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WPPI 2018

05th March 2018

What’s is WPPI?

Late last momth, I left the bitter cold and snow of Michigan and trekked to a warmer environment for a couple of days. My destination was the Wedding & Portrait Photography International Conference and Expo in a warmer Las Vegas.

Here are some of the photographers lining up to register for WPPI. I was told that attendees numbered about 13,000.

WPPI is an annual event. The audience is the large set of professional photographers and videographers who earn their living shooting weddings, portraits, school and sporting events. The five day conference consist of classes, seminars, photo walks and live demonstrations taught by celebrated professionals and industry educators covering every imaginable photo topic.

In addition to the conference, there is a three day long expo at which several hundred manufacturers of photo equipment, accessories, photo finishing services, frames, albums, software and services present their products for attendees.

The venue for WPPI was the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on the south end of the LV Strip

This year the conference consisted or more than 200 different classes covering a wide gamut of subjects: equipment, lenses, posing, lighting, flash, printmaking, pricing, babies, special effects, drone. The list of instructors are among some of the most well-known and successful photographers: Me Rah Koh, Matt Kloskowski, Denis Regge, Terry White, Bob Davis, Lindsay Adler, Miichele Celentano, Bambi Cantrell, Julieanne Kost, Hanson Fong, Jerry Ghionis, Roberto Valenzuela, Tamara Lackey, and Joe McNally to name a few.

While I sat in on a few classes, I spent most of my time at the expo.

Follow me as I take you on a quick walk through of the exhibit hall to show you the types of photographic knowledge that is available at WPPI.

Special Effects Class

Lindsay Adler behind the lens

A Lighting Demo

Posing Babies

Jerry Ghionis at the mic

Portraits Up Close

Single Flash Demo

Group Shots

Hanson Fong Bounce Flash

…and the result

During the couple of days that I spent at WPPI, I talked to several exhibitors about their products.

I’ll have additional articles here describing these products in the next few weeks.

I hope you’ll be back here soon.



Written by: Arnie Lee



Weddings, Portraits and More

11th February 2018

Upcoming WPPI 2018 Conference & Expo

Having been part of the software, computer and publishing industries since 1980, I’ve been to Las Vegas more times than I care to count.

However the thought of another laborious trip out West isn’t going to keep me away from the Wedding & Portrait Photography International event this year. For the past several years I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this meeting where 200+ classes are taught by professionals covering a wide range of photography topics including lighting, posing, drone, video, baby/child, sports, school, printing, retouching, marketing and business. Among the instructors are many recognizable names: Tamara Lackey, Lindsay Adler, Julieanne Kost, Sue Bryce, Jerry Ghionis, Roberto Valenzuela and Joe McNally who will share their skills with the attendees.

In addition to the standard classes, there are smaller and more intensive sessions aimed at a limited number of attendees. And for those who’d rather be in a non-classroom setting there are multiple scheduled Photo Walks that provide hands-on learning.

I’m especially interested in the WPPI Expo. In the large exhibit hall you’ll meet with manufacturers and suppliers of photo equipment, accessories, photofinishing, presentation and framing, software and services. On the expo floor, various manufacturers present live demonstrations of their equipment and techniques. It seems that all of the major brands are on hand to demonstrate their products and answer your questions. I’ve made many purchasing decisions after having met with sales reps at earlier WPPI events..

This audience is taking in a presentation at the Canon booth

If you’re anxious to sharpen your photography skills, take a look at the many classes that are offered at the conference. Last year WPPI hosted about 13,000 professional and advanced photographers.

WPPI will take place February 24 to 28 at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. For more information please visit WPPI Conference & Expo.

By Arnie Lee

I’ve been a tech junkie for a very long time. It seems that whenever new technology appears, I’m fairly quick to try it out.

Several years ago, I bought a MakerBot 3D printer. Early adopters know that purchasing new technology is usually expensive – this model had a price tag just north of $2000. Using it, I’ve learned the mechanics of how these amazing devices turn long rolls of plastic filament (PLA) into very detailed solid models. The prize is a collection of plastic models that adorn my office and the house. To be honest, I haven’t had a need for additional 3D models, so the MakerBot has been sitting unused for the past few months.

