by Skip Cohen
OTR is for "On the Road" and with the schedule for this tour, I can hear Willy Nelson singing in the background every time I look at the map!
Last week two great photographers, Suzette Allen, and Jon Yoshinaga, hit the road with their "partner in crime" Ms. Bubble Trailer. In the tradition of "Where's Waldo," we're going to track and share their 13,000 nine-week journey each week and also give you a peek at where they're headed next.
It's an incredible undertaking in hands-on education and networking. It's going to give so many of you a chance to raise the bar on your images, pick up new techniques and see some of the latest products/services from some of the industry's most progressive companies.
Along the way, in between formal classes, this trip is about seeing America and sharing images. Suzette wrote about last week when hitting the Bonneville Salt Flats:
...We decided to invite our friends, the Chopstick Guys! They are a couple fo fun-loving, sushi-eating photographic educators and photographers and they did a fab class out there a few months back...Then we connected with Bry Cox in Salt Lake City and we had a creative photo party! Bry brought a couple models, Pamela and Addie, and we got some great shots with them and Ms. BT of course!
...We set up our new NanLites, which are super bright LED lights. that enabled us to do video as well. I loved the way we could separately light up the trailer and the model and have a perfectly lit look, making them pop on a cool blue backdrop!
Check out Suzette's complete post with more great images from the Salt Flats.
Great programming like this doesn't happen without strong industry support. What a kick and an honor to be part of the craziness of a 13,000 mile adventure and thousands of photographers who Suzette and Jon will be with in the weeks ahead.
In 1827 the first photograph was captured, but it wouldn't be until 1837 when Louis Daguerre captured an image that took less than eight hours to expose! However you look at when photography was invented, in the 192-year stretch, there have never been more creative tools at your disposal.
Our good buddy and industry icon Rick Sammon just brought one more creative tool to the table. This is his fortieth book, further establishing his reputation as a leading author, educator, artist, podcaster, and a good friend to so many of us in the industry.
Rick's been an inspiration to so many of us over the years, but usually, it's through the lens of his camera. His new book is about bringing your heart into imaging. And, if you think about it, it's your most important creative tool.
You can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't it.
Photo Therapy Motivation and Wisdom: Discovering the Power of Pictures is a book about life and the role photography plays. It's loaded with incredible insight, starting with Trey Ratcliff's foreword. Rick described the book as:
Understanding why and how we are motivated to make pictures – and what your photography means to you – is of the utmost importance. So is learning about emotional intelligence for photographers, how to steal like an artist, realizing that it's never to late to be who you might have been, and understanding the difference between looking at seeing. Exploring light and color therapy also helps. Rick Sammon
Packed with wisdom, it also includes 20 motivating self-assignments along with what Rick refers to as "Sammonisms." This is about the value photography plays in all of our lives. It's not about capturing stunning images but understanding the role imaging plays in having a stunning life.
Rick should be on your radar. Keep tabs on everything he's doing with a click on the picture of him above and link to his website.
What has four legs, four eyes, moves on six wheels and is jam-packed with energy, creativity, and fun education? I'm sure you guessed the answer. In just a few days, Suzette Allen and Jonny Yoshinaga are going to kick off an incredible adventure. It's a photographic tour, unlike anything any of us have experienced. Even better, there's an opportunity for so many of you to be involved.
Years ago, my good buddy Tony Corbell got me using the word "knucklehead." I use it as an expression of endearment, usually referencing somebody's incredible creativity, thought process, risk-taking, passion for life, or simply all of the above. Well, Suzette and Jonny are two of our favorite knuckleheads, and they're about to open their doors to everyone along their 13,000-mile teaching and sharing tour of the US.
Supported by a stellar team of outstanding sponsors, you can be sure there will be plenty of surprises along the way.
It all kicks off on September 6 at Bay Photo with ten programs in just September alone! Programs like this don't come along very often. As one of the sponsors, we couldn't be more proud to be a part of the craziness and fun this team is about to share coast to coast. Remember, "fun?" It's one of those words that's too often lost in business today, but we're all in this business because we love it!
The program schedule just for September is below. Click on any program date for more information. And,click on the road map or the banner above to follow their complete schedule. Tune in here for weekly updates, podcasts and posts every Bubble Trailer Tuesday!
September Event Schedule
There's an incredible amount of helpful content on the WestcottU site. And it's all FREE.
It's "Wednesdays with Westcott," and I found the perfect piece of inspiration and support for a lot of you! Scrolling through, I found a topic that speaks to the help, so many of you need - product lighting. Now, before you roll your eyes, and suggest I don't know what I'm talking about because you don't do product shots and you're not a filmmaker.
