Monday, October 31, 2011

"Bridge Traffic"

Bridge Traffic3

"Bridge Traffic"
© David A. Ziser

This is an image I made as we were approaching the Oakland Bay Bridge (I think). It was quick bright and hazy on our approach to San Francisco.  I grabbed this image. But don’t worry – LaDawn was driving– just as we were making our approach to the bridge.

I really like the soft curves of the bridge structure against the faint hills you see in the background.  The haze did a great job of adding subtle nuance to the colors and depth of the scene.

I enhanced the colors just a bit in ACR by kicking up the Vibrancy slider slightly and added the gradient to the sky.  On my first pass, I thought I had what I wanted.  I even added the image to my post ready to go.  Something was just not working for me though. 

The bottom right of the image, the approach showing the traffic was sort of a plain-Jane brown – it just didn’t fit the tonality of the rest of the image.  That part of the bridge was much closer to the camera and wasn’t being affected by the more distant haze.

Back to Photoshop I went, brought it the Color brush and gave that part of the image the same blue wash as the rest of the image.  Now I think it works.  Who says you can’t get a good image from a “drive-by-shooting”?

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 155mm F10 @ 1/800 second, ISO 800.  Enjoy!  -David

Quick Hit Monday: iPad Card Readers; HDR Coolness; Zone System Wonderfulness; & A Little Inspiration

Good Morning Everybody,

When I signed off Friday, I mentioned that I would be hailing to you today from Phoenix.  Well, not quite, today I’m coming to you from beautiful downtown Palm Springs, California.  We left the Napa/Sonoma area about 9:30 a.m. yesterday and made it as far as Palm Springs, CA. about 7 hours later. Here is the view from our hotel room – pretty nice. 

Palm SpringsWe checked in, grabbed an adult beverage, ordered room service, watched the football game (sorry Dallas), and hit the sack. We are really living the high life aren't we;~)

Today we head out to Phoenix, about a 4 hour drive though the desert, and should land by early afternoon.  We got a little business to take care of but the trip also includes a few days off in Sedona, AZ.

Steve Jobs Bio – Very Interesting

Steve Jobs bioI have to tell you, the highlight of our travels from Northern California has been listening to Steve Jobs biography which I downloaded from   So far, it has been a fascinating listen.  What is coming across so far is that he could be a real jerk, but he was one of the top visionaries of our time as well. The book is more than an biography of Mr. Jobs, but coincidentally a biography of Apple too which is also quite interesting.  Anyway, we'll get to listen to 4 more hours today as we travel to Phoenix.

Hey gang, I thought for today's post I'd get back to our regular Quick Hit Monday series. I've got a few tidbits for you so let's get right to it. 

New Card Readers for iPad

iPad card ReadersThat's right.  I just caught this over at  Ever since Apple neutered the power to the  USB adapter, it's been a bit trickier to get your images conveniently onto the iPad, particularly for us wedding photographers.  I've blogged about a few solutions over the last few months. 

I think these two adapters from look very promising. Here is the link right here.  The price is right too.  These may be the ones I'm picking up for my iPad.  Hey, while you're over there shopping, check out the other very interesting items they have in their store too [link]. Many cool, geeky camera items that look kind of fun.

HDR - Multiple White Balances

A few weeks ago, I stumbled on this very interesting article by John Neel at describing a HDR technique using multiple white balances.  The results looked very cool.  I've only considered doing HDR the old fashioned way but never considered HRD with different color balances.  Check it out right here.

Why You NEED the Zone System for Digital Photography

Gavin Zone SystemIn my Captured By The Light tour which we  wrapped last week, I discuss in depth how I establish the correct exposure.  Part of that discussion includes how I relate my correct exposure to Ansel Adam's Zone System.  By the way, if you missed my Captured By The Light tour, you can pick up the entire LIVE recording right here.

Anyway, you've got to check out this post right here by blogging buddy and talented photographer, Gavin Seim, which goes into a quit a bit of detail about how the Zone System can be used in many aspects of our digital photography.  High 5's to Gavin and for a great post!

How About A Little Monday Morning Inspiration for You?

Dubai Pano1. 20 Impressive Examples Of Panoramic Photography (far right):  Way cool panos that are just fun to look at and enjoy.  Here is the link right here.

Epic scale2. Nighttime Locations Illuminated Through Light Painting on an Epic Scale (left): Epic scale may be an understatement - very cool images right here.

3. Digital Art by Nathalia Suellen (below):  I am constantly amazed by the work of digital artists and have previously posted links to many artist's work here at DPT.

Nathalia SuellenYou know, it's just a different way to look at the world and I love it.  Please check out the work of Nathalia Suellen right here.

Learn Digital In Delray

Rick Sammon SeminarsI'm doing this plug for my buddy Rick Sammon because I loved the images that went along with his announcement of his upcoming workshop series.  They were just so striking to me - the colors and composition really got my attention.  Rick has an entire series of workshops happening in 2012 and the price is right too - why not check them out right here.


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  We are hitting the road shortly for Phoenix but before we head East, I'm trying to wrap tomorrow's Technique Tuesday post.  It's a bit more involved than I thought pulling all the images for the post.

I know I've got your curiosity up just a bit.  It's the post I wanted to do last week of cheating the sync.  It will be an in depth peek on how you can make that little bit of camera trickery really open up some cool ideas for your portrait photography.  Tune in on Tuesday and check it out.

See ya' tomorrow everybody,  David

Friday, October 28, 2011

"Red Riding Hood"

Red Riding Hood 2

"Red Riding Hood"
© David A. Ziser

This image was captured during this week's Napa Experience workshop.  And, it was made in the parking lot of Jacuzzi Winery before we all headed to Caneros Deli, a great little find in Sonoma Valley.

