Thursday, July 31, 2008


© David A. Ziser

I made this image while on a sunset cruise around Chicago. As the sun dropped lower into the sky, the incredible beauty of the setting sun worked it's magic to light up the sky. I almost posted the original image - it looked great, but I couldn't help myself, I goosed it just a bit in Photoshop for the final effect. Camera spec; Canon 30D fitted with 17-85mm at 50mm, F7.1 @ 1/80 second, ISO 800.
Enjoy! -David

[B]Business Day Thursday: Winners Announced - 24 More Ways To Add To Your Bottom Line

Good Afternoon Everybody,
WOW! We got a great response to my challenge I posted a few weeks ago, "[B]Business Day Thursday - 7 Really Easy Things To Sell To Add To Your Bottom Line." Thanks to all of you that took the time to offer all the suggestions posted. There were some really good suggestions and ideas that could easily add to anybody's bottom line. I have sifted through each and every one, compared them with the others listed, noticed similarities and differences - sometimes great minds think alike, you know, and labored over my final decisions in picking the winners.

Here is what I have done. I have listed all the entries posted because everyone had something of value to offer. I have also left my own comments and notes as well. Many of the posts jogged ideas for me so I added them to the posts.

In addition to reviewing each suggestion, I also checked out our readers web sites and/or blogs wherever possible. Next, I updated the links for this article. Why? Because you guys and gals are doing some cool stuff and I think the rest of our readership would enjoy the peek so be sure to hit the link name of each contributor where applicable.

So what's the bottom line - lot's of good ideas, lot's of cool links, and hopefully a few more buck-a-roos, $$$, in your pocket on your upcoming weddings. Hit the "Read More..." link below for all the listings. Have fun reading!!! -David

Eric Cameron said... I have two add-ons that work well, an ipod with their images on it for $450 they keep the ipod and get more use out of it than just the pictures that come with it. And a Digital Pic Frame with a Sandisk card with all their Images on it for $650. With the Digital Pic Frame the customer gets all the rights to the images. These are both add-ons to a regular package they would buy.

David answers: Hey Eric, you are the winner of my Digital WakeUp Call Tour 2-DVD set. Congratulations! I love how you did the value-add with the Ipods and Digital picture frames - it's just a great idea that, I think, speaks to our new generation of tech thinking clients.

I am really shocked someone has not mentioned this already, but "Trash the Dress" is a popular thing today. I just did my first one last night, you charge extra money for this session and we get to take more pictures since that is what we are passionate about. I charge $450 for this session. The Bride last night loved it and is extremely excited to see the pics this also opens up another door to sell a small hard back book or another album. And another thing that just hit me is that this can be marketed to anybody not just your bride. Maybe someone comes to you and says I had a bad experience with my photographer so you offer this coverage for the bride and groom. You can even advertise; "Didn't get your wedding pics with us, now is the chance to with a "Trash the Dress" session" or something like that. OK, now I am excited and rambling I will stop.

David answers: I am not a big fan of the "Trash the Dress" thing going around these days, but, Eric, I liked your twist on the whole concept - it wasn't about trashing the dress so much as it was in creating an opportunity to to get some great shots of the bride that would have been impossible on the wedding day - great idea. Hey everybody, check out Eric's Animoto show from his "creative trash the dress shoot" right here.

Bob Merkle said... Take a favorite engagement or wedding pic and make "thank you" cards for the B&G. B&G (especially bride) appreciates the thank you cards and it almost becomes a "gift" from them... (of course on the back of the card would be your info -- in a tasteful font and size)... Easy to offer for $150-$300... (make sure you don't use "coated paper" otherwise B&G won't be able to write on them.

Here is another idea not really a "sales" item but.... create business cards from one of the great bride and groom pics. Have 100 (can find suppliers that will print for under $15 for 100-250 cards) or so printed and give to the B&G to place of "thank you" notes or cards, or pass out to friends at the office... of course on the back have a note with the date, etc of the wedding and yep... your name and simple contact info... These actually can be sold ($30-$60) especially to the parents and grandparents as "bragging cards".... these seem to be a fit with the upper age group.
This idea is high $$ but also high perceived value. Take B&G picture (together or each alone) and offer “digital” oil / pastel painting of them. (Engagement pics work well here also). Just offering this service push the perception of your work to another level… I find they see you not just as a photographer but also an artist (even if you “farm” the work out)… price range is $1500 to $5000.

OK, one final thought…. Gallery wraps / canvas prints. Incorporate David’s collage idea and create almost a “album” page but on a large scale… a very contemporary grouping of pictures in a long horizontal or vertical style (10x20 or 10x30). This can be a very striking and unique look (and also fits smaller or uniquely shaped wall spaces.)

Gosh I hope you don't mind multiple post (but this topic got me excited).... Now I haven't tried this myself but what about having one of those digital frames for the wedding day. You could send the B&G on their way with a digital frame with a handful of the best images of the wedding. Nothing huge so they potentially could take it with them to re-experience their special day on their honeymoon / wedding trip.

David answers: OK, Bob, you have written the next chapter of my marketing book ;~) Thanks a bunch for your whole slew of suggestions. Many had some similar ideas, but you were the first to post. Because of the shear volume of money making ideas, you are also a winner of my Digital WakeUp Call Tour 2-DVD set. Hi 5's and congrats to you too!

Lance Burns Photography said... My add-on would be a parent album for a smaller price and a smaller size. In addition I would also include a second parent album for an even lower price. This way you are likely to get a three album sale, rather than one.

David answers: Lance, I think the parent's albums (but call them Family Album's - you can sell them to more people) are always a good idea. Some photographers are making a smaller "clone" album of the Bride and Groom's album. Tying this concept to Steve Kalman's link below also has possibilities.

Terry said... There is a free program called FlyPaper that lets you create beautiful Flash presentations / programs without knowing any Flash at all. I have used it to create photo galleries and fancy slide shows. Oh, and did I mention... ITS FREE! Main Site:

David answers: Hey Terry - great site - I'm checking it out myself. I like the idea that you can embed those shows into you own site as well. Thanks for the tip.

Guided Light Photography said... We use Blurb to create a custom designed guest book of their engagement session. We did the first one just on a whim, they didn't buy it, but when the next couple saw it, SOLD! We charge $250.

David answers: I like the idea, but check out too to source the books - it might be a better value proposition. Hey everybody, check out the Guided Light Photography blog here (love the Animoto shows) and their website here.

Ron at SML said... I take a B&G image, put it on a card and one of my assistants runs it to a lab or to our studio (depends where we are) and we get 2- 20X24 gallery wraps done. After dinner, B&G give one to each set of parents. Retail $750 each. Adds $1500 to bottom line and it gets better if parents are divorced, B&G might buy a 3rd. If your clients have smaller budget, go with an 11 X 14 or 8X10. You get great publicity - it is announced in front of all the guests and our studio wrapping can be seen by others.

Our last adding to this is 8x10's of each bridal party member presented at reception. Next surprise is for the groom, a custom made album of bride in a boudoir setup. Adds another $600-$1000 depending on session.