Let's use wedding photographers as an example. I love going through the list of specialties to find out what everyone in each of my workshops is doing. When I ask about tabletop work, there are almost no hands that ever go up. Yet, wedding photographers have the toughest of all table-shots to get - the wedding take. And, what if the bride is using her great-grandmother's engraved cake knife and she wants the detail?
Then there are those of you who like to share product shots on your blogs as both still images and video. For example, coming up to this year's holiday season, you want to show a new frame line, albums or presentation boxes from a company like PhotoFlashDrive. (Note, I love their products to completely upgrade your client presentations!) You need to show these products with the same professional look you're working hard to achieve in all your work.
Tips for Capturing Tabletop and Product B-roll
This video was inspired by seeing how some of our favorite content creators have been using Flex LED mats in their production workflows. Whether doing an unboxing or creating a cooking channel, compact Flex light are awesome for creating a professional set even in the tightest of spaces. For this setup, we used a few Flex LED lights along with a variety of modifiers to create multiple lighting setups for a standard tabletop b-roll shoot. But before we got started, there were a few things we needed to prepare…
After we got our environment ready, it was time to begin placing our lights. When shooting tabletop b-roll, there were a few questions we had to keep in mind while setting up.
These things will typically be determined by the products that you’re shooting. If the items are extremely shiny, dark, or reflective, you’ll need to be aware of reflections as well. Shooting with a monitor is extremely helpful in this case, allowing you to see the finer details. Here, we were shooting on an A7III with HLG2 into an Atomos recorder using Kit and Gamma Assist.
For the shot above, we placed a Flex 1x1' Bi-Color mat in a China Cube overhead. This created a very soft key light. We used blocks on each side of the cube to flag the light off of the background and edges of the table, keeping the focus on the products. This light was set at 4500k.
Then, we added an edge light and back light to add some contrast. The back light, a Flex 1x1' RGBW set to a bright blue tone, was softened with a hard diffuser and mounted below the the table with a QR Mount. We placed an egg-crate grid on this light to really direct it onto the wall. This light reflected back onto our products slightly, acting as a subtle edge light.
Don't forget everything you buy, when connecting to any product from an SCU blog post or through the door to Westcott below puts 10% of your purchases in the funding for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. As a Westcott affiliate, SCU keeps no commission but for the rest of this year, directs it to one of the industry's most recognized nonprofits.
Westcott never slows down on their efforts to help photographers raise the bar on their skill set and capture the very best in imaging. And, their YouTube channel is packed with great content plus a never-ending flow of inspiration on the WestcottU site!
By Chamira Young
There's nothing like upgrading a lens and seeing how it can revolutionize your work. I recall the first time I decided to do my first lens upgrade years ago, and couldn't believe I hadn't done it sooner! The quality of my work instantly skyrocketed, especially as I tested and became familiar with my new equipment.
Speaking of testing and becoming familiar with new glass, today's post is going to demonstrate how versatile and fun Tamron's SP 15-30mm F/2.8 lens is. A great piece of glass is a powerful asset to any photographer's repertoire, and when it comes to high quality glass, Tamron walks the walk. I decided to embark on a journey to see how flexible this lens could be while still maintaining high-level quality. Spoiler alert: I was not disappointed in the least! From up close portraits to panoramic shots, this lens is great for a variety of situations.
The first thing I used it for was a high school senior portrait session. The setting was a Michigan overcast afternoon with rain threatening at any moment. The lens was sensitive enough to grab sharp photos, and all I needed was a little extra fill light for the shadows falling across my subject's face.
I also decided to try out an up-close portrait of yours truly, as it was time to update my self-portrait. For this shot, I was indoors against a black backdrop, with the shades drawn and just one key light in order to give it a dramatic flair. I used Westcott's Ice Light 2, which was perfect for the challenge and so efficient in a situation like this. After some creative editing in Photoshop, I was quite happy with the result.
Next, I couldn't resist heading down to my favorite local park, hopping on my kick scooter, and grabbing some fun nature shots. I absolutely love the level of both foreground to background sharpness the lens was able to capture.
Finally, I wanted to really push the envelope in terms of how large of an object I could capture, so grabbing a shot of a local freighter crawling by was the logical decision. This behemoth felt like it was practically on top of me, and yet the lens allowed me to capture it in its entirety. As for the bridge behind it, I managed to capture a solid chunk of the structure.
All in all, it was fun getting out in a wide range of situations and seeing what this baby could do! Tamron never compromises on quality, and their SP 15-30mm F/2.8 lens is a great addition to many photographers' arsenals.
By the way, if you're going to be attending ClickCon in Chicago, be sure to visit the Tamron booth August 5-6 and check them out for yourselves!
