Tuesday, May 31, 2011
"A Perfect Day"
© David A. Ziser
It’s been about the girls these past several posts so today I thought I’d give the guys some attention. This is another image from my shoot last week. Kapok Gardens is one of the classic event venues in the Tampa/Clearwater, Florida area. The décor is very eclectic and makes for some exciting locations for the photography we were doing around the venue.
This image was taken in the lounge area of Kapok Gardens. The surrounding décor, the unusual ceiling treatment, and the natural window light is what makes this image work. Yes, the subject in this image was only illuminated by the light coming in from a large window across the room – camera right.
Because of the distance of the window to the subject, we see a clearly defined loop light pattern on his face. That’s because the light source – the window – is far enough away so, in effect, it becomes a much smaller light source relative to the subject.
I simply turned the subject’s face into the light till I could see both of his cheeks fully illuminated but still keep a shadow on the camera side of his nose – the perfect loop light pattern.
Next I had to compose the image. My lower vantage point positioned the subject’s face and shoulders higher into the ceiling area of the composition. Notice too that all the lines are leading right to the subject’s face. With him in an easy pose in the bottom right quadrant of the composition a nice visual balance is achieved among all the compositional elements giving us a strong, masculine portrait of our subject.
Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with Canon 18-200mm IS lens at 18mm, F5.6 @ 1/25 second, ISO 3200. Enjoy! -David
Good Morning Everybody,
I sure hope everyone had a chance to relax and recharge over the long weekend. That’s pretty much what LaDawn and I did. After working VERY hard last week in Tampa Florida, it was good to get back home and just take it easy.
The only downside was the 95 degree weather followed us back up to Kentucky too. It seems we just can’t escape the heat – we head to Phoenix and more hot temperatures tomorrow ;~)
I’m photographing a wedding for a dear client this coming weekend and really looking forward to it. I received a call from the groom’s mother, Dana, while we were in Las Vegas earlier this year attending the WPPI Convention. Dana and her family have been portrait clients of mine since 1990. I’ve been photographing her three children for many years. I’ve included one of those very early images. This time the call was to photograph her son’s wedding. Yes, the little boy in the middle is now going to be the groom.
We land tomorrow, get settled in, then scope out the wedding and reception venues. Thursday we’ll catch up with Beverly and Jonathon for a few portraits around the resort which I’ll include into a slide presentation we’ll be showing at the rehearsal dinner Thursday evening.
The wedding is on Friday with a brunch on Saturday and then it’s off to Sedona for my private workshop [link] on Sunday. Hey we still have one seat left if your interested. Call Jennifer at 800-292-2994 for details. Anyway lots of things happening…..how about we get on with today’s post!
Impossible Locations – Amazing Portraits
In this video I’m going to revisit our Kelby Training shoot last week. During that shoot we got a chance to work in some beautiful locations. But then there were a few places in which we were not so lucky. In today’s tutorial we will visit one such area.
The entire shoot at the Kapok Gardens began very well. The first location was ideal for the kind of techniques I wanted to demonstrate. We had soft lighting, beautiful grounds – everything went very well.
I finished up my shooting and then proceeded to check out a few more areas where I thought we could capture some nice portraits. We had Greek columns, flowing fountains, beautiful gardens – AND we had this location! This is where I decided I was going to create my next series of images.
In this tutorial I’ll discuss how to see beyond the obvious and see the potential of a truly beautiful place to photograph. I’ll discuss the lighting challenges and how I solved them. I’ll review the compositional considerations I needed to consider to pull off what at first glace seemed impossible. I’ll show you how I had to pose the subject to enhance and flatter my subject.
It’s a fun and informative tutorial. Why not hit the PLAY button and enjoy the show.
Hey gang, that’s it for me today. I’m packing my bags for Arizona and it’s a lot of packing considering I’m packing for a wedding and a workshop on the same trip. Remember, we still have room for one more person at my workshop next week [link]. Like I said, give Jennifer a call at 800-292-2994 if you would like to nab the last seat.
Have a great rest of the week and I’ll plan to see you tomorrow bright and early before we head for the plane.
See ya’ then, David
Monday, May 30, 2011
Most of us are spending time with family and friends today with Memorial Day marking the first days of summer. But let us set aside thoughts of burgers and hot dogs for just a few moments as we remember those protecting our country on three war fronts on this day.
