Sunday, September 30, 2007

09/30/07: How to make great photos...

Check out Ken Rockwell's "How to Make Great Photographs" web-page...

Awesome advice Ken!


Monday, September 24, 2007

09/24/07: Take care of your tripod

It sounds silly, but nothing can be more frustrating than a photo-shoot spoiled by a tripod failure. You spend hours doing location scouting, you have excellent camera gear (including back-up camera bodies, spare media cards, an assortment of fancy lenses) coupled with your amazing artistic skills -- you hike up a small mountain to get a beautiful sunset image (alternately -- you have 50 people assembled for a group shot in a very dimly lit church or reception hall!)...and your tripod falls apart. YIKES! Whoooodathunkit???

Recently I noticed that one of my tripod legs was slipping at inopportune moments. I thought -- no big deal...I can fix this with an allen wrench or a screw-driver. WRONG! Turns out I needed a slim profile socket wrench to tighten down the faulty leg. Who would have thought that a $300 tripod would give me fits trying to find the right tool in my garage to fix the problem? (Yeah, duct tape would have worked...temporarily...LOL.)

Learn from my frustrating experience. Check your tripod for loose connections and find the right tool to tighten them. You know what they ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

09/23/07: Looking for a Canon 40D?

I've been considering the Canon EOS 40D for my wife. Most places are out of stock...many have waiting lists.

I found that you can buy it on -- according to their web-site they have them in stock and you can get free 2 day shipping.

Here is the link (which is thru my Amazon associates page -- which supports the Daily Photo Tips education fund):

The above link is for the kit -- the 40D with a 28-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS (image stabilization) lens. Amazon's price is $1499 for the kit.

If you just want the body only (and not the kit) look for the drop down and select the "body only" option. The body only price on Amazon is $1299 -- pretty much the same price I've found on B&H, Wolf Camera, etc.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

09/22/07: Check out Craig's Actions...

Not to be confused with Craig's List :), Craig's Actions are Photoshop actions that are highly regarded in a number of photography publications and have received many favorable reviews on other photo web-sites. To learn more about Craig Minielly and the amazing creative and time-saving actions he has developed, go to his web-site...

You can get several free actions by providing your name and e-mail address -- you can opt in to receive newsletters and special announcements from Craig. Here is the link to receive free actions...



Friday, September 21, 2007

09/21/07: Quote of the day...

"I think about photographs as being full, or empty. You picture something in a frame and it's got lots of accounting going on in it--stones and buildings and trees and air--but that's not what fills up a frame. You fill up the frame with feelings, energy, discovery, and risk, and leave room enough for someone else to get in there."

-Joel Meyerowitz


Thursday, September 20, 2007

09/20/07: Renaming layers in Photoshop...

Humans are such creatures of habit. Forever and a day I've been taking the "long way" to renaming layers in Photoshop. Why does one rename layers? Well...for help you remember a little more about either what action you performed on that layer...or what creative affect you applied on that layer. Too often we start out with just a duplicate layer and when we go back to a project and see a layer called "duplicate layer" it can be a challenge to quickly determine what you did on that layer.

There are multiple ways to rename can right click the layer on the layer palette and select properties, you can right click on the actual image and select properties to rename the layer (the active layer will be selected)...OR...and I just discovered this little short-cut...if you can click directly on the layer description in the layer palette...and you can edit / rename directly -- a small but significant time saver in my book! :)


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

09/19/07: Sale on refurbished Epson projectors...

Epson's clearance e-store is having a sale on refurbished projectors. For instance you can get a 1200 ANSI lumens projector under for $399. Awesome!

Click here for details. If you like the look of projecting your digital images / digital projects onto large can do it quite affordably with refurbished projectors for not a lot of money.

There are also great deals on point and shoot cameras, printers and scanners. (About the only thing I wish they had a little lower prices on is their storage devices...but, hey, we can't get always get what we want all the time, eh?)

EDIT: I stand corrected! \o/ I just bought an Epson P-2000 40GB portable storage device (refurbished) for $254.95 after instant rebate. Very niiiiiiiiiiiiice...I've been wanting one of those doo-hickeys...makes life easier when I'm shooting weddings with a 2nd shooter...I won't have to wait to get the files! Thanks all ROCK!!


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

09/18/07: My first test of Animoto!

Earlier I promised I'd check this out... :)


Monday, September 17, 2007

09/17/07: This looks promising!

Have you heard about Animoto?

Animoto promises to be the "end of slideshows." It's an online resource that takes photos you upload, using music of your choice, customized into a very slick broadcast-calibre video. I haven't signed up or tried it yet...but I'm going to! :)

If anyone has any experience using Animoto -- or links to productions of your own -- please feel free to share.

Meanwhile...if you want more information about Animoto, go to their web-site and watch the 60 second "learn more" video. I have no idea how much it costs! :) I'm sure I'll find out very soon tho!

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Friday, September 14, 2007

09/14/07: Quotes of the day...

I'm in the mood today for some more random anonymous photography quotes... :)

"Unlike a painter, a photographer starts with something finished and works backward."

