Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Standing On The Corner Watching All The Boys Go By”

0001 - Standing On The Corner-

© David A. Ziser

Here is another image captured from that great Dave Cross Workshop I gave back in October. Our model was just beautiful and the park we worked in was to “die for” photographically speaking of course.

This image was made in the middle of the road.  Yes, we were dodging the cars, but the background from this vantage point was just amazing!  Look how the tree branches camera right lead your eye directly to the subject. That, BTW, is why I brought the light in from that direction too.

This is an easy natural pose that really flatters our bride – notice the smooth S-curve line running through her body from head to toe.

Lighting was easy – just my strobe through my Zumbrella coming in from camera right at 1/4 power.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 120mm, F5.6 @ 1/125 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy! –David

So Do You Know What You’re Shutter’s Doing?

Good Morning Everybody,

I'm looking forward to having these long, last couple of days behind us. We leave for the plane in just a couple of hours and LaDawn and I are both looking forward to catching up with friends in Mexico and enjoying a little R&R these next couple of weeks.

Going To CaboThe weather forecast looks perfect with temperatures hovering in the low/mid 80s – that sure will be a break from our three rainy 40 degree days in the greater Cincinnati area;~)

Anyway, our bags are packed and were ready to go. With my early wake-up call yet again today I got a chance to put a quick post together for you before we head out of town. It's a short one but I still think it gives you food for thought and I hope you enjoy it.

So Do You Know What You’re Shutter’s Doing?

So the question is do you know what your shutter is doing? That might sound like a strange question but, if you follow DigitalProTalk, you know that I "cheat the sync" quite often - like in this image.

Cheating The sync 4

What does that mean, exactly? It means that I use a faster shutter speed than the  native sync speed of 1/250 second on my Canon 7D. The reason for that is the fact that I want to darken the sky substantially by underexposing it and really have the subject pop out from the background.

When working outdoors even with low ISOs I still, many times, am using a fairly small aperture at 1/250 second. Small apertures necessitates the use of even greater flash power but with my Quantum T5d, I'm limited to 150 watt seconds. The only way to darken the sky without changing the aperture is by increasing the shutter speed. But, there is a problem with that. At the native sync speed the CMOS sensor is fully exposed to the flash. As I begin going beyond the native sync speed the shutter curtains will cover part of the CMOS sensor during my flash exposure.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. As long as you know which part of the CMOS sensor is exposed at the various shutter speeds, you will have a working solution for using faster than normal sync speeds. Check out the next few images.

Cheating The Sync0You can see that the first was shot at the native sync speed and the CMOS sensor is fully exposed. The second image, with the shutter speed of 1/320 of a second, the shutter curtains reveal most of the CMOS sensor meaning that I can routinely use 1/320 second as a normal shooting sync speed.

Cheating Sync 1The third image was taken at 1/400 second and you can see that that the flash did not reach the bottom third of the sensor. No problem – if we keep the subject in the flash illuminated part of the sensor.  Then our exposure should be just fine.

Now look at the fourth example below – it was taken at 1/500 second. Still, with only the the top 1/2 of the CMOS sensor receiving the light from the flash I could still make the shutter speed work for me.

Cheating Sync 2

CBTL bookI know what you're thinking, "How can 1/500 second work if the bottom half of the CMOS sensor never receives any light." The easy answer to this; and I mentioned it many times in my seminars, you simply rotate the camera 180° and frame up your subject in the flash sync part of the viewfinder. It actually works like a charm check out the image below - it was taken from my book "Captured By The Light". Just a reminder… you can still pick up an autograph copy for only $29.95 till Christmas. Simply visit my Digital Resource Center for all the information.

Upside down pic

Yes, I flipped the camera 180° and put the bride and groom within the flash sync part of the viewfinder and captured what I believe to be a great result. This allowed my sky to pick up the rich tonalities I desired and provided the necessary light to fully illuminate the bride’s dress.

DAZNOTE: Remember, even though these examples are showing the bottom part of the sensor as totally unexposed, that's not the case in "real life". The ambient light will still strike the non flashed part of the sensor giving me plenty of detail in that section of the image.  The image just looks like it's slightly vignetted which works quite well for many of my dramatic pictorial images.

So let's get back to our original question – do you know what your shutter is doing? The easy way to check your shutter's behavior is to put your camera on manual and take your off-camera flash, I prefer the Quantum strobes, and make several exposures at different shutter speeds to determine which part of the CMOS sensor is exposed during these various shutter speeds.

That's exactly what I did to come up with these four photographs. Notice that the fifth image above is completely black. That tells me with my camera 1/1000 second none of my flash reaches the CMOS sensor. But, what my little experiment did show me was that I can get by with working faster shutter speeds of 1/320 of a second, 1/400 of a second, and 1/500 of a second routinely.

So run the test yourself and see what your camera does at those very shutter speeds. I also need to point out that shoe-mount flashes will limit your fastest shutter speed to 1/250 second unless, of course, you activate the high-speed flash sync feature within your shoe-mount flash.

People many times asked me why I just don't use the high-speed flash sync feature. The main reason is because the power output from these small flashes is simply not large enough to give me the power I need outdoors. For me, the more power the better to capture those dramatic outdoor bridal pictorials that I so enjoy creating.

HighSpeedFlashSync_thumb5I had planned, over the last couple weeks, to do a Technique Tuesday discussing high-speed flash sync. Bad weather most of those days and an overwhelming amount of work kept me from really getting that tutorial completed. I've got three shoe-mount flashes packed in my suitcase so maybe when we get the Mexico I'll be able to get that tutorial organized to share with you.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. Our plane leaves shortly and with one stop in Dallas we should be at our final destination by 4:30 p.m. this afternoon. How about I see everybody tomorrow same time, same place for our weekly Business Day Thursday post. Our topic tomorrow – "Hickory Farms Does It and Omaha Steaks does It, Do You?”

