Testing The Water With Stock Photography

In my ever-expanding quest to further my photography, I have decided to “test the waters” (so to speak) with stock photography.  I’m not sure yet how this is going to work out, but we’ll have to see.  Who knows, maybe I’ll be good at it and I can generate a few extra bucks to help pay for my photography addiction, er hobby.  🙂

So, Why Microstock?
There are a lot of reasons to shoot and submit photos to microstock sites.  It has the potential to generate some income, you are constantly challenged to shoot new subjects/ideas, and it’s fairly easy to do.

For those of us who don’t shoot for a living, we mostly have regular daytime jobs that serve as our source of income.  That also means that there is little time to shoot portraits, weddings, etc., all of which are great sources of income for photographers.  But they’re time consuming.  Stock photography allows you to shoot things closer to home and the time invested isn’t as steep as the aforementioned methods of generating photography revenue.

Additionally I’m working on putting together a small studio in my garage so that I can shoot pretty much whatever I need at home.  Products, people, whatever.  I can shoot images for microstock sites and I don’t even have to leave the house.  It’s a great thing really.  Believe me, if I was off shooting weddings on the weekends my wife would not be happy.  As if my full time job doesn’t take me away enough, you know?

Since I’m just getting started in all of this, I will keep you posted on how it’s coming along and what’s happening.  I’ve uploaded a few images to Fotolia and I’m waiting on approval from their editors.  Hopefully it goes well!  When I know something, you’ll know something.

Have a great weekend, keep the shutter release going, and I’ll see you next week!

iPhone Camera: I’m Still Impressed

IMG_0079_edit The iPhone camera still impresses me to this day.  Whenever I want to grab a quick shot of something I see, I go to it.  Sometimes I just don’t have time to pull out a DSLR. 

As small and uncontrollable as the iPhone camera is, it simply blows my mind how good a photo it takes. 

I shot this while driving to San Diego on the interstate one afternoon.  I composed, clicked, and BOOM: exactly what I was seeing while I was driving.  I couldn’t live without my iPhone… there’s just no way.

Because the iPhone camera is so cool, Scott Kelby even decided to sponsor an iPhone Camera Contest which just recently wrapped up.  I’ll be interested to see the images of the winners.  You can read more about the contest over at Kelby Training.  (Here’s the link.)

Wednesday Quick Links

Chain Links Here is Wednesday’s list of Quick Links to get you over hump for the week!

What do you think of the “links” art?

Let me know in the comments.

 

  1. Chase Jarvis’ blog – You should definitely be reading this!
  2. Flash Flavor – If you’re into off-camera flash like I am…
  3. Lighting Essentials – A great website for learning about lighting.
  4. National Association of Photoshop Professionals – ‘Nuff said.
  5. Lens Pro To Go – Wanna play with a D700 for a week without shelling out $3,000.00?  This is the place to do it.  Oh yeah, they rent glass too!
  6. Mpix – The greatest photo lab on the planet… to my knowledge at least.  Low prices, high quality, and fast, friendly service.

Photos With The D90

As you can probably imagine, I have been shooting like crazy with my new D90.  Since we are all settled in our new home in San Diego, I have been able to spend more time taking photos which has been really great.  And on that note, here’s a few that I have taken recently:

Boy's Face

Pool Fun-1

Costumes-13

Rocking Chair

Needless to say, I’ve had a lot of fun with this camera.  To answer the question that I know you’re already thinking of asking, yes I will be doing a review soon.  I just want to have another week or so with the camera under my belt to make sure that I cover all the important information that will be useful to you.

The D90 is a great camera body and I don’t regret not buying the D300 one bit.  The electronics in the D90 are identical (in almost every way) to those in the D300.  I thought that I would miss the 1/250 flash sync speed, at least until I watched this awesome video from David Ziser about cheating your flash sync speed!

Ok, I have to shut up now otherwise I won’t have any content for my review!  Have a great Tuesday everybody!

Tutorial: Homemade Grid Spot For Your Flash

Grid Spot-5 Grid spots are a great tool to have in your lighting equipment gear bag.  They allow you to narrow your beam of light without giving you harsh edges like you would get if using a snoot.  Today I’ll show you how to make a grid spot for your flash for cheap… really cheap.

First, you’re going to need to pick up a few things.  You may have some of them laying around already, but here’s what you’ll need:

Grid Spot-1

  1. Black Straws (I bought mine from Smart & Final)
  2. Pen or Pencil
  3. Super Glue or other Adhesive
  4. Razor blade or very sharp knife
  5. Scissors
  6. Straight Edge
  7. Cardboard Box
  8. Tape Measure
  9. Black Gaffer’s Tape

Step 1: Cutting Straws
You’ll need to cut your straws to the length that you would prefer for your grid spot.  I cut mine to 1/2 inch which gives me a nice and narrow (but not too narrow) light beam.  I needed 60 straw pieces for my SB800 flash.  Cut as many as you think you will need.

Grid Spot-2

Step 2: Measure and Cut Cardboard:
Measure the dimensions of your flash’s head and cut a piece of cardboard to fit.  You’ll also need to remember to compensate for the thickness of the cardboard itself, so be sure you add a little to your overall length. 

