Posts By Brad Moore

After recently wrapping up my eBook on urban exploration photography, I've taken a step back to examine why I go to abandoned places, risking legal repercussions and personal injury only to walk away with a few shots that I truly love. The obvious reasons are that it's incredibly fun, it's adventurous, it's exhilarating, it's challenging, and I love historical places. But most importantly, I have the rare opportunity to photograph places that very few photographers can. The skills I've gained over the years to find abandoned places, to figure out how to get inside of them (without getting arrested), and to photograph them in extremely unforgiving lighting circumstances are all factors that I shouldn't take for granted. With that said, it hasn't always been a cake walk. I've had close calls with authority figures, I've partially fallen through floors, and I've walked away with a plethora of terrible photos. The latter of those three things has been the most difficult to overcome. By sharing the following lessons, my hope is to save other photographers some of the frustrations of learning the hard way.

Lesson #1: Shoot less!
One of the tough lessons I had to learn in my first year of shooting is that I was simply taking too many shots. When I first started sneaking into abandoned places, I was under the impression that I needed to capture every inch of the building. I think the fear of the building being demolished left me with the possibility that I may be the last person to ever photograph it. After realizing how ridiculous that notion was, coupled with the fact that most of my photos were terrible, I had to ask myself "what is my goal?" I knew that I wanted to create artistic photos that tell the stories of the abandoned buildings that I explore. Once I accepted that I didn't need to serve as a documentarian by capturing every mundane detail, my workflow sped up (because I didn't need to review hundreds of photos) and I was much happier with the shots I walked away with.

Lesson #2: Focus on composition
Not only was I wasting a ton of time trying to shoot too many photos, I was more focused on post-processing rather than composition. I'm happy that I've spent so much time immersed in Lightroom, Photoshop, OnOne, Nik, and other post-processing tools, but I don't like looking at photos from my first year of shooting because they're just horribly composed. I had this twisted mindset that I could just run my photos through Photomatix, crank up the saturation, and call it a day. I've actually gone back to re-shoot a lot of the abandoned places that I shot in my first year because the pictures were THAT bad. You can usually salvage a photo that has mediocre color or lighting in post-processing, but you can't fix composition (without cropping and sacrificing image quality).

Quick tip: Submit your photos to online forums and message boards for critique. 99% of the time, your friends won't tell you if your image sucks.

Lesson #3: Don't shoot mid-day
Fast forward a year. I began to see how lighting was playing a much larger role in my photography. I would typically wake up around 10am on a Saturday and go shoot during the day. This makes it very difficult to get evenly lit photos. Abandoned places are notoriously difficult to shoot because they are often very dark. When you're shooting in a dark place with harsh afternoon sun blaring in through windows or roof, it creates photos with extreme contrast (even with HDR). With that said, landscape photographers swear by blue hour and golden hourâ¦for very good reason. I began to realize that my shots were turning out better if I shot early in the morning or around sunset. If I'm going to be shooting in a dark space, I'd rather have the lighting characteristics of the soft morning sun instead of the harsh afternoon light, no matter how little light is actually coming through. It's also easier to sneak in and out of abandoned buildings when it's dark, so set those alarms for 5 AM and hit the road!

Lesson #4: The 2 lens rule
Everyone wants to be properly equipped for any photographic situation; there's nothing wrong with that for the everyday photographer. But for urban explorers, carrying every lens you own can be a huge pain (especially if you're hopping fences or running away from "threats"). After lugging around too much gear for far too long, I realized I only used about half of what I was carrying for 90% of my exploring. My advice is to pick your 2 favorite lenses and leave the rest at home. You can always swap out glass and go back to a certain location if you feel like you truly missed some shots without a particular lens.

Lesson #5: Stop using Photomatix for your HDR needs
This one might earn me some hate mail, but it needs to be said. While on a trip to Nicaragua with The Giving Lens, photographer Colby Brown turned me onto LR/Enfuse as an alternative to Photomatix and I haven't looked back. Don't get me wrong, Photomatix can yield some great results⦠but rarely in the hands of beginners. One of the problems that I see time and time again is that urban explorers want to get that gritty detail in their images, so they crank up the Photomatix Strength slider to 100 and hope for the best. This isn't the right way to do it and I was guilty of the same thing for a long time. Using LR/Enfuse or 32-bit HDR's gives me great dynamic range without the pitfalls of Photomatix sliders. If you're looking to get some gritty texture in your images, try Nik Color Efex Pro's Tonal Contrast filter (used in moderation) instead.