David answers: Man, Ron, your turnaround is unbelievable. I agree, it would be impressive at a wedding. Great way to build referrals. said... A well produced slide show using quality software like Pro Show Gold and presented at your clients preview session. I use 50 to 75 images that cover the highlights of the wedding day. With tasteful transitions and motion added you get the feel of video that only last 6 to 8 minutes. I offer this in a nice folio from Tap for $75.00 and duplicates for $35.00 These make great gifts for the family and wedding party. Add on sale have averaged around $200.00.

David answers: I think a highlight DVD is a good idea. We have been selling a DVD of all the images for years for $325. I think your idea offers a nice alternative at an affordable price if they don't want to go for the BIG show. More thought - showing the short show may encourage them to go for the full show too. I hope you show some of your "highlight" shows to prospective clients as well - good stuff here, gang.

Mamacita Chilena said... My suggestion is postcards or regular cards. Sell them in a set of 50 for $100 bucks. You put images from the bride and groom's wedding on the front, and then on the back your website address. Suggest that the bride use them to send out thank you notes. It's an extra sale, and extra free publicity for you!

David answers: Mamacita, I agree, anything like this is good publicity - it follows Bob's idea above. By the way, I like your blogs too.

Anya said... My suggesting involves the couple's first dance and the Father/Daughter and/or Mother/Son dance. Contact a local ballroom dance instructor and negotiate a deal with them to set up a couple lessons for your clients. Then, present your clients with an all-inclusive dance package: 3 (or more) 45-minute lessons from a professional ballroom dance instructor, photographic and video coverage of those lessons, and special attention to those dances at the wedding reception.

As a couple of add-ons, offer a Dance DVD (incorporating the video media as well) separately or in conjunction with the standard media presentation you offer and/or a Dance Album highlighting the couple's dance journey. Minus the add-ons, it's worth about $350-$600 depending on the fees of your local instructor and what kind of deal you can strike with them. By encouraging this package, you bring business both to yourself and a local dance studio--who may, in return, do you favors in the future (like let you photograph and sell your products at their sponsored ballroom dance competition). It's one more way to network and promote yourself while making money.

David answers: Anya, I really like how you worked what I like to call "cross pollination" with one of your local businesses to promote both of your business. You know, it gets your clients thinking about something else than wedding photography and fires up their imagination for the entire event.

Heespharm said... In our weddings we sometimes setup (with B&G permission) a ring-light flash with a backdrop in the back of the reception hall... so guests can take glamour shots of the guests. Then give each guest a number and tell them to go to Smug-mug (or the like) and they can order pictures for 20-30 bucks a piece... Best of all you can use all these shots in a wedding album or you can make an 8x10 book of all the shots to sell to the couple for $200-$300. No editing at all just drag and drop the pics into a blurb book and BAM!!! Coffee table book in a couple of mouse clicks.

Another idea is to load up 2 iPods with the pictures (one pink and one black) with the wedding pictures and sell them to the couple (the picture of course can't resell an iPod legally) one for the each of them... iPod nanos are like 150 bucks nowadays... So you can charge them 300 or more. Also you can get them engraved or laser etched with their names.

David answers: Hey everybody, how about and extension of Heespharm's idea. Set up an area for the guest's to photograph themselves. Set up the camera on a tripod with "Live-View" activated and outputting to a monitor where they can see their expressions and pose. When they get it right, they hit the remote shutter button, and presto, great spontaneous shots. I think there are some possibilities there. This could be really fun for Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. I also like the extension of Eric's idea above - I really like the engraving idea.

Another thing you can do is set up a template of a 4x5 with a picture on the left and the data set "name" and Body" on the right and make thank you postcards for the couple. That way all they have to do fill out a data set on notepad and you use the automate data-set function to spit out like 300 of those automatically. Go to Mpix and use the 19cent printing and charge like a dollar per card... that's 5x profit!!!! The couple has an easy way to make personalized thank you postcards with a picture of them in it and you have a good value add!!!

David answers: More great minds thinking alike.

The Crane Family said... With the B&G's permission I sell small albums to the guests at the reception. They are 6x4 or 5x7 format printed on the HP B9180 by an assistant and contain engagement, church and one or two formals and large group shot outside the church (by assistant). These are cheap to produce and unsold albums are recycled. Guests get a memento of the day, the mark-up is good and my details are on the inside cover.

David answers: I like the idea of the small albums for the guest - how about the possibility of the bride and groom purchasing them in advance for their select guests. Or, possibly, the bride and groom award them to select guests selected at random - special numbers under the centerpieces, etc. - just a thought.

Alan M. Feldman said... To keep your clients coming back (worth tens of thousands of dollars) give them a gift certificate for a FREE Baby portrait. Nine months plus later (hopefully not sooner) you have given them a reminder that you are not only a great wedding photographer but a family photographer that they can come back to year after year.

David answers: Hey Alan, you are always good with the great money making ideas. Any idea that keeps them coming back is worth the effort. LaDawn loves her painting, by the way.

Clayton said... Show a "wedding video" at the reception! After the first dance, have an assistant load your best jpgs onto a laptop, use your favorite presentation software ( pro show producer for me) and have your laptop set up next to the bar.( or someplace strategically placed that will have "traffic" but not take away from the main event) Guests will ultimately go for a drink, see the fab photos of the bride and groom/wedding! You create a "buzz" that will have everyone talking- more importantly, viewing your work! You'd be surprised how many more bookings (and sales of DVD shows) you get from this!!!

David answers: Great idea, Clayton. We started doing that 25 years ago using Polaroid's Polarchrome slide film. The guests loved it. Digital sure makes it a lot easier these days. You are right - these kinds of ideas will make you "famous" in your community.

Michael Sink Photography said... This is a far-out concept for most, but I hope you all will be able to follow it. Take care of your client! By this I mean to always be exceeding their expectations, under-promise and over-deliver! If you think it may take 2 weeks to finish images from a shoot, tell them 3 weeks, call them a week early and you're the hero! I have a close friend who just celebrated her 1 year wedding anniversary and still has not seen a proof for her album! And this wasn't some fly-by-night Joe with a Camera she was dealing with, it is a long standing pro (although I'm not sure how, given her business practices). Their are some great ideas on here that will net some great additional sales (I've got my notepad out now!), but the return on the investment from referrals and repeat business will trump any of these up-sell items. Remember their birthdays, anniversaries, engage them and genuinely care about them, and they will take care of you.

David answers: Great customer service always wins! Some times it's not about finding new clients to increase our business, but taking care of the clients we already have.

Mika Saloranta said... Not really an add on to sales, but little bit different idea. As I live in a small town and I´m just coming to business and need to find my own market share, I was first thinking to get as many weddings as possible as near as possible. Nearest church is only 10km away, and second at 16km so with little less prize, like -10% or 20% I hope I'm able to sell few easier weekends to those two churches and find good footstep to business at here and having off-town-guests coming to here is easy way to make more clients further and grow the business further away... rinse and repeat =)

2nd point to "Why cheaper is good business", you may ask... Well, the time away from home at weddings is time away from my family and if that quality time at weekends isn't valuable, what is? And longer I need to go on trip to photograph the weddings is longer away from family.

