Friday, October 30, 2009

Special Event: NYUPS Presents Emory Kristof


NYUPS is proud to present “20,000 Bytes Under The Sea”, a special presentation by legendary National Geographic photographer and IMAX filmmaker, Emory Kristof.

Emory Kristof has been a National Geographic photographer ever since working for the magazine as an intern in 1963.

Admission is complimentary, and seating is limited. We do expect a full house and you must RSVP to attend. If you do not RSVP and receive a confirmation, then you are not on the guest list.

Time: October 30, 2009 from 7pm to 10:30pm
Location: Bleecker Street Theater
Street: 45 Bleecker Street
City/Town: New York City
Website or Map:

See the NYUPS web site for complete details:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lightroom 3.0 Beta is Available

(Click on image to enlarge)

I live in Lightroom so this is a big deal.

According to Abobe:
Some of the new features included for you to play with in the Lightroom 3 beta are:

  • Brand new performance architecture, building for the future of growing image libraries
  • State-of-the-art noise reduction to help you perfect your high ISO shots
  • Watermarking tool that helps you customize and protect your images with ease
  • Portable sharable slideshows with audio—designed to give you more flexibility and impact on how you choose to share your images, you can now save and export your slideshows as videos and include audio
  • Flexible customizable print package creation so your print package layouts are all your own
  • Film grain simulation tool for enhancing your images to look as gritty as you want
  • New import handling designed to make importing streamlined and easy
  • More flexible online publishing options so you can post your images online to certain online photo sharing sites directly from inside Lightroom 3 beta (may require third-party plug-ins)*

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


The Stock Artists Alliance (SAA) has been the only professional organization fully devoted the interests of Stock Photographers for the past 10 years. It is now part of AVA as noted below and this is a step forward.

Read this release on our website

Merger with Alliance of Visual Artists creates strength in numbers for advocacy, education and networking.

October 8, 2009 - Atlanta

The Stock Artists Alliance (SAA) announced today that it will merge with the Alliance of Visual Artists (AVA), an umbrella organization representing five photographic associations and some 45,000 professional photographers worldwide.

SAA, the only photography association dedicated specifically to the needs of professional stock photographers, represents more than 400 members. With the merger of the two groups, it becomes the sixth photographic association to join AVA's family, which also includes Professional Photographers of America (PPA), Society of Sport and Event Photographers (SEP), Evidence Photographers International Council (EPIC), Student Photographic Society (SPS) and Commercial Photographers International (CPI). The merger becomes effective immediately.

"This is an exciting time for all of our AVA associations," comments AVA chief executive David Trust. "By joining together, each of our associations is able to keep a unique identity, while tapping into operating efficiencies and economies of scale. And that translates into greater benefits for all members."

One of the most significant, immediate benefits of the merger for SAA is newly acquired strength in numbers on Capitol Hill. A longtime active proponent for copyright, SAA can now join AVA's more aggressive and well-funded lobbying campaign, effectively giving all six associations a greater voice. Current advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill are focused on the national debate on health care and its accessibility to photographers and other small businesses, while continually spreading the pro-copyright message.

"We are witnessing a revolutionized business model in our midst," says Shannon Fagan, president of SAA. "Stock photography licensing has evolved and methodologies have changed. What we considered as protocol is no longer, and it is our duty as active professionals to retool, rethink and realign our goals. We are extremely proud of SAA's success, and we are pleased to align ourselves with AVA to give our members the best opportunities for sustained growth and leadership in this rapidly changing industry."

In addition to the added influence in Washington, the merger opens up new educational and networking opportunities for all association members. SAA members will have access to AVA's bundle of membership benefits. The addition of SAA will also widen the educational scope of Imaging USA, the first photographic convention and expo of the year, hosted each year by AVA. With today's merger, a slate of classes dedicated specifically to stock photography will be planned for the January 10, 2010, event.

"We learned early on that photographers want to associate with people with like interests and business models," adds Claire White, AVA's Allied Associations manager. "This type of merger only works if each organization can keep its identity as it contributes to the combined success of the whole. SAA brings a unique perspective that was needed in our group. We are thrilled to welcome them into the fold."

