Monday, February 23, 2009

weekend wedding show

We had an amazing weekend at a local Bridal Show here in Louisville. We made tons of great connections and got a lot of great feedback from prospective clients. We also got to connect and network with several local photography studios who were all very friendly and amazing.

We have been piecing together the components for our booth for about a month now but it wasn't until the show that it all came together. I loved the look of the booth and we are so pleased with the ability to represent our services. If you stopped by thank you so much and we look forward to working with you in the future.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Proper Perspective - not so much fun

We all have rough days, weeks, months, seasons, years. I have found that perspective is the difference between standing in shadow or basking in sunlight. I hope this video encourages you and inspires you to take your photography to the next level. I was encouraged. Our studio is preparing for a Bridal Show this weekend and we have dumped a ton of cash into this thing with more to be dumped within the next three days. As we can see the bottom of the coffers I have to remind myself that clients are coming and there is a time and a season for all things.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

the Mpix experience

I got my first set of photos back from Mpix today and all I can say is WOW. These are the best prints I have ever seen (speaking of the print not the content... though the content isn't bad either but I may be a bit bias). The color reproduction is spot on and the detail is so crisp - no corners cut here.

The packaging is the first thing that stands out. Massive amounts of protection for the photos to keep them clean looking and protected for their FedEx journey. I placed my order on Monday evening and by Wednesday afternoon I had the prints in my hands. Disclaimer: I paid a little extra to have them overnighted ... I think it cost me about $10.00 in shipping so all in all not to shabby. I will be using Mpix from now on as they offer better pricing than my local shop and better quality. Those are two paramount concerns for our studio.

If you are looking to have prints large or small printed look no further than Mpix - Simply Amazing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Editor's Keys - ARRIVED!

A few days ago I talked about a new tool I had run across - Editor's Keys. Last week I ordered a set and they came on Monday.I wasted no time getting them on my keyboard thus transforming it into the coolest keyboard ever.

It is really amazing to see Photoshop tools at my fingertips. I have only been using it for a day so I don't think I have fully absorbed what this will do for my work flow. However, I feel that I am thinking about photoshop more visually. I see the tools as more than just a button on the screen - they are labled and color coded out for me. Anyways - I think that is enough cheese for one post.

Intalation was a snap. They give you a tool to make sure you get the stickers on straight. They even supply an cleaning pad so you can clean your keybaord before applying the stickers. If you are looking for something that will supercharge your photoshop workflow I solidly endorse these. They are WAY cheaper than a full on editor's keybaord and if you don't like them you can just peel them off and get on with your life. I think you will like em - I will keep everyone posted and probably post a followup review in a month or so.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Fast Banners in Photoshop

Today we take a look at how to quickly design banners within photoshop. Working with files that measure in feet rather than inches are often so large (assuming you are working in 300dpi) that simple adjustments take minutes to complete. Thanks to smart objects the process can move much smoother and can be completed much faster - check out the video.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

wait for it...

Camera: Canon 20D 1/250sec at f/5.6 Lens: Canon 17-40mm f/4.0 USM L
Flash: 580EXII 1/2 power

When all else fails ... wait. A few weeks ago I went on a short photo walk in downtown Louisville and walked away with two things ... 1) the need for a cup of Starbucks and 2) a memory card with nothing all that great. I was a little frustrated and almost didn't even import the images into my computer. This morning as I was preparing to record a video for next week I ran across the image above (but un-edited as displayed below).

Something clicked in my twisted head and I jumped into the develop panel in Lightroom. I started experimenting with darkening the background and shaping the light. One of the frustrating things from that photo walk was the sky. It was mid-day and completely overcast. This killed any shadows I was trying to create with my speedlight coming in from the left. After playing around in Lightroom for a bit I realy like what I came up with and it is very much what I was going for on location. I will be doing a tutorial on this image tomorrow - so until then go back into your catalogue of images on your hard drive and re-visit images that initally didn't impress you (possibly due to the situation or emotional state you were in when you photographed them or initally viewed them on the computer). They might be worth a second look!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Digital Photography Book

I have talked to countless people who want to know what will make them a better photographer. They want to know if a better lens or a faster - higher resolution camera will answer their problems. While some people have literally outgrown their gear - most would be better suited with training and study.

