Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"An Easy Afternoon In The Park"

Easy Afternoon in the Park

"An Easy Afternoon In The Park"
© David A. Ziser

After this week’s Technique Tuesday, I thought I’d revisit this image which was taken as part of a lesson on how to find and see the light. Too many people just shoot away without any regard to trying to sculpt the scene with a BEAUTIFUL direction of light. This was the perfect location to do just that.

The light was flooding in from the open sky to my left and the arbor the couple was sitting under blocked the overhead light. This created a beautiful direction of light in which to place my couple. I asked them to turn their heads slightly into the direction of light in order to open up the shadows on the "camera side" of their faces. Look how much more flattering the lighting is on the couple - it slims them and trims them sculpturing their facial features beautifully.

I was also attentive as to how I brought them together to create a relaxed, casual and believable triangular composition. The last tweak was positioning their faces in the top left quadrant of the viewfinder which completed my composition. Sure, we take about 4000 images on the wedding day striving to capture all the fun, spontaneity, excitement and emotion of the day, but I still sneak a few of these types  of (posed) images into the wedding celebration coverage too. Our clients can easily see and truly appreciate the difference.

Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 24-105 IS lens at 35mm, F 5.0 @ 1/60 second, ISO 250. Enjoy! -David

You’ve Got To Come Back With The Shot: Speckled Lighting On The Gowns & New Class Announced

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Again it’s another super busy day.  We are putting finishing touches on our upcoming Napa Experience Private Workshop – only 3 seats available - and as were working on that a few more teaching opportunities popped up on the West Coast.  We are now in the process of putting together a short three city tour in California.  We are still working out the details so I’ll give you an update in a few days.

David Ziser @ Dave Cross Workshops October 17, 2011

DAve Cross WorkshopsI’ve neglected to mention David Cross Workshops has just announced my class on his website too. This is a very limited class so check it out – it will be a fun day including an on-location shoot in Oldsmar, Florida. You can get all the info right here.

OK, time to get on with today’s post.  Here we go.

Bright Sun & Speckled Lighting On The Wedding Gowns and Bridesmaids Dresses

Another challenging lighting situation is when we find ourselves working in a park and there isn't much shade available in which to pose the bride and groom, families, or wedding party. The background may be interesting, but the lighting is all wrong. I always have to laugh a little when I think of how many photographers believe that their flashes with just blast away those “speckles”. It may reduce the contrast from lights to darks but the added flash will NEVER make the “speckles” go away. The fact of the matter is that no amount of light is going to make the “speckles” go away.

I’ve mentioned many times that whenever I'm outdoors shooting I always backlight the subjects. That means I’ll never see those nasty “speckles”. They’re on the back of the subjects so thus I’ve eliminated the “speckle” problem. Take a look at the next image – Figure 1.

Figure 6 McCaan - 1031-DZ_McCaanW09

I was working in Downtown Cincinnati, Ohio in one of the small urban parks. The light was filtering through the trees as you can see with the lighting “speckles” on the ground everywhere but not on my bride.

In backlighting the subjects I create a nice accent light on the bride in the photographs leaving her face in soft shadows. Now some photographers may be happy with the flat lighting on the subject’s faces, but not me. I need to add dimensional lighting to the subjects. This is easily done with my off-camera flash. I use a Quantum T5D; it’s a 150 watt/second flash which gives me adequate power when working outdoors.

When using off-camera flash outdoors, it becomes a challenge because you're limited to the fastest sync speed of your camera. The fastest sync speed for most of our digital SLR cameras hovers around 1/250th of a second. So, if we are locked into 1/250 second that means the aperture may be quite small in the brighter outdoor light and that will limit the flash to subject distance of our off-camera flash. We may need to find a more shadowed area in which to work so we can use a larger aperture.

When shooting outdoors I first reduce the ISO to a minimum of ISO 200. Next I'll consider “cheating the sync”. “Cheating the sync” means using the shutter speed faster than the native sync speed of your camera. When shooting the Canon 70, I can easily get by with the flash sync speed of 1/320 of a second. You may be asking how I'm able to achieve that. The easy answer is that the shutter curtains only reveal the top two thirds of the CMOS sensor at 1/320th of a second. That means that the bottom third will not receive any flash illumination. That's not a bad thing because it gives me a built-in vignette on my photographs which can be quite pleasing. You still need to remember to not place an important part of the image, the subjects face for example, in the non-flash illuminated area.

OK, follow along with me. My ISO is set to 200. My faster shutter speed is set at 1/320 of a second. My aperture generally will fall in at about F8.0. At F8.0 I still have a reasonable working distance of the flash to my subjects and can still get enough light on them to create the dimensional look that I desire.

My goal is to use my off-camera flash to create what is called a loop lighting pattern on the subjects’ faces. An easier way to tell you how to set up your off-camera flash to obtain the loop lighting pattern is this; Just have your assistant rotate around the subject(s) until they can no longer see the camera side of the nose – the side of the nose I see, but can still see plenty of the “camera side of the cheek”. That will create highlights next the shadows and give a dimensional look in your photographs. See Figure 2.

Figure 2

DAZNOTE: The key thing for your assistant to understand when photographing groups is that as he/she rotates around the subjects they must be sure NOT to throw nasty shadows of one person onto another person. Ideally, your groups must be posed no more than two people deep and your assistant needs to be able to see 100% of all the faces, not partial views, but full views. That being said you should have no problem creating a nice dimensional look on your group when shooting outdoors.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today. I’ve got to jump a webcast with one of our industry friends.  We’re going to be hearing about some brand new cool software introductions – it should be fun.  As soon and I can tell you about it, you’ll hear it first right here at DigitalProTalk.

Plan to join me tomorrow for another business building episode of Business Day Thursday: Innovate Or Die!

I hope to see you then,  David

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Rockin' On"

Rockin' On

"Rockin' On"
© David A. Ziser

This image still remains on of my favorite wedding reception candid images. I just love the feeling in the photograph. I made this image late into the reception evening. The band was hot, the crowd was fired up, and the bride was lovin' the music.

The band had just started playing her favorite song and she was “one” with the music. The low angle, lighting decor, wide angle lens, and motion of the bride made for a very cool action candid. I was very nearly on the floor for the shot.

