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Some Annoying Things About Photography and Cameras

26 May

Photography gave me a creative outlet in life, and I owe so much to it. It’s my form of escape and a way to relax. It pushes me to explore new places and it gets me out the door. I love it dearly.

That being said, there’s a lot about photography that annoys the heck out me, and here’s a list of everything I can’t stand. As a side note, I hope you don’t mind that I illustrate this article with some zen photography instead of pictures of the things that annoy me. That would just get my heart rate up too high.

Disclaimer: This article is meant to be tongue-in-cheek and have some fun. Don’t take it at all seriously, please!

Everything that annoys me about photography and cameras

Buttons

Have you seen a Nikon camera these days?? Most people will never need half of those buttons in their lifetime. Can’t they invent a camera that only needs a few buttons? Where is Apple when you need them?

But seriously, I wish more camera companies put extra time into thinking about ergonomics, design, and making everyday use more pleasant rather than trying to pack each camera with new unneeded features just to lure people into an upgrade.

Everything that annoys me about photography and cameras

Lens dust

Last time I changed lenses, I was literally in a vacuum chamber and still a piece of dust got stuck smack in the middle of the sensor. And is there anyone who can clean it easily near me? Nope, because Nikon stopped making repair parts available in order to shut down third party repair companies. So not only do I have to send my Canon camera to the factory for small repairs because my local shops couldn’t stay in business without the Nikon business, but I can’t even find someone locally to quickly clean my sensor.

Yes, I know I can do it myself, but I’d rather have someone trained so that I don’t screw something up.

Everything that annoys me about photography and cameras

Filters

Remember that time when you thought you needed all these expensive filters to be a good photographer? While you do need a few filters, everyone goes overboard at some point and now has a filter graveyard drawer.

Everything that annoys me about photography and cameras

Megapixels

We don’t need more megapixels Sony! Our computers and external hard drives can barely keep up. Instead, give us better ergonomics, better ISO, faster focusing, and better dynamic range. Which brings me to the next point.

Everything that annoys me about photography and cameras

Small cameras with big lenses

What’s the point in a tiny mirrorless camera with a massive 20-pound lens? Is it impossible to make that 24-70mm lens that everyone uses just a little bit smaller? Please take the money from the megapixel blitzkrieg department and put it into the making lenses smaller department.

Everything that annoys me about photography and cameras

Tripods

Why are all $ 300 tripods designed to fail after a year of use? I can’t imagine how much money the Planned Obsolescence Manager at Crap Tripod Inc. makes. We all learn this the hard way. We suffer until we get fed up and spend way too much money on a Gitzo that lasts us the rest of our lives and makes us really happy.

Everything that annoys me about photography and cameras

People walking in the way of your shot to get a closer shot

You’re pretending you don’t see me. I’ve been here for an hour. I’m a peaceful man, but I will strangle you with my remote shutter cord and break this tripod over your skull (not really, I’m just kidding!). Oh wait, it’s a Gitzo. This Gitzo will break your skull and then continue to work perfectly fine.

Everything that annoys me about photography and cameras

Neck pain

Please don’t carry your tripod over your neck. Use a backpack sometimes instead of a shoulder bag. Pick one lens before you go out the door instead of five. Stretch. Your body will thank you in 20 years when you’re not walking around like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Everything that annoys me about photography and cameras

Taking an iPhone photo of some sweaty person at a party with overhead lighting and them thinking it’s going to be amazing because I’m a photographer

I’m not Saint Theresa – I can’t perform miracles. Now stop trying to look like a duck.

Everything that annoys me about photography and cameras

People saying, “Isn’t everyone a photographer these days?”

You know, photography is a way for all types of people in all walks of life to find a creative outlet, and there’s a vibrant community of so many fun and interesting people that are drawn to it. But whether you meant it or not, that statement has a demeaning and devaluing undercurrent to it. All of us are completely different as photographers, just as anyone with a pen will write in a completely different way. Just because this amazing community is growing, does not mean that photography should be devalued.

Everything that annoys me about photography and cameras

When we’re traveling and I can’t skip out on all the fun stuff to take photos

You mean I have to go to a nice dinner at a fun looking place on the water with someone that I love dearly? What the heck – I want to go walk down this dirty alleyway for the next hour to take some moody photographs!

Everything that annoys me about photography and cameras

Conclusion

What things annoy or make you angry about photography or your gear? Please share in the comments below.

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How to Understand Your Camera’s Light Meter and Get the Exposure You Want

26 May

Regardless of how you shoot, and whichever shooting mode you prefer to use, there is one item that remains constant – the light meter. Somehow, either you or your camera has to know how much light in on your scene in order to determine the optimal combination of aperture size, shutter speed, and ISO sensitivity to get the photo you want. This tool, which may not seem all that relevant to new photographers, is called a light meter.

Understanding what your camera’s light meter does and how it works is critical to advancing your skills and helping you get the shots you really want. Hopefully, this article will help you get a grip on it.

How to Understand Your Camera's Light Meter and Get the Exposures You Want

An analogy to help you understand the light meter

Before I get into a discussion about how the light meter works, think about the last time you cooked some meat on the grill. Whether it was a steak, some pork chops, or even just a couple hamburgers – you likely had a vision in your mind of what the finished product would be.

