POSTS TO CATCH UP ON PAST AND PRESENT

How to shoot the solar eclipse: a list of resources for photographers: Digital Photography Review

If you are going to shoot the eclipse from where ever you happen to be the main thing to remember IS TO PROTECT YOUR EYES.

That said, DPREVIEW has published a nice listing of different articles right here in this one article on how to photograph the eclipse.

Good luck, be careful and have a blast.

A sizable swath of the United States will be treated to a total eclipse of the heart – er, sun – in just under a week. Here are a few excellent guides to help you photograph this rare occasion.

Source: How to shoot the solar eclipse: a list of resources for photographers: Digital Photography Review

Peak Design Once Again Creates Innovative Solutions – This time for Mirrorless and Compact Digital Slr cameras

Peak Design Once Again Creates Innovative Solutions – This time for Mirrorless and Compact Digital Slr cameras

 

THIS IS DONALD TRUMPS WAY OF MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.  HE FAILED TO DENOUNCE THE NEO NAZI, KKK, WHITE NATIONALIST ANTI SEMITIC, ANTI BLACK, ANTI ANYONE IS NOT A PURE WHITE Christian          One dead as car strikes crowds amid protests of white nationalist gathering in Charlottesville; two police die in helicopter crash – The Washington Post

One driver was taken into custody after the crash. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he had a message for the white nationalists: ‘Go home.’

Source: One dead as car strikes crowds amid protests of white nationalist gathering in Charlottesville; two police die in helicopter crash – The Washington Post

First Look at Picktorial 3.0 RAW Processor for Fuji X Trans Files: “Lightening Fast Editing Speed” – Fuji Rumors

They work!!!!!  Thanks Pictorial for the accurate film simulations

 

The more, the merrier they say, right? Well, then, as announced yesterday here, there is a new player in the RAW converter game: Picktorial 3.0. It uses a unique X-Trans demosaicing… but it is any good? Luckily the FujiRumors community…

Source: First Look at Picktorial 3.0 RAW Processor for Fuji X Trans Files: “Lightening Fast Editing Speed” – Fuji Rumors

It’s All About Tones: Black and White Landscapes | Nature Visions Photo Expo

The one thing but not the only thing I learned about attending Northern Virginia Nature Vision show is that it is smart to sign up for lectures EARLY.  Early means today, not tomorrow.

This particular lecture is being given by my old partner in photography education, Brian Zwit and I can tell you one thing for sure.  It will be the best $30.00 you will put towards learning the ins and outs of black and white image processing.

Sign up today for Brian’s lecture It’s All About Tones: Black and White Landscapes | Nature Visions Photo Expo

And sign up for the one and only major photo show in Northern Va. – Nature Visions

 

Regardless of genre, black and white photography is about the basic building blocks of any photograph: tones, lines, textures, shapes, and forms. Join Brian to learn how you can advance your black and white landscape photography.

Source: It’s All About Tones: Black and White Landscapes | Nature Visions Photo Expo

Why Have You Stopped Taking Pictures

Lately I have been speaking with people from all walks of life who used to love photography and making pictures but for reasons that are not really clear, just stopped doing it. 

What started the conversation was my little Cosyspeed Streetomatic Plus camera bag with a Manfrotto Pixi Evo table top tripod sticking up out of a side pocket.  When I explained my passion  for going minimalist they wanted to see what that meant.  Then they began to talk about the photography they used to do.

Men, women, young, older than young told me that at one time they owned a camera and lenses, still owned a camera, film or digital and some even had spent time in darkroom or at desk top computers with their photography.  Most said they had their phones, but really did not feel that a phone camera provided what a system camera like Olympus, Fuji, Sony, Nikon or Canon did.  The one common denominator was that at one time they loved, loved their photography.

When I questioned why they had stopped most really weren’t sure but felt perhaps that other priorities in life such as career building became a dominant factor and certain things had to be side lined in order to grow in other areas.

On a personal note and I told them that I felt that it was sad that they had stopped recording the important moments of their lives, abandoned something they loved to do instead of trying to incorporate it not only in their lives but the lives of their friends, their families.

Not only was all of that left behind but too was a chance to expand, to grow their artistic capabilities and to share those capabilities with others.

I have spent a lifetime involved in many aspects of photography having started in my dad’s darkroom right up to today. My love for photography as a hobby and a profession spans a lot of years and I consider myself fortunate that my personal love of photography was enhanced and expanded by working in world of photography which fortunately did not diminish my personal photography endeavors.

As I told the folks who I have met, if you have side lined photography, for whatever the reason and have interest in coming back at any level, I am here to help or guide you along that path.  So if I can be of any help please be sure to contact me. 

(45) Photography Composition :: Simplification and Negative Space – YouTube

Sometimes we create our own styles, but more often than not we start off by looking at other great photographers and teachers have done, apply their teaching to our vast warehouse of learning and hopefully have our own style or styles evolve from all of this.

One of my favorite ways of shooting for as long as I can remember was using negative space and using simplification to make a photograph with more impact by having less in it.

This excellent video talk directly to that I thought I would share it through my blog.

I hope you find this useful in your creative endeavors.

The site that this came from is here  where there are short articles and superb examples covering composition.

 

PROTECT YOUR EYES – MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT GLASSES AND OR FILTERSAAS’s Advice for Safe Solar-Eclipse Viewing – Sky & Telescope

 

My good friend Joe Lee shared this with me.

Due to alarming reports of potentially unsafe eclipse viewers as eclipse day approaches, the American Astronomical Society has revised its safety advice.

Source: AAS’s Advice for Safe Solar-Eclipse Viewing – Sky & Telescope

My Friend Bill – Last Year He Left The Room And Broke My Heart – But He Is In My Thoughts A Lot And I Miss Him

My Friend Bill – Last Year He Left The Room And Broke My Heart – But He Is In My Thoughts A Lot And I Miss Him – I am not totally sure why I am writing this blog now but I am sure there is some great emotional need for me to talk about him once again.

Bill, like myself had a passion for everything photography and his love for Nikon Camera gear was surpassed even by people like me who worked for Nikon for so many years.

