Photoshop World 2013

By Roger  (5 Sep 2013)

If you’ve been reading our Efcubed Facebook page, you know Mark and I are in Las Vegas for another Photoshop World.  They are always fun and educational. We wish you were here.

The first night here, we went out for a photowalk along the Vegas strip. 

The first night here, we went out for a photowalk along the Vegas strip. 

This is a week of advancing your skills and hanging out with other photographers, ranging from absolute beginners to certified geeks.  All of the seminars are taught by highly-qualified instructors, and there are additional demonstrations and classes on the expo floor.  Don’t be fooled by the name, there is much more to this conference than Photoshop.  This year, there are seven different tracks to choose from.  But don’t worry, you can mix and match them any way you want to maximize your learning experience.  You get a book with lesson outlines from every seminar, even the ones you didn’t/couldn’t attend.  The conference lasts for three days (this week’s schedule is here), but they always tack on an additional day for pre-conference seminars, too.  We recommend you add one of these 4-6 hour, in-depth sessions to your schedule and make it a solid four days.  If you count the parties as networking events (and we do), you can easily find yourself doing 12 hours a day of great learning.

For our pre-conference sessions, Mark attended the Adobe Certified Expert preparation session.  Since we do some of the education in our local photography group, we figure it is a worthwhile investment.  I chose to spend six hours with David Ziser, one of the nation’s top wedding photographers.  He has been making a living from weddings, portraits, and bat/bar mitzvahs for almost 50 years, so you know he must be doing something right.  I have always admired his work; regularly read his blog; and have his book, Captured by the Light.  (Besides, he provided lunch!)

After some pre-wedding discussions about preparations and techniques, David brought in a couple of models for a live wedding shoot, and we got down to work.  Most attendees were carrying cameras, but this was more about observing his methods than a model shoot.  I managed to shoot a few shots, but they are mostly to illustrate the behind-the-scenes situation.  We had live-view coverage to see what his camera saw, from his angle, with his lighting.  We went out into the Mandalay Bay hotel to shoot a formal portrait or two and then onto a bus to a local church.

David Ziser at the PSW Live Wedding Shoot

David Ziser at the PSW Live Wedding Shoot

At the church, David walked us through finding the best angles and backgrounds – things to do before the wedding, if possible – to better prepare you when the actual ceremony occurs.  He demonstrated his preferred lighting set-ups and some posing techniques.

Using a flashlight to demonstrate lighting on the bride's face. 

Using a flashlight to demonstrate lighting on the bride's face. 


After going through numerous scenarios and photographs, we moved outside into the bright, afternoon sun of Las Vegas.  Unfortunately, the photographer doesn’t get to pick the time of day a wedding occurs.  You can’t quit shooting a wedding just because the light is horrible.  He demonstrated a couple of solutions to minimize the problem of photography when the sun is directly overhead, including high-sync flash.

Shooting in the bright afternoon sun of Las Vegas. 

Shooting in the bright afternoon sun of Las Vegas. 

If you look at my shot, you may think the bride’s photo would be ruined by all the nonsense in the background.  She has a McDonald’s sign right over her head!  But you can eliminate most of those distractions with a wide-open aperture and by choosing the proper position as you take the shot.  Here is David’s position for a beautiful, full-length photo of the bride, without the messy background.  

Shoot from a low angle to get the best full-length photos and eliminate busy backgrounds. 

Shoot from a low angle to get the best full-length photos and eliminate busy backgrounds. 

It was a great seminar, with a chance to talk directly to a master photographer.  Questions were varied and plentiful, but he would answer them and demonstrate solutions.

Today, we spent the first day at opening ceremonies, the Adobe Keynote (lots of news there), and a full day of classes and expo floor prowling.  I’m writing this late, but I just returned from the after-hours party, at the House of Blues.  I’ll leave it to Mark to wrap up the rest of the week in his next blog.  As always, this Photoshop World was worth the effort and cost.  Start your planning to join us at the next Photoshop World, in Atlanta, Ga., 7-10 April 2014.  You’ll have fun and learn new skills.

++++++ Speaking of photography fun, don’t forget to sign up for the Worldwide Photowalk, on 5 October.  For the third year, Mark and I are leading the walk in Colonial Williamsburg, Va., at 9 a.m.  You can get more information on all the walks around the world and register here.  The registration deadline is 23 September.

A Big Wedding

By Roger

Sorry I didn't get a blog out last Thursday.  I was pre-occupied with a Boston wedding ceremony, and I left on Wednesday to get prepared.

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I love to photograph weddings: everyone is dressed up and challenges abound.  The venues are usually full of great backgrounds.  Everyone is feeling joyfully emotional, so you can get some very nice portraits.  Often, weddings require some travel, another personal favorite pastime.  My trip to Poland, in May, was motivated, primarily, by wedding photography.

Many photographers shy away from wedding photography because of the fast pace and long hours, not to mention the frightening, once-in-a-lifetime, no “do-over” aspect of it.  They don't like the constantly changing demands made by the clients or the post-processing volume.  But I have always loved weddings and will shoot until everyone goes home, except for this one.  My daughter, Rebecca, was marrying Chris.


I have blogged before that photographers need to be alert to times when the proper thing to do is put their cameras down. Sometimes, you need to relax and enjoy the scenery.  Sometimes, you need to stop and participate in an event.  Sometimes, you just need to take a break and think.  This past weekend, I needed to do all of these.

I was lucky enough to have a friend, Tony Gibson, in charge of the photography.  He brought along another highly-qualified photographer, John Nelson.  I have shot with Tony many times and had complete confidence in his skills.  This is very important for someone who views the wedding photography to be as important as the bride's dress and the song list for the reception...and is paying the bill.   ;-)

I brought a camera, and even took a few photos before the party began, but there was no way I could properly do the job without diminishing my participation in my daughter's big day.  That wasn't going to happen.

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The weather was gorgeous. The ceremony was a blur, of course.  I barely remember walking down the aisle as Cathy and I escorted Rebecca up to Chris.  There was some talk from the presiding official about the Dali Lama and an Apache love poem; a kiss and some applause; some speeches and toasts; and, then, lots of dancing.  We closed a bar near the hotel, after a bus ride from the venue.  We had lots of fun with family and friends from several countries and all over the States.  (Thanks to them all for traveling.)

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I may not clearly remember everything that happened that Saturday, but that's no problem.  We will have the photography forever, and we can re-live the joy of that day over and over.  And that is why I love wedding photography.

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