"Let your words be few, and your exposures many."

"Life is like photography. You use the negatives to develop."

"Of what use are lens and light to those who lack in mind and sight?"


Sunday, September 09, 2007

09/09/07: Motion Picture Lighting for Digital Photography

Check out this short YouTube video interview with Rick Ford -- on his success using motion picture style lighting for still photography:


Saturday, September 08, 2007

09/08/07: Portrait Sessions - Confidence and Control

Quite often the secret to a successful portrait session is establishing an element of control in the session and demonstrating an appropriate level of confidence in your shooting abilities. If a photographer doesn't establish a degree of self-confidence in his or her photo abilities, the photo subjects will have a difficult time relaxing for the shots. Even if things don't go exactly as planned for whatever reason (uncooperative weather, equipment failures, etc.), it's important to show your portrait subjects that you have control over the session and that they should trust your abilities as a photographer to capture great images. Sometimes it's just a matter of showing that you know what you are doing -- demonstrating an eye for detail, posing the subjects in a flattering way, etc. -- and you'll gain the trust of your subjects. When they trust you in your abilities...they'll feel more comfortable and relaxed having their pictures taken.


Friday, September 07, 2007

09/07/07: Quote of the day...

Today's quote is not about photography or even by a photographer...but I think it holds a very important lesson for photographers -- especially wedding and portrait photograpers.

"People will forget what you said, they will even forget what you did, but they will never forget what you made them feel."

Maya Angelou


Thursday, September 06, 2007

09/06/07: Which IS lens performs best?

In the current issue of Popular Photography & Imaging (October 2007) a series of image stabilizer lenses were tested for performance in terms of average improvement in f-stops (IS vs. non-IS). The lens which performed the best was the Nikon 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 ED-IF DX IR II zoom lens with an average f-stop improvement of a very impressive 3-4 stops. Second place went to the Canon EF 70-200mm f4 IS USM which showed a 2.5 to 3.5 f-stop improvement using IS.

We just thought you'd like to know.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

09/05/07: Canvas prints vs. stretch canvas prints...

A friend of mine called me this week to ask me for advice on getting good stretch canvas prints (i.e. the print is mounted / wrapped onto a frame or base) -- it seems he ordered canvas prints at a local lab expecting that they would be stretch mounted on a frame but, much to his dismay, his prints were only printed on loose canvas.

I suggested that my friend check out Mpix for his stretch wrapped canvas images. More details on wrapped canvas prints from Mpix can be found on the Mpix web-site:

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

09/04/07: Check out "Don't Box Us In"

Louisiana photographer Mark Eric Motichek has hit another home run. Mark is the creative force behind Trash The Dress and has recently started a new web-site -- Don't Box Us In. is a web-site that features today’s best artistic and creative photographers -- photographers who are given complete control of the creative process. Take a few minutes to check out the site and be inspired.

Keep up the great work Mark Eric!

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09/03/07: Book recommendation for September...

I'm gonna get started early this month with a book recommendation. "Rule of Nerds" is the latest from our friend Aaron Johnson over at

Rule of Nerds is the entire first year collection of comics featuring everybody's favorite loveable photographer / duck. You can get Rule of Nerds for just $32 from It's a great gift for yourself or for a photographer friend. Enjoy!

And here's the latest "What The Duck" comic...


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09/02/07: If you lose enough lens cleaners...

Over time I've accumulated a very nice selection of lens cleaning cloths...I have blue ones, yellow ones, white ones, even 18% grey ones. I suppose I just lost them long enough to miss them, bought new ones, and then found the missing ones. (And I never turn down a freebie when a vendor offers one! LOL)

Now I've gotten into the habit of storing a lens cloth in each of my lens pouches -- that way I don't lose them...clean the lens, put the lense cloth back in the pouch. I also tend to clean the lenses almost every time I pull them out of their pouches..."here's the lens, here's the cloth, let's just do a quick little wipe and voilà :) ...I have a nice clean lens surface!"

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

09/01/07: Taking a break...

I was shooting a wedding today -- glorious weather, beautiful bride, handsome groom, fun and cooperative wedding party -- what more could anyone ask for? :)

The bride had a number of different places she wanted to go for pictures and we covered most of them. The reality is...whether you are a pro shooting a wedding or an amatuer out in the backyard trying to get your kids to line up for this year's Christmas card need to give your models / subjects a break from time to time or you'll end up with those tired "I don't want to have my picture taken" shots.

Are you still with me or are you wondering about the overwhelmingly obvious nature of today's tip? Here's the key...when you tell your subjects to take a break...that doesn't necessarily mean you should stop shooting! Sometimes a short break is what your subjects need to get back to their natural state (of not being so stiff with plastic smiles) -- this is a great time to get a few great candid images! :) Yes, you as the photographer need to take a break from time to time as well, but you'll likely get some very nice candid shots of your subjects when they aren't so conscious of having their picture taken. As Dori from "Finding Nemo" might say if she were a photographer..."just keep shooting."

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