Lighting is strictly the available light at the wedding reception – no extra lights added at all.

Camera specs: Canon 5D fitted with Sigma's 12-24mm lens at 12mm, F5.0 gave me plenty of depth of field at that focal length, 1/40 second, ISO 1600. Enjoy! -David

Technique Tuesday: My New Rocket Box; & 3 Secrets To Better Outdoor Portraits

Good Morning Everybody,

Rocket BoxFinally…. I am pretty much up and running on my brand new “rocket box” computer!  Fastest Core I7 chip, 125 gig flash boot drive, 16 gigs of fast memory, fast video card w/1gig memory, 2 DVD burners (1 is Blu-Ray), 8T of storage – (4 2T drives), Firewire, USB 2 & 3 outputs, 3 video outputs, with room to add more! I’m cookin’ now!

The fact of the matter was that it was time to upgrade.  Bigger files, shooting RAW, more complex programs – all the perfect storm crying out for more powerful machines.  We’re also installing 2 more machines for LaDawn and Jennifer with nearly the same specs. Finally I hope we’re all happy, (Do you hear me ladies?) computer campers at my studio ;~)

You know, you never know how much your productivity is suffering till you pull an upgrade like this.  It seemed all we did was wait, reboot, and wait some more with the older computers.  I know some of our MAC diva readers are going to leave me a note or two on this but regardless of the system you chose, they’re all pretty hot right now.

My buddy Denis Reggie, a PC person for years. just completely switched to MAC and is loving it.  Hey, what ever floats your boat.  I’m kind of a geek type and love tinkering with the computer innards so I’m pleased as punch with the system I’m now using – it FLYS!

OK gang, time to get on with today’s brand new Technique Tuesday – here we go.

3 Secrets To Better Outdoor Photography

When I was first getting started in photography, I attended about every seminar, class, workshop that I could afford.  I used to joke that I spent as much money on my photographic education as I did my college education – and I STLL attend several workshops and many classes each year.  It’s really the only way to grow in this profession and besides you’re never too old to stop learning.

Anyway, in those early years I really struggled in getting decent outdoor photographs.  The light just never seemed to be falling on the subject’s face just right.  Sometimes I pocketed the eye sockets, other times I seemed to split light the face way to much.

Over the years though, I finally got a handle on the technique and eventually was able to produce consistently, good looking portraits. In this tutorial I share with you 3 secrets I learned over the years in obtaining these outdoors portraits with natural light.  Those three secrets center around good backgrounds, contrast control, and getting light into the subject's eyes.

Why not hit the PLAY button and enjoy the show. -David


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  This afternoon we’re off to a big shoot for one of my client’s whose daughter is celebrating a Bat Mitzvah in a few weeks.  The theme of the Saturday evening party is fashion.  So I’m photographing my cute little model then making up 8 – 4 foot x 8foot banners to be suspended from the ceiling as part of the party/reception room décor.  We’ve done this previously on other Mitzvahs, it involves a lot of time and work to get them designed and printed, but they are really cool to see.  I’ll keep you posted as how the banners’ design and production are coming together.

How about I plan to see everyone again tomorrow for another episode of “You Still Have To Come Back With The Shot!”.  Hope to see you then.

Adios, David

Monday, August 29, 2011

"Fountain Dancer"

Fountain Dancer-8162

"Fountain Dancer"
©David A. Ziser

This is an image I made recently while shooting my latest series of Kelby Training videos.  You may even recognize Hope, my model.  She is a favorite among the Kelby Training group.  Why, because she is great to work with and as nice as can be.

Anyway, we were wrapping our shoot at Hixson Park in downtown Tampa, FL which happened to be be about the hottest day of the year – the water spray felt so refreshing – aaahhhh!

The challenge for me was to eliminate all the urbanism for the image – we were in downtown Tampa so I had to deal with all the buildings of the urban landscape.  When the fountains fired and rose to their peak, I thought I could use a long lens to compress the background to see only the fountain spray.  The longer lens worked it’s magic on the composition.

Next I had to get a directional light on her to add dimension to her face.  The bright ambient light meant working close to our model and a full power setting on the flash – I needed as much light as possible to overcome that bright ambient light.

I was nearly there – I underexposed the ambient setting my exposure for the flash and then I had it – a nice loop lighting on Hope’s beautiful face, bright colors in front of a great background, fabulous expression, a gorgeous girl, shazam… a very cool image!

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 70-300mm IS lens at 135mm, F11 @ 1/160 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Quick Hit Monday: FREE Webcast Announced: Only 3 Days To Save; Time Lapse Photography: Amazing Zooms: & More!

Good Morning Everybody,

Hope everyone had a great weekend – I know the east coast was awash with Hurricane Irene so I hope all of you made it through safe and sound and are high and dry for the rest of the week.

PSW Las VegasI can’t believe it – only one  week till Photoshop World.  Yep, we head to Las Vegas on Sunday morning. I’m   kicking off with my sold out Pre-Con wedding shoot on Tuesday, two more programs on Wednesday and Thursday and something like 5-6 booth appearances – it’s going to be one busy week.  But, you know, it’s still one of the most fun, while gaining AWESOME information, conventions we attend.  I sure hope you’ll come up and say “HI” if you are in the neighborhood.

Hey gang, I’ve got a couple of cools things to announce today so why don’t we get started.

FREE Webcast Coming Up: Social Media Marketing – Do It Or Die!

Register Now LRI’ll tell you, last month at our PhotoPro Summer School, I asked A.J. Wood to fly in and be one of my presenters – his topic, Social Media Marketing.  All the speakers got “RAVE” reviews but A.J. really hit it out of the park – people LOVED his program and the wealth of knowledge he shared!

I just talked to A.J. last week and asked him if he could reprise his fabulous program again for our DigitalProTalk readers and all members of PhotoPro Network.  He gladly obliged. Program Synopsis below:

Social Media Marketing – Do It Or Die!

When: September 22, 2011

Time: 3:00 p.m. EDT; 12:00 p.m. Pacific

AJ Wood PicA.J. has built a business as a consultant on Social Media marketing.  Like it or not – you’ve got to get up to speed on social media marketing or you will be left in the dust by the competition.  Those who do it best have transformed their businesses and “smoked” the competition.

