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Showing posts from January, 2011

I passed the CPP exam!

Hallelujah! I just learned that I passed the CPP (certified professional photographer) exam. Took it a couple of weeks ago at ImageFest USA in San Antonio.

Please understand this does not mean that I am now certified. I am not. This is just half of the process. Now I have to submit my portfolio for review, and from what I have heard, the portfolio review is at least as tough as the exam.

Still, I am mighty relieved to have successfully completed this part of the challenge. I had hoped to take the exam last October and did start studying a little at that time, but I decided to accept a late wedding gig instead and my studying fell by the wayside. Before taking the test recently I had basically zero time to study. I walked out of the test in San Antonio feeling "cautiously optimistic", but, well, you never know. So—I'm happy, relieved and, yes, a wee bit proud of myself.

On to the portfolio!

Pseudo-tethered shooting with an Eye-Fi card, an iPad and ShutterSnitch

No boundaries

Originally uploaded by William Porter

This photo is one I took as a test of a wireless "tethered" shooting set-up I have going here. The ingredients are: my DSLR (in this case a Sony A550) with an Eye-Fi wireless SD card inside; and an iPad running the PhotoSnitch app.

Once it's launched on the iPad, PhotoSnitch communicates with the Eye-Fi card and vice versa, so that I take a photo, and a few seconds later, the photo appears on the iPad's screen (inside PhotoSnitch) where I can review it on the iPad's nice and relatively large screen rather than using the high-res but tiny screen on the camera.

I had a wee bit of trouble setting PhotoSnitch up initially. If you have previously configured your Eye-Fi card to send photos to your computer, you have to mount the card on the computer first, open the Eye-Fi Center software and basically follow the instructions to break that link. Only then do you put the card into t…

Blogging from my iPad

One of the big reasons I have decided to move my entire web site to Wordpress, is to make my site more accessible from mobile devices—for my clients but also for me. Well, I have now installed the Wordpress app on my iPad and this is my first post using that app. So far, so good.

Jeff Bridges and True Grit

Well, this is cool. Actor Jeff Bridges is also a photographer, and a pretty good one; this much I knew. He likes to use a very special panoramic camera called a Widelux. I don't use a Widelux but I do very much like panoramas, so I feel a small kinship with the guy. In addition, I am a huge fan of the movies of the Coen Brothers, and I loved True Grit, in which Bridges plays a starring role. With me so far?

So I was tickled today when I launched the App Store on my iPad and discovered that there's a True Grit app, and it's free. Even better than free, it's rather cool.

What I want to know is, how was this done? I guess I could try writing Mr Bridges and asking but I expect some clever programmer associated with the Coen Brothers's marketing staff is responsible for it. Anyway, it's pretty neat. If you have an iPad, check it out. If you like photography, well, some of the photos are rather nice. And of course, if you love movies, see True Grit.

Postscript (day l…

Tip: Viewing your photos online

Like it or not, it's a fact that most photos are now viewed on computer screens or on cell phones. I admit, I think it's really cool that I can take a photo with my cell phone here in Dallas, and two minutes later, my daughters in San Antonio and Lubbock can view it on their cell phones. And a lot of photos—including some of mine—aren't so special that it makes a big difference whether they are viewed online.

But there's a down side to digital delivery, as well, and the higher quality the photograph, the greater the likelihood that digital viewing will diminish your experience. Viewing good photos on your computer screen (or, heaven forbid! on your cell phone) is like listening to Mozart through bad speakers. You may think that a person's face looks orange when it shouldn't. Or you might not see detail where you think you should.

Sometimes, the problem you see might actually belong to the photo. But quite often, there's nothing wrong with the photo. The probl…

Tip: What to wear for an informal portrait

I photograph a lot of different types of portraits, and what you should wear for yours to a large degree depends on what kind of portrait it is. Obviously, if it's a bridal portrait whose purpose is to show off your gorgeous wedding gown, you will wear your wedding gown—and you will probably want to visit the hair dresser in the morning before our shoot. Graduates usually (although not always) will wear their gowns and First Communicants will wear their white dresses (girls) or suits (boys). If it's a portrait of you for work or at work, then wear what you wear to work—whether it's a suit, or a uniform, or blue jeans and your welding mask.

The following tips are mainly for folks who are having a more informal portrait done, such as an engagement portrait or a family portrait.

Be comfortable
We photographers often start by telling clients to wear something they are comfortable in, both physically comfortable (i.e. don't wear pants that are too tight) and personally, men…

Imagination trumps everything

I went out on a little photo-reconnaissance lately in near East Dallas and my daughter Catherine came along with me. I had the Sony A580; she, the Panasonic Lumix LX3. I've long wanted to stop and take a photo of a beautiful, whimsical sculpture right near the edge of downtown (near Woodall Rogers and Swiss) and so we stopped and took some shots. I was doing my little technical thing, thinking about the ways that the afternoon sun was hitting the metal sculpture and how to handle specular reflections, thinking about how to minimize distracting backgrounds, and so on. After a few exploratory shots, I got this:

I'm not unhappy with it. Actually I rather like it.

But i like my daughter's photo even better.

As I write this late at night, Catherine has not seen her photos yet. She went to bed a while ago and I just finished processing the photos from the shoot. But she told me at the time that she had tried to take a photo that made it look as if the statue was striding across dow…

Old house

Old house

Originally uploaded by William Porter

Perfection is unattainable but we strive for it anyway. I actually took my time and tried hard to center this photo dead on. And I failed. You might not notice it if you just glance at the photo and move on, which is what most people do. But if you look, you'll see that there is slightly more space between the column and the front door on the left side of the door than on the right; and slightly more space between the inner column and the window on the right than on the left. Blast.

Perspectival distortion (in this case, the keystone effect) was corrected in Lightroom 3. DxO Optics Pro is even better than Lightroom for this kind of thing but I was able to do well enough in Lightroom. The correction didn't introduce those slight variances that I talked about above. Those were simply a mistake at the moment of capture.

I really wanted to stand about six feet closer, but that would have put me into the middle of traffic.

Vindication: Desktop vs Laptop

For several years (roughly 2007-2009 and into 2010), I used an excellent Dell laptop (Latitude D820) as my primary computer for editing photos. It had a high-res (1600x1050), non-glossy screen, and I kept the screen calibrated. Sometimes I'd attach a second monitor, but often I would not. As I have several other computers, I generally tested color and detail by viewing on other computers, and then (the acid test) by printing. It worked okay, but I knew that it had many limitations. And so I resolved that, when it was time to replace the laptop, I was going to a desktop machine.

The time came in the late summer when my laptop started showing its age. I very nearly purchased a desktop running Windows 7 and I'm sure that would have been fine. But because I write regularly for Macworld, it made more sense for me to buy a new computer running the Mac OS. So I bought an iMac. I've been happy with my purchase, and I'm even happier with it now that I also have an iPad.

Today I r…

Three Masters from the '30s: You missed it

We made it to Fort Worth's marvelous Amon Carter Museum just in time. Today was the last day of the American Moderns exhibit, featuring photos from the 1930s by three masters: Berenice Abbott, Margaret Bourke-White and Walker Evans. My wife and daughter came, too, and we all enjoyed the exhibit very much.

Of the three I knew Evans the best already, having some books about him and also having read Now Let Us Praise Famous Men, his great collaborative project with writer James Agee. There's something a bit, I dunno, hard about Evans that accounts for my never quite feeling as comfortable with him as I do with Kertesz or Cartier-Bresson. Still he was a very great photographer and it was a major treat to see real, full-size prints of his photos rather than reproductions in a book.

I have never made an effort to acquire a general acquaintance with either Abbott or Bourke-White. I knew Abbott more through her important work on Eugene Atget; I have her book on Atget. I was pleased to…