Monday
Jul
2015
06

Firework, Friends and a Forgotten Camera

by Scott Kelby  |  7 Comments

OK, I had planned to swing by the office and pick up a camera body, a lens, my tripod and a cable release, but we were having a busy family day and we wound up at my brother’s condo (a 4th of July family tradition) without a camera.

His condo overlooks the bridge leading to Clearwater Beach, Florida and his balcony has a great view of the fireworks, and since this was Clearwater’s 100th anniversary, they promised the Bay Areas biggest fireworks display. All the more reason why I should have made sure I had time to swing by the office and pick up my gear. Sadly, I did not.

Luckily, my brother loaned me his Canon Rebel 2Ti, with an 18-200mm lens. He even had a tripod, but no cable release, but beggars can’t be choosers, so I was happy to have anything. The T2i, despite being a pretty old camera [it debuted back in 2010 — you can find them used today for under $200], it did a pretty decent job. I used the same settings I listed here on Friday, except for I experimented with different shutter speeds (though the one I shared on Friday actually worked the best).

ISO: 100
f/Stop: f/11
Shutter Speed: 4-seconds to 8 seconds
Shot in: Manual Mode

I would have liked to go wider than 18mm, especially since this was a cropped sensor body so it was more like 28mm on full frame, but there was a wall on the left side of his balcony and it kept creeping into the frame so I wound up stuck at around 28mm cropped, which is like a 44mm lens on a full frame if, of course, they made a 44mm lens.

OK, it’s almost “grand finale” time (above) and things are about to get crazy. Although the grand finale is always the most fun to watch, it’s also the brightest part of the display, with everything kinda going off at once, and it takes a bit of post-processing (mostly, just dragging the Highlights slider to the left will do the trick, but they don’t make a long enough Highlights slider to bring back what’s going to happen in the next photo (the grand finale).

Well, I tried. It was just too much bright light for that T2i.

I can tell you three things I did in post that helped a lot:

(1) Applying the new Dehaze slider in Lightroom CC — it helped a lot in reducing the smoke from the fireworks.
(2) I increased the contrast a bit so the image didn’t look flat and backed off on the highlights to keep things from being too blown out.
(3) I increased the Clarity a bit to enhance the overall detail.

While I certainly didn’t “crush it” I had a lot of fun (and the fireworks show was really cool). My brother made some incredibly yummy hot dogs (with all the toppings) and (wait for it, wait for it…) Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (not the Deluxe stuff in the horizontal box — this was the “real deal” in the tall blue box. That stuff is magic!). Anyway, the kids loved it; Kalebra loved it; I loved it, and another family tradition continues on at my brother’s condo downtown. Until next year, where I’ll do my best to remember my gear, but if I don’t, at least I know there’s a T2i there I can use. :)

Hope you all had a great 4th!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. I’d love to see some of your fireworks shots from Saturday; post ‘em here or send me a link to them if you’ve got a sec. :)

 

 

Friday
Jul
2015
03

How to Make Awesome Fireworks Photos!

by Scott Kelby  |  1 Comments

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Hi Gang, and happy Friday: Tomorrow (July 4th) is a big holiday for us here in the US — it’s Independence Day — a day where all Americans celebrate their independence from Glyn Dewis and Dave Clayton (shown pictured with me above. They both serve as Beefeaters in service to Her Majesty The Queen as Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary, but they are shown here in the regular street clothes, but you know and I know, those clothes are anything but regular).

If you’re thinking of shooting some fireworks shots tonight, I wrote an article for ColaCola’s Journey website where I take you through the recipe for how to make Awesome Fireworks photos (It’s a step-by-step article — follow the recipe and ya can’t miss). Here’s the link.

I would add three things to that article for the more serious photography crowd here on my blog. They are:

>> Set your focus to infinity (This isn’t critical but if your lens can do it, why not). The fireworks are so bright you can use just regular ol’ auto focus for the most part, but if you have a lens that has a distance scale window on the top of your lens barrel; first turn off your auto focus (right on the lens — switch it to off), then rotate the focus ring on your lens until you see the Infinity symbol [it looks like the number 8 lying on its side]. Again, you don’t have to do this, but it might make things a bit easier.

>> Last year @SuzanMcEvoy (one of my followers over on my Twitter page) recommended also switching your White Balance to Tungsten and it works really well (Thanks Susan for the tip).

>> This one probably goes without saying, but you’re on a tripod so use your lowest ISO setting for the cleanest shots.

Hope you all have a safe, happy 4th of July as we celebrate our nation’s physical distance, in miles and magnitude, from Glyn and Dave which makes it truly a day worth celebrating. ;-)

Cheers!

