Monday, December 31, 2007

"Happy New Year"
© David A. Ziser

I made this image while shooting a beautiful wedding in Key Largo this past October. Part of the Friday "Welcome Party" festivities included a fire works display near the end of the evening. I was without tripod so I hand held the camera, held my breath and shot away. This image is actually a composite of three images, but I think still captures that special celebration of the evening. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 50mm lens, F4.0 @ 1/10 sec at ISO 3200. Enjoy! --David.

Good Morning Monday - Who's Watching the Ball Come Down Tonight?

Good Morning Everybody,
I hope everybody is wrapping up a fine year and looking forward to 2008. Today wraps a very busy first 4 1/2 months of DigitalProTalk "on the air". In that time we've had over 185,000 page views from nearly 50,000 visitors from 143 countries around the world.

My thanks to each and everyone of you for taking the time to give DigitalProTalk a read. My thanks also to all my "industry buddies" and fellow bloggers who support this blog, especially thanks to Scott Kelby who encouraged me to give it a go way back in July and later named it one of his Top 10 blogs to visit.

Here are the DigitalProTalk highlights from over the last 4 months.

Top TEN DigitalProTalk Stories of 2007

So what were the top ten most popular stories this year? Well here they are leading off with the most popular;

1. Carrot Cake Lighting - Who would have believed it?

2. Ziser Sets New Off Camera Flash Record - A little lighting creativity.

3. The New Canon 7D - Everybody loves a rumor.

4. It's Technique Tuesday - Yep, This is the premier episode which was on lighting technique.

5. Highlight Tone Priority - Image Salvation - My favorite new camera feature!

6. Wednesday News and Tips - Kind of the early beginnings of Technique Tuesday - more lighting technique.

7. Dodge and Burn Cha-Cha - A nice little Photoshop tutorial.

8. Backlighting for Fun and Profit - Another "cool" lighting feature.

9. Best Little Light In the World - Easy and portable portrait lighting set up.

10. Wedding Shoot Out and Photoshop World Opening - A nice slide show series of images of my "Wedding Shoot Out" in Las Vegas.

Images of the Day - Everyday

This feature started as just a posting of some of my favorite images. Then I thought, what the heck, why not include my thought on the image along with the camera specs and image information as well. Who knows, doing this everyday, I might run out early in 2008 ;~)

The fastest and easiest way to find all of them is to search DigitalProTalk for "David A. Ziser", since that's how I "signed" each one. Or you could just hit this link right here and save yourself all that typing. When you get to the end of the page, just hit "Older Posts" and you will get another set of about 20. There are 92 in all so far. Enjoy! --David

Keep That Tuesday Appointment - Technique Tuesdays

This is another feature I started on a Tuesday in early September this year. Every Tuesday , or at least almost every Tuesday, I post a Photography or Photoshop Tutorial. Tuesday's posts are usually "Photographic or Photoshop" centric as well. Just hit this Technique Tuesday link right here to see all of them for 2007.

And Wait, There's More

Since I'm a wedding photographer by profession, many of the postings are on that particular subject. Just hit the Wedding Photography link right here and you can catch up on any wedding images, articles, slide shows, etc. you may have missed. Also, don't miss the Portrait links here, the Lighting articles here, and the Photoshop tutorial links here. Hey gang, that's it for today - Yes, I am going to tune in to Times Square New Year's Eve coverage tonight and watch the spectacular ball drop. My daughter, Elizabeth will actually be there with about another 1/2 million people - I'm going to see if I can spot her there ;~).

Well everybody, that's it for 2007! As we head into 2008, I wish each and everyone one of you a happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful New Year. See you next year. --David

Friday, December 28, 2007

"Mother and Daughter"
© David A. Ziser

I made this all natural light image of LaDawn, my wife and her daughter, Lindsay while in Cabo San Lucas this past November. The sun was setting at one of the most beautiful spots in the world - the restaurant Sunset Da Mona Lisa . We had just a few minutes to get the shot while the light was just right. The lighting wrapped around their faces beautifully resulting in a beautiful "mother/daughter" portrait. In fact LaDawn just presented the image to Lindsay yesterday - she loved it as does LaDawn!! Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 17-85mm IS lens at 22mm, F5.6 @ 1/60 second at ISO 500.
Enjoy! --David

It's "Technique Tuesday" This Friday

Good Morning Everybody,
Wow! Did we finally make it to "Technique Tuesday -> Thursday -> Friday?" With all the holiday activity, I'm kind of losing track of time. Anyway, I have a lot of great Photoshop information today, a cool article on Depth of Field - I know, how cool can it be - really? Well, let's just say it's very informative, and some great "how-to" strobe info. So let's get right to it...

Keep On Smiling

How often do we get the shot but that one person in the group didn't smile in any of the images no matter how hard you tried. Or, what happens when somebody smiles, but it is way too big of a smile and does not flatter them . In this Technique Tuesday tutorial, I'll show you how to get a much better result for you and your client. Just hit play and see how I have my clients "Keep on Smiling."

