An Interesting Negotiating Tactic


… and it is true.

Names have been changed a bit to keep client/photographer privacy.

I had lunch with a photographer today. We had met to go over plans for a big project and chose “The Vig” for delicious sandwiches and salads. What has that to do with the story? Nothing, I just wanted to tell you where I ate so it is kind of an instagram moment.

He recounted this story from earlier in the year:

A prospective client had been in touch with him 5 times in the past two years about shooting his proprerty, a twenty-six unit hotel in North Carolina.

Each time my friend sent him the same bid: $6000 for 16 finished images and a usage of two years.

Recently the hotel owner called and was totally dismayed. “Why so much?” I hired a guy last year and he only charged $800.”

“How did they turn out,” my friend asked? “Since you are calling me today, I am guessing they didn’t do the job.”

The hotel owner was nearly apoplectic. “They were horrible, terrible pictures and didn’t do anything for my business. But you are ten times more expensive.”

“Actually, my images won’t cost you a thing. They will even make you money.”

The hotelier was now very curious… “What do you mean they won’t cost me anything”?

Most of the hotelier’s business came from website bookings. Internal and external research shows that the most important thing a consumer looks at are the photographs of the hotel… even before price in many instances. Having better photographs means getting more bookings.

My bud explained that in detail and then asked: “What is your profit per room, per night”.

The answer was something like $55.

“Well, my photographs are going to cost you .50 a piece per day. $8 a day for 16 images that will help you book a room for $55. A net gain of $47. Even at one booking per week, your costs will be paid. If the images bring in one more booking per day, your costs will be paid in a few months, and then it is pure profit after that.”

$16 per day / $2920 per year / $5840 for 2 years.

“If the images bring in 2 additional bookings per week, that is $110 per week or $11,440 – nearly double what the images cost,” the photographer explained. “How many more bookings would you expect with really great photos”?

The hotelier explained that his chain estimated that great images could add an additional 5-10 bookings per week.

An hour later, my bud received the go-ahead. The shoot was booked three weeks out, shot in a day, and delivered in three days.

The hotelier was so pleased he has shown the photographs to his chain representative who was also fascinated by the breakdown of ROI that my friend had presented.

“It just came to me,” he said over lunch. “I was sitting there and looked at the calculator and thought… oh what the hell.”

Are there ways you can use out of the box thinking to explain cost/benefit to YOUR clients?

I bet there is… and there is a calculator built in to your phone.

Make the case for better by showing them how much more better can produce.

BTW, the hotelier reports much higher bookings as a direct result of the images my friend did.


One Umbrella on Location



I am a Photoshop guy who is finding a lot of love in Lightroom. I would say that about 80% of my work goes from LR (or CR) into Photoshop for finishing. But the other 20% is done totally in Lightroom.

Briana and I did this shoot last year for some new portfolio pieces. She had this cool, crazy outfit and I wanted an urban setting for the shot.

I used a single softlighter at 1.5 stops brighter than ambient for a pool of light effect.


I chose three that I liked:


I chose the middle one to do the Lightroom work on. I may come back and do the third one in black and white at some point.

Below is the Lightroom work I did. Simple and easy, and somewhat subtle… but then subtle may be all you need.


A Simple Tool for Shooting to Layout


Sometimes we have to shoot to specific layouts or dimensions. Here is a very simple tool for working with layouts that may not be typical.

I use cardboard stock for making these little screens. And as I note on the video, I always give the shot a little breathing room.

BTW… you can also print the layout on acetate at the same size of your screen. Then cut it out and put it over the top of your LCD to see how type and headlines work.


“Twenty Four Frames In May”

The Project 52 members were tasked with shooting something different: 24 frames of film – and making every image count. This is a very exciting time with digital instantaneousness… but something can be said about taking one’s time to make an image.

Limiting the work to only 24 frames, taken over a longer period of time than one shoot, gives a photographer time to think fully about what they are wanting each and every image to do.

Enjoy this work by a very talented group of photographers:

Jorge Rodríguez Santos

  • Nikon FM2n
  • Lens: 50mm F1.4 AIS, 105mm F1.8 AIS
  • Film: Fuji Neopan 400 processed at home.
  • Scanned on Canon 9000F
  • Slight cropping and straightening.

