Archive for July, 2009

New Cameras, New Labs, New Accessories (July 2009)

Howdy folks,

Today I have five links, two for camera news and two for new online photolabs and one cool app.

First, Nikon has released info on their new D300s,  you can find a review on Scott Kelby’s blog “photshopinsider”

Second, There is pretty good chatter about the Canon 60d (it  was rumored to be announced after the unveiling of Nikon’s new D300s).  You can find a link to the most believable specs I’ve seen so far on the blog “CanonRumors

Third, I’ve mentioned mpix forums before as a great community to get answers for photography questions.  Now they have a pro site for more advanced photographers, appropriately named MpixPro.com .  There is a review from Scott Kelby on his blog in one of his regular Thursday News articles.

Fourth, Kodak is dipping it’s toes into the “pro” arena with a subtle addition to the Kodak gallery.  If you go to the kodakgallery.com main page there is a button marked professional print “beta”. That is the link to their “pro” ordering that is currently in testing.  The link does work and you can order prints.  Last time I checked, they were offering 50% off 8x10s.

Finally, item number five.  It appears that OnOne software (they make some great photoshop plug-ins) has created an iphone app that allows you to remotely trigger your Canon or Nikon DSLR with your iphone.  In addition, if your camera has a live view mode, you can supposedly view it through the iphone also.

More CS5 info from Brian O’Neil Hughes and John Nack

Howdy folks,

I found a couple more links for adobe photoshop cs4 info and  photoshop cs5 previews.

The first can be found on (where else) Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider Blog.  Each wednesday he has a guest writer.  Usually it’s a photographer, but on July 22, Brian O’Neil Hughes (Adobe Photoshop Product Manger) was the guest and wrote a great article including a few sneek peeks at some of the upcoming features.  The whole article is worth reading but the cs5 glimpses are towards the end of his entry.

I also found the blog (the address was tucked away in Mr. Hughes entry) for John Nack (Principal Product Manager, Adobe Photoshop). It is apropriately called: JohnNackOnAdobe.  There is alot of stuff that is not about photoshop but other Adobe applications instead.  He has so much content on his blog you might want to set an alarm (so you won’t lose days wandering through the entries).

Elinchrom – they’re everywhere, they’re everywhere!

Howdy folks,

Sometimes you notice a trend when you are browsing the internet.  Last week I realized that almost everybody who’s anybody on the web is using elinchrom products.  Scott Kelby, Joe McNallyWill Crockett to name a few.  A couple of weeks ago, I decided to take the plunge and buy a radio trigger system to simplify my life (shooting wise that is – they’re not much help in raising kids or selling a house I’m afraid).  After a long and exhausting research period, I finally decided on the Elinchrom Skyport series.

Back Story:      I e-mailed customer service for radio popper, pocket wizard, Paul C. Buff products (alien bees, white lightning) and elinchrom.  Not much help from any of them I might add.  pocket wizard and radio popper sent me to links on their websites, the other two sent warm, fuzzy and vague letters about how my concerns were valid and that I needed to buy into their system for full use of their features (no info on what features I would get).  Alas, I turned to amazon.com and read the customer reviews (which usually coincide with my opinions and concerns).  One review of the skyports in particular made the decision for me.  The basic idea was that “the elinchrom skyport has 4 channels, is tiny, has a 400 foot range and costs half the price of the pocket wizards.  Who cares if you can only trigger 400 feet away instead of pocket wizard’s 1500ft?  I’ve never shot an image over a football field (300ft)”.

That review did it for me and boy am I pleased with the triggers.  The universal reciever has worked with both my 580EXII as well as both of my Alien Bees B800 Flash Units.  I had one small problem with the cables included with the system but found a solution at the local radio shack as well as an awesome online site called flashzebra.com.  At radioshack I bought an adapter (it came in a three pack of different adapters) the specific one that I used converted a 3/32 inch plug into a 1/4 inch plug.  at flashzebra I ordered the Item #oo30 screwlock PC to elinchrom skyport cable.

All in all, I think this system is perfect for a diy photo booth system using 3rd party lighting systems as well as any photographer looking for a radio trigger (for more reliability than InfraRed systems – especially outdoors).  In addition, any lights that I buy in the future will be elinchrom brand as most models have built in triggers and can have the power dialed up or down remotely as well.  Heck, elinchrom even makes a usb unit to moniter and control your lighting from your computer.