He loved to join me on Nikon in store demonstrations and Nikon schools as he just loved to talk to others who either shot Nikon or who he wanted desperately to convert to Nikon shooters.  He was unrelenting in his passion for the brand and at times to his detriment. (I say that smiling)-

He would find no greater pleasure than sitting down with folks who he either knew or would come to know him forever and tell his tales of his life and his experiences and share is knowledge and wisdom about video and still photography  with old friends and new ones as well as those who would be friends. He considered himself Nikon representative.  And yes, that sometimes created confusion because I was the Nikon rep and after me there were a couple of other Nikon reps and to their benefit he was determined to help with his knowledge and enthusiasm.  It made him happy and after all he was more of a loyalist to Nikon than most people I had ever known.

When I say he lived and breathed Nikon it’s not even close to an exaggeration.  It is a truth beyond all truths and because he was that way I have to say that on the day his family and friends and co workers came together to celebrate his life, in a last good-bye, something was missing.

What was missing were all of the Nikon corporate people who knew Bill so extremely well and who Bill had helped in oh so many ways were sadly absent.  Not only were they absent but not one acknowledged that Bill had left the room.  Not a sigh, not a whimper, not a high-five as a thank you.  NOTHING.

That saddens me and I just felt that I had to say something.  Giving name, rank and social security number would not make a difference and after all the mindless, uncaring, self-absorbed son of bitches more than likely know who they are.

It is not that Bill and I always agreed and there were ups and downs but we were really true friends and cared for each other and in the end I only choose to remember the ups and what a dear friend and wonderful human being Bill was and is as he lives in my heart and mind.

I love you Bill.

On1 Photo Raw – A Sad and Final Decision Concerning The Flushing Of Software From Toilet To The Treatment Plant

Making a decision about what camera system and what lenses within that system are going to be my go to image creation tools can be so very difficult because there are just so many incredible gear choices.

The same can be said for software.  There are so many options besides Adobe Lightroom CC and in many cases they are actually better and free of the proprietary library.  There is nothing wrong with Lightroom but it could be faster and finally Adobe has admitted to somehow fixing that but so many other programs have moved ahead with features, filing systems and speed that they for the first time are having to play catch up.

Here is what I have been dabbling in and with:

  • On1 Photo Raw, Mac and Windows
  • Alien Skin x2 Layers, Mac and Windows
  • Luminar for Mac and now Windows
  • Iridient Raw Developer
  • Picktorial 3.0 Mac only

And here is what I have decided are the most stable and creative and yes correct in what they do:

  • Picktorial 3.0
  • Alien Skin x2

And after working with all of these programs here is what I have found:

  • On1 Photo Raw – Very creative program but since the day it was introduced it has been plagued with bugs and up to the date I am writing this blog I still have too many intermittent crashes on three different Mac computers.
  • Luminar – Lots of creative features but does not utilize any system that enables one to see a folder of files all at one time with the ability to cull those files and rate those files.  It takes up to 50 or more seconds to load an image from a 24mp camera and some of the creative options such as noise reduction takes way to long to complete.  So the program is slow not only on my three older machines but also on brand new Macbook Pro 15 inch loaded computers as well.  It is just to turtle slow and maybe overloaded with to much stuff that most people will never need to get a got post processed image.  If anything it has too many options.
  • Iridient – This is an incredible piece of software and the owner of the company has endeavored to produce one of the best processing engines around, but it is pretty basic in what it does but what it does is excellent.  While I own it, I needed a program that was more versatile but for a simple processing system you could not go wrong.

And my winners are:

  • Picktorial 3.0 – This raw processor is very fast, uses the Macintosh system filing system, enables me to see a whole folder of images at one time and allows me to rate them and cull them as needed.  It has all of the global adjustments one needs for processing and has the most accurate colors and file rendering I have ever seen and worked with.  Besides the global adjustments I can use local adjustments with brushes and  gradients for a full range of creative control over the most minute areas and at the same time let you visualize your masks and blending modes including an incredible Luminosity feature and skin retouching feature.  It also has some pretty darn good presets if you are into those.  Sometimes presets just make it easy to have a starting point. This is an inexpensive, highly creative program with the most precise tools I have ever used.
  • Alien Skin X2 is my go to for special creative controls.  It has a tremendous assortment of tools and its film presets are just outstanding.  I can achieve my own personal look and style.

So what has made its way to the digital toilet. 

  • On1 Photo Raw
  • Luminar

What Happens When Your Camera Is The Same As Every Other Camera? An opinion piece!

 

What Happens When Your Camera Is The Same As Every Other Camera?  An opinion piece

I have used a lot of different camera brands and overall they all produced very nice images.  But the system that I finally wound up with after all my years of shooting with different cameras is the Fuji X system.  If I was to look at images from my current Fuji X camera, the X pro 2, and other camera systems all intermixed in the same folder and dumped into the same software I would have a very hard time knowing what camera produced what images in that folder.

So what does that leave me with?  It leaves me with a mirrorless camera system called “X” which is aesthetically very pleasing to look at and very comfortable to use having all kinds of dials and buttons for doing creative photographic stuff.  But it also leaves me with the feeling that the images that came from the first X cameras like the X100, X10 and X Pro 1 were much more AESTHETICALLY (film like) (smooth) (sort of pastel) pleasing which was why I bought into newer generations of the X brand.  It was not only the Jpeg files which are processed in camera but it was also the raw files.

This does not mean that the images out of the X’s today are not excellent because they are.  It means that a certain quality that Fuji seemed to have master with their first X bodies has been replaced by something that any dSLR can produce.

So that leaves me with the aesthetic look and feel of the body and the prime lenses I use.  And that will have to be enough I guess because at this stage of the game I have to admit that I am not disappointed in the image quality when it comes to resolution and dynamic range which is on a par with other cameras.  But I am disappointed with the overall look of the images from an emotional point of view.

I have to ask how and why this has happened?  I was led to believe that it was the different design of the Fuji sensor that made the difference in color and texture in the images but I guess that turns out not to be the case.

It’s not a deal breaker only because I no longer have the desire to break in a new system that for all practical purposes will give me the same image quality I am currently getting.  But I do miss that aesthetic look of the images from the first early X cameras.