For backyard chefs like me who aren’t very good at this sort of thing, we have to use a meat thermometer to make sure our food is properly cooked. There’s always the question of where to put the thermometer to check and see if the meat is done. Or, in photography terms, check to see if the meat is properly exposed. You can touch it to the surface, poke it through to the middle, or insert the thermometer at various points around your dinner in order to get a good overall reading.

Each method would work for a different scenario, but it all depends on what you are cooking and how you want the finished food to turn out.

How to Understand Your Camera's Light Meter and Get the Exposures You Want

Your camera’s light meter is like measuring the temperature using a meat thermometer. Placement is crucial for an accurate reading.

How the camera light meter works

When you point your camera at a scene you also need a way of measuring the incoming light so you know how much of it there is and what settings you (or your camera) need to control in order to get the shot you want. It’s just like measuring the temperature of your food with a thermometer to make sure it’s done properly.

Most cameras today use a process called TTL Metering, which stands for through-the-lens. It means that your camera examines the light coming in through the lens and evaluates the brightness of the scene. Then you, or your camera, can adjust the settings in order to make sure your photo is exposed how you want. You may not ever notice the light meter at work or even see that it’s there at all unless you shoot in Manual Mode. But trust me, it’s constantly monitoring the light whether you know it’s working or not.

View the metering scale in Manual Mode

To see the light meter doing its thing, put your camera in Manual Mode and look for a series of dots or vertical lines at the bottom of your camera’s viewfinder.

How to Understand Your Camera's Light Meter and Get the Exposures You Want

In Manual Mode, look at the bottom of the screen in your viewfinder. Notice the scale with zero in the middle. That is the light meter at work.

The number scale at the bottom of the image above is an example of a camera’s light meter, and the tiny little triangle shows whether the picture is properly exposed or not. In this case, the triangle is at 0, which means the image is neither under or overexposed, but changing the aperture, shutter speed or ISO would make the triangle move up or down the line accordingly and result in a picture that is either a little too bright or a little too dark.

What part of the scene is the camera measuring the light from?

While that is all well and good, it’s only part of the story because it doesn’t explain how your light meter actually functions. Is it looking at all the incoming light or just some of it? Where in the frame is it looking as it measures the light? Understanding the answers to these questions is the key to unlocking the power of your camera’s light meter, and it all has to do with what’s known as metering modes.

How to Understand Your Camera's Light Meter and Get the Exposures You Want

Measuring the Light

Most cameras today have a few basic ways of measuring the incoming light:

  1. Matrix or Evaluative Metering – the camera looks at the light in the entire scene and averages it, (Nikon puts a bigger emphasis on the area where your lens is focused as well). Nikon calls this Matrix Metering, Canon calls it Evaluative.
  2. Center-Weighted Average Metering – looks at the light of the entire scene and averages it, but with emphasis on the center of the frame. Nikon and Canon both call this Center-Weighted Average Metering.
  3. Partial Metering – this measures the light only in a small portion of the center of the frame (about 8-12% of the scene). This is a Canon metering mode, Nikon does not have one similar.
  4. Spot Metering – measures the light only in a small area around the central autofocus point (about 1.5-3% of the frame). Nikon and Canon both call this Spot Metering.

Other camera manufacturers have different names for these modes, but suffice it to say the way in which your camera measures incoming light can have a huge impact on whether your photo is properly exposed. As an example, here are three shots that were taken with different metering modes.

Image #1, taken with Matrix (Nikon) or Evaluative (Canon) Metering.

Image #2, taken with Center-Weighted Metering.

 

Image #3, taken with Spot Metering.

 

Reflective versus incident metering

There’s another aspect of light metering that comes into play when setting up a shot. It has to do with how TTL metering works as opposed to a handheld light meter.

Reflective metering

The former, (the type of metering used in DSLRs), works by measuring the amount of light that comes through the lens. But the problem with that is that unless you are pointing your camera directly at the light source, the light being measured is actually bouncing off your subject first.

All the colors we see in the world around us get their hues and tonal values by absorbing every color of light except for what is bounced off of them. As many of us learned in grade school, light is made up of a spectrum of colors including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. A green tree leaf absorbs every color of light except for green. A red car absorbs every color except for red, and so on.

reflective metering - camera light meter

When your camera measures incoming light, it’s looking at the amount of light being bounced off your subject, not the amount of light actually hitting your subject. This has huge implications and can dramatically affect your exposure. In the illustration above, the subject is wearing clothes that absorb most colors of light except for blue, which means there is still a great deal of light being bounced off him and sent to the camera. However if the child changes clothes things can change a great deal.

reflective metering dark subject - camera light meter

In the illustration above, even though the amount of light hitting the boy has not changed, the camera will read the scene much differently because he is now wearing a dark shirt and pants. The camera will think it needs more exposure to compensate for what it thinks is less light on the scene, and the overall image will be overexposed as a result.

Here’s a real-world example of how this works:

reflective metering - camera light meter

Nikon D7100, 200mm, f/2.8, 1/8000th of a second.

In the photo above, so much light was being reflected off the girl’s white shirt that my camera had a hard time metering the scene properly. Much of the sunlight was bouncing off the shirt and coming directly back to my camera, so it responded by using a very fast shutter speed and low ISO value in an effort to make sure the shirt was properly exposed. Unfortunately, the rest of the scene was underexposed as a result.

Nikon D7100, 200mm, f/2.8, 1/1500th.