David answers: I agree, I think many of us set aside our personal lives for our business. Fortunately, many of us take notice in time and find the right balance to do both right.

Hem Talreja said... One thing that may impress is if you have a series of continuous shots you can give them a flip book or a "digital reel." I would personally like to know how to create one to impress a certain lady.

David answers: I saw that set up at a Bar Mitzvah recently. Here is the best link I can find -ILoveFlipBooks. com.

Steve Kalman said... One of my favorite sites online is You can use them to self publish books and, more importantly for this post, calendars. I went on a family vacation last November and selected 20 shots to make 12 calendar pages (its easier to make the 8x10 page yourself in Photoshop then post it as a single image, than try to have them do the placement automatically). It also gave me the opportunity to add some text (I put in where the subject was taken, but if done commercially, then your studio name would be better). I gave a calendar to each of the people who came on the vacation as a Xmas present. Every single one of them asked for at least one more. Cost is $20 for 14x20 on nice (linen) paper. Other prices for smaller or more months.

I suggest taking 12-20 of the shots you like from a wedding shoot and making them up into a calendar. Groom's pictures on groom's birthday month page, bride's on hers and their formal on the anniversary date, if they fall in different months. Send one as a thank-you holiday gift to the bride/groom a few months after the event (but no later than November). You'll probably get some sales from relatives, but even if not, it will put your name out there in front of them all year.

David answers: Hey Steve - Great Link! Everybody needs to check out . They offer a ton of possibilities for any studio.

Aaron said... Rather than selling them trinkets and other such stuff, why not try to appeal to their emotional side? Repeat business and referrals! Do something in their honor, such as plant some trees via the Arbor Day Foundation. Or, if you know them, maybe give them a gift certificate to a local green house to buy a tree/plant that they'd be reminded of you of, long after they've stopped routinely looking at their wedding photos. Also, think "green." Offer products that are environmentally friendly (at a slight premium). Be carbon neutral yourself (as a business).

David answers: Aaron, I think this is a great idea - one of my top three, by the way. I like the concept that as they watch the tree grow over the years, it is a constant reminder of your studio. It's like a permanent calling card for your services.

Hey everybody, that's it for me today. Congrats! to our winners, Eric Cameron and Bob Merkle - your DVD's are on the way. Thanks again to everyone for participating. It's getting late and I've got real work to do. Thanks to everybody for the great suggestions. Hope everybody enjoys the read today. I'll see everybody tomorrow for Inspiration Friday. Have a good one. See you tomorrow, -David

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"At The Museum"

"At The Museum"
© David A. Ziser

The Cincinnati Art Museum is a favorite venue for brides and grooms to select for their weddings. The dramatics of the back staircase and the elegance of the setting sure add dynamics as well as dramatics to any wedding image made in that space. This image was made about an hour before the ceremony before the space was set for the ceremony. It was full of chairs moments later. Camera specs; Canon 30D fitted with Sigma 8mm Fisheye, F4.0 @ 1/40 second, ISO 800. Backlighting was supplied by my radio controlled Quantum strobe. The high vantage point was achieved by my placing the camera on a monopod, setting the self timer, and lifting the camera and monopod over my head till the shutter fired. The client especially loved this image. Enjoy! -David

My 10 Favorite Things About Lightroom 2.0 - For The Portrait/Wedding Photographer

Good Morning Everybody,
I've spent most of the last 12 hours checking out the brand new Lightroom 2.0 and I'm stoked. There are about a gazillion new features to talk about in the new version, but I have selected my 10 very best favorites for us Wedding/Portrait shooters. Hit the "Read More..." link below to get the whole story.

1. The Retouch Brush - localized Exposure, Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Clarity, Sharpening and custom toning. Worth the price of admission alone! HOT!! HOT!! HOT!!

2. Sync on localized corrections. The beta didn't have it, but boy, am I glad to see it in the final release. It's way cool to see the localized corrections show up on a similar series of portraits or wedding shots. - HOT!! HOT!!

3. Clone Tool - Now I don't have to take the time to pop over to Photoshop as often. LR 1.4 got us to about second base with our images before needing to head to Photoshop. LR2 gets us pretty much to 3rd base. Hot!!

4. Skin Softening - Buried under the Retouch Tool drop down menu, but still offers a quick touch up on faces. - Pretty Hot!

5. New Vignette Tool - Just adds a nice finishing touch to the image. The new controls are just what the doctor ordered - again, perfect for the wedding/portrait guys and gals. Pretty Hot!

6. Open image as Smart Object in Photoshop - Now we have all the versatility of smart objects easily available to all of our Lightroom 2.0 images. This feature is a nice bit of grease to the axles for our workflow. Pretty Hot!

7. Lightroom 2.0 continues to limit you to two external editors. It's now possible to add External Editor Presets that sort of, kind of, give you access to more than two.

8. Camera Profiles - for instance, Canon users will be able to choose profiles that emulate Pictures Styles such as: Standard, Landscape, Neutral, Portrait and Faithful. When installed, the new profiles will appear in Lightroom's Camera Calibration.

9. Graduated Filter - very cool for scenic and outdoor bridals. It kind of gets you the same results as the old Cokin graduated filters - Lots of different setting choices give you lots of different possibilities.

10. Auto Tone works much better than in Lightroom 1.0 (where I didn't think it worked at all.) I've tried it on LR 2.0 and it is much improved and should provide a good starting point for us wedding shooters with hundreds of images.

So what's my greatest disappointment with Lightroom 2.0 - NO NETWORK SUPPORT!!!. In today's studio work-flow, this is a GLARINGLY large error of omission. Syncing up catalogue is clunky and should not be necessary.

Nearly all professional studios operate in a networked situation and LR2's lack of network support nearly neuters it's effectiveness where there is more than one digital technician working on images.

Come on Adobe - you have hit it nearly out of the park with Lightroom 2.0, don't let the network stumble muddy the waters. Remember Nike's mantra - Just do it!!! - and then to my mind it's nearly perfect.

Ranting aside, do I like Lightroom 2.0? Other than the networking issue - "Happy Days Are Here Again!" - Yep, I love it! Deciding to spend $99 to upgrade is a "no brainer." The new feature set is easily worth every penny.

Wait There's More - On Lightroom 2.0,That Is

Here is a quick listing to some of the best resources - my favs - for checking out the new feature set in Lightroom 2.0.
Photoshop Insider - Scott Kelby always has a very thorough take on everything Adobe and especially Lightroom 2.0. Check out his post right here. - These guys have my second favorite post on Lightroom 2.0. It is thorough, to the point, and loaded with illustrations about the new features. Here is the link right here.

John Nack's site - One of the adobe guru's himself. John's post is rich with link's too. I particularly like the Colin Smith video link. Here is the link to John's site right here.

Lightroom Journal has a complete feature by feature listing too. - worth a peek. Here is the link right here.