About the Alliance of Visual Artists (AVA):

Better known for its largest association, Professional Photographers of America, AVA also holds the Society of Sport and Event Photographers, Commercial Photographers International, Evidence Photographers International Council, the Student Photographic Society and now the Stock Artists Alliance. As the world's largest umbrella group of professional photography associations, AVA exists to increase the benefits and services to professional photographers through the professional and efficient administration of photographic and other visually-oriented associations. For more information, please visit

About Stock Artists Alliance (SAA):

SAA is the only trade association focused on the business of stock photography. SAA supports its membership with exclusive benefits to enable and enhance their stock businesses. SAA also speaks up for the interests of stock artists with a clear and powerful voice in the licensing industry. The heart of SAA's mission is education and advocacy concerning core issues, such as the need to better protect and promote licensing through the use of standardized metadata. Learn more at


Claire White, Allied Association Manager
Alliance of Visual Artists
404.522.8600, ext. 254

Contact Information
Executive Director:
Membership Coordinator: Inna Spivakova -

BOOK REVIEW: Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography

The late Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography is perhaps the finest book on Photography I have read. It is a compilation of articles he wrote for Outdoor Photography Magazine. It is copyright 2001, so much of what he writes predates the digital age. But is not really a book on technique as much as "seeing." The first third of the book is worth the price of entry alone. The book is divided into four parts:
  • Visions
  • Preparations
  • Journeys
  • Realizations

Rowell is a master teacher and visual artist. This is for intermediate and advanced photographers that want to hone their skills even further. Some of his observations include:
  • "[Photographs] are visual illusions that trick our senses into believing that the images represent theyway the eye would see a real scene."
  • "Cameras capable of making great photographs have become commonplace but photographers have not. While technical innovations have made photography even easier in recent decades, the art of producing images that other people will care about has become even more formidable."
  • "Literal images of nature no longer wow the public."
  • "...a visionary image communicates the intentionality of the artist's experience."
  • "The best pictures show us a world different from the one we directly observe."
  • "We all take pictures to communicate what is important in our lives."
All these quotes are just in the first three pages of the Preface. To paraphrase Al Pacino from "Scent of a Woman," HE'S JUST GETTING STARTED!

 You can purchase Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

PHOTO PLUS EXPO - Starts Tomorrow Oct 22- 24

At the Javits Center in NYC. This is the largest Advanced Amateur / Professional Photography show in the country. Expo floor and Seminars by the Who's Who in Photography. Go if you want to improve your photography and see the latest in tools and equipment.

BOOK REVIEW: Photographing Birds

When I was a kid, I was a naturalist at heart. Maybe it started at age 6 with impromptu talks the nuns selected me to give to the 8th grade. I used the Powerpoint of the time, a book on Fish. Birds get a bad rap. I have heard people downgrade birds as being something for "old people." How does an entire classification of biology get associated with an age group? What age group are Amoeba associated with?

BIRDS and FISH exhibit the same hard to photograph behavior as individuals and in schools or flocks. True, you need much more equipment and training to photograph fish. But the "eye," focus on behavior, concentration and fast reflexes are the same.

PHOTOGRAPHING BIRDS by Rulon Simmons and Bates Littlehales of Nat Geo fame is a great book. These veterans share their secrets of different methods such as feeding, vs stalking, vs blinds, nesting, flight, etc.

There are sections on using remote controllers and accessory tree limbs on feeders. I shot the Cardinal below using these techniques. This alone was worth the price of admission for me. Some text is still back in the film era, but most is still valid in the digital age because of its concentration on the subject matter: the birds.

You can purchase PHOTOGRAPHING BIRDS by Rulon Simmons and Bates Littlehales here.

See my gallery of birds.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

BASICS: Using the Levels Tool to get WOW!

The worst comment a photographer can get on their work is "NICE" or "INTERESTING." If your photography is not generating WOW reactions, this technique could help. Many factors of course effect the WOW reaction, but for photos to be dramatic or LEAP off the page, you must edit using some kind of Editor such as Photoshop Elements, Paintshop pro or iPhoto.

Despite all the marketing, digital cameras do not always produce perfect photos. Today's cameras are after all, dumb computers with a lens attached. An Editor can quickly correct TONAL RANGE problems, the factor that is responsible for photos looking muddy or "lacking something."

The quickest way to get the most out of the tonal range is to use the LEVELS tool to set the White point, Black Point and Contrast or Gamma. A Japanese photographer named Sammy (Masafumi Tanaka) taught me how to do this in five minutes in the Maldives back in 2003. It got me hooked on the power of digital editing. As this is a powerful tool that changes the picture, you may want to first make a copy of the file as you practice. You can also CLOSE the picture without saving if you are not happy with the results.

1. Open the Editor application. In this example, we are using Photoshop Elements.
2. Open a picture
3. Press the COMMAND + L keys (Mac) or CTRL + L (Win) and the following histogram shows up. Very similar to your camera histogram. In iPhoto, click Edit your picture and click the Adjust Icon. For others, check for Levels help.

