Picture Soup Blog

The online destination for your [photo] imagination.

Posts Tagged ‘Diane Berkenfeld

Adobe Announces Lightroom 3 Release and Availability

with one comment

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

with one comment

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!

Mamiya Announces RZ33 Digital Camera Kit

with one comment

Mamiya announced the addition of a new medium format digital camera kit to its line, with the introduction of the 33MP Mamiya RZ33. The RZ33 offers cable-free operation, because it was designed with integrated electronics, for direct, cable free communication with the digital back. Also, it features a CompactFlash card slot, so you aren’t tied to a computer while shooting. However, should you want to shoot tethered, you can, connecting the camera to a computer via a FireWire 800 cable, and using either Capture One and Leaf Capture software.

The RZ33 has an ISO range of 50-800, with a 12 f/stop dynamic range. The camera produces a .mos RAW file, with 16 bits/channel. It is an HDR-type Mosaic RAW file, with uncompressed or lossless compression. The largest file that the RZ33 is capable of producing is a 190 megabyte 16 bit TIFF.

Other features of the camera include flash sync at all speeds from 8 seconds to 1/400 of a second (plus T-setting for up to 32 seconds) through the use of leaf-shutters built into the RZ system lenses; precise rack and pinion bellows focusing on all RZ lenses without mounting adapters; and a 6x7cm LCD touchscreen interface. And because the RZ offers vertical-horizontal rotation, you don’t need to turn the camera while shooting.

You can view images remotely on an Apple iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad (in tethered mode, Wi-Fi required).

The RZ33 kit is ideal for photographers who already own RZ system cameras; it is compatible with all 19 RZ system lenses and most accessories. Optional accessories include: film backs, interchangeable viewfinders, (the waist-level finder is included); interchangeable focusing screens, (the Matte Focusing Screen is standard); the Power Winder 2, which cocks the shutter and resets the mirror automatically, for exposures at about one frame per second. It can also be remote controlled with radio or IR transmitters; extension tubes; and more. You can also use RZ67 system accessories with the new RZ33.

“The new RZ33 brings all the ease-of-use advantages of the tried and true RZ camera system to large-sensor digital photography while making tremendous use of the existing line of world-renowned Mamiya RZ optics and accessories,” says Mamiya Product Marketing Manager Mike Edwards.

The new Mamiya RZ33 digital camera kit, including the RZIID camera body, 33MP focusing screen, Mamiya cable-free digital integration plate, Mamiya DM33 digital back and battery, battery charger, FW800 cable, Capture One and Leaf Capture software, will be available in the U.S. for $17,990 and will begin shipping in July 2010.

Go to www.mamiya.com for more information.

— Diane Berkenfeld

Product Review: Foto Fashionista’s My Foto Vest for Ladies

with 3 comments

By Diane Berkenfeld

I am a woman with a camera—a professional photographer.

When shooting personal projects or working on location, I don’t always want to carry a camera bag, nor do I always want to have a gear belt full of pouches that resembles Batman or Robin’s utility belts. Thanks to fellow photographer Marla Holden, I won’t have to do that anymore. That’s because Marla decided to design a photo vest for women.

The vests fit a woman’s shape, unlike the baggy, oversized photojournalist’s vests that have been available for men for years. Marla’s company, Foto Fashionista, offers female photographers a more fashionable choice for carrying necessities while shooting, the My Foto Vest, in four styles: Nantucket Stripe, Casual Friday Khaki, Saturday Blue Jeans, and Midnight Denim. The vests are made of comfortable cotton materials, and are machine washable. They’re available in small, medium, large and x-large.

One of the great features of My Foto Vest is that the back is made of a stretchable lace, so it breathes. A zipper lets you wear the vest closed or open. On the inside of the vest, you’ll find pockets that are made of a stretchy neoprene-like material. The right side features five pockets, one for a pen, and four more to hold accessories. The left side has two pockets for accessories, with three smaller pockets to hold media cards higher up near your shoulder.