I'll leave you to ponder the meaning of the title until we get together again tomorrow. Have a great rest of the day and I'll see you tomorrow hailing from San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico.

Adios Everybody, – David

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Cabo Afterglow"

Cabo Afterglow-IMG_4536

"Cabo Afterglow"
©David A. Ziser

Since we are heading to  Mexico tomorrow I thought I'd post one of those fabulous Cabo sunsets.  This image was taken last December about a year while on a visit to San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. Every time we head to Cabo this time of the year, the sunsets are always magnificent.  This evening was no exception.

This view is from the beautiful Westin Hotel which is on the way to Cabo San Lucas, near where we stay when visiting that beautiful part of the world.  Even with a few tweaks in Lightroom 2, this is pretty much how I remember the sunset that beautiful evening.

The foreground is actually a reflection pool.  I positioned myself very near to its surface so I could get the "infinity pool" look in the image. The two lone palms framed the image of the sky, sunset, and reflection perfectly.

The results of this image speaks to the beauty of the moment. Moments that we should all strive to make a bigger part of our busy lives. 

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 10-22mm wide angle lens at 10mm, F 8.0 @1/200 second, ISO 200. Enjoy!  David

The Technique Tuesday That Almost Wasn’t Today: I’ve Seen The Light

poGood Afternoon Everybody,

Hey gang, sorry but I have to cut the post short today. We have been totally swamped around here today trying to get everything finished up before we leave tomorrow. Well, I didn’t quite make it.

I was hoping to pull off a cool Photoshop Technique Tuesday but just ran out of time. I do have one very piece of good news for you though. We have the PhotoPro Expo 2012 website “LIVE”. It’s about 99% complete so please check it out. You won’t believe what you see! 

Be sure to check out our complete speaker line up, all the parties, special highlights happening during the tradeshow, print competition, a Day With Jerry Ghionis, and all the other exciting things we have planned.

It’s going to be one very cool photography convention.

PPE screen grab

Oh, what the heck, let me have you enjoy a “blast from the past”.  It’s one of my favorites. here we go…

I've Seen The Light: Or How To Find The Best Light When Shooting Outdoors

In this tutorial I want to walk you through a short lesson in how to find the direction of light in a natural light situation -- say, outdoors. I think this is one of the hardest things for photographer to learn.

You would think it would be a easy but, I can remember years ago when my instructors were trying to teach me how to do it and, I didn't find it that easy. I'm just covering the tip of the iceberg today but I hope it gives you some insights on how to improve your natural light photography. Anyway, it's the PLAY button below and enjoy the show.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I’m running late and running out of time.  Have a great evening. I’ll try to get a quick post up sometime tomorrow and we dance through a couple of airports on our way to Mexico;~)

Have a good one and I’ll see you then, David

Monday, November 28, 2011

"The Future of America”

0001 - Future of America-

"The Future of America
© David A. Ziser

OK, part of the future anyway ;~)  This image is actually a combination of three images that I made at separate times last year. As a Christmas gift, I took LaDawn and her three kids, along with their significant others, to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. We all had a great time but, being the only photographer on the trip, it fell to me to do the family portrait. We got the locations scouted, the clothing coordinated, and headed to the beach. During the session I made LaDawn VERY happy with a great series of portrait images of everyone.

Eight months later we were in Florida to visit two kids. LaDawn had the idea of including them in the family portrait session that we had done with her children earlier in the year. The plan for the 2nd and 3rd shoot was to have my kids, wear the same type of casual clothing so that I could easily add them to the earlier portrait of the other five kids photographed eight months earlier.

This image is actually the subject of my Technique Tuesday for tomorrow. There was an extensive amount of Photoshop that had to be done just to extend  the background to include my two kids in the photograph.  I'll get into greater depth about that tomorrow.

Lighting was quite simple – all natural light in all three cases. I had to be sure to have a soft natural light which you see coming in from the right and it had to be from the same direction for all three images.

As a family portrait, I think this image has a wonderful sense of rhythm and good feeling about it. The positioning of each one of the subjects individually complements the entire family group when taken as a whole.

Anyway, I think we are very lucky parents to have such a great family portrait of our combined families. LaDawn spent the weekend framing up the portraits which will hang in our small media room on the second floor of our home. They’ll look great!

Camera specs - Image 1 (Joshua, Kristen, Bob, Lindsay & Zak): Canon 7D fitted with Canon 100mm macro IS lens IS lens at 3.2 @1/500 of a second, ISO 200.

Image 2 (Aaron): Canon 7D fitted with 18–200mm IS lens at 80mm, F9.0 @ 1/250 of a second, ISO 500.

Image 3 (Elizabeth): Canon 7D fitted with 18–200mm IS lens at 70mm, F8.0 @ 1/250 of a second, ISO 500.

Enjoy! – David

Quick Hit Monday: Print Competitions; Wedding Photography; Photoshop Freebies & More!

Good Early Morning Everybody,

I sure hope everyone had a great weekend. LaDawn and I got a chance to hang out with many good friends we haven't seen in a long time over the weekend. It was truly a blessing to revisit and was a nice break from our, too often, chaotic rush. The break didn't last long though. We are utterly swamped these next two days trying to get the last of our projects completed before we leave for Cabo, Mexico on Wednesday morning.

