Saturday, May 31, 2008

Battery Grip

One of the best investments I have made for my Canon 40D is a battery grip. I purchased mine through e-bay and it is a cannon equivalent grip. It is essentially a BG-E2N grip. It goes on quick and easy and provides the added capacity for a second battery and the added capability for shooting vertical. I love it and the extended life it gives me when shooting a sporting event is great.

Below are two videos for you, the first is one I found on YouTube showing the unboxing and installation of a BG-EN2 on a cannon body and the second is from Dave Cross, where he talks about the grips he uses on his Nikon cameras.



Friday, May 30, 2008

PhotoVision


"PhotoVision features leading photographers bringing you the latest and greatest things happening in the photographic industry. You'll see photographic styles and techniques, digital workflow, lighting and posing, Photoshop tips and tricks, hear innovative marketing and sales strategies, output alternatives, new hardware and software reviews and much, much more."

PhotoVision is listed on the PhotoVision website at $149/year and is a great value at that price.

PhotoVision

Jim Talkington - video: episode 12 , quality of light

In this video Jim looks at how different sized light sources affect the quality of light (hard and soft light) obtained in a studio setting. Understanding these basic principles lays the groundwork for learning to control your main light source. To keep things simple and accessible he is using an inexpensive (but very nice quality) lighting kit (the Genesis 200 1-Light Kit from Calumet) that was purchased complete with stand, strobe, reflector, umbrella and cords on sale for $170.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gas Prices hit more than just your pocketbook!

Gas prices have went over $4.00 a gallon here in WV. That is high for us all, diesel fuel is nearing $5.00 a gallon in my local community. For many organizations and independent contractors this creates a problem. Stop and think about many of the services we take for granted. Daily deliveries of many of our commodities have gone up. The reason for this of course is that the cost of delivery is going up as well.
Now I know we all understand this but one cost we probably do not think of is the cost of transporting our students to and from school. Some school systems in West Virginia have had to expand their transportation budget as much as $53,000.00. That in itself is enough of an increase to concern. Where is the money coming from? I'm not going to attempt an answer to that question, but I think you should, particularly if your children ride school provided transportation.

TED - Gever Tulley: 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do

TED:



Monday, May 26, 2008

Photopreneur by Laurie - 60 Sources of Inspiration for Photography

Are you struggling for new ideas? Do your creative batteries feel as flat and lifeless as a skunk in the fast lane?

Here are 60 ways to breathe new life into your love of photography and re-energize your inspiration.

1. Play with Photoshop
So much of photography these days happens after the shutter release has been pressed. There’s probably a ton of things that you don’t know how to do in Photoshop. Learn something new and see what that does for your photography potential.

2. Read the Manual
It’s not just Photoshop that can do all sorts of things that you don’t know about. Your camera probably has more settings and functions than you know… or know what to do with. You might find a lot of new ideas in the middle of your camera manual.

3. Watch a Movie
Manuals are all well and good, but movies have cinematographers too. There’s not much you can’t learn about landscape photography by sitting back and watching an old Sergio Leone film.


Check out the rest of the 60 on Photoprenure.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Weddings and Earthquakes...two words that do not belong togther...

As someone who is working on making an inroad into the wedding business I am beginning to understand the issues and problems that can make up a day for a wedding photographer. The problems captured in these images however are both beautiful and terrifying. I can only imagine what it would be like to have the ground shake at a magnitude 7.9 for such a period, but to keep your wits about you and document that whole thing is the sign of a good photojournalist and photographer. My hats go off to the photographer(s) who captured these images. (photos courtesy of Dragon Photo, ND Daily and Sohu.com)





























Riverside Flash vs Riverside Twisters - last match of the season

Well sports fans this is the last match of the spring 2008 season. Well at least for these guys it is, and I hate to say the last was the best but I do believe this was the best game all season. My hat is off to all the players, coaches and parents that made this a great season. M has already told us he want to play both fall and spring season, A hasn't decided yet. Take a look at these!


















Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Day in Review - 5/24/08

Hey folks...its been a lazy day. Since M's soccer team played their last match yesterday we have literally taken the day off. Well almost I did write the workflow post and process the pictures from yesterdays match. I'll get some images put together from the match and post them by tomorrow. For now here is the review.