The digital revolution has given the world of photography so many pluses we sometimes look past going to the next level as a learning phase when the market tells us that gear is the answer. Canon and Nikon want you to believe if you purchase their newest dSLR you will capture all the great professional images you desire. Unfortunately that is not always the case. For about two years now I have had a go-to book for people who are looking to take their photography to the next level. Actually it is two go-to books. Scott Kelby has written the most foundationally solid photography books I have ever had my hands on. His straigh forward and honest approach makes things that should be complicated by my calculation into a simple two or three point instruction... he has this ability to de-complexify things that would normally be out of the reach of an average consumer. I always tell people that the first book is a MUST and then if you find yourself wanting more then pick up volume two for more advanced lighting and technique.
The digital revolution we have all been a part of has had some wonderful and amazing side-effects. For one, it has re-inspired people who put down their cameras because of prohibitive film and processing costs and it has ignited an inspiration for capturing images and sharing them in this generation that is second only to the initial 35mm revolution. More people are taking pictures now than ever before. More images are being shared and viewed over the internet now than ever before. We should feel honored and privilaged to be called photographers in such a time as this - let's help people who want to go to the next level with their photography.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Studio Actions - Overview

Today we take a quick look at how our studio uses Actions in our daily workflow. If you don't have a lot of experience with actions this is a great tutorial for you. In weeks to come we will cover beginning to end creation of actions so stay tuned for more info.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo.

WARNING: This has nothing to do with photography - I saw this video and just had to pass it along. If you are a Star Wars fan or like to make fun of Star Wars fans ... this video is for you!

Friday, February 6, 2009

editors keys

If you have ever looked at those fancy editor's keyboards that have all your shortcuts and functions color coded and mapped out, you will want to check this out! I have to give credit where credit is due - I picked this up from the Photoshop Guys over at PhotoshopUser TV. EditorsKeys is a company that produces stickers that can be placed on top of your existing keyboard. They have templates for just about every design / production program out there.

I am totaly stoked about these little addons because I have been looking at editor keyboards for a few years now and just haven't been able to bring myself to buy one for a few reasons:
  1. I don't know if I will like it. It is possible I will find the lables distracting for every day use so I am not excited about dumping $200+ on something I may or may not like.
  2. I LOVE my Apple Bluetooth Keyboard. It is a full action keyboard (not the new mini guy). Full layout means I have a number pad and the regular keys. Bluetooth means I don't have to fuss with a wire. I picked this bad boy up on eBay about 6 months ago and I have loved it from the moment I unpacked it. OK, that isn't true. The guy I purchased the keyboard was a smoker...actually is a smoker... I don't know because I don't know him but anyways. The keybaord had tar and gook under the keys and stank. I spent days taking it apart and cleaning it. Fabreez is a wonderful product -as is soapy watter. Basicly what I am getting at ... I went to great lengths to gt the keyboard I currently use and don't care to change it.

The editors keyboard runs for £9.00 so it is an amazing deal. I plan on ordering mine soon and I will keep you guys posted once I have had a chance to use it and get a feel for it. However, I am thinking that if you have an old keyboard lying around there would be a decent market in buying a Photoshop set of EditorsKeys, apply them and then sell it on eBay as an Editor's Keyboard ... it's a thought.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Safe Studio - Safe Home

Regardless of one's personal beliefs and or convictions around questionable material on the internet - we should all be able to agree that questionable content in a business (AKA our Studios) is completely inappropriate. How embarrassing would it be to have a potential client walk by an employee's computer just in time to see a pornographic image? Even worse - what if an employee offends another employee with content viewed on the clock? These are all situations that we should all agree must be avoided at all costs. So how do you handle the situation? Filtering software installed on the computer? OS restrictions? What is the best way. This week I was introduced to OpenDNS. OpenDNS filters at the router level so any additional management can be facilitated through router and ALL computers on your network are secure.

Open DNS give you a great toolbar for setting up your account (you can have as many as you need for different locations and different filtering which is cool). Every location you set up has its own set of rules.

You can either choose from a pre-setup security & filtering settings or customize one of your own. All that is required to set things up is to create a free account online. The OpenDNS team has setup for every router on the planet. You simply click on the router and it will walk you though the simple setup. If you don't have a dedicated or a fixed IP address (you will know if you do because you usually have to pay for this service) then you will need to download an applicaiton supplied by OpenDNS on to one computer. All this application does is make sure OpenDNS always has your current IP address (Very important - because if they don't have this address the service will not work properly). A desktop or server in the office would be a great candidate for this. Once everything is set up clear the cache in all your browsers and wait about 5-10 minues and your service will be ready to go.

