Friday, January 2, 2015

How to Buy a Digital Camera

Dennis Davis photographs models for an AmTrak brochure
 on moving train traveling from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara.
Cameras used to be long term investments before the digital age, now people change them as rapidly as they replace last year’s computer. New features, more mega pixels, better color, smaller size - there are many reasons to upgrade. Film is mostly used for fine art or disposable cameras now in the USA, most purchases today are digital. What kind of camera is right for you, and will help you take the pictures that meet your vision? We will discuss point and shoot, entry level DSLRs with interchangeable lenses, and professional DSLR cameras. At the end of this article are links to websites reviewing specific camera brands and models.  

Point and Shoot

This is the type of camera that does most of the thinking and decision making for you. If you want your pictures taking to be easy, with little fuss, choose this type of camera. However, don’t be surprised if about 20% of your pictures look like crap. Some picture taking situations are complex and too difficult for the computer in the point and shoot camera to understand.  So if you want your more difficult pictures to turn out well, you will need to read books or magazines about photography, or take a class, and learn how to use a DSLR (digital single lens reflex, one that has interchangeable lenses) camera that allows you to make more decisions.
Dennis Davis Photography

Features to look for in a point and shoot camera include:

  • Small enough to take with you
  • Allows you to turn off automatic functions, and take some control. Specifically allows you to take camera off of program mode, and use shutter priority, aperture priority, and / or manual mode.
  • High quality glass optics, not plastic lens
  • Wide optical zoom range
  • Fast auto focus
  • Allows you to use flash or turn it off at will, even outdoors
  • Strong flash
  • Red eye reduction
  • Tripod mount
  • Five or more mega pixels
  • Rechargeable battery, long battery life

Many point and shoot cameras advertise wide zoom ranges, but in reality they are talking about “digital zoom”. This means that the camera just takes the center portion of the image and crops it to make it appear closer. Results?  The resolution of your image will go down, and your picture will be less sharp and more noisy and grainy. Make sure when you read about the zoom range of a point and shoot camera that they are talking about optical zoom – the actual lens – and not digital zoom.
Higher end point and shoot cameras have several shooting modes, program mode, shutter priority, aperture priority, and / or manual mode. These modes allow you to make some or all of the decisions about your picture’s exposure, and using them will help you learn how cameras work. Buying a point and shoot camera that has various shooting modes is a good way to make the transition to a more professional SLR system.  
Dennis Davis Photography

You want to be able to turn on or turn off your flash at will. Why? Let’s say you want to take a picture of fireworks over a lake at night, with your camera on a tripod. Your camera in program mode will check the light level, see that it is dark, and turn on the flash for the exposure. However, this will cause the area within 15 or 20 feet of the camera to be brightly lit, and the rest of the picture dark! With the flash on, the shutter will close before the fireworks finish their display. With the flash turned off and the camera in shutter priority or manual mode, you can set your camera on a tripod, leave the shutter open for 3-10 seconds, and capture the fireworks and their reflection in the lake.

Entry Level Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) Cameras

Entry level SLR cameras all have a smaller than “full frame” sensor. This means that the sensor that captures the image is not as large as a 35mm negative frame, so the picture is cropped. How much smaller the sensor is compared to full frame is called the “lens factor” and it is described as a number such as 1.5.  It also means that wide angle lenses are not as wide as they would be on a full frame camera. For example, a 28 mm lens that would take in a wide angle view on a film camera or a full frame digital body would act like a slightly wider than normal lens on an entry level camera. Camera manufacturers have a solution available, making lenses that are “ultra wide” and only work with cameras with a lens factor. These might be 12mm or 14mm lenses that would show darkness around the edges of the picture with a full frame camera. Be careful how much money you invest in the ultra wide lenses, because if you upgrade to a full frame DSLR these lenses will not work.