Join The Fun – Print Competition Coming Your Way!

One of the big things I spent a lot of time on over the weekend was organizing our online HOT SHOTS Print Competition & Review coming up on Thursday, December 8, 2011. I sure hope you got a chance to read my complete post on it over the weekend. [link]

Hot Shots Fall LogoThe print competition is being hosted by PhotoPro Network and gives all the photographers in our association a chance to submit their images to see how they might fare in our full-fledged print competition coming up in February at our PhotoPro Expo.  We've opened up the competition to all photographers around the world. You can submit up to six digital images for the very small entry fee of only $25. And, the good news is that you have a chance to win up to $1000 in prizes. Those prizes include software from NIK software, OnOne software, Graphic Authority, and many more.

We're limiting the number of total prints submitted to only 200 to be sure that we can get them all judged in our allotted two hours. You can do the math – with a limited number of entries you have a great chance to win some of our great prizes.

Antennas4In addition to the print competition, we also have arranged to do a Worldwide Webcast of the competition and critique of those images. The webcast is FREE and open to everyone. Were all set with our three-judge panel of experts to judge the prints on December 8 and we already have a few entries with my quick announcement on Friday.

I'll be moderating the webcast from San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico; the three print judges and print moderator will be near Lexington Kentucky: Our tech support person is in Atlanta, GA and I'll have my staff standing by to monitor everything at my studio in the Greater Cincinnati area.

So, I hope you'll be able to join us by both entering your prints into the competition and also following along during the webcast. Oh, one more thing – even if you can't tune into the webcast, you will be instantly notified of your image scores via text and e-mail. It's all part of the new technology that we are test driving during our HOT SHOTS Print Competition & Review. It should be very informative as well as great fun. You can get all the information right here.

Update on PhotoPro Expo 2012

I am so stoked that our PhotoPro Expo 2012 Convention is coming together so well. Today I'm working with a web developer to put the finishing touches on the website and it should be live by the end of today.

PPE logo

Once I know everything is ready to go, I'll amend this post later today to show the new link. I sure hope you'll check it out, and I sure hope you'll consider joining us here in the greater Cincinnati area on Super Bowl weekend, that’s February 2nd through the 5th.

We are so excited to bringing to the Expo 16 world-class speakers including Scott Kelby, Jerry Ghionis, Sarah Petty, Kirk Voclain, Joel Grimes, Vincent Laforet, and nine others which should make it one of the top photographic convention destinations for next year. As I said, I’ll give you the update to the link as soon as I know everything is working smoothly. I sure hope you'll check it out and join me in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area for this outstanding opportunity to learn form the best.

Quick Hit Monday – Here We Go!

Those were two of the most important tips I wanted to get out to you today but, I think it's now time we get to our Quick Hit Monday. I've scoured the Internet looking for the most scintillating links to include in today's post. They cover wedding photography, inspirational photography,  Photoshop and Lightroom tutorials and freebies, and even a few iPad centric links for you too. Let's get right to it.

Photography At It’s Best

Anna Kuperberg’s Best Piece of Advice Ever for Wedding Photographers: [link]

Anna Kuperberg is an extremely talented wedding photographer. In this post she gives some concrete advice on how to capture great images at your next wedding. If you're a beginner ready to explore photographing weddings, you don't want to miss this post.

Extreme Architecture: [link]

ArchtechureAlong those same lines, check out these architectural images as well. If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know that I'm a big fan of line, shape, and form when it comes to composing my images. That's one thing that really turned me on about this post – all the elements that make a great image represented in this series of images. Check it out and you'll see what I mean.

Tiny gadgets: World’s Smallest Functional Digital Camera: [link]

Small CameraOK, it could be said that I am sort of a gadget freak. That's why I like this post about the world's smallest functioning digital camera. In my early days of photography, I was always interested in small cameras and owned one of those very small 16mm cameras of many years past. If you're kind of a geek freak like me, check out this post… just kind of fun.

When Too Much Photography is Barely Enough: 126 Amazing Links:  [link]

Just when you thought I was giving you way too many links to check out, this link right here will keep you busy through the New Year.  126 amazing photography links and many of them are pretty cool. Take your time and enjoy the browse.

Photoshop Tutorials and Freebies

How to Replace a Face in Photoshop in 6 Easy Steps: [link]

When I first looked at this tutorial, I thought another “head swap” tutorial. But then as I reviewed it more closely, I noticed that this tutorial was going into much greater depth in using some techniques for face alignment that I had never even thought of. That's why I'm including it in today's post. If your wedding or portrait photographer looking for a better way to do your “head swaps” then this post is for you.

Use the Black & White filter in Photoshop: [link]

Great BWI'm a huge fan of black and white and always enjoy a post that shows me how to obtain a better result. This is a great post that explores that topic.

Craft Great Black & White Images in Lightroom: [link]

And, since I'm a huge Lightroom fan, I'm also interested in how I can achieve the best black-and-white image result in Lightroom. This tutorial will give you some good insights into how to make your black-and-white images better in Adobe's great software.

15 Photoshop Effects To Add Life to Your Photos: [link]

Everybody wants their images to look their best. This post shows you 15 ways in which you can enhance your images in many creative ways. It's worth a look.

Weekly Freebies: Flourishes and Ornaments: [link]

SwirlsNow on to the Photoshop Freebie section.  This is one of my favorite links that I found over the weekend. LaDawn's put together a great collection of swirls and twirls for use in the LumaPix:PhotoFusion software [link]. The swirls and twirls featured in this post looks like were going to have to convert them for use in LumaPix as well. There are some really good enhancements – check it out.