Pockets are stretchable. The My Foto Vest is comfortable to wear even when you've got the pockets full and the vest zippered closed.

Photo accessories, such as a light meter, flash, lens caps, filters, white balance devices (i.e. Spydercube), extra batteries, and more will easily fit in the pockets. So will a cellphone, keys, ID and money, or a small wallet. I like that when wearing a Foto Fashionista vest, I don’t have to stuff everything in my pant’s pockets. This is important, because, except for denim jeans, not all pants have pockets that are large enough, or shaped correctly to safely hold much of anything. I would like to be able to fit a lens in the vest, and wasn’t able to with the lenses than I own. The material that makes up the pockets is stretchy, but I couldn’t get the lenses to pass through the seams at the top of the pockets—which also speaks to the durability of the vests’ construction.

I like the ability to keep my full media cards on me. I don’t normally put shot cards in my gear bag in the event that it disappears on a shoot. My camera gear is replaceable, but the photographs I’ve taken aren’t.

Overall, I found the vest could replace a small purse, which I would find helpful on its own. If I was going out shooting with only one lens, I would definitely wear the vest instead of carrying a small camera bag. Being able to easily and comfortably carry accessories I use all the time is great. Because I shoot events, I would definitely like to see a more formal looking vest in black. Marla has said she’s working on a formal design for photographers to wear while shooting events, and I can’t wait to try it out.

MSRP of the My Foto Vest is $139.99. For more information, go to www.fotofashionista.com.

Sony Joins the Compact Interchangeable Lens Camera Party

with one comment

Sony recently introduced two new Alpha compact digitals that join in the non-DLSR, interchangeable lens category that Olympus, and Panasonic are already part of, with their micro four-thirds systems. The cameras were first announced at PMA earlier this year.

Sony's Alpha NEX-5

The Alpha NEX-5 and NEX-3 provide the quality of a DSLR in a compact body. Because this type of cameras don’t utilize a mirror prism, their physical size can be much smaller than the ordinary DSLR.

Both Sony models utilize a newly developed 14.2 MP Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor. The sensor is 60% larger than the micro four-thirds camera sensors.

What makes the new Alpha NEX-5 and NEX-3 cameras so cool is that the APS-C sensor continually adjusts focus and exposure while recording video—the first of its kind. The NEX-5 offers Full HD movie capture at (1080i AVCHD and 720p MP4) with Full HD 60i recording. The NEX-3 shoots 720p HD video, saving them as MP4 files.

Features of the cameras include built-in stereo microphones, Sony’s BIONZ processor, and high speed burst of full-res images at up to 7 frames per second. The cameras are also the first to incorporate the Sweep Panorama feature that allows your images to show up to 226° horizontal or 151° vertical field of view. With a firmware update available mid-summer, the cameras will also be able to shoot 3D Sweep Panorama images with a single lens.

Sony Alpha NEX-3

Both camera models feature a 3-inch LCD, that tilt up or down for added flexibility.

Three new E-mount lenses are being introduced with the NEX-5 and NEX-3: the 16mm f/2.8 prime lens, an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS standard zoom and an 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS zoom.

The cameras come with a super-compact clip-on flash. They also feature dual media card compatibility, accepting both Memory Stick PRO Duo (and Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo) and SD cards, (including SDHC and SDXC formats).

An optional mount adapter—LA-EA1—makes  all 30 of the Alpha family lenses usable on the camera bodies, as well as older legacy A-mount lenses (manually focusing only). Other optional accessories include an ultra wide converter that gives a 12mm view and a Fisheye converter; an optical viewfinder, and stereo microphone. The flash, optical viewfinder and mic all connect to the cameras by the accessory shoe at the top of the camera body.

Sony is shipping the NEX-5A digital in silver and black and NEX-3A digital in silver, black and red as a kit with the 16mm lens (MSRP $650 and $550 respectively); and as a kit with the 18-55mm lens (MSRP $700 and $600 respectively). The camera bodies, accessories and 16mm and 18-55mm lenses will be available in July. The 18-200mm lens will be available in the fall.

