Thursday, January 31, 2013

How To Get The Winning Scores In Print Competition and Judging

Good Morning Everybody,

I can’t believe it – PhotoPro Expo is right around the corner. That also explains my being MIA for the last several days.  Since PhotoPro Expo is about 30% bigger this year than last year’s event we’ve had to work extra hard and have been putting in 12 hour days for the past two weeks making all the final arrangements and aligning the last minute details.  BUT, it has all come together and is going to be a unbelievably exciting event!  NOW………….

How To Get The Winning Scores In Print Competition and Judging

[8---Cold-Hard-Steel4.jpg]That said, let me fill you in on one of our very exciting events: The PhotoPro Expo Print Competition and Judging.  I want you to enter – it’s “hands down” the best way to learn how to improve your photography. And, if you are a studio owner, it’s definitely the best way to improve your work for your clients!

Today I want to point you to a slew of resources so you can do your best at your next print competition.  First, the judges are looking for 12 main aspects of an image and basing their score on that criteria. 

The Twelve elements listed below are in accordance to their importance:

Impact, Technical Excellence, Creativity, Style, Composition, Presentation, Color Balance, Center of Interest, Lighting, Subject Matter, Technique, and Story Telling.

My good friend and Professional Photographers of America Print Jury Chairman, Dave Huntsman, has put together a wonderful 34 slide presentation covering each of the elements above in great detail.


You can view and download the PDF right here.  It is a “MUST READ” if you plan to excel in your next print competition.

Two More “MUST READS” For Photographers Wanting to Score BIG in Print Competition

Next let me point you towards two very informative posts about Print Competition.  The first, “Doing Print Competition Right” [link] helps you ramp it up notch and points out one of the easiest things you can do to your images that almost guarantee a  point or two increase in your score.

This second link, “Technique Tuesday: Print Competition; The Winners Please, Re-Broadcast, and More!” [link] will give you a guided tour through the entire process and a peak at some very beautiful images.  It even features a re-broadcast of the print competition we did last year – all very good information!  And finally………..

Webcast PComp2 -Tune In To The “LIVE” Webcast!

And if you don’t feel confident to enter, don’t forget to tune in to the “LIVE” webcast. IT’S FREE!!       REGISTER HERE!

Here are a few of the comments from our past “LIVE” studio audiences:

“Its was great. I started competing this year and it was so much fun…"  John V.

“I am learning SOOOO much.  Thank you!”  Cindy S.

“I enjoyed the presentations and the judges comments on the images.  Thanks for all the hard work for this wonderful learning opportunity.”  Chuck C.

“This is great!  I think I'm going to look into the master photographer classes on PPA.” Mary D.

“This is the first time I've experienced anything like this. GOOD to hear/learn what the judges look for.”John D.

“…Thank you…  Seeing the images and listening to the judges comments was invaluable and educational.” Jamie . G

“Judy and I really enjoyed the Webinar. We learned a great deal from reviewing the photos and then hearing the experts comments. We appreciated your hard work in support of photographers all over the globe.”  Judy and Chuck H.

Free Trade Show Pass For PhotoPro Expo 2013

Trade Show PassI know everybody is busy so if you can’t stay all three days, you can still come by for any one of the three individual days. Check the daily schedule right here then choose and register for your favorite day right here.

Just want to come by the Expo Trade Show?  You’ll still be able to attend the Expo Theater programming and have a blast at the Westcott Fantasy Model Shootout.  Hit this [link] or the image to the right, save the image, and print it out. It’s your FREE EXPO TRADESHOW PASS.  Just drop it off at the registration desk Saturday or Sunday to pick up your badge.

There you go folks – a fabulous “smorgasbord” and photographic opportunity of a lifetime right at your finger tips. I hope to see you there!!!


