Month: July 2010

Creative Photo Editing

Sometimes you just have to get a bit creative to give your image that little extra spark. Maybe add a motion blur or zoom blur. Change the color a bit or in this case I did all of the above. First I desaturated the color making it almost black and white. Next I made a second layer and masked out my model. Then on the base layer I darkened it to give it a night look. Next on my mask layer I added a zoom blur and a motion blur centered on the area where the model would have been. Next I used a plugin to add a night vision effect. I then added a film grain to the top layer before setting the opacity to 90% and flatting the image. This is the result. Have fun with photo editing, there is a lot you can do it just takes a bit of trial and error!!
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad, Thanks – Allen

Advertisements

Creative block

For about 2 or 3 weeks now I have had a creative block. I have come up with no new ideas, no new images…. I’ve got nothing! I can’t seem to focus on the creative aspect. In fact I haven’t even finished any images. It’s almost like I have lost my drive to be creative. Normally I can be doing something an “bam” I see something that sparks an idea an it just takes off. I’ve lost that some how, it is almost like I don’t care anymore… What’s wrong? I know writers get blocks all the time but this is most unusual for me… This weekend I am taking my camera out and not coming home until I do something creative! Or until I have to be at work Monday! 😉

So what happens when you can’t seem to find your artistic side? What do you do to get your mojo back? Leave me a comment, let’s see what everyone has to say on this.

The iPad is a great tool not just a fun new toy!

So I recently bought an IPad.  I thought it would be fun and I haven’t bought “new” technology when it was first released in a LONG time.  I usually wait a while until everyone else has one.  For example IPhone came out and everyone rushed out to get one what did I get… a blackberry.  For some reason this was different.  I saw the ad read the hype and just decided I think I’d use that!

As a photographer I already found it useful.  I uploaded samples of my images, my calendar, email and of course music.  I was at a workshop that I will be reviewing in a couple weeks (when I have time to finish a few more images) and a photographer took out his IPhone to show some samples.  So I took out my IPad to do the same.  The Model said and I quote “No way! You didn’t just whip out an IPad”.  It was a hit, everyone stopped to look at the thing.  I have since used it for another client to see samples.

You don’t have to have big files, smaller 600X800 72dpi files look great.  The only issue I have with the picture manager is that you can’t arrange your folders the way you want them.   I really see this as more than just an organization tool.  I can see this as being a stepping stone to a new breed of electronic portfolio.  Sleek look, lots of great apps and easy to use the IPad gets a gold star!!

Grunge Motel Workshop Review

Danny's Grunge Motel Workshop Review

Before I start the review let me just say workshops and training are different for each person.  You get out of them what you put into them.  That being said please use your own judgment on how the content best fits your needs.

The “Grunge Motel” workshop is unique for a workshop.  Many times workshops are all about portraits, glamour, products or fashion.  This theme was one I just wanted to do.  It doesn’t fall into the everyday images we tend to shoot.  So let’s set the stage for this experience as it is.  Start with a rundown motel that, when you see it, the last thing on your mind is stopping.  You walk in and you really don’t want to even touch ANYTHING!!  Imagine stained carpet, curtains that are painted to the walls…  furniture that is just falling apart in fact there was one room condemned by the city.  Now add a beautiful semi-nude/nude model to the mix and…

Jessica Vaugn

Well, before I get ahead of myself lets talk shop!  The workshop is done by Danny Griffin and is semi-private with only 2 participants per workshop.  You can see his work at www.dannygriffin.net.  We start with a handout going over the basics of the type of lighting, the mood, what we want to accomplish.  Then it is how to set your camera for this style of imagery.  Then we are introduced to model Jessica Vaugn.  You can see her portfolio at www.jessicavaugn.com or find her on several modeling sites.  She brings a variety of lingere’ and lets you pick the looks you want to shoot her in.  To top it off all of the items have a photo of her on the front so you can see exactly what she looks like wearing the item.

