Monthly Archives November 2010

Happy Thursday everyone! Brad here with the latest pimpy…

Have you seen the latest Kelby Training Online classes? Some of the newest ones include…

  • Scott Kelby’s 10 Essential Studio Techniques Every Photographer Needs To Know – Scott covers the basics of studio lighting, including both strobes and constant lights with a variety of softboxes, how to position them for certain looks, and other basic studio equipment.
  • Moose Peterson’s Romancing the Landscape, Part 1 – Moose is out in Monument Valley talking about camera gear, predicting the weather, how to create time lapse videos, and more!
  • Dave Cross’ Photoshop CS5 Automation Basics – Dave covers everything you need to know to get started with automating tasks in Photoshop CS5, including the built-in automations, creating your own actions, discovering some hidden techniques, and using automated commands in Bridge.

Scott (aka Scott “Claymore” Kelby) and Matt Kloskowski have teamed up once again to bring you the latest edition of their very popular Photoshop Elements 9 Book for Digital Photographers, and it is now available for pre-order! You can reserve your copy for only $39.99, plus NAPP members get $10 off.

Thanks to Michael Shilling over at Photo Creative 365 for listing The Photoshop Insider blog among their “Another 5 Great Photography Websites!” Make sure you head over and check out the other sites they list as well.  Great stuff!

Mike Johnston, aka The Online Photographer, recently selected Scott’s The Digital Photography Book series as one of his Best Photography How-To Books. Lots of other great books listed there to see, too.

Top Fine Art Photos also mentioned Scott’s The Digital Photography Book as one of their Top Ten Arts & Photography Books.

Joe McNally is bringing his Location Lighting Techniques Tour to Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Friday, December 3.  Scott was able to catch some of this one when it was in Tampa, and he learned some new techniques that he was excited about.  So, if Scott can still pick up some tips and tricks even after seeing Joe teach so many times, I can almost guarantee you will too ;)  You can sign up right here!

And, last but not least, Dave Cross is bringing his Maximum Photoshop CS5 Tour to the Javits Center in New York City this Monday, November 22. Here are just a couple of the many emails we’ve gotten from people after attending this seminar:

WOW!!!! I learned a tremendous amount of info in a short amount of time. Dave Cross really knows how to inspire and translate the great features of Photoshop.

Very happy that I attended your Maximum Adobe Photoshop Seminar Tour. It was full of wonderful information, and your tutorial/presentations were very magical (as you probably already know it from the response of the crowd). I know you can not harvest the whole field of Photoshop in such limited time, but you brought us a basket of knowledge that we all can savor for the rest of life. I thank you for that!

You can sign up for the seminar right here.

That’s it for today. Have a great Thursday!

First off, I would like to say that it is an absolute honor to be asked on as a guest blogger on Scott Kelby’s  site.  A very important thing for me is expressing gratitude for opportunities that have come my way, and understanding how the good things in my life have come to pass.  Scott has been on the giving side for me on more than one occasion, both directly and from happenings through the ripple effect caused by the NAPP, and I just can’t say it enough.  Thank You.

For my few seconds up here on the soapbox, I would like to share with you a quick story and a few ideas that I THINK I know.  I say think with emphasis because I realize that life hasn’t given me all of the pieces yet. I’m here with the rest of you just trying to figure things out while everything around me, as well as myself, continue to change on a day to day basis.  One big thing I know for sure though is that I don’t know everything, and I never will.


Of all of the images that I have had the pleasure of dreaming up, or seeing happen before me, one of my favorite that comes to mind was more than ten years ago.  I wasn’t a professional photographer at the time, much less a professional anything. I was working a 9-5, collecting a paycheck, and living a pretty happy simple life.  That is an “uninspired” simple life. A few months prior I had picked up my first SLR from a pawnshop, a Minolta x-700, with a few lenses, pretty sweet deal. (That’s right all you purists, I was a film guy too back in the day. Let go.  It’s okay. I liked the little red light too, and if you miss the smell of fixer and stop bath that much you can always keep a tray of it next to your monitor. It’ll be ok.  8tracks were a great idea too at the time.  I digress…)   I carried that thing with me everywhere because you just never know right?  There I was, driving down Highway 270 in St. Louis, minding my own business when it hit me.  Nope. Not the car next to me, the image.


