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Adobe Announces Lightroom 3 Release and Availability

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By Diane Berkenfeld

After thorough Beta testing by the photographic community, Adobe today announced the release of Lightroom 3.

Lightroom 3, like the prior versions of the software, groups tools into five areas: Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print, and Web. The Library is where you organize your images. Develop is where the exposure changes are made, cropping is done, sharpening and noise reduction occurs, grain is added, etc. Slideshow, Print and Web are the areas that you’d work on Slideshows, Printing and Web sharing respectively.

This latest version of the image management/editing/RAW file processing software offers a brand new image processing engine, increased processing speeds and a host of improvements and new features.

Adobe rebuilt the engines that drive Lightroom from the ground up, to keep pace with the growing resolution and file size of today’s popular digital cameras, and the growth of photographers’ image libraries.

Because a new image processing engine is incorporated into Lightroom 3, when working on images that were originally processed in Lightroom 1 or 2, you’ll be given the option of using the previous version’s processing engine, or updating to the image processing engine in Lightroom 3. The choice is given to the user because slight changes can occur when updating from one version to the next, so now you don’t need to worry about the images you’ve worked on in the past and perfected.

Improvements include:

• Improved noise reduction and sharpening.

• Enhanced post crop vignetting.

• An improved import feature.

• Lens and perspective correction. Adobe also created a Lens Profile Creator that you can use to create profiles for the specific lenses you own.

• An expanded offering of custom print layouts.

• Addition of new Develop presets.

New features include:

• The ability to shoot tethered to a camera and import images directly into Lightroom. (26 Canon and Nikon models have been approved as being compatible with the launch of Lightroom 3. Additional models, as well as cameras from other manufacturers are expected to be added to that list as testing is completed. An updated list will be posted at Go.adobe.com/kb/ts_cpsid_84221_en-us.

• Cataloging of video files in addition to still images. Video files will show an icon of a video camera in the bottom left corner.

• The ability to add natural looking grain to images.

• The creation of slideshows synced to music that can be output as movie files compressed for the web, at HD quality and everywhere in between.

• Flexible watermarking.

• Direct access to image sharing websites and mobile devices. An included Flickr plug-in lets you upload directly to that website. Developers will be able to create such direct access for other websites and services.

Minimum system requirements for Lightroom 3 are: Mac – Intel-based Mac, OS X 10.5 or 10.6, 2 Gigs of RAM, 1 Gig of hard disk space, CD-ROM drive, and 1024 x 768 monitor resolution; Windows – Intel Pentium 4, OS Windows 7, Vista Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise (certified for 32-bit and 64-bit editions) or Microsoft XP with Service Pack 2, 2 Gigs RAM, 1 Gig available hard disk space, CD-ROM drive, and 1024 x 768 monitor resolution. Lightroom 3 is a 64-bit application by default for the Mac, and can be used as a 32-bit application if users so choose. For Windows, the 64-bit version will only be installed on Windows 7 or Vista 64-bit operating systems, all other operating systems will install the 32-bit version by default.

My 2 ¢

As a Lightroom user since version 1.0, the decision to upgrade to the latest version of Lightroom is a no brainer. Why stay in the past when you can improve your workflow and utilize the many new features of the software. And at a cost of only $99 to upgrade, its quite affordable to do so.

If you’re debating whether or not to add Lightoom to your workflow, the list of features alone should sway the decision. The full program MSRP is $299.

Lightroom is a powerful part of my workflow. When you’re shooting hundreds or thousands of images per job, you don’t want to be editing through images by opening each file individually. While Adobe Bridge offers the ability to perform some tasks, Lightroom 3 features not only image management but image editing tools as well.

Using Lightroom 3 in conjunction with Photoshop CS5 is my ideal workflow. I import all images I shoot into Lightroom, edit through them for the files I want to work with, make exposure changes, crop/straighten images, and export the files in the size(s) I need. (The export feature alone is worth the price of the software to me! Especially when I have to save multiple sizes of the same images.) Major retouching or compositing is then done in Photoshop.

