How To Create A Black & White Smart Collection In Adobe Lightroom

Have you been nominated for the Black and White challenge? You know the one: someone posts a Black & White photograph to a Social Media site and then they nominate you to then post one black and white photograph each day for 5 days? You have? Excellent! Then this may help you out with that challenge.

Did you know you can actually setup a Smart Collection in Lightroom so you can view all of your Black and White photographs in one, neat collection? This will make finding all your best Black and White’s far easier and participating in this great little challenge so much more fun.

If you’re at home or in a place where you can watch a video, then check this out. If not just continue past the video for the instructions laid out with screen grabs:

(Be sure to share links to your 5 Black & White Photographs below!)

So there you go –  a Smart Collection showing just the mono photos in your library! Have a go.

Why not share a link to some of your very own Black and White photographs below in the comments.

Moo.com Spring Sale – 25% off

The good people over at moo.com are having another one of their fantastic sales!

From now until 11:59pm on April 29th you can get 35% off all printed products. The sale itself gets you 25% off, but when used in conjunction with a referral code you can get a further 10% off!

moo.com sale

The Range of Products

Moo produce some excellent products including the unique ‘Luxe’ Business Cards (which I review here), letter heads, mini cards, post cards and stickers too! So if you’ve just rebranded or you’re looking for some new business cards for your photography business, now is the time to have a look at Moo.com

Printfinity

Have you ever come across those people with really cool business cards? Maybe they’re really unique, or they have a different picture on each card? Well, you can do that with Moo.com too. Moo call it ‘Printfinity’, meaning you can upload lots of different photographs to be displayed on your cards. If you order a box of 50 and send them 5 photographs you’ll end up with 5 sets of 10 unique looking cards. Upload 50 photographs and you’ll received a box full of totally unique cards all with different pictures on!

Get 35% off today by ordering your cards before midnight on April 29th and support Ready Steady Pro and get a further 10% off by using discount code 7qftdq at the checkout (or use this link: moo.com referral from Ready Steady Pro)

Moo.com Luxe Business Cards reviewed here on Ready Steady Pro

For the full review and more photographs, check out this post: http://bit.ly/1lE9hai or just watch the video below:

Olympus OMD Promotion – Free 45mm f/1.8 Lens & Battery Grip worth over £430!

It’s no secret: I’ve well and truly fallen in love with the OM-D EM-5 from Olympus.  small, lightweight (yet incredibly well built) camera with great interchangeable lenses and excellent focusing. Add to that the beautiful retro look too: You’ve got yourself an amazing camera. A full review will be up here on the blog in the next week or so.

Fully Loaded Promotion from Olympus

I took an EM-5 on loan from Olympus UK over a week ago. It only took about 4 days though before I had placed an order for my own along with the 12-50mm kit lens and the ultra sharp 17mm f.18 lens. One of the reasons I opted for the EM-5 over the EM-1 though was because Olympus currently have a truly irresistible offer running:

Free HLD-6 Battery Grip and M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 Prime Lens when you purchase an OMD EM5 with 12-50 Kit.
Free HLD-6 Battery Grip and M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 Prime Lens when you purchase an OMD EM5 with 12-50 Kit.

When you buy an Olympus OM-D EM-5 with the 12-50mm kit lens (for £899) from a UK reseller holding stock purchased from Olympus, you can then claim a FREE Battery Grip (HLD-6) and the 45mm M.Zuiko f/1.8 Kit lens for free. These items retail at over £430! (I’ve listed some UK Resellers below)

Olympus OM-D EM-5:

Review of the M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 prime:

Review of the HLD-6 Olympus Battery Grip:

You can pick up this offer from Park Cameras, Wex, or you can find other retailers through the olympus website: http://www.olympus.co.uk/site/en/c/cameras_support/dealer_locator/dealerlocator.do?p=camera. I would recommend you check with the retailer first to ensure you can take up this offer when you purchase through them.

So, grab your OM-D EM-5 and Kit Lens today to take advantage of this offer. This offer does also expire at the end of March too (31/03/2014) so it’s a time-sensitive thing!

Note: Terms and Conditions Apply, purchase must be made between (24/01/2014 – 31/03/2014) and proof of purchase needs to be shown to qualify for promotion

What’s Your Unique Selling Point? (USP)

I’ve said on a few podcasts now; “It’s better to have 50% of people love you and 50% of people hate you than to have 100% of people not care at all”. The premise here being is that if you’re not exceptional, not outstanding, not different…then who will care? Who will you target market be and why would they choose you over someone else? To borrow a phrase from Seth Godin – what is your Purple Cow?

You have to stand out from the crowd even if that means many people do not like your work or your approach.

