Monthly Archives December 2008


I’m finishing up the update to, “The Photoshop Elements 7 Book for Digital Photographers,” (co-authored with Matt Kloskowski) and each time I update a book, I always use all new photos throughout the book, which means I have to be shooting pretty much all the time (which gives me a great excuse to use with my wife, “Honey, it’s for work.” ;-)

Anyway, I shot a number of new images just for the book, and I thought it would be cool to do an on-location sports portrait of some local kids who play Soccer (which is called football about every place else on the planet). My buddy Jim Workman is president of the local Soccer (football) league and he set-up a shoot for me with a family that had three talented, fun, and really sweet kids.


This was my first location shoot with Brad assisting me, and we had an awful lot of fun. One of the highlights was watching these little kids blast the ball past Brad, who is a much better photographer than he is goalie, and then watching him chase the ball all over the field.


LIGHTING: We used one Nikon SB-800 off-camera flash, with a hot-shoe EZYbox softbox, (the one I talked about last week) mounted on a sturdy C-stand (if I had used a shoot-through umbrella, the wind would have taken it down about half-a-dozen or so times). Because this was a sunset shoot, we taped a 1/2 cut of CTO gel over the front of the flash to warm up the color. When the sun was completely gone, we added a second SB-800 on the opposite side of the player, with a HonlPhoto 8″ Speed Snoot to keep the light from bare flash really small and concentrated on the right side of the subject’s face.


We did the shoot at a local playing field, rather than in a big stadium,  and there were some unattractive maintenance buildings and a parking lot in the background, so I had to compose the shots to keep all that ugly stuff out of the frame. I took nearly all the shots lying on the ground shooting up toward the kids. I positioned the kids so the setting sun was behind them putting great color into the clouds (we got lucky having such great clouds that night—the next night there wasn’t a cloud in the sky). The field was pretty plain, so I made sure the goal was in most of the shots, so it would be more obvious that we were on a field. I also tried to included some of the field lights in the shots, to give more of a stadium feel.


CAMERA INFO: All the shots were taken with a Nikon D3, using a Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens at 200 ISO. I shot in Manual mode, and most shots were taken at f/9 at 1/200 to 1/250 of a second (I used a higher shutter speed to minimize existing light and darken up the clouds).


I’m planning on doing a special bonus video for people who buy the book on how to set-up a similar location shoot.



Howdy, folks. Here’s what’s up:

  • Each week NAPP’s Executive Director Larry Becker does a short video  show called NAPP News, and it covers industry news, stuff for NAPP members like new discount and offers, and just generally a bunch of stuff Photoshop freaks would be interested in. We’ve had a number of people ask that we also make it available as a downloadable video Podcast in Apple’s iTunes, and well…now it’s available as a downloadable podcast in iTunes. You can subscribe to it free right here or just watch the show right there in iTunes. (By the way; if you haven’t checked out the show in a while, it has really grown tremendously, and Dave Cross has a very cute guest appearence in this week’s show).
  • This Sunday I’m shooting the Bucs vs. Raiders NFL game from the sidelines. This is a must-win game for the Bucs, and besides the win, we also need the Eagles to beat the Cowboys this weekend to snag a Wildcard spot in the playoffs. Here’s something you don’t hear me say very often; Go Eagles!
  • LAST MINUTE GIFT IDEA: My friend Janine Smith sent me this one. She wrote, “I LOVE my 5-second frames. Very easy to frame (just drop the photo in the back, no need to take it apart). Then you can add more photos (10 in the back compartment). Hang it on the wall (they offer easy templates) or stand it on a table, horizontal or vertical. To change photos, just pick it up, slide one photo out, another one in. This has to be the greatest grandparent gift ever. Nice looking, affordable ($15 or so), available at Target or Bed Bath &  Beyond. (Thanks Janine for passing this one one).
  • LIGHTROOM 2 TOUR: Make plans now as Matt Kloskowski brings our Lightroom 2 Live! Tour to Covington, Kentucy (near Cincinatti) on January 23, 2009. This seminar is going to sell out in advance, so if you want to attend, sign up now (tickets are available on a first come/first served basis). Here’s the link.
  • Terry White has a post up today on his popular TechBlog that you’ve got to read. It’s about “Adobe Connect” (Adobe’s web conference software) and the reason I’m hoping you’ll read about it (and sign up for a free Connect account), is that after the first of the year, we’ll be doing some special live training events using this technology, and I want you to be able to be a part of them. The first step, is signing up for that free account, but beyond that, the technology is pretty amazing, so if you’ve got a minute, check out his post right here.
  • NO BLOG TILL MONDAY: Just a reminder: I’m taking the rest of this week off, so there will be no blogging until next Monday, so I can take some time off to enjoy Christmas with my family. Hope you’ll be taking things easy too, and enjoying all the wonder this season can bring.