In this example, the photo has poor tonal range in both the shadows (to the left) and the highlights (to the right). This shape of the Histogram "mountain" tells us this. The picture will have a muddy quality to it. Using the controls it is easy to improve this picture.

1. Click and hold your left mouse button on the White Point slider, circled here in Yellow.
2. Drag it toward the left until it almost touches the "mountain" of the Histogram.
3. Repeat with the Black Point slider, circled here in Red.
4. Drag it toward the right until it almost touches the other side of the "mountain."
Your picture will appear "crisper"and the controls will be in their new positions as shown:

The last control is to adjust the center Gamma slider (or Contrast) circled in green. Click and hold and move to the left and right slightly to see the effect and leave it where you think best.

Save your picture when you are happy with the result.

If you reopen the Levels tool, the changes to the histogram are evident showing a much better tonal range, one step closer to WOW! Once you are proficient with Levels, it will be time to explore the next step up in editing sophistication, the Curves Tool.

Friday, October 16, 2009


In discussing the previous two focus point technique posts with photographer Polina Resnikov, she offered an alternate technique that could be faster, especially when using an underwater housing. The technique is called using Focus Lock & Recomposition. This technique is not suitable for subjects moving very quickly toward or away from the camera. A continuous Focus Mode is more suitable in this situation.

1. Be sure your camera
auto focus mode is set properly. For example, Canon D-SLRs need to be set in the One-Shot AF

2. Select the
Center focus point.

3. Point the focus point on the subject you want the sharpest, then press and HOLD the shutter half way down. The setting will be remembered as long as you hold the button half way down.

RECOMPOSE correctly and take the picture.

You can repeat the procedure as needed and refocus just by letting go of the shutter release and repeating steps 3 & 4.

Check your manual to verify the procedure for your camera.

U/W NOTE: If shooting underwater with an SLR, you need to be
sensitive to when & where the shutter control is halfway down. Practice on land, this is a tactile skill. Some housing's springs on the shutter control desensitize detecting where the halfway point is.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


This picks up from the previous post on Focus Points.

There are at least four benefits to using a battery grip:
  1. Using an accessory Battery Grip on your SLR can also aid greatly in being able to change focus points while shooting a vertical composition. Some Pro quality cameras have battery grips built in. The grips typically have additional focus point buttons and a shutter release to allow you to change Focus Points quickly without taking your eye from the finder. This is crucial for nature or any fast moving subject. Note that many underwater housings will NOT accept the addition of a battery grip as space is very limited.
  2. Your shooting time can be extended as you can install two batteries at the same time. I can get an entire morning or afternoon on two batteries. Normally I'd have to change batteries after an hour or two. A distraction in the heat of great session.
  3. Many come with a AA battery tray so you can use AA's in a emergency.
  4. This one is subtle. If you put a grip on a Pro-Am camera like a Canon 50D, it now looks like an $8000 EOS 1Ds Mark III to the untrained eye. In other words, you look like a real pro. It has been said that wearing a camera is a license to explore. The battery grip can give you extra edge in getting "access" for better photos,i.e. credibility). Be careful where you want to brandish this appearance. Sometimes a little Canon G10 is better by being less intimidating.
The downside of using battery grips are the additional weight and bulk and the fact that you LOOK like you have a lot of money to invest in a REALLY expensive camera.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


This expands on the TIPS - General Photography in the sidebar.

Having a sharply focused image is crucial to the success of a photograph. When shooting kids, animals or underwater, use the centered focus point on your SLR. SLRs have multiple, selectable "Focus Points" as a standard feature. Most allow you to let the camera decide what you had in mind or allow you to select the correct point. There may be 5 or more points visible in the viewfinder to choose from depending the camera. The are usually shown by a pattern of little squares in the viewfinder. Pressing the shutter button halfway down will usually show the selected point and you may hear a beep if the point is determined to be "sharp." You and your camera manual will need to be good friends to be sure you know how to select the correct one. Practice using the feature. You will lose fluency on this if you don't shoot at least every two weeks.

Point and shoot cameras probably won't have this feature. Using the center point allows you get the animal in focus. Alternatively, you may need to adjust the focus point to be situated directly on one of the animal’s eyes to get the best perceived sharpness. Letting the camera decide the focus point will not give you optimum results as the camera may keep searching for what should be in focus or determine the wrong point. Most digital cameras these days function as programmed computers, not photographers with a thinking brain.