Let's also honor all our over 1,000,000 fallen heroes, who have served to protect our freedom. This memorial inscription at Arlington National Cemetery says it most clearly:
"Not for fame or reward, Not for place or for rank, Not lured by ambition, Or goaded by necessity, But in simple, Obedience to duty, As they understood it, These men suffered all, Sacrificed all, Dared all–and died"
And as I read this morning on another blog [link];
"It is tempting to become a little melancholy when contemplating all those who have given their “last full measure of devotion,” as President Lincoln so eloquently put it. But as General Patton said, “Thank God that men and women like these lived, rather than regret that they died.” So with that advice I suggest we honor our fallen for their sacrifices, but also celebrate their lives."
So instead of me wishing all of you a "Happy Memorial Day", let me wish each and everyone of you a "Thoughtful, Loving, Reflective Memorial Day".
Sunday, May 29, 2011
For more images: www.fraenkelgallery.com & www.salon94.com
Friday, May 27, 2011
"Goddess Of The Sea"
© David A. Ziser
OK, the title may be a little weak today, but it’s all I could think of. Sea foam kept sticking in my mind as I was trying to name this image. Sea foam was the color of the dress she was wearing and the place where this image was made was actually under flowing water.
How about the photograph itself? It was a straight available light image. The sun, as usual most of this week, was ducking in and out of the clouds so my exposure was constantly changing. No problem, just keep your wits about you and make the exposure corrections on the run. This image was made is the worst of locations. We had to move a bucket of mud, a watering hose, and trip around some debris that was in the area.
Was it worth it – I think so. The repeat of the the Roman style columns, the rough hewn stones, and the gorgeous lighting came together for the amazing portrait of Hope.
Subject placement was important to me – I decided to have her tilt her body slightly to add a nice diagonal line to the setting. Next I placed her eyes in the top right quadrant of the viewfinder, at nodal point #4. That let the rough repeating stone work lead the viewer’s eyes to her beautiful countenance. The repeat of the columns on the right and the ferns on the left side of the image did a nice job of framing up our subject and also leading the viewer's eye directly to our subject.
I had a little stray light coming in from camera left and used the black side of my Sunspotz to block the light coming in from that direction. The result was her face was beautifully sculpted by the soft light coming in from camera right and gave us a great portrait.
Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm lens at 35mm, F5.6 @ 1/200 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! -David
Hey gang, I’ve got to hit the road early this morning. We got to video a few recap segments of my training videos and then it’s off to the airport for an early afternoon flight.
See ya’ in a few, -David
Good Afternoon Everybody,
It was a beautiful Spring day as we boarded our Delta jet and climbed to about 30,000 feet heading for home. What a week it's been - four days of non-stop shooting, the longest GRID episode and season finale, 3 D-Town episodes in the can, and several wrap up videos completed by this morning. Whew! But like I said to Adam, our lead videographer, it was a lot of hard work by all of us this week, but it sure was fun too!
Adam and I both felt that our shooting/training sessions are some of the best we’ve worked on together. I was thinking I had it tough being in my jacket in the blazing hot sun hours at a time, but then I think of Adam carrying around 50+ pounds of Steadicam and video gear. We all worked hard - Adam, Brandon, and Meredith - my sincere thanks to them for all their great efforts over 4 long days and a few evenings.
Also my thanks to my wonderful wife LaDawn, who served as my lighting assistant and part time art director for the shooting sessions - Yes, even she was standing out in that hot sun too. I think her suggestions and ideas really added a lot to the content I was presenting in these videos.
Also, my thanks to our models, Brittany and Colby on Monday and Tuesday; and Hope and Ben on Wednesday and Thursday. Thanks to their professional manner, the shooting sessions went smoothly and efficiently.
And finally my thanks to Kelby Training and all the folks behind the scenes who magically get the entire class pulled together making me look good and creating a wonderful training experience for all of you.
My excitement with the training sessions rests in the fact that they were NOT wedding specific videos. I never once pointed my camera at a wedding couple. That fact was important in the lessons I was trying to teach - the main emphasis being that all the lessons and core content in these training sessions will work cross platform for any assignment regardless of the people photographed.
