Up Close and Personal with Janet and the S95

I'm back again with some more concert pics taken with the Canon Powershot S95. If you missed my original posts about this camera you can catch up by checking them out here and here. Unlike with the Brittany concert, I've been a fan of Janet Jackson for as long as I can remember!

I knew this concert was coming and it was one of the main reasons I wanted a "concert camera". 

 

One key component to getting good shots with any point and shoot at a concert is that you have to also have great seats.

 

Having already shot one concert with the Powershot S95 I felt a little more confident this time around. 

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Get Matt’s New Photoshop Compositing Book!

I actually entered the world of photography backwards! I knew way more about Photoshop than I ever did about photography when I started. Over the past 5-7 years I've been spending much of my spare time honing my skills behind the camera instead of saying "I can fix it later in Photoshop." With that said, I kinda left the compositing stuff behind as well. After taking a look at Matt's new "Photoshop Compositing Secrets" Book, my interest in compositing has been reignited. Now that I have a little more photography and lighting under my belt I can begin to look for not only great scenes to capture, but also great opportunities to create composites too. I never used to think about capturing shots of background images to use later in composites. Now I do!

 

There's an art to compositing

While technically compositing in Photoshop is simply taking two or more photos and putting them together, my goal has always been to make it look "as real as possible." That means that when a composite is done people should either look at the finished piece and not think that it's a composite or they may think it's one but they have a hard time trying to tell. That's when I know I've done it right. Matt's book exposes a lot of short cuts that I wish I had known back in the day, but glad I know them now. 

The composites I'm showing in this post are actually some of my "old" ones that I did years ago. The second one I went in and updated the color of the model that I was never quite happy with.  There are always new selection techniques to learn and new workflow steps. If you have any interest in getting better at selecting, cutting images out of the background and compositing them onto other backgrounds, then I highly recommend that you take a look at Matt Kloskowski's new Photoshop Compositing Secrets: Unlocking the Key to Perfect Selections and Amazing Photoshop Effects for Totally Realistic Composites. I have the Kindle version on my iPad and you can get it here in Paper or Electronic form starting at $21.99. Off to do more reading…



My Photography Website & Studio Updates

   

I just wanted to take a moment and update you on two things. First off I'm enjoying my time off and having a ball with my photography hobby. As I stated in my "I'm on Sabbatical" post, I'm in the process of moving into a new larger studio and for the most par the move is complete. I'm thrilled with the way everything turned out and although at times it felt like "work", I am enjoying the break from my day job "work". :) With that said, I updated my Photography website with pics of the new studio AND a NEW Portfolio look/template.

 

The Turning Gate Horizon CE Plug-in

I wrote a post a while back about using The Turning Gate (TTG) Lightroom Plug-ins to generate and update my website completely from within Adobe Lightroom 3. While I dabble in web work with my day job, I'm not a web guy and I don't have one on staff either. This means that I either have to do the work myself or pay someone each time. While I certainly see the value in paying a pro (like Erik who designed my blog templates), when it comes to my photography website I need the ability to update it as frequently as I want to. This means doing the updating myself. That's why I'm glad that The Turning Gate plug-ins exist. 

The New Horizon CE Plug-in is what I'm now using for the Portfolio pages. I first saw this "scrolling" kind of web gallery on Scott Kelby's site and back then Scott did a post on how his was created by the very talented "RC Concepcion". While Scott's site is great, I don't have an "RC" on staff :) . At first I wasn't sure that I would like the Horizon plug-in. It was just so different from the ones I've used in the past in terms of navigation being a simple scroll bar. However, after I loaded my images in and tested it I got used to it right away. Also it's important to me that my site work on mobile devices like smartphones, iPads, iPhones and other tablets. The Horizon CE Plug-in generated pages are mobile compatible and use the device's built-in scrolling capabilities. This means no need for Javascript or plugins when viewed on non-desktop browsers. 

While my old TTG plug-ins worked both on the desktop and on mobile devices, I was using the AutoViewer galleries for desktop viewing and they are Flash based. I liked the way they worked, but it was a two step process to update them. I'd first have to export the container/mobile gallery and then the AutoViewer gallery. With the Horizon CE plug-in I only have to do one export for each gallery and replacing it is as easy as doing another export with new pics. 

Check out The Turning Gate Lightroom Plug-ins here. Thanks again Matthew for making my life a little easier.