DISTRICT CAMERA, VIRGINIA AND WASHINGTON DC GET THE TOP VOTES AS THE BEST ON LINE PHOTO DEALER

THE BEST OF THE BEST

DIR’s 2017 E-tailer of the Year

District Camera and Imaging

 
2017-E-tailer-of-Year-Banner
The staff at the Washington, DC, store, located at 1225 Eye Street NW, Suite 110, (L-R): Saed, Ahmed, Bob, Paul, Deon, Julee and Devin

The Father–Son Team of Saed and Eldar Tariverdi Grew a Humble Store into a Leading Online Powerhouse

We can’t be considered DIR’s E-tailer of the Year. We have so much more to accomplish before we’re where we want to be.” Eldar Tariverdi’s humble response explains District Camera and Imaging’s successful growth.

In the last five years, their employee roster has tripled and their stores are physically bursting at the seams. Low key and focused on long-term gains, Saed and Eldar Tariverdi, a father and son team, will never be “where we want to be” as their horizons continue to grow and expand.

Saed-Eldar-Tariverdi
District Camera and Imaging’s father–son team of Saed and Eldar Tariverdi

Let’s start at the beginning.

Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead . . . What’s in a Name?

The company opened in 1978 as Photo Craft in Washington, DC. When they went online during the Internet’s early years that name was already taken, so they added an “e.” Back then it seemed like a good idea to use http://www.ePhotoCraft.com. For the next decade, their URL didn’t match their company name. It was cumbersome to say the least.

Photo Craft bought Embassy Camera in 2005, thereafter operating two stores with two different names. By 2014, the confusion was too much. Eldar felt they had to dump the old names, despite their history and goodwill. ” agreed and their company name—and URL—changed to District Camera. It was one of many indicators they were very serious about being a leading online presence. Eldar now believes he should have changed names earlier.

District-Staff1
The District Camera team at Burke, Virginia, (L-R): Ramona, Allan, Craig, Jeff, Eldar, Jack, Steve and J.J.

Saed is philosophical about the aging of many photo retailers. “You come to a crossroads where you must either invest or withdraw. If you don’t continue to invest and update, you reach an end point where you liquidate and shut down.” He sees potential ahead and is happy to reinvest in expanding their business.

Manufacturers Are Retailers’ Partners

Eldar isn’t a whiner or complainer. He’s a realist. He isn’t overjoyed his “partners” sell against him online, but he never mentions it.

Instead he confides: “When the customer is at the counter, the manufacturer and District Camera are partnering to assist that customer in getting the best pictures possible. Manufacturers and retailers have common goals. They’re natural partners where the customer is involved. Nothing else matters except working together to exceed customer expectations so they’ll return to buy more.

“Every product we sell today is very good. Bad cameras aren’t being sold anymore. All cameras take great pictures. We can sell every brand with confidence.”

Eldar projects that those who complain about the status quo won’t change it by complaining. “In reality, manufacturers can best work with stocking dealers. Should manufacturers deliver more product faster to their supportive retailers? Yes, they should.

Canon-Nikon
Nikon and Canon are heavily supported, right down to the lenses.

Meanwhile, we have to step up and stock as much as we can. Retailers have to be cost effective to do business with and provide significant volume for their respective online marketplaces.”

Eldar has no easy answer to how a retailer can be more significant to a manufacturer, other than sales volume. Moreover, he’s appreciative of manufacturers’ efforts to drive traffic to his stores and website.

“Canon and Nikon are ask-for brands we heavily support with inventory, promotion and training,” he notes. “In return, they help us drive traffic. Treating your vendors with respect and courtesy can partially make up for lower volumes, but in the end, it’s still a volume game.” District Camera also has had solid growth with Sony. Likewise, Sony’s focus on brick-and-mortar stores has had enormous impact on Sony’s success.

Deep Inventory

Inventory
The Tariverdis stock a deep inventory, particularly when it comes to accessories

District Camera isn’t afraid to inventory merchandise. “We’re a PRO member and do very well with ProMaster accessories. We should have joined PRO earlier than we did, but I’m glad we didn’t wait any longer. Selling hardware helps sell accessories. We look at the entire transaction and the long-term customer relationship when we evaluate the profitability of the vendor relationship. Without the higher margin accessory sales, we wouldn’t be able to afford to sell hardware.”

Eldar believes in looking at the entire in-store and online ecosystem of sales and repeat relationships when making inventory and promotional decisions. Inventory is always a delicate balance. District Camera invested in their software so they could determine which store should ship which online order. They don’t move goods from store to store. They immediately ship from whichever store has the best inventory position.

Saed adds, “I have faith the vendors realize there must be a level playing field for the survival of the retailers who’ll grow camera sales. Individual entrepreneurial owners want to succeed and will be motivated when they see there’s a more level chance of success. When individual retailers succeed, the industry will grow long term.”

Catching Up with E-commerce Technology

When they started getting serious about e-commerce, the Tariverdis had to play catch up. Companies like B&H, Adorama and Amazon had a head start, having built the technical infrastructure that resulted in satisfied users.

District Camera wanted to play in the same league. They hired a team of three offshore engineers who wrote custom routines within a purchased ERP software. Today, when a consumer orders from DistrictCamera.com, they feel like they’re ordering from a major e-commerce player. They get an instant order confirmation and a notice when the order ships that includes a hot link for up-to-date carrier tracking. A week later, they receive a follow-up e-mail asking how else the store can help.

Pinterest-Facebook
District Camera has active Pinterest & Facebook followings.

Eldar explains, “This was a significant investment starting out, but it was critical to seem like a big company and build confidence in customers a thousand miles away.”

Eldar is constantly looking to improve their online platform. He heard his first “too many e-mails” complaint from a new District Camera customer who’s a veteran Amazon Prime shopper. She felt she should be able to look up her order status on District Camera’s website rather than have her inbox “cluttered with notification e-mails.” Eldar takes all customer comments to heart. He’s now investigating a preference box so the customer can indicate how they want to interact with District Photo.

“I’m often asked by other retailers if they should get serious about e-commerce,” Eldar notes. “Sure! E-commerce entry barriers are different but just as complex as barriers to building a new brick-and-mortar location. They’re just different. You wouldn’t open a store with only three walls, so don’t start your e-commerce site until you’re sure it’s credible and functions flawlessly. For camera stores, the days of creeping into e-commerce are over. Consumers demand quality interactions.”

