Monthly Archives January 2004

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http://vimeo.com/152717969
Video by Matthew Rojas

My first week as the photographer for the Dallas Stars was one of the craziest weeks in my professional career. In the span of 5 days, I became a new photographer.

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This starts many weeks before the shoots with creative meetings. We were trying to figure out the new direction for the Dallas Stars for both the calendar which they hadn’t released the last couple of seasons because of lack of sales, and the media day photoshoot which they use for everything from billboards to programs to the commercial breaks during the broadcast of the games.

My creative direction for the calendar was easy. I knew exactly who the key demographic of this young and, according to my fiancee, “hot” team was. I had to make this team look sexy. The obvious answer there is something GQ. Let’s put these players in suits and the calendars will sell themselves. On top of that I had always wanted to do a Behind the Scenes of a movie set look. I pitched this idea to the Dallas Stars Foundation and they loved it immediately.

Over the next couple of weeks I built a set and gathered props to create the look for the calendar. In retrospect I wish I had hired a set designer because of the amount of time I put into building this set. Me being the hard headed control freak I am, I wanted full control of how this was going to look and I didn’t want any outside input.

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Sunday is day one of two for the calendar shoot for the Stars. For the calendar, each month would be either an individual or duo from the team and then the cover was to be a shot of the crowd favorites. The only problem with that was that these players were split up over the two days. I think no problem, I’ll just set up a monopod and lock it down so we can composite each player together into the one image.

This wouldn’t have been a problem, but the next day we were shooting the calendar was three days later on Wednesday. Somewhere in that time, someone came into the studio and moved parts of the set. I don’t work out of a typical studio. I share a studio space with 60 other creatives in Dallas called WELD. I love this place, it is amazing. But this is where communal studio space becomes a problem!

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Anyway, day one was a HUGE success and I couldn’t have been happier with how everything had gone. We had to wrap the shoot by 4pm because my crew and I had to be on a plane to Chicago for a two day photo shoot with Topgolf. We got into Chicago by midnight and into the hotel room by 1am, got a few hours of sleep and shot long, full days. That’s another story for another blog post though.

We flew back Wednesday morning at 6am to get back to the studio at 10am and started shooting the remainder of the calendar at 11am. THANK GOD we had everything set up and ready to go, because when we got back to the studio I think we all took a quick 30 minute power nap.

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The second day of the calendar shoot went by without a hitch (other than the moved set). I chose to not let it bother me and just suck it up and accept the fact that I would have a little bit more post ahead of me. We wrapped around 4pm and immediately had to break everything down and get it loaded up into the van for the media day shoot the next morning – at 5am. Ouch!

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My crew and I got up to the Dallas Stars training facility at 5am to start setting up. By this point, we had everything nailed down from multiple test shoots at the facility. I had everything mapped out, powers dialed in and we knocked out the set up in about an hour. The fun thing about media day is that I get roughly 5 minutes with each player in which I have to get 4-5 different looks.

I had three stations set up in which I would get at least two separate looks at each station by getting the player to face different directions and toggling lights on and off to give it a new look. The last station was the “action” station in which I would have the player skate at full speed and do a few different variations of shooting, stopping and skating.

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INSERT HUGE PROBLEM. With all of the tests I had done, I had never had a problem with my lens fogging over. And wouldn’t you know it, the first player skates up to have his picture taken and my lens is completely fogged over. AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! DEAR GOD WHY!? Growing up in Texas, I have never had much experience with my lenses fogging over due to cold weather, so the first thing I do is stick the camera in my jacket to warm it up. This fixes it momentarily, but keeps fogging up every couple of minutes.

It ended up working out and I got images that myself and the Dallas Stars were both proud of. I know I wouldn’t have been able to knock out these shoots without the help and support of my amazing crew that week, and of course my fiancee who kept me from breaking out into tears on multiple occasions.

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You can see more of Sean’s work at SeanBerryPhotography.com, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Meagan V Blazier

8 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of A Point And Shoot Camera

1. Read The Manual
This seems obvious, but the best way to get the most out of your point & shoot is to just READ THE MANUAL. This is the quickest way to get a general idea of all of your camera’s features and get familiar with settings and menu options.

