Monday, April 30, 2012

"Lovers In Fantasyland"


"Lovers In Fantasyland"
©David A. Ziser

In honor of being at Texas School I thought I would revisit one of my favorite images from last year’s class. This image was called the “outstanding image of the week” at Texas School 2011.  I captured this image on the last day of shooting.  I was scheduled to be one of the instructors at Thursday' Night’s Shootout.  Although we were to meet in a nearby park to begin the photographs, as the evening progressed I knew I wanted to capture a few shots around the “Blueprints” sculpture at Addison Circle just a block away from the park.

I had been “eyeballing” this unusual sculpture as a photographic background throughout the week as some of the Texas School festivities were held nearby.  Thursday night proved to be the night.  We wrapped shooting in the small park and then began to walk back to the hotel toward the location of the sculpture.  It was well past sunset, but the sky still held that twilight glow that I love.  I always say, “We keep shooting till we can no longer see the camera bag.”  That was exactly the time I was capturing this image.

I positioned the bride and groom at the base of the imposing sculpture after selecting the best composition for my photograph. I didn’t want to see the many buildings around the site so I took a camera position that gave me as many trees as possible in the background behind the sculpture. I also liked how the sky’s brightness and “blueness” transitioned from dark to light across the top of the image.

The rest was simple – just get a flash behind the couple and fire away.  That flash was my remotely fired Canon 580 EX II flash in “manual” mode at 1/4 power.  The spray of light highlighted the green grass nicely but, most importantly, gave me that dramatic rim lighting around the couple.

The contrasting colors, gentle tones in the sky, dramatic lighting, and very unusual location made for an impacting wedding image.

Camera specs:  Canon 7D fitted with Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm, F5.6 @ 1/80 second, ISO 1600. Enjoy!  -David

Quick Hit Monday: My Shootout In Central Park; Lots Of Photoshop CS6; Loads Of Lightroom 4; and More!

Good Morning Everybody,

Texas School2We arrived safe and sound in Dallas, TX around noon on Saturday and are looking forward to a great week at Texas School.  Last year we really enjoyed our experience.  This is like the largest week long photography school in the world with nearly 40 instructors and just slightly less than 1,000 students!  It IS the happening place to be for the next 5 days. 

We just wrapped the opening sessions last night at 10:00p.m. – you’re right, if you’ve never been here you soon find out that nobody gets much sleep around here ;~)  Still we’ve got a great class and LaDawn and I are looking forward to our visit and the week.   I'll plan to keep you filled in day-by-day with images and commentary.

Extreme Digital Design Webcast a Hit!

LumaPix logoFirst off, I want to thank Michael Sheasby, Co-founder and CEO of LumaPix software for being my guest last Thursday on our DigitalProTalk - Extreme Digital Design webcast.  Once again we had attendees from around the country and around the world on hand for our lively discussion and Michael's impressive demonstrations. From the audience comments, the crowd was “blown away” by Michael’s demo of LumaPix V5’s new feature set.  If you missed it, no problem.  I'm going to post it tomorrow for Technique Tuesday.  Be sure to check it out – it is not to be missed!

My Shoot-Out at Central Park – Thursday, May 17, 2012. 

Central parkThat's right gang, I’ll be in Central Park, New York City,  on Thursday, May 17 for a shoot out in the nations most famous park.  My thanks for B&H for getting all the permits and  making all the arrangements - its going to be a great time. 

I'll be there along with 5 other photographers and several models working the park for a good part of the day.  This is a terrific way to get some great images for your portfolio, learn my  lighting techniques, make new friends, and enjoy the fresh air. 

You can get all the info and register right here or by clicking on the Central Park image above.  B&H expects this event to fill up fast - so don't delay.  I hope to see everyone there!

Sarah Petty's New Book; Worth Every Penny – and It Is!

Worth Every PennyAllow me to tell you about my friend Sarah Petty's new book “Worth Every Penny”.  Here's a quick overview of the book from Sarah.  “Worth Every Penny” contends that here’s a radically different way to run a small business, one in which the owners focus on offering specialized products and over-the-top customer service—not on matching the prices of their competition. Worth Every Penny encourages business owners to use a different business model, one that is designed to maximize their advantages over the big-box stores and other discounting competitors. Here is the link for all the book info right here.