Become a Pro With One of Photoshop's Most Powerful Tools

Yep, I'm talking about the Pen tool. I know I've carefully avoided it's use for all these years, but the real masters of the art know the power of the Pen tool - just ask Bert Monroy. Check out this 5 minute Pen tool tutorial by Michael Blaustone right here Hey, it doesn't look all that complicated - I might just have to get it a try. And, check out Bert's site too - he has a ton of Photoshop tutorials right here.

So Just What Is In Focus Anyway?

I'm doing a "room shot" before the wedding guests hit the main reception ballroom. I want to show the table in the foreground and the entire background, usually remaining tables, in sharp focus. I need to use a wider aperture because I'm in a rush and I'm hand-holding the camera so I can move quickly - I choose F5.6. I've got a 10-22mm lens at 10mm on my 40D at F5.6 focused at 37 inches- what's really in focus? The answer might surprise you - everything is in focus from 18.5 inches to infinity!

Unbelievable isn't it - at 1 1/2 feet to the outer reaches of the galaxy - Carl Sagan would be impressed. OK, I know I'm a little "geeky" with this stuff, but check out DOFMaster right here - it's a link to a depth of field calculator. Just select your camera, focal length, and F-Stop and it will do the rest. You can even download it at no charge right here. Geeky or not, this is a great way to learn how your lens work at different apertures. There are lots of other goodies there too so check it out - a 5-Star find!

Footnote: I added the "Carl Sagan" link just for fun. I received his "Cosmos" DVD series for Christmas - then I hit one of the Sagan site links to the Planetary Society and found some truly stunning images under the heading "The Year In Pictures". It is a stunning collection of planetary images right here. Enjoy!

How Do I Use That New Flash?

How about 10 flash (and I "ain't" talking Adobe here) lessons from master photographer - Will Crocket. My buddies over at Quantum Instruments - makers of my favorite strobe for off-camera lighting - just added their QFlash Academy to their site. It's 10 easy to follow videos by Will Crocket of Smartshooter fame who shows you how to get the most out of the QFlash system. Sure, it features the Quantum products, but a lot of basic general flash info included - it's worth a peek. And, if you are a Quantum shooter, or thinking about the system, it's a "must-read."

Hey Gang, that's it for today. - everybody have a great weekend and I'll see you next week. --David

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"Jumping For Joy"
© David A. Ziser

Here is an image I made earlier today at my family portrait shoot. The whole family was together for the holidays and I scheduled the session for 11 A.M. Just a few hours before one of the daughters headed for the airport at 3:00 P.M. We got a great series of images and I was going to post one of the regular shots discussing the lack of foliage, but still getting the nice result. I thought this image was more fun. We had just about wrapped the shoot and the family wanted something different. I suggested the Toyota jump of a few years ago and everyone loved the idea. Three tries and we got this one - pretty fun. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 73mm, F5.6 at 1/250 second at ISO 200. Enjoy! We did. --David

All Smiles Wednesday

Good Early Evening Everybody,

Well, today just keeps on changing. I thought I was going to get the posts up today around 4:00 P.M. and get a good start on tomorrow's, but the laws of nature, physics, and marital harmony - just kidding LaDawn - have changed all of that - it was not meant to be. So on with "Plan B" - today's post will also be tomorrow's post too - read no post on Thursday (so you can fully enjoy the late Wednesday post), but the Thursday post will be made up in it's entirety in future posts a small bit a time. "Technique Tuesday" which was to be "Technique Thursday" is now going to be "Technique Friday" for sure.
So now let's rewind to how the post started earlier today ----
Hopefully everyone enjoyed a little time off this last day or two. I have to tell you, it was wonderful having a nice and easy day yesterday. But we are back at it again today, but not too heavy - just a nice portrait shoot for some great clients. They are really fantastic friends too. This week is always kind of slow (ha) since staff is mostly on hiatus till after the new year. I'll tell you, the break is well needed.
Anyway, in addition to the regular posts, I'm posting some thoughts on small business management today - check out "Training New Personnel In Record Time" below. This was going to be a quick post about the Camtasia software but it got extended quite a bit and I think there is some "food for thought" here - please give it a read. What else is happening, well everybody likes free stuff, especially good free stuff, so read on - some really cool stuff today...

And Just When You Thought Santa Made His Last Stop

Check out all the FREE sack of goodies I found over at Here are my favorites - a full version of Snag-It, the ultimate screen capture utility that I use to grab images for DigitalProTalk. Sure, it's a slightly older version - actually the same version I use, but hey, it still works great. And it's FREE. Here is the free Snag-It link right here. But it gets better - read the next post.

