Monthly Archives July 2011

Two or three weeks ago, I started getting emails and reading articles about a new photo-sharing site for pro photographers called, and after a dozen or so people sent me emails asking if I was on there, I finally signed up to see what all the fuss is about, and now that I’m on there, I’m really glad I did. (Above is how your personal photo page looks on an iPhone, and when you click on a thumbnail, you see the larger view shown on the iPad).

A free online portfoli0? I’m listening….
For those of you that follow this blog, you know I’ve been struggling for the past year in getting an online portfolio that looks decent on the Web and on mobile devices like the iPad and iPhone, and with RC’s help, I finally got one in place. The only downside is; I have to edit the Web page itself, using a text editor, which makes adding or rearranging photos a bit of a pain. I guess that’s the first thing interested me in 500px—-you get a free, good looking online portfolio that you can link from your web page/blog/whatever, with different layouts to choose from (that’s one layout shown below), and updating it with new images, or changing the order, is a no-brainer—you do it right from your Web browser.

The Social Aspects
I’ve always joked that “flicker is where you go when you need a hug” because anybody and everybody is on flickr, so when you post a photo you took accidentally while loading your camera back into your camera bag, you’ll get 50 comments like, “Brilliant! Incredible composition” and “Fantastic shot! Keep ’em coming!” and stuff along those lines. So, if you’re ever feeling down about your photography, upload a shot or two to, and 30 minutes later you’ll feel like Ansel Adams. So, another angle that interested me is that the site is geared more at pros (well, that’s at least what it has appeared to attract so far), and there are a lot of truly great photographers on that (like flickr), but unlike flickr the quality overall seems really high.

(Above: here’s another theme. Just one click to change themes, and they have about 10 or so to choose from).

Getting Feedback from Serious Photographers
The way the site produces statistics, it’s easy to measure which photos are resounding with other pro photographers, and which images are getting totally ignored, and that’s pretty eyeopening. They rank images in a way that makes everything pretty darn clear, and it had me weeding things down in short order, and removing shots altogether that weren’t getting any views.

(Above: Here’s the theme I’m probably going to stick with, which is their default scheme. Again, you’re seeing this on my iPad, but it looks even better on your computer screen).

How it looks matters
I think one of the main reasons why 500px is getting so much buzz right now, is that it looks so cool. You can choose different layouts with just one click, the images are presented at a large size, and when you compare the look of your page to either flickr, facebook, or the new Google+, I think 500px has them beat hands down, and as photographers, how our portfolio layout looks matters to us. A lot.

Best of all, it’s free
Although I went ahead and got the Upgraded account (with more features, and no limits on the number of photos you can upload) for $50 a year, you can start right away for free (here’s their link). If nothing else, head over there and look at some of their popular photos, or Editor’s Choice collection. There’s some really inspiring stuff there. You’ll dig it.

W0w—-what a day!!!! We had a crowd of over 520 photographers at my seminar on Wednesday in Toronto, and at that we still had to turn away more than 100 photographers because we were sold out in advance. As I write this, it’s my birthday, so I’m going to keep this kinda short, so I can get back to birthdaying. ;-)

I Love Canada!
I have to say, I knew Canadians were friendly people, but this was just over-the-top! Everybody I met could not have been more gracious, helpful, and just downright nice. It started at the airport when I got to the Air Canada ticket counter and realized I had forgotten my passport. As my wife raced from the office, back to our house, and then to the airport in record time, everyone at Air Canada could not have been more friendly or helpful. I nearly missed the flight out, but they did everything to make sure that I did make it, and I’m very grateful.

One of The Best. Ever!
This was, hands down, one of the most enjoyable seminars for me as an instructor because the crowd was just so much fun, and so into it all day. I met so many great people on the breaks and at lunch, and I’m very grateful for the wonderful hospitality of the Canadian people. I can’t wait to take this tour to Calgary and Vancouver, Canada in just a couple of weeks. Canada rocks!

Also, the photos you see here are courtesy of none other than Mr. Terry White, who came for the day accompanying Amanda (shown above), a new up-and-coming fashion model along with her teriffic Makeup Artist Renata. Amanda was our model for the afternoon sessions, and she did a really outstanding job.

All-in-all, it was really a wonderful trip, and although I literally just barely made my flight home and had to sprint all the way to the plane, we actually made it and I got to spend my birthday today at home with my wife and family which was just so wonderful.

Thanks to everyone who made this trip such a great experience, from the folks at Air Canada to everyone who came to the seminar. See you again soon!

Hey gang, Brad here with some exciting news!

Next month Scott Kelby will be bringing his Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. Live! Tour to Cologne and Amsterdam! We’ll be in Cologne (Köln), DE on August 10, then Amsterdam, NL on August 12. I have a feeling that Calvin Hollywood and Frank Doorhof might possibly be around too… :)

Head on over to to get all the info and sign up! Don’t forget NAPP members get a 20 discount, so it’s only 79 if you’re a member!