Jorge Rodríguez Santos Photography

Jorge Fuji Neopan 400

24 Frames in May – “What I saw When I was Out and About”

The only SLR camera in the house: Olympus OM2n with a Tamron 28-70 lens, manual focus. Film: Fuji “Superia” 200 ASA. Accessory; Mickey Mouse camera strap! ;) As an added “challenge”, the ASA dial is screwed up (not correctly aligned), so I wasn’t certain if the camera was exposing correctly. The (10-year-old) roll of film that had been in the camera showed that all of the images were underexposed. I compared exposure settings with my DSLR and set the dial so it seemed to show the correct exposure on the internal meter and hoped for the best.

I really enjoyed the deliberateness of shooting film. Slowing down. Making certain that the angle is right. Should I move here? There? Shoot high? Low? Is the shot actually in focus? Is the exposure as I would like it to be? Is it straight? (most likely not, as it turns out I suck at keeping some shots level)

I felt as every frame was precious and not to be wasted. I think I let that be WAY to controlling instead of just shooting. It took me, therefore, forever to take even 30-some shots! The images are simple, everyday things: “What I Saw When I Was Out and About”

So…out of the 33 frames that I shot, I picked the 24 most interesting shots for the challenge. I dropped of the film at my local camera store, and to days later I got prints and a CD-rom with the images. The images are taken directly from the CD-rom. The only adjustments made is straightening a few of the images.

If I do shoot film again (which I most likely will), I think I will want to find a theme or project to keep me focused.

Tammy Bogestrand / Website


Steve Pamp

Images from morning walks in downtown Denver between May 01 and May 25, 2014.

  • Camera: Canon Rebel2000
  • Lens(es) 50mm f1.8, 28-105 f3.5-5.6
  • Film: Ilford XP2
  • Scanned with an Epson Perfection negative scanner
  • Post Processing – Minor dust removal. Convert from .TIF to .JPG.

I enjoyed this project, even though I had a rough month and wasn’t able to give it my full attention. I enjoyed it so much, that when I dropped off this roll for processing, I picked up 2 more rolls of XP2. Thanks for re-introducing me to the joy of film.

Steve Pamp / Website


Steve Gray

Camera: Minolta X-370, purchased at JC Penney in 1984.

Lenses: Mostly the 50mm f/1.7. I used an 80-200mm zoom for one shot (the dog at the pool)

Film: Kodak SuperMax 400 speed

Scan: Images scanned by and transferred electronically


I did some minor cropping and enhancement in Photoshop (with some light use of Topaz Adjust). One problem that seemed to come up regularly was a light stripe near the left side of the image. I’m guessing that I have a light leak somewhere, but it’s strange that the effect isn’t consistent across the images. When it seemed particularly bad, I tried to correct it a little in Photoshop.

Two of the studio images I made had a strange problem on the bottom of the frame – a whitish glow that I can’t figure out. I didn’t even bother to try and correct these, and they are included as they originally appear.


I started the project as something of a “shot a day” approach, trying to capture something that was happening in my small world each day. One shot – the Harrisburg Capitol Building – nearly got me arrested…but that’s another story.

Because of some other distractions, I started getting behind on the project, so I shifted to doing a still life study, and I chose a pineapple as my subject. I photographed it first at the supermarket (where I was admonished for taking photos), and then I tried several lighting styles and visual approaches with the pineapple (finally stabbing it with a bayonet…hahaha). I had a couple of shots left at the end, so I set up a quick self portrait and another “shot a day” type of image at the end.

Something interesting (to me, anyway) with the effort was the limitation of the mechanics of the camera. The fastest shutter speed is 1/1000, and using 400 speed film was a potential problem in some well-lighted scenes. To get around it, I purchased a 3-stop neutral density filter. When I was using my digital camera (5D classic) for setting up shots, I had to so the mental math to compensate for the ND filter, and adjust the settings accordingly. And for the most part, it worked! It was good to be able to do the conversions on the fly.



Michelle Cushman

  • Camera – Nikon N65
  • Lens(es) – 50mm Nikkor
  • Film Type – Arista 100-35 B+W
  • How Scanned – sent to theFINDLAB for processing and scanning
  • Any Post Processing added – no

Michelle Cushman / Website

The 24 Frames in May project came at the perfect time for me as I was heading back home to Rochester, NY for my youngest nephew’s First Communion. I only took a roll of black and white film and my Nikon N65 with me – no digital much to the disappointment of my family.