(l. to r.) NEX-3 in red, silver NEX-3 with accessory stereo mic, the rear tilting LCD is a feature of both models, the NEX-5 and NEX-3.

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

— Diane Berkenfeld

Adobe Creative Suite 5 NOW SHIPPING

with one comment

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

with one comment

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.

Hanging Out a Shingle in the Digital Era

with 13 comments

liveBooks offers photographers more affordable website options

Article by Diane Berkenfeld. Images as noted.

Since its inception, website design/hosting company liveBooks has created sites for more than 7,000 photographers and creative professionals. liveBooks recently added a new option for photographers and creative artists who want a professional website to market their work but can’t afford a custom designed website—a subscription based service offering pre-designed templates.

The company explains that it is able to offer these affordable, flexible payments for the pre-designed options after having secured $5 million in funding from both strategic and private investors. The subscription based service means no up front commitment of a large sum of money, which is the norm with many website design companies and is the case with liveBooks’ custom designed sites. The pre-designed website payment choices include $39 per month, $399 per year or a one time payment of $1,199 plus $90 per year hosting. Custom designed sites typically begin at $3,200.

These more affordable web solutions are popular with younger pros, just out of college, as well as established photographers and designers. We spoke with three photographers who have chosen to go with liveBooks’ pre-designed sites.

Tristan Cairns – www.tristancairns.com

Tristan Cairns, a student at the Art Institute of Atlanta found the “Edu | LiveBooks” offerings to be very affordable. He then upgraded after graduation to one of liveBooks’ pre-designed templates.

Tristan Cairns' website homepage. Photography Ⓒ Tristan Cairns.

“I found that liveBook’s pre-designed sites are current with today’s trends/styles,” he says. “I use famous photographers’ website layouts as a standard of measurement from which to judge others.” He explains, “Most of the commercial photographers that I follow are the ‘trend setters’ in the industry so it is important for me to have a website that shares the same style if I am to remain current in the commercial world; LiveBooks met my criteria.” Having a website that is organized, uncluttered, and easy to navigate is important and will present a better image for a photographer, over competitors who have sites that are not as professional looking.

Photography Ⓒ Tristan Cairns.

Photography Ⓒ Tristan Cairns.

Matt Mills McKnight – www.mattmillsphoto.com

Matt Mills McKnight, a 2009 graduate from San Francisco State University is both a journalist and photojournalist. He’s also expanding his repertoire to include more commercial work. Matt’s site is unique in that his words are as important as his imagery.

Matt Mills McKnight's website. Photography Ⓒ Matt Mills McKnight.

In his junior year of college, Matt designed his own first website. He notes that, “It worked at the time, but was extremely clunky and without warning would sometimes load broken images. After a while I started to think that my browser was the only one it actually worked on.”

Photography Ⓒ Matt Mills McKnight.

Photography Ⓒ Matt Mills McKnight.

“Before I pulled the trigger (or shall I say pressed the shutter) with liveBooks, I made it a point to [shop] around. There were a few other companies that offered websites at similar price points, but didn’t have features like using a multimedia tab that doesn’t require you link off-site to another page. The search engine optimization, client access section and ready-to-use google analytics were one of the many pre-built features that landed me with liveBooks,” he explains.

Jake Rosenberg – www.jakerosenberg.ca

Jake Rosenberg, a 2009 graduate of OCAD is focusing on fashion and lifestyle photography, with a desire to become further entrenched in the fashion advertising world. Jake had used a carbonmade online portfolio, but needed a more professional site to represent his work.

The Info. page from Jake Rosenberg's website. Photography Ⓒ Jake Rosenberg.

“The liveBooks site allows me more freedom to categorize my work,” he says, and, “it looks much more professional.” He explains: “It allows me to upload online galleries, have client’s access, and use my personal domain… liveBooks also hosts my site and creates personal emails, which is great.”

Photography Ⓒ Jake Rosenberg.

