Monthly Archives May 2011

The wait it over! (Yay!) Nobody is more surprised (or happy) than I, but yes—it’s finally here—the Kelby Training Online app, for iPad AND iPhone, is now available for FREE in the App Store. Oh happy freakin’ day!!! Here’s the link.

Here’s the full screen view with Matty K on screen. I purposely chose a capture where his mouth was frozen open like that. He gets a kick out of it when I capture him at precise moments like this. :)

Here’s a look at the Portrait orientation view. That’s Joe McNally gesturing to what he would call a “Luminous Light Source.”

I am so excited (relieved) that’s it’s finally here. It actually came out late last night, I was already getting emails from people who are already using and totally loving it! My thanks to iPad developer (and App book author) Shawn Welch for his fantastic work on the App, along with our own in-house team who worked so hard to get this App up and running, including Kleber Stephenson, Erik Kuna, Paul Wilder, Dave Moser, Matt Kloskowski, RC Concepcion, Brad Moore, and Tommy Maloney.

Did I mention the Kelby Training Online iPad app is here now? I did? Well…whoo hoo!!! :)

Against my better judgement, I gave Brad a few days off to visit his family in Tennessee, so since he’s not hear to do Pimpy Thursday, I thought I’d cover it for him (Serves me right for letting him have vacation time). Won’t make that mistake again! Now, for some sweet home grown pimpin’:

Invite your friends to join me, and “The Photoshop Guys” for a live Webinar
Remember the “Napp-a-thon” we did last year? It was a huge success and loads of new folks joined NAPP that night. We’ll we’re doing it again, but this time we tried hard to find an even dumber name, and by golly I think we’ve done it. That’s right, it’s called “SNAPP!” (I’m not making this up).

Anyway, it’s broadcast live, it’s next Wednesday, from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm and we’ll be doing lots of tutorials and fun stuff to give folks an idea of what we do at NAPP, and why they should join. If you’re already a NAPP member (and nearly 75,000 of you already are), please invite your non-member friends to join us that night for free. They’ll have a great time, and learn lots of stuff. They (and well….anybody) can register right here (right now).

My thanks for helping us spread the word. (P.S. If you miss the live Webinar, we’ll post a rebroadcast the following day, but if you watch live, we’ll have some cool giveaways, including some sweet Lexar memory cards).

David Cuerdon updated his “Beauty Retouching Kit” for Photoshop CS5
David’s super popular retouching class on Kelby Training Online has been totally updated for Photoshop CS5. So, you get everything updated from the original class plus David included a start to finish headshot retouch explaining every step along the way, plus it includes a downloadable PDF portrait retouch checklist, and how to deal with common problems like braces, eyeglass glare, fly away hairs, etc.. If you’re a Kelby Training subscriber, and you’re into retouching, you can check it out right here.

PhotoForge 2 for the iPad
I’ve talked about Filterstorm Pro for the iPad, and how it’s kind of like “Photoshop for the iPad.” Well, I just saw a video demo of PhotoForge 2 for the iPad, and it might even be better (I say might, because it hasn’t been released yet, but it looks amazing!). Here’s the demo video I watched (thanks to @Pironik17 for the heads up):

Just 3-Weeks Until My Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It Tour come to New York
Hundreds of photographers have already signed-up for my only stop in New York City this year of my “Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It Live!” tour on June 2nd at the Javitz Center. If you’re anywhere near the area, I hope you’ll join me for the day. It’s only $99 (including a detailed workbook), or just $79 for NAPP members). You can reserve your spot right here (we have limited seating, and seats are filled on a first-come, first served basis. The first four tour stops all sold out in advance, so if you want to spend the day with me, learning lighting, shooting, and retouching, snag your seat now).

Well, that’s Pimpy Thursday for this Thursday. I think Brad would be proud! :-)

15,889 photos.

That’s the number of photos I shot, captioned, and submitted for publication as a staff photographer at my former newspaper before going freelance.  Why does this matter?  Because it is an insane amount of photos which represent a lot of time spent shooting for the proverbial “Man.”  It’s not a bad thing.  In fact, shooting for The Man gave me ample time to learn, develop my vision, and figure out what didn’t matter to me and what did in my photography.

