You’re a photographer who’s oh-so-ready to make money. We hear ya. But if you’ve gotten every hair in place and you’ve still not seen that “Cha-Ching!” email, here are a few possible reasons why you’ve not been getting bites.
1. No Buy Button
Is it there? This is possibly one of the most dire but easiest flubs to fix. Maybe you disabled this or applied a Quick Setting that hid the Buy button from your galleries, but if you don’t switch it back on you’ll never sell a single print. So be sure to check your galleries and if it’s missing, enable printing in your Gallery Settings. Easy peasy!
2. No Pricing
We hate asking this, but… you DID set up your pro pricing, right? With Pricelists it’s really easy to set a pro markup on just the products you want, then apply that pricing to any or all galleries across your site. But if you forget to do this, you won’t make a dime.
Tip: If you don’t want to think about this ever again, check the “Make this my default pricelist” at the top right and we’ll automagically apply this pricelist to all current and new galleries on your site.
Also, are you charging enough? It may seem counter-intuitive, but we can’t stress enough the importance of keeping your prices high and charging what you’re worth. In short: Don’t be cheap.
3. Nasty RCP Message
We’re all about protecting your photos and making sure that you have peace of mind when putting your best work on the web. But there are ways to use them, and then there are better ways to use them. We’re here to show you the latter.
Like your Right-Click Protection message: It’s there to foil right-clickers looking for an easy download, but most photographers just put a boilerplate copyright message, or a threat. Instead of slapping your customers, try to guide them to your Buy button for a profit-making purchase. You’ll look competent AND helpful all at the same time. Fix it under the “Photos” line in your Easy Customizer.
4. Originals On
So many SmugMug users use their galleries to share photos with friends and family. But as a Pro, being that generous may not be so good for business. Originals (and full-res downloads) are on by default, but it’s a quick fix to change this. Just remember to do it!
Open up your gallery settings and look for the Security & Privacy option. Set the radio button to anything smaller than Originals (like XLarge), and to check, log out and take a breeze through your galleries. You’ll always see a Save Photo option when you’re logged in as the owner, but you shouldn’t see it when you’re viewing your site as a guest.
5. Zero Marketing
Ah, the feeling of sweet success on the morning you unveil your website! But wait… did you share the link?
Like relationships, you’ve got to put a little effort in to get something back. So be sure to enter in your keywords, captions, meta description and meta keywords to be sure you get picked up in search engines. Also share the link to your site with friends, Facebook and anywhere else you go online. After all, you can’t make sales if nobody knows you exist.
6. Password Foibles
Many clients want their event galleries locked down with a viewing password, and, yeah, we understand privacy. But our Support Heroes hear from more people than we’d expect that get hit with this one. We hear from confused clients, curious pros who expected instant sales, but the culprit is usually that the password never got shared! So if you’ve just put the finishing touches on your latest wedding gallery and your inbox is a ghost town, think back to whether or not you’ve completed this vital step.
The lesson? Don’t forget to share your viewing passwords with the people that matter most. Since passwords are cAsE sEnSiTiVe we recommend copying and pasting what you type in your gallery settings right into your emails.
7. You Launched Yesterday
It’s possible to find overnight success on the web, but patience is still a virtue. You can plug in every keyword and meta description properly, shared with your Facebook fans and distributed your business cards to shops across town, but you’ll still have to wait to see the effect. It takes time for Google to do its work, and for tongues to wag.
So instead of stressing out, grab your camera, keep on shooting and work on honing your craft. Your soon-to-be clients will only love you more.
- How to create and apply Quick Settings
- Gallery Settings: Your key to almost everything
- What’s Visitor View and why do I care?
- Stop slapping your customers with a good Right-Click Protection message
- How easy is the Easy Customizer?
- Save Photos for site owners
- The Great Pricing Hoax
- The art of getting a link to share
- Warning! Sharing photos will make you lots of money
- SEO and SmugMug
- A privacy cheat sheet
- Publish to Facebook from your SmugMug galleries
- SEO made easy on SmugMug
Have you ever wondered how to get your photos picked up by ad agencies? How does a photographer get their foot in the door? These are questions many of us have thought about before, since photography (and ads) are everywhere we look.
You’re in luck. Our community angel, Rocky Bowles, sat down with pro photographer and Chief Creative Officer Alan Shapiro to talk a bit about what exactly goes on behind closed doors. A big deal, considering guys like him are the decision-makers and are technically responsible for every client in the agency.
If you want to impress the bigwigs, wouldn’t you want to know:
- What types of photos Creative Officers are looking for?
- How to get your photos in front of them?
- Where photographers can go to hear about opportunities for their phots?
- What’s customary, what’s expected, and what sort of things make you look like a n00b?
- How much creative control the photographer gets?
Download and listen to the podcast now! It’s 30 minutes that may change the way you look at ads forever.
Photos by Alan Shapiro Photography
Next in our short series of posts from Dallas Nagata White’s amazing team is Katharine Schuette, a recent university graduate and model extraordinaire. Her perspective is the final corner of our fashion shoot trifecta. What’s it like to be a professional model in the industry? Is it everything we envision it to be? Here’s what she had to say!
What is your story? How did you get into the modeling industry?
