March 14, 2018

The Flash Book by Scott Kelby

Most of you know that there are a number of books out there today that you can purchase that say they will help you get better at using your speedlights. Unfortunately, a lot of them are just a little bit too technical for most of us (especially when we are first starting out) and they’ll get put on a bookshelf shortly after people purchase them.  Do you have any of these books?  I know I’m guilty of buying a few of these when I first started using flash.  Because I really didn’t understand all of the lingo at the time I didn’t get too much practical knowledge from them. I really wish the Flash Book had come out 20 years ago; it could have saved me years of trial and error!

The Flash Book by Scott Kelby is a very easy to read book and the instructions outlined in it are simple to follow.  Scott has written over 50 books so he definitely knows what he’s talking about. As always, the lessons are straight-forward and laid out in a one or two page style with plenty of detailed info and photos showing the results. He also adds a little bit of his own humor so they don’t get too techy.
This book is very helpful for anyone starting to use flash and even for some of you that have been using flash for some time now. The book is loaded with tons of useful tips and techniques (over 200 pages) that will help beginners get up to speed quickly and finally break their fear of flash photography and get more comfortable with their speedlights.  

The cover says “How to fall hopelessly in love with your flash…” and I don’t know if that will happen for you or not? But I do know this, if you use this book as a study guide, you’ll find yourself getting better shots more consistently and that’s the name of the game!

February 15, 2018

Saving Time In Photoshop With Shortcut Keys

I’m just guessing this but if you’ve been using just about any Adobe product for a while, such as Photoshop or Lightroom, then you are probably using  (or at least know of) a few shortcut keys by now…. right? 

Shortcut keys are nice because they can save tons of time when you are working in the digital darkroom, but speed isn’t the only advantage. If you are making a selection and you use a shortcut, your pointer doesn’t move when you toggle between tools! Think about it, this alone could give you much more control when you’re working on your image.

Luckily, over 90% of these shortcuts haven’t changed in many years so we really don’t have to keep learning new ones over and over again.  Most Photoshop users know that if you float your mouse over any tool on the toolbar a pop-up box will tell you the tool’s name and the shortcut command, and if you pull down one of the drop-down menus, the ones that have shortcuts are listed there also. If you are a Cloud subscriber you’ve probably noticed that if you hover over a tool on the toolbar menu these days you not only get the shortcut key but you also get a little video of the tool in use in a pop-up box!  Nice huh?

I’ve been using Photoshop for over 18 years now so I’ve got most of my most frequently used shortcuts committed to memory, but I also have a list of other shortcuts I don’t use as frequently printed up and hanging up close to my PC so I can just glance at them when I need them. This is also the way I started learning shortcut keys, I printed up a list of the ones I used most and when I had them memorized I added new ones.  Easy right?

A lot of Photoshop users know that you are also able to reassign Shortcut keys if you’d like.  Just go up to Edit drop-down menu and scroll down to Keyboard Shortcuts or use the shortcut (Shift+ Alt+Cmd+K ).  Some of the Shortcut keys that Adobe assigns are for tools or menu items that most of us will never use, so if I want to add a shortcut that’s already pre-assigned to a tool or menu item, I can turn off that shortcut and use it for something else. If you use Photoshop quite a bit, shortcuts could save you a lot of time in your editing workflow.  I’ve included two links below where you can find more info on Shortcuts.  One is from Adobe and one is from Popular Photography magazine. I hope you find this article helpful.
As always, remember to keep shooting and have some fun!

January 15, 2018

Manfrotto's Entry Level Geared Ball Head

I’m hoping that this month’s post might help someone who’s been thinking about purchasing a new tripod head. This is a quick review on Manfrotto’s MXPRO-3WG XPRO Geared Head. 
I’ve been shooting for many years and have always had pretty nice ball head on my tripod. My problem was that sometimes when I had a good sized lens on my camera I might get a little lens creep, most often when I was shooting macro type photography. So when I purchased the MHXPRO geared head I had already been doing my research online for quite a while. 

I’ve always kept up with other photographers in my niche (real estate photography) and almost every one of them said that a geared head should be considered a mandatory piece of equipment in our bags. The main feature of a geared head is that it allows users to frame their images precisely - one micro step at a time if needed - on all three axes and that would help me to be incredibly accurate in my vertical and horizontal shots.  I also enjoy shooting landscape photography in my free time and I’ve found that the more I use it out in the field, the happier I am with it.  Since owning this head, I can’t see ever using a ball head again. 

If you’re a photographer, you already know that anything photo related can get very expensive, and geared heads are no exception. When Manfrotto originally released this head, they said it was an entry level model. I’ve always liked and owned Manfrotto products and this head even came with two quick release plates. It was recommended as being ideally-suited for use with lighter systems such as mirrorless cameras, but I use it all the time for my macro work with a full frame Canon DSLR (with a battery grip) fitted with a 100mm macro with no problems so far!

The price was very affordable, but seriously, I was very reluctant about a tripod head made out of plastic. Manfrotto calls the material “Adapto Technopolymer”. This makes the head really lightweight, only 1.65 lbs. Because of its weight though, I can easily it carry around on a full day of shooting.  The first thing you’ll notice when you take it out of the box is that it has a very solid feel to it. Because I did my homework, I knew that all the drive gears inside were still made of metal and I liked the fact it had quick release handles on all three rotation knobs and three bubble levels. Some features that pricier models don’t even offer!

I’ve always been pretty easy on my gear, but I’ve dropped this quite a few times and it’s held up like a pro. Manfrotto has this head listed on their website at $209.00, but if you click the link below you can save over fifty dollars and that even comes with free shipping!

I have to admit that I’m very happy with this purchase and it’s held like a pro for several years with no problems so far. Maybe this is something you’d like to have in your photo kit?  Click this link and find the best price online, guaranteed. I hope you found this post useful. Manfrotto MXPRO

And remember, as always, keep shooting and have some fun!
© D. Gould Photography