April 29, 2015

Great Week at Niagara Falls

         Helene and I just returned home from speaking at the Professional Photographers of Canada Conference in Niagara Falls. Good food, great friends, and an incredible location. And they call this work? Seriously?... Thanks to Gail and Peter Gold for having us both back again. We have made so many great friends there, and their membership’s photography was just beautiful. Thanks to our host, Carol Tothe we stopped off in their wine country for lunch an a few wine tastings on the way to the conference. We taught a day-long pre-con class together, some separate Photoshop and creativity classes, and did portfolio reviews for the attendees. Here are some photos from the week. We had a heck of a view for photos from our hotel room balcony.

We had a perfect view of the falls from our room. It still had some pretty big chunks of ice in it. Click on any photo to enlarge.

The conference attendees paused their busy class schedule for a giant group selfie.

Got to hang out with our friends Heather and Sandy Aberteen

Helene taught hands-on posing class, as well as a creativity class

March 05, 2015

Upcoming Workshop At Silo City

         One thing I'm really looking forward to this year is attending Mark Maio's Silo City Photography Workshop. This is a unique opportunity to photograph Buffalo's grain elevators and Ward pumping station that is just such a cool location for all kinds of image making. Conflicting speaking engagements kept me from attending the previous workshops, but I'm not missing this one. You have got to visit this site and check out the different photography Mark and others have done there.. Great for interesting HDR, Color and Black & white images. Kevin Ramber of Luminous Landscape wrote a great article on the workshop that you should check out as well at Luminous Landscape website on Silo City: http://luminous-landscape.com/silo-city-comfort-zone.
       Few spots left so make your plans fast if you want to attend. Information form the workshop can be found at http://www.visualarchaeology.com/Visual_Archaeology/Silo_City_Workshop.html   
       Here is a link to images from previous Silo City workshops: http://www.visualarchaeology.com/Visual_Archaeology/IMAGES_FROM_SILO_CITY.html

January 02, 2015

Have A Happy & Creative New Year!


        Saw these styrofoam heads sitting on the shelf as I walked through an arts & craft’s store and couldn’t resist taking a couple of photos. When I looked at it on the computer, I thought it might make a nice demo image for an upcoming set of presentations I’m doing this year on image compositing. Grabbed a couple of my texture images and used Photoshop’s displacement mapping and some blend modes to create this illustration. I think it will be a fun image to demo at my next presentation at Photo Pro Expo in Covington KY in a few weeks.

            Last month Helene and I spent a day wondering around the Southeast Railway Museum near our home, and I am now starting to work with some of the images. Got some fun shots to play with there.  Great place if you like rusty train cars. Have a Happy and Creative New Year and remember to "Work Smarter…. Not Harder"       


November 06, 2014

Canon In Action - San Francisco

         This weekend was another great Canon In Action Workshop in San Francisco. I also have a new blog post on the Canon Digital Learning Center site on the creative use of E-TTL Canon 600EX-RT Speedlites that I would like you to check out at: 

         San Francisco is such a cool city to visit. Only a few more cities left on the Canon tour so we hope you can attend one of the final workshops. For information on the final cities on the tour, visit http://inactiontour.usa.canon.com/

        The Sunday attendees gather around as I demo the use of the Canon 90mm tilt/shift lens on a still life tabletop setup.

       Here are a couple of images I did this weekend with the models I converted to black and white with NIK Silver Effects Pro II.

        The Sunday Speedlite Workshop had some hard working attendees ending up with some great images at the end of the day. While Amina was teaching the hands-on video workshop, Helene was there to work with me to help with posing techniques along with photographer Jeff Leimbach who keeps this tour moving smoothly every week. David and Calvin from Canon were on hand to help with the hardest of the technical questions and lighting setups. Could not pull this off with out the team effort from everyone involved including Jack Reznicki who shares in alternating with me in teaching the different cities across the country and co-designed the photography content of this tour. This was my last city on the tour, and I would like to thank Canon and everyone involved for making it such a success. It was quite an experience for me and I learned so much along the way. We ended the Sunday class with some RAW processing techniques in Photoshop to enhance the day's images. Here are some of the behind the scenes images.