Modeling just happened to me, I didn’t seek it out. One weekend while walking to Waikiki beach, I picked up a local fashion magazine. The back page featured a raffle for a free haircut – and as a college student, I found this offer enticing. I won the raffle (I was probably the only person that responded), and when I picked up the gift certificate, the editor asked if I’d ever thought about modeling. Although I’d vaguely recognized my own bone structure in those of the models in advertisements, I never really gave it much thought. Especially since I live about five thousand miles away from New York, and am in the exact opposite time zone as Paris. I didn’t know at the time that Honolulu has a small but thriving fashion scene.
The editor set me up with a few test shoots with local photographers, and helped me shop around for agencies. My career unfolded from there, and in 2011 I had the opportunity to work with Wilhelmina LA, so I left Hawaii for awhile and tried my luck in the big leagues. I’m winding down now because I’m focusing on my “real” career, but I’ll still shoot if I get a booking, or if friends or skilled photographers want to work with me.
I love that with modeling comes travel, new faces, clients from all over the world. I’m saturated with wanderlust but tied to the second most isolated place on the planet, so when I spend the day with a group of Norwegians posing with Tahitian kids at Sandy Beach, I’m a happy girl. “Wow, how is this my life?” always hits me in the middle of shoots, or when I land in a new city. I’ll never forget standing in Shanghai and looking out at the Pudong skyline by night, trying to communicate with tuk tuk drivers in Thailand, or driving past thousands upon thousands of windmills on a road trip-themed shoot from Vegas to Palm Springs. I never would have had those experiences in my early 20s if not for this job.
It gives me a chance to get away from my typical daily life, wear clothes I’d never wear, and basically pretend to be someone else who is far more glamorous than I, with better hair, for a day. I’ll miss my job when it comes time to claim the inevitable title of “former model.”
Who takes creative lead on the shoot? Who contacts who?
It depends on the client. I wouldn’t be the person to ask about this, I just show up at call time. There’s might be an art director on larger shoots who handles a lot of that. My responsibility is to communicate with the client and photographer to understand their inspirations, vision for the finished product, and especially the emotion they want to convey.
What’s the most important bargaining chip for models?
A model needs to understand what emotion the photographer wants to portray at any given moment, and know her body and face well enough to make sure a large portion of those pictures come out well. She needs to be able to do ridiculous things like hang from unsteady tree branches or splash around in the ocean in December (in heels, probably) while appearing completely “relaxed” and “natural” (these two words usually come up when I’m in a particularly precarious situation).
It helps to be friendly, never complain, and be professional. I had a client who booked a model with this great sullen, bored look that would be perfect for selling clothes to teenagers. Unfortunately for them, this was actually her personality and she ended up storming off down the beach mid-shoot in their sample clothes, never to return.
What happens on the day of the shoot?
I show up at some ungodly hour even earlier than necessary because I am prideful about my punctuality. I find the coffee. I find the client. Now I am ready to sit in hair and makeup for up to three hours, usually two; then, the stylist gets me ready for the first look. By then the set of the first image is prepared and the photographer and I get to work. There are assistants around, and stylists maintaining the integrity of the look. But there is an unbroken line of communication between the photographer and the model – the photographer has a vision and an inspiration, the model understands that vision and does her best to create the image he or she wants.
We’ll work our way through however many looks the client needs, and by the “golden hour” are ready to shoot the final image. This one is always my favorite because the light is easy to work with – all angles look better! – and also, I’m about to go home. On the best shoots, the whole team will go out to dinner afterward to celebrate.
What contracts, insurance and other business details do you need to make sure get handled?
My agency handles the business end, which is why I give them a 20% cut. My agency in Hawaii is especially reliable and I’ve never had a problem getting paid on time, unless the client was delinquent, but they’ve never failed to claim payment eventually. The mainland was a little different because there were so many girls; if I didn’t keep track of every invoice I probably wouldn’t have been paid for several jobs.
I also have to take out all of my own taxes and keep track of business expenses, of which there are many. I’m lucky because I can include expenses such as bikini waxes and gym memberships on my expenses each year.
I signed a 2-year contract with my agency but it’s kind of a charade because they can drop you at any time if you gain weight or you lose a limb or something.
What is your opinion on TFP (Time For Prints)?
It’s great if you’re just starting to model and the photographer is experienced. If you’re an inexperienced photographer, I can imagine it would be difficult to book a professional model, so you might have to find a new face to work with. By the time a model is established, she should be able to book enough editorials where she won’t have to do any TFP. I wouldn’t do it now unless it were with my close friends who are photographers.
Do you you ever initiate projects with photographers?
My agency vouches for me if a client is interested; I do not initiate jobs. By the time the model is booked, the shoot is probably completely organized, and then a couple of weeks (or even days) before, they’ll hire me.
What does the ultimate dream job look like for you?
Oh wow, this is great. Okay, I am in Tokyo, I’m thinking something involving a Frida Kahlo inspired look, on the streets of Ginza in the spring on Saturdays when the roads are blocked off from traffic.The photographer is my favorite in the world, Harold Julian (who is off in New York now!). Whenever I felt nervous on a shoot in LA, I would pretend Harold was actually the one behind the camera. He’s kind of a quiet guy, but when he starts shooting he gets really energetic. And while he’s shooting, he’s explaining what attitudes or emotions he’s envisioning for the shot; he lets me use that inspiration.
