Monday, June 7, 2010

Looking at the Flash

There are lots of portable flash units available for photographers. For any serious photographer, you need to have a decent flash unit for your camera. The flash will be used to help provide an even and uniform level of light on the subject. If photographing a wedding, that light need to be flattering to the bride. You cannot afford to have the brides photos full of shadows or harsh lighting. You will not make money with photos like that and you will have the wrath of the bride and groom upon you.

There are many reasons for choosing the Nikon SB800. From a technological point of view, the Nikon unit is quite unique. When you are ready to take a photo with this unit, the flash fires off a number of almost imperceptible flashes. The computer in the flash unit then takes the data from the reflected light, and makes some judgements to determine the correct amount of light to get a well exposed photo. The flash unit's computer also talks to the Nikon Digital Camera, and determines the distance the subject is from the camera, checks the brightness and reflectivity and comes up with a correct exposure. All, literally, in the blink of an eye.

This system makes it very difficult to take a bad photo , at least from a flash exposure point of view. The SB800 is also one of the most powerful portable flash units, and has many adjustments.

To start your own photography business, visit me here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Make Money with the Apple iPad

What is the Apple iPad. Apple describes it as a magical and revolutionary device, at an unbelievable price. Well, what does that really mean. Before it’s launch, there were a great many people who said that it would be a flop. Many companies had tried to make a “tablet” style computer device before, and failed. Many of the so called experts said that they did not believe that Apple could come in and make a similar device, and have it be a success. These so called experts used the ill fated Apple Newton ( one of the first hand held, portable, touch screen computing devices ever made) as an example of how Apple would fail with the iPad. Of course, this argument fails to consider how much of a technological leap the Newton made for its day. It may have been a commercial failure, but it was a technological leap, way ahead of anything available at the time.
Well, in less than 28 days, the Apple iPad has been a resounding success. In fact, it is estimated that Apple has sold more iPads than similar products combined in the last decade. So the question is, why. What has Apple done that has made the difference?
The answer is simple and yet complex. The simple answer is that Apple has done what they always do. Made the complex simple. In this case, they have taken the tried and true operating system from the iPhone/iPod Touch, and extended it into the iPad.
For many users, browsing the Web and checking emails is the main task for their computers, and this can easily be done on the iPad, with much greater ease and speed. And with it’s light weight and portability, and the built in Wi-Fi or 3G connectivity, these tasks can be done wherever you are.
But the Apple iPad is so much more. It is an extremely capable and professional device. Apple has shown how capable with the introduction of a suite of applications for creating slide shows, spreadsheets and page design. The Apple iPad is also an amazing presentation device. Show your sales pitch, annual report or just a bunch of personal photos, on it’s beautiful big screen.
By designing its own chip technology inside the iPad, Apple has been able to design a device that has exceeded the expectations of many of the industry’s experts. The iPad contains a very fast processor, designated the Apple A4 chip. This chip design has enabled the iPad to perform at extremely fast speeds, making the iPad very intuitive in operation. When you do something on the iPad, it responds instantly, making the experience very fulfilling.
And the user experience is what Apple is all about. When you use an Apple product, you can see why the design team, and the CEO (Steve Jobs), are so particular about even the smallest of details. And as a user, when you use Apple products, it just makes sense that they work the way they do.
The Apple iPad will again, revolutionize the mobile computing industry. Developers are already creating some of the most amazing programs for the iPad. Where previously, an investment of several thousand dollars may have been required to perform certain tasks, the iPad enables the same productivity or better, for just a few dollars. You can visit my blog to see some pictures of the iPad and how it could be used as a picture presentation device. Imaging, being able to show big beautiful colorful pictures to friends and family, wherever you go. Or to be ready to make a sales pitch, get directions or make reservations at a nearby restaurant. Yes, the Apple iPad truly is a Magical and Revolutionary Device.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Taking Photos at the 21st Olympic Winter Games

There is an art to taking to good pictures at any event. Whether you are photographing a wedding, your kids birthday party or the Winter Olympics, you need to be prepared in order to get great shots. If you will be lucky enough to be going to the Winter Olympics, I would like to offer some tips that may help you get some good shots.

As I mentioned, these techniques will help you take great photos anytime you are photographing an event. Lets start some one of the basics.

