Our Archive

Welcome to your Archive. This is your all post. Edit or delete them, then start writing!

radiantphotography.com > Blog > 2011 > January

We’re always on the look out for great used gear at great prices.  When you cashflow a business, you’re not in the habit of slapping down a credit card for the latest, greatest thing, so you have to get creative with sourcing gear.  Here are some tips and resources for finding good photography gear at great prices:

Ebay – Hands-down, our favorite place to find new and used gear.  Many Ebay retailers can offer new camera bodies and lenses at deep discounts since they don’t have the high overhead of brick and mortar stores.  Just make sure you’re buying from a reputable seller, and that your not buying grey market gear without a U.S. warranty.  If it’s used gear, warranties usually don’t matter as they aren’t transferable.  Ebay is also full of pros and hobby shooters unloading equipment at great prices, and we’ve never had a bad experience when we’ve done our proper homework.

Tip: Check the completed listings section for ended auction prices. This will tell you what the market will pay for your desired item and give you an idea of how high to bid.  Completed listings are also useful for setting competitive prices when selling your gear online.  We recently sold this 24mm prime lens, used for less than 40 frames on one shoot, for a $50 profit.

Canon 24mm f/2.8

Craigslist.org – Search your local listings for new and slightly used gear.  For more specialty items, expand your search to other metro areas and ask if the seller will ship the item.

Tip: Look on Ebay completed listings first to know how much your desired item is worth, then start negotiations with your local Craigslist contact at 75% of the Ebay price in cash.  They won’t have to worry about listing or shipping the item online or paying a percentage to the auction company or PayPal, and you get your item the same day for less than it would have cost you online.

Another tip:  Be patient and have cash reserves.  You never know when a good deal will come up on Craigslist.  If you’re sitting on cash, you’re in a position to get a great deal on some gear, while possibly helping someone else get out of some financial trouble.  Don’t be a vulture, but realize you’re in a position to wheel-and-deal if you have money and time on your side.

PropertyRoom.com – This auction site is full of photography gear (and other items) confiscated during police seizures and raids.  If it’s never claimed, it has to be auctioned and this is where a lot of gear ends up at great prices.  You probably won’t find your Canon 24mm TS-E tilt/shift lens or other specialty stuff here, but there are tons of consumer cameras, DV recorders, webcams, security cameras, memory cards and more.

ShopGoodwill.com – Goodwill stores on the corner are great places to find clothes, but their online auction site has some great camera gear too. Similar to police auction pickings, they have consumer cameras, lenses, printers and such.  The Goodwill site seems to have some interesting vintage stuff occasionally though, like Brownie cameras, old movie cameras, and vintage medium format combos.  If you collect bodies or like shooting film cameras, this may be a gold mine for you.

One last tip: Learn to set up auto-notifications in Ebay and RSS feeds in Craigslist.  You’ll be able to go on with your life and get emails when the items you’re looking for show up for sale.  This saves you a ton of search time and if you’re not in a hurry for that special piece of gear, you can rest assured that you’ll find the best deal possible when it lands in your lap.

Happy hunting!

Read More

A custom 404 error page can inject some fun into your company website, should a client get lost while navigating your site.  It doesn’t take much time and it looks much better than your browser’s stock text-only 404 page.

We at Radiant Photography just finished our first custom 404 page, and plan on rotating out some more creative ideas in the future.  Here is a sample:

Radiantphotography.com 404 error page

Radiantphotography.com 404 error page

To make a page similar to ours, you can take a screen shot of your original homepage, play with it in Photoshop and saved it as a jpeg on a colored background in your favorite html editor.  You would give this html file a name like “custom404.html” or something similar, then uploaded the picture and the html file to your server.

After uploading, you need to figure out what type of server your files are on and pick an appropriate method of redirecting your 404 errors to your new page (list of server types and methods here).  In our case, we use an Apache server, so if you’re in the same boat, here’s how to redirect to your custom page:

There should be a file called .htaccess in your root directory of the server (usually where your “index.html” file is).  Us using a Windows-based platform (and being first timers at this), we couldn’t modify the .htaccess file, so we found a workaround.  Open WordPad or another text editor and enter your 404 error command in the following format on one line:

ErrorDocument 404 /errors/”your404filename.html” (in our case we named our custom page “custom404.html”)
Save the text file as ‘htaccess.txt’.  Open your FTP client and drop the file into your root folder.  After it uploads, delete the existing .htaccess file and rename your htaccess.txt file to .htaccess.
Test your modification by typing in a non-existing URL at your domain, like “http://www.yourdomainname.com/iloveporkchopmilkshakes.html”.  You should see your new custom 404 page!
Read More

About two years ago, I modified a Canon Powershot G6 point-and-shoot camera to shoot infrared images.  The camera was hacked apart, modified with parts from Lifepixel, and put back together, but I never got around to doing anything more than snapping a couple test frames to verify it still worked.  But a couple weeks ago, I got a chance to take it out for some actual shooting on the Las Vegas Adobe Users Group photo walk at The Springs Preserve.  I met some great people and actually acquired some decent images from this little camera.

I’m considering modifying one of our 10D or 5D bodies now to be a dedicated IR camera.  We’ve always been a color-heavy photography company, but I can see some use for IR in our workflow for certain clients.  I’ve also got an idea for some artistic uses, specifically something derived from Massopust’s 1940s medical phlebography of superficial veins.

