Great Time at My Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk

 

Once again I led a photowalk in the Detroit area for the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk. This time I decided to try a different kind of location as opposed to the usual urban scenes of the city. We did our walk at the Franklin Cider Mill.

 

When I chose this location I figured it would give us a chance to see some fall colors and some more rustic imagery. 

What I didn't realize at the time was that one of our walkers and good friend Jamie Feldman knew the owner.

 

We had unprecedented access to the entire location including some behind the scenes looks at how the Cider process happens from start to finish. 

 

The weather started out on the cold side, but after about an hour the sun came out and it tuned into a great day for shooting. 

 

I'm looking forward to seeing the shots from our walk and I can already tell it's going to be hard picking winners.

 

Thanks goes out to all that attended my walk!

Guest Blog by Jason Lykins: How Phone and Camera Choices are Similar

The iPhone 4 SLR Mount at the Photojojo Store! (not a great idea in our opinion)

 

The other day a friend of mine and I were talking about the upcoming release of a new iPhone and he asked me a deceptively simple question, “do you ever see yourself switching to an Android?” My first response was no, I could never see myself not having an iPhone. My initial response was based on immediate things that came to mind for me as to why. First, I really love the UI (user interface) of the Apple iPhone. There is something about the way everything is just seamless and integrated. The look and feel of the iPhone makes other phone operating systems seem clunky and unrefined to me. The integration with my iPad, Apple TV, Macbook Pro, and iTunes is something that I have become accustomed to and couldn’t see myself living without. Then I said something that caused me to have an epiphany; I have WAY too much money invested in Apps! I don’t know why I had never thought of that before, but suddenly it hit me like a knockout punch from a heavyweight prizefighter; the tendency to stay with a particular phone manufacturer is just like the tendency to stay with a particular Camera manufacturer. It was so incredibly clear. Let me explain.

 

Common Camera Responses

I’m a photographer that prefers to shoot Nikon cameras. I have a bunch of friends that shoot Canon cameras. They started out with Canon back in the film days for whatever reason (Hey they were young and dumb what can I say…  kidding). Now that they are into the digital world with the Canon systems they complain about autofocus quality and speed. They complain about ergonomics, and most of all they complain about the flash system and it’s shortfalls. Now this isn’t to say that Canon is a bad manufacturer. As a matter of fact if I were a Sports shooter, I would have a 1d Mk IV or two for myself. I’m also not trying to start a “which is better” battle in the comments. I’m just repeating what they tell me, so please don’t flame me in the comments section.  When I say to them, “why not switch to Nikon then?” The response is ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS the same; “I have too much money wrapped up in glass.”  For those of you not into photography lingo, “glass” refers to the lens. For almost any professional grade lens for a Nikon or Canon DSLR you’re going to spend $1400 or more just for one lens. These lenses are not interchangeable between brands, and while new cameras are coming out yearly, the lenses tend to last a long time. It’s not uncommon to see a person shooting with a 15-year-old telephoto that they paid $6500 for.  The Canon shooters that I’m referring to in this paragraph have multiple pro quality lenses amounting to well over $15,000-$20,000. When they say they “have too much money wrapped up in the glass”, they mean that they can’t afford to take the loss of selling these lenses and buying new ones from the other brand.  All of that to say this, phone manufacturers are locking us into their particular brands with each and every App we purchase just like camera manufacturers lock us in with their lenses. Let me explain. 

 

How Phone Manufacturers are Keeping Us Coming Back

I did a quick (and rough) estimate tonight for this article. I have roughly $300 in purchased Apps on my iPhone! (I say purchased because I have many more that were free) Now, don’t get me wrong I know that I’m a little bit of an exception because I write for Terry over at bestappsite.com where that’s what we do every day; test and review Apps.  I probably have more Apps than most people do. Actually I know that I do (I have almost 400 Apps loaded on my phone right now).  I’m sure there are a lot of people that have more than I do, but in general most people have 30-40 Apps.  The other thing that contributes to my high dollar amount in Apps is the type of Apps that I download.  My favorite navigation App is Navigon which costs $60 all by itself. It took me trying out two other Navigation Apps (each were $35 and $45 respectively) before I decided Navigon was the App of choice for me.  Of course I don’t expect that most people would go through three expensive navigation Apps before settling on one (I expect them to come over the Best App Site and read our reviews to help make a choice) but again, that’s what I do.  Photography is another notoriously pricy App category. I have multiple Photography Apps that run anywhere from $5-$25. Not to mention the two-dozen or so Photography Apps that cost $1-$4.  

