Monthly Archives July 2009


Do you have something that you really want to learn in Lightroom? Great. Hold that thought in your head right now (we’ll come back to it in just a moment).

While I was down in St. Lucia, teaching my Lightroom session at Joe’s workshop, I had to smile a number of times because I realized how much different teaching Lightroom is from teaching Photoshop. I think the reason is; Lightroom is just so much easier, that the questions I can answer in one quick sentence have a bigger impact for Lightroom users than they do when people ask their questions about Photoshop.

Here’s what I mean:
When I do a Photoshop seminar, people often come up to me before class and ask really broad questions like, “Are you going to teach us Curves today?” or “Are we going to discuss Color Management?” or “Are you going to go over Selective Color?” But in Lightroom, since it’s so much easier and intuitive, the questions are much more likely to be little things that people are stuck on, because the big things are pretty easy. Usually, they just want to know how to do one certain thing—-like does a particular shortcut exist for what they want to do, or is there a fast way to do a particular task, and once they learn it, it’s like it made their whole month. You can see it on their face (and then you can see it on mine). :)

I see it again and again. I saw it for four days at my Savannah Workshop last month, and I saw it a half dozen times in my class in St. Lucia, and when people got their answer, they were so genuinely happy—-because that was “that one little thing” that was driving them crazy.

I remember one question where the guy didn’t like using the Gradient Filter tool in Lightroom 2 because he couldn’t get it to draw in the straight line from top to bottom—it always rotated left or right on him as he dragged it, and was there any possible way to make it go straight? There is. I told him to hold the Shift key before he dragged. He tried it right there on the spot, and he just got the biggest grin on his face. So did I. Now, he’ll actually start using that feature, and I think that’s really cool.

Things like this happened again and again in the past few months, and I love being able to help out with stuff like that. I don’t always have the answer, or sometimes the answer is “Sorry, there’s no way to do that,” but more often than not; it can be done, it’s just not real obvious (like flipping the crop ratio from horizontal to vertical—-you guys who follow me on Twitter know what I’m talkin’ about).

Now, back to that thought you’re holding
If your “thing” is something like that, today I invite you to post your question as a comment here on my blog, and if I know the answer, I’ll post a reply with it. Someone else might beat me to it (it’s a work-day for me, so I’ll be pretty busy), but I’ll be checking in quite a bit during the day, and if I can help open a new door, or a new feature, or just make something easier for you today, I’ll do my best (by the way; this offer’s only good today; Tuesday, July 14th).

Don’t forget; don’t ask big broad questions, like “What’s your workflow for portraiture?” or any question that starts with “Is there a way to write a script that….” But if you’ve got something like, “Is there a way to keep the White Balance tool from snapping back to it’s holder each time I use it? (another question from the past few workshops), then I’ll try and tackle those (by the way—there is; just click on the White Balance tool, then in the Toolbar below the main Preview area in the center of the screen, turn off the checkbox for “Auto Dismiss” as seen below).



Well, it’s almost here, and so far we have well over 27,000 photographers signed-up for local walks around the world this Saturday. We are all just amazed and thrilled at the participation and sense of community this has created, and we’re can’t wait for Saturday to get here.

If you’re a part of the walk, here are seven really important tips to help you make the most of your photo walk:

(1) Drink Plenty of Water: In many places, this walk is taking place in the dead of summer, so make sure you take plenty of water with you, and stay fully hydrated during the entire walk. Two hours is a long time to be out in the hot sun so make sure you drink lots of water before and during the walk. (TIP: Want to be a hero? Bring an extra bottle of water or two to share with other walkers).

(2) Use Sunscreen: If your walk is during daylight hours (and most are), make sure you wear plenty of sunscreen, and don’t forget to wear a hat for protection as well.

(3) Leave a Small Footprint: Make sure that you have as little physical impact on the area you’re walking in as possible. If you’re walk is in nature, make sure the area looks exactly the same when you leave as when you got there. Same thing in a downtown area—-we want store owners and pedestrians to welcome events like this, so be kind to everyone you meet, and create as small a footprint on your walk route as possible. Take only pictures. Leave only footprints.

