Setting Up a Studio for You

With the new Nikon D7100 digital camera, you would expect to be able to turn your hand to almost anything. This versatile and flexible camera is designed to excel in all areas of photography. So, once it is out of the box, many new owners will be rushing to take portraits and still-life images in studio conditions. Obviously, if you can, you should always try to shoot in natural light – particularly if you are shooting portraits. If that is not feasible, the pop up flash can usually provide the necessary fill-in, or you could use you flash gun, carefully placed and fired remotely. In most circumstances these tools will help you to get a decent result. But a time will come when you decide you need more control and at that point you will want a studio set up.

If you are setting up your studio at home, the ideal scenario is to have a room specifically put aside for your photography. It should have plenty of space, a high ceiling and be at least 5 meters long. Paint the walls a color that does not reflect too much – black is ideal, but if you have to share the room, then gray would be OK. Cover the windows with blackout material to ensure that the light can not get in and also cover the doors to prevent further contamination. Ideally you only want to have the light that is under your control to be effecting your images. You will also need a good supply of electrical sockets.

Having closed out all external light sources, you can decide what lighting you want to have in your studio. Lighting falls into two categories – continuous or strobe. Continuous also has two options, either tungsten or fluorescent. Tungsten is very popular for portraititure because it gives good skin tones. It is naturally a ‘warm’ light, both in light and temperature (this can be a problem, if you make your subject sit under them for a long time). You would also want to use tungstens if you were shooting video.

Fluorescent lights have a more sterile white light with a blueish hue. They are often used for stock shots ad still-live photography, because it is felt that the colors are more accurate. Of course, it is up to the photographer to choose which he prefers. White balance, in the D7100′s settings will be able to rectify most light settings, but, as you are in charge of your lighting, it would be better to set the lights so that the subject appears as you want to see it. Relying on in-camera correctives is just another think to try to remember and sooner or later you will be cursing your memory and catching up in Photoshop.

The one great advantage of continuous lighting is that you can actually see how the subject will appear in the picture in real-time. This means that you get the lighting right and can then confidently address other variables like content and composition. With the strobe, you are sometimes not sure if the flash fired or not. In many ways continuous lighting is a lot easier, and I would recommend that you start with this. However, when you need to photograph something or someone and give the impression of movement, or freeze them in action, you will have to use strobe lighting.

Although strokes are more difficult to set up, they give the photographer bit more flexibility. The power of the flash can be increased or reduced to suit the photographer’s needs. This means that the photographer can design his lighting around his shutter speed requirement. Obviously, if the subject is moving and you do not want blur, you will need a fairly fast shutter speed. Once mastered, strobe lights are a great way to get the images you want. However, because they operate on a burst, they sometimes take a while to recharge.

If you start off with a couple of lights, the easiest way to set them up is with the soft box at the front and the spot at the back. The soft box emits a softer more even light that is easier to meter against. The soft box should be 6 feet away from the subject, near the camera. The other light should be at least 3 feet away from the back drop so that it gives an even background. I would advise getting some barn doors for the back light, so that the light does not spread where it is not wanted. Always set your trigger up to the front light and ensure that both lights fire at the same time. Most lighting systems have slaves built into them these days.

I usually begin a shoot on a standard 1/125 at f8 with an ISO set at 200. This gives me enough flexibility to change things around gradually if I need to. Most studio lenses operate comfortably at f8 and the shutter speed will catch most fluid movement. If you find the lighting a bit flat, move the soft box out wide to get some more definition and shadow, but always be aware that more shadow can be very unflattering, particularly if the subject has an angular face or large nose. I always start by getting the standard shots done – the full length, half-length and then move in tighter for head and shoulders or portrait. By the time you want to try something more interesting your model will have relaxed and you will have become more confident in the equipment and you abilities.

Annual Multi Trip Travel Insurance Explained

An upshot of the escalation in the availability of discount flights and budget accommodation has been that more and more Australians are heading off overseas. Combine this with increasingly hectic schedules and you see more people taking a number of shorter breaks than one or two extended holidays. As a result, Australia's frequent travelers are discovering the remarkable value of annual multi trip travel insurance. If you're buying individual single trip travel insurance policies every time you go overseas you could be spending more than you need to on your travel insurance.

To ensure that you are choosing the most appropriate cover, think about the holidays, business trips and school trips you, your partner and your family are likely to take this year. If you're planning to travel overseas more than once, then buying an annual multi trip travel insurance policy could save you both valuable time and money compared to the inconvenience and expense of taking out several single trip travel insurance policies.

Annual multi trip travel insurance is a great way to guarantee that you are covered for all your trips, even those last minute breaks. An annual travel insurance policy will also give you peace of mind as you will not find yourself in the situation where you've forgotten to ensure that your travel insurance cover is in place. Once you have bought your policy, you can sit back and relax for the next 12 months knowing that both your leisure and business trips are suitably covered.

Here are a few things to look out for when buying annual multi trip cover:

¥ What is the maximum duration you can be insured for any one trip? Most policies have a maximum number of days for leisure travel and a maximum number of days for business leisure. If you are planning to be away for longer then you should look at buying a single trip travel insurance policy.