Sarah was one of our speakers at PhotoProExpo earlier this year and rocked the house!  Sarah comes from a marketing background with Coca-Cola but decided, instead to venture into the field of photography a number of years ago and never looked back.

She runs a very successful photography studio in Springfield, Illinois.  She has been helping photographers get their business in high gear.  Her Joy of Marketing website offers some tremendous content, lots of it free, for the new and aspiring pro photographer.

After nearly a year in preparation and writing, her book has just been released!  Here is the link for all the information. Sarah really packs one giant marketing wallop with her Joy of Marketing concept.

Getting Up To Speed With Adobe CS6

adobe-cs6-logoIf you haven't downloaded and tried Adobe's new CS6, you've got to do it right away.  I've been playing with it for a short while and I’m loving it.  First of, it just feels snappier than any previous version.  The interface is more stylized with a mid to dark gray color scheme that’s really nice to work in.  But most importantly are all the new features that come with this latest release.

I'm particularly amazed at the Content Aware Move Tool, the new cropping tool, the Field Blur Tool, and the fact that Photoshop can now do a basic video edit - pretty cool.  I spent several hours last week checking out many of the new features.  I also spent probably too much time on the new video features.  In fact tomorrow's Technique Tuesday video was put together completely within Photoshop CS6!

DPS logoAs with any new software version, how do you get up to speed quickly?  The Internet, of course.  Already cyberspace is filling up with lots of tutorials on CS 6's new features.  My favorite link is right here at showcasing 23 new cool CS6 features. 

The folks at DPS pulled together several links from the top Photoshop gurus around the world.  Each of the five gurus put together 5-6 videos spotlighting their favorite features.  There is some overlap, but that's OK.  Where there was some overlap, each presenter put a new spin on that same feature - adding even more in- depth information, each hi-lighting tips and techniques of that special feature.  I spent nearly an hour watching the numerous short videos and then headed over to CS6 to give them a try - way cool.

All The Latest On Lightroom 4 – The Mother Load!

lightroom4boxshot-295x400Adobe just kicked out their latest release candidate - Lightroom 4.1 RC2.  They tweaked many of the features and added a few more.  Fixing Chromatic Aberration is now much easier and more thorough than before, plus LR4 now supports even more cameras. But wait….there’s lots more than just that!

We arrived at Texas School on Saturday just in time to catch Julieanne Kost’s – Adobe resident LR4 guru – showcase the latest greatest features of this great piece of software.  Her blog is chocked full of tutorials showcasing all these new features.  She has a video on how to do just about everything in Lightroom 4 and10 pages of LR keyboard shortcuts! 

Let’s not just stop there.  Let me point you towards my other favorite resources for all things Lightroom:

1. Matt Kloskowski's Lightroom's Killer Tips right here.  Matt has always been my go to guy when ever I need to know anything about Lightroom.

2. Another favorite is Victoria Brampton, the Lightroom Queen - here's her link.  Her blogs and her books are all at the top of my reference list when it comes to Lightroom.

3. And lastly, check out Laura Shoe - she is a wonderful resource for all the latest, greatest features of Lightroom and even does FREE webcasts.  Check out her resources right here.


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  Class starts in about an hour so I've got to run.  Be sure to check back tomorrow for our re-broadcast of Extreme Digital Design. On that note, I'm out of here.

See ya' tomorrow everybody,



I did some shots of the houses an architect designed. AM Architects is based in Paarl and has been busy designing houses in Val De Vie and the images will be used in an advert that's placed in a local Val De Vie newsletter/magazine.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Photographer #455: Neil Krug

Neil Krug, 1983, USA, is a photographer and director based in Los Angeles. Together with his girlfriend, now wife, Joni Harbeck, he founded Pulp Art Book, a collection of photography and commercial work in limited edition prints, books and films. In 2011 he released the LP-sized Pulp Art Book: Volume One with images of Joni shot with polaroid film years past its sell-by date. The narrative photographs remind us of spaghetti westerns and the artistic expressions of the 60s and 70s in B-movies and on LP covers. Pulp Art Book: Volume Two is expected to be released in June of 2012. This time the Poliziotteschi films were a major influence. Neil has created a vast amount of CD / LP covers for bands as My Chemical Romance, Scissor Sisters, Ladytron and The Pierces. Among his commercial clients are Warner Bros. Records, Warp Records and Burton Snowboards. The following images come from the portfolios Ladytron - Gravity the Seducer, Pulp Art Book: Volume One and My Chemical Romance.