-Scott

Thursday
Jul
2015
02

It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  9 Comments

Taming Natural Light with Erik Valind
Natural light is all around us, but it is up to the photographer to control it in order to make a beautiful portrait. Join Erik Valind as he shows you how to tame that natural light, from direct noontime sun to overcast and shadowless days, and capture killer portraits with little more than just your camera and a reflector. No speedlights or strobes are required for this class. Erik teaches you about the factors that you can control, and then walks you various techniques you can use through a series of real world demonstrations, each one building on the last, that will give you the skills to start seeing and using natural light in new ways. Click here to see the first lesson of this class for free!

Getting Started with Dreamweaver with Janine Warner
Take control of your website by learning Dreamweaver CC. Join Janine Warner, author of Dreamweaver for Dummies, as she teaches you the basic skills every Dreamweaver user needs to know to start building and managing a website. Whether you are completely new to Dreamweaver or just looking for a refresher, Janine will take you step-by-step through the process of setting up a simple website, creating new pages, adding and formatting text, inserting images, controlling the layout, and then linking it all together. By the end of the class you’ll have the foundational skills you need to take you to the next level.  Click here to see the first lesson of this class for free!

KelbyOne Live
Want to learn from Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, or Ben Willmore live in person? Check out these seminar tour dates to see if they’re coming to a city near you!

Shoot Like A Pro: Reloaded with Scott Kelby
July 14 – London, UK
Sept 22 – Phoenix, AZ
Sept 28 – Austin, TX

The Moment It Clicks with Joe McNally
July 13 – Ottawa, ON
July 15 – Calgary, AB
July 17 – Toronto, ON
Aug 21 – Orlando, FL
Aug 24 – Miami, FL

Lightroom & Photoshop Creative Integration Tour with Ben Willmore
Aug 4 – Kansas City, MO
Aug 6 – St. Louis, MO
Aug 26 – Charlotte, NC

These are just some of the upcoming dates for these seminar tours. You can find the full calendar of events right here, and leave a comment for your chance to win a free ticket to one of these events!

Last Week’s Winner
KelbyOne Live Ticket
- Deacon Blues

If that’s you, we’ll be in touch soon. Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday
Jul
2015
01

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Gisela Calitz!

by Brad Moore  |  7 Comments

OBJECTIFY YOURSELF
Enter my world cautiously, for all is not what it seems, and behind every image, there is always more than a single truth. We’re living in a world consumed by fear of the truth—but is there really such a thing as “the truth” anymore—especially in visual terms? It is fear of the unknown that causes people to judge and criticize—fear of an illusion created by our own experiences and teachings. One individual’s perspective may not be the same as another’s, because we process and interpret visual stimuli in a variety of ways. Thus, what is reality, if not a collection of diverse perspectives?

Now that I’ve got the exposition out of the way, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Gisela Calitz, and I like to create worlds that viewers can explore, fantasy realms where—even if just for a fraction of a single second—everything is perfect. These ethereal worlds are my personal attempts at escapism, snippets and daydreams, where anything and everything is possible and dreams can become realities (even if just in print). Sometimes, I find there are surprising amounts of people who share my love for these ethereal fantasies, which is why I do what I do. So, I guess the logical question from here would be, what exactly do I do?

I’m a high fashion advertising and editorial retoucher. Generally, we make a lot less money than our everyday advertising counterparts, but I guess if I were in it for the money I would’ve been a doctor, or a lawyer. Case closed. I fell in love with the industry at an early stage in my life and have not looked back since. I thrive on working with people who are stimulated by fantasy and all things whimsical in nature, and I strive to highlight these elements in everything I do. Sometimes, I get lost in an ocean of colour and light; sometimes my work feels like a lucid dream, and I don’t want to wake up.

Now, I’ve come to a point in my career where I’ve embraced the parallel between what I do to make a living and how I live life. Like life, the journey of an image through various editing suites (whichever they may be), involves a series of choices, each of which has its own set of consequences. And just like life, these choices need to be approached with a certain degree of forethought and caution. In the end, tools like Photoshop and Lightroom are just that: tools. But it’s the human on the other end of these tools that is instrumental in the progression and, eventually, the execution of a quality image. I’m that human on the other side.

In Photoshop, as in life, there are a myriad of approaches at your disposal. There are technical retouchers and artistic retouchers, just like there are doctors and surgeons. Sure, they may use some of the same tools, but the end results are often vastly different. In my line of work, experimentation is crucial in discovering the ideal creative process. That’s why I’ve spent a large deal of my life experimenting. I’ve chosen to do things my own way, opting for a totally unique route—the road less travelled, so to speak. The results… well, I think they speak for themselves really.