We began the shoot by setting our white balance.  A good idea for any shoot however most people tend to rely on “auto” white balance.  If you don’t know how to set this on your camera I suggest reading up on it and getting a grey-card.  The shoot lasted about 2.5 hours with several changes.  Between changes lighting modifications were made.  Most images are done with a single mono-light but we did add in a reflector as needed.  We( I ) also shot a few images using natural light.

Danny used a very experienced model as Jessica needed little direction to give us incredible images.  We used every aspect of the room, all the furniture, rather Jessica was on the bed or standing on the night stand. (luckily some of it was nailed to the wall!)  Safety was a concern as it should be in any shoot, but there was no stopping her from climbing on things to give us something different.  It helps to have a model that is experienced and willing to give her all!  We were not disappointed, she delivers.

Upon completion of the shoot we went back to the studio to edit time images.  Danny looked over our images and helped us pick out a few for editing.  He gave us a mini critique of our shots and some pointers on how to improve them.  He provides a layer file and gave step by step instructions on how to finish an image.  It took roughly 30 – 40 minutes to edit the first one and I was able to complete a second one while watching the other participant work on his.  Some of the others have taken even less time to do now that I know the steps and have the provided sample file.  I did learn some KB shortcuts (THANK YOU!) and how to use some tools I’ve never tried before.  My weakest area is photo finishing so this was a very useful learning tool for me.

Danny did allow us the freedom to try new things, we were not tied to a set agenda.  I was able to pop out the “Lens Baby” for a few.  In fact Danny barrowed it for a couple shots himself.  Towards the end while the other participant was shooting I put on my 35mm F/1.8 and got some nice natural light shots.  This was very different for me to shoot as I normally shoot commercial type images, 90% of them on white.  I wanted to do this workshop because it is so different in style and creativity.  It is not the everyday images I am use to.  Think outside the box, be creative and look at what you can accomplish.

Ok, now for the wrap-up… I don’t put a rating on my reviews because training and learning are different for each person.  If you are looking for something creative and different then this workshop is for you.  Don’t sign up thinking you are going to be in a controlled studio environment because you won’t!  Be ready to step outside the box and have fun.  The price for this workshop… we shot for 2.5 hours (shared time) so model fees alone would be at least the cost of this workshop.  Top that off with the instruction and a lesson in photo editing (Damn I need to learn those CS keyboard shortcuts!!) and you have a very reasonable price.  Total time was about 4.5 to 5 hours.  Workshop is highly recommended.

Still not sure… After posting some of the images I have been contacted by 3 different models wanting to do a similar shoot.  I have 2 of them scheduled in 2 weeks from this posting.  Lesson…the door to the studio lets you out if you just walk through it.  Take the chance and let it payoff in the end!!

VVS Workshop Review

VVS Workshop - Bobby Deal, students and model Kiti Kobain

Before I start the review let me just say workshops and training are different for each person.  You get out of them what you put into them.  That being said please use your own judgment on how the content best fits your needs. 

Vegas Vision Studio Lighting Workshops.  I first saw the promotion for this on a stock photography site in the forum.  I sent several questions to owner Bobby Deal and then check out his website http://vegasvisionstudios.com or on meetup.com.  The studio is a 6000 square foot commercial studio located in, as the name suggests Las Vegas Nevada.

They have 3 main photography studios an array of lighting and modifiers.  Photographers can shoot Hi-Key, Low-Key and also use the daylight studio as the situation calls.  There are lounges and makeup rooms for models.  Make up artists are provided for workshops or can be arranged for other projects.  Members of the meetup group can rent the studio setup with lights for $50 per hour.

I took 2 workshops over a weekend.  The first workshop was a non-instructional stock shoot out.  There were 3 models with multiple clothing changes.  Like I mentioned earlier makeup was provide by the staff MUA.  Even though it was non-instructional Bobby did assist when asked.  There was one person that bought his DSLR the day before the workshop.  Bobby spent quite a bit of time giving basic instructions and posing tips to make the experience good for a new photographer.