The newspaper was my first full-time newspaper gig, which I left last year to pursue my freelance career.  In the matter of 8 years I made a lot of bad photos at bad assignments. I also made some great photos at great assignments.  Making great photos from bad assignments?  It was a challenge to myself.  It’s not the newspaper’s fault that bad assignments exist, it’s just the nature of the grind at a daily newspaper – especially this day and age with dwindled staff and depleted resources.  Most of your time is spent feeding the beast, churning out 2-4 assignments a day for prominent display in next morning’s recycle bin.  It’s making Chicken Salad out of Chicken Sh*t.  I’ve made my fair share of Chicken Salad.

Working as a staff photojournalist has its challenges.  How do you stay inspired, happy, and passionate about photographing a white guy in a suit standing in front of a building?  How can you make compelling images that give your photo subjects a voice in their own community when you can only stay for only 10 minutes?  Why am I photographing this plate of food that barely resembles food?  How do you make a picture that says “ribbon-cutting” without literally shooting the ribbon being cut?

You just do.  Here’s how:

Shoot for yourself.

He won’t remember this at all, but I sat down with Los Angeles Times photojournalist Rick Loomis to get my portfolio reviewed at the Eddie Adams Workshop right after landing my job.  I admired his work and wanted to show off my stuff.  I had won some contests, and was totally confident.  He flipped through my work quietly, took a pause, looked at me with a straight face and said, “You shoot like you want to win contests.”

My initial reaction?  Well, isn’t that the point?  I had no idea what it meant at the time.  I was in my 20’s (I’m 33 now) and full of eagerness to get to a big city metro paper and take his job.  It stung.  All of my portfolio reviews for years had gone amazingly well, and he crushed me.  I didn’t know how much his honest assessment in one short sentence helped until a couple years later.

My work wasn’t personal.  I was pressing the shutter, but what came out wasn’t by me, for me, or my subjects.

I made a huge decision after that realization.  I knew how I wanted my vision to look and made the decision to just start shooting for myself.  I stopped looking at contest results.  I stopped caring about how my photos ran in the paper.  I turned in my photos and forgot about them.  It wasn’t about my paper and the newsroom, which I loved, it was more about myself.  I knew the only way to grow my vision was to kick my own butt.  I started caring immensely more about what I was placing inside the four corners of my viewfinder.   I started seeing images that only I could see in a way that made me excited.

I stayed at a job for 8 years I had plans to stay at for 2 years max, because I knew I could make pictures where I was already happy – building myself both professionally and personally.  Sarasota is a small town full of snowbirds, weird news, and a palate of colors that I began using as my muse to change my work visually.  I fell in love with my community, this strange state of Florida, and everything about both.  Once that happened the picture-making process was less of a job or career, it was what I loved to do and happened to get paid for.

It’s one of the main reasons I left a cushy job and solid paycheck.  I was getting too comfortable.  That breeds staleness.  Stale is not what I want to be.

All of this has culminated to this point where I am on my own doing work for myself and marketing Me.  “The Man” is now me.  I control my own work, growth, and success.  This is a new thing for me, and it was quite an adjustment going from 15-20 assignments a week to maybe 1 or 2 a week for editors that are sometimes a voice on the phone or email address.  I’m shooting weddings, commercial, and learning how important retaining my copyright is.  I can say “no” to bad gigs and bad contracts.  It’s nice to land a photo on A1 or double truck in a magazine, but it doesn’t drive what I do anymore.  I make photos that I want to make, publish them on my blog, and if a new client likes what they see and can use my vision, then sweet.  When I don’t have a client, I go shoot a self-assignment as a sort of visual pilates.  It’s a refreshing way to work.

How all this relates to you, my friends, is that it doesn’t matter where you are, what you do, or what you shoot with.  You could live in a one-stoplight town.  You could be an accountant with a love of photography.  You could have a shiny, new Leica and not know how freaking jealous of you I am.  You can make pictures in any situation with the right attitude.  That attitude may not adhere to company policy, but in the end it is about the rectangles – and your happiness with what’s in them.

To see more of Chip’s work, visit his website, and check out his blog for more of his ramblings!

Setting the Bar Low Guarantees Success!
I went into this trip with very modest photographic goals: I just wanted to do better in Denmark, then I did in Spain last year, where after 10 days in Barcelona I came home with absolutely nothing. Not that I didn’t shoot, mind you—I just came home without one shot I’d show anybody. (My buddy Dave Moser didn’t believe me, so I showed him what I got in Spain, and his exact words were, “Ohhhh. Boss. What happened?”).

