The Times They Are A Changin'

 Interactive apps make learning more fun.
About three years ago, I saw the writing on the wall (for writers and photographers): The world of traditional book publishing was changing - thanks (or maybe "no thanks" as some traditional book publishers may say) to on-line training, apps, DVDs and other methods of e-publishing.

For someone who has written 36 books, and who was pleased when royalty checks arriving for 20 years, this was an important realization. Simply put: I had to change, or perhaps more accurately, I had to evolve as the publishing industry evolved. I certainly did not want to become a dinosaur – although I am happy with being called "The Godfather of Photography" (the name given to me by the young Trey Ratcliff of Stuck in Customs fame).

This was illustrated this morning when my friend David Leveen, who is working on a new Digital Rebel DVD with me, sent me this article: Confessions of a Publisher: "We're in Amazon's Sights and They're Going to Kill Us."

Minutes later, my friend Juan Pons, who co-hosts the DPE Podcast with me, sent me this article: Apple Announces Free iBooks Author OSX App.

It was a smart decision for me to move into the world of e-publishing - and I encourage photographers and authors to get into e-publishing and to self-publish. That means you!

 Pictures look great on the iPad and iPhone.
Although I will be getting into iBooks and more PDF e-books, here's why I currently like apps (which is why I have seven). By the way, you can do the same with iBooks:
• You have total control over content.
• You can update content.
• You can track results every day with programs like AppVis.
• You get paid monthly.
• Your pictures look better on the iPad than on paper.
• Your sales are worldwide. 
• You can sell at a lower price than a book so your audience is increased.
• Apps can also be viewed on Apple TV. Some, like my iHDR app, can also be viewed on an Apple computer.

AppVis lets you track app sales worldwide. I track sales daily. See what I mean about worldwide.
By the way, my apps are basically how-to e-books. It's fun and fast producing them.

My on-line classes at Kelby Training are also making my walks to the mailbox fun again - as they are for my friends at Kelby training.

PDF e-books are another self-publishing alternative. Sales of my first e-book – Travel and Nature Photography A - Z – with photographer Steve Dreyer has inspired us to do more in our Select Series. PDF e-books are easier and more affordable to produce than apps, and again, your pictures will look better on the iPad or a computer monitor than on a piece of paper.

In the past, book publishers offered distribution and publicity - a key to selling books. Today, you can be the co-distributor (through your site/blog, Amazon and iTunes) and PR person (through social media). Here is an article I wrote on social media about the importance of social media. 

So fellow traditional book authors, ya gotta change with the times. Here is a quote that drives home that point: You don't drown by falling in water; you only drown if you stay there. - Zig Ziglar

Explore the light and . . . please keep your head above water.


P.S. Is there a place for traditional book publishing? Sure. My Exploring the Light book, my favorite book, is still selling. And I am sure that my pal's Scott Kelby's books are selling well. But it's a fact that we are moving more and more toward e-publishing. So maybe the new expression will be "E-publish or perish."

New E-Book Project – A work in progress

Fear an ignorant man more than a lion. – Turkish Proverb

Always try to anticipate the action. To capture fast moving action, set your camera on rapid frame advance and focus tracking. To freeze the action, use a fast shutter speed of at least 1/500th of a second.

Lions Mating, Botswana
Canon 1D Mark II
Shutter Priority Mode
Canon 100-400mm IS lens @ 400mm
ISO 800
1/250th sec. @ f/8
• • •

I am working on a new e-book project - and could use your help.

It's an inspirational e-book that includes (per page):
• Photograph;
• Inspirational quote that matches the photograph;
• Subject name;
• Camera/exposure information.

What you see here is a sample page. The idea is to offer some inspiration/motivation and a very quick photography tip – info that you can have on your iPhone or iPad.

Basically, it's a feel-good e-book that helps you with your photography.

Whatta ya think of the idea? Please let me know here. Any ideas? For example, would you like to see a Photoshop tip, such as (in this case):

In Photoshop: Sharpen selectively. Here, sharpening only the lions made them stand out more in the scene. Sharpening the soft background would have detracted from the subjects and increased the noise.