Features to Look For In an Entry Level DSLR
Dennis Davis Photography

  • Lens or sensor stabilization or vibration reduction method available (reduces blur in hand held pictures)
  • Largest, brightest LCD screen on the back of the camera
  • Highest mega pixels you can afford
  • Good sensor cleaning method
  • Widest ISO range (the sensitivity of the sensor to light)
  • Standard user modes program mode, shutter priority, aperture priority, and manual mode, as well as Bulb (aperture stays open as long as the shutter button is depressed)
  • Timed shutter will stay open up to at least 30 seconds
  • Fastest shutter speed of at least 1/2000 of a second
  • Ability to shoot in RAW and JPEG capture or both at the same time
  • Accurate light metering system
  • Fast, wide area auto focus sensors
  • Shoots at least 3 frames per second
  • clear, bright viewfinder
  • Rugged body
Fuzzy, blurred pictures are always a disappointment, unless that is what you are trying to get! These most often are the result of using hand held telephoto lenses at slow shutter speeds, or normal lenses in low light or close up situations. No matter how hard you try to remain motionless, your body is in constant motion from your breathing, heartbeat, the wind, etc. Canon makes optical image stabilizer lenses to reduce camera shake. Nikon calls their lenses vibration reduction or VR lenses.  Other camera makers put shake reduction in the sensor or camera body. Make sure the camera system you are buying has a good method of reducing camera shake or vibration. Read the reviews in photography magazines or on the websites listed below, and find a camera system that meets your needs.
Dennis Davis Photography

The LCD screen on the back of the camera is how you know that you “got it” before you move on to a new photographic situation. If you are outdoors in bright sunlight, a small, dim LCD won’t tell you anything. Get the brightest, largest LCD screen you can find.

Every time you change lenses, there is an opportunity for dust to get on your camera sensor, causing spots to appear on your images. Changing lenses at the beach, outdoors with high winds, or in industrial settings will increase the risk of dirt and dust, and you may have to clean your sensor daily if you change lenses in these environments. Older DSLRs require that you clean the sensor by removing the lens, popping the mirror up, and blowing on the sensor with an air bulb. Every third or fourth time you need to clean the sensor with a special sensor cleaning liquid and flat swabs made for the purpose. Many newer camera bodies have sensors that are self-cleaning. Some camera bodies vibrate the sensor to remove dust. Make sure your camera body has a sensor cleaning method that you are comfortable with, and that will make your pictures clean and spot-free.
Dennis Davis Photography

ISO is the measurement used to determine how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to light. It is the replacement term for film’s ASA rating. Usually this number ranges from 100 to 1600, with the lower number being less light sensitive. The higher ISO numbers should be used in low light situations, or with fast shutter speeds when shooting something moving at high speed, such as racing cars or humming bird wings. The higher the ISO number used, the more noisy or grainy looking your images will be, and the color will be flatter and less saturated. Some new entry level DSLRs have higher ISO numbers then 1600, such as 3200. Other camera makers brag that images from their cameras have good color and little noise at ISO settings of 400 or 800.

I once had to shoot Hewlett Packard’s annual stockholder’s meeting with no flash, because they felt that flash disturbs their stockholders. Although there were spotlights on the stage, I still was shooting at ISO ratings of 400, 800 and 1,600, depending on the lens I was using. I was shooting with a Canon 5D with a 70-200 f2.8 lens with the optical image stabilizer feature. At times I was shooting wide open at shutter speeds of 1/60 or 1/125 hand held, which would not have been possible without the optical image stabilizer in the lens and higher ISO settings. The images were sent world-wide while the meeting was still in session, and were published globally in newspapers, magazines and online. Thankfully the Canon 5D has very little noise at high ISO settings, and the pictures were not required for 2 page tabloid size magazine spreads!

Buying a Professional DSLR

The average DSLR camera body will only last a professional for 2-3 years, for the same reason that people upgrade computers every 2-3 years. The technology improves, the cameras have higher resolution, and the cost drops.

