Monthly Archives March 2009

Making Light of Things

Yikes. Guest blogging for Scott. (Pressure.) Guest blogging right after Jay Maisel. (More pressure.) There’s actually been kind of a photographic “who’s who” who has blogged here on recent Wednesdays. (Now there’s a sentence in search of an editor!) They have collectively toured many points on the photographic compass from inspiration to instruction and back again. There have been tutorials, advice, histories, and videos. (I hearken back to that amazing piece Zack Arias put up here.)

So, how to continue? Be funny? Man walks into a bar…. (more…)

…the one….the only….Joe McNally. What else can I say? He is “The Man!”

I pretty sure he’ll have his guest blog in on time, because if not I can go down the hall to his room here in the Hotel in Boston and keep knocking on the door until he turns it in. ;-)

Seriously though; I’m thrilled to have Joe back here on the blog, and I asked him to do this guest blogging spot on the heels of the release of his amazing new book, “The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flash” which is, as I write this, the #36 bestselling book of ALL books on!!!! That my friends, is just amazing. One more thing—the book just came out, and it’s already got 7 reviews—-all of the 5-star reviews!!! I can’t wait to see what Joe has cooked up for us tomorrow. :)


On Sunday I took a quick trip up to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama to take part in a very special event; the “IndyCar Series Open Test” Weekend. This is where the big name Indy Car teams spend a weekend prepping for the Indy racing season which kicks off right in my back yard with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg coming up in two weeks.


I was there as the guest of one of the readers of this blog, photographer/designer Jeff Rease (that’s him on the left above—photo by Pete Collins), and we had a ball (well, Jeff seemed like he was having fun, but I had one of my most fun sports shooting days ever!).

The weather was just incredible—the Barber Motorsports track and facilities were really just beautiful, and I was really taken with how friendly everybody was, from the media crew, to track officials, to everybody involved with the Indy team. It was just a first-rate, well organized, kick-butt day of Indy cars screaming around the track. Plus, Jeff was a lot of fun, really helpful, and put up with my lame jokes all day, which is really saying something.

I met lots of other photographers who were covering the Test Weekend, including photographers who read this blog, have bought my books, been to Photoshop World, etc. and that made it even more fun, as Jeff and I wound up hanging out with some of them.

The big buzz at the track was around Indy racing driver Danica Patrick, and scores of her fans lined up behind her pit and the day before stood in line a country mile long to get her autograph. I took shots of her in the pit (I had an over-the-wall pass, so when she made a pit stop, I could actually climb over the short wall and shoot standing right on the track, directly in front of her, behind or to the side), on the track, and at the media-only press conference.

Anyway, here are some of the shots from the day (You really need to see these a larger size to appreciate them, so click on them for a larger view). All the shots were taken with a Nikon D3 with a Nikon 200-400mm VR lens, mounted on a Gitzo monopod, except for Danica standing in the pits; for that I used my 24-70mm f/2.8.










A big thanks to Jeff Rease for giving me the opportunity, and to Darrell McCalla and all the great folks at Barber Motorsports for just an incredible day!!!


Well, we’re on our way to Boston this week for the Photoshop World Conference & Expo (NAPP’s own conference, sponsored by Adobe, and the largest Photoshop event in the world), and I just wanted to give you a heads up that this will be a very light blogging week for me.

In fact, so light that I want to send you over to the Photoshop World blog this week where NAPP’s own social media ninja Nancy Masse will be blogging LIVE from Photoshop World, including a special live blog from Adobe’s opening keynote.

The keynote kicks off at 9:00 am this Wednesday morning (which will still be Guest Blog Wednesday here on the blog), so make sure you check out our first-ever live blogged keynote, staring Adobe’s own John Loiacono. Here’s the link for Wednesday (though you can check out the blog anytime)!

FREE EXPO PASS: If you’re in the Boston area and want to check out the Exhibit Hall for free (and see all the new goodies from vendors, as well as catch some of the free Expo hall Photoshop and photography classes), you can get a FREE Expo pass (normally $20, and that’s what it’ll be if you just show up at the door without signing up for your free pass), right here.


OK gang, as promised, here’s the cool secret thing: Today I’m releasing a free custom Photoshop CS4 panel that lets you get the RSS feed for this blog, “The Photoshop Insider” right inside Photoshop CS4 in its own separate panel (so it’s just like any other panel [formerly known as palettes], inside Photoshop).

If you click on the graphic above, you’ll see the Photoshop Insider panel is right there alongside the Layers panel, Channels, Paths, etc. and you’ll see the headlines from my posts, along with the RSS feed of the beginning of each post. If you see one that interests you, just click on Read More…..

The ability to add your own custom panels to Photoshop is new in CS4, and it came in the form of a free utility called “The Configurator” which lets you customize and extend Photoshop in some amazing ways. In fact, at Photoshop World in Boston next week, we have a special “Extensibility Track” featuring in-depth classes on how to create panels and extend Photoshop (taught by Adobe’s own John Nack, Tom Ruark, and Jeff Tranberry from the Photoshop team). If you’re into this stuff, make sure you check out their sessions (open to all Photoshop World attendees).

Here’s the link to the download the free panel. Once you download it, just double-click on it, and the CS4 Extension Manger will automatically install it where it’s supposed to go, then all you have to do is Restart Photoshop, then go under the Window menu, under Extensions, and choose PS_Insider.

A big thanks to Jeff Tranberry and our friends on the Photoshop team for their advice and suggestions in helping us develop this panel.


After I posted my video review of the Elinchrom BXRI-500 strobes earlier this week, I was contacted by the folks at Bogen Imaging (who distribute Elinchrom gear here in the US), and who watched my review and saw that one of my few minor “dings” about them was the fact that you needed to keep the instruction manual around for assigning groups.

They let me know that they had created a downloadable quick chart (in PDF format) that BXRI users can now download, which has all the programmable controls laid out in a very simple and easy-to-use format (plus, the chart includes more than just how to assign groups). You can download their free quick chart right here.

My hat’s off to Bogen for making this available so quickly (I’m going to print and laminate two of them, then attach them to the lightstands so they’re right there when I need them).

NOTE: If you’re new to studio lighting, and you go to Bogen’s Web site, these will be listed under the heading “Monoblocks.” All that means is that strobes don’t require a separate power pack to power them—they plug directly into a regular wall-socket like any other electronic device.