Thursday, May 31, 2007

05/31/07: Free Trial of Image Correction Software...

Gary Fong has recently announced the latest version of his popular BullZeye software -- version 4.0. To obtain a free trial download of Bullzeye 4.0, go to Gary's web-site, www.garyfongestore.com or click here to go directly to the BullZeye trial offer page.

BullZeye 4.0 looks to be a very useful tool, especially for jpeg shooters, as it offers color correction utilities, exposure correction along with batch processing capabilities. If you like BullZeye, for a limited time you can order the full version for $149 (regular price $199).

Kudos to Gary along with other image processing software vendors who offer these wonderful "try before you buy" opportunities!

EDIT:
I just read an excellent review of BullZeye 4.0 on the awesome blog of West Palm Beach, Florida photographer George Quiroga -- check it out by clicking here. Great review George!

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

05/30/07: Microsoft Surface

I realize most photographers (advanced hobbyists to pros) are loyal to the Macintosh world...however, I'm still a PC geek -- have been for over 15 years. Our friends at Microsoft have recently announced their new Surface technology. Click here to check out a demo of Surface. You gotta admit it looks pretty cool. Stay tuned for more details on how this product will affect photographers and other creative types in the months and years to come.

(Though I still wonder how you can child proof something like this!)

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

05/29/07: R.I.P., Kit Lens...

At a wedding this past weekend, I had a guest ask me what lens she should get to replace the cruddy kit lens that came with her consumer DSLR. I asked her two questions...

"What do you photograph the most?"
"Where is that kit lens failing you the most?"

Let me back and define the "kit lens." A kit lens is essentially a starter lens that comes with most entry level digital SLR cameras. Most often it's a variable aperature zoom lens (i.e. the aperature value gets smaller as the lens is zoomed from wide to telephoto) and typically the aperature values are not very fast -- f3.5 to f5.6 or something along those lines (fast being a lens with aperature values of f2.8 or greater...i.e. f2.0, f1.8, etc.). A kit lens typically has a retail price of around $99 to $150 depending on where you shop -- and often the price difference between the entry level DSLR body only and kit price is around a hundred bucks.

The woman told me that most often she photographs her children...and the problem she encounters with the kit lens is camera shake or fuzzy pictures when photographing inside. She said she doesn't like the look of using flash (either on camera pop-up flash or a supplemental hot-shoe mounted flash). She didn't want to have to spend a ton of money to buy a pro calibre lens.

I queried her a little further -- does she have a lot of window light in the house -- could she take more photos of her kids near windows (you're almost always gonna get better light near windows vs. turning on a bunch of incandescent lights indoors). Her answer was that there was not a lot of window light in her house...and most often when she wants to grab a cute expression of one of her children...it wouldn't be feasible for her to always expect those priceless cute kid moments to happen near great directional window light (such is the law of photographing cute kids...).

I suggested that she consider the Sigma 18-50 mm f2.8 DC macro lens -- retail price around $420 depending on where you shop. I don't currently own any Sigma lenses (nor do I own an entry level DSLR!), but I have a number of friends who own and love their Sigma lenses. This lens would be a significant upgrade in quality from her kit lens (with the variable aperature zoom...boo!), while also being about half as expensive as similarly featured camera body manufacturer lenses (that is to say the Nikon or Canon equivalents!).

I found the SIGMA LENS 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC Digital Camera SLR Lens for Canon available on Amazon.com for $409.99 and the the Nikon mount for $391.83.

If you own this lens and you have comments -- feel free to post them here.

~Dan

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Monday, May 28, 2007

05/28/07: Laptop Battery Tips...

I've owned several laptops in my life -- and I love them. But as most photographers who use laptops know, they can behave unpredictably on occasion. My current laptop, a Dell Inspiron E1505, is about a year and a half old and is starting to show signs of battery fatigue. The battery, when new, would last about 4 hours on a full charge. Currently I get about 90 minutes or so out of a battery charge. There are a number of things that can accelerate a laptop battery losing it's charge sooner than expected:

-- use of wireless internet or device connections
-- powering external peripherals such as hard drives, flash / pen / jump drives, iPods, etc.
-- screen brightness

All of these factors seem to be things that a photographer would and could expect to do with a laptop. Most often I have an external hard drive AND my iPod connected to my laptop while connecting to a wireless network...so I've certainly put the battery through it's paces!

If you find yourself needing to replace a laptop battery, you should do two things.

1.) research online for consumer reviews of various battery options (name brand vs. "knock-off", extended cell vs. normal cell, etc.)
2.) properly dispose of the spent battery through an approved battery recycler (you can NOT just throw them in the trash due to environmental restrictions!)

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

05/27/07: Naturescapes.net - for Nature Photographers!

