Tuesday’s Photo Quick Tip: Plan & Pack Accordingly

Here’s a quick tip to help make your life as a photographer easier:

Do your best to find out exactly who, what, when, where, and how you’re going to be shooting BEFORE you head out. This way you can pack only what you need and therefore travel fast and light. There’s nothing worse than carrying around a bunch of gear that you wind up not using at all. It’s a hard thing for me to do, but I force myself NOT to bring my ThinkTank Airport Security roller when I can bring only what I’ll use in my Tamrac Messenger shoulder bag.

This is a great tip to keep in mind. Your shoulders and back will thank you for it!


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Request From A Fellow NAPP Member

I received an e-mail yesterday from a fellow NAPP member named Danny Douglas and he asked if I would post the original poster up on the blog again. Here you go Danny, this one’s for you my friend.

In the final print, Navy leadership decided to remove the noose from the photo as it was a little bit TOO edgy for them. Interpretation being what it is and seeing as how that was the only thing changed on the poster, I can’t really complain. The poster’s message and integrity still remain intact and therefore I’m ok with it.

Well, that’s it for me today folks. I’m heading out to sea for a few days so I’ll be absent for the rest of the week, but I’ve got great things lined up for next week! Have a great week!


Monday Photo News

It was an incredibly busy week this past week and I’ve been shooting and processing quite a bit. Got most of it done and so I have just a little downtime before I head to Chicago and it all ramps back up again. I didn’t get to do anything super-exciting like go to PhotoPlus in NYC, but nonetheless I have been holding the fort down here in San Diego and I’ve got some cool little tidbits of news for you.

  • Nik Software (a San Diego-based company) has announced Viveza 2, which from what I have heard, will be an awesome upgrade to an already awesome program. Viveza gives you total control over color and light, which is great for Lightroom users because you don’t need to go to Photoshop or use the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom to make adjustments to color or light in just one area of your photo. Can’t wait to see Viveza 2 as I’m already a big fan of Viveza! Check it out right here.
  • I’ve been playing around with Lightroom 3 Beta and so far I’m very impressed. The new Import Dialog is very cool, as well as the ability to export slideshows in video format with audio included, which you couldn’t do with LR2. There are some new features in the Develop Module under the new Effects Panel, which includes upgrades to Vingetting and a new effect called Grain, which allows you to add a film grain-type of effect to your photos which is so highly popular these days. Check out Lightroom 3 Beta for yourself right here.
  • On Saturday I received my Demb Big Flip-It that I ordered. During the wedding that I shot last weekend, I only used bounce flash and I wish that I had been able to throw just a little more light forward to help freeze some movement without casting harsh shadows. I checked out a couple of other options including the new Lumiquest QuikBounce, but I decided on the Flip-It based on recommendations and the QuikBounce seemed a little flimsy to me. Check out the Flip-It here and I’ll have a full review up soon!

That’s it for today. I hope you guys have a great week and an awesome Monday (as awesome as Mondays get anyway)! 🙂


Poster Contest Print and Giving Thanks

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) while he presented my suicide prevention poster team with prints for our winning poster entry. It was a great honor just to be selected as the winner and know that our message will soon be distributed throughout the U.S. Navy Fleet to aid in the prevention of suicides. The prints were incredible and Matt Poling and Chuck Long each received a print too, as well as one for the ship.

It was pretty surreal being recognized for something that isn’t my normal job in the Navy. Although I volunteer as the ship’s photographer, I usually don’t do it on a daily basis. Among the competition for the poster were several folks who happen to work in the mass communications field and they shoot photos and work in Photoshop every single day. It’s their job.

However, good photography and knowledge of Photoshop only played a small part in our team’s success. Since the three of us had lost a Shipmate to suicide and have had first-hand experience, our desire to send a powerful message was the real driving force behind our work.

In light of all of this, I would like to send out a few “thank you” notes to some people who gave me the tools that helped put our entry on top:

  • First of all, thanks to my wife Kelie and my kids who stand behind me and support me in all that I do. Thanks for letting me take your picture, try different lighting setups, and carry a camera with me everywhere we go. I love you guys more than anything in the world!
  • Next, to my Mom, Dad, Ryan, Chris, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, my whole entire family, Chain of Command and friends who support me, encourage me, and believe in me. Thank you!
  • To Scott Kelby and all the folks at theNational Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) for all the great training, resources, and insight you provide. I’ve learned so much more about Photoshop by being a member!
  • To David Hobby, THE Strobist, for providing the best resources on lighting available on the Web. I have a learned a TON about lighting from reading his blog and having discussions with other Strobist readers.
  • And last but not least, to all the photographers (hobbyist, amateur, and pro) that have inspired me. We have a great community of people and I’m glad to be a small part of it. Thanks to you all!

With that, I’ll wrap up this post. I’m up to my ears in post processing from events over the past week so I’ll be busy this weekend! I hope you have a great weekend and I’ll see you back here on Monday with some news and who knows what else I’ll come up with! See you then!