Even though the specific intent of the videos was not lighting, we still wrestled with the light many times throughout the week and you will really enjoy how we handled the challenges we encountered. Most challenging was working in the hot, bright, direct, blazing, 90-95 degree Tampa sun. I would have to call it the worst lighting conditions I have ever tried to photograph in. In spite of the difficulties, we still pulled off some amazing images and wonderful video instruction.
Another highlight of the week for me was in the variety of locations in which we got to shoot - from an urban park in downtown Tampa, to two more traditional parks around the city, to the Kapok Gardens, and finally a private mansion on the water. Each location offered a wonderful set of possibilities for creative portraits. I hope you enjoy the several images thru-out this post.
Over the next few days, I'll post a few more with the EXIF data, lighting details, and backstory on each posting. I hope when you watch the videos after they're completed that you'll find them wildly informative, entertaining, and easy to follow along. We all worked hard to give you the best training videos ever.
Hey gang, that really is it for me today. We just landed about an hour ago and it is definite time for an adult beverage ;~). I hope your car wins at Indy this weekend, you don't burn the burgers on the grill, and I hope you have a great time with family and friends if your planning any holiday celebrations,
I'll plan to see you next Monday for a brief holiday message so until then…. Have a great weekend, David
Thursday, May 26, 2011
"Hot Times In The City"
© David A. Ziser
It was very hot times in the city (Tampa) as I was taking this photograph. But in spite of the heat, I think we captured many great images, this one included. I love working the urban landscapes – the textures and shapes of the buildings and the crystal clear rich blue sky makes for a very striking background for our “Hot Times In The City” image.
I also have to say, it was really fun not having my camera pointing at a bride or groom. I love Hope’s hot red outfit against our Tampa city scape – she just pops form the scene, doesn’t she?
Compositionally I've placed her in the bottom fourth quadrant of the image. Her placement in the quadrant and against the large cylindrical building gives a nice visual balance to the entire scene.
Although I’m know as the wedding guy, you can see that all the rules of lighting and composition work for any subject. Anyone could have been standing where Hope was standing and illuminated in the same way – my strobe coming in from camera left at 1/2 power – and we still would have a very dramatic image.
Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm, F11 @ 1/250 second, ISO 200. Enjoy! -David
Good Morning Everybody,
Boy, I have to tell you, it really was one hot time in the city yesterday as I continued my Kelby Training video shoot. 7 of us, LaDawn and I, our two models, and the 3 person video crew were getting toasty red from our all day shoot in Tampa’s direct, blazingly hot afternoon sun. Too bad we didn’t think to apply about an SPF 60 screen. We all were really feeling the heat by the end of the day which ended about 7:00 p.m. – Whew!
On the upside though, we did get some fantastic images. I’ll continue to share a few with you these next few days. The thrill for me was being in non-wedding mode. All day yesterday, I got to just PLAY. It was a wonderful exercise in seeing.
That’s the topic of the second video I’m doing while here in Tampa. It’s an entire video on the art of seeing – first discerning the location, determining what that location brings to the portrait, and THEN placing the subject within that scene to photograph what you’ve seen in your mind’s eye. It was a way cool, good time and guess what? I get to do the same thing again today!
But, how about we get right on with today’s post. Here we go…
The Engagement Shoot: Bringing It All Together – The Final Product Possibilities Are Endless!
OK, let me ask you – what is the purpose of your engagement portrait sessions? Is it to go out and just get a few images that your client can use for a 5x7 or two to sit around their home or on their office desks? I hope not!
Digital shooting gives us more opportunities than ever to offer our clients a myriad of exciting product possibilities. Those product possibilities are the result of both the images and video clips we make along with the surprising large number of new products our labs are offering.
The fact of the matter is this; Back in the film days, we would typically shoot about 50 images – two rolls of 220 film. Now with digital, the number of images soars to a couple of hundred! Hey, that’s a good thing. It’s that greater number of images available that gives us the opportunity to offer our clients so many product options.
Let me point you towards just a 5 rock solid profit building ideas:
1. Videos and DVD’s: Combine you best stills with the 5 second video clips you made during the photography session. Animoto makes it totally easy to create both a low res video for posting to your Facebook page.