Although that is true, the technology for lenses does not change nearly as rapidly. Sure, there are developments in auto focus and things like optical image stabilizer features, but good glass is good glass. So make sure your investment in a camera brand is one that you can live with through most of your career. I was a Nikon man for the first 20 years of my film-based photography career, and of course when I bought my first digital camera I wanted to take advantage of my investment in Nikon Lenses. However, all of my camera gear was stolen just after the first Canon 1DS full frame camera came out. Nikon would not offer a full frame camera until several years later. After doing my research, I switched to Canon, as I knew that professionals would not be happy with their wide angle lenses having a 1.5 or 1.6 lens factor.
Dennis Davis Photography

Features to look for in a Professional DSLR

  • Everything listed above under “Features to Look For In an Entry Level DSLR”
  • Wide range of lenses, with a full line of wide angles, macros, telephotos, super-telephotos, zooms and specialty lenses such as tilt lenses
  • The best quality glass in the lenses
  • Durability – you will drop it from time to time on the job
  • If you shoot sports, action or fashion, you will need fast auto focus and a fast drive with a high number of frames per second available – 6 or 7 frames per second
  • You will need to shoot RAW format, make sure that it can, and that you have the software that can read the RAW files. You may need to upgrade your version of PhotoShop
  • Full frame sensors are best for most professional applications
  • The most mega pixels you can afford. Do not consider anything less than 12 mega pixels if you plan to shoot for publications or need prints 16 x 20 or larger
  • A number of on-camera flash options – including TTL options that can use more than one flash
  • Rechargeable battery, long battery life

The Canon and Nikon camera lines were built with professionals in mind, and have cameras that will meet your needs.  No other brands have the depth in lens selection that these two camera vendors do. If you are considering any other brand, look over the features list carefully to make sure you won’t be sorry five years from now.

Camera Reviews

Reviews about specific brands and models of cameras can be found at:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mario Lopez in Santa Monica
The Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade was the setting for television commercial we were shooting for Nescafe Dolce Gusto Coffee makers featuring TV personality Mario Lopez. That August morning dawned clear and bright, and I was eager to spend an exciting day with some very talented people. My assistant Jerry parked the BMW in the underground parking lot, and we walked across the street to where the commercial was being filmed. The blue tents and trucks full of grip and lighting gear made it clear where I needed to go, and I walked up to where we were shooting and greeted the friends I had made the day before shooting in Newport Beach.

The commercial that I was shooting production stills photography for is at

Mario Lopez was schedule to serve various flavors of Nescafe coffee to fans who signed a model release form so we could use their image in the commercial. A custom made trailer had been created for the commercial, covered with Nescafe Dolce Gusto logos and filled with coffee and coffee makers. A huge silk perhaps 40 feet across was stretched overhead on four metal legs. This softened and defused the sunlight, which provided much of the light that was to create the video. Two or three large HMI lights were placed under the silk, but were not on when I arrived.

As I began photographing the set and the crew, a protest rally against GMO and Monsanto with about 50 people began chanting and caring signs around the set. I guess they wanted to be caught on film. This chaos was in addition to the live music from the stage a block away, other music coming from stores, and thousands of shoppers and diners. Later in the producers tent I was impressed when listening to the audio track on the video footage that none of the protesters or music were noticeable. The microphones they were using were highly directional, rejecting everything but the conversation about coffee.

About an hour before Mr. Lopez was scheduled to arrive, our crew put up a sign inviting fans to meet Mario Lopez and share a cup of coffee with him. A line formed quickly, and soon about 40 people had signed model releases and were waiting to join Mario on the set.

I was shooting with a Canon 5 D Mark II with the classic 24-105 f4 zoom on it. I was outside the ropes shooting into the set on tripod during the first hour of the commercial production, however the fans started getting crazy, and the pushing and shoving soon made me move from that spot. I found a high perch out of the line of site of the video cameras, and shot from there.

Mario Lopez was friendly, personable and fun throughout the day. He would often take a moment between video takes to sign an autograph for a fan. He posed for pictures with fans repeatedly throughout the day. One of my favorite pictures I took of Mario Lopez that day was when he did a high five with an eight year old boy. It shows the love he has for people, and how they love him back. I think that Nescafe made an excellent choice as a spokesperson in Mario Lopez. He is professional, hard working, kind, and very handsome! I am honored to have spent two days photographing him for Nescafe, and I love having his images in my portfolio.

The crew members, directors, producers, wardrobe, hair and makeup all worked to make Mr. Lopez and his fans look great drinking a cup of coffee. I really enjoyed how quickly I was accepted as an equal and a part of the team, and how everyone seemed to want to help me get the pictures I needed for Nescafe’s advertising campaigns.

