Environment, fashion, and style in New Orleans. Can you believe the riches? by Zack Smith

 Tyla and David on the streets of New Orleans where environment, style, and fashion meet.

Tyla and David on the streets of New Orleans where environment, style, and fashion meet.

Surrounded by the riches of scene and comforted by the periphery of environment we are spoiled photographers in New Orleans. Walk anywhere with a shallow depth of field mind and keen eye for focus and you will find an abundance of your best photographs yet to be taken. Bring a pen or bring a pad, you're gonna be jotting down intersections, street names, and GPS coordinates until you run out of room or time. There are so many. Too many. 

I have a few images to share from a recent fashion branding shoot with Canal Place in New Orleans where I got to work with some top tier talent in front and behind the camera. Over an 8 hour period we shuffled our crew to 5 locations and created some of my favorite location portraits yet. I brought with me my trusty Paul C. Buff Alien Bees mostly for their light weight and ease of "run and gun" mode. I was using a single softbox and reflector on most images and balancing the sun with my Variable Neutral Density Filter set. As you can see I am not a big fan of "LOOK AT MY STROBES" when I shoot portraits. I think using a subtle lighting approach to environmental portraits for branding is the key to make the clients product shine and the city do it's thing. Here are a few I can share, but first the credits:

Client: Canal Place

Design Agency: Deep Fried Advertising 

Talent Agency: FiftyTwo45 / Talent: Tyla, David, and Megan

Talent Agency: ATA / Talent: Caleb

Sylist: Andi Eaton / Hair: Emily Cambre / MUA: Artistry By Camille

Assistants: Sarrah Danziger, Bruce France, Matthew Seymour


See how the client uses the images on it's website...canalplacestyle.com

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Do you want to learn portrait photography in New Orleans? CLICK HERE 

Natural Light Portrait Photography Workshop is LIVE now! Sign up for our July 21st class in New Orleans, don't miss this opportunity to learn!

Photographing Hats is Old Hat: Product Photography Gallery by Zack Smith

I wanted to use this blog entry as a follow up to my Product Photography Facebook LIVE Tutorial that aired on June 6th. If you missed it you can CLICK HERE to view the video and see the gear list, then come back here to see the final images! I partnered with hat maker Colby Hebert to photograph a collection of his new line of hat wear. This collection of one-of-a-kind hats we photographed at my studio needed to be shot a specific way so that the composition, lighting, and editing all fit the same aesthetic. I based my lighting scheme on a few photos he showed me from a recent ad campaign that he liked.

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Creating the Photographic Dream and Managing Client Expectations: A Dance Worth Learning

This style of product photography gave the hats a uniform look and could easily be integrated into his social media advertising and website. Any time I meet with a client to talk on any type of shoot, especially product photography, it is so important to understand their goals and creative ideas. Lucky for me, Colby had a very specific look in mind and I could replicate that at my studio...right next door!

Product Photography Lighting in the Studio!

To give Colby the look he desired, I chose to go with a large octabank softbox and a grid with my trusty Einstein 640 from Paul C. Buff. I like this particular light because of the consistent color and light. Now this might not make a difference to me as much in some shoots where I am shooting all day on location, changing sets and lights. But when you are photographing in a studio with a set background, props, and products from the same line or company - you need to have your most important variables on LOCKDOWN! Having a consistent light power and color output from your head every time will ensure that Hat #1 looks just the same as Hat #100 - and when your client wants to roll through the images on social media one after another (as expressed by mine) this is very important.

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I also had a White Lightning 800 head with a smaller strip softbox that was about 45º to the back left of the hat for some light fill on the brim, and I was not lighting my slate grey background so the hats would just pop naturally. My camera was secure to my tripod and I was tethered to view on my monitor to my left.

There was a time where I'd say "NO WAY" on a photoshoot to my clients. Now, I say "HELL YES"

Having a monitor to view your images in front of your client has been a game changer for me. As I alluded to in the live video I really don't mind clients looking over my shoulder on a shoot. I always take time to explain to them the detailed editing and color correcting that takes place after and showing them as we shoot ensures that we got the shot. When I was less confident with my editing skills I was very reluctant to show anyone what I was getting since there would be considerable amounts of editing...or "saving" the shot. The more confident I became in my photography and in the communication with the client, the better aligned we were on the expectations. I wasn't born technically confident of my gear, this comes with time, patience, and alot of practice.

I hope you enjoy a few of the hats above - you can see more on Colby's Instagram Account. After the shoot I wanted to get a few images of the production side of Colby's operation, where he works and what it looks like. We also got some great portraits. Here are some of my favorite. 

If you are looking to tell the story of your business, Email me now!

Wether your business revolves around services or products, there is a uniqueness we can capture with well informed and creative photography! That uniqueness is YOU and I am am all ears! 

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VIDEO:How To Creatively Do Product Photography In Your Studio or Home by Zack Smith

I continue to count the blessings that shine on my life since I have moved my studio to Magazine Street. It has been a rewarding experience being able to do business headshots in New Orleans for so many entrepreneurs, business owners, attorneys, and realtors while getting to hear their stories and learn about their profession. One of those other blessings is meeting the talented and hard working hat maker Colby Hebert from New Iberia. Meeting that guy and hearing that accent I knew the block would be c'est bon.

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Education through photography workshops to empower the next generation of storytellers. by Zack Smith

 Robert Smith plays to photographers and the morning sun in Jackson Square in New Orleans, LA ©2018 Zack Smith Photography

The only way to truly capture the heart and soul of a city is to immerse yourself in it.  Why be a bystander watching history pass you by when you can be in the middle of it, photographing the magic up close? 

From the charming streets of Uptown to the magic of the historic French Quarter, New Orleans is known around the world for it's iconic music, extraordinary food, and vibrant street culture.  It is no wonder why New Orleans is revered as a street photographer's walking dream.  I am and will forever be grateful to call the City of New Orleans my home, as it has given me inspiration and purpose to create some of my most compelling photographs that tell the deepest and most touching stories.                                                                                                                   

 Zack Smith Photography Workshops, Des Allemands, LA 2016

Zack Smith Photography Workshops, Des Allemands, LA 2016

From my experience,  great documentary photography is all about the relationships. Being present as a witness to document these precious moments to tell these stories would never have the effect it does without the relationships made with the cultural makers and doers of the community. I strive to empower my subjects by crediting them in print and online use, in addition to supplying them a digital and/or print image. I feel this is the most effective way we can give back to those we photograph and continue to strengthen the relationship between photographer and subject.

 Zack Smith Photography Workshops. Blues legend Little Freddie King and Zack Smith. ©David Altschul 2016

Zack Smith Photography Workshops. Blues legend Little Freddie King and Zack Smith. ©David Altschul 2016

It is with this philosophy that I have created The New Orleans Photography Experience Workshop. This workshop is the culmination of my 20 years of creative exploration, visual storytelling, photography education, and relationship building resulting in a one of a kind photography workshop offered nowhere else in the world. This workshop will be used as a platform to show how working with your subjects as collaborators within their intimate environment can create more effective and empowering photography.

 . Zack Smith Photography Workshops. The Storyville Brass Band, Bourbon Street, New Orleans. 

. Zack Smith Photography Workshops. The Storyville Brass Band, Bourbon Street, New Orleans. 

My goal has always been to empower a culture of technically sound photographers who shoot with intention and purpose. If I can make one person see the reward of storytelling through empathy and “giving back” I have done my job in completing the circle of knowledge, mentorship, and service. - Zack

Zack Smith is a photographer, producer and educator in New Orleans, LA. Zack's studio on Magazine Street is a full service studio for business headshots, lifestyle branding, and photography workshops.

