Friday
Mar
2015
06

Are You Shooting With a Lens In That “No-man’s Land” focal range?

by Scott Kelby  |  2 Comments

Earlier this week I was in Las Vegas at the WPPI show (the big Wedding and Portrait Show), and I was honored to be asked to give a talk in Canon’s booth on any topic I’d like (that’s me during one of my talks on Monday — photo by Brad Moore).

While the name of my talk was “Photo Recipes” a big part of the talk was about lenses, but not the standard lens demo stuff (you use this lens for weddings and this lens for sports, and the like), but thinking about lenses in the bigger picture (no pun intended there, but I wish it had been), from the fact that the moment you pick up a lens and put it on your camera, you’ve already made your first composition decision, to why so many people aren’t happy with their lens (and it’s not about sharpness or clarity, weight or price).

Here’s the condensed version
It was a 45-minute presentation so I can’t fit it all in here, but one topic I did touch on (with lots of examples) was why so many folks tell me they think their photos either look like snapshots or are just “nothing special” and I think part of that can be attributed to their lens selection. In particular, I feel (just my opinion here, but I’m not the first one to say this), but there’s a lens range that I consider kind of a “no-man’s land” for lenses because it’s where most of the worst photos are taken — when you’re first starting out. That range, when you’re a beginner, is where your worst shots are made (stay with me here), and then you get better and leave those behind.

One of my favorite quotes ever
It comes from Bresson and it so right on the money:

He’s right, ya know. Now, let’s think about which lenses most photographers these days start out with. Usually, a kit lens, probably an 18-55mm. You can opt for other kit choices, like an 24-105mm or another popular one is the 18-135mm. But most beginner’s photos are going to be taken within that no-man’s land range of anywhere from 18-135mm with lots of shots at 50mm, 70mm and maybe the 100mm range. The reason I don’t really like a 24-70mm on my full-frame camera is that’s fairly equivalent to an 18-55mm on a crop sensor camera. That range makes an awful lot of average pictures for people just starting out. It’s the beginner’s range of choice.

So, am I saying you can’t take a good picture with an 18-55mm or an 18-135mm?
Absolutely not. I am not saying that at all — a lot of folks take amazing pictures with an 18-55mm. But a whole lot more, don’t.

So what are you saying?
Most folks that are new to photography are playing the middle ground when it comes to focal lengths. Using the average, standard default focal lengths they have with kit lenses. They live and die in that beginner’s range because  they haven’t bought their first “2nd lens” yet, and here’s why this matters:

(1) They can shoot a wide angle shot, but not super wide. Just “average wide.” Like everybody else.
(2) They can shoot a telephoto shot, but not nearly tight enough to really bring you in close to see detail, like the pros do.

I think that’s one big reason they’re unhappy with their shots — and why I feel they often describe their own shots to me as “average.” They’re comparing their images to the ones they see the top pros make, and their just don’t look like that. They’re not that wide. They’re not that close. They’re not that “something” and they probably don’t realize what it is, which makes it all even more frustrating. That average kit focal length definitely makes it harder (not impossible, but certainly harder) to create really compelling images because it’s harder to “stand out from the crowd.” At those focal lengths, you’re producing the same types of shots everybody else with a kit lens does. That’s before we even get to the sharpness issues, which is a post unto itself.

So, what is super wide and why does it matter?
My go-to lens for the past year has been Canon’s 16-35mm lens, and quite honestly, I could just tape the barrel down at 16mm — I rarely ever shoot it at anything but 16mm, because when I go wide, I don’t want to go “a little wide” — I want the image to have a chance of looking epic. Of looking big, and sweeping and just flat-out different the instant you see it. I certainly don’t always hit that goal. In fact, I rarely hit that goal, but at least I know it won’t be because of my lens choice — it will be on me; what I’m shooting and how I composed it. Those alone — I’m not limited by my lens.

But I want to go wider!
Wider is better, and I just started shooting Canon’s 14mm lens after Brad tried one out shooting a concert and was raving about it’s sharpness, but beyond that it’s just the “look” you get when you get that wide. It brings something different to the table — something that instantly captures attention. That’s the kind of lens I want to be using (I don’t care that it’s a prime — I’ll zoom with my feet).

