Monthly Archives April 2009


The rumor mill was right on the money—-today (as expected) Nikon did introduce a new entry-level DSLR—the Nikon D-5000 (shown above; photos courtesy of Nikon), which includes the ability to shoot HD video (like the D90), but it also includes a new swivel Vari-angle screen on the back, along with “Subject Tracking autofocus which automatically locks onto a moving subject.” Plus, according to Nikon, “The D5000’s D-Movie Mode allows users the exciting ability to record HD movie clips (1280 x 720) at a cinematic 24 frames per second with sound.”


Although the big buzz will be about the video features (your video writes to an SD card), the camera itself is no slouch, at 12.3 megapixel CMOS sensor, 11-point auto focus, 19-scene modes, built-in self cleaning function, ISO up to 6400 (no word yet on noise levels), 4 fps continous shooting, blah, blah, blah—-you can read all tech nuts and bolts over at Nikon’s site (here’s the link). By the way, it lists for just $729 (body only), and it’s expected to ship in late April. Sweet!


At the same time, Nikon also intro’d a new DX format lens: The Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5 – f/4.5 zoom lens. It’s pricey. More than the D-5000 camera itself. $899. Expected sometime in May, 2009. Here’s the link for more info.


If you’ve read this blog for any time now, you’ve heard my frustration about how I can’t find a camera bag that works for me when shooting sports. In fact, many of you who are pro sports shooters have come up with a suggestions and after my last trip to Birmingham to shoot the Indy Test Weekend (where I had to leave my laptop at home due to carry-on restrictions), I was so cranked I finally had to make a move and find a solution.

My problem is that I have to have three carry-ons, and of course the airlines will only allow two. My carry-ons are:

  1. My camera bag (with two bodies, my smaller lenses, battery chargers, etc.)
  2. The large lens case for my 200-400mm Nikon lens
  3. My laptop case (with powercord and other accessories).

Ideally, one bag that would hold my 200-400 lens, 2 bodies, all my other lenses and accessories, my laptop and power cord; it has to be a rolling bag (and not be a backpack) and it has to fit in the overhead compartment fairly easily.

The last time I talked about this problem, a number of kind folks had suggested that I look at Think Tank Photo’s Airport Security V2.0 rolling camera bag, and since I’ve become a total “Think Tank Freak” recently, I went to their site first, and looked at it, and I saw there was an option for “lower dividers” which allow you to store your 15″ laptop right on top. That was it—-I ordered it right then and there (along with the optional 15″ laptop case and the lower dividers). It’s shown at the top of this post (photo courtesy of Think Tank Photo).


Above: Here’s my bag with a 200-400mm lens, 2 bodies, a 24-70mm lens, a 14-24mm lens, a 70-200mm lens, and there’s still room to spare. (photo by Brad Moore).

I got the bag two days ago; Brad configured it today for my gear, and my friends this bag is it! It’s the one. I’m in love!

This bag has more room than I would have imagined, and more storage compartments than I’ll probably ever need (but I love that!). It looks and feels so well built, and it’s so flexible in how you set up the interior. I am just so psyched—now I’m down from three carry-ons to just one, and just like that my problem is solved.


Above: Here’s my new bag with the optional 15″ laptop bag on top (photo by Brad Moore).


Above: Storage pockets in the top flap (Photo by Brad Moore).


Above: More storage compartments in the front. (Photo by Brad Moore)

It’s got loads of room, despite the fact that it’s carrying a huge lens right in the middle. All the pockets and storage are really welcome, as is the security cable and lock, so it doesn’t walk off at the airport while you’re checking your email. It also comes with a tripod/monopod holder, which is really important when carrying long glass. It’s really well-built; the wheels are solid (and replaceable), everything has a great fit and finish, and finally all my stuff fits in one bag, and I’m not checking anything other than my clothes. It also has a stretchy front pocket which will hold up to a 17″ laptop. It also comes with a TSA-approved combination lock, and a lock for your laptop as well in the front. The entire bag seems very well thought out, very intelligently designed, and it has lots of little features that make you smile.

Because the handles slide down inside the bag (like many rollers), parts of the inside “floor” are raised, which does tend to limit where you can put things like camera bodies standing straight up (especially if you have an L-bracket attached). Also, this raised area creates kind of a “groove” (for lack of a better term) along either side, which is great for lying your lenses down, but this also kind of makes it a little wonky when storing them “on end.” They will store that way, but the grooves make it feel more natural to lie them down. Lastly, the laptop case is very thin (I guess it has to be to fit), so you have to store your laptop’s power cord in the main bag—not within the laptop case itself. Pretty minor stuff, but I thought they bared mentioning. This isn’t minor; the price. At $369 (US), it’s kind of pricey, but for what it does, and how it’s made, at least you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

I have finally found the bag I’ve been dreaming of. Nitpicking aside, this is exactly what I was hoping this bag would be. In fact, it’s actually better than I was hoping, and I am just tickled pink that it is working out so well. My only regret is that I didn’t listen to those folks who turned me onto this bag sooner. My hat’s off to Think Tank Photo. Between their belt system, and this Airport Security roller, I have become a big time Think Tank believer!

