DSLRemote for iPhone and iPod touch

In order to be successful in this business you need a lot of tools at your disposal. I mean not only physical tools like gear and software, but also intangible tools like a positive attitude and a penchant for keeping clients happy. Also, the ability to keep clients in awe of you is always a big help. I’ve stated here many times that I’m not a gear head. I’m perfectly willing to spend money on necessary gear. But my bar for what I deem necessary is very high. It’s a rare day when I’ll go buy something just because I think it’s cool or fun. Last week I made an exception to my “˜not unless it makes my work better” rule and purchased DSLRemote Pro for my iPhone. (more…)

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A simple cheat to direct a viewer’s eye

We can’t always control the shoot as much as we’d like. One of my regular gigs is shooting real food prepared by real kitchen staff at real restaurants. The shots are more about the cooks and the restaurants than about my photographic prowess. Many times food comes out of the kitchen looking perfect, other times … not so much.  On these assignments I’m also usually restricted to available light, or minimal supplemental lighting. Immediately I’ve lost control over two key aspects of the shot. It’s on assignments like these that I’ll often employ a trick that’s so simple I’m almost   embarrassed–vignetting.

By artificially darkening the corners and edges of images we can direct the viewer’s eye toward the center. The trick is to not overdo it, but to have it be subtle. If you look at an image and think, ‘Oh, darkened corners,’ you’ve most likely gone too far. There are several points along the way where you can employ this trick, but my preference is in Photoshop, after the image has been cropped and the contrast adjusted.

My personal method involved the Quickmask tool and an Adjustment layer. On you image, enter Quickmask mode (Q key command) and select a round paint brush of appropriate size. Then simply mask the majority of the image. Remember this is a mask, not a selection, so the areas you paint will not be affected by the next step.

Quickmask mode
Quickmask mode

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I have Lightroom, do I need Photoshop?

Mist and Snow, Cummings Creek Wilderness.  One of multiple flaws in this image is the convergence of the tree trunks, they're slightly closer together at top than bottom.  This could be easily corrected in Photoshop, not so easily in Lightroom alone.
Mist and Snow, Cummings Creek Wilderness. One of the multiple flaws in this image is the convergence of the tree trunks; they're slightly closer together at top than bottom. This could be easily corrected in Photoshop, not so easily in Lightroom alone.

One of the most common questions I get when teaching my Adobe Lightroom workshops, is whether Lightroom is enough. The answer to that question depends on your needs and goals. But it is worth spending a bit of time reviewing reasons a photographer who has Lightroom 2 might also want to invest in Photoshop:

  • Graphic Design: If you are authoring your own web site or other publications, you may want Photoshop (or other tools) for laying out text over images, and so on.
  • Healing Tool Differences: There are some really nice things Lightroom can do that Photoshop can’t (like synchronizing correction spots on identical compositions), but Lightroom’s spot removal tool works best on small spots. Photoshop’s healing brush seems a more powerful option for larger scale healing, such as removing linear defects like branches or cracks in scanned images. (more…)

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The art of the callsheet

Imagine a theoretical job where you’ve got to coordinate yourself, two client representatives, three business executives who will be photographed, your assistant, a makeup artist and a homeowner whose home you’ll be shooting in. Oh, and you’ll have five minutes of your subjects’ time, the shoot is outdoors and subject to weather whims, and the subjects and the clients all come from the staid, yet much beat up, financial industry. Sounds like fun. Enter the call sheet.

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Lesson Logs and Other Mnemonic Devices

I’ve always believed that one of the keys to being successful in any venture is to know your own strengths and weaknesses. Gnōthi seauton or Know Thyself as the ancient Greeks would have said.   Me, I was blessed with the ability to remember all kinds of useless, small items. What was the name of that makeup artist on the shoot three years ago who complained and whined all day?   I can still remember it. As a result of this freaky ability to remember stuff I was able to go through school and my early career without really having to right stuff down, keep to do lists or any of the other basic things that we should really do in order to lead productive lives.

Fast forward 20 years. I’m no longer in my early career, but in the heart of it. I have a family, a mortgage, bills, a dog, bills, a lot more clients than I used to and a whole lot less memory. I don’t know if it’s simply a function of getting older, not having enough sleep, or having too much on my mind, but to be honest, I don’t really care. The long and short of it is I need to get stuff done. If I can’t remember it, I need to write it down. So now I’m a firm believer in the power of the pen. I have to do lists all over the place: on my desk, in my wallet, on the computer. iCal and I are new best friends and I probably couldn’t function without my Blackberry. (more…)

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Workflow processes and data management

Anyone in this business for a while will have to contend with storage, archiving and workflow of digital images. The system I’ve been using for the past 10 years or so has evolved, and continues to do so. It’s based on invoice numbers. For the past four or so years I’ve been using blinkbid to generate invoices and estimates. I like this particular program because it’s simple and was written specifically for photographers. I know many photographers that use quickbooks, quicken or MS Money. Which business software to use is a decision that you should make individually or perhaps with help from your accountant. (more…)

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How many is too many?

I read somewhere recently that the fewer images you show your clients, the more sales you will make.

I think about this a lot. I think about it pretty much every time I’m putting together images from a session to show a client.

Let’s say that we shoot an engagement session together and from that session I have 200 images. On the first pass I’ll probably narrow that number down to about 80. On the second pass I’ll begin to drop images that are in the same style and the same pose ( there’s no reason to have 12 images of a couple sitting the exact same way.) By the time I’m done I might have 30 to 50 images left to show.

Is that too many? I think that if you asked a lot of photographers most of them would say “yes.” But, here’s my problem: I don’t think I have ever shown a selection of images to a client where the client didn’t pick out at least one image that I personally think is not good. (more…)

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