Soon, I’ll be able to go even wider
My dream lens was just announced by Canon, and as soon as it ships, I’m picking one up (that’s a heads up to B&H — please keep one for me, and can I get free overnight shipping?). It’s an 11-14mm zoom. This is one case where I might use the 11mm, the 12mm the 13mm and the 14mm. I haven’t seen one yet. I haven’t shot it, but I know it’s going to bring me the opportunity to take even wider shots, and show a view most folks aren’t already used to seeing day-in, day out. It’s still on me; choosing the subject and composition, to make the shot, but I know at least with a lens that wide I’ll be starting on 2nd base.

For just two shots from each shoot, I want to go even wider. I want to go “fish”
Last year I started using the Canon 8-15mm fisheye zoom, and I absolutely love it (but I don’t use it at anything other than 15mm fish, so I get the full fish effect but without blacking out any of the edges or turning it into a full circle at 8mm). That lens creates really captivating images, but I’ve found that when you show someone a fisheye shot from a shoot, I don’t care if it’s a wedding or a bowl game, they’re like “Wow! That is really cool!” When you show them a second fisheye shot, they’re like “That’s cool” and if you show them a third it’s like “Uh huh.” It’s a special effect lens, and while it has real wow factor for one or two shots, (it tends to get old real fast, like highly processed HDR), so I know going in to the shoot that I’m only going to show one or two shots from it, but those one to two I show will have a huge impact, and knowing I’m going to get two shots that nobody else has, and that they’re going to have a big impact, well, that’s money in the bank where I come from.

Go long or go home
Dave Black said that to me once about shooting the same semi-long lens at a football game everybody else is shooting, but I think his advice extends way beyond just football. I think this is the other side of the coin that beginners are struggling with — going beyond that 135mm telephoto focal range, and bring something special to the party. 200mm is a great focal length, and there’s so much you can do with it. My Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 is my workhorse lens. I use it for every sport I shoot, I use it for most every portrait, I use it at weddings, I’ve used it for travel, if I was stuck on a desert island and could only choose one lens, it’d be this (or a 28-300mm for full frame, I’m kinda torn). 200mm is a great focal length for sure. Ya know what’s even better? 300mm. Better yet? 400mm. These are ranges beginners rarely capture, and by shooting at 400mm you’re bringing something different, something special, something with impact to the party — something that separates you from the crowd.

This past year I shot an Eagles/Titans NFL game using nothing but one lens, Canon’s updated 100-400mm f/4.5 to f/5.6 IS II lens. It cost less than my 70-200mm, but I was in tight at 400mm, and churning out shots for the first time at a pro or college game without using a Monopod. It was a revelation, but without that monopod I was (ahem) unprotected in front and took direct contact down south with the business end of a bullet pass and well…I saw stars for a few minutes there, but it was still an amazing experience, and one that was financially out-of-reach for a lot of folks, but now is in a lot of shooters ballpark (no pun, but come on, that would have been a good one), and that puts them in a better chance to make some magic than they would have in kit land. Again, not that it can’t be done — there are some amazing kit lens shooters out there — you just have to be really, really good.

Don’t take all this the wrong way
I know when I write an article like this that it’s natural for people who have, and love, and have maybe gotten great results in what I called a “no-man’s land” focal range lens to get defensive when they read this, and write defensive comments. Please don’t take it that way. I had all those same kit lenses, too. One of my favorite shots I’ve ever taken was taken with the kit lens on my first DSLR, the original Canon Rebel, so I know good shots can be taken with inexpensive lenses. This isn’t about the price. It’s about what lens choice means to your composition, your images, and your impact.

What I hope to do with this article, and what I hoped to achieve with my talks for Canon earlier this week out in Vegas, was for photographers, especially new shooters who are frustrated with what their getting, to realize that part of their problem just might partially focal length based, and I want folks to know how important lens selection is to the type of image you’re about to make. I think it’s the starting point of every shot — the first composition decision — and why we need to really give some thought to which lenses we use and why we use them, because I truly believe it makes that big a difference. When that realization hits you, you can’t look back. This is important stuff, and I hope this helped, at the very least, to get you thinking seriously about your lens choice next time you’re out shooting, or when you’re deciding on which lens to get next.