It all began a few years ago when I was studying design and working as model. I approached a photographer I admired to do a design project on his work. No holding back. We began collaborating on more projects, and so my love for retouching blossomed. From there, it developed so rapidly it consumed me entirely.

Continue reading

Tuesday
Jun
2015
30

A Quick Portrait Checklist

by Scott Kelby  |  3 Comments

Hi Gang: Once a month on “The Grid” RC and I do our “Blind Photo Critiques” episode where we ask our viewers to submit images for a live critique on the air. When the submitted images are portraits, we often see the same type of problems again and again, so I thought today I’d share a few hopefully helpful things to ask yourself about a portrait image to see if you’re on the right track — kind of a checklist to mentally take your image through to see if it’s working.

This checklist is short and simple, and certainly not complete, but at least if you’ve asked yourself these things about it, you’ll be ahead of the game. Here we go:

(a) Does your subject look engaged, either with the camera or someone in the frame (or just off frame)?
Peter Hurley has a great staying for this, he says “Are they giving you anything?” This “engagement” from the subject is incredibly important, and without it, the rest of the stuff below, even if you have them all, probably won’t make it without this (unless “e” below works well enough).

(b) Is the light either really flattering or really appropriate to the subject?
That doesn’t necessarily mean soft — it might mean hard light, depending on who your subject is, whether they’re male or female, and the mood you’re trying to create, but generally the flattering light part is pretty important.

(c) Is the background clean and simple?
If your background is simple for a straight up portrait, your chances for success go way up. This is bigger than it sounds. If the background is distracting, or has very bright areas that draw the viewers eye, your viewer won’t be looking where they’re supposed to be looking, and that’s not a good thing.

(d) Is the subject separated from the background?
In an outdoor portrait, creating some separation between your subject and the background usually helps put the focus on your subject. Try the lowest-numbered f/stop your lens will allow (f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6 — the lower the number the better), and zoom in on your subject to help create that separation.

(e) Is the subject doing anything interesting?
They don’t always need to be engaged with you (at the camera) or someone in the scene if your subject is doing something interesting to the viewer. Seeing someone doing something interesting is just…well…interesting!

Again, this isn’t the be-all, end-all list, but the next time you’re sitting in front of a portrait and you’re wondering if it “works,” run it through this checklist and see how it holds up (an ideal time to do this, is when you’re reviewing images during the shoot, while you can still do something about it — if not, it’s still something to strive for on the next shoot).

Hope you find that helpful, and here’s wishing you an usually awesome, Tuesday! :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. If you live in the UK, I hope you’ll catch my monthly column in Digital Camera World magazine (link). I’ve been writing it now for about 7-months and having a lot of fun with it. 

Thursday
Jun
2015
25

It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  16 Comments

Active Lifestyle Photography with Erik Valind
Get up and moving with Erik Valind in his latest class on active lifestyle photography! Lifestyle photography is all about capturing believable moments and showing that ideal reality in an image. When done right it should make you want to jump into the photograph and join the people in the picture. In this class Erik takes you through the basics of planning for your shoot, doing your research, and selecting your gear, and then moves through a variety of locations and activities to demonstrate how it works in the real world. Working with natural light, reflectors, studio strobes, and speedlights, you’ll get a good handle on how to tailor your lighting to fit the mood of the scene, so you can capture those hero images showing the peak of action.

Click here to watch the first lesson of this class for free!

Adobe Encore: In Depth with Greg Mulvey
Greg Mulvey has been authoring DVDs since the late ‘90s, and in this course he will teach you how to use Adobe Encore to bring any project to life. Greg will go through the steps on how to create motion menus in after effects, pop up menus for blue ray, as well as publishing the full version of your project to the web.

KelbyOne Live
Want to learn from Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, or Ben Willmore live in person? Check out these seminar tour dates to see if they’re coming to a city near you!

Shoot Like A Pro: Reloaded with Scott Kelby
July 14 – London, UK
Sept 22 – Phoenix, AZ
Sept 28 – Austin, TX

The Moment It Clicks with Joe McNally
July 13 – Ottawa, ON
July 15 – Calgary, AB
July 17 – Toronto, ON
Aug 21 – Orlando, FL
Aug 24 – Miami, FL

Lightroom & Photoshop Creative Integration Tour with Ben Willmore
Aug 4 – Kansas City, MO
Aug 6 – St. Louis, MO
Aug 26 – Charlotte, NC

These are just some of the upcoming dates for these seminar tours. You can find the full calendar of events right here, and leave a comment for your chance to win a free ticket to one of these events!

Last Week’s Winner
KelbyOne Live Ticket
- Michael Scott

If this is you, we’ll be in touch soon. Have a great Thursday!

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