Social-Media MarketingA.J. will point you towards the best strategies and clever shortcuts used by the social media experts.  He’ll show you how it can work for you and probably much more easily than you imagined.  If you want to grow your business in the 21th century, this is an essential program to see.

You don’t want to miss A.J.’s encore performance! 


Only Three Days Left To Save 50% On PhotoPro Expo 2012!

That’s right folks, only three days left to sign up for the photographic experience of a lifetime - PhotoPro Expo 2012 at 1/2 price, only $139! Prices go up to $279 after August 31, 2012. Next February 3,4,5 you’ll be able to hear the absolute best speakers in our industry speak on all things photography.

  • Scott Kelby: Photoshop/Lightroom
  • Jerry Ghionis: World Class Wedding Photography
  • Vincent LaForet: Pulitzer Prize winning photography & video
  • Joel Grimes: Illustrative portraiture
  • Sarah Petty: Marketing Mastery
  • Skip Cohen: Inspiration
  • Kirk Voclain: Fabulous High School Senior photography
  • Syl Arena: Speedlighting Master
  • Lindsay Adler: Fashion
  • Janice Wendt: Digital Fine Art
  • Plus more super stars to be named!

PhotoPro Expo no pics

Fly, Drive, Run – just get there anyway you can! We have about 100 already registered from 12 states around the country! Plus 40% of the trade show already sold out six months ahead of time!  Folks, this will be one of the biggest photographic events of 2012! Don’t miss it!

Check Out All Info & Register Right Here!

A Few Quick Hits For You

From Visualization To Digital Darkroom. 4 Tips For Better Photos By Gavin Seim: [link]

Gavin 1Fellow blogging buddy and great photographer Gavin Seim has a wonderful article and some amazing photographs – a very good read.

This Will Amaze Your Eyes!

Sometime over the weekend I was cruising the net and stumbled upon this link to  I have to tell you, it is a fascinating site to visit.  Let me give you an idea.  Look at the image below – a lot of people in a big crowd, right.

Gigapixel pic

Well, over at Gigapixel what you see is not what you get!  What’s really fun is that these images are GIGABITS BIG and contain tons in information which means you can zoom into the image. Now look at the second image.  I did a quick screen grab of just a small part of the image – way cool. 

GigaPixel2Hey, got a few minutes for a little fun, check out some more of their images right here.

A Complete Guide to Time Lapse Photography

Time lapse photography has always fascinated me and I think this is a great article on the subject with some nice Time Lapse videos included like the one below. Give it a read right here.

How Many Fingers To Hold A Mouse? 

Photoshop disastersAnd while we’re having a little fun today let me point you to one more link – 20 Worst Photoshop Disasters Of 2010 - that hopefully will bring you another Monday Morning giggle ;~) Smashing Hub is a great website with more information than you could consume in a year.  This recent post is one of my favorites – enjoy.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  We’ve got a lot of things to get completed this week with Photoshop World right around the corner. Have a great rest of the day and I’ll see you tomorrow for Technique Tuesday.

See ya’ then,  David

Friday, August 26, 2011

“Elegance In White”

Berke after

"Elegance In White"
© David A. Ziser

This is one of my favorite wedding images I’ve made in recent years - simple, classic, elegant.  The lighting on her face was simply the light pouring in the open front door of her parent’s home. Oh, should I mention That I photographed her mom and dad’s wedding too – yes, really - at the very beginning of my photographic career.  It’s kind of cool to get a call from a past bride asking you to photograph her daughter’s wedding.  You think, “Where have all the years gone!?” 

Anyway, it’s quite the honor to receive such a call.  I sure hope that with the huge influx of photographers in the market these days, that a few get to experience the wonderful feelings and emotions of such a moment.  Anyway, I digress ;~)

This image was captured shortly after I had arrived at the bride’s home.  She and her girls were just finishing up getting ready.  I was looking for a suitable background for the portrait of this beautiful young lady.  Finally I went to Plan B – I decided to use the wall in the entrance foyer behind her.  Only one problem, it was a dark shade of gold!

I had the easy solution – make it white. How? You say.  With my Quantum flash blasting (just the right amount) of light on the background to overexpose the wall from gold to white.  That pretty well made the shot.  I had gorgeous lighting on her face from the natural light pouring in from the door – the white background nailed it giving me this beautiful bridal portrait.

Camera specs: Canon 40 D fitted with 24-105mm IS lens at 65mm, F5.6@ 1/80 second, ISO 500.  Enjoy!  -David

p.s.  This is one of the first images featured in my book, Captured By the Light [link]. In one of the later chapters, I show you in detail how I pulled off this image. -David

A Huge Success! Digital Design, Now Easier Than Ever: Re-Broadcast

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Big Crowd WOW!  We hit it out of the park yesterday with our Digital Design webcast.  We had nearly 1100 registers and had viewers from 26 countries around the world tuned in!  Here is just a quick sampling: Australia, Panama, Brazil, Trinidad, Romania, Portugal, Japan, New Zealand, Israel, Italy, Hungary, and China just to name about half of the countries represented – unbelievable!

Praise For Our Digital Design Webcast!

From the “LIVE” comments, and those tweeted and emailed it’s sure seemed everyone was blown away by yesterday’s webcast!

“Fantastic webinar!”  Twitter

“This software is incredible!”…Twitter

“Fabulous session”…Twitter

And a few more from the webcast,  “Wow! Amazing!” from Virginia, “Thank You, Wonderful webcast!” from Israel, “Woohoo Thank You” from Ohio, and “Thanks to all at” from Australia.

My personal thanks also to Michael Sheasby, LaDawn, Jennifer, and Damien for being part of our fantastic event!  But mostly my thanks to all of you who turned in for the broadcast – Thank You!

Horns And The Winners Are…

At every webcast, we always give away about $1,000 worth of door prizes.  Yesterday was no exception. Are winners were…

The Summer Success Collection [link]: Lars Anderson from Denmark.

My Captured by the Light Book [link]: Linda Fox from Alaska and Sandy Ashley from Alabama.

Devine Design Collection [link]: Marla Glassman from Ohio.

