Friday, November 30, 2012

Special Thoughts, Special Memories! A Special Photo Project.

Calendar 2013Cover

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Today I thought I would share with you a little photo project LaDawn has been working on for a few weeks.  After our extensive Europe travels and a collection of over 18,200 images under our photographic belts, we decided to cull our favorites. From the extensive number of those images, LaDawn set to work designing a calendar for next year.

Not only was she looking for the best images, she also decided to search for special quotes that would add to the meaning of the images.  The above image is the calendar cover from her project.  I think it’s really pretty cool.  I also really like the quote she’s selected for this image.  It really fits how our fantastic trip came about.

Since we were married, just 71/2 years ago, we had always planned to go to Italy for our honeymoon, but never found the time.  We’ve been dreaming of that trip for many years.  All the stars aligned perfectly in 2012 and those dreams and plans became a reality for us this year. And regarding dreams and realities, another quote also comes to mind for me.

“Refuse to accept anything but the very best,

and you very often get it.”

W. Somerset Maugham


Have a great weekend everybody. Keep your cameras ready and pixels smiling, and I’ll see you on the flip side next week.



Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Into The Sunset"

Into The Sunset 2012

"Into The Sunset"
©David A. Ziser

All the morning sunrises and the even more spectacular sunsets are just beautiful in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  We’re here about the same time each year – the weeks after Thanksgiving, when I believe the sunsets are best.

This image was made while on a beach stroll back to our resort just a few evenings ago. The “famous” pirate ship was on it’s daily sunset cruise.  I was using my new Canon PowerShot SX50 HS camera which has the ability to zoom to a full 1200mm (35mm equiv) focal length.  I timed the pirate ships position with the setting sun and fired away.

This is pretty much a straight image – no tweaks in Lightroom. I love the colors, the masts rocking slightly to the left, and the super large setting sun in the background.

Camera specs:  Canon PowerShot SX50 HS zoomed to 615mm (35mm equiv) F8.0 at 1/1250 second, ISO 320.  Enjoy!  David

Business Day Thursday: How NOT To Conduct A Sales Presentation

Good Morning Everybody,

Into The Sea - IMG_0466Hope things are good in your part of the world – life is good at the tip of the Baja. And to celebrate how about I offer up my Business Day Thursday post from the land of sand and sun ;~)   Here we go.

Business Day Thursday:  How NOT To Conduct A Sales Presentation

I mentioned yesterday that we actually enjoy taking the “timeshare” presentations during our travels.  They offer a wealth of knowledge for any student of sales. And, to be successful in any walk of life and especially in running a photography studio, you better be a successful sales person.  Remember one of the most important things about sales:  Sales is not a dirty word! Sales is finding out what the customer wants and helping them get it.  It should be the center of any business.  It’s a customer service centered approach.  Professional sales people are looking for a WIN-WIN situation as should we as studio owners.

That brings us to today’s topic, How NOT To Conduct A Sales Presentation.  A sales presentation should be composed of six sections. 

You’ve Got To….

SalesPerson1. Be inviting, pleasant, congenial, and always hospitable to your prospective customer.

2. Be interested in you client, get to know them.  Any good sales person will tell you that before a customer can be interested in you, you’ve first got to be genuinely interested in them.  The sale should truly not proceed till there is a level of trust between the sales person and the client.

3. Provide a compelling offer to you’re perspective client.  Hey, everyone is looking for a deal these days.  The more compelling the offer, the better chance of closing the sale.

DAZNOTE: It’s equally important that YOU KNOW that your product is the best you have to offer.  It you don’t have confidence in your product, change products or change jobs, or find someone that does believe to conduct your sales for you.

4. Be prepared for the objections, especially the hidden objections.  Objections are part of the sales process and should not deter you from the process.  The best way to handle an objection is to raise that objection before the client raises it.  Good sales people know what the common objections are and simply bring those objections into the conversation or to light early on, and simply answer them for the client. 

