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Tips & Tricks

Easy Holiday Photo Booth

Gear Talk Tips & Tricks

Holiday events have a way of filling a room. Being tasked with running a party photo booth for friends and family can be daunting, especially if your budget isn’t big and your space isn’t, either. We put together a simple, fun photo booth using portable items that you can rent from

Tip of the Week – Fast and Easy Model Releases with Top Model Release

Tips & Tricks

Hate dealing with model releases? This new iPhone app from photographer Catherine Hall might just be the thing you need to make the process of creating, signing, and storing release forms as simple and painless as possible.

Tip of the Week – Controlling Power on a Profoto Pack, Part I

Tips & Tricks

Want to harness the power of a Profoto pack, but aren’t sure just how to control it? Read on to find out how you can do just that in this week’s Tip.

Op-Ed: The New Horizon(tal)

Tips & Tricks

Landscape mode or portrait mode? This Op-Ed makes the case for breaking traditional molds and shooting more subjects in landscape orientation. The new Horizon(tal) is here.

5 Things I Learned at the Google+ Photographer’s Conference

Tips & Tricks

Last week we had a great time at the Google+ Photographer’s Conference. As an event partner and sponsor we had a chance to meet a lot of great photographers in attendance. The conference had a great energy to it. With photographers being so active and social on Google+ it was rather effortless to pick up conversations in person with photographers of all stripes and experience levels. It was for this reason alone that attending was an amazing experience. Beyond meeting with great photographers there was a lot of great information shared amongst attendees and speakers alike. The 5 takeaways that I came back with that all photographers on Google+ could stand to benefit from included:

1. Focus on Community
The community on Google+ feels like the Flickr photography community of old. There is a constant flow of photos with many photographers you’ll find familiar and many more that will likely be new to you. It’s a great time to explore and network with photographers of all backgrounds, experience levels and expertises. In fact there are numerous sub-communities on Google+ focusing on various photography niches. Google+ makes it super easy and fast to find information in alignment with your photographic and non-photographic interests.

What made the Google+ Photographer’s Conference so special is the fact that this virtual community became tangible. If you follow someone on Google+ it was all the reason you needed to introduce yourself. It was great to be able to pick up conversations previously confined to posts and comments. Getting out to talk and photograph with your compatriots from abroad made for an extremely special time.

2. Engage
Google+ is a great place to connect with a community, but it’s only as good as you make it. Find great photographers and interact with them. You never know when someone is active online so don’t let it phase you if your comments go unnoticed at first. Keep commenting and interacting and before you know it you’ll be conversing with photographers you thought you’d never talk to.

3. Hangout: Join One, Start One
What sets Google+ apart from other social media web sites is their ability to support group video chats. It is by far one of the most novel features added to a social media site that I’ve yet to see. Conveying text updates in real-time is great, sharing photos is also great, but being able to talk and see each other in real conversations is extremely cool. It has its moments of getting bogged down if your connection isn’t the fastest, but its still a great experience. Over time it will no doubt improve, but in the meantime there is nothing that should stop you from giving it a try.

Guy Kawasaki Presenting at the Google+ Photographer's Conference Highlighting is HQ Tour

Guy Kawasaki Presenting at the Google+ Photographer's Conference Highlighting is HQ Tour

Guy Kawasaki Presenting at the Google+ Photographer’s Conference Highlighting is HQ Tour

4. Chrome Plugins
Above and beyond my previously recommended chrome plugins (see 5 Highly Recommended Google+ Chrome Extensions) Guy Kawasaki shared his 3 favorite plugins at the conference. They may not all be of use to you, but I bet at least one is. Take note that “Replies and More” will help you with Lesson #2 (see above) as tagging someone in your reply will send an email to that person. It’s a great way to reach out to someone above and beyond the average comment.

  1. Do Share allows you to schedule posts.
  2. Replies and More simplifies responding to authors and commenters.
  3. Nuke Comments streamlines reporting, blocking, and deleting comments in a single click.

5. Hashtags to Explore
Hashtags are a great way to see running threads of conversation across broad pools of people that you may or may not yet be following. Some hashtags are used to note photo themes and others to note discussion topics. In either case if you see a hashtag (ex. #gpluspc) click on it and you’ll find posts relating to that topic in less than a second. With a little deeper searching you’re sure to find new people to connect with.
A great photography hashtag list to start with is from Eric LeslieDaily Photography Themes on Google+  You’re bound to find something of interest here and its a great catalyst to start interacting with some great photographers.