Training New Personnel In Record Time Without Having Them Feel Overwhelmed

We small business owners get into this situation every now and then - having to train new personnel to replace a key individual who has resigned, retired, etc. How can we make that training as efficient as possible without it becoming a real "pain?" Well folks, I'm going to make your life a whole lot simpler with another freebie courtesy of This great "goodie grab" is called Camtasia and you can get a perfectly good version of Camtasia 3 right here and at no charge! Sure it's 2 versions behind, but I still have it on some older computers around my studio and it works great.

You ask what is Camtasia? It's the software I use to create my "Technique Tuesday" tutorials. I know what you are thinking - I don't need to make tutorials. Think again, "Grasshopper" - my studio manager of over 8 years just retired about 2 months ago. We just hired a wonderful new person, Jennifer, to fill that position. Here is the question - How do you get that new person up to speed without taking hours and even days of your own time to train them?

Well, I have been creating training tutorials like crazy. These training tutorials include several of our studio processes, Photoshop lessons, in fact anything relating to our computer production processes. We have over a dozen created so far. I've even put Camtasia on all of the staffs computers so they can create their own sharable videos that relate to their own work responsibilities. That way if someone needs to jump in to a less than familiar job, they have something to quickly review before wasting tons of time trying to figure it out on their own.

We are creating an entire "knowledge base" for my studio. Now any "new-hire" has the training right at their fingertips. Sure, there will still be questions to be answered, but all of our tutorials sure off loads most of the training time from myself or my experienced staff's shoulders.

Is the importance of this - training - starting to sink in? Think of businesses that are well run. What is key to their success? Product of course. But it's also a well trained staff. Just check out any new restaurant chain that opened in your area. Most of the "new hires" go through at least 2 weeks of fairly intensive training. That's why they feel comfortable and the place runs pretty much like clockwork even on their first day. We small business owners can experience the same kinds of success by following the "big guys" example and set up in house training programs ourselves. Camtasia lets us do that fairly easily.
If you commit to producing two 10 minute tutorials a week, you will end up with your own training library in no time and a great job training resource. Make it a New Year resolution for 2008 - grab Camtasia 3 right here and get started right away. They have plenty of online tutorials themselves to get you up and running. Hey, more good news - you can upgrade to Camtasia 5 for only half price. Now that's a sweet deal.

A Pretty Good Start

Brand new blogger Paul B. Pescitelli - 3 posts and counting and 19 on his other site - has a nice start on his blog. His second posting is what caught my eye. It was an informative post on how to expand the functionality of your 580EX2 flash. I like some of his links too. One of my favorites was on his other site - All Things Paul which linked to "Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do" right here. It has nothing to do about photography, but is still a nice read.

Wait, there's more - check out his fine art link at the top right side of the page. I think Paul's on to something with his Fine Art images for sale over at Good work Paul, and thanks for including DigitalProTalk in your blog roll.

Wait, There's More - Free Stuff!

Will the gifts ever stop coming?? I was going to post this before the holidays but ran out of space - so here it is today - over 130 TV and movie fonts over at I can remember being a "font junkie" back in the day of my early computing experience. I had so many, but most were kind of useless. This set is pretty cool. Take a peek they are all free, all the time. And wait, there is still more - now that you have a few dozen new fonts, check out "15 Tips On How To Choose the Right Font" right here. What a great way to start a new year - playing with a bunch of new "font toys".

Hey, gang, that's about it for today - I'm heading back to my own set of Santa goodies and checking out another DVD on my new Blu-Ray player. See everybody tomorrow. --David

Late Post Wednesday

Hey gang, welcome to "Late Post Wednesday." Yep, we got a slow start on the day today and I'm heading out to a portrait shoot right now. I should have everything ready to go later this afternoon. Be sure to check back - some good stuff today. See ya' then. --David

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

"Christmas Celebration"
© David A. Ziser

The image was made for one of my corporate client's. It's just a simple shot of this very elegant room just before guests arrived. In these kind of situations I need to work fast, but still capture the beauty and decor of the space. I used my Canon 30D fitted with a 10-22mm lens at 10mm. Exposure was F5.6 for plenty of depth of field at 1/25 second handheld at ISO 1600. I love the colors - hence the post for this holiday season. Enjoy! --David

Merry Christmas Eve Monday

Good Morning Everybody,
Hope the shopping is finished, the cookies are baked, the mistletoe is placed strategically around the house and you are all enjoy the rest of the season. I know many of us are pretty busy this time of the year so I'm going to keep the posts kind of short today and mostly Christmas centric.

Tomorrow, we will be taking the day off to spend some quiet time in reflection and celebration with LaDawn. I'll still be wishing everyone "Merry Christmas" in the 10 languages of the top 10 countries reading DigitalProTalk. Also, look for "Technique Tuesday" to be renamed and posted "Technique Thursday" for this week and next week. So how about a quick read today...

What's Up and Coming on DigitalProTalk?

Here is a quick and short list on what I'm working on for some soon to be released posts.
  1. The real history of "Wedding Photography" - the beginnings, the history, and the innovators. I think you will really like it.

