The Konstruktor DIY Camera Super Kit – A Review

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I’ve written before about what shooting film means to me, and I almost always have a film camera in my bag alongside my digital arsenal. I find it relaxing. In many ways it becomes something of a ritual for me. Loading the film. Advancing the frames. Resetting the counter. Taking my time. Doing my best to make every frame count. Don’t even get me started on barricading myself in the darkroom for hours on end. I know that a lot of photographers talk about “making” photos rather than “taking” them, but nothing brings that sentiment home for me more than shooting film. Thankfully, there are legions of photographers out there who still enjoy shooting film– even if just occasionally– which means that there are still companies catering to our need for the film experience. One such company is Lomography, a website dedicated to cameras, films, lenses, and accessories. I recently had the chance to build and test their Konstruktor DIY Kit.

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10 Easy Ways to Jump Start Your Creativity

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I teach a kids photography class twice a week. In Digital Photo Challenges, my eager group of students range in age from 12-17, and are some of the most creative people I’ve ever met. Since they are kids, I’m not really in a position to require a particular level of camera. My only requirement is that they have some sort of digital camera other than their phones. Having some students with DSLRs and multiple lenses in a class alongside students with very basic point & shoot cameras poses certain challenges for me as a teacher. If I spend too much time teaching to the DSLR group, my p&s kids will quickly lose interest. Similarly, there is only so much detail to be explored with a p&s, which would mean not presenting challenging information to those students with more advanced equipment.

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How to Find Your Photographic Niche

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I’m told I give good advice. In my previous life as a lawyer, people were even known to pay a considerable amount of money for my advice. When presented with a question or predicament, I’m pretty good at cutting through the extraneous BS, narrowing my focus,  and arriving at a thoughtful, well-reasoned plan or solution. This assumes, of course, that the person seeking advice or guidance is anyone in the world other than myself. When it comes to addressing some of my own issues head on, I often have trouble finding that place where I can be objective. Instead, I tend to get bogged down in my own tunnel vision. I come out the other side eventually, but the path taken is often much more of a winding road than I would like.

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Faster And Better – The Best Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts

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Not to be overly dramatic, but keyboard shortcuts can– and will– change your life. Okay, maybe it’s a little overly dramatic after all, but I’m not kidding. Considering how much time some of us spend in front of the hypnotic glow of a computer screen, it makes sense to incorporate something into our workflow that’s specifically designed to reduce some of that time– at least the part spent in editing and post-production. I can’t help you with the hours you wile away on Facebook, Pinterest, solitaire, or cat videos, but I can help you draw a line in the sand when it comes to Photoshop.

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Avoiding the Non-Disparagement Clause in Photography Contracts

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I’m often intrigued when my worlds collide. When I left my career as a lawyer behind, I never realized just how often it would encroach on– if not occasionally take over– my photography career. And yet, when it comes to model releases, client contracts, licensing agreements, protecting my copyright, and a host of other issues, I shouldn’t be at all surprised that my arsenal of legal knowledge and expertise still continues to pay dividends– even now, ten years since I’ve seen the inside of a courtroom. I usually see the legal issues coming a mile away, but a recent meeting with a new wedding client caught me completely off guard. She’d been referred to me by a mutual friend, but I was not the first photographer she’d interviewed. For the most part, it had been a very typical meeting. We talked about her venue, where she’d met her fiance, what she was looking for in a photographer– the standard stuff. She was flipping through a portfolio, though, when she looked up and asked a question that was anything but standard.

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A Review of the Anker Astro3 External Battery Charger

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I’ve mentioned the importance of mobile battery backup and charging in a few articles recently (see 10 Travel Photography Essentials and 10 Tips for Better Photography Conventions & Trade Shows), so I decided it was finally time to start taking my own advice. Let’s face it– “getting away from it all” sounds great in theory, but the reality is that most of the time we have to stay connected. And while location shooting, travel, trade shows, chasing down new business, and shuttling my kid from one activity to the next can all be fun and rewarding, they do tend to drain the life force out of phones, tablets, and laptops pretty quickly. While a car charger obviously helps, it doesn’t come anywhere close to solving the problem. That’s why I decided to try the Anker 2nd Generation Astro3 12000 mAh External Battery Charger. In a sleek- lightweight package only slightly bigger than my iPhone, this thing really packs a punch. [Read more...]

Morning Coffee with an Instagram Wedding Photographer

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I’m not entirely sure, but it is quite possible that I witnessed a sign of the rapidly approaching Apocalypse this morning. There was no plague of locusts descending from the heavens. No fire. No brimstone. The earth continued rotating on its axis just fine. I’m sure nobody else even noticed. Regardless of its subtlety, it still came at me out of nowhere like a brick to the side of the head.

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5 Free (and 1 Almost Free) Photoshop Alternatives

I don’t think there’s a whole lot of debate over the premise that Photoshop has become the gold standard in photo editing software. I’m pretty sure that my earliest use of Photoshop goes back to Version 3 or 4. Now deeply entrenched in CS6, I’ve decided to sit tight for a while. If I actually stopped to think about the relatively small percentage of PS’s full functionality that I actually use on a daily basis, I might also have to stop and ponder why I’m not still using an earlier version. Features have obviously evolved over Photoshop’s lifetime, but much of my workflow remains the same. So, in the absence of some huge development that I just can’t ignore, PSCS6 and I are doing just fine together for the time being. Also, while I see the potential benefits of The Cloud– immediate updates, etc.– there’s still a part of me that remains more than just a little pissed off about the new subscription format. There seems to be a new deal every time I turn around, and nobody seems capable of giving me a straight answer to the question of how much it costs when the discount period comes to an end.

It would seem that I’m not alone.

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10 Travel Photography Essentials

There’s nothing quite like a vacation, road trip, adventure, or combination of the three to get your creative juices flowing. Sometimes hitting the road is exactly what you need to get yourself out a creative rut. New surroundings– especially if they are outside your comfort zone– have a way of injecting your photography with the shot of adrenalin it’s been missing. When you’re planning these excursions, though, there are certain essentials you need to pack– items designed to protect your gear and images, while making sure that your shot of adrenalin isn’t wasted.

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How Good Tax Prep This Year Can Save You Time, Money, and Heartache Next Year — Part 2

If you were here on Monday and I bored you half to death with my tips for improving your tax situation for the coming year, get ready for the other half. I know that nobody actually likes to think about this stuff. We’d all much rather learn how to make a kickass softbox with a box of matches, a flashlight, and a roll of toilet paper. Eventually, though, taking charge of your photography’s financial well-being becomes one of those cross-roads moments. Might as well rip that bandage off and grab the bull by the horns.

For those of you keeping score, that was three metaphors in a single paragraph. The bottom line? Just do it.

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