(4) Make New Friends: This is a social event, and everybody is there to have fun and make new friends, so make sure you talk with other walkers in your group. Ask them ‘what kind of stuff like they to shoot,’ or ‘how they like their camera or a particular accessory,’ or ask ‘if they’ve ever been on this street or area before,’ and you’ll have a conversation up and running in no time.

(5) Let Your Leader Lead: Your walk leader has put a lot of time and effort into planning the walk, organizing and publicizing the walk, and making the whole thing happen (after all; without your local Leader there might not be a walk in your city, right?), so don’t try and hijack the walk; let your Leader do the talking, and the leading, and that way you can just relax and focus on getting some great shots.

(6) Get To Your Walk Early: It happens every year; some people miss the walk altogether because they couldn’t find a parking space, or they missed the train or subway, or they ran into something that delayed them from getting to the start of the walk on time. It’s really heartbreaking to get there and find that the walk is already underway and there’s nobody standing there but you, so make sure you plan extra time to get to your walk’s Starting Location, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress (and possible heartbreak) by getting there early. Plus, if you get there early, there’s extra time to make friends before the walk even starts—maybe you’ll make a “walking buddy” who’ll share the experience with you.

(7) Play it Safe: The single most important thing is your safety during the Photo Walk. Don’t get distracted by what you’re shooting or seeing, and back right into the street, or into another photographer (or just a person walking down the street). Keep your wits about you, and remember than many of you will be shooting in a downtown area, on crowded sidewalks or busy streets, so just stay alert the entire walk, and look out for other walkers as well. Also, don’t wander into any areas or alleys that may look the least bit unsafe—stay with your group—there’s safety in numbers, and of course always keep a close eye on your camera gear and personal items.

Also, make sure you check out the Official World Wide Photo Walk Blog (here’s the link) for more walking tips from Brad Moore, and also visit (one of our official sponsors) to get Jeff Revell’s invaluable Photo Walk suggestions and insights.


I’m back from four days on the Island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean, as the Guest Speaker at Joe McNally’s Off Camera Flash workshop. The workshop was an even more amazing experience than I had expected, and I learned a lot more than just photography.

This week, I’m going to share some different things I learned as an instructor, as a student, as a guest in a very special resort (more on this in a moment), as a businessman, as a husband, a father, and as a photographer (it’s amazing what you can absorb in just four days).

It’ll probably make a separate post each day this week to share these lessons, and I’ll weave my stories in alongside some of the other important things happening in this; the week leading up to my Worldwide Photo Walk on Saturday. But as I’m sitting here on the five-hour flight from St. Lucia to Atlanta, (and then a short hop home to Tampa), all this stuff is swirling around in my head, and I’ve got to get it down on paper (even if it’s not really paper).

First, we’ll start with the shot up top. I arrived after the workshop was already underway, and after checking in at the resort, I headed down to the beach to catch Joe’s sunset shoot at the beach.

When I got there I high-fived my assistant Brad Moore, who was already there assisting on the shoot, and then watched as Joe waded offshore with a local scuba diver to do a portrait, along with his assistant Drew holding a large Elinchrom Rotalux softbox with flashhead attached, as one of the students (A great guy from Texas named Clint) held the small Elinchrom Ranger Quadra battery pack and cables (more on this later in the week, when I post a video we did here in the studio on the Quadra).

It was just a one-light shoot, using a single studio light on location, but man did Joe make that one light sing! Check out the final image on Joe’s blog (here’s the link).

More Proof it’s a Small World
The next morning, we headed into the small town of Soufriere, so we could do some street shooting. After wandering the streets for an hour or so, we met up with our guide from the hotel, and he mentioned that there was a fire station nearby if we wanted to drop by and see if they’d let us shoot their trucks, so we headed over there.

A student from our group got about 100 yards ahead of us, and got to the station first. A fireman was standing outside, and he saw the photographer’s Canon camera and said, “Hey, I’m a photographer. I’ve got a Canon DSLR, too!” They started chatting and the fireman asked the student, “Hey, do you read Scott Kelby’s blog?” (I kid you not!). The student tells the fireman that I’m actually part of the group, and of course, he thinks the guy is pulling his leg until McNally and I come around the corner 30-seconds later.