One last note.  Flashzebra sent my stuff incredibly fast. I bought a cable as well as an umbrella adapter that allows me to connect my speedlight to a lightstand and use an umbrella with it.  The umbrella adapter worked great and the build quality was superb (I have a buddy who bought two other models and the flashzebra unit is better than either of my buddy’s brackets).

Shooting Smarter with Will Crockett

Howdy Folks!

I recently had the opportunity to watch a few videos from the shoot smarter collection.  In case you haven’t heard of them, Shootsmarter.com is an online photography education site with alot (and I mean alot) of free content -called smarticles (all text and graphics – no video that I’ve seen).  It has pretty good advice as long as you can find the topic you are looking for.  You do have to register to access the info, but membership is free.

Back to the subject at hand.  The videos that I’ve seen range from brilliant to decent.  Most of the advice is sound – especially when concerning the importance of metering and “face mask histograms” (a concept created by Mr. Crockett).  He does give a few bad tips like “it’s okay to mix digital and film – your lab won’t mind”  or  ” Exposure control is hands down the number one problem with digital files” (these aren’t exact quotes but cover the idea of what he said.  To clarify, mixing media type is a surefire way to have problems in color and consistency between your images.  Also, although he is correct that exposure is probably the number one problem, white balance comes in at a very, very close second,  followed by file size and file type issues and unclear or impossible customer instructions (that’s neither here nor there – just thought I’d throw those last two out on the table). 

All in all, I would definitely recommend the Digital Exposure Control video (keeping my critiques in mind). I have seen the digital portrait lighting series (videos 1-3). The first is a great primer for novices. The second video covers various shooting scenarios and is a little boring.  The third issue felt like short attention span theatre with the content jumping back and forth so often, it felt like a commercial without any products to sell.  I think all four of these videos have pretty solid content as long as you disregard any advice about photolabs.  His advice may work well for the lab he uses, but I can’t help but cringe at the thought of one of my lab’s customers trying his suggestions.

I also thought I should mention that he appears to be heavily biased in many gear or software choices (probably due to sponsorship deals).

By the way, Mr. Crockett doesn’t host all of the videos on shootsmarter.com.  From what I’ve seen,his videos are the best in the series. (for some reason he kind of reminds me of Chris Farley -don’t know why, he just does).

Keep on learning with KelbyTraining!

Howdy Folks!

Today on Scott Kelby’s blog “photoshop insider”   he posted a list of new courses available on kelby training.  I’ve mentioned this online resource more than once in my blog and still say that it (kelbytraining) is one of the best resources for learning photography or photoshop that I’ve found.  The courses listed look like they will do a pretty good job at shoring up some weak spots in their educational line up.

p.s.  all you Canon shooters,  tell ’em (kelbytraining) thanks for remembering us.

walking a mile (long range diy camera trigger)

Howdy Folks,

Today on DIYphotography.net they have an amazing article on how to build a camera trigger out of walkie talkies!  These things look amazing and it sound like they have enough range to trigger your camera at whatever the range of the radios have.  I would suspect that this could be modified to trigger lights.  In case you’ve missed my other articles on the topic, I am building quite a collection of articles about camera and lighting triggers in relation to building your own DIY photo booth.  Click on the dropdown box on the left (under “Topic Categories”) and select photobooth project for all of the articles.

Remote camera triggers for your DIY photo booth

Howdy folks,

I’ve been running a series of articles about photo booths and thought I would throw one out there covering camera triggers.  You will probably want some sort of remote trigger so that no one has to man the camera (I think that’s the main advantage of a photo booth) or use a wired trigger that someone may trip on the cord.  There are quite a few options but they’re not all easy to find.  For the major brands, you could always buy the same brand remote.  Many of these come with an instant shutter release or a delay function.  My canon remote comes with both of these functions (on a switch located on the bottom of the remote).

If you don’t want the name brand (or can’t find one) there are a few other options out there.  I found the Aputure Pro Coworker Remote Shutter while browsing a forum.  There is the pocket wizard multimax  (other models may work) and I think the elinchrom skyport  system will also remotely trigger the camera.  I just ordered a set of the skyport units this week.  The real advantage of the pocketwizard and elinchrom skyport systems is that they can also be used to trigger lighting systems (both flash units and studio strobes).

If you are more of a tinkerer, I also found a DIY option on digital-photography-school.coms website.  The article walks you step by step in building a remote camera trigger from a doorbell unit.

Good luck on those photo booths!