Some photographers will have a certain vision they want to fulfill and tell you exactly how they want you posed, down to your fingertips, and it can be really suffocating and drags a lot of life out of the image. Harold gives more vague ideas or asks me to try certain things, but it’s never strict, and he lets me work within that framework of what he has in mind. It’s such a positive, creative atmosphere.
If you had to pick 3 things that you wish photographers would consider when working with models, what would they be?
I can only really speak for myself because I’m not sure how all models feel, but I like when photographers act relaxed and friendly and take the time to get to know my personality before we start working. I also want photographers to be able to get the right rhythm between when I pose and they shoot. It’s difficult to hold a facial expression or pose for longer than a half a second without the expression falling flat or looking unnatural. I like to be able to move fluidly between poses. And third – play music! I love when the music matches the theme of the shoot, how it helps you get into that headspace of acting like someone completely new.
Is it generally expected that you’ll get copies of the photos to use for your own portfolio?
It doesn’t always happen and sometimes I have to go out and buy the magazines to use in my book, but really great clients are conscientious about sending me a few copies. If I’m shooting for fun or testing, it’s important that the photographer sends me the pictures because that’s the whole point of giving up a day, or morning, to work. If they take forever to return the finished images, that’s a sign that they’re unprofessional and it’s unlikely I would work with them again. How hard is it to use Dropbox?
Everyone has their “best angles” in photos. How do you find a balance between what works for you vs how the photographer wants to pose you?
If the photographer wants me to pose in a very specific way, I just have to work with what he or she is asking. They have the final say, but I try to angle my face or body in such a way that it will still look good. If the photographer is more lenient I can pose how I see fit and play around with different looks until I hit on something that inspires them. Then I’ll work within that more narrow range of poses and attitudes.
How would you suggest up-and-coming photographers get started with finding a model to work with?
Don’t find a model. Shoot people – friends, family, anyone. My friend Ja Tecson, in Los Angeles, is a great example of what can be done without using a “model.” His images are crisp and colorful and full of energy. And although many of the people he shoots are really attractive, they have a genuineness that makes the images interesting.
We hope that all of you budding photographers are as inspired as we are after seeing what happens behind-the-scenes of the great fashion industry. So tell us what you think. Have your experiences been any different? Are you inspired to try adding more fashion into your portrait shots?
Fashion photography is just one of those things that inspires us all, whether you’re a photographer or not. The glamour, the lighting, the beautiful models, clothes most of us will never wear, and the notoriety of the rich and famous… who hasn’t dreamt about living that life? This month we’re going to take a closer look at what goes into making those incredible pictures, and we talked with Ed and Dallas Nagata White, two fresh, young and incredibly talented fashion photographers from Hawaii. Here’s what they had to say about what it takes to create magical portraits and how you can bring a little glam into your photos, too.
Photos by Dallas Nagata White
Fashion photographers tend to get a lot of attention for their images. It’s not hard to see why, since those photographs strive to portray glamorous moments within the four corners of a poster or glossy magazine spread, unfettered by the everyday stresses and worries of the real world. The truth is, though, those moments are carefully crafted illusions that no photographer can create alone, which is why SmugMug invited me to talk about the crew I work with and how they can help other photographers bring a touch of that same magic to their own work.
You are a professional photographer, that that’s what people hire you for, but there are other professionals in photography that don’t take pictures, but are essential to helping you craft the most polished, professional image possible. When I started doing fashion photography, I tried to do everything on my own, which was very expensive and not nearly as effective as working with people who make a living in each of these photography niches. You are hired by your clients because you are an expert at photography, so you should encourage you to do the same for your clients with models, stylists, makeup artists, hair stylists and producers who can take your work to the next level.
Here are my thoughts on how to work with what I consider essential crew, and how they can help you improve your craft, even if you are not in the fashion industry. I also don’t claim to know it all, so I’ve also invited a few of my friends from the Hawaii fashion community to write their thoughts about how they think photographers can make the best use of their skills. Please watch for their guest posts over the next month!
A model is much more than a pretty girl. In addition to being in possession of striking appearances, a model must be able to convey the right emotion and body language at the right moment, and know how to connect that emotion to the viewer. In that way, modeling can actually be a little more complex than film acting.
Even if you are not in fashion, you may benefit from hiring a model every so often. For example, a portrait photographer could hire a professional model to showcase what their technique looks like with an “ideal subject,” allowing you to focus on shooting instead of directing. Working with models will also give you more experience with seeing how professionals pose and emote, which will help you direct your clients later on.
The stylist is probably one of the single most important members of a fashion crew, because they are in charge of the clothes! In fashion or editorial work, your client will usually fill that role, but there are also independent stylists who work on supporting bigger shoots, magazine editorials, non-clothing brands, and test shoots.
A stylist goes a great distance towards improving your photography, even if you’re not shooting fashion or editorial images. The great majority of photographs include clothes; by extension, fashion is a nearly unavoidable element in photography and it exists in a spectrum of good to bad. Hiring a stylist makes sure that balance falls on the “good” side, and will absolutely make a difference in your photos.
Besides having good fashion sense, a stylist’s job is to ensure he or she has access to clothes that would ordinarily be out of reach for most people. Your client may not own a $4,000 Oscar De La Renta outfit and $2,000 worth in accessories, but a stylist with the right connections can make it available for the shoot. Barring that, a stylist can consult with your client prior to the shoot and put together the best combination of their own clothes…or help your client buy a new set!