The producer who had hired me told me about her internet search to find the right photographer for this project. She looked on the video and movie production support website LA 411 for photographers listed under heading “Production Stills”, because she wanted someone familiar with video production lighting and sets. Then she went through the portfolios of more than 40 photographers, looking for someone with skills in food photography and still life. She said her Google search was “Los Angeles Advertising, Food, Lifestyle Photography” Three of my websites came up with her search, so she ran into my work again and again. Now with three shoots for Nescafe complete, I have lots more work to put on the Lifestyle, food and beverage advertising pages.

Mario Lopez makes an excellent spokesperson for Nescafe Coffee, he truly seems to love coffee and sells their coffee makers well. He comes across as sincere and honest, as well as fun and sexy. I do not ever drink coffee, but I wanted to buy a Nescafe Dulce Gusto machine when I heard Mr. Lopez sell it!

keywords: Los Angeles Photography, Lifestyle Advertising Photography, Los Angeles Food and Beverage Photography, Extra, X-Factor, celebrities, movie stars, famous people, Mario Lopez, Nescafe, Long Beach Photographers, Los Angeles Food Photographers, Los Angeles advertising lifestyle photographers, advertising production stills, commercial production stills photography, commercial advertising production stills photographers

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Shooting Mario Lopez

Backstage with Mario Lopez for Nescafe

I have never felt more like a part of a team, all of us striving towards the same goal of excellence, as I did on the Script to Screen commercial with Mario Lopez for Nescafe Dolce Gusto Coffee maker.

Film production crews in Los Angeles metro are mostly freelance, working on a TV commercial one week and a movie or TV show the next. The crew I worked with was partly freelance, partly full time staff. Yet I was amazed over and again by the professionalism of the lighting people, the camera operators, the producers, directors, food stylists, hair and makeup, so much talent being focused on one thing; making Mario Lopez drinking a cup of Nescafe coffee look great!

On day one of the two day shoot, the electricians and grips had a multi-million dollar Newport Beach mansion with a huge world class island kitchen to light, and the lighting included what was outside the windows as well as inside. One of the most important camera angles being used included looking out a large glass door into a walled court yard with tropical plants and vines and a large fountain. Two large HMI daylight balanced continuous lights, 12,000 - 18,000 watts or more I would estimate by their size, lit the areas outside each window. I looked them up, 12,000 watt Arri HMI lights are around $32,000 each. Reflectors, flags and other gear defused and directed the light. It was an overcast day, gloomy and grey, yet the film crew turned it into a warm, sunny morning out the kitchen windows. Awesome!

Indoors, most of the HMI lights I saw were made by Arri, and were round, with barn doors attached, and ranged from 300 to 5,000 Most of the lights had black aluminum foil wrapped around the outside of the barndoors. There was an additional HMI light in the kitchen that had 4 florescent looking tubes about 4 feet long, also wrapped and directed with BlackWrap. The most popular brand of BlackWrap is Rosco Matte Black Cinefoil, highly heat resistant and perfect for shaping light into anything you like. In addition to barn doors, many of the lights sported diffusion domes, warming gels and other light modifiers. Large silks or “cutters” on frames were used to defuse the light like a softbox on a strobe system; however these covered half a wall. All the windows that we were not looking out of with the cameras had black coverings over them, so that the director of lighting had absolute control.

They were trying to create a “good morning, how do you want your coffee” feeling to the lighting, and one of the more surprising tools they used was tree branches taped with gaffer tape to the arms on Matthews century stands. The tree limbs created patterns in front of the light, giving it a natural, light through a county manor window feeling. This effect is often created by putting a Cucoloris in front of the light, I have one made by Matthews that is 18” x 24”, metal, and full of random shaped holes created to shape light to look like it is coming through tree leaves. I respect the Script to Screen lighting people for using the real thing, and putting up with the mess from dried leaves on the floor.

I was happy to see a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto zoom lens mounted on the Canon EOS C300 Cinema EOS Camcorder Body they were shooting with, as have owed variations of this lens for years. It’s good to know that I have good taste! The EF lens mount on the camcorder body allows you to put any of the glass you use on your Canon EOS still camera on the C300 or C500 camcorder. The Canon C300 and C500 look so similar I am not sure if all 3 of the camcorders that they used were one or the other, but I can tell you that the video looked excellent on the monitors with saturated color, crisp and sharp.