Luminous-Landscape - Michael Reichmann and Jeff Schewe sit down for 7 1/2 hours and walk you through all the new goodies of LR2 - it's a steal at$40 bucks! Here is your link right here.

Kelby Training - Always the best with the latest, greatest information. Matt Kloskowski has about a "million" lessons posted already - OK, less than a million, but still a lot. I'm working my way through them right now. Here is the link to all Matt's LR2 classes right here.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. I've been O. D. 'ing on LR2 for the past two days and need a break. Hey, don't forget to check back tomorrow for the best of the best suggestions for our contest - "[B]Business Day Thursday - 7 Really Easy Things To Sell To Add To Your Bottom Line." See ya' then, -David

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Frozen Currents"

"Frozen Currents"
© David A. Ziser

I made this image a few months ago as part of an abstract series of images I was working on. The title bears no resemblance to the subject matter, but that makes no difference anyway. The finished presentation shows what seems to be water frozen in time - hard as a rock with no motion whatsoever. It's like a mountain stream one would see on a frigid winter day. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 70-300mm IS lens at 270mm, F9.0 @ 1/100 second, ISO 800. Enjoy! -David

Technique Tuesday: Lightroom 2.0 - Rocket Fuel For Your Workflow - The Absolute Coolest New Features!!!

Good Morning Everybody,
Boy, am I fired up today. I started the tutorial for today's post late last evening. As luck would have it, that didn't seem to be in stars for completion. So, I decided to postpone completing my Lightroom tutorial until this morning.

Well, that was the luckiest thing that could have happened, because when I fired up my Lightroom 2 Beta - guess what happened? The clouds opened, the sun shown through, there it was, the notice on my screen that Lightroom 2.0 was released overnight!! First thing I did was download that brand new program, installed it, and moved through many of the new features simply awestruck with their power, their glory, their digital magic. OK, maybe I am carried away a bit, but it was early this morning and maybe I was easily impressed.

After working with some of my favorite features I loved in the Beta, I saw that they were greatly enhanced in Lightroom 2.0. I decided that my early morning reactions were reinforced even more as I dug deeper into the program. The tutorial I had planned to complete last night for today would have been a mere shell compared to what I was able to put together this morning with the final release of Lightroom 2.0.

I would call it one of those software "magic bullets" that truly adds rocket fuel to our workflow. If you are new to Lightroom or a seasoned Lightroom user - download Lightroom 2.0 right now, fasten your seat belts, and hang on for the digital ride of your life. Watch the tutorial below which showcases my favorite new Lightroom 2.0 features, and see if you don't agree. Hit the PLAY button and prepare to be amazed!!! Enjoy! -David

More On Lightroom 2.0 Right Here

Hey gang, be sure to check out these links to some more amazing features and informative discussions on Lightroom 2.0. The Adobe Design Center has some great tutorials by a couple of their best technical gurus - Julianne Kost and George Jardine. There are about a gazillion other Lightroom 2.0 links on that page as well, so no excuse for not getting up to speed with the new version in practically no time. Here is the link to the Adobe Design Center right here. Also, for all those who enjoy living on the "bleeding edge" of technology, check out the Lightroom Adobe Forum's posts right here.

Winners Announced On Thursday

OK gang, this is your last chance to be in the running to win my very popular Digital WakeUp Call Tour DVD set - 4 1/2 hours of solid info on lighting, posing, composition, sales, marketing, album design, and more. Read my post, "[B]Business Day Thursday - 7 Really Easy Things To Sell To Add To Your Bottom Line" and add your own best suggestion to the mix in the Comments section following the post.

We've already received a lot of great ideas posted to the Comment section. I'll review them all again, pick my favorites, and feature the best on Thursday's post naming the winner too. So go ahead - give it your best shot - you might come up a DVD winner!

One last thing, my newsletter is coming out tomorrow afternoon, so if want to check it out and are not on the list, you can sign up right here. By the way, signing up is safe, the list is never shared with anyone else. I will have the link to all past newsletters listed as well.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. I'm heading back over to Lightroom 2.0 Paradise and checking out the rest of the cool features. Have a great one, and I'll see you tomorrow. -David

Monday, July 28, 2008

"Afternoon Romance"

"Afternoon Romance"
© David A. Ziser

This image was made as part of a series for the couple's engagement shoot. This little stream is just a short distance for my studio and is always on the radar as one of the sites I like to visit. The rock bed offers a safe place for them to stand and when the light and time of day is just right, I can under expose the foliage, add my back-light, and get the rich, saturated colors that make this such a nice shot for the couple. Camera specs; Canon 30D fitted with 24-105mm IS lens at 26mm, F4.5 @ 1/125 second, ISO 100. Enjoy! -David

Good Morning Monday - Cheaper, Faster, Better & Drobo 2.0

Good Morning Everyone,
Well, I'm back in town and ready to go for the week. How about let's starting with one red hot item. So have you heard - the Nikon D700 is shipping along with the SB900 flash - WOW! That was fast, Mr. Nikon. I have to say, this looks like the camera to beat these days. Luminous Landscape called it 95% of the D3 at $2000 less! Check out their review right here. Come on Canon - time to retire that old workhorse, the 5D, and comeback smokin' with the new model. (Don't you love being a photographer these days - it only gets cheaper, faster, better for us. I luvvvvv digital!

And speaking of gear, have you heard? Drobo has just released Drobo 2.0. It's reported to be 2x faster than the original Drobo that was getting all the Internet raves a while back. I almost bought one, but after seeing the slow read/right speeds, I decided to hold off. The specs on the new drive look MUCH better than version 1.0. Check out the entire story over at - here is the direct link right here.

I'll be picking one of theses puppy's up just to check it out. I've been building a data base of some of the drives available these last several months. So after getting the Drobo 2.0 numbers, I'm excited and eager to try it out first hand. I'll give you the entire low-down as my research develops.

Just How Good Is That Lens In The Window?

Our finger flying, keyboard numbing, buddies over at 1001 Noisy Cameras had a couple of cool links I checked out over the weekend. One of my favorites was This site - Pixel-Peeper - is a lens and camera comparison site. You can examine full size pictures from a specific lens or camera (more than 100,000 photos are available), also based on a specific setting e.g. aperture, focal length or ISO. If you'd like to find out more about how to interpret sample images, check out the tutorial. I have to say, there is ton's of info here. Definitely bookmark it for further reference.

Another really interesting site was mentioned over at our news-blasting buddies at the Imaging Insider. It seems my fellow FineArtPhotoBlog blogger, Neil Creek, originally spotted it. The site is called Just visiting the site is a good not related to photography, rainy day surf - I promise you, it will keep a smile on your face with some of the things KrazyDad, Jim Bumgardner, comes up with. OK, OK, now to the photography part. Check out Jim's link right here for the Krazy Dad Color Picker. Here is what Jim has done. He has orchestrated 13 categories along with a color wheel. After selecting the categories, select your color choice, and you discover an array of images in that color. I agree, this may fall into the category of web time wasting, but how about the time to write the code in the first place. Amazing - anyway and kind of a fun peek.

