How to Watch creativeLIVE and other Videos on an iPad without iTunes

I watch a lot of educational videos on my iPad, especially the ones I purchase from creativeLIVE.  To be able to watch them offline, I download them to my iPad and use an app called Buzz Player to play them.  I always forget how I do it, so I made myself some notes and thought I would share them here.  To get them to my iPad, first I upload them to my web host via FTP and the connect to it with Buzz Player to download.  There are also ways to connect through your network but I wasn’t smart enough to get that to work.

The First step is to create a folder for your downloaded videos.  Then select the FTP icon to add your FTP site.  (The icons looks different since I took these screenshots.  Sorry ’bout that.)  You will only have to add your site once and it will remember the settings.



Click the “+,” enter your server information, and click “Add”



All of your folders should show up in the right side panel.  Navigate to the folder with your videos.


If the site is not connected, click on the site name under “Shares.”  Click the arrow in the box to get the action dialog box.  Select “Copy All Files to Device” and pick the appropriate folder.  Click the down arrow in the bottom left corner to monitor the downloads.



Happy video watching!

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How to Use Lightroom to Prepare Images for Instagram

One of the best ways to post your DSLR images to Instagram is to add them to your Dropbox account. You can easily export images from Lightroom to your Dropbox folder so that they are available to your smartphone or tablet. You can crop the images square before exporting, or you can keep the original aspect ratio by using the print module method below.

If you want to learn how to use Lightroom to export .png files for Facebook  so that they aren’t compressed, go to this blog post.

Square Images – Export Method

1. Create a Dropbox account

If you don’t have one, use this link and you will get 500MB of bonus space.

2. Create an Instagram folder on your Dropbox

Dropbox will synchronize your online storage with your Dropbox folder on your computer.  Create an Instagram subfolder in your Dropbox folder to keep your images organized.  I call mine Webpix because that the name I use when I sell them to my clients.

3. Create a Watermark (optional)

There are plenty of tutorials on creating a watermark.  Here is a video from Adobe TV

4. Select and Crop your images

I like to keyword my images so that I can easily filter the ones I want to post on Instagram.  Once you have all of the images selected, use the crop tool to crop them to a 1:1 ratio.  You will then probably need to adjust the crops individually.  If you do not want to make your image square, use the Print Module method below.

5. Create Export Preset

Adjust the following export settings:

Lightroom Export Instagram

Export Location: Select your Instagram folder.  I like to create subfolders for each client with the name Clientname-Instagram so I can share it with them.

Rename to:  If you need to rename your files you can do so in this step.  My filenames are short and not necessarily unique so I like to rename my file with the folder name as a prefix, which is my clients name.  {Folder Name>>}_{Filename>>}.  That makes it easy for me to find when I’m posting and makes sure I don’t have duplicates.  This step might not be necessary for you.

File Settings: JPEG, RGB, 100% Quality (you could get by with less.  I don’t like to go below 92%)

Image Sizing:  Instagram pixel dimensions are 612×612.  I use a slightly larger file size so that I can use the same image for Facebook.  I have found that a 780 pixels image when saved as a .png file will almost always stay under the 1Mb limit (more about that in this blog post)

Output Sharpening: Optional

Metadata: Select desired settings.  I have Copyright Only.

Watermarking:  Select the appropriate watermark

Post Processing:  Do Nothing or Show in Explorer

Now create a preset so that you won’t have to adjust the settings again (click the “Add” button).

After you export the images, they should be in your Dropbox folder and automatically synchronize with your online storage.

If you have an Android phone, Dropbox shows up as one of the sources so there aren’t anymore steps.  If you have an iPhone or iPad, you will need to save the image from Dropbox to your camera roll.

Rectangular Images – Print Module Method

1. Follow steps 1-3 from above and then go to the print module to create a new layout with the following settings


Lightroom Export Instagram

2. Save Presets

Click the “+” next to the template browser to create the preset.  Name it “Vertical” in a new preset folder called “Instagram.”  Then swap the “Cell Size” height and width dimension and save that as a preset called “Horizontal.”

3.  Save in your Dropbox folder.

Select the image and the appropriate horizontal or vertical preset.  Adjust the cell size if needed.  Click “Print to File” and save to your Dropbox folder.

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Lightroom .PNG Export (sort of) for Facebook

How to Make .PNG Images for Social Media from Lightroom in Three Clicks

As many photographers users know, FB butchers image files.  By uploading a .PNG smaller than 1MB to a business page (not a personal page, unfortunately) you can keep your image uncompressed.  Since Lightroom doesn’t have a .PNG export yet, here is a workaround that I use with pretty good success.   Once you set it up initially, you will be able to quickly and easily export as .png files.

Summary:  Create an action in photoshop to save a copy of the image as a .png file.  Save that action as a droplet.  Create a Lightroom export preset that creates a jpeg of your image, then runs the droplet after export to make a .PNG version.  Saving the .png file in a dropbox folder on your hard drive will make instantly accessible from your phone, tablet, or any computer to share on instagram or anywhere else.

Note:  All your .PNG files will be in the SAME folder initially.

Another Note:  I use a PC and have no idea how to do this on a Mac.  Hopefully it’s pretty much the same

Last note (for Windows users only):  If you don’t already use droplets you might come across permission issues.  Just Google it 😉  There is also a limit to how many images you can export with a droplet at once, so if you get a communication error, that was too many.