  1. Whether you are sitting in the bleachers at the 21st Winter Olympics in Vancouver, or just taking photos of the kids at the local soccer or football game, some things will be obvious. To get good shots, you need to be close to the action, and that usually means you will need a long telephoto lens on the camera. The professionals at the 21st Winter Olympics will have the luxury of having several cameras with long prime telephoto lenses. But for the average person, you may want to consider using a telephoto zoom lens, the longest one you can afford. These are much more affordable than large prime lenses.
  1. The second thing to consider is resolution. You will need to ensure that you take photos on your camera, at the highest resolution available on you particular camera. By combining the longest lens you have, together with the highest resolution setting, you will have the best chance of taking photos that can be enlarged and show the action on the field.
  1. Thirdly of course, you will need to have some large memory cards to store the images. Make sure that you use the maximum size that your camera can use. Some digital cameras are limited as to the size of the memory card and the speed designation. For example, some cameras cannot accept the high performance SD memory cards, called SDHC. If you are at the 21st Winter Olympics you sure do want to put a memory card into the camera, and suddenly not be able to take photos.
  1. Fourth, you need to anticipate the action. You need to be aware that although we humans have pretty good reflexes, when it comes time to take a photo at the peak of the action, you need to be prepared to take the shot, just before the action peaks, so as to allow for the time it takes to press the shutter and for the camera to take the shot. In the blog, I have a good example of anticipating the action.

One of the keys to anticipation is to follow the action with one eye looking through the camera, and the other eye looking at the action. Whether you are photographing a wedding or a Winter Olympic event, you keep one eye open and follow the action with the open eye, while looking through the camera with the other eye, making sure that the action is framed in the viewfinder, so you can press the shutter release at any time and get the shot.

This might sound obvious for a downhill ski run at the Winter Olympics, but you may be wondering how it applies at a wedding. Just imagine the bride is about to toss the bouquet into the eager hands of the single girls attending the wedding. You want to get a shot where the bouquet is still in the air, but just about to be caught by one or more of the girls. So, you have one eye looking through the camera, and the other eye follows the path of the bouquet from the bride to the girls. Just before it hits the girls, you take the shot and you should end up with a shot of the bouquet just landing on one or more of the girls hands, with the hands still outstretched reaching for the bouquet.

In fact, if you interested in photography, taking photos can be a very lucrative part time of full time career. In the United States, wedding photography accounts for more than $5 Billion per year. With some know how and a decent digital camera, you can be a part of this industry and can be making some extra income pretty quickly. Wedding photography is often how many top professionals began their careers, either for friends or learning in a wedding photography studio.

In these troubled economic times, photography can help make some extra money, whether you take photos at a wedding, portraits and family photos or some work for a company, taking photos for a flyer or brochure.

If you are interested in becoming a wedding photographer but are not sure where to start, please check out my course at this link for details. I have developed a course which includes all you will need to know PLUS pre-formatted forms ready for you to create your own business. The forms include price lists, photo shot list, contracts and much much more. Check it out here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Make Money with the Apple iPad

Below are some sample images showing the new Apple iPad. These are intended to show how effective this device will be as a sales tool for photographers. Always available and ready, the Apple iPad will be a revolutionary device.

We are living in a period of time with a very troubled economy. Unemployment is at record high levels. Starting your own business may not be the easiest choice, but it could well be the difference between being able to pay the bills and keep your house and provide for you and your family, or having to face some not so pleasant choices.

Are you interested in photography? Taking photos can be a very lucrative part time of full time career. In the United States alone, wedding photography accounts for more than $5 Billion per year. That's a very sizable market, and with some know how and a decent digital camera, you can be a part of this industry. I have designed a course that includes everything you need, including business forms, technical discussions, sample ads and business cards and even tips on using Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Apple's Aperture.

And now, Apple has introduced an amazing new device called the iPad. This new device will be an incredible sales tool. For photographers, I believe that the iPad will be indispensable. Just image, being able to hold in your hand, thousands of photos and hundreds of albums. To be able to show prospective clients your best work on a large, bright LCD screen. Anywhere you happen to be, you will have the opportunity to showcase your work, and sell your services to interested parties.

Until now, I have used my iPhone as my portable wedding portfolio. The iPhone has been a great companion. Not just a communications device, but also a great, always on, internet connection, GPS, Maps, Apps and a plethora of other uses. I have had and used my iPhone from the very first day of its introduction, June 29, 2007.

So, you can imagine my enthusiasm when Apple announced the iPad. Light, easy to carry around, long battery life, online connections by either wi-fi or via 3g over the cellular network, large memory capacities to hold tens of thousands of images, large bright colorful screen. This device will I believe, change the way we do business.