Hey gang, that's about it for me today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for a verrryyy interesting Lightroom 2.0 post. You are hearing about it here on first. I wonder if it's even mentioned in Scott Kelby's upcoming Lightroom 2.0 book ? Ahhh, we will have to wait and see ;~)

See ya' tomorrow. -David

Friday, July 25, 2008

"Sunset Serenade"

"Sunset Serenade"
© David A. Ziser

I thought I'd finish out the week with another wedding image. This image was taken early on after my foray into digital. I am always a big fan of the back-lit beach shot, especially when the sunset cooperates so beautifully as it did here. I composed the image a bit differently than I normally do - I hardly ever tilt the camera - but choose to do so here so that the couple's shadows would exit the frame on a diagonal thereby adding what I call my "dynamic diagonals" to the image. Here is the cool thing about this image - it was made with my Sigma 8mm fisheye on my Nikon D1x. Notice that there is no distortion of the horizon line. That's perfectly normal with a fisheye as long as you keep the horizon line "dead center" in the frame. The couple's distortion was minimized too by keeping them fairly close to the center of the frame too. Anyway, I think it makes a cool shot. Camera specs; Nikon D1x fitted with Sigma 8mm fisheye, F 8.0 @ 1/500 second, ISO 100. Enjoy! -David

Inspiration Friday: Fine Art Ink-jet Printing - Juice For Your Creativity

Good Morning Everybody,
Well, this is our last day in Annapolis Maryland and it's been a great week. Today is just a bit different from my normal Inspiration Friday, but I still think a good read. I want to pick up where we left off on Monday. I mentioned that we spent the day with Barbara Ellison, a wonderful fine art photographer and print-maker. That's Barbara in the middle of our group photo.What I loved about her seminar was the fact that she showed us that we could print on just about anything you can get through the printer. We were using Canon imagePROGRAF iPF5000 printer (this model as been replaced with the imagePROGRAF iPF5100 ) and all of us were getting some wonderful results printing on a wide variety of handmade papers, veneers, and even metals.

Sure, it depended on subject matter, density, and contrast, but once you got a feel for the subject matter and the medium - one of Barbara's big points of her opening discussion - you were on your way to creating some very intriguing, cool looking finished pieces. Patty Geist, from Kearney, Nebraska, (second from left) printed an image of a welder on metal, and boy, did that look great. The metal on the pipes and the flying of the sparks reflected beautifully on the metal only enhancing the final presentation.

I printed one of my B&W images taken at Sedona Arizona, and the finished image just looked great. OK, that's really nice but, How can I do that in the comfort of my own studio? Well, it turns out it is not "brain surgery". It's simply a matter of knowing a few tricks of the trade to get you going. First of all, head over to Barbara's site for one more peek at her images right here - look at the "In My Garden" gallery in particular. See how the textures of the medium enhance the finished result. This is particularly evident in the first few images. Barbara specializes in images of flowers, but any subject matter when paired with the correct medium, we found, works just beautifully.

Although we printed on the Japanese Unryu papers, which means "Cloud Dragon paper" - their delicacy and textures are really beautiful, you can find quite a nice selection and discussion on many different styles and types of hand made papers over at the right here. This site has several links showing how to even make your own, if you are so inclined. To purchase the Unryu paper, check out - a huge art supply source on line.

Another favorite paper was the beautiful Kinwashi paper also from Japan. I just "googled" these names and several sources popped on the Internet. One of my favorites for the Kinwashi was right here which shows the beautiful texture of the medium. The Kitakata papers looks pretty interesting to me as well. check them out.

OK, here is the rest of the story - you can't just load a piece of the handmade paper into your printer and hit "Print". You've got to prep the paper first other wise you would have a huge mess on your hands. The ink would bleed throughout the paper strands and the result - well, like they say - it wouldn't be a pretty picture. You need to know the secret handshake to make it all work - and that secret handshake is a liquid called InkAid. To print on any of these delicate papers, you need to coat them with InkAid which creates the proper receptor surface for the ink-jet ink. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but hey, we are going for the fine art look here. Michael Angelo didn't paint the Sistine Chapel in a day, you know. You can get all the info on the InkAid products right here. The site has several additional links too to assist in the fine art printing process.

Check out Andrew Darlow's article over at right here for a very thorough discussion of fine art printing considerations - it's a good read. Another really good resource is a book recommended by Barbara entitled the Digital Art Studio by Karin Schminke, Dorothy Simpson Krause, and Bonny Pierce Lhotka. I just ordered my copy on Wednesday.

I know at this point, you may be thinking, "Ziser, you've got to be crazy to go to all that effort playing around with all that fine art stuff . I'll never do any of that stuff in my studio." Well, folks, that's where my mantra comes in again - "It's the difference that makes the difference." I see exciting possibilities in offering my clients something very special - something they can't get anywhere else within a 1000 miles. It's a product that is something unique, lasting, and valuable. On the other hand, and I have said it many times before, experiment, play, explore outside your photographic comfort zone and different things happen in your brain - you get different brain juices flowing. Those new brain juices energize the parts of the brain you already use and enhance your creativity in your normal areas of endeavor. The bottom line - it's all good stuff - and all important to our creative processes.

I've given you the quick overview here with enough resources to get you started. If you really want the first hand experience, you can check out when Barbara's next workshop. Additional information is available by contacting

Hey gang that's it for me for this week. We are packing the bags and hitting the road with a late return to good ol' KY about 12 A. M. Saturday. I'll plan on seeing everybody next week - same time, same station. And don't forget, tickle a pixel or two this weekend. Adios, David

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Morning Glory"

"Morning Glory"
© David A. Ziser

This image was also made yesterday morning about 30 minutes after the image I posted yesterday. We had walked about one half mile around the town and found this new access point to the water. The sun was directly in front of me and I could see the sun's rays just starting to burst through the clouds. A little patience and I got today's image. Again, a quick tweak in Lightroom - mostly Vibrance - and a quick trip to Photoshop to remove some power lines resulted in this dynamic image. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 10-22mm lens at 22mm, F 16 @ 1/400 second, ISO 800. Enjoy! -David

[B]Business Day Thursday: Run Your Business Like The Naval Academy - The 7-Step Annapolis Plan

You know, taking the US Naval Academy tour yesterday was not only a great experience visually and historically - it offered some provocative insights on how we might run our businesses. The Naval Academy is first and foremost a character builder for the young men and women entering this renown engineering university. It has a rich history steeped in tradition, excellence, discipline and honor.

As we were out on our morning stroll yesterday, be could see the midshipmen going through their rigorous hour and half workout routine at 6 A.M. Later in the tour of the facility we heard how they mark milestones and celebrate accomplishments, and honor their achievements. We learned how staff and students together support the entire learning experience. All of this came together for me late yesterday when I was considering today's post. It seems to me that these were the same factors we need to incorporate into any successful business.

What makes a business success - here is the 7-Step Annapolis Plan. Hit the "Read More..." link below for the rest of the story - well worth the read.

