Wednesday Photo News

Here’s a little of what’s going on around the photography industry:

  • Energizer Ultimate Lithium and National Geographic have created their second annual Ultimate Photo contest which invites the photographer enthusiast to share photos for a chance to be judged by world-renowned photojournalist, Jim Richardson, and win a trip to the Galapagos Islands along with a spread in National Geographic Magazine. Click on the slideshow above for more details and good luck! Thanks again to Nicole over at M80 in LA for letting me know about the contest!
  • Chase Jarvis has recently updated his iPhone Portfolio on his website. All the images in this particular portfolio were shot with his iPhone and processed only with native apps for the iPhone. This further proves that you don’t need an expensive camera to take great photos… it’s all about seeing.
  • I’ve recently jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. Better late than never right? You can view my updates right here on the blog or you can follow me (@sjzeller) if you Twitter.
  • I’m working on my full review of how Nik Software’s plugins work with Lightroom. I hope to have it up on Friday, and by Saturday at the latest.
  • Last but not least, I put my 50mm f1.8 on my D90 yesterday afternoon and went out and shot for a bit. Below are a couple of images from my short time walking around out in front of my house. Hope you enjoy ’em! Let me know what you think in the comments!


More Powerful Lightroom Workflow with Nik Software

If you don’t already know, I’m a big fan of Nik Software and use several of their Photoshop plugins. But did you also know that there are some of those same plugins that are now available for Lightroom? YES!

Now, I don’t have to go to Photoshop to use Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, or Color Efex Pro! That means a more streamlined and expedient workflow for me (or anyone else who wants to use Nik Software with Lightroom)! And from what I heard from PhotoshopWorld, it won’t be too long before Sharpener 3.0 is added to the list of plugins that are Lightroom compatible! That’s killer news!

For more info, be sure to check out Nik Software’s website for all the details and to purchase their great plugins. And don’t forget that if you’re a NAPP member you’re entitled to a discount as well! (Details are available on the NAPP member website.)

The folks at Nik are really great and they are all about photography first, which is awesome for photographers. Although, I may be a little partial because they’re a San Diego company and that’s where my home is.

Nik Software offers a 15-day trial period for all of their plugins so what do you have to lose?! If you’re using Lightroom and not already using Nik’s products be sure to check them out because a faster workflow awaits!

New Look for the Blog – Again

Yep, you heard it right. I’ve changed the look of the blog again. My biggest frustration with the previous design was that it was just too narrow. I’ve gone back to a little more minimalist-type style that still allows page navigation and provides a wider body area for content. I’m always evolving and changing and so is my blog.

Let me know what you think!



Nikon D90 Video: SeaWorld Video/Photo Montage

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Here’s another short clip that I put together with my handy D90. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not much of a video guy but I’m having a lot more fun as I gain mow knowledge of Apple’s Final Cut Express. Now that I’m actually working in an HD workspace, my results are a lot more desirable… unlike my last video.

Hope you’re weekend is going well! Get out and shoot and don’t forget to backup your images!!!!


Why A Prime Lens Will Beat A Zoom Lens Any Day

These days I’m becoming more and more of a fan of prime lenses. There are a lot of reasons why, but what is the one thing that ALL photographers seek? TACK SHARP images! And when it comes to tack sharp, a prime lens will be a zoom any day of the week.

I won’t dive into the weeds of the technical differences between primes and zooms because you would all be asleep by the time I was done. But in short, primes have fewer moving parts and less glass which presents a smaller window for error in the optics. Zoom lenses also tend to be more susceptible to front or rear focusing, which requires the lens to be sent back to the manufacturer for adjustment (unless your camera body is capable of fine focus adjust).

I did a quick comparison while shooting my daughter’s 6th birthday photos. I compared my Nikon 16-85mm VR lens @ 50mm against my Nikon 50mm f1.8 prime lens. I shot at f8 because that’s the tell-all aperture between all lenses. Most lenses are somewhat soft when shooting wide open anyway.

Click on the shots below and view them at 100 percent. Look at the eyes and you will see exactly what I mean. The first image was shot with the 16-85mm VR and the second with the 50mm f1.8. (If you’re new to Flickr, click on the image and then at the menu bar at the top of the image click “All Sizes” and then click “Original”.)

It’s pretty evident when you look at the images at 100 percent. I can definitely tell a difference and that means a lot to me. Especially if you plan on making big prints, a sharp image is critical. Not to mention that we should all strive for the sharpest shots we can get.

Speaking of which, I didn’t apply ANY sharpening in Lightroom to these images either. They are just as they were imported from my camera. I only made adjustments to color and tone.

I could go on an on about why I am favoring prime lenses to zoom lenses, but that would make for a really long post. I only own one prime lens currently (my Nikon 50mm f1.8), but I plan on adding at least 3 more to my camera bag and possibly a 4th too!

Have a great weekend and happy shooting!

SlideshowPro for Lightroom Mini-Review

If you’re looking for a cool slideshow application for Lightroom, then you have to check out SlideshowPro for Lightroom! I had heard lots of good things about this app, but I wasn’t fully aware of just how powerful it was until I installed it and tried it out myself!

Now, I know a bit about HTML, CSS, JavaScript and the like but I’m no web guru by any stretch of the means. Sure, I designed and coded my own website but I’m not near anywhere as good as some of these guys out there. I was searching for a cool flash plugin that I could use to display images on my website. When I really started looking into SlideshowPro for Lightroom I realized that it would work perfectly because I could customize it to look and behave exactly the way that I wanted it to. Not only that, I could do it ALL from Lightroom!!! Hell yeah!

Not only did the developer get the software right, but the price is right too! You can pick up this little gem for $35.00 which is a steal based on what you can do with it. Top that with the fact that you don’t have to know HTML, Flash, or any other language to be able to design and create your own custom web slideshows and you have an application that will be tough to beat.

Image above courtesy of

People Photography 101: Interacting With Your Subjects

I am often asked how it is that I get such great candid shots and portraits. So today I’m going to spill the beans and give you my secret to getting those great shots. Ok, it’s not really a secret but it’s something that many don’t think about. If we want want the people we’re photographing to look natural they have to feel it too.

So how to we do that as photographers? Simple. Act naturally. Interact with your subject and carry on a conversation. It will put them at ease and it will bring out their true personality. Not everyone likes to be photographed, but they will like it a whole lot more if they are comfortable with you. Keep your subject involved with what you’re doing and show them a few shots from time to time. It will help them feel connected to you.

Now for the “what not to do” part of this post. Don’t ever, under any circumstances do the “1… 2… 3… snap” trick. That’s the shortest route to a boring and stiff photo. I can’t stress enough that you should never ever use this technique.

So there you have it, a simple yet effective way to make your people shots better.