  2. So "How Good Is Your Viewfinder?" All digital cameras have the nifty LCD viewfinder for checking our images, but how close to the "real thing" is that image when it comes to exposure, color, etc. - an interesting read.

  3. "5 Ways to Get Perfect Exposure From Your On Camera Flash"

  4. "The must Get Images for Bar Mitzvah Photography" - hey, we try to cover it all right here at DigitalProTalk.

  5. "My Favorite Lenses to Shoot an Event" - yep, it's a peak into my gear bag.

So stay tuned - good stuff coming down the road!

So If You Have Snow In Your Part Of the World

And a camera around your neck, here is a great article over at Luminous-Landscape on how to photograph snow. No "P" for "Professional" for the pretty white stuff. Here is the "snow" link right here.

But I Don't Want To Spend $1000 On A Fisheye Lens!

Here is a fun - "How To" over at DIYPhotography on how to adapt Christmas ornaments as fisheye lenses - hey, it's a fun read and most of you have the day off coming up, so give it a peek right here.

And Speaking of Christmas Lights

How do you get the perfect exposure all the time? Watch the short video below for some quick tips. You can get a lot more detailed information over at the Strobist. It's a really well done article on the subject. Check it out right here. Here is another post on "How to Photograph Christmas Lights" over here at LightingMods. Here is their link to the Flickr Christmas Tree Light group right here too. Just one precaution while out shooting - just don't spill the hot chocolate on you as you are driving around. That's it for today, gang, have a great holiday in how ever you celebrate December 25 and I'll see you back here on Wednesday. All the best - David!

Friday, December 21, 2007

"Joy Abounds"
© David A. Ziser

Here is a beautiful image of this handsome couple moments before the reception was about to begin. I always try to get this shot right before the guests enter the room. Everything is set perfectly, the wedding couple come in to see the final result (and are blown away.) This is a terrific opportunity to show them in the beautiful surrounds. Camera specs: Canon 5D fitted with Sigma 12-24mm lens at 17mm, F5.6 @ 1/6 second handheld at ISO 1250. The soft lighting is coming from my off camera flash - a Quantum T5d remotely fired through a 36 inch umbrella. Enjoy! --David

A Fabulous Friday

Good Morning Sunshine!
Just about everything is delivered - Hooray! My clients are thrilled and we can start settling in for the holidays. Well almost, I have another Bar Mitzvah shoot in a beautifully redesigned temple - Adath Israel - today. I'll try to post a few images next week - the architectural is beautiful inside. We have the big party tomorrow at the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center - so one more busy weekend before our break - should be fun though.

Lots of good stuff again today - new announcements from NAPP, a video on the "Secrets of Success", A cool tutorial on time lapse photography, cool stuff, and a beautiful video on the imagery of famous Hollywood photographer - George Hurrell. --Enjoy the Friday reads...

Hot Breaking News - Ziser on International TV!

Yes, the programming will be on millions of computers around the world. OK, I hyping it just a bit here, but here is the news in case you missed it yesterday over at Scott Kelby's site. Kelby Training just announced a very extensive on-line training program with a list of 18 (and growing) of the best trainers in the industry including Scott, Bert Monroy, Joe McNally, Katrin Eismann, just to name a few, and yours truly. I have to say, I am thrilled and honored to be part of this wonderful project. Here is the Kelby Training link right here - you've got to check it out. LaDawn and I are heading down to Tampa to work on my training videos the second week of January, so they should be on-line before you know it. I'll keep you posted - we are planning to get the first 2 of 5 videos courses completed within that time period.

Here is a short preview of the content of Video courses #1 and #2:
Master Your Lighting, Master Your Market
In this video David will show you how to really separate yourself from the "Flat Lighting" crowd. David will demonstrate just how easily and quickly you can light your images beautifully and dramatically, making them stand out from the crowd. Watch how he quickly uses his portable off-camera flash, filtered flash, bounce flash, back-lighting, and many other lighting techniques to create images that let you really rise above the crowd in a wedding/portrait market that has been diluted with so much flat, one dimensional photography. You don’t shoot weddings – no problem. David’s techniques work equally well for the portrait and senior photographer, or anyone seeking to differentiate their creative look and style from the "rest of the pack."

15 Ways to Make Your On-Camera Flash Take Better Pictures
David will show you how to get the best out of your on camera flash and he doesn't mean using it the good old fashion way. He's talking about creating a beautiful direction of light on your subjects that is far an away better than what most photographers do. He will show several additional techniques that will help you produce amazing images with what the gear you already have. This video will become your most valuable component of your on-camera flash!

Secrets of Success in 8 Words, 3 Minutes

One of the reasons I blog is to try to get people fired up with what this wonderful profession of ours has to offer. The blog is mostly photography and Photoshop centric with a little marketing and business thrown in. But every now and then, I fine a gem that I think can get a fire burning under all of us. I think we all know we all need a little fire from time to time.

