Thursday, March 27, 2014

Deal of the Day: Tenba Vector Sling Bag

We have a great deal on the Tenba Vector Sling camera bag going on right now!  The bag is in brand new condition and comes in an eye-catching cadmium red.  The camera bag originally sold for $79.00, but for one-day only we are offering them for $17.00 each.


The price is valid starting today at 11:00 a.m. through 10:59 a.m. tomorrow Eastern time.  Available in limited quantities while supplies last.  No rainchecks or substitutions.  Limit 2 per customer.

Click HERE to take advantage of this amazing deal!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How to Deal With the Less-Than-Satisfied Client

If you have been in this business for more than 3 hours you have experienced the unhappy customer. It happens to all of us.  Those who want to stay in this business are the ones who learn how to pacify the fussy client without giving away the whole studio.

First let's look at some of the reasons you may end up with an unsatisfied guest, and some creative ways to deal with the problems.  (warning: my "not best" work to follow)

1.  This business is subjective.

Let's face it, we are artists and art means different things to different people.  We all have a style and it's not always going to please the client.  I know, I know, they should be able to look at your website and know what it is you do.  Occasionally people just like your work and don't pay attention to whether or not it's a good fit for their home, their child, or their family.  Maybe you're so cool that you are a status symbol and they want to be able to say that you took their picture.  And then, when it's all said and done, they don't like the finished product.  

First of all, there are reasons to have a solid contract and this is one of them.  If you spend the time you should get paid.  If the client hates the images they will not order product, but you should not back down on getting paid for your time.  Offer to re-shoot the images if you can come to a clear understanding of what they really want. If that is simply not going to happen, have a few friends in the business that you can refer them to.  This is something that works for everyone's benefit.  You can help each other out of sticky situations.   


2.  The child (or some member of the family) has a bad day.

This will always be your fault.  Just keep that in mind.  At least it will be your fault to the customer who is going to be mad about the results.  Bad days happen.  I've called off a shoot in progress because a baby or child was just not having it.  It's not worth my time or the client's time to drag it out if it's not working.  Sometimes though, the bad mood is just coming from one member of a family portrait session and you do the best you can.  Most mom's will grin and accept the results as a part of life as it is right now.  I love these moms!  Other times you won't be so lucky and you'll get a more frigid reaction.   I have mixed feelings about swapping heads and I won't do it unless it's requested.  But if I have upset mom with a perfect family portrait other than little Johnny's frowny face, I'll suggest swapping that frowny face in no time flat!



  3.  Cold feet

Well, I hate this one but it happens.  I have had clients come in for a consultation, book a session, spend 4 hours in my studio with their newborn baby, and never come back to see the pictures.  This isn't exactly an unhappy client, but a client that doesn't want to spend the money.  See, the session fee was paid so they come to the session. But the sales session is where the real money gets spent.  There are a couple of ways to handle this situation.  First of all you can just continue to wonder what happened and why they never showed up.  This is the wrong way to handle this situation by the way.  The second, and correct, way to handle this situation is to pick up the phone and call them.  Maybe they hit a bump in their financial road.  Maybe you offer a payment plan.  Maybe they just changed their mind about how important the photos are to them.  It's disappointing when this happens but I don't take it personally.  I have had this happen just a couple of times.  I chose to provide the new moms with one digital image from the session.  A freebie.  One client was very grateful and I have seen her in my studio a couple of times since then.  She also eventually purchased some of the newborn images.  The other client I have still never heard from.


 The bottom line is this: We all know the customer is NOT always right.  And some people are just cranky and hard to please.  Honestly, there are people out there that just like to make trouble.  Is it fair?  Of course not.  But we are business owners and that is HARD, not FAIR. Choosing to treat our clients with kindness and respect, especially when they are being difficult, is what sets us apart from other businesses. Earning a reputation as fair and honest, and as a business that stands behind its work 110%, will bring in more of the kind of clients we really want to work with.  




Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lightroom: Develop Module Cool Tools 1

-->  Post 16
Series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®

Hold Up! We missed something last time!

Tools under the Histogram

In Post 15 we covered the Histogram. Then we skipped over an odd looking section and kept going. Here is where we cover what all those thing-a-ma-bobs… (That phrase is probably extinct, which shows my age -or my nerdy-ness.) …are and what they do.



Crop Overlay

When you click on Crop Overlay, the first tool on the left, a grid appears over your image. There are several different grids to choose from. Hit “O” over and over until you find the right one for you.