I’m off to Sacramento!
I’m there on Monday for the final stop of the most fun seminar to teach I’ve ever taught.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I hope to see you back here on Monday.

All my best,

-Scott
Going really wide and really long (stop snickering)

Thursday
Mar
2015
05

It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  47 Comments

Photoshop In-Depth: Advanced Filters with Pete Collins
Join Pete Collins as he takes you on an in-depth tour of Photoshop’s most powerful and useful filters. Whether you are a photographer or a designer, there are filters you’ll want to add to your repertoire of techniques. There are so many ways these filters can help you with your work, and once you’ve had time to experiment with how they can be used you’ll be on your way to finding creative ways to implement them in all of your Photoshop projects.

The Best of Down & Dirty Tricks in Photoshop with Corey Barker
Straight from one of the most popular columns in Photoshop User magazine, Corey Barker takes us through his favorite Down & Dirty Tricks in Adobe Photoshop. Corey has an amazing ability to take inspiration from the world around him and leverage it to discover creative and cutting edge techniques in Photoshop that can be applied in all kinds of projects. Each project reveals new techniques for everything from compositing to 3D text effects. You may have read the columns, but seeing the tutorials come to life with Corey’s narration and insights takes them to a whole new level!

Leave a comment for your chance to win a free copy of Corey’s latest Down & Dirty Tricks for Designers book!

Updates from WPPI 2015
If you weren’t able to make it to WPPI in Las Vegas this week, Larry Becker was there to cover all the latest news and gear releases from the expo floor! You can catch up on all the latest from WPPI over at the KelbyOne YouTube channel.

Three New Apps from David Ziser!
This is David’s first go-around with apps and he’s put something very educational and cool together for ALL photographers, not just wedding photographers. The apps are sort of like his book – great info on Lighting, Lenses, and Composition but with brides and grooms as the main subjects – still the info crosses all photography lines. If you want to check them out, head over to David’s blog for more info!

Last Week’s Winner
KelbyOne Live Ticket
- Brian Dreyer

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

Wednesday
Mar
2015
04

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Kevin Mullins!

by Brad Moore  |  89 Comments

Firstly I want to thank Scott and Brad for allowing me a space here. I wondered what to write about, but I suppose, in the end, I thought it just made sense to tell the story of why I shoot and how I shoot.

<<<< REWIND >>>>

It’s a Monday in June 2009. My wife has just given birth to our first daughter. I get up at 5am. I get on the train at 5:20am. I sit on the train for two hours (same seat, every day. Same newspaper, every day, same people around me, every day). I get to my desk in central London at 8:30am.

Tip, tap, tip, tap….. I tinker away at the computer keyboard writing code. I have lunch at 1pm, with the same people. Every day (cool people btw). At 5:30pm I leave my desk. At 6pm I get on the train and stand for the next two hours next to same people I stand by every day. I get home at 8:30pm.

Gemma has already put my new daughter to bed. I go and see her. Smile, a little, and then think…… it’s time.

I go downstairs.

Gemma, looks at me like only a wife who knows you are about to drop something very substantial (but not necessarily in a good way) on her plate.

I’ve not said a word yet. She looks. I look. She sits down. I sit down. Then I stand up again. Then I get a beer. Change my mind, and grab a Scotch instead.

Gemma looks on.

“I’ve quit. I’m going to be a wedding photographer,” I say.

Boom. There it is. She looks at me as if a second head has popped out of my ear.

“A wedding photographer?” she says – like only a wife who’s just had something substantial (but not necessarily in a good way) dropped on her plate.

“But you’ve never even owned a camera!” And I hadn’t. But I knew I’d need one soon.

Gemma went to bed. I finished my Scotch.

<< FAST FORWARD >>

It’s Monday 23rd March 2015 and I’m writing this. I’m sat in my studio, in my home town. I’ve just dropped my kids off at school and here I am, writing something for Scott Kelby’s amazing blog. In a few hours I’ll pick the kids up, we’ll go home.