Hey gang, Brad here, fresh off a plane from Toronto, to give you this week’s pimpy stuff :)

Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. Hands-On!
Want to enjoy Scott Kelby’s Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. seminar with hands-on experience? You’ll have the opportunity when he takes part in the Dave Cross Workshops on July 29 in Tampa, FL! Scott will walk attendees through multiple lighting setups, and they’ll have the opportunity to photograph models using those setups, then walk through retouching their photos as Scott guides them along.

This workshop is limited to 16 participants, so head on over to Dave Cross Workshops for all the info and to sign up!

The Grid
If you’re a fan of our industry talk show, The Grid, help us spread the word about the show’s new time slot – Wednesdays at 4pm Eastern. Tweet it, blog it, Facebook it, send out carrier pigeons, whatever you want to do to help us get the word out :)

A huge part of what makes the show special is that you, the viewers, are really at the heart of the show.  We love hearing your comments, questions, and feedback, because they add a new dimension and plenty of viewpoints to each discussion that we wouldn’t have otherwise.

And, of course, you can always subscribe on iTunes if you’re unable to tune in live.
RC Concepcion’s latest class, Protecting Your Images Online, was just added to the’s ever-growing library of training courses! RC walks you through metadata, watermarking, copyright registration, and everything else you need to know in order to protect your images from online theft.

Photoshop World Vegas
I am truly pumped about Photoshop World Vegas! Have you seen some of the new instructors who will be there? Joel Grimes, Vincent Laforet, Jeremy Cowart, and Dave Black will all be teaching brand new classes this fall, including new pre-conference workshops on Light Painting and HDSLR Movie Making!

Before you register, check out the Gimme 4 and Lucky Number 7 promos for great deals and bonuses.

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

Thanks so much to Scott and Brad for inviting me to share my thoughts here! I’m a longtime fan of all things Kelby so this is a real treat. I was told I could write about anything which is great but also a little overwhelming. So many topics! How do I choose? I decided to write about how I approach environmental portraits and the role location plays.

Location, location, location! The old real estate saying about the importance of the right location definitely applies when it comes to creating compelling environmental portraits. The way I think about it, the locations I choose for portraits are like stages for my subjects to act on…

How should I decorate that stage?

What kind of set design is the right one for the person I’m photographing today?

What defines the person I’m photographing?

What do I want the portrait to say about them?

These are the kinds of things I’m thinking about when pre-visualizing an image. Everyone is different and unique and has their own story to tell so I want each portrait to be a reflection of who they are and to hopefully reveal something about them. I try and achieve this by creating a mood that suits them through the use of the right location, lighting and posing. With any luck these elements come together and play a supporting role in telling their story and conveying the message I’m trying to get across.

I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting places to shoot whether I’m working locally or far from home. My camera phone helps me to quickly capture potential locations when I’m the go. I use it like a digital notepad to create a library of visual reference cards I can search later. Geo-tagging images with services like Flickr or using built-in GPS data are also great tools for building an online location library. I think of myself like a location scout for films or TV. When you watch films and television, especially commercials, you’ll see some of the best locations out there being used.

I try and challenge myself to find the locations used. Sometimes it’s easy. I see locations in San Francisco used all the time, for example Fort Point.The internet is also a great resource for finding and researching great locations. Google image searches are one of my first stops and are great for inspiration.

Here are two family portraits, both very different based largely on the locations where they were made. The first, in a word – “urban,” really reflects the hip and physical personalities of this modern family. The second image is a much softer, more traditional and intimate image of a family with 3 young boys. Both are families, but both have very different stories and personalities. You can see how the locations used influence our perceptions and feelings about each image.

Here I’m really using the people in this image as the location or background. I choose to do this rather than rely solely on the physical location to tell the story of this father and his children. A location or background can be many things. I try and see from as many different perspectives as I can during a shoot.

Having a plan is important when you’re putting together the concept for your portrait but you can’t be afraid to deviate and take advantage of the magic of spontaneity either. Here’s a perfect example. I made this totally unplanned engagement session image on the way to make the image I planned to make that day! It turned out to be the best image of the day by far. Leaving myself open to the creative possibilities happening all around me made this possible.

Sometimes the photo gods just smile down on you and give you great gifts to work with. However, it’s really what you do with those gifts that ends up separating the great images from the mundane ones. During this retro inspired wedding shoot in Vegas, my client, photographer Sal Cincotta and his bride Taylor, rented an awesome cherry red vintage Cadillac for the day. We drove out to Red Rock in the desert after the ceremony where I set up this shot in the middle of the road and posed everyone around this great car.

The point is that great locations, backgrounds and props are all around us. Even in spontaneous and unplanned situations like weddings. The trick is, and your job as photographers is, to make the most of them. This would have been a very different image if I hadn’t placed the car smack dab in the middle of of the road to convey attitude, if I hadn’t taken advantage of the mountains for a dramatic background, or if I ignored the classic Cadillac as a great prop to pose the group. This image was all about capturing and conveying “cool.”