Explore the light,

Version 1.1 of My Digital Photography App is Now Available

The first update for my first app - Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Buffet - is now available on iTunes. The update is free.

If you are new to the app, read about it here.

The always-expanding app (like a never ending story) include lessons on close-up photography and shooting in the snow.

Here is a preview.

Close-Up Tips

Before we set out to take some serious close-up pictures, we need to practice using different f-stops, shutter speeds and lighting at home. That's what I did before embarking on a trip to Florida to photograph butterflies.

I experimented with different camera, lens and flash (ringlight) settings at home so that when I arrived in Florida, I could focus most of my attention on composition, without having to worry about making camera adjustments. This picture of Spicebush Swallowtail was taken with my Canon 50mm macro lens and Canon Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX. That lens lets me get full-frame pictures off butterflies, as well as close-ups of a butterfly’s wings.

When shooting with a macro lens, depth-of-field is extremely limited – and important. Even at small f-stop, depth-of-field is limited. Use your depth-of-field preview button to check what’s in focus – and what’s out of focus – before you shoot.

A ringlight lets you shoot at small apertures for good depth-of-field. It also offers even or ratio lighting. Your choice!

Shooting in the Snow Tips

Don’t Be Fooled.
All that white can fool a camera's exposure meter into thinking that the scene is brighter than it actually is, therefore setting the camera for an underexposed picture. The remedy: Set your exposure compensation dial to +1. The increase should give you a better exposure, which, of course, you can fine-tune further with exposure compensation and in the digital darkroom.

Pack a Polarizing Filter.
Another important tip: Pack a polarizing filter to reduce glare on snow and ice.

Future 24/7 Photo Buffet updates will include:
Hyper HDR (because I am so hyper) and Flash Photography.

Hey, let me know what you'd like me to add to my 24/7 Photo Buffet app - or what apps you'd like to see.

Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Safari is in the works! It should be available in April.

Explore the Light,

It Takes a Lot of Peanuts to Feed an Elephant

My dad (91) has a great saying - one he has used since The Great Depression (1929): "It takes a lot of peanuts to feed an elephant." What he means: Don't think that making pennies is not important. Those pennies can turn into big bucks if you have enough of them.

I have actually followed my dad's advice since I was a kid. In today's economy, that's especially important – because there are many ways to make pennies. Here are my top three recommendations:

Make your own e-book and promote it to your family and friends - and to all those who might be interested in the topic. All you need to do is to make a PDF of your e-book, post a description on your site or blog, set a reasonable price, set up a paypal account, tweet and blog and post on facebook about it - and you are on your way to feeding the elephant. I did that today, with my son's help, for my Life Lessons book, and we already sold our first copy – for a few "peanuts."

One of my friend, William Neill, has sold more than a few copies of his e-book, Impression of Light, at OutdoorPhotoGear.com - and my friend at the Digital Photo Experience, Juan Pons, is working on a collection of his best tips and techniques for his first e-book. Now it's your turn! What ya waiting for?

If your e-book does well, or if you just want to have a few copies to sell, you can make a hard copy at an on-line lab. I have found that Nations Photo Lab does an excellent job. What's more, a real book publisher might see your book and want to publish it. You never know. Remember: Your pictures do you no good buried on your hard drive.

Associates and Affiliates Programs
Many companies (just about all of them) have affiliates programs that give you a very small percentage (peanuts) of a sale for the recommendation. Amazon.com is just one. All you have to do is go to the company's web site to find out if they offer an affiliates program. Post links on your web site and blog. More peanuts for the elephant.

Develop an iPhone App
Hey, there are plenty of iPhone app developers out there. If you have an idea for an app, find a developer! (I met mine in a helicopter in Maui!) If you make a few "peanuts" on several thousand copies of your app, you'll be doing okay. Hey, you gotta dream and shoot for the stars - which is what I do every day. After all, there are kids out there doing this!! If they can do it, you can do it.

Feed the Elephant,

P.S. Hey, you may not earn enough peanuts to buy a Lamborghini, but you may make enough for a few tanks of gas for a Hybrid - and those tanks of gas could actually take you all the way across the country. Hybrids are that fuel efficient! I know. I have a Honda Hybrid.