¥ Are you too old? Most policies have a maximum age.

¥ Is there a limit to the total number of trips through the year?

¥ Does it cover business travel?

¥ Does it allow your partner or children to travel on their own?

¥ Does it cover frequent flyer points?

¥ Does it cover trips within Australia?

Lessons Learned From An E-Commerce Adventure

It is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all; and even more important to learn from your mistakes.

That is what I keep telling myself after having invested the time and cash equivalent to a Harvard MBA in an e-commerce start-up that has stalled and is winding down. Not a happy prospect in light of all the media pre-occupation with e-commerce success stories and the young millionaires watching their IPOs rocket into cyberspace. But the headlines ignore the more frequent stories of new e-commerce businesses that do not hit the stock market jackpot. Many of them either settle into a low-key niche or exhaust their resources and fold.

This is the story of an Internet venture that did not make the headlines, but offers some useful insights for entrepreneurs evaluating their own initiatives. The lessons learned are applicable to your own new venture or to an investment in someone else’s.

In mid-1998 we launched a new company called nxtNet (www.nxtnet.com) with the slogan … “taking you to the next level on the Internet”.

My partner and I both had prior successful entrepreneurial experience in computer products and wanted to start a new venture together. We decided to develop a business that would catch the next wave of e-commerce services for mid-sized companies seeking to do business on the Internet. After long discussions, searches for a unique service offering, and many draft business plans, we developed a market strategy and then chose Intershop Communications as our software development platform. This product had the advantages of being suitable for single or multiple online storefronts, and offered a flexible, economic and comprehensive solution. We committed to the product, staffing, facilities and equipment to start training and development immediately. The two of us provided the time and cash required to get started.

By October 1998, we had an initial product with application as an online storefront for an associated computer business. At the same time, we realized that the application had wide appeal to other computer dealers and could be sold as a multi-user database service and e-commerce resource. We had developed a consolidated catalogue of 85,000 computer products from multiple distributor product databases that allowed rapid search and comparison for product information, pricing, and current sources. Users could access the catalogue from the Internet and find a product by manufacturer, category, and part number, key word or price range and immediately see the alternate sources and prices with links to more technical information, preferred dealer pricing and actual stock levels. Additional features allowed the catalogue to be customized so that any computer reseller could present the database as his own online storefront. This option offered all the search and product information features to his customers, but showed only retail pricing and enabled the online ordering process.

The product offering quickly received positive feedback and strong indications of support from all the participants – resellers, distributors, and manufacturers. It was a comprehensive, powerful, and effective tool for buying and selling at all levels within the Canadian computer distribution channel. Resellers recognized the value in an online resource to save time and effort. Distributors and manufacturers saw the opportunity to promote their products, and major publishers in the industry wanted to offer complementary online services to their subscribers and advertisers. How could we fail with all this enthusiasm and support?

While the potential for success clearly existed, everybody had the same questions and reservations – “Who is there now?” “How many are using it?” and “I don’t want to pay until it’s bigger”.

Reasonable objections we thought, so we added features and content for free. We promoted the product with free trials and low cost subscriptions for reseller access. Then we coaxed, persuaded, sold hard, and made deals. The “contra” became the standard for obtaining press coverage, free ads, mailing lists and promotion in exchange for free participation and future consideration. Activity on the Web site and catalogue grew to 3000 visitors per month with over 800 subscribers and the distributor list increased from three to twelve.

But revenue remained near zero as most reseller subscribers declined to pay for the service. Reasons were “it should be free – let the advertisers pay”, “I don’t use it enough”, “there are lower cost options”, or “we built our own solution”. The audience did not grow fast enough even after we offered it for free, to satisfy the advertisers and content providers. Without persistent and conspicuous sales and marketing efforts, all the participants quickly lost interest. Meanwhile the costs of database maintenance, ongoing development, site hosting, Internet access, sales, marketing, and administration were increasing.

Clearly the old entrepreneurial model of controlling costs and growing revenue was not going to apply. We had to realign our profile to show how zero revenue and high initial costs could still lead to significant investment returns like other well-known Internet ventures. So from early 1999 we started an aggressive search for financing, estimating our requirements at $500,000 to $1,500,000 over the next two years before achieving positive cash flow. More business plans, spreadsheets, and glossy presentations to demonstrate future valuations up to $20 million, even $40 million.

We knocked on many doors, from banks to government agencies, from angel investors to venture capital, from stock promoters to business consultants, and again received lots of encouragement, but no financing. So the founding partners were faced with a continuing cash drain, no relief in sight, and the limits of their own resources rapidly approaching. It was time to put the project on hold. Strategic partners or investors might still be developed to proceed with the project, but the ongoing expenditures were stopped in late 1999.

So what are the lessons learned? We already knew that nothing ventured, nothing gained. We now also knew that big successes in the new economy require big investments. Entrepreneurs may start small, but large investments will be required from new sources to achieve significant success. And no one will put significant money into a venture unless it is the only remaining requirement.