The Makeup Artist
Whether I’m doing commercial work, editorials, or test shoots for new models breaking into the industry, I insist on making sure a professional makeup artist gets hired. The time a makeup artist saves you during post-processing alone makes hiring one worth it, but good makeup work has the potential to totally transform the appearance of your subject and make your photographs far more cohesive.
On the side of saving you time, professional makeup goes beyond covering up acne or blotches. One of my most memorable makeup moments was watching makeup artist Jessica Hoffman explain what the techniques and colors she was using on that day’s model, and watching very slight circles under her eyes–things no one else would have noticed–disappear on one side, and leap into existence on the other as the difference made it possible for our brains to finally notice they were there.
Makeup artists who work with photographers also know how their various products photograph, which your client may not. This helps prevent unflattering artifacts in your images (which you’d have to fix), and can help you nail a particular look in the process of transformation.
On the side of transforming your subject, a makeup artist is able to minimize some aspects of your client’s and emphasize others. A slight darker tone under your subject’s cheekbones in real life can translate to sharp, contrasty features in photographs. The right shade of eye shadow can make a your subject’s eyes jump to life and convey the sultry attitude of a rocker. A different brand or variety of makeup can create the dewy glow of an athlete or the shimmery aura of a clubber. Most importantly, a trained makeup artist can achieve these looks without overdoing it and distracting from your final images.
The Hair Stylist
Hair is often described as the one accessory you have to live with every day. While makeup artists are generally able to style hair, having a dedicated hair stylist on set allows you to push the polish much further with their specialized tools or their ability (or willingness) to actually cut hair with confidence. This is particularly important when a particular look absolutely must be achieved for a commercial client. Some hair teams may also have wigs they can style instead of cutting the subject’s own hair.
Even if you’re not a fashion photographer, you can suggest or offer professional hair styling in your packages. This will give you control–or at least input–into hair styling right before the shoot, so you have the freshest, most polished hair possible for your shoot, and your client leaves with a whole new cut from a hair professional!
A producer’s job is simply to help you get things done. I don’t generally have to use producers, but sometimes it’s easier, faster, and cheaper to pay someone who has the appropriate knowledge, connections, and relationships to help you complete an assignment. A big role producers play for most photographers is helping scout and book locations, especially private locations that are not generally available or advertised for commercial work. Even if you can’t hire a producer to play this role, you may be able to consult with some if you are looking to change up the places you shoot for fresh and interesting locations.
Producers also help with other production work, such as acquiring props, vehicles, catering, and accomplishing other non-photography tasks that make the shoot come together in a timely manner.
Putting it into practice!
So, where can you find all these adjacent-industry professionals?
It varies a lot by city, and finding fashion crew is different going from Honolulu to Maui, let alone from Los Angeles, California to Bartley, Nebraska, especially given that a lot of fashion people don’t necessarily advertise their services due to the close-knit nature of most fashion communities.
The best and most universal place to track down fashion crew is to start with local magazines or publications that use editorial images. The editors and creative directors will probably know a few fashion professionals and could give you a couple of contacts, and those connections can potentially give you a foothold into the entire network of people in your area. In larger cities, the usual places–agencies, marketing firms, and places of that sort–will probably provide you contacts as well.
Thanks for reading! I hope my advice was useful, and I hope you find the guest posts from my friends over the next month helpful as well. If you have any more questions, feel free to reach out on your social platform of choice (I’m on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Facebook) and I’ll do my best to give a useful answer, and if you’d like to keep up with my work, please visit www.dallasnagatawhite.com.
We’re having a blast talking with some of the best photographers in our midst, and we hope that you’re enjoying these Q&As, too. Next for your weekend reading: You may know him as LordV, DGrin Macro Artist-in-Residence aka Brian Valentine, bringer of bugs. Brian is a generous tutor, having written numerous detailed photography tutorials for DGrin and other photography forums. With his guidance, many aspiring photographers have learned to take pro-level macro shots of water droplets, flowers, bugs and anything hiding right under our noses. He’s been in our sights for a long time, and we hope that you find his work fascinating, inspiring, and as educational as we do.
Photos by LordV Macros
You’ve had a past life as a PhD Microbiologist, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. How did you go from microscopes and petri dishes to teaching the world about macro photography?
This was a coincidence of events with the first affordable DSLRs coming onto the market, and me having plenty of time as I had already managed to take early retirement. These combined with an interest in gardening and my background in microbiology naturally seem to lead to me trying macro photography.
Where do you find your subjects? What are your favorite macro subjects and why?
I take nearly all my shots in my own garden. Because I have koi pond, I have not used insecticides in the garden for many years and it turned out to be a small haven for insects. Although they do not have universal appeal, I enjoy taking photographs of insects the most – I think because it requires hunting skills as well as photographic skills to pull it off.
How long have you been honing your macro skills? Do you do other types of photography?
Have you developed any new techniques recently?
I started macrophotography in 2005 with a Canon 300D DSLR and a Sigma 105mm macro lens.
I still do the normal “family” type photography, but not with any skill. I don’t think I can claim to have developed any techniques, but rather may have simply found how to apply various techniques to macro photography. So I think I have helped popularise the use of focus stacking to increase the depth of field in macro photographs.
Macro photography opens you up to a whole new world of interesting behaviours and the diversity of species. What is the most unexpected behaviour or detail that you have found through your photography?