Adobe is shipping Lightroom 3 starting today.

For more information, go to www.adobe.com.

♦ We’ve begun testing out Lightroom 3 and will be posting a full review within a week! —Ed.

Virtual Trade Shows: Education, Networking & More At Your Own Computer

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By Diane Berkenfeld

Last week I went to a trade show. And I didn’t even bother to get out of my pajamas. Ok… I did get dressed, but I could have stayed in my P.J.s with bed head and no makeup, and no one would have been the wiser.

How you ask? I attended the Focus on Wedding and Portrait Photography virtual trade show organized by PDN magazine (www.pdnonline.com; www.photoplusexpo.com). The tradeshow was “live” May 24 and 25, but will be archived for the next two months.

On the left is a screengrab of one of the three exhibit halls, on the right is a screengrab of the lobby of the PDN Virtual Trade Show.

Just like normal trade shows in the physical world, this virtual show had a lobby, three exhibit halls and an auditorium where seminars were given. Just like actual trade shows, you could have your badge swiped to receive additional information. You could even put digital information (PDFs) in your exhibit bag, and download them later.

The Focus on Wedding and Portrait Photography virtual trade show focused on weddings and portraits. The range of seminars included those dedicated to posing and lighting, business and marketing, and Photoshop techniques.

I love the idea of a virtual trade show. While I enjoy attending actual trade shows because of the face-to-face networking and true interactivity of presentations, there is definitely a place for virtual events. Especially when you can’t get away from work or afford travel expenses. For a virtual event, just fill out the registration form and attend. What’s great about virtual events is that the seminars begin for each attendee when they enter the auditorium. For example, enter most of the seminars late at a virtual event, and you aren’t conspicuously searching for a seat and missing part of the presentation. When these virtual events are archived (this show is being archived for two months) you can take in all of the presentations at your leisure.

After many of the seminars at the Focus on Wedding and Portrait Photography event, there were live chats with the presenters. Just type your questions and the presenter types his/her response.

How popular are virtual events? They are being attended in increasing numbers and gaining in popularity, according to Champion Exposition Services. Seven out of 10 respondents in their ‘survey on the use and adoption of digital tools by the association market’ are actively producing or considering a future virtual event. And these associations aren’t replacing actual shows with virtual events but adding them into their marketing mix.

I found the more interactive booths where video launched automatically, were the more interesting ones over those that only had PDF files that you’d download and read later.

On the left is a screengrab of Doug Gordon's exhibitor booth, on the right is a screengrab of the video that automatically launches when you visit the booth. This was one of the more interactive booths of the virtual trade show.

You could even connect with fellow attendees, via email or chat.

For the most part, the attendees, exhibitors and presenters I spoke with came away a positive experience from PDN‘s virtual trade show. One benefit for exhibitors: a virtual event replaces hours or even days of booth set up and tear down with mere minutes of work. Exhibitors noted they were able to connect with new customers, presenters enjoyed the experience, and attendees liked the concept and experience.

Pet photographer Margaret Bryant (www.bryantdogphotography.com) attended this event as well as a previous PDN virtual trade show. Although she didn’t use the chat feature, she did like that attendees were given the opportunity to chat with presenters and exhibitors. “I think [a virtual show] is probably more valuable for those who can’t attend a physical trade show. To me, it is in addition to a physical trade show, not a substitution. I’m a tactile person so I like to touch merchandise at the trade show. I also like the face-to-face contact. But I do think there is a place for virtual trade shows,” Bryant says.

This virtual show was the first attended by photographer Stephanie Natale, (www.natalephotography.com). Natale ‘walked the trade show’ and even signed up with one of the exhibitors. “I think it is a great idea,” she says, adding, “I’d attend another one for sure.”

Darla Achey, marketing communications specialist, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics, (www.mitsubishi-imaging.com) said this was her first virtual trade show. Mitsubishi was an exhibitor and seminar sponsor. “I love the concept,” she says. In addition to new leads, Achey explains, “This was a great opportunity, that was cost effective, and helped us build brand recognition for our photo products.” She adds, “It’s a great way to reach people who might not otherwise be able to get away for a trade show.”

