Archive for October, 2008

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PhotoPlus Expo…

October 24, 2008

The PhotoPlus Expo is a huge show with hundreds of vendors, both big and small.  There are also a number of different educational classes and hands-on labs (for an additional fee) with some of the best photographers in the business presenting.  If you enjoy photography, this New York City show is a must-see.

My plan for tackling the show floor was to make strategic visits to the vendors I was most interested in before exploring the rest of the floor.  Drobo (Data Robotics), Nikon, Epson, Nik Software, B&H Photo and ThinkTank Photo were my first-visit choices.  The big ones, Nikon and Epson, were quick trips to see what was going on and to check out their latest offerings.  Nikon was a huge booth with all types of equipment to check out.  From the D3 to the Coolpix line and 600mm f4s to 10mm fish eyes Nikon’s booth had it all to see.  Since most of their announcements were made a few months back, there was nothing brand new to see.  Epson was the same way (and no paper samples!).  Both were interesting with lots of hands on equipment and short-subject presentations.

At Data Robotics I really enjoyed speaking to Mark Fuccio, the VP of Sales.  Mark is an interesting guy.  A true engineer at heart, Mark’s sense of the market and how to grow Drobo’s was an interesting discussion.  Drobo has made fantastic inroads in the photography market.  It’s simple to set up, easy to use and provides data protection and expandability that any photographer, or anyone with substantial data storage needs, would find useful.  With the introduction of Drobo-specific applications (for instance limiting the amount of space Time Machine uses) and the introduction of cheaper and larger hard disks, this company is in a great position to take off.

Nik Software is the company behind great products like Viveza, Color Efex Pro and Capture NX.  I won’t go into detail on all their products – you can go to their website for that.  I’ve looked at their software and played with the demos for some time and was interested in seeing what show specials they offered.  While certainly not “must-have” software for the casual photographer, the “extra touch” their products provide make your images really stand out.  Sure enough, there was a “new” collection for Aperture – a complete collection of all their products as plug ins for Aperture.  With very little hesitation, I made the jump.  I’m very anxious to use these products.  I’ll be sure to post my thoughts as I use each tool.

ThinkTank is another company with fantastic products.  They’re known for their great line of bags and their belt system that allows you to attach various pouches and storage pieces to store lenses, extra batteries, filters, etc.  It allows a photographer to walk around with a number of extra pieces while keeping their hands free to take pictures.  Again, see their website for a list of all the attachments.  Of course there was another show special – a set of five attachments and a free belt.  Yep, I made the jump.  I can’t wait to use them!

I’ll talk about the classes in another post.  I’m very pleased with my choices and the information I’ve learned.  Tomorrow, I’m meeting with Derrick Story for an interview for Inside Aperture.  I’m excited.

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In NYC – at last…

October 23, 2008

I’m in NYC for the yearly PhotoPlus Expo (formerly Photo East).  This event is the largest photo show in the country that caters to both the end users and manufacturers.  There are hundred of vendors/manufacturers to visits, products to see and people to meet.  This is my third year and something I’ve looked forward to since my last trip.  If you get the chance, go.  It’s worth it.

Tomorrow, the first day of the show, I’m meeting with Derrick Story of Inside Aperture.  It’s a great website/podcast talking about all things Aperture.  There are many folks that post so you get all kinds of input.  I’m excited to be interviewed about my experience with my transition to Aperture from my previous work flow.  I’ll post more after the interview tomorrow.

A quick note, I received a cold call to do some head shots for a young man, Will, performing at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.  This isn’t the TV show, but one of the amateur nights.  Pretty cool, though!  I went to his parents house and took a number of shots before running up to NYC.  I’m looking forward to the prints and working with him again.

Also, I finally got some cards printed.  It took me forever, but I wanted to have something to hand to folks while I’m at the show.  Of course, I waited to the last minute and ran to Kinkos to get them made.  Admittedly, they’re not the best, but I’m excited to get them done.  I’m sure I’ll meet someone at the show doing great looking card and I’ll be back at the drawing board before I know it.

For now, I need to sleep.  It’s going to be a long day.  Hey, if there’s something you want me to check, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to post about it.  Goodnight!

