Posts By Scott Kelby

It’s here! It’s finally here!

If you’ve been a faithful reader of this blog for the past five years, you probably remember back when it was called my “Gonzo Holiday Gear Guide,”but last year I dropped the Gonzo because, honestly, I really have no idea what Gonzo actually means. However, I know what Awesome means, and that’s exactly what’s in this year’s edition (Yay—-wild cheers ensue!).

I think what makes it extra awesome is that I purposely avoided choosing any really expensive gear for the guide, and instead, I really tried to focus on choosing great value-for-the-money gear. Anyway, the Gonzo is out, the Awesome is totally in, and this year’s guide is packed with some really cool stuff that we absolutely, positively don’t need on any level, but we desperately want nevertheless because that is, after all, half the fun!

The Rules:

These are my self-imposed guidelines for which products make it into the guide. It’s just two rules actually. To be listed here, they have to be: (1) 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.

With that being said, we’re ready to take the wraps off these year’s Gear Guide picks. Here we go:

ExpoImaging Rogue Universal Gels

I hate cutting gels. I hate messing with gels. That’s why I love these precut, super-easy-to-use, and clearly marked gels for hot shoe flash. Very cleverly and simply designed.

Price: $29.95

www.expoimaging.com

ExpoImaging Rogue Grid

If you use hot shoe flash, these little metal grids let you focus the light in a concentrated beam, and like their gels, they are cleverly designed and simple to use. The stacking grid design provides 16°, 25°, and 45° spot lighting control. I use the 25° grid.

Price: $49.95

www.expoimaging.com

Nik Software Color Efex Pro 4 Complete Edition

Version 3 of this Photoshop plug-in was my go-to plug-in for effects. I literally use it every single day, and I love it. My one complaint was you couldn’t stack effects—you had to relaunch it every time you wanted to add an effect. Version 4 lets you stack ’em high, but that’s only part of what they added to this major update. They made the best even better! This is many top pros’ secret weapon.

Price: $199.95

www.niksoftware.com

onOne Software Perfect Photo Suite 6

onOne has taken all of their amazing apps and tied them together into a suite of very powerful, flexible, and easy-to-use tools that you can access from Photoshop, Lightroom, or as standalone apps. Amazing stuff. The Suite includes Perfect Portrait 1, Perfect Layers 2, Perfect Effects 3, Perfect Mask 5, Perfect Resize 7, FocalPoint 2, and PhotoFrame 4. (Disclaimer: I’m totally biased, as I helped with the development of the Perfect Layers part of this suite.)

Price: $299.95

www.ononesoftware.com

Topaz Detail 2

If you really want that high-contrast, total compression look for your images, this plug-in (which Calvin Hollywood turned me on to) is really fantastic—and really affordable. I also like Topaz Adjust 4, which kind of a does a similar thing, only different. Luckily, you can download free, fully working demo versions of both and find out which one suits you.

Price: $39.99

www.topazlabs.com

Lumodi 14? Soft White Beauty Dish for Hot Shoe Flash

The beauty dish might be the hottest lighting accessory right now. It gives you a really nice, punchy light that’s not as soft as a softbox, but not nearly as hard as a bare reflector. Plus, it’s fairly inexpensive (as light modifiers go). I use the Elinchrom Softlight 80° 17? White Reflector beauty dish on my studio strobes, and I recommended it back in my “4th Annual Gonzo Holiday Gear Guide.” This time I’m recommending a beauty dish made by a company called Lumodi. They make a lightweight 14? version for hot shoe flash.

Price: $65.00

www.lumodi.com

Gossen DIGISKY

I’ve owned a few different light meters, but this is my favorite. It’s simple to use, and if you have Elinchrom lights, it has built-in Skyport support that triggers your strobes to make getting a reading even easier (though you don’t at all need Elinchrom lights to use it). Plus, it’s the best-looking meter out there (and looks matter to us).

Price: $449.99

www.gossen-photo.de

Tether Tools

If the photographer on your holiday list shoots tethered, she needs to have some Tether Tools gear. I use their laptop stand (Tether Table Aero), the two-drive holder (Aero XDC Duo) that attaches to the stand, and a handy strap (SecureStrap) that holds my laptop in place. I really love their stuff, and so will the photographer on your gift list.

