Free Photography Education

I wrote a blog last May about Photography Education and Inspiration. In it, I point readers to web sites where they learn about photography. Another great resource is Webinars and Webcasts. Top industry professionals and merchants often give hour-long classes on various topics. Often, if you can’t watch it live, you can go back and watch a recording. The following is a list of resources in no particular order.

1.) Creative Live. This Seattle-based group offers workshops that span 8-hours over three days (usually Fri-Sun) on topics such as; wedding photography, studio lighting and children’s photography. They get top-notch pros like Jasmine Star and Zack Arias to teach the workshop live. You can register and watch it for free or pre-purchase the entire show before the workshop ends at a discounted price. Once the workshop is over, you’ll have to pay more for the download. There’s a workshop starting tomorrow with Vincent LaForet for photographers looking to move into shooting video with their DSLRs.

2.)Peachpit Photo Club. The publisher of many photography books also hosts live webcasts with the likes of: Canon Speedliter, Syl Area; wedding photographer David Ziser and Photoshop Gurus, Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski. You can watch past webcasts on the site or register for upcoming shows.

3.)OnOne University. OnOne makes Photoshop plug-ins so, yes, their webinars are a little biased toward their products. But you can still learn from top photographers and see their editing workflows. Check out this link for a calendar of upcoming classes.

4.) X-Rite Photo. This is another merchant that is pushing its product while spreading some knowledge. There’s a webinar scheduled for today, in fact, about getting started in Lightroom.

5.) Friday Photo School. Every Friday there’s a new class on topics such as off-camera flash, posing and portrait lighting. They do offer the occasional free episode and you can download them from the archive. Most of the classes, however, cost $10 to watch or $15 to download later. Be sure to check out the library for the free ones.

In past blogs, I’ve already mentioned Kelby TV, which is the central location for shows such as: Lightroom Killer Tips, Photoshop User TV, Ask Dave and D-Town TV. On Monday, Scott Kelby is launching a new live show at 12:30 EST called “The Grid”.  It’ll be available to watch later if you can’t make the live broadcast.

So there you have it. It’s like going to photography school without the tuition! Yes, it requires a time commitment, but if you want to be a better photographer, what better way to do it than to spend some time with the pros offering a free education?


Finding the Right Camera Strap

All camera straps are not created equal and I am on a quest to find the perfect one; the holy grail, if you will. The strap that came with your camera is ok at first; but be honest, how many times has the danged thing slipped off your shoulder…or just felt like a rock was hanging off your arm?

So the first leg of my journey brings me to the R-Strap by Black Rapid. In my last post, I mentioned a model made just for women. There are three other models with varying sizes of built-in storage compartments. Then there’s a model to carry two camera bodies. Cost is $54 to $130 depending on which model you choose.

The R-Strap runs across your chest so the camera rests at your hip. It’s designed so you can quickly bring the camera up for shooting. See the video below:

(note: this is an early video from the company. The fastener that attaches to your camera has since evolved)

If you get one, save yourself a lot of time and trouble and go to their website and click on “Set-up and Tips” to learn how to adjust the strap to fit you.

There are a couple of things I don’t like about my R-Strap, but there now seems to be a remedy for one of my complaints. First, I find that the shoulder pad sometimes slips. I’ll look down and find it on my chest instead of on my shoulder. Second, I can’t use it with my tripod plate. That means that if I want to go to a tripod, I have to unscrew the fastener, then screw-on the plate; then reverse the procedure to go back to the R-Strap. I considered returning the R-Strap and getting the Luma Loop. It’s very similar but uses a lanyard to attach to your camera. Looking at the pictures, however, I’m not sure it would solve my problem.

As I was writing this blog post I discovered Black Rapid now has a solution. The “FastenR T1” attaches to the Manfrotto RC2 Quick Release plate for quick transitions.

Other than that, it works great. My shoulder still starts to hurt sometimes, but I don’t think that’s an issue with the strap itself. My rig is a Canon 40D with battery grip and either a 17-55 f/2.8 lens or the 70-200 f/2.8. So what if I could get the weight off my shoulder entirely?

Well, back in the 1800’s, photographers carried their DSLRs just like any other respectable gunslinging cowboy.

Ok, I hope you know I was joking about DSLRs in the 1800s. Everyone knows people were using the I-Daguerreotype made by Apple!

Anyway, back to our story. I don’t have the Spider Holster yet, but I so want one! Sometimes I carry a second camera body to shoots and I’ll have one on the R-Strap and the other on the strap-in-the-box made by Canon. Ideally, I’d have one on the R-Strap and the other on a Spider Holster. Or maybe I could complete the gunslinger look and just get two Spider Holsters! Why don’t I just get the double strap from Black Rapid? It just looks cumbersome to me.

As you can see, the Spider Holster also leaves your camera at your hip where you can quickly reach for it. The entire system will run you $110, but you can buy just the parts and pieces you want separately. Or for $55, you can get the Black Widow for lighter DSLRs.

If you’re looking for just a regular strap that won’t slip off you shoulder take a look at the Up Strap recommended by the guys at D-Town Tv. The rubbery material with those “teeth” grip onto your shoulder to prevent slippage. There’s even one made of Kevlar so it will stop a bullet! (no, not really)

Ok, here are a few other suggestions:

From the Photojojo store, the poor man’s R-Strap. For just $15, you can turn your existing camera strap into a sling.

Buy the Camera Strap Buddy at the Photojojo Store!

For you fashionistas still shooting film (because you’re a purist, right?)

Buy the The Tokyo Dreamer Strap at the Photojojo Store!

And for those of you who fly with reckless abandon, why not rip out your car’s seatbelts (you don’t use them anyway) and put it to good use?

Buy the Seat Belt Camera Straps at the Photojojo Store!

What kind of strap do you use? Have you found something that works really well for you? I’d love to know…