Monthly Archives July 2011

It’s strange how life comes full circle when you least expect it. I was born and raised in South Florida into a family with a long history of fishing, surfing and diving. My deep respect for the ocean and the life that inhabits the majestic waters came from my father, who also spent his formative years enjoying Florida beaches. Little did I know my two passions, the ocean and photography, would collide.

Surfing kept me out of trouble in my teens, which eventually led to a 10-year career as a professional surfer. When reality set in and I realized I needed to get a “real” job, I knew the cubicle life wasn’t for me. Photography had always been a hobby, but when I focused on making my hobby a career, the stars aligned and doors opened that I never dreamed possible.

By my mid-20s, I had earned positions shooting sports photography with the Sun Sentinel, Getty and Reuters. Some of it had to do with talent, but most of it had to do with luck. I shot a handful of Superbowls, Stanley Cups, NBA Finals and MLB World Series. During this time, I fell in love with the science of lighting and found a talent for shooting portraits of athletes. There is nothing in the world that comes close to capturing a thought, feeling or personality when the light hits the subject just right. It’s all about chasing moments…

I bought my first Ikelite underwater housing for a side project I wanted to do while spending quality time with my dad fishing and diving. I wanted to find out if I could capture the same type moments with fish, rather than people. My first underwater portrait was a mahi-mahi about 30 miles off of Fort Lauderdale. When I got home and viewed the images from that day, I was hooked.

It took time to perfect my technique, but I quickly learned that I only had a split second to get the right shot. There was never room for hesitation. Capturing the distinct details of an individual fish quickly became an obsession. Each fish has unique differences. These differences set them apart from the rest of the school.

It’s not always easy and there have been many fishing trips when I came home with nothing. It can be extremely difficult to get a shot because I have to get within two to three feet of the fish. The fish also have to be close enough to the surface to get enough light to capture the brilliance of each fish’s coloring.

Although I don’t have fear while I am taking the portraits, I look back at times and wonder where I found my courage. On one outing, I was even able to jump in the water with two big eye threshers. One measured 14 feet and the other one measured 16 feet. There have been a few bites and a couple close encounters, but I am thankful that fish and sharks are usually more curious than aggressive.

The key to taking great photos is finding the adventure in every moment. Whether you are shooting sports, weddings or fish, there is always an adventure waiting and a story to be told.

You can see more of Jason’s work at, follow him on Twitter, find him on Facebook, and keep up with him on his blog.

Adobe is doing something very creative and fun; for two solid weeks they’re taking over a store at 550 Sutter Street in downtown San Francisco to create a really unique, immersive, and imaginative Photoshop experience. It’s a place where you interact, create, experiment and learn each day from a collection of authors, artists and instructors, and I’m very honored to be one of ones kicking off the opening weekend.

in the planning stages, the folks at Adobe asked me what I wanted do, and I said I wanted to keep with their theme and do a special custom class based upon (but the not the same as) my “Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It” seminar. But to take things up a notch, I wanted to use continuous lighting for the class, so that after I set up the shoot, I could have the audience shoot our live models too.

One Call Does it All!
After a call from Adobe to our friends at FJ Westcott (so I could get to use some of their spiffy new SpiderLite TD-6s and a softbox or two), we’ve got my special two-hour class all set-up and best of all—-the classes are FREE!!!! (though of course seating is limited).

Two Lighing/Retouching Sessions This Saturday
I’m doing two identical sessions this coming Saturday:

(1) 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm

(2) 3:00 to 5:00 pm

(3) I’m doing a live interview in the Photoshop Store on “The Candid Frame” (a podcast about photography and photographers) with host Ibarionex Perello

I am just super excited to be even a small part of Adobe’s very creative and fun community event.

For more details, visit Adobe’s Photoshop Pop-Up Store page right here (they’re planning a on-going live in-store lab, various Photo Walks, and lots of cool stuff throughout the two week run). I hope we’ll get to learn and shoot together on Saturday in Downtown San Francisco (did I mention it’s free? Well, it is).

Also, if you can’t make my sessions, they’ll be having different presenters for the entire two-weeks, so make sure you check out the full schedule.

Hope I see you there! :)

….about something pretty cool. It’s cool and it’s free. It’s CAF.

Now, you should know that it’s not the announcement of the Worldwide Photo Walk (though that’s coming very, very soon). But I am involved in it (in a small way), but I think you’ll dig it, so if you can—-stop back by just after 1:00 PM (EDT) to read the full announcement.

Well, because of seminars (and my vacation), I missed the last two weeks of our weekly photography talk show “The Grid,” and I just realized that I’m leaving a day early for my Calgary seminar (to shoot in Banff today and tomorrow), and now I’m going to miss this week’s show too. Uggh!