For More Information on The New Orleans Photography Workshop Experience go to

https://www.zacksmith.com/new-orleans-photography-experience-workshop

 

Best of Fest! French Quarter Fest 2018 Photo Gallery by Zack Smith

 Olympia Brass Band leads the opening parade to begin French Quarter Fest 2018. ©ZSP

Olympia Brass Band leads the opening parade to begin French Quarter Fest 2018. ©ZSP

French Quarter Fest Photo Gallery is Personal...

Wow what a year at French Quarter Fest 2018. Three amazing and beautiful days could not be overshadowed by one nasty, wet, and windy one. The festival ended up cancelling Saturday's event, but we succeeded in still finding the magic during 3 days instead of 4. You might notice less images this year but the energy and moments are still evident.

Even though I am putting in over 10 miles walking per day for my client, French Quarter Festivals Inc, I always have one of those feet pointed toward my art. In order to capture the essence of an event such as French Quarter Fest, I have to be constantly scanning the streets of the French Quarter and looking everyone in the eye for that magic moment that is ABOUT to happen. I can't be satisfied with what is happening, because by the time the shutter clicks that moment has left the world. I have to anticipate. 

 Louis Michot of the Lost Bayou Ramblers performs on Day 1 of French Quarter Fest. ©ZSP

Louis Michot of the Lost Bayou Ramblers performs on Day 1 of French Quarter Fest. ©ZSP

The compositions I find are actually years in the making. It takes years to understand and anticipate light, backgrounds, and personalities. I take great comfort in knowing I will  never perfect it and every day is an adventure trying to chase...that....one....shot. I hope you enjoy my 2018 French Quarter Fest Gallery and join the chase with me...

 Olympia Brass Band leads the opening parade to begin French Quarter Fest 2018. ©ZSP

Olympia Brass Band leads the opening parade to begin French Quarter Fest 2018. ©ZSP

 My friend and yours, the amazing Joseph Lastie Jr. on snare drum. ©ZSP

My friend and yours, the amazing Joseph Lastie Jr. on snare drum. ©ZSP

 Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha Cha's perform on the opening day of FQF2018. ©ZSP

Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha Cha's perform on the opening day of FQF2018. ©ZSP

I mostly use natural light to document a festival but there are times I need strobes to fill in shadows and equalize the overall exposure of an image. In the image above, and most from the Cajun/Zydeco stage, I utilize two mounted Paul C. Buff 1600 Alien Bees with reflectors. I am able to secure them with grip mounts to the poles on the stage truss. Using a Pocketwizard PlusX system I am fire them off on stage, and even when I am far from the performer giving me a great backlight!

 Sweet Crude pose for a quick group shot backstage after their performance. ©ZSP

Sweet Crude pose for a quick group shot backstage after their performance. ©ZSP

 Alexis Marceaux of Sweet Crude perform on opening day of French Quarter Fest 2018. ©ZSP

Alexis Marceaux of Sweet Crude perform on opening day of French Quarter Fest 2018. ©ZSP

 Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha Cha's at FQF 2018. ©Zack Smith Photography

Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha Cha's at FQF 2018. ©Zack Smith Photography

 Lost Bayou Ramblers perform at French Quarter Fest 2018. ©ZSP

Lost Bayou Ramblers perform at French Quarter Fest 2018. ©ZSP

 Lost Bayou Ramblers pose for our annual family photo with crowd at FQF2018. ©ZSP

Lost Bayou Ramblers pose for our annual family photo with crowd at FQF2018. ©ZSP

 Grammy Winning Louisiana artists: Andre Michot, Chubby Carrier, Louis Michot. ©ZSP2018

Grammy Winning Louisiana artists: Andre Michot, Chubby Carrier, Louis Michot. ©ZSP2018

 A MUST SEE set at French Quarter Fest each year: Mario Abney at Royal Sonesta.

A MUST SEE set at French Quarter Fest each year: Mario Abney at Royal Sonesta.

 John "Spidey 504" Sanpietro performs with the Red Hot Brass Band at French Quarter Fest 2018.

John "Spidey 504" Sanpietro performs with the Red Hot Brass Band at French Quarter Fest 2018.

 Big Queen Laurie and Wild Man Smoke of the Red Cheyenne, FQF 2018. ©Zack Smith

Big Queen Laurie and Wild Man Smoke of the Red Cheyenne, FQF 2018. ©Zack Smith

 Corey Mack puts down a mean show on Decatur St. - this blew my MIND! http://coreymack.us/

Corey Mack puts down a mean show on Decatur St. - this blew my MIND! http://coreymack.us/

 Sean Ardoin putting on another high energy positive Zydeco show!

Sean Ardoin putting on another high energy positive Zydeco show!

 Garden District Jazz Band and French Quarter Fest 2018. ©Zack Smith Photography

Garden District Jazz Band and French Quarter Fest 2018. ©Zack Smith Photography

So you might see alot of light that appears "not" natural and you are right, it isn't. At festivals I usually have an assistant with me holding a Paul C. Buff strobe with a battery pack attached. This year my assistant, photographer/musician Chet Overall, had a 1600 White Lightning, Vagabond Battery, and a Beauty Dish on a stand and we used this when I shot street work. Having the added light to fill in shadows and create contrast really help solidify my style and vision.

 Storyville String Band with Seva Venet at Preservation Hall. ©ZSP

Storyville String Band with Seva Venet at Preservation Hall. ©ZSP

 NOCCA Jazz Ensemble bassist at French Quarter Fest 2018. ©Zack Smith Photography

NOCCA Jazz Ensemble bassist at French Quarter Fest 2018. ©Zack Smith Photography

 NOCCA student musicians David and Diji after their French Quarter Fest 2018 performance.

NOCCA student musicians David and Diji after their French Quarter Fest 2018 performance.

 Paul Sanchez poses with the Film Fest poster promoting his film; Nine Lives.

Paul Sanchez poses with the Film Fest poster promoting his film; Nine Lives.

 I would definitely buy life insurance from Kevin, but maybe not a tattoo...

I would definitely buy life insurance from Kevin, but maybe not a tattoo...

 A young fan holds sheet music for Charlie Halloran that was blowing in the wind. ©Zack Smith Photography

A young fan holds sheet music for Charlie Halloran that was blowing in the wind. ©Zack Smith Photography

 My assistant Chet Overall says "dude look at that light" - and he was right. Soft sun reflections from the Federal Courthouse struck this fest goer just right...

My assistant Chet Overall says "dude look at that light" - and he was right. Soft sun reflections from the Federal Courthouse struck this fest goer just right...

 Dancing in the Dusk at French Quarter always saves the last dance...for you.

Dancing in the Dusk at French Quarter always saves the last dance...for you.

Want to see More Festival Photography?

GO HERE for my 2017 BEST OF FRENCH QUARTER FEST

GO HERE for Best of SATCHMO FEST 2016

INTERVIEW: Talking social media, photography, the "full buyout" and branding in the 'new' New Orleans by Zack Smith

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I was honored to have been a recent guest on the acclaimed and long running podcast "It's a Good Life Babe" where hosts Geoff and Joel sit down with New Orleans makers, movers, and shakers at their living room table to talk shop. I was more candid than I ever have been in an interview, talking opening about photography rates, social media, business headshots, and my new studio on Magazine Street. We talked openly, off the cuff, and let it all hang out on this podcast. I hope you will listen! 

We even touched upon my exciting upcoming New Orleans Photography Experience Workshop and why it's important to "credit the culture" - CLICK HERE to learn more about that...then listen below!

Being a New Orleans creative means being able to balance the business of photography and the creativity of the spirit.