Some of the different grid options:




When you click on Crop Overlay, your tools look like this:



Want to crop your image? You are in the right place. With the Aspect tool, click and drag over the section you want to keep. Or, drag in a side or a corner. You can also click and drag to move the cropped area around.



If you need your image to be cropped to a particular standard or custom size, click on the arrows next to Original. Choose by inches or pixels, or create your own custom size.



Straighten Up!

If your image has a horizon that is uneven and you wan to straighten it, the Angle tool gets your image to exactly where you want it to be. Click and drag the slider next to the angle tool image, or click and drag on the actual image.



If you are having a hard time making the changes you want, check and make sure the lock is open. When unlocked, you can free-transform the image.



Warped

Constrain to Warp is a box you can check or un-check. When making adjustments to your image in the Develop module, sometimes a gray edge or two appears. Constrain to Warp makes sure the crop is automatically adjusted and assures the image is displayed from edge to edge. I recommend always checking this box.



Out, D@*#ed Spot! (Dignified Shakespeare reference, of course)

The Spot Removal tool is a breeze. I can’t emphasize enough how much this little gem can clean up and fine-tune your image. With the Spot Removal tool selected, click on the spot on your image that you want to change. You’ll notice two linked areas show up, one over your spot and the other over a different area on your image that you want to mirror. Click and drag that second selection until it is just where you want it. Fixed. Just like that. More spots? Bring ‘em on!



Red Eye Correction

Correcting that uncomfortable red reflected light in eyes is done exactly to your liking here. With Red Eye Correction selected, click and drag from the center of the pupil outward to the edge of the eye. Adjust Pupil size and Darken (or lighten as needed), then click Done.



…And we have just started. Next time we continue on to Graduated Filters, Radial Filters and your Adjustment Brush.



Next post: Develop Module Cool Tools 2

These posts are part of a series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®

Jennifer Apffel is a photographer with over a decade of experience in portrait, event, and product photography. She also does freelance graphic design and fine art. For more check out jenniferapffel.com, albaphotography.net or look for her on fineartamerica.com.
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Friday, March 21, 2014

KEH Camera In-House Buying Event

We are pleased to announce that we are hosting a three-day in-house buying event at our Smyrna, GA location on March 27, 28 and 29.


This is a great opportunity to turn your clean, used camera gear into cash!  Our buyers will be available to make you an offer for your used photographic equipment.  Receive a check on the spot, a trade-in order while you wait or a gift certificate to redeem at a later date.  As an added perk, any used equipment trade-in with KEH Camera will earn a 10% BONUS towards your same day purchase!  As a special offer during our three-day event, we are waiving the standard pick-up fee on all local pick-up orders (regularly $11.00).

We are currently paying top dollar for digital and film bodies, lenses and major accessories.  At this time we are not purchasing lighting, darkroom equipment or point-and-shoot film cameras.  Please bring a valid ID, and preview the inventory of available stock online at www.keh.com if you wish to make a trade.

During our three-day event, we are offering on-the-spot sensor cleanings from our repair department for $25.00 (regularly $55.00).  We will also have a selection of used camera bags available for sale at 1/2 off their listed price and special deals on Bogen tripods.

We are also excited to announce that we are giving away a $200.00 KEH Gift Certificate!  Stop by any time during the three-day buying event to enter for a chance to win.  All you have to do is provide your name, address and email (your information will not be used or shared without permission) and a winner will be selected by a random drawing on Monday, March 31.  Winner will be notified by email.  One entry per household.  Must be 18 years or older to enter.  KEH Camera employees and family members are not eligible.  No purchase necessary.  Not redeemable for cash.  

Stop by on Saturday between 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. and enjoy a FREE hot dog!  You won't want to miss this exciting event!

KEH Camera does not have a retail showroom and does not typically have same day trade-in options. This is a special event where you will receive quick turnaround on selling, trading and pick-up services.

Location:

4900 Highlands Parkway Smyrna, GA 30082

Event Hours:

Thursday, March 27 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Friday, March 28 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 29 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

We hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Shooting in RAW: Vibrance vs. Saturation

More Reasons Why Shooting in RAW is Good

Have you ever tried to increase the saturation to a JPEG, but increased it too much and got some color distortion in the areas that you were trying to enhance?  Because of the extra data that exists in RAW, you can enhance the saturation levels much better in RAW than in a JPEG.   Just another reason shooting RAW is a good idea.  Today we’re going to talk about the Vibrance and Saturation sliders and how they differ.  I will very often add increased saturation/vibrance to my photos, even if just a little bit.  When not adding saturation/vibrance maybe I’ll decrease the levels instead.  I find that I’m using the Vibrance slider much more often than the Saturation slider these days.  So what’s the difference?