This was a few seconds later in the exact same spot, and all I did was have her put on a brown shirt. With much of the light from the sun being absorbed by the dark color of her outfit, my camera created a much brighter exposure by using a slower shutter speed. Not as much light was being captured by the TTL metering system so the camera thought more light was required for a good exposure.

Incident metering

This phenomenon can be particularly troublesome if you are shooting a wedding; grooms often wear dark tuxedoes whereas brides will usually be dressed in dazzling whites, which can really throw off your camera’s TTL metering system. The solution is to use an external handheld light meter, such as the Sekonic L-308S-U, which actually measures the amount of light falling on the subject.

Handheld light meter for incident light metering (light falling on the subject).

In the image above you can see that the meter shows you need an aperture value of f/16, shutter speed of 1/125th of a second, and ISO 100 in order to get a properly exposed scene. These numbers will likely be different from what the camera’s TTL system measures because some light will invariably be absorbed by the subject, which is why an external system like this can be so useful.

Here’s how the diagram from earlier would look if the setup involved an external handheld incident light meter.

incident metering - handheld light meter

You will often see wedding photographers using a light meter such as this in order to get a more accurate reading of how much light is hitting the wedding party during formal photos. This is especially true if they’re using a system of flashes or external speedlights because they need to know how much extra light the scene will require or tolerate.

When shooting a wedding it is quite common for the bride to wear a white dress, which reflects a great deal of light, and the groom to wear a dark tuxedo which absorbs almost all light. This can wreak havoc with a TTL metering system, and an external light meter is a great way to address the problem.

light metering - camera light meter

Conclusion

The overall goal here is to understand how the light meter in your camera functions. This, in turn, will help you know how you will need to alter the exposure settings to get the shot you want.

I hope this article has been helpful in explaining how the light meter works, how light is reflected off your subjects, and why your camera may not see a given scene quite like you expect it to. Ultimately it’s important to remember that there is no one correct way of metering a scene. Any of the metering modes and methods will work as long as you know what you are shooting and what type of results you are trying to achieve.

Knowing the difference between the various metering modes and types, and understanding how light is measured as it hits your camera can help you get the shots you want. None of these methods are any better or worse than the other, but each one has its own strengths and weaknesses. The more you know about how all of this works the better equipped you will be to get precisely the photographs you want.

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Jinbei Studio Flash Units Recalled for Electrocution Risk

25 May

The Swiss government last month issued a recall for ten models of Jinbei studio flash units. While the recall notice has made the rounds on message boards, I am frankly surprised that photo media outlets have not picked this up. Read more »
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Tutorial – How to Use the Lightroom Map Module

25 May

The Lightroom Map Module lets you add your photos to a map so you can search and organize them by location. It’s quite a cool feature, so let’s take a look at the best ways to make use of it.

1. Using the Lightroom Map module if your camera has built-in GPS

Photos taken with a camera or mobile that has built-in GPS are the easiest to work with in the Lightroom Map module. As long as GPS is enabled, the camera saves the exact location an image was shot in the photo’s EXIF data. Lightroom reads the data when you import the photos and automatically adds them to the map.

For example, I made this photo using an iPhone SE.

Lightroom map module

Lightroom automatically reads the GPS coordinates embedded in the photo’s EXIF data. The yellow square marks the spot where the photo in the filmstrip was taken.

Lightroom map module

Note: Lightroom uses Google maps and an internet connection is required for the Map module to work.

2. If you have a secondary GPS unit

Some camera manufacturers make GPS units that you can connect to the camera body. If you have one of these it does exactly the same as a built-in GPS unit. It embeds the camera’s coordinates in the EXIF data of your images. That data is then read by Lightroom when you import the photos.

3. If you have an app or sports device that records your movements in a GPS file

Most mobile phones have built-in GPS. You can download apps that record your route and let you export that information in a GPS tracklog (extension type .gpx) file that you can import into Lightroom. Some fitness devices like sports watches and fitness bands have the same functionality.

The effectiveness of this depends on how often the app or device records your location. If your camera has built-in GPS, for example, the location of the camera is always recorded accurately as the camera takes a GPS reading when you press the shutter.

When you use an app to do so, the app doesn’t record your location continuously. Instead, it takes a reading every few seconds. This creates a set of dots that can be joined together to show your approximate route. It’s how apps that record walking routes or running times work. That means that you can’t rely on this method for pinpoint precision, but it does help you with an approximate location.

The screenshot below shows a series of photos taken on a Canon camera that does not have GPS. The location information came from a .gpx file generated by a tracking app on my phone.

Lightroom map module

4. If your camera doesn’t have GPS but your mobile phone does

Here’s an easy method to add GPS data to your photos if you have a mobile phone with built-in GPS. All you have to do, whenever you take a photo with your camera, is remember to take an additional photo with your mobile phone. You can import these into Lightroom and add them to the same Collection. Once you have done so, simply drag the photos taken with your camera, those without GPS data, to the locations on the map indicated by the photos that do have GPS data (those taken with your phone).

Here’s a landscape photo I took in northern Spain.

Lightroom map module

Here’s another that I took with my mobile phone.

Lightroom map module

This screenshot shows exactly where I took the photo with my mobile phone.

Lightroom map module

The other photo in the Collection was made with my Fujifilm X-T1 camera, which doesn’t have GPS. I added location data to the Fuji image by dragging it onto the icon representing the location of the photo taken with my mobile phone at the same spot. The yellow icon now displays the number 2 to indicate that there are two photos in that location with the same GPS coordinates, as seen in the Lightroom Map Module below.

