Fog on our walk

Walking the dog this morning and the fog was amazing! Did not have a camera with me but a snap from my cell does okay. Like I tell my photography students it is as much being there as anything.

They say you never have a second chance to make a first impression. Well in photography you seldom have a second chance to get a image. Today I got a second chance. When I got home from walking the dog the fog was all gone. About an hour later my son says “wow is it foggy”, I looked out and sure enough the fog was back. Had to go out with a good camera and retake the playground image.

Fog at the playground

I like both images for different reasons. The good thing is that I at least had something to shoot the first one!

Learn about my photography courses here

Photography courses can cut through all the confusion and help you get on the right path. Photography can be an enjoyable hobby or even a business if you have the correct knowledge. I will teach you all the functions and features of your camera.

I also offer location courses and workshops for individuals or groups. All the courses may be customized to meet your learning requirements. Whether it is a point and shoot camera that you need help understanding, a new DSLR camera or a new piece of gear you want to get the most out of.

One of the first questions that I get from new students is what course should I take to start, and my response is always the same.  If you have never taken a photography course and you are interested in building your photography skills you should start with the Digital Introductory Course.  Only by starting with the basics will you be sure that you have a good base to build on in the future. Once you have a good understanding of the basics of photography you may take other courses that you are interested in.

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What print size won’t crop your image

Why does that print size crop my image?

So what print size will I be able to print without loosing any of the image? The question is almost daily. “Why is it when I get a 5×7, 8×10, 11×14 or 16×20 print made of my digital file I have some of the image cut off”?

The answer

A digital camera sensor is NOT the same proportions as the print sizes mentioned above.

Why are those print sizes so popular? According to history the sizes that we have come to know as normal where used by photographers that shot 645 medium format. These sizes fit this format perfectly.  35mm Film and most sensors in digital cameras are proportioned to 4×6, 8×12, 11×16, 12×18, 16×24. Only these sizes will give you the full image file without cropping any of your image.

Cropping can be a good thing if you plan for it. It can allow you to get closer to the subject and eliminate “extra” parts of the picture.  For some pictures it is a killer.  Imagine a picture of a large family and the people are from one edge of the image to the other.  Then the client asks for a 16×20.  Well you now have to choose who in the family that you are going to cut out. Or you will have to do a lot of editing to add sky or foreground to the image.

Full print size
The full digital image
Cropped print size
When you ask for a cropped print size

So what should you do?

When shooting images imagine that you have crop lines in your viewfinder. Or do like many did in years past and draw the crop lines in – if you so dare or are crazy enough to try.  Then leave space around your images for the cropping to the common sizes. 

If you want to do something artistic like shooting a image to print to 24″x8″ make sure that you let your client know first. That way they won’t try and order a 8×10 from that image. Or maybe do one that is more artistic in posing then do some that will fit the common format sizes.

If you do mess up and crop too tight for the print size, add some space using Photoshop. Unsure of how to add space ask when ordering and I will help you with it.

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External Hard Drives – WARNING

I am a BIG advocate of using external hard drives to store your images and data. This is of course in addition to other back-up sources. Things such as DVD’s, extra external hard drives and additional computers.

External Hard Drives

New Drive

Recently I went out and bought another external hard drive. Picked up a Lacie to transfer all my nature pictures to. That way I would have them in one place and be able to take it with me when I am on the road without taking other files. Spent a Saturday night and part of Sunday transferring and organizing the new drive. I have several other Lacie drives as back-ups and have had no problems to date. Then I took the to the studio to download the files there.

I plugged the drive into one of the studio computers and watched as it said “New Drive Detected”, “Installing Hardware”, “New Device is now ready to use”. Then I clicked on My Computer to find that the device is not there. Tried a second computer then a third, all with the same results.

External Hard Drive
External Hard Drive

That not good

I was finally able to locate the drive through a couple of backdoor routes and found that the drive was running. But after a lot of research I found that even with the computer recognizing the drive it was not accessible. After looking into it I found out that it is the way the drive was set-up from the factory.

So a word of warning, if you have an external drive that you are using make sure that it is readable on other computers! You should do this ASAP!!! I would actually try several computers to make sure if your computer should die, or be upgraded, that the external drive is accessible.

Check your drives NOW!!!

Again as a word of warning, if you have an external drive check it on another computer ASAP to make sure that it can be read, before you need the drive to work and it doesn’t. This is one of those issues that if you find out when you have a computer problem it is too late!!!

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Photography Business – The Print

The print is the secret!

People have been asking me how to improve their photography business, simple it comes down to the print! The past couple of weeks I have had a chance to sit down with a number of photographers.  I have been hearing a lot of the same things from these people and I thought that it would be worth sharing with others. The main issue is how do you impress your customers, set your business apart from others and improve your sales?

Several points keep coming to the forefront

The print
Set yourself apart with the print!