What I most enjoy about what I do, solving the visual problem and creating the dream for my clients (thank you Frank Relle), has everything to with being given the opportunity to listen. I have the unique opportunity to listen to people, mostly strangers of different ilk, explain their dreams and desires of how they and their brand want to look. Only given a few context clues, I must then sleuth around their mind using contextual words and images to bring out the true vision. Sound complicated...it's not. Business branding, lifestyle photography, fine art and even headshots can be rewarding to both sides in terms of delivery of goods (photos) and services (the actual photo shoot) when done right. I hope you'll listen to the podcast and comment here!

Product Review: Stellar Phoenix Recovery Software by Zack Smith

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Recovery begins with admitting we were wrong

As professional photographers we don't like to admit it. We don't talk about it much, but it happens. It happens to all of us. It's the "Oops I Formatted Again" or the "Where did my file go" moment that we all dread. If you are in this business long enough you will accidentally delete or format files at one point in your life but luckily there's Stellar Phoenix Recovery to the rescue. Before I tell you how great this product is, let me tell you how NOT great my day was last week.

As a busy commercial photographer and studio owner in New Orleans I maintain a healthy mix of active shooting, studio management, and self-promotion. I am constantly trying to update my online presence and social media with new videos and photography that tell the story of my business.  

Staying competitive on Magazine Street means keeping it clean, and documenting your work.

This weekend I took the time to paint the floor of my studio windows and gave them a coat of fresh white paint. My studio is located on Magazine Street, a very busy and competitive commercial area and I need my brand to be seen in the right way. After the paint dried I put my old Rollieflex on a tripod and arranged a window display to be proud of. This was a perfect moment to snap some high res photos of the display for a new social media post. The sun was perfectly shining behind my logo and the often busy Magazine Street was void of cars and people! I couldn’t believe it, finally a moment of peace and clarity to showcase my studio in the best way!

After I took some photos of the front of the shop I got a call from a client, and then the day took over. Later on in the day my first headshot client came in and was in a rush so before I started shooting, I formatted the card that was in the camera, forgetting about my window box photo shoot from earlier! I have never seen my studio look so good, and the conditions were PERFECT! Damn!

Stellar Phoenix Recovery Software to the rescue!

Never fear, I had Stellar Phoenix Recovery loaded on my Mac and went to work recovering the files. The interface for Stellar Phoenix is so easy to use, and when I launched the application I pressed the big blue button to start scanning my Secure Digital card for the lost files. Stellar Phoenix begins the scan, trying to find my files, and although I only shot about 10 files, it began finding images I had deleted from previous shoots! I was impressed at how fast the process took and how easy it was to recover my important files.

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After the scan, the application showed me files from my formatted card and I easily navigated to the exact date I shot my window display. The software is very easy to read and I immediately was able to select the files I wanted and recover!

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My business is run successfully on the security and safety of my photographs. My files are a direct investment into my business and my future and I feel more confident about my future when I have Stellar Phoenix Recovery on hand for the times I need them! What are you waiting for...here they are! https://www.stellarinfo.com/mac-photo-recovery.php

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2018 Digital Camera Buying Guide For Beginners and The Upgrader by Zack Smith

Trust me, Your new digital camera just wants to be held...

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Did I come on too strong there? Or not strong enough? There are so many websites out there you can consult to help you with your next digital camera purchase but I am glad you found this one. In the big scheme of the things it's not about how high the ISO will go, how many frames per second your drive can exceed. It's all about ARE YOU GOING TO PICK THIS CAMERA UP AND USE IT!?? Have you ever thought about doing a Google search on "what's the best camera for big hands" or "what camera menu is easiest to understand for beginners?". If not, I think that's where you need to start...but first keep reading.

 I have been teaching photography to beginners and professionals since the D.O.D. (Dawn of Digital) in 2002 and I have seen all sizes, shapes, sensors, and shutters. My approach to finding the right digital camera is simple - which camera will you use? It's just that simple. Each year digital camera technology makes amazing advancements in low ISO noise, low light shooting, sensor size, and autofocus while keeping the barrier to entry manageable.

Your High ISO full frame don't mean JACK if you have no desire to hold me....

So that's your camera talking, not me. I'm taken, by Canon, Hasselblad, and Cambo. Buy you still have a chance, a fighting chance. There's so many digital cameras out there that claim to be the best, but if you have no desire to pick up the camera and use it, the bells and whistles fall on deaf ears. Many types of photography can be done really well on a standard DSLR camera, but it is up to you what you purchase and there's alot out there. Keep in mind, the best camera you have is the one in your hand..or in this case – the one you can afford. Great photography is not about wether you have a cropped sensor or full frame. Great photography is not about Canon vs Nikon. Finding out what those tools are can be daunting, but hopefully I can help with my over 15 years experience in photographic education. I like to make hard concepts simple, so let's give it try. 

If you are interested in taking the next step in purchasing a digital camera, please contact me to setup a FREE consultation before you spend all that money? You can go to my CONTACT page to setup your call.

If you are near New Orleans, Louisiana and you are wanting to learn how to use your digital camera, you can join my upcoming Learn Digital Photography in New Orleans which has two sessions beginning in March and then again in November. You can read more about this photography workshop and sign up HERE

How Do You Choose Which Digital Camera Brand to Buy?

I don’t think I would ever consider myself a “gearhead”. You know, the kind of person who fauns and obsesses over the new tech or new gadget that hits the market or even the type of photographer who likes to amass a ton of lenses. I do have to say, I like the fact now that I have all the lenses I need to feed my artistic vision and complete any client requests. But one recent purchase I made brought me to another level; when I went from a cropped sensor to full frame.

Just the increase in sensor size while using the same Canon L-series lenses showed me a whole new possibility when recording more pixels in a variety of lighting situations. My low light photography just looked better, my portrait's eyes rendered more detail and the skin tones…wow, the skin tones! My full frame sensor was able to record more information, thus allowing me better sharpness, contrast, and broaden my artistic expression.

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Now I know that most folks are not at the level where they feel they need to make a jump from cropped sensor to full frame. Some photographers are still wondering if they need to make the upgrade from their smartphone or a point and shoot digital. Either way, I find that when your resulting images no longer match up with your creative impulses maybe it’s time to broaden your camera horizons and consider an upgrade.

When you decide to upgrade your photographic life, or find yourself at this creative chasm, you will likely find that you will need to purchase a new camera. Because we are living in such a wonderful technologically advanced era, you are probably going to want to go with a Digital SLR or Mirrorless camera. The barrier to entry into high resolution cameras that function well in any situation is low and ripe for the picking and waiting on you!

Best Tips for Buying A New Digital Camera or Upgrading your current model

1. The camera must feel good in your hands or you won't use it!

Consider the weight, size, and if you are going to add on lenses or flashes later...these thing add up! I always suggest going by you local camera store, Best Buy or Wal-Mart to hold the latest models and see how they feel. If you are passionate about buying local then you have the tools at your disposal. 

2. The price must fit your budget and not break your bank

Always consider you will by an extra lens one day, or even a new larger capacity memory card to hold more images. All of these prices are online and easily researched.

3. Compare the relevant technical specifications that are important to you! 

Always compare: resolution, optical zoom magnification (NOT digital zoom! - NOT a factor), battery life, built in flash vs hot shoe, and what lens comes in the package. Does it have built in WiFi? I love having WiFi built in as it lets me send images directly from my camera to my phone to my social media posts!

4. Is Video Important?

Most semi-pro and professional digital cameras have a video option but all are not created equal. Think about if you want to shoot your own high quality (sometimes 4K resolution) video as well as high quality still photographs, and go from there. More on which camera to buy if you lean towards video later.