LumaPix:FotoFusion Extreme [link]: Frederick Gary from New York.

Watch It One More Time! Or Many More Times!

Lumapix on MAC This hugely popular webcast featured the new release of LumaPix for the MAC. Now MAC users can enjoy the same easy, fast, digital design that PC users have enjoyed for years.

Anyway, I know there were lots of folks a little disappointed that they couldn’t attend yesterday’s “LIVE” webcast so today I’m offering you the second best option – an opportunity to view the webcast in it’s entirety and for those that want to review the presentation again….here you go!

Michael "razzle-dazzled" the audience with his thorough knowledge of the interface throughout his MAC demo - hey, he invented it, right - he should be the best!

LaDawn showed the "sensitive" side of the Lumapix showcasing how she uses her Divine Designs to create beautiful projects that any client would love. 

I wrapped with a quick lesson on the profit building potential of LumaPix showing features mostly overlooked by most LumaPix users. These features open up a vast opportunity to market your photography more effectively than ever!

I hope that if you missed yesterday's program, that you’ll hit the PLAY button and enjoy the show.  If you heard the program yesterday, then hit the PLAY button again and catch what you missed ;~)


How To Get The Lowest Prices Ever On Lumapix: MOST IMPORTANT!

Near the end of the the presentation around 1:56:00 into the webcast, I tell you how to purchase LumaPix for only $99 - it's a $300 program.  Scrub the PLAY slider ahead and don't miss seeing how you can pick up LumaPix at the lowest prices ever.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  The length of these webcasts make it a pretty time consuming process to get it posted the next day, but I really wanted to have it ready for weekend viewing.

Be cool, dry, and safe in what ever part of the world you’re in and I’ll plan to see you again next Monday.

Have a great weekend everybody.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Colors Of China"

Colors Of China

"Colors Of China"
© David A. Ziser

I have always loved this image but I don’t think I have ever blogged it before.  It was made at a wedding I did several years ago.  I remember the wedding too well because a few of my Signature images came from that wedding.  I’m looking at one hanging in my studio right now.

Part of the wedding was conducted in the beautiful traditional colors of the bride’s heritage. I just love the rich, bright  colors.  As the girls were waiting, I quickly grabbed this shot with no flash – just the available light at the moment.

I think it’s the color harmony I like the best – all the reds, golds, and oranges singing together.  I also like the three color geometrics – 2 red quarter arches “falling” into the full circle of orange color.  This is also one of the rare times I’ve tilted my camera to compose a photograph, but I like how it works here.

This type of image is perfect as a background image in wedding album design or stands equally well on it’s own. I still enjoy viewing it.

Camera specs: Nikon D1x fitted with a 50mm lens, F2.8 @ 1/60 second, ISO 400.  Enjoy!  -David

Digital Design Webcast Today At 3:00 p.m.

Good Afternoon Everybody,

We have everything ready to go for this afternoon’s Digital Design webcast with our special guest, Michael Sheasby – President and Co-founder of LumaPix.  I’ll open the doors about 2:30 p.m. EST. Michael and I did a quick run through on Tuesday so all should be good to go today.  Remember, there is no charge to attend the program.  You can probably still get in the webcast room even though we are near capacity.

Lumapix on MAC

The highlight of the show is that LumaPix:FotoFusion now works on a MAC, a feature clamored for the last few years.  Well “clamor no more”  - Michael will be doing his entire demo on a MAC.

I’m really looking forward to this webcast.  I’ll begin discussing a bit of LumaPix’s history and how they revolutionized album design around 2003.  That’s when we jumped on board and life has never been the same – because we got our lives back!

LumaPixFastandFurious72dpi Michael will follow-up with some “razzle-dazzle” demos and be answering  questions along the way.  Damien Tepe will be my wing-man again on this webcast monitoring questions from our studio audience.  I’ll be following questions on Twitter.  Remember, just tweet your questions to @digitalprotalk and include #lumapixdesign.  Michael and I will answer as best we can during the webcast time period.

LaDawn will take over for a short while demo-ing how we set up our own “Divine Designs” using various resources like her “Swirls and Twirls” to really give our projects a unique look.

Digital Design Webcast  Horo Logo2 I’ll wrap with some pretty cool ways to have LumaPix:FotoFusion boost you profits, too, and who doesn’t want to do that.

Wait, there’s more!!! ;~) We’ll also be giving away about $1000 in door prizes during the webcast and winners must be present to win.  Prizes will include a full version of LumaPix:FotoFusion Extreme ($299 value) [link], my Summer Success Collection ($600 value) [link], Divine Design Collection ($150 value) [link], and a copy of my Captured By The Light book ($54 value) [link].

During the program and for the next few days, we’ve lowered ALL our Lumapix product bundles down to TOUR pricing in honor of the MAC version being released.  These are quite simply the lowest of the year!  You can check out the specials right here for the PC and here for the MAC.

In case you’re not able to attend the webcast in person you can still catch it on the re-broadcast.  You’ll miss out on the door prizes but you still get a chance to get all the good information.  I’ll try my best to get the re-broadcast up as soon as possible.

Anyway gang, that’s it for me today.  I’ve got to get to make-up and wardrobe so I look good for today’s broadcast ;~) Hope to see you there!

Until tomorrow,

Adios, David

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Breakfast At Tiffany's"

Breakfast At Tiffany's

"Breakfast At Tiffany's"
© David A. Ziser

This was just a quick “grab shot” at a beautiful wedding I did a few years ago.  We were returning from Fountain Square, a very popular place for capturing wedding photographs especially for weddings taking place at various downtown Cincinnati hotels. 

As we were walking back to the hotel the bride asked me to grab a quick photograph of her in front of Cincy’s finest jewelry story.  I gladly obliged.  The weather was just a bit gray with offered the soft lighting I wanted.  But, you know me – I always want to add a little dimension to my images and do that with off camera flash.

The problem – look at the curved front door of Tiffany’s.  Everywhere I tried to position the flash gave me a horrendous blasting reflection back into the camera.  I quickly switched to Plan B – shoot it straight available light.

The image was OK but not great in color, but making it B&W and increasing the mid-tone tonalities gave me the image I wanted and a wall portrait the bride loved.