Lightroom map module

Lightroom automatically adds the GPS coordinates to the photo’s EXIF data.

Lightroom map module

This method requires the most effort and relies on you to remember to take a photo with your phone whenever you take one with your camera. This isn’t always practical and is most suited for landscape photography, where you have the time to take an additional photo with a mobile phone.

Conclusion

The Lightroom Map module is an often under-utilized but surprisingly useful tool. Using these ideas you can add Gcoordinatestes to any photo, even those taken by a camera without GPS. In years to come, you can find out exactly where your photos were taken, even if you can’t remember. It makes revisiting your favorite locations a much easier and more enjoyable task.

Do you have any questions about the Lightroom Map Module? Please let me know in the comments below.


Would you like to learn about Lightroom’s under-appreciated features? Then check out my Mastering Lightrooom ebooks and start getting more out of Lightroom now.

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How Including People or Manmade Objects in Your Landscapes Can Add a Sense of Scale

25 May

My natural instinct as a landscape photographer has always been to keep people and manmade objects out of my images. I want to create images of nature that are pure and free (or at least appear to be free) of human interference. That said, over the past few years, I have started to backtrack on this a bit, especially when the camera fails to show the true scale of a landscape. In this article, I’ll share a small collection of images from my portfolio that include situations where allowing people or objects into the scene made the image a success.

Add a manmade object to show size

Na Pali Coast Sunset Sony A7RII and Sony 16-35 f/4 | ISO 500, f/4.5, 1/800th.

Here is (quite possibly) the most beautiful and rugged stretch of coastline on Earth, the Na Pali Coast of Kauai. I’ve photographed it from land, sea and air and still there is just no way to truly capture how incredible it is in person. On my most recent trip to the Garden Isle, I took my workshop group on a sunset cruise up to photograph whales and the Na Pali Coast.

As we were taking in the incredible scenery, I noticed one of the many helicopters that tour the coastline cutting through the scene. Using my Sony FE 16-35 f/4 lens, I framed a shot with the helicopter (flying right to left) on the right side of the frame (it’s the tiny little white spot) with plenty of space on the left side to see where it was headed. Take away the helicopter and it’s still an incredible scene, but without the helicopter, there’s just no way to accurately communicate how massive these cliffs are.

Use tourists to show scale

Balanced Rock Sunset Sony A7 and Canon 16-35 f/2.8 | ISO 100, f/11, 1/20th.

One of the easiest to reach landmarks in Arches National Park (located in Moab, Utah) is Balanced Rock. You just drive to the parking lot, and you’re pretty much there. But to get the sunset in the background, you’ll need to walk to the other side.

As our group was getting into position for what was turning out to be a beautiful sunset, a tourist climbed right up onto the rocks and started taking selfies. Ugh. Well, instead of getting upset, I decided to make lemonade out of the lemons and yelled over to him, asking if he’d mind throwing his hands up in the air. We were able to get a shot showing just how huge this sandstone rock formation really is, and the pose of the tourist turned out quite nice.

Go with the flow

Grand Canyon Lookout Sony A7RII and Sony 16-35 f/4 | ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/10th.

Like the previous image, sometimes you just have to go with the flow. As Bruce Lee so famously said, “Be water, my friend.”

As the sun set over Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, I was in position to walk away with some really nice shots of the pink glow over the canyon. And just like in Moab, I saw a tourist walk right into the frame as I was about to press the shutter. This time though, he was much closer to the camera and as luck would have it, he was dressed in a cowboy hat, boots, and a leather backpack. Perfect! I never said a single word to this guy, he just stood there looking out over the canyon holding onto the tip of his cowboy hat. I assume he posing for someone else, but I was plenty happy to steal a few frames for myself.

Add yourself into the shot

Delicate Arch Beneath the Milky Way Sony A7S and Sony 16-35 f/4 | ISO 4000, f/4, 30 seconds.

You can’t always have people walk into your frame at the perfect time, wearing clothing that perfectly matches the location you’re photographing. Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands, as I did here at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.

My workshop group and co-instructor Mike were down inside the “bowl” beneath the arch and I stayed up top to light paint the arch for them during their 30-second exposures. We had walkie-talkies and Mike would give me a countdown to begin painting the arch in different ways. Since I couldn’t really concentrate on getting any of my own shots, I set my Sony A7S on a tripod, put it in time-lapse mode and just hoped to come out with one or two shots at the end of the night.

In the image above, that light shining under the arch is yours truly. I was standing beneath it, wearing a headlamp, so the students could get a silhouette of me looking up at the arch. After the shot, I looked over toward my camera (not on purpose though) and the direct light caused a starburst effect. This turned out to be my favorite image I’ve taken at this location by far. Not bad for the “set it and forget it” method!

Conclusion

 

Sometimes there just isn’t a good way to transfer a three-dimensional landscape to a two-dimensional photograph. Things always get lost in translation to some extent. At the end of the day, we are part of nature and if including a human or manmade object into an image help give the viewer a more accurate sense of scale, I say go for it.