The Plug-ins That Created My Site:

TTG Pages CE, TTG Stage CE, TTG Auto Index & TTG Horizon CE

 

The New Studio

Like I said, I'm having a blast now that I get to use the studio. Above is a production shot of the Westcott Spiderlite TD6 and the 54"x72" LARGE shallow softbox.

You can check out the Studio pics and my updated photography website here.



Illustrator CS5 Stroke/Border Tips and Hidden Gems with Special Guest Mordy Golding

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vm3ONFaRvSI

 

In this episode of the Adobe Creative Suite Video Podcast Special Guest Mordy Golding is back to share some great tips for doing image borders in Illustrator CS5 as well as uncovering several hidden gems.

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

 



Will Google+ Kill Facebook or Twitter?

My initial response to that question is "no." However, If I were taking bets i'd say that Twitter is more at risk than Facebook. I find that people I know that LOVE Twitter love it mostly because they don't like Facebook. Maybe it's the whole "friend" concept vs. "followers". Maybe it's because Twitter is short, sweet and too the point at 140 characters. I'm not sure what the real attraction is of Twitter over Facebook for those users that prefer it, but the one thing I can say is that Google definitely took a hard look at both services and decided to integrate the best of each into their own Google+ network. 

 

Circles instead of Friends

Like Twitter, you don't have to be someone's "friend" to follow them. You can just add them to one of your Circles and you'll see their public updates. However, like Facebook's "lists" (my favorite Facebook feature) the whole Circle concept makes it easy to control what you share and with whom. You can target both status updates and photo albums to specific Circles of users that you create.

 

Speaking of photos

I would dare say this is probably one of the most used features of Facebook. Facebook users post millions of photos each week! I think it's the photos aspect that makes a Facebook user prefer Facebook over Twitter. While you can share links to photos on Twitter, it's just not the same. 

 

Google+ Hangouts are cool too

Google+ Hangouts is a cool little feature that lets you set up a LIVE video conference chat with up to 10 people. I gave this feature a whirl while I was watching my new studio being painted. Yes, I invited people to watch paint dry :) OK, I was bored and didn't want to be bored alone. I fired it up. Positioned a spare laptop upstairs and we all sat around chatting about photography, Adobe questions, and of course painting. It worked extremely well. The only downside was the limit of 10 people. But hey, it was free!

 

Who will win?

I think it's way way way too early to say that Twitter or Facebook is going to die because of Google+. First of all Google+ isn't open to the general public just yet. Most "everyday" people I talk to have never even heard of Google+. This is why I think Google+ will have a hard time overtaking Facebook anytime soon. In order to beat Facebook they'd not only have to do just about everything Facebook does and in most cases better, there would have to be a groundswell movement of hundreds of thousands of users away from Facebook and I just don't see that happening. The reason is, most Facebook users I know (everyday folk) like Facebook. They don't see anything (much) wrong with it. They use it everyday to keep in touch with friends/family and for the most part they are happy with the way it works.

Yes it could happen. Look at MySpace. MySpace was king/queen, but you never hear anyone talk about it anymore. Facebook killed it. So yes it could happen, but you'd have to look at the reasons why MySpace has almost disappeared. It had no class! MySpace was all about letting you create and unfortunately "customize" your presence. This lead to many non-web designers creating really crappy looking MySpace pages. These pages were a pain to read and for some reason everyone thought that you wanted to hear their favorite music the minute you entered their page. I absolutely hated using MySpace and the only reason I was on it was to see the pages of people that I was communicating with. I spent as little time on it as possible. I think this is why it was easy to beat MySpace with something "better" or at least more consistent. I don't miss MySpace one bit. It won't be so easy with Twitter and Facebook. 

This begs the question, is there room or desire for all three? I certainly don't need something else to do. Having a Google+ presence means that I now have one more thing to feed and maintain.  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

I'm inviting 150 of my fans to join Google+

Like I said above, Google+ isn't available to the general public just yet. However, if you're wanting to get in just click this link and be sure to add me to your Circles! Thanks!

 

Which one do you prefer?

 



Go from Adobe InDesign to iPad a little easier

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tk-LxGM4p4E

 

In this episode of the Adobe Creative Suite Video Podcast I'll show you the UPDATED Folio Builder Panel in InDesign CS 5 and CS 5.5. Now it's even easier to go from InDesign to your iPad, Android tablet or Blackberry Playbook for free!