Since people have seen me use them on D-Town TV, and in my Kelby Training Classes, I get a lot of questions about where to buy studio V-flats (4’x8′ tall reflectors boards, that are white on one side and black on the other—like the ones shown above), so last week I asked my followers on Twitter and Facebook some help in finding a single resource for buying V-Flats (to create the “V” you take two of these boards–and put a thick piece of gaffer’s tape between them top to bottom so they form a “V.” Then you can use them as reflectors, or fire strobes into them for a large fill, or use them as flags—the list goes on and on. Incredibly handy.

We have two sets that we use in the studio, and most rental studios have them as well, but finding them locally is sometimes really a challenge, so I asked Brad to do some investigating on his own, and here what we’ve come up with so far.

(1) Your best bet is to check with a local sign shop, as many keep these in stock. They may not recognize the term “V-Flats” (which is a photo studio term), so when you call,  just ask for something like “Gatorboard” or “Mounting Board.”

(2) The right thickness is about 1 inch thick. Anything less, and you’ll find it falling over pretty easily, and it won’t be durable enough to last more than just a few shoots (the popular 3/16 of a inch size is way too thin).

(3) You may possibly be able to find these at a local art supply store, but the problem we’ve always run into is size—they don’t have them at 4 foot wide by 8 foot tall (and you need four of them, to create two complete V-flats). Also, if they do have them, they generally don’t have black on one side, and white on the other, which is ideally what you want.

The Kinda Expensive Alternative
If you can’t find a sign shop or graphic arts store that carries v-flats, then here are some other options:
They’re based in New York, and they have the best price on the real deal: only $45 buck a sheet (so $180 for four, which makes your two flats). I know what you’re thinking. Hey, that doesn’t seem too bad? It isn’t—-if you live in New York and can stop by and pick them up.

Otherwise they have to ship them too you. That changes the math considerably:

> 4 Sheets at $45/sheet ($180)
> Shipping for those sheet ($300 down to Tampa, for example)

That puts you around $480 a set.
> 4 Sheets at $121.96/sheet ($487.84)
> Plus $100 shipping

That puts you at around $600 a set.

Laird Plastics
> 4 Sheets at $90/sheet ($360)
> $90 Freight + $20 delivery from Laird to location

That puts you at around $480 a set.

So, unless you’ve got a local resource for finding V-flats, having them shipped to you (because of their physical size), makes having them expensive, but it’s like I always say: “Who told you being a photographer was going to be a low cost situation?”

Anyway, I hope that helps, and if you’ve found a nationwide (or ideally worldwide) resource you’d like to share (remember; 1-inch thick, black on one side/white on the other, and approx 8 feet tall by 4-feet wide), we’d really love for you to post it as a comment here. :)

That’s it for today. Don’t forget tomorrow is “Guest Blog Wednesday!” :)

Hi gang, and welcome to the online version of my 5th Annual Holiday Gear Guide (the printed version appears in Photoshop User magazine, which is just hitting NAPP members’ mailboxes this week).

If you’ve been a faithful reader of this gear guide for the past four years, you’ve probably noticed a subtle change in the title. That’s right, this is the first year that it’s not my “Gonzo Holiday Gear Guide.” When I put the first one of these together five years ago, I honestly didn’t give the name much thought because it was originally supposed to be just a post here on my blog. But it got so popular, the following year we published both an online and printed version. Eventually, it became the cover story, and well—gonzo just sounds kinda lame at this point. In fact, I really have no idea what gonzo actually means, so while nobody was really looking, I just kind of deleted it, and so far, nobody at NAPP HQ has raised a big stink.


Last year I came up with a self-imposed set of rules for products that would make it into the guide:

(1) They have to be products that I use myself, and that I absolutely love, and now can’t live without. (2) If a product makes the guide, it has to be one I would recommend to a close friend without hesitation. And
(3) Although this is mostly camera gear (which isn’t a cheap hobby), I wanted to include a few items that were under $100, and some under $50 if I could find them (which is harder than it sounds).

To make things easy, we put up direct links to all the products so you don’t have to wonder if you’re getting the exact right one. The links either go directly to the manufacturer (if they only sell direct), or to B&H Photo and Adorama (none of which send me a kickback or commission if you buy something, and I wouldn’t take it if they did).

Remember, the only thing better than actually buying cool gear for someone you love is having someone you love buy you cool gear (kidding—kind of). So, without further ado (that’s right—everything up to this point was “ado”), here’s this year’s collection of really cool, handpicked gift ideas (by the way, it’s perfectly acceptable to buy gifts for yourself if it has lots of buttons or any kind of LCD screen.)