 

After teaching hundreds of new digital photographers there are only a few features that allow you to be creative, and so many features that are just bells and whistles meant to increase you desire to buy. When we start shooting RAW we immediately negate most of the features marketed in so many of the new digital cameras. What are left with is understanding aperture, shutterspeed, ISO, focus, framing, and composition. If the camera feels good, fits in your budget, 

This isn’t anything against analog cameras, I still shoot plenty with my Hasselblad and 4x5, but the latest greatest digital cameras allow you as the photographer so much resolution, focus, lens options and the ability to bring your creativity to the next level. As a commercial photographer that focuses on lifestyle and corporate branding, I need the instant image to create on the go and turn around the job on very tight deadlines. Just know, there is so much out there, but you still need to know what to look for when purchasing a camera. In this article, I hope to show you some of the best tips for buying a digital camera.

To begin, here are some of the things you need to look for and consider when buying a digital SLR camera:

Why is Digital Camera resolution and Quality important?

We’ve all taken a picture from our smart phone or our current camera and realized later that it wasn’t a great quality shot when we view it on a computer or in an editing software. It’s difficult to shoot action, low light, or complicated scenes with a camera that has limited control. You generally see a lot of noise or an overall softness in your images. This has a lot do with resolution.

Camera resolution is measured in megapixels, which are equivalent to one million pixels. The higher the number of megapixels, the better resolution your camera will have since the pixel is the smallest unit of measurement that records information…or let’s say LIGHT. It is important to choose a camera that has a resolution that allows you to create and present in the best way possibly.

Some companies make it simple by labeling their cameras as “high resolution.” Canon’s EOS

5DS R boasts a resolution of 50.6 megapixels, for example. This is considered high resolution, but is it practical for you? I would think not – unless you are upgrading for the need to make large prints, or crop in to your images for greater detail not found on your current camera. There is the question of budget. The 5DS-R is almost $4,000 for the body. Maybe not in your range, but this is the top end of the camera spectrum – there are so many other options for you.

What is a camera sensor size and Why Is it Important?

The camera’s sensor size can determine the resolution and the quality of the photos you take with your new camera.

Camera sensors are located inside of the camera and are used to record the image you see through your viewfinder to your memory card. If the sensor is bigger, there is a good chance it can capture more information and clearer photos. Larger Sensor = Higher Quality and most of the time, Higher Price. So if you are a photographer who is looking to upgrade your quality immediately – going from a cropped sensor (15.6mm x 23.5mm) to full frame (24mm x 36mm) will drastically do that!

 Take a look at my go to cameras: Canon G7x for my 'walkaround' shooting, my backup full frame 6D and my workhorse 5D Mark IV for my commercial and larger photo shoots. ©Zack Smith

Take a look at my go to cameras: Canon G7x for my 'walkaround' shooting, my backup full frame 6D and my workhorse 5D Mark IV for my commercial and larger photo shoots. ©Zack Smith

A lot of photographers like to hold on to their cropped sensor cameras even after they upgrate because they are great for those who are taking photos farther away, as the “crop factor” will extend your focal length by 1.6x. With a larger sensor, it is less likely that you will encounter noise and other problems when zooming and cropping in post-editing vs a smaller sensor. However, cameras with larger sensors are typically more expensive, so be sure you choose the camera with the sensor size that will work best with the type of photography you’ll be doing.

What does a good Digital SLR camera cost?

A great camera package (body, lens, batteries and a card) can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000s to $10,000s of dollars depending on what you’re getting. The price of your new DSLR camera needs to be something you know you can afford or easily pay off. If you are a professional or a semi-pro looking to upgrade, you can write off this purchase on your taxes if you are an LLC or Sole Proprietor. This is where deciding what you’re photographing comings in handy. You can buy DSLR packages that come with a 18-55mm lens, or even a 2407mm lens that will work as a great starter package. I find that camera manufactures have way too many options for photographers who want to get in at the $600 - $1000 range. Once you get above the $1K digital camera range the options get slimmer, functions and features get more easy to read and the choices become clearer. That's wonderful, but sometimes this exceeds our budget and we need to buy a digital camera under $1,000. Don't worry, they are out there.

What are some DSLR Camera modes and features to look for when purchasing?

It is always great when your camera can operate in several types of conditions and record several different file formats. This is something we don’t get to access very much in smartphones and some point and shoots. Control over our shooting conditions and light is very important! When you go to purchase your camera, be sure you have options like Manual Mode, Aperture Priority, and even quick key shooting modes like: sport mode, portrait mode, and scenic mode.

Most cameras come with a starter kit and one lens. That lens is usually the equivalent of a standard zoom lens that has a focal length of 28mm-80mm (or in cropped sensor language – 18mm-55mm) This is great when you’re just starting out and you can add lenses later. You can get cropped sensor or full frame sensor camera starter packs.

What is a better camera to get, Canon or Nikon?

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This might not matter to many, but if you are used to shooting on a certain type of camera, you should take brand in mind when purchasing only from a user experience and interface matter. I only say this because there is always the debate in Canon vs Nikon. Now you have to include Sony, Panasoninc, Minolta and Olympus into that debate and once you do, discussion gets a little tricky. I do believe that with any of these cameras you will have success – but not all camera menu’s and interfaces are created equal. I have been teaching beginner photography since before digital was popular. Since the early 2000’s I have taught on almost every camera invented and I find that if you don’t buy a camera that’s easy to use or that is “learnable” then you will not want to shoot with it!

In my opinion, Canon has the easiest User Interface and Experience in navigating the menu modes and quick keys. Nikon comes in at a distant second only because the amount of features offered in even the most beginner Nikon, rival that of a professional camera in Canon, Minolta, or even Olympus. There are features there that I feel don’t make you a better photographer and are only added there to confuse and boost the “user control” factor which doesn’t say much. So..that’s my 2 cents!

What are my favorite DSLR Cameras on the Market?

NIKON D7200 - $859 MSRP - Body Only - I like this camera due to it's 24.2 megapixel quality, and with a APC-S sensor (23.5 x 15.6) and especially for the fact it has built in Wifi. With 51 Auto Focus points you shouldn't miss a shot!

NIKON D610 - $1,400 MSRP - Body Only / $2,000 - w/ 28-85mm lens - Nikon's entry level full frame camera boasts 24.3 megapixels, 100-6400 ISO range, 6 frames per second, wireless adapter (no built in wifi), weather sealed, pop up flash and you also get Nikon's ultra confusing menu. Ok, sorry not sorry.

CANON 77D - $800 MSRP - Body Only - I like this camera again for it's 24.2 megapixel sensor, but the smaller sensor size (22.3 x 14.9) will give you more zoom on your focal length. This camera has a 45 auto focus points and an easy to use menu (ok I am biased here!) but if you want to spend a little more and stay with cropped sensor and ADD weather seal, faster shutter speeds, and frames per second:

CANON 7D Mark II - $1,500 (on sale) for the body. This competes with the Nikon D500 giving you great resolution but a larger body, weather seal (so important down here in New Orleans!) and 10 frames per second shoot in burst mode.

CANON 6D Mark II - at a MSRP of $2,000 you gain entry into Canon's full frame arena, utilizing the 26.2 megapixel sensor, 45 point AF system, 6.5 fps, Built in Timelapse Mode (really cool!), Built in WiFi and weather sealing ( so important again in the South!). The 6D Mark II has the built in articulating screen that allows you to compose your images in difficult angles without having have your eye to the viewfinder at all times. 