Also look for the hidden objections.  Hidden objections are the real reason a client doesn’t purchase.  Once you can discern what that hidden objection is, you can then answer that objection and move on with the sales process.  Remember, we are trying to find out what the client wants and provide a way to help them obtain easily what they want.

5. Make the CLOSE.  If you’ve built client trust, made a compelling offer of your terrific product(s), and answered all the client’s objections, the sale should follow easily with a satisfactory outcome for the salesperson and the client.  Said another way – everybody leaves happy!


Some sales people just don’t get that essential rule.  When objections or concerns are raised they totally lose respect for their customer/client. Too often they don’t listen to the client and have only a “canned” presentation.  They figure that they have nothing to lose so why not go for the jugular to try to make the sale. This is such a “brain dead” sales approach to me.  I’ve said it a million times, NEVER, EVER get into an adversarial relationship with a client!

The NIGHTMARE at the Solmar Resort Presentation

Before I proceed, let me say that the Solmar Resort in just beautiful.  The suites are spacious and well appointed and the facilities are truly first class.  It’s the "timeshare” department I take exception.   Nightmare

Our tour began well enough with a tour of the property and suites – as I said, all very beautiful.  Our host and hostess were pleasant and hospitable.  After the tour we proceeded to the sales room to hear about the offer(s).  Only about 5 minutes into the presentation, we were handed off to the “real” sales rep – let’s call him the “closer”.  After the hand off things started to go south.  The salesperson did not listen to our vacation desires but droned on about golf, which we are not interested, he talked on and on about fishing opportunities in this area, another subject that holds little interest to LaDawn or I.

Unfortunately, the presentation went from bad to worse as we told him his offer was not the least bit compelling – $240,000 for 2 weeks in Cabo – what was that guy “smoking”?  It was just crazy and every time we said we weren’t interested he continued to ramp up the pressure. He had already exceeded his promised 90 minute time-line by 30 minutes and we simply asked that we end the presentation. Instead he continued on and on. 

It ended with him literally insulting us because I called him out on a few of his misinformed facts which I could easily verify. He even threatened us with writing us up to his manager – WHAT???   He’s writing US up?  For what? I don’t think so. 

We were invited guests to this presentation, we certainly didn’t walk up on our own. After I assertively asked a few times to see his manager, Jason, the manager, appeared and I explained what just happened during our presentation in detail.  Professionals just don’t conduct themselves that way. 

We received the obligatory apology and left the build with the worst taste ever of our many timeshare experiences.  Avoid the Solmar Resort “timeshare” presentation at all costs if you are in fact in Cabo – you’ll be put under extreme pressure to buy and it’s a waste of your time.  The entire presentation was a perfect example of how to NOT conduct a sales presentation.  But, please read on…

Doing It Right At Cabo Villas Resort

Yesterday we were invited to another presentation at Cabo Villas Resort. Juanito was congenial when he picked us up from our hotel. During our ride to Cabo Villas I conveyed our earlier experience and he was appalled.  He assured us that we would enjoy our presentation at Cabo Villa Resorts.

Cabo Villas

After arriving at the resort and going through a short meeting with the receptionist, we were introduced to Vince, a really nice guy originally from Toronto.  He met the love of his life in Cabo about 7 years ago and decided to stay.  Over the next hour we took the tour of this beautiful resort.  LaDawn and I were both very impressed with the room décor of this property.

Vince, LaDawn and I enjoyed the our conversations, getting to know each other and we all knew as the clock was ticking away the time to hear the offer.  Vince in the most thorough and professional manner possible laid out how the plan worked. He laid it out simply and clearly and answered all our questions.

Next we moved on to our main objections – the barrage of AMEX bills just coming in from our trip to Europe.  We just were not comfortable at this time to make a further financial commitment for a few more weeks of vacation time.  Vince and his manager, Mitch made one last offer for less money and for less time, and it was much closer to what we might have accepted if the timing was better.