BLOWiT Fan We use this as a hair fan in the studio because it’s so small, lightweight, and best of all, you can attach it to most any light stand and aim it right where you want it. It was designed for drummers, but works great in the studio.

Price: $99.99


IKEA Asker Suspension Rail and Clips for hanging prints

Suspension Rail and Clips Ed Loziuk, one of the readers of my daily blog (, turned me on to this great, very inexpensive way to display your images. You basically hang your unframed prints on a tiny lightweight track using clips that are specially made for it so you can quickly change out prints any time. Looks great, works great, costs just a little.

23.5″ rail: $7.99
47.25″ rail: $9.99
Clips (3): $4.99


Nik Software Color Efex Pro 3 Complete Edition

Nik Color Efex Pro 3 If I had to use just one single plug-in from here on out, this would be the one. I use it for everything from landscapes (try the Brilliance/Warmth effect) to portraits (try Tonal Contrast) and everything in between. The Complete Edition is compatible with both Photoshop and Lightroom.
Complete Edition: $299.95



AluminArte: High Definition Photo Prints on Aluminum from Image Wizards

Prints on Aluminum from Image Wizards I got my first images printed on metal this past year, and everybody pretty much said the same thing: “It looks like the print world’s version of high-def TV.” I don’t know how they get that depth, that look, but it truly looks amazing. Give the photographer on your holiday list a print on metal from Image Wizards and she’ll be hooked!
Prices start around $182 for a 12×20″ print


Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight

Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight If you know a Nikon shooter that has always wanted to make the jump to off-camera flash, now’s the time thanks to this new lower-priced, feature-packed flash. You can buy two of these brand-new flashes for just a little more than one Nikon SB-900 AF Speedlight, and it will open up a new world for the photographer who wants to start using off-camera flash.
Price: $329.95



Wacom accessories: Intuos4 Classic Pen (thinner than regular pen) or Case (a lightweight sleeve)

Wacom accessories If the Photoshop user on your holiday list has a Wacom tablet (and my guess is he does), Wacom has a bunch of nice accessories, such as a thinner wireless pen (compared to the Intuos4 Grip Pen) or lightweight travel sleeves for their small, medium, and large Intuos4 tablets.

Classic Pen: $69.95
Small Case: $24.95
Medium Case: $29.95
Large Case: $34.95


A Nikon or Canon tele-extender

Nikon or Canon tele-extender Long lenses are expensive, but by buying a 1.4 tele-extender, it makes current lenses 40% longer, without costing 40% more (they’re relatively inexpensive). Worth every penny.
Canon Extender EF 1.4X III: Approx. $500
Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E II: $519.95




iPad Camera Connection Kit and iPad as backup device

iPad Camera Connection Kit If the photographer on your list has an Apple iPad, get him the iPad Camera Connection Kit, which lets him use his iPad as an in-field backup and photo viewing device. It’s very small, lightweight, and does a good job. The kit includes two connectors: one for USB to connect the camera directly to the iPad and one for an SD card. If he doesn’t have an iPad, and you really, really, like this person (or you want him to really, really like you), spring for an iPad. Now he’ll have his portfolio with him everywhere he goes (and a whole lot more).

Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit: $29
iPad: $499–829

Connection Kit – B&H
iPad – B&H


Canvas photographic prints from Artistic Photo Canvas

Artistic Photo Canvas Want to really impress a friend this holiday season? Send her a canvas print. Want to blow her away? Send her one of your panoramic images on canvas. Haven’t shot a pano? Just crop one of your regular landscape images like a pano. What I love about APC is that they’ll do all the work to prepare your image for printing on canvas, and the results are just amazing. Try them once, and you’ll be hooked. (Image: Seattle Summer Night by Jacob Lucas)

Gallery wrapped canvas panos start at $89


Captured: Lessons from Behind the Lens of a Legendary Wildlife Photographer by Moose Peterson

Wildlife Photographer by Moose Peterson I want you to know up front that my company actually produced Moose’s book, but there’s a reason why I asked Moose to write this book—it was because I knew there wasn’t a single book on wildlife photography that was the “go-to” book to learn the craft, and I knew in my heart Moose was the guy to write it. What I didn’t realize was that he would take my expectations and literally blow them away. He wrote a truly groundbreaking book that will help the wildlife photographer on your gift list make better images, and that’s really what it’s all about. Fascinating insights. Amazing images. Intriguing stories. And packed with important tips and techniques that will change the way you capture wildlife. (Way to go, Moose!)
Price: $54.99