This project starts with a photo of the shed at my house that I have captured with my iPhone at various times during this past year. I was curious as to how it would look on b/w film. I took a few scenic shots about halfway through our seven hour drive just outside of Williamsport, PA. The family shots before going to church turned out fairly well and I am happy with those. I included an accidental shot (crooked shot in a parking lot) because well, you can’t delete those that are taken like you can on a digital camera. The series ends with a photo of the house I grew up in, a few shots from breakfast the morning we left to go back home as well as my entire family (minus me) and a few more scenic shots from a rest stop in Pennsylvania.


Alfred Kypta

The bridges and falls on the Androscoggin river project was photographed between Lewiston and Brunswick Maine, I think I will extend the project as time permits.

I shot this images on a 15 year old Fuji color film ISO 400, camera was Nikon F4 with 28-85mm f3.5 lens.

Alfred Kypta / Website


Rob Davidson

  • Camera information: Mamyia 6
  • Lenses: 50mm, 75mm and 150mm.
  • Film: Fuji Neopan Acros 100
  • Processed in Kodak XTol 1+2 dilution at home in a Jobo CPE2
  • Scanned: using a light table and Hasselblad H4D
  • Postprocessing: dust removal and contrast correction in Photoshop CC
I approached this project by limiting myself in terms of film, camera and subject. My family recently moved into a new home and this is our first spring since the move. I decided to study the lines, light and details of our house and yard throughout the month.



Instagram: rob_davidson

Twitter: @robdphotography

24 Frames Rob Davidson

Rob Marcil

  • Film: Fujicolour Superia 200
  • Camera: Minolta X-700
  • Lens: 24mm F2.8 MC w Rokkor-X


  • Converted to B&W using one of the default presets in Lightroom 5.
  • Adjusted exposure -0.8 stop

Rob’s Flickr Page.

I enjoyed this project. I shot the roll in 3 or 4 sessions. I tried to show the relationship of my town, and the water that surrounds it…

I liked the feel of this camera in my hands, and I love the lens. I only have cheap kit lenses for my Nikon D90, so shooting with the Minolta glass was a pleasure.

Almost all images were taken at F8. I used my sekonic meter, to set the camera. I found that the meter in the Minolta, was slightly different that the sekonic. I think I tried to average the two. In the end, I should have just followed the sekonic. I found that every exposure was over exposed by about a stop. I found the images to be a bit boring in colour, so I converted them to B&W. Also, I had to rotate every image -1 degree.

Anyway… this was fun. I am a bit disappointed in the scans however. The company I used to develop the film scanned them in at a relatively small size.(1544 X 1024)

Thanks, Rob


Reed Waters

  1. Voigtlander Vito II circa 1951
  2. 50mm
  3. TriX
  4. scanned by processor
  5. boosted contrast a bit

Reed Waters / Website | Reed’s Facebook Page | Images on Flickr


Chris Dean Camera and film info

  • Camera: Yashica Electro GTN
  • Lens: 45mm 1.7
  • Film: Kodak Porta 400
  • Scanned by Photographique (
  • Post-processing: some cropping, straightening and curves adjustment

Chris Dean / Website


Twitter: @chrisdeanphoto

Instagram: @chrisdeanphoto

Larger version of the photos: Flickr

This was my first time shooting film and it was fun. I’ve spent a lot of time making my decisions about photography more deliberate, but in this case I decided it would be fun to approach my everyday environment with an open mind and shoot the scenes that sparked my interest while I was out and about. I tried to concentrate on what it was that I originally found interesting about each shot, but took time to explore and refine it, all the while being conscious that each frame was precious. I can’t wait to get another film back from the lab!


Tomas Jansson

  • Camera: Bronica 645
  • lens: 75mm
  • Film Kodak b/w Tmax 100 and 400
  • Scanned by lab (Crimson, Stockholm, Sweden)
  • Processed in ACR and PS.

Tomas Jansson / website:

Instagram Flickr


Nicole Fernley

  • Camera: Minolta Maxxum 5
  • Lens: Minolta 28-90mmD
  • Film: Ilford HP5 400 B&W
  • Scanned by the lab
  • A few crops in post processing

Nicole Fernley / website


Good challenge. I learned a few things about myself, not least of which is that I am a pretty bad chimper. I becomes painfully obvious when you keep looking at the blank black back of the camera.