Operating in Multiple Marketplaces

“We’re in multiple marketplaces and are constantly approached by new marketplaces,” says Eldar. “Their pitch is it doesn’t cost anything until they sell something. Then we pay a commission. That’s not totally accurate. You have to look at the costs to integrate your system with that marketplace’s system. The testing and security issues, along with management’s time, are a real cost. We don’t jump on every offer, only those we think will pay off for us.”

Rental
Always expanding their online presence, District Camera promotes its rental program.

Facebook’s ability to target as well as control the budget has made a dynamite medium for District Camera, which has had great success with Facebook ads.

Conventional wisdom says local advertising for a brick-and-mortar store isn’t promoting e-commerce. Not so, according to Eldar. Their Washington, DC, area radio, direct mail, e-blasts, etc., have generated web orders. “We didn’t have a box to click for in-store pickup, but customers indicated they wanted to pick up their purchase personally. We’re adding a ‘pickup in-store’ button to resolve that issue.”

The Online Bundle

District Camera offers bundles with their online camera purchases. Unlike most online camera sellers, the products in the store’s bundle aren’t the cheapest. Eldar believes selling inexpensive “junk” to make it look like “a deal” is very shortsighted. Other retailers give 17 pieces of junk. When the customer opens the package, five of them won’t even fit their camera. That’s not a smart way to deal with the customer.

Used-
District is a significant online player in buying and selling used equipment. Even in-store, the selling of used gear is healthy

“We want to give them three quality pieces they would come into the store and buy,” Eldar explains. “We may take advantage of a manufacturer’s closeouts, but only if they’re high quality. Our regular bundle products are from ProMaster. For better cameras, we put in ProMaster Velocity memory cards rather than the cheapest memory card. We respect our customers’ intelligence, and we’re proud of the value our bundles represent to the customer. We want repeat business. No junk is allowed.”

Moreover, in addition to new product, District Camera does a healthy business in used equipment. They buy used cameras online and sell used gear on the Internet and in-store. The online buying site has simple, easy instructions for selling gear. This shows a bit of District Camera’s unique humanistic personality. Their online database feeds directly from their POS system onto their website. With their various marketplace offerings, it makes them a significant player in buying and selling used equipment.

E-tailer Security Issues: Physical & Cyber

Before 2016 Saed and Eldar had very few burglary threats or attempts. Then on Christmas Day, an old-fashioned smash-and-grab happened. Reviewing the videotapes showed the motion detector in the front of the store was inoperative. The thief even returned for a second load!

This jolted District Camera into action. Today each motion detector is checked at closing time. It’s a simple process and a lesson well learned from an unfortunate event.

Alerted to the national series of camera store break-ins through the PRO group’s online forum, the District Camera team became much more proactive in monitoring their security. They noticed some “customers” were too curious about their security cameras and motion detectors. Eldar reviewed the videotapes of those store visits, including the attention paid to the front door construction and exterior walls. Thinking trouble might be coming, he alerted the local police. District Camera’s proactive attitude protected them while a less vigilant camera store was hit an hour south of them.

Cyber Security

Conversely, regarding cyber security issues, there is no question an e-tailer will have fraud. It’s only a question of how often and how much. Eldar’s team is well versed in sniffing out fraud. District Camera subscribes to various services that help them confirm addresses, phone numbers, identities and other anchor points to ensure an order is legitimate. If salespeople have a question, they call the customer. If the customer’s unreachable, a team member e-mails saying there’s a question about the order and please call.

District-Staff2
Saed and Eldar believe in their staff (L-R): Eldar, Steve, Craig, Jeff, Ramona, Allan, Jack and J.J.

Eldar doesn’t stop there when it comes to District Photo’s online security concerns. Brett S. Johnson, a former U.S. Most Wanted referred to by the Secret Service as the “Original Internet Godfather,” was hired by the PRO group as a speaker at their September 2017 Orlando convention. Having served his sentence, Johnson now helps credit card merchants avoid people like him. According to PRO’s policy, all speakers have to interview PRO members and give their draft presentation outlines to PRO before the convention. Eldar was one of the people to coach the infamous Brett “Gollumfun” Johnson.

“Brett was very helpful in confirming and also updating some of our processes. Cybercrime is morphing, and we need to keep updating our processes and protocols to stay in front of the bad guys. Brett told me about a database site (emailage.com) that shows how old an e-mail address is. I checked their website immediately. We have to have every available tool to minimize fraud.”

Friendly Fraud

Johnson mentioned “friendly fraud” where customers try to scam the retailer through the return process. He suggested whenever someone claims credit card fraud or that a package didn’t arrive, they should be asked for a copy of the police report and the badge number of the officer who took the report.

At the PRO convention, Eldar plans to sit down with Brett Johnson to fine-tune District Camera’s security concerns. “It’s a real benefit to be able to meet with a resource like Brett and pick his brain. He’s willing to do that, and I’m willing to take him up on it.” One area they’ll discuss is grading the likelihood of fraud by the credit card’s issuing bank.

The Reroute Con

In another area of cyber fraud, UPS My Choice presents a potential problem when it allows customers to reroute packages. Many credit card companies won’t honor rerouted shipments, but the shipper doesn’t know it was rerouted until too late. Johnson is also helping Eldar to research ways to avoid these costly reroutings.

“Some marketplaces are more challenging than others, because they favor the consumer and give fraud and dishonesty a pass at the retailer’s expense. So for now, we’ve altered our strategy—depending on our experiences with their handling of abuse and fraud.”
District-Camera-Logo

Eldar continues: “You have problems on all fronts, but it’s less with Amazon. Amazon’s mediation process is fairer than those of other marketplaces. A customer who bought a $3,500 lens from us on Amazon clearly was committing fraud. He knew how the system worked and that the Post Office proof of delivery only shows the zip code where it was delivered—no street address. Amazon and eBay only see zip codes. This particular thief knew how to game the system. He shipped a box to our zip code, but it wasn’t delivered to us. In my gut, I knew that.

“I went to the Post Office and discovered they take a picture of every label that goes through there. We were able to pull out the exact label. It was addressed to a Walmart in our zip code. We went to Amazon with that information and won the mediation.”

Proactive Measures

You can’t eliminate all online fraud, but District Camera has learned how to minimize it by using various software to establish where the order came from, IP addresses, etc. They incorporate Whitepages data to match the phone number and address, and then do some basic investigative work. They call the phone numbers, research on Google and figure out if the person actually lives in that area.

When they ask why the person is buying from their store, it can give marketing information while sniffing out a person who may have placed 50 fraudulent orders worldwide that day.

“We have real people who know photography taking orders on the phone,” Eldar says. “We can ask what kind of pictures customers are going to take and what other equipment they own. An experienced order-desk person can sniff out customers who don’t know photography. If someone is buying a D3X or 5D Mark III but doesn’t know anything about photography, you’re pretty sure it’s a fraudster.”

Since a lot of crooks have basic location information on hand, District Camera salespeople ask potential customers what county they are in. Crooks can’t answer that one from a stolen identity. It catches them off guard. Eldar says it’s his best “stumper question.”

Customer Service: In-Store & Online

Saed believes customer service sets District Camera apart from the competition.

District-Staff3
All team members, like Jack, excel in customer service.

Eldar ponders that a moment and adds: “It’s really our people who make us special. It’s our team that delivers the outstanding customer service that sets us apart from the other faceless online organizations out there. Our surprising number of referral customers from across the country often volunteer that a friend told them to buy from us. That’s because our team cares for our customers.”
District-Staff4

District Camera is proud of their great reviews on Facebook and Google, along with good comments from online forums. Smaller, less heavily posted groups—like Fujifilm or Sony forums—give them a chance to stick out.

District-Staff5
Romo, District Camera’s store mascot

“We read every one of them and respond when appropriate,” says Eldar. “When we askfirst-time shoppers why they chose District Camera, we frequently hear that our reviews tipped the customer in our favor.

“We try our best to make our customers happy, with service as well as price. We guarantee our low prices, and we also make sure our sales staff treats customers well and respectfully, giving them the best service.”

Competitive Pricing

District Camera will match almost any price. In-store or online, they ask if customers know their price is competitive. They believe everyone shops for price. The salesperson needs to know what customers are thinking. Some like to haggle. Many don’t. By asking them the price question, consumers have an opportunity to disclose they found a better price. Being upfront about the price helps customers understand District is on their side, making them receptive to suggested accessories.

District-Staff6
Craig, manning shipping and receiving

“We have team meetings often. Throughout the workweek, I scribble notes on what I feel is going well and what’s not. We discuss those at the meetings and make sure the whole team is aware,” Eldar said.

“The telephone is an extremely important part of our business. It’s the first point of contact for most customers. We discuss that a lot at our meetings. I use the example of a customer calling two or three local or out-of-state stores to ask if item ‘A’ is in stock. The answer is yes or no. The ‘What’s the price?’ answer is usually a number. That’s the incorrect way of doing it.

“Instead, start a conversation. We want to get to that second or third level, so when we bring up our low-price guarantee or say, ‘Yes, our price is $596.95, but this is what we’re including . . . ,’ customers often respond, ‘I didn’t know that. Tell me about the memory card and the filter.’ When we can get that conversation started, we’re ahead of the competition.”

Some products aren’t an easy sell in an online environment. A ProMaster HGX filter is a bigger investment than the average filter. However, customers find it worth the price when they hear the benefits. This is much easier to do on the phone or face to face.

Looking Forward

Saed sees the future as “similar to the last few years, I hope. If we keep growing as we have and keep working hard there is good potential.”

Eldar concurs. “We’ve grown because of our team. We couldn’t have done it without them. We feel the impact of our growth in volume as well as increased inventory, along with more staff and customers crammed into the same physical space. Merchandise is stacked 15 feet up the walls, and we’re out of wall space. Resolving our storage and efficient operational space are top of our agenda.”

Merchandise
Merchandise is stacked 15 feet up the walls; if a customer asks for it, they have it.

Eldar has a wide ranging to-do list. “At the PRO show I listen to the successful retailers who are renting camera gear. We need to boost our camera and lens rental program, including the online reservation systems leading retailers have.”

District Camera has been approached by photographers who love the store. They have their own following on their blogs and classes and would like to have an affiliate program from which they could get a small referral fee. That idea is also under consideration.

Sony’s consumer program, “12 months Same As Cash,” has been very successful at retail. During the PRO convention, Eldar hopes to meet with the same finance company Sony uses to see how to expand that concept to District Camera’s entire web product line. If that type of financing appeals to consumers in-store, why wouldn’t it appeal to consumers ordering from home?

Saed says the company’s roots are in photofinishing. Eldar believes they can double down on services while still growing e-commerce and traditional in-store product sales. With a superb lab team and good equipment in place, Eldar is exploring how IPI’s MSP program can grow sales. He’s never been to an IPI – Member Network conference and is trying to schedule it.

Dynamic Duo to Watch

Space constraints are causing District Camera to be less efficient than it must be to keep the rapid order shipments flowing. But growth is a good problem to have—certainly better than the alternative.

With the passion, dedication and power of working together, the Saed–Eldar Tariverdi father and son team will drive District Camera further. This dynamic duo is a powerhouse to watch and learn from. They are leading the future of our industry in e-commerce.

 

First Impressions of Picktorial Raw Image Processing Software by A Post By: Christian Hoiberg – DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY SCHOOL

It’s like I have been telling all you Mac users and especially Fuji X shooters, this is the software you just have to have. 

 

If you’re looking for an alternative to the Adobe image processors, you might want to give Picktorial a try. Here are this author’s first impressions of it.

Source: First Impressions of Picktorial Raw Image Processing Software

A rant and my opinion, my two cents -The Daily Phoblographer – P for Professional: What I Learned From Shooting in Program Auto by Chris Gampat

A rant and my opinion, my two cents

I have been following this site for quite a while now but something seems really off center. Sometimes I have to wonder why Chris even writes at all as he seems to go through tunnels without ever coming out at the other end. I just read his article on Programmed and truthfully I do not shoot in programmed but I also don’t shoot in manual. First off all Dslr and mirroless cameras let you over ride the basic programmed setting with the turn of a wheel just in case you want to favor f-stop or shutter speed or vice versa. That is not even mentioned. Even though you shoot in programmed you can still set your meter to work like you want it to. Spot, multi, center weighted, what ever. You can set your Iso if you want. You can set under and over exposure compensationYou can set your white balance.

So you can change the Program parameters.

A program is no more than a curve, a line with certain limitations beyond the cameras total capability of f stops and shutter speeds and for the most part if left alone it allows for the possibility of more and better spontaneous captures.

But he does not seem to get that.

You have a lot of options in your dSlr and Mirrorless cameras that allow you to work in a way that is most comfortable for you.

There is aperture priority, shutter priority, programmed mode with variable operation, manual mode.  All of these modes will allow you to get great images. BUT THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH SHOOTING IN PROGRAMMED IF THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH.  You are in control and all of these different ways of shooting they are simply a great variety of tools for different shooting situations.  Even if you are a die-hard non program user, you may find some day that you are in a situation where lighting is rapidly changing for light to dark to what we consider normal and the camera believe it or not, in programmed, will compensate for that changing light faster than you can.  REALLY!!!

How do I like to shoot?  I shoot almost all day long in aperture priority so I can control the depth of my images and yes I can do that in programmed as well just by changing the program for what it think is right to a nice selection of shutter speeds and f-stop for more creative control.  When I know that subject are going to be fast-moving I use shutter priority and again I can favor the programmed setting to give me a faster shutter speed and it will change the aperture to compensate.  I very rarely use manual control because, well, I just don’t run into situations that would require it.  What is manual?  It would be me setting the aperture and the shutter speed of my lens and body to achieve the “ULTIMATE PHOTOGRAPHY.”  Do I need to do that for 99.9 percent of what I take pictures of. Absolutely not.

I had a student who was also a dear friend and no matter how much a taught her in my workshops I could not change the fact that she shot in programmed mode ALL THE TIME.  Her work was incredible even though she really did not control the situation.  It was so incredible that she has one award after award after award for her inspiring photography.  She has a magic eye when it comes to composition and the fact that she only shoots in programmed did not matter, ever.

I have been involved with photography, at the time of this writing, for 69 years and I have worked for major camera companies, been free lance, been a wedding photographer, been a teacher in a workshop company I owned.

Enjoy your photography no matter how you do it.

 

If someone is going to write an article then they should have all the facts and the truths available or do not write it at all. I have seen too much of this type of writing on this site.

I have decided not to put up with this sites inaccuracies and at times wrong information and stay with more reliable bloggers.  There are more than a sufficient amount of real smart professionals providing great and accurate information about cameras and technique all over the web.  This one below is good to stay away from.

The Daily Phoblographer Email Forms

Source: The Daily Phoblographer

Ponder The So So Copy – Why things cost what they cost… | Danny Lenihan | Pulse | LinkedIn

This article while published by one manufacturer is truly about “knock off” products that infringe on the rights of honest manufacturers.  It is an interesting and educational article and worth reading before you buy an “off brand” product that in the long haul may not be up to snuff and may represent working conditions that are illegal and oppressive throughout the world.

In this case it is about an L bracket that 3 Legged Thing company has come out with and their argument on why intellectual property right should be respected by primarily the Chinese.

However, history reminds me, or at least the history I can remember is that the L Bracket concept has been copied by a great many manufacturers in Asia after re engineering the Kirk and Really Right Stuff L brackets and isn’t this a copy of sorts itself of their  intellectual property?

In the last couple of weeks my little brand, 3 Legged Thing, launched a brand new Universal L Bracket – the QR11. For the most part, the response has

Source: Why things cost what they cost… | Danny Lenihan | Pulse | LinkedIn

Discipline – Can you have more than one?

You will or maybe you already have reached a point when you settle on exactly what body or bodies you own and what lenses have risen above all others to be come your “kit.”  Maybe they are zooms.  Maybe they are primes. Maybe they are a combination of zooms and primes.

Let me take an educated guess that you either own three prime lenses.  Or perhaps three zoom lenses.  Or maybe a combination totaling three lenses of both primes and zooms.

While you have two bodies you more than likely will only carry one on you at any given moment and how you carry that one camera will be a personal favorite way.  Maybe it is on a neck/shoulder strap.  Maybe it is a sling across your chest strap. Perhaps it is a device like a Peak Design clip device that either fits on your belt or bag strap.  Or it could be something as simple as a wrist strap.

 

All that is left now is what are you going to do when you go out for the day to walk through the woods, hang out on the streets, climb a nearby mountain, or simply interact with people you may know or for that matter who you may not know at all.  Are you going to take your three lenses and one camera and two batteries, and two extra cards, and some lens cleaning stuff and pop all of that in one bag which could total  in weight between 5.5 to 10.5 American pounds or 2.49476 to 4.76272 kilograms. Gee whiz I think I am going to carry kilograms because they numerically appear lighter than pounds.

 

This is where the word discipline comes in.  I have spent a life time trying to discipline myself when it comes to what camera gear goes with me and what stays either at home, in the hotel or in the car trunk as I head out for a wonderful day of photography.  I have grossly failed at disciplining myself and because of that I know what I must do.  So here is a perfect case of “DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO.”

i have spent enough money on camera bags and straps to feed a small nation of light eaters.  Most of those bags are now gone and if I check real quick I am sure I can take ownership of the five bags I still own and can honestly say that I use only two of them.  The bags I no longer use are the Billingham (Big Dollar Bags) which I simply do not have the where with all to sell because they are just simply beautiful bags as well as functional in a camera bag way.

What I do use NOW, are two very nicely designed bags.  One is the STREETOMATIC PLUS (+) from a company called Cosyspeed.  The other is a bag I swore up and down I would no own and it is the Peak Design Every Day Sling.

i am not going to go into a real review about the bags, only because this is more about lightning your load and really taking with you what you will use. Whether it be just a stroll down some city street or a trail through a beautiful park, or more intense, a several mile hike through some rough forest or perhaps a full day traveling the city via local transportation to a variety of locations for image making.

Depending on what you do will determine the kind of gear you need and how to carry it.  For my extended day out I am using the Peak Design Every Day Sling and for a simple excursion I use the Streetomatic plus.

The sling is great to work with.  I keep the following in the sling bag, which by the way can go across my back, on my shoulder or right in front of my chest.  In the bag is:

One Fuji X pro 2, a 50mm 2.0, 35mm 2.0 and 23mm 2.0.  2 batteries, 2 extra memory cards, a camera strap, two extension rings, cable release, a leatherman Juice knife. There is a Peak Design Clamp attached to outside of the bag to carry my camera at the ready and there is a balloon type pocket on the front that opens to store something has big as a large zoom (which I do not carry with this bag) or a water bottle, etc.  The cinch straps for this expanding pocket also are long enough to attach a small tripod if needed to the bottom of the bag.  With all of this, once it is on my body the weight is so well-distributed that I hardly know it is there.

For my mini excursions I use the Streetomatic plus.  It fits nicely around my waist or across my chest and is virtually invisible.  It is very comfortable and was designed with mirrorless cameras in mind.  In this bag is the following. Fuji X pro 2, 18-55 zoom lens, 35mm 2.0, 2 batteries, two extra cards, Iphone 6 plus.  It is a very small kit and a pleasure to carry.

Here are some videos.

PEAK DESIGN EVERY DAY SLING

 

COSYSPEED STREETOMATIC PLUS

Is Fujifilm Holding Out On X-Pro2 Owners?  Oh yeah, you bet they are

Is Fujifilm Holding Out On X-Pro2 Owners?  Oh yeah, you bet they are

 

While we all applaud Fuji for firmware upgrades unlike anyone else seems to want to deliver, there are issues about the X pro 2 that deserve answers from Fuji and the answers have not been forth coming.  Why does Fuji remain so silent?   Hmmmmm.

Like why can the cheaper Fuji XT20 do 4k Video but the X pro 2 cannot.  Fuji originally said that the XT2 had a heat sink to prevent over heating so it has 4K, but the XT20 does not have a heat sink and it does 4K video. Hmmmmm.

Like how come rubber eyepieces disappear constantly from the viewfinder on the X pro 2?  Why does Fuji simply send replacement eyepieces in the United States but in Europe they replace the entire view finder assembly via a repair that sends the camera back to Fuji? And why hasn’t Fuji  issued a recall for the defective eyepiece assembly? After all it does affect the water seal integrity.  Hmmmmm.

Why does it seem that the QC of the X pro 2 is not as good when compared to the original X pro 1? Hmmmm.

How come the Fuji XT2 had a firmware upgrade that allows the photographer to select Iso from the control wheel but the upgrade did not get passed on to the PROFESSIONAL X PRO 2 which has a lousy way of setting the Iso?    HMMMMM.

Source: Is Fujifilm Holding Out On X-Pro2 Owners?

Monochrome — updated July 13th, 2017 with a better viewing method

 

Monochrome — updated July 13th, 2017 with a better viewing method

Many many years ago when I was just a kid working in my dad’s darkroom, black and white photography was what we did.  People shot in black and white, processed black and white and created images that were story telling, dramatic, honing in on what was the primary subject and not the colors.  Black and White totally eliminated color and isolated what is important in an image, the subject.

I am not against good color images and to be honest, if done right can provide us with the beauty of the world overall.  Color is most certainly a part of photographic lives and story telling so I am not discounting what great color represents to the photographer and the images a photographer gives to us.

There is a long-awaited and most certainly deserved rebirth  of the monochrome image, which is not solely black and white.  People are beginning to appreciate how a monochrome image draw them into the image, right to the heart of the story, the subject.

Overtime and even more so today I have processed digital images that were created in raw color by the cameras software, into monochrome images with a variety of software products.  With wonderful software in the market today I have come to process images both in color and black and white in Picktorial 3.0 raw processor which provides me with universal and local adjustments for all my tools.  Then in the final process should I want a more artistic approach I either export a copy of my image to Nik Silverefex Pro 2.0 (soon to be discontinued completely) or Alien Skin X2 Layer software  and/or On1 Photo Raw

However, as I am a Mac user, I do use Picktorial for over all adjustments and then Alien Skin x2 to finish if necessary.  I should note that Alien Skin is also a raw processor for both Windows and Mac as is On1.

I have also set up my Fuji X cameras, all three of them to shoot black and white Jpegs and color raw files at the same time.  So what I see in the viewfinder and LCD screen is a black and white (monochrome) image.

Definitions

Adjective:  1) having only one color, 2) representing colors with shades of gray (photography).

Origin: From Ancient Greek μονόχρωμος ‎(monókhrōmos), from μόνος ‎(mónos, one) + χρῶμα ‎(khrôma, color); mono- +‎ -chrome.

First known use: Early decades of the 19th century.

Modern use: ELLIOTPAULSTERN.ME

Digital photography, monochrome is the capture of only shades of black by the sensor, or by post-processing a color image to present only the perceived brightness by combining the values of multiple channels (usually red, blue, and green). The weighting of individual channels may be selected to achieve a desired artistic effect; if only the red channel is selected by the weighting then the effect will be similar to that of using a red filter on panchromatic film. If the red channel is eliminated and the green and blue combined then the effect will be similar to that of orthochromatic film or the use of a cyan filter on panchromatic film. The selection of weighting thus allows a wide range of artistic expression in the final monochromatic image.

 

What My Camera Saw as My Parents Died of Cancer from Nancy Borowick

Please do not turn the page, click through to another story because the word Cancer is in the title of this article because this is about a dignity that rarely ever gets recorded.  I do not know anyone, any more who has lived their lives without either themselves or someone they know who has fought this battle.

I am not saying that I could every muster the mental or physical strength to do what this incredible photographer did, but my heart felt feelings go out to her and her family as a 74 year old man who has always treated photography as an art and even more so a documented history of my life and the lives of others.

I would not assume that this was easy.  But it seems that she took the tools of her profession and mustered all her skills  to tell a story that not only was about her family, her life, but so many others as well.

 

There is a whole range of feelings that happen with the delivery of bad news. In my case, like many others, knees lock, the heart speeds up and the hairs o

Source: What My Camera Saw as My Parents Died of Cancer

AND IN NANCY’S OWN WORDS ON NPR.