By now you’re probably thinking two things. First, you’re thinking this guy is addicted to Apps and needs to seek treatment, and you’re probably right :) .  The next thing you’re thinking is, “I never thought about how much I really have invested in my Apps, and you’re probably also stopping your reading of this article right about now to do a quick estimate of how much you have invested. Don’t worry; we’ll wait for you to come back… All right, done?  Now that you see how each one of those $.99 purchases has added up, you’re probably seeing where I’m going with this. If you switch phone platforms from one phone brand to another, you’re going to lose all of the money you have invested in those Apps. Done. Gone. Never coming back.  They’re not a physical property. You can list them on Craigslist used and get some of you’re money back… You’re out whatever you have invested. What’s worse, you will have to re buy the exact same (or similar) Apps on your new phone if you switch platforms.  For me, this is a huge deal. This would definitely make me think long and hard before switching from my iPhone. There would have to be a very, very serious improvement or advantage to get me to willingly take a $300+ loss and I’m sure most you smart (hey you’re here reading Terry’s Blog you must be smart) people would think long and hard before you made that jump as well. 

So what do you think? Do you think that Apple and Google have developed a way to keep consumers buying their products? Do you think it was done on purpose, or is it just a “happy accident”? Have they created as much of a “hold” with Apps, as camera manufacturers have with their lenses? We want to know what you think. Let us know in the comments section below.  

How I use Lightroom and Dropbox Together

 

I use Lightroom everyday as I'm always doing something with my images. I have multiple catalogs for the various kinds of photography that I do. My images are temporarily captured and stored on my internal hard drive of my MacBook Pro until they've been reviewed, selected, retouched, shared and delivered. After that the keepers are moved to my Mac OS X Server (Drobo) where they are backed up each night to another Drobo and to the cloud via CrashPlan. Once the images are moved from the internal drive on my laptop to the server, i update the catalog with the new location of this folder of images. This way if I ever need to work with or output those images again Lightroom will do so over my network to the server. The catalogs themselves always remain on the laptop drive. That's where the problem comes into play. What if I want to access one of those catalogs from a different computer? Networked Catalog access is not supported or recommended.

 

My Lightroom Catalogs are on Dropbox

I saw the value in Dropbox long ago and signed up for their 100GB plan. Dropbox basically became my "documents" and "pictures" folder so that I would have cloud backup and access to my documents/pictures no matter which computer or mobile device that I use. That's been working out GREAT! One day it dawned upon me to try it with a Lightroom catalog. I figured if my catalog is sync'd to Dropbox, then I would be able to access that catalog from any of my computers running Lightroom. I put my most frequently used Lightroom Catalogs in my Dropbox folder and I have to say that I love it! I can now go to any of my computers running Lightroom and access my catalog. Also something else works that I wasn't sure if it would or not. The images themselves (except for the most current shoot/work in progress) are on the server, all I have to do is mount the server and Lightroom sees the images too. No relinking necessary. 

 

Could you put the images in there too?

Sure! I could also put the images from my most current shoot in the Dropbox folder for a true "work anywhere" scenario. The only reason that I usually don't is because of the time it would take to sync hundreds of RAW files relative to the initial time I actually need access to that folder from more than one computer. The other option and the one that I would lean towards would be to immediately copy the current shoot folder to the server when I get home. The only reason I don't do that is because it just works faster overall when the images are on the local drive for the initial edits. If I were to pick either of the above workflows, I would just copy the images immediately to my server right after the shoot. This way I could work on them from any computer in the house.

 

Side tip

Dropbox is also an easy way to share the final images. You can zip them up, put them in your public folder and then right click on them to get a public link. Simply email that link to your client and they'll be able to download the large file without having to have a Dropbox account or even know what Dropbox is.