Monday, January 21, 2013

"Cinque Terre Wonders"

Cinque Terre
"Cinque Terre Wonders" ©David A. Ziser
Here is another image from our 2013 calendar that LaDawn designed from our trip in 2012. This is certainly one of my favorite images I captured during our European adventures last October.  We had just made the long three and a half hour hike across the mountains and as we descended the other side of the mountain we were presented with this stunning view of the tine town of Vernazza, Italy.
It was picture postcard perfect.  I made a few exposes as I stood there transfixed by the view.  We headed down to the little village, found a comfortable place at one of the local restaurants and just enjoyed a peaceful, relaxing rest of the afternoon enjoying the people, sun, and sea.... heavenly!
Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with Canon 24-105mm IS lens at 45mm, F5.6 @ 1/400 second, ISO 800.  Enjoy!  -David

TOP 12 Posts for DigitalProTalk in 2012

Good Morning Everybody,
Imaging USA 2013I'm sitting in sunny Atlanta this morning – what a beautiful day. Actually the last couple of days have been absolutely wonderful. This beautiful day is having a little trouble brightening up the sad faces of the Atlanta Falcon’s fans after yesterday’s heartbreaking 4 point loss to San Francisco.  But hey, there’s always next year.  We keep wondering about the Cincinnati Bengals too ;~)
Yesterday I headed down to the World Congress Center for Imaging's USA's first day of convention trade show. I hear they had record crowds. Things sure looked busy to me.  I hope we experience record crowds at our Photo Pro Expo 2013 coming up in only 2 1/2 weeks [link]. I did a quick run through the trade show visiting with old friends, checking in with my vendor buddies and generally just having a great time catching up with everyone.
Today I'm heading to the trade show again but unfortunately, I won't get nearly as much time to spend on the floor. I've got a couple meetings I need to attend so I may plan on sticking around a few more hours tomorrow before driving back home. At first glance the show was full of activity there wasn't any one thing, new and exciting that really stood out for me. Maybe when I cruise the show again today something will catch my eye and I'll be sure to report it here first thing.
Update on PhotoPro Expo Hotel Room Availability
Hey gang, I want to let you know that the registrations are coming in hot and heavy for PhotoPro Expo 2013, in fact so hot and heavy, that the Marriott hotel is about sold out. They've given us twice the rooms as last year and we've already upped the original room count two times just in the last two weeks. So, I sure hope you're planning to come the PhotoPro Expo 2013, February 7 – 11 and if you are in need of a room (only$99) contact the Marriott [link]and make your reservation before they're completely sold out.
TOP 12 DigitalProTalk Posts for 2012
Top 12DPT posts 2012Well, I scoured the 2012 DigitalProTalk page view statistics to see the most popular posts. Some posts were literally off the charts with the number of reads.  My review of Tamron's 28-300mm VC was the clear winner.  Like I said in the post, it’s one of my favorite lenses – check it out in the first link below.  A lot of the top posts were related to gear but that’s to be expected.  If you missed any of the posts throughout the year, you can catch them in today’s post. I’m planning to also post the Top 12 Business Day Thursday posts and Top 12 Image of the Day posts in the near future – stay tuned.
Anyway, there's a lot of good reading here so I hope you'll sit back relax and enjoy.
Tamron 28-300mm2
1. Updated: Test Driving the New Tamron 28-300mm VC Lens; Is It the Best Wedding Lens Available? [link]

2. HIGH ISO Nirvana!!! Shooting at 25,400 ISO and Beyond!!! [link]

3. Canon 5D Mark III: Big Deal? Yes…a BIG DEAL! [link]

4. Images and Impressions of Canon’s 5D Mark 3 HDR Feature: and Easy GPS in Lightroom 4 [link]

5. My New Favorite Camera Gets The Shot Other Cameras Miss! [link

6. An Amateur Camera For Pro Use??? Never, Well Maybe [link]

7. Quick Hit Monday: My First Day With Canon 600EX-RT Speedlights–WOW! [link]

8. Quick Hit Monday: All The Latest News; Lots Of Inspiration: and Photoshop Freebies! [link]

Rome Photowalk pic9. What A Great Photo Walk We Had In Rome, Italy!!! [link]

10. DPT Update: Heading To The Most Beautiful Place On Earth! [link]

11. Photography At The Castle [link]

12. Lightroom 4 – A Few of My Favorite Things [link]

Hey gang, that's it for me today. I've got to get heading down to the convention center and see what's happening. I hope things are good in your part of the world, enjoy the read today, and I hope to see you on the trade show floor or in 2 1/2 weeks at Photo Pro Expo 2013.