I had never been to Copenhagen, so although I did want to take lots of photos (and I only had 2-1/2 days to shoot), I didn’t want to see this beautiful city from only behind my lens. I wanted to experience it firsthand, and get to enjoy the people, the culture, and the history without feeling like I was only there to shoot it. I also wanted to visit with Terry as it’s not often where I get to spend a few days with him where we’re not both rushing off to teach a class, but of course with Terry being a photographer, we both never went anywhere without our cameras.

Awesome Architecture
I was really taken with the modern Danish architecture, and so I shot quite a lot of it, and even made special trips out to see certain buildings. Of course, I did take lots of touristy shots, too, of things like the boats in the harbor, and the Little Mermaid (well, I took shots from the boat), and your standard touristy snapshot stuff, but I don’t include that stuff in my photo book (captures of which you’re seeing here on the blog today). The softcover book was made using the latest version of Apple’s iPhoto, using one of their built-in book templates (Click on any one for MUCH larger views, plus I captioned most of them).

My Gear
I wanted to travel really light (I didn’t even check a bag), so I brought my Nikon D3s and just one lens: my new 28-300mm f/3.5-f/5.6, and honestly, it was so wonderful not having to ever change lenses, and yet never feeling like I had the wrong lens. That lens is so sharp and crisp—-I just loved it (though, if it were just 4mm wider; making it a 24-300mm, that would be my dream lens).

Terry brought one extra lens, a 10.5mm fisheye, and I did borrow it once to shoot the inside dome of an amazing church, but that’s it. I took 1047 shots total, including lots and lots of backgrounds for compositing (for me, and for a project Matt’s working on) and I shot quite a hot of 5-bracketed exposures HDR shots. When it takes five photos to create one HDR image, you can really crank through a lot of shots. I only kept a few HDRs in my photo book (three actually), even though I shot an awful lot more.

The “Other” HDR Secret
Today, the shooting and tone mapping of HDR images is actually fairly easy, but not a lot is said about the real art of HDR photography, which is knowing which types of scenes make great HDR images, and how to compose them so you get the most out of the HDR effect. RC talks about this quite a bit in his upcoming HDR book, and I think it’s where the art of HDR really lies. Well that and post processing the living daylights out of it. ;-)

My favorite story from the trip. Well, there were two
We rented a car and drove to Malmo, Sweden (which was awesome), because I wanted to see a twisted skyscraper that a guy on Twitter turned me on to. It was totally worth the short 30-minute drive (plus, Malmo itself was just beautiful). Anyway, after that Terry wanted to try out his new Navigon GPS for the iPad, so we programmed it to take us to “Hamlet’s Castle” back in Denmark, not far from Copenhagen.

We drove for about an hour, and I must say—the Navigon worked like a champ. Plus, I’ve never seen such a large GPS screen (GPS on the iPad looks HUGE!). It made me want to get a Navigon myself (I use Tom Tom for the iPhone, and love it). Anyway, we’re driving for an hour or so, and then it has us leave the highway, and now we’re driving through a shipping port. I said to Terry, “Does this look right?” and at that moment it says “Turn Right” and we do. We had to stop the car, because (wait for it….wait for it), it took us to a Car Ferry. One that had already left for the day. The gates were closed. Everyone was gone. Terry and I looked at each other, and we just started cracking up.

So, Terry went to his Navigon preferences and turned on the checkbox for “Avoid Ferry’s” and then we began our hour drive back to Malmo, and then onto the castle. We didn’t get there until like 6:30 pm, but we laughed all the way there, so it was worth the extra driving. What really cracked us up though, was the way the route showed our car leaving land and heading out into the ocean (presumably in the car ferry).  We were actually probably lucky, because I can’t imagine how much that car ferry would actually cost, because just the toll to cross the bridge into Sweden and back was $114.00. Yowsa!

The Other Story
I had nothing do to with this one, but when I heard it at dinner, I nearly shot Coke Light right out of my nose. Terry, Greg, and Jason (the Adobe Worldwide Evangelists) have been touring like this for years, but they had a new Evangelist join them on this tour—-a young guy named Paul. He’ a really nice guy (and obviously a very smart guy), except that he made the mistake of walking away from the breakfast table while leaving his iPhone on the table with his Twitter app open. Greg picked it up and sent out a Tweet to Paul’s followers as if he were Paul. It was just one word. “Pooping.” Then, to make matters worse, they got out their phones, and they all retweeted it. And their friends retweeted it, and so on. When I left Denmark, they were plotting to do it again, and this time they would use just two words. “Still pooping.’” I think I left Denmark just in time.