And here… I’m going to be talking about my pictures.

My pictures. Talking about MY PICTURES.

That’s me, talking about my pictures, to you, and to Scott, and to well, anyone else who cares to read…… You get the idea.


5D2: I like to look for the extraordinary in the ordinary


5D2: This little fellow has the same opinion of formal shots as me!

This is quite something. I wonder how on earth this has happened. My pictures are far from technically perfect, far from it, and I know many people won’t like them. But hey – here we are and I wanted to recite that little story as I know there are many people out there who want to make that leap of faith. It can work. Honest.


X100S: I love to capture the “feeling” of the wedding itself


X100S


 X-Pro1: I like humour to play a big part in my images

I shot my first wedding on the 9th August 2009. One day before my 35th birthday. It was hell. The pictures were OK, and the client’s lovely, but the experience was hell.

I did everything I thought I should do. I played by the rules and followed all the instructions I’d read about in wedding photography magazines, online forums and social media (as it was then). I shot 41 group shots, I got a lovely close up image of the wedding rings in their boxes, I made lovely portraits of the bride and groom, I got them to walk up and down in a field for thirty minutes while I changed the settings on my new Canon 5D Mark 1. I took photos of them doing a “mock” cutting of the cake in front of an empty room. We went for a walk at dusk and took more portraits while their guests drank champagne and wondered where they were.

Lovely. Lovely pictures. I was happy with them. But then it hit me. I’d given up my career to do this, every Saturday, for the next however long. I didn’t enjoy it one bit.

By now Gemma had started talking to me again and I discussed it with her. She said, “Why don’t you just shoot it the way you want to?”

Bingo. Epiphany number one.


5D3


5D3: Eye contact and simple interaction are core elements of my images

Since the “epiphany” back in 2009, I’ve shot near 300 weddings and I’ve made some of the most amazing friends on that journey. I’ve been around the world, and I’ve even written a book.

But mostly, I’ve completely and utterly changed my life, and that of my family and for the better too.

Although I’d never been a photographer of any kind, I always found myself drawn to story-telling pictures. Pictures of a photojournalistic nature. I was drawn to people such Mel Digiacomo and so, from wedding number two onwards that was the way I was going to shoot.

I pretty much decided, there and then, to shoot “reportage,” “documentary,” “photojournalism…” Whatever you want to call it… Really, I decided to shoot in a candid way going forward.

And, with the odd bump here and there, it hasn’t changed at all since.

Now, to go completely against the cliché, I actually don’t like weddings. I know, right? I’m a wedding photographer who doesn’t like weddings. Crazy.

But that’s not the end of it. I can turn that cliché around and follow it up with, “But I love people.” And I do. I love photographing people, being people.

I love the humanity element of weddings. I don’t like the contrived, formulaic elements of it. And I shoot my weddings as a Street Photographer would shoot on the streets of London; searching for moments and looking for the unexpected in a world of expectedness.


X-E2: Emotion is such a powerful thing, yet I think we leave it behind a lot of the time


X100S

I look for light, I look for moments. And I love that.

For me, a wedding is about the interaction, it’s about touch, it’s about eye contact, it’s about humour, it’s about emotion, and it’s about love……


X-T1

I wanted to give my clients the view of their wedding from their guests’ point of view. I wanted to deliver my clients bang, right back at that moment in time.  I wanted to see my clients smile, cry with joy, laugh… I wanted to see my clients “remember” their wedding, recite moments that happened and give them the opportunity to witness moments they didn’t see on the day.


X100T: People, being people

So, I have to say this, because it’s very true; although I shoot in a candid way, this doesn’t mean I don’t have an appreciation for photographers who shoot more formally. There are many clients who would shriek at my pictures, and for them there are many wonderful wedding photographers out there who will deliver images way above my skill level and ability.

However, what rocks my boat, is the story. And it’s the uncontrived story I like to tell, through my pictures.


X100T

I originally started shooting using the Canon 5D (Mark 1,2 and 3 in the end). Initially I was shooting using the big 70-200 and a 24-70.