Ultimate Collection of 220 Free High Quality Fabric Textures: [link]

On that same thinking - LaDawn loves using textures in her LumaPix:: FotoFusion software projects and this is one of the best collection of fabric textures I've seen in a long time. It's a definite download for us.

Top 20 Creatively Designed Grunge Fonts: [link]

Grunge FontsI'm not huge font family – it's like, just how many fonts do you really need. But every now and then I'll read about a new set of fonts that looks quite interesting. I think these fonts fill the bill. One should check them out right here – their free.

40 GIMP Photo Manipulation Tutorials for Designers: [link]

GIMP TutorialsWith all the evidence of our Nation’s economic down turn, and Adobe's new upgrade policy on its future releases of Photoshop as outlined in Scott Kelby’s open letter to Adobe [link], you just might want to check out the open source image manipulation software – GIMP.

I been following the development of GIMP for several years and it has really matured into a very robust product. Many of you may not even know what I'm talking about but check out these photo-manipulation tutorials right here using, not Photoshop,  but GIMP which is free.  More GIMP tutorials right here.

iPhone/iPad Anybody

7 iPhone and iPad Apps For Business That Have Just Been Made free: [link]

Now FreeThe world is a big fan of Apple's iPhone and about 30 million people  are huge fans of the iPad. That said let me point you to seven iPhone and iPad apps that went from costing money to free overnight. These apps are not photography centric but business centric and I think there's a few gems in the listing. You can check them out right here.

Turn Your iPad Into A Flash Drive and Awesome File Manager! [link]

And for the iPad geeks out there, I thought this was an extremely interesting post.

16 Incredible iPad Apps For Any Photographer: [link]

I think there is an amazing number of iPad apps available for photographers. My favorite to date has been NIK Software's Snapseed. But, check out these additional 16 photo apps for your iPad. These look kind of fun.


Hey everybody, that's it for me today. We are utterly swamped and it is going to be one full day. I still plan to get a brand-new Technique Tuesday online sometime tomorrow.

I hope things are good in your part of the world and that you were able to share many blessings with family and friends over the weekend. Have a great rest of the day. I'll plan to see everybody again tomorrow, same time - same station here at DigitalProTalk.

See you then, – David

Friday, November 25, 2011

"First Lights Of Christmas”

First Lights Of Christmas

"First Lights Of Christmas”
© David A. Ziser

It's officially the second day of the holiday season counting Thanksgiving as the first day. The Christmas music has been playing all day and we've putting finishing touches on the house decorations - LaDawn did most of the work ;~)  Everything looks great inside and out and LaDawn just finished getting her seventh Christmas trees decorated.

This is a close-up image of one of those trees. I think it captures the flavor and colors of the season as we move closer towards our favorite holiday.  I tried to pick up the reds, greens, and golds of the holiday season. I think this crop works pretty well in keeping the colors balanced throughout the composition. I did tweak the image just a bit in ACR to bring up the darker areas of the scene so as to better balance with the rest of the tonalities.

You can almost hear the crackles of the fireplace and smell the warm cider on the stove. I hope you're holiday season kicks off to a great start too.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with Sigma 85 MM F1.4 lens, F4.0 at 1/25 of a second, ISO 1600. Enjoy! – David


Hey gang, I had hoped to get a special announcement made in today's post and it just didn't quite make it.  But, no worries. I'm planning to work on the project for a few hours tomorrow so I'll definitely be getting the announcement up over the weekend. I think you're going to get a kick out of it and I sure hope you will be part of the fun.

On that note, I'm wrapping for the day. Everybody have a great weekend but don't forget to stop back tomorrow for my special announcement.

Happy holidays, David

Enter PhotoPro Network’s FALL Digital Image Competition, Review & Webcast! $1,000 in Prizes!

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Here is the big announcement I promised.  PhotoPro Network, you know, that great organization that’s hosting the Super Bowl of all photography conventions better known as PhotoPro Expo 2012 next February, is also kicking off it’s HOT SHOTS Fall image competition this weekend. Read all about it below.

Challenge yourself and your creativity and enter PhotoPro Network’s HOT SHOTS Fall Digital Image Competition, Review, & Webcast 

MoneyPhotographers from all around the world will be able to submit their images electronically RIGHT HERE. All images will be judged and reviewed by an esteemed panel of photographers and will be broadcast "LIVE" via a worldwide webcast.  Don’t miss the fun or your chance win a part of the $1,000 in prizes awarded to the winning entries.

Here is what you need to do. First, mark your calendars for:

Thursday December 8, 2011  6:00-8:00 p.m.

AntennasThat's the BIG day of the competition and image review.  To watch it “LIVE” you’ll need to register for the webcast right here or hit the secure registration button to the right. There is no charge to tune in and watch the Hot Shots Fall Competition & Review. 

Register for WebcastThe HOT SHOTS Fall Image Competition, Review & Webcast is for anyone wanting to learn how to make their images more exciting, more dramatic and technically more sound. You cannot afford to miss the opportunity. It’s really cool to see what goes through the judges mind as they review the images submitted.

That’s right – IT’S FREE to watch! 


It’s EASY To Enter!

Entering is easy and secure. Select your favorite 6 images and enter them in any or all of the following categories:

  • Portrait – Portraits of Adults, Children, Groups, etc.
  • Wedding/Event – Weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, etc.
  • Landscapes -  Scenics, Forests, Beaches, Mountains, etc.
  • Digital/Artistic – Digitally manipulated images, Composites, etc.
  • Wildlife – Anything is fair game ;~)
  • Sports – Football, Baseball, Soccer, Racing, etc.