"Hot Red”

Hot Red

"Hot Red”
©David A. Ziser

I've been playing around with Adobe's latest version of CS6 and have to say I'm mightily impressed. Yesterday, while cruising my files for an image to bring in the CS6 and I came across the image you see in today's post. It was made a few years ago during the convention where I was demonstrating my easy lighting techniques at the Westcott booth. I still remember that experience as being one of the most memorable convention shoots I've been involved in.

Our model was quite lovely but, but it was the headpiece/hat that she was wearing that caught everyone's eye. Her bright red lipstick together with the bright red flowers in the headpiece make for some very exciting portrait compositions.

In this image, I simply brought in a large soft box and from camera right. I controlled the shadows with a reflector and a shot away – a pretty simple lighting setup. I love both the subject’s expression and the colors in this portrait image.  But, I have to admit I didn't like this photograph until after I had tweaked it just a bit and CS6. 

The first thing I did was soften the skin tones and then retouched her skin to a somewhat like porcelain like quality. I had several distractions in the background and this decided to try CS6’s new Field Blur option under Filters. Basically, what this did was allow me to blur everything that I thought was distracting to the portrait and keep sharp the subject’s face. All in all, this image is a combination of both lighting and retouching but I love the result.

Camera specs Canon 7D with 18 to 200mm IS lens at 140 mm, F6.3 @ 1/250 second, ISO 1600. Enjoy! – David

FREE Extreme Digital Design Webcast Today & Door Prizes!

Good Late Morning Everybody,

First of all, just a quick reminder – we've got our Extreme Digital Design webcast at four o'clock this afternoon EST and I sure hope everyone can be there.

REGISTER for FREE Right Here!

Register Now LR[5]

Another quick note, I want to thank everybody for other comments on my Tuesdays post – the best lens for wedding photography in my review of Tamron's 28 – 300 mm VC lens. I'm going to keep testing the lens in the next couple of weeks and keep you posted of any newer findings. So far, it's my favorite lens on my 5D Mark III for everyday shooting and I'm having the best time ever shooting this camera/lens combo.

FREE Extreme Digital Design Webcast Today! Here Are The Details

Extreme Digital Design 200pxMy special guest is Cofounders and CEO of LumaPix, Mr. Mike Sheasby – and also a good friend for many years. Mike and I will be discussing the latest, greatest features of the newest release of LumaPix 5.0 – the absolute best design/collaging software on the planet earth.

We've been using LumaPix V5 here at the studio since it was released a few weeks ago and I have to tell you – it is one powerful update. Mike and I will spend some time discussing some of the most important new features and just how those features can help wedding and portrait photographers advance their business, client communications, and client excitement to a brand new level.

Banners Hope & Yesenia GREEN[6]After that, Michael promises to give you an eye-popping, jaw-dropping demo of all those new features and even a few not yet released – I can’t wait! Once again, I promise that you will be amazed! We’ll wrap the webcast taking questions from the audience and discussing more ways LumaPix can help make you money. We’re both looking forward to a very lively discussion.

I watched the development of LumaPix over the last eight years and this is, by far, the most exciting release yet. Remember, registration for the webcast is FREE!!! We have plenty of seats left so you can join all the fun right here. Remember, 4 PM EST – you won't want to miss this program!

LaDawn will be riding “shotgun” monitoring questions from our web audience. I’ll be following questions on Twitter. Just tweet your questions to @digitalprotalk and include #lumapixdesign. Michael and I will answer as many questions as best we can during the webcast time period. Once again, here is the link to register right here. FREE Webcast: Thursday April 26, 2012 at 4:00pm. EST.

YES, Door Prizes Too!