VVS Workshop - Jolene Hexx

The models for the day were great.  We kept them going the full day.  Each going from studio to studio always going us great shots.  I was able to get 400+ stock images and a few fashion type images.  All in all a full day of shooting.  I liked this type of shoot for stock because I was able to work with different models, try new things and could do some small group shots.

VVS - Sydney

Day 2 was a bit different.  We met at the studio but the workshop took place in Nelson Nevada.  A very interesting place to say the least.  In fact the main picture in this article is of Bobby Deal taking a shot of Kity Kobain (model) while being assisted by other workshop participants.  This workshop featured 6 models both male and female.  It was more of a fashion themed workshop again non-instructional.

Even though it was non-instructional we worked in teams and Bobby again assisted us as needed.  If you are a studio shooter this defiantly got you out in natural light.  Back to nature so to speak.  What a great location, so much to take in I think I could have spent several days there and still found new things to shoot.  Just when we thought we had seen it all Bobby loaded us up took us about a half mile down the road.  There we shot in old gold mines.   I also have some images from that shoot on my creative lighting article.
The second day shoot was just incredible for me.  I like trying new things and getting out of the studio, not having as much control was an eye opener.  The fun does not stop with the workshops.  After we finished and wrapped up the night life was great as well.  You know it is Vegas so there is a lot to do and no shortage of great dining places! 

I would highly recommend VVS Workshops.  The cost is very reasonable, the studio is setup well and the people are fantastic.  They offer a variety of workshops so check the meetup site often.  I’m not going to rate my review because I think each workshop or training is what you make of it.  Even though it works for me only you can say if it works for you.  I really don’t think you can go wrong here. 

Hope you enjoyed, thanks for reading!!

Selling Photos on-line, is it hype or true? – PD-Images archive

So we see the ads in magazines and on line about making $1000’s from taking simple picture with your digital camera.  The question to ask if it is really so easy wouldn’t everyone do it?  If everyone does it how would anyone make money?

Welcome to the world of MicroStock photography.  Let’s start by setting the record straight.  First not everyone can do this.  You can’t use any point and click camera and take pictures.  To be successful you will need at minimum a mid-range DSLR outfit.  You will need to calibrate your computer monitor so it accurately displays colors and of course proper “WHITE” settings.  Once you have this covered your images must be technically correct when it comes to exposure, white balance and of course focus.  Don’t try to “sharpen” your images or they will NOT make it through the review process.  Speaking of the review process in addition to technically correct your images need to have some commercial value.  The reviews don’t let just anything through like those ads lead you to believe.  You will need to have some skills, take a class, read books and learn before you leap…

Now if you think you have the technical skill needed to make it in Stock photography and get past those pesky reviewers lets talk about those $1000’s the ads claim you’ll make!!  I hate to burst your bubble but this won’t happen quickly and maybe not at all.  You are going to compete with millions (yes MILLIONS) of other images.  You will have to learn not just the tech stuff but now the marketing side.  What images sell and can you do better than the other guy.  Your images need to be high quality and what people want.  If you upload a guy dressed as a businessman how many similar images are there?  You may also want to do a search because if you look at most popular you will be behind all those photographers who’s photos have been there for years.  Do a search, learn what is there, try to be different.  Sometimes it just isn’t easy and you’ll give in just to get images out there.

That brings up the next point.  If you have 100 images I have 1000 images and there is another photographer lets call him ‘Yurie” [name has been change to protect the…] who has 24000 images, who is going to get the most views and more likely to get sales?  How long do you think it will take to make $1000’s with 100 images?  MicroStock pays 25 cents per subscription sale up to $30 for an extended sale.  I’m sure you can do the math but when I first started I made a whopping $34 total my first month.  That $34 was the combined total of 10 different agencies.  I still don’t have what I would call steady income from my 1000 images but I do OK. 