Logon HereNow just hit the red button to the right then follow these easy steps:

  • Hit the “Register New User” button.
  • Enter your email address and select PPN – PhotoPro Network even if you are not a member then hit the REGISTER button.
  • Next fill out your contact information and create your password and hit the SUBMIT button.
  • Now you are on the print entry screen. Add your cell phone number to receive a TEXT as your image is scored – way cool!
  • Now select category from drop-down window, type the title of your entry, upload your images, pay your $25 entry fee and you are ready to go – It’s that EASY!

Digital Images must be sized approximately 6x9 @ 300 DPI for uploading and digital judging. Thanks.

Remember, 6 entries per person please.  The cost is only $25 to enter all 6 images and helps defray the costs of the competition and pay for the prizes. That’s all there is to it. You can always go back and even change your images before the deadline if you like.  You’ll also receive an email of your print scores.

Submission must be received by Midnight December 7, 2011 to be eligible for prizes.

Remember, you could win part of $1,000 in Prizes! So join the FUN!


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  Have a great rest of the weekend and I’ll see you on Monday.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Reason For Thanksgiving

Today is a very special day for many people around the country. May your day be as beautiful as the one pictured above. It’s a time when families and friends come together.  It’s a time when we give thanks for our many blessings.  As photographers we have many reasons to give thanks today.

Here is the quick list:

  • Let’s give thanks for the treasured memories we capture for brides and grooms and their families.
  • Let’s give thanks for the moments we freeze in time for families having that special portrait made.
  • Let’s give thanks for being able to record the smiles of so many babies and children with our cameras.
  • Let’s give thanks for being able to preserve the beauty of this wonderful world in which we live.
  • Let’s give thanks for being able to revel in the magic of this wonderful profession of ours.

Make today special and take a few moments to be THANKFUL.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!  -David

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Red Lining!"

0001 - Red Lining!-

"Red Lining!"
© David A. Ziser

Here we are again with one of my very fun abstract images.  Sort of makes you feel kind of dizzy doesn't it? This image was made during our Scott Kelby photo walk last October. I love our urban photo walks because there so much color to be seen everywhere in the city.This is simply a close-up of one of the building facades on Fountain Square, a very popular place to hang out.

I just went in close and isolated on the brightest colors of the façade.I think it's kind of a fun photograph and I offer it as kind of a welcome to the holiday season which begins tomorrow with Thanksgiving. Don't worry… I'll get back to portrait images in a day or two.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm lens at 100mm, F7.1 @ 1/125 second, ISO 400. Enjoy!  -David

Wednesday Wonderfulness: Creative Self Assignments

Good Afternoon Everybody,

We got a short day today. As a matter of fact we are only working a half day today. Unless we have some last minute orders, we have most everything caught up for holidays which is always a relief. Today LaDawn and I begin the holiday festivities with family so I'm going to keep today's post short and sweet.  Here we go.

Wednesday Wonderfulness: Creative Self Assignments

I think one of the best ways to get your creative juices flowing is with self assignments. Those self assignments can center around photographing shapes, colors, the alphabet, focal lengths, f-stops, shutter speeds, etc.  What I'm suggesting is to pick a theme like F1.4 and then make a whole series of images just at that single f-stop. Another way to do it is to select a certain lens focal length and then just make all your images at that single focal length.

Sigma 85mmI recently talked to my buddies up at Sigma USA and asked them if they could loan me one of their new 85mm F1.4 lenses. Happily they said yes and I should be getting that lens today... yippee, it just showed up!

I've said it a1 million times  that I'm just not a “fast glass” type of a guy.  I've always preferred image stabilization to fast class. I've also never been a fan of medium telephoto lenses.  I'm a wide angle lens freak and have always enjoyed exploring the outer reaches of the widest settings of my wide-angle lenses.

My good friend and Ace number one assistant, Nicholas Viltrakis, tested both the Sigma 85mm F1.4  and the Canon 85mm F1.2 lens.  He opted to go with the Sigma 85mm F1.4  mainly because  it saved him about $800 over the cost of the Canon lens and he loved its sharpness. Both lenses are really on the mark optically.  In fact Popular Photography magazine, in the current issue, named the Sigma 85mm F1.4 as one of the sharpest lenses they tested in that range. That's why I wanted to get my hands on one and give it a test drive.

85mm shot

Okay, I said I'm not a fast class guy and I'm not a fan of the medium format telephotos. So, why in the world would I want to test drive Sigma’s 85mm F1.4?  Here’s why. A few weeks ago when photographing a Bar Mitzvah, Nicholas brings his Sigma lens along to the shoot. He graciously offered me a chance to give it a try. After that short test drive, I fell in love with that lens.

Now you know I'm also a huge fan of high ISOs. I also love to capture candid expressions of the guests attending these events with just the natural light of the reception. That is exactly what I did capturing the image above. As you know, that light can be very, very dim. After trying Sigma 85mm F1.4 for a few images, The image was captured at 1/80 second @F1.4 at ISO 3200. It looks great and consequently I was hooked. The lens was just long enough to allow me to get my "reach-out-and-touch-somebody" candids  and the combination of the F1.4 aperture and my high ISO shooting, I had no problem at all capturing the images I wanted.

My New Self Portrait Assignment

Self AssignmentSo, what else can I use this lens for? I'm really looking forward to giving it a try out on a trip to Cabo coming up next week.  I plan to do one of those self assignments again. I plan to keep the lens at F1.4 and shoot away at about any and all subject matter I can point the camera at. I'll have the lens attached to my Canon 7D making the effective focal length of the lens 136mm.  My friend, Kent Smith, will have his Canon 5D with him so I can give the lens a workout on that camera as well.