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

 



My New Lightroom Tethering Display

When I shoot in studio I'm usually shooting tethered to Lightroom 3 99% of the time. While my 15" MacBook Pro has been adequate all these years, I decided to go with an external display in my new studio. The question was, "which one do I get?" Right about the time I asked this question, I saw that Dell (yep, Dell) had just introduced a NEW 24" Display. You might be asking why would I get a Dell monitor for my Mac? Good question. The main attraction for me to this particular display is that it "rotates!" The display can be used in either portrait or landscape orientation. 

It has all the latest bells and whistles including: LED, IPS (in-plane switching) for wider viewing angles, Display Port, USB Hub, DVI, Adjustable Height and a 3 Year Warranty. 

For those of you old enough to remember the Radius Pivot Displays, you'll probably remember that back then the display would auto adjust based on the rotation and the driver on your computer. In the case of this new Dell there is no such magic for the Mac. However, manual display rotation is built-in to Mac OS X's Display Preferences. While it would be a slight pain to have to manually switch this setting every few seconds I find that I leave it in Portrait "most" of the time. If I shoot a wide shot, it displays it, but it just doesn't fill the screen. If i'm going to be shooting a long series of landscape oriented images then I'd make the System Pref adjustment.

 

Lightroom's 2nd Display Feature

Lightroom 3 natively supports dual displays. This means that I can set the second display to Loupe view, full screen with no overlays. It works GREAT!  This also means that I DON'T mirror the displays. I treat the Dell as a second display/virtual desktop.

 

Why not just shoot to an HDTV?

That question comes up a lot and I've tried it. My Nikon DSLRs have HDMI out and I could plug right into a nice big HDTV. The problem I find with this mostly is that the colors, brightness, contrast, etc. don't look the same. This means that after doing a shoot and importing the images into your computer they could look really different than what you adjusted for during the shoot. Since my shots are going to end up on a computer more often than a TV, I'd rather tether into my computer to begin with.

 

Dell? Really?

If you know me, you know that I've rarely if ever mentioned Dell on my blog (or anywhere else), but this time I gotta say that I'm currently a happy Dell customer. I'm actually surprised with all the accelerometer tech that Apple uses in iDevices that they haven't done this with their computer displays. Oh well, for now "it's a Dell."

You can check out the Dell UltraSharp U2412M "W Display here.

I also bought this Display Port to Mini Display Port cable. Of course after I ordered it I remembered that monoprice.com probably has it cheaper and they do.



Costco Does Canvas Gallery Wraps Too?!

  

I got my first Canvas Gallery Wraps done back in 2009 (see my post here) from MPIX. The quality was great and I LOVE seeing my landscape shots on canvas. The only problem was the cost. They are not cheap, but they are GREAT! About a year later I got an email from CafePress.com (yes the t-shirt people) that they also do Canvas Gallery Wraps and that they were having a 50% off sale to get the word out. I jumped on this as opportunity to get some more done and to go larger in size. Once again I was happy with the results. A few months later they had a 60% sale and yes I ordered more and bigger ones! At home I was set. I pretty much had all the Canvas up in my house that I wanted. I also saved a bundle with CafePress.

I recently moved into a New Photographic/Video Studio and there are many many many walls to fill :). I was waiting and waiting for CafePress to have another sale. In the meantime I was getting all my regular prints done at my local Costco. Their prices can't be beat and I developed a Lightroom workflow that achieved the best results for color/quality. About a week ago I was sitting there getting some more shots ready to upload to Costco and I was once again reminded that I need to get some Canvas done, but after paying 50% off and 60% off regular prices I couldn't bring myself to order at regular prices.I was thinking, boy it sure would be great if Costco did…..wait a minute….do they?… no way…. I can't look….OMG YES! They do Canvas too!

 

Great Everyday Prices on Canvas

I was very pleasantly surprised to see that Costco does Canvas Gallery Wraps too! I couldn't wait to upload some landscape photos and give them a try. Their prices were on par with CafePress' sale prices and that made me very happy. It meant that I could go larger and order more prints for my studio. Costco doesn't print these in their local stores. You can have them shipped from their processing center either to your local store or directly to your home/office. I had them shipped to my store. They arrived about 5-6 days later (quoted times are 5-10 days) and I couldn't tell the difference between theirs and the more expensive ones I'd had done! Score! Yay!

I went with the 24×32 size. Next I'll try the 16×48 for panos!

 

What about color matching?