Photography Ⓒ Jake Rosenberg.

“Livebooks makes everything so simple, even someone with very limited technical knowledge would have no trouble using their services,” Jake says. “Livebooks offers a huge variety of pre-made sites that cater to so many different styles of photography. It really wasn’t difficult to find one that suited my needs,” he adds.

Pros

All three photographers noted how easy the liveBooks site system is to use. Because the sites are templates, you don’t have flexibility over every single aspect of your site, but enough control to come across as a serious pro.

Jake says two hours was all it took for him to get his site ready to publish. “It was amazingly simple,” he says. “The back-end of the site is probably my favorite part of liveBooks. They allow you to stay so organized and since it is all hosted online, you can really update your site or do maintenance on it from anywhere in the world as long as you have an Internet connection.”

Matt explains: “You can either bulk upload your images through the administrative dashboard or do a single file at a time. If your files have any caption data embedded in them, it automatically saves that on upload. Then you just organize into folders, name your portfolios for the site and drag and drop. Click save and you’re off and running!”

“I have control over what music I play for certain pages, background colors, information window colors, transparency levels for drop down menus, the site’s title, how photos transition from one to the next, menu animations, loading page graphics, links, etc.,” adds Tristan.

Cons

The few cons that the photographers spoke about were a finite number of images per portfolio, as well as a lack of control over font selection and a fee for uploading a photographer’s logo, because those are considered customizations.

For more information about liveBooks, click here.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Just Announced: liveBooks websites will be viewable on the Apple iPad

When Apple unveiled the iPad, Flash-based website users voiced a collective moan at the announcement that the iPad would not support Flash. liveBooks announced this morning that the version 5.9 upgrade, which will be rolled out to new and existing customers in early May will allow web browsers to view liveBooks users’ Flash-based websites on mobile devices including the Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

Adobe Unveils Highly Anticipated Creative Suite 5 Family

with 10 comments

By Diane Berkenfeld

Today is the day photographers, graphic designers, webmasters and illustrators have been waiting for—the day Adobe announced the latest version of its Creative Suite. New versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and brand new web components for generating content without the need to write code were unveiled. 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.

Adobe’s website www.adobe.com has a helpful product chooser, to help you figure out which product is right for your needs based on what you need to do, or what products you need to utilize. Check it out if you’re not sure which collection is right for you.

The fifteen different titles, available individually are: Photoshop CS5, Illustrator CS5, InDesign CS5, Acrobat 9 Pro, Flash Catalyst CS5, Flash Professional CS5, Flash Builder 4, Dreamweaver CS5, Contribute CS5, Adobe Premiere Pro CS5, After Effects CS5, Soundbooth CS5, Adobe OnLocation CS5, Adobe Bridge CS5, Adobe Device Central CS5 and Adobe Dynamic Link.

What’s New!

With 250 new features we can’t list them all here, but here’s a taste of what you can expect:

– InDesign CS5 powers the transition to digital publishing with new interactive documents and enhanced eReader device support;

– New stroke options in Illustrator CS5 allow users to create strokes of variable widths and precisely adjust the width at any point along the stroke;

– Dreamweaver CS5 now supports popular content management systems Drupal, Joomla! and WordPress, allowing designers to get accurate views of dynamic Web content from within Dreamweaver;

– Using Flash Professional CS5, designers and developers can create, test and deliver Web content across mobile platforms and devices such as smartphones, tablets, netbooks, smartbooks and other consumer electronics.