All the best, David

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

”Memories Of Rapallo"

January 2013

”Memories Of Rapallo"
©David A. Ziser

This image was captured early on in our Europe travels last September.  We had just spent 4 days in Florence and then headed up the Northwestern Coast of  Italy to Rapallo, Portofino, and Santa Margarita. We spent three days exploring the area and were just blown away by the natural beauty of the surrounds.

Three things that struck me about this part of the world were the colors of the buildings and landscape, the kindness of the people, and the awe of walking through centuries of history.  This image reflects that first set of feelings.  The symmetrical interplay of the bright red colors of the windows against the rich beauty of the beautiful foliage nearly covering the building completely.  The scene nearly begged for a photograph.

LaDawn and I occasionally disagree over who took a few of these types of photographs as we venture out on our photo-walks but I believe I took this image.  Nevertheless, I give LaDawn full credit for all the post production on this image which was part of our 2013 calendar she designed for or family this year – very beautiful.

Camera specs; Canon 5D Mark III fitted with Tamron 28-300mm lens at 42mm, F10 @ 1/250 second, ISO 1200.  Enjoy!  -David

Top 12 For 2012: My Top Viewed Technique Tuesday Posts, …Way Cool Stuff!

Good Morning Everybody,

Top 10Hey gang, I’m back at it this week coming to you with some exciting tutorials that you guys and girls ranked as your favorites during 2012.  Total DPT video loads for 2012 worldwide amounted to over 1,000,000 - WOW!!

I checked in with Vimeo, where all my videos are currently residing, and did a quick tally of the numbers associated with all the 2012 videos.  From those calculations, today’s post lists my TOP 12 videos for 2012.  I’ve also listed some notes with each video to give you a quick peek as to each one’s content.  There is some really good information in the listing, you might have missed, so I hope you enjoy giving a peek.  ENJOY!  -David

Here we go…

1. Give Me A Show Of Hands: [link]

Show of HandsGood portraiture is not all just smiles and pretty faces. It's about making the client look the best they can. And, that means right on down to the details. Those details include, in addition to so many other aspects, how the client's hands look in the image. It's our job to make them look flattering and pleasing in our images.

Most photographers pay NO attention to such things, but artists in the past had to be sensitive to the finer points of the portraits they painted as they were painting for the royal court. If those in the royal court looked bad, heads would roll.

Why not hit the LINK above and enjoy the presentation.


2. Exciting Event Lighting: [link]

Event Lighting Part 1I'm pretty excited about today's post because I want to review with you some new lighting techniques that we just instituted at a recent wedding. I've mentioned that several times that the new high ISO cameras offer us all kinds of easy, efficient lighting opportunities when photographing our events. That’s what I want to talk about today. And, I have to tell you, after this past Saturday's shoot, I am more stoked than ever to make these lighting changes to all my upcoming events.

The bottom line is this – this weekend everything went as smooth as silk and we captured some great images. Why not hit the LINK button above and I'll share with you the lighting techniques that I’ll be using from this point forward on all of our events.

3. Lightroom 4 Breaths New Life Into DOA Images! [link]

Lightroom Breaths New LifeI've selected two horribly under exposed images and two horribly over exposed images, let's call them my Lazarus images. I'm going to see if I can save them in Lightroom 4.

Remember, I'm NOT trying to make a "silk purse" out of a "sow's ear" - OK, yes I am. All joking aside, I'm not trying to make a visual masterpiece out of these 4 images. I'm only trying to get them to a sell-able condition for, as example, the bride's wedding album.

Why not hit the LINK tab above and enjoy the show.


4. Lightroom 4 - Never Miss A Shot Again! [link]

Never Miss A ShotLightroom 4 is introducing some very cool new features. Much better integration with video is one of those features. The other is the new Book module which let's you design albums and picture books effortlessly.

But, it's understanding how these two features can work together that open up a whole slew of new possibilities for the wedding/portrait photographer. Hit the LINK button above on this video to see what I mean.