But I knew there was something missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it but for the first year I wasn’t really satisfied with any of my wedding photographs.

Then I decided to ditch the zooms and use a two lens system only. From then on, I shot 100% with an 85mm f/1.2 and a 35mm f/1.4 lens. They were heavenly. I adored those Canon systems and I adored those lenses.

I genuinely believe that shooting with a couple of prime lenses adds a uniformity to your images. Across the board editing, workflow, and look and feel of my images were brought into line. The 85mm f/1.2 especially was a lens that brought me some very memorable images.

I was shooting 95% available light too, with the odd flash brought out for the first dance when the ambient light wasn’t good enough.


X100T: I prefer to shoot with available light as far as possible


X-T1: Light remains paramount, even in our dark winter UK churches

The Canons were great, and I loved them, and would never knock them but…

I then had another epiphany at Photokina in 2010. I saw a picture of this little retro-looking camera in a little glass box. It kind of looked at me, as I looked at it. I was intrigued and at the time I was going through another crisis of confidence. Once again I couldn’t put my finger on it but my pictures weren’t quite delivering for me what I wanted. Clients were loving them, but for me, there was something I wasn’t quite connecting with.


X100S: Even seemly ordinary moments can hold interest, and certainly memories

I didn’t know it at the time, but when I gazed at what was the Fuji X100 in its little glass box I wondered if what I was lacking in my images was a rawer connection with my subjects. Something I could perhaps only get by getting closer. Getting more intimate, but at the same time remaining as discreet as possible and ensuring the integrity of the moment.

I pointed my stubby little finger at that camera and said, “…that’s it.  That’s what I need.”

About five months later I received one of the first Fuji X100’s that came into the UK. I took it to a wedding, I shot all my normal stuff with the Canons, and then I shot an hour or so with the X100.

I took the X100 home. I looked it squarely in the eye again. It looked back at me. And I said to it…”Now mister – I like you; you are small, you are discreet, you are deadly silent and you are good to my back. But, if we are to get on, you are going to have to work faster, more reliably and make me swear a lot less often.”


X-Pro1: I’m always looking for context around the wedding setting


X-E2: There are stories within stories at the periphery of all wedding moments


X100S

At the time, the Fuji X100 was really my only option at getting on board with the [affordable for me] mirrorless technologies. Of course, there is also now Sony, Olympus etc who each have amazingly good systems. For me, though, at that point I’d pinned my flag to the embryonic Fuji X-Series tree and whilst in the beginning I saw “potential,” I now, four years later, see how moving to the X-Series has dramatically changed the way I shoot weddings.


X100

I now shoot 100% with my X-Series of cameras. The current set up is an X100T and an X-T1 with the 56mm f/1.2 lens attached. It’s no coincidence that that setup, in full frame equivalent, is approximately 35mm and 85mm – just like my preferred shooting lengths with my Canon system.


XT-1: Using lighter, smaller equipment has definitely added a dimension to the way I like to shoot

Here’s the thing about these cameras for me; they allow me to get closer still. They bring an intimacy to the imagery that I simply wasn’t able to get with the Canon system (the images were fine of course, it was a mindset of shooting more than anything).


X100S

I’m now just a guest at the wedding. In fact, many guests have larger and more expensive equipment than me. Has any client ever said to me “we expected you to be using large SLRs?” No. Never. Has any client ever said “Wow, really, we just hardly noticed you all day.” Yes. Many.

So, going back to what I wanted to shoot and with regard to shooting “people being people” – the Fuji cameras have really exploited that ambition for me and allow to fulfill that for myself and for my clients.


X-T1:  I like to capture the moments in between

It’s imperative to me that my pictures reflect the honesty of the wedding. There are many “wedding photojournalists” who work in the same way. There are equally as many who call themselves wedding photojournalists yet stage and contrive the images. For me that’s not the same. Shooting candidly is not necessarily the same as making documentary pictures and so I prefer to use the adjective ‘candid’ (which the dictionary defines as “truthful and straightforward”) when describing my style of photography.