(Photo above by IC3 Billie Jean Pruiett.)


End of the Week Photo News

There’s a lot of really cool stuff going on around the photo industry, and I thought I would bring you up to speed on the latest and greatest. New gear, cool discounts, and other happenings have made for some exciting times recently. Here’s some of the things I have found most interesting:

  • Nikon has been busy, after recently releasing the D300s as they just announced the new D3s (pictured above). It’s essentially a D3 with 720p HD video, a built-in sensor cleaning system, and super-high ISO capability; 102,400 to be exact! If you already own a D3, it doesn’t make much sense to upgrade. However, if you were looking to move up to a camera of this caliber, then the D3s is the way to go. Unless you’re a wildlife photographer shooting in harsh conditions, a pro sports shooter, or a newspaper photographer, then you probably don’t need this camera and a D90, D300s, or D700 would suit you just find. MSRP is $5199.95. You can read more about it on Nikon’s website. Finally, a D3 I would buy!
  • MpixPro is now offering Custom Printed DVDs! This is a great way to deliver digital negatives to your client and present them in a very professional way. They look so much better than disc labels printed on an inkjet printer and they only cost $7.00! All you have to do is upload the file to MpixPro and they send you the blank DVD with your image printed on the front. If you’re an MpixPro user then you will really appreciate this great product.
  • Speaking of Mpix, they are offering free shipping on frames until October 20th! If you need custom frames for yourself or your clients then head on over and take advantage of a great offer! Just enter the promo code: frame10 at checkout.
  • I recently had a chance to work a little bit with Jason D. Moore of Jason D. Moore Photography in the Walk4Hearing Silent Auction. Jason is a super-nice guy and an excellent photographer as well. On top of that, he’s an Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) in Photoshop which means he really knows is stuff when is comes to the digital darkroom. Check out his work and stop by and say “Hello!” Tell him I sent ya.

That wraps things up for me for this week. I’ve been incredibly busy and it’s not stopping now. I’m shooting a wedding tomorrow in Ramona, CA so I’ll be busy for the next couple of weeks. There’s a whole lot that goes into shooting a wedding, and I’ll be documenting some of that here on the blog. Additionally, I’m going to begin featuring some video tutorials on photography techniques. These will be short, down, and dirty but my goal is to show you how to get the job done. Stay tuned for those and I’ll look forward to sharing some wedding shots with you! Have a great weekend!


Pro Gear Means I’m A Pro, Right?

No. This has come up around some of the forums lately and I had to sound off about the topic. It pertains mostly to threads where people ask advice about what gear to buy, and the sad part is that there are some really skewed answers out there.

The fact that photographers are telling other photographers that you need to have pro gear if you’re going to get paid is absurd. Or my other favorite, I read where one user said that they couldn’t believe that someone was shooting weddings with Sigma glass and charging for it.

Here’s the BOTTOM LINE: you don’t need to have a D3, fast Nikon glass, and an Elinchrom Ranger kit to be considered a professional photographer or to be paid for your work.

I say this over and over and over… cameras, lenses, and expensive flash heads and battery packs don’t make pictures. Photographers do!

So why am I repeating myself? Some people still fail to see that all those fancy cameras, lenses, and lights are nothing more than tools that help photographers do their job. Can you get the job done with less? In most cases, yes you can. For some jobs you’re going to need some good tools, like shooting indoor sports or sports at night. There’s just no substitute for fast glass and a fast motor driven camera that performs well at higher ISO settings.

Can you shoot weddings and portraits with a D90 and some SB900s? ABSOLUTELY! Could 99% of the population tell that you didn’t have a D3 and a Ranger kit by looking at your images? Probably not. Good photography has absolutely nothing to do with equipment, but it has everything to do with composition, lighting, and being able to “see”.

For now, I’ll step down from my soap box. Just keep in mind that gear doesn’t make pictures, photographers do. Sure, there are exceptions to every rule but for the most part you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to make great pictures. Technique is what really matters.


Walk4Hearing Silent Auction – Bidding Ends Sunday!

Check this out: the Walk4Hearing Silent Auction over at Towner Jones Photography is about to wrap up. The bidding ends on Sunday, October 11th so if you’re looking to score one of the awesome 11″ x 14″ prints by photographers Chris Stern, Dave Cross, Ivan Markov, Jason Moore, Jeff Revell, Laurie Excell, Matt Kloskowski, RC Concepcion, Rob Jones, or Roger Masden then I highly suggest that you head on over to the auction and place your bids!

Yours Truly also has a photo up for auction and I would be honored if you would help support such a great cause. All of the photographers have donated the prints and the folks at Mpix have generously donated all the printing, so 100% of the funds raised will to to support Walk4Hearing and the Hearing Loss Association of America.

Be sure to check out the auction and bid for your chance to win a great print by some very talented photographers, who I am extremely lucky to be participating in this great event with, supporting an awesome cause. Good luck to all the bidders and thank you so much for your support!