The PDN virtual event was also the first such experience for photographer and presenter Judy Host (www.judyhost.com). She feels the concept has worldwide appeal. “I would love to participate again. There is something to be said about having your program pre-recorded and being able to respond to questions via email afterwards. I don’t think it will ever replace a “real experience” but it sure does give access to those who wouldn’t normally have it.” Host sees virtual events as a great educational tool. “There are so many people out there that want the education that we provide and just can’t afford to travel and/or give up their time. This brings the training into their homes and makes it convenient for them to learn. As an educator, it just doesn’t get any better than that,” she adds.

So the next time an invitation to a virtual trade show lands in your e-mail inbox, why not attend. You won’t have to travel further than your own computer—and you just might learn something new!

Toronto School of Photography to put on Photoshop CS5 Workshop June 17 & 18

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Updated workshop information!

The Toronto School of Photography will be hosting a 2-day workshop taught by Award-winning photographer and instructor Gary Small on June 17 & 18.

The School of Photography in Toronto, Canada will be offering a two-day workshop in June, to educate photographers – both beginner and advanced – with the new features and functions of Photoshop CS5. The workshop will be led by professional photographer and educator, and Picture-soup.com‘s own Photoshopman a.k.a. Gary Small.

Attendees will be able to bring their laptops and work on images using Photoshop CS5 during the workshop for a hands-on experience.

Topics to be Covered include:

→ Mini Bridge

→ Bridge Improvements

→ Content-Aware Fill

→ Content-Aware Healing Brush

→ Puppet Warp

→ Mixer Brush

→ Painting Features

→ Customizable Bristle Tips

→ New Refine Edge Command

→ Crop Tool Improvements

→ Photoshop CS 5 Extended: Repousse 3-D feature

→ Improvements in Camera Raw (ACR 6.0)

→ New Lens correction with lens profiles for most cameras

→ HDR Pro

→ Layers Improvements

→ Working with a Wacom Tablet

Visit the website at www.schoolofphotography.ca/school/Seminar/semin.html for more information and to register.

— Diane Berkenfeld

Long Island Photo Workshop Announces Instructors for Summer 2010

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The Long Island Photo Workshop has announced its list of classes for the August 2-5, 2010 dates. This year’s classes and instructors are: The Power of Light with Tony Corbell, Professional Digital Imaging: Photoshop CS5 for Professionals being taught by Gary Small, “Paint Like a Master” with Corel Painter to be taught by Fay Sirkis, Light is the Greatest Influence being taught by Dave Black, and Professional Polish—Creating Your Signature Style with Janice Wendt.

The Long Island Photo Workshop is a Winona affiliate and PPA affiliate school, so if you’re a PPA member and attend, you will receive 2 merits for your attendance. The LIPW will be held at the Sheraton Long Island Hotel, in Smithtown, N.Y.

For more information about the Long Island Photo Workshop, go to the website www.liphotoworkshop.com.

The Power of Light

Understanding and controlling light quality is at the core of all of Tony’s presentations. You will learn how to see a unique perspective and not be afraid to push the limits of your experience and talents. Tony is a master of lighting and seeing light. Tony will discuss all types of lighting and tools in depth. Lighting applications will include additive, subtractive, reflective and transmission. Tony will show attendees how spending a few extra moments at the time of capture can save you hours in post-production making corrections.

Photographs ⓒ Tony Corbell

Tony Corbell. Photo by Bambi Cantrell

Tony Corbell is senior manager, product education and planning for Nik Software. During his career, he has had the honor of photographing three U.S. presidents, 185 world leaders, 65 Nigerian heads of state, about 600 brides and grooms, a couple of NASA astronauts and scores of famous and not so famous faces since 1979. He has spoken at over 450 seminars and workshops around the world.

Tony has received the WPPI Lifetime Achievement Award, the Photographer of the Year award from the IPC, and is one of only 40 worldwide members of the Camera Craftsmen of America. He has also been a published author, has written articles for major photo magazines, and has had his new Location Lighting DVD produced by Software Cinema.