Nowadays, with all the information on the Internet, it’s also likely there are some video tutorials on using your specific camera that I am certain would be useful.

2. Not All Point & Shoots Shoot Raw
Some models will shoot RAW. If yours does then without a doubt, shoot in RAW. Shooting in RAW will capture all the visual data (unlike a compressed JPG) and allow you far more control when it comes to post-processing.

If your camera does not shoot in RAW, then shoot in the highest quality JPG possible. Keep in mind that, when it comes time to do your post-processing work, JPGs cannot be pushed nearly as much as RAW images.

Pretty Winter-Meagan V Blazier

3. Get Familiar with the Settings
If you are new to photography, chances are you’re not familiar with the different shooting modes. Here’s an exercise you should do right away: take a series of shots of the same subject using the different modes and adjust the settings between shots.

For example, in aperture priority mode, change the aperture between shots so that you can see what difference the aperture can make on a shot with regarding the depth of field. Then learn how to use exposure compensation to underexpose or overexpose a shot, and take a series of shots adjusting this.

It’s often easier to understand the difference these settings make when you can actually see that difference.

You’ll learn many lessons this way. For example: because it can be difficult to get a narrow depth of field with a point & shoot camera, you’ll find it helps to use a long focal length, get close to your subject, AND use a large aperture.

Also, get familiar with some of the additional features such as the macro setting. I have found this setting to be very useful when shooting portraits close-ups.

Don’t limit yourself. The best way to get familiar with the camera is to try each setting and get a feel for how it works. This will help you get comfortable with the camera and help you to develop your own unique shooting style.

4. White Balance
Your camera’s white balance settings will affect the overall color tint of your images. If your camera has white balance settings, it will probably let you shift between daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, auto, and custom.

Either set your white balance to auto or to the correct lighting that you are shooting in so that your images don’t end up too yellow or blue. If, however, you inadvertently change the white balance to the wrong setting, don’t panic. It can be corrected in post-processing, especially if you’re shooting RAW.

Empty Shell- Meagan V Blazier

5. Learn the Basic Rules of Photography
Sure, rules are meant to be broken, but one that you can’t get away from is composition- learn it! Whether you are using an expensive DSLR or a simple point & shoot, practice composition. Get familiar with where to place subjects and how to fill the frame. Study the rule of thirds, leading lines, symmetry, repetition etc.

6. When to Use Your Flash
Most point & shoots have an on-camera flash that is pretty convenient, but knowing when to use it is crucial.

Generally, most would tell you never to use your pop-up flash and opt for natural lighting—and for the most part I cannot argue that theory. The problem with pop-up flashes (even on DSLRs) is that they can be harsh and unflattering. This is because they are pointed directly at your subject and on the same plane as the lens, providing harsh light.

On the other hand, there are some good uses for flash, such as using it as a fill light. If a scene has a high dynamic range with really bright areas and darker spots, then one of two things can happen 1) Either your highlights will be blown out and your shadows will be exposed correctly or 2) Your highlights will be exposed correctly and your shadows will be black.

Using your flash can help balance the light in the scene and give a more even exposure throughout. By exposing for the highlights, you can ensure that they will not be blown out. You can then use your flash as a “fill” to provide additional light and exposure the darker areas of the scene correctly.

I often make use of this technique when shooting property interiors to ensure windows are not blown out and the interior has a nice even exposure with no shadows—this gives me a good, even exposure of the complete scene.

Home Alone- Meagan V Blazier

7. Avoiding Flash When Natural Light Is Limited
Indirect, softer lighting is always better than harsh, direct lighting. When shooting an indoor portrait, try placing your subject near a window and use all the available natural, softer light that you can.

When natural light is limited, desk lamps, LED lights etc. make a great alternative. Just place them away from the camera and not too close to the subject for softer, more flattering light. You can also soften the light more by holding a white plastic bag in front of the light to diffuse it.

Winter on the farm-Meagan V Blazier

8. Zoom, Zoom, Zoom
The best thing about many point & shoot cameras is the zoom capability without needing additional lenses. The Canon PowerShot I use boasts 35x optical zoom. With patience and a steady hand, you can get some really awesome shots:

Don’t be afraid to experiment with the zoom. Go wide angle and low down for a more dramatic feel, put your camera on a tripod, use a slow shutter speed, and zoom the lens as you take the shot.