Here's where I have to confess that I've never been big on color management workflows. Don't get me wrong, I think it's very important to have your print match what you saw on screen or in your mind. It's just that it has never been the most critical thing to me personally. As long as the print is "very close" to what I think it should be, I'm good. With that said, I was sharing this story with another photographer friend of mine and he was telling me how he's had hit and miss results with Costco prints. He said that one of his jobs was a disaster because it was for a corporate client and their blue had to be "their blue." In that case I would absolutely work with a lab that's going to make me/my client happy and look good no matter what it costs. Costco does give you the ability to download color profiles. The odd thing is that in the past I've actually had more problems using them than not using them. In a couple of cases using the profile for my local store resulted in prints that were not just a little off, but WAY OFF. It looked as if someone hit Invert in Photoshop on the colors. All the prints that are currently on my studio wall were done at Costco simply using the Adobe RGB color space and they look fine to me. Same goes for the Canvas. Every now and then I'll get a print that's a little darker than I think it should be, but I get that from time to time no matter where I print.

Check them out at costcophotocenter.com



Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk 2011 is Here

It's time to signup for Scott Kelby's Annual Worldwide Photowalk! The 2011 Walk will happen this October 1st & 2nd. Once again I plan to lead a walk here in the Metro Detroit Area. Since this is the first time he's done this in the Fall I've chosen the Franklin Cider Mill as our photowalk location as the fall colors should play very nicely for some great shots.

More details to follow, but don't wait! Sign up here now as my walk usually fills up the 1st day!



A Night With Britney and the Canon Powershot S95

As promised I'm back to do a second look at the Canon Powershot S95 that I first talked about here. As a reminder I'm a Nikon shooter and use Nikon DSLRs. However, for a small point and shoot (pocket size) that shoots RAW I turned to the popular Canon Powershot S95. My main use for this camera will be for those times when DSLRs are NOT ALLOWED and I want something better than the camera on my phone. For me that will be mostly concerts. I'm not a huge Britney Spears fan, but I got the chance to go to her concert with a friend. Otherwise this event would not have been on my radar (get it? Radar). I looked at this as the perfect opportunity to give the Canon Powershot S95 a good test during a live concert.

 

Great little RAW performer

I'm speaking of the S95 of course! What did you think I meant? As I suspected, anyone in the audience that even attempted to raise a DSLR and shoot was immediately tackled by security and asked to put it away. However, if you have a point and shoot or camera phone they didn't say a word.

The only time security approached me was when (I guess) they mistakenly thought that my flashing battery warning was the video record indicator and he said "no video recording." I assured him that I wasn't shooting video and I was able to continue shooting uninterrupted. 

 

What I learned

 

The S95 has the basic modes you'd expect in a higher end P&S including Program mode, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual. The S95 also has a specific low light mode and when I tried this mode it was as I suspected that with the dark backgrounds and bright concert lights the camera was ofter confused and over exposing areas of the shot.

 

This was especially the case when the subjects were dressed in white, wearing white wigs and against a white backlight. This is where I was glad that it had a Manual mode as I was able to dial in the settings I wanted. 

 

As with most point and shoots you are limited by the small glass in the lens. This was no different and unless you're reasonably close to the subject, you just won't get the clarity that you are used to from a DSLR. However, with that said I was impressed with what I got from such a small camera.

It was MUCH BETTER than the shots I took with my iPhone 4 (as I would expect it to be). 

 

The other thing I learned was that there is a definite lag from the time you press the shutter, see the resulting shot and are ready to shoot again. While you can probably cut this time down by turning off the display of the shot you just took, it would be challenging to use this in a fast paced shooting scenario. I'm sure I missed a few good shots with the time it took the camera to be ready for the next shot. It's not the end of the world, it just takes some getting used to.

I will definitely be ordering a second battery. While I had tons of room left on my memory card, the one battery gave out after about 3 hours of continuous shooting/reviewing. 

 

Recommendations

 

 

I will always prefer working with my Nikon DSLRs and great Nikkor lenses. I will always carry my smartphone and use it in a pinch to capture the moment when I don't have my DSLR. However, when I know that I'm going into a situation where DSLRs are not permitted and the smartphone camera isn't going to be good enough, the Canon Powershot S95 will be in my pocket.

 

You can get the Canon Powershot S95 for $399.95 here from B&H and for $393 here from Amazon (note: prices fluctuate on Amazon)



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