The sun was high in the sky but luckily I was able to position the sun behind Kim, my model.  Whenever I’m working outside, the rule for me is to get the sun behind the subject.  That puts the subject’s face in shadow which let's me layer my off camera flash onto that shadow side to get the dimensional loop lighting I like.

What I like about this image is how the Sonoma hills are also layered in different shades adding a certain amount of depth to the scene. I positioned the model at nodal point #2 in order to have her face lead into the hills seen in the rest of the image.

Lighting was coming in from camera right, my Quantum at 1/2 power through my Zumbrella, just out of camera range.  I think Kim's bright smile and bright red coat against the Sonoma countryside make for a nice (parking lot) portrait.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at ??, F16 @ 1/250 second, ISO 200. Enjoy!  -David


Good Morning Everybody,

We really enjoyed our first day off in 3 weeks yesterday.  The treat for me was re-visiting Jacuzzi and Chateau St Jean wineries this time, not for photography, but for a taste of their great wines.  I'm making it short and sweet today.  LaDawn and I need a little breathing room in our schedule and are planning to explore more of this beautiful area again today.

We're in town till Sunday morning and then off to Phoenix and Sedona for a little business and to visit a friend.  How about I see you next week hailing from the Arizona highways.

Have a great weekend and I’ll plan to see you bright and early on Monday.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Thoughts Of You"

Thoughts Of You

"Thoughts Of You"
© David A. Ziser

Here is another image I captured at the beautiful Jacuzzi Winery on Tuesday.  The class was working with Megan, our lovely model.  They were outside and asked her to sit in the window and just look back at the camera.

I’m sure their photograph looked good but I wanted to see what it looked like from the opposite side.  I circled around and went inside to see what the shot looked like from that vantage point.  This was the image I saw – a beautifully lit profile of Megan. Look at the gorgeous loop lighting on her face.  The natural lighting sculpts her features perfectly giving us a very simple, easy portrait of this lovely young lady.

Compositionally, I positioned her head carefully between the boards  the “interior frame” of the wooden shutter behind her in order to frame her even more effectively for this photograph.  Her head is positioned at nodal point #4 of both the “exterior AND interior frame” of the composition.

I also like the very warm colors and how they contrast with the rich blue color of her top.  You know, when you look at this image, it is a simple/pleasing portrait.  It’s all natural lighting, easy pose, and simple composition that all comes together for a very beautiful and flattering image of Megan.

Camera specs:  Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 110m, F5.6 @ 1/200 second, ISO 320.  Enjoy!  -David

Business Day Thursday: "Custom Referrals To Reinforce Booking Results"

Good Morning Everybody,

We wrapped my Captured By The Light three city California tour last night in Rohnert Park, California. And what a great crowd of people we had in attendance.  They were enthusiastic, fun, and really seemed to love the program. My thanks to all who came up during our breaks and afterwards to thank us for coming to Rohnert Park. Rohnert Park will be definitely on our list of stops next time we tour the country.

Wine countryLast night also wrapped my last speaking engagement for the year and LaDawn and I are looking forward to a little time off these next few weeks as we head into the holiday season. In fact, I was told I had to be off computer by noon today so we can head out and explore a little of wine country :~)  It's been a whirlwind three weeks and I think both of us are really looking forward to a few days off.

With that said, let’s get right on with today’s post.  Here we go.

“Custom Referrals To Reinforce Booking Results"

In today's Business Day Thursday post I would like to share with you a business building strategy that we have been using in my studio for a number of years. Basically it revolves around how we interact with our vendor buddies, the florists, bakeries, wedding planners and consultants, hotel event planners, etc..

Word Of Mouth Referrals Are The Strongest!

Whenever I'm interviewing a prospective client I, of course, always ask how they had heard about us. Many times the referral comes from one of our vendor buddies with whom we've worked  many times in the past. This kind of referral is one of the strongest that you can receive. I truly believe that building word-of-mouth referrals is something you need to constantly work on to grow build a successful business.

Word of MouthThe important thing to know is this; If you receive a word-of-mouth referral from a fellow vendor in your wedding community, please be sure to give them a call and thank them for that referral. It shows that you are appreciative of the kind words that they gave you.

Too many people don't say thank you often enough. The biggest thank you should be to the people who refer us.  Continue to let them know that you appreciate them and they will continue to refer you.

Let Your Vendor Buddies Know You Referred Them!

Now there's a part 2 of the process as well.  Whenever I'm meeting with a prospective client and things are looking like we will book the client, I always ask if they made arrangements with their florist, caterer, wedding venue, etc.  Many times that answer is no.

6 HandsAt that point in the conversation I am always ready to recommend one of my vendor buddies in our area. I might say something like this, “Have you guys got all the rest your wedding arrangements made?" The client may answer that they have everything settled except for their florist. At this point I'm going to recommend one of my favorite florists in the area which happens to be Ford-Ellington Florists. I explain to the bride and groom that we have worked together on some of the biggest wedding events in Cincinnati and in my opinion Kevin and his team do an outstanding job.

I also mentioned that my friend, Kevin, is a joy to work with and  just how much his clients love working with him and how much they love the finished result.

Ford EllingtonWhat I'm doing here is really giving Kevin a wonderful referral. So much so, that I really would like my prospective clients to book  Kevin for their wedding. I like working with Kevin. Kevin designs some of the most beautiful events in the city. And, when I get to photograph those rooms, I also have some wonderful sample images that I can display in my studio.

The bottom line of all this is that I want them to get fired up about my referral to my friend Kevin. I want them to know they can book Kevin with confidence and be assured a wonderful job.

After we wrap our appointment, I give them Kevin's contact information so that they can follow up with him to wrap their wedding day arrangements.  But, you’re not finished yet.

Now the the most important part. After the client leaves, be sure to give your vendor buddy a phone call and let them know that you were “singing their praises” to your prospective client. Let them know  a few details of the event and that you hope that they book the event too. And, I also let them know that I would really enjoy working with my vendor buddy if we're both on the same event.