I think the oddest thing was finding mummified aphids with a circular porthole cut into them. I was able to find out and photograph them being parasitised by very small wasps.
What challenges would you say are particular to macro photography?
The main challenges are due to the magnifications you are dealing with. This amplifies any camera movement so camera stabilisation, high shutter speeds or use of flash is required. The magnification also leads to very small depth of field in your photos and you often end up trying to balance depth of field vs diffraction softening (the lack of sharpness that happens when you use smaller apertures.)
Which macro lenses do you use and recommend?
The best all-round lens for macro is a prime lens around 100mm focal length. I have yet to come across a bad macro lens made by a major manufacturer so Canon 100mm, Tamron 90mm, Sigma 105mm, Canon 60mm EF-S (to name a few) are all optically excellent. Longer focal length macro lenses not only cost a lot, they are harder to handle hand held, more difficult to get higher magnifications with and are in general slightly less sharp than their smaller cousins. I’d only recommend getting one if you will be shooting very nervous or dangerous subjects, or if you really do want the lovely background bokeh they can give.
With a 1:1 macro lens of 150mm focal length or less you can get to 2:1 magnification or higher using a full set of extension tubes (68mm). The ultimate high magnification lens is the canon MPE-65 which goes from 1:1 to 5:1 magnification without additions.
Is there a “starter” set up that someone might use to test the macro waters?
One alternative is to start off with a set of extension tubes (e.g. Kenko) and use them with a prime lens you already own, around the 40mm to 85mm range. The only major disadvantage is the loss of infinity focus.
An even cheaper alternative is to use lens reversing techniques: You can reverse either a kit lens, or say a 50mm lens, directly onto the body using a reverse body coupler. This can give suprisingly good results but suffers from the problem of losing aperture control. You need to preset the aperture of an autofocus lens whilst the lens is mounted normally, set the aperture in Av mode, press the DOF preview button and remove the lens whilst keeping the DOF preview button depressed. This leaves the aperture set on the lens until the next time it is mounted normally but does result in a dimmer viewfinder. If you try this, you can get around this problem by using an older, manual lens which has an aperture control ring.
Lighting is very important for this type of photography. Are there any special considerations the blooming macro shooter should know?
Natural light is fine for macro shooting up to 1:1 magnification but past this, keeping your subject lit becomes increasingly difficult. I tend to use natural light where I can for flowers and often larger bugs such as butterflies and dragonflies. I prefer shooting natural light on slightly cloudy days as this avoids the high contrast and ugly specular highlights you can get with full bright sun.
Typical camera settings I would use for handheld work would be:
- camera in Tv mode
- shutter speed 1/200th
- aperture around F6.3 to F11
I normally dial in some negative Exposure compensation (around -.3 or -.6) to avoid blown highlights but this does vary with camera body. Obviously, if you have a static subject and some form of stabilisation (e.g. tripod or bean bag) you can drop the shutter speed.
Flash has a number of advantages for macro work: you can always get enough light with small aperture values that are often used to get reasonable DOF, and it helps provide very high, effective shutter speeds (the flash duration) which helps stop motion blur (on either you or the subject). It becomes a necessity for most shooting above 1:1 magnification, simply because there is not normally enough light.
I use standard flashguns (430Ex) mounted on a bracket with a diffuser. You can obviously use macro flashes but I would avoid single flash tube ones and ones where you cannot move the flash heads, which only really leaves the rather expensive MT-24Ex. Single tube macro flashes tend to give very flat-looking shots and dual tube macro flashes are rather hard to diffuse adequately.
Typical camera settings for full flash shots up to 1:1 magnification:
- camera in M mode,
- aperture f/11
- shutter speed 1/200th
- ISO 100/200.
Above 1:1 you may need to start opening up the aperture more if you want to avoid diffraction softening. I tend end up around F5.6 at 5:1.
Put the flash in ETTL mode, but remember that the FEC (Flash Exposure Compensation) will need to be adjusted depending on the shot brightness. I have to adjust mine down to -.66 for dark backgrounds or no close background and up to +1.66 for a white background from a normal setting of 0 FEC (note the normal setting for good exposure of a grey card may not be 0 FEC on some setups).
There are some situations where you may want to shoot mainly natural light but add some flash to light the subject a bit more – this often occurs if the subject is significantly backlit. Typical camera settings as for natural light shooting but with EC probably at -.66 and FEC set on the flash around -.66 to -1.
What tips can you give us for successfully focusing on such tiny subjects?
I tend to use the same focus method no matter what I’m shooting. I set the magnification I want with the focus ring with the lens set to MF and then focus on the subject by moving the camera towards the subject. If I’m hand holding or using a pole then once I’m near focus I gently move the camera back and forth by swaying slightly and take the shot as I pass through the focus point I want. If I’m resting the camera lens on something then I gently move it forward until I get the focus point I want. It does take a bit of practice doing this but you will get more keepers this way once you have mastered it.
With most bug shots they work better if the eyes are in good focus unless you are specifically trying to focus on some other detail.
Can you tell us more about Focus Stacking? What it is, how and why do you do it?
Focus stacking is not a necessity for macrophotography but it suits my preferred style of trying to capture sharp detail in shots. I use fairly open apertures to avoid diffraction softening of the image and focus stacking allows me to get the DOF I’m losing.
Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on focus stacking using one of the freeware software stacker programs.