That’s it for today folks. See ya on Monday!


Hi Gang. Hope everybody had a great weekend: here’s what’s up:

  • I want to start with this week’s blog schedule: I’m only going to be blogging today and tomorrow, and then I’m taking off Wed. (Christmas Eve) and the rest of the week until Monday. I took the week off from work, and I just want to spend some time with the kids, so I hope you’ll join me here tomorrow, and then again next Monday.
  • We’re coming up on the entry deadline for the 4th annual Photoshop User Awards (the deadline is December 31, 2008). The grand prize winner will get an all-expense paid 5-day trip for two to Barcelona, Spain, and there are great prizes in a number of different categories. The contest is open to anyone, and if you’ve never entered a contest before—what are you waiting for? For all the details, click here.
  • Joe McNally is doing a series of one-day Lighting Workshops up in Dobbs Ferry (about 40 minutes outside of New York City), on Jan. 19, 20, 21, 22, and 24th. Here’s the link for details. Also, I wasn’t going to announce it quite yet, so consider this un-official announcement but we’re in the final stages of developing a nationwide Joe McNally lighting tour, produced by Kelby Training Live, that will be kicking off in February. More details as soon as we’ve nailed the first round of dates.
  • HOLIDAY GIFT IDEA: McNally’s groundbreaking book, “The Moment It Clicks” is turning into a huge seller for the holidays, and if you’re looking for that last-minute gift, this is a lock to be a hit with the photographer on your list. Here’s the link to it from Barnes & Noble and at
  • UPDATE: I’m thrilled to announce that Springs of Hope, Kenya can now accept donations via Paypal (thanks to my readers who contacted them directly, helped them get it set up, and in the spirit of the Holidays, some of you have already made donations using Paypal. You guys continue to amaze me with your generosity). Here’s the link if you want to do something today that will make you feel absolutely great! (note: I’m not seeing the button appear in Firebox, but I see in it Safari).  P.S. Scott Sherman, from the Digital Photography Life podcast, posted a comment to my blog entry about you guys raising more than $10,000 for the orphanage. His story is both amazing and inspiring, and it includes a quote from Anne Frank that I’d never heard, but will never forget. If you’ve got a few seconds; click this link, then scroll to the bottom to find Scott’s Sherman’s comment.
  • LIGHTROOM 2.2: If you updated to Lightroom 2.2, and you had downloaded the Beta Camera Profiles, you now have both the Beta profiles, and the final profiles. My buddy Matt Kloskowski did a tutorial on how to remove the old profiles over at his blog (and podcast) at
  • Photoshop World instructor Jim DiVitale just posted his new Digital Imaging Tune-Up Clinic Blog where he takes you behind the scenes on a food shoot in the studio. Here’s the link (definitely worth checking out).

That’s it for today, folks. I hope you’re enjoying a wonderful Holiday Season, and I hope to see you back here tomorrow. :)


Hi gang. It’s Friday (and Happy Hanukkah!); here’s what’s up:

  • First, I have to thank my buddy Matt Kloskowski for his rockin’ Guest Blog post on Wednesday. It was cool to see how many people needed to hear what Matt had to say (and it was something I hadn’t heard anyone say publicly before. Way to go, Ski!).
  •, which is an incredibly cool new news resource that aggregates a whole bunch of daily blogs by topic, just added a Photoshop section (I already visit their Photography category daily). What I love is; you can just hover your mouse over a headline, and it shows you the first paragraph or so. Hover your cursor over the blog’s name, and it shows you a mini graphic of the blog. The whole thing is very cleverly done, with a slick, clean layout. You’ll love it! Here’s the link to the Photoshop category.
  • A quick word about the new blog design here. I’ve gotten loads of great comments on the new look and functionality, but the credit totally goes to my in-house uber-designer Fred Maya who cooked up this new design for me, and to our in-house code wizard Tommy Maloney, who tweaked the Flash code so the image up top would be random. The way that top part is designed is pretty clever; Each time it loads, it loads a different set of images, so if you scroll through the images now, tomorrow it will have a new main image, and a different “deck” of gallery images. Also, this new blog allows me to show larger images on the home page, and it makes the process of updating the blog easier on me, which I love. The commenting is better and more powerful, and we’ll be adding more features as we move forward, so it will keep evolving as well. Also, we updated my Bio page, and my Gear page, and we’ll be updating my horribly out-of-date portfolio soon as well.
  • CORRECTION: I got an email from someone at Lastolite yesterday letting me know that in my review yesterday, not only did I link to the wrong EZYbox on B&H Photo, but since the link was wrong, the price was wrong, too (The one I linked to wasn’t for “hot shoe” flash). The correct link is right here, and the correct price is $208. The only good news is; B&H Photo actually does have these in stock. Sorry for any confusion, Agita, or other frustation this may have caused. If it’s any consolation, this isn’t the biggest mistake I made yesterday.
  • Joe McNally has a wonderful post over at his blog, called “The Best Assignments are Free.” Joe is a great story teller and teacher, and this post is really a great read, so if you get a few minutes this weekend, take a break and check this out.
  • My thanks to Digital Photography School for including my book, “The Digital Photography Book” in their “12 Great Digital Photography Books for Your Christmas Stocking.” (Here’s the link), and to Ronald R. Martinsen’s Photography Blog including my Photoshop Seven-Point-System in his post on “What Photoshop Books Should I Read.”(Here’s that link).