So, now let's think of the benefit of that phone call to your vendor buddy. When your prospective client finally makes her appointment to visit with your vendor buddy, what is he or she going to do? He's/She’s going to do the same thing that you did – ask where the referral came from. When the client mentions that it was from your studio, your vendor buddy if he's anything like you should “wax enthusiastic” about your talent, your creativity, and your wonderful customer service - all things that give that client a reason to book you, if they have not yet completed that process, or to encourage and reinforce their decision if they have contracted you for their event.

Reinforcement Referrals

I call this reinforcement referrals. A client may enjoy the time they spend with you but is it is your referral to another vendor and their enthusiastic affirmation of your talents and your services

After I have made two or three referrals to my prospective clients, I am going to call those two or three vendor buddies and let them know that I am sending the client their way. If my prospective client visits all three of my referrals, I hopefully will get their reaffirmation of our wonderful photography and our great customer service from each of those referrals.

Cross PollinationI like to call this cross pollination. Each one of us is constantly reaffirming the talents of the other and as the client makes it through our small inner circle of wedding vendors she's constantly reminded that everybody she is talking with has worked together and that each of the other vendors do an outstanding job in their respective professions.

Success in any business, particularly the wedding business is based upon the strength of the vendor relationships that you create over time. It's about building authentic relationships with your vendors so that they will continue to refer you and you them so that each of you can continue to grow in your business.

So, make it a point to work a few hours each week on building vendor relationships in your community. Facebooking and blogging are not the only way to build business. People want to hear about the other top vendors in the area. Work with those vendors, get to know them, and as those relationships build between you and your vendor buddies so will your business.

Hey gang, that's it for me today - my time is up and it looks like it's shaping up to be a beautiful day. How about I see everybody same time, same place tomorrow morning for short Friday post.

Have a great rest of the day and I'll see you then.

Wine country, here we come! – David

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Jacuzzi’s Best Vintage"

Wine Girls

"Jacuzzi’s Best Vintage"
© David A. Ziser

I made this image during yesterday’s shoot at Jacuzzi Winery, an absolute fabulous location for our class.  In fact the 3 images in the following post are also from our Jacuzzi visit.  We could have spent days there with all the variety this beautiful winery offered.  I can’t wait to go back and taste some of their wines tomorrow ;~)

The challenge for this image was the lighting.  Both girls were in direct sunlight.  I blocked the sun with my Westcott 84” parabolic umbrella – I love that umbrella for brightly lit situations just like this.  One I had the sun blocked, the two girls were bathed in a nice, soft light. 

Next, I needed to add a little light from camera right, my Quantum flash through my Zumbrella, to gave me the dimensional lighting I was looking for.

Framing the girls up in the door and arch in the distance finished the composition giving us a great image of these two lovely ladies.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 100, F5.6 @ 1/320 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Napa Experience Wrap Up & Great Images

Good Morning Everybody,

I can't believe it - we wrap my sold out Napa Experience Workshop today at noon, shift gears and then get ready for my Captured By The Light program this evening.  By the way, we still have maybe about 9 seats left and then it will be sold out too!

Napa10It has been a great few days hanging with my class and shooting the absolutely beautiful venues so perfectly arranged by Fran Russell, one of our classmates and all around photography event planner for my Napa Experience.  THANKS a ton Fran.

Napa12What I loved about yesterday's shooting experience was that you could see the members of the workshop really enjoying the way they were seeing the light.  They were excited to see the difference it made to their photographs.

Napa13Today we wrap the class with recorded print critiques of everyone's images, always a high point of my workshops. We will spend about 2 hours  going over the class's favorite image selections and also review the images I photographed this week.  Everyone will leave with a recorded copy of the critique -  a wonderful learning resource. 



Napa16For today's post I’ve shared a few of my favorite images with you.  I plan to share some of the class images and several of my images over these next several days.  I think you will really get a kick out of seeing them. 

We had some great models to work with and it was their great looks and wonderful cooperation that led to the terrific images we captured this week.

No plans for our next Experience Workshop are set just yet.  There has been talk of having one in the Chicago area.  Stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted.


Hey gang, I wish I could hang here a little longer but I've got class beginning in just about an hour and have a few things to prep.  How about I see you you tomorrow for our regular Business Day Thursday posts.  This week it's entitled, "Referrals Reinforce Results".  If you want to really get your business up to speed this is an essential post to read. 

Hope to,see you tomorrow, David

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Napa Valley Beauty"

Wine Country BeautyIMG_1139

"Napa Valley Beauty"
© David A. Ziser

This image was taken yesterday during my Napa Experience Workshop.  The light had changed quite a bit while we were shooting in the afternoon.  The original location down this walkway was now flooded with light which was overpowering the beautiful natural light coming in form the left hand side.

The easy solution was to photograph our model from the other direction.  That gave us the added benefit of have that strong, bright light which was steaming in now from behind the subject create a beautiful accent light on our portrait.

I love it when a portrait comes together.  This image was the product of just the natural light on the scene, but when you find the direction of light, and position your subject to that beautiful soft light, you get a great result!

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 100mm, F5.6 @ 1/80 second, ISO 400.  Enjoy!  -David

Technique Tuesday: Napa Update; and Getting The Perfect Portrait Every Time

Good Morning Everybody,

Napa2We kicked off my Napa Experience Workshop yesterday in Wine Country and wrapped last night about 9:30 p.m.  That made for a long day as usual but we captured some terrific images.  I have to tell you, it was quick the kick to be shooting in some of the top wineries in the world.

We headed over to Napa arriving for a  quick lunch at V. Sattui Winery, a Napa winery celebrating it’s 125 anniversary in the area.  Years ago on a trip to Napa, V. Sattui was the first winery I ever visited.  It was nice to be back there again.