For example, an SB800’s head measures 1 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches.  So for four sides I would need a piece of cardboard that is 8 inches long.  I added 1/4 inch to each side to ensure I had enough room for the grid spot to fit OVER my flash, therefore my total length was 9 inches.

Next you’ll measure and mark your sides on the cardboard so you know where to make the folds.  After you have measured and marked, I recommend that you score each mark with a razor blade so that it will be easier to make the folds and the cardboard won’t fight you.

 Grid Spot-3

Step 3: Let The Gluing Begin!
Now it’s time to start gluing.  I used Loctite Super Glue Gel because it sets up fast and since it’s a gel it stays in place better than regular super glue.  Just don’t glue your fingers together. 

You can also use a thicker adhesive and run a bead along the entire length and then place the straws on the adhesive.  The only disadvantage to this is it will take longer for the adhesive to set up.  I wouldn’t run a bead with super glue because it will dry before you can get all the straw pieces into place. 

To get the honeycomb pattern that you need for a grid spot, remember that on the next row up that you will be gluing the straw pieces in between the pieces that you just glued into place.  Think “pyramid”… sort of.  The second row up will be shorter than the first row, but the third row will be the same length as the first row.  Make sense?

Grid Spot-4

Step 4: Finishing Touches
Now that you have all the straws glued into place, it’s time to finish up this project.  Fold the cardboard around the straws so that the two ends touch.  Glue the two ends together to ensure a solid fit.  You could just tape them with gaff, but it probably won’t hold as well.  Finally, wrap your new grid spot with black gaffer’s tape to give it a more finished look.  You can also use gaffer’s tape to build up the edges if the fit on your flash happens to be a little lose. 

Here’s the finished product:

Grid Spot-5

Summary:
This is an easy light modifier project that will cost you only a few bucks.  I bought a box of 400 black straws for $7.00, the super glue for $2.50, and I already had all the rest of the materials.  I won’t need to buy any more black straws anytime soon so I could probably make a hundred of these things and would only need some more glue. 

Why would you want to make your own instead of buying a grid spot?  Well, mainly because it will save you some money.  David Honl’s grid spots are great and at $25.00 each they aren’t very expensive, but if you buy his 1/4 inch and 1/8 inch sizes you’ve already spent $50.00.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re well worth their price but I just can’t justify spending the money when I can make as many as I need for less than $10.00. 

I’ll be happy to answer questions if you have them and be sure to let me know how your very own grid spot turns out!  I’d love to see the images of and with it!

Update: Nikon 18-135mm Lens

newspaper Just wanted to give you guys an update on the 18-135 lens issue that I had told you about earlier.

I dug up the receipt for the lens and went on Nikon’s repair website to find out what I needed to do.  I discovered that they have an online check-in service for repairs.  Pretty cool.  However, their website doesn’t explain that you will need to include a copy of your receipt with the item(s) you are sending in for repair.  So if you’re sending something in and expect it to be covered under warranty, but SURE to include a copy of your receipt. 

Overall, the process was very simple.  You fill out the form on their website with your information, the equipment you are requesting repair for, and the nature of the problem that you are having.  After you submit it, you get two copies of the packing list to print as well as an address label to put on your box.  Then all you have to do is pack and ship your items with the packing list and copy of your receipt included and that’s it.  Once they receive it you will get a confirmation e-mail. 

If the item isn’t covered under warranty or there are other issues, Nikon will contact you to either authorize the repairs or have the unit sent back. 

I will be sure to keep you posted and let you know how my experience goes, as this is the first time that I have had to use their service.  Stay tuned!

Camera Profiles from Adobe Labs

Yesterday I talked about shooting in RAW and what the benefits are that we as photographers gain by shooting that format with our DSLRs.  Today I’m going to talk about something fairly new that Adobe has started doing that will help out when bringing your RAW files into post to finish them up.

One of the things I have always loathed about shooting RAW is the fact that the images I get on my computer to start working with very seldom look like they did on my LCD monitor on my camera.  This can be very frustrating.  The reason this happens is because the image that’s displayed on your camera’s LCD is actually a JPEG that the camera creates for the preview.  That image is based off of certain profiles that are part of your camera’s firmware. 

When you import images into your camera manufacturer’s software the images usually look very close to what you saw in your LCD.  That’s because their software uses the same profiles that are in the camera.  Makes sense huh?

Adobe Labs now has camera profiles for both Nikon and Canon that are available for download on their website.  (Here’s the link)  You can download these profiles and then install and use them with Adobe Camera Raw 4.5 or Lightroom 2.0 or higher.  These profiles give you a better starting point from which to begin editing your images and when applied, your images will look a lot more like what they did on your LCD. 

Matt Kloskowski has a great video to explain how to install and begin using these camera profiles on his blog: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Killer Tips.  Rather than re-write the tutorial here, click the link above and go check out Matt’s video.  You will be glad that you did after you know how to download and install the camera profiles.

Thanks to Adobe Labs for helping us photographers save time and frustration with our RAW files!  Thanks guys!