SONY A7 II or A7sII (mirroless) - $1,300 A7II with 28-70 lens (24mp) / $2,500 A7sII (12mp) Body Only - If you have smaller hands, want better video quality and low noise in low light then the Sony A7 series is for you. Consider the A7sII if you want lower noise, and true 4K resolution video on a full frame sensor, without the crop. For the money, the A7II with a lens is a great entry into mirroless digital photography and that price might even go lower with the new A7sII on the market.

So now that I have my camera what do I do with it?

If you made it this far I am hoping you took my advice on searching for digital camera that you are going to use rather than the latest greatest that just sits on a shelf. But what if you still have questions and you are still interested in taking the next step in purchasing a digital camera? Here's your chance, I want to help. Please contact me to setup a FREE consultation before you spend all that money? You can go to my CONTACT page to setup your email conference.

Do you want to learn how to use your digital camera in the New Orleans area? You can join my upcoming Learn Digital Photography in New Orleans which has two sessions beginning in March and then again in November. You can read more about this photography workshop and sign up HERE

 

 

Chewbacchus Mardi Gras Photography Gallery: It's a Psychadelic Prism Party by Zack Smith

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How to photograph in the rain? JUST DO IT.

Saturday night Margaret Orr, Carl Arredondo and all the weather casters called for %70 rain starting at the exact time the Chewbacchus parade was supposed to roll. In my many years teaching outdoor photography workshops in New Orleans and playing the "rain waiting game" I always default to my stick it out or die mantra: "you don't get reflections without the rain"

Myself and a fearless group of 10 photographers joined together in faith the rain would halt for our 3 mile march in the parade, and it did. What came of our interior view of the most creative walking parade during Carnival is nothing short of fantastic. I wanted to share my documentation of the parade through the lens of my minimalist old school creative team of my Canon 5D Mark IV, 40mm 2.8 'pancake' lens and my left hand gripping my Fractal Filter set.

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Mardi Gras is best photographed through a twisted lens...

In my almost 20 years of photographing the many layers of a New Orleans Mardi Gras, my most treasured photographs are the years I took my creativity to task. In 2003 I brought out only my Holga camera and never too one exposure as I only created exposures using full rolls. In 2008 I only brought out one Lensbaby. This year I had my 40mm 2.8 which I used exclusively with my Fractal Filters and absolutely LOVED the outcome...so come with me on my Psychadelic Prism Party at Chewbacchus 2018!

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How to shoot prism photography: Prisming for Beginners in the Streets of New Orleans by Zack Smith

Do you want to learn how to use prisms for photography? Look no further

 

Before you read this NOTE! I will be bringing ALL OF MY PRISMS with me for the Mardi Gras Photography Workshop in New Orleans on Saturday, February 3rd. CLICK HERE to learn more and sign up!

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As a photographer do you ever get stuck in a creative rut? Creative gridlock happens to me more often than I care to admit, but luckily I found my new muse to get the ideas running full speed again. I discovered prism photography by happenstance one day while on Instagram and it ignited one of those infectious Google Search Time Warps where I was searching and researching Google on prism photography, prisms, and photographers who use prisms. I found so much great inspiration in those searches, and I came away with buying a set of old school original prisms from Amlong Crystals and some very new school prisms from Get Fractals.

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Prism photography is easy, just experiment!

Yes, you probably recognize this type of prism from physics class in grade school.  Did you know that when held up to your lens you can not only project the full spectrum of light into your lens but reflect anything within a 180 degree radius into your lens? Creative rut be damned! I also bought a Crystal Sphere set as well and have been experimenting with that. Normally, prisms are sometimes used for the internal reflection at the surfaces rather than for dispersion. (duh!) If light inside the prism hits one of the surfaces at a sufficiently steep angle, total internal reflection occurs as all of the light is reflected. This makes a prism a useful substitute for a mirror in some situations. (did you know you can also use a mirror?) Does this make you want to walk the streets with one of these? Me too!

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For me, whenever I get my hands on a new way of seeing, like a prism for photography, I immediately take to the streets and the swamps of Louisiana to try it out. What better environment to get out of your creative rut!

Street Walking Documentary In New Orleans With Prism Photography

There are so many variations you can make to your composition by the way you hold the prism to your lens. I suggest (and many other prism photographers) to use at least a 50mm, or something close to that so you can cover the full front of the lens and focal length with your prism. In most cases I was using the cylindrical prism held horizontally in front of the lens. I was holding it directly up to the UV filter so I could balance and stabilize the prism. This I found very hard to do, because you only have so many hands to hold the camera stable, hold the prism stable, and create a good composition at the same time. This was a challenge, but I managed.

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Prism Photography Of Musicians In The Sweaty Swamps Of New Orleans' Couterie Forest

As you all know me by now, or are just learning, I shoot ALOT of New Orleans and Louisiana musicians. Being a musician most of my life, it's the circle of people I have been around the longest and can effectively communicate their visual needs and creative ideas with ease. One of the longest relationships I've had in this manner is with the Lafayette based Lost Bayou Ramblers. I have been photographing this band's promotional photography since 2000 and anytime they need new imagery for an album release, new member add, or a big gig - they call me. I am very grateful to have this relationship because these guys let me get as creative and "out there" as I want. There's a certain trust afforded here, and I am thankful for that...because I get to use prisms!

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How to Use Prisms with Photography

But what exactly is prism photography? Prism photography, also known as prisming, uses a prism-shaped, clear object in conjunction with a camera lens to produce artistic distortions. Using a prism while photographing is relatively simple. You just have to twist the prism in front of your lenses to give the illusion of a curve or bend in your surroundings on your camera. It does take some practice, but using a prism works a lot better than using mirrors or photoshoot techniques because it actually looks pretty natural.

Most photographers prefer to use a wider lens between 24 mm and 50 mm. You should start by using a wider aperture to let light into the lens. You can expect to see things like rainbows, prism-shaped light flares, curves in your image, and so much more. Using a prism in your creative photoshoots can leave you or your client with breath-taking photos that will be great for your portfolio and their personal keepsake.

If you are eager to try and use a prism in your photography, you can purchase one for as little as $12 on Amazon. Be sure to get one that isn’t too big. Most photographers are happy with a 6-inch prism. Sometimes, you may find that your fingers are getting in the way of your shot. Move your fingers to a point on the prism where they aren’t visible. Just be cautious when you are photographing your subject and you will be fine.

 6" Amlong Prism held vertical

6" Amlong Prism held vertical

 6" Amlong Prism held vertical.

6" Amlong Prism held vertical.

 6" Amlong Prism held vertical

6" Amlong Prism held vertical

 Circular Sphere - Amlong

Circular Sphere - Amlong

 Amlong 6" crystal prism held horizontally

Amlong 6" crystal prism held horizontally

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Get Fractal Filter Set

I was really able to control and master my prism photography with the set of "finger filter" prisms from Get Fractal. The set came in three and were housed in a pouch you can lock on your belt. I brought the filter set to photograph Satchmo Summerfest in New Orleans and was loving the way it made my portraits of musicians like no one else's. 

 Jams seen through my fractal filter from Get Fractals. These filters allow you to have more control with the filter. So cool!

Jams seen through my fractal filter from Get Fractals. These filters allow you to have more control with the filter. So cool!

 Pscyh-a-Tuba!!! Jon and Jason at French Quarter Fest shot through a Fractal Filter.

Pscyh-a-Tuba!!! Jon and Jason at French Quarter Fest shot through a Fractal Filter.

 Dancin Man 504 - Birthday Boy shot in Prisms during Satchmo Fest in New Orleans!

Dancin Man 504 - Birthday Boy shot in Prisms during Satchmo Fest in New Orleans!