The Details                                                                                                            

If you are working in Photoshop Elements, like me, then here is a picture of the settings that we are discussing (circled in red).  Other programs will have similar settings.


The Difference

In simple terms, Saturation increases the intensity of all of the colors in a photo without discrimination. If you already have some colors that are well-saturated in a photo, increasing the saturation will tend to leave those areas over-saturated and result in loss of detail.  Vibrance is a smart tool that picks which colors to intensify.  If you have a photo where some of the areas are already well saturated, the Vibrance tool attempts to leave those areas alone and only saturate some of the more muted colors in the photo.  In theory, the Vibrance tool is also supposed to go easy on skin tones.

When to Use

If you want to bring out the intensity of colors in your photo, try using the Vibrance tool before going to Saturation.  You might find that Vibrance does the trick.  If not, then you can fall back on the Saturation tool.  Let’s look at a before/after photo with Vibrance vs. Saturation so you can get a practical idea of how they work.

Here is a before/after photo I took recently of a woman in a Sailor Moon costume (for all you geeks out there).  The after photo is an edit directly to the JPEG where I increased the saturation to 50 (randomly for effect).  Notice how orange the skin looks and over-saturated in general.


Below is a before/after photo of the same thing but this time with the saturation increased to 50 in the RAW file (instead of the edits done on the JPEG).  The skin tone is much better with the edits in RAW. But notice how much detail is lost in the red bow after saturation.


The last before/after view (below) shows the vibrance increased to 50 (saturation at 0).  The skin tone is much closer to the original here.  The red bow has only been minimally saturated, keeping all of the detail in the wrinkles.  The largest adjustments came in the color of the hair (more yellow) and the blue skirt (taking out some of the shiny reflection).


Caution

As with any edit, it is possible to go too far.  Don’t go crazy with too much saturation or vibrance.  I see over-saturation all the time in photos, and I have to admit, sometimes I get a little too carried away.  When in doubt, take a break after you’ve tweaked the colors and come back later to inspect .

Wrap Up

Try to do a lot of your color edits to your RAW file instead of editing in JPEG.  The results will be better.  Start with the Vibrance tool and see if it gives you what you need.  If you still need a little bit extra then you can move on to the Saturation tool.  Try it out on your own and enjoy!

Next Week: Noise Reduction
  

Do you have any success or horror stories?  Feel free to post your comments and questions to this post and I’ll be happy to discuss them.  Happy shooting!

Bryan Rasmussen is a landscape/nature photographer at heart, although he has been known to include people in his photos from time to time.  He owns Chiseled Light Photography and is also a freelance photographer for a local newspaper.  Follow him at www.facebook.com/ChiseledLight.  He is also on Instagram, Flickr, and Fine Art America.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Inspiration and Why Sometimes I Really Hate Pinterest

Did I just say that out loud? 

Studying the work of other photographers can be a blessing and a curse.  It can be inspiring, but you can go overboard.  Here are some ideas on how to find the right balance.


Pros:
When I was first getting started I spent countless hours on Facebook checking out other photographer's pages.  Then along came Pinterest and I jumped on that bandwagon too.  I stayed up too late and "pinned", "shared", and "liked" into the wee hours of the morning.  It was a wonderland of inspiration.  I had so many ideas to use I could never get through all of them.  I printed out poses that I wanted to copy, sets to replicate, and props to buy or build.  In the days that I was shooting anything and everything it was essential.  I could never come up with enough material in my own.  When I decided that newborns were my thing it helped me keep up with the trends.  I watched many tutorials that were as valuable as expensive workshops. 




Cons:
For a while there was not an original idea in my head.  Not one!  It's hard to feel creative when everything you do comes from someone else.  And I spent a lot of time feeling bad about myself.  Truth is, there is always someone out there that is better than me.  Either they have been at it longer, they have a stylist helping out, or whatever.  When Facebook page surfing became torturous instead of inspiring I knew it was time to take a break.  



Finding a Good Balance:
I will never say that it's not a good idea to study the work of others.  People are producing amazing photographs all the time.  I love seeing the results of other people's hard work and imagination.  Often I get ideas of my own from looking at the work produced by other artist's. I am inspired by them.  Sometimes I recognize my own ideas in someones work and realize that it really was a good idea.  