The Apple iPad will allow us photographers to showcase our best photos either using images stored on the device, or on a website using the built-in network capability. Whether you are a still photographer or a videographer, you will be able to show still images or video of your work, right there in your hand with the iPad. Also, you will be able to present beautiful slide shows, in glorious color and sound.

Using the new software Apps that Apple has developed for the iPad, will allow users to create some truly beautiful presentations. Apple has taken the iWork suite of programs, and created versions specifically for the iPad…at just $10 each. Quite a deal. The suite includes Keynote, for creating the best looking slide show presentations on any system. Pages, for creating print documents. Looking at the demo of Pages, Apple has created an amazing piece of software, that includes all the rich and complex features of the desktop version, but made it ultra easy to use on the iPad. The last piece of the suite is Numbers, a spreadsheet program that allows you to do all the things you would do with a spreadsheet, such as calculation in real time, the total cost of an album for a client, virtually instantly while talking with your prospective client.

The iPad will be available within a couple of months. Now is a good time to begin planning some sales strategies for using the iPad to make money with your digital camera. If you are interested in making money taking wedding photos, please visit my site where you can purchase my course, designed to show you everything you need to know to start a wedding photo business.

At my wedding site, you can preview the many benefits of using my course to enable you to make extra money taking photos with your digital camera. The site, will show you how you can make money using your digital camera and using the Apple iPad as an effective sales tool.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Make Money or Start a New Career with your Digital Camera

Wow! This new Canon DSLR camera boasts 18 Megapixels and an array of amazing on board technologies. This type of camera would have cost $20,000 to $25,000 not too many years ago, but now is available for less than a tenth of that cost. Is it any wonder why I am always so excited about the digital revolution.

The digital revolution has created some amazing technologies. Cameras now have the ability to be able to recognize when a person enters the frame, and will take a photo when it senses that everyone is smiling. The camera will even warn you if someone blinked when the photo was taken, allowing you to take another and so be sure of getting a good image. Wow! Awesome.

The computer inside the camera is doing a whole bunch of amazing things when you take a photo. With the typical DSLR system, the computer will analyze the scene you are about to capture and compare the lighting and contrast with a database of one hundred thousand images or more, and then make a decision as to the aperture and shutter speed required to get a good photo based on this data. And if the camera senses that there is insufficient light to take a good photo, then the computer will instruct the camera to fire the flash at the same time to get that perfect image. All in the blink of an eye.

So, what does all this technology mean? It means that it is very difficult to take a bad photo, at least technically. But, if you enjoy taking pictures, and you have a decent camera, then you can learn to be more creative and start taking pictures that people will pay you to take. If you enjoy photography, and like using the computer to edit the photos, then you can start your own business. Like everything in life, you can always learn the techniques required to take good photos as long as you enjoy the process. And wedding photography is a great way to start making money with your love of photography. A great many of todays photographers began their careers by taking wedding photos of friends and family.

But how do you get started? The first thing you need to do is buy and read all the wedding magazines at the bookstore. Don’t be embarrassed about buying “women’s” magazines. These will show you the latest styles in wedding photography, and will show you how to take really good images. These magazines usually will be displaying the latest in photo styles, as well as the latest in wedding attire. Part of your job as the wedding photographer, will be to make suggestions when requested.

The magazines will help with one of the biggest problem areas I see in wedding photos, and that is in posing the entire wedding group. Most times, you will not have a lot of time to arrange the group into a pleasing portrait. Looking at as many different photos of groups will help you when it come time to photograph the group, be it a small or large group.

This also goes for the photos of the bridal couple and their families. I have met a number of newly weds who have complained about their photographer not having taken the pictures they expected, including a decent selection of the immediate families of the couple. In this regard, you will often face other challenges also, such as parents who are divorced, parents who have new partners, either married or just friends. You need to be aware that you cannot place these people next to each other, and usually not even on the same side as each other. You do need to be very sensitive to these situations.

If the couple being married have children, then you also need to take special care in making sure that these children figure prominently in your photos for the day. If they are also part of the bridal party, then be sure they are in all the group photos, as well as photos with just the bride and groom. You will want to be sure that you also take as many photos as possible of these kids by themselves. You will have very happy clients if you follow these rules. You will also have the opportunity to sell more reprints if you follow these rules. The kids will want one of the photos, as well as the bridal couple, and also the grandparents.

Which brings me to another point you must follow. Always be sure to capture some good portraits of the grandparents by themselves, with just the bridal couple, with just the kids, and also with the bridal couple and the kids as a group. These generational portraits will have great sentimental value for the bridal couple and the families. Remember, often, these photos of the grandparents will be the last photos they will ever have taken with friends and family, before passing on. So it is critical that you capture all the images that the bride and groom are paying you for, even if you are doing it as a favor to a friend, you need to be aware of these critical images.