           After the workshop, Helene and I spent some time seeing the sights and took a trip up to Bodega Bay to visit our friends Steve and Denise Hertzberg. Steve was a great photography guide through the Northern California coastal towns and the redwood forest for us to shoot some wonderful scenic HDR photography. Just wanted to share some of the images from this weekend with you.  The HDR exposures were processed in NIK HDR Efex II and Photoshop CC 2014.  For those of you Photoshop users who haven't gotten on the Adobe Creative Cloud, you really need to sign up to Adobe's $9.99 per month subscription so you can take advantage of all the latest software enhancements that make Photoshop CC 2014 better than ever! Northern California has some of our countries most beautiful scenery.

           Till next time..... Work Smarter.... Not Harder

September 21, 2014

What brand monitor do you recommend for digital photography?

BenQ PG2401PT
            One question I get almost everywhere I go when giving a digital imaging program is “What brand monitor do you recommend for digital photography?” There are as many different answers to that question as there are brands and models. 20+ years ago, the new digital photography technology forced photographers to spend some serious money on a good CRT monitor.  There was not that many affordable options out there and we knew we needed to really have something that would yield a decent image. After all, we are visual artists. We make corrections and enhancements on digital images based on what we see on our monitors. If the monitors are not properly calibrated and profiled, we are making changes on incorrect information. Its no wonder so many photographers are having a problem with their color output. If the monitors are not yielding proper information, everything downstream from there is going to be effected.
            Now…  it’s over twenty-three years since I gave up the stability of film for the world of digital capture. In the beginning, before color spaces and practical color management, I would output a high-end color transparency of a finished job that was used to let the client know what the digital file was supposed to look like. Back then, clients were used to viewing transparencies and trusting the color. Digital photography on a monitor....   not so much... That was much too expensive of a way to proof a digital photography project at a cost of about $125 per sheet of 8x10 film output. Then came the ability to purchase a colorimeter at a reasonable price. That along with Adobe Photoshop’ version 5.5 that now had the new color spaces sRGB, Colormatch, Adobe 1998, and ProPhoto, we started to have better way to describe and predict our color output.
            When we moved from CRT monitors to the flat screen LCD monitors we use now, prices dropped and many different brands appeared to give us many more choices for digital imaging. With so many models available for just a few hundred dollars each at the local electronics stores, many photographers started buying cheaper monitors and relying on their colorimeters to get these inexpensive monitors to look reasonably correct. 
            Well…. you get what you pay for like anything in life. Asking photographers to pay $2500+ for the most expensive monitors is sometimes too much to ask for when we see monitors with the same screen size for about $250 and at first glance think they look about the same to us. Finding the correct balance of quality and price is a hard thing to do.              
            For the last few months I have been working with a new model monitor from BenQ, the PG2401PT. http://www.benq.us/product/LCD/PG2401PT This new model designed for accurate graphic arts reproduction and professional photography with a price of just $999 is that perfect balance. I knew it was going to be a great monitor when I first plugged it in and opened my special calibration file I use to confirm color values, and it looked perfect even before I profiled it with my X-Rite i1 Pro system
           This is a file I created years ago and use it to view on monitors or print output to be sure I’m on target with color brightness and saturation of my digital images. You are welcome to have a copy by downloading the file by clicking this link. http://www.divitalephotography.com/chart.zip
         It’s made up of different targets and setup numbers of white and black tones for both Photoshop’s 0-255 and Lightroom’s 0-100 value system. The key numbers to watch are the 240-245 white with detail and 20-25 black with detail values.When I see both of those values have the separation I'm looking for on the monitor, I know I can trust my eyes to me making the correct file enhancement  decisions.
            After profiling the BenQ monitor I noticed it looked the same and that’s not usually the case after profiling…  It just looked that good right out of the box. This 24 inch monitor is set up for Adobe1998 and CMYK color conversions with an impressive list of specs. Monitors I’ve worked with in the past with any specs close to this have been in the $2000-$2500 range.

            Proper start to finish color management has been a big part of my success as a commercial photographer. Without the best possible representation of the image in the beginning of raw file processing, nothing you do from that point on has the potential to be the best it can be. In this business, anything less that perfection is just a picture.... and everybody's a photographer....and I mean everybody..... I want to craft fine photographs with every click of the shutter....   not just take pictures......