Oh, and he’s [supposedly] the biggest Beatles fan alive!

Light is the Greatest Influence

This workshop class will center around light and how photographers can best use it to define their subject and capture the viewer’s attention, using off-camera flash and Light Painting.

Photographs ⓒ Dave Black

Dave Black

Dave Black has been a freelance photographer for more than 30 years, and he is best known for his sports photography, featured in Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, Time, ESPN and other publications, however he is a true master of light and has photographed many other subjects during his career.

Dave is also well known for his artistic Light Painting. Dave has been a teacher and guest lecturer since 1986. His monthly website tutorial pages – “Workshop at the Ranch” and BEST of On the Road” attract over 85,000 unique visitors monthly. Last year he released The Way I See It …50 One Page Workshops, an instructional coffee table book.

Paint Like a Master

Attendees will learn how to use Photoshop and Corel Painter 11 to transform their images into paintings that replicate the former Master Painters such as Rembrandt, Money, Norman Rockwell and Picasso. Learning to interpret high key portraits to be painted as watercolors and low key images as classical portraiture for the look of heirloom canvas oil paintings.

Photographs ⓒ Fay Sirkis

Photographs ⓒ Fay Sirkis

Fay Sirkis

Fay will share her signature style of blending an image, and the new digital “brushes” she has created that replicate the brush strokes of the Old Masters. Students will receive some of these brushes as files to keep. In addition to discussing retouching in Photoshop, applying and blending paints in Painter, and the final printing process, Fay will also offer tips for marketing these photographic works of art.

Fay Sirkis has spoken across the U.S. and Europe. She is a NY-based contemporary digital artist and photographer, with a background in traditional fine art. Fay is a Painter Master, is on the advisory council of Corel Painter, and is also a Canon Print Master. She is part of the “Dream Team” Instructors who teach at NAPP’s Photoshop World Conferences. Fay is known for her teaching methods which simplify the learning curve for students.

Professional Digital Imaging: Photoshop CS5

If you’ve wanted to enhance your knowledge of Photoshop, increase your productivity and learn real-world production time savers, this is the class for you. In addition to tips, tricks, color management and other techniques, you will also learn the nuances to the just released, latest version of Photoshop CS5. Photoshop Lightroom and its use in the digital workflow will also be discussed.

Photographs ⓒ Gary Small

Photographs ⓒ Gary Small

Gary Small

Gary Small has been a professional photographer since 1979 and has been working with Photoshop since the early versions of the program. Gary was the first person in New York state and only the seventh in the country to receive the PP of A ‘Certified in Electronic Imaging’ (CEI) designation. In addition to running a studio, Gary also conducts private tutoring and consulting on color management, Photoshop and more. He has also been a beta tester of numerous software programs and photographic products over the years.

Gary’s photo may look familiar to regular visitors of Picture-soup.com, he’s our resident digital imaging, Adobe Photoshop, Photodex Proshow Producer, and color management Guru and regular contributor to our website. Prior to his work on Picture-soup.com, he was a regular contributor to imaginginfo.com and Studio & Location Photography magazine.

Professional Polish—Creating Your Signature Style

Want to turn your images from good to great? Ever wonder how top photographers get awesome, edgy images? Want to take your work to the next level? This class will learn the secrets to creative, subtle image enhancements that save you time. As someone who knows Nik Software inside and out, Janice will help students get the most out of each of the company’s programs: Nik Color Efex Pro, Nik Sharpener Pro, Viveza, Silver Efex Pro and Nikon Capture NX2.

(l.) Before (r.) After. Photographs ⓒ Janice Wendt.

(l.) Before (r.) After. Photographs ⓒ Janice Wendt.

Janice Wendt. Photo by Joseph & Louise Simone

Janice Wendt is Nik Software’s Channel Sales Manager, leading authority and ambassador, as well as often “training the trainers” on various techniques in digital imaging. She is a commercial and portrait photographer with over 25 years of experience. She also regularly gives lectures and seminars within the educational community.

