Monthly Archives April 2009


I’m sitting at my desk one day—the phone rings, and I hear, “Hey, ya Mook; it’s McNally.” He told me he called to tell me that he was putting together a special week-long small-flash lighting workshop in the amazingly beautiful, lush, tropical island of St. Lucia down in the Caribbean, from July 5-12th.

He told me that it would be limited to just a hand-full of students, and each day we’d all be shooting on location, including hands-on shoots on the beach, in the jungle; we’d be shooting all around the tiny island, and lighting everything from mountain bike racers to professional models, and that he was going to just immerse the class in how to absolutely nail location lighting with small flash.

He said he’d cover his techniques for mixing flash with available light, how to incorporate reflectors and diffusers, how to work with remote flashes, using color and gels, and basically he was going to share his whole bag of tricks on how to get pro results from small flash for your location portraits (which is the subject of his #1 bestselling book, ‘The Hot Shoe Diaries”).


He went on and on about how unbelievable the island was (he said it was a true paradise) and how incredible the resort was (he had been there many times before), and how gracious the owners of the hotel were, what an amazing location this was for a workshop, and the whole time I was thinking, “This sounds amazing; I’ve gottta sign up for this workshop!” and then Joe says, “…and I want you to come down and teach a class one-day on how to finish your images in Photoshop.” I said, “Are you serious?” He was. He had me at “Hey, ya Mook!” I still haven’t picked my jaw up off the floor. Long story short; I’m so there!!!!

Anyway, now that I’m the official guest instructor, I’m inviting you to be one of those 12 students that will spend a week in paradise learning from the master of small flash. On the last day some Photoshop Mook will show up and share some of his favorite Photoshop techniques for correcting, retouching, and finishing the breathtaking images you will have taken during that week with Joe. I should have lots of shots to work on, because I’ll be sneaking into some of Joe’s classes and shooting right alongside you. I just can’t wait!!!!


I asked Joe to tell me, in his own words, what the experience that week will be like. Here’s what Joe said:

“I have been blessed to have a bit of a second home in the Caribbean for 15 years–Anse Chastenet. I have always found a welcome there, and every time I have been there, I have found new inspiration about what to point a camera at. To be a better photog, stand in front of more interesting stuff. And in St. Lucia everything is interesting. The people, the setting, the light. We will work and shoot a lot for the week, and also mix in some hammock time and more than a few drinks with umbrellas in them.”

The lush tropical Anse Chastanet Resort he mentioned is our home for this workshop (you can see some of the views in shots above, taken by McNally himself—Here’s the link with workshop and hotel details), and if you scroll down that page a bit, you’ll find the info on Joe’s “Hot Shoe” workshop in paradise, which kicks off the evening of July 5th with a meet and greet. It’s going to be the learning experience of a lifetime for just 12 lucky photographers, and I hope I’ll get to shake your hand, and go shooting with you down in St. Lucia in July.

NOTE: Joe wrote about the whole thing on his blog; here’s the link to read about the resort, the island, how he wound up down there—the whole nine yards. A great read!

I know a lot of you already watch Larry Becker’s weekly NAPP news report, but for those of you who haven’t caught his show yet, one thing I like about it is that he always covers different stuff from one week to the next.

He just did a great interview with Corey Barker about the new Intuos4 tablet, and he’s always got some new deal or discount cooking, usually along with what’s going on in the industry. Anyway, the reason I’m bring this up is today; this week one of his stories is about where to get less expensive photography gear and studio lighting for advanced amateurs who can’t drop $500 or $600 right now on something like a Westcott TD5 Spiderlight, but want something similar.

Anyway, you can watch the show right here today (above), or if you’re a NAPP member, each weekly NAPP News episode appears on the NAPP member home page, but you can always subscribe to NAPP News free through iTunes so you don’t miss an episode. Here’s the link (clicking it launches iTunes):

That’s it. I thought you guys might dig this since it’s a pretty cool lighting thingy.


Last week I got an email from a reader in Denver, Colorado who had seen my post about my Indy Racing assignment, and he needed a favor. He was preparing to take his family to Walt Disney World in Florida (It’s one of their favorite places so they’re regular visitors) and since has shot it so many times he was wondering if I had any ideas he could use for a self-assignment at Disney World.

The funny thing was: I had faced that same situation (both my kids are Disney fanatics, and I grew up about 45 minutes from Disney’s Main Gate and I started going there back in October of 1971, so I’ve shot it “to death.”). I shared with him a couple of self-assignment projects I had done at Disney, and one I hoped to do in the near future. Anyway, I thought it would make kind of an interesting post about shooting a place you’ve shot many times before. Here’s what I told him:

(1) Try and capture a series of images inside Disney (particularly in the Magic Kingdom park) that most folks would never know were taken inside Disney. Look for architectural elements, flowers, little alley ways, etc. and you’ll know the assignment worked if you ask someone where it was taken, and the last place they would guess would be Disney World. The image shown at the top was taken in Tomorrowland, and while that one’s not that hard to figure out (especially since you know we’re talking about Disney), I included a few below taken in other parts of the Magic Kingdom that are a bit harder (these were taken about three or four years ago).