"The S series is just the perfect creative tool!"
by Skip Cohen
Somehow I missed this video featuring Annie Griffiths in Patagonia with the LUMIX S1. Panasonic's NEW full-frame mirrorless camera is remarkable, and so is the amount of excellent information she packs into a three-minute video. Click on the images to view in the SCU Lightbox, but keep in mind these images were pulled as screenshots - so imagine the impact of the originals!
And if Patagonia is on your bucket list to visit - you're about to be there through Annie's eyes. I love the way this video gives you a tour of the country AND the camera!
Annie Griffith needs to be on your radar. Follow her and the entire US LUMIX Ambassador team. And, you'll find them speaking/teaching at LUMIX retailers and conventions all over the U.S. They're one of the most diverse and creative teams in professional photography, and should all be on your radar. You'll be surprised at how much great content they share.
Check out the complete S series family and also more videos and tutorials with a click on the banner below.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Now and then there's an image shared on Facebook that simply deserves to be seen by more photographers. My good buddy Scott Bourne knocked it right out of the park on so many different levels with his shot of the eagle above. Click on the image to see it enlarged in the SCU Lightbox, and keep in mind I'm sharing a screenshot of Scott's photograph on Facebook. Now, imagine how good the original print must be!
With the image above, Scott wrote the following:
This is a commissioned piece I made for one of my Chinese patrons. It is called "Go Fish?." I have never shown this image on social media before.
It is a bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) fishing in the Cook Inlet of Alaska. This is one of my favorites - not because of anything to do with the creation of the image but because it shows my favorite eagle behavior. Sometimes, when they aren't sure if they actually caught a fish they will bring their talons up to their beak to see what (if anything) they caught. Kind of cool.
Get Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II, Olympus 40-150 f/2.8 Pro Lens at ISO 500 - f/7.1 - 1/2000 - hand held from a moving boat.
Corrected in Luminar and finished in Topaz Impression II.
Check out more of Scott's work on his blog. You'll never be disappointed in the images or great advice he shares! Just click on the banner below. And, make sure you check out his workshop schedule.
by Skip Cohen
Note: There are hundreds of posts published every year on the SCU blog, but every now and then we miss sharing one. This post was originally published in June, but never shared. All of you are looking for new business and creative products to separate your work from your competitors. It's time to take a look at Performance EXT Metal Prints!
I don't know about you, but being involved in photography my entire adult life, our home is like a gallery. We have dozens of photographs from great friends, and some of the very best artists in imaging, all collected over a lifetime in this industry. In addition to the framed prints on display, there are dozens in storage, hopefully, dry and packed correctly in my garage. We simply ran out of wall space.
At least that was the case until I saw Bay Photo's Performance EXT metal prints. It was eleven months ago I shared a post about the print above, displayed outside by our pool. Remember, I live in Florida, and we're out by the pool all year long. I even boosted the wifi so I could take my laptop outside to work.
Well, the print is just as stunning today as it was the day I hung it. There's no visible sign of any change in color, scratching, fading, etc. In fact, it's been bumped a couple of times by friends coming in through the back door of the pool cage.
Here's my point:
Note: Click on either image to view in the SCU Lightbox.
Interested in more information? Just click on the banner below.
"...that's what we're looking for in a moody photograph - highlights and shadows,
that's how we sculpt the body."
It's Wednesdays with Westcott, and once again Jen Rozenbaum knocks it out of the park! There's so much you can learn watching a photographer/educator like Jen in action.
The quality of the content she packs into this short video isn't just about the tips she shares to help you create mood in a portrait. All along the way, she's helping you understand how to direct the subject and look for the right angle to capture the most powerful image.
And, thanks to help from the team at Westcott, you're getting a solid course in one aspect of portrait lighting jam-packed into seven minutes! So, imagine how much you'll learn in a LIVE workshop environment with Jen!
Check out ClickCon coming up next month in Chicago. Jen's part of the lineup of outstanding instructors and Westcott will be there as well. Use "ccskip" in the discount box for registration and save $50!
Don't forget - 10% of everything you purchase from Westcott when you enter their site through the "door" to the left goes to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, one of the industry's most recognized nonprofit organizations.
Click on any product above for more information!
Westcott U never slows down in sharing great content and "how-to" support to help you raise the bar on the quality of your images! Inspiration is just a click away.
I started the series as an easy way to remind you of things you need to do to make your business stronger; market yourself better, and build your brand. Just like fast food consumed during those on the run lunch breaks we're all too familiar with, they're just filling enough to get you through the day, but not meant to be your ONLY source of nourishment! LOL
Today's blue-plate special in the SCU diner is "diversity." There's a considerable difference between diversity in your skill set and diversity in your business. You need a diverse skill set in today's market to keep up with trends and technology, but when you become too diverse in the work you show, things don't fit together for your target audience.
Just like the games, we as kids where we picked out what was wrong in the picture; your target audience is faced with the same challenge looking at your website.
