Kirk Tuck's Free Course, Professional Family Portraits, has racked up over 70,000 viewers. That's a lot of people watching a photography class...

I've been concentrating on letting people know about the novel, The Lisbon Portfolio, lately but I was amazed when I went to the Craftsy.com website to see what's new in the photo courses over there. My course, Professional Family Portraits, which is offered for free has already attracted over 70,000 viewers. 

I've sent a large number of friends there because it's a good starting point in just getting comfortable with using lights, arranging and directing people and thinking about portrait photography. You can go to the site and start taking the course right now. You don't have to hand over your credit card and you don't need any special stuff to start. You can go back and watch as often as you want and you can leave questions for the instructor....which I am duty bound to answer.

There are also photography courses by people who are not Kirk. Like small light expert, Neil van Niekirk (whom I featured in my LED book) and Chris Grey who is a masterful studio photographer who shares the same book publisher as me. 

I use Craftsy.com to learn more about food because, invariably, I am also learning more and more about video from watching how the Craftsy pro video term puts the projects together. 

Give the free course a shot. You might find it entertaining. 

Checking in on the whole noise bug-a-boo. Theater style. And some thoughts about current digital offerings.

Legendary Austin actor, Jaston Williams on stage at Zach Theatre.

My wonderful friends in the marketing department at Zach Theatre asked me to come and photograph  a dress rehearsal of Jaston Williams's one man play, Maid Marian and the Stolen Car. I packed up a little bag of toys and headed over on Tues. evening. I shot primarily with two cameras and two lenses. I was sporting the Nikon D7100 camera with the 18-140mm zoom and the Olympus EM-5 (in its natty black finish...) with the 25mm f1.4 Pana/Leica lens. 

The slow zoom pushed me to shoot at 6400 ISO while the much more functional 25mm f1.4 allowed me to stick around ISO 800 with an f-stop around f2.5.

What's my takeaway? While the D7100 is very usable for this kind of work at ISO 6400 the quickly changing light is murder on exposure consistency and the slower feedback loop of shoot/chimp/correct/shoot/chimp/re-correct means far more missed shots than when I use a camera with a good EVF. The feedback loop goes something like: view/correct/shoot/shoot/shoot. 

Yes, the finder on the Nikon is pretty and the sensor is big and gorgeous but I'll trade all that any day for nimble, accurate and fun-to-hold-and-shoot. Yes, we could have used faster lenses on the Nikon but that would have only changed the ISO I ended up setting, not the iterative nature of shooting with a (finely made ) last century paradigm. 

Looking forward here's what I see in camera marketing: The camera company that is most successful with professionals and advanced enthusiasts in the future will be the forward thinking company that incorporates a great APS-C sensor; a wonderful EVF that cuts down on the iteration-chain for more effective, almost intuitive, shooting, great lenses that work well wide open and good video. 

The Olympus system is almost there with the OMD EM-1 but it remains to be seen whether or not they can sustain profitability in the market long enough to continue consumer camera operations. The marketing hurdle with regards to the masses is always going to be the sensor size. It's too bad they haven't found a marketer/advertising agency who can succinctly and movingly explain the inherent advantages of the smaller format. ( I volunteer to give it a whirl. I couldn't do worse....).

Panasonic is in a similar boat but they've made a conscious decision (I think) to cut all the consumer crap out of their line and focus on the higher end products that we enjoy. The GH4 is 95% of the way there. A bit more work on the Jpeg processing and the EVF quality and they have a good shot of staying in the marketplace and adding market share.