— Diane Berkenfeld

HighKey Straps makes What the Duck Camera Straps and more

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Aaron Johnson's WTD character.

Here at Picture-soup.com we love What the Duck, the adorable cartoon strip created by Aaron Johnson featuring a Duck who just happens to be a professional photographer. The strip follows WTD and his photographer friends in their exploits and experiences [that all photographers can relate to]. Recently we received an email alerting us that there are now two different What the Duck camera straps available. We decided to look further… and found an interesting company doing the manufacturing.

What the Duck camera straps are created by HighKey Straps, with materials sourced in the USA and hand-assembled in Southern California. HighKey was founded last year by Tom Baker and Andie Haugen, two Brooks Institute of Photography students who wanted more than the “same old, same old” dull camera strap that are attached to masses of cameras around the world.

The two What the Duck camera straps made by HighKey Straps.

HighKey straps are 24″ long, with adjustable black leads that allow a total possible length of 44″. The underside of all straps are lined with a textured, non-slip material. The company offers a variety of camera strap designs/colors, and you can even create your own design. Simply use the Photoshop template provided on their website and design your own strap using any picture, logo or design you want.

Two of the many camera strap designs offered by HighKey Straps.

Go to the website at www.highkeycamera.com for more information.

If you’ve never heard of What the Duck before, we insist you go to whattheduck.net now!

— Diane Berkenfeld

Adobe Creative Suite 5 NOW SHIPPING

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By Diane Berkenfeld

Adobe (www.adobe.com) announced yesterday that it has begun immediate shipping of the Creative Suite 5 collections and the 15 individual software titles that make up the CS5 Master Collection.

More than 250 new features have been integrated into the Adobe Creative Suite 5 Master Collection. Adobe offers all 15 software titles that make up the CS5 Master Collection individually, as well as in collections designed to incorporate those programs that photographers would need, or graphic designers or web designers. These are: Creative Suite 5 Master Collection [everything but the kitchen sink —Ed.], Creative Suite 5 Design Premium, Creative Suite 5 Design Standard, Creative Suite 5 Web Premium and Creative Suite 5 Production Premium.

Click here to read more about some of the great new features packed into Adobe’s Creative Suite 5.

Look for reviews of Creative Suite 5 programs coming to Picture-soup.com soon!

Unique New Products Shown at WPPI

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By Diane Berkenfeld

This year while walking the tradeshow floor at WPPI I found a lot of cool new products, exciting ideas and hot trends for pro photographers to use that could drastically change the way they take pictures. Not technologically per se, but fresh new ideas that can be used to monetize the digital images that are being produced as well as creating exciting new personalized items for clients.

Examples of the cool seating, panels and rugs from Robert Andrew Designs.

Robert Andrew Designs (www.robertandrewdesigns.com) showed the coolest kid sized furniture in a range of traditional and contemporary styles but with bold, bright colors and designs. Mix and match the furniture (which isn’t just for photographing kids) with the company’s background tile panels and rugs. Pair items that are color coordinated or not.

While some may think that a backdrop is a backdrop is a backdrop, that’s not necessarily true. Barbour Backdrops (www.barbourbackdrops.com) offers not only backgrounds but boxes and stools for your young portrait subjects to perch upon. They also offer baseboards, which let you transform your hanging backdrop into a painted wall [at least the look of it].

One of the many wooden creations from AmyLou Productions.

AmyLou Productions (www.amylouproductions.com), was a first time exhibitor at the show, but has been in business for over two decades. The company makes quality wood props, many of which are designed for use outdoors. Some of the cute kid sized designs include gates, sleighs, and beach chairs, bridges and more. Adult sizes are also available. The company also offers a variety of backdrops in contemporary colors and styles; as well as posing blocks and crates.