X-T1

For me it’s all about the integrity of the moment. I often say to my clients that I’m simply the curator of memories. You, and your guests, make those memories – I simply record them. I don’t want to have any influence on anything at the wedding itself. It is my responsibility to understand the given lighting conditions, take note and understand the characters at the wedding, be responsible and sensitive to every situation and use all my senses help me to record, in pictures, the story of their day.


X-T1: Ultimately, it’s about emotion.  It’s about humanity. It’s about allowing people to be people


X-T1


X-Pro1


X-E2


X-T1: And it’s absolutely always about the love

This incredible, short journey, has given me some great privileges, but I think the most humbling experience in my career came last year when another photographer who had been at one of my workshops approached her to document the Caesarean birth of her daughter.


X-T1:  First Moment

At first I was very reticent to take this on, but I wanted to do something at that stage of my career that was out of my comfort zone and this was the perfect canvas.

In a nutshell, that’s the story of my story so to speak. How I went from corporate misery to shooting social documentary photography. I made it sound so easy right?

Well, it was kind of easy, because I unshackled myself from the “rules” of the industry. I believed in the way I wanted to shoot, picked up the ball and ran with it.

But let me tell you, running with that ball hasn’t been all plain sailing. I could write just as much about how often I’ve wanted to give it all up.

How my wife has saved me from doing so on several occasions.

I could tell you about the anonymous hate email I received stating “your photographs are snapshots. Why don’t you leave it to the professionals?”

I could tell you about how I’ve sat and watched my images ripped apart by judges at international competitions and dismissed as “snapshotography” (and by the way, they had a point).

I could tell you about the time that a simple sentence from Zack Arias whilst having a beer in a Japanese bar saved my career.

I could tell you all of that stuff too.

…but instead, I’d like you to press play on the video below. Turn the sound up and at the end….smile. Life is good!

For me, the key here is the human story. I use the clock to anchor the segments together but the little looks, the eye contact, the touch, the first sights of Maja….

So bringing it all back together – I enjoy story telling pictures. I enjoy stories that have a start, a middle and an end. I enjoy creating picture essays that curate these memories for my clients.

It’s different to the “norm.” There is no formula. It’s 100% candid and I guess I simply enjoy taking pictures of people, being people.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramble, and even if you don’t enjoy the pictures, I hope it helps people teetering on the edge to make a decision. One way or another. Life changing decisions usually work out for the best!

I’m happy to answer any questions you may have, just leave them in the comments.

Thanks so much for reading!
-Kevin

You can see more of Kevin’s work at KevinMullinsPhotography.co.uk and The-Owl.co.uk, and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Tuesday
Mar
2015
03

Photographing Richmond’s Historic Byrd Theater

by Scott Kelby  |  19 Comments

Above: It was a cold, gray day in Richmond — perfect for shooting indoors. Here’s an iPhone pic of me in front of The Byrd (photo by Brad Moore).

So, last month I’m reading USA Today (online) and I run across an article about classic old historic movie theaters (link) and I saw that one of them was in Richmond, Virginia, which was great because in just a few days I was going to be in Richmond with my seminar tour. So, I asked my assistant Lynn to contact the theater and see if there was any way I could come in the day before my seminar; set up a tripod; and take  some shots of the theater while it was empty. Well, as luck would have it, the theater manager (a really cool guy named Todd Schall-Vess) was a KelbyOne subscriber and had some of my books as well, so we were all set for our afternoon shoot, and he pretty much gave us the run of the place, which was awesome.

Above: Here’s the Byrd from the very back of the theater shot with a 15mm fisheye lens on a full frame 5D Mark III. The fisheye is so wide that you’re also seeing the balcony, which is right over my head, in this shot. Click on it for a larger view.

Above: Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot. I mostly shot from the seating areas, and tried both of my lenses for each location (a 15mm fisheye, and a 16-35mm).

Above: Here’s a fisheye from the balcony.