At this past January’s Consumer Electronics Show I ran across a couple of new 3D printers. And while the technology is no longer new, the prices of several of the printers are now within the grasp of many more consumers. My interest in a second 3D printer was motivated by my curiosity about the quality of the finished models compared to the more expensive MakerBot from a couple of years ago.

New Matter is a relatively new manufacturer that makes the MOD-t 3D printer. I purchased one directly from New Matter bundled with additional filament and accessories for $350 – a huge price difference vs. the MakerBot from a few years ago.


The MODt is small in size and can easily fit on a desktop. When operating, the continuous movement of the base plate mechanism creates a a noticeable noise. The clear plastic cover keeps the noise level down. 3D models are created by emitting melted plastic filament (PLA) from the heated extruder. The PLA is supplied in long rolls of different colors. A 150-meter length roll of PLA costs about $20.

Here’s the MODt at work as it lays down a few thin layers of melted PLA. A few minutes later, several more layers have been added revealing more of the model.

This is the completed 3D model. You can see that the completed project shows a tremendous amount of detail. The patterns for models are available free from many online 3D libraries. This model was available from the New Matter 3D library.

This model was printed as two separate parts. Afterward, the base and the launcher were combined to turn it into a working catapult. This white model was also printed as two separate parts – the bottom circular plate and the tall intricate vase. Complex models may take a few hours to complete.


I’m impressed with the quality of the finished 3D models, especially at the rock-bottom $$300 price. For more information, please visit New Matter.



Remote Photography Made Easy

At this year’s Wedding & Portrait Photography International (WPPI) trade show I made it a point to watch several live demos of drones. Why, you may ask, are there drones on exhibit at a conference dealing with photography? Well, judging from their impressive video capabilities, drones are frequently used to record weddings. Although it’s been a while since I ended my stint as a wedding photographer, I’m still quite taken by the possibilities and usefulness of drone photography.

After talking to a few of the drone sales representatives at WPPI, I purchased the Mavic Pro. This compact unit has many impressive features – foldable rotors, interchangeable battery, gimbal mounted 4K video camera, micro SD card to record images, remote controller with multiple flight modes, live streaming to your smart phone.

Following, I’ll give you a quick look at some of the above-mentioned features that I make this a worthwhile investment for my flying pleasure – and the pleasure of a few of my grandkids.

When not in use, you can fold the rotor arms. This makes it very easy to carry the Mavic from place to place. On board sensors guide its flight path away from obstacles such as trees or buildings. The Mavic’s battery is rechargeable. Each charge provides about 25 minutes of flight time. Since the battery is also interchangeable, you can carry a spare to extended your flight outings.

The built-in video camera provides very good quality images owing to the 3-axis gimbal that steadies the movies. Video images are stored on an interchangeable micro-SD card. You can also stream live video to an attached smart-phone.

You can connect your smart-phone to the remote controller. Use the controller to start and stop video recording, point the camera in a different direction or take still photos. The smart-phone screen displays the live camera imagery. Additionally, the DJI app lets you change drone settings and view vital information and statistics. Users can command the drone to follow and record a specific person or object from up to 4 miles away. Wave at the Mavic to snap a still photo of you on the ground. Or plot a course for the Mavic to fly using multiple waypoints. The controller is very capable.

Newbies can fly the Mavic using several foolproof ways to avoid crashing. Here’s my grandson taking his first flying lesson using Beginner Mode. You can see that this still photo taken remotely by my grandson demonstrates the high quality of the Mavic’s on-board camera.

Below is a series of Mavic clips that I’ve combined into a short movie. Note how smooth the video plays due to the steadying effect of the gimbal mounted camera.




The Mavic Pro sells for about $1000. For more information about the Mavic Pro please visit DJI.