Design Revolution (www.designrevolutiononline.com) offers a large selection of props as well as clothing and digital templates. Their booth had the most chic colorful hanging chandeliers. Check their website to see the variety of rugs and distressed hardwood flooring that you can use to give your images a different feel. Their retro couches have a distinct ‘50’s feel. The company also has a wide range of tutus, hats, headpieces, wings and other items to help you create the most adorable baby and toddler photographs.

Burlesque (www.absoluteburlesque.com) is a great new company started just this year by a professional photographer to fill a need she saw. With Boudoir photography sessions becoming all the rage, Burlesque offers a line of lingerie and other clothing, as well as accessories, designed specifically for being photographed. Suggested business models include selling the clothing to your clients for their use as well as renting the clothing (to which you should also add on a cleaning fee) for each session.

The Fairytale Shoppe (www.thefairytaleshoppe.com) offers exquisite fairy and fantasy clothing in kids and adult sizes. These high-end designs are hand-made. Check their website not only to see the available products but to view the gallery of portraits, including the gallery of images (before and after) with examples of their fine art fantasy effects virtual backgrounds that can also be used as overlays on your images.

Your Photo On Canvas Pro (www.yourphotooncanvas.com/pro) is owned by a fine art printmaking company that has been in business for over 20 years, producing artwork on canvas and Giclée for the fine art/art dealer markets. They are now bringing this expertise to photographers. Each photo is printed according to Giclée standards and reviewed by quality control experts for the utmost in customer satisfaction. Professional photographers register via their pro section of the website receive wholesale pricing, custom branded products and packaging, ICC profiling, and more.

Colorado Timberline lets you offer your clients items uniquely personalized with their images.

Colorado Timberline (www.coloradotimberline.com) offers professional photographers the most affordable rates for sublimation printing of photographs and artwork on a range of substrates, including fleece blankets, towels, clothing, ornaments and more.

Some of the more unique items they can print photos onto include cloth napkins, placemats and tablecloths. Picture this: you’re not only your wedding couple (or other event client’s) photographer for the day, but also providing your imagery on the linens for the event. Think of the possibilities: not just weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs, but sweet sixteens, baptisms, communions, anniversary parties, etc.

Studio Style by Collector’s Gallery (www.studiostyle.com) offers a range of folders, portrait and cardboard event frames and more—with imprinting services. New items include printed event folders in a range of themes. The company also offers cardboard frames that are designed to hold prints from the Fujifilm Instax 200 camera. Great for event shooting, they even offer a golf ball textured folder that holds either one or two 4×6 prints, and are ideal for golf outings.

Southpoint Photo Imaging Supplies (www.southpointphoto.com) introduced at the show an exciting new inkjet media—metallic inkjet paper, made by Mitsubishi Imaging. The paper comes in rolls and cut sheets, and offers a metallic sheen for unique looking prints.

Blossom Publishing (www.blossom-publishing.com), the company that offers a line of printed marketing materials for photographers has gone digital. The company is offering Purls, Personalized URLs so you can create a landing page for each prospect, complete with personalized messages. Now, in addition to the print marketing collateral you send to prospective clients, you can add a digital/web message too. Ideal, considering that most folks today do their initial vendor research via the computer.

Jolie Wraps offers unique album packaging and display options.

Jolie Wraps (www.joliewraps.com) has created album boxes and fabric wraps in a range of styles and colors, for you to present albums to your clients in. What makes Jolie Wraps so cool is the designs and styles. Instead of just a solid color box, they offer boxes with a subtle pattern overlay to add a little sparkle to your presentations. The fabric wraps are basically pouches, made to order for each album’s dimensions; and designed in a variety of vogue colors with black patterning and ribbons. The Bridget album wrap, with its black satin exterior, and fusia interior with fusia ribbons is ideal for boudoir albums. Check out the website to get a real taste of their products, as well as the idea section.

Digital Foci's portable digital album can be used as a portfolio or to house your clients' images.