V. Sattui was gracious enough to let us spend the afternoon roaming their beautiful grounds.

Later we headed down the road and finished up the afternoon and evening photographing on location at the very beautiful 135 year old Beringer Winery.  The Beringer Winery was a real joy in which to photograph.  We photographed till dark and could have stayed much longer.

Napa1Today we head up to Jacuzzi Winery and Chateau St Jean in Sonoma valley for the day.  I can’t wait!

Only A Few Seats Left For My Captured By The Light Tour Tomorrow Night

That’s right, we are nearly sold out for our CBTL program at Rohnert Park tomorrow evening.  Our meeting room has seating for 150 attendees and we only have about 15 seats available.  If you want to grab one before they’re sold out, you better jump on it quick. You can still REGISTER RIGHT HERE!

CBTL Web LogoWe’re giving away $3,000 worth of door prizes and a complete video recording of the entire program  Seminars don’t get any better than that.  I liked what I read in an email from one of our attendees in Brea, CA,  “Wow!  I won one of the big door prizes and you gave us 5 DVDs of the entire program.  It’s like you paid ME to show up!”

People are loving the program – hopefully you’ll be able to join us tomorrow evening. 

Technique Tuesday: Getting The Perfect Portrait Every Time

Hey gang, I’ve been working on a pretty cool tutorial for my Technique Tuesday post but time just ran out to get it up today.  I could have rushed it but didn’t want to.  So, for this week I’m going to share one of our most popular videos with you from a few months ago.

I’ve mentioned Kent and Sarah Smith here at many times in the past.  Kent and Sarah operate one of the most successful studios in the country – yes, they are one of those very few $1,000,000 studios, actually tracking for 1.1 Mil this year.  Needless to say, they know what they are doing both photographically and business-wise.

Wouldn't it be great to know how to get perfect portraits every time, portraits that guarantee perfect expressions on everyone including the children? Check out this portrait tutorial with my friends, Kent and Sarah Smith, two of the most talented portrait photographers working today, to see how simply and easily they make that perfect portrait session happen every time.  Enjoy!


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  Class begins shortly and I’ve got to run.  How about I see everybody bright and early again tomorrow.  Have a great rest of the day.

- David

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Harry Potter Bridal Portrait"

Harry Potter Bridal

"Harry Potter Bridal Portrait"
© David A. Ziser

I know that is kind of a funky name for this image but that's what comes to mind when I see this image.  During my Dave Cross Workshop last Monday, Kathy, one of the photographers attending knew Philippe Park we were working and suggested shooting around this giant oak tree a short walk from the main road.

The huge branches of the tree were hanging very low to the ground and winding all over the place.  For me I envisioned the lands of Harry Potter and wondered how I could pull off a cool wedding portrait around this giant oak.  Because of the long, low, large tree branches, I decided to go with my super wide Sigma 8-16mm lens.

I had one of our class members holding my strobe well out of the field of view coming from camera left to give me the beautiful lighting you see on our bride’s face. I balanced the strobe light to the ambient and then under exposed the scene by about 1 1/2 stops in order to have my bride really project from the background.

I worked the image in Lightroom to finish placing the tonalities where I wanted them mostly using the gradient tool.  The finished result shows an almost spotlighted lighting effect on our bride allowing the rest of the scene to be ominously dark and foreboding just like so many of the Harry Potter movies.  Anyway, I love how the image came out. 

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with Sigma's 8-16mm lens at 16mm, F5.6 @ 1/250 second, ISO 400.  Enjoy!  -David

Setting Up Google+; Inspiration; Lightroom Presets; And Lots Of News You Need To Know

Good Morning Everybody,

We had a great seminar in Brea, California last Friday. My Captured By The Light tour was hosted by our good friends at the Orange County Photography Center.  From left to right - David LaNeve, and his wife Julie, myself, and my buddy Don Zimmer.

Orange County PC

What they have put together is quite unique proposition for photographers.  Here is the deal.  A photographer pays a very reasonable monthly fee for membership into the Photography Center.  For that fee, that have the privilege of using the extensive facilities, reception area, sales areas, several large and one  huge shooting studios anytime they're available. 

What a great way to cut down on the exorbitant overhead of owning your own studio location.  I think it's a brilliant concept for any photographer wanting to be more professional, more profitable, and more creative in these extremely competitive times.  Check out the Orange County Photography Center right here.

DAZ OCPCThanks again you guys for hosting our sold out, standing room only CBTL seminar last Friday - a thoroughly enjoyable experience!

The Whirlwind Continues This Week!

It's been a whirlwind of teaching, travel, and shooting these last three weeks.  From a webcast with Suzette Allen 3 weeks ago [link], to my Master Class 2 weeks ago (recap here), then to Tampa for a wedding and my workshop for Dave Cross, programs in San Diego and LA last week, and our sold out Napa Experience this week, it will be nice to slow it down a bit come Thursday morning.

Lush, Ripe Wine Grapes with Mist Drops on the VineIt has been a kick!  With all the teaching, about the most I've done in this long of a stretch, it has been quite an invigorating experience in helping me get my "brain juices" flowing.  I even mentioned to LaDawn on our 7 hour drive to Napa/Sonoma area on Saturday how excited I was with all the images I've had a chance to create these last three weeks.  I cant wait to see what happens during my Napa Experience class this week.  As usual, you will be the first to know.

From The Students Perspective - Thanks For The Very Kind Words

Before we get into today's post, I'd like to share with you two very nice posts from three photographers we’ve met over these last few weeks.

First from John and his wife Susan who attended our Master Class.

DAZ MC CandidJohn writes, “I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the excellent Fall Master Class that we had the opportunity to take last week. Susan and I learned a bunch and had a lot of fun doing it. Thanks also to LaDawn (for her efforts in the class as well as on the home front), Jennifer and all your staff and coaches that made it possible.”

John did a very extensive day by day write up on my Master Class right here. Thanks again John and Susan for the very kind words and the great coverage of the week!