Vince and Mitch knew they made their best offer, they offered a great product, but the timing was not right for us and both of them respected that.  Respect being the operative word when it comes to being a good sales person.

Stop By Cabo Villas and Ask For Vince

That right, I give Cabo Villas a big “thumbs up” for the level of professionalism they exhibited during our presentation.  Their entire team from bottom to top was first class.  It was truly a pleasure to meet all of them. They closed the presentation with several gifts and a FREE return visit to their property for a future 4 day-3 night stay!

There’s a t-shirt you can purchase in Cabo that reads, “I survived the Grand Mayan timeshare presentation.”  It’s sometimes true, but our experience has been mostly positive and we have purchased several timeshares through-out the years.  But in closing, let me say that Cabo Villas gets it right and I invite you to stop on by and visit Vince and his associates.  The fit may be just right for you.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I’ve got a pretty cool post planned for tomorrow, so please plan to stop back.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

Adios everybody,


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"The Edge Of Tomorrow"

The Edge Of TommorowIMG_0182

"The Edge Of Tomorrow"
©David A. Ziser

I borrowed today’s title from an Isaac Asimov sci-fi book title but I think it fits this image perfectly. We were up really early – 2:00 a.m. – on Saturday for our flight to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico that by the time we had boarded the plane 4 hours later in Dayton, Ohio it was still dark outside.  No problem, I was sitting in the window seat, my favorite, and the window was really clean on our Frontier Airlines jet.  That meant that it should be a kick to get some really cool shots at 38,000 feet.  That is, whenever the sun came out.

Also considering the fact that the plane was traveling westward into the darkness, sunrise was going to be later for us than if we had stayed in Dayton.  I still just love gazing out a plane window to see how the sky changes with the clouds, weather, and time of day.  Anyway, about two hours into our flight the rotation of the earth overtook the speed of the plane and I could clearly see the edge of night or edge of the new day – which ever you prefer.  I thought the sight on the 38,000 foot horizon was really interesting – the easy lines, smooth tonalities, and almost monochromatic colors.  You can actually see where the darkness meets the light of the new day right in the center of the image.

I took several images but this one was my favorite.  I like the fact that the plane’s wing and engine are included in the composition.  That gives the image a sense of space without the image coming across as a totally abstract composition.  I also like how you can discern the curvature if the earth in the image as well.  Like I said, a very cool view!

The camera I was using may come as a surprise to you.  I had just picked up Canon’s recently introduced PowerShot SX50 HS camera – a little jewel of a camera, But, more on that in a later post. The articulated viewfinder allowed me to easily frame up the shot from my bulkhead seat.  I adjusted the exposure to under-expose the scene slightly in order to better define the “edge of tomorrow” that you see in the image.

Post production was minimal – a slight tweak of the vibrancy slider, reduction of the noise, and slight edge sharpening gave me the finished result.

Camera specs: Canon PowerShot SX50 HS at 4.3mm (24mm-35equiv.), F3.4, 1/40 second, ISO 800.  Enjoy!  David.

Technique Tuesday on Wednesday: Shine A Little Light On Me

Good Morning Everybody,

SunsetWe have easily settled into the Cabo lifestyle these last few days with walks on the beach, enjoying the sunrises and sunsets, the waves, a little tequila flavored drinks, the swimming pools and taking “timeshare” tours. It’s true, we have taken two “timeshare tours.”  I’ve mentioned before that I’m a student of sales and I like to see what new “sales” approach will be taken in each presentation.  Some consider these kinds of presentation just a waste of time, but, in reality, I really enjoy seeing the properties and experiencing new insights I can gain from their sales techniques. 

So with that said, let’s get on with today’s post.

Shine A Little Light On Me

As you know, while we were in Spain a few weeks ago, I presented a convention program and then did a day-long workshop on Monday after the convention. In today’s post  I’d like to cover a few of the window lighting techniques I shared with the class.