Anyway the bottom line is this; Give yourself a few of these creative self assignments and let your creativity go wild. What happens is that you'll be working outside your comfort zone and your creative mind and your emotions will be experiencing something that they may not have experienced before. It's these kinds of visual exercises that can really help us improve our photography. I think it's something we should practice at least once a month maybe even once a week. If we truly want to advance ourselves in the field of photography then explore, experiment, and gather some additional knowledge. . It's always a fun, exciting, creative, sometimes frustrating eye-opening experience.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. Were heading out the door the next couple of hours and enjoying our first taste of Thanksgiving day dinner. I want to personally wish each and every one of you a Happy Thanksgiving!! I'll have a few thoughts on the Thanksgiving Day holiday tomorrow.

I hope to see you then. – David

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Maybe, Maybe Not"

Maybe, Maybe Not-0638

"Maybe, Maybe Not"
© David A. Ziser

This photograph has fascinated me since I first captured it earlier this year.  This image was created during a fantastic half day shoot during my David Cross workshop.  Our bride was an outstanding subject and the camera does seem to love her.

What I loved most about that day’s shoot, was the wide variety of backgrounds that we had to work with.  I’ve blogged many images from that session but this one, I believe, is still one of the most intriguing.

It's not your typical wedding portrait – it seems a bit darker and foreboding.  Granted, I did a little tone control with Lightroom 3 but, still I love how the dark tones make the subject project even more from the scene.

I think the bride’s a atypical pose, her downward expression, the dark, heavy stones all combined add a heavy feeling to this image.

Let's explore the image just for a minute.  Compositionally I have a nice C-line running through the brides pose.  I also like her dead centered positioning between the stone walkway.

Lighting was simple – just my strobe through my Zumbrella coming in from camera left. The light sculpted the bride beautifully and captured the detail of the bridal gown as well.  Since she's looking down, I thought it would be interesting to add a brighter highlight to the sidewalk  below her to which she seems to be looking.

All-in-all I love this image as a portrait study rather than a simple bridal image.  As I continue to explore this image and as I continue to enjoy it -  I’m really enjoying the mystery of this photograph.

Camera specs:Canon 7D fitted with 18–200mm IS lens at 100mm, F5 .6 at 1/200th of a second, ISO 200. Enjoy!– David

Technique Tuesday: Big Results From Small Flashes

Good Late Afternoon/Early Evening Everybody,

It's been one of those days! We have everyone scrambling like crazy  to get the five volumes packed up and shipped out to our bookbinder so our clients can have and enjoy their albums by Christmas.

UPS DriverLaDawn and Jennifer were putting the finishing touches on the albums and being sure every image looks perfect.  They even talked the UPS driver into making a late pickup so everything would be ready to go. Happily - it looks like everything is going to ship out today. Hip hip hooray!

Don’t You Love Computers?

That brings us to today's Technique Tuesday. Today's post is quite an ambitious undertaking – lots of information, lots of props,  lots of additional video editing – but I think you're really going to enjoy it.

As usual, every time I expect things to really run smoothly the Camtasia software gives me a major hiccup. I had the entire video ready to go but then I couldn’t get it to render. It seems that my screen grab video – 1920x1200 - was much larger than my live video capture and Camtasia couldn't mesh the two together.

Camtasia grab

That meant downsizing the 1920 x 1200 video down to a more manageable size of 1280 x 720. Anyway once I got it figured out it was easy sailing. The third try was a charm and the video rendered beautifully.

As you may have noticed, I have been making the extra effort to get the videos posted as HD. I think it just makes him more enjoyable to view and the added detail enhances the learning experience. My fast new computer is the main reason I'm able to pull it off. No more two or three-hour renders.  Now I can render the video in a matter of minutes.  I have to say, fast is good. Anyway let’s get right to today's post.

Technique Tuesday: Big Results From Small Flashes

Nobody said you had to "break the bank" when making beautiful photographs. In this video I'll walk you through key points that will help you take dynamite portraits with a minimum amount of equipment. This isn't to say that I'm condoning the use of inexpensive equipment – I'm not. As a pro I need to use topline equipment to get the job done efficiently, reliably, and minimalizing any problems due to unreliability. But, that said,  if you’re new to this whole off-camera flash technique, I can at least point you towards some gear that will help you get up and running in no time.Lighting Dojo

Check out my buddy, Kerry Garrison’s website, – it's a great website all by itself – but in his online store he offers the two items I referenced in my video today. Check out the video below and if you like what you see than I suggest you check out Camera

My Favorite Flash Gear Is Still Quantum Gear

My top choice for lighting gear is Quantum’s T5d flash head powered by the Turbo 3 super power pack. I still believe the most reliable radio slaves are Quantum Freewires. They're still the gold standard for me and I wouldn't trade them for anything.

Anyway, check out the video, see what I'm up to, and enjoy the show.

We have to remember that light is light and light doesn't care if it came from an expensive flash or an inexpensive flash. Light is still light. Why not hit the PLAY button above and watch my in depth presentation on how to get big results with your small flashes.



Hey gang, that's it for me today. It's been another long day DigitalProTalk and at David Ziser Photography. Hope you guys and girls are gearing up for the holidays. LaDawn has four trees up with 4 or 5 to go ;~)  We’ve got a short day tomorrow so, because of today’s late post, I'll plan to get tomorrow’s post up midday. If you don’t get chance to read it tomorrow maybe you can enjoy after your Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday ;~)

Anyway, have a great rest of the evening and I'll see everybody tomorrow.