 

The Bottom Line

I use Dropbox for lot's of things (see my 5 Ways to Take Advantage of Dropbox post here). Every time I think of a new way it makes me value the service that I pay for even more. You can get a FREE 2GB Dropbox account here.

Should you use a knockoff camera accessory?

 

Camera manufacturers go out there way to make sure that you can buy their branded accessories for just about every major need you'll have. They sell lenses, batteries, cables, adapters, GPS units, filters, etc. However, these branded accessories usually come at the higher end of the price range and many would argue that the lower cost, 3rd party alternatives are just as good if not better. I tend to agree when it comes to certain things like Nikon compatible GPS units. Every 3rd party one I've tried to date blows away the Nikon branded GP-1. However, I haven't been as pleased with 3rd party lenses. When I first started getting into photography I bought lenses from Tamron and Sigma and while these lenses were good, I later replaced them with with Nikon branded glass that I liked much better. This could start a very long debate and that's not my goal here. If you're happy with your 3rd party glass, rock on! Recently I decided to try a 3rd party battery grip for my Nikon D7000 that was priced so low that I actually bought it more out of curiosity than the need for a battery grip.

 

The MeiKe Multi-Power Battery Pack for the Nikon D7000

I bought my D7000 the day it came out and I always intended it to be my travel camera, but also serve as a backup body for my D700. I have the Nikon battery grip for my D700 and I've always been quite happy with it. I have gone back and forth on getting the Nikon MB-D11 Battery Grip for my D7000, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Not because it's all that expensive, but mainly because I wanted to keep this camera small and light weight for travel. However, after recently having to use it in studio while my D700 was being repaired I realized that I really did miss having a battery grip for taking portraits. I sighed and said "oh well, time to order it and stop putting this off." On my way to order it I did a search to remind myself of the price. Although I primarily buy my photographic gear from B&H, I still like to check prices on Amazon because you never know when they may be having one of their one day sales. While the Nikon branded grip came up for $258.82, (B&H has it for $219.95) I noticed another grip in the search results for only ——- $40.41!!!!!

What? How can this be? How can it be sooooo cheap? It must be crap! Cheaply made, easily breakable, etc. 

I figured for $40 I could take the risk. Worse case I'd get a piece of crap, return it and have a topic to blog about. I ordered it. Meanwhile as I was waiting for it to arrive I saw this clip from F-Stoppers on an apparent scam where this very adapter is also being sold in a Nikon branded box, manual, etc. at full Nikon prices as a complete FAKE/rip off!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LV_rxL3UV-g

Can you imagine paying full price and then later discovering that the item you bought is not authentic and worse yet also being sold for significantly less?

 

The MeiKe Multi-Power Battery Pack Arrived

While I was a little freaked out by the video above, the one thing I took away was that it was so good he really didn't notice that it wasn't the real thing. Mine arrived and it was packaged in a MeiKe box. There was no fake Nikon branding of any kind. I put my extra Nikon D7000 battery in it as well as a set of AA's in the optional tray. Both worked fine. With the Nikon battery in the camera even registered it as a MB-D11 in the menus showing the battery status. While there was no noticeable play in the connection, I can confirm that the dial works in the opposite direction just as the F-Stoppers discovered. Otherwise all the controls seem to work as they should.

 

The Bottom Line

This is one of those cases where I'm going to side with a using a knockoff accessory. I don't plan to use a battery grip on this body full-time. It's also not a mission critical accessory for this body. Actually it's PERFECT for what I wanted. I kinda wanted a battery grip for those times that I need one, but didn't want to pay top dollar for one in this case. Is it as good as the Nikon one? NO. The plastic is of a cheaper grade. The rubber definitely feels different. Functionally it works, but it does feel like a cheaper grade product. You do get what you pay for. This is a no frills battery grip. If your D7000 is your primary camera and you make a living with it, then you should probably get the Nikon one. If you are in need of a grip only on occasion, then it's hard to go wrong with this $40.41 knockoff. As a side note the 43 reviews on Amazon are mostly positive with an average rating of 4 stars. I'm happy with my purchase at the moment. Time will tell.

