Calibration Webinars Tonight

Care to learn about color calibrating your computer monitor? There are only two correct answers to that question: I already know how, and yes. If you already know how, I suggest you still keep an open ear as there’s always more to learn. (That pretty much goes for everything photo related, by the way.) But if the answer is yes, and you’re ready to learn about tackling color calibration, then I suggest you tune in tonight for a free X-rite web seminar. You’ve got two choices here too: 7pm Eastern or 7pm Pacific. So tune in online and learn everything you need to know about not just monitor calibration but print matching as well. If you can’t make it tonight, don’t worry: X-Rite will repeat the seminars next month, and they’ve also got a whole series of seminars scheduled on a variety of color calibration topics.

http://xritephoto.com/ph_learning.aspx?action=webinars

Care to learn about color calibrating your computer monitor? There are only two correct answers to that question: I already know how, and yes. If you already know how, I suggest you still keep an open ear as there’s always more to learn. (That pretty much goes for everything photo related, by the way.) But if the answer is yes, and you’re ready... Read more

The HDR Debate

HDR, or high dynamic range photography, is incredibly popular these days. It’s the highly detailed, illustrative effect that you’ve surely seen in some landscape and location photography, as well as in advertising work for brands that want to look hip and edgy. There’s no doubt the technique is engaging and eye-catching: HDR usually looks like nothing you’ve ever seen in reality before. But it’s that illustrative over-the-top wow-factor that gives some photographers pause. Some folks think HDR is just a gimmick, like literal eye candy, and an effect that’s eventually going to look as dated as Harvest Gold refrigerators and rotary telephones. So where do you stand on the debate? Have you formed an opinion yet? Either way, it’s good to see what others are thinking about the popular trend. In a recent post at Photoshelter’s "A Picture’s Worth" blog you can tune in to both sides of the debate for an interesting discussion. See which way it sways you. It’s worth a read if for no other reason than the wonderful comment from Mike Olbinski, who points out that art is art. "If someone likes making them, who cares?" Amen.

http://blog.photoshelter.com/2010/10/hdri-photography-exciting-new-frontier-or-gimmick.html

HDR, or high dynamic range photography, is incredibly popular these days. It’s the highly detailed, illustrative effect that you’ve surely seen in some landscape and location photography, as well as in advertising work for brands that want to look hip and edgy. There’s no doubt the technique is engaging and eye-catching: HDR usually... Read more

Confessions of a JPEG Shooter

You can’t shoot JPEGs—only shoot RAW! Folks like me tend to beat that message into you over an over: if you haven’t started working with RAW you’re really missing the boat. But in truth there are lots of reasons why many photographers—even serious professional photographers—prefer to shoot JPEGs. There are no hard and fast rules. A perfect example is the confession by a photographer who prefers to shoot JPEGs. Why would he do such a thing? Sports. I won’t spoil the suspense; I’ll let you read the original post on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider blog to find out exactly why. Suffice it to say it’s got to do with the speed of sports and the speed of cameras. It serves as a reminder that every rule of thumb is untrue given the right set of circumstances. Though I still say RAW is great for a whole bunch of things. And I’m guessing that at some point in the future, cameras will process RAW fast enough that it will become the standard for sports shooters too.

http://www.scottkelby.com/blog/2010/archives/13157.

You can’t shoot JPEGs—only shoot RAW! Folks like me tend to beat that message into you over an over: if you haven’t started working with RAW you’re really missing the boat. But in truth there are lots of reasons why many photographers—even serious professional photographers—prefer to shoot JPEGs. There are no hard and fast rules. A perfect... Read more
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Free Expression Media

Are you a member of ASMP? If you are, take advantage of this great opportunity to get your hands on some great information and a great photo management program. (And if you’re not, here’s another excellent reason to join.) For the month of October, members who buy a copy of The DAM Book (a great information resource all about Digital Asset Management and best practices for digital image workflows) get a full copy of Expression Media 2 absolutely free. The photo management software (formerly known as iView and formerly from Microsoft) is now a Phase One product, and its loved by many photographers who rely on it for cataloging and tracking their digital media databases. If you’ve been waiting to get your hands on this $200 program, here’s your chance to get it free with the purchase of the $50 DAM book. Order by Halloween to be sure you get the great deal, and do so from The DAM Book’s asmp link at www.thedambook.com/asmp.

Are you a member of ASMP? If you are, take advantage of this great opportunity to get your hands on some great information and a great photo management program. (And if you’re not, here’s another excellent reason to join.) For the month of October, members who buy a copy of The DAM Book (a great information resource all about Digital Asset Management... Read more

Learning about lighting… from politicians?