Camera specs: Canon 40D fitted with Sigma 12-24mm lens at 18mm, F5.6 @ 1/400 second, ISO 500.  Enjoy!  -David

You Still Have To Come Back With The Shot! - Super Dim Receptions

Good Afternoon Everybody,

ParkingMeter - CCard It’s official, Cincinnati has moved fully into the 21th century.  I navigated my car into the parking space, checked the change in my pocket for the meter but then quickly discovered I didn’t need change – THE PARKING METER TOOK CREDIT CARDS!!!   Yep, that’s the meter.

I thought that was so cool till I discovered it cost $2.00 to park for one hour – up about $1.50 when it was just a coin meter – progress, right ;~)

To busy again today – I’ve been up and at the computer since 5 a.m. had a vendor meeting with a client whose daughter’s Bat Mitzvah were photographing in three weeks, and picked up my brand new computer. And, I’m looking at the clock and it’s 3:45 p.m. so here we go.

Today I’m continuing my series I began several weeks ago entitled, You Still Have To Come Back With The Shot!” Last week we talked about super dim wedding venues – this week it’s about really dark reception venues.  Here we go…

OK, Where’s the Floor Shooting Super Dim Receptions

Way Colorful Setting

I want to talk about one more extremely challenging lighting condition. We recently arrived at the reception venue (we’re shooting in the same place in three weeks) and walked into the main ballroom and we were all blown away by the extraordinary decor - See Figure 1 below. The theme was Willy Wonka and the reception was beautifully and brilliantly colorful. But, it was going to be the table centerpieces that were going to be an issue for some of the photography.

Room Fig 1

Way Dark Shooting

Even though there was colorful lighting throughout the room, most of that light was blocked from those guests sitting tableside - See Figure 2 below. You're asking, "What difference does that make - just use your flash." The problem for me was that I like to take several photographs at the receptions, whether it be weddings or Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, capturing the faces and expressions of the guests with just the available light.

Room Fig 2

Here is my challenge. The DJ had just begun to play a slideshow presentation showing images of the guest of honor growing up, as a baby, his toddler years, being with his sisters, parents and grandparents…. and so forth. All the guests’ eyes were fixed to the large projection screen.

As I said earlier, I love to capture the guests’ sometimes joyful, sometimes reflective expressions as they watch the presentation. Granted, light is quite low during these slide shows, but it was even more challenging this particular evening with the very large centerpieces blocking the over-head light.

Kicking In The HIGH ISO Afterburners

My lens of choice for these images is my Canon 70-200mm F2.8 IS lens. I was shooting my Canon 5D Mark II and knew it was good for ISO 6400 shots. This situation called for me to juice that ISO all the way up to ISO 12,800 if I was going to capture any emotional expressions of family and friends. I cranked it up to ISO 12,800 and began shooting away.

I understood the possibility I most likely would be introducing noise into my photographs. I also knew that none of these images were going to be wall portraits; at best maybe a 5x7, 8x10 or 10x10 sized print in their albums. Considering that, I felt comfortable in the fact that I could use my Nik noise reduction software to reduce/remove the noise and still achieve an acceptable/salable photograph for my clients.

As I was photographing expressions of the audience watching the show, the young boy's mom spotted me with the camera and quickly had her son and his friend look towards the camera beckoning me to take their photograph. There was simply no time to grab a flash – I had to quickly take the photograph of them or miss the moment. I knew I was going to have to pull it off not with the camera but with the computer.

I was shooting at some fairly slow shutter speeds hand-held and may encounter a little camera shake so I took several exposures to cover my bases. As it turned out, I captured a great image of all three of them. Processing it thru Lightroom 3, I was easily able to make the necessary exposure/color balance adjustments. A little finishing it up in NIK’s DFINE 2.0 noise reducing software and I had a great image of all three people smiling back at the camera. Take a look at the next image – Figure 3.  It’s a winner!

Figure 12 - 3175-DZ_Cohen,Will B10-Edit

This solution was simply not only the result of understanding light but a combination of lighting the scene, exposing the scene, and knowing what you want to do with the software tools available.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I’m whipped and it’s still early.

I hope see a lot of you at our webcast tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. It will be one rockin’ show. 

Till then,  -David

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Master Of The Arts"

Master Of The Arts

"Master Of The Arts"
© David A. Ziser

This image was made as part of a portrait series I was doing for one of our local magazines.  The article was featuring several volunteers in the arts within the city of Cincinnati, OH.  We only had 30 minutes for each portrait as we had 18 portrait sessions scheduled throughout the city over a two day period.  That meant one thing – we had to work fast!

I walked into this location, the Fitton Art Center, and felt the entrance would serve best for the back ground for this portrait.  I’m a wide angle kind of guy and really liked the leading lines I was getting with my 24-105 IS lens at 24mm on my full frame Canon 5D. I positioned our subject very near nodule point number 2 which allowed the background lines to lead right to her.

Posing someone is always a bit of a challenge – you want them to look comfortable and natural.  The easiest prop in the world to use is a magazine or program guide.  I saw one sitting close by, grabbed it, rolled it up, and asked our subject to easily hold on to it.

Lighting was very portable and fast – my Quantum through my Zumbrella coming in camera right at 1/8 power. Balancing the overall exposure with the strobe gave a nice sense of presence with the subject within the space. The slight rim lighting I got from the main entrance gave that added sparkle to the scene.

Camera specs: Canon 5D 9ver 1) fitted with 24-105mm IS lens at 24mm, F6.3 @ 1/30 second (handheld), ISO 800.  Enjoy!  -David

Technique Tuesday: Feeling A Bit Gray Today? – Making Underexposed Look Good

Good Afternoon Everybody,

New Day Today is a brand new day for me.  LaDawn returned from her travels from the Nashville Fitness Spa late over the weekend and is in the process of “shaming me” into getting into better shape. She lost 8 pounds and about 10 1/2 inches during her week’s stay. Me, I probably put on a few inches and pounds while she was gone:~)

Anyway, the Ziser’s are on a new health kick.  Less calories, less fats, better carbs, exercise (ugh), and WHAT! – no adult beverages for a while. Ohhh… I hope I’s still alive for Photoshop World in two weeks ;~)

OK, enough of my moaning ad groaning – let’s get on with today’s Technique Tuesday.