Think Tank Photo Airport Check In laptop bag (the best I’ve ever used)

laptop bag I have gone through more laptop bags than I can count in my search for the perfect bag, and earlier this year, I finally found it—it’s Think Tank Photo’s Airport Check In. It’s really thoughtfully designed and holds lots of big and small gear (including up to a 17″ laptop). It’s not cheap, but who wants a cheap Christmas present? Worth every penny.

Price: $149
Adorama (NAPP members get 10% off Think Tank products + free shipping from Adorama)


Westcott 12×36″ Stripbank softbox

Stripbank softbox Stripbanks are tall, thin softboxes that work great for everything from portraits (perfect for a hair light) to lighting products, and they’re gaining popularity. I use the 12×36″ Stripbank from Westcott (you can buy adapters to attach most brands of strobes), and I have stripbanks from Elinchrom as well. You’ll love ’em.

Westcott 12×36″: $165.40


Lexar Professional 600x CompactFlash Card

Lexar Professional 600x CompactFlash Card I haven’t met a photographer who wouldn’t love another memory card. If someone on your list loves to shoot sports, then a high-speed card will make his life a lot easier, and this is about as high speed as you get. These cards are super reliable, and are available in three capacities: 8, 16, and 32 GB.

8 GB: $199.99
16 GB: $299.99
32 GB: $499.99



The Camera Lens Mug

The Camera Lens Mug These are just so clever—they’re lens mugs that are pretty much exact replicas of a real 24–105mm zoom lens. They’re pretty inexpensive, and they’ll definitely put a smile on her face (once she gets over her disappointment that you didn’t buy her a real lens. Just kidding—she’ll know it’s not real by the weight before she ever opens it).

Price: $24


Rogue FlashBender

Rogue FlashBender If you have an off-camera flash freak on your list, get him a Rogue FlashBender or two. It’s a shapeable light modifier that easily attaches to the flash head to let him control the light as it leaves the flash. Of all the ones I’ve seen out there, I think these are the best designed and easiest to use.

Small Reflector: $34.95
Large Reflector: $39.95
Bounce Card/Flag: $29.95
Three-Piece Kit: $104.85





OP/TECH RAINSLEEVE This may be the cheapest gift in this year’s guide, so maybe consider it a stocking stuffer. If it starts raining during a shoot, the photographer on your list can simply grab one of these small, lightweight covers and protect her gear while letting her keep on shooting. You’ll be a hero. The original version fits a camera, and the flash version accommodates a camera and external flash.

Original Two Pack: $6.95
Flash Two Pack: $8.95



The Nikon D7000 or Canon EOS Rebel T2i

The Nikon D7000 or Canon EOS Rebel T2i These two are arguably the best values out there for someone wanting to jump from a point-and-shoot to a real DSLR. They both take great photos, have full built-in HD video features, and they have enough bells and whistles to keep the photographer on your wish list happy for quite a while (well, at least until next holiday season).
Canon EOS Rebel T2i (body only): $799.99

Nikon D7000 (body only): $1,199.95


Magnetic Polaroid Frames

Magnetic Polaroid Frames This is a cleverly designed set of picture frames that look like old Polaroid images, and they even have the little bend in them that makes them look like they’ve been tacked up to the wall for a while. I have a set of these right outside my office door, and I always get comments on them. Very cute, easy to use, and very affordable.

Six frames: $15


A Nikon or Canon backup battery

The Nikon D7000 or Canon EOS Rebel T2i This is one of those things photographers hate to buy, but love to have, and if you’re like me, and think sometimes the best gifts are the ones you know you should have, but never buy—then this will definitely make him smile. By the way, if he already has a backup battery, a third never hurts.

Check B&H Photo to find batteries and pricing: Approx. $48–115



Wacom Intuos4 Small for travel

Wacom Intuos4 Small If you really want to get him a tablet, but can’t spring for one of the medium-size Intuos4 tablets (which are amazing), get him the Intuos4 Small. The price is right, and he’ll love the small size—I carry one in my laptop bag everywhere I go, and I totally love it! By the way: she’ll love one, too!