At Least I Beat Spain
Because you can see that I’m actually showing some of the images from my trip here, I feel like I did better in 2-1/2 days in Denmark than I did in 10 days in Barcelona. We had marvelous spring weather, and bright blue skies, and not a drop a rain the entire time. Terry is just a blast. Totally fun guy, up for anything (trains, cars, tours, weird food, border crossings, etc.). The Adobe guys were really fun, plus I even got to watch the first hour of their two-hour presentation, and I even picked up a few new things (these guys are really good).

My Thoughts on Denmark
I was really taken with their love of design. They care how everything looks, and there are lots of sculptures, museums, art, fountains, and incredible building, both ultra modern and very old. Danish design is absolutely top notch, and companies are willing to to invest heavily to create incredible offices and public areas.

The people were absolutely lovely. I never ran into anyone who didn’t speak English, and they spoke it very well. Plus, the entire country was very, very clean. Sparkling in fact. You’ve gotta love that! Lots of national pride there, and in Sweden. They two countries seem like they make great neighbors.

I visited the Tivoli Gardens amusement park which was a personal highlight for me. I had read about it for many years (it was the inspiration for Walt Disney to build the original Disneyland, and now I see why), and it was incredibly charming. Even better than I expected.

Funny aside: I went to the hotel concierge to ask about getting a train schedule to Malmo, Sweden, and he looked at me and said, “Hey, you’re Scott Kelby. What are you doing here?” He was a photographer, and retoucher, and he was really helpful. I had a guy come up to me in Sweden on the street, too who was currently reading one of my books. Those “It’s a small world” moments are really fun. I even ran into a NAPP member who spotted me in Copenhagen on the last day. People are sometimes embarrassed to come up and say hi (I’ve gotten emails from people who saw me, but didn’t say hi), but I always get a kick out of meeting people who read my books, or watch our shows, or have seen us live, so I’m always happy to meet them. Heck, I’m happy to meet anybody.

One more thing. If you’re planning a trip to Denmark, it wouldn’t hurt if you knocked over a bank before you visit. Well, a 7-11 at the very least, because it’s incredibly expensive. Everything is. Taxis, food, hotel rooms at a regular old Marriott, water, air, you name it. Bring your checkbook. But as expensive as it was, it was worth it. What a great place! I hope I get to go again and take my family (once I’ve had time to build up some money, just in case we want to go to dinner out one night while we’re there). ;-)

Hi Gang: By the time you read this, I’m already on my way back from an incredible weekend in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Malmo, Sweden, hanging out and shooting photos with my good friend Terry White.

Terry, whose full time job is an Adobe Graphics Evangelist, was in the middle of an Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 roll-out tour, and he told me last month that during the tour he’d have a few days off in Copenhagen, and since I had always wanted to visit Copenhagen, on Thursday I hopped a night flight to meet him there, and spend the weekend just being a tourist, and taking lots of photos.

This trip was kind of a last-minute thing, so I didn’t have any time to research where to go or what to shoot, so I put a comment on my Facebook and Twitter accounts asking for ideas of where to shoot right before I left, and I got LOTS of great ideas. I went to as many suggested spots as I could in the 3 days I was there. Besides taking a boat tour, and a city tour by bus, we visited:

$#x2022; Marmorkirken (the marble-church)
$#x2022; Christiana Free Town
$#x2022; Saxo bank headquarters, in Hellerup, Denmark (an amazing building)
$#x2022; Malmo, Sweden (To see the Turning Torso building and the West side)
$#x2022; Tivoli Gardens (Absolutely charming!)
$#x2022; Nyhavn Harbor
$#x2022; The Opera House
$#x2022; Hamlet’s Castle (way cool)
$#x2022; and we walked, and drove, all over!!!!

Thanks to everyone who shared ideas. The trip to Malmo (mentioned by a number of people) was totally worth it. Also, thanks to Terry, who was an awesome host (we laughed non-stop for three solid days. He’s a blast to hang out with).

I plan on posting some images from the trip tomorrow (the HDR shot you see above is of the Knippelsbro bridge, which was right by our hotel. It was processed using Photoshop CS5’s HDR Pro), along with some stories from the trip, including hanging out with the other Adobe Evangelists (really great guys), Greg, Jason, and Paul.

Oh yeah, one last thing:
I took just one camera body, and just one lens, and I didn’t even take a camera bag or a tripod—I packed my gear right in my carry-on luggage. I absolutely loved traveling so light). See ya tomorrow!