 So, it sounds bad at this point but I can assure you of a few things that make it sound good and that has kept me going.  I have learned a lot and gotten much better at photography and photo finishing.  The people in the forums are great and always willing to help with questions.  I’ve seen a consistant increase in my sales as long as I continue to upload new images.  I would not have been able to upgrade my equipment if I did not have the additional income MicroStock has provided.  If I continue to grow my portfolio and sales within the next year I should have enough income from MicroStock to cover renting a studio space…  I currently have an in home small studio.  So, if you don’t plan to get rich soon and want to make a little extra money this venture could be for you.  Want to sign up?!  Please support this blog by using the links on my main page.  These links allow me to get referral credit if you decide this is for you.  Thanks for reading!!

Digital Camera Bodies – PD-Images archive

Before I begin let me start by saying I do not plan to get very technical.  I am just going to give the basics and keep this simple.  I just want to express the differences between cameras.  What I have found and experienced. 

 I got my first DSLR a Nikon D50 and thought it was a great camera.  The images were crisp, nice colors and overall performance was very good.  I upgraded to the D80 body and in my opinion the D50 had better color and contrast.  The range seemed better and even though the D80 had more bells and whistles it wasn’t really a better camera.  In fact I think the images from the D50 took much less time to correct and were more accurate.

 After 2 years with my D80 I felt it just wasn’t cutting it.  I wanted more, more control, better contrast, sharper images.  Then Nikon introduced the D300.  I waited and saved, and sold some things on eBay until I could get my D300.  I love the sharp images, contrast, and range and even though the white balance isn’t perfect it is much, much better.  I am glad I chose to move up to a pro model even though the return will take a LONG while.

 Those of you reading this so far might be thinking why I would get a consumer camera.  If a pro camera is that much better why not just get the higher end camera?  First we are talking two or three times as much money and that is a huge factor.  The second reason is the consumer cameras have simple pre-set programs that allow you to quickly change the setting and get the shot.  Consumer cameras are more automatic and easy to use.  They are by design made to be simple.  A consumer DSLR also has some features found on higher end camera.  You can, should you choose, set the camera in manual mode and have a set of features similar to a Pro camera yet slightly less advanced.  These cameras are best for beginners through serious enthusiast or as an entry level camera for those wanting to go pro.

 For those people who are on the fence about the extra money of a pro camera here are some key differences.  Sensors, focus zones and processors are normally much better giving you higher quality, range and contrast.  This may not be the case in the high end consumer models that may have some pro features.  Pro cameras tend to have a better make and feel solid, not like cheap plastic.  Most pro models are weather resistant although I would never want to test or suggest you trust a $2000 camera body to exposure.  Pro cameras allow you to use wireless networks, wireless flash, studio flash, GPS devices and a variety of additional accessories.  The feature set or camera settings are incredible but this also requires more time to understand and more time change these settings.  Some of the features go into great details requiring a great knowledge of photography techniques.

 This has mostly been about camera bodies.  I suggest as always reading reviews, checking forums and other resources before you buy.  I also tell people you need to pick up the camera, take a few shots, check the handling to make sure it works for you.  All cameras are different and just because it gets a great rating doesn’t mean it’s going to feel right when you use it.  The other big thing is don’t be swayed by brand!!!  You have people that only buy one brand because that is what they have always used.  If you have nothing to start with check them all.  Today most cameras have many of the same features so make sure it feels right and the controls work for you.

 Once you pick one most likely you’ll stick with that brand simply because it cost too much to replace your accessories.  Now for the big, most important thing you should do when testing.  It is very important you test each camera with the same/equivalent lens.  If you test one with a kit lens and one with a high-end lens or pro lens there will be differences.  The lens will make a HUGE difference…did I say HUGE difference?  Once you get into photography you will soon find not all lenses are equal.  Just because they are both 18-80 zoom lens there is a reason one it $500 more.  But that’s a topic we’ll save for another time.

Thanks for reading!