There are not HDRs
I did shoot three exposures (one regular exposure, one 2-stops under-exposed, and one 2-stops over), and I tried doing some HDRs, including 32-bit HDRs but the problem was always the chandelier — when the HDRs merged into a single file, the chandelier was still blown out big time, so instead I put all three images into the same file on their own separate layers (Open all three images, then go under Photoshop’s File menu, under Scripts, and choose Load Files into Stack). Then I just used Layer Masks to paint in the chandelier and ceiling from the layer that was under-exposed, and then I painted in areas that needed to be brightened from the over-exposed layer, so kind of an old-fashioned layer mask party. It takes longer, but it was much more effective than the results I was getting from regular HDRs (including trying Photomatix Pro 5).

Above: Here’s a closer view.

Above: Here’s the reverse view, from the stage looking back at the house, shot with the 16-35mm at 16mm. 

Above: Another behind-the-scenes shot. Using a travel tripod and a cable release. Can’t believe we actually remembered it. 

Above: Here’s a fisheye version from the same shooting position. 

The theater is MUCH darker than it looks in these photos
In fact it’s so dark that Todd Schall-Vess (the theater’s manager, and a photographer himself), told us that one time a photographer was there to shoot the theater and asked Todd to turn the lights on. Todd told him, “All the lights are on.” I could see how he’d ask that — it was incredibly dark inside, so my shots are actually brighter than the theater. When I made them look like it really did, you would swear the shots were 2-stops under-exposed.

The Byrd Rocks!
My thanks to Todd Schall-Vess for letting us takes some photos of The Byrd. Just a beautiful place, and if a three-hour long movie hadn’t been playing that night, Brad and I would have been there that night to take in a show — it’s a perfect place for it, and one of just a handful left like it anywhere in the country, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity.

OK, I’ve gotta hit the sack — big day today here in Vegas and a long flight home.

Hope you have a Tuesday packed with all the wholesome goodness of 100% whole grain. ;-)

Best,

-Scott

Monday
Mar
2015
02

Today, I’m Loving Mylio on a Whole New Level

by Scott Kelby  |  26 Comments

First, if you’re not familiar with Mylio (and you’re concerned about protecting your images, and you love the idea of having access to all your photos wherever you are), jump over to this link and see what it’s about, then come right back here (by the way, you can download a free trial while you’re there, but wait till later — come straight back here). :)

I’ve been using Mylio since it was in early Beta…
I was there for the launch in NYC and I think the people and technology behind it are truly amazing. But this weekend, I started over from scratch with Mylio, downloading and reinstalling the app and rebuilding the entire thing on my iMac (which amazingly only took about 25 minutes, including setting it up on all my mobile devices), but I decided to do all this after a talk with one of my buddies over at Mylio, Kevin Gilbert (you may have seen Kevin’s Ted Talk about the importance of protecting your images that I shared here on the blog last year), where he said something that made me completely rethink the way I use Mylio. He said,

“All the pictures of your life…with you all the time.”

Now, he added an extra line to it, which I’ll share in a moment, but it made me rethink how I’d been using Mylio. I think I was influenced by a lot of top pros who literally now have their entire photo libraries, raw files and all, being managed by Mylio. There are users with over one-million photos being managed in one Mylio catalog (yes, they have one-million+ photos on their phone), I had a ton of photos in there myself, and yes they were now on all my mobiles devices — tens of thousands of them, but when Kevin said that simple sentence to me, I realized something.

The RAW files I didn’t finish, the ones that didn’t “make the cut” — the ones I didn’t like enough to tag even as a pick, or that the client rejected — I was managing them all through Mylio. Why am I loading hundreds of thousands of photos I don’t like, just because “I can?”

So, I looked at the folder of images I do care about. It’s named “Final Images” and I looked at the size: it’s 126 GB, with around 23,800 photos inside it. It’s all my high-res final JPEGs going back for years from every family vacation, every photo book, every slideshow, every trip, ever photo I’ve taken with my phone, everything I actually care about. They are all in folders within that one big “Final Images” folder.

Those are the images I care about. Those are the pictures of “my life” that I care about. I would love to have all of those with me all the time, but I don’t have 128-Gig free on any mobile device, but today as I write this, I have every one of those photos I care about (23,800 or so) not just on my pon all my devices because Mylio’s compression (and smart sizing) let me add all those images to my iPhone and it only took up (wait for it…wait for it…)…

912 Mb.

That’s all. Not even 1-Gb.