Continuity in the Focus of Your Business
The challenge so many of you face is simply too much on your website. No matter how good you are technically, you can't do it all without sacrificing quality somewhere along the line. You need to focus on your core specialty and then spin-off into relatable areas of expertise.
Here's a perfect example: A lot of you have an interest in commercial work, but let's say your core business is wedding photography. The confusion comes when different people look at your site. A rep at an ad agency, searching for a photographer for a specific client will move on if they come into your website looking at wedding albums. In the same respect, Mom or a bride isn't interested in your commercial work - they want to see your skills as a wedding photographer.
The same applies to photographers who want to sell fine art images, landscapes, etc. but their core business is family portraiture. The target audience gets confused and moves on to somebody with work more in line with their needs.
Here are some easy suggestions:
And last on the list - remember that what you show is what you want to sell. Years ago, I was looking at a website of a good buddy, and in the middle of his core business galleries, he had a dozen mediocre images from a wedding he once photographed. When I asked why, he responded, "I've only shot one wedding, but I want people to know I can do it!" The answer was, "NO, you don't!" That didn't mean he couldn't handle the request if one of his regular clients asked, only that he shouldn't show weddings in his main "inventory" of services/skills.
Shakespeare said it best, "To thine own self be true!" Stay true to your core specialty and become more diverse on your website in logically connected specialties.
It's "Wednesdays with Westcott," and Jerry Ghionis is back with two short videos jam-packed with great how-to content. If you've met Jerry or attended one of his workshops then you know, just like Westcott, he NEVER does anything halfway!
He's working with the Ice Light 2, which working together with Westcott, he designed. It's a remarkable addition to your gear and also one of the most creative lighting tools you can add to your skill set! These two videos are part of a series Jerry and Westcott created three years ago, but there's nothing dated about the tips Jerry shares to help you become a better artist and make your work stand out.
Timing is everything because on July 1, Westcott launched a special limited time promotion of a set of barn doors FREE with the purchase of an Ice Light 2! Click on the thumbnail to the right. And remember, 10% of everything you buy from Westcott when going through the SCU gateway goes to one of the industry's most recognized nonprofits, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.
If you think Jerry shares a lot in a short video, think about what he's like when teaching a class! He's the opening keynote speaker at the upcoming ClickCon conference. A lot of photographers have described the speaker list for ClickCon as the most impressive list of educators in professional photography, but don't take my word for it. Click on the banner below and see for yourself.
Image copyright Daniel Venter. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
One of the most significant benefits of the Internet and in turn, social media, is how small the world has become. Facebook is often my greatest resource for meeting new artists and often seeing images I love to share.
Meet Daniel Venter, an accomplished photographer from Czechia. We met through the Facebook Wedding Photographers forum. I had shared a post about the importance of your "About" page as an element to help build trust. Daniel made the comment below:
I don't have one. It was my least visited page of my site since the advent of social media, so I stopped implementing it on new sites. Most people don't care about it because they want two things only: price and how awesome the photos are. The trust factor can be built on how often you show your photos to the world. When people see awesome photos they trust that you do the job well. Tell them through your photos that you are the one to go to! In this day and age where content is king, and social media is top layer, speed it key. People want to read less and see more because info is hitting them every few seconds, so even your website becomes less important when there are tons of reading to do. People don't wont to read, they want to scroll, get engaged by an awesome image and buy the service.
At first, I was ready to go into defensive mode, but then I went to Daniel's site and looked at his images. While I don't agree with him completely, his work is beautiful, and his point is definitely valid. He gave me another perspective to my original point in the post.
As I looked through his galleries, I loved the image above and contacted him for permission to share. I appreciated Daniel's comment, feedback and most important of all enjoyed the consistency of the work he's sharing. Click on his image above to visit his website, and to see what Daniel's sharing on Facebook (and in English) check out his Facebook page.
Daniel also has an educational site with support for the photographic community. Click on the banner below for more information.
Images by Cantrell Portrait Design
While I won't deny there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about Molly, this post isn't meant to be another episode of me missing my dog. In fact, it's light on sadness but heavy on an idea for a few of you to consider as a product/service.
Molly was by my side every day for 13 1/2 years. The only exception was when traveling. Going to work with me every day she became the office mascot at Rangefinder/WPPI. From late 2007 until I left Rangefinder in May of 2009, I was going through a divorce and lived in an apartment in Playa Vista, near Culver City.
Molly was probably one of the most photographed pups in the industry because every artist who came to town photographed my girl! On one of her trips for WPPI print judging, Bambi Cantrell spent an afternoon photographing Molly and me. She captured some of my most cherished photographs. Pay attention because there's a great product idea here.