Secondly from Kevin Braun from my Dave Cross Workshop

DAZ at DCWKevin Graham, who was signed up for my Dave Cross Workshop, had been contacting me for weeks about helping on my Tampa wedding.  I figured I could use the additional help and I agreed to have assist. It was baptism by fire - I gave Kevin a quick lesson on my Quantum strobe and how to use it about 30 minutes before the shoot.  We were off and running for the next 9 hours without much of a break.

Kevin did a great job - hey Kevin, you can help me anytime - he nailed the light placement and anticipated what I was going to do next and what I might need to make it happen.  The shoot went off perfectly and we got some great images of the couple.

On Monday we all gathered for my Monday workshop.  Kevin was one of the participants and did a great write up of his experience assisting me on my wedding and  my class right here.  He also some some terrific images from the Monday session.  You can find his post right here.  Thanks Kevin for all the kind words.

OK gang, we haven't had any quick hits posted for the last few weeks so I've got a nice supply for you today.  Why don't we get right to it.  Here we go.

A Few Quick Hits: Lightroom 3, Goggle+, and A Little Inspiration

1. Google+ Set Up Guide: 

With 40 million people signed up, the folks at Google must be doing something right.  Want to get off and running on the right foot with Google+, then check out the link right here to a very handy Google+ setup guide.

2. Lightroom Presets Just In Time For The Fall & More

Being in the middle of  Autumn and the beautiful fall colors, even in the Napa/Sonoma areas, I thought it would be appropriate to post a link to fellow blogger, Matt Kloskowski’s Lightroom presets for Fall foliage.  You can find them right here.  Thanks Matt.

And while we’re on the subject of Lightroom 3, why not steer yourself over to and pick up their 5 most downloaded Lightroom presets right here. It keeps getting better all the time.

3. Looking Good At The Wedding

ThRedHeadsOK gang, got a classy black tie wedding to shoot?  Then go out there and shoot that wedding looking really good.  One of my favorite clients has been featured in this blog many times has just started a brand new business –  I love the concept – tux shirts that rock.

What I love is their ability now to do made-to-order tuxedo or dress shirts for wedding parties in a gorgeous array of 16 colors, as the couple may choose what best enhances their color scheme for a truly remarkable wedding! They also have four designs IN-STOCK for weddings that may happen sooner, including a fantastic Tartan which would look amazing for holiday & winter weddings.

Hey, I have my shirt and love it!  What a great idea to share with your wedding clients too.  You know, it’s always the difference that makes the difference – even in tux shirts. Check out their rockin’ tux shirts right here – nothing like them anywhere, you’re going to love them! –David

4. A Little Inspiration To Start The Week

My long time friend, Terry Deglau, has been posting to his blog, “A Creative Mind Is A Moving Target” for several months now.  Each post is more exciting than the next.  Terry has been part of this profession for many years first as a photographer, then a  very long stint at Kodak Company, and now retired Terry is sharing his rich lifelong experiences for photographers to read everywhere.

Terry BlogWhat we have available in Terry’s weekly blog is a peek into the mind of wonderful artist, photographer, and industry friend.  Each week’s post is a must read and I never miss them.  Check out his latest post exploring 100+ iconic portraits of all time.

In Terry’s words, “This is going to blow your socks off.  Kick back, grab a blanket on this chilly Sunday, a hot pot of coffee, and settle into your favorite chair, and just take in, consume, and enjoy these images of characters who formed our world around us.  I should publish these as a small coffee table book, to enjoy today, tomorrow, on and on.  I have read this post at least 10 times and after lunch, I will again.”  Here is the link right here.

5. The View From The Top Of The World

Mt EverestAre you ready for your mountaintop experience?  I have always been enthralled by stories featuring climbs to the top of Mount Everest.  I had a client who climbed many of the mountains in that part of the world including K2, another of the world’s tallest mountains.

Maybe I am living vicariously through the eyes of others who have made it to the top of the worlds tallest peaks.  Nevertheless that view must be a breathtaking sight.  How about following this link right here to see the first ever 360 degree panorama image ever taken from the top of the world.  Prepared to be inspired!


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  My Napa Experience workshop begins in just about an hour so I've got to be hitting the road.  I'm really looking forward to these next few days. Fran Russell, one of my former Master Class alums has set up our winery locations and all the models.  I hear both the models and the locations are amazing!  The really cool thing is that 2 of our Sedona alums are also attending the Napa Experience.  I have to say, I'm quite flattered.

We had a nice meet up at Fran’s studio last evening and everybody got a chance to meet and “break the ice” for the week. We have a great group and LaDawn and I are really looking forward to the next few days.

How about I check in with everyone bright and early tomorrow for recap of todays shoot and another mind bending (OK, that’s pushing it a little) fabulous Technique Tuesday.  I promise, it will be a good one.  It's title - Light Bending, Pixel Pushing, Sync Cheating Lighting!

Have a great day everybody.

See ya' tomorrow,  David

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Blowing In The Wind"

Blowing In The Wind

"Blowing In The Wind"
© David A. Ziser

This image was made on Monday during my Dave Cross Workshop. We had dropped down to the water walk which offered some gorgeous natural light for many of the images I shot.  I wanted to do something different though.  I wanted to turn the bride’s face away from the  natural direction of light and light her with flash from the other direction.

I placed a small radio triggered shoe mount flash on the ledge camera left.  This image gets kind of interesting when you hear how I pulled off the interesting “Hollywood” spot lighting on the bride. 

I chose to use, are you ready, a 1/500 second shutter speed!  Using this faster shutter speed only exposed the top section of the camera's CMOS sensor during the exposure where the bride’s head was placed leaving the rest of the scene unaffected by the flash. 

The finished result shows an almost spotlighted lighting effect on our bride allowing the rest of the scene to go about 2 stops darker.  Kind of cool, don’t you think?