Naturescapes.net is a web-site published by talented nature photographer Greg Downing. On the site you'll find a lot of helpful nature photography articles (including some that can be applied to other areas of shooting besides nature photography!), information about nature photography workshops, book reviews, an online forum, and other cool stuff. If you like to shoot nature photography either for fun or profit (or both, LOL), be sure to book-mark Naturescapes.net!

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05/26/07: Determing the focus point in a print...



A good way to determine the strongest focal point of an image is to turn the print upside down (or rotate it 180 degrees if you are looking at a digital image file). Often in print competitions you'll see print judges doing just that with prints.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

05/25/07: Relentless Pursuit of the Great Shot...

While reading a recent article in Rangefinder magazine (a publication for professional wedding and portrait photographers), I came across a great quote from Brooks Institute of Photography instructor, Chuck Place.

"The only way to fail on a photo shoot is by not getting exactly what you want."

-- Chuck Place, Brooks Institute of Photography instructor

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

05/24/07: "Two Snaps Up!!"

I listened to an interview recently with the famous celebrity wedding photographer Joe Buissink. Joe spoke about recognizing perfect instances for taking pictures where he'll just snap his fingers if he sees something that looks like it would make a great photograph. That's a cool way to train yourself to recognize opportunities to take amazing pictures -- too often a photographer is at an event and they are waiting and waiting and waiting for the perfect set-up...and they miss those great spontaneous image capturing opportunities. I've been known to be out for walks or hikes with friends or family and I'll point out great light and what kind of great image could be made at that instant.

So if you want to get better at training your eyes (and your shutter finger and quick dial thumb) to capture superb candid images...just start snapping your fingers when you see something or someone that would make a cool shot. Even if you aren't carrying a camera with you at the moment (who would think of such a thing????), you'll get better at quickly reacting during those times when you do have your camera ready to fire away!

Keep it real :)
~Dan

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

05/23/07: Fun Photo Contest...

HP has teamed up with the producers of Shrek the Third (tm) for a fun photo contest. There are dozens of weekly prizes, a grand prize and fourteen runners-up prizes. Send in your Shrek inspired photos for a chance to win digital cameras, printers and other cool prizes. Good luck!

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

05/22/07: Book Recommendation for May

I haven't done a book recommendation in a while...so I figure I'm due. This one isn't directly photography related...but it may very well be just as helpful for you as it is for me!

I work two full-time jobs -- a corporate job that pays the mortgage and provides healthcare insurance for my burgeoning brood at home, and my photography business that satisfies almost all other needs (mainly creativity) in my life! :)

If you are like me...working one job to pay the bills and another one for the love of the work, I recommend "48 Days to the Work You Love" by Dan Miller (ISBN # 0805444793). You can order an autographed copy from Dan's web-site for around $19...or get it from Amazon.com for only $10 and some change.



Another great book (one that Dan Miller also recommends and sells on his web-site) is called "Guerilla Marketing" by Jay Conrad Levinson (ISBN # 159918043X). The workbook for Guerilla Marketing is also a great bargain thru Amazon.com.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

05/21/07: To Beep or Not to Beep?

Most auto-focus cameras come with an audible tone or beep to indicate when a shot is in focus. Wedding photographers will probably tell you that they have the beep function disabled -- with good reason -- you don't want to be the one with the noisy digital device during a quiet wedding ceremony. However, my general rule of thumb for the auto-focus beep is -- use it when you are doing kid photography -- especially when you may need to move out from behind the camera to engage the child you are photographing.

Funny story -- recently I was at a children's photography workshop with over a dozen photographers in attendance. When it came time to shoot, there were so many beeps in the studio it sounded like a family of birds had been let loose inside!

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Friday, May 18, 2007

05/18/07: Quote of the day...

Today's quote actually can be applied to many other disciplines besides photography (I first heard it on the golf course!)...but I think of this quote often when people make statements about how their camera equipment is limiting their photographic abilities.

"Sometimes it's not the arrow, it's the indian."

-- Anonymous

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

05/15/07: Save on Canon Glass NOW at B&H

For a limited time, B&H Photo is offering a number of instant rebates on Canon lenses. Click here for more information.

This appears to be a great time to pick up some prime lenses as it seems many of the lenses with instant rebates are primes. Savings range from $25 to $100 off -- and you won't have to jump thru all kinds of hoops to claim the savings!

See you in the checkout lines!

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Monday, May 14, 2007

05/14/07: Check out "Midnight Carnival"

It's a bit of a long load, but definitely worth checking out -- click here for "Midnight Carnival" by Chris Raecker. Very powerful images...enjoy!


BTW (totally unrelated) -- remember, U.S. postal mailing rate increase kicks in today! I was in a long line at the post-office this morning...

