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It may seem strange to ask if there is a difference between Normal People and Photographers but how often does someone see the work of a professional photographer and wonder why their images look so much better. Well I thought I would tell you, it is because we have sold our souls to the devil. No I am kidding, only a few of us have. The real reason is that as photographers we have spent a lot of our time thinking about and shooting images plus learning our craft. This is not to say that we are better than a normal person just that we have no real life. Once again only kidding. However just like a musician who practices everyday will sound better than someone who only picks up their instrument once a month because we shoot and process more of our images tend to be better. This is not to say you can’t improve but with better knowledge and understanding even a weekend shooter can start get better images. Here are some examples of differences and how to get better images without... read more

It is no secret that I am big fan of RAW shooting. No I don’t mean going on pants optional photo outings but shooting in the RAW format as opposed to the standard Jpeg format. I have been in photo groups where fights almost break out on this subject but there is much to be said for each format. 1. You should only shoot in format, not true.Both formats have very strong reasons for using them. RAW does allow you more flexibility for bringing out details in both shadow and highlight areas but they are much larger files which means less shots on a camera card. And with that larger size you are less able to shoot faster or in continuous shot mode. Many sport shooters only shoot in Jpeg just for this reason. After all when a once in a lifetime shot comes along you better be ready or go back to shooting things that won’t move. Plus with today’s cameras you can go back in forth in format as the subject call for it. 2. RAW format will save you every time, sometimes. RAW format will... read more

I had my first tutoring experience on Photoshop the other day! Although I had communicated with my client prior to the actual meeting and had found out exactly what I would be expected to teach, everything went quite smoothly. I think it is always a good idea for a tutor to be ready, meaning knowing what is to be expected and already having a method of approach formulated, before the actual meeting with a student. I consider that preparation is what sets myself apart from the rest of the tutors...oops I'm letting out my secret. I also think it's being responsible, for as someone who is getting paid to teach something, you don't want to waste your student's time "thinking" about how to approach the solution. Just as a school teacher is expected to have class lessons planned out, tutors should have the same attitude toward their students. Being responsible, respect their time, and hope that the students gain something from the time we spend together as a tutor and a student...

In my camera classes I sometimes get a number of questions concerning the Days of Films and how to relate to our current state of Digital. Some started with film and have a camera bags full of lenses and other interesting stuff and are wondering if any of this can be used with digital. Well unless you want to go back to the wet plates a lot of this stuff can’t be used on digital cameras but some can. Here is a short list of a few of them. Can’t be used; Many of the lenses will not work (or worst can get stuck) on newer digital cameras. This is often the most painful truth. The digital computers in the camera will not communicate with that expensive and high quality glass. All those little gold plated contact points on both the camera body and the lens are there for better F stops and auto focus. There are some high end camera bodies that can take some of the lenses from the last few years of film but in general both film bodies and lenses only will work as a team. May... read more

Let's keep this simple. I consider what am I going to do with this new computer. For me, it is a combination of hobby computing, business needs, and personal computing. I am seriously considering an Apple this time. The Apple will fit my business needs with both software and the Microsoft offering I can be compatible with the office. The main reason I am considering an Apple is money and security. I am willing to spend the money to get the hardware and software to pursue my hobbies. My hobbies being music, photography, and computing. I like the way media looks and feels on the Apple. And to be honest, I am tired of the pc. The Apple works. Security. Security is the key. With identity theft the expense is justified. While working security in the United States Air Force I realized that security is a key component in computing. Therefore, I will spend the money now. Identity theft is serious. Enough said. Now build the computer. This sounds easy and here are a... read more

In the last two posts I talked about Shutter Speed and F stops for both light control and creative expression. The third part of the exposure triad is ISO or the sensitivity of the chip in the camera that records the image. Right out of the box you may have noticed that the camera was set on Auto ISO which means the camera picks the sensitivity as it perceives the light falling on the scene you are about to photograph. In fact for many cameras any one of the program modes (those little icons on the dial like the running man or the head) will go into this mode without any changes from you. Otherwise you will need to go into the menu to change the ISO. So just what is this and why should we care if the camera can take care of it? ISO (or for some of us who remember the days of yore of film ASA) was the rating of film as to how sensitive it was in different lighting setups. Slow film was ISO rated at 100 or 64. This was called daylight because it was used for outside daylight shots... read more

