Monthly Archives April 2009


OK, so yesterday I heard from a friend that it was reported that the government spent an estimated $360,000 for that “Photo Op” debacle which had the President’s 747 flying low over New York City (good plan!), escorted by a fighter jet (luckily the President wasn’t on board).

I heard what they wanted was a shot of Air Force One (of course, it’s only called Air Force One if the President is actually on board, so we’ll just call it “Big Blue and White 747”) flying over the statue of Liberty with Manhattan in the background. There were probably more cost efficient ways getting that image, and so in literally less than two minutes I hacked together the composite you see above in Adobe Photoshop CS4, using a background from and an official White House shot of “Big Blue and White 747” from their web site.

Now, here’s my plea to the White House. Rather than spending $360,000 somewhat foolishly (wink, wink), whatdayasay we work out a deal?

I’m trying to raise money for furniture and household appliances for an orphange in Kenya (run by Americans), and I’d be happy to actually take 90 minutes (or more; whatever it takes), and really do the compositing job right, and all you have to do is buy a freezer for around, say $360. You can keep the other $359,640 or give it to GM.

Anyway, by next weekend my schedule will have freed up, so if you’re interested just drop me a line here or call my cell phone (you know the number).


Hi gang:
Next week I’ll be wrapping up writing Volume 3 of my book, “The Digital Photography Book,” and while I still have the chance I wanted to ask you if there were any particular topics, subjects, or techniques you wanted me to cover in this new book.

Now, before you get involved, there are three things you should know:

  1. This book picks up right where Volume 2 left off, so there are chapters that focus on the next level of studio stuff, and the next things you need to know about small off-camera flash, and there are chapters on shooting landscapes & travel, how to photograph children, how to shoot Sports, a chapter on lenses, a chapter on composition, one on just how to take better photos, a chapter on shooting products, and of course, my photo recipes (how to get this type of shot). So, keep those in mind, because those topics are already in the new book.
  2. Below I’ve posted the table of contents for Volumes 1 and Volumes 2 (two completely different books), so before you post an idea, could you take a quick look there first and see if it’s already been covered in one of the first two books.
  3. If I wind up using one of your ideas in Volume 3, I’ll give you your choice of: My new “Photoshop CS4 Book for Digital Photographers,” my “Lightroom 2 Book for Digital Photographers,” or my soon-to-be-released book, “Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks.” Again, your choice if I use your tip (and I’ll let you know here on the blog right away).

So, that’s the scoop. I really appreciate the thought you guys put into this, and as you’ve seen, I really take your ideas to heart, and often right straight to paper, so I offer my thanks in advance. Now, here (below) are the Vol. 1 and Vol.2 TOCs (click on them for a larger view):







Photographers Using Video on the Web


I’m a still photographer. I have spent roughly 25 years studying lighting techniques, obsessing over the best equipment, perfecting my darkroom prowess, and then starting over with Photoshop. Video is a very different animal; one that intimidates and frightens me. Recognizing what I’m good at and leaving the rest alone has gotten me this far; why do I need to consider utilizing video at this stage of the game? Because the web is here to stay and the competition is heating up.

My background in photography and interest in leveraging the latest technology to advance image making, led to my involvement with liveBooks, the industry’s leading provider of professional-level websites. Over the course of the last five years, I have seen an evolution in the way photographers are using the web to market themselves. One substantial change has involved the inclusion of video in some very interesting and resourceful ways.

What I will focus on here is not photographers offering video as a service to their clients, which is certainly happening as well, but more specifically how still photographers are using video on the web to market themselves. (more…)


Hi gang. Here’s what’s up:

  • Shooting the Sun & Fun Fly-in
    Last Friday my buddy, and co-workshop instructor, Bill Fortney hooked me up with media credentials to shoot one of the largest aviation events in the nation, the Sun & Fun Fly-in, in Lakeland, Florida. I was pretty psyched because that afternoon they had an airshow, and I had amazing access (right next to the runway), and what I was really excited about was shooting a squadron of F-16s. They were scheduled to take off around 5:00 pm, so we shot some classic warbirds and stunt planes while we were waiting, but then my cell phone rang and sadly my mother-in-law Barbara was on her way to hospital, so I immediately packed up my gear and headed back home (after all, there will be other airshows, but my mother-in-law is very precious to me). She’s still in the hospital, and she’s really struggling along, so if you’re the praying type, and don’t mind sending a prayer her way, she could really use it. Anyway, I barely shot any frames, but I kinda liked the one you see above of a WWII era Grumman F4F Wildcat (click on it for a larger view). It was my first time shooting aerial photography, but I can tell you this—-it won’t be my last. I really enjoyed it a lot, and I got a whole new respect for people who do it well. Now, next time if I could just get a shot of those F-16s. ;-)
  • Pinhole Photography for Digital
    After I ran that piece last week about the pin-hole camera construction kits, Michael Tapes dropped me a line about a Pin Hole adapter for DSLRs (so you don’t have to process film), that is actually a body cap made for pinhole photography. They’re fairly inexpensive (in the $30 range) and you can find them right here. Thanks for the heads up, Michael.
  • My Landscape Workshop is Sold Out
    Just a heads up: My landscape workshop in Savannah, Georgia with Bill Fortney is sold out. Thanks to everyone who signed up—-looking forward to spending that week with you all. I can’t wait!!!!
  • Photoshop Down & Dirty Tour Update
    Two quick things: we now have over 600 people signed up for the Friday, May 8th kick-off for my Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks Tour in Washington, DC. If you’re thinking of going, I would sign up now (here’s the link). Also, the amazing Corey Barker (who helped me develop the tour) is taking the Down & Dirty Tricks Tour to Richmond, Virginia on Wednesday, May 27th. You can sign up for Corey’s tour right here.
  • Memory Cards Sense Fear
    I heard it again this week. Another photographer talking about how when you need it most, you look down and your memory card is full. It happened to me at the Grand Prix of St. Pete, and this photographer was relating his story to me. The moral of the story—if you’re heading off to shoot something important, better check your memory card on the way.
  • CS4 Book For Digital Photographers Reviewed
    Yesterday I saw a review of my book, “The Photoshop CS4 Book for Digital Photographers” over at Ronald Martinsen’s Photography Blog (Unfiltered reviews with real feedback), and he did one of the most in-depth reviews I’ve seen in quite a while, going chapter by chapter through the book giving his take on each section. You can read the review right here.

That’s it for today folks, see you here tomorrow for Guest Blog Wednesday, and then I’ll be back here on Thursday for another installment of “Embarrassing Photo Thursday.” Have a great one!

….someone from inside the photography industry itself; the co-founder of liveBooks, photographer Matt Bailey.

Now, this is probably the first time I’ve had an industry vendor as a guest blogger, but I was contacted by a reader of this blog who suggested having Matt as a guest, and in particular to have him talk about a subject he’s very passionate about, which is how photographers can incorporate video into their photography website.

I thought, since video is the next emerging must-include feature in new dSLRs, this might be a perfect topic (here are three photographers’ websites which have incorporated video with their photography):

  1. Colin Finlay (link)
  2. Gene Higa (link)
  3. Christopher Griffith (link)

Anyway, I think it will be really cool, so check back here tomorrow to see what Matt has to say about this fascinating new era in photography and the Web.


I got an update from Molly Bail (my friend of many years and the woman behind Springs of Hope, Kenya), on the progress in completing the Orphanage that so many of you have helped support through your generous donations, and I’ve got lots of great news to report today:

First, the roof is completely done, the security wall around the Orphanage is nearly complete (Molly tells me this wall is very important), and they are set to open in a little over a month; on Monday, June 1st.

Here’s part of Molly’s construction report:

“We are about to lay the tile on Monday. We are tiling the bathrooms, hallway and kitchen. If funds allow we will do main floor, and bedrooms. If not we will use throw rugs. They are finishing up septic tank; paint inside and out. The kitchen still needs appliances (frig, freezer, Stove/oven), and we need to put up the front gate, doors need to be put on, etc.”

I also asked Molly how we can help hit that June opening date. She gave me a list of things they still really need, and their approximate costs:

  • Furniture for living/dining areas $2,370 US
  • To fully furnish each bedroom is appox. $970
  • Kitchen  freezer $390
  • Refrigerator-$515
  • Kitchen Stove-$960
  • Cabinets for entire Kitchen-$2,170
  • Pots, pans, silverware-$410
  • Chairs and seating for house: $910
  • Linens towels-$447
  • Playground for the children (Molly says this is very much needed!) Approx. $4,840 US

If you, or if you work at a company that supports really great causes like this, and you want to pick up any one (or more) of those items, you will have done something really impactful in the life of a child.

100% of the money you donate goes to actually feeding and housing children who need us so badly. June 1st is right around the corner, and I hope you’ll consider picking up any one of the items on that list above.

You can donate by using PayPal (here’s the link to their site—the PayPal button to donate is there, or you can send a check).

Molly Bail, who sold her home and all her belongings, and moved to Kenya with her husband and son to build this Orphanage, included this line in her email to me yesterday:

“You all are so wonderful…please thank all your readers from us here in Kenya! We are so very grateful for them!

So am I, Molly. My readers constantly amaze me at their generosity, and compassion for others. I am humbled by their contributions to this very important building project, and honored that they’ve come on board with Springs of Hope, Kenya in such a meaningful way.