1. First of all, it takes hard work. How many of us spend time practicing our craft - our profession? How well do we understand our equipment, cameras and flashes? How well do we understand the basic rules of composition? How often do we pick up a book and study any of these aspects of photography, our chosen profession? It's easy to verify that not too many people in the profession understand these concepts. Just hit the Internet and check out the oceans of mediocrity available and being touted as professional bodies of work. Sure, you may indeed discover some really great photography. This work being done by the photographers who are taking their craft seriously and are practicing it daily. The midshipmen here at Annapolis are practicing daily to be the best they can be - we should do the same. If we don't want to be the best of the worst and the worst of the best.... it takes effort. Remember, as John Wooden said, "Activity is not a substitute for accomplishment."

2. Next, it takes learning something new everyday. That's what these midshipmen are doing for four years of college- making new discoveries, learning something new, building on that knowledge to build a brighter future for themselves and our country. Those same principals come into play in every successful business. Look at the monies that are thrown at research and development in places like P&G, Google and Microsoft. We may be tiny fish in the big blue sea of business, but that doesn't mean we can't play by the same rules to grow our business. We need to throw a little effort into our own R&D (research and development) departments. It's simple - learn some new aspect of Photoshop or Lightroom, research other programs that may make life and production easier or faster at your studio. Continue to be curious about how to do what you do and spend time proactively seeking new solutions to creating your finished product.

3. Mark "milestones" in your business. That's what the Naval Academy does. As the recruits move through their experience in Annapolis, they mark the milestones of the individual, the class, and the school. We need to do the same in our own businesses. When and employee has been six months with your company, mark that milestone. When you shoot your first 5 figure wedding, mark that milestone. When your business has been in business 5 years, mark that milestone. You ask, "What is the big deal?" The big deal folks, is that you are keeping the eye of the tiger on your businesses success. You are noticing what makes your business tick. You are keeping the pulse on your businesses success. To run from one crises to another is no way to build a future, it is the surest way to frustration, anger, despair, and failure.

4. We need to celebrate our successes. When the Naval academy beats Army, they head back to Annapolis and ring the Japanese bell on the steps of Bancroft Hall. It's a big deal, it instills pride with each ring of the bell. What do we do in our studios to build a sense of pride among ourselves and our employees? When you shoot your second 5 figure wedding - ring a bell, any bell. Feel good about your successes and celebrate them with your team members. Just won an award for one of your images at a print competition, your image made the local newspaper, or your article was just published in a trade journal, or you were praised in your community for your outstanding charitable works, or maybe an employee just received some type of honor - celebrate the accomplishment. Celebrate the WIN! Celebration of success builds pride in your organization, adds strength to the ties that bond it together, and a sense of loyalty for all involved in your business.

5. Honor those who have helped you. This is profoundly evident in the Naval Academy, from the hallowed resting place of John Paul Jones, to the campus buildings named after their most notable graduates, to Memorial Hall where the names are inscribed for all those fellow Naval Academy graduates who have fallen in the service of our country defending our freedoms. We can even make this part of our business plan. How?? By honoring those who have taught us and led us to success. Share some of your resources, some of your knowledge, maybe a book, an instructional DVD from one of your mentors to your staff or maybe an assistant or even an aspiring photographer in your community. Such a practice honors those who have lead the way for you - pass it on. Play it forward.

6. Support each other. That was paramount in the short film we watched about the Navel Academy. It's about the support the midshipmen offer to each other together along with the instructor support as well. Everyone in attendance at the Academy is supported to succeed. It's not a handout. It's work and each member is expected to push themselves mentally, physically, emotionally. This is easy to make part of the day-to-day operations of our own business. Create your own support system among the photographers in your community. Sure we make friends at that once a year convention and maybe see them at a workshop/convention or two throughout the year. But why not create a small group of like minded photographers in your area that meet once a week, or maybe once a month to discuss and practice new lighting or new camera techniques, review new gear one of team members may have acquired, set up a Photoshop challenge and work though it together, discuss and demonstrate a new software program that is allowing you to create a more exciting image. The possibilities are endless - the learning potential unlimited.

7. Give back to your community. Two days ago, we had the honor of being present for a community concert presented by several members of the Naval Academy Orchestra. The experience was inspirational. The Naval Academy young men and women were giving back to the community and we need to do the same. If you get a chance to volunteer for a local charity, fundraiser, etc. say yes and participate. It is a rich and rewarding experience and by the way, although this is secondary, it's good for business, because of the notoriety received by all the sponsors involved. I have a policy at my studio, that for any of my clients involved in charities within the our community, I will offer my services at cost or at no charge depending on our involvement. I think it's a great way to give back to the communities/clients that support us and our businesses.

These ideas are the type of things that build the heart and soul of our businesses. They create it's character that gives us the ability to endure in these tough business times. These ideas are the compass needle that point the way to our continued success in this wonderful profession.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. LaDawn and I are going to check out a few more of the sights around here today, so don't forget to check back tomorrow for a very unusual Inspiration Friday. See you then, -David

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"Annapolis Morn"

"Annapolis Morn"
© David A. Ziser

I made this image early this morning just outside our hotel room. Obviously, our hotel is directly on the water and the sunrises have been spectacular every morning. Today was no exception. This morning's cloud features added to the impact of the image. I tweaked the image ever so slightly in Lightroom bringing up the Fill Light a bit and pumping the Vibrance slightly too. Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 10-22mm lens set at 14mm, F4.0 @ 1/400 second, ISO 800. Enjoy! -David

Welcome Back Wednesday Afternoon

We just returned from a very fascinating tour of the US Naval Academy here in Annapolis. In addition to learning a lot about the history of the Academy, there was a lot to be learned about running a business too. You will see what I mean tomorrow on Business Day Thursday - it will be a good read. Also, Mea Culpa's for not listing the Photoshop plug-in links I mentioned in my video tutorial in my Technique Tuesday post "Man About Town - Off Camera Flash, Lightroom, Photoshop, & Viveza." Hit the article link and you will find them at the bottom of the post.

Anyway, back to today's ever-on-going post. But first I have to tell you about one off the highlights of our trip to the Baltimore area.

Before we headed here, I emailed uber-blogger Mr. David Hobby - aka "The Strobist" - and asked if we might get together for lunch. I read somewhere in his blog that he was from the Baltimore area. He was very gracious to oblige. And, I have to say, we had a great visit. Not only is he one really nice guy, but also super sharp when its comes to knowing the blog/web stuff. I felt like I was a little league player talking to the great Babe Ruth.

He has a lot of things cookin' on his front burner, but he'll tell you about them over at the Strobist. I will tell you though, he has been playing with the Nikon D700 (review waiting in the wings?) and just posted the very first review of Nikon's new SB-900 strobe - here is the link. Hey David, thanks again for the visit.

4000 Images - The Rest Of The Story

After last Wednesday's story - "4000 Images In The Workflow - How Do I Do It?" - several friends of the blog left comments which I thought needed some clarification. So, read the article if you missed it and here are a few more salient points of interest. Just hit the "Read More..." link for the rest of the story.