Lesson #6: Don't stop experimenting
It's easy to fall into the routine of "what works" in order to generate a solid image, whether it's using the same camera settings, light painting technique, or Photoshop actions. We're all just looking for the fastest route to great results, right? That's logical and perfectly fine if you're happy with what you're creating. Personally, I get bored. I like to try new methods to capture a scene or post process an image. Forcing myself to experiment has broken many of the creative plateaus I've experience over the years. Don't just read articles on the web of what you "should be doing" (like this one). Get out there and try things simply because you haven't tried them before. A couple great exercises that I still practice to this day are:

1. Explore with only one lens, preferably a prime lens. This will force you to move around and try different angles because you're locked into one focal length.

2. Don't do any bracketing. In my book, I tell my readers to "always bracket." That advice is for making sure you get a usable exposure, either through HDR or by having different exposures to choose from. If you go exploring and DON'T bracket for a day, you'll learn to rely on your histogram to ensure that you've got a proper exposure.

Lesson #7: Look at your old work
I sometimes get frustrated or burned out by the creative process. In order to write this article, I went into the archives and analyzed some of my worst photos so that I could map out some of the things I've learned along the way. As much as I hate it and it makes me cringe, seeing how far I've come motivates me to get better and to never stop learning. A good practice is to take a look at some of your old shots and ask yourself, "Why did I shoot it this way?" and, "How would I shoot it today?" Those two questions alone have encouraged me to get out there and keep shooting so that I can improve my technique and workflow. I employ the sage wisdom of "work smarter, not harder" to my photography; if you don't step back and examine why you do things a certain way, you'll never come up with a better way to do them. I certainly didn't get into this hobby to settle for mediocrity and neither should you.

If you'd like to learn more about urban exploration photography, feel free to check out my book over at Peachpit.

You can see more of Todd’s work at Abandoned.Photography and, and follow him on Facebook and Google+.

Photoshop World Early Bird Special Ends March 18
Photoshop World Atlanta is just around the corner, and if you sign up before March 18 (just a few days away), you can save $100 on registration! Not only that, but if you’re a KelbyOne member, you can save an extra $50. Why not sign up to come spend three great days learning from the best instructors on the planet, including Joe McNally, Jeremy Cowart, Zack Arias, Moose Peterson, Dave Black, Peter Hurley, and lots of other amazing teachers? And when you’re not learning from them, you can be meeting other photographers and designers, having a blast at Midnight Madness, or checking out the fun toys useful tools of the trade on the expo floor!

Leave a comment for your chance to win a Photoshop Guys book set!

Food Photography: A Recipe for Savory Success
Join Nicole S. Young as she takes you step-by-step through her food photography workflow in her latest KelbyOne course. There's a lot more to photographing food than you might think. You'll learn everything you need to know to get started, from the gear and camera settings she uses to the importance of choosing the right props for your scene, from what to look for when selecting your ingredients to essential food styling tips and tricks used by the pros. Nicole even dishes out a number of techniques for dealing with challenging food situations that might arise. Whether you shoot with natural light or in the studio this class has you covered.

Leave a comment for your chance to check this class out for free!

KelbyOne Live
Want to spend a day with Scott KelbyMatt Kloskowski, RC Concepcion, or Ben Willmore? Check out these seminar tours!

Shoot Like A Pro with Scott Kelby
Mar 28 - Minneapolis, MN
Apr 14 - Salt Lake City, UT
May 13 – Portland, OR

Lightroom 5 Live with Matt Kloskowski
Mar 31 - Indianapolis, IN
Apr 2 - Columbus, OH

Photoshop for Photographers with RC Concepcion
Mar 26 - Arlington, TX
Apr 11 - Washington, DC
May 20 – Hartford, CT

Photoshop Creativity with Ben Willmore
Apr 16 - Chicago, IL
May 7 – Philadelphia, PA
May 9 – South San Francisco, CA
May 28 – Sacramento, CA

You can check out the full schedule for seminars through March! And leave a comment for your chance to win a ticket to one of these events!

Cliff Mautner Receives WPPI Lifetime Achievement Award
Congratulations to KelbyOne instructor and Nikon Ambassador Cliff Mautner on receiving the WPPI Lifetime Achievement Award during the recent 2014 WPPI Conference! This award is given for outstanding contributions in photography over one's career, and Cliff has definitely done what it takes to deserve this award. Cliff will be filming more KelbyOne classes soon, and we can’t wait to see what else he has in store for us!

Last Week’s Winners
Photoshop Guys Book Set
– Chris Fischer

KelbyOne Live Ticket
– Cody Ash

If you’re one of the lucky winners, we’ll be in touch soon. Have a great Thursday!