Here is one of those little gems from one of the most interesting sites on the web - The site features Inspired talks by the world's greatest thinkers and doers. Check out Richard St. John's 3 minute presentation on success right here. - I think you will enjoy it - really, really good stuff.

Compressing Time From Months Into Minutes

Too many images , too little time - here is about the best information on time lapse photography I have found. It was posted over at right here and is really worth a peek. Everything is covered from the shoot, the edit, and making the final movie. The links at the end of the article are worth a look too. Hey, gang, enjoy this one.

Master of Masters - The Legendary George Hurrell

I'm wrapping the posts today with this wonderful video featuring the beautiful portrait photography of renowned photographer, George Hurrell. In addition to the video, here is a link to many of his images right here. Here is a nice bio of Mr. Hurrell right here. That's about it for today, everybody - I've got to charge the batteries, clean the lens, and load the pixels - Have a great weekend, and I'll see you on Monday - Christmas Eve. --David

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Floral Celebration"
© David A. Ziser
My client was just in yesterday making her final selection of wedding images - this was one of those images. It captures the true elegance of the event with the soaring Calla Lilly's reaching to the domed ceiling of this beautiful venue. The cool ceiling lighting contrasting with the warm tones of the floral arrangement combine for dramatic effect. Camera specs; Canon 5D fitted with a Sigma 12-24mm lens at 17mm, F5.0 @ 1/10 second hand held at ISO 1600.
Enjoy! --David

Thursday -All Day

Good Morning Everybody,
Lots of good stuff again today. Check out the story on composition from David Tejada and the phenomenal work of Roy Ritchie. Also, we have an update on my battery story - "Dead Again! I Want A New Charge Out of Life!". I'm wrapping the posts with a geography update, and the hottest blog reading tip of the year! Read on....

Designing Photographic Images

So how do you get the subject in the right place in the viewfinder so that the finished image really looks good? Here is the quick "skinny" on composition - head over to David Tejada website - he is a great photographer and instructor - and check out his article on composition right here. He shows the compositional set up and the final result - good info and great images here. One more thing, check out his archives - many additional lessons, ideas, and instructional videos there, too. All good!!

And Speaking of Composition, How About Some Color Too

"Some of the most visually intriguing images I had ever seen!" That was my first impression of Roy Ritchie's portfolio images right here. The Carnival images were some of my favorites. I'm presuming heavy Photoshop to get the finished result - but striking nevertheless. Definitely worth a peek.

Keep Those Electrons Flowing

Hey, gang, here is a quick follow-up to my long lived battery story - "Dead Again! I Want A New Charge Out of Life!" - that I posted 2 weeks ago. I had a couple of our readers offer some suggestions too so I"ll share them with you here.
From Larry: The best batteries that I've found, that last longer than any others, are a brand called Maha Powerex batteries. There are different mAh levels you can choose from. I currently use the 2700 mAh batteries. You can get these online at Thomas Distributing. They also have a charger that will charge 12 batteries at one time made by a company call Ansmann. It is a smart charger that senses what the batteries need before it starts its charging pattern. I find that I can charge up a whole set of batteries a few days before an event and they hold out. If you are still friendly with the SmartShooter crowd, they offer a discount at Thomas Distributing.

And from Ivan: Very useful post, David. However, with good batteries you also need a good charger... like the La Crosse Technology BC-900 AlphaPower Battery Charger at Amazon. I don't have it yet, but David "Strobist" have been raving about it.

Thanks guys.

My Geography Is a Little Off

What's few thousand miles between friends. When I posted "Hobbit's Trail" as the image of the day two weeks ago, I mentioned the the image was made near Aviemore, Scotland last year. I also mentioned that Inverness was close to the Artic Circle. I was gently reminded by two of our readers, Trevor Johnson - and Kenny McLean -, that I was just slightly off the mark like to the tune of 1000 miles.

What can I say, looking at the Delta route map after a few scotches, it looked pretty darn close to me. What was very cool during our visit in late November was the fact that the sun never rose higher than about 45 degrees into the sky. It was like late afternoon light all day, albeit, the day ended about 3:30 p.m. which made for fantastic light for shooting just about the entire day. In any event we thoroughly enjoyed out visit, met some really nice people, sampled some fine scotch, almost saw the Loch Ness monster, and got some great images. Enjoy the short slide show below. Hey, by the way, check out Trevor and Kenny's wonderful images at the links above.

Bonus Tip - And the Best Tip of the Day!!!

