Thursday, September 4, 2008

Get the Goods: School is in Session at Lodo Wolf Camera

Today I stopped by one of my favorite Wolf Camera stores in downtown Denver and spent some time with staff there learning how to use Lightroom. I am always impressed by how knowledgeable these guys are and how willing they are to share that knowledge. They don't just give you prints, but they take the time to explain to you why that head got chopped off in print or how an added step in your work flow might give you better results in your post processing.

When I couldn't figure out why a photo I thought I had cropped down to a 4X6 didn't print correctly, Cory, the store manager, whipped out his own MacBook Pro, popped my CD in and opened the image in CS3 to see what happened. Turns out the image wasn't a 4X6 at all, but actually more like a 4X7 1/4, which meant that the subject's head was going to be chopped off during printing to squeeze it into a 4X6.

Cory took the time to explain an easier (and more full-proof) way to make sure my image size is constrained by using presets in CS3. Another staff member, Derron, even gave me a quick Lightroom lesson. Derron has been trying for months to persuade me to give Lightroom a try by hosting mini-lessons whenever the store is quiet, even though he knows I'm somewhat intimidated by new software (especially since it took me so long to get comfortable with CS3.) To make me feel more at ease, he let me play with some of his images while I tried out batch image processing and importing and exporting images.

What all of this boils down to is this: Wolf isn't just the place where I get prints or buy equipment. It's also the place where I learn how to become a better photographer. Not only do I tend to get my equipment from them, Can Walgreen's, Walmart or even quick prints at the neighborhood grocery store do that for me? I'm thinking not.

Check to see if your local professional photography printing and equipment store offers classes to help you get better at your craft. Wolf University has a complete list of classes from now through December that help their customers be more successful with their equipment and capture better images. Choose from three class descriptions, including "The Essentials" such as Introduction to Digital, "The Electives" such as Quality Lighting, at Home and "Special Events" such as a Photo/Video Excursion and Nature Walk at Garden of the Gods.

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