Bottom line: No matter why you are filtering your internet this makes sense. Managing individual software applications doesn't work and OS based protection is a pain to set up on every single machine. Our studio uses it and completly stands behind the service. You should check them out and give it a try - PLUS IT'S FREE! How can you beat that!?!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

web-cam portrait

A camera is a camera and light is light. Monday's video and my new profile picture were both captured using my MacBook Pro's built in web-cam. The diagram below outlines how I set up the lighting for the shot.

Now before the native's rise up in rebellion - let me clear this up. The dynamic range and detail captured by a web-cam are significantly inferior to that of a point and shoot camera and aren't even in the same conversation with a dSLR. I understand this - I simply wanted to see how far I could push the device. I wanted to see what kind of quality I could get out of it. And I was pleasantry surprised. All I did was set the computer up so I was positioned within the rule of thirds and then I got to work on the light. I opened the vertical blinds to my left (camera right) and aimed them at the sofa (soft directional light). Then I did a few tests. The right side of my face (camera left) was WAY to dark. A decent camera would have been able to reign in the range of highlight and shadow - but it was too much for this web-cam to handle. I rumidged around in my colset and pulled out a 36" 5-in-1 reflector. I popped it out of its compressed holster and used the silver side to fill in some of the shadows. I literally jammed it inbetween two sofa cusions. Next thing I knew - I was snapping photos in photobooth and making a video. After I finished recording I pulled the images into Lightroom for a closer look. Much to my suprise I was able to get some great results out of the test.

It just goes to show you - lighting is everything. Great lighting can make ANY image better. Great lighting can make ANY camera better. And great Lighting can make ANY photographer better. Stop spending so much time worrying about the gear and start looking for the light. Look for simple ways to manipulate it into a directional light source that will flatter and enhance your subject giving it depth and dimension.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

dynamic kuler

Once a designer, always a designer. Even though I no longer spend my days creating ads and layouts I still maintain a blog, website, and all my studio's forms and what not. Figuring out color combination can be enough to make you want to pull your hair out! Fortunately, Adobe has put together an excellent tool for creating pleasing color combination. One can either browse popular pre-created sets of colors or jump into an interactive color wheel to create your own.
Adobe has had set up for several years now; however, as I was poking around Photoshop CS4 I noticed a new option (or at least I never noticed it before). Under the window menu there is a option for some built in extensions and one of them is KULER!
Once added the user gains all of the website's functionality directly within photoshop. The extension even allows you to add color sets directly to your swatches for use in any design or photo.

Give it a try. You will be well on your way to getting out of the same colors you use on everything and you'll save time too. Just don't blame me if you use KULER to paint your home and your wife kicks you to the sofa. All kidding aside - Having a Kuler extension directly in photoshop will cut hours out of a design workflow - check it out.

Monday, February 2, 2009

video message - 28th birthday

A few thoughts as I turn another year older. Thinking about 2008 - the good the bad and the ugly. Looking forward to 2009 and all the opportunities along the horizon.

Great Gear - Canon OC-E3

This week we had a massive Ice and Snow storm bombard Louisville with destructive power outages and accidents. People flocked to shelters and hotels to stay warm. While the weather inconvenienced many - it was a great opportunity to take some photos. Ice was everywhere so I had to pack light which meant I had to pick only the essentials. Any time I have to pack light I try to pack my Canon OC-E3 off camera flash cord. This cable fits in just about any pocket and allows you to detach your flash from the camera to get more directional lighting while walking about without messing with wireless systems. I ALWAYS keep this baby in my bag. It gives me more flexibility with lighting on location in a pinch.

The cables are a little expensive at around $70.00; however, they are very durrable and extremely portable. As seen in the photo above - directional lighting gives a depth and dimension to a photo. Above is a photo taken this week. A leaf incased in ice that was an amazing site. The light is positioned to the right of the image and set to 1/4 power. I bumped the exposure up to 1/250 a second to darken the background and I set the aperture to f/11 to insure the macro shot had sufficient depth of field. - Grab your camera and go make some images!!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Local Correction - Part 2

This weekend we will take a look at some of the localized correction capabilities within Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.x. Today's tutorial focuses on gradient filters that go beyond light to dark and give us the ability to apply a gradient to contrast, saturation, clarity, etc. This also allows us to shape the way a standard vignette is shaped. The greatest part is that we no longer have to move over to Photoshop to attain great image polishing for most images - this is an amazing time saver. Sit back and enjoy part two of this weekends series on Local Correction in Lightroom 2.x