Since Picture-soup.com is devoted primarily to photographers, lets take a deeper look at what’s new in the latest version of Photoshop:

– Photoshop CS5 Extended offers improved edge detecting technology and masking in less time;

– Users will also be able to remove an image element and immediately replace the missing pixels with Content-Aware Fill;

– Native 64-bit support for both Mac and Windows;

– Next-generation high dynamic range (HDR) capabilities. When combining multiple exposures into a single HDR image, Photoshop CS5 preserves the full tonal range of a scene. The new HDR Pro offers exceptional ghost artifact removal and greater tone mapping and adjustment control. With HDR toning, users can emulate the striking look of an HDR image with any single-exposure image;

– A new Mixer Brush that blends an infinite combination of colors onto a single paintbrush tip, and Bristle Tips that offer lifelike brush strokes;

– Puppet Warp gives lets you precisely reposition or warp any image element, such as straightening a bent arm in a photo or manipulating the landscape to generate a new perspective;

– More than 30 features and enhancements were requested directly by the Photoshop community, and have been added to this release. These features directly impact the everyday workflow but may not always be at the top of the development list for a new release. These features include automatic image straightening, rule-of-thirds crop tool, color picker and the ability to save 16-bit images as JPEGs. A new customizable Adobe Mini Bridge panel is also available directly in the software for faster file browsing and management.

– Photoshop CS5 Extended includes everything in Photoshop CS5 plus tools for editing 3D and motion-based content.

Estimated Street Prices & Availability

Adobe Creative Suite 5 and its associated point products are scheduled to ship within 30 days.

Estimated street prices:

– Adobe Photoshop CS5 is $699 and $999 for Photoshop CS5 Extended.

– Adobe Creative Suite 5 Master Collection – $2,599

– Adobe Creative Suite 5 Design Premium – $1,899

– Adobe Creative Suite 5 Design Standard – $1,299

– Adobe Creative Suite 5 Web Premium – $1,799

– Adobe Creative Suite 5 Production Premium – $1,699

Tiered upgrade pricing from previous versions is also available. For more detailed information about features, upgrade policies, pricing and international versions, go to www.adobe.com/creativesuite.

We’ll be posting reviews as soon as we receive our copies! Stay tuned.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦♦ ♦♦ ♦♦ ♦ ADOBE BEGINS SHIPPING CREATIVE SUITE 5 – AS OF APRIL 30♦ ♦♦ ♦♦ ♦♦ ♦♦ ♦

Overheard at WPPI 2010…

with 4 comments

By Diane Berkenfeld

The WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Professionals International) 2010 (www.wppionline.com) conference and tradeshow celebrated its 30th year by once again attaining record-breaking attendance numbers and a sold out tradeshow. In addition to the hundred plus programs, 300+ exhibitors—thousands of attendees made the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino their home away from home from March 4 through 11. WPPI Plus classes began on March 4, platform programs began on March 7 and the tradeshow ran March 8-10, with the conference ending on March 11.

Program topics ran the gamut from business, marketing, Photoshop and digital workflow, lighting/posing, and Social Media. In addition to the programs run by WPPI, a number of the exhibitors held hour-long programs at their booths. These included Miller’s Lab, Kodak, Nikon, Canon, Sony, and many others—large and small. No matter where you turned, you were likely to learn something new.

With all of the programs to choose from, the more popular had lines of attendees waiting for the doors to open. A few of the presenters were given encore dates/times and asked to re-present their programs because there were so many folks who had to be turned away when the rooms hit capacity.

What’s Said in Vegas, Doesn’t Stay in Vegas…

I thought I’d share some of what I overheard while attending programs and lectures at exhibitor booths on the tradeshow floor.

  • While in an elevator, admiring a shirt that read, “Film is not dead” I was told that all of the images on display at the Fujifilm booth were captured on film. A few days later I finally had the opportunity to check out these gorgeous, vibrant images and was not disappointed.
  • At the Miller’s Lab booth, TriCoast Photography’s (www.tricoastphoto.com) Mike Fulton and Cody Clinton gave a presentation on one of the specialties they’re know for, Wireless TTL flash photography: Use your TTL flash for creative lighting. By setting the zoom on the flash more telephoto than your field of view, you’re in effect creating a focused, light that looks as if you’re using a snoot.
  • Attending another talk at the Miller’s Lab booth, this one given by educator and web expert, Gloria Antonelli (http://gloriaantonelli.com):
    • “Your website or blog is your home, and your Facebook/Twitter etc. accounts represent your vacation home.” —Gary Vaynerchuk
    • And… Web 2.0 requires a regular workload in addition to the offline work you do in your business. Social media is a two way street. Communicate with your audience and community. Be a friend, and others will want to be your friend in return. If you’re too pushy, you’ll turn your followers off.
  • Doug Gordon begins his program with everyone singing and dancing to YMCA. Photo © Diane Berkenfeld