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Underwater Photography: Tips And Equipment

25 May

There is a lot of intrigue and mystery about underwater photography, but there is also also a lot of information out there about it.  Mostly what you will find when doing your research is information about wildlife photography, but it is still very useful when dealing with Fashion or Beauty Advertising Underwater photography.   I believe what is important is knowing Continue Reading

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How to Design a Wedding Album Simply and Painlessly

25 May

I’ve been photographing weddings for about nine years now, and I’ve found this to be the most effective and efficient way of designing and delivering a client’s dream wedding album. The method that I am going to describe keeps you in control of the process and still gives the client what they want and need. You might be surprised to know that it only takes me about 30 minutes to design an album from beginning to end.

In fact, just to test, I created an album right now for this article to see exactly how long it might take. I had 150 images to choose from; I used 118 images, created 31 spreads, and it took me 26 minutes. Let’s talk about how to achieve this, and how to work with your clients so you don’t find yourself dealing with wedding album orders months or years after the wedding.

How to Design a Wedding Album Simply and Painlessly

One spread of images created in Pixellu SmartAlbums2.

1. Who is in Control of the Process?

If a client has indicated at some point in the process that they want a wedding album, then the very first draft of the wedding album is 100% created by me. That includes the selection of images, design, the number of spreads created, etc. I have one friend, Tim Halberg, who creates a preview wedding album on the night of the wedding and has it ready for the clients the next day. He chooses the images and design all on his own.

To a bride or groom, every photo is important to them. So telling them to choose their favorite photos for the album is a recipe for disaster. I don’t consult with my couples about which images I am going to use, how many images to use, or the number of page spreads they might want. How would a person ever know how many spreads he/she wants? 10? 100? It’s an abstract idea to anyone who has never made a wedding album before.

In the same way, you probably don’t give your client all the raw files from their wedding day and let them choose the photos they want you to edit. The same philosophy applies to album design.

How to Design a Wedding Album Simply and Painlessly

The opening image for my sample album.

The first time I made the mistake of giving my clients the option to pick their own images, they came back to me with about 300+ photos, many of which were almost duplicates of each other. I ended up just choosing the best images of those 300, which is what I should have done from the beginning. I also would have saved myself a month or so of waiting for the client to come up with their selections and saved them the hassle and stress of narrowing it down.

My Process

An average wedding album should have around 80 images that will fill about 20-30 spreads. Some album companies don’t even support albums beyond 30 spreads.

Essentially, I do this:

  • Create a first draft of the album.
  • Tell the clients they get two rounds of edits where they can add, subtract or replace any photos.
  • Create a second draft of the album based on the first round of suggestions.
  • Let the client see their changes and decide on any final edits.
  • Make final edits to the album, and begin the ordering process.

After a wedding, I tell my clients I will have a rough draft of the wedding album for them within a week or two. This puts me in control of the situation from the first moment.

Now, let’s talk about how to create a wedding album in a quick and painless way.

How to Design a Wedding Album Simply and Painlessly

Some spreads have open space between the images. These are some of the getting ready images on one double-page spread.

2. Before You Begin

You’ll need three things to create your wedding album.

  1. Good software.
  2. A highlights gallery of about 100 images from the wedding.
  3. A family gallery of images (just the formal family photos).

There are three software companies that I am aware of that most of my professional wedding photographer friends use to create their wedding albums:

  • Pixellu SmartAlbums 2 (this is the one I use)
  • Fundy Designer
  • KISS

You can research online to see what might suit your needs best for software. You’ll have to pay to play the wedding album game, but you should earn back your investment in good software from your very first album sale. Don’t be cheap! Pixellu SmartAlbums costs about $ 300 and it was the best software purchase I have made (besides Lightroom) for my wedding business.

If you had read my article on How to Edit and Deliver Wedding Photographs in One Day you would know my philosophy on creating a highlights gallery. Everyone should have one. Your highlights gallery will also be the foundation of your wedding album. The top 100 photos from the wedding will tell the best story of the day, and that is exactly what a wedding album is supposed to do.

Export all of your images in Lightroom with these settings:

How to Design a Wedding Album Simply and Painlessly

Lightroom export settings.

This will guarantee that every image will print properly on any spread of a 10×10 inch or 12×12 inch album. I personally like creating square albums (8×8 inches, 10×10 inches, 12×12 inches).

3. Designing the Album

When designing your album, go with your gut, and keep it simple. With my software, I can select a number of images, throw them into a spread and then quickly scroll through a number of arrangement options by simply pressing the up/down arrow on my keyboard. Here are some examples that show up when I use the same three images from the ceremony:

How to Design a Wedding Album Simply and Painlessly

Six random sample page designs that my album software created for me in under a minute.

It’s really fun to scroll through the designs that the software creates for you. Simply press the up or down arrow to scroll through them. I like full bleed spreads so I chose the second option on the left. You can also grab any image and drag it to another position to swap the two images. You can see in the examples above that the software will also sometimes do square designs even if your image is horizontal or vertical. Sometimes it works perfectly and other times it doesn’t.

Things to keep in mind when designing your wedding album:

Keep a good visual balance and flow for each spread and throughout the album as a whole. Notice in the example above that I have two black and white images and two color images. In some spreads, I will do all color, or all black and white. Also, if I have a few spreads in a row with a multiple of four or more images, I like to break it up with one strong double-page-spread single image, like this:

How to Design a Wedding Album Simply and Painlessly

Try and create a balance of pages with many pictures and some with only a few pictures in your spreads.