I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but in my part of the country election season is really heating up. I was watching TV the other night when I noticed a commercial for a Senatorial candidate. As is often the case, the commercial heavily referenced the candidate’s opponent. And that’s when it hit me: we can learn a lot from political commercials and print ads. How? By examining how the candidates are lit and photographed. In the commercial I saw, the candidate who had funded the spot was photographed beautifully in warm, soft, inviting light. At the end of the commercial was her opponent, and of course they chose a photo in which he didn’t look very good. They used a news shot, made from an awkward angle, converted it to black and white, upped the contrast, and made sure there was a hard, raking light source that brings out every flaw. Basically, the campaign utilized lighting to help send a message. We can learn from this, because that’s exactly what we as photographers need to do with every picture we make. Want to make someone look warm and friendly? Use a warm, soft light. Want them to look beautiful, friendly and approachable, make sure it’s not too high contrast and that the source is nice and broad. Want to make someone look a bit more evil, maybe even sinister? Remove the color, go high contrast, and use a hard light source to show them in painful detail. Put this to good use and, next thing you know, politicians will be contacting you to photograph their campaigns.

I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but in my part of the country election season is really heating up. I was watching TV the other night when I noticed a commercial for a Senatorial candidate. As is often the case, the commercial heavily referenced the candidate’s opponent. And that’s when it hit me: we can learn a lot from political... Read more

Photography Wonder

Did you ever go over to the Yahoo Answers web site? It’s a nifty idea, albeit one that sometimes seems to fall short in practice. It works like this: somebody poses a question to the masses, and then the masses answer. Here’s where the problem lies: the masses sometimes get off track. Now someone else has come along and applied that concept specifically to photography and made it, at least at this early stage, considerably better. Maybe it’s because the masses in their entirety aren’t haunting the halls of Photography Wonder because it’s only for people who are interested in photography. So a photographer poses a question—from beginner to advanced—and other photographers answer. It’s a great way to pool our collective knowledge to learn from each other.

http://www.photographywonder.com

Did you ever go over to the Yahoo Answers web site? It’s a nifty idea, albeit one that sometimes seems to fall short in practice. It works like this: somebody poses a question to the masses, and then the masses answer. Here’s where the problem lies: the masses sometimes get off track. Now someone else has come along and applied that concept specifically... Read more

How do you set the perfect white balance?

A lot of photographers seem to be wondering what exactly is the best way to set their white balance. It seems like if you ask ten people you’ll get ten different answers. Some photographers use a dedicated device like an ExpoDisc to nail custom white balances based on the available light in a scene. Some folks use a gray card to achieve the same sort of thing. Other people just set their white balance off of anything white available in the frame: a shirt, a tablecloth, a sign… So who’s right? There are a lot of different ways to set white balance, and no single approach is always the best. For me, a gray card placed in a scene is perfect for custom white balancing when I process the RAW files in Lightroom, because I can simply click the eyedropper on the gray card to set the exact white balance—and I don’t have to do it before I shoot. But I don’t always worry about setting a custom white balance at all. For example, I know that with my external strobe setup I get good results with my camera’s flash white balance preset (it looks like a lightning bolt) and that I like the look of my studio strobes when the color temperature is manually set to 5200 degrees Kelvin. Of course, all of those are particular to my personal equipment, but the idea holds true: One photographer can use multiple methods to get great white balance results in a variety of situations. There is no single “best” way to set your white balance. (Also, for what it’s worth, just about the only time I use auto white balance is when I’m mixing hot-shoe strobe with ambient light in a fast-paced, changing-light scenario.) The point is this: if you’ve got a method that works for you, stick with it.

A lot of photographers seem to be wondering what exactly is the best way to set their white balance. It seems like if you ask ten people you’ll get ten different answers. Some photographers use a dedicated device like an ExpoDisc to nail custom white balances based on the available light in a scene. Some folks use a gray card to achieve the same... Read more

Don’t be a cameraist. Be a photographer!

I’m a big fan of Paul Burwell’s Wildshots photo blog. I’m an even bigger fan of this idea: there are cameraists, and there are photographers. A cameraist, according to Paul, is somebody who can’t see the forest for the trees. These cameraists somewhere along the line became more concerned with gear than with pictures. Cameraists also may not know about great photographs, but they know about great cameras—even if they don’t really know how to use them. Basically, cameraists don’t seem to have their heads on straight. Read Paul’s blog to learn the top 10 ways you can keep from becoming a cameraist in your quest to become a better photographer.

http://www.paulburwell.com/blog/2010/09/top-ten-ways-to-separate-the-cameraists-from-the-photographers/