5. Fast, Easy Event Lighting - Part 2: [link]

Event Lighting Part 2Two weeks ago I posted a lighting centric Technique Tuesday. It was a big favorite among our DigitalProTalk readers. Because of a new high ISO cameras I was able to change up my lighting techniques at a recent wedding reception. The new lighting technique gives me a tremendous amount of versatility and ease in capturing the reception candids.

I received a few comments and emails from several of our DigitalProTalk readers asking me how I would change up the lighting set up in a smaller space. Well folks, that's exactly what happened this past weekend. I was working in a much smaller space and didn't have the benefit of second-story balconies in which to place my lights.

The cool thing this weekend was that my technique was exactly the same as two weeks ago. I chose to use one eight-foot light stand and one taller, 12 foot light stand. I attached my Quantum T5d flash heads to the light stands with each powered by the Quantum Turbo 3 power packs.

Because of the high ISO capabilities of my Canon 5D Mark III, I was able to use ISO 1600 for all of these candids. This allowed me to set the power on my Quantum strobes to only 1/16th power. At 1/16 power I was getting nearly instant recycle time from my strobes for the fast paced wedding reception.

Why not follow along with me on my video tutorial, LINK above. I walk you through exactly how I set everything up, how I covered the various locations on the dance floor, and got a great coverage at this past weekend's event.


6. Stylized Image Enhancement: [link]

Stylizeed Image EnhancementI've been saying for months that we photographers have two tremendous resources at our disposal when it comes to creating great images. First off, we have the best digital cameras ever that let us capture the image like never before.

But more than that, we have the best software available, too. Today's iterations of Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4 are the best ever and are necessary upgrades to make. Today it's not just about the hardware we use on the job, it's the software too that helps us finish that job the best we are able. The combination of both gives us an unbelievable amount of versatility in creating our finished images.

Even though I captured a great image in the camera, as you'll see in this tutorial, the brand new Lightroom 4 allowed me to push the image to an even more wonderful stylized result that the hardware could not so easily do by itself. But more that that, Lightroom 4 saves me a few more steps over to Photoshop making our post-production duties even that much easier and quicker.

Why not hit the LINK button above to see what I'm talking about.


7. Great B&W Conversion Techniques For Wedding Portraits: [link]

B and W ConversionsI really like the B&W look in my wedding portraits. There’s something about those soft shades of gray that let the viewer forget all about the color and place all their attention directly on the subject.

But converting those portrait images to B&W, although easy, demands a bit more tweaking to get the look I want. The adjustments I make are NOT your normal B&W adjustments either. I use some sliders in Lightroom that you may have never considered using for B&W enhancements.

The finished result is what counts. Let me walk you through two images that will show you how a beautiful B&W portrait can be produced in Lightroom 4. Simply hit the LINK button above.


8. Central Park Revisited – Three Lighting Tips To Make Your Lighting Exciting! [link]

Central Part RevisitedHey gang, I think I've got a very cool Technique Tuesday for you today. I reviewed all the images I did at my B&H Shootout last week and selected about 15 images I want to share with you today. The gist of today's program is to focus on three specific lighting techniques I demonstrated during my shoot out.

The point of all this is that too many photographers around the country, no, around the world are satisfied with ordinary lighting on their subjects. Folks, it comes down to this - put ordinary lighting on your subjects and you get ordinary results.

Let's change it up a bit – let’s put exciting lighting on our subjects and get some exciting results. That's the point of today's lesson - how to make your lighting exciting, easily and effortlessly, without breaking-the-bank with a ton of expensive gear. Why not hit the LINK button above and see what I'm talking about.


9. No Flash Pizzazz: [link]

No Flas PizzazIn today’s lesson I’ll walk you through about two dozen images discussing why I think these images stand on their own without any use of extraneous additive lighting.

In this tutorial you’ll get a peek as to how I compose my images, what I’m seeing in the camera before pressing the shutter button, and how I utilize all the elements of the scene to capture exciting images without secondary light sources.

Hit the LINK button and enjoy the show.


Magical Sunsets10. Magical Sunsets - Using Photoshop's Content Aware Fill Tool To Add Impact To Your Sunset Photos: [link]

Check out this video and see how easy it can be to add a more dramatic look to your sunset wedding photographs. It's super easy and you get a great result.