The firefighter’s name is Garvey Charlemagne (that’s a portrait I took of Garvey above), and he’s an avid photographer, and just a wonderfully gracious, kind, and incredibly patient guy as he let the class make portraits of him, in full gear, for around an hour, and it was Caribbean island-hot down there (that’s real sweat, in other words).

Although my blog connection to Garvey might have gotten our foot in the door at the fire station, watching Joe work in this environment was a master class unto itself. Joe just has a way of ingratiating himself in any situation, and within minutes these firefighters, were rolling out the red carpet to do anything Joe needed to “get the shot.”

He had them do everything from move firetrucks, to dress up in full gear, to doing group shots with the entire department (including the Captain in his full parade best), to pulling out all sorts of gear, posing in different locations—you name it. They were so taken with Joe, and he worked the scene like such a pro, that everybody, firefighters included, had a blast.

On the flipside of this; Joe does something for them, which I think is very, very important; he immediately sends them the best finished images from the shoot. (They may not at first know what it means to have Joe McNally make your portrait, but they soon will).


Here’s Joe and I posed with Garvey (photo by Steve Rogers), after the shoot. A big thanks to all the guys at the Soufriere Fire Dept., and a special thanks to my blog reader Garvey. You guys were awesome!!!

Ya Just Have to Know What to Ask
I have a running joke with Joe. When we were walking the backstreets and alleys of Sufraire, I put the camera to my eye and shouted ahead to Joe, “Hey Joe, you been shootin’ much HDR??” He turned toward me, and I took the shot below, which pretty much says it all.


Can Joe Pick a Workshop Location or What!!!!
Our host resort for the workshop was the fabulous Jade Mountain hotel, which has already become a favorite hideaway of celebrities (which we knew), but what nobody knew until the third day of the workshop was that Travel & Leisure magazine had just named the hotel the #3 best hotel in the world (the first time in history a Caribbean hotel had made Travel & Leisure’s exclusive Top 10 List). Believe me; these accolades are well deserved—-I’ve never seen anything like it.


Here’s the view from my room (they call them “Sanctuaries” and they’re well-named). It’s a 17-photo pano; taken hand held, standing inside my room. It’s 62 inches long at 240 ppi.

It stitched together perfectly; totally seamlessly, without any input from me, all in Photoshop CS4 (well, I selected the photos inside of Lightroom, then chose “Merge to Panorama in Photoshop.” I’d do a tutorial on it for you, but there’s nothing to show. Select 17 photos; choose “Merge to Panorama in Photoshop” and then wait a few minutes and it’s done.


This one was taken from the breakfast table in my room. It’s not a pano. I just cropped it that way in Lightroom.


This isn’t the lobby. This is the hotel room they gave me as an instructor. I kid you not. This is where they put me up. My wife and I walked in, and our jaws hit the floor. There’s only one wall (on the left) with a 14-foot high door, so basically 1/3 of the room has a wall, and the other 2/3 are wide open to the sea. But it gets better.


There’s actually an Infinity pool in my hotel room. It has steps down into it, and then it’s around 5-feet deep. It’s not a hot-tub—it’s much bigger—it’s a pool, and it’s amazing (as is the view).


Here’s where I shot the first pano from. That’s the canopy bed on the left. The room came with a full time butler who was fantastic, and I could go on and on, but it was immediately clear why this hotel was awarded the #3 hotel in the world. I can’t imagine what you’d have to do to #2. The service was like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and the entire resort, and its staff, made sure everyone; instructors and students, had an experience of a lifetime.

Thanks to Nick and Karolin Troubetzkoy, the owners of the Jade Mountain Resort, who have created a magical place where you can unwind and relax at a level like no place else. (Check out their Website, or follow them on Facebook).

There’s more to Come
I’ve got so much more to share, but they’re closing the aircraft doors for our connection down to Tampa, and it’s already really late. I’ll have some insights on the workshop, on learning, and Joe, and a whole lot more, but I just had to share a few fun stories to kick things off.


Nikon has just released a new site, called the “Nikon D-Movie Screening Room” that features high-definition video clips shot entirely with their DSLR’s that have built-in video capabilities (the Nikon D90 and D5000 cameras).

I have to say, it’s pretty amazing to see what can be done, thanks to the ability to use Nikon camera lenses (and the shallow depth of field that the right lens can bring), and if you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss is about on putting video in DSLRs, this will make you a believer. Here’s the link—-take two minutes and check it out.