Digital Foci (www.digitalfoci.com) has created a Pearl White version of its popular Photo Book, a portable digital photo album that features an 8-inch LCD inside a soft, leather-like case. The Photo Book features 4 Gigs of memory and the battery life is supposed to last more than two and a half hours. The Photo Book is a great way for photographers to tote around their digital images and show to clients—because of its large 8-inch screen. The device could be utilized as a digital album that photographers sell or give to clients who reached a certain spending level. Other features include the ability to add music for slideshows, RAW image file support, built-in media card slots and USB connectivity. A number of image file formats, audio and video formats are compatible with the device, check the website for the full list. The Pearl White Photo Book hits store shelves in June.

White Glove's new Fusion Wedding Books join printed albums and digital.

White Glove (www.wgbooks.com) has introduced a really exciting product, with its own website at www.fusionweddingbooks.com. Fusion Wedding Books are White Glove albums with a unique twist—the cover is designed to feature an iPod Touch or other multimedia device in a specially designed cut out area so your brides can showcase their wedding albums and digital proofs, video or other files—all in one! The company also makes a window that you can place into the space where the iPod/multimedia device is held when viewing the digital images separately. Go to the website to see more examples.

GiftWorksPlus (www.giftworksplus.com) is a unique frame company. On staff artists create designs for retail and wholesale customers. They offer three types of frames: Generic – frames are as they are shown – no changes or additions; Personalized – they have a set design that can be personalized with names, dates and other information; and Customized – this is a frame that is designed from scratch for a resort, lodge, corporate event, tournament, etc. GiftWorksPlus can expand a photographers offerings to their current customers – and help obtain new customers in areas you currently may not be doing photos for. The company’s wholesale website is scheduled to launch this June.

Want free business software to run your business? That’s right, I said FREE. StudioCloud (www.studiocloud.com) offers photographers free desktop based business software with no strings attached. StudioCloud software lets you manage client info, schedule appointments and events, create invoices, manage projects, create reports, and more. The software includes one user login.

I wondered just exactly what the company’s business model was so I asked. The company makes its money when customers upgrade to one of the solutions for which it charges a fee. StudioCloud software is desktop based, which means it stays on your computer. The company also offers CloudBoost, which gives you a mobile solution by syncing your data to an online server; and Employee Boost, which gives companies the ability to manage and schedule multiple people, locales and equipment. There is a monthly fee for the CloudBoost and EmployeeBoost services.

Jen's Fabulous Stuff's Children's Posing Guide.

Jen’s Fabulous Stuff (www.jensfabulousstuff.com) offers a wide range of digital products including card and album templates, Photoshop Actions and Posing Guides. One of the cool new guides just released at WPPI is the Children’s Posing Gide. Available as an e-book or spiral flip book, the guide includes 100 creative poses by photographer Jen Hillenga, with directions on where to place the main and fill lights. The electronic version can be saved onto your iPod or computer for easy referencing before a shoot.

The Spider Holster lets you shoot from the hip, so to speak.

Spider Holster (www.spiderholster.com) makes a great holster system for photographers that can be used when in the studio, on location and during events. Although it isn’t a brand, brand new product, we here at Picture-soup.com love the Spider Holster. A secure plate connects to the bottom of your camera via the tripod threads and then is slipped in and out of the Spider Holster itself, which can either be slipped onto a regular belt or the durable belt the company offers. By keeping the camera secure at the hip, you aren’t putting strain on your shoulders or neck. And, using the company’s belt, you can attach two holsters to carry two bodies, one at each hip.

One of the new camera straps from Backdrop Outlet.

Backdrop Outlet (www.backdropoutlet.com) is now offering unique camera straps designed for men and women, in a range of styles. The straps are wacky, fun and vibrantly colored—and are a great way to personalize your gear.

Tabelz make it easy for you to shoot in the studio or on location tethered to a laptop.

Tabelz (www.tabelz.com) are a unique item for photographers who shoot tethered on location or in the studio. Tabelz portable laptop computer stands come in seven sizes, designed to meet the needs of individual users. What is great about them is that they sit on a tripod—and the company offers four Manfrotto tripod options (if you want to buy it as a complete set). Or, you can use the Primary Table with your own tripod/head. Use a mouse with your laptop? Add on a Side Table.