Bambi did a Day in the Life shoot and captured Molly and me in three different settings. I found the disk of her images recently, and these are all right out of the can. My apartment had a small patio, and Molly would hang out with me just about every night as I pondered the meaning of life.
So the question is - how many of you offer clients a Day in the Life shoot? It's the perfect album capturing the story of kids, families and obviously pets. Remember, the top three reasons people hire a professional photographer in the portrait/social categories goes brides, babies, pets.
Well, a Day in the Life for a bride is already covered with a wedding album - but what about babies (kids too) and pets, especially the interaction with other members of the family? Done right it's got the same kind of potential for exceeding client expectations as a well-done wedding or event album. Plus, it doesn't have to be seasonal, giving you the ability to be a storyteller all year long.
And, back to Molly for a second...everybody who's ever lost a pet knows the feeling of loss, but great photographs keep those memories alive, and for me, they're finally starting to create more smiles than tears.
"When I needed a hand, I found your paw."
Happy Throwback Thursday!
Images copyright Marcie Reif. All rights reserved.
"Good things happen when you set your priorities straight!"
by Skip Cohen
Welcome back to Tamron Recipes and Part II, our conversation with "Chef" Marcie Reif. Marcie shares so much great insight in this conversation. Her passion for the craft, along with her clients, comes out loud and clear. Her goal with each client is to exceed their expectations, and as I've written in the past, make herself habit-forming!
We're having a lot of fun with this series. "Fun" is too often a mystical word that gets lost in business today, buried under the stress of decision making, interruptions, and priority setting. But, the quote by Scott Caan seems to define at least one aspect of Marcie's outlook on life, her priorities. On her about page, she leads with a description of herself as simply, "wife, mother, artist." That pretty much says it all, establishing those three hats she wears that are a big part of the foundation of who she is.
I'd add one more hat, "friend." With each podcast, both Chamira and I have found the start of new friendships with our guests. Marcie's not just part of the Tamron family, but ours as well and that's one of my most favorite things about this industry - the friendships we all share that come out of everyone's love for the craft.
In wandering through Marcie's galleries, I wanted to pull a variety of my favorite images. You'll notice a universal theme - people! I doubt there's very much Marcie can't photograph, but it's her relationships with her clients that's demonstrated in great expressions in every image. Click on any photograph in this post to visit Marcie's website.
One of Marcie's most favorite tools is Tamron's new 35-150mm F/2.8-4 Di VC OSD lens. But it's not just about the quality of the optics, but the focal length. With a 35-150mm range she can be close to her clients and a director when needed, as well as a journalist's approach and back farther to observe. She talks very openly on her approach and why this lens is ideal for working with families and kids.
"Chef" Marcie's recipe is a click away if you missed it last week. Check out the 35-150mm lens with a click on the thumbnail to the right. And, visit your Tamron dealer to check this lens out for yourself and make sure Tamron's schedule of local events and trade shows is on your radar. You'll find their complete schedule below with an almost endless number of workshops, shows and dealer programs all year long.
I'm not sure I've ever shared a post as loaded with content as this one today. And, while I know blog posts are supposed to be short, and singular in topic, it's tough to do when there's a lot of good stuff to talk about.
Giving Back Campaign With NILMDTS
If you've followed me over the years then you already know I'm a big fan of finding ways we can use photography to give back. For me, in terms of the industry, it started with selling Ansel Adams Cadillac to raise money for Photographer + Friends United Against AIDS in the early 90's and later Ansel's camera gear to shock jock Don Imus for $100,000 with the proceeds going to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the Center for Creative Photography.
Over the years there's been a growing list of non-profits we've talked about here at SCU, including my involvement with the Senior Friendship Centers in Sarasota who are responsible for providing health care to thousands in the community along with over 250,000 meals each year to the elderly...and the list goes on and on.
For the last few years, I've been honored to be an Ambassador for a very special non-profit, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. NILMDTS has a pretty remarkable team of dedicated photographers and staff focused on helping families deal with the loss of a child. We've shared a lot of great posts thanks to members of the NILMDTS team.
And, here's where the fun of a blog like this comes into play.
Teaming Up With Westcott
SCU is a Westcott Affiliate. That means for every piece of gear you buy through the SCU/Westcott portal; we would normally get a 10% affiliate credit (commission). Effective immediately and at the very least through the rest of 2019, ALL of that commission is going to NILMDTS. Looking for great lighting gear? Here's an excellent and easy way for all of us to help the NILMDTS community and at the same time, raise the bar on the quality of your images!
Great Expressions? Yeah, we've got that!
I can't think of a better way to launch our new giving back campaign than with Peter Hurley's latest video and a great list of gear he's helped design working together with Team Westcott!