    Attending Doug Gordon’s (www.patkenphotographer.com) program ‘Posing is Back and it is the New Black,’ the reason brides don’t want posed photographs is that they think it takes too long. Not true when you have a system. In the course of the two-hour talk, Doug was able to show attendees two hundred different poses for the bride and groom. His is a style of posed photojournalism. Yes, he takes the time to light and pose correctly, but he also finds the energy and passion in the moment and brings that out in his images.

  • During the Canon sponsored Keynote, speaker Gregory Heisler (www.gregoryheisler.com) explained his philosophy behind taking pictures.
    • He’ll always put himself in the position he’s going to ask his subject to take, because its important to him to know how they will feel while being photographed. He also explained that he’d never photograph someone in a way he himself wouldn’t want to be photographed in.
    • And, even though he has finally migrated to 35mm DSLRs, Gregory still uses a cable release, because it gives him the ability to have a face to face conversation with his subject while taking pictures—which stems from when his experience shooting with large format view cameras that required this type of shooting.
  • Vicki Taufer’s (www.vgallery.net and www.vgalleryhaven.com) program, ‘Unleashed,’ was all about her studio’s pet photography. One of the most important things she said was, “People are paying not only for photographs but for the experience.” Other photographers made the same statement, pointing out how your personality and the way you treat your clients is just as important as your photography skills. You are selling the experience of your photography, not just the images on pieces of paper.
  • JB and DeEtte Sallee (www.salleephotography.com), speaking at the Kodak booth, talked about the importance of adding a “whopper” package to your line. While you may never sell this one, the next highest one won’t seem as high in comparison.
  • In their presentation, ‘Creating Loyalty Beyond Reason’ first time WPPI speakers Justin and Mary Marantz (www.justinmarantz.com) mentioned some great business books:
  • Kay Eskridge’s (www.imagesbykay.com and www.celebratesexy.com) program on boudoir photography was one of the more popular topics, with WPPI attendees lining up early to make sure they would get a seat.
    • Kay, like many of the other program presenters uses royalty free music from Triple Scoop Music. “If you’re complaining about people copying your images and you’re not using royalty free music, you’re doing the same thing,” she said.
    • It is imperative for male photographers to have a female associate/assistant present at all times during boudoir shoots. She suggested guys should also ask their clients to have a female friend at the shoot as well.
    • And, backgrounds and props don’t always have to cost a lot of money. Kay showed how she has created backgrounds from wall panels found at Lowes, shower curtains and satin sheets from Bed Bath & Beyond, and doors and shutters painted in hot colors from Home Depot. Oh, and if you’re going to buy and use satin sheets—use flat not fitted sheets, and use a steamer to get out wrinkles.
  • Lori Nordstrom (www.nordstromphoto.com) presented a business program that was filled with inspiration—for the photographer [read: artist] to understand that their studio is a business and needs to be run that way to be profitable. Some of what Lori discussed:
    • Ask for referrals, and for each one, give your current clients a small gift.
    • Be charitable, its good for you and your business.
    • You may have to handhold clients to help them, but they’ll appreciate this customer service—and the experience you provide.

Photographer Jules Bianchi (r.) is interviewed at the Pictage booth. Photo © Diane Berkenfeld

Photographer Huy Nguyen (r.) of F8 Studios speaks at the ProDPI booth. Photo © Diane Berkenfeld

There were a number of first time exhibitors at the tradeshow, as well as established companies showing brand new products and services, which is exciting, as it shows the growth in the industry.

Look for the wrap-up article of great new products and services to be posted on picture-soup.com soon.