Why I Don’t Want More Megapixels

 

Yesterday I told you about how I broke my Nikon D700 again via a tethering accident. What I didn't mention was that I still had another shoot to do while the D700 was being repaired. I went to my backup body, which is a D7000. I love my D7000, but this was the first time that I actually used it during a studio shoot. I had no real issues with the camera or setup, but what I quickly realized was that there is a disadvantage to having more megapixels. The D7000 is a 16.2 MP camera, while my D700 is a 12.1 MP camera. If you do the math (it's not hard) there's a 4 MP increase in the image captured. What this translates to is that my RAW files on the D700 are about 10.4MB (average) in size and my D7000 DNGs are about 16MB (average) in size. This means that every shot is going be roughly about 6MBs larger than the ones coming from the D700.

 

Why is a larger file/higher megapixel image a bad thing?

The first thing I noticed that shooting tethered was taking longer. It makes sense. I'm used to a certain rhythm from the time I fire the shutter till the time image is displayed in Lightroom. There was a noticeable lag. The second problem was that my drive was running low on space and during the shoot I got a warning from the OS that I was basically out of space. I had to make some room right then and there. My shoots can range anywhere from 300-1,000 images. While I could have run out of space with either camera, the point is I probably ran out of space faster with the larger files coming from the D7000.

 

The Bottom Line

I'm not saying that camera manufacturers shouldn't build cameras capable of capturing more megapixels. What I am saying is that more megapixels no longer influences my buying decision. While I await the rumored Nikon D800 and D4, I cringe at the rumored specs of 38 Megapixels! Imagine having every photo you take be significantly larger in size whether you need it or not. I would much rather these guys build a 38MP camera (one model) for the guys that really need it and leave the rest of the line at a more reasonable/manageable MP number. 

Less is more :)

 

Added note for clarification: I would welcome the larger MP images if the camera manufactures would also add the faster transfer technologies (ie. USB 3, 802.11n, Thunderbolt, etc.) into the bodies as well. What I'm saying above is that I don't just want more megapixels and nothing else. If you're going to make the files bigger then also make the transfers faster too!

How I Broke My D700 By Tethering. Again!

It feels like déjà vu! It was a few days before Photoshop World Vegas and I was in the middle of shoot and all of a sudden I noticed the last couple of images didn't come up on the screen in Lightroom. I looked down at the camera and to my dismay I saw my USB tethering cable was at a 45° angle on the side of the camera. I thought, "that can't be good!" At some point my hand must have applied a bit of pressure to the end of the cable going into my D700 and as I suspected I damaged the port once again. Last time this happened was the week before Photoshop World Orlando. The only difference was in the previous incident I must have tugged on the cable too much. See that blog post here. I solved that problem with a TetherLock:

However, as I painfully found out solutions like TetherLock and the ones from TetherTools only solve the cable "tug" problem. As you can see in the image above the cable plug is still exposed and therefore it has potential to be bumped, pushed, bent, etc.

 

I need a cage or bracket

I started thinking about ways to protect the actual port with some sort of cage or cover that surrounds the port/cable connection itself. Little did I know at the time that such solutions already exist. Blog reader and friend Ken Toney suggested this "Cable Relief Spacer" from Really Right Stuff. I thought "PERFECT!"

However, there was a small problem. All of my tripod heads and plates are by Kirk. I bought them long ago and while I do plan to switch to Really Right Stuff at some point (just for compatibility with all the people I shoot with), I hadn't planed on doing it right now. I wondered if Krik offered a similar solution for the L-Brackets I already own and fortunately they do! I ordered the Kirk LBA-1 USB Spacer Block immediately While these solutions basically offer the same solution, I would give the nod to the Really Right Stuff one because it appears to do both: Protect the port AND keep the cable from being tugged. Nevertheless, I'm now using the Kirk Spacer Block and my existing TetherLock for the ultimate "Terry proof" solution.

 

The Bottom Line

These extra pieces add cost to tethering. However, I couldn't imagine not tethering to Lightroom during my studio shoots. Now if only the camera manufacturers would wake up and build fast wireless tethering right into these expensive camera bodies (or at least the battery grips) this breaking the usb port, tripping over the cable, stuff would be a thing of the past.