We moved the show’s live broadcast to Wednesday at 4:00 pm EDT so more people here in the US and around the world would be able to watch the show live (I know, I know, when you move the time and date, somebody somewhere blows a gasket, but we heard LOTS of feedback that we really needed to move it to be a better time). Of course, we always post the rebroadcast in its entirety the following day at and we post it to iTunes as well where you can subscribe for free and automatically get each episode.

iTunes Top Charts Ranking!
One cool thing—-A couple of weeks ago I was looking in iTunes at their Top Video Podcasts ranking and I was tickled to see that not only was Photoshop User TV still in their Top 100 of ALL video Podcasts (which is saying a lot, since there a ton of broadcast and cable Podcast shows that we’re competing within that category), but “The Grid” was in their top 100, too (as seen in the capture from iTunes above)!

Although I’ll miss tomorrow’s show, I will be back on The Grid next week, and that’s probably when we’ll drop totally out of the Top 100. Hope you can tune in LIVE tomorrow at 4:00 pm right here for Matt and friends covering a topic that I’m sure will make somebody, somewhere, really mad (just kidding. Kinda).

Hi Gang: As you read this, I’m on my way back home from our annual family vacation to Kennebunkport, Maine (my wife chose Maine a few years back because we live in the scorching Florida heat, and at this time of year Maine is a place that’s easy to get to where it’s nice and cool every day (we actually had to wear sweaters after dusk). So, we came for the weather, and but then fell in love with the people and the place. Maine is awesome).

I’m off tomorrow for my new two tour dates in Canada (Calgary and Vancouver), so I don’t have a lot of time to blog but I thought I’d at least share a few photos from the trip (Including the HDR photo above, taken in the lobby of a boat house where we went for a two-hour harbor tour on the two-masted Schooner The Eleanor. Perfect weather for sailing and the kids absolutely loved it.

The HDR shot was hand-held in low light (I braced myself on a wall, and had to shoot the 5-shot bracketed image four or five times to get one full set fairly in focus). I processed it using Photomatix Pro and Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 3.0).

What I didn’t want to do
I’ve been coming to Kennebunkport for years now, so I’ve shot every lighthouse to death, along with every little quaint harbor with row boats on glassy water at sunset (if you want to see those shots, click my Portfolio link on the top left, then go to my Travel category), so I was determined not to shoot that stuff, but unfortunately that stuff is everywhere here, so I didn’t take any “Non-family vacation shots” until about 8 days into the trip (more on that in a moment). I did a lot of nothing. Sitting by the lake, reading books, playing with the kids, playing golf, shopping, and hanging out with the 13 family members that were here with us (you’re never alone when there’s 13 of you), and one night we had a dinner to celebrate my birthday (hey, you want to do it up right—30 years old—-that’s a big one). ;-)

(Above: Photo by my wife Kalebra using her iPhone)

“Borrowing” photos from my wife
The photo you see above, was actually taken by my wife Kalebra using her trusty iPhone (I’m continually amazed at what she gets out of her phone’s camera). That’s our daughter Kira, sound asleep on the boat, on the way back in to port. My wife loved the colors, and that just a little sliver of her face was showing, so I asked her if I could share it here with you on the blog, because it’s my favorite photo from the entire trip.

(Above: Photo by my wife Kalebra using her iPhone)

While I was “borrowing” her iPhone photos, I asked if I could share this one (above) of hers, too because I just particularly liked the color and composition. It was taken on the schooner (I guess that’s pretty obvious) while we were out at sea.

Shooting with my buddies Scott & Mark
Each year that I’ve come up here, I wind up hanging out with two of my buddies Scott Eccleston and his photography business partner Mark Hensley (both of whom I met on my first trip up there back in July of 2007). Totally great guys, and this time around my son Jordan came along with this, and while I didn’t get dink, we all laughed our way around about 200 miles of Maine Coast line in search of some place for me to shoot long exposure Black and White images. Ideally, you’d have a old dock with just pilings, or a old shipwreck, or a pier, or something extending out into a fast moving lake or ocean so you can leave the shutter open for like three or four minutes, and turn the water into an almost silky look.

Well, we tried and while we didn’t really come up with an ideal spot (I like to blame Scott & Mark, because as a photographer, our sworn tenet is to blame others for shots we missed), we did have a yummy dinner at Federal Jack’s Brew House, so the night wasn’t a total bust.

While I was there, I did tape a video tip for Scott’s “Weekly Photo Tips” blog (link), and during the tip taping I took the long exposure black and white photo you see above. Nothing great for sure, but at least I got to show the technique, which includes using a 10-step Neutral Density filter (so you can keep the shutter open that long during the day), and a bunch of little camera techniques and tips (like keeping the viewfinder covered during the exposure so ambient light doesn’t sneak in and ruin your exposure). As soon as Scott posts the tip, I’ll be sure to link to it here.

I went searching another night for a perfect subject for long exposure black and whites but came up empty handed again (it was a tide problem. Again, notice the subtle assignment of blame, this time on mother nature). However, while I was there, I turned around and saw this grassy area with a great sky above, and snagged this simple image (shown above) which for some reason I just really like. It’ll probably never be seen by anyone again, but I figured I’d share it here just the same.

Now, it’s back to work time
Well, I can’t relax for long, because I’m off to Canada tomorrow (glad I had 10 days with my family first), and I’m looking forward to getting back home after this leg of the tour, hanging out again with my wonderful wife and kids, playing fetch with Maggie the Wonder Dog, and sleeping in my own bed (yay!). Have an awesome Monday everybody (even though I’m fully aware that “awesome Monday” is an oxymoron).