Today’s video will show you how finding the direction of light is so important to creating a flattering portrait.  I’ll also show you how you can augment the lighting to enhance the finished portrait even more. The lighting was perfect and our model was beautiful so why not hit the PLAY button below and enjoy the presentation.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  We’re burning daylight and LaDawn insists we get outside and enjoy it.  How about I see you tomorrow for a brand new Business Day Thursday post:  How NOT to Make The Sale!

See you then,  David

p.s. To get the video up today, I took a short cut on recording the sound and just used the camera’s on board microphone, hence the difference in sound during the video.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I’ve Been MIA For A Few Weeks; Must Be Blogging Doldrums

Good Afternoon Everybody,

I sure hope everyone survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  I’m glad I was nowhere near all that chaos.  Man, did you see some of the YouTube videos – it was craziness. You know for me, life is just too short to make Black Friday part of my holiday experience. Just my personal opinion!

I’ve Been MIA For A Few Weeks

MIAOn to more important things.  As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been MIA for a short while.  I know it’s been troubling to me and maybe even to a few of my DPT readers.  After our two month travels to Europe, including the cruise, my batteries sure did get a tremendous recharge.  Maybe even life took on a different perspective.

Cruise ShipThe fact of the matter is that most of us are running in way to many directions missing special moments in our lives. I know that was true for me.  For most of the fall, LaDawn and I did not miss many of those special travel moments  and perhaps even enjoyed a life time’s worth in that time period. The fact of the matter is that I’m finding it difficult firing up my after-burners and continuing at the breakneck speed I’ve lived most of my life. It seems that I have found myself in the blogging doldrums and I’m having a little difficulty getting back up to speed with my daily posts.

DPT Is Still Important To Me

The blog has always been important to me.  It has always been a way for me to share with you my observations on photography and lighting, Photoshop and Lightroom, insights and experiences with new gear, tips and ideas on how you could enrich your businesses, and hopefully a healthy dose of inspiration along the way.  

There is just so much I want to write about - but the time continues to get away from me as other projects seem to take precedent.  So that has been what’s happening for me these last several weeks – finding the time and motivation to punch out 1,200 words a post at least three times a week knowing I’ve got a book to finish and the PPN Convention marketing campaign to launch.  I promised myself, and now I’m promising you my DPT readers that I will strive to get at least three new posts up this week.

PelicanWe are once again on our annual trip to Cabo San Lucas and are lucky to be here for the next few weeks.  I know, I know life is tough isn’t it.  Nobody gives us any mercy back home either ;~) For the next week I’ll be spending time getting the the marketing kicked off for our exciting PhotoPro Expo 2013 Convention.  Please, if you live anywhere within 600 miles of Cincinnati, Ohio and want to see the largest line-up of tremendous speakers in the industry, you owe it to yourself to check it out right here!

Let’s Get Ready To Roll

That said gang, tomorrow I’ll make it my TOP priority to get things moving again.  I thank everyone for their patience during this blogging doldrums days-of-my-life. – let’s just call it a blogging mid-course correction.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  Tomorrow I’ve got a post planned on lighting.  If I can get the internet to cooperate, I just may turn it into a Technique Tuesday on Wednesday.  Anyway, check back – something is sure to pop here at DPT.

Have A Great One Everybody!



Friday, November 16, 2012

"Come Fly With Me"

VAriations W-A-1718_thumb[2]_thumb

"Come Fly With Me"
©David A. Ziser

In this composition, what really appealed to me was the rich stained-glass window colors in the hotel lobby. I also thought that the long diagonal lines of the ceiling lights were quite interesting. So I thought, “If I can arrange her in a diagonal like pose, I could create a fairly dramatic photograph of my bride.” This is a result of my pre-visualization for the photograph. I'm really quite happy with the result.