I do however now use the commercial programme Zerene Stacker as it has many advantages over the combine series. It keeps low contrast detail, is better at reducing haloing and also better at aligning as it does do rotational correction as well.
There are a few basic problems associated with focus stacking, no matter what method you use:
#1 You need to be pretty good at focusing to get the overlapping DOF slices needed for a good stack. It does, however, sharpen up your focusing and can be good practice for focus bracketing a shot.
#2 Some focus stacks can look very unnatural due to the abnormal DOF which can flatten the image and also give rather odd DOF boundaries on the background. This is largely a matter of personal interpretation of a 2-D picture and what we normally use for depth cues. Problems like this can often be avoided by using incomplete stacks and careful choice of shooting angles to avoid sharp DOF boundaries. I often also cheat by doing what I call differential focus stacking by hand where I only focus stack the parts of the image I want more DOF in, often not stacking the background.
#3 Some subjects are almost impossible to focus stack if they are moving, although you might be suprised what you can stack if you get used to shooting quickly.
We hope that everyone reading this is a little inspired to go outside and see the world with new eyes. Whether you rent a new lens and try focus stacking on your own, or just cut a little more distance around your local honeybees, we hope that you all appreciate the big, big world around us… camera or not.
From the first moment we saw Corrie White’s incredible, alien macro images we were floored. A lot goes on under our very noses, including the strange and beautiful shapes created by droplets of water. Corrie taught herself how to photograph these teeny, fleeting sculptures and found so much success, she’s written an eBook teaching others how to do the same. We asked her a few behind-the-scenes questions about her experience in a small, small world, and she’s giving away a copy of her eBook below. Keep reading to see how to enter!
Photos by Liquid Drop Art
What inspired you to start capturing liquid drops? Were you a photographer before trying drop photography?
Years ago, I stumbled upon the Liquid Sculptures of Martin Waugh. I was fascinated with them and kept going back to marvel at his beautiful works. In early 2009, I had some free time and decided to give these a try for myself. I found I had a knack for doing these manually and the rest is history. I have always had a love for macro photography and started on this with a Sony DSC-H1 point and shoot camera many years ago. I found this very limiting and got an entry level DSLR. In 2008, I acquired a Canon EF f2.8 100mm macro lens, which was essential for my water drop photography. So basically, I was more of a “snap-shot” type of photographer before the water drops.
How much experience did you have with strobes before you started photographing droplets?
I had never used any external flashes before I did water drop photography. Indeed, for the first half year I used my camera pop-up flash for my water drops. I knew nothing about Flash Exposure Compensation and soon learned why I was getting those cool, but annoying light trails on my drops
How exciting was it to discover The Three Drop Splash – a new drop structure? Will it be
named in your honour?
I was so ecstatic when I saw the Three Drop Splash appear on my little screen. I did a little dance! Something entirely new which had never been done before. I was really very excited. Will it be named in my honour? I can’t say, but I really don’t think so. Martin Waugh has the distinction of taking water drops to a new level with his two drop collisions. I personally think anything after this is after-the-fact and secondary. What you see currently in the water drop world are extensions of his creations. I’m just happy to have discovered some new shapes in a world where it’s hard to come up with something totally unique.
What type of publications and sites tend to purchase your work?
The interest in my water drop art is very diverse, anywhere from photography magazines to children’s magazines. There is a lot of interest from the science world, especially in the field of Fluid Dynamics. One of the most memorable compliments came from a Professor at MIT who said they brought a tear of joy to his eye and shared the work with his students.
Have you ever been commissioned to shoot a specific drop image?
Not for any monetary value. I have been asked to do certain abstract images, but they are very difficult, especially when I need equipment I don’t have available to me. Right now I am trying to find time to create an Amanita mushroom which will be a difficult, but fun project. I much prefer to work in an uncontrolled atmosphere with colours and shapes that I like.
What kind of droplet images are on the horizon for you to try? Any tantalizing new equipment or materials you want to experiment with?
I really don’t know what the future holds for me with respect to my water drops. Is there more undiscovered territory with them? I will certainly see what’s possible and test the limits. I may try multiple valves, but that is becoming commonplace and I prefer to find the unique. The possibilities are endless and I would like to find more surprises in the liquids.
Say someone had only $200 to invest into trying this kind of photography. How would you
recommend they do it?
I always suggest that before people go out and spend lots of money on electronics, to first try
out a manual set-up to see if you like this type of photography. You only need to spend a small amount of cash on a flow regulator from an aquarium supply store, or an IV drip contraption, to start out. Use your DSLR with manual controls, a regular lens with zoom, your pop-up flash, and see if this is what you want before you take it to the next level. It’s a great hobby, especially in the cold winter months. Be careful, though – you can get hooked!
Buying a macro lens is a good investment if you like macro photography in general. Buying an electronic timing device can be useful for much more than water drop photography. I am familiar only with Mumford’s Time Machine, but it will do time lapse photography, ballistics, and many other types of photography. I would like very much to do some time lapse experiments in the near future.
What have you learned from droplet photography?
I have learned that within each of us is a creative spirit. I have found mine in liquid art photography. It is an exhilarating, relaxing and very rewarding experience. I find a great satisfaction that so many people have been inspired by my water drop work and the techniques I use. They have expressed gratitude that I have shared my experiences with them and although some say I should keep some of my methods secret, I find the opposite to be a richer experience. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” rings true for me and I am honoured to see others experimenting with my methods.