Kine Meijer

  • Camera: Nikon F4
  • Lens: Nikon 50mm f/1.4D
  • Film: Portra 400
  • Scanned: At the lab
  • Post processing: Small global adjustments in contrast and color (CS6)

Kine Meijer / website



It is my first time trying out this camera and this project was a great way to explore it. I started with no light metering, but soon realized I didn´t have a clue about how ISO 400 works in daylight. After several images, I started using my digital camera to make a better guess. I live at the Swedish west coast and this project was in perfect time to frame the Swedish Spring. Both my father and I had our birthdays in May and I was spending some time in my hometown Trollhättan where my parents live and some of the images were taken there. But most of the pictures are taken around Gothenburg. I´m also including myself in some of the images, at least my feet and hands. The Portra film gave a nostalgic feeling to the images that I like. The only issue I noticed was the skin tones, especially in the indoor portraits where I brought down the orange color a bit.


Greg Pastuzyn

  • Camera: Konica T4 circa 1980
  • Lens: Hexanon 1.7 50mm
  • Film: Kodak Tri X Pro 400 ISO, dated 2003
  • Processing: Self developed myself with the help of Rob Davidson
  • Scanned by Rob’s scanner, also a classic
  • Post processing: contrast, curves, levels in PS, along with a lot of dust removal

Greg Pastuzyn / website | Insidious Tomatos

My thoughts on shooting film It was a throwback to say the least. I can’t say I miss it much but it was fun to do. I learned it isn’t very difficult to develop the film, ala the Rob Davidson method. I like the grain in the film much more that digital noise. It was nice to know you were focused on something as the prism doesn’t lie. I would say that for almost every shot I looked at the back of the camera to see the image. Even the Corvette owner asked to see what it looked like (after I said I was shooting film). Will I take up film again? Maybe not with the Konica. Perhaps if I find a good deal on a medium format.

Click here to learn more

  1. A Honda 70, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”
  2. 1976 Super Glide
  3. Dying flowers with an unexplained light streak
  4. Old sneakers
  5. Tree limbs and leaves, I think the light was interesting that didn’t come across in the image
  6. Open windows
  7. Rotting logs, the rising sun was casting an interesting light on them
  8. Wood/stick pile, again the rising sun was casting an interesting light on them, doesn’t look like it came across
  9. 1968 Corvette, could have used the help of some reflectors for the grill
  10. I have no idea, don’t remember taking this shot and not sure why
  11. More tree limbs and leaves, again, the light was interesting and I didn’t realize I had already gotten a shot of this
  12. Old cars with some lens flair
  13. 1975 Sportster gas tank
  14. Pier at sunset
  15. Sunset on Raritan Bay
  16. A different angle on the pier
  17. Railing
  18. Shed in backyard, I liked the way the light was playing on the leaves
  19. Can’t see it, but there were ominous clouds over the house
  20. Another attempt to capture the ominous clouds over the house
  21. Another light playing in the leaves. Most likely I was sitting on the deck, a few beers in, reading the paper when I noticed the light
  22. Rusted iron gate, loved the texture
  23. Beer tap handles in a local pub
  24. My kegerator tap handles
  25. 2001 Roadking


Rasmus Hald

  • Shot with Yashica D TLR
  • 120 film, Fuji 160 color neg
  • Scanned by the lab.
  • Only very small WB and exposure changes done in LR on 4 images, the rest are untouched.

Rasmus Hald / website Link to the images gallery Facebook page

Contact sheet

Dennis Mong

This was a fun challenge. I have been taking pictures with film for most of my life, but only making photographs for the last three years or so. Learning to “write” with light is quite a bit more challenging than documenting a vacation or family gathering. My recent learning was all accomplished with digital. My first dslr was a Rebel T3 with the 18-55mm kit lens and before that a Sony pocket camera. I didn’t realize how far back I would have to go in order to shoot a simple roll of film.

Rewind about two years, no, make that 20, err 50, oh forget it, let’s go back to the beginning. 1937, the year my Leica was made and sold. My grandfather took possession of it from his wealthy employer in the early 1950’s and it dangled around his neck every time I saw him as a kid. I didn’t think much of it at the time, other than why would it take so long to take a single picture. How many light meter readings did he need? Well, my grandpa passed away about 20 years ago and the camera changed hands and bookshelves a few times before it arrived in the mail to me about two years ago.

I wanted to use it, but it seemed so daunting. It is a bottom loader and the film has to be cut a certain way so as not to damage the shutter. Problem. At some point a spring broke and the take-up spool would slip when advancing past the second frame. Off for repair. Thank you, Joe Wojcich @ Tempe Camera. This left me with time for only one practice roll. I ran a roll of Tri-X 400 without a hitch. Next up was Kodak Ektar 100 for this project.