Notice too how I have her positioned at nodal point #4 in the composition – bottom right part of the frame. The lines in the composition visually seem to want to rush out and meet her. Her lean and the positioning of her arms and hands in this pose further add to the “motion” one feels in this composition.

DAZNOTE: When posing hands and arms, it’s a good idea visually to have the hands at different levels – it just seems to look better balanced that way.

Lighting was easy.  I simply illuminated her with one Canon 600 EX-RT speed-light passing through my Zumbrella about six feet away camera right.  I let the flash and camera do all the exposure calculations and tweak the exposure by reading the histogram as needed. The off-camera flash adds a pleasing dimensional lighting to the portrait.

Camera specs:  Canon 5D Mark III fitted with 24-105mm IS lens at 24mm, F5.0 @ 1/125 second, ISO 1600.  Enjoy!  -David

An Image Peek From My Spain Workshop Or Variations On A Wide Angle Lens Theme

Good Morning Everybody,

Things are coming together… slowly but surely around the studio.  In effect, when we returned from our travels, we walked right into the holiday rush. That’s not a bad thing – it just means that we hit the ground running. We should be in pretty good shape by this time next week and we’re keeping all of our clients happy – the most important goal for any business.  Anyway, on with today’s post.

An Image Peek From My Spain Workshop Or Variations On A Wide Angle Lens Theme

I promised you a peek at some of the photographs I captured during my Spain Workshop. Today I’d like to share with you a couple of those images. As I was preparing for today's post, the number of images I was selecting was getting quite large so I decided to break it down into a smaller selection of images for today. I think there just may be a Technique Tuesday or two in the making here ;~)  So that being said let's get on with the image preview.

Photo #1:

VAriations W-A-1665

This is just a simple, traditional portrait of our bride taken in the lobby of the same hotel as the Image of the Day post above.  The camera’s vantage point is slightly higher so we see more of the floor in this image. Lighting was from camera right from my  remotely fired Canon 600 TX – RT strobe.  I used the beer koozie (never leave home without one) to control the cone of light illuminating the subject. It really gave us a nice spot light affect on the bride.

Photo #2:

VAriations W-A-1683

Next we moved to an area of the hotel opposite the registration area. What I loved about this location was the long strong diagonal lines that I saw in the ceiling. To accentuate those lines my camera's position was going be quite low and, as you can see from this photograph, so I positioned the bride a few steps up so that I'm actually below the floor on which the bride is standing.

We brought the light in from camera right to create the loop lighting pattern on her face. I carefully positioned her head within the ceiling’s architectural elements to create this quite dramatic wide-angle portrait of our bride.

Photo #3:

VAriations W-A-1686

From the previous photograph you can see that the window light was coming in quite heavily from the left. I wasn't sure if I liked the bride looking away from that bright light source so, in this image I chose to reposition the bride to face camera left. This was the same direction as the light was coming through the large span of windows and created a much more believable, natural light on the bride. To be consistent with the strong directional room lighting I also brought my off-camera flash, my Canon 600 EX-RT speed light, in from the left as well.

In this image I also wanted to create a much smaller cone of light so that I wouldn’t have any extraneous light hitting the ceiling to draw viewer’s attention away from my main subject. I shared a different lighting technique by just manually zooming the flash to create that smaller cone of light which created for me the nice natural falloff on the bride.  The zoomed speed-light creates sort of that Hollywood lighting effect that I often bring to my portrait sessions. But, when I look at this image I thought it could be enhanced a bit more with a little backlighting.

Photo #4:

VAriations W-A-1700

In this image I simply added another Canon 600 TX-RT speed-light placed on the floor behind the bride. I love how I can control the light output of both flash units –  the one coming from camera left and the one behind the bride separately with my on-camera speed-light. Canon’s new speed-lighting system gives me maximum flexibility when setting up these kinds of lighting situations.

The position of the bride's head against the ceiling was most important to me. I didn't want any of the sharp lines or angles hitting her right in the head so I carefully positioned her head in front of a less busy area of the ceiling.