I’m a big fan of Paul Burwell’s Wildshots photo blog. I’m an even bigger fan of this idea: there are cameraists, and there are photographers. A cameraist, according to Paul, is somebody who can’t see the forest for the trees. These cameraists somewhere along the line became more concerned with gear than with pictures. Cameraists also may not... Read more

Optimizing Images for the iPad

I’ve been playing with my iPad a lot lately. I’ve been trying to put it to good photographic use, though in truth I’m mostly playing games and Facebooking with the thing. When I finally put my portfolio on my iPad, I discovered that some images looked perfect while others were just a bit off. Why? Because I didn’t optimize my photographs for display on the device. Thankfully there’s a great article from Serious Amateur Photography about making your photos display perfectly on the iPad. From image sizing and sharpening to the perfect proportions for your pictures. If you’re looking to make your iPad promos look perfect, it’s a must-read.

http://jefflynchdev.wordpress.com/2010/09/07/the-ipad-portfolio-how-to-look-your-best/

I’ve been playing with my iPad a lot lately. I’ve been trying to put it to good photographic use, though in truth I’m mostly playing games and Facebooking with the thing. When I finally put my portfolio on my iPad, I discovered that some images looked perfect while others were just a bit off. Why? Because I didn’t optimize my photographs for... Read more

Wire Worm

Ever made a perfect picture except for the telephone lines running through the frame and ruining the scene? You’ve always had a couple of choices: live with it as is, or spend hours in Photoshop cloning away those tiny little lines. Well now you’ve got a third choice: the Wire Worm Photoshop plugin by developer Martin Vicanek. It looks like a marvelous little program with a powerful effect: automatically removing power lines and wires from photographs. I may not want to use it to remove zoo bars from the foreground of an image (as one example demonstrates), but I may definitely put it to the test pulling power lines from the skies of my outdoor images. If it works half as good as it looks, this free software just might be invaluable.

http://www.vicanek.de/plugins/wireworm.htm

Ever made a perfect picture except for the telephone lines running through the frame and ruining the scene? You’ve always had a couple of choices: live with it as is, or spend hours in Photoshop cloning away those tiny little lines. Well now you’ve got a third choice: the Wire Worm Photoshop plugin by developer Martin Vicanek. It looks like a... Read more

Selling RAW Image Files

Digital Photography School recently published a short piece by photographer Elizabeth Halford. In it, Ms. Halford advocates that photographers who earn any part of their living licensing images never turn over to clients (or friends and family) unprocessed RAW image files. It’s a good argument too. After all, if you put your unfinished photographs into your clients’ hands, who knows how the finished product will turn out? That’s especially bothersome if you’re the one whose name will be attached to the finished photo. While Ms. Halford’s advice is certainly sound, the discussion that it provoked makes some interesting other points too. For instance, if you’re in the business of selling images to clients, wouldn’t you be well served by providing what your clients want? After all, isn’t the customer always right? Wherever you default on the issue, it’s extremely interesting and informative to consider both sides of the story. It shows how complex many professional photographic issues can be, and how they do apply to photographers at every level of the business. So if you’re a working pro or considering dipping your toe into the business waters, it’s a great opportunity to learn about one of the most common, and somewhat controversial, issues facing professional photographers today.

http://www.digital-photography-school.com/should-we-ever-sell-raw-unedited-images

Digital Photography School recently published a short piece by photographer Elizabeth Halford. In it, Ms. Halford advocates that photographers who earn any part of their living licensing images never turn over to clients (or friends and family) unprocessed RAW image files. It’s a good argument too. After all, if you put your unfinished photographs... Read more

Behind the Scenes of a Fashion Shoot

Perhaps my favorite consequence of this whole photo/video convergence thing is how prevalent the behind-the-scenes video has become. It seems like every photographer, and every fashion house, is now producing behind-the-scenes videos that show just how complex and involved their shoots can be. Best part about all this is that we photographers can use this as a learning tool. For instance, in this behind-the-scenes look at a Forbes Company fashion shoot, I realized a few things about lighting gear that I can apply to my own shoots, and I also saw just how much work from how many different people goes into a successful fashion shoot. It may not be quite as direct as a true “how-to” video, but that’s partly what makes it so interesting. You’re not learning from examples set up in a conference room or a hotel ballroom—you’re learning from an actual fashion shoot with actual photographers and actual talent. It’s invaluable to see actual pros at work.

http://vimeo.com/15234619

Perhaps my favorite consequence of this whole photo/video convergence thing is how prevalent the behind-the-scenes video has become. It seems like every photographer, and every fashion house, is now producing behind-the-scenes videos that show just how complex and involved their shoots can be. Best part about all this is that we photographers can... Read more
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