Here’s the link for more details.

….a beloved source of photographic inspiration and information, and one very cool blogger, The Pioneer Woman herself; Ree Drummond.

If you’ve haven’t checked out “The Pioneer Woman” blog, stop what you’re doing and head there now (here’s the link) and you’ll see why she has built a cult-following, and why we wanted her to be a special guest blogger here on my blog (by the way, don’t just check out her photography—take in the whole site). Then, make sure you’re back here tomorrow to see what she has in store. I, for one, can’t wait. See you then!


I got a few comments on Friday asking how I did the “beauty style” headshot featured in Westcott’s new Lighting catalog, and so I thought I’d show how to light it here. The shot you see in Westcott’s catalog (which was taken with 2 Spiderlite TD-5—scroll down to the next post to see the shot), was taken before Brad started working with me, so unfortunately I don’t have any production shots from that particular shoot.

However, I recently did a shoot using that exact same “beauty look set-up” (the shot at the top of this post is from that shoot) but I used strobes instead, and luckily this time Brad was there to capture the production set-up, which is shown below. So, just to clarify: what you’re seeing is the same exact position for the lights—which is what this post is all about—but in the production photo below I’m using strobes instead of continuous light Spiderlites. I use both Spiderlites and strobes in the studio, and I choose one or the other based on what I’m shooting that day (or based on what’s already set-up in the studio and ready to go. Sad, but true).


There are only two lights used for this look:

  1. You’re actually using a large softbox as your background (you can see the subject standing in front of a large Octabank above), but you tilt the light back at a 45° angle (as seen above). NOTE: For the shot in the Westcott catalog, I used a 36″x48″ Westcott softbox behind the subject instead of the Octabank. Worked just as well (the Octa is actually a little overkill). By having your subject stand directly in front of the large softbox behind her, it makes the light wrap right around her face on both sides.
  2. The 2nd light in this case is a Beauty Dish (the one shown above is actually a White Lightning strobe with a beauty dish attachment, but we’ve since replaced that rig with an Elinchrom strobe and beauty dish. I’ll discuss why in just a moment). NOTE: In the Westcott catalog, the front light was another Spliderlite TD-5, with a smaller 16×22″ softbox, but in the same overhead position as you see here. This light you put up high—directly in front of your subject, but angled down at her at a 45° angle (so basically, the two softboxes are aiming at each other).(2a) You also need a reflector down low bouncing some of that light back into your subject’s face (as shown above. By the way; that’s a celebrity guest-reflector holder; Photoshop World digital video instructor Rod Harlan). The reflector should be placed about chest level, just below the bottom of your frame (I just kept telling Rod “Lower….lower…lower…until I couldn’t see it in my frame any longer). NOTE: Since this shot was taken, I’ve gotten a Lastolite Tri-panel reflector (which reflects from three angles, using three different reflector mounted on one stand, and I would now use that instead—-that thing works wonders!).

Because you’re aiming directly at a softbox (the one behind your subject), there’s a decent chance you’ll get some lens flare back into your lens, so you could try and block the light as much as possible (by putting up some large black flags in front of you, and then shoot through a small slit between them), but instead what I do is just know that it’s going to be a little washed out when the Raw photo comes into Lightroom (or Camera Raw), but the fix is incredibly easy—-all you do is drag the Blacks slider to the right (as shown below) until the photo looks balanced. Works like a charm.


OK, so why did I ditch the White Lightning strobe and beauty dish? Honestly, it’s not really a bad rig at all for the price, but I had to to chuck it for two reasons:

  1. Because this light winds up on a boom stand, each time we have to adjust the power output of the light, even the slightest bit, we either have to pull the boom stand down (right when we had it positioned exactly where we wanted it), or we have to climb on a ladder to adjust the power. Ugh! By using an Elinchrom strobe with a Skyport trigger, I can change the power output for my beauty dish from right on top of my camera (on the Skyport transmitter). You can adjust everything (even the light behind her) without ever putting down your camera or leaving your shooting position.
  2. The second reason is; the White Lighting use sliders for adjusting the power of the strobe, and the modeling light, which makes the process kind of imprecise (to say the least). If you want to lower the power just 1/10 of stop—good luck–especially when you’re trying to do that on a ladder. Double-Ugh!

We finally couldn’t take it anymore, and ordered an Elinchome beauty dish. It’s been worth every penny (we had an Elinchrom strobe; we just needed to buy the beauty-dish attachment).

So, that’s how this look is done. Two lights and and a reflector: one right behind your subject, tilted back at a 45°; one light up high, directly in front of your subject, aimed down at your subject at a 45° angle. Put a reflector at chest level tilted back at your subject’s face. Have your subject pull her hair back in a pony tail (so the lines of the face are clean), and fire away (This was shot with a Nikon D3, at 200 ISO, at f/8 at 1/200 of a second, with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens out at 200mm).