 Freddie Lonzo photographed through my Fractal Filter Prism!

Freddie Lonzo photographed through my Fractal Filter Prism!

2017 Year In Photos: New Places, Photographing Faces and Things I Said I Would Never Do by Zack Smith

What's the big deal about babies, business headshots and and studios anyway?

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2017 has been a whirlwind of a year. A year of many firsts and falls and get backups. I never thought I would be shooting so many headshots, open a studio on Magazine Street and photograph thousands of images of a baby. Well, she is my baby.

I mean really, look at that angelic face, who wouldn't want to photograph her for, like, ever? Well I never thought I would be photographing kids, ever! In the last 6 months I have even worked with kids on New Orleans Tourism shoots, French Market Corporation shoots and photographing some friends kids. Never. Say. Never...

You can learn so much as a photographer by stepping outside of your comfort zone.

 In my line of work I get hired because I can provide for my client a consistent, structured, and creative result for their visual branding needs. This type of commercial photography takes alot time and energy spent talking and emailing about ideas, aesthetic, and how images will be used ad nauseam. I talk with my clients about lighting schemes, compositions, and the exact number of images produced and where how the deliverables will be implemented into their website and marketing materials. Needless to say there is a lot of control that goes into producing and photographing the type of work I do. There is absolutely NO controlling a kid. You just. got. to. BE. 

There are tricks to make kids smile, I just use patience. Or, have a kid and hang around for the magic.

With the birth of our daughter Vega, I went into full "dad mode" and have never looked back. I keep my family safe, practice unconditional love, and never ever have a camera further than 1 foot from my shutter finger. The faces and moments are far too many to record, but I am sure as hell giving it my best shot. I don't want to miss anything, and the odds are I will get some really really bad shots and a few great ones. As a professional photographer that does NOT specialize in newborn or kids or "tween" photography, I can't use this fatherly approach. I am totally fine with that. I have great respect for the newborn, kid, and family photographers out there who are blessed with the patience and wherewithal to coax the emotion out of a group of strangers.

There are tricks to make adults relax, and it's not saying "act natural" during a professional headshot.

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Oh, another thing I said I would never do? Professional business headshots. To me, in my up and coming days as a seeker of adventure and experience TTL (through the lens for those that know) I was dead set on letting the music and culture of my surroundings guide my creative muse as well as my business plan. What I did not realize was that I was possibly missing out on meeting passionate entrepreneurs and dedicated CEO's of New Orleans. I couldn't see the forest for the trees, especially stumbling through the 6th ward on a Sunday at 4:30pm, beer in one hand and camera in the other. Yeah, I was having a blast and finding my way and I wouldn't trade it for a moment. 

2017 has had more purpose infused in every shutter click and proposal sent.

I am photographing not only for me, but for my family, my daughter, and for my city. 2017 was the year I completed 10 produced day shoots with talent and 160 hours of events and festivals for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and New Orleans Tourism and Marketing. I photographed 15 new produced lifestyle photoshoots for Chase Bank's new branding and mobile app. 2017 had me in three different cities producing original lifestyle tourism photographs for Brand USA, our country's tourism agency. Again I was honored to be principal photographer for French Quarter Fest, Satchmo Fest, Bayou Country Superfest, three stellar music festivals in New Orleans. 

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In 2017 I took my business public. I opened my first photography studio on Magazine Street in New Orleans.

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In my 20th year of photographing the world around me and my 13th year of photography being my sole source of income - I bit the bullet and opened my studio. My dojo, my HQ, the new home of ideas and momentum.

Hanging a shingle on Magazine Street, opening my first brick and mortar studio when the world is my studio.

Since 1997 the world has been my studio. I have always enjoyed a natural curiosity and wonder about the qualities and effects of light. I love the low winter sun in the country and the high contrasty light of noon day sun in a downtown metropolis. Light has character and depth, and when combined with telling a story of a singular person or event the possibilities are endless. For me the impetus to open a studio had to do with the increasing amount of business headshots I was getting commissioned for and the need to have more space at home with our growing baby. Having an photography studio and office space afforded me the luxury of leaving the work "at work" and having the house be where the home and family were. I love it this way. I also am thankful of the path that brought me here as for 20 years I was and still am a student of light. I have the ability to make a studio anywhere - in a field, in an office, on a hill, in a swamp. I know light, I respect light, I am nothing with out it.

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My 2017 photography workshop series saw new moments and magic made. Photographers were born and snapshots were left in the dust.

This year was a year of rebirth for my photography workshop series, an ever evolving organism that I have curating since 2014. While I continue to host my staple workshops like Learn Digital Photography, Learn Lightroom and Photoshop, and Night Photography Workshop (formerly NOLA @ Night) I have added a few new ones. Workshops like Natural Light Photography Workshop held at Crescent Park and the Street Documentary Photography Worksop held in partnership with the French Market Corporation has allowed me to host new ideas that stem from my workshops. People have ideas of what they want to shoot and I figure out how to make it happen with the most impact for their knowledge and the community. 

 Photo by Stephen Barnes from the Street Documentary Workshop, 2017

Photo by Stephen Barnes from the Street Documentary Workshop, 2017

Even though there were so many new moments made in 2017, I still keep one foot in the swamp, one foot in the music, faces, and culture I love so much. Here are some more highlights from 2017. Stay in touch friends, more exciting things happening. Here is a little reward for reading - my 2018 Photography Workshops which are open for enrollment now!

 Sylvan Esso at The CIVIC Theatre in New Orleans @2017 Zack Smith Photography

Sylvan Esso at The CIVIC Theatre in New Orleans @2017 Zack Smith Photography

 Audubon Park Reflections, December 2017 - ©Zack Smith Photography

Audubon Park Reflections, December 2017 - ©Zack Smith Photography

 Tharrison and Voice on Royal Street. Image produced for New Orleans Tourism ©2017 Zack Smith

Tharrison and Voice on Royal Street. Image produced for New Orleans Tourism ©2017 Zack Smith

What is new with Adobe Lightroom and how can it help me? Watch this new How to Tuesday Video Blog! by Zack Smith

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What is the Difference between Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic?

In this short How To Tuesday Photography Techniques and Tips video I demonstrate the new updates to Lightroom Classic and how they can work for you! I recently did a photo shoot at a very spooky New Orleans attraction, St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 where all of it's residents are above ground! Watch this video belowwwwwww BOO!

Improve your night and low Light Photography with these tips and techniques! by Zack Smith

What are the best Night Photography and Golden Hour Techniques to get your best shots when it counts? 

Night photography is beautiful if you shoot it just right and can be truly amazing when you have a great subject. However, because of the darkness and it's contrasting nature to city lights and ambient light, night scenes can be difficult to shoot, especially if you are a beginner in night photography. Over the course of my 20 years shooting low light photography around New Orleans, I have garnered a few tips I want to share with you.

 The Crescent City Connection in New Orleans as seen in twilight. ©Zack Smith Photography

The Crescent City Connection in New Orleans as seen in twilight. ©Zack Smith Photography

These Four Steps Will improve your Night photography Immediately!

1. Use a Tripod for Long Exposure Shots

2. Reduce your ISO to decrease sensor noise

3. Always have a subject!

4. Start shooting during Magic Hour and Twilight!

USE A TRIPOD FOR LONG EXPOSURE SHOTS

Long exposure photography, or slow-shutter photography, involves using a long-duration shutter speed to capture stationary elements of a scene while smudging the moving elements. You’ve probably seen images of rolling mountain tops with blurred lights from cars passing by. But I want to bring our focus into the darker more mysterious side of photography: the night.