Working with TV personalities and movie celebrities as the talent in a commercial can lead to all kinds of expectations and wild thoughts the night before a shoot. What would it be like to spend two days working with a famous celebrity like Mario Lopez? Mario Lopez was a child star in the television show “Saved by the Bell”. He appears on “X Factor” and CBS “Extra”.  Spending time with him off camera, talking with him and his wife Celebrity Hair/Make Up artist Courtney Mazza, I learned what a kind and sincere person he is. Mario Lopez has so much energy on camera, he is so upbeat and excited in his on camera presentation, and I could never get tired of shooting him.

Mario seems to love good coffee, and his excitement for the Nescafe Dolce Gusto came across as absolutely genuine and believable. He was the perfect pitchman for this advertising product infomercial, he made me want to buy the Nescafe coffee maker, and I do not drink coffee. I would use it for tea, hot chocolate and coffee for guests.

There were at least 4 rooms with people watching what was taking place on the three cameras on multiple monitors. The client room was where Mario Lopez hung out when he wasn’t on set, along with along with his manager, wife and some of the other talent, wardrobe and hair and makeup people. The Script to Screen Co-Founder and VP/Executive Producer were watching two monitors in a totally dark room along with two clients from Nescafe. If there wasn’t enough foam on the milk in the cappuccino, one of the clients would notice and the Executive Producer would communicate over the radio headset. The director would call cut, and out onto the set would come Food Stylist, Food Stylist Assistant or Art Director with new cups of cappuccino in hand, or refills for the Dolce Gusto coffee machine. Perfection was required and achieved time and again.

As the production stills photographer, my primary job was to capture Mario Lopez on set and back stage, and to create advertising product photography of the coffee maker and the beverages it produced.

When we broke for lunch, I had the set to myself as well as the services of the two food stylists. I had 30 minutes to capture 8 drinks being made. HMI video production light levels are much lower than that of strobes. I had to do shots of the Dolce Gusto machine with milk or coffee flowing into the cup. With strobe I would normally be shooting at ISO 100, shutter speed of 125 or 160 and an aperture based upon how much depth of field I want. With HMI video lights I was shooting at 800 ISO, f2.8 and 1/60 of a second shutter speed to stop the action of the flowing milk, coffee, chocolate or other liquid pouring from the machine into the cup. However, once the drink “settled” and the layers in the milk and coffee appeared, I switched to 100 ISO, ¼ second at f2.8. This was to reduce the noise or grainy feeling in the image, and allow it to be enlarged further. To see more images from this shoot, go to

keywords: los angeles advertising photography, Los Angeles Lifestyle photography, food photography, beverage photographer, nescafe, Mario Lopez, Xtra, Xfactor, TV, advertising photography,

Monday, September 30, 2013

Eight Reasons to Live in Alaska
The people that live in Alaska are some of the toughest, most independent individuals you will meet, yet honest, helpful to their neighbors and friendly. Why are they willing to endure the long winters and cold? Here are the top 8 reasons to move to Alaska.

1.      Quality of Life. Alaska offers a lifestyle with very little traffic on the freeways, huge inexpensive homes on large pieces of land, clean air, clean water, good schools and is an awesome place to raise a family. It is a slower, more relaxed pace.

2.      Alaska, the Final Frontier. Many parts of Alaska remain unexplored. There are mountains and waterfalls that are unnamed. Vast areas in Alaska have no roads, and can only be reached by boat, horse, sled dogs, hiking or plane. It is more than twice the size of Texas, and there are forests, glaciers, mountain streams, waterfalls, lakes, islands, mountains and tundra for you to enjoy.
Photography by Dennis Davis

3.      Sportsman’s Paradise. Hunters have big game like moose and bear to hunt, but also wolverines, caribou, mountain goats, wolves, and musk ox. Fishermen can fish everything from Salmon and Arctic Char to Lake Trout or Halibut.  The town of Homer, AK is known as the Halibut capitol of the world. Some of the best hunting and fishing in the world is in Alaska, and if you are willing to go out and get it, you can have plenty to eat without going to the store.