You can see more of Meagan’s work at MeaganVBlazier.com, and follow her on 500px, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

   This article originally appeared as part of the 500px ISO blog.

titze

An Ode to Self-Initiated Work! (Or how I got to learn to love extra work)
My name is Chris Titze and I’m a digital artist based in Dallas. I cross the line between CGI artist and photographer. My background is in retouching. I’m also one of Lüerzer’s Archive’s 200 Best Digital Artist world wide.

I want to make my case on why Self-Initiated projects are important and why you need to start one today if you haven’t before.

This is especially true if you feel stuck in your line of photography or your book/portfolio feels dated, or you are totally burned out. A Self-Initiated project may just be what the doctor ordered. Every successful photographer I have met does one thing that the unsuccessful ones don’t. When they get into a rut, they start their own creative project. This is their cheat code to staying relevant.

Just to show that I’m acting on what I preach, below is my latest work-in-progress Self-Initiated project.
Having a Self-Initiated project in between paid work was a habit even before I became a freelancer. Even back when I was working full time at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, I had a project at hand to teach me a skill.

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As of now there is a lot work that needs to be done. The swarm of drones look menacing but the people still need to look more realistic, especially the clothing. I’m anticipating I should have this image done within a few weeks depending on client work. The goal is to blanket the sky with thousands of drones, which would be something that would not be feasible in real life. I was tempted to photograph the couple using photography but decided not to. Keeping it fully 3D has its advantages. I want to try turn this image into a stereo 3D image, so that way you can see this image in real 3D using either a VR headset or one of those cheap red/blue 3d glasses.

So why should you invest as a photographer the time and effort on Self-Initiated projects?

Let me outline 3 reasons why self initial projects are essential to your brand.

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I’ve been meaning to work on a race car image but wanted to introduce a little odd spin. The 3D mesh for the VW Bus has been provided by Jay Hardy who is a fantastic Blender artist.

1.) It shows your capabilities and shapes your direction
A client will only hire you for the work they believe you are capable of. In other words, if they don’t believe you can do it, they won’t hire you. The lack in your portfolio is validation that you can’t do it. Only a really gullible art buyer would gamble their career hiring someone that has no track record. Stop fooling yourself if you believe that your client is responsible for your artistic career direction. (Hint: they are not)

Only you are responsible for the direction in which your creative career goes.

So you think it’s a catch-22. You can’t get the work you want because no one hires you for that work you want. And since no one hires you for the work you want, you can’t get the work you want. The work you get from your clients begets more work, effectively cementing your direction in photography. For example, the person that shoots a lot of senior pictures will shoot more senior pictures since they become known for it. Even though they are dying to do some car photography. Self-Initiated projects allow you to break free from the cycle. Since you direct yourself, you are your own boss. The only catch is that you may have to sacrifice your time to make it happen.

I once had a chat with a photographer who was asking for marketing connecting to car brands despite not having a single car piece in their portfolio. It was self serving, since it came from a “Me First” mentality. I told him pretty much that no art buyer would gamble on a unproven photographer with no car experience. Their job is to find the best available photographer within their budget. In fact, their entire job function entails on filtering out misfit photographers.

I encouraged him instead to start with spec work or Self-Initiated work to get a body of work going before seeking out car brand. Unfortunately as with most advice, it went one ear in and the other ear out. Keep in mind, I’m not a cynic and I do believe in dreaming big. But you do need to take the dream and work towards it. After all, step by step gets you ahead.

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I created this image within days when Google Glass was announced. I think it’s still a very charming image.

2.) It sharpens your skills and future proofs you
As the former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says, it takes “reps reps reps.” Meaning that only perfect practice will make the job easy. That way you have a good understanding of what the job entails, for example how to charge a project. Let’s say you are hired to photograph a bird’s eye view of a city. How do you know what to charge if you haven’t done a practice run? Do you know where to rent a helicopter and how much they charge? Do you know how much time the project would take in post? Self-Initiated projects helps you figure out the details.