In my ongoing effort to please our readers requests, I am offering the hottest tip of the month for reading the DigitalProTalk Blog with a whit background. I received an email from one of my readers over in Sweden not so long ago. He was complaining about the the black background I use for the Blog - it's Blogger's Minima Black template. He claimed that the black background was making the text hard to read over an extended period of time.
I remember seeing the same discussion over at the Stobist's blog a while back. (I see he has softened it to a dark grey these days.) Anyway, instead of changing the look of my entire blog - I really like the black background because it makes the image of the day POP and look so cool. But don't fret any longer. I am going to show you how to make it nice and white for easy reading, if that's what you prefer. Here is the trick - place your mouse outside the blog canvas. Hold the left mouse button down and drag into the canvas - Voila - It turns white! You can even release the mouse button and use your scroll wheel to read down the page. To turn it back to black, just click anywhere inside the blog canvas. Yes, you can please all the people all the time :-)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"The Thrill of It All"
© David A. Ziser

This is one of my favorite "low-light" images. I was photographing this wonderful Greek wedding. What's a Greek Wedding - that's where they start dancing when they walk in the door and only stop slightly at the end of the night. The room was full of excitement and the dancing was at it's peak. I wanted to capture that feeling. I went up to the balcony with my Nikon D1X fitted with my 50mm F1.4 lens - Nikon was my camera at the time. How was I going to stop the action - ISO 3200, yes, a bit noisy, but still looked good. It became a panorama page in their album. Camera was set to F2 @ 1/30 second.
I love the shot. Enjoy! --David

Wednesday - Half Way to the Weekend

Good Morning Everybody,
Well, we are half way to the weekend and I still haven't started the holiday shopping! Maybe today, probably not. But still good information today, so on with the news...

10 Mostly Free Ways to Improve Your Photography Business

Here they are - 10 great ways to improve your business.
  1. Be sure that the studio and reception area is neat and clean at all times. Have everything perfect for the next client.
  2. Take some time to freshen up your samples - it will make you think you own a new studio and everybody likes things new.
  3. Head to Sam's or Costco and spend $20 bucks on fresh flowers. It make the reception area look nice and smell great. Heck, if you work out of your home, it's a tax write off, but always tell your wife that they were for her - double whammy good effect!
  4. Call a client a day for 5 days, and tell them you were thinking about them, thank them for their business, or just to check in on them. When you find out that doesn't hurt, try making it studio policy at least once a month.
  5. Make it a Studio Policy to send a Thank You note to each client, that's everybody that has ordered pictures. If you don't have the address, include the Thank You note with their delivered photographs.
  6. Wrap the wedding album(s) in bows when delivering them - obviously Christmas bows at Christmastime. It just make them look nice and the client's notice.
  7. I love this one, Always have cookies baking so that you have that wonderful aroma wafting throughout the premises. Thanks to Sandy Puc for that idea. (I think I might patent a "baking cookie aroma" air freshener.)
  8. Pick up a few of those "Inspiration/Happy Thought/Beautiful Picture/etc-a-Day" calenders and keep one on your desk and your employees desk.
  9. Dress up for your appointments - something easy and comfortable - it stands you out from the crowd and your clients will notice.
  10. And finally, get your daily dose of Digital ProTalk right here - what better way to start the day.

It's Scary But True - Wedding Photography Alternatives

People spend $100's and $1000's of dollars on wedding photography, but is it necessary? That was the opening sentence in a TV news story over at The gist of the story was to get all your guests to shoot with their digital cameras and upload them to the many picture hosting sites out there - they even give a list. Pretty scary thinking by the general public for the working professional photographer. You can listen to the news story and read the accompanying article right here. On a positive note, the news anchors loved their professional photographer and thought the best idea was a composite approach - do both.

This probably explains why a buddy of mine just secured the domain name - I think he may be redefining his market :~) On a similar note, I know another photographer who has a studio named "Cheap and Chic Weddings." They have college photography students shoot the weddings to help cut the costs, but the availability of add on products and upgrades gets the average sale up for them - an interesting concept - Here is their site.

Another Nice Article on Lighting

Charles Maring has a nice advertorial article on lighting with some nice images entitled "Reinventing Light" right here at Rangefinder magazine. The info is a quick look at how easy your lighting can be and the range of effects you can get when used properly. The main point Mr. Maring makes though, is to constantly reinvent yourself in this ever changing digital world of photography.

Hump Day Diversion

And in our "Not Really Related To Photography" section today (although the video is quite well done), we have the Guinness wold record breaking Domino (like) winner - yes, those are automobiles you see in the photo. Check it out, it's only about a minute long but it will give you your giggle for the day.
That's about it for today, everybody. We have a busy day today and I've got to run. See everybody tomorrow, --David

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Abstract Elements"
© David A. Ziser

This image was made while in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico just a few weeks ago. We were driving through the Barrio, just outside the city, on a chilly, rainy evening. The light was just disappearing from the scene. The very slow exposure and the motion blur combined for an extremely provocative image. I brought it into Photoshop and tried many variations but finally settled for the original image, totally unmanipulated in any way other than a very slight crop to the left. The image, to me, is very eerie with a certain tenseness about it. It almost begs the viewer to even be wary viewing it for any length of time, but nevertheless continues to draw the viewer into itself in an almost hypnotic way. Camera specs: Canon 40D fitted with 17-85mm lens at 66mm, F5.7 @ 5.2 seconds at ISO 400. Enjoy! --David

Technique Tuesday 12.18.07

Good Afternoon Everybody,
Tried as I might, the posts went out this afternoon instead of this morning as I usually try to do. Just too much morning holiday shopping. Anyway, a good post today leading off with our Technique Tuesday tutorial following up with some more Photoshop tips, my self portrait (suitable for framing;~) and a few more goodies to boot. So on with the day...