But, do I have any reservations with this image?  I do in this regard. I'm looking at the shadow being cast on the steps camera right. Sure, I can fix it in Photoshop but, a softer light source coming in from camera left may have solved my problem a bit more easily. The problem with using a softer light like shooting through my Zumbrella would've added a complication to the ceiling by illuminating the ceiling as well. This is one of the situations where we have to make a compromise. I think I prefer the lighting on the bride alone without allowing too much light to reflect on the ceiling. It allows the bride to just “pop” out of the scene - which is really what I wanted.

Photo #5:

VAriations W-A-1703

I solved a little bit of my shadow problem, mentioned above, by using a slightly tighter crop in this image. I still think this is a very nice three-quarter length portrait of our beautiful bride. The backlighting “pops” her very effectively from the background and I really like the beautiful dimensional lighting on her face. I'm pretty happy with how these photographs evolved.

This is important: We have to remember one thing when using small light sources. Be sure that the bride's bouquet is slightly behind her gown. I let the bride's bouquet come a bit too far forward in this image and, as you can see, the light has cast the bride's bouquet shadow across her gown. This is a common and easy mistake that we just need to keep in mind and be aware of whenever taking bridal photographs with smaller light sources. We always have to be aware of just how the shadows are going to fall on the scene to avoid the ugly shadows!

Photo #6:

VAriations W-A-1704

This image is exactly the same lighting set-up as the image we see above. The only difference is I chose a vertical crop. Look how that crop really affects how you perceive the image.  The vertical crop really enhances the strong diagonal lines that we see in the ceiling.  And, I think, adds a stronger element into the composition that renders itself a bit unusual in this dramatic bridal portrait.

In looking back over the previous photographs you may prefer the horizontal image instead but this post is really a visual exercise on how I “see” when composing my images.  That’s particularly true in these last five images.  They are just my variations on a mostly wide angle theme.

When I'm shooting I'm constantly thinking about how I might improve or change the final portrait. I can easily do that with wide angle lenses or by changing the crop from vertical to horizontal. I'm also thinking about how I can best light the subject in the situations and conditions I find myself in on the day of a wedding.  Do I want the subject backlit?  Do I need to keep the light from falling onto the ceiling – or pews – or marble tiled alter…?  How and where will the shadows fall?  These are all important considerations when designing your images. That is – if you want the best result not just for you but your client as well.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. I'm still working hard on trying to get the final details worked out on our PhotoPro Expo for next February. Even though it still three months away we’ve got to get all the marketing pieces ready to go and get the website 100% complete. So, that makes a push time for us around here today. That said, let me wish everyone a great weekend and I'll see you again next week.

Adios, David

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Travel Wrap-Up; It Was An Amazing Journey!!!

Good Afternoon Everybody,

DAZ-LD picAfter two months traveling over twelve thousand miles, and 18,282 photographs later we finally made it back home.  We finally arrived back in the USA last Thursday late afternoon. This past weekend was a whirlwind with unpacking and also attending some family functions that were on our calendar before we left. This week it's “noses back to the grindstone” and back to work.

Wrapping Our Trip Today and Tomorrow

What a great two months we had on the road traveling to all parts throughout Italy, Spain and the Mediterranean.  Conducting an exciting and I believe an informative week-long class with my friend and good buddy Clay Blackmore in Tuscany and meeting so many new photographers was certainly one of the highlights of the trip.  Another of the highlights, for me, had to be traveling for 12 days on our Mediterranean cruise. 

Rudy, DAZ, MarcusThen it was on to Spain for my two days of programs for the photographers of Spain – where we also made some new friends and wonderful acquaintances.  My special thanks to Rudy (left) and Marcus (right) that made our visit to Spain such a special treat.These last two months were probably the most exciting time in our lives and we enjoyed every single minute of every single day of it!