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Scanning Made Easy with the Epson FF-640

If you’re old enough to drink (alcohol that is), then you may remember the shoebox in the closet stuffed with family photos. They sit there collecting dust until someone brings up a past event that has you digging through hundreds of prints looking for the time that Uncle John took you fishing and you caught your first keeper.

Our family has been taking and collecting photographs since the 1920s. As the unofficial designated keeper of the archives, I’ve been slowly scanning these photos with the goal of organizing, documenting and distributing them to the many relatives and friends among our (very large) extended family.

About the year 2000 I acquired my first flat bed scanner similar to this one.

Although a flat bed produces good quality digital images, it is slow and laborious to operate. Each photo is carefully placed on the glass top, the cover is closed and then the computer is instructed to start the scan. Owing to my lack of patience, I can scan only a couple of dozen prints using the flat bed at one sitting. Afterwards, I have to take a break. At this pace, it will be a long time to complete my archiving obligation.

NOTE: The flat bed scanner to the right is a newer advanced model that can produce very high resolution digitized images from your photos. It can also produce digitized images from film negatives (do you remember film?) and transparencies (slides).

For the many shoeboxes full of old photos that I have to organize, I’ve decided that speed is more important than high resolution. At this year’s WPPI Conference and Expo, I found a solution that is now helping me make progress dealing with the thousands of prints that have been collecting dust in the closet – the Epson FF-640 FastFoto scanner.

The FF-640 scanner connects to your computer with a USB-cable. The computer here is a MacBook but the scanner is compatible with Windows PCs as well.

Photos are stacked into the feeder face down. The guides on the feeder are adjustable and accommodate up to twenty or so photos of the same width.

The Epson software lets you specify the level of resolution – either the lower 300 dpi or the higher 600 dpi. While you can save hard disk space by using the 300dpi setting, I’ve always scanned at the 600 dpi setting since I’m not concerned about conserving hard disk space. You can also select a folder for storing the scanned images.

The photos are loaded into the feeder face down. The gray guides are adjusted to the width of the photos.

Here I’ve specified the name of the destination folder for the scanned image.

You can start scanning your stack of photos by clicking on the FastFoto software start button. Alternatively you can press the blue button on the FF-640. This is another nice feature since you can take as much time to load subsequent groups of photos into the scanner without having to reset the software.

When you’ve completed scanning one or more stacks of photos, the FastFoto software displays the digital images on screen. The software lets you enhance the brightness and contrast, remove red eye and restore faded colors of the original photo if you’d like to save editing time afterwards.

My mother often wrote “notes” on the back of the photos. The FastFoto has a built-in feature that lets you scan both sides of the photo so that you can keep the notes with the digitized image.

This is an example of a scanned image from a photo with a note written on the back.

The note refers to Steven’s school grade when the photograph was originally taken.

This is an old photo from the shoebox. The original was quite faded.

Thanks to the ingenuity of this scanner I can digitally record the imprint on the back of the original. The photo was processed in 1951!

Here is another old vintage b&w photo.

Conveniently annotated from 1950.

Below is a short video of the FF-640 in action. I can scan four or five dozen photographs with the FF-640 in about ten minutes. It’s an amazing time saver.




The FF-640 sells for about $650 – a considerable investment. However, I’m thoroughly happy with this scanner. It has saved me countless hours of time on my quest to archive the thousands (tens of thousands) of family photographs.

For more information, please visit Epson.






Some Day My Prints Will Come

For decades I was schooled in conventional (film) photography. So it’s natural that I am a lover of photographic prints. And although I enjoy the convenience and portability of electronic display devices, I simply prefer to view my work on hardcopy prints.

Last last year, I ordered a large format printer – the Epson P800. Normally it makes prints up to size 17″ x 22″. Add a roll paper feeder and it can produce enormous panoramas up to 129″ wide. Since the printer was in high demand at the time, my waiting time was about a month for delivery.

When I finally received the printer, I was preoccupied with a lot of other work. To ensure that the printer was working properly I used to make only two or three prints and then set it aside.

Jump ahead two months and I’m attending the WPPI Conference & Expo. I think to myself that I should learn about printing papers to get the best results from the investment in my Epson P800. And so at WPPI I stop at several makers of fine art papers to get educated.

