Cool Pics, An Amazing Gadget and More in Today’s Round-Up

First up, the cool pics.

Here’s one that I didn’t believe at first. New York photographer Jay Fine captured lightning hitting the Statue of Liberty. The first thumbnail in the article clearly shows lightning “near” the statute. The last picture, blown up, actually shows what appears to be a lightning bolt hitting Lady Liberty. I was still skeptical, but then thought, “well, it is a huge lightning rod out in the middle of the water.”

Next up, 10 War Photographs that Changed the World.  Number 3 on that list is the one of “napalm girl”, the 9-year old who was burned in a napalm attack on her village in Vietnam. Joe McNally took her portrait   in 1995 holding her son. In the portrait you can see the scars on her back.

Here’s some advice on choosing a lens.

The Canon 1DMkIV was used for a live Al-Jazeera news broadcast. Find out why the cameraman chose a DSLR instead of a high-end video camera. Judging by the image quality, it’s not hard to see why!

Finally, my jaw dropped when I saw this. Then again, I’m a gadget freak. Canon has a device that looks like a scanner. You rest your DSLR or video camera on top of it and it starts to charge the battery. But wait, there’s more! It will, at the same time, retrieve the images from your memory card! The whole thing is hooked up to a flat screen TV where you can sort the files and even email them to someone! I’m still stuck on the “charge-your-battery-and-download-your-images-while-your-camera-sits-on-the-gadget” part. Dang, my Christmas list keeps getting longer!


Tips for Writing Licenses and Contracts for Photography

Pen and legal forms

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you want to make money from photography, you need to have a contract and a license signed by you and the client. A contract is just an agreement between you and a client that specifies the scope and nature of your work. A license is the document that grants a client certain rights to use your image(s). I’ve seen some wedding contracts, for example, that include a model release and specifies what the bride and groom can and can’t do with the images. So in essence it’s a contract, model release and license all in one.

Now, I’m no lawyer. That means two things; I can’t give  you legal advice. Second, it means writing and reading contracts and licenses give me a headache. I’m a college educated person, but sometimes I have to re-read a statement several times and sometimes I still don’t know what it says! If you think about it, writing “and” instead of “or” can have serious implications in a legal document.

So my first solution was to buy “Business and Legal Forms for Photographers” by Tad Crawford. The book comes with boiler-plate templates on a CD-ROM in various formats that you can use. The book walks you through what each line means and covers everything from model releases to wedding contracts and more.

Then I read something on the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) blog, “Strictly Business“.  In it, Judy Hermann writes,

 “Licenses don’t have to be complicated.  They don’t need to include a lot of wherefore’s, whereby’s or other legalese.   What they need to do is to outline – clearly, simply and in plain English – what the client can and can’t do with your images.”

She goes on to say that licenses can be written in list form. That got me thinking. I’m now in the process of writing up a contract in plain english. It’s not that easy though. I’m referring to the legalese in the book as well as the ASMP web site and translating it into plain english. In the end, I think this helps both parties. Would you want to give a bride a 2-to-3 page legal paper to sign? Seems a little intimidating, I think.

So my advice is to talk to your client and find out what their needs are. Then incorporate that into the contract. The  contract I’m writing now, for example, really only has three core principles. First, granting limited use to the client. Second, protecting my copyright and by extension; Third, not allowing them to give my images to anyone else.

If you’re serious about making money from photography you’ve got to learn about releases, contracts and licenses. Fortunately, the ASMP site is full of free information. On the homepage click on “Business Resources” then “Tutorials and Forms“. There you’ll find info on copyright, releases, an example of a bad contract and a terms and conditions example that you can include in your contracts.

Photography News and Tips

Not much to report this morning. Here are a few items of interest.

1.) Here’s a video tutorial on how to use Photoshop Elements to create a slideshow.

2.) If you follow me on Facebook, then you saw my post about Canon’s rebates on entry-level DSLRs.

   2a.) Related to that; Canon has a new firmware update for the Rebel XS.

3.) Finally, check out this cool time-lapse video of a music festival. It uses some 50,000 images and a tilt-shift effect was added in post to make things look miniature. Be sure to click the link to the “Sandpit” video which uses the same concept to give us a glimpse into life in New York like you’ve never seen it.

Monday’s News and Tips for Photographers

Hope you guys had a good weekend. Let’s get right to it.

Sunday’s circular for Staples featured the student and teacher version of Photoshop CS5 extended for $169 (see pg.4). So if you are a student or teacher, or know one (wink, wink)….

You might remember this picture from a past blog post:

 Baldwin Park Meteorologists

Well, I looked up a Photoshop tutorial on YouTube on how to make it look like it’s raining. Over the weekend, I ran across this tutorial that’s very similar: Hot to make it rain in Photoshop

 In other news: 

7 Ways to Send Huge Files

And over at, Syl Arena shows us what you can do with One Softbox, Three Speedlites, 20 Minutes.

If you follow me on Twitter, then you saw this on Friday: The most compact DSLR kit.  One more thing to add to my Christmas list! And if you don’t follow me on Twitter…why aren’t you!?

Lastly, here’s some advice on How to Buy Gear on a Limited Budget.

Have a great Monday!


News, Tips and Cool Stuff for Photographers

I spend every morning scouring photography websites and blogs. I use Twitter and my AllTop blog reader to condense my search. I usually post interesting items on my Facebook Fan page and thought it would be a good idea to blog about the interesting items I stumble on.

Like the f-stop watch, for example. I so want one!

Check out this cool video of a flame thrower versus a fire extinguisher taken at 1000 frames per second! Guess who wins.

Or this video of 52 Canon DSLRs used to shoot a Matrix-style surfing video. Tres cool!

How about two 5-minute videos on posing models? It’s really aimed at stock photographers, but there are some helpful tips in there.

I leave you with an article featuring 25 sites where you can get free stock images. I found it through LinkedIn, so if you can’t access the link, let me know in the comments and I’ll post them here.

How to Optically Trigger Your Canon 580EXII Flash

Canon 580EXII Speedlite with Optical Adapter

The Canon 580 EXII with Optical Trigger Adapter

Before I begin, let me say that I cannot take credit for this. I learned about it on Syl Arena’s blog. His blog post,  “The Truth About Canon Speedlites & Optical Slaves” opened my eyes to something I didn’t think was possible with Canon Speedlites and I was so excited that I just want to tell others about it.

A little background: I have the Pocket Wizard Mini and Flex triggers to fire a 580EXII wirelessly. What I wanted, was for that speedlite to fire a second 580EXII using Canon’s built-in wireless controls. If you have one flash mounted on the camera, you can use the built-in “master” and “slave” controls to fire multiple flash units that are off-camera.

[NOTE: If you have the Canon 7D or later model, you can use the pop-up flash to trigger an external flash. But keep in mind what is happening. The pre-flash from the pop-up is sending a coded message to the external flash. This is not radio transmission nor is it optical. You also have to make sure that the pop-up does not fire, which would show on your subject. You have to set it so it only fires the pre-flash.]

My assumption was this: The Pocket Wizard materials say that when the Mini is on your camera and the flash is on the Flex, that your camera essentially thinks the flash is still on the camera. The transmitters communicate all the information from camera to flash and vice versa. I also knew that Canon flashes, unlike Nikon, do not have optical slave eyes. This means that a Canon flash cannot be triggered when it sees another flash fire. Fine. I thought that it could still trigger a second flash using my Pocket Wizards. Not so.

Then I read Syl’s blog about a little tiny adapter that you can buy for less than 20 bucks that will serve as a slave eye for a Canon flash! I’ll let you read the post for the details, but here’s the skinny:

Go to and get the GREEN PC-adapter. The adapter plugs into your…wait for it…PC port on the side of your 580EXII (pictured above). Both flashes need to be on “manual” for this to work. So here’s the set-up. Flash #1 is off-camera on a Pocket Wizard Flex, being triggered by the Mini on my camera’s hot-shoe. This flash fires and triggers the adapter plugged into Flash #2 which is also off camera. Hallelujah it works!

I thought about buying another flash that has an optical slave eye for $150. OR I could buy another PW Flex for about $200. But for just $19.95 (shipping included) I can now use two off-camera speedlites. This opens up a whole new world of creativity.

If you’re a Nikon shooter, you’re probably laughing at all this.  I have my own list of pet-peeves against Canon speedlites, but I first heard of Syl when he wrote his manifesto-like  “My Canon Speedlite Wishlist which rings so true. Nikon just released its SB-700. If Canon is going to release a new flash, I hope they listen to Syl.

Lastly, I just want to say a quick word about FlashZebra. It seems like a small operation; payment is through PayPal and my invoice had a personal thank you message. I thought that was a nice touch. I ordered the adapter on a Friday and I had it by the following Wednesday. All in all, a good experience.

Hope this helps you as much as it helped me!