Printer Rebates Lexar Rebates Sandisk Rebates Tamron Rebates Olympus Rebates Nikon Rebates Canon Rebates B&H Rebates & Promotions

On Location: My Abandoned Warehouse Fitness Shoot

I wanted to do a fitness shoot. However, I didn’t want it to be just another shoot in my studio. I started looking at fitness shots like the ones in the Nike ads and I saw a consistent theme. The shots were mostly done outside and against interesting backdrops and walls. This lead me on a search for a location. It didn’t take me long to find a spot. I have to give credit to my photographer buddy David Birdsong for turning me on to this abandoned warehouse in downtown Detroit. I saw a shot of it in his portfolio and had to find out where it was. He gave me all the details.

There are lots of abandon buildings in the Detroit area. However, as you would expect many are boarded up or have no trespassing signs. This gem is wide open. There is a big 10′ open door right at the street with great parking.

I brought my Elinchrom Quadra for lighting as well as a deep octa softbox.

When you shoot in an abandoned building all bets are off when it comes to safety. Everything is “at your own risk”. Remember, technically you’re not supposed to be there.

You have to also be careful not only with your equipment, but also with the debris and broken glass. Falling is definitely not recommended :) We ended up just discarding the mat we brought because it was just too dirty to bring back.

I couldn’t get enough of this place, but I was on a time limit. I had a flight to catch later that evening as well as some more shooting to do in studio.

My beautiful & amazing model Kandice was a total trooper during the shoot. It was pouring down raining, wind blowing, dusty, dirty, etc. the whole time and nothing phased her.

One thing I’ll definitely bring next time is a broom. Also having some rags to wipe down everything after the shoot is over would have been really great.

In the shot above I managed to get more of the surrounding area. In many of the shots I took I wished I had done this more. I was too tightly composed on Kandice.

The Elinchrom gear performed like a champ. No issues with battery life or remote triggering with the Skyport Triggers.

I also have to give credit to my buddy Scott Kelby for his recommendation of hiring an off duty cop for security and keeping people off the set. It was great peace of mind to look over and see that unmarked police car the whole time :) While having security could be considered overkill you have to remember that most abandoned buildings aren’t in the best of neighborhoods. What would you do if two guys walked in, hands in their pockets and said ‘hand over your camera and all of your money?”

The fun continued back in the studio

In studio I used my Elinchrom 600 RX’s

When it was all said and done, my mistakes aside it was a great experience and I can’t wait to shoot there again!

Gear Guide (Stuff I used on the location shoot)

Nikon D700

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII Lens

Elinchrom Quadra Lighting Kit

Elinchrom Deep Octa

Elinchrom Adapter Rings

Impact 9.6′ Heavy Duty Light Stand

Portable Trampoline

Winners of the Terry White Drobo Contest!

photo compliments of iStockphoto.com

 

Without further ado I'd like to announce the TWO Winners of the Terry White Drobo Contest:

 

Judy Gitterman of California

and

Raymond Barr of Massachusets

Congratulations to the Winners and Thanks to all who entered! Drobo was very pleased with the response and hopefully that means we'll be able to do more giveaways in the future!

 

Last Call for Entries to the Terry White Drobo Contest

Just wanted to give everyone a heads-up that today Friday, September 16th 2011 is the last day that you can enter the Terry White Drobo Contest.  See my original post here. Enter the contest here. Also remember that the more entries I receive the greater the chance will be that we'll give away a second Drobo! You have til 2PM ET (GMT-4) to enter. Hurry!

How to Remove a Background from an Image in Photoshop CS 5

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bm7v1DUn-0M

One of the number one "how to" questions about Photoshop is "how to remove a background from an image or how to extract an image from the background." I've recorded videos on this in the past and people always comment/ask what about when the background is not a solid color like grey or white? In this video the background is multiple colors and I walk you though how to do it from start to finish.

See more of my Adobe Creative Suite Videos on my Adobe Creative Suite Podcast and get the App here. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. This episode has a BONUS CLIP that is available only in the App:

Learn Adobe Creative Suite with Terry White - Wizzard Media

 

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