Designer Portraiture or How to Fool Mother Nature

Hey gang, it's Technique Tuesday again. Here is the dilemma - what do you do when you are scheduled to do a family portrait - six family members together for the first time in three years - on a Saturday morning, but Mother Nature just gifted you 3 inches of snow and freezing rain? Well, that was my challenge this past Saturday. To cancel the shoot was out of the question. So how about Designer Portraiture? That's what we did and we got a great result! The client "loved" it. Check out the tutorial below - I think you will enjoy the lesson. Read the P.S. following the video for some more related tips and links.

Thank You to Graham r for pointing out after last week's Technique Tuesday - "Winter Wonderland Any Time of the Year", that you can drag the "Extract Highlighter" off and around the canvass space reconnecting at the other side just like the "lasso" tool. Yep, works just fine - Thanks, Graham. Here is another link showing 5 background masking techniques right here.

Just When I Thought I was Done For the Holidays, A Self Portrait Assignment

OK, I'm not taking the credit here. It's all Brian Auer's idea over at He drops me note telling me what's on his mind and I say, "Sure, count me in." Now for the portrait - LaDawn, my wife, offers to take the picture of me - I gently remind her that it wouldn't be a self portrait then - I've got to be the guy pressing the shutter button.

So my brain starts thinking - OK, I'm a wedding guy so I've got to be dressed up like in a suit for this portrait - no problem here. But if I'm dressed up, maybe I should be in a wedding situation, too. Those "brain gears" were turning even faster now. Since I've been playing around with the "Extract Tool" in Photoshop these last two weeks - see today's tutorial entitled "Designer Portraits" above and "Winter Wonderland Any Time of the Year" from last week's Technique Tuesday. I felt I could drop myself right into a wedding scene. I was set - suit looking good, tie nice and tight, camera ready to go. We have a large mirror in our home so I positioned myself in front of the mirror and to the side of a window close by. I had the mirror in front of me so it was easy to take up a position relative to the window to get that beautiful "loop lighting" on my visage. Now can I keep myself in the viewfinder as I press the shutter - yep, it was all pretty simple. I had the shot, and I looked good!!

Now let's drop it into Photoshop, run the "extract" tool on the image - I was smart enough to keep the stuff behind me fairly bright so the extraction process went fairly quickly. Finally, "presto", there I am on that checkerboard Photoshop canvas. Next, drop in one of my favorite wedding images and I thought I was home free - until..... I saw Canon was spelled backwards - that darn mirror image. I managed to get the text reversed, but now the shutter button was on the wrong side of the camera. I thought about blogging Canon's new line of "left-handed" cameras but I didn't think that would fly. What to do -

I just flipped me, but now I'm on the wrong side of the wedding image covering up the bride and groom. You guessed it - I flipped the bride and groom image and removed his boutonniere - who will ever know. I finished things up in Photoshop and now have a nice new PR image. Actually the process was kind of fun. Check out EpicEdits right here to see what the other "contestants" are doing. And, Brian, next time I'm coming up with the challenge :~) And, by the way, count me in on your Fine Art blog - I'll get some images together.

Save Time - Not Money

With this - the hottest set of Photoshop time saving mouse clicks in the world! What happens when you goof in Photoshop - I know , you just Cntrl-Z your way out of it. But what happens if you need to to undo even more steps? Sure you could head over to your history states and just backtrack to where you need to go. Here is an even easier way and it works even if you have already saved the file - just hold down the Alt (Option) key while doing your Cntrl-Z's . Guess what? Holding down the Alt(Option) key will let you step all the way back in your "History" states till you get where to need to be without ever touching the mouse! Pretty darn cool - a big thank you to Corey Barker over at PlanetPhotoshop for that great tip.

A Now a Few Thank Yous

Thanks to Deimodius who dropped me a lead on the story about the first Santa pictures - "So Who Knows For Sure?". He referenced the Eaton Santa Claus parade started in 1905, that's 20 years before the Macy parade. Here is his update info, "Here is another potential lead. The Toronto (Ontario Canada) Santa Claus parade started in 1905, and according to the article (link right here ) started 20 years before the Macy's parade. It does not say anything about photos on Santa's lap, but there were photos taken of Santa. A few years after that first start parents and children would go to see him at the Massey Hall Theatre." He also found an image in the Chicago Tribune archives via Wikipedia of children on Santa's lap right here. Thanks, Deimodius

Thank you to Chris Grandell, one of my Digital Master Class alums, who offered a link to a very well done Nikon D3 and Canon 1Ds MarkIII side by side sharpness comparison. Here is the link. Thanks, Chris.