But today’s post is to bring full circle our travels and experiences in that last week of our trip.  Today I want to share with you a few more images and a few more stories of some of the places we visited in Spain. Then in a day or two I want to share with you the images we captured during my Spanish workshop in Madrid. We had a great class and a beautiful model allowing me and the workshop attendees to again capture  some terrific images.  Look for that the post to hit either tomorrow or Thursday.

Spain Travels Wrap Up

As I've mentioned a few times before at DigitalProTalk, trying to keep the blog going through eight weeks of intensive travel has been quite the challenge. The early-morning risings and the long days left very little time to really spend on the blog. And, I need to tell you, if the choice was between the travels and the blog and I chose the blog - LaDawn would probably have tossed me overboard otherwise ;~)

ScheduleAnyway, were back in town for a couple of weeks so I’ll try to get things back to the regular schedule. Now, there is one hitch to the regular schedule. We've got Thanksgiving next week and we leave for Cabo, Mexico for three weeks that following Saturday. But, as followers of DigitalProTalk know, that even while in Mexico – a trip we make every year – I’ll continue to keep the blog running.

These last eight weeks provided “tons” of blogging material that I want to share with you. Topics will include photography, lighting, composition, color, speed-lighting technique – you name it, I’m going to cover it in the following weeks.

Little RichardLet's get right onto our travel wrap up. During our eight weeks on-the-road we pre-arranged several tours. One of those tours was in Madrid, Spain where we spent half the day checking out the city. Now you may be thinking I'm about to throw up a beautiful photograph of Madrid right about now but, that's not the case. One of the most interesting things I noticed while traveling in Madrid was on a stop to the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Madrid.

We climbed off the tour bus for a short break and as I was perusing the rock 'n roll memorabilia on the Hard Rock Cafe's wall I was taken by one promotional banner in particular. Check it out - it's announcing a concert with Little Richard playing with none other than the Beatles from way back in 1962. What I thought was particularly interesting and telling was the fact that little Richard had top billing over the Beatles.  Anyway, back to the sites of Madrid.

Madrid 1

Madrid is a first class world city – on par with NYC.  It’s busy, noisy, and full of energy.  And yes, with all the new construction going on, parts of the city are pretty much steel and glass.  It’s kind of a cool contrast when compared with the medieval, historic parts of the city.  It’s certainly an architectural combination we don’t see here in the states.

Madrid 2

I have to say, that I learned one thing about European travel – probably travel for any part of the world – but particularly here in Europe. You can read any travel guide you want but, the common denominator is it's always about the fabulous museums, unbelievable cathedrals, and the food. We enjoyed plenty of it all!

Madrid 3

I have to tell you that I was most impressed with our visit to the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain.

Prado Museum

Here was simply an un-believable collection of classical artwork that needed at least two days to walk through, digest and enjoy. We only had allotted four hours but took advantage of every single moment. Most impressive to me were the a 90 Peter Paul Rubens paintings on display at the Prado. What's interesting is the fact that the last Rubens painting was auctioned for $75 million. You can do the quick math - the value of the Rubens paintings in the Prado must be worth upwards of $7 billion! And, you could walk right up to them and enjoy them – close and personal.


One of the most amazing facts for me in learning about Peter Paul Rubens was the fact that he painted over 1500 paintings in his nearly 40 year painting career. When you do the math that means that he painted nearly 40 paintings a year. These paintings, many of which are 5’ x 7' and larger, were painted at a rate that averaged nearly four per month or one per week!  What is mind blowing about that fact is to look upon those images and figure out how he did it. Sure Rubens was one of the finest painters of the time and had some great students which also helped with his amazing output of work. He sometimes just painted the hands and the faces and let the students carry on with the rest of the painting. But still four paintings a month for 35 years or so – WOW!  


Oh, and also let’s not forget, he was a well-known diplomat of the times traveling throughout Europe as well . What an amazing individual.

