Monthly Archives October 2010

You guys have been very patient, which is why I’m so glad to announce that entertainment and portrait photographer Jeremy Cowart’s first class with Kelby Training Online just went live Wednesday afternoon.

He really has a gift for seeing, and for teaching, and I’m so excited to get to share this you guys. If you’re a subscriber to Kelby Training Online, you can watch it right here. I am psyched! :)

I got a fun email last week from Michael Davis, (a reader of my books), about his experience in Tanzania shooting with the gray card included in my Photoshop CS5 for Digital Photographer’s book. He wrote:

“On my way to Tanzania to photograph chimpanzees, I had ample opportunity to read your Photoshop CS5 for Digital Photographers ( I actually read it cover to cover).  It is simply fantastic and I have moved almost all of my other ref material off the shelf and replaced them with this book and your LR3 book for digital photographers (which I read cover to cover on my return trip).  Plus, if I need a chuckle in life, I read some of your intro chapters…makes me smile.”

OK, most authors would be happy that he bought two of their books, but actually what really made me happy was that he appreciated the quirky chapter intros. This guy—I like! Now, back to our story:

“I knew the chimp photography would be challenging because of not being able to use a tripod and because of the very low light situation under the dense trees.  I was right. Very high ISOs required.  But one thing I did want to do was to try to get the WB stuff right, so I tore out (hey it’s perf’d so it’s meant to be removed, right?) the swatch at the back of the CS5 book and carried it with me into the deepest, darkest jungles of the Mahale jungles of western Tanzania.  I thought you might enjoy seeing an image of my wife holding the swatch near our first chimp sighting.”

Below is a photo of his wife holding the gray card during their shoot (the mask she’s holding is a surgical mask they have to wear when photographing chimps in the wild).

On his hike back out, he had put the card into his pocket, but the heat was pretty sweltering, and by the time he had gotten back, the card had pretty much turned to mush, and he was hoping to get a replacement (which, we course gladly sent him).

Anyway, I thought the whole story was cool (especially the part about the chapter intros. ;-), and I wanted to share it with you guys, as Michael was kind enough to let me share his story and one of his wonderful chimp photos as well. Thanks Michael.

Dave Cross and Corey Barker square off during Photoshop Wars in the Dell booth at Photoshop World Las Vegas 2010.

Hey gang, Brad here with the news for this week:

TOMORROW is the LIVE NAPP webcast featuring Dave Cross and Corey Barker sponsored by Dell!  They’ll be taking the stage to present a bevy (yes, bevy) of their coolest Photoshop Tips & Tricks, plus it’s open to the public, plus plus they’re giving away FREE prizes! So register now for your chance to win, then tune in tomorrow at NOON Eastern on that same page.

Matt Kloskowski will be bringing the Photoshop for Digital Photographers seminar to the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle on November 18! You can get all the details and sign up right here.

Speaking of Matt, episode 56 of DTown TV with he and Scott Kelby will be going up soon right here. Here’s what’s in the next episode:

  • Matt and Scott discuss using different types of autofocus for different situations
  • Moose Peterson’s amazing new wildlife photography book, Captured, is now in stock at Amazon and Barnes & Noble!
  • Larry Becker has a Cheap Shots tip on “photographer’s shirts” as an alternative to photo vests
  • Check out the brand new Larry’s Cheap Shots blog!
  • Scott’s in the photo studio with a tip on using v-flats reflectors as backgrounds
  • Cliff Mautner shares how he stays motivated when photographing tons of weddings every year
  • Check out the work of aviation photographer Tyson V. Rininger!

There’s still time to vote and/or enter in the free Kelby TV photo contest sponsored by Dell and Intel! The winner will receive a brand new Dell Precision M6500 laptop (the same laptop used in Photoshop Wars at Photoshop World)! Visit by October 31 to vote and enter. (Voting is open to everyone, submissions open to U.S. residents)

Looking for a great way to present your portfolio on your iPad? Jason Lykins recently did a review on the “Portfolio for iPad” app over on Check it out!

That’s it for today. Swing by tomorrow for some BIG news, and for a cool story about a gray card (yes, gray cards can be cool ;) )!

My name is John McWade. Because this is my first post, here’s a quick history.

I’m a designer, not a photographer. Early in 1985, I was the first person in the world to lay down my T-square and become a full-time “desktop publisher.” That meant that I was doing my design work entirely on a computer — a 9″-screen Macintosh — with a test version of Aldus PageMaker.