11. The Only Wide Angle Lens You'll Ever Need! [link]

Only Wide AngleUsing the Canon 8-15mm fisheye on my Canon 5D Mark III full frame body, I will show you can achieve a true rectilinearly corrected image with a “Field of View” that ranges from 150 degrees down to a still super-wide 133 degrees depending on the zoom setting of the lens.

I’ve spent a lot of today developing and organizing the data and the images for this post. Why not hit the LINK button above and enjoy one of my favorite Technique Tuesdays ever.


12. High Flying Party Photography: [link]

High FlyingI'm always looking to create images that neither clients nor, photographers for that matter, see very often. I want my images to grab the viewer's attention immediately.

One way to grab the viewer's attention is with a dramatic change of "camera position". A shot taken from overhead fills the bill. We've all seen those overhead shots from the Goodyear blimp taken during a football game. But, to see them taken at a wedding or Bar Mitzvah is quite the treat.

So how can we capture those kinds of images at a party. Let me show you my very easy "Pole-Cam" technique that produces images that are both fun to take and excitingly different to view.

As a bonus with today's lesson, I'm throwing in a bit of multi-lighting reception coverage too. Enjoy! I think you'll get a kick out of this week's "High Flying Party photography" tutorial. Hit the LINK button above and enjoy the show.


Hey gang, that’s it for today.  I hope you enjoy the walk back in time and get a kick out of re-visiting some of my Technique Tuesday audience favorites.

See ya’ soon,  David

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Best Photographic Learning Opportunity In the Midwest Is Only 3 Weeks Away!

Good Morning Everybody,

Time To LearnYou guessed it, things are hopping around here with PhotoPro Expo 2013 kicking off on February 7-11, 2013 and I still a few loose ends to wrap up…but thankfully not too many.  The best photographic learning opportunity is only weeks away!

Here’s A Quick Expo Update

PhotoPro Expo Print Competition “LIVE”

PPE LIVE Print Comp2013Hey gang, let me tell you about an extraordinary experience coming your way on Thursday, February 7, 2013. We are going to be streaming the PhotoPro Expo Print Competition “LIVE”.

That’s right you can there with the competitors, the images, and the judges.  You’ll  see the images and hear the judge’s critiques, comments and scores.

Webinar doors open at 8:00 a.m. Judging begins bright and early at 8:30 a.m. We’ll plan on “streaming till 6:00 p.m.  Plan to stay for all or part of the fantastic educational event. Here is the link to REGISTER RIGHT HERE!

It’s FREE and it’s coming to you from the PhotoPro Expo Print Competition on Thursday, February 7. I hope you’ll take some time to tune in.

HUGE EXPO Trade Show!

The Expo Trade Show, is now the largest photographic tradeshow in the Midwest with over 100 occupied booth spaces!  But - look at all the other fantastic learning opportunities taking place in the trade show:

Master PhotographerOur Brand New Expo Theater!

That’s right, we’ll have a total of 15 programs taking place right in the trade show area.  Our guest speakers include Zack and Jody Gray, Kent Smith, Rick Sammon, and many, many more!

Westcott Fantasy Model Shoot Out

Westcott Shootout2What a HOT item this was last year! You could hardly move around the Westcott booth but everybody LOVED it! What a great way to add to your portfolio images and also have an opportunity to watch, hear, and learn from top industry leaders.

Individual Portfolio Reviews and Image Critique

Winners 200pxYou still have time to sign up for your portfolio review with a Master Photographer who will review your best images with you one on one.  You need to contact LaDawn at to make your reservation.  This filled up last year so email LaDawn today to schedule your 30 minute appointment.

Attendees are invited to bring up to 10 portfolio images to be reviewed by one of PhotoPro Expo print coaches. These may include images in an album, on an iPad or actual print images 8x10 or larger. It’s FREE if you’re a PhotoPro Network member and only $25.00 for non-members. Another FANTASTIC learning experience!

Folks, when you add up everything - it’s an unbelievable photographic learning opportunity you won’t want to miss. Come join the fun and make 2013 your luckiest year ever!!


Kicking It Off For 2013!