If you get a job and you haven’t done it at least once, every minor mistake will trip you. Doing it for practice will help you. Do the hard things when they are easy, when nothing is on the line. The experience you gain through Self-Initiated projects carry over to your commercial projects.

With Self-Initiated projects, you can target the skills you want to learn for yourself. If you want to learn about drones, you can rent a drone and learn the ins and outs by using it. It will come in handy in that example above. Maybe a drone is all you need.

When Chase Jarvis went from waiting tables to becoming a sports photography giant, it was the “Create, share, sustain” mantra that took him there. Joel Grimes is a big believer in Self-Initiated work; that’s how he developed the Joel Grimes look. Austin Mann, a friend of mine, developed his initial travel photography portfolio while he was on mission trips. Which also teaches us that when you find a competitive advantage, you need to exploit it. Double down on the things that work.

Also, Self-Initiated work can future proof you. Do you really think a camera 20 years from now will look anything like they do now? Do you shoot photography the same you did five or ten years ago? The look of a DSLR is an anachronism of an old school film camera. There is a good reason why phones for example are not banana shaped anymore. Photography will become only weirder and muddier as times moves on, you will be doing stuff as a photographer that is technically not “photography.”

By doing Self-Initiated work, you can do projects today that the clients will request next year. For example, how much more successful would you be if you embraced Instagram when it just came out? How about Google+? Trey Ratcliff accelerated his photography career by embracing Google+. He dominated it when it came out. Do you embrace new social media? Are you on Periscope or Meerkat?

Don’t be the guy that claims to have 20 years of photography experience when in actuality they only have 1 year of experience repeated 20 times. You know that person that has been in business for decades but you can shoot circles around them. Instead be the guy who is touch with the ever moving world of photography.

Creating Self-Initiated projects allow you to be on the cutting edge.

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This image has been published in Luerzer’s Archive’s “200 Best Digital Artists Worldwide” and has been shared around the internet. It originated as a collaboration between Austin Mann and I. Playing with a welding gun is always really fun and really dangerous. It was awesome to see all the sparks flying. We even shot a behind-the-scenes video.

3.) Cool projects are great marketing tools

There is so many marketing opportunities when it comes to Self-Initiated work. You are essentially creating your own advertising for you own brand.

Creating your own brand as a photographer is important. You want to avoid to be seen as a technician, a button pusher. The more you are a technician, the more you are a commodity. Which is a service just like any other which can be substituted for a lower price. That’s why you want to build a brand. Being a technician is a race to the bottom since you are competing on price.

So how do you build a brand? This is a huge topic by itself but, Self-Initiated projects can help build your brand. If you want to build a brand I can recommend a few resources such Erik Almas’ “On aspects of image making,” or Joel Grimes’ “Becoming a Marketing Genius.”

Since you decide what to shoot, you have a chance to work with sexier topics whether they be better models or products. Let’s face it, working on a pharmaceutical product is not sexy, but working on Nike is. It’s not against the law to use Nike products for a Self-Initiated work as long you don’t claim you work for Nike. You just need to be honest on the scope of the work.

In other words you are only limited by your own imagination (and pocketbook).

Once you’ve created your passion projects, they are great fodder to feed the Marketing beast. Post it on Social Media, Create a post card campaign, create a signed poster for your prospects. There are so many ways use this content.

Here are some inspirations on how other photographers broke through by doing this. Some of them got millions of impressions, some of them launched carriers. Some even used it to sell themselves as product.

Here are a few of my favorite ways photographers used passion projects to enhance their brand.

  • Josh Rossi launched his career by asking influential Youtubers to join in their shenanigans in exchange of free photography. This gamble paid off in amazing work and large money offers.
  • Austin Mann used his spare time from mission work to build his travel portfolio. He is now very renowned for his travel photography work and iPhone photography.
  • Tim Tadder and Mike Campau DOMINATE Behance.net through their smart collaboration.
  • Chase Jarvis started out shooting photos of skiers as a hobby. He went from waiting tables to a sports photography powerhouse through his practice.

I could go on and on. There are sooo many examples.

So what are your thoughts? Did I inspire you to start a new passion project? Am I full of crap? You decide.