I do hundreds of website reviews each year, and when it comes to looking at galleries, there's an immediate quality in the images that tell a lot about each artist - the expressions on their subjects. Natural expressions are a sign of exceptional quality in an artist - the ability to build trust. And, when you're doing a headshot, your time to build trust is often so limited.
In the words of Carly Simon's old hit, when it comes to Peter Hurley, "Nobody does it better!" The video below is jam-packed with great content and includes Peter's set up for this particular sitting. He shares a lot of great insight. But think about it, his advice is perfect for all kinds of people photography, including weddings! So, don't think just because you're a wedding photographer, for example, you won't learn a few new tricks to bring out the very best expressions with your bridals and "groomals."
And, when you purchase any of Peter's gear through the SCU portals, 10% of everything you buy goes back to helping NILMDTS!
All of you are looking for ways to make your work stand out from the competition. It takes more than just great marketing - you've got to be able to walk the talk. There's no better way than making sure every image in your galleries is a "wow" print - in other words, they're so good you'd only have to show one to get hired.
Images copyright Peter Hurley. All rights reserved.
I love the way Peter brings out the best in his subject, Kerstin. He shares a whole series of images of her in the video, but listen to his comments, especially when he finds out her father is in the studio. And, all along the way, he's giving us great tips on how to make it all happen.
But maybe most important of all, Peter and his clients are have fun in the process. Remember, "fun?" It's a word so often lost in business today and buried underneath the day in day out stress of decision making. However, being fun to work with and capturing images that exceed client expectations are two of the very best building blocks for your reputation and brand awareness.
Check out Peter's primary gear from this video with a click on any of the products below. And, if you make a purchase through the SCU portals below 10% goes to NILMDTS.
Peter Hurley is one of the finest and most recognized educators in professional photography. Check out why by attending the newest boutique conference in photography, ClickCon. It's all happening in August in Chicago - use "ccskip" in the discount box and save $50.
Intro by Skip Cohen
It's Mirrorless Monday with a special guest post by one of my favorite people, the "mad scientist of imaging," Don Komarechka. Some of the most incredible images ever shared in the SCU blog have been thanks to Don, and over the years, even though we've still never managed to meet in person, our friendship has grown.
Today's guest post is unique and remarkable because Don captured the image below with the new LUMIX S1R and without a macro lens. Thanks to his love for sharing and education, he takes us through each step of the process.
The tagline for Panasonic's LUMIX family of cameras, "Changing Photography," has never been more accurate! Check out more of Don's work with a click on either image to link to his website, blog, and newest projects. And for more LUMIX images, meet the Ambassadors. They're a fantastic group of artists with an unmatched love for imaging, education, creativity, and mirrorless photography!
NEW! LUMIX S1R Kit, Digital Mirrorless Camera with 47.3MP MOS Full Frame,
24-105mm F4 L-Mount Lens
Click on any thumbnail for more info
by Don Komarechka
Our gardens are filled with Forget-Me-Nots, such a delicate and tiny string of flowers, so small that they would make a great companion to a water droplet. Walking around the flowers between rainstorms gave me the idea!
This image is shot with a novel approach: using the high-resolution pixel shift mode on the Lumix S1R to create a 187MP image, and then cropping in on the central area of interest. This has a few benefits, one of them being that a macro lens is not required. This was shot with the Lumix S 24-105mm F/4 lens! No extra attachments, no extension tubes, just a high quality crop in from a very high resolution image.
Another benefit is that shooting from farther away from your subject will yield a greater depth of field. Focus stacking an image such as this would normally take me around a dozen images, but only five were required here. The end result is an image around the 30 megapixel mark, so the crop is significant but even still I have more than enough detail to make large prints of this.
The high resolution mode of the S1R takes multiple images, each with slight shifts to the sensor to create a final image with four times the resolution than the camera would normally have. This could be useful for a number of things like landscape photography, artwork reproduction or product photography, but macro photographers can benefit as well. Since the depth of field in your image becomes shallower as you get closer to your subject, intentionally being farther away with all other things being equal will increase the amount of depth you have over your subject. Sure, I’m throwing away a lot of pixels in the process, but it’s a valuable technique!
The droplet was placed very carefully with a small gauge hypodermic needle, and it held on just long enough to take these images. The flower inside the refraction might appear to have a line running through it – this is actually the surface of the water with the flower half-way submerged, and you’re seeing the top of the flower reflected to mimic the full flower. The position of the forget-me-not flowers gives the droplet space, and the bottom blue flower is deliberately touching the surface of the water so that the surface tension creates a different angle to reflect more of the magenta petals of the gerbera daisy placed in behind.
The entire scene is lit with a bright LED flashlight positioned over my right shoulder, continuous light being required for the high resolution mode. This is also one of the rare times you’ll find me using a tripod for this type of photography, because it is easier to find the right angle than hand-holding the camera. Different techniques require different equipment, and this high-resolution mode is a real winner!