1) For those that do shoot & burn weddings (shoot the wedding and burn the digital files to disk or USB for the client) I have been hearing a number of photographers mention that their customers are complaining about bad prints.  Their clients are taking the images to a discount lab to get prints made. When they get the prints back they are coming back horrible.  Most times the photographer does not know how their client feels as they don’t hear about the bad prints. The clients think it is the photographer ~ because the lab says it is not them.  If the photographer hears it is through a third party and the bad printing has damaged the photographers reputation.

2) Many photographers have seen a drop in the number of assignments they get.  A couple photographers actually inquired of past customers and received some feedback.  One of the biggest points is that clients were not happy with the final prints. Many clients mentioned that it was a pain to go and get the prints done themselves. All had mentioned they were having prints done at a discount lab.

The common statement went something like this…….

“…. the photographers service was great”. “We were not happy with the way the final prints looked”.  “The prints looked like the ones that you get from a one hour lab ~ not professional prints”.  “It took me a week to get a couple pictures done properly. It was a HUGE waste of my time”. One photographer actually brought me a couple of files to print. Their customers had them done someplace else. They wanted to see what their client thought. The response from their client was “These are amazing, we never thought that the printing would do that!!!!”

3) Many of the photographers also mentioned that they needed something to add a WOW factor to the services that they were offering.  They have been giving clients 4×6 & 5×7 prints. The small prints were not impressing their clients.


The consensus

In just about all the comments one thing was clear. The photographer’s clients want/demand something more than a cheap 4×6 or 5×7 one hour print.  I have been saying for years that if photographers want to survive that they need to set themselves apart. Something more than what uncle Bob is doing ~ usually for free because he is a relative and wants to be helpful.  Uncle Bob can have the nice camera. Many times he is handing the wedding couple a disk and that is it.  Or he is printing some prints at the one hour place and handing them to the couple.  The problem is if that is what the “professional” photographer is doing we are not setting ourselves apart and WOW’ing our clients.

So what should professional photographers be doing?

First, every client should be getting a WOW picture.  Something that stands out like a 16×20 or 20×24 portrait fully finished!! Second you should be providing your clients with some professionally printed images that they can show friend’s and family so they can see what a great picture looks like.  Prints that they cannot get at the local one hour!

Finally if you are handing over the disk to the client make sure they know the difference in the printing that they will get.

Remember we need to set ourselves apart for the positive. One of the best ways to do this is with professional printing!

To help with giving some wow to your photography we are offering a coupon for a discount in printing that you can give to your client to get professional printing.  That way they will get the best image possible from your files.  Drop us an E-mail and we will run off some discount coupons for you!

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Print Sizes

One of the challenges that many people have when ordering prints of their digital images is trying to figure out the print sizes. Many times I get requests for a 8×10 print or a 24×30 print and I have to contact the customer to tell them that a print of those dimensions will cut off part of their subject. If your subject takes up most or all the image then cropping it will either take away the look you were going for a ruin the image.

Common print sizes

So to explain print sizes I made the following chart.

If the size you are looking at having printed says cropped then you will be loosing some of the subject in the image. Sometimes this is not a huge issue. Other times it is not good.

Read morePrint Sizes

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Camera Cards

Camera Cards – Are they archival?

Another thing that I am asked by a lot of people is “How archival are digital camera cards”? People wonder if they should fill up a camera card then store it and buy a new one. I was not sure so I contacted Sandisk and asked this question and the response is below.

Question:

How archival are your digital camera cards?

Answer:

Camera Cards
Some old camera cards that still work great!

Hello Mike, Thank you for contacting SanDisk Technical Support. It is our goal to make sure you have all the resources you need to get the most from your product. Let me assist you with your concern. The files/pictures can retain on the card for 10 years, without using the card again, meaning just for storing the card. If you are continuously using the card, like adding more and more pictures (when taking using the camera), please understand that there is no guarantee that those pictures will never going to be corrupted. Data corruptions on the card can happen any time on all storage device, (Cards, Flash drives, MP3 player, and including the Hard Disk drive). Should you have further concerns, please do not hesitate to reply to this message. Best regards, SanDisk Technical Support

So I would say that it is still the best practice to get the images off the cards. Shot, download then back-up and reformat the card. If you do want to keep the image on the cards I would still download and back-up. Then store the cards in a safe place like a safety deposit box or at a friends house.

Camera Cards Archival?

The biggest issue with digital media, unlike film, is that it does not fade. It just corrupts! So if you take a card out in ten years and it is damaged that is it.

Be Safe…. PRINT!

I still say that the best way in addition to backing up your images is to print them. When they are printed you are not relying on technology to keep your images viable. I scan more prints than I do negatives or slides as people can find their prints. It is not perfect but it is better to have something to look back on even if it is fading a little.

Printing services

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