The problem arises when we start to compare ourselves to others.  We have a tendency to feel competitive or like we will never be as good.  This spells death for the creative process.  If you know your style and what you want to accomplish you should go do it.  Don't find something similar online and copy it, just figure it out on your own and go do it.  You might just end up being the inspiration that someone else needs.

I think that photographers need each other for inspiration and motivation.  We need to see what's possible to inspire us to go further and work harder.  I also think it's important for us to monitor ourselves.  Don't become obsessed with what everyone else is doing.  Give yourself a chance to think your own thoughts.  You'll probably be surprised at what you come up with!

Find Kim at 1000 Words Photography

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lightroom: The Histogram and the Basic Section

Post 15
Series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®

Historical, Hysterical, Hista…? Histogram

The Histogram is a graph of the tones in the image. Darker tones or shadows are on the left, and lighter tones or highlights are on the right. That middle range is called Midtones. The Histogram will automatically change for each image. There is no right or wrong histogram. The look you are going for determines whether it is right for your particular image. A more even and spread out histogram will likely be more balanced in lights and darks. If you are going for a subtle look or a strongly contrasted image, then your histograms will look very different. As you become familiar with the look you are going for and the types of histograms those images show, you will have a nice edge: You will know how to adjust your images right away simply by looking at your histogram.



Linked and Coordinating

Click and drag inside the Histogram with your mouse, and you will see below that the Basic section reacts accordingly.
  
Clipped

Clipping is where the top points, or spikes, in the histogram go above the register. If the area is clipped in the highlights, the light in your image will have blown out the highlights and lost it’s detail. If the clipped point is in the shadows, the image will show those really dark section without detail. If there is clipping, triangles will appear. To remove the clipping in your image, adjust the tones with the slider or by clicking and dragging parts of the histogram. You may finally decide your image is supposed to have such strong highlights and/or shadows.



The Right Temperature

Tone and Tint are sliders near the top of the panel which adjust the color temperature of the image. Move the Temp slider to the right and add warmth (yellow) to the image.  Slide it to the left and introduce a colder (blue) temperature. Tint sliders add either green or magenta.

Exposed

An evenly exposed image will reach fully from left to right and have relatively even distribution.  Changing the Exposure will change the Midtones most, but will slightly affect shadows and highlights.

In Contrast

If you move this slider to the right the whole histogram moves to the right side of the graph, extending the shadows. Moving the other direction extends the highlights. Depending on the direction you choose, the highlights become lighter or the shadows darker.

The Exposure and Contrast sliders are very important in changing the look of your shot. Make these adjustments first.

The Highlights

Highlights adjust the tones next to the Whites. They are great for recovering detail lost in blown out highlights.

In the Shadows

The Shadows slider moves tones that are just lighter than those found in the Blacks. This can add subtle interest to areas that would otherwise be hidden.

In the Black

The Blacks slider controls the tones on the far left. I recommend not removing all of the blacks from the shot because most images work better when they have some areas that have areas of pure black.

White Space

The Whites slider affects the tones on the right of the Histogram. Before you change the Whites, adjust the Highlights first. Adjust the Whites by making small changes to the brightest parts of the image.




Contrast & Clarity, Vibrancy & Saturation

Contrast and Clarity sliders should be done FIRST before saturation because increasing the contrast of the shot will boost its saturation.

The Clarity slider gives mid tones more contrast. Pulling the slider to the right will make the image appear sharper and crisper while pulling the slider to the left creates a softer look. The less-is-more idea fits well with this slider.


Vibrancy and Saturation sliders change the color intensities in the image, but work in slightly different ways. Most find it best to start with the Vibrancy slider because these adjustments are more subtle. Highly saturated images have strong colors and are bright. A little goes a long way. If areas of the image are already highly saturated, the Vibrancy slider won't change these areas and some of the other tones won't be affected either. 

Do-Over

If you decide that you want to erase and start over you can double-click a slider and take it back to 0. You can also use the History panel and click on a particular step you want to re-start at.

With everything you could do, a few tweaks of the Histogram could be all the change your image needs.

Wait! What are these thing-a-ma-bobs?  We'll go over these tools next time. Promise!


Next post: Tools and Tone Curves
 
These posts are part of a series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®


Jennifer Apffel is a photographer with over a decade of experience in portrait, event, and product photography. She also does freelance graphic design and fine art. For more check out jenniferapffel.com, albaphotography.net or look for her on fineartamerica.com.
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Friday, March 14, 2014

Introduction to the Lightroom Develop Module


Post 14
Series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®

Diving Into the Creative

We are finished exploring the Lightroom Library for now. Today we get to start talking about the Develop module.