I’d love to hear from you. Also feel free to keep in touch.

You can see more of Chris’ work at ChrisTitzeImaging.com, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Michael Corsentino 2

Hey guys, the release of my upcoming (insert class title) class is right around the corner and I’m getting excited! I can’t wait to share with you how easy this speedlite system is to use and how truly amazing it is. It’s a game changer in so many ways and I’ll cover them all. I’ll walk you through the buttons, dials, menus; teach you how to set up wireless communication between the camera and off camera speedlites; work with ETTL and manual; set up groups; share my must-have tips and techniques and sure fire lighting patterns; explain why you need artificial light in your bag of tricks; teach you how to use and understand high speed sync; give you a live studio shooting demo, and so much more! With any luck you’ll leave this class as amped as I am about light and shadow and chomping at the bit go out and put everything you’ve learned into practice.

If you’re like me, you may have found handheld flash intimidating at one point or another. Maybe you decided right then and there to leave well enough alone, put the flash down, and call yourself an “available light shooter.” Maybe you even have a speedlite or two sitting on your shelf collecting dust or languishing unused in your camera bag. Well guess what kids, your speedlites are “available lights.” In this new class I’ll strip away the fear and mystique surrounding these powerful tools, and flash in general, and give you the simple, straightforward info you need to get up and running with your new speedlites.

I’ll show you why the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite and its companion ST-E3 controller represent a quantum leap forward in handheld flash technology. They have easy to use interfaces, easy to understand menus, and a first of its kind built-in radio based communication system. Simply said they just work! And there’s more good news, the 600EX-RT Speedlite and ST-E3 controller both share the same interface, so once you’ve learned one, you’ve essentially learned the other. Thank you Canon, we love that!!

It’s not just speedlites that can strike fear into the hearts of the burliest of men, but flash in general can have this effect too. So I’ll simplify that too! In a “teach a man to fish” approach, I’ll show you how to think about light and understand the why, when and how behind the choices you have available to you. Together we’ll look at the 4 key components that make up flash: quantity of light, quality of light, direction of light and distance of light. It doesn’t get more complicated that I promise, and after this class you’ll understand why. So come along with me on this journey of light and technology, things will never be the same!

I’ve included a selection of images I created with the Canon 600EX-RT system below to whet your appetite. I want to get you as excited as I am about this incredible system. In the captions for each image I’ve described the techniques I used, how they were lit, and why the 600EX-RT system was the perfect solution. See you guys in class!

First let’s start my two favorite, no fail, location lighting patterns, Cross Light and Wedge Light! These two lighting patterns are quick, easy, work every time, and form a solid foundation to build upon with additional techniques and light modifiers.

Cross Light by Corsentino

Cross Light is a simple but very effective lighting pattern that quickly adds a polished, sculptural, dimensional quality to your subjects. It’s created by aiming two speedlites at each other along the same axis and placing your subject between them. By doing this you’re creating a key light on one side and an accent light on the other. This arrangement can then be rotated around your subject so you can light them using either Broad Light or Short Light. Your bases are covered with this one simple pattern. You’ll see Cross Light used a lot in the images below, give it a try!

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Here’s Cross Light in action! I’ve hidden one speedlite behind the gritty column camera left. This is my accent light. It’s been fitted with a half cut of CTO gel to create a warm tone and replicate the look of setting afternoon sun on my model’s hair. Like my key light placed camera right, both flash heads were vertically oriented and manually zoomed to 200mm. Doing this creates tight vertical beams of light that not only provide a natural looking in-camera fall-off of light but also more closely match the vertical shape of the body.

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More fun with Cross Light. Here the key light is placed camera left and the accent light is over the model’s right shoulder providing a punchy highlight on her hair and shoulder. Bare speedlites, vertically oriented and zoomed to 200mm do the trick here delivering dramatic, specular light. I’ve underexposed the ambient by 2 stops using my shutter speed to get that killer blue sky! I explain this in detail in my class.

