This is Worldwide Photowalk Week!

Hear ye, hear ye. This Saturday marks the 5th Annual Photowalk and as of yesterday there were around 28,000 photographers signed up in 1300 walks all over the globe.  Roger and I are leading one in Williamsburg VA and we still have a few spaces available.  The groups are limited to no more than 50 people.  The walkers vary in skill from beginners to professionals and they all have one thing in common…a love of photography.

Scott Kelby, who started this madness asked us to post an excerpt from his own blog of his 7 tips for participants. 

If you haven’t signed up for a Walk Yet…. It’s not too late. Here’s the link—find a city near you, and sign up to be a part of your local walk.

Seven Tips for Walkers Last year, I gave seven tips for walkers to help you make the most of your walk, and I’ve got those here for you again. If you’re going to be walking with us this weekend, take a moment to give these a quick read: I promise it’ll make a difference in your experience.

(1) Drink Plenty of Water Make sure you take plenty of water with you and stay fully hydrated during the entire walk. Two hours is a long time to be out in the sun so make sure you drink lots of water before and during the walk. (TIP: Want to be a hero? Bring an extra bottle of water or two to share with other walkers).

(2) Use Sunscreen If your walk is during daylight hours (and most are), make sure you wear plenty of sunscreen, and don’t forget to wear a hat for protection as well.

(3) Leave a Small Footprint Make sure that you have as little physical impact on the area you’re walking in as possible. If you’re walk is in nature, make sure the area looks exactly the same when you leave as when you got there. Same thing in a downtown area—-we want store owners and pedestrians to welcome events like this, so be kind to everyone you meet, and create as small a footprint on your walk route as possible. Take only pictures. Leave only footprints.

(4) Make New Friends This is a social event, and everybody is there to have fun and make new friends, so make sure you talk with other walkers in your group. Ask them ‘what kind of stuff like they to shoot,’ or ‘how they like their camera or a particular accessory,’ or ask ‘if they’ve ever been on this street or area before,’ and you’ll have a conversation up and running in no time.

(5) Let Your Leader Lead Your walk leader has put a lot of time and effort into planning the walk, organizing and publicizing the walk, and making the whole thing happen (after all; without your local Leader there might not be a walk in your city, right?), so don’t try and hijack the walk; let your Leader do the talking, and the leading, and that way you can just relax and focus on getting some great shots.

(6) Get To Your Walk Early It happens every year; some people miss the walk altogether because they couldn’t find a parking space, or they missed the train or subway, or they ran into something that delayed them from getting to the start of the walk on time. It’s really heartbreaking to get there and find that the walk is already underway and there’s nobody standing there but you, so make sure you plan extra time to get to your walk’s Starting Location, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress (and possible heartbreak) by getting there early. Plus, if you get there early, there’s extra time to make friends before the walk even starts—maybe you’ll make a “walking buddy” who’ll share the experience with you.

(7) Play it Safe The single most important thing is your safety during the Photo Walk. Don’t get distracted by what you’re shooting or seeing, and back right into the street, or into another photographer (or just a person walking down the street). Keep your wits about you, and remember than many of you will be shooting in a downtown area, on crowded sidewalks or busy streets, so just stay alert the entire walk, and look out for other walkers as well. Also, don’t wander into any areas or alleys that may look the least bit unsafe—stay with your group—there’s safety in numbers, and of course always keep a close eye on your camera gear and personal items.

Also, make sure you check out the Official World Wide Photo Walk Facebook Page (here’s the link) for more walking tips and also you can follow the official walk on Google+ (here’s the link) or on Twitter using the Hashtag #WWPW.”

 

Our group is meeting in the parking lot by the visitor center right by this wall at 0930.   We will be there rain or shine.  Here is the link to our walk. http://worldwidephotowalk.com/walk/williamsburg-va-united-states/

Hope you can join us.

Learning from Professionals

There is so much to learn about technique, composition, printing and the tools of the trade.  The best way to improve your own skills is to work with someone better.  Trust me there is always someone better. It’s no secret that Joe McNally is one of my favorite photographers in the world.   If you want to learn 3D Photoshop effects, then RC Concepcion is probably the guy who knows the most.  Unfortunately they don’t hang around Northern VA a lot waiting to sit side by side and teach me how to be a better shooter, or graphic artist.  I also can’t seem to afford to go off to the high-end courses in places like St. Lucia or Maine for a week at a time.  The good news is that there are lots of solutions out there.  As a National Association of Photoshop Professional (NAPP) member there are lots of tutorials on our website. You’ve heard both Roger and I strongly recommend joining. 

