shooting figure skating shows relate to other types of photography? Well...think of constantly changing lighting you whirl around an event shooting (esp. if you are shooting natural light) -- these are the typical types of situations where you need to learn to trust yourself more than your camera's meter.

Most of the following images were shot at ISO 1250, f2.0, and in the 1/400 to 1/800 shutter speed range (even at that range, most of the really fast action shots were blurry...and I wasn't out to practice motion blur that night!). I really only changed the shutter speed with the changing light as well as the focus ring. As lights got dimmer or brighter it was like I was bracketing in 1/3 stop increments over a 5 - 7 frame sequence (even though I wasn't intending to bracket the exposures). Here are some of the keepers...

Typically on Friday's I like to post a photography quote. Today, in keeping with the ice skater theme of this post, I'd like to share a quote that is totally not related to photography -- but it can have a big influence on your photography.

"The only disability in life is a bad attitude."

--Scott Hamilton (U.S., Olympic and World Champion figure skater, and cancer survivor)

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

02/08/07: Lightroom Tips

Matt Kloskowski, of Photoshop TV fame, maintains an awesome web-site called Lightroom Killer Tips -- click here to check it out. Matt was nice enough to give us a plug yesterday on the site so we happily do the same. Be sure to sign up for the Adobe Lightroom Killer Tips weekly podcast -- a great way to learn some of the many features Lightroom has to offer photographers.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

02/07/07: How Lenses Are Made

Our good friends at Canon have put together a cool flash video that demonstrates how Canon lenses are made -- from glass formation to final assembly. Click here to access the Canon camera museum and tour the "virtual lens plant."


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

02/06/07: What is Rectilinear Correction?

Rectilinear Correction

Rectilinear refers to straight lines that appear straight with no curves. Many wide and ultra wide angle lenses as well as all fish-eye lenses will bend straight lines. Sometimes this is done on purpose for creative affect. Other times the bend toward the edge of the image just looks wrong -- especially when people appear in the edge of an image.

There are several ways to correct this. You can either spend the big bucks and purchase an aspherical wide angle lens so that all lines appear straight, you can buy special software plug ins for your image editing program (click here for software solutions), or you can simply crop the image so that the annoying element at the edges is removed (which won't correct lines in the middle that appear to have a bend to them, but it can remove destracting overly-exaggerated elements at the edge of the wide or ultra-wide angle image).

Here are two images that show the same scene with and without rectilinear correction. Both images were created with a Canon 5d (full frame sensor) digital SLR.

(above) Canon 15mm fisheye lens - not rectilinear corrected

Canon 17-40mm (at 17mm) - rectilinear correct

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Monday, February 05, 2007

02/05/07: Composition Tip - Anchor the Corners

Anchor the Corners

One way to improve the composition of an image is to concentrate on the corners of what you are photographing. By placing something in one, two, three or even all of the corners in the image, you add to the visual appeal of that image -- this technique is referred to as "anchoring the corners" of an image. Practice doing this when you are shooting and you'll find that the composition of your images will improve.


02/04/07: Photoshop Actions In Action!

Showit Effects - "LOMOIt" effect
Good Way to Review Photoshop Actions

During a fit of "how am I gonna keep myself looking overly-busy during this visit to the in-laws"...I decided to take one image and run the gamut of my PS actions (or at least most of them anyway!).

Here is the resulting slideshow. Enjoy! :)

I did this primarily for fun...but also to keep a folder full of images that I can refer to should I want to find the results of a particular PS action...kind of a benchmark thing. I'm about to purchase the Totally Rad Actions too, so my benchmark folder will soon change.

You can view the gallery of the images to find the name of the PS action (if you see one you like)...the code is pretty simple..."gavin" stands for Gavin Phillips actions..."kk" is Kevin Kubota..."lr" is an Adobe Lightroom preset..."si" is a Show-It Effect.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

02/03/07: So You Want to Podcast?

While today's post isn't directly related to photography...I find it relevant since I tend to listen to so many great photography podcasts on iTunes. The more great photographers who podcast and share their knowledge with the world, the better pictures we'll all take! Podcasting is term used for audio and video recordings that are shared on the internet.

B&H Photo in New York recently published an article with the basic information on what you need to know to podcast. Click here to read the article.

As always, be sure to let me know if you come across any cool photography related podcasts. :) Just e-mail me at dan at dailyphototips dot com.


Friday, February 02, 2007

02/02/07: Quote of the day...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

02/01/07: Great New Photo Biz Blog

Happened across a cool new blog the other day -- click here check it out -- it's a site dedicated to the business of photography. John Harrington, author of several great photography business books, is the blog publisher.


01/31/07: Focus Tip - Sports Photography

While I don't make a living shooting sports photos, I do very much enjoy being a sports spectator (with one of the nicest cameras in the house!). One thing I've learned about focusing on fast-action sports photography is that it's HARD to focus on moving objects.

The solution to this, I've found, is to focus on the feet. When an athlete is really moving fast, chances are you might miss the focus. If you focus on the head or torso and miss, you will end up focusing a lot further past the subject. If you focus on the feet (be sure not to crop off the head!), and miss, you'll only miss by a small amount (which, as they say in golf..."in the leather is good").

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