4.      No State Taxes. Alaska has no state taxes, and many cities have no sales tax. Revenues from the oil pipeline have allowed Alaska to do away with state income tax. In addition, they state government has enacted the Permanent Dividend Fund (PDF) which allows residents to receive $300-$2,200 a year from the state’s oil revenue.

5.      The Never-Ending Adventure. If you enjoy change, excitement, travel and interesting experiences, Alaska is your new best friend. Snowboarding, cross country skiing, mountain climbing, flying, biking, and hiking – the wilderness never ends, and so adventure is just outside your door.

6.      Photographer’s Dream. Landscape photographers could spend their whole life capturing the mountains, lakes, rivers, glaciers, forests, oceans, islands and other landscape features in Alaska, and never get bored. Wildlife photographers can photograph wolves, lynx, moose or Dall sheep in breath-taking, natural settings. Lifestyle photographers can capture rugged, athletic people enjoying the outdoors. Everywhere you point your camera is a beautiful picture, and fine art photographers never run out of inspiration.

7.      Easy to buy Property. The American Dream to own your own home is out of reach in many parts of the United States. The same three bedroom house on a one-acre lot that would cost over $1 million in Los Angeles could cost $195,000 in Alaska. $330,000 is the average cost of a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath house with a two car garage in the Anchorage area. There are many first-time home buyer programs, low income loans, single parent loans, etc., to make it easy and attractive to move here.

8.      The People. There are only 731,449 people living in the entire state of Alaska as of 2012. That is less than many people in Los Angeles or New York has living within a mile of them. The low population makes for a small-town community feel throughout the state. People greet each other on the street. Families are important units, and family gatherings are a regular thing. People take the time to be courteous at the stoplights and on the freeways. The people in Alaska are more independent, adventurous, kind, generous, helpful and hard working than many other states I have visited. Homeless persons and people that make begging a career tend to travel south, where sleeping outdoors is more comfortable. Lazy people don’t like it here; there is too much work to do. That leaves lots of people you would like to get to know as friends, all over Alaska.

I am visiting Alaska for the second time in my life, and I have to say I love it. I live in Los Angeles with an ocean view apartment. I can walk to 40 restaurants, 6 grocery stores, coffee houses, bars, churches, schools and almost anything else I could want. However, there is never a time in my home when I cannot hear traffic noise, TV, music, fire trucks, and other sounds of the city. Peace and quiet difficult to come by.

As I write this article, I am looking out the window at a snow covered mountain peak. I am in a beautiful large home surrounded by a forest of birch, spruce and cottonwood trees.Chickadees and Stellar Blue Jays take sunflower seeds and peanuts from the bird feeder on the deck, where a warm fire waits for me to join my family members talking and enjoying snacks and drinks. This is paradise, and it amazing that unspoiled wilderness property is still available for sale at affordable prices in Alaska. To learn more, contact my niece Cindy Wilson at

Keywords: Real Estate, Alaska property, Anchorage homes, Eagle River property, Eagle River Homes, Alaska Adventure, Alaska Travel, Alaska Airlines, Alaska Cruise, Alaska Photography, National Parks, wildlife, quality of life

Friday, September 20, 2013

Alaska Wilderness Photography

Commercial Photographer Goes 
Wild in the Alaska Wilderness

This is only the second time in my life to visit Alaska, and my departure date is September 27th, one week away. The excitement is building; this is going to be big! This is a place that’s twice the size of Texas, but has about the same amount of people living in the state, (731,449) that live within 5 miles of me in Long Beach, California. That’s a whole lot of wilderness, and lots of room to meet moose, bear, wolves, caribou and many other wild animals. I can’t wait!

The first time I saw a moose in Alaska I could not believe how huge the thing was. It was walking on a train track near Eagle River, AK, and my head would not have reached his shoulder. The largest of all the moose races is the Alaskan subspecies (A. a. gigas), which can stand over 2.1 m (7 ft) at the shoulder, has a span across the antlers of 1.8 m (6 ft) and averages 634.5 kg (1,396 lbs) in males and 478 kg (1,052 lbs) in females. The largest confirmed size for this species was a bull shot at the Yukon River in September 1897 that weighed 820 kg (1,800 lb) and measured 2.33 m (7.6 ft) high at the shoulder.

