Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

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A Tether Cable Bargain

January 17, 2012

We recently did an interesting test here at the studio.  I almost always shoot tethered directly into Lightroom, which means I have my camera connected via USB to my computer, and as I shoot the images are automatically imported into Lightroom and show up on my monitor, nice and big!

This requires a very high quality USB cable to transfer all the data and keep things flowing so Lightroom doesn’t hang up or crash.  I like to use the longest possible cable (15ft) so I can move around and not trip over the cable.  In the past, I have purchased these cables from photo supply sources for upwards of $65!  Students are always inquiring where to get tether cables, and I always resent having to recommend such an expensive item.

So, in the interest of saving everyone money, I went in search of a cheaper alternative.  I came across a 15ft USB cable on the Monoprice website that seemed way too good to be true.  Same specs as the expensive cables, but at a ridiculously low price…. so I purchased one to test.  Much to my surprise, when we tested the cable (using a Canon 5DMKII tethered to my iMac running Lightroom 3), the transfer times were exactly the same as the expensive cables!  We were so surprised that we ran the tests a few times just to be sure…. and no problem.  A single Raw file transfers in around 4 seconds, and we can fire a full burst of 16 shots before the buffer fills, and all the files transfer in around 45 seconds… same as with the expensive cable!

So now you want to know…. where and how much???!?

Here’s a link to the specific cable we used:

For only $1.76 each when QTY 50+ purchased – 15ft USB 2.0 A Male to Mini-B 5pin Male 28/24AWG Cable w/ Ferrite Core (Gold Plated) | USB 2.0 Cables – Mini-B 5pin Type

And the price? $2.09 !!  Shipping to Canada costs around $6, so the total cost is less than $10.  Quite a bargain compared to the $65 I have been paying.

I’ve been using the cable with no problems for over a month now, though I don’t know how well it will hold up long-term, but at that price, order a few of them!

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Life’s good when you have a (hard drive) backup plan!

December 6, 2010

I recently had an interesting experience that illustrates why I’m always bugging my students to create a backup plan for their computers and their photography files, and be diligent about keeping up-to-date. I know this doesn’t sound like the most exciting subject, but believe me, without a backup plan I would have gotten rather excited.

Here’s what happened. While shooting some models for a jewelry client, with the camera tethered into Lightroom, I think I must’ve gotten a bit carried away and shot too fast for the camera’s buffer to manage. Lightroom got sort of locked up and I was facing the spinning beach ball. I tried to quit Lightroom and when that didn’t work I glibly shut down the computer altogether. That’s when things started to get worse. When I relaunched Lightroom and tried to shoot into it things locked up again and I had to crash the computer again. I tried again, and again with similar results. I did manage to get through that shoot and it seemed like things were okay. However, when I reviewed the files many of them were reported as damaged in Lightroom and they had some pretty strange looking patterns all over them. Then the whole hard drive started to behave strangely. When I restarted the computer, the hard drive wouldn’t mount anymore. I tried disk repair (a Mac utility for repairing hard drives) but no luck. The drive directory had a fatal error, probably due to my having crashed the computer a couple of times.

Of course this is the drive that contains all my photographs both personal and client work, so I was more than a little disturbed. After trying a few more repair tricks to no avail I decided to simply turn to my back up system. I completely reformatted the faulty drive (that was a scary moment), then I used my recently updated backup drive to restore all my photos and files! SilveKeeper made it very easy to do, I just had to plug in my backup drive, launch SilverKeeper and click restore. It took a couple of hours to copy over all the data but when it was done by drive was totally back in order with all my photos intact and recognized by Lightroom. Big sigh of relief!

Fortunately, all the shots from the days shoot were safely intact on the camera cards so all I had to do was import them into Lightroom and everything was good. Now that I’ve told you my little horror story, I thought I’d share my actual backup system so you can easily see how it works and how you can implement it for yourself (Here’s a PDF you can download):

The key to this system is having Off Line backups of your drives, that are not plugged in when you’re working.  That way, if something gets corrupted, as happened to me, your Off Line backup gallops in to the rescue!

Okay, so I know this is a bit mundane as a subject, but it just saved me from a whole world of pain and anxiety! And now I hope it will save you from the same.

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My Hard Drive is Full!…. What Now?