Side note: I didn’t export my images at 20 inches long for this sample album so you are seeing that exclamation warning in the bottom-right corner of the image because the software knows that the image is not large enough to print at the designated 12×12 inch size. If you see this warning on your images, check the sizes carefully.

This part of the design process should only take about 20-30 minutes once you get the hang of your software. All the photos are imported into your album project and usually sorted by time, so you can start grabbing photos from each scene and putting them into your book.

Don’t feel like you need to use every single image. Sometimes cutting something out makes the whole spread work better. In fact, like most things in life, less is almost always better. After you have finished your album design you should have the option to export and upload your album to the cloud for review.

4. Feedback and Edits

How to Design a Wedding Album Simply and Painlessly

One spread of images made in Pixellu SmartAlbums 2

These are the exact words I have used to explain to my clients about how the process will go when creating a wedding album:

Okay, I have sent out draft number one! You should have an email with a link to be able to view the album and leave comments. If you haven’t seen that in your inbox please check your spam folder. Or, hey, I’ll just give you the link right now:

View draft #1 of your wedding album layout here

I do two rounds of edits, so if you see anything you want to replace, add, or delete from there let me know! I’ll make your first round of suggestions and then show you the updated version of the album online, and you can have one more go at it before I hit purchase.”

Guiding your clients in this way gives them some options, but not too many. You are dictating the terms of the album making process and they get to participate in a healthy and helpful way. This is also an effecting parenting technique with a small child. Saying things like, “You can sleep with stuffed animal A or stuffed animal B when you go to bed right now” is nice because it embeds the idea that they are already going to bed (no question about it), but they have some power and free will in the matter (what animal they are going to sleep next to). This psychology can be used everywhere, including in a classroom, in your business, etc.

Getting feedback and doing the edits

With my software (and I’m assuming the others out there) your client can view the album and submit comments online for each individual spread. Each photo will have a number attached to it, so your client can easily say something like, “Love spread number 9! But let’s get rid of photo number 1 and replace it with one more of the two of us.”

How to Design a Wedding Album Simply and Painlessly

What your client sees after you’ve uploaded your album to the cloud.

Once your client has written comments on each spread, they can submit that and you will receive an email that will take you to the album and their comments. At this point, the changes should be pretty straightforward. You will add, subtract, or swap out any images necessary.

Then you can upload the next draft and let your client see the changes that they made. I would include language like this:

“Okay, I’ve made all the edits you requested. I think the album looks awesome! If there are any last changes you think should happen let me know, otherwise I’ll submit an order for the album tonight and you’ll have it in your hands by next week.”

Notice how my language is encouraging them to approve and finish the project. This makes the next round of changes feel like they should be made only if necessary, not like the first round.

How to Design a Wedding Album Simply and Painlessly

I don’t always have a lot of family photos in the highlights gallery, so I make sure to add family photos into the mix when creating the album. This is very important for your couples!

5. Ordering the album

The next step is to order the album. This is a very different process than the album design. There are many many companies out there that can do this. All of them have different benefits and drawbacks. I happen to use Miller’s Lab. They deliver albums extremely fast (within a week) and have great customer service.

You need to use a special uploading software (usually free) to order your album. You can’t just order from the design software (unless you are building an album with KISS). For Miller’s Lab, there is a supplemental program to use called Miller’s Designer Plus. You tell it what project you want to create (12×12 inch leather bound album or book), drag all the exported photos into the program, and fill in each page.

How to Design a Wedding Album Simply and Painlessly

The final spreads are shown on the left. You need to create a new “fullpage” spread and drag each photo onto it to purchase your album

After you have manually input each spread you can order your album. At this point, you will have to communicate with your client about what color leather they want on the album, and any other options they can choose. Again, keep the options limited. I usually offer black, tan, gray, or white, even though there are many other options available like blue, red, etc.

Once they respond with a color and their address, your job is done! Order the album and have it delivered straight to their doorstep with some boutique packaging ($ 6 extra with Miller’s). If you want to deliver it yourself and make it pretty with some personalized packaging, then ship it to your own address.

Sample albums for display

The last thing to note is that you can also order discounted sample albums (check with your supplier) for yourself and your studio if you want to show potential clients how their album could look. I would highly recommend creating your first album for yourself and your studio so you can feel what this process is like from beginning to end. The sample albums are exactly the same as a normal album you would sell to a client, but they have a big stamp or sticker on the back page that says “Sample Album.” (Note: may vary from supplier to supplier).

The final spread

Summary – everyone wins

So let’s get back to how this method will help you avoid dealing with wedding album orders much later. By following these steps and controlling the process you will not only help your clients to be less stressed and get their albums faster, but you will be less stressed as well.

In order to have a smooth and happy album designing process it’s important to guide expectations from the very beginning of your conversation/process. It’s important that you take control of the conversation and let your clients know how the design process will go, according to what works best for you. You limit options but you still GIVE options. You make it easier for them to make decisions about the album and you can do this all from the comfort of your home using just your computer and the internet.

Everyone wins in this process – the couple get their album super fast, they don’t have to spend hours pouring over their photos, and you don’t get 20 wedding album orders right before Christmas every year.

That’s it! Happy designing ?

The post How to Design a Wedding Album Simply and Painlessly by Phillip Van Nostrand appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Overview of the New Canon 5D Mark IV

24 May

Canon’s 5D Mark line has embedded itself deeply in the heart of photographers. Although the price generally keeps this camera in the hands of professionals, hobbyists have equally drooled over its capabilities and power. It comes as no surprise that the newest edition to the line, the Canon 5D Mark IV, sparked a lot of excitement and interest. But does this model really live up to the expectations it has set itself?