For more than thirty years, Tom Jackson has been photographing brides, people and places, all around the world. As a professional photographer, Tom, like many pros, began his career shooting weddings, for himself and other studios. More info available here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How To Take Great Photos of Kids

Taking photos of children can sometimes be quite challenging. But, like all portraits, as the proverb goes, the eyes are the doorway to the soul. It is important that the subjects eyes are well lit. The eyes portray so much emotion and character, that it is critical that they are well lit and in focus. If the eyes are not in focus, then the image usually will not work.

One of my most enjoyable moments in photography, is when the client takes a look at the proofs and smiles, cries, laughs or just plain shows raw emotion for the moments caught and now remembered. When your client shows this kind of emotion, you know that you have done a great job in capturing the character of the subject. And kids can be quite difficult to capture with natural expressions.

As the photographer, you are always looking for that definable moment that captures the spirit of the child. The expression on the face, the look in the eyes, the smile, the gestures. All play a critical part in capturing the essential character of the subject. So, you not only have to be a good photographer, using all the skills you have to capture the moment technically correct, but you also need to be a psychologist, comedian, peer, parent, friend and whatever else you need to do to capture the moment when it is right.

There are some rules, of course. Technically, even if you are outdoors, you need to generally have the flash fire with every photos in order to open up the shadows and create even, smooth lighting for the subject. Flash will also make sure that the eyes are clearly visible and have a tell tale catch light in the pupil. This will help make the portraits look more natural. You will need to be sure that the flash does not overpower the subject and blow out highlights. You will be using the flash to just fill in the shadows (when outdoors) not using the flash as the main source of light. The flash will need to be one or two ƒ stops less than would normally be required.

Also, you will need to be sure that there are no distracting elements in the background that would otherwise spoil a masterpiece. Of course, you can always use Photoshop to edit out distracting elements, but it is always better to try and set the scene properly before taking the photos. This will save you a lot of time and effort later when you are getting ready to make prints of the images.

An important consideration when photographing children, is to try and make sure that you are taking photos at their level. Do not stand with the camera pointing down to take photos. They will not look normal. You want to be at their level for the images to look natural. To ensure the eyes and face are exposed properly, you will usually need to be sure that you use the flash on each image. However, try to balance the flash with the available light so the images still look natural.

Always be sure that when taking photos, you do so using the RAW format (if available). This will give you maximum flexibility when processing the images on the computer later. The RAW format will give you an image with all the image data captured by the camera. If you use the JPEG format (see next para), you will automatically be losing a certain amount of information, which you can never get back. Also, use the maximum resolution available on your camera. This will enable you to crop your images as necessary, without any apparent loss of detail.

The JPEG format was created many years ago in an effort to enable cameras to be able to take and store more images on the available memory cards. In the beginning of memory cards, the technology was expensive, and memory cards had only limited capacity. Today, memory cards are very inexpensive and now come in very large sizes. When shooting in the JPEG format, the computer inside the camera analyses the image data and makes a determination of image data that can be discarded without adversely affecting the overall image. The data that is discarded can never be regained. Once it is discarded, it is gone forever. So, when shooting images, use the RAW format if available or if you have to shoot JPEG images, be sure to select the finest JPEG mode available, in an effort to keep as much image data as possible.

I have included some sample images in the blog post listed below. You will note that the flash has been used on each of these images. However, if you look closely, you will not see any harsh shadows from the flash as can often happen. I have balanced the amount of flash output to the conditions so that the lighting looks more natural. It is very important that you maintain detail in the face of your subjects. Too much flash will create distracting highlights on skin, and detract from your photos. Typically, if you can, you should make sure that the flash is giving off about one or two stops less light than the available light. So, if the available light shows an exposure of 125 at ƒ8, then set the flash for an aperture on 5.6 or 4.

Tom has had a camera or mouse in his hand for more than 30 years. His step father was a well known English actor who starred in many films with the likes of Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, Maureen O'Hara, John Wayne and many others. One of his favorite movies was with John Wayne in The Quiet Man, shot in Ireland. He played the part of the visiting Bishop. After coming off set one day, he was approached two Nuns who thought he was a real bishop, and so the nickname "Bish" stuck with him from then on. He was an avid photographer, and taught me photography from the age of 12. He was a great man and a great mentor. I miss him very much.