Like me, the moose is a vegetarian. However an adult moose needs to consume 9770 calories per day to maintain its body weight. That’s about 5 times the calories that a human eats, and if I eat that much, I would be the size of a moose! Their diet is mostly fresh shoots from trees such as willow and birch. They also eat aquatic plant life in lakes and rivers. In winter, moose are often drawn to roadways, to lick the salt that is used to melt the snow and ice. This leads to many car / moose accidents in Alaska.

I will be posting pictures on this blog from my Alaska Wilderness Adventure from September 29 – October 5. Although there are only about 150,000 moose in Alaska, I hope to photograph a good number of them here for you to see. Watch for images of pristine lakes, majestic mountains, blue ice glaciers, and tundra, and animals, lots of animals.
On the other hand, I will also be posting lots of pictures of the wild and rugged people in Alaska, including my nieces and their families. I am shooting lifestyle advertising photography for my niece Cindy Davis Wilson, to use on her Alaska Real Estate website if you are buying or selling property in Alaska; Cindy Wilson is who to see. So watch for people pictures as well as wilderness and animals.

So what would you do with a 10 day visit to Alaska? Where would you go? Would you go dog sledding, on a cruise ship around the harbors? Denali is the highest mountain in North America, with 20,156 feet (6,144 meters) in height, creates its own weather patterns. Do you want to see bears, lakes, forests, natives, towns – what would you want to photograph, and what would you want to see? Follow my blog, and experience Alaska Wilderness from your Laptop.

Keywords: Travel Photography, National Parks, Landscape photography, Alaska, Alaska Wilderness, moose, animal photographers

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Models on Manual

Models on Manual – A photography workshop for learning to use a DSLR on manual settings, and learning to control light while shooting models. 

$89 for two three-hour classes, limited to 15 students

From a photography class I taught in Denver with 80 students

Two Classes, Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 9:30 am and Sunday August 25 at 9:30 am
Class is held at 1055 E. Ocean Blvd., # C, Long Beach, CA 90802 and at the beach
Call 213-434-3344 to Register

New York Models, shot in Long Beach
with reflectors

Session one – Natural light and reflectors

Natural Light portrait, using 2 reflectors

Using only one reflector and window light, we will pose models next to various windows in our daylight photography studio. The soft skylight highlights the hair and the side of the face, while the light from the reflector lights the eyes and the front of the face with soft, natural light. We will try shots with slow shutter speeds and wide open apertures at 100 ISO on tripod, then move to 500 ISO, faster shutter speeds and discuss the depth of field benefits of large apertures vs. smaller ones such as f11 or f 16 for shooting models.
Natural Light Headshots

We will pose the models on the natural wood floor, on muslin backgrounds and in the 1950s style room with an ocean view. We will shoot them using one or two reflectors. We will also shoot them with a window in the background, and we will adjust the shutter speed and aperture until the view outside is totally blown out and the light looks good on the model. During session one, we will discuss the mathematical relationship between ISO, shutter speed and aperture size. The shots are put on the screen and we discuss them.

The “sunny f16” rule. The correct aperture for a brightly lit subject in full sun is the ISO speed matching the shutter speed at f16. We will explain what that means, and how to apply it to the beach, where we will be going next. We will learn to use the histogram on the back of the camera, learning what it means when the histogram data touches the right or left side of the chart, or if it peaks at one side or the other.
Natural Light Headshots, taken across
the street from our Photography Studio.

We cross Ocean Blvd, go down the steps at Third Place and take our models to the beach! Here we will continue using our cameras on manual settings, exploring the sunny f16 rule on the beach. We also pose the models in the shade with various trees and plants in the background, and talk about how sunny f16 rule becomes “shady f11 or deep shade f8 rule” as a starting point for bracketing when shooting models on manual. We explore shooting models with various lighting and background combinations, such as in front of the ocean, sand, boats, the Queen Mary, islands, yachts, restaurants, etc. All using natural light, reflectors and manual settings on our cameras.