Adios, David

Monday, November 21, 2011

"I’ll Take Romance"

Garden Party

"I’ll Take Romance"
© David A. Ziser

This is one image from the wedding in Phoenix, AZ that has been processing through our post production procedures.The bride and groom and I slipped away for about 15 minutes after the wedding and before the start of their reception, actually during cocktail hour. This allowed me the minutes needed to capture a few pictorial images around the beautiful Royal Palms Resort.

This is one of my signature images and I tried it capture a simple variation of it at all my weddings. The groom’s perfect tip of the bride during their kiss provided the added flare/motion for this image. We actually closed the front door of this historic hotel which, I believe adds a sense of privacy, to the moment.

The rustic setting, the lovely foliage and the dramatic backlighting all combine to give us a beautiful wedding photograph. Lighting was from my radio triggered Quantum flash at half power approximately 12 feet behind the couple

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 24-105mm lens at 45mm, F5.6 @ 1/320 second, ISO 800.  Enjoy!  -David

Quick Hit Monday: Inspirational Wedding Images; Fabulous New Photographers; Photoshop Freebies and More!

Good Morning Everybody,

I hope everyone had a great weekend. We spent most of the weekend completing post production on a 600 image five volume wedding album order for one of my top, not to mention favorite, clients at my studio.

Shuler Album

We’ll be putting the finishing touches on it today, doing our final inspection, and then shipping it off to Zookbinders so we can  have it back in time for the holidays. It was a BIG push but, I have to tell you these albums look beautiful thanks to LaDawn’s great design work and Jennifer’s fabulous image enhancement!

Wireless Keyboards - My 1 Star Review

I made my weekly trek to Sam's Club yesterday – I simply love looking through the latest hot deals on all the geek gear. I stumbled upon what looked like something that would be just perfect for newly installed computers – a Logitech wireless keyboard/mouse combination – the Wireless Wave Combo MK550.

A quick check of the reviews online and I saw it had a gazillion five star reviews. After having the thing installed for about 30 minutes on my new computer this morning, it's back to Sam's Club for my refund.

Wave ComboI've always enjoyed using wireless devices on the computer but this keyboard/mouse combination, although looked very promising in the beginning, was driving me crazy with it’s relatively sluggish response after about 30 minutes of usage. I quickly reinstalled my old Dell keyboard and my cheap, $18 Logitech wireless mouse and I was off and running once again.

White Lights and Tears Galore!

You know it's getting close to the holidays when you head up to the attic and pull out about 50 boxes of Christmas decorations. Yes, that what was on our agenda too for this weekend. We're into the Christmas season in a big way with LaDawn decorating eight trees, that’s just in-doors, around our home/studio. 

White ChristmasShe begins with a large tree in the family room, slips in an old VHS tape of the Bing Crosby/Danny Kaye classic White Christmas into the VCR tape player (yes, we still have one hooked up to the TV).  Then she begins stringing lights and hanging the ornaments as she tearfully watches the movie and decorates the Christmas tree. It's an annual event for her that she claims brings back many special memories. I never know if she’s going to run out of lights or tissues first ;~)

Anyway, we’ve got a short posting week so let’s get right on with today's post.  Here we go…

Monday Morning's Photography & Inspiration Section:

I've got a lot of things to cover in our Photography and Inspiration section today. These links cover all ranges of photography from portrait photography, wedding photography, scenics, landscapes, and fine art. Feel free to dig into any of them as I'm sure you'll enjoy the surfing.

How Does Help-Portrait Help? [link]

In about 10 days we travel to Cabo San Lucas with our very good friends Kent and Sarah Smith. Joining us this year will be my good friend Ralph Romaguera and his wife Cindy. In addition to getting together with good friends,  enjoying the glorious weather, and  the wonderful flavors, we are also joining Jeremy Cowart with his Help-Portrait project again this year taking place December 10, 2011.

Cabo Help PortraitsLast year we worked in the most impoverished sections of the city and produce some wonderful images for the families that came by that day. This year were planning for a much bigger crowd but with six of us shooting we’re looking forward to a very rewarding afternoon.

Many people are unaware of the Help-Portrait project. Let me point you towards this link right here which will give you the whole back story. Once again I'm putting out my call to all readers of to join us December 10 for the worldwide Help-Portrait project. You can get all the information on how to get involved right here.

Wedding Portraits After the Reception – A New Trend? Check Out This Great Wedding Photography [link]

Okay, this is the first time I've heard about doing wedding photographs after the wedding reception. Rocky Gunn, many years ago suggested capturing beautiful pictorial images, that he was famously known for, the day after the wedding or even after the couple returned from their honeymoon. I’ve taken that same approach for these many years and have some great results to show for our efforts. That said, you have to check out the work of Christina Craft, a very talented photographer from Victoria BC, Canada.

Christina Craft

Christina is my new favorite wedding photographer. I was drawn to her work after reading this article right here about how she does many of her wedding photographs after the wedding reception is complete. No longer constrained with wedding day time tables, she's able to create some very exciting wedding images for her clients. She has a couple hundred images on her site and just about every one of them is a joy to view. Anyway, check out her site right here.  I'll think you'll really enjoy Christina’s inspiration.

Suggestions When choosing Your Wedding Photography Studios – More Nice Wedding Photography [link]

I also stumbled upon some great wedding photography. The link, right here, will lead you to a story about how to choose your wedding photography studio. The story is more about choosing the studio whose work is featured in the article.