Photography is a wonderful medium. It captures moments in time forever available for you and the world to see, whenever you want to go back a remember a special moment. Your parents, your childhood, your family and kids. And if you enjoy photography as much as I do, then you might be considering how to make some money with your camera. The hardest part is making a start. The course described in the web site can help if you are serious about making money in photography.

Like many professionals, Tom Jackson began his career by shooting weddings. You can make a substantial income shooting weddings with little overhead. Tom has had a camera or computer mouse in his hand for more than 30 years. With the advent of digital cameras and software, Tom has been a consultant to the graphic design, advertising and publishing industries, teaching digital technology. You can get more info on wedding photography, cameras and computer image editing, and see examples of his work, or info on how to start your own business at this website

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The RAW Facts, RAW or JPEG

RAW file opened in Apple Aperture.

Using the Loupe to inspect the image.

Converted to Sepia Tone.

You may be looking for ways to make some extra cash in these hard financial times. If you own a digital camera system and can edit images on your computer, you may have all the skills you need to make a good second income. If you have a passion for taking photos and sharing them with others, you might be able to make a good second income with digital photography. And, if you are interested, you may even be able to make a new career with your photography skills. Many of the top professional photographers began their careers taking photos for friends and family. They had a passion for the creative potential of photography, and enjoyed taking photos whenever the opportunity became available. If that sounds like you, then you too may be able to start a new career, or at least make a good second income.

The technology of digital cameras has come a long way in a very short period of time. Cameras today can tell when a subject is smiling, they can tell when a person enters the image area (you set the camera on time release and when you appear back in the photo the camera senses that and will then take the photo) and they can even tell you if someone blinked when the photo was taken so you can take another and get everyone with their eyes open. Amazing technologies.

But, a question most beginners ask is what file format to use. You may be aware that the smaller, less expensive compact cameras do not have an option, other than JPEG and the ability to take lower resolution images. Cameras today are typically ranging in the area of 8-12 megapixels. By allowing you to use say a 3 megapixel option, you can take many more images, but they cannot be enlarged nearly as much as taking an image at 12 megapixels.

The higher end compact cameras and virtually all DSLR ( Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras, will allow you to select either RAW or JPEG. Note, when shooting in the RAW format, the camera will always use the maximum resolution of the sensor. Although you can get very good quality images shooting at high res. JPEG option, you will lose many of the editing options whan processing these images on the computer. It is always advisable to shoot in RAW format, to give you the maximum flexibility when editing your images on the computer.

There are many options for editing your RAW images. In most cases, the camera maker will supply some software for your computer, and there are numerous software companies producing software for editing RAW images. Two of the most common include Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Aperture from Apple.

If you goto the blog mentioned at the bottom of this article, you will see some sample images taken from an editing session using Aperture. You will notice on the left side of the first image, many of the editing options available when editing a RAW file. You can more easily restore detail in both highlights and shadows, because the RAW file retains every piece of information that was captured at the time of taking the image. With JPEG, you lose image data, because JPEG files are compressed, and hence, some data is lost when the file is created. This data can never be recovered. It is gone for good.

In the second image in the blog, you will see a drop down menu in the Adjustments pane, and the Sepia Tone option is about to be selected. The third image shows the resulting Sepia Tone image. Now, while this can be done with a JPEG file, the beauty of the RAW format is that the original file is never lost. The software just makes these adjusted images to Proxies of the RAW file, so you can always go back to the original RAW file anytime.

Another advantage of shooting RAW files, is that you will always have the maximum amount of data available for enlargeing your images and making great quality prints. Even if you need to print an 8x10 photo from just a small area of the file, you will usually have enough detail to do so. Remember, you can always create smaller files from your large RAW files, but you can not create large files from a small JPEG image, and expect to get a good looking print.

If you need to email your files, the software will also allow you to Batch Process a whole folder of images, creating a small JPEG file from each RAW file automatically, saving you a lot of time and hassle. Then, for anyone that needs a larger version of the emailed file, it will be an easy task for you to provide such an image.

These days, the cost of memory cards has come down so much, that the cost of memory cards is no longer an issue when taking photos. You should always take your photos at the highest resolution your camera will allow. Memoery cards of 2gig and 4gig are now so cheap, you can purchase several and have always have a spare with you. So, happy shooting and have fun taking photos.

Like many professionals, Tom Jackson began his career by shooting weddings. You can make a substantial income shooting weddings with very little overhead. You can get more info on wedding photography, cameras and computer image editing, and see examples of his work, or get more info on how to start your own business, please visit my site here.