Hahnemuhle is a German based company that offers a wide variety of papers. I look at their large catalog and am stumped by some of the terminology. So I start asking questions.

What is baryta paper? I’m told that it is paper coated with barium sulphate, a substance used on traditional photographic paper. When baryta paper is used for inkjet printing, it supposedly reproduces the effect of silver halide processing.

Many of the paper descriptions include a gsm value. I find that gsm is an acronym for grams per square meter. Thus a square meter of Canvas Metallic 350 gsm paper is heavier than FineArt Baryta Satin 3500 gsm paper.

I am also curious about paper with the rag description. I learn that this paper is made from cotton linters or rags and is superior to wood-based paper.

The helpful representative left me with this sampler – a collection of their fine art photography papers and other helpful literature. For more information please visit Hahnemuhle.

Namhoon Kim is the Marketing Manager for Durico Media. The company is based in southern California. As you can see from the below photograph, they have a rather large selection of papers.

I helped myself to about a dozen of their print samples all on different paper stock. I find that the samples are the only way to determine if a paper is suitable for one of my prints. Reading a catalog description does not give me the know-how to select a paper – I require hands-on to feel the surface and a sample photograph to give me the visual feedback.

For more information, please visit Durico Imaging.

Epson is probably best known as a manufacturer of printers. They also are a large producer of high quality printing papers.

My visit to Epson is to find out more about their printing papers and luckily I am handed a “Print Sample Guide” to take with me. It has their complete line of papers with printed samples: photographic, matte, cotton fine art and canvas.

Before I depart the representative shows me their new software Epson Print Layout. This app is for users of Epson professional printers and provides a convenient and elegant way to organize, set up and print your images. If you’re a user of a high end Epson printer, you can download a copy of the Epson software from here.

For more information about their papers, please visit Epson.

Paperwise, I’m 3 for 3. I walked away with samples from three different manufacturers. So with samples in hand, I am prepared to make my paper choices. Now I’m ready to fire up that printer that has been sitting idle waiting for me.


Written by: Arnie lee



Hover and Shoot

You don’t ordinarily think of looking at drones at the Wedding and Portrait Photography International Conference & Expo. However, DJI had a booth there showing off the new Mavic Pro.

At the DJI booth, representative Laura Schutz showed me the company’s newest drone. She emphasized that drones are now simpler to fly. And drones are now much more affordable.

Users have invented innovative ways to use drones for airborne photography. DJI, a pioneer in the industry, recently released the Mavic Pro which builds on the simpler and affordable features.

The Mavic Pro is compact. When not in use, the rotor arms fold tightly against the unit’s body making it easy to store and transport.

Owing to its efficient motors, flying time is up to 27 minutes at 40 mph.

The unit’s remote controller has a range of more than 4 miles. It can send livestream directly to popular smartphones.

Mavic Pro has five built-in sensors that can detect and avoid obstacles during flight. There is also a set of backup sensors that can take over in case one is malfunctioning.

Specifically for photography is a camera that shoots 4K at 30fps mounted on 3-axis gimbal for smooth, jumpfree video. Stills are captured at 12MP.

Its GPS capabilities enable accurate positioning whatever your location.

In “ActiveTrack” mode, the drone follows or flies alongside the subject.

In “Gesture Mode”, the Mavic follows you until you give it the go-ahead to snap your “selfie”.

The “Terrain Follow” mode flies the drone at a fixed altitude above the ground.

This Mavic Pro is taking video footage of me.

The Mavic Pro has many features which set it apart from other drones. The DJI website has many videos that demonstrate these features.

The suggested price of the Mavic Pro is $1000.

For more information about the Mavic Pro, please visit DJI.


Written by: Arnie Lee





Canon’s Latest Mirrorless

This past February at the Wedding and Portrait Photography International Conference & Expo, I stopped at the Canon booth to take a look at the company’s new M5 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera.