Admiring Your New Tools

When you click on the Develop button on the top right side of Lightroom, your panels change.



On your left panel you see:

1. Navigator
2. Presets
3. Snapshots
4. History
5. Collections, and
6. Copy and Paste buttons

These sections for are for previewing, saving, and selecting changes you’ve made to a photo.

On your right panel you will see:

A.    Histogram
B.    Basic
C.   Tone Curve

Keep scrolling.

D.    HSL/Color/B&W
E.    Split Toning
F.     Detail

… and scrolling …  and scrolling …

G.   Lens Correction
H.    Effects
I.      Camera Calibration, and
J.     Sync and Reset buttons

To open or close each of these sections, click on the arrow to the right side of each label.

Snooping Around the Gallery

Notice underneath the center panel the “Soft Proofing” option. More on this helpful tool in a future post...

In the bottom left of the Gallery is a rectangle with a “1” in it. This tool is a quick link to the main window viewing options. Click on the little arrow and you will see these options.



Next to the main window viewing options is another rectangle with a “2” in it. This is a second window option. Click on it and have double the Lightroom workability.



Next to the 1 and 2 rectangles are four squares denoting Grid View of your images, the back and forward buttons, and file/collection/image information.


(Click on this image for larger view.)

On the right, above the Gallery are these filter options:



Ready, Set …



Next post: The Histogram, The Basic Section, and Cool Thing-a-ma-bobs

These posts are part of a series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®

Jennifer Apffel is a photographer with over a decade of experience in portrait, event, and product photography. She also does freelance graphic design and fine art. For more check out jenniferapffel.com, albaphotography.net, or look for her on fineartamerica.com.
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Doing Business With Family and Friends

We've all heard the following advice: "Never do business with family and friends".   I don't agree with this particular advice.  I love to photograph family and most of my clients I consider friends.  I do agree that there can be pitfalls to working with people you know so well, so you need to be careful to avoid feelings getting hurt, including your own.  Here are some things I've learned about walking the fine line between business and friendship.

Give them a discount for crying out loud!

I can't tell you how many times I've had other photographers tell me that they don't give discounts to ANYONE.  They don't want to be taken advantage of by their friends and family.  Well, duh!  No one wants to be taken advantage of, but giving your family members a discount seems like a natural thing to do.  Just make sure it's a discount and not a freebie.  Okay, maybe give your MOM a freebie, but not every cousin, great-aunt, or brother-in-law.  The important thing here is not the discount per se, but the fact that you keep it professional.  Don't skip the contract, and clearly state the exact amount of the discount you are giving them.  They will appreciate seeing it in writing and it takes the awkwardness out of the situation.  I always just say that the contract is for insurance reasons or book keeping purposes or something equally serious sounding. 


Treat family and friends the same as any client.

For me this translates as acting a little more professionally and setting a time limit.  I love shooting my very hip and cool niece.  I could spend all day with her scouting locations and having fun.  And there is a time for that.  However, when her mom asked me for a birthday session we treated it as a session.  She paid for my time and I planned the session as I would any other.  We spent the hour on it that I would spend with anyone else and we stayed on task for that hour.  We consulted beforehand and got the poses and locations that she wanted.  It was a very successful session.  I edited her images in a timely manner and delivered the final product in the same time frame that I would anyone else.  One of the problems with freebies is the feeling that you need to get all of your paid sessions delivered before you start on the non-paid work.  This leads to frustration and hurt feelings.  And maybe those nasty feelings of being taken advantage of.


Set aside time just for family and friends.

Something that has worked for me is to set aside specific days for discounted sessions.  Sometimes I open up a Saturday and let my family and close friends know that I will have session times available that day just for them.  I don't usually shoot on weekends so I know there won't be conflicts with regular clients.  Maybe you do it once a month or once a quarter.  


Treat your business like a business.

If you don't take yourself seriously your friends and family won't either.  If you owned a retail shop and sold a product I seriously doubt your sister would walk in and expect you to hand over free stuff.  I guarantee she would expect a small discount or free gift wrapping, but not for you to just hand the goods over.  Your time and talent are your product.  It's your living.  If your loved ones are not willing to pay you for your efforts, feel free to refer them to another photographer.  There is no shame in that!


I know working with friends and family can be awkward.  Believe me, I've been there and done that.  Communication is important.  Make sure that everyone understands from the very beginning that you want to work with them.  You want to deliver your very best product and services to them.  Be clear about the services you will provide and for what price.  Follow your own rules for your business and your relationships and everyone will get along just fine!