On To Toledo – Not  Toledo, Ohio

One of the highlights was our side trip to Toledo, Spain about an hour south of Madrid. The ride on the bullet train was super relaxing too and you got a chance to enjoy the beautiful country side along the way.


Why don’t we do this is the US as well? A great and inexpensive way to travel! 

Toledo is full of history and beauty and is an absolute joy to visit and we had a picture perfect day for our trip.  Toledo was also home to Miguel de Cervantes who wrote the world's best-selling 16th century novel Don Quixote, which is considered to be one of the most important and influential books in the history of publications.


As with all the medieval cities we visited on our travels we were equally impressed with the city of Toledo.


Not only did it showcase the fabulous Toledo Cathedral dating from 1226 a.d (above), the oldest synagogue building still standing (below) in Europe (14th century), and amazing museums all of which I was able to photograph in, made for a spectacular visit on Tuesday afternoon.


Another one of our highlights of our travels to Toledo was, once again, all the art that was available for viewing throughout the city. Some of the museums were even FREE to visit.  Most prominent was the works by El Greco one of the most famous Spanish Renaissance painters.

Now an interesting fact about El Greco is that's not really his name. It's really Doménikos Theotokópoulos but as you can see signing with his real name would take up half the canvass so he chose to sign his name to most of his paintings as El Greco which means The Greek.

I happen to be a big fan of his work and it was quite the treat to see so many of his famous paintings first hand.  Here was the surprise:  The viewing conditions were quite dim and you really couldn’t enjoy the full richness of El Greco’s color palette under the museum lighting.


Heck, the paintings are 500 years old – the museum wants them around as long as possible so they keep the lights dim;~)  The image above gives you an idea what the art looked like under the museum lighting conditions.

But, after fiddling with the exposure with my Canon 5D Mark III I got an amazingly different result – a result that let me really appreciate the full range of color, contrasts, and tones used by the artist. Just look at the same image below. 

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With the properly exposed (illuminated) image that you see above, it’s a spectacular difference and gives one a brand new and very enthusiastic response to the art work.  I photographed several images in the museum just so I could better appreciate them once we returned home.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I hope you appreciated the posts these last several weeks. It’s not only been fun for me to share with you some of our visual adventures but I also hope I brought a photographer’s eye to all the locales we visited these last two months.

I’ve still got one more post to get up from our travels – my workshop in Madrid.  I promise – it will be much more photo and lighting centric so please stay tuned.

See everybody soon and Buenos Días for now, 


Thursday, November 01, 2012

At Many Levels, The Most Amazing Experience Ever!

Good Morning Everybody,

This is going to be a short post today but I hope you find it one of the most amazing series of images ever!  Barcelona, while famous for many things, is most famous for it's architecture.  And, a lot of that fame is the result of the many buildings throughout the city by the very famous early 20th century architect and figurehead of Catalan Modernism, Antoni Gaudí.

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The most amazing building of all - yes, in all of Barcelona, has to be the Basilica of the Sagrada Família.  This cathedral, still under construction, is simply the most beautiful sanctuary I have ever visited.  And that's saying a lot especially since we were in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome just days before!

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From the floor to the high vaulted ceiling, you are blown away by this unbelievable visual experience!  Construction on the Basilica began in 1882 and passed it's halfway point in 2010 when Pope Benedict himself came to Barcelona to consecrate the cathedral. Antoni Gaudí spent the last 25 years of his life working on the project. Construction is expected to be complete on the centennial anniversary of Gaudí’s birth.

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The design considerations, artistic interpretations, architectural splendor of this edifice is nothing short of an awe inspiring experience!!!  I hope you enjoy the short series of images I've posted today. What you may feel while viewing these images can only illicit the smallest fraction of the emotional awe we felt as we walked through this wondrous paradise of space.


Hey gang, if you ever make it to Barcelona, you MUST make the trip to the Basilica of the Sagrada Família.  It will be one of your greatest life experiences, I promise!!!