Win the Ultimate Guide to Water Drop Photography eBook!
Corrie has generously donated a copy of her eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Water Drop Photography, to one lucky person. In it you learn step by step what you need to take arresting droplet images, as well as basic flash and camera principles to help you stop motion – essential for any photographer who is looking to freeze a moment in time.
To enter, simply post a comment below with a winning caption for this image:
What does this photo say to you? Post your entries below and we’ll announce a winner in this space on April 29th, 2013.
Get creative, get learning, and set your curiosity free!
UPDATE: The winner has been chosen! Congrats to Holly Gordon with the caption “Bobble Head Water Drop.” We’ll be in touch with Holly with the prize, and thanks to everyone who entered!
Attention, Lightroom lovers! Today we have a great post by one of our friends, Matt Kloskowski, full-time Education Director for Kelby Media Group and a Tampa-based photographer. He’s the Editor of Lightroom Magazine, author of several best-selling Photoshop books and teaches Photoshop, Lightroom and photography seminars around the world. So we’re flattered that he hand-picked a few favorite ways for Lightroom-armed Smuggers like you to get their photos finished faster. After all, we’d rather be outdoors shooting in the sunshine than stuck at our desks. Wouldn’t you?
If you’re a pro photographer thinking about joining the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) and continuing your photo education, they’re offering a free 24-hour trial membership now. Try it out!
Hey everyone, Matt Kloskowski here with some tips on speeding up your Lightroom workflow. We’ve all heard the phrase “time is money.” Well, if you’re shooting weddings or events, you need to get through your photos and get them organized as fast as possible. Then you can get on to the good stuff of editing and getting out there to shoot more photos. So to help out, I’ve compiled 5 of my favorite tips to kickstart your workflow and keep you moving through Lightroom as quickly as possible.
Tip #1. Use Flags Instead of Stars
A big part of speeding up your workflow is identifying your favorite photos in some way. That way you can do something with them. Well, if you look under the photo menu you’ll see Lightroom has 3 ways of picking out your favorites. First there’s Set Flag. next, there’s Set Rating and finally there’s Set Color Label.
Here’s my thoughts. Ratings and Color Labels are really difficult to work with. Most people are familiar with the 1-5 star rating system but the main drawback is that it has too many choices. 5 stars is a keeper right? 4 stars probably means the photo is pretty good. 3 means it’s decent. 2 would be bad. and 1 star would be a reject that you throw away. Well what happens as you go through your photos and you come across something that isn’t a throw away or isn’t an absolute favorite keeper? You sit there and debate with yourself whether it’s a 2,3 or 4 star photo. Either way, it’s not your favorite so you’ll probably never do anything with it. But yet, you’re giving it too much time in the rating process. And inevitably, when something takes too long, we stop doing it.
So try this. Instead of using ratings, use the flagging system. This way, you get two choices:
- Flagged means you like it.
- Reject means you don’t and you want to delete it.
Go through your photos quickly and hit “P” to flag or “X” to reject. If you don’t flag it or reject it, then it stays unflagged which is that gray area that you’re just not sure about. But you don’t have to press a key to be indecisive – Lightroom just assumes you’re indecisive about the photo by leaving it unflagged. So your job becomes really easy! Flag it if you like it and think there’s a remote chance you’ll do something with it again one day. Reject it if you don’t. Then hit the right arrow key and move on.
Tip #2. Delete the Bad Stuff (and an easy way to do it)
Another way to speed things up is to keep your library as clean as possible and get rid of the bad stuff. If you followed the previous step and are using the Flag system, you should have some rejects that were marked with an X. A really simple way to delete them is to go up to the Photo menu and choose “Delete Rejected Photos.” Lightroom will delete all the rejects all at once so you don’t have to go back and get rid of them later.
Tip: When you try to delete a photo Lightroom will ask you if you want to delete it from the hard drive or just from the Lightroom library. Personally, I want me rejects gone forever so I delete them from the hard drive rather than just removing them from Lightroom.
Tip #3. Use Collections
Using Collections in Lightroom is more important than ever and probably one of the fastest and best ways for you to speed up your workflow. Photos that go into a collection are the photos that should be one click away and the photos that you’ll want to see most often.
To put it simply, think of a Collection as a photo album. Let’s say you have 2000 images from a wedding. You want to quickly show them to the bride/groom or family. Do you go through and show them all 2000 photos? No way. Instead, you’d create an album. Well that’s what a collection is. It’s a way for you to get to your favorite photos in just one click no matter where you are in Lightroom because the Collections panel is everywhere.
Typically, I’ll look at my photos in the Folders panel and go through them one by one. I’ll hit the letter P (for Pick) to flag photos as a favorite when I come across them. Then I can quickly sort to just see my picks by clicking the little flagged icon in the Filter strip just above the filmstrip:
Once I’ve figured out what my favorites are I select them all (Edit > Select All), go to the Collections panel and create a new Collection with a descriptive name (usually the last name of the bride/groom). Now, no matter what I do in the Folders panel and no matter what folder I’m looking at, I have a one-click way to get to my favorite photos from that event.
Tip #4. Use Collection Sets
Collections have an extra level of organization called Collection Sets that are key for events like weddings. Think of a Collection Set as a group of nested folders. If you put your picks from a wedding/event into a Collection, you’d have all the best photos from all parts of the wedding in one place (the Collection you created). The problem is that this Collection could be huge, so this is where Collection Sets come in.