One of the downsides of using the long exposure method is that the slightest movement could throw off your shot and make the whole thing blurry. Because your camera will, in essence, take a longer time to take the photo, any movement can disrupt the clarity of your subject. Tripods can be pricy, but it will come in handy to every photographer! Invest in a good one.

BLOG THROWBACK: How to Purchase Your Next Tripod (click the link to read!)

BLOG THROWBACK 2 - Firework Photography Tips Blog Post!

PRO TIP: To reduce digital noise (not as cool as "grain" from our film days") shoot at lower ISO's so that your quality will increase, and you are forced to shoot at even longer shutter speeds!

GET CREATIVE WITH FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY

You can use creative flash photography to enhance movement, depth, and action in any low light or night scene.  An off-camera flash can be used to put emphasis on a subject while preserving the darkness in the background. This technique can be trick at first but I suggest setting your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture first, THEN adjusting and adding your flash. I find that shooting my aperture wide open to a larger f-stop (2.8 or so) allows me to get all of the ambient light I need for that "glow". My shutter speed is set to how much "movement" I want in the shot (see the photo below) and my flash power is set to Manual power. I don't want to use TTL because the flash can get confused, so I start at 1/8 power and test. 

 I used a flash for this long exposure photograph while marching with the Tulane Green Wave Brass Band during Mardi Gras! 

I used a flash for this long exposure photograph while marching with the Tulane Green Wave Brass Band during Mardi Gras! 

EXPERIMENT WITH DIFFERENT HOURS OF NIGHT

There are a number of “hours” that have the potential to give you a beautiful shot. You can dabble in twilight photography to start. Twilight is the time of day that lies between daylight and darkness. It is great to photograph reflective surfaces during this time to catch the sky in perhaps its most beautiful state. Don't know when twilight is? I currently use a few apps to help me determine when twilight is, anywhere I am!

The Photographers Ephemerus - this great app for iphone tells me when sunset is, civil twilight, and nautical twilight for anywhere...and anytime!

The Twilight Calculator - this is a great website telling me all about the phases of twilight and when and where i can see them! This even tells me more about the Blue Hour...oooohh!

What is the Golden Hour of Photography and why is it so Magic?

The Golden Hour of photography is an amazing time to get out there and shoot. The Golden Hour (also known as the Magic Hour) is probably the best known and it is the time shortly after sunrise when the daylight is red but still soft. Even though this happens just after sunrise, it also happens right before sunset and is so great when the light is even and the sun is low on the horizon. This is my favorite time to shoot portrait photography since I can use the sun at my back for warm, even light that emanates from my subject all the way back to infinity. I can also shoot directly into the sun for warm silhouettes and add a fill flash. 

 Blue Hour Portrait with 90º placed strobe of Luke Winslow King ©2016 Zack Smith Photography

Blue Hour Portrait with 90º placed strobe of Luke Winslow King ©2016 Zack Smith Photography

What is the Blue Hour and how do I photograph it well?

The blue hour is the time of day right when the sun sets below the horizon (or right before it rises) and is typical of when the city lights have an exposure value that is very similar or equal to the ambient sky. This allows us to expose both a city and the sunset with an exposure that showcases all of the wonderful colors!

Civil twilight photography occurs when the sun is less than 6 degrees below the horizon. It is the brightest form of twilight when there is enough natural light that outdoor activities can be completed without the help of things like street lights and ambient light from cafes and bars. (We are in New Orleans right?)

 You know it's Twilight and Blue Hour when it's easy to do silhouettes against the night sky.

You know it's Twilight and Blue Hour when it's easy to do silhouettes against the night sky.

So why don't you give blue hour photography a shot. Again, this time  is during twilight in the morning and in the evening when the sun is right below the horizon. This is just after civil twilight and you'll know this when you begin to see street lamps flicker on and lamps and lights in homes match the exposure of the night sky!

 When the Orange Couch coffee shop glows in the twilight, you know it's the perfect time where ambient and artificial combine for the perfect exposure! ©Zack Smith Photography

When the Orange Couch coffee shop glows in the twilight, you know it's the perfect time where ambient and artificial combine for the perfect exposure! ©Zack Smith Photography

Regardless of whatever hour you’re trying to shoot, it is important to plan out your shoot ahead of time. To do this, find an app that can help you calculate and plan your photoshoots. These apps are relatively inexpensive, have versions across all app stores, and can work in any location in the world!

Another way to be prepared is to pack up all of your essentials, including cleaning cloths and a cleaning kit. These will be essential to you. As the temperature drops at night, condensation may begin to form on your equipment. This isn’t a big deal for tripods and camera bags, but if condensation gets on your lens, it could mess up an otherwise perfect shot!

Why not take a Night Photography Workshop in New Orleans?

So you think you got all this? Maybe want to get out there and try it yourself? When in doubt, you can always take a workshop. As you know me, I am always trying to figure out the best way to educate you online, but also in person. On Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 from 5:30 to 10 p.m. I am offering my popular “NOLA @ Night French Quarter and City Park" night photography course! The workshop is hands-on and will help you learn the ropes of shooting the beautiful soft light of a Crescent City night. The workshop is great for photographers of all levels and costs only $175. Take advantage of having me show you the settings as you walk around the French Quarter and City Park!

I’ve been teaching this course for 14 years. First, we will start out in the French Quarter for introductions and a PowerPoint presentation filled with some information. After that, we will head out and begin our night photography expedition.

The French Quarter shooting session will be held from 5:20 to 7:30 p.m. After that, we will meet at Morning Call, a coffee shop in the area, at 8 p.m. and do some City Park shooting from 8 to 10 p.m. 

Be sure to bring the lenses you want to shoot with. Wide angle lenses are great to have when shooting night time photography. You must also bring your tripod, and a cable release and small pen light is recommended. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothes for walking.

Refunds will be given up to 72 hours before the night of the workshop. A half refund will be given 24 hours before, and no refund will be available the day of the workshop.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP! 

 

 

Stellar Rooftop Photography! How to use slow sync and drag the shutter for a moving effect! by Zack Smith

 Musician Peyton McMahon amongst the skyscrapers of New Orleans. ©Zack Smith Photography. My exposure here is 1/2" shutter speed while moving my camera from right to left. f2.8, and my flash was on a stand to the right my camera set at 1/8 power pointed at Peyton.

Musician Peyton McMahon amongst the skyscrapers of New Orleans. ©Zack Smith Photography. My exposure here is 1/2" shutter speed while moving my camera from right to left. f2.8, and my flash was on a stand to the right my camera set at 1/8 power pointed at Peyton.

What is Slow Sync and how can I do it?

With so many photography terms used to describe certain techniques and tricks, it's hard to know how to navigate and learn new skills. I hope today's How To Tuesday can dispel some of the myths behind one of the coolest, and easiest photography techniques out there. Slow sync refers to using a slow shutter speed in conjunction with firing your camera flash, usually is low ambient light situations. You will often see websites talking about Rear Sync, and Rear Curtain Sync. These are features that alot of newer Digital SLR, point and shoots, and even older cameras have as an auto feature. Here I will tell you how to manually do this yourself, taking the guesswork out of the process and allowing you to use the Slow Sync Flash method in many situations!

Breaking down slow sync, what does it mean?

Slow is describing the slow (or longer) amount of time the shutter is left open and Sync is describing the flash firing during the time the shutter is open, allowing the light to sync with the shutter and then expose on your camera sensor. Combine those two features, and what you have is a longer shutter speed exposing in lower light situations, sometimes creating motion, and your flash exposing your subject oftentimes "freezing" it amongst the moving backgrounds. 