First off, let me thank Brad Moore for the invitation to be part of Guest Blog Wednesday, as well as Scott Kelby for sharing this popular platform with many great shooters and storytellers across the world. You are both a tremendous service to the industry and the art of photography.

A few years ago, I had an all-day conversation with several other photographers. We talked photography from morning until dinner. It was nice, but also personally revealing of some feelings about my work as a photographer. You see, I left that conversation thinking to myself, "I'm not a photographer for photography's sake."

That was it? That was the sum total of the entire day for me?

Don't get me wrong. I love photography. I loved photography before it was my job, and I feel I have the best one in the world. It is, simply, what I do. I am a photography professor at Texas Tech University's College of Media and Communication, where I not only get to think and muse on photography and photographic technique all day, I also get to teach it to a diverse group of students. On top of that, I have a thriving editorial (and more recently, commercial) freelance photography business. Within the past three years, I've even joined the ranks of a number of this site's contributors and authored several books on the subject of photography. Needless to say, I'm a strong advocate for photography. It's the best job, and in my eyes, it has been the ultimate form of visual communication since hieroglyphics. So, for me to dismiss photography as something in which my life is steeped would be a lie.

However, that day-long conversation I had years ago taught be a bit about myself as a shooter, and that bit is also the most powerful message I give to my students:

Be more than just a photographer.

I tell them this for a few reasons. First, to let them know that, professionally, they are expected to be more than an image-maker. Fill in the blank with whatever job/role one might play in running a photography business or being part of a publication/agency, and you know what I mean. Second, to emphasize that knowledge of photographyâ”of the button pushing, of seeing, creating and exposing great light, of finding attractive composition, etc.â”is but one piece of the formula that makes up great imagery, albeit a large one. Third, and most importantly, I say this to encourage them to use their other passions as vehicles for their photography.

Of course, I contextualize this last statement with practical examples. My mentor, Wyman Meinzer, state photographer of Texas, is, in essence, a cultural historian. His work comes in many different published forms, and the majority of it speaks to his expansive knowledge of the state and its inhabitants. Wyman eats up the history of the Plains, of Texas explorers, and you can see its influence on his photography and his writing. The same could be said of National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson and his native state of Kansas, or his home away from home, Scotland.

Michael Clark, one of my favorite adventure sports photographers, started out as an adventure athlete himself. His knowledge of and experience in rock climbing is a good deal of why his images stand out among the growing competition. Likewise, many of the best music and live performance photographers I know are musicians and singer-songwriters themselves, and if they aren't, they have a deep love of "the scene," and can not only shoot like crazy, but also talk about what or who they're shooting until the cows come home.

For the past few years, my own passions for conservation issues, agriculture, and travel have informed my photography work and how I conduct that work. Much of what I have shot for folks like the Texas Tribune and the New York Times has been energy and environmental journalism, and I'm more able to not only find shots that tell stories on pressing issues, but also how to communicate with those I'm photographing, whether they be lobbyists, waste water treatment plant managers, or water line construction crews. My strong interest in conservation helps me work with clients like The Nature Conservancy and Texas Parks and Wildlife. Growing up on a cattle ranch and later working as an intern in the cotton industry helps me "speak the language" when I photograph farmers and ranchers for any number of stories that my clients might have. Over the years, my portfolio has come to reflect my passionsâ”and expertiseâ”and interesting, relevant assignments come as a result.

Ultimately, my message to my studentsâ”be more than just a photographerâ”evolved from, "I'm not a photographer for photography's sake," as a means to give the latter statement purpose. I'm a photographer because photography is the most powerful means through which I can showcase those stories and issues in which I'm most interested. This goes beyond how we talk about gear, beyond how we talk about the image itself, and gets into why we do it in the first place. Telling stories relies on us being great at our craft, and just as much our ability to visually articulate something that is most definitely non-photographic. Having an expertise (or just a temporary expertise) in something that you want to cover visually, simply put, makes for better, engaging images.

I encourage everyone reading to look beyond themselves as photographers and ask, "What else do I feel passionate about?" Is it climate change? Politics? Football? Family? Pizza? Only you know the end of your interests (and I hope they always continue to grow)! Let your passions lead you and your work!

You can see more of Jerod’s work at, and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and his blog.

Photoshop World Atlanta
Looking for the best place to learn photography, lighting, Photoshop, Lightroom, or any of the other Adobe CC programs? Look no further than Photoshop World Atlanta! Join your favorite instructors like Joe McNally, Moose Peterson, Peter Hurley, Jeremy Cowart, The Photoshop Guys and more for three days packed full of amazing classes, as well as fun events like the After Hours Party, Midnight Madness, and lots of great giveaways at the Closing Ceremony.