Price: $229




That’s it for this year’s Holiday Gear Guide. Have a Happy Holiday Season and I hope Santa brings you everything you want! (and I hope it’s not just the Op-Tech Rainsleeve) :-)

Hi gang: I had really hoped to have something really meaty for today, but instead we have some shots from a college football sideline shoot I did last week: USF Bulls vs. Rutgers (the mid-air shuttle pass shot above is one of my favorites from the game).

Here’s Why:
OK, it may be partially my fault (OK, more than partially), but Matt, Brad Moore, and RC must share the blame because we all started playing the just-released Call of Duty: Black Ops (on XBox LIVE) at around 9:00 pm, and it is now 1:42 am, and we just this minute signed off, and I haven’t written one word yet of today’s blog post (well, except for the few sentences you just read, of course), and I’m pretty beat, so this is mostly going to be just shots from the game.

The Good News
The good news is: I’m already at Level 20, I’ve unlocked the Famas Assault Rifle (which is an automatic rifle in Black Ops, versus the three-round burst model in Modern Warfare 2), and I’m a pretty decent shot with the Red Dot sight attached (though Matt is the undisputed Call of Duty pro out of all of us guys). Anyway, great game, lots of fun playing online and trash-talkin’ with the guys, but of course it totally wrecked my night and any hope of getting a good night’s sleep. Now, onto the shoot before I nod off.

(Above: At one point in the middle of the game, I’m moving along the sidelines and I hear “Scott Kelby!!! Scott Kelby!!!!, and I turn around and look in the stands and the guy you see above is yelling to me, “I’m a NAPP member!” I thought that was so cool!!!! He yelled “Take my picture” and of course, I obliged. I love his smile and the fact that I heard his voice out of the 30,000+ screaming fans).

The Specs
It’s the same rig I normally use for a night game (here’s the link), but for the first half I tried something different. On my second body I usually have my 70-200mm f/2.8, but I decided to try the 24-70mm f/2.8 to capture more of a wide view when a team scores, but I wasn’t happy with it at all and changed back to the 70-200mm at halftime. The reason was: there was just no separation, even at 70mm at f/2.8 because nothing was close enough to camera to create a shallow depth of field, so everything was in focus, the shots looked pretty “snap-shotty” so I switched back.

I know a lot of guys still go this route, with a wide on their second (or third) body, especially if they’re hoping to capture an image that might run double truck (a two-page spread), and in which case I would go to the wide angle 24mm look, and hope the play happened right in front of you, like a fade to the corner, but again, you’d have to get lucky. Other than that, the rest was the same (but I have to tell you—-I am so loving that 400mm f/2.8 (and that new lens smell).

It was a great game that night. Wonderful weather, and my buddy Andy Gregory was there (SAMSAU), and we had a lot of fun just hanging out (shooting football is a lot more fun with a buddy, even if it has to be Andy, but I recommend you shoot with someone much more fun). Totally kidding (sorry Andy, I couldn’t help myself).

(Above: This is another of my favorites. Last time I shot the team coming out onto the field from behind, but this time I thought I’d get out there as they came through the CO2 smoke curtain. I like the way #51 is looking right at the camera).

(Above: Here’s the team celebrating with the fans after the big win. I usually don’t do much post production to my sports shots, outside of contrast and sharpening (especially if I’m shooting on assignment), but in this case, I threw the book at it—it looks much better larger, so click on it for a larger view).

Here’s what I did:
I added an extreme contrast special effect to the entire image, then a dark edge vignette all the way around using the Lens Correction filter, and I even added the Lens Flare you see in the lights in the top right corner in Photoshop by adding a new layer; filling it with black; running Photoshop’s Lens Flare filter [using the default settings] then I changed the layer blend mode to Screen so it blends in with the rest of the image, then dragged the Lens Flare up in that corner. It’s a bit over-the-top, but for some reason, I still like it).

Well, that’s it for this Friday, late night post, folks. I have a fun post for Monday, so I hope you’ll join me then (by then I should be a level 25 or so), and I hope you all have a great weekend! :-)

I know it’s Pimpy Thursday, but today is Veterans Day in the US, and I wanted to take a moment to honor and thank the men and women who have served in our country’s military, and who fought to defend the very freedoms we enjoy today. America owes you a debt of gratitude for your service and sacrifice, and I just wanted to join in with a heartfelt thanks..