Now that you know, we hope to see you on Google+ and be sure to visit us on our G+ page.

Tip of the Week – Replicate Photographer Peter Hurley’s Signature Look With Strobes

Tips & Tricks

Want to learn how to replicate famous headshot photographer Peter Hurley’s signature look, but with strobes? Check out this edition of Tip of the Week!

Tip of the Week: Get Better at Google+ With “Google+ For Photographers”

Tips & Tricks

There’s a new resource to help photographers make the most of Google+. Photographer and educator Colby Brown has released a book called “Google+ for Photographers,” and whether you’re new to GPlus, or have been around for a while, you’ll find something useful in this book.

Tip of the Week: In-Camera Panos with Fuji

Tips & Tricks

Making a panorama doesn’t have to be an involved affair. Learn how to make one easily with a Fuji camera in this week’s Tip!

Product Update: D800 and D4 Lock-Up Fix

Gear Talk Tips & Tricks
News has been circulating today about a newly identified bug with the Nikon D4 and D800 that may negatively impact photographers employing certain settings. To give you a deeper insight to the problem, a short term fix and a likely long term solution our resident technical expert and repair manager Michio Fukuda  has the following to report:
The Bug
Nikon’s newly released D4’s and D800’s have had an alarming number of complaints regarding an intermittent issue causing the bodies to lock up under normal user conditions. Nikon has officially addressed the issue, in a recent conversation with PDN (Photo District News) on 5.3.2012,  and DPReview has since confirmed this bug.  The problem encountered again and again is that the body will become completely unresponsive until the battery is removed and re-installed, but should return to good working order once this is done.
The Fix
Nikon stated that the issue is present for only a small users who have ‘Highlights’ and ‘RGB Histogram’ display options turned on.  They also communicated that they are in the process of developing the permanent fix and have instructed users on a temporary fix for the interim. The temporary “band-aid” fix is to turn off the ‘Highlights’ and ‘RGB Histogram’ display options in the ‘Playback Display Option’s sub-menu of  the ‘Playback’ menu.
Here is the step by step process to implement the temporary fix:
Step 1 – Press the menu button.
Step 2 – Scroll down to “Playback display options” and press the center button on the directional pad to access that menu.
Step 3 – Once inside the playback menu, scroll down to “highlights” and “RGB histogram”.
Step 4 – Deselect the “highlights” and “RGB histogram” options.
Step 5 – Scroll back up to “Done” and confirm the actions by pressing down on the center button of the directional pad.

While we all like our settings a certain way, at least they have narrowed down the catalyst to these two specific settings so that we may all go about our shoots without any hiccups. We speculate that the permanent fix will be a firmware update, since the determining factor (specific camera settings) is a software-based function. Like all Nikon D4 and D800 users we’re hoping that the permanent fix will be released in the coming weeks at which time all customers can rest easy knowing we’ll have the needed update in place ASAP.

Tip Of The Week: Use ND Filters to Blur Motion

Tips & Tricks

It’s pretty amazing what a piece of dark glass can go for your photography. Read on to find out what can be achieved with ND filters in this week’s Tip Of The Week.

Tip Of The Week: Use Nik Software’s Snapseed for Quick Photo Editing

Tips & Tricks

Every week, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at

Tip Of The Week: Get Rid Of Duplicates In Your Image Library

Tips & Tricks
Duplicate Finder for Lightroom

Duplicate Finder for Lightroom

Every week, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at

This week’s tip is a software pick, and it came about when I was trying to to figure out how to get rid of hundreds of duplicate images from my library.

I set about writing my own scripts for detecting duplicating images on my drive based on the images’ EXIF metadata, which is embedded by the camera into the RAW or JPEG file it produces. I was about to start writing the logic for the script when I the thought occurred to me that someone, somewhere, must have done this already. (more…)

Tip of the Week: Use a Tilt-Shift Lens for Panoramic Photos

Tips & Tricks
Figure 1. A panorama taken with the Fuji X100's built-in pano feature.

Figure 1. A panorama taken with the Fuji X100's built-in pano feature.

Every week, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at

There are many ways to create panoramic images. You can start with a really wide-angle lens, then simply crop down to a long, narrow band to create a “faux” panorama. You can also use the built-in panoramic functions of cameras like Sony’s NEX and Alpha series, as well as Fuji’s X100 and X-Pro1. You can also simply take a series of pictures and stitch them together in Photoshop, or, if you’re really into panoramic photography, you could rent a pano-head from us, like the ones from Nodal Ninja.

Today, we’re going to talk about one of my favorite ways to create panoramas. All of the methods above have some shortcomings that make it a bit harder to create good panos. Using a wide-angle lens and cropping, for example, leaves me with a lower-resolution file than I’d like. The built-in pano features in some cameras is neat, and I do use them (as shown in Figure 1), but they’re also relatively low-res JPEGs. Pano heads are great for this sort of work, but you have to find the “nodal point” of each lens you want to use, and that takes quite a bit of work. (more…)

Tip of the Week: Behold the Frankencam!

Tips & Tricks
The Frankencam: A Canon 5D Mark II with a Nikon 14-24 f/2.8G lens

The Frankencam: A Canon 5D Mark II with a Nikon 14-24 f/2.8G lens. Image Copyright © Sohail Mamdani

The practice of swapping lenses between platforms via adapters isn’t something new. Back in October 2011, for example, we wrote about using Canon, Nikon, and Leica lenses with Micro 4/3 cameras. Similarly, you can use an adapter to mount Nikon lenses onto Canon cameras, but until recently, this was limited to a smaller subset of Nikon lenses.

The “D” lenses from Nikon, the ones with manual aperture rings like the Nikon 35mm f/2, could be used via an adapter on Canon cameras. You could manipulate the aperture manually on the lens, and set the shutter speed on your camera. DSLR video shooters quickly took to these lenses for this very reason.


Adobe CS6 and Lightroom 4 bogging down your computer?

Tips & Tricks

If you’re a photographer, chances are that you spend a lot of computer time ploughing through the Adobe Creative Suite and Lightroom. Chances also are that you’ve also spent a fair amount of time tearing at your hair as you wait for that filter, or that export, or some other function to wrap up.

What you may not know is that it might not be Photoshop or Lightroom that’s slowing your computer up. Here are a few tricks to help speed things up for you.

1. Close those browser windows and tabs. Do you really need to be checking your Facebook and Twitter feeds while editing photos and videos? Didn’t think so! We have all fallen victim to the Social Media gods, but a little resistance from a “hashtag” here and a “like” there will help you focus on whats important: color splashing and adding a vignette to all your photos!

You probably never noticed, but multi-tabbed browser windows eat up a lot of system memory. The photo above is a screenshot of my computers activity. More than 1GB allocated to internet browsing! If your computer is running 8GB of ram or less, then you should close those tabs and allocate as much memory to your editing software as much as possible.

2. Add more Ram. This is probably the cheapest and single most efficient way to speed up your computer. You’ll not only see a significant decrease in render time, but you’ll see the overall performance of your computer get a boost. If you own an i7 MacBook Pro or a PC equivalent, you should be able add up to 16gb of ram into your system. I did it to my MacBook Pro. It’s not even the top of the line model, but it was still able to pop in 16gb of ram without a hitch. Ram prices are at an all-time low, I picked up 16gb for less than $150 from Amazon.

3. Upgrade to an SSD (Solid State) Hard Drive. Although SSDs have gone down in price, they are still a good ways away from being cost-competitive with traditional spindle hard drives. With that said, they do provide significant performance gains. Computers will boot noticeably faster, will come out of sleep almost instantly, and will read and write files with greater speed.

How many times have you tried to open up a multi-layered .psd and found yourself staring at the screen, waiting for that status bar to reach its end? Check out the example below. A 128gb SSD was installed on this PC and scored the highest possible score, 7.9, on Windows Performance scales.

One draw back though, is that you won’t have nearly as much storage space to store your data. Those who do upgrade to an SSD choose to run their OS and Applications from the SSD, and store their data onto a separate hard drive.

These are just a few ways to get a performance boost out of your existing hardware, without having to drop the dough for the latest and greatest from Apple/Dell/HP/whatever. Regular maintenance and policing of the contents of your drive also helps.

Windows users can run Check Disk and remove temporary files to help with performance issues, while Mac users should run Disk Utility every so often as well. Another tip for Mac users: keep your Desktop clean and as file-free as possible. Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that does help.

Got a tip of your own? Leave it in the comments below!