You can find out more and sign up right here, and save $100 if you register before March 18! Leave a comment for your chance to win a Photoshop Guys book set.

KelbyOne Live
Want to spend a day with Scott KelbyMatt Kloskowski, RC Concepcion, or Ben Willmore? Check out these seminar tours!

Shoot Like A Pro with Scott Kelby
Mar 12 - Phoenix, AZ
Mar 28 - Minneapolis, MN
Apr 14 – Salt Lake City, UT

Lightroom 5 Live with Matt Kloskowski
Mar 31 – Indianapolis, IN
Apr 12 – Columbus, OH

Photoshop for Photographers with RC Concepcion
Mar 26 - Arlington, TX
Apr 11 – Washington, DC

Photoshop Creativity with Ben Willmore
Apr 16 – Chicago, IL

You can check out the full schedule for seminars through March! And leave a comment for your chance to win a ticket to one of these events!

Rick Sammon’s Photo Sundial
KelbyOne instructor Rick Sammon and app developer Craig Ellis have updated their latest app – Rick Sammon’s Photo Sundial - three times since its release. Updates include: synching and sharing locations, location search unified, menus now support text sizing, and more. Updates were suggested by users. Rick and Craig listen. Find out all about it right here!

Last Week’s Winners
Down & Dirty Tricks, Vol. 2 by Corey Barker
- Federico Reinoso
– Jose
– June Condruk

KelbyOne Classes
– jimmyjam5877

Night Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots
– Josh Bozarth

KelbyOne Live Ticket
– Shannon Voges

If you’re one of the lucky winners, we’ll be in touch soon. Have a great Thursday!

Hi everyone! The last time I posted here on Scott’s blog it was while I was still working on the new Down & Dirty Tricks for Designers, Volume 2  and I am happy to announce the book is now shipping. If you enjoyed the first book then you are in for a real treat. This book is designed to take you to that next level with more involved tutorials that are more project based so you can learn these techniques in context. Not to mention I did the best I could to bring you some of the most eye-catching images to inspire your creativity. I have always thought that just seeing what is possible can open up possibilities and change your thought process to generate a new idea.

When Volume 1 of Down & Dirty Tricks for Designers rolled out in 2011 I was nervous and excited because it was my first book and was having a lot to love up to. It would have been like George Lucas handing over the Star Wars franchise to a first time writer. Having been on a hiatus of several years, the book was met with critical acclaim and successfully revived the once dormant franchise. I was excited to hear how much it impacted so many artists and got them thinking in very different ways. After a couple years of continued success I was asked to do a second volume. This time with all new content using all the latest new features in Photoshop CC including some more advanced 3D techniques and while the technology continues to evolve we must never lose that desire to see things others don’t and continue to show the world something it has never seen before and that you can definitely do in Photoshop.

Here’s a quick rundown of the chapters in this newest volume and some of my favorite examples:

Chapter 1 – This Will Help You On Your Way
This chapter is basically a collection of best practices if you are designing in Photoshop. I compiled a number of techniques I used often in my normal work as well as, throughout this book. These include different extraction techniques, custom brushes, texture effects and even toning effects using HDR. I wanted the reader to be abel to refer to these common techniques quickly instead of searching though the book they are all here in the first chapter.

Chapter 2- You Have a Way With Words
What is a Photoshop design book without a chapter on text effects? In this chapter we once again explore type as a design element. Text is designed to convey information, it is our job as designers to make that information as stylish and visually appealing as possible to grab the viewers attentions. Here I have put together a few fun exercises that will show how you can design with text in a number of different ways. One of my favorites being the Movable Type effect shown here. I laugh at the irony of using modern technology to create vintage effects but certain things just have a great nostalgia to the way they look.

Chapter 3 – That Was No Accident, It Was By Design
In the last book I had a chapter on design effects and it was one of the more popular chapters so had to include one this time. These are more commercial effects you might use for ad design for magazine or online. I even have a full project for designing a beer label for my friend Adam Rohrmann. He had a model shoot of a girl with her face made up to look like a sutra skull. The makeup was done by Shelley Giard and we knew I was going to do most of the work in Photoshop but definitely wanted a good base to start with. I was thrilled how well it came out and just had to include the full tutorial here in the book.