The concept, product, development, marketing and staffing all have to be in place before an investor will provide the final ingredient – his cash. Exceptions are likely only where the management team has already succeeded in the same arena, or the investor himself can deliver the missing elements, such as customers or management skills. No investor is going to take the chance that the entrepreneur with a good concept or product will also be able to deliver the required management and marketing skills to succeed, after he has the cash.

Next time we will know better. And there are side benefits from this expensive learning experience. I can now admit that with the knowledge gained through our association with Intershop Communications, I was confident enough to make an investment in their stock on the German Neue Markt at 65 Euros last year. It went over 400 Euros last month and is still rising with their rapid growth and the prospect of a NASDAQ listing this year. Almost enough to recover my investment in nxtNet.

So the most important lesson is that education in the new economy is essential, and not free, but it can lead to success outside the original plan. Learn, be aware, and be aggressively opportunistic.

What is Internet Marketing? Define Internet Marketing

What is Internet Marketing? In broad terms Internet Marketing refers to promotion of commerce or business through the Internet medium. It is the way in which products or services are promoted and sold over the Internet. Internet marketing, also called web marketing, online-marketing and even “i” or “e” -Marketing uses the Internet to deliver all types of media to a global and even local market. The relatively low cost to disseminate information to a global audience makes it very unique compared to marketing of the past.

The interactive nature of the Internet has forced the evolution of its marketing strategies to include specialist skills to deal with the instant response and eliciting responses now present with this unique medium. A device must be included in your Internet marketing system to accommodate this instant response.

The term is also inclusive of the post-sale relationship between a business and its customers because it encompasses digital customer data management and electronic customer relations. It is widely used in the business world today and referred to as ECRM – Electronic Customer Relationship Management. This makes the scope larger as it refers to the on-going relationship supported by the Internet, e-mail, and wireless media.

Internet marketing ties together the technical and creative aspects of the Internet including design, branding, promotion and advertising, as well as sales. Here are three main objectives to help define Internet Marketing:

(1) Deliver a company’s message or presence in a marketplace. Branding its culture, mission and value as well as educating or detailing its products or service via the computer screen.

(2) Collect data research not limited by demographics, individual preferences or past requirements of both existing customers and (different groups, classes, stereotypes, etc.) as potential new customers.

(3) The actual selling, collection of fees, tracking of distribution and follow up of goods, services, or advertising space over the Internet.

The way in which one reaches out via the Internet to its prospective client is through different strategies. The more popular Marketing Strategies utilized by Internet Marketers are Social, Content and Paid marketing approaches. Each has their own attributes as well as limitations or short-comings.

There are several Business Model terms associated with Internet Marketing.

E-COMMERCE (electronic-commerce) refers to business over the Internet. Web sites such as Amazon.com and eBay are all e-commerce sites. The two major forms of e-commerce are Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B). So, while the neighborhood baker doesn’t sell his cupcakes on the Internet, he utilizes the benefits of the Internet to search and find the supplier with the best price for flour.

LEAD-BASED WEBSITES are organizations or groups of websites that create value by capturing prospective clients or sales leads from the Internet to be utilized by or sold to a third party.

AFFILIATE MARKETING is a process in which a product or service is promoted by many people or entities that receive a percentage of the profits when the product is purchased. The Affiliate did not develop or produce it themselves. The owner or producer of the product has authority over whom and how their product is sold and customarily provides the “affiliate” with marketing materials; i.e. Website links, capture pages, and banner ads that have encoded tracking – the device used to ensure the affiliate gets credit for the sale.

LOCAL INTERNET MARKETING is the process used by a company with a “local customer base” that traditionally sells by warm market referrals, signage, location visibility, and utilizing the Internet to find and cultivate relationships with potential customers to later interact with offline.

BLACK HAT MARKETING is a form of Internet marketing or search engine optimization (SEO) commonly referring to the practice of using unethical techniques or employing deceptive, abusive, or less than truthful methods to make your search rankings go up to drive more traffic to your website.

The birth and growth of Internet marketing has also made a mark on the “personal worlds” of many individuals. With Internet Marketing offering individuals infinite ways to promote and market themselves, products, services and opportunities, the world of home-based-business has exploded.

Initially for the person that desires to capitalize on this medium for their own person commerce, Internet Marketing can be confusing or even overwhelming for most. Each method seems to have its own language to decipher and obstacle to overcome. A system or platform to manage all of these strategies can be very useful if it includes support training. It’s best to only choose 1 or 2 initial strategies to focus on at one time. The best strategy for one person may not be the best strategy for you. Most important is that you discover the strategy that you like most and are comfortable performing. If you enjoy the process you will be certain to be better at it. And the better you are at it, the more likely you’ll become consistent with its implementation. You will find that the strategy you choose is much less important than your ability to do it consistently in order to achieve results.

I agree it can seem overwhelming at times, but actually the process can be quite simple if you focus on just one strategy at a time. There are unlimited training courses, Internet tools, websites and programs to help you be more effective and efficient in each category or strategy you choose. Having someone to help guide you through the process, pointing out which tools and programs offer the most help, not only will save your sanity, but also can save you hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in the process.