Workflow

I've read a lot of articles lately about workflow. Most of the start out by saying something to the effect that no matter how many you read you just have to come up with your own. This is very true. Photography is itself a creative endeavor. You can break the workflow into three major parts. Pre-shoot, the shoot and post-shoot. In this entry I am going to discuss the workflow that I generically use at UKV Photos.



Pre-shoot

1 - Discuses clients want, needs and desires for shoot

This may sound like a simple one but it will surprise you how often it is over looked. Take the extra time to spend with your client and get in their head for the shoot, once you have their concept you can twist it or spin it to meet your style. Mostly at this point I am trying to figure out why they want me to take the pictures and what they expect to get back in the end. You can bang out some location ideas or clothing choices. Also give them the list of things you do and don't want on the day of the shoot. Remember ultimately you are selling your images to this client; it is their call which ones they use and don't use

2 - Case the location, when practical, for backgrounds and potential problems.

If I have enough time I go to the location and look for good places to shoot. With any luck I already know the venue and have some ideas to start with. For example for Carmie and Greg's wedding they were going to be shooting at a local park. I knew from my talk with Carmie that she wanted the falls int eh background as much as possible. A few days before the big day I went over to the park near the same time that they were planning to have the event. I learned a few things and found a few spots I wanted to shoot in. The problem I was faced with was that the entire part would be directly in the sun and facing the sun. For the images of the couple I moved them into the shade but used the river (such as it is) for a background.

3 - Contact the client to confirm location, date and time of shoot.

Two to three days before the shoot call the client and chat with them about the shoot, confirm all the vital info and make sure you remind them of things they need to bring. Partly this is to make sure that nothing has changed since the initial consult. Mostly this is so you can discuss any ideas you had when you visited the location.

4 - Check gear.

Time to rummage into your camera equipment and locate all the goodies you plan to use at the shoot. Once you have them all located you need to make sure each is working in top condition. Charge batteries, and all that other good stuff. Clients may understand if a piece of gear doesn't work or if it stops working at the shoot but not if you forgot it. Avoid the whole issue, make a check list of you needs and check each piece of equipment twice. Make sure they are all functioning properly and make notes of ones that are not and set them aside.

5 - Pack for shoot.

The night before the shoot, pack it all away, except the batteries that are still on the chargers and check it all one last time. I always leave my bag setting open when the batteries are not in it so I do not forget them the next day.

The Shoot


1 - Leave house 30-45 min early.

This one is key…I like to be early. I want time to look the site over, collect myself and be in the right frame of mind. Rushing in to the site at the last second is never a good plan. It makes you look unprofessional.

2 - Set-up gear.

If you have conducted the client meetings well you already have a shot list made up, set up for the first shot and wait for the client to arrive. By setup I mean have your assistant stand in and take a few test shots and get everything ready. You want to be able to make the first series of shots a part of the whole get them comfortable thing.

3 - Meet client and chat them up.

OK, now you are ready. Just wait on the clients and when they get there start schmoozing them. Your goal is to relax them thus giving you a better chance of catching them looking stunning. This is where you have to turn into the people person. Make casual conversation, offer them a drink talk about what you are going to do that day, get them in place explain what stuff is for, whatever it takes to get them to relax.

4 - Start shoot.

Take the shots, remember you are in charge but don't be all directorish, if something happens and you like it click it. Of course you have your shot list be enough of a director to get what you came after. During the shoot is another time you have to make them comfortable. Having a screen that they can see the images on is great. For location shooting a portable DVD player (thanks to Dave Tejeda for that tip.) is excellent. This lets the client see what the camera has captured. In a studio (I wish I had one) placing a similar monitor would not be a bad idea. Above all else remember to have fun, if you are having fun the client is most likely having fun or at the least seeing that you are. Clients need to see your enthusiasm for the work.

5 - Meet with client to set up a time to call them for materials review.

When all is said and done for the day, make sure you have set up a time for delivery of the proofs or a time to review the images with them. Send them on their way feeling good about the shoot, make absolutely certain that you are positive about what you took that day.

6 - Pack it in.

Now they are gone, tear down you gear, stow it in the vehicle and take a break. Hey you need one at this point. Clients can be a handful sometimes. My favorite way to take a break after a shoot is to find a convince store and for a cold drink. Then if there is something of interest in the area that I want to shoot for my own personal reason I will go do that. Remember you are in this business because you like taking photographs, so make sure that you have fun too.

Post-shoot

1 - Return home.