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Subject: Rusty the Golden Retriever

As a Canon camera enthusiast myself, having gone through many different cameras in my career (and currently working with four), I have been pleasantly impressed by the new model. Each camera has its high points and its low points, but the Canon 5D Mark IV lends itself to being an excellent piece of machinery with more pros than cons. In comparison to its predecessor the 5D Mark III, beloved features have been better optimized and improved while adding new capabilities that were previously missing.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Physical Specs of the Canon 5D Mark IV

In terms of the camera’s physicality, the Canon 5D Mark IV weighs at 28.2 ounces, versus its predecessor which weighed 30.4 ounces. Although this doesn’t sound like a significant difference, your arms will thank you for the lighter weight of the Mark IV after several hours of shooting. Lighter equipment weight is an aspect that many photographers consistently request from their beloved camera companies, as heavy gear often leads to various body aches.

The body feels sturdy and comfortable. The fact that Canon found a way to decrease the weight of their newest 5D camera shows that the brand was certainly listening. Alongside this, the camera’s weather sealing shows quite an improvement over the previous models. I have taken the camera out to the snow, beach, heat, and rain with no trouble.

Otherwise, The 5D Mark IV feels almost indistinguishable to the 5D Mark III. They have virtually the same ergonomics, buttons, and menu layout. The camera continues to have the dual card slots, much like the Mark III; one slot for a compact flash card and one slot for an SD card. The settings allow you to write on either both simultaneously or switch over to the secondary card once the main card is full.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

New feature – touch screen

Possibly the most noticeable new feature is the inclusion of a touch screen, the first of any of the 5D models. The touchscreen has been present in several of Canon’s other models, and this was highly requested as an addition to the new 5D lineup. In Live View Mode, the touchscreen allows you to tangibly tap the screen to adjust the focus or the exposure settings. This is a significant benefit to video shooters, as tapping the screen allows you to silently make your adjustments without adding noise to your rolling video.

The touchscreen is also customizable, similar to the live view features of the 1Dx Mark II. It can be programmed so that the touch of the LCD screen actually takes the picture. The rear LCD on the 5D Mark IV is an improved 1.62 million-dot 3.2-inch screen, unlike the 5D MK III’s 1.04 million-dot LCD. Although Canon did not include a swivel LCD screen as wanted by many shooters, the touchscreen is a welcome addition.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Megapixels – big increase

Although both are full-frame cameras, the Canon 5D Mark IV sports a whopping 30.4 megapixels versus the 5D Mark III’s mere 22.3 megapixels. 30.4 MP offer a solid 17% linear resolution increase. In addition, the new camera features Canon’s DIGIC 6+ image processor. Pair the processor with the increase in megapixels, and the 5D Mark IV officially has a better dynamic range (an aspect of the Mark III that often gets criticized).

ISO range – not much change

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

The Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 25,600 shutter speed 1/500th.

The Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 25,600 shutter speed 1/500th.

The ISO range for the 5D Mark IV is ISO 100 – 32,000, versus the Mark III’s 100 – 25,600. However, both models offer the same expanded ISO range of 50 to 102,400. The high ISO and low light performance continue to be quite excellent, as is to be expected from a full-frame Canon DSLR. However, there is no real significant difference in higher ISO performance from the Mark III to the Mark IV.

Canon does have significantly better low light cameras in its highest end models (such as the ID X series), but the 5D holds its own very well for the price point. A big change in the ISO aspect of the camera, however, is the move to on-sensor analog-to-digital circuitry (ADC) that results in noteworthy improvement in base ISO dynamic range. Canon DSLRs prior to the 1D X Mark II and 80D were very well known for poor shadow recovery. This is not an issue in the Mark IV.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Subject: Kiss the Border Collie

Frames per second burst rate

The Canon 5D Mark IV has a 7 FPS burst rate, about one frame per second faster than the 5D Mark III. Not a huge difference in hindsight, but where the 5D Mark IV really excels is the buffer performance. Continuous JPEG shooting is essentially unlimited; the camera will shoot until the memory card is full, whereas the 5D Mark III’s buffer filled after about 63 JPEG images. Still an impressive feat, but the unlimited is certainly better.

21 RAW frames can be captured before the buffer fills and the camera comes to a halt, which is fantastic considering that each RAW frame is from a 30.4 MP sensor. Wildlife photographers will really enjoy the 7 FPS burst rate and increased buffer performance.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Subject: Valkyrium

New Dual Pixel Raw Mode

On the topic of RAW, the Canon 5D Mark IV includes a very powerful new Dual Pixel Raw mode, which advances upon the Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology. This makes use of the split-pixel design to capture two images at once. The outcome allows you to be able to make subtle adjustments and changes to focus/sharpness, bokeh, and ghosting. The downside is that the file sizes of Dual Pixel Raw images are nearly twice as large, and the burst rate and buffer capacity are reduced while in Dual Pixel Raw mode.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Canon 5D Mark IV with Canon 70-200mm F/2.8 L IS USM II

Autofocus

The autofocus in this model is downright incredible. While the 5D Mark IV offers the same 61 AF points as in the 5D Mark III, the new model uses an upgraded AF system. Now all 61 points can focus down to f/8 and they can cover much more of the frame. The 5D Mark III only offered f/8 autofocusing at the center point. These changes are very similar to features inside the EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon’s high-end model. Photographers that use super-telephoto lenses and teleconverters are sure to appreciate this improvement.