That’s it for today folks. Have a wonderful weekend and we’ll see you back here on Monday.


My hat’s off to my wonderful readers, who once again have shown your heart and compassion for those less fortunate. From your book sales on Tuesday alone, we raised over $10,075 dollars (7,028 / £6,513) to help finish construction on the Orphanage in Kenya. I can’t wait to show you the final shots when it’s complete, and the kids are moving in for the first time—what a day that will be!!!!!

This project has really touched the hearts of so many people, and I wanted to point out a few of my heroes from this week, like:

  • Alan Allum, who had already pre-ordered the book, but went ahead and bought a 2nd copy for the cause. So did Joel from Jameson Studios. And Philip Doherty.
  • And Ana Adams, who doesn’t have CS4, isn’t planning on upgrading anytime soon, but wanted to help so much she bought the book anyway (by the way, she’s a kick-butt photographer—check out her portfolio)
  • Or Doug from InDisciple Design who not only ordered the book, but sent a long a little extra donation as well.
  • I was just thrilled when my best buddy Dave Moser (NAPP’s Chief Operating Officer and a guy with a huge heart), kicked in $500 to help get this finished.
  • I was beside myself when my book publisher, Peachpit Press, called me at home after reading the blog, and is sending Springs of Hope, Kenya a $1,000 donation to help finish the orphanage. Thanks Nancy, Scott, Ted, and everyone at Peachpit and New Riders—-I’m so proud to be one of your authors.
  • Or how about Frank Weichmann, who is giving $100, every two weeks, for 20 weeks. Amazing!

And my thanks to everyone who bought the book Tuesday, knowing they could get it at least $25 dollars cheaper a dozen other places, but cared enough to spend the extra money to help these orphaned kids. I’m so touched that so many of you stepped up and made a difference with your generous support.

My humble thanks for coming along with me on this important journey, and helping to create something that will dramatically change the lives of some children who need our help so badly. You guys are the best!

The Lastolite EZbox

Time’s running out to get Holiday gifts, so I thought I’d better share a few last minute gift ideas. Here’s a pretty cool one for the photographer on your list who already has an off camera flash (Like a Nikon SB-800 or a Canon 580 EX II). It’s Lastolite’s EZYbox, which is a collapsible softbox that does a really sweet job of softening and spreading the light (in fact, I’m using it on a location shoot tomorrow!).

The EZYbox comes with a flash mount bracket, and once you slide your flash onto its hotshoe, you put your flash through the hole in the back of the softbox (as shown above), and you’re ready to go.  There are two things I dig about the EZYbox:

  1. It folds down really small, as seen in the example photos below, where I think Brad does just a stunning job of showcasing the fold-up process (Notice the graceful hand gestures).
  2. The light, while soft, doesn’t spread as much as it does with a shoot-through umbrella, giving you a more directed narrower beam (Brad was telling me that McNally loves these and uses them all the time, and if McNally’s uses ’em, that’s good enough for me).

First, it folds up flat, as seen here

Then in one move it collapses down like a reflector

Then it fits easily in this little blue bag
Then it fits easily in this little blue bag

Anyway, below is a shot of the unit in use, but Brad is supporting the EZYbox using an optional telescoping handle.

Here's it in use, with Brad holding the Optional telescoping holder

The 24″x24″ EZBox sells for $189.00 on B&H Photo (here’s the link).The optional telescoping handle is $39.95 (here’s that link).