Strange Rocks at McKinney Falls

Here’s another shot taken a few weeks ago at McKinney Falls State Park in Austin. This shot of the upper falls shows just how powerful the flow of water can be over thousands or even millions of years. The crevices cut into the rock are large enough to fall through and I had a tough time just setting up my tripod without slipping on the strange wet rocks.

Strange Rocks

Strange Rocks – McKinney Falls State Park, Texas
Copyright 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on manual (M) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 40mm, f/16 for 5 seconds at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray Vari-ND-Duo neutral density and warming polarizer filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 5D Mark II, Landscape Photography, McKinney Falls State Park, Photography, Texas Landscapes

Gear Friday – Powering your Speedlites

I’m a strong believer in David Hobby’s “Strobist” techniques and Kirk Tuck’s “minimalist” lighting philosophy as detailed in his best-selling book Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Location Photography. Back in the late 70′s I dabbled in this with very little success using Vivitar Thyristor 285 strobes, which strangely enough, some folks still use today.

As a Canon shooter I use Canon’s 580EX II Speedlites for all my product (and now) commercial photography work. Although not as sophisticated as Nikon’s SB900 and CLS (creative lighting system), Canon’s Speedlites work very well in the field with one exception; they suck batteries dry at a furious pace.

I solved this issue by switching to Sanyo’s Eneloop rechargeable batteries as I described in my post earlier this week and by using Canon’s CP-E4 battery pack as shown below. The CP-E4 holds eight AA size batteries and when plugged into the 580EX II Speedlite, it more than doubles the flash capacity and reduces the recycle time considerably.

When using the CP-E4, the four batteries already in the Speedlite are used to control the strobe and the eight external batteries are used to power the strobe. This separation of power seems to work very well and I’ve taken several hundred shots without draining the battery pack. My only complaint about this setup is the cost. Canon charges around $135 (USD) for their CP-E4 battery pack although you can find after-market packs for around half this price.

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon Speedlites

ioSafe N2 – Your own Private Muscly Cloud

I wrote recently about the Synology NAS, I will write more about it soon as I’ve added to it! But there are, as they say, two sides to every story and here’s the other side to that story!

Introducing the ioSafe N2 NAS

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Having (had!) an IT background and experiencing first hand a number of times people losing their data – sometimes LOTS of data – and being completely overwhelmed at the thought of not knowing what they had saved somewhere else and what was “gone forever*” I wanted to make sure that wasn’t the case for me.

At the same time, I wanted to be able to get to “stuff” from wherever I was. I do use multiple “online” storage things, Dropbox is my main online storage space, I’ve also just started using COPY who give much more free space.. Why multiples? Who puts all of their eggs in one basket? But we’re talking 20gb here and 30gb there… If I wanted to have an entire copy of my computer online just incase something really shoddy happened like theft, flood, fire, or something else… The ability to get to my digital life (as I like to call it) is crucial. I work from home, I have client data (As a photographer, I have photographs obviously, but they’re covered with my other NAS, the DS1512+) and I need to be able to access that data at all time.

There’s also the whole “would I walk up to someone in the street and hand them all the photos of my kid, all of my important business data” that Robb touches on in the video below… I’m sure you’ve heard of businesses folding – well, it has happened to online storage companies too [READ THIS this is from 2009, but there’s nothing to say it can’t happen today] and with this firmly in mind, I smile about my N2 sitting securely in a cupboard in my house, out of line of sight, quietly backing up all of my precious digital stuffs…

That said, having this NAS packed in a cupboard out of harms way, I don’t get to use the SDXC slot on the front of the unit, but it is there if you want to use it – simply take photographs on an SD card, pop the card into the front of your NAS and it mounts up like a little external drive and you can copy all of the images across. Very handy.

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Lets hop around a little.. I run my own business, but it isn’t large and I don’t have co-located servers with my data replicating across multiple sites – if I wanted to make sure I was 100% safe, I’d do that, but it is cost restrictive for me right now, so I needed to be able to trust what I could afford** The ioSafe N2 is sort of like a baby army tank that stores data.. It can withstand fire, water, three year olds etc… 1500 degrees f. for half hour – you’d want to hope the fire brigade had put your house out in that time!, Under ten feet of water for 72 hours… This is no ordinary NAS (Network attached storage) device. There’s also the included one time data recovery service – ioSafe will recover your data up to $5K worth of DRS included with every ioSafe product… that is pretty rad if you ask me! (read more on that here)