2. – Engagement Albums: This one is a no-brainer. You’ve taken a gazillion pictures – what are you going to do with all of them? The quick answer is to offer your clients several album options.
Those album options can range from the very elegant (and expensive) leather bound album down to a more affordable press printed book from say, ACI Labs [link].
3. Save The Date Items: Labs including ACI, are offering all kinds of possibilities in that department, too. Now when the couple sends out their invites, they can easily and affordably include a “Save The Date” reminder with a few of your images on them. You get the “Save The Date” item sale and extended use of a few of the photographs you took.
4. Wedding Photo Invitations: I just recently saw a photo wedding invitation and it looked very cool. This is yet another way for you to “repurpose” a few more of your images from your engagement shoot.
5. Wedding Sign In Book: This is another of my favorite ideas and several labs are offering such a product. The small book sits near the cake or gift table where the gusts are offered the opportunity to offer the newly married couple their best wishes.
Each turn of the page shows another photo of the couple romantically photographed by you. This is a great way to showcase your work to future possible clients attending this wedding and also allows you to “repurpose” a few more images.
As you can see, the list could go on for pages. Maybe you even have a few ideas yourself you could share with our DPT readers. Once again, if I get at least 20 good ideas posted in the comment section below, I’ll award the winner a $50 gift card from B&H camera.
Hey gang, that’s it for me today. Shooting begins in less than an hour and we’ve got to get moving. Have a good one, don’t forget to post a few ideas below, and I’ll see you again tomorrow. -David
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
"Love’s Gentle Touch"
© David A. Ziser
Here is an image made during my Kelby Training session yesterday. One of the points I wanted to make is that photographs of an engaged couple are not always about the faces of the couple.
Just as important are their feelings and expressions. That’s why I love this image so much – you, the viewer, can feel see and feel the love they feel for each other.
I accomplish this with a very close crop that only shows this young lady’s soft touch and gentle smile as she looks into her fiancé's eyes. By going in tight to only show the smile and the rings we have a wonderful image of how they feel for each other while showcasing the engagement ring in the same photograph.
I finish the image by bringing it into Lightroom, desaturate the image, push the exposure up a bit, move the Fill Light slider up to about +60, the Clarity slider to about –60, and touch up where necessary and I’ve got a great full-of-expression engagement image.
Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 150mm, F3.2 @ 1/320 second, ISO 500. Enjoy! -David
Good Morning Everybody,
Not only did I cover all the photographs and “poses” I like to make during my engagement sessions, the entire video is jammed packed with great lighting techniques and compositional tips and tricks. Yes, you see me struggle with some tough lighting conditions but you’ll also get to see how I solve them too.
I think it’s about the best Kelby Training video I’ve ever put together – I can’t wait for you to see it! I’ll let you know the minute it goes “LIVE”.
I thought I’d just give you a peek at what we covered these last two days. Here’s a quick list.
The Dress Code: Clothing to wear – here are the main points
-Suggestions for best looking portraits
.Casual or Dressy
.Soft subdued colors, earth tones
.Clothing to compliment each other
.Too tight for body size
.Clothing with words like favorite rock band t-shirt
.Too many colors
Places to shoot: Favorite places
- Special places for them - proposal, 1st date, favorite, etc.
- College surrounds
- Urban/City setting.
- Mall with skating rink
- Favorite restaurant
When to shoot and benefits of each
- Early evening “sweet light”
- Any light
- Direct sunlight - Open Shade
Gear to use
- Long/Wide lenses
- Big umbrellas
- Flash with & w/o Zumbrella
Posing the couple
- Edgy/Anti-romantic non-smiling images
- Super close ups - hands, rings, kiss, etc.
- Over shoulder into his/her eyes
- Against a dramatic sky
- Close ups
- Engagement ring
- Coaxing the expressions/having some fun
- Soft touches
Hey gang, that’s about half the outline for the Engagement video we did. We also did an entire session on how and what to shoot for your short video segments, too. I told you we covered a lot of ground.
Use the list above and the accompanying photographs from the Kelby Training shoot as a guide for your next engagement session. Also, think of it as a “Preview Of Coming Attractions” for my Kelby Training video coming to a computer near you real soon ;~)
Hey everybody, that’s it for me today. We’re starting my second video today. I’m covering Image Composition For Portrait Photographers From Start To Finish. We’ve got the run – the models show up in the next few minutes.