Good Morning Everybody,

Top 10bHey gang, I'm back!  And I’m fired up!  First of all, I've got some hot news I want to tell you about. I'm reorganizing DigitalProTalk and posting the hottest tips, tricks, and tutorials from 2012. In fact, tomorrow I'll list the Top 10 tutorials from my Technique Tuesday series. And, I have to tell you, it's a very exciting set of videos.

I'm also working on the Top 10 posts for the entire year in all categories which will include my Top 10 posts and Top 10 Business Day Thursday posts. That you give you something to sink your teeth into for 2013 as I get things revving up around here again.

Fireworks 2013This coming weekend I'm also heading down to Atlanta, Georgia to visit Imaging USA, one of the top photography conventions in the country.  If you see me at the show, please come on up and say HI!  I'll plan a few posts from Atlanta next week to get you up to speed on what's going on at the convention.

So, let's kick 2013 off with a blast and get things cranking again!

Glad to be back, David

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year Everybody!

Happy New Year Everybody!

HAppy New Year 2013

My wish to each and everyone one of you reading this post today is that, regardless of how your 2012 unfolded, I wish you the absolute best for 2013! 

As Dylan Says: The Times, They Are a-Changin’

2012 was a year of transition for LaDawn and I and 2013 promises to offer more of the same.  We are “adjusting” things at the studio to eventually slow things down a bit.  I want to spend less time working on the day-to-day studio activities and redirect my focus more to writing, teaching, traveling, and shooting with emphasis on landscape, fine art, and abstract images. 

Morning Tranquility

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not getting out of the wedding/portrait business.  But we have decided to shoot for only my VIP clients – that is clients we have worked with in the past. I still love the wedding day “chase”.  I continue to relish capturing images that tell the entire story of the day. I still get “goose bumps" composing my dramatically exciting images for my brides. And I still love creating images that my clients will cherish forever.

Time To Visit Some Old friends

Amalfie2But it’s time to move on with so many other things I still want to do photographically with my life.  Have you ever told yourself that you need to visit that old friend that moved away so many years ago but you never get around to it and then hear that they have passed away?  That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling these last few years. I was fortunate to visit  “old friends”, that is projects I’ve been putting off for too long because life, business, work, something always got in the way.

This past year we traveled almost 5 months of the year and 3 months of that travel was for pleasure. My goal is to see the world and we saw a lot of it traveling over 25,000 miles last year!  I’m happy to say that we’ve already scheduled 3 months of travel (so far) for 2013.  God and the pixels willing, we’ll expand on that time too ;~)

New Energy For DigitalProTalk

Does that mean that I’m giving up on my beloved DPT blog?  Not really, but I will be making changes to my posting schedule.  As you’ve probably noticed, it seems I’ve come out of hibernation to get today’s blog up and online ;~)  Remember those old friends I was talking about earlier – I’ve been spending a little more time with them instead of hitting the keyboard for two or more hours everyday.  Personally, the break has been centering, re-energizing, and much needed.

My thanks for so many of my DPT readers that go out of their way to say “Thank You” for all the time, effort and information shared here at DPT. Your words and thoughts are very much appreciated – I really mean that. My plan is to continue posting to DPT, but not on a daily basis.

Rome  PantheonThere is so much great content on-line these days, much more than was available 5 years ago when I started DPT.  It’s really impossible for us to keep up with all of it.  If I can give our DPT readers “solid gold nuggets” of information on a semi-regular basis two things happen. It gives you a reason to stop back and it gives me an opportunity to explore so many other exciting life possibilities which, of course, I will share with my DPT readers.

Resolve To Be A Moment Catcher

10 4x6s -DAZ-LD-2So, let me end with how I began – Happy New Year Everyone!  May all of us accept the changes, challenges, and blessings this new year will surely offer each and everyone of us.  May we be strong when we need to be and bend with the wind when necessary. 

May we not miss even one of the special moments 2013 is sure to present to us. Missing those moments - soft breezes, beautiful sunsets, butterfly kisses, warm hugs, loving glances, a special embrace from a loved one are simple too valuable to let pass by.  Treasure each one and promise yourself to be the best “moment catcher” you possible can be for 2013. With those thoughts in mind, 2013 could be the best year ever for all of us.

Happy New Year Everybody!  -David