Skip's Note: All the secrets of water droplet refraction photography as well as most other aspects of macro imaging will be covered in Don's upcoming book Macro Photography: The Universe at Our Feet, currently being funded on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/donkom/macro-photography/ - if you’d like to support the project and help the book be an even better final product, you’ll also get a copy of the book in time for Christmas at a price much less than retail
Images copyright Joel Grimes. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
It's "Wednesdays with Westcott," and I love how much content Joel Grimes packs into this video. He's creating two completely different portraits, each with substantial drama, and along the way sharing each step in his lighting to create the final image.
Here's a thought - if Joel can pack this much helpful "how-to" information into one video, what will his classes be like at the upcoming ClickCon show in Chicago in August? If you haven't checked out the faculty at this new conference wander over to the website. There are 50+ outstanding instructors to choose from over the 2-3 day event.
And, not only will Joel be teaching there, but several of Westcott's Top Pros - Jen Rozenbaum, Jerry Ghionis, Clay Blackmore, Peter Hurley, Lindsay Adler, and Will Cadena are all involved. And, the team from Westcott will also be in attendance on the trade show floor. Use "ccskip" to save $50, and we're also sharing our ClickCon affiliate commission with each attendee, and Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. Click for more info.
Joel never compromises on the quality of an image, and he takes you through each step as he adjusts his lighting and exposure to bring the most drama to the finished portrait. And, just like Joel, Westcott never slows down on building relationships with their audience. They believe in education and helping you raise the bar on the quality of your photographs and videos.
Image copyright Lisa Langell. All rights reserved.
Last month we shared a podcast packed full with great insight and a series of images by Tamron "Chef," Lisa Langell. The Tamron Recipe series always receives a great response, and today, Lisa's back with one of her recipes for success - how to photograph hummingbirds. The fun of working with Lisa is her attention to detail, combined with her willingness to share just about everything she's learned over the years to help more photographers fine-tune their skill set.
This new guest post is loaded with good solid information, especially Lisa's observations on the importance of "re-imagining nature photography" for today's contemporary clients and the interiors of their homes.
Lisa's hummingbird images are all captured with Tamron's 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD lens. Just like Lisa's approach to photography, Tamron never slows down in manufacturing some of the very best optics in imaging. And, they're just as focused on helping photographers improve their skill set to help capture the very best photographs.
To find out more about this outstanding lens, click on the thumbnail to the left. The 70-210 lens is also included in Tamron's Spring Rebate program through July 6, 2019 with a $200 instant savings at authorized Tamron dealers.
Check out more of Lisa's work and her workshop schedule with a visit to her website. Just click on the banner below. While her August workshops are already sold out, with some classes, she maintains a waitlist. Make sure you sign up for her FREE newsletter, so you're always up to date on her workshops, trips, and latest information to help you become a better artist.
by Lisa Langell
Creating wildlife and nature photography that works well into the interior designs of homes, offices and more is a true passion of mine. Echoing back to my years long ago of working as a floral designer with other interior decorators to transform the indoors, I learned a great deal about people’s palates, tastes, design techniques, and decorating trends.
Making wildlife photography something people want to hang in trendy, well-decorated and designed homes requires transforming how we perceive what constitutes “nature photography.” We must go beyond the “rules” and restrictions long-associated with “classic” magazine and calendar-style photography. It requires re-imagining how we photograph, process, print and display our work so that it is on-trend with the decorative and artistic look of today’s indoor environments.
The high-key style hummingbird photography I do is just one example of re-imagining nature photography for today’s interiors. Here is how it is done.
Recipe for Hummingbird High Key Setups
1 hummingbird feeder (which inevitably attracts bees and wasps, detested by hummingbirds)
3-4 speedlite flashes positioned about 18-24 inches from the bird, set to Manual, at 1/16th to 1/32nd power.
Zoom and aperture settings variable to achieve the light and look you need, depending on the placement of the flashes.
1 white backdrop about 24-36 inches behind the bird
1 flash positioned to illuminate white backdrop set to no higher than 1/8 power
1 camera on a tripod - Set camera to the following settings (slight adjustments made as needed):
1 Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD lens
1 remote trigger (I do not recommend the type that requires line-of-sight communication)
1 or more stunningly gorgeous hummingbirds
See the setup:
Ethics of Flash Photography and Hummingbirds
The ethics of using flash photography with animals and birds is something which I have spent considerable time researching before I comfortably employed these techniques with hummingbirds. I am highly conscientious of being a good steward of our natural world and wanted to understand any impact this method of photography may have on birds before engaging in this type of photography.
