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I recently did a location shoot at a recording studio for a project being developed by the Korg Keyboard company, for a very cool new accessory for keyboard players that lets you apply a “skin” to your keyboards. (You can see the blue image “skin” on the Korg M3 Music Workstation/Sampler above—the keyboard is normally just solid white–click on it for a larger view. The model is musician Justin Finley).

This is bigger than it might first sound. Although guitar players and bass players have always had a wide choice of finishes and patterns for their guitar bodies, and drummers have had everything from sparkle finishes to wood grains to even clear shells; keyboard players have pretty much had one look; solid black. More recently, white. That’s about it.

The idea of skinning keyboards is the brainchild of John Chase over at Korg, and John contacted me to work on the original mock-ups, and slide presentations for the initial concepts, but once we started actually “skinning” full size keyboards for the final prototypes, we had to get some serious help. We brought in the immensely talented RC Concepcion who literally busted his $#%& to get the final full-size mock-ups developed using some of my photography, and some illustrator vector images, like the one shown at the top (he really did an amazing job—RC rocks, and we couldn’t have done it without him).

Once RC got a full sized image designed to the exact specs, and output at full size, I got the chance to be the first keyboard player to play a “Skinned” Korg M3 Workstation live during my Big Electric Cat gig at B.B. King’s Blues Club in Orlando, Florida, (with John Chase on hand). The keyboard was skinned with one of my images of the Disney Hall in downtown Los Angeles.

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The photo above was taken by RC Concepcion during the shoot at the studio, inside the control room, and from it you can see I was using just one single Nikon SB-800 flash, mounted on a lightstand to my left, and firing through a 42″ shoot-through umbrella. I was shooting tethered to my Laptop so I could see the images coming straight into Lightroom.

SPECS: The photo was taken with a Nikon D3, at 200 ISO, with a shutter speed of 1/60 of a second, at f/5.6. I used a 14-24mm Nikon f/2.8 lens at 14mm for that really wide look. I triggered the flash using a Nikon SU-800 Commander unit sitting on the hotshoe of my D3.

Below are three more location shoots (the top two behind-the-scene shots are by RC, taken hand held at 3200 ISO with a Nikon D3), in a different part of the studio. The third shot below is what I was shooting, but I lit with with two SB-800 flashes; the one in front you see here, behind the shoot through umbrellas, and a bare SB-800 kicker on a lightstand, diagonally behind Justin, with a HonlPhoto Speed Snoot (link) to keep the beam from spreading out. (NOTE: In the top photo, that’s Dave Cross looking at my tethered laptop with a concerned look on his face. In the 2nd photo, you can make out John Chase, on the floor next time, not looking nearly as concerned as Dave).

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One last thing: I use two Korg keyboards for my own rig; the M3 Music Workstation/Sampler and a TR Music Workstation, and they’re just amazing! As a keyboard player, you can image how honored I am to be developing a special “Scott Kelby Signature Line” of photography-based skins with Korg, and as soon as these skins are available I’ll be sure you give you all the details (by the way; these skins are called “SkinTronix”).

Thanks to RC for all his help, and thanks John Chase and the folks at Korg for getting me involved in this very cool project!