Using the slow sync technique, you can create stylistic "movement" in your images which can showcase an even more intimate depth to your image and subject story. As I have always said, we are telling stories of our subject in a 2D world while they exist in 3D. How do we create depth where there is none? Creating depth is easy with using shallow depth of field by selecting wider apertures (lower aperture numbers) and select rules of composition like Converging Lines. Slow sync with flash is another great way to create that depth.

What do I set my camera to for slow sync?

While every situation will be different, you can take these steps to work towards success. As with any experimentation with a new photography technique you must use the advantage you have: image playback! Make sure you set your camera to show your exposure (Canon: Info, Nikon: display) so you can make the adjustments to shutter and aperture independently. 

First you must be in Manual Exposure so you can set your ISO, aperture, and shutter speed independently. Make sure you are in an environment with a background that's interesting, but not too bright. You want to be shooting at twilight, dusk, or a low lit situation. Your background MUST be subtly brighter than the light on your subject. These scenes are found at night outdoor weddings. sunsets, and like my rooftop scene of Peyton. Start by setting your ISO to 800, set your shutter speed to 1" (one second) and your aperture wide open to the widest aperture available. I like to start here because when I take the photo, I can then dissect what is wrong, and just change ONE variable (shutter, f-stop, etc...). I usually start with my flash on manual settings, and at 1/8th power. 

I set my auto focus point to the middle spot focus, that being the most effective one in low light situations.

PRO TIP: if your subject is right in front of you, select the default Auto Focus mode which selects the "closest object" and is very effective in low light!

Here I will do a test shot:

If my subject is too bright and over exposed, I'll turn down the power of my flash and do another test shot until i get it right.

If my background is too dark i will open up my shutter to longer, like 2" and do a test shot. If I find my subject is getting blurry, then that means I need to increase my ISO. This way our background is going to get more exposure, and we can make adjustments to our flash after.

Keep in mind we will always be adjusting our aperture, shutterspeed, ISO, or flash output. But once you do this a few times, you will get the hang of it. I hope that by  using my starting exposure settings you will get Slow Sync Portraiture in a flash! Got success? Post a link and share it in the Comments below!

 

 

 

Satchmo Summerfest Photo Gallery 2017 Day 3 by Zack Smith

 Satchmo Summerfest rolls despite the standing water and soggy shoes.

Satchmo Summerfest rolls despite the standing water and soggy shoes.

Anyone in New Orleans knows "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show".....and one severe storm event, only gives us another reason to parade when the sun comes back out. This is the constant reality here, we live here because we love it despite our geographical location from June to November. Storms, floods, and hurricanes are just another monkey on our back during these months but the show must go on. 

There is nothing like a post storm second line in New Orleans, it's like a rebirth, a second chance.

Satchmo Summerfest had to close early on Saturday but on Sunday, the St. Augustine Church opening day mass went on as scheduled, as did the second line led by the Treme Brass Band and the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club. I hope you enjoy the images below, I know I am behind on captions..they are still rolling in...just like this parade.

Underexposed: A Celebration of Regional Photography in New Orleans by Zack Smith

Very cool to see so many amazing photographers participating in tomorrow's Underexposed event at the U.S. Mint. Check out all the galleries here, but come by tomorrow at 2:30 to see the work in person and meet the image makers. I know for a fact that many photographers will be making prints to bring and show, some for the first time in public. Come welcome and support the art of the print and beauty of photography in New Orleans.

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New Orleans Solar Eclipse Gallery and Photography Meet Up by Zack Smith

 Things were looking up at Lafayette Square in New Orleans viewing the Solar Eclipse. ©ZSP

Things were looking up at Lafayette Square in New Orleans viewing the Solar Eclipse. ©ZSP

What a wonderful feeling of community today during the solar eclipse! Although New Orleans did not get a total eclipse, this rare celestial event brought out around 250 long lunch breakers young and old. There were so many people outside sitting in circles, laughing, hugging and clapping. When's the next one?

I had more fun passing out eclipse glasses and letting people borrow my prism than you can imagine. I saw some amazing photographs of the sun, and even more awesome DIY viewing boxes! The New Orleans creative spirit shone through well before the solar eclipse began with locals assembling at Lafayette Square Park in the Central Business District. Pinhole cardboard boxes, pinhole paper plates, and even the young couple holding their hands together viewing the eclipse's ground shadow. 

Our Solar Eclipse Photography Meet Up Made The News!

http://www.wwltv.com/news/local/photographers-attempt-to-capture-eclipse/466173816

Click to enlarge the photo gallery below and share the link if you like the pics!

Satchmo Summerfest 2017 Day 1 Photo Gallery by Zack Smith

Satchmo Fest makes it fun to learn about the man and the music that make New Orleans so special: Louis Armstrong and Jazz.

 Desmond Venable of the Red Wolf Brass Band performs at 2017 Satchmo Fest at the U.S. Mint.

Desmond Venable of the Red Wolf Brass Band performs at 2017 Satchmo Fest at the U.S. Mint.

The moments and the magic were abound despite the wet conditions at this year's Satchmo Summerfest at the U.S. Mint in New Orleans. I always look forward to photographing this music festival for so many reasons.

 Dancers old and young get down to the music at Satchmo Fest.

Dancers old and young get down to the music at Satchmo Fest.

Satchmo Fest is not a large festival, it actually takes place all within the confines of the U.S. Mint in the SE corner of the French Quarter, hosting two music stages and one indoor symposium area on the third floor.  All within this three day festival you have access and easy options of great New Orleans food and drink. What makes this festival special is that you also have access to the best of the best in scholars and musicians knowledgable in the music and history of the festival's namesake: Louis Armstrong. 

I hope you enjoy this gallery of DAY 1 of Satchmo Summerfest...stay tuned for Day 2 !

 

 

How to Organize Your Photography for a Portfolio Presentation by Zack Smith

 Zack Smith and Jennifer Shaw presenting "How To Prepare Your Photography Portfolio" to the New Orleans Photo Alliance on August 8, 2017

Zack Smith and Jennifer Shaw presenting "How To Prepare Your Photography Portfolio" to the New Orleans Photo Alliance on August 8, 2017

I was honored to speak to about 20 New Orleans photographers this week on the steps needed to create your best photography portfolio for exhibition and presentation. I spoke on a few topics I feel are important and then photographer Jennifer Shaw presented her well researched information on crafting your artist statement. Here are some highlights from our talk and critique.

A portfolio is a collection of images that you bring together to show a body of work. You can create a portfolio for several reasons.

+Gallery Inclusion for a Fine Art show

+Prospective Client like an Ad Agency

+Wedding or Portrait Client, and more

 Here's an example of two of my portfolios and how I present them. I also added my "leave behind" and branding materials!

Here's an example of two of my portfolios and how I present them. I also added my "leave behind" and branding materials!

Always include your best work. This collection of work should easily show your creative style, technical proficiency, and be to the point. Your portfolio should be tailored towards the job you want and appeal to the client’s creative vision.

+What kind of work does the gallery, agency, or creative team look for?

+Research each of your target’s website, past exhibition and client roster

+Practice empathy - put yourself in your client’s shoes - what are they thinking?

Your passion for what you do will be evident in the collection of your best work. The way

you carry yourself and speak on your work will show confidence in your vision and art. Your portfolio should be presented in both the best way to showcase the work collected and it should meet submission guidelines for your client/gallery etc.

+How does the gallery or agency take submission? Most will have this clear on their website. Can’t find it? Pick up the phone and give them a call. Phones are great.

+Do they accept Digital or Print submissions? Do they return your physical portfolio?

+Ask how to follow up? Consider you’re not the only one with the great idea to send your work!