1. Renaming my images - what's my nomenclature? It's pretty simple - if I'm shooting Mary Smith's Wedding, it's say "2134_Smith W08" - Seq#_+Client Last Name+Job Type+Year. Job types are as follows; B=Bar Mitzvah/Bat Mitzvah, S=Senior, P=Portrait, C=Commercial, and Z=Personal. I wish I would have started with the W08 first many years ago - jobs would have sorted easier on the hard drives. But hey, it's still not a big deal. So, if you're just getting started, I'd recommend first listing the year and then job type second as in 2008W.

2. How much tweaking do I do in Lightroom? Probably too much some time. Lightroom - it's still new to me and I like playing with the buttons and sliders /learning the functionality so I have to work at my own self discipline here. I only crop a very few amount of images, maybe just 5 - no more - we will do that in post production. As far as color balance, I try to do a reasonably good job on that. A quick sample of a neutral if necessary coupled with a slight warming with the "Color Temp" slider usually does the job. Then just hit the "Sync" button to do the rest of the job.

I like Lightroom to get me to "second base" in my color management. We'll wrap the retouching and enhancement tasks in Photoshop on the client's final selected images. Oh, by the way - I can't stand the auto-exposure button in Lightroom. I think it's mostly a landmine to ruin good images. To be honest, I have never liked anything auto-adjusted in Lightroom - NO offense Adobe.

3. After getting the the edited images tweaked, I export them as high res Jpegs as mentioned last week. The exported images have a new sequence number appended to the front of the current image name. They are then brought into ProSelect for client presentation. I'll cover ProSelect and the sales process in a future post.

4. Lastly, Do I sell a CD of images to my clients? O.K. you asked - where is my soapbox - NEVER, NEVER, did I say NEVER!! To my way of thinking, folks, that is the simply the most effective way to neuter your sale and potentially create a very negative impact on your business. I'll cover that in a future rant too.

Anyway, I hope that helps clear-up any of the confusion.

Well gang, I'm still on vacation so I'm out of here for today. See ya' tomorrow with "How To Run Your Business - Annapolis Style."

Have a great one, -David

Looking For A Late Post Wednesday

Good Morning Everybody,
I'll round out the post later today. We are here in Annapolis with friends and spending the morning with them before they have to head for the airport. So don't go far and check back later on this afternoon. I'm going to round out the discussion on my workflow based on your questions and comments from last week's story "4000 Images In The Workflow - How Do I Do It?". So if you got a few questions for me, drop them in the comments section and I'll get to them later today. Got to get going right now - see everybody later today. -David

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Afternoon Rhapsody"

"Afternoon Rhapsody"
© David A. Ziser

This image was made at one of my favorite park venues in Cincinnati, Ohio - the Pavilion at Ault Park. I positioned the bride in just a way to have the sun add the accent lighton the left side of my subject within the image. That meant I had to bring the off-camera flash in from the right side to create the direction of light I wanted. I think the finished result was fairly dramatic with the combination of location and lighting. Camera specs; Nikon D1x fitted with 18-35mm lens at 18mm, F10 @ 1/500 second, ISO 125. Enjoy! -David

Technique Tuesday: Man About Town - Off Camera Flash, Lightroom, Photoshop, & Viveza

Good Morning Everybody,
What a day we had yesterday with Barbara! Who would have believed you could print on handmade Thai Unryu paper or Kinwashi paper from Japan? Some very textile mediums that gave our images a really unique and interesting "Fine Art" look. I'll give you the entire low-down on Friday with a few thoughts and possibilities about printing on alternate ink-jet mediums from wood bark to metal- really cool stuff.

Anyway, on with today's Technique Tuesday. This week's tutorial includes everything including off-camera lighting, outdoor exposure in bright light, syncing beyond the camera's rated sync speed, Lightroom, Photoshop retouching tweaks, adding dramatics to the sky with NIK Viveza software, finishing off the images with cloud brushes, and also how to save the world!
OK, everything but the last one. It is a jammed packed tutorial and runs a little longer that usual, but worth every attentive moment of you time. Hit "PLAY" below and enjoy the show!

Related Links mentioned in video:
Viveza plug-in by NIK Software
Portraiture plug-in by Imagenomic

A Quick One For The Road - 25 Great Photography Tutorials

Just when you thought you were caught up with all your saved links and best of the web tutorials, a whole new slew of them pop up. That's what happened to me during yesterday's post and I was writing about One Internet hop lead to another hop and before long I found myself in the middle of this post over at

First, let me say this is one of the "monster" photography sites on the web - chocked full of info for those "rainy day" Internet browses. Anyway, check out this link for their listing of "25 Great Photography Tutorials And Links From Around The Internet" right here. There are a few gems in the link collection - definitely worth the peek.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. LaDawn and I are enjoying our visit here in Annapolis, Maryland this week and I hear her calling from afar to get this post up so we can hit the trail. Anyway, check in tomorrow for an update on last week's article entitled, "4000 Images In The Workflow - How Do I Do It?" The post received a lot of comments last week so I'll plan on clearing up a few of the points and questions/concerns our readers raised.

Have a good one and I'll see you tomorrow. -David

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Moment Of Truth"

"Moment Of Truth"
© David A. Ziser

This image was made early on in my digital career. It is the full image as taken on the couple's wedding day. I felt cropping it would eliminate too many of the peripheral stories going on in the scene. The service was presided over by one of my favorite clergyman, Rabbi Mark. Rabbi can become very demonstrative and animated during his weddings and makes everyone feel like they are part of the moment. I like how the bride's hand is in mid-grasp of her groom. I like the strongly set jaw I see on the groom's mom. I even like the little girl in the bottom right of the frame playing with her daddy's face the way so many little children do oblivious to the occasion. Nevertheless, it is the moment of truth for the bride and groom as, just a moment from now, they will proclaim their love and commitment to each other for the rest of time. Camera specs; Nikon D1x fitted with 80-200mm non VR lens at 800mm and on a tripod, F2.8 @ 1/15 second, ISO 3200 with Noise Ninja applied. Enjoy! -David

Good Morning Monday - Reporting From Annapolis, Maryland - PhotoNetCast, Photo Competitions, and More

Good Morning Everybody,
This is our third day in the wonderful historic and beautiful city of Annapolis, Maryland - a city with a large number of colonial buildings and most within easy walking distance. It is a very cool stroll through time for an American history aficionado. We had dinner with our small party of classmates last night along with our instructor - Barbara Ellison - and we are fired up for today. This kind of seminar is a completely different kind of thing for me - completely out of my normal genre of photography which should make it quite interesting and fun. I'll give you the rest of the story tomorrow.