How about checking back tomorrow and let’s see what I’ve got for you…. hot selling items for your engaged couples?
See ya’ then, David
Rick Nahmias is a photographer, writer and visual storyteller whose work has been shown across North America, Europe, and Asia. He creates social-issue themed media projects for foundations, non-profits, corporations and cause-driven organizations. He also shoots freelance assignments with an emphasis on editorial, travel, medical and food subjects.
He is best known for documenting the lives and struggles of numerous marginalized communities. "Golden States of Grace: Prayers of the Disinherited," his traveling photographic, text and audio exhibit which documents eleven marginalized communities at prayer was recently published by University of New Mexico Press. His acclaimed body of work exploring California's agricultural workforce "The Migrant Project: Contemporary California Farm Workers" was published in 2008. Its companion exhibition has toured to over three dozen museums, universities, and cultural centers across the country. You can discover more about him and his work by visiting his website.
Rick Nahmias recommends the work of Minor White.
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011
"The Look Of Love"
© David A. Ziser
Here is one of the images from our “Engagement Session” I was doing for Kelby Training Yesterday. It’s one of the my favorites. The secret to this image’s success if the use of a very long lens at a fairly wide aperture.
We were working at the very beautiful Philippe Park in Tampa. The scenery was gorgeous everywhere. This image was made later in the afternoon during what I call the “sweet light” time of the day. The harsh sun is well behind the trees leaving a warm, soft light flooding the park everywhere.
I had our couple stand right in the middle of the road with my assistant taking up her position about 12 feet behind the couple with my Quantum strobe set to full power. I was working at a slower ISO , hence the need for more light to get the rimming out backlight effect I like for this kind if image.
Look at the flow of the textures and out of focus lines in the background – the sense of depth gave us a result that was amazing! And, more importantly, Brittany and Colby loved it too.
Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 70-200 IS lens at 180mm, F4.5 @ 1/125 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! David
Good Morning Everybody,
I am rushing to get the post up today. It was a very long day yesterday – we finally finishing about 10:00p.m. and that was without a lunch or dinner break – but we got some amazing images and a ton of video lessons. I’ll post a few more images this week.
Add that to the Grid episode I did with Matt Kloskowski – the final episode for this season, BTW (and the longest on record too), and you get an idea how busy the day was. Yes, yesterday’s final Grid episode was the longest. It was funny, Matt said we would go about 35 minutes – after 30 minutes we hadn't even got to the main topic but still covered lots of good info up to that point. You’ll have to check it out right here. It should be up later today. It was really fun – heck, I bet Opraha’s last show even goes longer than that tomorrow ;~)
We head out again today with our first stop being an ice skating rink. Yes, I am sacrificing my body to get the shots for our Kelby Training viewers ;~) We have another great day planned – I’ll fill you in more tomorrow. Because of the lack of time, I’m re-running an episode “Dancing In The Light”. It covers a lot of of the lighting techniques that I use for my couples photography so I think it’s a good topic for today’s discussion.
Dancing In The Light
Today's tutorial is a continuation of last week's lighting/photography lesson entitled, "Love Lines" [link]. The bride and I knew we could get some great shots at this wonderful location - the Phoenix in downtown Cincinnati. Here is the trick. You don't want to be pulling your bridal couple away from their guests and their reception for too long. It's their wedding, not our photo shoot.
I asked Grace and Chris if we could break away for 10-15 minutes, just long enough for the guests to finish dinner. They had finished first, so if they agreed, this would be the perfect time to slip in and out with their absence only being minimally noticed.
They agreed, of course, and now the clock was ticking. I had to get all the shots I wanted in less that 15 minutes and get them back to the reception and their guests. This tutorial walks you through the next set of images I created for Grace and Chris. Backlighting and cool compositional lines make for some pretty dramatic images.
This week's tutorial shows you how quickly we put the images together and the great result we got. Hit the PLAY button below and enjoy the show!
Hey gang, that’s it for me today. We start shooting in less than an hour. I’ve got to get the gear packed and hit the road. I hope to see you again tomorrow assuming the day doesn’t go as long as yesterday did.
Have a great one and I’ll see you then, David
Monday, May 23, 2011