And another thank you to Dresden Engle, Public Relations Manager, George Eastman House for his nice note about my mention of George Eastman House for spreading the word about their upcoming wiki and current podcasts in my post entitled "Every Single Thing You Ever Wanted to Know About Photography":

Hey, gang, that's about it for today. Hope you enjoyed the "read" and I hope to see you tomorrow. Areverderchi, David

Monday, December 17, 2007

"A Dance of Color"
© David A. Ziser

I photographed this image while on the big island of Hawaii this past April. It is another one of those drive-by shooting images while flying down the road about 41 miles from Hilo heading down from Waimea. The bright red flowers dappling the rich green foliage was a wonderful contrast of color. My Canon 5D was fitted with my 24-105mm IS lens at 90mm. As we pasted the scene I made this quick image at F11 @ 1/160 second at ISO 800. To get to the final image, I had to crop out an under construction house on the left of the image and do a little post processing in Photoshop to give it an impressionistic look and feel. I love the finished result. Enjoy! --David
P.S. Here is the "Before" image right here.

Monday - And Only 9 Days Till Christmas

Good Morning Everybody,
So are the orders delivered, the shopping completed, the cookies made, the tree lit - well, I would have to answer NO on about all counts - but we are a lot closer. On the whole, we are in pretty good shape. Before we get into news and tips not to be missed for today, let me bring you up to date on a few things. Our DigitalProTalk Flicker group is moving along - thanks to all of you who have joined and have submitted images - we have a small, but growing collection. You can take a peek right here.

On the Newsletter note -I know it is a bit late this month - the holiday rush around here is always nuts - I plan to get the last copies out by the end of the year. If you are not on the list, you can "Safe Subscribe" right here or on the top right of this page.

One last thing, I mentioned earlier that we were still taking registrations for my Spring Master Class at the old 2006-2007 prices. Costs our going up in about two weeks so you can save a few dollars on the class if you sign up by the end of the year. Give a call if interested and reserve your space - the class info and contact info is right here. So now on with the program...

So, Is Everybody Happy???

Maybe, maybe not - that's according to an article originally appearing in Time magazine . I caught the story over at APhotoEditor last week. Here's the scoop - are you sitting down - it seems we photographers are a pretty UN-happy lot with only 20.8% of us claiming to be happy! Well, the good news - we are happier than bartenders, welfare service aids, therapists, and amusement park attendants. But the bad news - we are still at the bottom of the happiness heap. Who are the happiest? Clergy, waitresses and butlers, and firefighters. Did I make a wrong life decision years ago? I don't think so.
Any job is what you make of it. If it's just another wedding, chances are - you can't wait to get out of there. But if you see it as one of the most important events in the couple's lives and you have the honor of being hired to do the photography, I'll tell you - you are in a much better place emotionally to give the client a great effort and a much better result. So the heck with the survey - keep smilin'. Find those happy spots!! And if you want to to satisfy your "happiness" curiosity quotient for the day, head over to the "Happiness" article right here and let your mouse scroll down the list. It is kind of a fun list and may even bring a smile to your Monday morning face.

So You Want to Be a Wedding Photographer

OK, then go for it, but first read this article over at It's all about starting your business, developing your style, developing your portfolio, etc. It's a good read for anyone wanting to take a crack at the business. The article's advice is broad-based enough to apply to many start-up creative businesses. Give it a read right here.

Formatting Flash Cards - the Right Way

I know what you are thinking - give me a break - I know how to format a flash card. Well, give the article a read anyway. The advise given here is not something I do as a matter of course - that is, format your card in the camera before you start shooting with it. I just sometimes forget, but I'm glad to hear the advice again - I hope to change my ways - New Years resolution #87.

Also, don't delete images from the card in the camera - I've heard that can lead to some "nasties" too. Hey, for a more thorough discussion, I would check out the article right here.

Rumor Mill - Yes, Yes, Really? No, I Don't Believe It.

OK, What's up? Well, we are getting closer to PMA 2008 held in Las Vegas next year - January 31 - February 2, 2008. It's the place for product announcements galore. So what are the latest rumors?? Check it out at "Rumor Mill" central over at 1001 Noisy Cameras right here. You can also follow the PMA blog right here - looks like a good line up.

So What's Coming Up Down the Road?

Technique Tuesday tomorrow - not to be missed - Designer Portraits; a brief, but thorough history of wedding photography throughout the years - it's past styles, influences, and current trends; some more great marketing ideas; a check on the "Blog Buzz"; and exciting photography as usual. That's it for today everybody - see ya' tomorrow. --David