We return to our daylight photography studio to download our image files and talk about the best techniques for editing the RAW images in PhotoShop. We demonstrate how to find a good white balance, and how to have clean whites without over exposing the image and blowing out the details. We give the models their CD ROM disks, their money and thank them for signing the model releases.

Session Two – On camera flash, Studio Strobes and Continuous lighting

We light our models with classic studio lighting setups, which could include standard headshots lighting with a hair light, fashion lighting with a beauty dish, rim lighting, side lighting and butterfly lighting. We look at the camera histogram as we change aperture settings and strength of the strobe output.

We will pose the models in various areas of the studio, and mix flash with daylight to create a commercial looking environmental portrait. We will look at our portraits in PhotoShop and talk about which camera RAW adjustments make them look better.

We will walk with our models across the street to the beach, and we will take a 1,000 watt second battery strobe on a light stand, as well as on-camera flash. We will mix sunlight; reflectors and strobe fill to create pleasing outdoor portraits of models in manual mode with our DSLR cameras.

We will return to the studio and download our pictures, comparing work and creating disks for our models, which have signed model releases and are waiting to be paid.

We finish with a discussion about how to start a photography business, what type of lighting gear and camera equipment to buy, and how to market a photography business through social networking.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Long Beach Corporate Headshots Photography

Long Beach Corporate Headshots Photography Natural Light Studio
Corporate Headshots

Our Natural Light Business Headshots Photographers Studio is across the street from the beach, so it’s a great place to get a corporate headshot with studio lighting, then a totally different look with natural daylight, then a totally different look with a natural light environmental portrait, followed by – you guessed it – we do beach headshots. We have a corporate headshots package to fit help you sell your brand, your smiling face! Some people believe a corporate headshot is more important for a company’s website than the logo, when choosing one company website or real estate agent business card from another. It’s all about the eyes; do they look friendly, genuine and happy? The smile, is it comfortable and happy, or stiff and forced? The Headshots photographer that delivers a great corporate headshot from a busy, overworked executive is a talented person. Do you need to sell yourself through your corporate headshots portrait?

Call Dennis Davis Photography at 213-434-3344

Corporate Headshots Packages – In our Long Beach Natural Light Studio

Executive corporate headshots package, 5 Looks - $295.00

Studio lighting, highlighting the hair
Pick from muslin or seamless paper backgrounds, environmental portraits in the studio, and between strobe lighting and natural light. We cross the street and do headshots at the beach with the ocean or with plants and trees in the background. Change outfits, settings or backgrounds up to 5 times.

This package includes over 100 pictures taken and burned unedited to your disk, and 10 final images color and exposure corrected. Your favorite corporate headshot will be lovingly airbrushed and retouched in PhotoShop for up to 10 minutes, removing any horrifying zit that broke out on your face only moments before you sat before the camera. Your final images can be emailed or sent to you via ftp, or burned on a disk while you wait. 5 looks, $295

3 Looks - $195.00

Our 3 looks corporate headshots package helps you sell the most important part of your company’s brand, your smiling face. What would your company website be without a portrait of you? Dennis Davis Photography can bring out the best “happy to meet you” smile for your business headshots, and help you sell yourself. With our 3 looks corporate headshots package you may change outfit and background combinations up to three times. You may choose from muslin or seamless paper backgrounds, environmental background near windows in our natural light studio, or we can cross the street to the beach for outdoor beach headshots.
This package includes over 60 images taken and 5 final images will be color and exposure corrected. All the images will be burned to disk or sent to your email as requested.

In and out headshots - $95.00

Our fastest headshots package for busy people on a budget, one background, one outfit. We shoot 30 image, you pick your favorite 3. The whole process is normally over in 30 minutes if you can make up your mind which 3 you want, because there are so many good ones! In and out headshots package, $95.00

Call Dennis Davis Photography, 213-434-3344

Corporate Headshots on Location, anywhere in Los Angeles or Orange Counties

First location corporate headshot, $425.00, $100 for each location headshot afterwards

Natural light headshots
Natural light environmental headshots

Natural Light environmental portraits

Studio lighting headshots
Natural Light Headshots

Natural Light environmental headshots