I mentioned last Thursday that I was a special guest over at for their eighth episode. PhotoNetCast is a round-table discussion of four talented photographers. The first is Antonio Marques - hailing from Cologne, Germany - the show host and author of his fascinating blog: Words: irrational - digital photography explored. Next is Martin Gommel also from Germany. Martin is also a master blogger - his blog is in German, but I can assure you, his images are in the universal language of creativity. Check out his blog Kwerfeldein - digitale fotografie lernen right here. Third is fellow blogger, Brian Auer from San Diego. Brian runs the ever popular blog chocked full of all kinds of good photo info. He has been a favorite around here for a while. The fourth is Jim Goldstein, a wonderful landscape photographer, who also has been featured here at Be sure to check out his work over at his blog JMG Galleries right here - always beautiful images.

Pulling all of us together from so many varied time zones becomes quite the challenge. Antonio and Martin had the 6 A.M wake-up call, Jim and Brian had the kids in bed - dogs out the door - evening time zone, and I had third shift at 12A.M till 2 A.M. I'm not griping here - just putting in perspective the scheduling of an international podcast. We all hooked up on Skype shortly before midnight (my time - EST.)

I have to say, it is quick a kick for me as to what can be accomplished through technology these days. Anyway, we had quite the discussion on print competitions - what they encompass, how they work, and what to be cautious of. What was most interesting to me was how so many of their participants trade away all their rights to their images by participating in many of these competitions. That's right, you pay your money, submit your images, and kiss all your rights goodbye.

Thankfully there is an organization out there - - that tracks the competitions that force you to release your image rights to them and those that don't. Here is the list of competitions which require you to give up all your rights to your images right here - 73 total. And, here is the listing of the competitions that let you reserve the rights to your images right here - only 17 at last count.

If you want to hear the entire discussion, just head over to right here. The latest episode #8 should be posted sometime today. All the supporting links from all of us will also be posted for easy reference. You can stream the show from your computer, download the MP3 file, or download it from iTunes - enjoy the listen and the discussions.

One Hot One From The Road - NIK Silver Efex Pro Overview

Are you a B&W fan from the good ol' film days and just aren't happy with the state of affairs in digital black and white? Well then, you have to check out Jeff Revell's extremely thorough, enlightening, exciting, eye-opening tutorial on NIK's brand new Silver Efex Pro B&W plug-in for Photoshop right here. It's about 17 minutes long and worth the watch if you are into B&W.

I watched it for 5 minutes, loved what I saw and watched the next segment, got sucked into the next feature, and just stayed aboard for the whole show. NIK's Silver Efex Pro seems to me to be an astonishing piece of software for the B&W devotee of the art. With this newest product from NIK you can get some great results very easily.
For the film lover they have built all the film profiles into a series of filters that let you just click on the film type you want for your image. Watch Jeff's NIK Silver Efex Pro video it's definitely worth the peek. Hey, don't forget, you can also download the 15 day trial right here too.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. We are off to our workshop with Barbara. Tomorrow look for a really, really good Technique Tuesday episode. I'll do a quick recap on today's class too. See you tomorrow, -David.

Friday, July 18, 2008

"Sentry's Station"

"Sentry's Station"
© David A. Ziser

This image was made a few years ago while on a pleasure trip to Lake Eire. I'm not necessary a lighthouse aficionado, but this lighthouse did have special appeal. The stark white contrast of the lighthouse against the radiant blue sky was indeed striking. Camera settings were not optimum when I checked later, but I still like the image. Camera specs; Nikon D1x fitted with 24-135mm Tamron lens set too 24mm, F 14 @ 1/1000 second, ISO 800. Enjoy! -David

Fabulous Inspiration Friday

Good Afternoon Everybody,
LaDawn and I are sitting in the airport in Louisville, Kentucky waiting to head out to Baltimore, Maryland for the week. We both met Barbara Ellison at the Canon booth at the Professional Photographers of America's Tampa convention in January of this year and she was showing some amazing fine art pieces printed on Canon's line of ink-jet printers. Here is the DigitalProTalk link to the post right here.

What was extremely interesting to me was not only the beautiul images but the mediums she was using - it ranged from hand made papers to metals. The results were stunning! Be sure to check out her portfolio right here - it will be your first dose of inspiration for the day. Well, in talking with her about the amazing images she had displayed we discovered that Barbara holds workshops on the subject so we are heading to Baltimore for one of her classes. Mary Mannix, my favorite Canon rep , is also joining us. We are really looking forward to a little time off after such a killer week around here. I have a few other stops planned for our week-long itinerary so I'll keep you posted as the week proceeds - should be a good read.

And speaking of inspirational images, sends me their weekly email and it is always filled with a fascinating story or two. This time they had a story entitled, "Photos to Inspire" by Bea Friedli. Many of her images were truly works of art both in the imagery and the presentation. It is definitely worth a look. I featured one of her images earlier in this week's post.

On the wedding side of things, check out It's a pretty cool site featuring some great images and some good ideas available. What I liked best about her site design was the Meet Scarlett section. I thought is was a great way for her to introduce herself to her potential clients. It's not just a simple bio of ones self or a "read this page about me." She mixes it up the page with great images of herself enjoying being Scarlett. It's personal. Here is her link to her "About Scarlett" page.

The imagery in reminiscent of their wedding images and sends a message to the potential client, I like this person, she looks fun loving, I think I would like her to photograph my wedding. This is one of the best "quick client connects" I have seen in a blog. For too many photographers it is only about the presentation of images. Scarlett quickly and efficiently introduces herself as well. It's very well done!

Lastly, I offer this next link for your consideration. Not all bride's are are a perfect size 6 or 4 or 2, with gorgeous golden locks and killer baby blue eyes - a Miss America type. And of course, the same can be said for grooms as well. It really bothers me when I hear comments from photographers about the size, shape, look of their clients. They were too heavy, they couldn't smile right - the litany of put downs/insults can go on and on.

I remember hearing one of my favorite instructors, and one of the top photographers of his time - Rocky Gunn - tell a story about a client that had some pretty serious medical issues. But Rocky knew it was his responsibility to get the shots. It was how he used the light, how he favored her best side, best features, how he brought out her real self in the images that impressed me. That was back in 1980, and thankfully, his words and thoughts have stayed with me even today.

It's our job to get the best image we possibly can for our clients - no matter what - and do it without complaint or compromise! We are professionals - it's our job! So the next time your bride is a bit overweight or the groom is a bit dorky, or the venue is a simple basement instead of a gorgeous Country Club, or it rained all day on your outdoor wedding.... Remember only one thing - it's your job to get the best, most flattering images of the couple and for the couple. The love, excitement of the day, the spontaneity, their special relationship with each other , friends and family still needs to shine through in your images.

Let me point you towards a Fred Miranda forum post right here that speaks directly to that point. Fred Miranda's site is a classic and definitely worth the visit. I thank Don Johnson, one of our readers for the link. It's a photographer's story about how he faced the challenge of photographing a couple, the bride a bit physically challenged, but pulled it off with à plume. It's a great story - be sure to read the comments too. Keep this story as a constant reference as what we are all about when photographing the most important day of a couple's wonderful celebration.

Hey everybody, that's it for me today. We are off to Baltimore in minutes. I'll see you on the other side of the weekend in the state of "Strong deeds and gentle words" come Monday. And, remember one thing - Pixels love crab cakes too! See everybody on Monday - David.