Chapter 4 – Creative Differences
This chapter was a new idea this time around. Since I have been doing this I have developed such great friendships with so many prominent photographers that have all too willing to let me play around with there images I thought it would be a good idea share what friendships like that can yield. I decided to have a chapter that featured the work of certain photographers whose work I loved. This time around I was only able to get 2 photographers in the book. The first one is Moose Peterson, who has been doing some remarkable aerial photography with vintage war planes recently. Moose had given me a hard drive full of images so I went crazy. Below you can see the full composite using two of Moose’s planes. This is in the book step-by-step. The next one is my friend Glyn Dewis who is a photographer and retoucher over in the UK. He does the great themed shoots and often will mimic some Hollywood image with his own little twist. In this book he allowed me to use his images to recreate a spoof of the poster image for the movie Looper. This too is in the book step-by-step.

Chapter 5 – Deus Ex Machina
This chapter is of course Hollywood effects. Which is one of my favorite things. I am a big fan of entertainment design especially movie posters. In this chapter we will explore some techniques to help give your designs that Hollywood “look”. In the last Down & Dirty book I had a short tutorial on creating a simple movie poster. This time around we have a fully involved project complete with studio shot images and a full composite build from start to finish. All too often see tutorials that show you only part of the process. In addition to some supplemental videos which are on the book companion site you have all you need to follow the project along from start to finish. Here is a quick time-lapse of that very poster.

YouTube time-lapse of Poster:

Chapter 6 – You Will Now be Entering Another Dimension
It is certainly no secret I am a big fan of 3D in Photoshop. I am constantly trying to push the envelope and really see what i can get out of it and this last chapter in the book is a testament to that. I guarantee you have not seen 3D in Photoshop taken to such an extreme. In fact the cover art which you saw at the beginning of this post was created entirely in Photoshop CC. No help from any other 3D applications at all. You would think this would require an insane amount of computing power right? Truth be told, I did the entire graphic on a 2 year old MacBook Pro!

So there are just a few examples among the myriad of tips and techniques found in this newest volume of the Down & Dirty series. You can certainly find out more and purchase your own right here or from Amazon.

Also be on the lookout for upcoming dates as we are going to be rolling out the Down & Dirty Design Seminar Tour in the Spring 2014.

You can see more of Corey’s work at, and follow him on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter

Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks for Designers, Vol. 2
Corey Barker brings you this completely new set of techniques, tricks, and tutorials in this second volume of the Down & Dirty Tricks for Designers series. Ever wonder how that movie poster was created, or how they created that cool ad in the magazine, or maybe even how to take a seemingly mundane photo and give it the Hollywood treatment? This is the book for you. Whether you are a designer, artist, or even a photographer, there is something here for everyone.

Leave a comment for your chance to win one of three signed copies of this book!

Creative Cloud Month on KelbyOne
Each weekday this month, a new Creative Cloud class is being added to KelbyOne! Take advantage of your full Adobe Creative Cloud membership by learning about the other programs you haven't been familiar with. Just this week we've added Muse CC for Photographers, Camera Raw Basics, Getting Started with Kuler CC, and today Getting Started with Prelude CC is becoming available! Check back tomorrow for Photoshop CC for Designers, which will round out the new classes for the month.

Leave a comment for a chance to check these classes out for free!

Vegas to Zion, Dusk to Dawn Workshop
Join Tim Cooper and Gabriel Biderman for this weeklong, low-light photography workshop in Las Vegas and Zion National Park for some amazing learning experiences and astounding scenes for nighttime photography. Start the week by heading out to The Strip and Freeman Street in Las Vegas and learn how to capture the dazzling nightlife scenes before traveling to Zion National Park and discovering how to create stunning images of the starts, peaks, and canyons of one of America’s most beautiful areas. It’s happening April 13-18, and you can sign up for it right here.

Get a head start on the workshop by leaving a comment for your chance to win a copy of Tim and Gabriel’s book Night Photography: From Snapshots To Great Shots!

KelbyOne Live
Want to spend a day with Scott KelbyMatt Kloskowski, or RC Concepcion? Check out these seminar tours!

Shoot Like A Pro with Scott Kelby
Mar 12 - Phoenix, AZ
Mar 28 - Minneapolis, MN

Lightroom 5 Live with Matt Kloskowski
Mar 5 - Los Angeles, CA

Photoshop for Photographers with RC Concepcion
Mar 4 - New York, NY
Mar 26 - Arlington, TX

You can check out the full schedule for seminars through March! And leave a comment for your chance to win a ticket to one of these events!

Last Week’s Winners
KelbyOne Rental
– Alicia Stanley

KelbyOne Live Ticket
– Alex Alegre

Exploration Photography and Shooting Abandoned Places eBook
– Paul Fisher
- Alistair McNaughton
– Mike Crone
– fahfah
– Ken Toney

If you’re one of the lucky winners, we’ll be in touch soon. Have a great Thursday!