I’d been at it for months when, that summer in New York, Apple rolled out its “Macintosh Office,” a networked suite consisting of the Apple LaserWriter, Adobe PostScript, and Aldus PageMaker. All three were revolutionary. The press, impressed, said, “Yeah, this looks good, but is anyone actually using it?” To which Apple said, “Well, there’s this guy out in California . . .”

And my phone started to ring.

Things have not been the same since.

It took only five years for desktop publishing to democratize design. Its early adopters, with exceptions, were not designers. They were writers, editors, marketers and others who had design to do — newsletters, brochures, business stationery, whatever — but lacked the time, budget, or need for a professional.

Most had an affinity for design, too. But most did not have the skills.

Books and periodicals taught point and click. How to draw a curve, make a shadow, put a glow on something. This was helpful. They called it design, but it wasn’t. It was effects.

No one outside of school was teaching design. Typography. Page layout. The art of making a visual message beautifully and simply and clearly.

So we jumped in. We launched a small magazine titled Before & After, How to design cool stuff in January, 1990, to help the novice — the non-design professional — with graphic design. It was an immediate hit.

I’ve been at it ever since. In print, in books, online, in video (just starting this), and in the occasional live class. I love my work. The surprise has been that our little five-year project would turn into a career that continues to this day.

Brad asked if I’d do a post for photographers.

From a designer’s standpoint, the great thing about being a photographer is that you have great images to work with. So how about how to get a photo and type to coexist in the same small space, like on a business card? There’s a universal way to do it, which I’ll show you here, and once you have it down, you can elaborate pretty easily if you want.


(Above) Jayne Kettner’s business card had a clip-arty logo, a slogan, a swashy, calligraphic signature, and her business information, all scattered into various corners and places. This is common, and there are several problems with it. One is the scattering, which puts similar kinds of information in different places, with nothing to connect it. Two is the visual complexity; that is, the unnecessary tangle of lines. Three is that we can’t see her photos; her biggest asset is absent.

Here’s how to fix it. (more…)

You guys already know that I’m a huge fan of Elinchrom’s strobes (they’re the only strobes I use in the studio), and in particular their BXRI’s compacts. So, I was really psyched when Elinchrom asked to use some of my images for their new print ad campaign (seen below).

The first ad features a studio shot I took of professional model Julie Anna Cole (above), using three BXRI’s 500 watt strobes (but one of the strobes was just used to light the white background, so there are only two strobes lighting the subject). This ad appears in the new issue of Professional Photographer magazine.

Above: Here’s a production shot from the shoot taken by Brad (of course, at this point, she had a fur hat on, which you’ll see that shot below, but it wasn’t used in the campaign), and you can see the simple set-up I used.  We have one strobe up high on a boom stand as the main light with a Beauty Dish attached, and a diffusion sock over the front. I have another strobe below with a 24″ Elinchrom softbox for fill light, and to the left on the floor you can see a short lightstand that holds another BRXI 500 to light the white background. Really, a pretty simple set-up.

Above: Here’s the shot with hood on the fake fur jacket pulled up.

Above: Here’s another ad in the series featuring Linebacker Blake Johnson (it’s running new issue of Digital Photo Pro magazine), but it’s using just two lights: one overhead with a beauty dish, and a 2nd bare bulb strobe (no softbox, just the round reflector) directly behind his head (so his head is hiding the strobe). I powered the front strobe (the one with the beauty dish), all the way down to act as a fill light—the main light is really the one behind him.

The ads offer a rebate of up to $100 on BXRI heads and kits, and you can find out more info at this link. Elinchrom makes a great two-light with BXRI 500 watt strobes, two softboxes, wireless transmitter, two 9′ stands, cables, and carrying case). B&H and Adorama both have these kits in stock.

Just So You Know….
I don’t get paid any endorsement fees from appearing in these Elinchrom ads (or from anybody else for that matter) and I don’t get any kickbacks on sales of the kits either. I only recommend products I actually use myself and believe in 100%. I love the BXRI’s, I use them all the time, and I was honored when Elinchrom asked to use my images for their ad (plus, I ain’t lyin’—it’s a kick to see some of your shots in ads in big magazines!). :)

Hey, those Look Familiar…
By the way, if those photos from these ads look familiar to you; it’s because I used both in my Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers book. By the way, if you buy that book, I do get a kickback. Here’s a link to it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

….by the time Thursday comes this deal will be almost over.

I just got word from our crew that they’re running a One Week Only Sale for NAPP members only on my “Light It, Shoot It, Retouch it” DVD Collection. The 3-disc set usually sells for $199, but using the link below, and just for this week only (until 10/22/2010), it’s only $129.99 (that’s an extra $50 off the already low NAPP member discount price).

Click here to log in to your NAPP Member discounts page for the special promo code.