Anyway, I love how the image came out.  And, guess what, I discovered a brand new way to make my lighting exciting.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 200mm, F 8.0 @ 1/500 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

A New Book In The Works & I Need Your Help!

Good Afternoon Everybody,

I've got some great news for everybody today.  I just had a meeting with my good buddies at Kelby Media who published my first book, “Captured By The Light”, and guess what - I just got the OK for my second book, "Make Your Lighting Exciting".  And I’m stoked!

Here is where I need your help.  I've got a rough outline laid out for the book but I would sure like to get input from our loyal readers in case I missed anything.

Let me show you what I've got so far.  Here is the super rough draft of ideas and it targets all photographers, not just wedding photographers..

Make Your Lighting Exciting:

0046-Kelby - Hope and Ben-IMG_8121- The characteristics of light

  • Small Light source
  • Large Light source
  • Hybrid light sources

- Do brands make a difference - Light is Light

- What kind of lighting and when to use it:

  • For brides
  • Larger groups
  • Character studies
  • Lighter skin vs. darker skin tones

- Why understand lighting ratios:

  • Contrast control
  • Specular vs. diffused highlights

Pretty In PinkIMG_9528-Edit- Make your lighting exciting:

  • Lighting for mood
  • Lighting for beauty
  • Lighting for dramatic effect

- The right lighting for your lens choice

  • Wide angle lens, what kind of light
  • Telephoto lens, what kind of light

Hot To TrotIMG_1830- Light sources

  • Shoe mount strobes
  • Off camera portable strobes
  • Studio lighting
  • Continuous output lights

- Using lighting to create shadows

  • Shadows for backgrounds
  • Shadows for dramatic effect
  • Shadows to hide defects
  • Shadows to create dimension
  • Shadows to flatter the subject

- Lighting gear that doesn't break the bank

- Easy lighting setups to get great results

- Reflectors made easy

0006- Perfect PortraitsIMG_2219- Telephoto reflectors, or how to really throw the light

- Everyday items that make creative light sources

- Creating your own "shoestring budget" lighting studio

OK, What do you think so far?  I'd sure like to hear from our readers with any additional ideas and topics you would like to see covered.

How About A $50 B&H Gift Certificate For Your Thoughts?

I'll tell you what I'll do.  Everyone who submits an idea or topic will be eligible to win a $50 Gift Certificate from B&H - how about that for a little incentive;~)

I can't wait to see what you come up with.  Please leave all your suggestions in the Comment section below with your name.  In a few weeks, I'll review the ideas to date and see what we've got and then select a winner. 


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  I've got to get ready for my program tonight at the Orange County Photography Center.  It looks like we've got a full house and I'm really looking forward to visiting with everyone this evening.  I sure hope you can make it and please be sure to come on up and say HI.

We head out tomorrow for Northern California for my Napa/Sonoma Experience beginning Sunday evening.  So over these next few weeks, I should have some pretty exciting images to share with you.

Have a great weekend and I'll see you bright and early on Monday morning from Wine Country.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Stormy Days Ahead"

Stormy Days Ahead

"Stormy Days Ahead"
© David A. Ziser

OK, this doesn’t look like a very romantic wedding image.  Add to that the title I’ve selected for this image, it doesn’t even sound like the marriage is going to last.

Call it all poetic license – I just like the very dramatic look to the photograph.  It was our second day shooting in Florida and the sky just wasn’t going to yield a rich blue sky with white puffy clouds.

How did I pull it off?  It was pretty easy.  The first secret is to use a very wide angle lens because it gives you such a wide perspective and really draws the clouds into the scene.  The second secret is determining the exposure for the over all scene and then underexposing the scene a bit to add the drama to the sky.

The exposure on the bride was created with my off camera flash coming in from camera right.  The challenge was this.  Since I was using such a small aperture, I needed to get the strobe close enough to the bride to establish the proper exposure on her face.  In reality, part of my assistant was actually in the photograph along with my strobe and monopod on the right hand side of the image.

Whenever your light source is in the photograph, be sure to place it in a “Photoshop-able” part of the scene.  The light and part of my assistant could be seen in the clouds on the right.  But with a quick application of PS CS5 “content aware fill”, they were easily removed in a matter of seconds leaving me with this dramatic wedding image.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm, F14 @ 1/320 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Business Day Thursday: Are You Stealing Your Work – Part 2

Good Morning Everybody,

What a great time we had last night in San Diego.  I can’t believe it –when I added up all the door prizes we give away, it totaled over $3,000!!!  My sincere thanks to all our sponsors, especially our newest sponsors, OnOne Software and Calumet Photographic who combined put up $800 worth of the prize winnings.

We had a wonderful crowd and they were locked to their seats till  we wrapped the program about 10:35 p.m.  LaDawn was also thrilled I ended the program just about on time too ;~)   (Yes,you are correct, that made me VERY happy!) The program went off without a hitch.  Today it’s on to Las Angeles/Orange County where we will present my Captured By The Light program tomorrow evening and we will give away another $3,000 in door prizes! We still have a few seats available – not many, but a few.  I hope you’ll join us.

Are You Stealing Your Work – Part 2

TheifFor today’s Business Day Thursday post I want you to think about something important.  If you attend someone’s workshop, like mine for example, or grab some shots from say a big shooting setup extravaganzas like the American Photo Model Shoot that has been touring the country, do you take credit for the images you capture and claim it as your own?  I think it all depends.

Recently I received a comment from Rob Goldstein, one of our DPT readers.  He posed the question about the legitimacy of posting your shots as your own in this type of situation.  Scott Kelby hosted a long discussion on "the Grid" about posting shots from workshops in your portfolio. 

The thrust of that Grid episode was Make it your own. These four words sum up a very spirited discussion between Scott, RC and the live viewers on whether or not it's ethical to take a picture snapped during a workshop (especially one where the instructor sets up the entire shot) and put it on your professional portfolio as a representative of your body of work to a potential client. – you can find that episode right here.