Last week I wrote about shutter speed, that mechanical opening in the camera that for a specific time will stay open to allow light to come in to make your exposure or image. Fast shutter speeds like 1/250 of a second or higher will freeze action while lower shutter speeds of 1/4 or slower will let more light in or allow the image to show blur for that artsy look. There is a second part of exposure for the control of light that does add an artistic look and that is the F stop or aperture in the lens. It looks like an iris of an eye and by making the hole bigger or smaller allows a set amount of light through the lens before it gets to the shutter. Some liken it to a window blind that depending on how much it is open or closed controls the amount of light in a room. The reason it is important is since the shutter is opened for a set piece of time you do not want too much or too little light coming through since that would make the image too light or too dark. The balance... read more

I finally got a tutoring job. I was nervous at first, but I now know that it was unfounded. The student was very nice and attentive and I feel as though I was being helpful. I am new to the tutoring scene. I always wanted to help people in an intellectual way as that is the best way for me. As I am getting into it, tutoring is a very fulfilling vocation. It seems like missionary work (as I would imagine it to be). We are going to meet again and I am looking forward to it. I really want to do this more. I am proficient in photography and history. I know it seems an odd combo, but those are the things I love! Thanks!

Photography, like any other art form is ever-evolving. The more you practice the more you develop and grow as an artist. Part of the learning process involves sharing and collaborating with others in order to expand your knowledge and artistic horizons. It is simply not possible to stay within the confines of a style you are comfortable with and expect that "it" will come to you. Try everything!

1. Nikon or Canon This is a great source of contention among professionals but often is based mostly on preference or brand loyalty. In all my research the main differences I found were speed and vibrance, with Nikon excelling at the former and Canon the latter. My suggestion is Nikon because saturation can be compensated for in post while speed cannot. 2. Which model? Many newbies are torn between buying an entry level dslr that will have to be upgraded when they outgrow it or buying a mid-top of the line body that will go the distance but be way over their heads in the beginning. In my experience it is better to grow with your camera and start with a D40 or D40x. If you spring for a high end model it will be replaced at the top of the hierarchy by the time you learn it anyway and is way to much muscle for someone starting out. The camera's auto capabilities will allow you to take great looking photos right away, which will deter learning technical and theory essentials... read more

When you have a great image and want to share it what if you have a parent or relative who does not have the internet or you would just like a print of your work, is it easier or harder than it used to be? There are a lot of choices for making prints. A number of local one hour printers from the chain drugstore to big box shops like Costco and Sam's Club are out there. Some make it easy with computer setups that you just have to put your camera card in and with some minor corrections and cropping you are done. But if you like to use Photoshop and Photoshop Elements (why else would you buy them?) what happens if you work on an image or a group of images and now want prints. There are a number of horror stories about lousy prints or bad color and while many of these stories are true but they don't have to be. First and foremost you should check if your monitor is giving you good color. I will cover this in some future post in more detail to talk about calibration vs the 80%... read more

Way back in the days of film pro photographers had this little known secret for getting better in their craft. It was called editing. Be it with roll film or slides we would go through every session and toss out all the images that were to put it nicely S&#. But we did not stop there. Sure it was easy looking at a contact sheet or a light table of slides to see which frames were blank, over / under exposed or shots of our shoes and cross them out with Sharpe or toss them in the trash but we would go even farther. My choice of editing was the Good/Bad/Maybe work flow. The first pass was quick and painless. Look at all the images and toss out the really bad ones leaving only the Good and Maybes. Here is the hard part. After the first pass there were two more passes with the same thought in mind, Good/Bad/Maybe. Sometimes after a stroll in the park with 3 rolls of 36 exposure slide film I might end up with twenty really good shots and about 40 maybes. This would frustrate my... read more

Recently, I was helping a friend and coworker design and develop a printed in-store merchandising guidebook that would show employees how to set up and display new product in a retail store, in this case, home furnishings. Not only would this one hundred plus page full-color catalog provide the retail stores with a great tool for store setup, but it would also help educate new employees on the large product line and elevate brand awareness by showcasing in-store displays, signage and other marketing and sales tools. Hiring a professional photographer is often a problem for many businesses. It takes careful planning, constant assistance and direction, often at great expense. While the use of this printed guidebook was for in-store use only, customers are often exposed to this book as it can be used as a sale’s tool. So, the photography and design must look professional. Also, we wanted the book to inspire the sale's team. We were not looking to reinvent the next Martha Stewart... read more