Step 1.  Create a folder to store all your .png files.

The action you create will put a copy of your image in a specific folder.  I have a subfolder in my dropbox folder so that all my images will be available from my phone.

Step 2.  Create the action in Photoshop

Open a copy of an image file.  Start recording a new action.  Select File/Save As and pick .png as the file type.  Pick the folder where you want to save the image.  Don’t change the file name.  Select your compression options  (I do smallest/slow compression.)  Close the image.  Stop Recording.

Step 3.  Find your Export Presets folder in LR

In Lightroom, click on any image, right click, click Export/Export to open the export dialog box.  Scroll to the bottom and click on Post Processing/After Export and click on “Go to export actions folder now.”  Copy the path to this folder, make a shortcut, or remember where this is.

Step 4.  Create a Droplet

In PS, Select your new PNG action.  Go to File/Automate/Create Droplet.  Click “Choose” and navigate to the Export Presets folder from Step 3.  Make sure your action is selected under “Play.”  If not, select your action.  Click OK.

Step 5. Create your LR Export Preset.

Open the export dialog box.

Lightroom png xport


Pick a folder to save your jpegs that you will export from LR.  I like to rename the images with the folder name and the image name because my folder always is the client name.  I also have a separate preset for square images that adds an “S” to the filename.   As a result, all the .png files will have a unique name and will be in alphabetical order.  This is NOT the folder where your .PNG files will go.  That is determined by your photoshop action.

I resize to max size of 780 px on the long side for square images and 900 px for rectangular images.  This usually ensures that the final .png image will be less than 1 MB.  I also add my watermark in this step.

Click on “Post Processing” and select your droplet from the dropdown.  It should be there if you saved it into the right folder.

Click “Add” and save these settings as a new preset and name it whatever you want.  I call mine “PNG Watermark” and “PNG Watermark Square” .  I have a preset folder named with a number so that it shows at the top of the list for quick access because I have LOTS of presets.  If you don’t have a lot of presets this won’t be necessary for you.

Now you are ready to save .png files in three clicks!

1. Right click on the image

2. Click Export

3. Click on your new PNG preset name

If you are saving to your dropbox folder, it should be there all ready for you to Instagram!

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DIY Eyelighter – Make Your Own Curved Reflector

The Larry Peters Eyelighter creates beautiful clamshell lighting with a unique curved catchlight in the eye.   I took a shot at making my own, since I shoot mostly on location and wasn’t eager to invest in more studio gear that I may or may not use.  Plus making stuff is just fun.  At the time I wrote this post, the Eyelighters weren’t even available for purchase, but since that time, Westcott started manufacturing them and they are more readily available.

I made this for $0 out of items I had on hand.  If I made a second one I would probably do a few things different, since I really didn’t plan this out. It was really more of a “Hey, I think I’ll make an eyelighter today.”

Here is a photo created with my DIY reflector.  Overall I am pretty happy with the results considering I don’t shoot a lot in the studio:


List of materials:

-2 pieces of 1/2″ insulation board from Lowes.  I used 2’x4′  pieces so it would be small enough to take on location, but a 5′ or 6′ length might work better.

4/23/15 Update:  The insulation board that Lowes sells now is a little more rigid than when I made mine, and some people are having difficulty bending it.  Home Depot sells 1/2 in. Owens Corning insulation board that is very flexible and should work nicely for this project.

-Liquid nails (or another way to glue two pieces of insulation board together)

-Mylar (or any other reflective surface like a car sunshade, a thermal blanket, or a even a white surface for a more subtle effect.  I think you can even find insulation that is reflective and kill two birds with one stone)  I bought mine online here

-Spray Adhesive

-Duct tape (black or white)

-Clamps (I love my cheapie Cowboy Studio clamps.  They smell funny but I have three teenagers and a cat so it’s no big deal)

-Fabric or string to hold the reflector while the glue is drying.


This list does not include a way to mount the reflector.  I now use my superclamp and a swivel bracket.  Before that I just made one of my kids hold it.  (They weren’t happy but ask me how much THAT bothered me).

This guy has a good way for mounting and a different way a creating a DIY eyelighter:

The “Real” Eyelighter is definitely more durable and professional looking, but considering everything I own is covered in duct tape anyway, I really don’t have any issues with clients seeing my DIY gear.


Here is the process:

1) Glue the two pieces of insulation together using liquid nails or other adhesive.  Having two pieces is what holds the curvature (a bunch of boring math and physics that you don’t really want to hear).



2) Bend the boards to have a curve with a radius of about 2 ft.


3)  Clamp together for roughly 24 hours using a string or fabric around the insulation to hold the shape.



4) Once the adhesive is set, remove the clamps and cut the edges of the the foam with a razor for a smooth edge.

5) Cut the mylar or other reflective material slightly larger than the reflector surface size.  I wrinkled up the mylar so that it wouldn’t be so mirror-like.


6) Spray adhesive on the insulation and lay the mylar evenly, starting from the center.  If I made another I would put a small piece of sheet metal about 3″x4″ at the top center of the front and back to reinforce the foam from the compression of the superclamp.



7) Trim the mylar and finish the edges with duct tape.  Cut slits in the tape so that it will lay flat.


8) Enjoy your new curved reflector!


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