Here are my thoughts on the subject - which I’ve posted here a few years ago, but are even more relevant in today’s new photographic educational climate.  Years ago at the beginning of my photographic career I attended a week long workshop by the top wedding photographer of the time, Rocky Gunn

Rocky GunnHere is a photo of Rocky in the middle with a very young Monte Zucker on the left and Bill Stockwell, also one of the top wedding photography influencers of the day.  Rocky was undoubtedly one of the most inspirational and influential wedding photographers. Let me share my thoughts and experience with you again about that week with THE wedding MASTER.

During that week, we had a beautiful couple who was posing for us or rather posing for Rocky. Each of the class was going to receive Rocky's top 50 images for the week.  That was like a really BIG thing - we got a chance to take a bit of Rocky home with us so we could study his images, refresh our memories and eventually take our own photography to the next level.

I Had The Gear – I Was Going To Get The Shot Too!

Sure, everybody was shooting over Rocky's shoulder to try to capture the shot. Everybody had their cameras blazing taking photographs of the couple. I remember at one point Rocky found a spectacular location, posed the bride and groom into a beautiful composition.  Next, he grabbed a 40mm Distagon lens super wide angle lens and placed it on his Hasselblad.

40mm  DistagonWow! In my camera bag I had the identical lens - a $6000 optic that only a few photographers even owned. I quickly attached it to my camera. I watched how Rocky framed the shot. I framed the image identically and I took the photograph. I thought, “Wow that image will make a great sample print for me when I get home.”

But Was That Shot MY Image?

Here is the rest of the story. After getting back home, I couldn't wait to get my film off to the lab.  It would only be a few weeks till I got the proofs back I was able to see my results.

Anyway, they finally arrived and I started looking through MY (note emphasis on MY) images.  There it was – the shot – the most beautiful shot that Rocky had done all week. Yes, I was holding a nearly perfect replica of Rocky's gorgeous shot in my hands – the image that I had simply pushed the button and taken too!

My intent was to have this negative enlarged to a 30” x 40” photograph, frame it, and hang it in my studio as the example of MY(emphasis again) work.

A Conscience Check & Second Thoughts

Good AngelDon't ask me exactly what happened at this point. Maybe it was my photographic guardian angel sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear saying, "But David you didn't take that shot.  Rocky set it up and you copied the shot. It wasn't your original creative thought. Why do you think making a large wall sized portrait is representative of your work - it's not.  It's still Rocky's shot!"

Well, the words my little photographic guardian angel whispered in my head hit me in a profound way.  It was at that moment that I realized that I had indeed copied the shot. It wasn't my original idea or even my composition. It was not my shot at all.

I quietly reinserted the negative back into the negative glassine and placed it back into the envelope with all the negatives from the week. I never printed any of those negatives up for samples. They were filed away. And to this day I have no clue where those negatives are.

If I had decided to make up the samples, I would have been stealing - I guess the correct term is plagiarizing Rocky's work.  What credit is that to my own creativity and ability as a wedding photographer - the answer is none. What was important to me that special week was that I learned what Rocky was doing. I was able to take his lessons and let them mix with my own creative juices.  That combination of creativity has allowed me to create many, many images that I could call uniquely my own.

There are many students shooting over the Master’s shoulders.  Many students think they are there for the Master to set up the images so they can shoot the shot to what - call it their own for their "portfolio" images. Folks, nothing could be more unethical.

It's not about copying the work of the Master.  It's about learning the techniques from the Master, blending and mixing them with your own creative processes, and then truly producing an original work on your own.

Experiences From My Master Class

This same thing happens a lot at my workshops. Now we  bring in the cute models and, sure I set up a few of my shots, and sure, some folks shoot over my shoulder, I hope more to reference my shot than to copy it.  But, then again, I don’t know.

Class picHow about class members that take the shooting opportunity to create their own UNIQUE images from the opportunity I have given them through my Master Class or workshop – are they stealing my images?  I think not.  They are taking what I have tried to teach in the class session, adding their own perspective and interpretation to the pose and making an image that they can call their own.  I love this image taken by one of our class members – I wish I had thought of it first ;~)

For example, last week during my Fall Master Class I was blown away by some of the images that were submitted for review.  Many were completely different than anything I shot and in my opinion, that student has the right to use that image in their portfolio.

If on the other hand,  I set up a shot and captured a few images and then a student steps in right behind me and grabs the same photograph, then NO, that is is mine, not theirs.  Simply said – a copied image is NOT an original image!

Getting The Best Learning Experience

My best advice to every "student" reading this is to, with the teachers permission, time sync your camera to his/her camera and shoot wide-angle overall views of whatever they are doing. In my classes, I always give the students a class CD with all the my favorite images I shot from the workshop. Their time synced overviews with my favorite shots gives them a wonderful learning tool whereby then can revisit the week anytime they want and study any of the shots I've put together.

What an efficient way to ramp up learning if indeed you are trying to emulate the work of somebody you truly admire in the profession. When I was attending classes - back in the film days, we never had that kind of luxury. In today's digital world, every student today has the luxury of learning more quickly, the ability to fine-tune our techniques, and become a much better photographers in your own right if you make the effort.

It's not about copying the Master, it's about you becoming a Master yourself!

Food for thought--


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  LaDawn and I are heading up to LA later this morning and planning to hook up with my buddy Don Zimmer, DZ West as I’ve nicknamed him.  Don has been involved with the Orange County Photographic Center for many years so I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s been up to.  That is also the location  we will be conducting my CBTL program tomorrow evening.

Have a great rest of the day and I’ll see ya’ tomorrow.

