Friday, November 30, 2012

Photography Workshops and more

Vincent Laforet is keynote speaker at the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar.
The Stars

I always am interested in who is the faculty of a workshop/seminar. I come wanting to see their work and learn something that I cannot get from just seeing their work online or in a publication.

Vincent Laforet did a great job impressing us at the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar with his work, which most of us will never shoot.  It was still inspiring.

While I learned years ago to go up and ask the instructors questions I learned how to make better use of my time. I learned that if I get to the event early I could grab the speakers before when few people were wanting their time.

The more I went to these events I got braver and then asked the speakers to eat lunch or dinner. I then got great time with some of the best in the field.

Christians in Photojournalism had dinner together at the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar


Slowly I started to realize those people going to the seminar were just as valuable a resource as the "Stars."

Today I cherish my time listening to just about anyone. I love to hear what they are doing. Usually this gives me a very unique time to learn something new.

Ron Sherman shares with a few of us during lunch break.
 I love to sit around and just listen to stories people are sharing. Today I listened to a lot of photographers. Ron Sherman told us some fun stories.


While you may go the the seminar/workshop for the stars the people sitting next to you are just as valuable as a resource. The other thing is by just being interested in them and what they have to share you can learn a great deal. What I also learned is I get more time with them than the stars. They have more time and do not have a line of folks waiting to talk to them.

The key is spending time with someone. It is about getting to know them. Now when I see them again we acknowledge each other and catch up with each other.

Bill Fortney the Nikon representative has become one of my best friends and resources. 

Another great reason to go to conferences with Nikon is they often will do "free" camera cleaning.  I had two cameras cleaned that would normally cost about $30 to $50 each.  
Going to conferences is where I grow and learn. I get the side benefit of getting my cameras cleaned and learning about the latest gear. I can put my hands on the new gear and ask questions to those who are experts.

The first thing you want to be sure you do if you do not already have a photography seminar/workshop on your calendar is to put one on for next year.  I personally recommend joining me in Fort Worth for the Southwestern Photojournalism Seminar, March 1 - 3, 2013.  Here is a link to that conference

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holidays are celebrated with visuals

We often wish for a "White Christmas" and Christmas 2010 our family drove from Roswell, GA to Morganton, NC and this is what we experienced arriving at the Grandparent's home. (Nikon D3, 14-24mm, ISO 200, ƒ/2.8, 1/2500)
Turn on the radio this time of year and you are most likely to hear Bing Crosby singing White Christmas.

Many of us will watch those classic movies like: White Christmas; Miracle on 34th Street; It's a Wonderful Life; and many more that you might name.

Even tho it is just a song on the radio it still conjures up the visuals in my head.

Nativity Scenes

At our house and most of my extended family we put up Nativity Scenes of the first Christmas. This one here above is more traditional, but our family has made them at our church during Advent family events.

We had fun decorating my wife in a decorating a person competition for live Christmas tree.

Here we are creating a Advent Wreath during the family Advent event at our church.

The kids enjoyed creating their own reindeer antlers.  
This is a nativity scene we made another year at our church's family Advent event. Every year we put it out.
Why have events to make nativity scenes when you can buy ones that most likely are of better quality? The holidays are about memories. We are to remember our faith and we do things to help create new memories around these core tenants of our faith.

Our peanuts nativity scene ornament on our tree. My wife loves the peanuts and this helps her bring back memories of her childhood with her parents, siblings and friends in Sparta, New Jersey.
This was given to us by my sister whose family served as missionaries to Swaziland. 

We love to decorate our tree and many families do the same. Each year our family puts ornaments on together. Each person has ornaments special to them that they put on each year. This tradition is so fun.

Since our family has allergies to live trees, we now have a fake tree. When my daughter was just a toddler I had her help me with putting up the tree. She would hand me the parts and I would assemble them.

The following year my daughter came to me and said it is time for us to put up the tree. I turned and looked at my wife and she said it is now tradition.

This year we added a few new ornaments. This is one we bought at the Magical Night of Lights at Lake Lanier this year.

We also bought this turtle ornament and had all our names put on it. There is an inside family story on turtles. By the way if you look closely you can also see where our Elf on the Shelf was this day.
Each ornament on our tree has a story. So each year we assemble our stories and as we look at the tree during the holidays it will help us remember Christmas from over the years. Also, as we celebrate this year we will be creating new memories.

Two of our nutcrackers are to remember our oldest son Nelson. He is a 1st Lieutenant in the Army, so that explains the one on the left. He was in the Summerall Guards when he was at The Citadel and this is the nutcracker on the right. 
This is our son in the Afghanistan. This will be our first Christmas without him around during the holidays.
The Word became Flesh
John 1:14
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
I like this time of year because this is when I celebrate the coming of the Messiah. God became visual to us through Christ.

Every story I read about him is one that conjures those visuals. Even the parables that he told also were visual.

Just think about it, when God wants our attention he has used visuals. He knows we are wired to want to see something.

Big events are celebrated visually

Now if we use visuals to celebrate holidays to help us remember the stories of our faith and families, then shouldn't we use this medium to tell the important stories in other places?

Are you using visuals to help tell your companies story and mission?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Historic Roswell Georgia: Took 20 years to discover

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/400
During the 1996 Olympics I was reminded of how much people travel from all over the world to my part of the world just to see what we have here.

I have lived in Roswell, Georgia since 1993 and just now did I take in some of the local historical sites almost 20 years later.

BBC sent a reporter to the Road to Tara Museum to film for the special on "Gone with the Wind"  It was rated in the top book favorites of all time for the BBC audience.
During the Thanksgiving holiday our family took in two of the three historical homes on the tour of Historical Roswell.

This is Bulloch Hall built in 1839 and the childhood home of Mittie Bulloch, President Theodore Roosevelt's mother.
Besides seeing the house we also listened to the cell phone tour and listed as well to the docent.  We learned quite a lot about the history of the house and the founders of Roswell.

Teddy Bears which have their roots with Teddy Roosevelt.
Each room had a president's theme. This was the Teddy Roosevelt room in Bulloch Hall. 
Photographer reasons to visit historical sites

The reason I like to visit locations is to gain a better understanding of visual cues. Historical locations help you understand how things looked during a certain period of time in history. The more you are aware of these visual cues the more you can pull upon this knowledge when helping clients.

Barrington Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was voted one of the 50 Most Beautiful Homes in the Atlanta area. The surrounding seven acres of grounds feature the only public antebellum garden in the greater Atlanta area. With guided garden walks, cooking classes and other special events, the site is a popular destination.
President Jimmy Carter's aunt lived just down the street from these two homes and would come to visit here as well.  I think for those who enjoy history and want to know more about the history of Metro Atlanta, they need to come to Roswell, GA and take in Bulloch Hall, Barrington Hall and The Smith Plantation.

My daughter now wants an arbor after visiting Barrington Hall.  
While Thanksgiving wasn't the best time of the year to take in the garden, we did see some flowers.

These photos were taken just taking the tour with the family. I may go back another time and do a story on the homes during the spring when the azaleas and dogwoods are in bloom.

Have you taken for granted things closer to your home that you could photograph? Tour groups come from all over the world to see things in Roswell, GA. How about your town?  Have you been there yourself?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Covering a typical community meeting tips

Rabbi Greene of Temple Beth Tikvah speaks to the HomeStretch volunteers at their appreciation dinner. (Nikon D4, 70-200mm,  ISO 12,800, ƒ/2.8 and 1/160, Custom White Balance with ExpoDisc)
One of the staples of many professional photographers is covering meetings. Very seldom do these photos end up in your portfolio. Unless you are covering a meeting where they hired a lighting crew you have to work just to get acceptable photos.

This event was in the meeting room of the local synagogue.  They had wonderful stage lighting, but like many groups they choose not to put their speaker on the platform where the stage lighting would have helped. No they put the speaker on the floor where the lighting was the worst in the entire room.

Lucky for me in the first photo that the podium was draped with an off white cloth. It helped to kick light back into the face of the speaker.  I prefer not to use a flash because it can be distracting to everyone. So I did use it sometimes, but tried to use it sparingly as more of a backup.

I wanted to show you this overall photo of the meeting I covered. Now notice how the white tables are kicking light back up into the faces of those people seated. You can see their eyes.  Now look at those people standing around.  The canned lights above are creating raccoon eyes for them.

From this photo I can tell I can easily shoot the people around the tables, but I may need some fill flash on those with the raccoon eyes.

As a photojournalist I was trained to see those things to be sure the photos were useable.

(Nikon D4, 28-300mm,  ISO 12,800, ƒ/5.6 and 1/50, Custom White Balance with ExpoDisc)
I decided I didn't need the flash for the ladies at the table.  I just cranked the ISO up and shot it.

Here I put a CTO (Color Temperature Orange) filter over my Nikon SB-900 flash. It comes with the flash. I still shot at ISO 12,800 ƒ/5.6 and 1/100 so that the background wouldn't go dark and look natural. I also did a custom white balance using the ExpoDisc.
I wanted to be sure I was getting good skin tones, so I would get a few shots of speakers and people in the room using a fill flash.

In all of these photos I was what I call running and gunning. As a photojournalist I don't stop people and ask them to do it again. Now when I shoot for a company where we need certain things to look a certain way it is OK to make changes--it isn't photojournalism it is advertising or corporate communications.

It is due to all my training as a photojournalist that companies need me. They need a photographer that can deliver in any situation with photos that communicate.

The professional photographer needs to get the best possible photo and sometimes that means without taking away from the atmosphere of what you are covering. They need the fly on the wall and not the Hollywood film crew making the meeting a set for their movie or TV show. Sure the photos would look 100% better doing just that, but the reason they are having the meeting isn't primarily for the photos.

Can you get photos like these of your meetings?  Maybe this is why you should hire a pro sometimes.

How I covered Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief

This is just some of the damage to homes by Hurricane Sandy in Union Beach, New Jersey that I saw last week while covering a companies work there.
Ken is one of my mentors helping me with business practices.
My good friend and fellow photographer Ken Touchton, pointed out to me how we are called on day to day to cover the ordinary and make it look extraordinary.

Photographer's on tour

The camera manufacturers and even our professional organizations often have photographers who create some cool photos doing their "dog and pony show" at seminars and workshops. Many of these photographers create these incredible images which help them to be professional speakers and lead workshops.

My hats off to these guys. They do an incredible job and create some outstanding images. The reality is that in my lifetime I will most likely have very few if any of these types of photo assignments.

Lately those photographers on tour are no longer using dogs and ponies. Now they have elephants, dancers and just find the most exotic people and places to capture. It does make sense that to have a great photograph start with great material.

It would be fun to have the budget to hire a few exotic animals, a few models and fly them all to an exotic location. I also think it would be cool to have all that equipment to light the subjects and make a truly memorable photo.

However, Ken and I are often called on by companies to tell the stories of normal every day folks doing what may visually appear to be mundane, but are truly extraordinary.

This is some of my coverage of Chick-fil-A cooking sandwiches that they do everyday and giving them to people in need.

Chick-fil-A has a food truck that they use to distribute sandwiches at large events. Here it is in Howell, NJ where they were distributing sandwiches to Hurricane Sandy victims, first responders and volunteers.
In total over four days, Chick-fil-A's food truck produced and distributed 13,650 Chick-fil-A Sandwiches to folks in northern New Jersey and Staten Island.

Eddy Taylor from Chick-fil-A gives sandwiches to workers helping to clean up Union Beach, New Jersey. (Nikon D4, 14-24mm, Nikon SB-900 shot on TTL on camera on slow sync. Camera settings ISO 100, ƒ/8 and 1/250)
My objective was to capture Chick-fil-A personnel giving away sandwiches to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. When in a disaster I don't get to scout the area and then plan which models to bring in for the photo shoot. I don't get to come in and light the scene to make this pop as I might do in an advertising photo shoot. This is finding moments as they happen to tell a story. These moments were in short one to two minute intervals of the volunteers giving out sandwiches. It doesn't take long to give them a sandwich and give a quick word of encouragement.

The hardest part of the coverage was showing people receiving sandwiches that you could tell by the visuals alone they were part of a disaster.  I needed the food distribution and I needed to show this was about Hurricane Sandy. The photo above comes very close to communicating the two in the same photo.

(Nikon D4, 14-24mm,  ISO 100, ƒ/8 and 1/160)
One of my favorite photos from my coverage isn't necessarily the best storytelling shot, but I love the motion of the Chick-fil-A personnel walking down the street of Union Beach, NJ where there is major damage. You can see all the debris stacked behind them that had to be cleared off the roads for vehicles to get into this neighborhood.

Chick-fil-A delivered free sandwiches to the Union Beach command post where they had setup a dining room in a tent to feed all the emergency responders. Here the State Troopers from all over the country are taking a lunch break. (Nikon D4, 14-24mm. Camera settings ISO 8000, ƒ/8 and 1/100 and AUTO White Balance)
Most of the time in disasters people are in the centers where people can come to get clothing, counseling or information about their homes. While the photo above of food being distributed to the first responders communicates the food distribution it lacks the context of Hurricane Sandy without some text.

While you can put a series of photos together on a page to help tie the communication package into a more cohesive package, the photojournalist is trying to do this with one photo, because often that is all the space they have.

Running and Gunning

In all of these photos I was what I call running and gunning. As a photojournalist I don't stop people and ask them to do it again. You keep the camera up to your eye a lot of the time and quickly fire shots as they come up.

Now when I shoot for a company where we need certain things to look a certain way it is OK to make changes--it isn't photojournalism it is advertising or corporate communications. However, my photojournalism background helped me stay focused during my coverage. Chick-fil-A was on a timetable of delivering these sandwiches to people in less than 20 minutes.

They know that food safety is important and also gives the customer the best experience.  If you look closely you will notice they are on the move in giving these sandwiches out to people.

(Nikon D4, 14-24mm,  ISO 100, ƒ/5 and 1/500 No Flash)
I wanted to show how at times the photojournalist will use on camera flash in a fast moving situation to help hold some of the shadow details. In the photo above I was believing this would work OK since the skin tones of the people getting sandwiches was light. When the darker skinned volunteers came up and they were all backlit I didn't want to risk not seeing their faces so I put on the Nikon SB 900 and using the high speed sync mode and slow-sync was able to pop a little fill flash ensure I was capturing people's faces.

Another side note you can see how I altered the frame in the two photos. I don't need multiple shots with just the people changing, I wanted to tell more about the location, but had no time to move around. I just composed to show how the devastation to the left of the house was there in the second photo.

By the way we were in this location for less than five minutes. We had hot sandwiches that needed to be delivered to more places.

(Nikon D4, 14-24mm,  ISO 100, ƒ/5 and 1/500 with Nikon SB-900 on camera fill flash on slow-sync)
The Results

You might wonder how all this went for Chick-fil-A. Here is one person's response to the call center for Chick-fil-A:
Customer Comments: The customer stated that he and his family are
survivors of Hurricane Sandy. He stated that the Howell Restaurant
delivered Chicken Sandwiches to people in his area.  He informed me that
the Red Cross has not even made it into his area yet but Chick-fil-A has
come two times.  He and his family really appreciate the gesture. 
It is due to all my training as a photojournalist that companies need me. They cannot turn the hurricane disaster coverage into an advertising location photo shoot. They need a photographer that can in any situation come away with photos that communicate.

Ken Touchton and I are going to the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar next week the first weekend in December. It is their 40th anniversary and Ken was there 40 years ago.  I am also one of the organizers for the Southwestern Photojournalism Seminar that is March 1 - 3, 2012. Both of these are great places to learn from storytellers and ask them how they handle situations.

Many of the speakers are photojournalists who also shoot commercially. Maybe the reason some of them make great advertising photographers is they know what looks authentic and have a knack for helping creating those impactful moments.

I still advise anyone starting in this industry to try and get a job with a small town newspaper. The experience gained from shooting day to day assignments will help you know how to get the best possible photo in any situation. It will also help you appreciate the ability to plan and do preproduction to get those advertising shots where you are in control.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Stanley's DSLR Buying Guide

I get asked all the time which cameras I suggest people buy.  While I will mention specific models, those can change at anytime, so I will address features to look for when buying a DSLR camera.

I will first cover the different features and then my recommendations for the first time buyer of DSLR suggestions.

List of features:
Effective pixels
Sensor Size
Card Slot/Storage Media
Shooting speed
ISO Sensitivity
File format still/video
Lens Compatibility
Maximum Auto Focus Points
Built in flash
Live View Shooting
Microphone/Headphone for Video

There are many other features and even in these it maybe more than the nuts and bolts I think are most important.

Effective Pixels

How many pixels per inch does your camera capture?  First of all we need to know that for the most part today’s camera are capable of producing larger size prints than most people will ever need.  However with that said you could read this blog post if you need to figure out how big of a print the camera will produce.

There are basically two different physical sized sensors on the market.  Full framed sensors and cropped size of 1.5 or 1.6 sensors.

While the number of pixels may be the same the larger sensor has less noise as a rule and therefore cleaner images when taking photos at a higher ISO.

The larger full-framed sensor means you need lenses that support this.  The smaller sensor can usually use the full-framed size lenses, but not the other way around.  Lens made for the smaller sensors cannot be used on the larger sensor.

Besides noise differences the physical size of the camera gear weighs more and is heavier with the full-framed cameras.

Card Slot/Media Storage

DSLR cameras take 4 different types of cards. SD, CF, QXD & CFast.  The SD and CF are the two most dominant. The QXD is a new format used in the Nikon D4 and the CFast will be used in some newer Canon cameras.

SD cards are used in most point and shoot cameras and are the card readers are build into most laptop computers. If you choose any of the other cards then you will need a card reader most likely to transfer from the card to the computer.

You also want to read the small print details to see which cards in a format they support.

Shooting Speed

This refers to how many frames per second you can make.  Very important for things like sports photography.

ISO Sensitivity

In the days of film, the film you bought determined the ISO settings on the camera.  Today the digital camera works like having a shelf of film ready and you can change the sensitivity of the camera from frame to frame if you like. You can even let the camera figure all this out for you if you choose Auto ISO.

Basically the higher the second number the less light you need to make a picture. Today’s cameras are usually looking at ISO settings of 1600, 3200, 6400, 12,800, 25,600 or even higher.

The cameras have what they call their sweet range for the camera. It may look like this ISO 100 – 3200 and then state can be boosted to ISO 12,800 for example.  What this means is the ISO 3200 will make acceptable prints and the ISO numbers above this will give you an image, but it may be pixelated.


Many of the cameras will also take video.  In general there are two formats 720 and 1080.  This refers to the pixel height.  Both of these are really high resolution and if you are showing this video on a TV bigger than 46” you will notice a difference.

What type of movie file the camera makes is useful to know what you need on your computer to open it and or edit it.  Most all will play on any computer, but when it comes to editing this is when you need to really pay attention to the format.  You may have to purchase special editing software.

File formats

For stills the major thing to look for is if your camera shoots RAW in addition to JPEGs and possibly Tiff.  You have more control of a RAW image, but you need a RAW editing program like Adobe Lightroom or PhotoShop to edit these images.

Lens compatibility

If you buy a Nikon or Canon that doesn’t mean all the Nikon lenses will work on all the Nikon Cameras and the same for Canon.  Read the fine print. In general the entry-level cameras have less lens choices.

Higher end cameras have motors to operate lenses whereas some of the entry-level cameras save money and the lens has to have the motor.

Maximum focus points

Each camera manufacturer addresses this a little differently, but the general rule is the more expensive cameras in the manufacturers line have more focus points and more settings you can choose to help you focus a camera.  This is important to those who want the camera to help them focus more accurately and quickly.

Built in flash

While the top end cameras do not have built in flash there are many reasons you may like to have it. First of all they are not all that powerful, but they are always there if you need it. Second, both Nikon and Canon for example have very advanced flash systems where the built in flash can help trigger an off camera flash wirelessly. For the top end camera you will need to buy an additional piece of equipment to fire the off camera flash.

Live View Shooting

Since most cameras now have video capabilities, this helps photographers use the LCD screens on the back for more than just movie mode. You can often use this to view the subject rather than the viewfinder only.  Can help you when you want to shoot from the floor or above your head for example.

Microphone/headphone Jack

If you want to do some serious video with your DSLR then I suggest being sure it has a microphone jack. To control the recording level with just the camera you will need a headphone jack. If you have no headphone jack you can run your microphone through something like the Juicebox to monitor your recording levels.

What I suggest are key features

First thing that needs to be decided is this for professional use or as a hobby?  I will first address the hobbyist.

Hobbyist suggestions

In general the least expensive camera will do for general all purpose shooting. However, if your hobby is photographing your children playing sports or wildlife for example you need to spend just a little more to be satisfied.

For the most part the number one feature to consider is the ISO. The highest ISO cameras will let you take photos in low light situations and/or situations where you need to stop the action.  ISO 6400 or higher is necessary to really shoot indoor sports and in the woods of wildlife.

If you are shooting sports inside the high ISO will let you make photos without a flash and this is very important for many sports where flash isn't allowed.  Spend the extra $500 to $1,000 to get the high ISO.

You may also need to invest in faster lenses. Think of the ƒ-number for a lens as a fraction.  The smaller the fraction the cheaper the lens and requires more light to take a photo. In general a ƒ/2.8, ƒ/2 or ƒ/1.4 lens is what you want to photograph sports and wildlife.  This combined with a high ISO will let you get the photo.

The kit lens and low end camera is not going to be the camera for the parent with a kid in sports.  It is a great camera for people who travel and take photos of friends.

You may want to consider the full-framed camera to reduce noise as well if you are needing the high ISO.

In the Nikon lineup I recommend the Nikon 3200 for the person just wanting to take snapshots. If you want to do video as well I think the Nikon 5200 is the model I would look at due to the swiveling LCD.

For the sports shooter I would start with the Nikon D600.  If you have the funds then look into the Nikon D4.  It is the perfect camera for the sports shooter.

Considering going pro

The minute you decide you want to go pro plan on backup for everything. You need an extra body a few lenses and a couple flashes to do jobs. You cannot be caught shooting a wedding for example and the camera dies on you.

Now that you know you need two cameras and multiple lenses, be sure everything is compatible. For example While you can have one full-framed camera and the other a smaller chip, the lenses should most likely all be good for the full-frame or you will be caught if the smaller chip camera dies having to shoot everything with the full-framed camera.

Some of the major differences between the very top of the line cameras and the next level is about how well they are built.

The high end cameras have better seals to help keep out moisture. They are not water proof, but water resistent. Very important for the photojournalist who is called to shoot in all types of conditions. Even if you have the high end camera still buy some rain gear for the camera and lenses.

If you are primarily shooting portraits in a studio, then even the entry level cameras will work fine.  Put more of your money into lights and other gear, than all of it in a camera which is overkill for your use.

In general it is harder to make the mistake of buying too good of a camera if you can afford it.  The problem is under estimating and then having to sell the camera and buy a better camera later.  Cameras loose a lot of value quickly as compared to lenses, flashes and other camera gear.  As soon as the next model comes out your camera will drop in value and for every new model introduced since your camera, it will continue to drop.

There are three cameras I recommend for the pro shooter today in the Nikon lineup. Nikon D4, D800 or D600.

The Nikon D800 is the studio camera and for those who remember photographers shooting medium format, unless you are ready to shell out $25,000 for those cameras this is a great medium format quality camera in a DSLR 35mm size.  The D800 is also one of the favorite video cameras of those shooting video with DSLRs today.

If you need a work horse camera to shoot everything from sports, portraits, weddings, to video the Nikon D4 is the camera to get. It does a great job with video. It has microphone and headphone jacks making it possible to monitor sound.

I believe the Nikon D600 is the lower end pro camera only due to the weather seals and body build, but as far as functions, this camera rocks.

300 PPI and Output sizes

"The magazine that is going to publish my pictures says the images must be at least 300 ppi.  How do I change the resolution to 300 ppi?"

Editorial Note: While DPI is commonly accepted, it is not technically correct. DPI (or dots per inch) refers to the resolution of output devices such as laser or ink jet printers and platesetters or film imagesetters. For the sake of accuracy we will use the term PPI (or Pixels Per Inch).

I’m asked this question a lot and it is based on a misunderstanding that I hope we can clear up in this newsletter.

First of all, it is rare that you need to do anything.  They are requesting an image with a resolution of 300 ppi when printed to a specific size.  A request for a 300 ppi or any ppi without any associated width and height dimensions of the print it is nonsense.  The dimensions of the print need to be know.

The Formula:  

Width x 300 = a
Height x 300 = b

Multiply a times b to determine the minimum size mega pixel camera needed to make the photo.

Here’s an example for an 8 x 10 inch print.  Width 8 x 300 ppi = 2400.  Height 10 x 300 ppi = 3000. 

You need an image of at least 2400 x 3000 pixels.  Multiply 2400 x 3000 = 7,200,000 or 7.2 mega pixels.

Now we know the minimum size mega pixel camera that’s needed, but how do we change resolution?  Photoshop to the rescue…. again.

The dialogue to change the ppi-number in Photoshop is Image->Image Size.  When you choose it, you get a dialogue box like the one shown Example 1.  Be sure the Resample Image checkbox is left unchecked.  This prevents accidentally throwing away pixels that will diminish the quality of the image.

The Image Size box is a resolution calculator.  Your camera manufacturer has a default setting.  It may be set at 72 ppi or something else.  In this example the default setting is 240.  Remember you can change this to 300 ppi and it will then tell you the maximum size print you can make with this image.  As long as the Resample Image checkbox is unchecked you will not accidentally damage your image.

Take a look at Example 2.  Here you can see that the Resample Image box is unchecked and the Resolution was changed to 300 ppi.  Note: the Width and Height remain the same in Pixel Dimensions.  The actual image didn’t change.  You now have a calculator that tells you the size print you can make at any ppi.

There are many different output devices.  Let’s look at printers. Canon and HP desktop inkjets are usually optimized at 600 ppi, for Epson it is 720 ppi. The Fuji Frontier, used in many minilabs, is usually optimized for 300 ppi, some laser jet printers offer a choice between 200 ppi and 400 ppi.  You should refer to the manufacturer’s specifications or ask the lab to determine the optimum resolution for a specific printer.

You need to know the optimum ppi for your printer to determine the largest size print you can make.  Just be sure the size image is not larger than your printer’s quality capabilities.  You want it large enough, but there is a slight chance it can be too big.

An often forgotten aspect of quality prints is the distance from which the prints will normally be viewed.

The viewing distance changes everything.  You do not need a 300 ppi image to produce a billboard.  Actually you only need about 6000 total pixels for a Billboard. 
Use the chart below to help you in making display prints for trade shows or other places you need extremely large images.

Determining PPI by Viewing Distance

To determine an optimal PPI (resolution in Photoshop) for a photo the calculation is as follows:

7000 / viewing distance in inches = PPI

This is for optimal results.  Using half that number will still provide good quality results. Any lower and you will begin to sacrifice image quality.

A Quick Chart for Determining PPI by Viewing Distance

Under 24 inches = 300 PPI

24" to 36" = 200 PPI

36" to 60" = 120 PPI

5' to 10' = 60 PPI

10' to 20' = 30 PPI

Billboard = 10 to 20 PPI

I hope this bit of information about ppi, image size, viewing distance and printer capabilities has been of use to you.

Nothing is EVER simple, right?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Selling photos online couldn't be easier

Today it is easier to sell your images than ever before.  I wanted to share what I am using to sell images online.

I have been posting images in galleries online for people to purchase since 1993, so from all this experience I chose PhotoShelter as my online gallery.

Here is what my clients see when they go to the home page of my gallery:

I could probably use this as my website.  It has everything pretty much here in addition to the galleries clients want to go to for their images.


Now I can create a private gallery that with just an email and password people can access. I prefer doing this with most clients since they are less likely to pass around their email address with a password.

I can also create a gallery that has access with a password.

What can you order?

There are four things I offer on some of my galleries. Depending on which ones I turn on I have the option to sell: 1) Prints, 2) Products, 3) Downloads and 4) Rights managed Downloads.

This is an example of once a person likes a certain photo and clicks on the +Buy button they will see something like this screen above. The three colored arrows I added to help you see there are three of the four things I offer here with this photo.

Prints are highlighted here by the red arrow. My clients can order just about any size print that my supplier offers. I just go through the form when setting up my price and just those that I put my price on will show up.  I can have as many price lists I want and choose the list for any group of photos. I may have print prices really high since the photos might be rare or they are for fine art work to display in galleries.

The products tab which is highlighted by the blue arrow lets the customer order things like coffee mugs, mouse pads, t-shirts and more things like this. Again, only those item I choose to price will show up.

So many of my customers just want the digital image for usually two reasons. First of all most people want an image they can use on social media. They just want to display it for their Facebook friends for example.  These are low resolution and you cannot do too much with this size image other than social media.  I also offer a full high resolution download as well.  This is for folks that want to make their own prints. Since this means they will not be order a multiple print package and I will loose these sales the price is much higher to offset the sales I am loosing.

Rights Managed Sales

I also have media outlets and companies that want to buy my images to use to help their business. Depending how they want to use them they pay a different price. Now this is where the online website does so much for me that I would always prefer the customer buying online rather than the phone call.

The prices for stock sales go from really small amount to rather high due to how they plan to use it. PhotoShelter has built into their system FotoQuote's pricing for stock. You can make modifications to the pricing structure. You can lower or raise your rates in different categories by percentage of fotoQuote's rates.

The client just picks from the pull down menus and when they are done they have a price that they can agree upon and quickly pay and get the download right then.  No phone calls or negotiating.  Of course they can send an email and let me know they want to pay me double the price if they like, or as many will try and do get me to lower my price. Either way they now have a starting price based on parameters. Gives us a starting place for negotiation.

As you can see in the screen grab above, the client made choices and ended up with a quote of $126 for use of an image one time in the magazine and digital version.

What the photographer does to make all this work

I upload the high resolution images to PhotoShelter. I must pick a vendor to fullfil my prints and products. I then set the prices for the vendor.  I setup the prices for download for personal usage and also setup the rights managed prices.

After I upload and set of images then I normally select all the images in that gallery and price them choosing from the price lists I created.

I then set the security for the galleries and then send links to the customers I need to see the images.

The only other thing I can do is then also promote stock images I have for sale.

Once they are up I just get notices when an order is made and then payments online to my PayPal account. Now that is super easy for me.

Check out PhotoShelter yourself.