21 of these points also remain cross type for extra sensitivity. Unfortunately, there is no way to link spot metering to a chosen AF point. One of the big changes to autofocus on the 5D Mark IV is the use of the infamous Dual Pixel CMOS AF, frequently touted by Canon. Equally, the model has inherited the AI Servo AF III with EOS iTR AF from EOS 7D Mark II and EOS-1D X Mark II. This AF feature truly shines when using the camera to photograph sports or action.

The AF system’s detection range has also been broadened, from -2 EV on the EOS 5D Mark III to -3 EV, and this drops down even further to -4 EV when using Live View. As well as this, there’s also now an AF Area Selection button on the back plate.

WiFi!!

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Another brand new feature to the Canon 5D line is the presence of WiFi capabilities and NFC technology. This new aspect of the model allows the camera to be controlled remotely from a smartphone or tablet and have images transferred wirelessly to a multitude of other devices. The camera utilizes the same Canon Camera Connect app as other WiFi models, which is available for both iOS and Android platforms. This feature was also widely requested from Canon users and allows photographers to bypass the need to purchase wireless triggers for their camera.

Self-portrait photographers rejoice! GPS/Geo Tagging continues to be included in this upgrade to the Mark III.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Subject: Jessica Bari

Video features – pros and cons

Arguably the most marketed aspect of the Canon 5D Mark IV is the ability to film in 4K. This model is one of the first DSLRs to allow you to shoot in 4K and showcases Canon’s interest in shifting high-quality videography to DSLRs. The benefit to shooting footage with these smaller cameras is maneuverability, portability, and other such size benefits. The videography portion of the camera does sport very accurate autofocus, the touch screen allows you to switch focus points and exposure levels silently, and it is all-around a smooth piece of filming equipment. Due to its on-sensor

Due to its on-sensor phase-detect system, Live View AF on the Mark IV is super-quick, smooth and precise. By comparison, the 5D Mark III offered only contrast-detect AF with Live View, which was slower and had a tendency to hunt, making for distracting wobbling as focus adjusted.

Much like Canon’s other 4K models, the EOS 5D Mark IV allows you to extract JPEG frames from the 4K footage. The images have a resolution of 8.8MP, as opposed to the lower 8-8.3MP resolution of images extracted from cameras recording the slightly lower resolution UHD 4K footage.

That being said, being one of the most marketed features also opens the doorway to major scrutiny. Videographers have mentioned the 4K video being limited to Motion JPEG, the 4K/30p video requiring the use of a CF card, the 1.64x crop factor in 4K video limiting FOV, the HDMI-out limited to 1080 video, and the lack of log gamma, focus peaking, or zebras for video as all major cons to this feature.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Canon 5D Mark IV with Canon 16-35mm F/2.8L USM II

Special features

As far as built-ins go, the 5D Mark IV has a movie time-lapse mode, an intervalometer, HDR and multiple exposure capabilities, mirror vibration control, and a “Fine Detail” picture style. The camera also has an anti-flicker feature that was originally introduced in the 7D Mark II and 1D X Mark II, in which the camera can be set to adjust the moment of exposure to compensate for flickering electric lighting.

Subject: Desiree Perkins

Summary

In conclusion, the Canon 5D Mark IV keeps itself familiar and sentimental, while improving upon features that attracted photographers to the 5D line in the first place. Although not every desired feature was implemented in this model, Canon certainly showed that the company listened to its customers and took their feedback into strong consideration. The product that resulted is a well-rounded, functional, and incredible piece of equipment. On the value-for-dollar front, the 5D Mark IV is absolutely worth its price tag.

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Round and Round – 19 Images of Circular Things

23 May

The earth is round and travels in an elliptical orbit around the sun which is also round. There are many natural objects that take on a round or circular shape. Let’s see how these 21 photographers captured a few of them.

By Travis Wise

By Bradford Evans

By Colin

By mazaletel

By Brian Ralphs

By Jessica C

By Susanne Nilsson

By Wolfgang Staudt

By Ruth Hartnup

By Richard Walker

By Gorgeous Eyes

By Christian Yves Ocampo

By Phil Romans

By Jonas Tana

By Guglielmo D’Arezzo

By Frank Behrens

By Sean O’Neill

By Pat O’Malley

By Nick Harris

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Weekly Photography Challenge – Round

22 May

To get a head start on this week’s challenge, first head over to see these 19 images of round subjects. Then come right back!

Weekly Photography Challenge – Round

By FraserElliot

As you set out to photograph round things this week, keep in mind you don’t need to show the full circumference of it, as in the photo above of the lime slices. The viewer can still get the idea that the object is round even if it is only partially shown.

Look all around you (no pun intended) and see what types of things are in fact round or circular. How can you photograph them to look interesting? Think about lens selection, lighting, composition, and processing.

By Manfred Huszar

By murray l

By RHiNO NEAL

By Olli Henze

Share your images below:

Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer, upload them to your favorite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge. Sometimes it takes a while for an image to appear so be patient and try not to post the same image twice.

Share in the dPS Facebook Group

You can also share your images on the dPS Facebook group as the challenge is posted there each week as well.

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