North bound and down, David

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"A Pretty As She Can Be"

A Pretty As She Can Be

"A Pretty As She Can Be"
© David A. Ziser

I think this is about as beautiful as a bridal portrait can be.  The look of our bride, the subtle smile, the slight tip of the head, the soft S-curve running through her figure, makes this image a classic beauty.  The pose really shows off the dress and the lighting is as flattering as it can be on the subject.  The bottom line, it is one very beautiful bridal portrait.

Now having said that, this image did not come easily together.  We were walking through Philippe Park looking for a location for our next image.  I spotted the large palm frawns that you see behind the bride.  The only problem was that they were too dark.

I felt that if I could brighten the tonalities up considerably, I just might create a pleasing background for my portrait.  I had one member of our class take my Quantum 150 watt-second strobe and get 15 feet behind the bride and point the strobe, at  full power at the palm frawns about 10 more feet away.  That did the job for me placing the tonal values of the palm frawns exactly where I wanted them.

Next I needed to get the beautiful loop lighting on her face.  I pulled out an inexpensive show mount flash, attached my Quantum Freewire radio trigger to it and fired it off through my 42” Zumbrella coming in from camera right. 

Whenever you use a shoe mount flash through an umbrella, be sure the wide angle diffuser is in place so that you get the maximum cone of light coming out of the flash head in order to completely fill the Zumbrella’s translucent surface.  That’s how I was able to get that beautiful soft quality of light on her face.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm lens at 145mm, F5.6 @ 1/320 second, ISO 640.  Enjoy!  -David

Composing The Wedding Image: So Close Yet So Far

Good Morning Everybody,

Cloud vistaWe raced to beat the incoming storms out of Tampa and Atlanta on the way to San Diego yesterday. Once we reached our cruising altitude the vistas from 30,000 feet were beautiful.  The flight was an easy 4 hour trip and, as luck would have it and my Delta Platinum status, we got booted up to the big seats.  That really made LaDawn a happy camper ;~)

Today is our first somewhat easy day in the last 10 days so we are looking forward to having a few less busy days ahead of us till next week. I really enjoy presenting my Captured By The Light program and we always enjoy the folks we meet during our tour travels.

We open the doors at about 5:00 p.m. this evening and will have our good friends from OnOne Software on hand to preview all the cool new features of their brand new Perfect Suite which is releasing very soon.  Be sure to stop by and check it out.

By the way, LaDawn is still looking for a helping hand tonight and  two volunteers for our LA-Orange County program on Friday and one more for our Napa/Sonoma program next Wednesday.  Please drop her a note at if you would like to help.

So Close Yet So Far, But Not That Far

Last week we finished up my Digital Master Class and this time we had about the best set of images overall submitted by the class for our image review. Many really hit it out of the park image-wise.

There were also a few that were so close - in fact they were really very good.  But with just a small tweak or two I think the image would really "sing".  Today I went to revisit a very popular series I started last year entitled, "The One That Got Away".  It will be a discussion of a few of those types of images.

My appreciation to our Master Class for allowing me to select a few such images for discussion.  I feel this is a very valuable teaching/learning experience.  This isn't to say I know it all about what makes a great image, but I feel that as you follow along with me in my discussion, you to will agree with many of the things I point out.  Why don't we give it a try and see what you think.  Here we go.

Take a look at the image below. 


Here is what I love about the image:

1. I love the near centered symmetry of the image.  Look how with the railings lead your eye from the outside of the image directly to the bride.

2. I also like the use of the fisheye in this image. Even with the fisheye distortion, I don’t think it detracts from the photograph.  Plus, it’s super easy to fix in Lightroom 3 with the lens correction controls.

3. I like the easy pose on the steps of the church.  I, myself have never been a fan of sitting the bride on church steps.  Call that a slightly dated reaction to the days when it was nearly impossible to get the bride anywhere near the ground with her gown.  Brides today don’t seem to care about that as much and quite often will sit down.

4. I like the centered positioning of the bouquet in the image as well.  With the bride’s nearly centered position and the same for the bouquet, the viewer’s eye only has one place to look – at the subject.

Now a few points about where we see the near misses:

Orig41. I wish the bride’s head was not so tilted.  It almost looks like it is going to fall off her shoulders.  Remember, as we direct the subject for a photograph (dare I say the word “pose”), it should always be our goal to flatter our subject making her look her best.  I think just a little less “tilt” her would have done just that. Plus, I don’t believe that we have captured the bride’s best expression.

2.  I sure wish the light had been brought in from camera left and positioned to place a nice dimensional loop lighting pattern on her face. 

With the light coming in from camera right like we see in this image, it really broadens the subject’s face hence the term broad lighting.  Broad lighting is usually the most unflattering lighting to use on your subject because it makes them appear much heavier than they really are.

3.  I really don’t like the near centered symmetry of the image. I know I said that’s what I loved about the image above.  What I loved was that it was almost centered – I just wish that the bride had been perfectly centered in the image.  That was the near miss for me about this image.

Look at the next image:


I moved the bride over a bit more to the center of the image.  Still the image is not quite “singing” to me. 

Let’s move her over just a bit more to the center of the steps (Thank goodness for Adobe’s content aware fill.)


Now the image really starts to come alive compositionally.  The bride needed to be centered on the steps for the best photographic impact. Now we have all lines leading directly to her.  When you compare this image with the first image, the first image, for me, is like a gong going off.  Ouch, it just misses the mark because of the none centered position of the subject.

You know, it’s the little things that count.  It’s the little things we need to be aware of to make our images stand above the competition’s.  The next time you set up a shot, give it a quick once over visually just to double check that all the little things are in place.  That quick second check can make all the difference in the world.


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  NIK software is undergoing renovations at their headquarters and I thought I would head over and say HI. 

How about I see everybody tonight for the kick off of city #1 of Captured By The Light.  I hope to see you in San Diego.  And if we miss each other tonight, I hope to see you right here bright and early tomorrow morning for another scintillating episode of Business Day Thursday.

See ya' then everybody,  David