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The Microsoft Juggernaut…

October 21, 2008

Since moving to a Mac environment, I’ve attempted to do everything on the Macintosh.  From email and web browsing to photo editing and finance I was getting most of my work complete, although was using a Windows virtual machine for Quicken.  Simply, the Mac version of Quicken stinks and, using the VMWare Fusion product, the Windows version of Quicken runs really well.  I still returned to the PC for a number of tasks including filing email, most office documents and scanning documents – basically MS Office tasks and Adobe Acrobat.

I use Acrobat for scanning all my documents to PDF.  While I can complete this on the Mac using the software that came with my scanner/printer/fax, the Acrobat product does it better.  Since I own the Windows version of Acrobat, I scan on my PC and save my documents to the Mac.  I’ll update to the Mac version of Acrobat when I upgrade to CS4 suite.

Being in the “Windows” work environment all of my career, I’ve always used MS Office.  Quite frankly, I really like the product and wasn’t looking to change.  I recently download the latest Open Office 3 product and, while impressed, still didn’t get the results I needed from converting Word and Excel documents.  Plus, I still wasn’t able to file email in the folder structure I’ve used for years.  So a couple of days ago, I broke down and purchased Office 2008 for the Mac.

Arriving today, I quickly installed Mac Office 2008.  Of course, the first app I need is Entourage (Outlook’s Mac Office counterpart).  What’s the first thing I find?  There’s no support for my Outlook PST files.  They all need to be converted to Entourage.  Okay, let’s get started… What?  There’s no built in support for this!  Sigh.  Out to the web I run looking for a solution.  It turns out there’s a company, Little Machines, that sells a program that converts PST to Entourage.  It’s $10 – a great price if it works.  I’m currently moving all my PC files, including my PSTs, to the Mac.  Then I’ll start my conversion.

So I have to ask… Why no Outlook, or Outlook support in Mac Office?  That’s crazy.  It’s the same product (Office for the Mac/Office for Windows) and all other formats are supported.  What happened to Outlook?  Oh well.  I guess it’s another way to keep you on Windows.  I’ll let you know what happens with my conversion.  I’m holding my breath! 🙂

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Beauty…

October 13, 2008

The one thing I’m able to do now is quickly view all of the images in my extensive library.  When I was doing that the other day, I ran across this image from the Harleysville Apple Butter Frolic 2007.  I simply like looking at this picture and thinking how much experience she’s been through.  I think she’s a real beauty:

I didn’t see her there this year, although my girlfriend did.  I hope to see her again.

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My New Workflow…

October 12, 2008

It’s been a couple weeks since I returned from the ANPW trip (far too long since the last update) and I wanted to thank everyone’s well wishes via email and blog comments.  It was a blast having you read of our adventures during the ANPW.  I’d also like to give major thanks to Scott Bourne for putting together the sponsors, prizes and pros for the first ANPW.  It was truly a fantastic experience and one I’m not soon to forget.  Also, to Martin, thank you for your friendship, Aperture instruction and for making me a better photographer.  He’s truly an amazing photographer and all around good guy.  To Steve and Scott, I really enjoyed the time we spent talking and shooting together.  I really did learn a lot from both of you from photojournalism to portraits.  It was a fantastic experience and I hope to meet up with everyone again in the future.  Don’t think twice – ENTER THE NEXT ANPW CONTEST!  I never thought I’d win and it’s well worth the entry fee ($0.00!!!).

Probably the biggest change to my photography in the post-ANPW world is my workflow.  I really liked my previous workflow, but it’s a whole new ballgame now.  Previously, I was using a Windows Vista machine.  I’m a fan of Vista and haven’t had the bad experiences I’ve heard about.  The machine was a Sony Viao with a 2.2GHz processor, 4 GB of RAM and plenty of disk.  All around a good machine.  After shooting, I would download my images using Nikon Transfer, a free, yet decent, transfer utility.  Using this, I’d set my IPTC data and keywords.  Once complete, I would fire up IMatch to catalog and take a look at the images.  I’d start rating my images and delete those that were unusable.  To “develop” my images, I’d start up Nikon Capture NX 2.  Again, many folks have complained about NX, but I really like the app.  The non-destructive edits and uPoint technology was really fantastic and I didn’t have too much of an issue getting great results.  Finally, to print, I’d fire up QImage, a Windows-only, fantastic utility for printing images.  What I love about QImage are the fantastic results coming from my Epson 3800.  Simply stunning.