Canon is best known for their full featured DSLR cameras. Although I own several high end DSLRs from both Canon and Nikon, I’ve been a devoted user of mirrorless cameras for at least five years owing to the compact size and electronic viewfinder that I highly value.

Sony has been a leader in the mirrorless realm with Fujifilm, Panasonic and Olympus close behind. Canon has been playing catch up with its M series for a couple of years. I now consider the M5 a strong contender.

The new M5 now uses a 24MP sensor with Dual Pixel AF for faster and more precise autofocus. This is Canon’s first M series with built-in viewfinder. The M5 combines in-camera digital and optical lens stabilization. The tilting LCD has doubles as a touchscreen. And the camera has a built-in flash.

This is the Canon M5 with the 18-150mm EF-M lens.

The tilting LCD also functions as a touchscreen. Touch the screen to activate focus manually.

As you can see the M5 has a convenient, dedicated exposure compensation dial.

The M5 also captures full HD 60p movies in MP4 format. The touchscreen can be used during video operations to affect focus.

The camera includes Wi-fi and NFC capabilities as well as bluetooth to send images to a smartphone.

The suggested price of Canon M5 with 15-45mm EF-M lens is $1099. The suggested price of the Canon M5 with the 18-150mm EF-M lens is $1479.

For more information about the M5, please visit Canon.


Written by: Arnie Lee





Instant Photography – prints while you shoot

At the Wedding and Portrait Photography International Conference & Expo held earlier in February, I couldn’t help but notice several attractive displays at the huge Fujifilm booth.

Fujifilm has been producing instant photo cameras since before the turn of the century (2000) as a successor to the groundbreaking Polaroid line.

Their most popular model is the Instax 70 Mini which comes in six vivid colors – white, yellow, blue, gold, red and black.

All of these cameras feature auto focus, auto exposure, self-timer, fill flash and tripod socket. They also have a convenient “selfie” mode.

Fujifilm’s line of instant photograph cameras are an attractive addition for enhancing wedding, reunion, or party events. Make the rounds among the guests with one of these cameras and there’s an exciting picture for them to see.

Instax Mini film is packaged in sets to produce 10 – 62mm x 46mm photos – about the size of a credit card.

In addition to photographs with white borders, the packages of film can be purchased with these designs and colors: black, sky blue, rainbow, candy pop, stained glass, shiny star, comic, air mail, stripe, and Hello Kitty. There is also a monochrome film package for producing black and white photos.

Here’s a photo of me taken with a colorful border. It takes about 90 seconds from pressing the shutter release until the photograph is fully “developed”.

Here’s a couple of wedding displays that were created from Instax cameras.

The suggested price of Instax 70 Mini is $110. The Instax Mini Film sells for about $15 for 2 x 10-exposure packages.

There is also an Instax Wide 300 model camera which can take instant photos that are double wide: 62mm x 92mm.

For more information about the Instax line of cameras, please visit Fujifilm.


Written by: Arnie Lee





Lightweight, Convenient and Protective

At this year’s Wedding and Portrait Photography International expo, I spent several hours talking to vendors of cameras, equipment, accessories and services. The people at the Think Tank booth, gifted me a small accessory for everyday use.

This accessory goes by an unorthodox name: My 2nd Brain 11. I suppose the name suggests that all of your necessities can be easily kept in this single case.

The “11” refers to the size of a tablet or notebook that it can hold, in this instance an 11″ model of either.

Load up the case with what you need, throw it over your shoulder and you’re ready to attack the world.

The inner pocket is well padded and provides protection for my iPad. The outer pocket is perfect for holding my cell phone. A non-zippered pocket on the reverse side conveniently holds standard letter-size papers.

The case opens wide and has several elastic-mesh pockets for securely holding pens, business cards, notepads, more. The padded shoulder strap is fully adjustable.

My 2nd Brain 11 comes in black and green. The suggested price of My 2nd Brain 11 is $85.

Think Tank also has larger My 2nd Brain cases for 13″ and 15″ tablets or notebooks.

For more information, please visit Think Tank.


Written by: Arnie Lee





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