I already had my “Final Images” on my backup drive at home, (attached to my iMac) so I just imported that one folder into Mylio and it did the rest automatically, keeping all the folders and file structure intact and the whole nine yards. In less than an hour, I had every image I cared about on my laptop, on my iPhone, on my iMac and on my iPad. Every photo! (and by the way, I can’t imagine a situation where I would want to show somebody one of the Raw photos I left on my backup drive. It would be like “Hey, wanna see some photos I didn’t think were any good?”).

I know every Mylio user will use Mylio in a different way, and I had been in that “keep everything with me always mode” and now I’ve shifted to “Keep what’s important with me always mode” and I’m absolutely loving it. But besides having them always with me, I was particularly tickled to go to Mylio’s “Flow” view (which does a beautiful job of displaying tall and wide images together like a completed puzzle) and see my entire life flow by in thousands of photos — photos I literally haven’t seen in years (they were neatly tucked away in folders), but now I’m seeing them again as I flick through the years and I spent hours just looking. Exploring. Smiling. Tearing Up. Laughing. It was totally worth it just for that experience.

It helped me rediscover a photo that means so much to me
This is a photo of my wife Kalebra, which is one of my favorites of her, taken in Nafplion, Greece. It has such meaning to me because for most of our married life (26-years this year), she absolutely hated (mega-hated) having her picture taken. She really felt that she was incredibly unphotogenic and any time you tried to take a photo of her, she would put on that “This is going to look awful” face to ensure that she was right. Well, we’re on this beautiful island, and she looks so beautiful to me every single day, and now here she is in this beautiful setting and I took a picture of her and sure enough, her beautiful face contorted into that “This is going to look awful” look and so I walked over to her, and said…

“Honey, these photos are the visual history of your life. When our children look back on these photos, do you want them to see your beautiful smile, or this “please get this over, I know this looks awful” look you put on. You look like you’re hating the moment that’s not the way you want your children to remember you.”

She gritted her teeth and kind of smiled. But later that same day, we were in line for something and I called out her name and she turned, paused and gave me her real smile — the one you see in the photo above, and I was just floored! She even stood there and let me take three or four shots!

I walked right over and said “Honey, you smiled a real smile!” And she said that she had made up her mind that she didn’t want me or our kids to look back and see her old “This looks awful, right?” look, and from now on she would be happy to have her photo taken; I could take as many shots as I wanted, and she would give a genuine smile every time. I was absolutely thrilled, and now she always flashes her gorgeous smile, and I have boat loads of photos of her looking the way she really does day in and day out. When going thru my “Mylio flow” I saw this photo, one I hadn’t seen in years, and it stopped me right in my tracks because I remember so vividly why this shot means so much to me. Time to make a print for my desk.

Kevin’s extra line…
So, I know one of Mylio’s main things is making sure your images are protected and backed up in multiple places, and I now know that as I’m traveling to Las Vegas for the WPPI show this week, that for the first time in my life, ALL my important photos are with me (by the way, the thing that Kevin added to the end of that sentence I mentioned near the top was the “marketing part” but it’s a powerful one” “All the pictures of your life…with you all the time, for $4 a month.”), but it’s helped me to relive some of the most important moments of my life, of my family’s life, and it’s changed the way I’ll use Mylio from here on out, and I’m more excited about Mylio today than I’ve ever been (especially since the latest version supports PSDs), so thanks Kevin, and thanks to my buddy David Vaskevitch for having the vision and passion to bring Mylio to life.

Hey, if you’re out here in Vegas and you see me strolling by, stop me and I’ll show you my photo flow in Mylio on my iPhone (don’t worry, I won’t show you 23,000+ photos. I’ll stop around 19,000). ;-)

Hope to see you at my Canon booth presentation (today at 1:45 pm and tomorrow at 10:45 am) , or at the Canon-sponsored “KelbyOne Theater” on the Expo Floor (I’m doing a free session on portrait retouching at 10:30 am today).

Have a butt-kicking, feeling-the-love, takin’ lots of photos Monday!

Best,

-Scott

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