You can’t photograph a vintage Vegas wedding without including the famed Neon Sign Graveyard. This location provided the perfect retro backdrop for the bridal party.

These two images come from an album cover shoot for spiritual singer Melissa Phillippe . Wait, do people even say album cover any more? Ok I’ve dated myself, lets try CD case art instead, oh no I’ve dated myself again! Ok forget CD art and call it iTunes store art. There, that’s better. The concept for these images was to create to a spiritual, etherial feeling for Melissa. I used a Lenbaby for the shot of Melissa at the piano to add the soft glowing effect. For the second image I had everyone on the shoot hike to the top of a mountain (I wasn’t very popular that day) to get the perfect spiritual shot. The backgrounds play a key role in establishing the feeling of each image.

A great location doesn’t have to be far away or on top of a mountain. In fact, sometimes they’re right in your own backyard. Well this isn’t really my backyard but you know what I mean. This image was made at a gritty old mill in Petaluma, CA where I live. It fit perfectly with the edgy fashion meets Gotham City feeling I wanted for this portrait of actor Eric Urbiztondo.

These two portraits illustrate the different feeling your location can convey. The first couple, photographers Byron and Wendy Roe, are hip, urban, fashion forward people who were in need of promotional images that expressed their personalities to potential clients. The second is from an engagement session for two people who live in wilds of King Salmon Alaska and work in nature conservancy. It’s easy to see how the right location for each of these couples really has helped tell their unique stories.

The concept for this senior portrait was to create an image that captured Rachel’s powerful and fashionable personality. When it comes to creating an edgy fashion look what’s better than a city alley. I found this one in San Francisco and use it for just such occasions.

This wedding image is one of my favorite examples of how being open to things outside your plan can end up creating cool results. I made this portrait in the middle of shooting the family pictures after the ceremony. We were in the courtyard of a Carmel, CA resort hotel. I noticed a couple watching us from a room above us, from the window in this image. I knew I had to get my couple framed in that window for a killer image. Happily the couple whose room it was agreed!

Placing this mother and daughter in the tall reeds among the dunes of Ocean Beach created the perfect soft, timeless feeling this portrait. This image would have had a very different feeling if it were made in a different setting. Contrast this image with urban family image above.

These two wedding images are examples of finding locations on the fly, or as I like to call it, thinking on your feet! That’s just the way weddings are. I always look around when I get to a venue and scout out locations to use later with my couples.

If you’re as crazy about cool locations as I am, you’ll love composites. This image was created from two shots, one HDR background image and one studio shot of Sonoma, CA pro football hopeful Joe Trombetta. I’ve recently been experimenting with compositing images together thanks to techniques taught by my friend Joel Grimes (the undisputed master of the composite). If you haven’t checked him out you should. Composites are great because all the location images you’ve collected can be used in conjunction with images created in the studio. This requires a lot less logistics and gear hauling! My back loves me for this!!

I hope this discussion about the impact of locations has inspired you to go out and find great places to  make your next images. I can’t wait to see what you do!!

Michael Corsentino is a Sonoma, CA based wedding and portrait photographer. You can keep up with him on his blog, “Like” him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

…..back in the original post (it shows the percentage that voted for each). It doesn’t matter which one you voted for, because since this is art it’s all personal opinion and there is no wrong answer. What I did want to do is tell you how each one was processed as a post-processing learning exercise:

#1) If you chose the first image (shown above) it was created using 5-bracketed images and then all 5 were compiled into a single HDR image using Photoshop CS5’s built-in HDR Pro feature. After it was compiled (using the “Scott 5” setting from my Photoshop CS5 Book for Digital Photographers), I applied the Glamor Glow filter from Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 3 (using the default settings) to a duplicate of the background layer, then I lowered the Opacity of that layer to 50%. I probably should have gone down to 30%.

#2) If you chose this one, it’s actually not an HDR image at all. It’s a single image—I took just one of the 5 bracketed images, and then I ran the Tonal Contrast preset of Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 3.0 plug-in for Photoshop with the amount set to 50% (the default is just 30%). Then I ran the Glamor glow filter as well, at 50%.

#3) If you chose this third image, this too was created using 5-bracketed images and then all 5 were compiled into a single HDR image using Photomatix Pro. I took these shots with my 28-300mm f/3.5 to f/5.6 lens, and I was out at the 28mm wide end, so the doors bowed out a little bit in each of the three photos, so when I was done with each, I use Photoshop CS5’s built-in Lens Correction filter to straighten them out a bit.

Anyway, the reason I was showing you these is so you could see how each of the HDR, or “HDR-like” treatments compare, and how close to the HDR look you can get with a single image and a few filters (as seen in image #2).

Well, I’m off to Toronto for my sold out “Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It” seminar tomorrow. If you read the blog, I hope you’ll come up and say hi. Have a great Tuesday everybody. :)