The top two were taken on Tom Sawyer’s Island in Frontierland, and the bottom one was taken in one of the shops in Adventureland.

Now, the one’s below are a bit harder yet, because they were taken at Disney World’s EPCOT Center park (once again, about three or four years ago).





Now the photo below is a special case, because back when I took it, I ran it here on my blog and challenged people to figure out where it was taken, and I offered a prize to the person who figured it out. It took several days (and a few hints) to finally get someone to choose Disney World. Here’s the image:


It was taken in the Morocco section of EPCOT’s World Showcase. OK, onto my 2nd project.

(2) Shoot only things that are round. I got this idea from Photoshop World Joe Glyda, who always gives himself assignments for his presentation during “The Art of Digital Photography” panel at Photoshop World. I tried this one myself and you can’t believe how many things are round in the Magic Kingdom, from sewer covers to the round street lights on Main Street to signs and even one of Mickey’s ears. The circles should almost fill the frame, so it’s obvious the circle in the subject. I had a great time with this one (but could not find a single shot from it, which is kind of driving me crazy because I know I have them on a hard drive somewhere).

So, those are two I had already done, but the one I had been saving for the future would be called “Quiet Places” or “Alone in the World” and it would be to capture a person (a child, a parent and child, a senior citizen), enjoying Disney when it appears they are all alone in their little corner of the park. So, for example, if someone was standing in front of the castle looking up at it, you’d have to frame the shot so you only see that single person, and the castle. No one else. So, no tourists or park employees could appear in any shot. If they’re standing on a bridge over-looking one of the little moats around the castle, you have to frame it so it looks like they’re all by themselves in the park.

Anyway, he really liked the ideas (his exact words were, “…that’s exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for.” Then he sent me a link to a shot he had taken a few years back that accidentally fell into the category of my future shot. He had taken a photo right when the park opened, first thing in the morning, of a little girl all by herself looking down Main Street toward the castle. There were a few other tourists on the left side of the photo, but they were out of the way enough to make you think, “Hey, how’d he get a shot with the park so empty?”

Anyway, I hope my reader’s idea, and my subsequent suggestions, get your gears cranking about what you can do the next time you’re at a familiar location and think to yourself, “Should I even bring my camera? I’ve shot that place to death.” Give yourself an assignment, and see what you come up with. Hey, ya never know.


Happy Thursday everybody. I’m back from three-days in the Florida Keys as chaperone for my son’s school trip to “Sea Camp.” It was three solid days without my laptop, without meetings, without working. It was awesome!

OK, about this Thursday’s Embarrassing Photo: I really can’t explain it. I can’t explain our hair. Why we were dressed that way. Or how we got gigs, or dates, or paid our bills, etc. but somehow, we did. Hey, it was an 80s disco band. Not much was expected of us.

The band was called “7th Avenue,” named after Ybor City’s main drag–7th Ave. (From L to R: Drummer Randy Wheat, Bass Player Mark Southwick, Lead singer Chris Denham, Me [yes, I’m actually wearing a square-ended, knit tie from “Chess King.”], lead guitarist Tony Llanes [of Big Electric Cat fame], and lead vocalist and rhythm guitar player Jose Herrera). Now, once you stop giggling, we can move onto the news:

  • Tom Rocks The House!
    First, a big thanks to Tom Opasinski for his thought-provoking blog post yesterday, that had everybody talking. I thought his message was really insightful, and from reading your comments, you guys got a lot out of his article as well. Thanks for making him feel so at home here on the blog.
  • New Online Class from RC
    Kelby Training Online just released another online class from Web Guru RC Concepcion. This one’s called, “Dreamweaver CS4 for Beginners” and if you ever wanted to finally get up to speed with building Web sites from scratch, you definitely want to check out RC’s class. Here’s the link.

    Which Monitor Do You Use To Tether?
  • I have a question for you guys. You’ve probably heard about me shooting tethered directly into Lightroom on my laptop, but my question to you isn’t about shooting to a computer. Instead, this is for people who use a large TV or computer monitor in place of the LCD monitor on the back of their camera (so you’re taking a cable out of your camera, and going straight into the monitor itself—-not into a computer).
    My questions are:

    (a) Which monitor have you found works best
    How are you connecting your camera (RCA jack? HDMI cable? etc.) to the monitor.
    I want to try a different set-up for a change, and any advice you guys could share would be greatly appreciated.