So, if you’re looking to please the widest possible audience you’re somewhat missing the point. In fact, that’s what a lot of people are doing and so the result ends up being this diluted product that doesn’t delight one section of people, but rather it is mildly satisfactory to some people. That is not the characteristic of an exceptional product or service. That is not a product people are going to go mad for, buy, scream and shout about. That isn’t a successful product

In the book ‘Purple Cow’, by Seth Godin, Seth tells the story of when Comedy Central (the TV Channel) showed ‘South Park’ to a test group. It scored a record low score of 1.8 out of 10 among women in the test group, but recorded unanimous high scores among young males. It goes without saying if you look now how massively popular the South Park show is that it is a purple cow: It’s been on for 17 seasons with some 247 shows, consistently being one of the highest airing programs on cable TV. It’s received numerous awards and a movie too.

Suffice to say that South Park is Marmite (You either love it or hate it). But the love for the show from it’s fans is the important statistic. It’s those people who watch it, buy the DVD’s and the merchandise and make the brand money. The people who hate it don’t have anything to do with it. These are not worth focusing on. What if the makers of South Park suddenly decided to try and make South Park more appealing to more people? What if they cut the language, removed some of the obscenities and dulled the show down to make it more ‘digestible’ to more people. Do you think that more people would love it, or do you think that the show’s fans would lose interest?

So, the purple cow is a product or a service or a brand that is truly loved by the people who love it. The reason it’s a purple cow and now a purple…dog, cat, mouse etc… is because you milk the cow. The reason the cow is purple is because you don’t really see purple cow’s. But, if you did I’m sure you’d be amazed, I’m sure you’d talk about. It would be unique!

So, get out there, be unique, please the people who love you and forget about those who don’t. Milk the cow for what it’s worth and make some money. Be Purple!

This belief that being different, as opposed to just better is a belief that CreativeLive Co-Founder Chase Jarvis and Commercial Photographer Joey L have spoken about too. Check out this short 3 minute video. The biggest takeaway from me is a quote from Chase, where he says:

Be Different, not just better. In the art world being better only gets you so far. You have to be able to hit the ball down the middle, but everything after that is about being different”

Be sure to subscribe to Seth’s blog. I’m inspired on a regular basis by the stuff this guy produces and I’m sure you will be too. http://sethgodin.typepad.com/

VIDEO: Preparing a Photograph for Print

Printing is considered by many to be the final step in making a photograph. It’s a sentiment I agree with.

The ‘problem’ with printing though is that people often think it’s expensive or that prints never come out quite right:

  • Prints can sometimes come out too dark
  • Prints are sometimes not as sharp as they were on screen
  • The colours can be wrong –
    • Too warm or too cool is a common issue
    • Skin tones being innacurate and people appear either Orange or Pale
  • I’ve also heard on many occasions that prints can appear ‘washed out’ with blacks appearing slightly grey.

Well today I want to share with you a short video to guide you through the basics of printing and to avoid these common issues. If you’re printing your photographs this is, in the most basic way, the very least you should be doing with your photographs in Lightroom to ensure they come out as bright as you intended them to be, to have rich blacks and brilliant whites and to be clean from spots. Take a look:

So, try applying the clipping method and adjusting your screen brightness before editing your photograph and see how different the results are.

If you have any questions please do get in touch with me via the contact form, or over in the Facebook community

OKDOTHIS – The Next BIG Thing in Social Media?

So, I’m not sure if you’ve heard but there is a new App on the block and it goes by the name of OKDOTHIS.

OKDOTHIS is the brainchild of Jeremy Cowart – Entertainment, Music & Celebrity Photographer (among other things).

OKDOTHIS is effectively a social-media network of sorts. The idea being that people post ‘Do’s’ and you do them. The Do’s are inspirational Idea’s, suggestions, phrases, words, questions etc. Think of them like a brief. Have you ever done one of those ‘Photo-a-Day’ challenges where each day for a month you get a new word and then you have to make a photograph based on the word? Well, OKDOTHIS is like that, but on steroids, with a social element attached. Oh, and of course you can post Do’s for others to do as well.

I’ve heard OKDOTHIS likened to Instagram a few times now, but I personally don’t think it’s entirely fair of people to compare it to Instagram. The only similarities they share is that you have the option to apply a filter before you upload your photograph and that this app is (just like Instagram used to be) is currently mostly mobile-phone-only with no real full-web browser experience. Those things and the fact that you can like and comment on other people’s photographs. To that extent OKDOTHIS is no more like Instagram than it is like Facebook or other social networks.

Whereas Instragram has no purpose, goal or target and no ‘central’ community as such, OKDOTHIS is based on the idea of briefs, inspiring quotes and suggested idea’s to shoot for. The app also features an iTunes-esque home area of sorts, showing what DO’s are popular, what DO’s are recent, ‘Featured’ DO’s and also DO’s from featured & notorious photographers as well.