As a professional photographer, I love having the option to shoot both color and black and white. Years ago, I had to choose what kind of film to put into my camera. This could be a problem since I might have a job that required both color and black and white, often at the same time! Luckily, digital photography has solved a lot of these problems. Now, when I shoot digital, I always shoot in color and make the conversion to black and white later in Photoshop. I still use black and white film from time to time, but my preferred method these days is to shoot everything in color with a digital camera. This is a terrific solution, because I only have to think about using one camera on the job, not two cameras to handle two different film stocks. And you can do this with any color image file from any digital camera, whether its a top dollar D-SLR or a simple point and shoot. I like to use Adobe Photoshop to convert images from color to black and white and have developed a... read more

Winter is the season for heading to Skagit County and photographing bald eagles. If you go to the right places you can see 20-30 eagles in the air or in trees at any given time. A couple weekends ago I took my annual trip to the Samish Unit of the Skagit Wildlife Area and the eagles were thick in the air. At one point I counted 50 or more within a couple hundred yards. You will need at least a 200mm lens to get really close up shots, and you can rent lenses at places like Glazer's in Seattle. I had a 300mm 2.8 and a 1.4 TC (effective length = 420mm) and got some great shots.

Today a student contacted me about shooting around town as a lesson format and I thought this great idea may inspire others! I've had great success with this in the past as a fun way to become familiar with different settings and styles. While the weather is a little frightful the rain makes for very dynamic effects.

If you enjoy photographing people, some of the most freeing types of shooting are learning to be patient and DOCUMENT what people do. Don't worry about posing, or hoping your subject will do exactly what you want. Be willing to be near them, hold your camera in your hand and OBSERVE them. On their own, your subjects will do even better and interesting things than what you could have orchestrated. A small smile, a mischievous grin, or a quiet contemplative moment. The more your subjects become used to you being around them with your camera in hand, the sooner they will let down their guard and ALLOW you to photograph who they really are. Even little "camera hams" will start to let this happen. It takes time and patience and trust. Only your investment in being there and prepared without directing them will allow this to happen....Just be there!

Plain and simple: you LOVE Photography...Or you are beginning to love it more and more. That said, it's important to learn from Photographers you admire. Many offer workshops, tutorials, workbooks etc....If you like a photographers work, it's worth going out of your way to learn from them. They may live far away, probably charge for their workshops or lessons etc...It could very well be worth it! Not all, but some photographers have actually studied photography in college. My own background includes a 4 year Bachelors Degree from a Prestigious Art school in San Francisco. I spent a few hundred thousand dollars earning my degree. And it was well worth it! So some photographers have extensive backgrounds in Photography and may be able to teach you so much in a condensed amount of time and definitely at a lot less of an expense. Look into setting aside two hours each weekend or a few days a month to fully developing your craft, pay what is needed to really learn and then save up... read more

You enjoy Photography? Why not learn the craft to the point where you can take on commissions? Obviously, to become great at anything you need to dive in and be willing to put in the time to learn your craft. Photography is possible to learn through online tutorials, tutoring, classes, workshops and OF COURSE taking your camera out and photographing! Once you learn what type of lenses are best for the type of subjects you enjoy photographing, and how to use your equipment properly, you'll just need to get comfortable putting your subjects at ease (unless you enjoy Landscape Photography, then I can guarantee you those beautiful trees and mountaintops are WAY ahead of us on that and are already naturally at ease) and you will be able to offer your services to your community. Photography can be an expensive hobby or career. Let the effort you invest in strengthening your craft pay you back! It'll enable you to buy the lenses you desire, study more and to continue shooting. Best wishes,... read more

If you enjoy taking portraits, it's good to understand the best lighting situations that are most flattering for people. First off, if you can get comfortable with your camera, enough to shoot in Manual mode, you'll have some great options for taking great people photographs. Think of taking images without the use of your flash. If you have a good lens that opens to at least a 2.8 f-stop (or aperture) it will help you take some beautiful outdoor images of people without the harsh light of using flash. A lens that only opens up to 4 or 4.5 or 5.6 f-stop will work, just not as beautifully. And first and foremost people photograph most beautifully outdoors on an overcast or cloudy day. Think of how sunshine creates very dark shadows. They are unattractive on peoples face. To see a dark shadow under the eyes, nose and chin, no dice! An overcast is like a giant natural lightbox in the sky that provide soft, diffused, even light on your subjects and allows you to play to your hearts... read more

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