Feeling A Bit Gray Today? – Making Underexposed Look Good

After my post a few weeks ago entitled, “Whoops, I Should Have Caught That” [link], I showed an image in which the shadow of one wedding party member fell directly on another and really underexposed the shadowed person.  A question was raised in comments about how to fix underexposed skin tones.

Now the fancy of the matter is that we have covered underexposed images previously five times and many of those images involved saving the skin tones in one way or another.  Just look at the screen grabs for those tutorials below – obviously many of the images were a near death experience.  The tutorials show how I saved them.  When I say “saved them", I talking about a salvage job that makes them at least a saleable image.

The first was entitled, Burn and Dodge Cha-Cha” way back in the early days of Digital ProTalk. Before I get into today’s tutorial, I’ll list the others right here with and intros and their links – you can click on the image too.  Enjoy these instant replays AND don’t miss today’s post following these links:

1. Burn and Dodge Cha-Cha: [link]

Burn and Dodge Cha-Cha This Photoshop Tutorial shows 3 ways to Burn and Dodge in Photoshop. Each method is discussed as to it's best application in your work flow. There are three BONUS tips along the way too.

Underexposure 12. Under Exposure - Part 1: [link]

But what do we do if that image is badly underexposed and it really needs to be in the wedding album? Can we save it? What are the noise issues involved? If there is a tremendous amount of noise, what can we do to ameliorate it?

3. Saving The (Underexposed) Image – Part 2: [link]

Underexposed 2 Different exposure problems call for different strategies in solving the problem. I have the same image saved in JPEG and RAW format. Each file demands a different strategy to obtaining the best result.

4. Resurrecting an Image From The Dead: [link]

Ressurecting An ImageToday we have my last tutorial on underexposure - it's a practically invisible image that we will resurrect from the dead pulling out all the stops - or rather adding a bunch more stops to the exposure.

5. Can This Photograph Be Saved? [link]

Can This Be Saved The fact that this image was on “life support” didn’t deter me from the fact that I wanted to see if I could save it because of that special moment between these two ladies. Remember,  I wasn’t trying for a “perfect” result.  The goal was to obtain a “saleable” result.

And now for today’s post:

Feeling A Bit Gray Today? – Making Underexposed  Look Good

In this tutorial I’m going to show you yet another strategy to save the skin tones of an image.  Let’s revisit the image I references in my post .

We can use any number of ways to save this image – in fact, many of the ways in the previous listing of tutorials could have worked effectively.  Today I’m showing you one more solution – it’s one of my favorite Photoshop plug-ins – drum roll, please  - I-Correct Portrait.

This has been one of our “go-to” color balance/skin tone one-click plug-in for many years.  That’s right, one-click – that’s why I like it so much, it’s just flat out easy to use.  In this tutorial I’ll show you how it can be applied to the image you see right here. A little lightening and brightening, adjust the contrast, touch up the skin tones, and you are good to go.  Just hit the PLAY button and Enjoy!


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I think it’s taken longer to find all the past links than to create today’s video.  Anyway, now you have them all in one place – better bookmaker this page for further reference ;~)

Time for me to get back to my real job…

See ya’ tomorrow for another episode of “You Got To Come Back With The Shot!”.

Later,  David

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Easy Beauty"

Easy Beauty

"Easy Beauty"
© David A. Ziser

I remember making this image.  The setting was simply gorgeous – it was a perfect Fall day. We had worked our way down a fairly steep slope, avoided several thorn bushes and landed in this pristinely beautiful location.

The heavy tree cover provided beautiful soft light throughout the scene making it easy for me to bring in my off-camera flash for that wonderful dimensional lighting on Becca’s face. Strobe was at 1/2 power camera right through my Zumbrella.

Compositionally I positioned her face in the top left quadrant of the scene and let the vanishing point just recede into the center of the image. I also took a high enough camera position so that she was mostly surrounded by the lighter tonalities within the scene.  I didn’t want her body to be half in light tones and the other half against darks tones.  I think the faming works very well.  Add to that beautiful lighting, a soft, easy expression and we have a great high school senior portrait. Both she and her mom loved it!

Camera specs:  Canon 40D fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 130mm, F 5.6 @ 1/40 second (handheld), ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Quick Hit Monday: Time Running Out!; 3 Days To FREE Webcast: A Visit With Marketing Masters; & Much More!

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Hope you had a great weekend, things were pretty busy around the studio today.  I've been all consumed with organizing our PhotoPro Expo david2012, one of the most exciting photographic events happening next year [link] and it’s still on sale for $139 - 1/2 price for a few more days.  It's one giant project and even with all the help I have, it still has turned into a part-time job which partly explains my enthusiasm and why I really want you to check it out and not miss this opportunity. Once again, here is the link.

PhotoPro Expo no picsWe've got the best speaker lineup in the country scheduled for this exciting event. We’ve also tripled the size of our tradeshow with 85 booths and we already have the tradeshow 1/3 booked with exhibitors.

If you're the least bit interested in Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, Marketing, DSLR video, you need to be at that convention next year!  Don't forget about it and miss booking at the best price ever- check out all the information right here and reserve your place today.

Digital Design Webcast Reminder With Special Guest, Michael Sheasby, CEO and Cofounder of LumaPix

Digital Design Webcast - 2011 I'm thrilled to say that we have nearly a full house booked for the program on Thursday with nearly 1000 folks registered to be in attendance! I'm going to suggest to you that you still have a chance to attend because we do have a number of people they can't attend at the last minute. So, if you'd like to be involved in this very exciting webcast, I encourage you to register securely right here, right now! Did I mention, it’s FREE ;~)

Michael will be introducing the brand-new LumaPix for the Mac during the program and showing LumaPix demos on the Mac as well. LaDawn will be covering some of the enhancements will that we use to make LumaPix really “sing” in our studio. I'll be sharing with you some of our brand new marketing tips that we’re using in our studio that will grow your business to the next level.