Here are some shots from the photo walk at Springs Preserve:

Springs Preserve IR Tree

Springs Preserve IR Tree

Springs Preserve IR Tree

Springs Preserve IR Tree

Springs Preserve IR Water Tower

Springs Preserve IR Water Tower

Springs Preserve IR Water Tower

Springs Preserve IR Water Tower

IR Moonrise over Springs Preserve

IR Moonrise over Springs Preserve

Read More

It’s no surprise that photographers and designers love Flash-based websites! Flash portfolios are dynamic, interactive, and offer a decent level of “right-click, save-as” image protection to keep people from stealing images. As of this posting, Radiant currently uses an XML based flash portfolio plugin for our portfolios, primarily for the protection aspect. The rest of the page is designed in CSS for accessibility across various platforms. But, like other photographers with Flash-based content we had to rethink our design when the iPhone came out. This topic has been covered before, but it’s worth a revisit, and we’re giving you the HTML code to solve the problem.

In it’s stock form, the iPhone doesn’t allow flash content to be seen on the device. If an iPhone user jailbreaks the phone or uses a third party app, they can enable flash content, but many people don’t want to pay for this functionality or risk voiding their warranty. It’s really annoying that the iPhone doesn’t show Flash content out of the box. Furthermore, as of November 2010, the iPhone controls 28.6% of the smartphone market share (Nielsen chart). I’m comfortably guessing most photo buyers, art directors, and editors are Mac and Apple users, so they’re an important demographic to appeal to. Until the iPhone enables Flash content viewing, what’s a photographer or designer with a flash portfolio to do? You need an html version of your portfolio that can be seen on the iPhone.

We didn’t write the script below, but were given it by another photographer, who found it online as well. We’re no coding geniuses here, just sharing the wealth. Plop this script above the tag on whatever page you want to redirect to a mobile version, then make an alternate HTML-based portfolio to redirect to. In our case our WhiteProductPhotography.com “Portfolio” page has this code in it to redirect to a “/mobile.html” version upon sensing the viewing device is an iPhone (see our mobile portfolio here).

Code:

<script>
if(navigator.userAgent.indexOf(“iPhone”) != -1)
{window.location = “type your alternate html portfolio URL here”;}
</script>

Our iPhone version of WhiteProductPhotography.com’s portfolio has been online for just a few weeks and has already garnered just shy of 10% of the site’s total page views. The average visitor spends four minutes looking at the images and it has a 16% bounce rate. While that’s not bad at all, it prompted me to review the mobile page for usability and add two links, one to our FAQ and one to our Pricing/Contact page. That way users don’t have to back out of the mobile portfolio page get back to these features on regular home page. We should see even less bounce rate now that we’ve given clients some navigation options. (Edit: went down to 12.5% in next day after revisions)

If you’re using flash for your portfolios and you’re comfortable with some simple coding, put yourself ahead of your competition with an HTML mobile portfolio.

Read More

Back in the days of the $0.24 stamp, I was starting a business aptly named Ryan Weber Photography. I was shoe-stringing it back then and marketing was my biggest concern and most costly recurring expense. At that time, there was no “social media”, very little focused online interaction, and we were still sending out promo pieces by mail.

Starting from meager beginnings did help me realize the power of a stamp though. I realized that for a nice shiny quarter, one stamp could possibly change my business and my life. If I just put the right words to paper and sent it to the right editor, art director, or buyer. It worked a few times, securing me assisting gigs and paid jobs. And while I’m spending much more on marketing now, I still realize the value of something small.

Case in point, this last holiday I had intended to send a thank you gift to all my clients. I receive them every year from my best vendors and I thought it’d be a nice gesture. But life got in the way and I had to settle on a New Years gift. Except that a big, last-minute estimate request popped up in my email and I never got around to constructing my gifts. I still have two bags of snowglobes sitting by my desk. So, come January 5th, I decided that I better take a few minutes to compose a year-in-review-and-thank-you email to send to clients. A simple “Thanks for being a rockin’ client” kind of composition, followed by a recap of where Radiant stands. We’ve done a couple things this year to add peace of mind for our clients, like remaining debt-free and sitting on cash reserves to weather the economy, securing higher liability insurance, and securing a worker’s comp plan to cover assistants and other contracted vendors on shoots. So far numerous clients have responded with appreciation for the gesture and confirmation that we’ll be doing more business in the coming year. It was a smaller effort than my original plans, but I think it made more of an impact. A kind Thank You and peace of mind beats out cookies or snowglobes, I guess.

Another example happened recently when I wrote a local architectural firm to simply thank them for their very photographic architecture and thoughtfulness of their designs in this desert environment. We share a client and I’ve been exposed to the firm’s work now on shoots for over a year working at this client’s location. The buildings have had plenty of time to soak in to my brain and I notice new details in the architecture every time I visit this facility to shoot. The most recent revelation was realizing that they’d designed waterfalls into the architecture for when we get desert rains. I got caught off-guard during a shoot and a storm rolled in, but it provided me a new glimpse into some amazing building design that very few people even get to see at this facility. So I wrote them a quick note to let them know their design elements were noted and appreciated. I never asked for work, or for them to view our website, just a thank you. I left it at that.

They did their homework though. The email was passed up to a senior partner and he later emailed me to commend our imagery of their project. He also wanted to open a discussion about licensing some shots for their portfolio. Hopefully, Radiant will be shooting some of their past and future projects directly for the firm.

Never underestimate the power of a stamp. Never underestimate a sincere email.

Happy New Year to you all!
Ryan

Read More