Hi gang. I’m off to the island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean to teach a workshop with Joe McNally and then I’m going to spend a few days doing absolutely nothing but reading and sitting by the pool (I know, I’ve got it rough), which is all the more reason I feel I should share yet another embarrassing photo. This was taken in the mid-80s (note the cool gloves, blond tips, and excess mousse in my hair. The trademark black shirt is there, along with a Korg DSS-1 keyboard [bottom], which had sampled sounds I used to load into the keyboard with a floppy disk). Man, I gettin’ old. ;-)  Now, onto the news:

First, a shout out to the Deke Man for a fantastic guest blog and video tutorial yesterday. The comments were nothing short of a love-fest, and it was a real kick having Deke here on the blog. If you’re going to Photoshop World in Vegas this October, make sure you check out Deke live.

What’s the Difference Between Vols. 1, 2, and 3?
I got another email yesterday asking if Volume 3 of my book “The Digital Photography Book” is just an another update to the original book, or if it’s an entirely new book, so I thought I’d better tackle it here. Volume 2 is a completely new book from the ground up that picks up right where the original Volume 1 left off.  I did the same thing with Volume 3, but of course it picked up where Volume 2 left off, so while the three books are designed to work together (and the Publisher is planning a three-book set), the content is completely different in each of the three books. Hope that helps.

Check out Syl’s Canon Speedlite Wishlist
Spend any time around Joe McNally and you’ll become a Nikon off-camera flash believer, and that’s exactly what happened to Syl Arena over at the PixSylated blog, who just did a post on his wishlist for Canon’s off camera speedlites, and he really did a great job with it. Here’s the link to check it out.

Catch the finale of our series on lenses
Later today we’ll posting the final segment of our five-part segment on lenses on D-Town TV. This has been one of the most popular set of shows we’ve done on the program thus far, and if you haven’t caught it yet, here’s the link (the fifth installment is episode #20).

A Special Deal on two new DVDs from Vincent Versace
Vinny is about to release a new in-depth DVD called, “Oz to Kansas 2.0: The Black and White on Black and White Conversions” where he goes into detail about the process, which includes:

  • When and why you should and should not use global de-saturation.
  • When and why you should and should not use LAB conversions.
  • Split Channel conversions –  what they are good for and a way to get the same effect with a file two thirds the size.
  • When to use the Black and White adjustment layer to bring out and separate the tones in a color image.
  • The only soup to nuts overview of the Silver Efex Plug-in. How to use it and when.
  • Multiple Channel mixer black and white conversions that replicate the physics of film.
  • What is “Faux-infrared” and a look at how to convert files to black and white from digital cameras that have been modified to shoot Infrared.
  • When and how to most efficiently use the Gradient tool for black and white conversion.
  • Mid-tone Contouring
  • Combining multiple conversion techniques to get the optimum black and white image.

He’s also got another DVD about to release as well, called; “The Lazarus Effect: Raising the Dead Pixels in the Mist and In Blur to Focus. Here’s how he describes it:

This four DVD tutorial is for anyone who has ever taken an image in which the focus was a wee bit “off.” Maybe you tried to photograph a waterfall and, regardless of your exposure and how carefully you set up your tripod and camera, the focus was a little too soft, or perhaps you have images that you know were in focus when you shot it them, but because of the type of sensor or the way the RAW file was processed, the sharpness you knew the lens could deliver is missing in the images on the screen.

This DVD not only teaches you how to bring detail back from both landscape (Pixels in the Mist) and portrait images (From Blur to In Focus), it also presents a new way of thinking about your images as well as a new approach to seeing and creating.

Vinny has extended his special pre-order offer of $59.95 for either DVD to readers of my blog until July 22nd (the DVD’s are scheduled to ship on July 15th). Here’s the link with all the details.

Another Cool Video From Last Year’s Photo Walk
We’ll wrap things up with a video taken during last year’s Photo Walk in Hollywood, California as part of my world wide photo walk last year.

Hope you all have a great Thursday, and just remember; there’s a 50/50 chance I won’t be blogging tomorrow because I’m on a topical island and just flat out don’t feel like blogging. Hey, it could happen. ;-)