Hopefully your brain remembers the way home. On some of the WV back roads I end up on a TOMTOM unit would come in handy, but I don't own one. Instead I settle for a simple state road map. Properly imbossed with the current Governors image. Don't want an old one...that squigle I am on might be a road or it might be lunch. Always use a new one!

2 - Breathe big sigh of relief.

Your home, kick off your shoes and relax, just not to much because the real work is just starting. YOu still have to look at all the images and run your post production workflow on it.

3 - Copy files from camera bodies to computer.

Transfer your files to your computer, I use Adobe Lightroom for this task. But there is any number of methods to do so.

4 - Process the images.

a - Quick and Dirty review.
This review is just what it sounds like, you quickly go throught the set of images and discard the ones that are true garbage. It happens, particulary at the reception, you miss a setting or someone turns their head at the last second. The back of a head is not very intersting. When I remove these from the list of shots I mark them as rejected in lightroom, they are not really deleted just hidden from view.

b - Crop to 8x10.
Once I have the first draft images I adjust the basic crop to an 8x10 aspect ratio. Again I use lightroom so all of my adjustments are non-destructive.

c - Make global color adjustments.
Its not a galomours process but I may need to make a series of global color adjustments. For example on of the facilities I shoot in frequently is very very warm. Even when I white balance the camera I still find it needs additioanl adjustments on the back side. These are not detailed adjustments just the get it in the ballpark. I can fine tune it when I am doing the individual review of the images.

d - Individual close review.
Now the rubber hits the road, I will have to evaluate each of the images I elected to keep earlier and see if they meet the requiremtns of the shoot. Some will some won't. More often that not you have more than you have less. As I go through I begin to look at the little details. Things like flash in the eyes, where the model is looking, highlights, and the other little things that make an image.

e - Re-crop.
Some of the images may work better if I refocus the view from what I orginaly intended. To do this I will use the crop tool and recrop the image to strengthen the composition.

f - Make additional color or other digital adjustments.
Now that I am looking at single images, I will make fine tuening adjustmet to color or any of the many other small adjustments it takes to make the image look the way I want it.

g - Add any special effects or post production options at clients request.
The client ma have requested a certain special effect or may have requested re-touching on certain images. At this point I will make these adjustments. This might be as simple as removing a few wrinkles or something far more complex. These types of adjustmest I usually make using Photoshop. I have been a long time user of the program and even for a short time taught its use at a local New Horizons.

h - Prep for web upload.
I'll export the images that are to go to my website and then upload the images to my website gallery – I use a service named SMUGMUG, these folks are the bomb in my opinion. They provide many featuers and a number of printing options. Plus I can set up web galleries easily. I use a number of other vendors as well.

i - Create contact sheets and other presentation material.
Now that you have completed the post processing, create your contact sheets or order your proofs, depending on your business model.

5 - Contact client to confirm review time.
Give the client a call and confirm the date, time and location to deliver the review material.

6 - Meet with client.
Meet up with your client, let them go over the material, point out some of your favorites, make some recommendations and let them know the ordering process.

7 - Process clients print order.
Process the client's orders as soon as they come in. I do a great deal of my work through the internet, so a lot of times I only have to approve the proofs online to complete the sale. Again this is where SMUGMUG comes in handy.

8 - Breath bigger sigh of relief.
That's it your done, time to get ready for the next client. Or if you are lucky(good) and doing well you will be meeting with them in a few hours for their shoot. If you are doing even better you probaly have another order to finish up.

NON-Photography related point of view

In the last few days I have been looking over a number of comments from various surveys I have been asked to analysis. One of the things that strikes me is that the general message that is received by a target audience often time is not the message that the presenter delivered.

Think this through with me; you are presenting at a meeting to a group of educated individuals. Their job is to learn what you are training them and go back and train others who will in turn train others. The model has been around for decades. It has many names but I refer to it as the train-the-trainer methodology. There is an inherent problem with this method. I am not going to dig out research but rather make some basic assumptions and let you draw your own conclusions. Let me instead ask you a question. The people participating in your presentation will retain half of what they hear. Depend on the studies you read this could be high or low. If they retain only 50% of what you tell them and train their group, that group being just as bright as yours retains the same amount and and train the last group. Now for the question, how much of the original content, delivered the way you wanted it to, reaches the last group?