  • Is it a photo, or a fake?
    AutoDesk (maker’s of 3D CAD software) has a very cool promo-site where they show you different images, and they have a little poll where they ask you to choose which images shown are real photos, and which are 3D computer generated (and both are really there—it’s not a trick). It’s kind of fun, and kind of amazing at the same time. Here’s the link.
  • Only Four-Spots Left For My Landscape Workshop in Savannah
    Remember the landscape workshop I mentioned on Friday, coming up in Savannah, Georgia? I just learned that there are only four-seats left, so if you were planning on being a part of it, I’d grab one of those seats today. Here’s the link to my post with the details. Hope I’ll see you in one of those four remaining spots.

That’s it for today, gang. I’m really beat (it was a nine hour bus-ride home last night), so I’m keepin’ it short today, but I’ll be back in full swing tomorrow! Have a kick-butt Thursday everybody (and stop snickering).

Images courtesy of: The Ant Farm, Trailer Park Print, Crew Creative Advertising

“If I am to speak for ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.”
– Woodrow T. Wilson

I think that I know what Wilson had in mind back then. Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines… My constant source of inspiration. :)

Hi Scott and fellow bloggers-photoshopers… what a pleasure to be here!

Since a topic of this blog was wide open, I had a reaaaaalllyyy hard time deciding what to talk about. It’s due tomorrow, so I better focus now… 3… 2… 1… focus. Opasinski, focusss…

I would love to share some reflections with you guys, not fully Photoshop oriented, but associated to a certain degree by Photoshop existence.

Long story short… or short story long, we’ll see… :) (more…)


Here’s what’s up this beautiful Tuesday in April:

  • Pinhole Photo Gear
    One of my readers, Holly Tarquinio, turned me onto a very cool “Pinhole Camera” kit called the Hole-OnEx (shown above), that you can pick up for around $20. It’s made of cardboard (hey, it’s under $20), and you have to assemble it yourself (you’ll need some glue, and it doesn’t hurt if you’re crafty), but it’s amazing the images you can take with it. I found a couple of links to the camera here and here (though I haven’t done business with either of these companies). This got me digging around a bit, and I also found some slightly more expensive alternatives that don’t require assembly, like the Hole-OnEx Pin Camera Kit” (for $22 on—here’s the link), and the “Pinholga” with its own cable release for $62. I’m going to have to get at least one of these, so if you’ve got any experience with one or the others, let me know—I can’t wait to try it myself. Thanks Holly for the tip!
  • Rick Sammon Releases New Wedding Photography Book
    rickweddingOur buddy Rick Sammon just came out with a Wedding photography book which features the work of a host of different pro wedding photographers, with insights into their creativity, workflow, and there is even a Photoshop tips section with 40 pages of Photoshop tips for wedding photographers. I just got the book on Friday, so I haven’t had a chance to go through it yet, but if Rick is involved, it’s gotta be a great book. Here’s the link to it on Barnes & and
  • Just How Strong is a Pelican Camera Case
    Steven Frischling over at the photography travel site, “Flying with Fish” really wanted to test the strength of a Pelican camera case, so he drove a really big truck right over the Pelican 1514. Here’s the link to find out how it fared after having a few tons cruising over it.
  • D-Town TV Download Problems On The Mend
    Man, did we have a mess of D-Town TV download problems last week. It’s a long story why, but it was one of those “Perfect Storm” kind of things that brought things to a screeching halt. Some folks had no problems; so folks were totally stuck. The good news is: the number of downloads is phenomenal, and continues to grow. The bad news is: the number of downloads is phenomenal, and that brings about bandwidth and delivery problems of its own, but you’ll be happy to know that we’re working on a fix, and hopefully by this Thursday, most of the problems will be behind us. Plus, we’re working on the iTunes issues as well. Thanks so much for your patience while we get this worked out. Luckily, the previous episodes will still be right there online, so you can watch last-week’s show without it hiccuping so much.
  • Asking Brad Update
    Our first “Ask Brad” post went up last week (along with another one yesterday) over at the D-Town TV website, but I wanted to clarify what the Ask Brad weekly feature is about. “Ask Brad” is for you to get help with Nikon technical questions, or more detail or follow-up questions about something we mentioned on the show. If you have ideas for the show, or suggestions (except for “don’t wear black shirts,” don’t waste your time with that one), you can just post those as comments right on the D-Town site. Matt and I read each of those daily.
  • GridIron’s “Flow” Beta Version Now Available for Free Download
    If you watch Photoshop User TV, you saw Steve Forde (from GridIron Software), showing their incredible software app “Flow” a few episodes back. Well, they made the beta version of it available for free download, and the number of downloads they are getting is insane!!!  We’re running the Flow beta at NAPP HQ, and I have to say; it’s absolutely amazing technology (watch the demo video on their site), and what I like best is that it’s nearly invisible until you need it. Here’s the link to download the beta.

That’s it for today, folks. I hope you’ll check out my guest blogger tomorrow, and then  join me back here on Thursday, for another startling episode of “Embarrassing Photo Thursday.” Have a great Tuesday!!!