Visit with Zach and Jody Grey – Webcast Coming!

zach-and-jody-gray2 Last week I received a quick e-mail from Zach and Jodi Gray, two photographers who are traveling with David Jay on his cross country PASS tour. They have also been voted BEST Photographers in Nashville, TN. We made the drive, several weeks ago, to Indianapolis and really enjoyed their program. I was just amazed by the depth of knowledge, understanding, and sales maturity these two young photographers shared with their audience.

They were heading back back home from Indianapolis and could they drop by for a cup of coffee on Friday. I jumped at the opportunity to get together with them again. They managed to land at my studio around 2:00 p.m.  We headed to Starbucks and just had a great visit for a couple of hours.

In the course of the conversation I asked them if they would be interested in doing a webcast at DigitalProTalk - they graciously obliged. I'm telling you, this will be one of the best webcasts you've heard and I can't wait to get it scheduled. So stay tuned.

Still Time For Some Quick Hits? You Bet!

It’s all photography this week gang, hope you enjoy!

1. 58 Lines by 36 Photographers  [link]

I thought some of these quotes were just priceless. Hit the link above and check them out.  A few samples for you --

  • Amateurs worry about equipment, Professionals worry about time, Masters worry about light. –  Anonymous
  • If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff. – Jim Richardson
  • The two most engaging powers of a photographer are to make new things familiar and familiar things new. - William Thackeray
  • The question is not what you look at but what you see! – Henry David Thoreau
  • You cannot depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus – Mark Twain

2. The Bridal Party Shots [link] 

I always enjoy seeing how other photographers pose their wedding photography groups. I thought there were several clever, interesting, creative ideas in these groups right here. Why not check them out.

Wedding Party Shots2

3. An Amelie Poulain-Inspired Paris Bridal Photo Shoot [link]

I always enjoy a beautiful bridal session as well. I think this Paris shoot is very well done and very classy.

4. 63 Awesome Photography Articles, Tutorials, Blog Posts and Photos from This Week [link]

OK gang, this link will keep you busy for a while but you really will find some amazing content here .

5. 10 Great Books On Photography Every Photographer Should Read [link] I agree!

And Lastly…  Beautiful Design Means Great Story Telling

Last week’s Business Day Thursday post [link] was one of my favorites packed with business building ideas.  I just  discovered another link for a photographer that used Issuu to display a really beautifully designed engagement album.  I loved the elements of the design throughout – thoughtful, elegant, and stylish. Enjoy!


Hey gang, that’s it for me today - sorry again for the late post.  I had an early morning shoot that took me up to noon and wasn't even able to get to the computer till late in the afternoon. Anyway,I thought I jammed a lot of good info into the post today and sure hope you enjoy it.

How about I plan to see everybody again tomorrow for a brand-new Technique Tuesday. Last week we had a question about fixing underexposed skin tones.  I thought tomorrow we would discuss the topic in greater detail.  I sure hope you'll join me.

So for now I'm signing off, I'll see you tomorrow.

-- David. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

"Evening Fire"

"Evening Fire"
© David A. Ziser

I was searching through some old folders on my computer and noticed this image.  It was an image I posted a few years ago, but you know, it grabbed my attention again so I thought I’d share it with you for the weekend. 

This image was made while on a short walk around our neighborhood. It was a peaceful tranquil evening, without a breeze in the air or a bird in the sky. I happened to have my camera with me and created this image just as the last vestiges of light was leaving the sky.

A bit of Photoshop added to the dramatic sky without spoiling the moment. As I was putting the image together in my mind, I thought the foreground needed just a bit more interest in the very calm pond, so I asked LaDawn to throw a small pebble onto the surface of the water. I have to say, it took a few tries to get the pebble to land in just the right place, but after a few tries, I had the image.

Camera specs; Nikon D1X fitted with Tamron 24-135mm lens at 24mm, F4.5 @1/60 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! –David

P.S. Hey gang, while going back through my blog I just found this other really cool post entitled, “Inspiration Friday - Creating The Emotion - Let The Sun (or Moon) Shine In”.  In that post you see 3 more variations on this same image and my thoughts on how the viewer may perceive them.  Give it a peek, I think you’ll enjoy the read.

Have a great weekend everybody!  -David

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Three Generations, One Rite Of Passage"

Three Gererations, One Rite Of Passage

"Three Generations, One Rite Of Passage"
©David A. Ziser

Here is an image I made from one of my "temple" shoots last year. Grandfather, father, and son all together for this photograph.  Our young Bar Mitzvah was running through his Torah reading and I didn't want to interrupt. 

I backed up considerably from the three of them, and zoomed in tight for this shot.  I was trying something different during this shooting session.  The Rabbi had to leave in just a few minutes so we were shooting at about "a mile a minute." Just to avoid any lens changes, I placed 18-200mm IS lens on my Canon 7D.  Boy, did that make the shooting fun and fast considering our time constraints. 

As the three gentlemen were rehearsing, our young Bar Mitzvah, his dad, and grandfather, I could get about 50 feet away, zoom in close and get a great candid shot. My Quantum flash was coming in from camera right shooting through my Zumbrella at 1/4 power to give me the nice dimensional light on the scene.

I’ll see everyone again in about 3 weeks – I’m photographing this boy’s younger sister for her Bat Mitzvah.  I think that brings the total up to about 22 cousins I’ve photographed for this family since 1997. Nice to have good and loyal clients.

Camera specs; Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 70mm, F6.3 @ 1/60 second, ISO 1000. Enjoy!  -David

Business Day Thursday: Make Yourself Famous Fast! Here’s An Amazing Way To Promote Your Business! & New Contest Announced!

Good Morning Everybody,

Crowd LR - Fotolia_17011771_Subscription_XL I can’t believe it, I sent out an email yesterday about our brand new FREE Digital Design Webcast and we have nearly 800 signed up already!  Wow!  Yep, looks like it’s going to be a sellout.  I’ve also talked with Michael Sheasby about covering some real sizzle points on LumaPix – it’s shaping up to be a great program.  Hope you can make it!

Hey gang, I am super excited about my post today. I’ve spent half the day putting it together for you so I hope you like it.  I going to tell you about a web site that I stumbled on yesterday and had me engrossed for two hours checking out all it’s cool features.  The more I played around on the site the more excited I got.  Let’s get right to it because today’s post really ROCKS!!!!

Make Yourself Famous Fast: Here’s An Amazing Way To Promote Your Business!