Now, things are a little different.  I’ve purchased a decent 20″ iMac with a 2.0 GHz processor, 4 GB RAM and, with the firewire Drobo attached, virtually unlimited disk space.  To download my images, set my IPTC and keyword my images, I fire up Aperture.  When complete, they’re already cataloged and I’m looking through the images rating and deleting the rejected ones.  When I find one to “develop”, I simply click the adjustments tab and I’m off.  I find that adjustments are, overall, much less complicated with Aperture.  Generally, a few tweaks and I’m satisfied.  Now, I don’t have the amazing uPoint technology allowing for adjustments to specific areas of the image, but I’m finding that I don’t miss it… too much.  The Nik Software Viveza will give me this ability as an Aperture plug in.  Finally, I can print right through Aperture.  Now printing is an art form and I’m still learning, but my initial results are quite good.  Plus, with Aperture I can make books, upload to my MobileMe account, export using preset export parameters (really cool), etc.  It’s a complete gamechanger.

Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the new workflow.  It’s definitely saving me a lot of time processing my images.  With the combination of the Drobo, I have all 35,000+ images right at my fingertips and it’s still very fast.  I’m impressed.

Also, the images simply look a lot better in Aperture.  I know there’s significant proprietary tweaks the software is doing (non-destructively) to my images and it pays off.  While I can’t put into words the difference, you have to trust me that they look better.  I’m very pleased with my results.

One last thing, during the upcoming PhotoPlus Expo in NYC, I’m being interviewed by Derrick Short of Inside Aperture website and podcast.  They’re interested in my thoughts going from my old to new workflow.  I’m really looking forward to this experience.  I’ll post more information when I know more.

Since I have to post something before I go, how about an image from Indian Echo Caverns in Hummelstown Pennsylvania (near Hershey).  We took a trip there this summer.  This was my favorite shot from the trip.  Enjoy!

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ANPW Day 4 – Time to Say Goodbye (almost)…

October 2, 2008

Wow, it’s finally the last day of the workshop.  We (Martin, Steve, Cathy and I) decided to sleep late and have a final breakfast together at a nice place in town.  Ahhh, sleeping in!!!  The great part of today is that I’m not heading home!  In fact, Martin, Cathy and I are taking a late-morning run up to Yellowstone to have another full day of shooting.  Martin was staying for another workshop the following week and Cathy and I were flying out on Sunday.  Sweet.

ROAD TRIP!!! After stocking up on gas and junk food, we headed out towards Yellowstone.  The plan was to drive for half the time and head back to the Tetons for sunset images.  That was the plan…

Our first stop  Oxbow Bend where I took my winning picture.  I wanted to show how many people are there to shoot Oxbow, but in the middle of the day, there aren’t many.  Oxbow is a morning spot with upwards of 100 people crowding around to get the shot.

As we progressed, we came upon a number of vehicles on the side of the road and people with cameras standing looking down in to the woods.  Wildlife.  In this case it was a mother moose and calf:

Heading further into the park we ran across a crow that really wanted to pose for a photograph.  Using the 300mm f2.8, I shot this:

While not a huge fan of the composition, I was blown away by the sharpness of this lens.  This was shot wide open at f2.8  Hmmm, where did I put my lottery ticket?!?!

Our next stop was the Artist Paint Pots.  This is an area of thermal activity where the mud in one location bubbles or shots into the air.  It’s actually very interesting to watch.  Simply set up your tripod and start shooting until you get something interesting:

Watching the bubbles

Watching the bubbles

One highlight of Yellowstone is the animals.  They’re so used to people that you can often get too close.  People tend to forget that they’re still wild animals and a number of folks each year are gored, trampled or otherwise hurt.  Of course, everyone blames the animal.  I was amazed how close we were able to get to a mother and calf elk in a parking lot by the side of the road. I waited until I could improve the background to a stream instead of a parking lot and shot this:

I was also able to capture this:

Mother elk looking for her calf

Mother elk looking for her calf

Our final stop of the day was at Grand Prismatic.  This is a huge hot spring with amazing colors of red and blue from the bacteria growing in the water.  I was surprised at the amount of color this year.  It was much less than what I saw last year at this time (although still quite striking).  I’m hoping this isn’t a forecast of what’s to come, but a natural cycle of the springs:

As the sun went down, I shot into the sun for this unique shot:

As the sun went down, we ended the road trip and the last day of the trip with this image.  The colors were outstanding, the company fantastic and the location amazing: