10 Reasons Why I Shop at Pictureline and You Should Too

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(photo by Paul Rohde, Canon 5D Mark II)

In Salt Lake City we are blessed to have a locally owned camera store, Pictureline, that is here to serve the local photographers. Here are ten reasons in no particular order that I support this business and you should too:

Locally Owned
Pictureline is locally owned and operated. You can walk in just about anytime and speak directly with the owner, Jens Nielsen. Your dollars spent at Pictureline are staying within the community.

They Receive Great Manufacturer Support
What better example of this than the fact that Pictureline was one of the first (if not THE first) retailer in the U.S. to have the Canon 5D Mark II in stock. They move a large amount of product and appear to have great connections within the manufacturers.

They Give Back
Pictureline’s annual event, Digitalfest, is one example of their giving back to the photographers they serve. This year’s keynote speakers of Sam Abell and Julianne Kost were fantastic. The event was free to customers. Additionally they offer free classes through their Digital U training program. These classes are aimed at photographers of all skill levels.

Non-Commission Sales People
I have never felt like I was being pressured into buying something. The sales staff has always been more concerned in what would fit my needs rather than the price of the equipment.

They Treat Their Employees Well
As evidenced by the long-time employees at the store, the staff appears to truly enjoy working there. Turnover seems to be pretty low. This means that there are always familiar faces ready to serve.

Personalized Service
The best example of this was when my 70+ year old mother was in town last Christmas. She went into Pictureline by herself to pick up a gift for me (what a nice mother!). She has since raved numerous times about how well she was treated. The young lady who helped her took all the time to answer her questions and make sure she was getting what she needed.

They Stand Behind What They Sell
They recently replaced an out-of-warranty piece of equipment for me without even being asked. I was talking with them about purchasing a replacement, and they asked why. When I told them that it had died, they stepped up and replaced it.

Rentals
They provide a rental service. If I need an additional piece of gear for a shoot, I know that I can make a call and have it reserved. I have rented large lenses (400mm+) and additional Pocket Wizards.

Great Website
The Pictureline.com website not only has great up-to-the-second inventory info, it has a community section as well. I know that if I sign up to be notified when a piece of equipment comes in stock that I will get an automated email the minute it is available. In the community section, they have a free Directory in which photographers can feature a bio and samples of their work.

Berkley
Berkley is my main contact. He is the sales person I have depended on for a few years now. I know that he will do what it takes to help me out. He has gone out of his way on more than one occasion to find a certain piece of equipment for me. The best part is that I was treated the same way from him when I first went into the store and he didn’t know me at all.

I’m sure that there are many other reasons I could come up with. In a recent conversation with Scott Bourne of This Week in Photography, I was telling Scott about Pictureline. He said something that I have heard from many photographers – that locally owned stores that cater to photographers are quickly disappearing in our country. If we want this type of store to stick around, then we need to support them.

p.s. Pictureline neither supports this site or gives me any special deals. I am a fan of their business simply because of the great service I have received from them over the years.

November 29, 2008 at 12:01 am by | Categories: Post

Black Friday

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What better way to recognize the busiest shopping day of the year than to show one of my images in a Black Friday advertisement. Here’s the original image the designer purchased on iStock. They didn’t make much adjustments from my editing other than the addition of some ornament graphics.

(Thanks to Scott Smith for spotting this and sending it over)

November 28, 2008 at 8:29 am by | Categories: Post

Thanksgiving Mini-Photowalk

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I just got off the phone with Harley, and we are planning on doing a mini-photowalk in downtown Salt Lake City tonight beginning at 8:00 pm. If anyone wants to join us, drop me an email at rich at leggnet dot com and I will let you know where we are meeting.

Hopefully the streets will still be wet from today’s rain which will make for some nice reflections. This will be a great opportunity for me to try out some high ISO images on the new 5D mark II.

Update: We will be meeting at the City Center Trax Station (100 S. Main Street) at 8:00 pm

November 27, 2008 at 10:35 am by | Categories: Post

Canon 5D Mark II – On Assignment

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After running the new 5D Mark II through some successful testing yesterday, I opted to make it my primary camera on a shoot I did today for a regional magazine. The assignment was to shoot images to accompany a feature article on a high end steak house. I must say that I am very pleased with the results.

I paired the body with my main lens, the Canon 24-105 f4L, and went to work. I was assigned to get images of steak, a portrait of the manager and an interior shot of the restaurant. The camera performed flawlessly in taking on this task.

On the food and portrait settings I used monolights at ISO 100 just as I would have done with my original 5D, but on the restaurant interior I used existing lighting at ISO 1000. I would have never pushed the speed that high with the 5D but with the Mark II the results were fantastic.

The exposure and color represented in the RAW images straight out of the camera were great. I did very little adjustment in the RAW conversion. On the image shown above, the only editing I have done to it outside of the conversion in Adobe Camera Raw was to add a high pass sharpening layer.

The only thing I don’t like about the Mark II as of now is that I don’t have a battery grip. I have been using grips on my cameras for 25+ years (I had motor drives on my old Nikon 35mm film bodies) and am really accustomed to holding the grip for vertical shots so it took a little adjustment today. The grip for the Mark II (Canon BG-E6) hasn’t arrived yet at Pictureline. As soon as it comes in it will become a near permanent fixture to the body.

Next up for the new camera, submitting some images from it to iStock.

Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 24-105 f/4L lens – 1/160 second, f/6.3, ISO 100

November 26, 2008 at 10:50 pm by | Categories: Post

5D Mark II in my hands

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Thanks to my great friends at Pictureline, I was able to secure one of the first Canon 5D Mark II cameras to be publicly available in the US. I can’t wait to run it through some test work before putting it into production. High ISO, here I come!

November 26 Update

After putting the camera through some simulated production work last night, I feel safe in putting it into actual service. I will be using it today for a magazine assignment (with my workhorse 5D along as a backup of course). One thing to note is that I have discovered how much I use the battery grip on my camera bodies. I hope the BG-E6 arrives soon at Pictureline.

November 25, 2008 at 12:35 pm by | Categories: Post

Photoshop Tip: Blend a B&W Layer to add Edginess

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Since the majority of my photo editing is for my stock portfolio, I tend to be rather vanilla with my editing. By that I mean that I keep my images pretty true to how they were shot. For uses outside of stock however, a friend of mine recently showed me a quick way to add edginess to an image by blending layers.

I will be the first person to tell you that I am no master of layer blending in Photoshop (I will defer that title to Ann Torrence, her knowledge on the subject is amazing!), but I really like the look that this effect creates.

In today’s before/after image, I opened one of my shots from last weekend in Photoshop. The sample on the left is unedited other than the RAW conversion. On the other image (right side), I only added this simple process in Photoshop:

1. Create a copy of the original layer above itself
2. Desaturate the new layer (apple-shift-U on a Mac)
3. Set the blending of the new layer to ‘Overlay’

If you want to further tweak the settings, try different blending modes (soft light, hard light, etc.) and play around with opacity.

And that’s it. A quick and fairly easy way to add a more dramatic look to an image.

Canon 5D, Canon 24-105 f/4L lens – 1/50 second, f/4, ISO 100

at 8:35 am by | Categories: tutorial

Life on the Street – Stock Photo Shoot

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One of the photo shoots I did this past weekend was a session portraying a homeless couple. My goal was to create a series of realistic images to be added to my stock photo portfolio.

In the images I had the models dress in several layers of well worn clothing. To further perpetuate the stereotype, I have them a shopping cart filled with belongings. Harley and Diane agreed to model and did an exceptional job in preparing the wardrobe. I was fortunate enough to come across an abandoned shopping cart in a vacant field last month and picked it up in preparation.

For the location, I found a vacant building in an older part of Salt Lake City. This locale suited the purpose extremely well. Parking was close, it had afternoon shade and the sidewalk was a mix of old bricks and smooth concrete.

The primary light source was natural light with fill being provided by an off-camera speedlight shooting through a white umbrella. The off camera light was being triggered via IR from an on-camera speedlight. I shot in Aperture Priority with the fill light set on TTL at an exposure compensation factor of between -2/3 to -1 1/3 f/stop.

Street Life

I haven’t completed editing the series, but so far I am extremely pleased with the results. The samples shown here have quite a bit more editing/effects than I will apply to the final stock images, but I wanted to give a bit more “edge” to them to see how they would look.

With the current state of the global economy, I have hope that these images will unfortunately be good sellers.

Canon 5D, Canon 24-105 f/4L lens – 1/50 second, f/4, ISO 100

November 24, 2008 at 12:05 pm by | Categories: Post

"Free Image of the Week" at iStockphoto.com

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I came home this afternoon to find that one of my images has been chosen as the “Free Image of the Week” at iStockphoto.com. While this particular honor won’t make me any additional sales (or will it?), it is always nice to have one’s work recognized by peers.

To pick up your own free full-resolution copy of the shot, drop by the image’s page this week at iStockphoto by clicking here.

November 23, 2008 at 1:57 pm by | Categories: Post

She Gets 110 Channels

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Canon 5D, Canon 24-105 f/4L lens – 1/60 second, f/5, ISO 100

November 22, 2008 at 7:34 am by | Categories: Post

iStockphoto Download # 50,000

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I sold my 50,000th image on iStockphoto last night. Next stop, 100k!

Canon 5D, Canon 24-105 f/4L lens – 1/125 second, f/4, ISO 160

November 21, 2008 at 6:46 am by | Categories: Post