Wait, there’s more!!! ;~) We’ll also be giving away nearly $600 in door prizes during the webcast and winners must be present to win. Prizes will include a full version of LumaPix:FotoFusion Extreme ($299 value) [link], my Captured By The Light 5-DVD seminar ($89 value), Divine Design Collection ($149 value) [link], and a copy of my Captured By The Light book ($54 value) [link].

See You There!  David

Business Day Thursday: Don't Give Your Business Cards Out At Weddings!

Hey Everybody,

Its Business day Thursday so let's get right to it.

Business Day Thursday: Don't Give Your Business Cards Out At Weddings!

Okay, you must think I'm crazy making a statement like that. But, it's been my philosophy for as many years as I've been in the wedding business.  You might be asking yourself, "Then how in the world am I going to be able to pass my name on the potential new clients?"   Folks, I'd like you to consider something. When I started my business I was happy and thrilled to pass my business cards to prospective brides and grooms that I met at the weddings and events I was photographing. 

arrowThe funny thing is I seldom heard back from any of the people I gave the cards to. Here's why. Historically I found overall my years in business that when you pass a card to a prospective client, that card will be lost in the purse, still be in the jacket pocket as a coat heads to the dry cleaners, are just simply be misplaced really killing any chance of you hearing back from the person you gave the card to. Historically I found that about 15% of the people that I gave to cards to at wedding receptions made the effort to try to contact me again.

I think that a 15% return on your marketing efforts – passing out a business card – is a pretty darn poor return on your efforts. How about if I could guarantee you he 100% return on your efforts?  That's exactly the topic of this post. Now don't get me wrong here.  I don't think business cards are a bad thing. In fact I'll give my business card away at conventions and programs all the time. But in that case I'm not looking for the recipient to necessarily be making contact back with me. I'm passing out my card to them for  a reference should they need to contact me in the future.

Just Don’t Do It!

No Business cardBut when it comes to passing out business cards at a wedding, it's a completely different matter. You want that potential client to contact you and hopefully do business with you. But as I said the possibility of that happening settles in at a very dismal 15% rate of return.

My strategy, for many many years, has always been to ask the person requesting my business card, while never offering mine, but always ask for theirs instead. If they didn't have a business card I'd ask them to write their contact information on a cocktail napkin. In either instance, I had their contact information and I knew I would be a lot more pro-active in re-contacting them. That would guarantee me a 100% rate of return on my efforts.  As you can see, this practice dramatically improves my chances of booking a potential client.

The Power Of The iPad

iPad1In today's digital age it is so easy to follow-up with clients that request your business card at a wedding. I blogged about this before here DigitalProTalk.  One of the most effective ways to counter the business card request is to have your trusty iPad with you everywhere you go. Then, if you encounter potential client, asking for business card, just shown your portfolio on your iPad.

IpAD2If they see an image that they really like, offer to send it to them. Now you’ve captured their email and have it for reference for future wedding planning or whenever. The potential client will be amazed with your responsiveness and I that same moment you've got their e-mail address for further follow-up.

The whole point is this – to be able to follow-up with a prospective client proactively knowing that you will make the return call 100% of the time.  Waiting for your potential client to call you after passing your business card to them for slim pickin’s when hoping to pick up new clients.

So, In Conclusion:

100 PERCENTWhenever you encounter a potential client, whether it be at a bridal show, a wedding reception, a special event of wedding planners, or any special event; be sure that you get their contact information 100% of the time.  That will guarantee you, if you’re not the lazy sort, a 100% guarantee of reconnecting with them.  When we take it upon ourselves to proactively contact our leads we will see a dramatically higher rate of return of booking is prospective clients.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. We've got our webcast later on this afternoon and I've got a few things I still need to do to prep for it. I sure hope to see you online in a few hours. Everybody have a great rest of the day and I'll see you soon.

Adios, David

Mr & Mrs Lourens

Louren & Ilze 14 April 2012, Slanghoek.

Unfortunately it was a rainy winters day but that did not stop this celebration.
It was a beautiful location with beautiful decorations and a gorgeous couple. The day was filled with laughter and happy faces and we had a blast with the couple shoot.

Assistant: Jaco van Wyk

Ceremony & Reception: Opstal

Flowers & Table Decor : Vars Liefde

Make-up Artist: Sanmarie