September 2, 2010

I just had an interesting experience dealing with one of the inevitable hassles of digital storage. My external hard drive (750gig) which holds all my photography was filling up! So off I went to a local computer store (Canada Computers on College Street) and bought a big spacious 2 TB drive (For a mere $109). I bought just the bare drive, as I was planning on putting it in the enclosure which houses my current drive.

So now my question was how to get all the photos and some various other stuff I stored on the drive onto my new drive. No big deal, except that I didn’t want to break all my connections in Lightroom and have to go through the process of getting Lightroom to find all my photos again. Since I have a few different catalogs (mostly for teaching purposes) on this one drive it would be a pain to have to reconnect all the Lightroom catalogs.

I thought about migrating all the photographs through the Lightroom interface, but this would involve doing each catalog separately and then copying over the remaining bits and pieces of data that I have on the drive. I didn’t like that idea!

So I decided to try a different approach. I placed the new drive in an enclosure that I happened to have lying around (this is where one of those drive docks would come in handy!). When I mounted and formatted the new drive I was careful to name it exactly the same name as my existing photo drive. To my surprise, both drives showed up on my desktop even though they both have the same name!

I then used a really handy little free program from Lacie (SilverKeeper) to create an exact copy of my very full hard drive on the new drive. The advantage of using a program like SilverKeeper to do this exercise is that it makes an exact copy of your drive, including any invisible files and directory information. The copying process took a while, so I ran it over night while I was sleeping.

In the morning I came down and unplugged both drives. Then I switched the new drive into the old enclosure. (This isn’t really totally necessary step, as I could have left it in the enclosure it was in. However I wanted to use the FireWire 800 enclosure that I had been using, since it provides faster read times than USB) after the switch I plugged in the new drive and launched Lightroom, with my fingers crossed. To my delight, Lightroom found its catalog and all the photos, no problem!

I was very pleased to save myself the hassle of having to relocate all those photos in all my different catalogs. I guess the secret to the trick is to have the new drive named exactly the same name as the old drive so that Lightroom gets tricked into believing that the location hasn’t really changed.

By the way, the ultimate solution to this issue is to purchase a Drobo. These are multi-bay hard drive enclosures that hold four, five, or eight drives. The cool thing about the Drobo is that it combines all the drives into one volume, and it does it in a way that you can actually switch out smaller drives for larger ones without losing any data. It also protects you in case of one drive failing. For those of you who shoot large quantities of photos and or video, the Drobo is a really good idea!

I just thought I’d share this solution with you, since it’s inevitable that one day you’re going to fill up your drive and have to migrate your data, and this method works well with Lightroom.

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Online Gallery of my show

May 25, 2010

I’ve posted an online gallery of the Polo Motion photos from my current show at Snowball Gallery.  If you haven’t had a chance to see the show, you can view the images here.  You can also use this site to order prints from the show.  Simply enter the size of print you would like in the comments section, and click the ADD button.  When you’ve finished making your selection, click the SUBMIT MY ORDER button and fill out the form.  I’ll email you to confirm your order.

I’ve had a few queries about the very reasonable print prices for these images.  I debated whether to offer limited editions, at higher prices, but in the end opted for non-editioned prints, and a lower price point. I feel that I would rather have more people able to purchase prints and enjoy them on their walls.

This weekend is the last chance to see the show in person!  Snowball Gallery is open Thursday – Sunday, at 1690 Queen Street West.

BTW, this online gallery is a Lightroom template from Lightroom Galleries, and it’s available as a free download (donationware).

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Show Announcement!

April 12, 2010

Nadia Cheema and I are having a show of new photographs at the Snowball Gallery on Queen Street West, near Roncesvalles.  The show is titled Stillness and Motion, and features Nadia’s haunting Irish landscapes, and my abstract images of the game of Polo.  They make an interesting contrast.  Please come to the opening if you can, or drop by during the month of May.  Here’s the invite:

Hope to see you on the 6th!

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Makeup for Photographers Workshop

April 12, 2010

Natalia Zurawska’s very entertaining and informative workshop will take place on two new dates:

Friday, May 7  from 6:30 – 10:00

Friday, June 4  from 6:30 – 10:00

Everyone who’s attended this in the past has agreed that it’s a must for any photographer working with people.  You’ll learn about how makeup works for photography, how to find and work with makeup artists, and a variety of products and techniques that you can use yourself when you don’t have a makeup artist.  You’ll watch as Natalia transforms a model, and you’ll see before and after photos.

Complete details on the workshop are here.

The cost is $105 (incl GST), and it will be held in my studio.  To register, contact me here:

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Lightroom’s getting more Amazing!

March 27, 2010

Adobe has now released a second Beta version of Lightroom 3, and it has some great new features!  So now is the time to get going with this program, or step your use up to the next level.  So, I’ve scheduled two new Lightroom workshops:

Introduction to Lightroom will cover all the basics of workflow and image development, from importing your shots, organizing and finding the best ones, developing your images and making prints, slideshows and web galleries, all from within Lightroom!

Advanced Lightroom will will explore the power features of this amazing program.  From retouching your photographs, to special effects, working with multiple catalogues, tethered shooting etc.  This is the perfect workshop to step up your game in Lightroom.

In both workshops we’ll be looking at the new features debuting in Lightroom 3.  For complete details on what we’ll cover in both workshops, have a look HERE and HERE.

Workshop Dates:  Intro to Lightroom  Saturday, May 15

Advanced Lightroom   Saturday, June 19

Fee for each workshop:  $210 (incl GST)      $100 deposit to register.

For further information, or to register, contact me here:

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On Being A Professional Artist

March 25, 2010

I’m very pleased to announce this new workshop, taught by my long-time friend Wayne Dunkley.  This workshop is for anyone interested in pursuing photography or new media as a fine art.  Wayne will guide you through the often confusing world of galleries, arts councils, foundations, and schmoozing the art scene.  He will explain the importance of your Artist Statement, and Project Proposal.  You’ll have an opportunity to start writing your own Artist Statement and receive feedback on it.

Wayne will share the knowledge he’s acquired through 20 years as a working artist in Photography and New Media, as well as his experiences with funding organizations as both an artist and a jury member.  This is going to be an amazing workshop!  I’ve posted a detailed outline and schedule for the day here.

Workshop Date: Saturday, April 24     Location: My studio in Downtown Toronto

Workshop fee:  $210 (incl. GST) ($100 deposit to register)

Contact me here to register:

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The Creative Nude… by Struan…new date!

March 24, 2010

This workshop was a great hit last month!  Everyone involved had a fun time, and some great photographs were made!  So Struan has decided to run it again!

The (very full) day will start with a presentation and shooting demo by Struan, where he will explain how he shoots, works with models, and produces his unique and provocative nude studies.  He’ll work with our models, showing a variety of lighting set-ups and shooting styles.

We’ll take a brief lunch break (served in the studio), then you’ll have a chance to apply what you’ve learned!  We’ll break up into small groups to photograph the models on a variety of sets.  Struan (and I) will be on hand to offer suggestions, help with lighting and answer questions.  At the end of the day review your work and hold a brief critique.  Here’s a PDF with the complete workshop details.

Workshop Date: Sunday, May 30   9:30 – 6:30            Location: My studio in Downtown Toronto

Workshop Fee:  $350 (+gst) includes Lunch ($100 deposit to reserve a space)

There are limited spaces in this workshop, and  it will be popular, so enroll soon!  Contact me below to enroll:

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Poured Resin Workshop

January 20, 2010

This very exciting workshop will teach you one of the hottest looks in fine art photography right now.  It consists of a method to mount photographic prints on artist’s boards, then enclose them in a poured resin finish.  It  looks as if the prints were coated in molten glass.  It’s a great way to present and enhance your work!  And best of all, it’s a technique you can do at home with some basic materials and know-how.

Talia Shipman will once again lead this workshop.  She’s perfected this technique through years of trial and error, and you will benefit from her experience as she demonstrates the technique and guides you through creating your own finished artwork.  You’ll provide us with an image, and we’ll make an 11×14 print which you will mount and resin coat during the workshop.  You’ll love the results!

You’ll also receive a step-by-step guide with photographs and a materials list so that you can do this technique on your own at home. It’s a fun process and the results are quite stunning! If you’d like to see some samples I have them here in my studio, so give me a call or e-mail and drop by and see them.  Here’s a PDF with more information about the workshop.

Workshop Date:  Sunday, April 25      9:30 – 5:00

Location: My studio (downtown Toronto)

Workshop Fee: $360 incl. materials (& gst)

Advanced registration and $100 deposit is required, so contact me here:

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