I’ve been using OKDOTHIS for about 3 weeks and I must say I’m thoroughly enjoying it. If I’m waiting for a train, or, I’m in the passenger seat whilst my wife is driving, it’s so easy to pull out my phone, check out OKDOTHIS and shoot a few things around me and post them to brief’s. The idea is that you don’t have to be feeling inspired to want to pull out your phone or camera and make a photograph – OKDOTHIS will inspire you to do so.

Sure, at the moment OKDOTHIS is almost exclusively a community of photographers (or, at least it seems this way), but that’s great as far as I’m concerned – Photographers are some of the most interesting and creative people around. It’s most certainly worth a try.

The next big thing in Social Media?
The next big thing in Social Media?

Right now it’s available on the iPhone for $1.99 (or £1.49). You may be asking why on earth a social media app isn’t free, after all, isn’t Facebook free? Well, sure Facebook doesn’t cost you a penny to download however you do have to put up with a whole load of ads that aren’t relevant to you, despite Facebook’s best efforts. With OKDOTHIS it’s currently totally ad-free!! How cool is that?!. It’s all about the interface and the cool screens. (Here, check out this extremely ironic screen grab I made of a Facebook Post from Neil Graham…see, far too many ads):

Irony

So, in summary this is a must-have app, especially if you’re a photographer. There is a Google+ like feel when it comes to the way the community is growing, but I think that will be the same with any new social media platforms we see ‘launched’ into the market in this way. I for one have taken to it and you can follow me as @RammellPhoto. I’ve added a fair few DO’s now so be sure to take part in a few 😉

For now, here’s a quick run-down of what OKDOTHIS is all about, Q & A Style:

What’s the point?
Open the app. Find a category you like such as “Long Shadows”, “Look Up”, “What are you up to right now?”
Post a photo for that brief. Share with others. Receive comments, feedback, ‘OK’s’ (like’s/+1’s)
Gain a following of people who like what you do
Comment on other people’s DO’s

BE INSPIRED

Who’s it for?
Mostly, anyone with a phone that has a built in camera (everyone, right?).

In all seriousness it’s for those people looking for a little bit of shooting inspiration, it’s not just for photographers, anyone can use it. I’d hate to say that it’s looking mostly like photographers are going to use this app, because if it does go a little more ‘mainstream’, like Instagram, we’ll have everyone using it. Which is fine: more people, more content & better community.

But hey, just because it’s an app for your phone doesn’t mean you can’t post photographs from your Big Camera’s too! Lots of people in the community upload their best work taken with their serious equipment too.

How much does it cost?
Brace yourself… It costs a huge…$1.99 or £1.49. Can’t speak for other locations such as Europe. But, for that price it keeps the app add free!

Hang on, do I have to put up with ads?
No, I just said it’s App Free.

I can’t speak on behalf of Jeremy or OKDOTHIS, but right now no there are no ads. I guess if you pay for the app it should be Ad free though, right? Ad-fee is better, that’s for sure!

Where can I get it?
It’s available on the App Store – go get it: OKDOTHIS in iTunes

Is there a video I can watch?
Yeah…it’s up at the top of this post or over on the OKDOTHIS website: http://okdothis.com/

Where can I find out more?
Either by watching that video at the top of this post or by actually downloading the app and getting involved. It’s great fun!

Are you on OKDOTHIS? Share your username below in the comments for others to find you and follow you.

10% Discount: Luxe Business Cards from Moo.com

Some may say that in a world where many transactions and interactions happen online, things like business cards may seem a little old-hat. I beg to differ however, particularly if you’re in a creative market such as photography.

I’m a huge advocate of business cards – they have can have quite an impact. A dull and cheap feeling card can very much leave a potential client with the exact same impression of your business (that you’re dull and cheap too!) whereas something a little more interesting, creative and stand-out can have your clients asking you all sorts of questions.

This is why I order Luxe business cards from Moo.com

What Is ‘Luxe’?

Well, I could write a long blog post to explain, but then I thought “Why not just do a video?” So, that’s what I’ve done.

In the video I talk about Moo’s service, the quality of the cards including the printing. I go over a little issue I had with colour differences and tell you what Moo have done to resolve it and I also include a code for 10% off should you order yourself any printed products from Moo – so, there is some take home value for you!

Below the video are some hi-res images, so, if you’re in a place where you can’t watch a video, just take a look at the images instead!

So, What Do They Look Like Up Close?

I’ve done a few quick shots on my desk just to give you an idea of what they cards look like up close. I’ve only photographed 4 of my 5 designs as I had colour issues with one of them (I talk about it in the video).

Be sure to click the images to view them at a larger size:

How Do I get the 10% Discount?

Simple, Just click here to head over to the discount page at Moo.com

If you end buying a set of Moo.com Luxe cards (or any of their products for that matter) it’d be great if you could tweet them and share them with us:

Twitter – @ReadySteadyPro
Facebook – Ready Steady Pro Community