OK, here’s the back story. I was checking emails late yesterday afternoon and saw I had several new folks following me on Twitter.  I always check out the followers to see if I want to follow back.  The qualifier for me – don’t tell me what you had for lunch, it’s all about rich content.

Issuu logo I checked out several of John Lasurdo tweets and liked what I saw.  The one that got me fired up the most was the link to this really cool site [link].  A quick trip over, 30 minutes of checking it out and I was hooked – and hooked in a big way!  My brain began churning with all kinds of ideas on how a photographer could use this service in their business.  The more I thought about it, the more ideas kept popping into my head.  And, you want to know the best news – it’s FREE!!  Let me tell you what I came up with in that short time last evening

The Wonderment Of Issuu – A Few Of My Suggestions

  • Promoting and marketing your business
  • Sizzling your blog and website
  • Client proofing
  • Company newsletters
  • Studio guides like clothing suggestions for photo shoots
  • PowerPoint presentations for training
  • Downloading documents like contracts, portrait suggestions, wedding shoot sheets, and other studio forms
  • And the list goes on and on!

OK, I Was Stoked - Had to Give It A Try

My first thought was getting a wedding album up to see what it looked like on  It was way cool!!  It took me a grand total of less than 30 minutes to get my first “wedding album e-book” published – and it looked great! Check it out below – what do you think?


Next I thought,”How about a Bar Mitzvah Album?” 30 minutes later it was online too. Over the course of the next few hours, I had uploaded 4 albums, 1 PowerPoint Presentation, and 1 DOC file wedding article. Here’s what my Issuu library looks like now.

Issuu Library


But here is the “LIVE” embedded version where you can browse all my publications to date.  Just click away and enjoy!


Issuu will let you upload a nice variety of file formats including PDF, DOC, PPT, ODT, WPD, SXW, RTF, ODP, and SXI which is what makes it so versatile for a photography business. Maximum file size is 100 megs and up to 500 pages, making all my uploads well within the document requirements.

Embed It In Your Blog and watch in Full Screen Mode – Very Cool Viewing Experience!

You’ve got a few choices when viewing your uploaded albums.  You can easily link to them with the link associated with each album.  For instance, here is a link to a Black & White wedding album I uploaded.  It was a special collection of images that the bride’s mother loved.  Check it out right here.

OK, David, Just How Are You Doing It?  LumaPix Is Our Secret Weapon.

LumaPixFastandFurious72dpi Next Thursday we have our Digital Design Webcast happening right here at DigitalProTalk – one more time, here is the link to register.  I’ll give you the specifics then.  But let me give you a general overview today.

You’ve heard me say it a million times – LumaPix has been our secret weapon for fast, easy album design around here for nearly 8 years.  LumaPIx:FotoFusion literally redeemed us from Photoshop purgatory years ago.

Lumapix PDF-Split Pages LumaPix also has one very powerful, little known feature built in to the software – it let’s you save out your album design as a PDF file – PDF file like Issuu wants to see when uploading.  Also LumaPix let’s you save out your double page spreads as separate pages which Issuu can now display properly.  Here are the LumaPix settings I used to export my albums to a PDF.

DAZNOTE: Issuu likes to see a normal “Page 1”  We design our Designer albums – the “coffee table” albums with a double page spread opening.  Be sure to change the first double page spread to a single album page or cover sheet so LumaPix doesn’t split it.

Or you could change that first page to a single page before exporting, otherwise Lumapix will split that page and all your pages will be offset by one page upon uploading to Issuu.  This sounds more complicated than it is – I’ll go into more detail in next week’s webcast.

Anyway, this combination of LumaPix PDF export and Issuu PDF upload makes the magic happen!  Both programs were made for each other perfectly.  And its this combo that really opens up the doors for powerful marketing and promotions for your studio.

LCAFFlrWe’ve got special pricing on all our LumaPix MAC [link] and PC [link]bundles over at our Digital Resource Center right here.  You may want to pick up your copy before next week’s Digital Design Webcast.

Issuu Offers A Very Compelling Viewing Experience!

Just look how great these albums look on my blog.  Go ahead and play around with some of the viewing options in Issuu. 

Issuu pages spread You can display the album pages in full screen view as shown above or as thumbnails below and navigate to any part of the album you desire.  If you look at the full screen view above, you’ll also see opt to print or email the page too.

Issuu thumbnails

Check out the entire “LIVE” Bar Mitzvah album below – it’s fun to just page through it and enjoy the entire day again. Be sure to view it in full screen mode.


Kicking In Your Marketing Afterburners

Do you know the power of possibilities with Issuu? Everything you turn into and album, you upload to Issuu.  You can set up different bookshelves for each category of images.  You could have one for weddings, families, high school seniors – whatever.  What a fabulous way for your potential clients to preview a large body of your work!

Don’t stop there either.  Anything you have as a DOC file you can upload into Issuu. Think studio guides like clothing suggestions for photo shoots, documents like contracts, portrait suggestions, wedding shoot sheets, other studio forms – the list goes on and on!  Here is a DOC file I shot up to Issuu this morning. 

The article is a few years old but that’s besides the point – it’s still easy to get the info up there.  I’ve even set this document to be downloaded if you would like to keep it.  There’s some good suggestions in it.

Anyway, you get the idea and after playing around on Issuu’s site, I’m sure you get a lot more ideas too. 

How About A Little Contest

I’ve thrown tons of ideas up here for you guys and girls today.  I’m looking for 20 more different ideas to share with our DPT readers.  If we get 20 different unique ideas, I’ll award the winner my Summer Success Collection (on sale now for $59 - $500 value)

Summer Success Collection Ad3

Post your suggestions in the Comments section following this blog post please – please NOT on Facebook because those posts sometimes end up in my spam folder.  Anyway, I’d love to see what you come up with.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I’ve spent the entire morning getting this post up, but I’ve sure been having a great time learning the ins and outs of Issuu too.  I sure hope you get as excited about it as I am. And, don’t forget to send in some suggestions – let’s see what our creative DigitalProTalk readers come up with.

On that note gang, I’ve got to get back to my real job.  I’ll see you tomorrow for a short post. 

Have a great rest of the day,