November 9, 2016

Creative Flash Photography - Book Review

One of the things that will always separate the amateur photographers from the more serious photographers and the pro’s is their use of lights and their lighting techniques.  If you consider yourself a photographer then you already know it’s all about the light right?

How many times do we hear people say they prefer to shoot with ambient light only?  I’ve found that quite often it’s because they get intimidated by using flash, especially off-camera flash.  One of my favorite sayings is by Zack Arias.  He says “Did you know I’m an available light photographer? I look in my bag, see that my Vivitar 285 or a Nikon Speedlite is available to me and I use that”.

Don’t get me wrong, we all love great ambient light, but even when I am shooting in beautiful ambient light, a lot of times I’ll still break out a flash just to add a little dimension and punch to my photos. By adding an extra light source, I can create my own shadows and direct the viewer’s eye to what I think is the photos story. Face it, you can have the best composed shot in the world, but if your lighting is crap, it’s a good chance that your shot will be also.

These days if you want to learn more about off-camera flash there are a thousand different websites and books out there to learn from. By far the best resource on the web for getting the most out of off-camera flash is the Strobist website created by David Hobby. David may have started the Strobist, but there are some other biggies out there like Joe McNally who is another master of off-camera flash. Joe and David actually teamed up a few years ago and toured the US doing seminars on off-camera flash called the Flash Bus tour. Another person I’m a big fan of is Neil van Niekerk and his Tangents blog.  Neil’s written a series of books aimed at off-camera flash that I have written about several times on my blog. If you type his name in the Search Box on this site it will bring up those reviews.  These are just a few names of people I admire personally for their work with off-camera flash. But back to my review…..

Back in July of 2015 I was turned on to another photographer, Tilo Gockel, who also does great stuff with speedlights. He was asked to be a guest blogger on the Photoshop Insider (Scott Kelby’s blog)  Tilo himself comes from Germany and has currently written two books on off-camera flash. His first book was called ‘Creative Flash Photography’ and the second is called ‘One Light'.  I have not read the second book but I can tell you from personal experience, his Creative Flash book is great. If you’re new to off-camera flash (or even if you just want to improve your own skills) these books will definitely help.  

In the book Creative Flash Photography, he has broken it down to 40 lessons, he calls workshops. These richly illustrated, easy-to-understand workshops are filled with recommendations and instructions for flash setups, along with detailed lighting diagrams, and tips and tricks for how to achieve professional looking shots using simple accessories you probably already own. He’ll even show you how to easily achieve high-end studio style shots in your own home with easily accessible equipment and even a few tips on creating your own lighting modifiers and tools. Tilo shows you how to make magic by mastering the use of your own speedlights so you too will be able to create these amazing photographs in any situation.

Mastering your flash is one of the best ways to improve your own photography. Maybe you’re ready to take your skills to the next level?  If you’re interested in either of these books just click on any of the links in this post to get you the best possible price online. Look below the main advertisements to More Buying Choices to avoid paying full price. I loved this book and I’m sure you will too!

And, as always, keep shooting and have some fun!

October 5, 2016

How do I do that in Photoshop? – Book Review

Back in February of this year I wrote a quickie review on a book that I thought a lot of people could benefit from, it was called “How do I do that in Lightroom?” by Scott Kelby.

Chances are that if you’re into photography you’ll recognize that name. Scott’s written over 50 books on photography, Photoshop and Lightroom so he knows his stuff.  In fact he’s been the best-selling computer/ technology author in the world since 2005. I actually ordered a copy of that one as soon as it went on sale because I can always use more help with Lightroom. Personally, I find it very useful. If you want to read my post on that book, click on this link:  How do I do that in Lightroom?

Scott also has a very popular daily blog (The Photoshop Insider) that I try to read daily. I’ve really enjoyed it for many years. Each time he comes out with a new book he has a little contest where you get to post a comment on why you’d like to win the book and you get entered for a chance to win a copy, usually before they’re in the stores. 

Because his book on Lightroom tips was so successful, he wrote a follow up for Photoshop called “How do I do that in Photoshop”. These days more and more people are using Lightroom but sometimes you’ll find that some things you just can’t do in Lightroom or where Photoshop is just faster or easier to use. Unfortunately because of the power of Photoshop, sometimes the things you need are kind of hidden or hard to find. Most of us know that Photoshop can do just about everything but sometimes it seems like Adobe sort of hid the feature we’re looking for or made it not so obvious to find. Ever have that problem?

That’s what makes this book so handy. It was laid out in the same format as his previous book of tips on Lightroom, so I added my comment and actually won a copy of this new book myself. I’ve actually won two or three times myself and considering how many people follow his blog I think that’s pretty cool.   Truth is, I would’ve purchased the book even if I hadn’t won because I find his books extremely helpful. Even if I only picked up a tip or two, to me it would be worth it. I’ve been using Photoshop since version 6.0 so I know a thing or two about the program, but if you use Photoshop yourself you know there are usually several ways to accomplish the same thing right?  I’ve actually learnt quite a few time saving tips and work arounds from the book already. Each page has a single photo with a description of which button to click, which setting to use and exactly how and when to use it. 

Maybe you could use one of these books yourself? You can purchase either one of these books for under $20, which won't break the bank. If you're new to Photoshop or even if you've been using it for years, I’m sure you’ll pick up a tip or two yourself.  Click on these links to send you over to Amazon where you can purchase them from a name you can trust. How do I do that in Lightroom or How do I do that in Photoshop

I hope you enjoy my post and as always, remember to keep shooting and have some fun! 

September 5, 2016

9th Annual Worldwide Photowalk

A couple weeks ago the date was announced for Scott Kelbys - 9th Annual Worldwide Photowalk. This year’s walk is scheduled for Saturday October 1st. If you’ve never gone on one of these you owe it to yourself to check one out. Groups are filling up fast so you’ve got to sign up quickly if you’re interested in participating.

I’ve been lucky enough to go on seven of these walks myself and they’ve always been fun. I’ve gone on Photowalks from Providence, RI all the way up to Bar Harbor, Maine. I always like to  explore new places but this year I’m staying kind of local (Boston, MA) The first year the photowalks started (2008) I signed up for one in Boston and had a really good time. This year I’ve signed up for another one in Boston, in another part of the city. Boston has tons of shooting possibilities. It should be a great time and I’m looking forward to it.

Photowalks are a fun way to explore new places, meet new friends and be part of a great cause. The Photowalk itself is totally free but when you sign up you have the option of donating a dollar towards the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya. Most of the children at SOHK have been orphaned, abandoned or abused and have nowhere else to turn. Since the first year they teamed up with the orphanage, back in 2009, these Photowalks have helped to raise over $100,000. Donating is totally optional, but some people donate more and it really helps out. 

Photowalks are great social events where groups of photographers (up to 50 photographers) get together for a couple hours and explore new areas while making new friends and taking photos. At the end of the walks, they all get together at a local watering hole or restaurant and compare photos and talk about the day. Then to make things even better, they have the option of uploading their best photo of the day to their walk leader and he (or she) will pick a winner from their group and submit it into a worldwide competition for some really great prizes. This year’s event is being sponsored by Canon and the grand prize is a new Canon 5D Mk III complete with lens. There is also a Canon 80D all set up for video with a Robe microphone and Wi-Fi grip. There are all sorts of other great prizes including gift cards and Kelbyone memberships. If you want to find out more, check out this link. Worldwide Photowalk
Who knows, maybe I’ll see some of you on my walk? In the meantime, keep shooting and have some fun!

© D. Gould Photography