The good folks at NAPP have also established another way to get training, at your own pace, on whatever media device you choose; it is called Kelbytraining .com.   www.kelbytraining.com

It is a subscription service and you can take a “test drive” to see if it is your cup of tea.

There are hundreds of courses already up and more added every week.

You can browse by category or by your favorite instructor.  Just look at all the great courses taught by Joe!

You can do this online, or there is an ipad/iphone app available.  I think it is also available for Android devices as well.

We are setting up a way for you to connect to the Kelbytraining through our site, so watch for more info. 

Adobe Lightroom 4 is finally here!

Roger and I don’t pitch products unless we use them.  If you’ve read any of our blogs at all you know we are both huge fans of the Adobe products and Lightroom is by far our most used tool. Every 18 mos to 2 years companies release new versions of their software and each time users have to ask “Is it worth it to upgrade?”  I can tell you that for some versions of Photoshop, I skipped a cycle, because the new features didn’t matter that much to me.  Without hesitation I can recommend that you install LR4 as soon as you can.  Why you ask?  First if you don’t already own it, they have dropped the price to $149 for new and only $79 to upgrade

Adobe has added and improved some really important features.   

The biggest improvements are in the develop module.  They have redone the engine and really simplified all the controls while giving you finer adjustments.  You can now apply things like white balance and noise reduction via the brush.  This lets you be very precise in where your effects go.

 They added two entirely new modules—Map and Photobook.

 Publish your own photobooks right from LR.  It now has a link to www.Blurb.com and looks fairly easy.  I will be testing it against the www.mypublisher.com app that I normally use and will see how it fares.  But that is for another blog.

The ability to tag images to Google Maps is pretty cool.  Roger is a huge fan of that one.  The feature actually lets you drag your pictures to the map and it will add the geocoordinates to your metadata.  Now if those words don’t gladden a geeks heart, than nothing will

One feature they added to the library and develop modules but which isn’t very import to me (yet),  is the ability to manage videos.  You can also do some rudimentary editing there, but I can’t tell you how well it worked.  At least it now gives you the capability to track, tag and sort them so you can find them again. 

The good folks at the National Association of Photoshop Professionals have put out a great LR4 learning center with videos and highlights.  http://www.photoshopuser.com/lightroom4

Well I just got back from a 3 day trip, and I want to finish downloading and playing with it myself, so goodnight. 

To Upgrade or Not?

This past week marked a critical milestone for Nikon lovers everywhere. As Roger pointed out, the long awaited, much anticipated, Nikon D4 has finally been announced.  He has already pre-ordered his.  As their press release says, The D4 is equipped with a new Nikon FX-format CMOS image sensor (imaging size of 36.0 x 23.9 mm) and EXPEED 3, the latest image-processing engine specifically optimized for digital-SLR cameras, making it the next-generation flagship Nikon digital-SLR camera with the ultimate in versatility and functionality that offers superior image quality rich in detail along with excellent high-speed performance. It has an effective pixel count of 16.2-million pixels, and offers superior image quality under a broad range of lighting conditions with its image sensor supporting an incredible range of sensitivities from ISO 50 to ISO 204800. http://nikon.com/news/2012/0106_flagship_01.htm Yes, you read that right, up to ISO 204800—that is practically shooting in the dark.

Now my current camera is definitely out of date. I shoot with a D300, which was outstanding 5 years ago, but when the ISO goes above 800 gets really, really grainy.  It is also only a ¾ frame, which means I don’t get the full advantage from the lenses I like to shoot best.  All this leads you to believe that I am ready to sign up for the D4 as well.  Well, not so fast—I actually am not planning on buying it because I don’t believe my photography skills will make use of it.  I never have been one to go out and purchase the latest technology just because it is the latest, and that is especially true with camera equipment. When I get to the point where the equipment gets in the way of what I want to do, it is time to get new equipment.  I have reached that point with my current camera body so, don’t get me wrong, I am going to get a new camera, and soon, but am waiting for the D800.

The D800 shares a lot of the technology found in the D4, but things like a solid, nearly watertight magnesium frame are not that big a deal for me.  I don’t shoot a lot of pro sports events so the ability to shoot a sustained 11 frames per second is interesting, but not what I need.  The low light capability is something I want, and guess what?  The D800 will have close to that. Besides with the money I save, I can also buy that 14-24 lens I still want for shooting more landscapes.

Cameras are an extremely personal choice, and there is no right answer.  It is a tool, albeit a powerful one, which helps you hopefully capture the vision you have in your head. Don’t be swayed by hype, but match your needs versus the range of capabilities the manufacturers are building.