My approach with this project was to sort of bring the Leica as a sort of tag along camera. That is why my set of images has a disjointed feel, which is fine by me. About midway through the project I found myself going straight for film on many shots, leaving my dslr in the bag, not even for a test shot. My light meter is always close by, so digital test shots feel like a waste of time now. There are no less than three film cameras in my bag now. The Leica, a Canon Rebel SLR I picked up at Goodwill for $15 and an Argus 75 from the same place $4. Good times. In addition, there a couple of old Polaroid Land Cameras laying around and film from The Impossible Project in my fridge. I guess you could say I’m hooked and my grandpa’s Leica is my favorite.

Huge thanks to Don for putting this project together and letting me borrow the Mamiya on the trip. That’s what really got me going!

Dennis Mong / website


Keith Knasiak

  • Camera – Mamiya 645
  • Lens(es) – Mamiya “C” 45mm, 80mm, 210mm
  • Film Type – Kodak Ektar 100 (120). Kodak Tri-x 100 B+W (120), Ilford HP5 160 (4×5)
  • How Scanned – Epson V500 self scanned
  • Post Processing added – it varied from image to image

Keith Knasiak/ Website

I was very excited when I learned of this project. Prior to this, in the very recent past, I had begun playing with film a bit with a Toyo 4×5 camera and I then purchased the Mamiya 645 with which the majority of these shots were taken.

One key reason I started working with film is that some element of photography was missing for me in this new digital age. Don’t take me wrong, I enjoy shooting digital but I guess a I missed the more tactile sense I feel when developing my own film.

Each of these images were processed by me prior to digitization. This is also the first time I have made any attempt at developing color negative film. I had a blast. I learned a lot. One of the most important things that I learned is that I need to hone those rusty old darkroom skills. This is the main reason for the post processing after digitizing that I did. A second important lesson is that I really have a lot, lot, lot to learn about the use of view cameras. And finally and probably the most important lesson was just how much fun photography can be in all of its wonderful manifestations.

24 in May Contact Sheet

Some of our photographers didn’t get their film processed in time. I will add their work as it comes in.

Film is not digital… the shooting of film is a different experience. One that is involves different approaches to the creative process. We cannot see the images when they are taken, so we have to be very deliberate in our approach. It is a slower, more measured approach to making images… one that involves time. The time from exposure to actually seeing the images is an important part of the process. Some enjoy that part of the process.

Very proud of the Project 24 folks who joined in this project and shared their contact sheets with us.

Photographing a Mundane Item… Is Harder Than You Think

Our assignment #46 was to shoot a power strip. A mundane, easy to find, nearly ubiquitous power strip that could possibly be purchased at any store for about $10.

It proved to be quite a challenge.

These images are from the assignment, and while the photographers all said it was so much more difficult than they expected it to be, some of them got some very good shots. Little things plague nearly every shot. They know it, so be kind.

Reshoots are on the horizon.

Go Beyond Full Frame Without Selling The Farm: Shane Ernest

Going Beyond Full Frame Without Selling The Farm.


In this tutorial, I’ll share my reasoning for going beyond full-frame, a few reasons why you shouldn’t, and some simple steps I use to create images that match your vision.

While there are huge differences between a Digital Medium Format system and this panoramic technique, you shouldn’t let that stop you from creating. If you see an image in your head that you can’t create with a 35mm system, well then, you better get crafty.

It’s not the size that counts, it’s what you do with it.

I started shooting with this technique because I was craving the field of view, and spatial relations that I get shooting medium format, but without having to always shoot film or plunk down a house-worth of cash for a digital back.

The detail and resolution of medium format is incredible and beyond stunning when printed larger than 24×36. The depth in the image is scrumptious and gives portraits a very romantic feeling when combined with DMF’s incredible color.

You’re basically viewing a Flemish Renaissance painting as the oil paints are still drying.

(Think van Eyck’s Arnolfini portrait. Or anything Titian.)


[Uncropped Frame from IQ180 showing outline of crop in image below]


[100% View from above image]


While digital backs are delicious, they cost more than a home in the rural Midwest and few people probably have a need for that kind of gear! Getting a used digital back is a semi-affordable option, along with renting one.

Even so, we’re still talking thousands of dollars.

What other options do we have to create images that fit our vision?

We’d certainly not let a bit of gear or software hold us back from creating, would we?!


The Technique

Seeing Your Final Image

The most important part of this technique is being able to ‘see photographically,’ knowing what the final image looks like and how you’ll create it.  This takes moving beyond what you see in your viewfinder and instead envisioning the final image as you’d like to create it.

Keep Your Settings the Same

This one seems obvious but it’s easy to miss. For this technique to work smoothly it really helps to keep your camera settings consistent through your image making. Set your ISO, WB, aperture, and lock your focus on the subject.


Create Frames to Build Final Composition

You can build your composition by creating rows of portrait oriented images the same way you’d create a standard panorama, and then merging and blending accordingly. Another way is to make the images in a spiral starting from your subject and working outwards in a simple pattern.

Take a frame, move right. Take another frame, move down. Take another frame. Move left. Etc.

Each subject/composition/camera/person is unique, so experiment and create your frames while being aware of how your sensor is collecting the light.

Be mindful of your plane of focus while making these frames. Any movement you introduce into your camera/sensor will change the plane of focus. That is just physics. You’ll want to be aware of this as you create your image.

Using a solid tripod with a panoramic head that lets you adjust the nodal point will help minimize changes to your focal plane and parallax, but you’re still bound by the Laws of Physics.

Unless you tilt-shift, but that’s for another day.

Review Your Images

Ensuring that you have the images you’d like is essential before moving on, as this method is more complex than shooting a single 35mm or MF frame.

Check, check, double check before moving on from your scene.

There isn’t much worse than realizing you missed a frame in your “grand vision.”


Combining Your Frames

After making global adjustments, you can open these images using Photoshop’s spectacular Photomerge, or use an open source alternative like Hugin. The settings you choose in photomerge will depend on the lens/camera you choose and number of frames. I’ve noticed the best results using “cylindrical” as the mode and turning off ‘blend images’ and ‘fix geometric distortion.

Even with all that automation, you’ll have to watch out for misalignment issues, out of focus areas, and anything else that may detract from your final image.

If you’re system is having trouble creating a large composite, you can merge your frames in ‘batches’ which will help a bit, though you’ll still have some trouble making the final composite.

At least you have plenty of resolution to play with!

Check + Print

This is just a final review of the image to ensure it meets your standards before printing. Check for bad blending, color shifts, or mis. Out of focus areas on the periphery of your frame can be common with low apertures and isn’t always noticeable when you’re in the field.

Quick Recap

  • Know what you’re creating in terms of composition before you begin to setup.
  • Use your Photo Yoga/Tai-Chi skills to play with the composition before you shoot.
  • Keep your camera settings the same and lock your focus, otherwise you’ll have all sorts of trouble when putting these frames together in your final image.
  • Have plenty of overlap in your frames, but reduce changes in your focal plane as best you can. Any movement will change your plane of focus, which is especially noticeable at lower apertures.
  • Watch for parallax in your frames and be mindful of any complex geometry like tree branches, fences, etc. Using a solid panoramic tripod will help minimize this, but you’re still blending images which raises the potential for problems.
  • Look for any distortion, misalignments, bad blending Photoshop introduces during your alignment. This is a personal preference, though you may differ and enjoy these aberrations in your image.


A Couple of Caveats

There are also client considerations to bear in mind when deciding whether or not to use this technique. Some clients and publishers will not allow for digitally manipulated images to be used. Nada. Zilch. Zero.

That means REAL graduated ND filters, and no modifications outside of what you could do on film or in the darkroom.

Other times the client will need a higher resolution, color accuracy, and image quality for the final output that could require a medium format image versus this stitched 35mm technique.

Either way, when using this technique the risk of failure is much higher than simple using medium format.

Even when PhaseOne is acting up!

(Takes the battery out. Puts the battery back in.)


Don’t let Resistance get the best of you.

Get out there and make something you love.


Shane Ernest

*In my research of this technique I discovered that fellow photographer Brenizer has used this extensively to create some intense panoramas! Prior to Brenizer, the technique was also referred to as “thinking outside the box” in the earlier days of 10mp DSLRs!

There are also ways to do this technique without depending on Photoshop. If you enjoy Open Source tools, I’m happy to give more information on processing. Just send me an email.


Fitness Model on Location with Hiram Chee


I was aiming for a clean catalog feel.

We shot this image at high noon in a football field. I used an Einstein F13 in a Softlighter without the sock for fill. I also used a -3f stop ND filter on my 85mm F1.8 to get the blue sky and blurred background.

I was shooting at F5.6. 1/125, ISO 100.

For post processing, I processed the RAW file in Capture One to dial in color balance, contrast, exposure, clarity, structure and sharpness. I then uploaded the image to CS6, denoised with Nik Dfine, softened the skin in Imagenomic Portraiture, balanced contrast in Nik Color Fx Pro Contrast and pre-sharpened in Nik software.

Lately I have been importing my edited psd files into LR5 and exporting JPGs at the appropriate size.



Don’t Be Afraid of ‘Systems’


As a commercial photographer I know a lot about how to make things happen. In fact, being a commercial photographer is a lot of ‘solutions… NOW’ sort of life.

The locations are too small or too large. Too many lights or not enough. Always need another stand or something that will go just 6″ higher. It is a constant battle of “making” it happen when so many things are against the photograph coming out at all.

Solutions – solving problems – that is the nature of what we commercial shooters do.

I have to admit that I have never liked ‘systems’. I hated them, actually. They took the serendipity off, they seemed to be too button down corporate to me.

But I came around out of necessity. I was always able to keep things in my head; appointments, billing, conversations, expectations. All in my head.

I was also pretty good at multi-tasking.

Then I realized that ‘multi-tasking’ wasn’t really what was going on, I was busting my ass doing things simultaneously that could easily have been done one at a time. The idea of ‘multi-tasking’ really is a farce for so many reasons.

We are humans and most of us humans have to have a focus. A way of putting all of our attention on one thing, and getting that thing done.

Spending 6 hours multi-tasking to get 4 hours worth of work done is inefficient at best. Destructive in many ways.

So I found myself forming systems… little ones at first, then larger and more complex ones as the gigs began to get more complex.


I use checklists for many of my common functions now, and I use them religiously.

I have a checklist for my shoots. And I check each thing off as I load it. Does it make loading go a little slower, yeah. A little. But I never worry about getting to a gig without something I NEED.

As I have mentioned before, I have cases with gear that is packed in accordance to the type of gig I am doing. All my speedlights (save one in the bag) are in one large tool kit with triggers, cords, modifiers and all kinds of clamps and holders. When I do a gig with speedlights, that box is there and it is everything I need. There is a checklist in the box to help me repack the items. Did I remember to get all the clamps, and are there any grids missing? Checklist… got it.

I have a larger kit checklist that combines the different containers, which are also checklisted.

A big shoot may require Lighting Kit A and Lighting Kit B. It will also necessitate stand case A and B as well. Since those cases are prepacked to the same standards (checklists) each time, I need only grab them and load them according to my needs.

Every item I use is on a check list. They are marked as loaded, and then remarked when reloaded at tear down.

I don’t ever want to get home without a camera body or flash head. Again.


I have been asked how I get so much done (even though I sometimes go to bed thinking of all the things that didn’t get done). I have my daily checklist to help with that.

Here is how I do mine. Starting early morning.

5AM to 6AM: Check Email / Social Media for trending articles.

6AM – 7AM: Write for my blog/book. I try to write 1000 words a day across various platforms. These days I do a bit more than that since I am working on a novel and doing discovery for a non-fiction book.

7AM – 8AM: Breakfast, walk the dogs, take my daughter to school and such.

8AM – 8:30AM: Review plans for the day.

9AM – Noon: Email is off, focus on the main job at hand. Can be broken into two distinct gigs if necessary. (This includes any marketing initiatives.)

Noon – 1AM: Lunch, email, social media check in.

1AM to 4PM: Email is off, focus on the main job at hand. Can be broken into two distinct gigs if neccessary. (This includes any marketing initiatives.)

4PM: Check Email / Social Media. Have a bit of fun.

5PM /5:30 PM. Dinner and get ready for webinars usually at 6PM.

After Webinars, relax, read, chat with friends.

Before retiring in for the night, I take a look at today’s list and make tomorrow’s list of prioritized gigs.

I rarely watch TV or movies (weekends are for that) and I rarely have the same schedule every day… this is an estimate checklist above.

Shooting days are far different and by nature looser.


I maintain a lot of online presence; from this site to the three Project 52 Pros as well as my namesake site, it can be overwhelming to keep up with it all. I have a checklist for content, updates, posts and what gets attention on what day.

For instance, I post on the Project 52 Pros sites with regularity. New assignments are added each Friday, and the critiques are uploaded the day after they are given. (Unless I forget to check my list… which recently happened when I travelled. Lesson learned. Big time.)

Here is what a content checklist could look like:


Lighting Essentials on Monday.
Project 52Pros on Tuesday on Wednesday
DonGiannattiPhotography on Thursday
New Assignments on Friday (All P52)
Newsletter on Sunday.

I use the Editorial Calendar Plugin to keep ahead of things on my websites.

For content I also have a small checklist. 
Citations linked.
Author Info added.
Links checked.
Spelling checked.
Any additional info that was promised or needs to be on the post.

I probably add a couple of checklists to specific projects once or twice a week, but these are the ones that keep me going… and turning out a lot of content.

Don’t be afraid of checklists and systems… find the ones that work for you and make them your ally in the war that is over our time – and those who want as much of it as they can get.

If you have any systems you would like to share, use the comments field below.

NOTE: If you are a wedding shooter, check out this article at Tiffinbox.

“Photographing Pills” with Alicia Bonterre


The assignment was to photograph some pills and bottle for a drop in to another shot.

  1. Parameters for the shot? White background…..that’s it. My thought process for this shot was how can I make this even a little bit interesting
  2. What type of shadows do I want and
  3. What kind of specular/highlight do I want.

To this end I chose a brightly colored bottle and pills…more interesting than solid white pills.

I then used a softbox close to subject to soften shadows and a small strip light on a speedlight to give long specular highlights and help show shape of the pills.



westcott strip

(I actually started with a Gary Fong diffuser instead but the specular was round and small and didn’t help show the shape. Below you can see how the highlights from a small, round light do not help the presentation of the pills.)

gary fong diffuser

A BTS of the Fong Lighting:

gary fong BTS


Available Light / Available Tools; with David Price


I wanted to side-light this artisan’s hands to highlight the texture both in her hands, as well as the fabric. She was making a set of custom gloves to honor my wife for her many years of service to living history re-enactments.

I did not have a lot of equipment with me; just my camera and a little quick thinking. As you can see by the picture of the dark hands, the sunlit side goes quite bright, and the shadows quickly go to almost black. I did not have a set of reflectors with me, but there was a white dish-towel sitting on the table next to me. I asked a young lady sitting nearby if she would be kind enough to hold the towel near the shadow side of the hands, and that brought the contrast back to a level I could appreciate. I varied the distance to taste, and the resulting picture is what you see presented here.



Available natural light and available tools.

See more of David’s work at his website.


Fitness Shoot with a Model by Hiram Chee

Rose349 3

For the key light I used an Einstein F8 through a Softlighter camera right and for fill and Einstein F4 through a 8in reflector and 30 degree grid, camera left. The reflector was angled up towards the model’s shoulder slightly towards the back wall. I also feathered the Softlighter slightly forward from the model to get the Rembrandt effect.

For post-processing I use Capture One to get my exposure, color balance, contrast, sharpness, clarity and structure dialed in. I then transferred the image to CS6 and de-noised with Nik Dfine, followed by skin smoothing with Imagenomic Portraiture, balanced contrast with Nik Pro Contrast/Color Efx and sharpened with Nik RAW pre-sharpener.

I finally did a BW conversion in Nik Silver FX. Here is a BTS that the model snapped while I was setting up.



You can see more of Hiram’s work at his website.


Cool Sneakers with Alicia Bonterre

Today’s class is from Alicia Bonterre, a photographer who makes her home in Trinidad.

This was the assignment:

Running Shoes are one of the staples of sports and fitness… and come in all colors and sizes.

Distance runners, joggers, sprinters, hobbyists and kids all have shoes designed for their specialties.

Our job is to shoot a pair of running shoes… And do it with some flair.

The brief:

We have to see the side of one of the shoes, and we must see the bottom of the shoe. Tread is important in running shoes, and it is darned hard to photograph.

This can be done as a studio shot indoors, or a ‘studio’ shot outdoors… in a controlled location environment.


Think soft ambient light with direction. Remember that it will take something a bit punchy to show us the tread of the shoe, as well. I would think sun/diffuser/mirror possibly?

You will have to be very aware of the shape of the shoe from the side… and how you decide to show the side and bottom are up to you, but you will most likely have to prop the shoes up with small cards or shims.

This picture was my inspiration and guide.  I wanted to see how close to replicating it I could get. 

inspiration pic

I used two strobes.

SUMMER-SCHOOLI crossed the light so one hits the left side of the shoe to show the texture of the bottom, I used barndoors and a honeycomb grid here to keep it hard and focused,  a softbox on the right was aimed in such a way as to skim across the side to show dimension and form.  Shot at f11 to be sure all is sharp and in focus. The weight and stick holding the shoe up were later removed in Photoshop and the green background light and swirls added.

sneaker bts tutitorial

Final Shot

sneaker 2 tutitorial

Visit Alicia Bonterre’s website.