Of the current information I located on the web, there are diverse opinions, but a lack of peer-reviewed, published scientific studies available on this topic. Virtually none of the articles I located involve birds and flash photography; however studies that looked at fish and reptiles indicated daytime use of flash photography resulted in little or no negative impact.
It is important to note that though hummingbirds were not included in the study, the intensity of light used in the studies below appears greater than that which hummingbird photography requires. A lengthy meta-search of research abstracts resulted in these two articles which most closely aligned with my interests:
Huang, B., Lubarsky, K., Teng, T., & Blumstein, D.T. (2015). Take only pictures, leave only…fear? The
effects of photography on the West Indian anole Anolis cristatellus. Current Zoology 57(1), 77-82.
De Brauwer, M., Gordon, L.M., Shalders, T.C., Saunders, Archer, M., Harvey, E.S., … Mcllwain, J. (2019).
Behavioural and pathomorphological impacts of flash photography on benthic fishes. Scientific
Reports, 9 (Article 748). Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-37356-2
I also reviewed the work of Dr. Graham Martin (Professor Emeritus, University of Birmingham and a leading Ornithologist focused on avian vision and sensory science) and Dr. Jack Pettigrew, (Professor Emeritus and Director of the Vision, Touch and Hearing Research Center at the University of Queensland in Australia. Both are leading researchers who have expressed possible concern for flashing nocturnal creatures such as owls, but I have been unable to locate any research or commentary which suggests low-power flashes are detrimental during daylight hours.
Lastly, I have my own observations:
The hummingbirds that come in to feed do not appear disturbed by the flashes. In fact, they return frequently throughout the day to feed at the setups. On very few occasions I have observed a mild “startle” response at a flash, but the bird goes back to feeding in less than a second and subsequently makes continued return trips to the feeders without further startling behavior. One final note, I do not employ high-speed repeated flashing when shooting (e.g., 3-4+ flashes per second). Though the technology is capable of doing so, I choose not to.
Now and then a conference comes along that hits all the right buttons - the ability to help you recharge mid-season; programs with both hands-on and lecture style, and best of all an extensive list of top speakers and exhibitors.
Welcome to ClickCon!
ClickCon is August 5-7, and it's the first time in many years anything this big has taken place in one of my favorite cities, Chicago. It's a star-studded lineup of outstanding speakers/educators representing many of the best of the best in education, not to mention their individual specialties.
I'm honored to have been asked to speak this year, and having been set up as an affiliate I get a 10% commission on everybody who registers through my portal. But, let's take it one step further. I'm giving up my commission and splitting it between each person who registers, and Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. And even better, it'll be cash right there at the convention. I'm teaching four different classes and I'll have the list of everyone who's registered thought my link.
So, there are two ways you can save and help NILMDTS...
The lineup of speakers and events for this new conference is pretty amazing along with the list of vendors who are supporting it. And, I'm doing "Midnight Madness" on the second night of the conference. I promise it'll be fast-paced, fun and loaded with some great surprises...and even a few new jokes! LOL
See you in Chicago!
PS And just in case you haven't seen the trailer video, it's less than a minute long, but it'll give you a good idea of what's going to be happening. This conference has incredible potential to help you raise the bar on your skill set; network and give you more ideas for a strong fourth quarter of business, and then some!
Images copyright Ben Kraushaar. All rights reserved.
Click on any image to view in the SCU Lightbox
I love this series from Tamron because they pack a lot of good content into each short video, and they always highlight just one lens. And, with this one, in particular, I love the coverage professional photographer Ben Kraushaar shares with his images of fly-fishing in Wyoming.
A few years back, our son got me into fly-fishing. I've spent hours standing in streams in Montana and Georgia, and although the nibbles have been plenty, the actual catches just the opposite. It's an amazing sport, but one that requires patience and an appreciation for simply being outdoors. But I've never been disappointed at any time fishing - it's Zen-like, incredibly peaceful, and if I could stop thinking I need to set the hook I'd find myself more successful. Like any sport it takes practice, but for me, success is in the appreciation for building my skill set.
Ben Kraushaar's tagline on his site says it all - "Benjamin Kraushaar is a scientist, photographer and storyteller of all things outdoors!" His website is just a click away. And, on this excursion, he's wearing his photographer, and storyteller hat with Tamron's 35mm F1.8 lens. He shares some great insight in this short video.
Tamron never slows down in their quest to help photographers raise the bar on the quality of their work and their images. They're manufacturing some of the finest optics in imaging!
Tamron's Spring Savings rebate program is going on right now through July 6. Stop into your Tamron dealer and check out one of the most extensive lens lines in photography!
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
It's rare that a first year conference has the power that ClickCon brought to the industry this past August.
The dates have been announced for 2020 at the Palmer House in Chicago. August 11-14!
What a kick!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.