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You can see above (and below) where your data is stored, on those two disks in the middle… Then there’s a solid metal plate that goes on the front of the disk bay, then a plug that is the front of the unit… There is airflow around the sealed unit that has heat dispersion wings on it, so your disks maintain a normal working temp, too.

ioSafe-fire-water-proof-nas-simon-pollock

Lets jump back to where I was talking about accessing my data remotely shall we… The ioSafe runs Synology DSM (I’m currently running the 4.3 Beta on my ioSafe with great success) DSM pretty much turns the N2 into a fully fledged cloud (cloud simply means server that can be accessed remotely in this case.. sort of) and there are some very handy iPhone and Android and (even haha) Windows phone apps that you can use to get to your data.. You can log into your server via FTP too.. (It also works as a web server, print server, ftp server, media server… this thing can’t make a decent espresso, but then I can, so we’re good!)

My ioSafe N2 is setup using the Synology Hybrid Raid, I use two 2TB disks in (basically) raid one so I have a one disk fault tolerance.. My stuff is essentially safe unless Godzilla comes along and eats my N2..

DSM-Synology-disk-manager-simon-pollock-review-iosafe-n2

I use my N2 in conjunction with my other ioSafe drives.. I have a Solo G3 and a Rugged Portable (That my brother has borrowed to take around the world!!)

Who is the N2 for?

Anyone that is serious about keeping their data safe but maybe not quite ready to buy a serve in a datacentre. (You can also bolt the N2 to your floor / hide it in a cupboard and access it wirelessly!)

Pros

  • Life proof.
  • Connectivity.
  • Massive feature set via DSM.
  • Small footprint by comparison.

Cons

  • Errr? For the market this beast is aimed at, there are none.

I want to leave you with a video from Robb Moore, he’s the guy that started ioSafe when nothing else would suit his needs… I’m very glad he did because right now, for me, nothing else does what this N2 does.

I was provided with the N2 for review, I was already an ioSafe user… I use product I love, I don’t have time for rubbish that doesn’t work – who does. I give this N2 a total of 10 out of 11 gold stars, I only deduct one because I know I’m going to need more space soon and there’s not a 4 disk model – yet.

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.

-Sime

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

ioSafe N2 – Your own Private Muscly Cloud

So You’re Going to Shoot A Wedding: Part 3 of 3 [editing, etc.]

It’s done. You survived it. It was the longest day of your photography career, you’re exhausted, and all you can think about is how right I was (it’s cool-I get that a lot). But…….You. Did. It. And chances are you didn’t get locked in a bathroom, or miss the kiss, or have a complete equipment failure, or faint face-first into the cake. You shot a wedding. What’s next?

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Back-up everything. Possibly several times

As no-brainer as this is, when I shoot portraits, I’m not a diligent about it as I should be. I’m more of a “cross my fingers/hope for the best/fly by the seat of my pants” kind of gal in most areas of my life. But a wedding is different. Good luck explaining to a new bride that your laptop played a vanishing act with the images and you need her to re-do the whole wedding for photographic purposes. It’s my greatest fear. My greatest fear used to be a complete equipment failure at a wedding, but then I had that happen a few weeks ago and somehow survived it, so I’ve graduated my fear list a bit. As soon as I get home from a wedding, no matter that I can barely see straight, I upload everything to my computer, and then back-up everything to an external drive or disc. Additionally I don’t erase my memory cards until I need them again and I have cloud storage. Because I’m neurotic like that. Weddings are often thousands of images and this takes both time and space. Having both of those things is yet another factor in the expense of wedding photography (see: never shoot a wedding for free). In most other areas of my life, I am totally okay with just hoping for the best and surrounding it with good thoughts. But this isn’t one of them.

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Give a sneak peek

These images are going to take you a long time to go through, edit, and deliver. Unless you have some sort of crazy amazing one day editing process, which if you do, I’m going to need you to email that to me immediately. While everyone is anxious to see pictures, no one is more anxious than a still-glowing bride. Give them a little taste and buy yourself some time to ice your camera-strap-indented neck and regain clear vision. Social media is a fabulous option for this if it’s available to you. That way everyone can see them and fawn over how great the images are, giving you a little boost of confidence and the newly minted couple a little attention-both of which work in your favor for the long editing road ahead. (Oh friend, it’s a long road.)

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Decide if you are interested in doing this again

Every wedding I have ever shot has led to at least one referral. In general, I don’t photograph weddings. Yet, there I am, every summer, finding myself wanting to pass out from heatstroke with a 10 pound black box in front of my face. Why? Because I’m a sucker. I suppose I could tell you that it’s because I love weddings and true love and all that, but the truth is: I’m a sucker. Throw a few compliments at me and I’ll do about anything that doesn’t involve roller coasters. I hate roller coasters. (I also hate those rides where you spin on something that’s spinning. I’d like to have a long talk with the guy who thought that was a good idea for your internal organs.) Even if you didn’t hand out a single business card……even if you don’t have a single business card…..they will find you. Unless you were a miserable human being to be around (I don’t judge-I’ve been there), you will get a call about another wedding. Decide right now if this is something you ever want to do again so you can handle that call that will come later. There is nothing wrong with saying no, thank you. It might not be your cup of tea. Or quad carmel latte (I’m becoming a really expensive coffee date lately). There is also nothing wrong with having loved it. The point is that you need to decide quickly because there is literally a barista of sorts waiting on your order and she has a whole line of impatient people behind you and a smoke break coming up.

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Don’t overdo it

The last wedding I shot came in at just shy of two thousand images. There were 26 guests, and that’s including the dog ring bearer. I shot for less than 4 hours. I’m an over-shooter. I know this. In my defense: WHAT IF I MISS SOMETHING??? For this said wedding I have no less than 40 images of “the kiss”. Truth? They all look the same. Don’t get me wrong-it was an amazing kiss. Record books, in fact. But, those 40 images I shot in probably 30 seconds of time all look pretty much the same. Yet I want them to see every one!!! What if they love one that’s slightly different than another?? What if the clouds moved just a bit and it makes for the best of forty? I don’t know. What I do know is that to the average person, all 40 of those images look exactly the same. Pick one, edit it to loveliness, and move on. No one knows you have forty of them. And likely, no one cares.

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Deliver the images with deserved fanfare

I personally don’t do any printing; if you book a session or a wedding with me, your flat fee includes my time, the finished (edited) high resolution images on a disc, and a full printing and usage release. This is how I have been doing it for years and I find that not having to mess with an 8 10 print of this one or a 5 7 of that one or marking-up my printing costs to cover everything is a much easier way of doing things. And easy works best for me because I am a terrible insomniac (see numerous references to coffee above) and when I get overwhelmed with work (which is often), I go lock myself in my closet and cry a little. However, just handing over a disc feels like a near let-down when I’ve been editing for weeks and, as previously mentioned, spent an extremely long and tiring day just shooting the images. I like a little fanfair, and because wedding photography is such an investment, I think my clients should get a little ribbon and bow. Or maybe a horn section. Depends on what I have access to at the time. I like to put together a “highlight” slideshow of 50 or so of the images that the couple can send to their friends and family to watch online. Additionally, I usually put together a little gift of sorts to give along with the disc-maybe a large print that I put in a readymade frame or for a smaller wedding, I might print off 4 6 prints of each image and put these in a pretty box so theycan make awedding album easily. It honestly just depends on the couple and what I charged. My goal here is only to hand them over something more lovely than a cold silver flat circle.

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Wedding photography was never my goal, nor do I consider myself a wedding photographer. I have never advertised or marketed for it, though I have shot about 70 of them in the last decade. It’s tough-I’m not set-up to be a wedding photographer, both from an equipment and time perspective, yet I find myself doing several a year even still. All joking aside, I don’t EVER take on a wedding just for the money or just out of wanting to do something wonderful for a loved one. Every wedding I have ever shot I only ended up there because I truly felt that I was the best person for the job. Many times I was right (this isn’t a time to be humble), but a couple times I was wrong and it makes for a painfully long event day and editing process.

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The reason wedding photography is met with such passion by veterans and hobbyist alike is because it’s a big deal; there are no re-dos, no second chances. It’s a type of photography that is all it’s own. So only shoot the weddings where you feel confident that you and the couple feel similar about the end vision. Only shoot the weddings where you genuinely like the couple; if you wouldn’t want to have a beer with them, you’re not going to want to spend a 10 hour day with them. Only shoot the weddings that will give you more than a paycheck, whether that be experience, a day of fun, or that good feeling of doing something wonderful for someone else and knowing you did a good job. It doesn’t matter if you believe in true love or soul mates, it doesn’t matter if you feel like weddings are too over-the-top and unnecessary, it doesn’t matter if one of the biggest highlights was the free piece of cake (I’m a big fan of cake), what matters is that you went in there knowing that you were the person for the job, that you stayed there feeling like you were doing a great job, and you left there happy to have done it.

me at jillandty

Tired and glad for it to be over, but happy to have done it.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

So You’re Going to Shoot A Wedding: Part 3 of 3 [editing, etc.]

Weekend Gear Updates

Canon has released a firmware update for the EOS 5D Mark II but not the long awaited 24 fps video. According to Canon this minor firmware update fixes the following issues.

EOS 5D Mark II Firmware Update Version 1.2.4

  • Supports the WFT-E4 II wireless file transmitter that was released in December 2009.
  • This firmware update corrects a phenomenon that if the [C.Fn II-1 Long exposure noise reduction] setting is set to [2: On], noise may appear in images that are captured while the previous image is still being generated.

Adobe has also released some updates recently. Camera Raw 5.6 and Lightroom 2.6 are now available on Adobe’s support site. These two updates add support for the latest camera models like the EOS 7D and Powershot G11.

Adobe Camera Raw 5.6

Adobe Camera Raw 5.6

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.6

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 5D Mark II

Rock of Ages

I’m dedicating this week’s posts and images to my friends in “The Great White North”, which looking at the current weather report, is anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line. It looks like you folks are in for some darn cold temperatures and a whole lot of SNOW later this week. We had a couple of inches of snow a few weeks ago and that was plenty for me. I honestly don’t know how I ever survived in the suburbs of Chicago and Philadelphia all those years ago.

So here’s to you my friends. Summertime in Texas!

Rock of Ages – Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Texas
Copyright 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand-held. The exposure was taken at 24mm, f/8 for 1/125th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 5D Mark II, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Landscape Photography, Photography, Texas Landscapes

5 Tips For Streamlining Your Photography Workflow

Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed with a never-ending to-do list? Running a successful photography business takes plenty of time and effort, and streamlining your workflow will give you more opportunity to photograph clients — not to mention more down time for yourself (the final season of Breaking Bad doesn’t watch itself!).

I maximize my hours both in and out of the studio by following 5 rules of thumb to amp up my efficiency.

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Put Pen To Paper

Breaking down your weekly workflow will help you pinpoint areas of weakness and recognize what’s slowing you down. I map out each step of my process, from “meet with client” to “take the picture” to “deposit the payment,” and see where I can consolidate tasks, thereby increasing my efficiency. For example, you could set aside one day of the week that’s completely devoted to managing your business’ finances, rather than cramming in a few hours every day!

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Get Comfortable

Having a comfortable work environment is crazy-important when managing your time. I paid more for the chair I sit in at my computer than I did for some of my best camera equipment. If you aren’t comfortable in your workspace, you’ll look for ways to distract yourself from the task at hand. I suggest investing in a great chair that you’ll happily sit in for several hours, keeping your office organized so you don’t feel overwhelmed, and decorating in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing so you genuinely enjoy hanging in your work area.

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Learn Actions

You can save huge amounts of time by making your own Photoshop Actions. If you find yourself altering an image in the same way over and over again, create an Action and give it a keyboard shortcut. The next time you’re working on a photo, you can simply push a button and apply your go-to edit! By the end of the day, you’ll have shaved off an hour or more of work.

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Network Your World

You can save even more valuable time by networking your equipment so that it’s in sync. Your camera and computer systems should be in constant communication so that if you leave the studio to go home, you can hop right on your office computer and pick up where you left off. Syncing your equipment will save so much time, you may even find yourself with a free day to hang out with your family each week! Or play golf, whatever floats your boat.

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Educate Yourself

It’s tempting to lean on plugins and templates when shooting and editing your work, but you can’t always rely on your go-to Photoshop Action. Not only will learning the basics save you plenty of money on templates you probably don’t need, it can save you time if you ever find yourself in an Action-less pinch!

For more tips on simplifying your workflow, as well as advice on working with teens, check out my CreativeLIVE course!

All images by Kirk Voclain

Kirk Voclain

Kirk Voclain was born on July 4, 1962. He has a love for photography that began when he got his first camera by saving box tops from a popular breakfast cereal when he was just 8 years old. Kirk has been asked to speak to groups of photographers all over the United States & Canada. Kirk has a motivational style of speaking that will keep you on the edge of your seat.