Hey everyone, Matt Kloskowski here again. Thanks once again to Scott, for giving me his blog for the day. I’ve had a topic I’ve been wanting to write about for a while, so here goes: How Photoshop changed my Photography. It’s not what you think though. I’ve heard plenty of stories of how Photoshop is a game changer because of the ways that we can now enhance our photos so quickly. We can make blue skies bluer, green grass greener, remove blemishes, clone out wires, etc… But my photography-life-changing experience is a little different.

I Started with Landscape and Travel Photography
See, I started with landscape and travel photography. That was my favorite. Landscape and travel is what got me excited about taking my camera out of my bag. I sound like a total dork, but I’d have a hard time sleeping the night before I was going someplace cool to shoot. I steadily picked off some must-see places that I had always wanted to photograph. To this day, I still love landscapes. They don’t talk back, I love the peaceful feeling I get when I’m standing in front of a beautiful place like Mesa Arch, Moraine Lake, or Multnomah Falls and soaking it all in.

While teaching in Dubai, I spent some time at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Words can’t describe what a beautiful, pristine, quiet and inspiring place this was to photograph.

Switching to Portraits
I slowly started to make the move to portraits. A friend asked if I’d take some photos of his family. Then a friend of his friend asked the same thing when they saw the photos. And it grew. Before long, I found myself shooting a number of family portraits. To this day, I still love to capture family moments.

I also found I really enjoyed it. Especially when kids were involved. The kid in me really liked the challenge of getting them to smile and laugh. And I guess (because of the age that I must act), I really seemed to make a connection with the kids I was photographing :-) That eventually led to me doing some studio and lighting work too. But something was missing for me. Believe it or not, it was the art of post processing. I’m a Photoshop Guy and I’ve chosen this as my career because that’s what I love to do. I realized that the deeper I got into portrait photography (while artistic in it’s own way), the further away I got from being artistic with Photoshop.

Something Changed
A couple of years ago I saw a cool ad for Mountain Dew. It incorporated a skateboarder with motion graphics. I thought it looked so cool so I sat down one night and created this composite. I was hooked.

It hit me like a bag of bricks. Bam! I immediately realized, compositing is what I want to do more of. But that was just the beginning. I knew right away that this would change the Photoshop side of my life. But what I didn’t realize, is how it would change the photography side of my life.

Will You Get to the “How” Already?!
See, as I got more and more into compositing, the entire world became fair game for compositing/photography opportunities. The more Photoshop work I did, the more I realized that sure, I can create smoke in Photoshop, but it never looks as real as the real thing. Not to mention, it’s too time consuming. So I’d rather shoot a photo of smoke and drop it in. Sure, I can create dramatic clouds in Photoshop with brushes and filters and all, but it’s much easier to photograph dramatic clouds. Then I simply make a “Clouds” folder and put those photos in it, so I can find them when I need ’em.

Take Your Camera Everywhere!
I’ve often heard people say this. Honestly though, I was a total light snob. If the light wasn’t great, if I wasn’t in a studio, or if there wasn’t some kick ass scenery right in front of me, I didn’t bring my camera. I was so used to only pulling out my camera for beautiful landscapes or in the studio, that I let everything else pass me by. But now, anything is fair game. Alleys, fences, brick walls, empty parking garages, city skylines on bla hazy overcast days, garage doors, dogs, water fountains (because you never know when you need water coming out of a water gun), you name it.

Heck, I even take photos of cracks in the street because you never know where you’ll use them :)

My artistic side in Photoshop has caused a place for an entirely new world of photography opportunities to open up to me. I’d never put my tripod down in the middle of a tunnel to take a photo. I mean, why? It’s only a tunnel right? And it wasn’t even a good looking one to begin with. But when you add a motorcycle (that was lit in only the way you could light it in the studio) to the tunnel, now we’ve got something.

Now I get to put my passion for photography, my desire to create something, and my passion for Photoshop together. Not just sharpening and color correction. But really sitting down and being artistic, as I put a composite together. The light sources, the shadows, special effects, all that stuff. Things that we need to know about in photography I can now work with in Photoshop too. I love it!

So, have I stopped shooting landscapes?
Absolutely not! I still love shooting travel and landscape photos. In fact, if you walk through my house, that’s what I have on my walls. Personally, no matter what composites I create, no matter what portraits I’ve taken and no matter how much I may like the lighting on on one of my subjects, I’d have a hard time putting a photo of a person (who’s not closely related to me) on my walls at home. That’s just me though. But if it’s on my wall, it is either a spectacular place I’ve visited or a photo of my family. So landscapes will always hold a close place in my photography portfolio. But now, because of Photoshop, my camera gets used so much more.

Thanks again to Scott and everyone here for giving me a few minutes of your time today. I’m so passionate about this stuff that I actually just wrote a book called Photoshop Compositing Secrets (Amazon (link) | Barnes & Noble (link) | Kelby Training (link)). If any of this stuff sounds interesting to you, I hope you’ll check it out. Have a great weekend! :)