Wedding pics

I've got no problem with that because I think their work is very different, innovative, and exciting to see. Anyway, if you want to get another good, healthy dose of inspirational wedding images then check out the link right here.

Creative photography by Sarah Yun – Outstanding Imagery! [link]

Next, you have to check out this simply outstanding work of 29-year-old photographer Sarah Yun. She's only been pursuing her dream of photography for three years but after seeing her work you would think that she has been at it her entire life.

Sarah Yun

For me, her images just seemed to jump off the page. The way she brings the elements of her images together results in some of the most creative and exciting photography I've seen anywhere. Take a minute or two and check out Sarah's work right here.

Adventure Without Risk! Some Adventurous Moments By Nat-Geo [link]

Okay, how about one more healthy dose of inspiration for you this morning.  You've got to take a moment and check out these unbelievable sports images available at National Geographic.

Nat GeoI, for one, can't believe real people really do many of the things portrayed in these images. I think when you see the images right here you'll agree with me that these activities are not for the faint of heart, or the sane.

LIFE's 20 Worst Covers [link]

I just spent some time pointing you to some of the coolest photography I've seen in the last week on the web. Somehow or another I stumbled onto the link right here that led me to Life Magazine's 20 worst covers. That isn't to say that the photographers who made the images were not great photographers. In fact, the image I featured below, was taken by none other than Mr. Ansel Adams. Life Worst Covers

It turns out that Ansel worked for a number years as a commercial photographer. He, like the rest of us, had to pay the bills too. But, thankfully for us, he was able to quit his day job and pursue the imagery that excited him most.

By the way, just so you don't feel too bad after you've reviewed the 20 worst covers in this link.  Be sure to check out Life Magazine’s best covers right here. It's always a joy, for better or worse, to look back over these historic collection of images for their storytelling value.

27 Gorgeous Photos of Trees from This Fall [link]

How about one more link to raise your spirits as we near the end of the fall season. Check out these 27 gorgeous photographs of trees right here. Fall is in the air and just about every one of these images captures the season perfectly.

Now A Little Geek Technique

Al Capone’s Cell – HDR Collaboration [link]

At first glance I thought this post was just another HDR photography post. Maybe I was just reading the text a bit too quickly but upon further review it turns out that there is a ton of information on image processing and postproduction in this article. 

Al Capone Cell

Scott Frederick uploaded nine images taken of the famous mobster, Al Capone’s jail cell. This article right here is an in-depth look on how 8 photographers interpreted that scene. No brand of software is left untouched – from Photoshop, Photomatix, NIK’s Color Effects 4, and more – to achieve the various results all the photographers have showcased in this article.

I really enjoyed getting the insights from how the other photographers interpreted the scene and I also appreciate their tips on the techniques that they used. Give it a Monday morning read right here – you'll enjoy it.

This Week's Photoshop Freebies

Top 10 Best Free Fonts of 2011 [link]

FontsThis week's Photoshop freebies include a font set and an action set. I have to admit, that I never felt any particular urge to like one font over another. But, these 10 free fonts are elegant in their simplicity and design. Check them out right here. I'm planning on downloading the sets myself.

Attractive Photoshop Actions for Image Enhancement [link]

There are about a gazillion free Photoshop actions available and every now and then a new and exciting technique will pop up. Check out this link right here and see if you don't find a gem or two for yourself.

One For The Road: One More Link You Can Use

10 Free Video Apps [link]

Okay, this is showing a little bit of my geek side but when you check out these 10 free video apps right here, I think you will find one or two that just might work for you. I will admit that this is one of those rainy day posts.  You know, it's raining and you can’t go out and play.  But don’t worry.  This link set will encourage you to have a little computer fun until the weather clears. Hey, looks like it's raining outside right now. Guess I'll check out these links one more time ;~)


Hey gang, that's it for me today. I've got dozens of empty Christmas decorations boxes that I promised LaDawn  I would help her replace in the attic. Plus a few photography projects that need finishing touches before Thanksgiving .

Canon FlashHow about I plan to see everybody tomorrow, same time, same place for a brand-new Technique Tuesday. Tomorrow's topic will discuss how to get beautiful portrait results out of your shoe mount flash. I hope you'll join me.

Have a great rest of the day everybody, I'll see you tomorrow.

– David

Friday, November 18, 2011

"Three Sisters"

0001 - Three Sisters-

"Three Sisters"
© David A. Ziser

With today being the anniversary of my 3,000th blog post, I thought I should work the number three into my “image of the day” post ;~) This image was made earlier this year. We were attending a family function and on the way home passed a beautiful sunflower field.  I steered the car down the country road to get much closer to this very beautiful site.

I took several images that afternoon and already have posted a few of those images here at DigitalProTalk.  This is another one of my favorite images from that afternoon shoot.  With all the bright colors already present I wanted to accentuate those colors and contrasts even more.  I worked on the image a bit in Lightroom 3 and then over to Photoshop for a few experiments and then back to Lightroom 3 to finish up my post production work.

I really like the stylized almost surreal effect that I was able to create with this image.  It reminds me, ever so slightly, of one of the van Gogh paintings.  Compositionally I like the three sunflowers gracing the foreground of the image.  Behind them are five new baby sunflowers about ready to blossom.  The background is nicely out of focus leaving the three bright sunflowers in the foreground as primary points of interest making for wonderful color play throughout.

As I was working on this image I couldn't help but think how cool it may look printed up in a much larger configuration and hanging in our home.  Over the weekend I’ll just give that a try.

Camera specs:  Canon 7D fitted with 18–200mm IS lens at 200mm, F8.0@ 1/500 second, ISO 400. Enjoy!– David