Here is your answer…12.5%. How did I come to that number, its simple math! 100% divided by 2 equals 50%. That is your first group, they train with a good understanding of 50% of your material, and their students retain half of their 50% so the knowledge store is down to 25%. The last group to receive training only truly receives half of what the group training them received which is…you guessed it half of 25% or 12.5%. Now we can only hope and pray that they are the last group. Back to the train-the-trainer and the modern world, in the interest of time your boss or the event planner told you to only deliver the bare essentials of what is needed. This means that the 100% that you train with is mission critical. Three layers from now only 12.5% of that mission critical knowledge is in the hands of the people delivering your product or program. Of course you do things to help insure that your message gets down to the last group in one piece but you can guarantee that even then the message at best will be muddled in some form.

Where is all this going…simple…a single train-the-trainer event does not work for large group multi-layered training. One of the alternatives is to drag out the event for multiple days, this will increase the amount of retention by the whole group but it also increases the expense of the event. Another viable option these days is to use some form of teleconferencing or online meeting training. This will allow you to reach a larger audience and thus push the first your 100 percent to a larger group. There are lots of solutions..the trick is finding the one the fits you or your organization.

If they are going to remember something they have to be involved at many levels, do whatever it takes to get them involved.

Friday, May 23, 2008

32nd Vandalia Gathering

From a tourisim press release:

On Memorial Day weekend, May 23-25, the Cultural Center and State Capitol grounds will be the site of the 32nd Vandalia Gathering–the state’s annual celebration of the traditional arts, music, dance, stories, crafts and food of West Virginia. The free festival’s unique blend of ethnic and cultural heritage combines an atmosphere as comfortable as a family reunion with the excitement of a state fair.

Two lighting wizards in one of the harshest lighting environments on the planet

Both Dave and Joe have talked about their trip to Dubai, and shown some of their photos. Dave posted a video over on strobist showing the days shoot and some of the takes from it, The voice over is Joe McNally, and the shoot is awesome. I am including the video below but you really need to go over to strobist and read the full article.

The day in Review: 5/23/08

Here is the day in review...enjoy your holiday weekend and for goodness sake take some pictuers! If you are a WV resident think about going to the Vandaila gathering at the capitol complex. As for me it is off to prepare for the last soccer match of the season. I'll post thoes later this weekend.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Day in Review - 5/22/08

I'm either going ot have to pair down the number of feeds I review/read each day or I am going to have to hire somoene to read and summarize them for me. I started the day wiht over 50 articles on my reader list! And that was before I left for work. Here are the ones that caught my interest today:

YouTube - Photography tutorial - depth of field

From a scour of YouTube I found this:

Dave Ziser - Rainy Day Thursday - Perfect for Portriats

Dave has some great tutorials over on his site, you really should check them out. I watched the one below the other day. I watched because I am ,moving into the portrait photography world and was looking for some insights. I found a few and a few tricks too.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Day in Review - 5/21/08

Planet Photoshop - Wall of Text

Use a clipping group to place an image inside of a background of text, with another layer of text placed in front to create depth.

http://www.planetphotoshop.com/wall-of-text.html

buzz...buzzzz...macro shot

The other evening I stopped at the kids school to shoot the beautiful rhododendron bushes they have out front. I shot a few frames of what I was interested in when I noticed that the bees were busy doing their thing. I couldn't resist switching over to a macro lens and seeing what I could get. The following three images are different treatments on the same shot. The shot itself was taken at ISO 100 - f5.6 - 1/400 - 263mm using a Sigma 70-300 APO DG Macro lens. The lens was switched to macro and I was hand holding the camera.



Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The ruins of our past

Image info: 1/100 at f4.0 with ISO 100 using a 100mm focal length.

This relic of our school systems past proudly displays the fact that it was once a National School of Excellence. Today however its windows are broken, its walls are covered in graffiti and its doors are barred against the outside world.

(note: I did not photoshop in the sign, I did a treatment to the image to give it that grungy feel but other than that I did no additional work to this image)

The Day in Review - 5/20/08

Hey folks here are the articles that stimulated my interest through out the day. Many I am sure you have read. It has occured to me that we are a small community, both bloggers and photographers. It is an even smaller community of photographer bloggers. Over the comming weeks you will be seeing a number of posts on the site from some of my favorite sites on the web and some posts that will lead you to some great blog articles and resources. If you see something you like and want to see more of let me know or follow the link and let them know.

On to the review: