DVD in the Making: Shooting HD Videos with the Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 7D

Juan Pons and I just wrapped up day one of our shoot for our upcoming DVD: Canon DSLR Video Master Class. We'll be sharing our best tips, tricks and techniques for shooting HD videos with the Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 7D.

Here's a behind-the-scenes look at our lighting set up for the intro segment: The Westcott Spider TD5 light kit positioned for shadowless lighting.

Westcott's Dave Piazza is coming here to Croton with more cool lighting accessories on Thursday to shoot a segment on lighting for video - indoors and out.

Quick tip on lighting: The larger the light, the softer the light; the closer the light, the softer the light.

Click here to see our world famous (ha ha) Christmas cheetah movie. Just an example of the kind of super-sharp videos we'll be showing in our DVD. Yes! We will have more action in our other vidoes :-)

Explore the light,

Thank You Magan Padilla

I just saw this on Facebook - a post by Megan Padilla.

Thank you Megan for the kind words......

What Makes a Great Photographer.

What grabs you when you first look at a photograph? There could be several different aspects or angles you could take a photograph at to grab the persons attention. In reality there are so many things I could not list them all right now but I did get a chance to sit in with Rick Sammon a master photographer and get his points of view on what makes a good photographer.

Rick Sammon is a Canon Explorer of Light, has published 36 books, and is one of the most active photographers/lecturers on the planet. Rick is a member of The Explorers Club which means he has photographed in over 100 countries and co-founded The Digital Photography Experience with wildlife photographer and high-tech guru Juan Pons (whom I also had a chance to meet.)

When asked about his photo specialty, Rick says, “My specialty is not specializing.” That's because he does it all. His philosophy is like mine to never give up and keep after your goals. It seems his hard work has paid off and not failed him yet. He likes to change up his style and not be very predictable.

In his lecture there was about 5 of us so he had more of a chance to really ask us all questions and talk one on one. We were all curious like little kids at the edge of our seat! Here were some pointers from Rick Sammon.

Embrace the situation
Tell the story by moving
Your attitude and others attitudes will affect the situation. Stay in good Spirits.
Isolate main subject from background
Set goals in photography
Points of view
Never underestimate the importance of an interesting subject.
Good Composition
A creative Crop
Careful Focus
Play with light and controls
Have Fun!

The first image I chose of his is a sunset in Kenya. It is similar to images I like to shoot or am used to shooting because of the sunset and trees in my area. I like how the sun is barely peeking over the mountain and the reflection is very bold. The second photo I chose of Rick’s was of two lions fighting. I am not sure if it is over territory, food, or something else but he definitely captured the anger and furiousness in that moment. He is not afraid of the action and that gives him the ability to capture great action shots. The third shot I chose of his collection was an HDR image that illustrates his great capabilities in Photoshop and the digital darkroom. This photograph really pops but it’s a point of view as if I am a ghost that haunts the halls of an old hotel turned into a restaurant. This photograph seems as if it has a creepy dark secret lurking behind it but also a bit of I’m still alive with the vibrant colors. The last photograph I chose was of a woman in the Amazon. In the seminar he showed us all the shots he took and told us that mostly all the woman in this village were topless or completely naked. I guess his son was 10 years old at the time and got a bit embarrassed by it. That was not something he was used to seeing but Rick explained to him that it was a part of their culture. Rick still managed to capture a beautiful portrait of a young girl in her Indian jewelry, flowers, and face paint. The reason why the Indians face paint is so the spirits in the rainforest would recognize them and protect them.

Rick Sammon has been to many countries and has had many opportunities. He has been blessed to have his family along for the ride as well. Rick Sammons photography has a wide range of what you might expect to look at. He has many beautiful images that display light, animals, people, portraits, wedding, wildlife, HDR, and much more. Rick’s collection is what I hope to aspire one day; a wide variety of exquisite work.

Be My Guest Monday 11/29/10: Laurie Shupp

It's "Be My Guest Monday," the day of the week that's turned over to a talented guest blogger for a quick tip.

Today's guest: Laurie Shupp

One of the best tips I have found to help improve my photography (and to spend less time in front of the computer), is to make sure to be aware of everything that is around and behind the subject. Pay attention to any distracting background elements and do some minor cleanup if needed. Also, patience can be your best friend when it comes to capturing that decisive moment. Take some extra time to wait for the light or for your subject to make that special connection with you. This will make an ordinary snapshot into a artistic image that you can be proud of. (Even a Vulture can look pretty!)

In this case, I moved my position so that the background was in shadow and the light fell across the bird so that my subject stood out. There was some minor cleanup as you can see from the before and after image, but that took me only seconds to fix.


I used Nik Software's Viveza 2 to quickly tone down some of the light from the right and left side of the image by using a Control Point to bring down the brightness. Adding a little Structure with another Control Point on my bird helped to bring out some of the wonderful texture and patterns in the feathers.

So, the next time you are behind the camera, make sure you are aware of what is around and behind your subject as well.

• • •

My friend Laurie Rubin Shupp is base in San Diego, California where she spends her weekdays as the Education Project Manager for Nik Software and on the weekend, puts on her photographer's hat. Click here to see more of her award-winning images.

To learn more about Nik Software click here – and use this code to save 15% on your orders: RSAMMON

Explore the light,

P.S. I love those Nik Control Points, too. I used 'em on this image, which I took at the San Diego Zoo.

Sammon's Cyber Monday Savings

Today is Cyber Monday – so I figure I should offer a special. Here goes.

You can save $100 on my Croton-on-Hudson Workshop if you sign up before the end of the year. Click here for info.

You'll need to use the following code when you send in your application to get the discount: CM10.

I hope to see you – and shoot with you – in Croton-on-Hudson, NY.

Explore the light,

P.S. You can also save on Nik plug-ins and Photomatix - and you still have a few days to save big time on Topaz's lab's new InFocus plug-in. Click here for info.