Adobe officially admits speeding up Lightroom is ‘top priority’ BUT PICKTORIAL HAS THEM SOOOO BEAT

Oh my friggin’ god.  This cannot be happening.  Adobe is admitting after years of crappy performance issues and I  have to believe after more than just hundreds of thousands complaints they refused to respond to or admit to HAVE DECIDED TO COME OUT OF THE SOFTWARE CLOSET.

And I know  that this is only one problem that they are actually owning up to.  As a Fuji user for the past several years Adobe has failed to solve image processing problems with the Fuji raw files.  And of course there has been their wonderful subscription system.

WELL HEY ARE JUST TO LATE.

I made a decision several years ago to abandon every Adobe product on my Macs and I have never looked back.

In the past year so much advanced image processing software has come to market that have easily out performed Adobe Lightroom.  On1 Photo Raw 2017.5, Alien Skin X2 Raw Layers, and my favorite out of them all PICTORIAL 3.0 raw software which is blindingly fast, uses the Mac file system (love it) and has incredible advanced universal and local adjustments for just about anything you want to do from total tonal control, sharpening, blur, noise reduction, soften skin retouching, healing, presets, frames, watermarks, textures, and the list just goes on and the developers allow local adjustments for just about everything. And for all of that it sells between 39.00 bucks to 69.00 bucks depending if you take advantage of the offer in the Apple Store or on their web site.

AND they do something that no one does.  I mean no one does.  Did I say no one does?  Yup!!!  They respond to any issues you may have so damned fast it will make your head spin.  Where can you find them?  Right Here When You Click

AND DID I SAY FAST?  I SAID IT IS SO FRIGGIN’ FAST IT WILL MAKE YOUR HEAD SPIN.

Photographers struggling with painfully slow Adobe Lightroom performance take heart: Adobe knows there’s an issue, and fixing it is ‘top priority.’

Source: Adobe officially admits speeding up Lightroom is ‘top priority’: Digital Photography Review

Processing with Picktorial 3: An All-in-One RAW Editor? – Capture Landscapes the author really loves it!!!!!!!!!!

Processing with Picktorial 3: An All-in-One RAW Editor? – Capture Landscapes the author really loves it!!!!!!!!!!

 

A first impression of processing landscape photography with Picktorial 3. General thoughts on its performance, features, bugs and over-all experience.

Source: Processing with Picktorial 3: An All-in-One RAW Editor? – Capture Landscapes

How to Film or Photograph the 2017 Solar Eclipse Like a Pro

Article credits:  Space.com

Space.com is providing excellent information for those who want to photograph the eclipse in August.  Remember to protect your eyes either with proper eclipse glasses or proper filtration on your imaging devices.

 

Are you thinking of photographing the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017? Check out this handy guide from two expert eclipse photographers.

Source: How to Film or Photograph the 2017 Solar Eclipse Like a Pro

Airline Passengers and batteries FAA_airline_passengers_and_batteries

In light of Nikon’s announcements of a recall once again for lithium batteries that go back as far as 2012 it does not hurt to keep up to date with FAA regulations.  Info on DPREVIEW

Batteries – These are FAA  rules governing batteries on USA airlines from 2015.  I do not believe too much has changed but it does not hurt to be reminded.

Source: Airline Passengers and batteries December 1 2015 – FAA_airline_passengers_and_batteries.pdf

When to Use a Higher ISO for Landscape Photography – Spencer Cox

 

GOOD READ! by

A question was texted to me today.  While I have my own opinion on how and when to use high iso for landscape photography, the author of this article really nails it in my opinion.

For landscape photography, most of the time, you’ll end up using your camera’s base ISO. That’s the power of a tripod; it lets you set long enough shutter speeds to capture a bright photo, even in dark environments at low ISO values. However, settings like this do not work for all images. Sometimes, depending upon the landscape, you’ll need to raise your ISO in order to capture a successful photograph. This article dives into the most common of those situations.

Source: When to Use a Higher ISO for Landscape Photography

Intentional Royal Screwing – Photobucket breaks billions of photos online, upsets millions of users: Digital Photography Review

 

I never used the service but it appears millions have and are now WITHOUT WARNING  totally screwed.

One has to wonder what is happening in the photo industries tangent enterprises.  Google dumps the great Nik plugins, Apple going to Hi Sierra will kill all 32 bit programs, Micron who bought Lexar was able to suck out what ever technology they needed and kissed Lexar and the consumer base that uses it out the back door and now Photobucket turns to digital black mail meaning good luck if you ever want to see your images again.  WOW.

Hang on to your seats folks because it seems like there is a trend taking place.

 

Photobucket recently started charging $400/year for a service that used to be free, breaking billions of images across the web in one fell swoop. Users are NOT happy.

Source: Photobucket breaks billions of photos online, upsets millions of users: Digital Photography Review

Lexar discontinued: Micron announces the end of Lexar memory cards: Digital Photography Review

HOW MANY MORE THINGS ARE TAKING THEIR LEAVE OF THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S MARKET PLACE

First it was Google’s destruction of the great Nik plugins and now Micro calls and end to Lexar products in total.

It’s the end of an era. Parent company Micron has announced that they are discontinuing the Lexar retail brand. This includes ‘memory cards, USB flash drives, readers, and storage drives.’

Source: Lexar discontinued: Micron announces the end of Lexar memory cards: Digital Photography Review

Picktorial – Add a Custom Watermark

Add a Custom Watermark

 

Picktorial is just about the cleanest and easiest image processor (raw or any other format) that one can use with the Macintosh computers.  I have been using this program for quite some time now and the features and excellent image representations of your personal look are incredible.

A feature that is not usually talked about too much is the ability to add a very personalized watermark to an image.

Most people think that a watermark is solely for preventing others from copying or taking credit for your hard work and while that might be true in the world of Facebook and Google, we lose sight of the fact that a watermark is also an identifier that says this is the very fine work of a very fine photographer artist.

A watermark that is designed for that purpose can easily and creatively be made by listening to the attached tutorials.

Why don’t you give it a try.

First is a tutorial on how to create the watermark

Second is a tutorial on how to put the logo into Picktorial 3.0

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