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

05/13/07: Time for some more humor...

This "What the Duck?" panel made me think of the number of times I've heard professional photographers asked this same question...




Just keep shooting! That's been the advice I've followed since 1983 when I bought my first SLR camera. :)

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

05/12/07: Epson Clearance Sale

From May 10th thru May 23rd you can save an extra 10% off already discounted items in the Epson Clearance Center e-store. They are also offering free shipping. Click here to go to the Epson Clearance Center. I bought one of my Epson wide-format prints from this site and I've been very happy with it.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

05/11/07: Quote of the day...

I came across this post related to photo style on Colorado photographer Cheryl Jacobs' blog...

"Style is a voice, not a prop or an action. If you can buy it, borrow it, download it, or steal it, it is not a style. Don't look outward for your style; look inward."

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

05/10/07: Wanna Be In a Ken Burns Movie?

Most photographers are familiar with the "Ken Burns effect" in still image slideshows -- the addition of movement (panning, zooming, etc.) to still images being displayed onscreen. While this post isn't directly photo-related, I still thought this was a pretty cool.

Cinematographer Ken Burns is working on a PBS film about America's National Parks. He is inviting the public to submit old home movies (film or videotape) for inclusion in the project.

If you are interested in submitting footage, they have asked that you adhere to the following criteria:
  • Send only home movies in VHS or DVD from 1920 - 1980.
  • Footage of families and tourists is preferred.
  • Do not send originals -- Material will not be returned.
  • Clearly mark the tape or disc with your name, address, phone number and email (if available), so they can contact you if your footage is selected.
  • Include a brief description of the film.
  • Send all footage to:

Anne Harrington

WETA

2775 S. Quincy St.

Arlington, VA 22206

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Monday, May 07, 2007

05/07/07: "How'd You Do THAT?"


Today was my youngest son's third birthday. After he opened his presents we went outside for a little while so he could play with them. These are also times I like to play with my cameras. I shot the above picture with my old ("old" is so relative when it comes to digital cameras!) EOS 10d camera using a 15mm 2.8 fisheye lens. Here's how I got the above shot.
After metering for ambient light in manual exposure mode, I stopped down the f-stop and slowed the shutter speed down until I came up with a nice slow shutter speed for the ambient light -- the sun had already set, but there was still significant open-shade light at dusk. I came up with settings of 1/20th of a second, f7.1, ISO 100. A shutter speed of 1/20th of a second was a nice slow speed that would blur the background. I switched the camera to self-timer mode and activated the on-camera pop-up flash (knowing the flash would darken the background by a stop or two). I pressed the shutter release button (activating the self-timer), held my son by his arms and began to spin around with the camera hanging from my neck. As I was spinning I had to keep telling my son (who was having a blast being spun around by dad) to look at the camera...I also had to suck in my gut a bit to make sure the camera -- even with the fish eye -- didn't tilt up too high for the shot, since my son was only about 24" away from the camera. It took a few tries (primarily to get the timing of the exposure to be right when I had him turned toward the ambient light source in the background), but I came up with a series of fun shots of both my 3 year old son and his older sister.
This exercise is just another example of how trial and error (and chimping the LCD...he-he-he...) using a digital camera will yield some fun, creative images. You really couldn't do this (inexpensively anyway) with a film camera!

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Friday, May 04, 2007

05/04/07: Quote of the day...

"The thing itself need only exist for one two-fiftieth of a second, the time it takes to take a photograph. It is the photograph which need have the duration since it is the photograph which is printed in newspapers and magazines, sent through the post, broadcast through the air, projected onto walls––not the event itself."

-- Anonymous (Creative Camera, August, 1972, page 278)

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

05/02/07: Happy 1st Birthday - Daily Photo Tips!!

Daily Photo Tips is one year old today! \o/

I started Daily Photo Tips for several reasons...

-- to share some of my photography knowledge, since I get asked a lot of the same questions by photographers at various skill levels
-- to challenge myself to learn more and more about what I love...that is ANYTHING photography related!
-- to network with other photographers for sharing knowledge and inspiration wherever possible
-- to meet chicks (okay, just kidding about that...I'm happily married! :-) )

Sometimes I get a few days behind with my posts -- usually when I'm super-busy with weddings and other photo projects, so the more hits and comments I get, the greater my motivation to keep on top of Daily Photo Tips.

Feel free to leave a shout-out on your site, or comments in any post here. I can also be reached by e-mail... dan at dailyphototips dot com.

Enjoy and come back often...watch Daily Photo Tips learn to walk, feed itself, sit on the potty...oh, wait, yes, as a matter of fact, I am a father to three small children!

Keep it real,
Dan