Once the shot is in either Camera Raw or Lightroom; move the Blacks slider to the right to bring back shadow saturation and you’re in business.

One last thing: I want to give credit to well-known fashion photographer Mary DuPrie, as she is the one who taught me this lighting technique. She teaches workshops on how to pose and work with professional models, and there is just nobody better! You can read about my experience at her workshop right here.

Hope that helps. Have a great Monday everybody. :-)


Happy Friday Everybody. Here’s what’s up:

  • My Images in The New 2009 Westcott Catalog
    First a big thank you to the FJ Westcott company—they featured two of my images (shown above) taken with their Spiderlite TD-5’s in their new 2009 lighting catalog (you can download a PDF version of their new catalog right here). As a side note: I actually got to meet photographer Michael Green (the other photographer featured on the same “Pros” page in the catalog); at Photoshop World, and we got to hang out for a while. A really great guy! Anyway, thanks again to Westcott—it’s truly an honor!
  • Dave’s Fix-It Challenge
    Dave Cross has launched a brand new feature on his blog, “Dave Cross Online” called “Dave’s Thursday Fix-It Challenge,” where he posts a “messed up” photo (for lack of a better term) and he lets you download the image and then fix-it in Photoshop. The best fix wins! (and Dave post’s each week’s winner). First, here’s a link to the challenge itself, then this link lets you check out this week’s fixer-upper winner. Very cool idea, Dave!
  • Beginner’s Digital Photography Workshop in New York City
    Photographer (and radio personality) Shawn King, along with Photoshop World instructor (and author of the book, “Photoshop CS4: The Missing Manual), Lesa Snider, are teaching a Beginner’s Digital Photography Workshop in New York City coming up on April 24th at Tekserve (119 West 23rd Street). They’ll also be covering some editing in Photoshop Elements as well. Best of all; it’s only $25 per person! Here’s a link with all the details.
  • dtownep7
  • Episode #7 of D-Town TV is Now Available
    We had some technical issues pretty much all day long yesterday (sorry ’bout that), but we finally got the latest episode up and running yesterday afternoon. This new episode features a special guest tip from Nikon’s manager of Nikon Professional Services, Scott Diussa, along with a bunch of other tips (and a great look at the Think Tank belt system I talked about earlier this week). We packed an awful lot of tips into this show, and I hope you’ll check it out right here.
  • New “Ask Brad” Segment Debuts on
    The Amazing Brad Moore is the Technical Editor for D-Town TV, and this week we launched a new online segment called “Ask Brad.” This is where you can ask your Nikon DSLR-related questions, and every Monday Brad will pick one (or more) of the best questions to answer right there on the site. To ask your question, go to the site, and click on the “Ask Brad” button at the top.
  • Upcoming Workshop from Landscape Legend Stephen Johnson
    Famous digital landscape photographer Stephen Johnson is hosting a very unique workshop just outside Carmel, California, in some of the most beautiful coastline anywhere. Here’s how Stephen describes it: “We have a very special workshop coming up at Pt. Lobos State Reserve, one of the places I love the best in my home state of California. Just south of Carmel Carmal, this park of beautifully sculpted rocks, misty trails, pounding surf and aqua bays always draws me back, and helped lead me down a path toward an unflinching love of landscape photography.” If you ever get the chance to learn from Stephen, you’ll never forget it—he is amazing! Here’s a link with all the details, and how to sign up.
  • Go Back Up Your Photos. Now!
    I just heard another story last week of a photographer who didn’t have a back-up of their photos, and she lost everything—-every photo she had taken in the last few years, including client work, family shots—everything—gone forever. Take this moment to protect the visual history of your life, and back up your images. Just drag them onto another hard drive. If you don’t have one; run over to Best Buy, pick one up, and back them up. It takes so much less effort than you’d think.

That’s it for this Friday. I hope you all have a wonderful, peace-filled Easter weekend, and we’ll see you back here on Monday. :)


I know I kind of mentioned this in passing a few weeks back, but last week we officially announced the launch of my brand new Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks Tour, which is kicking off in Washington, DC on Friday, May 8th at the Washington Convention Center.

If you’re thinking of coming, I would definitely sign up now, because since we announced it last Thursday, this has been the fastest filling seminar in our 16-year history, and I want you to come spend the day with me (especially if you’re a reader of this blog).

This tour is all about Photoshop special effects, and creating the same looks you see in magazines, on TV, in Hollywood and on the Web, so I’m not going to be doing the standard stuff (like teaching color correction, or sharpening, or Camera Raw); instead this totally a day of eye-popping, jaw-dropping, way cool special effects—the kind of stuff that clients just love and I hope you’ll join me for this very special live seminar in DC. It’s $99 for the full day event (only $79 if you’re a NAPP member).  Here’s the link with all the details. Hope I see you there!