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Just as I used my shutter speed in the image above to create one effect, in this image I’ve used it in another way to create a completely different look. Dragging the shutter (using a very slow shutter speed) along with a high ISO and Cross Light allow me to balance the beautiful shimmering lights of Chicago’s evening skyline and the strobe illuminating my model. The key light here is modified with a Chimera collapsible beauty dish and the accent light is bare flash with a 1/2 cut of CTO gel to warm things up a bit.

Wedge Light by Corsentino
Next up is something I like to call Wedge Light. This is another super flexible and easy to use location lighting pattern. It gets its name due to the pie slice shape in which the key and accent lights are placed. Like Cross Light, this pattern can be rotated around your subject, in this case to introduce more or less shadow. The distance between each light can also be widened or shortened to create different effects.

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Here you can see the results of Wedge Light positioned to the side, exactly like the diagram above, to create directional, shadowed, dramatic light. Both speedlites are bare bulb delivering a punchy, specular quality of light with rapid transitions between shadows and highlights.

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In this image I’ve taken the same Wedge Light pattern used in the image above and positioned it in front of my model to create an even, almost shadowless lighting effect. Each speedlite is modified with a 24×24” Lastolite EzyBox Softbox and the harsh light from the midday sun overhead is being diffused with an 8×8’ scrim.

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Wedge Light is also great for 2 people! Here I’ve got both speedlites camera left in a in pie slice arrangement, each inside a 24” Lastoilte Ezybox Softbox aimed toward each subject. I’ve also got an 8×8’ scrim overhead to diffuse the harsh sun above.

Now let’s talk about why you need speedlites with built-in wireless radio communication! The next two images demonstrate perfectly why the Canon 600EX-RT/ST-E3’s built-in radio communication is such a game changer. Optical based systems require something called “line of sight.” Meaning both the speedlite and controller need a clear visual path to see one another in order to communicate. When it comes to placing speedlites behind walls and inside soft boxes this line of sight is broken and communication is lost. Not so with radio based systems. Obstacles are no problem and the line of sight requirement is gone! Optical systems are also prone to problems in bright sunlight. In other words, radio rules.

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This image like the others was made using the 600EX-RT and ST-E3’s wireless radio based communication system. It’s a perfect example of radio’s superiority over optically based systems. Note the position of the accent lights in this Cross Light setup… It’s behind a wall camera right. There’s no line of sight between the controller on my camera and the speedlite behind the wall, if I were using an optical trigger system there would be no way to trigger the flash. Plus not only can I trigger hidden lights but I have full control over their power and exposure modes. This is all huge!

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Here’s another practical example of the many ways radio based communication makes things much easier. Here I’ve got a speedlite inside a soft box placed camera right. Again the controller and speedlite have no line of site, so optical is out of the question. Additionally the speedlite is inside the softbox, meaning that without radio communication, every time I wanted to make a power adjustment I’d need to open the softbox and dig inside to get to the speedlite’s controls. Trust me, that gets to be no fun real quick! Again, radio rules.

Last but not least I’d like to talk about direction, direction of light! I’ll cover all of this in class, but I want to encourage you to start thinking about directionality. The more direction or angle at which you have your light in relationship to your subject, the more shadow you’ll introduce. For me shadow equals drama and mood; I’m a big fan. Think about it… At its essence photography is nothing more than highlights and shadows, so embrace them! Shadows can be infinitely controlled, using distance, source size, and the modifier used to control the speed of the transition from highlight to shadow.

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Placing my lights to the side of my model introduces shadow and drama. Think about how different this image would be if it were produced using flash on camera! Did somebody say flat? If you did you’d be right on target! Throw some direction into your lighting, you’ll be glad you did.

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There’s nothing like a little side light when it comes to creating mood and drama. Here I’m using Cross Light Light again. My key light is a bare speedlite, camera left, and my accent light is another speedlite placed outside the widow camera right.

Clearly I’m passionate about light and I can’t wait to share what’s possible with Canon’s 600EX-RT and ST-E3 speedlite system! Hopefully the images above have stoked your creative fires and gotten you ready to dust off your speedlites and explore new ways to create with light. My class will be live tomorrow, I hope you’ll join me. Together we’ll get you all dialed in and up and running!

You can see more of Michael’s work at MichaelCorsentino.com, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And his new class XXXXXX will be available tomorrow at KelbyOne.com!

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