You’d create a Collection Set (example: the top level folder with the bride/groom name) and then create Collections within the set for each part of the wedding (example: formals, church, reception, etc…). Here’s what a Collection Set could look like in Lightroom:
Tip #5. Use Smart Collections for the Long View
Collections are also smart: They can organize themselves automatically as you import photos into Lightroom. One example of this could be a Smart Collection to help organize your portfolio photos. These are photos that help get you new business as you update your website, so you’ll want to keep them close, easy to get to, and – most importantly – easily updated.
For example, anytime you edit a show-worthy image, put the word “portfolio” in the image title or give it a certain color flag or label. Because Lightroom’s Smart Collections are “smart”, you can set up a rule to detect that this photo meets certain criteria and have it placed directly into a “Portfolio” collection for you.
The best part about it is that once you set up your Smart Collection, Lightroom automatically does the rest.
Bonus Smug Tip: Get Them Uploaded Safely
Once your photos are all cleaned up and ready to go, you’re just a few clicks away from uploading them safely into your SmugMug website. The publish plugin is free, gets your photos seamlessly into SmugMug, and also lets you sync, make galleries and keep your online presence as clean and organized as your Lightroom library. You can also see and adjust your customer’s Event Favorites, republish, and even proof your orders all right within the SmugMug Publish module. Get it now!
What Lightroom tricks have shaved seconds off of your photo editing workflow? We’d love to know!
If you’re new to SmugMug, you may wonder exactly what, how much and how often you can upload to your galleries. And we agree — it’s a good idea to get an idea of what your limits are… particularly when there isn’t one.
The quick version: Upload JPG, PNG, or GIF files up to 50 MB and 100 megapixels apiece, videos up to 3 GB and 20 minutes apiece. Add up to 5,000 photos into each gallery and create as many galleries as you want.
Uploading at SmugMug
You’ve got tons of options for getting your photos from your computer and into your galleries. Our two favorite methods right now are:
1) Our default, browser-based HTML5 uploader. It’s lightweight, accessible from any computer/browser, and lets you drag and drop files from your desktop into the upload box. Voila!
2) Lightroom’s free SmugMug plugin. So many photographers from all walks of life love Lightroom for its ease of use and powerful editing capabilities. Download the free SmugMug plugin if you haven’t already got it, and start making your life that much simpler. Best of all, you’re publishing direct from your digital negatives, which means no extra JPG files to suck up space on your hard drive.
We’ve got lots of other options if those don’t bake your potatoes. From SmuggLr to Star Explorer, our community has created as many methods as possible to upload photos from wherever they are, just the way you like it. Check out your options here on our Apps page, or click the green “Choose a different uploader” from the bottom of the web uploader box.
How Big Can Galleries Go?
You can create as many galleries as you wish on your SmugMug site, and each one can be tweaked to have different SEO, privacy and print settings as you’re aware. You can give them a total makeover by choosing one of four different Viewing Styles, too.
Your galleries stretch with your screen and adjust to fit the largest images the gallery settings allow. They’ll also auto-adjust so that you see fewer gallery pages on big screens and more pages on smaller ones. We’ve capped photo count to 5,000 per gallery because basic tools like sorting and keywording become impossibly difficult when you have that many photos in one place.
The Many File Flavors at Smug
When it comes to photos, we accept JPG, PNG and GIF files up to 50 MB apiece. Which file you use depends on what you’re going to be doing:
JPGs are the format you’ll use the most. The only file type our print labs will print from, and they’re ubiquitous, so it’s easy-peasy for your fans and clients to view them if you’re offering digital downloads.
PNG files are recommended for images that contain transparent areas, like the site branding files that Power, Portfolio and Business users will use. We’re talking header logo images and watermark image files, to start.
GIF files are commonly used for animations. We don’t hear much about them these days, but who doesn’t love watching a good cinemagraph? We’re always thrilled to see what great ones you’re making.
If your tipple is video, you’ve got a lot more options. There’s tons of codecs out there and we support a good number of them. Check out the list here, which may not include everything but does come with bonus conversion info.
Just be sure that your videos are under 20 minutes long and 3 GB apiece.
Vault It! For Everything Else
SmugVault, our archival service provided by Amazon, is for the kitchen sink. PDFs, TIFFs, RAW, CR2, DOC whatever you’ve got and want to keep safe, keep it there. You can upload any file up to a max of 3 GB, and you can view and retrieve them from the familiar SmugMug gallery interface. When possible, we’ll even create a JPG preview so you know exactly which file you’re looking at.
Tip: Because all video files are processed slightly on upload to SmugMug, you can choose to Vault your originals. This way, you always have a copy in case your hard drive goes boom.
We hope that everyone has a better idea of what’s possible with their accounts. So go ahead, grab your bag and get out there shooting. We’ll see you on the upload!
- Our drag-and-drop uploader
- Upload direct from Lightroom
- Uploaders, downloaders, migration tools and more
- How to set your own print, privacy and presentation settings in galleries
- Spruce up your site with gallery viewing styles
- Arranging photos in your SmugMug galleries
- Set up your keywords and get found
- What files types can I upload to SmugMug?
- All about SmugVault
- Video on SmugMug: What, why how?