Tether Table Aero: $175.95–199.95 (stand not included)

Aero XDC Duo: $54.95

SecureStrap: $17.95

www.tethertools.com

Westcott 7′ Parabolic Umbrella

This may be the best value in the entire gift guide this year. The Westcott 7′ Parabolic Umbrella is so huge and creates such beautiful light that, either way, the photographer you buy it for will think you spent a lot more for it than you did. The megapixel race is over. Now, whoever dies with the biggest softbox/umbrella wins.

Price: $99.90

www.fjwestcott.com

Olloclip

The Olloclip is quick-connect camera lens system for the iPhone. If you buy this for the iPhone-carrying photographer in your life, you will be his hero because this small, slide-on set of lenses is nothing short of brilliant, and it lets you create images with your iPhone you’d never imagine could be done: wide-angle, fisheye, and macro. And the price is right.

Price: $69.95

www.olloclip.com

The Joe McNally Ezybox Hotshoe

This is my go-to softbox when shooting hot shoe off-camera flash. It’s like the regular Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe softbox except that the interior is white instead of silver, so it provides a softer look. First disclaimer: Joe’s a personal friend. Second disclaimer: That’s not why I included it.

Price: $256.00

www.lastolite.com

Think Tank Photo AirStream Rolling Camera Bag

I so love this camera bag. I also have their Airport International Rolling Camera Bag, and it’s great, as well, but it’s not small enough to fit in smaller regional aircraft—but this puppy is. It holds an amazing about of gear for something so small. Love it!

Price: $299.75

www.thinktankphoto.com

The Latest Books from Matt and RC. And Me.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our own books, because they make really great gifts. Matt Kloskowski’s new book, Photoshop Compositing Secrets, is—I truly believe—the best book ever written on the topic. Period. People are losing their minds over this book. RC Concepcion’s book, The HDR Book, focuses on postprocessing in Photoshop, and it’s been a megahit. I have two new books out: Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. and my Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers Using Photoshop. My company produced all these books (just so you know), but I asked a random reviewer (my wife) what she thought, and she said, “My husband’s books are awesome. Buy both.” It doesn’t get any more unbiased than that.

Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It.: $44.99

Photoshop Compositing Secrets: $49.99

The HDR Book: $44.99

Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers Using Photoshop: $49.99

www.kelbytraining.com or Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com

Hoodman HoodLoupe 3.0 with the Cinema Strap

If the photographer on your list shoots digital video with his DSLR, he’ll love this strap-on loupe that makes shooting DSLR video so much easier. If this is for a loved one, you might go ahead and spring for the Cinema Kit Pro instead, but they both work really well.

HoodLoupe 3.0: $79.99

Cinema Strap: $19.99

Cinema Kit Pro: $189.99

Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers Using Photoshop: $49.99

www.hoodmanusa.com

Tiffen Variable Neutral Density Filter

If your photographer is into long exposure black-and-white images (and it’s a decent bet that she is), then slap one of these puppies on your gift list, and she’ll be shooting at the seaside at 2 p.m. It provides 2 to 8 stops of light control.

Price: $239.99

www.tiffen.com

Westcott Magic Slipper

This adapter lets you use just about any softbox that Westcott makes (and there are plenty!) with your hot shoe flash. This opens up a whole new world of light modifiers for off-camera flash, and the photographer on your gift list will love you for it.

Price: $229.90

www.fjwestcott.com

Paul C. Buff Vagabond Mini Lithium

At 240 bucks, this is one of the more expensive things on this year’s list, but it’s a much cheaper portable battery pack for studio lights than just about anything else out there, so it’s still a great value. It lets you plug regular studio lights into the standard 120VAC plugs right on the top. I’ve used it on location and it works surprisingly well (for the small size and small price).

Price: $239.95

www.paulcbuff.com

Well, there ya have it folks—this year’s ideas to fill your holiday gear dreams. Shop early. Shop often. ;-)

Hapyy Holidays everyone!

OK gang—we’ve got another “This Weekend Only” Deal, and it’s even better than their last “This Weekend Only” deal they ran back in March, and it’s on ANY of their Rogue flash modifiers for Hot Shoe Flash.

The Rogue gear is top notch (I include their stuff on my tour) and it’s from Expo Imaging (the people behind cool gadgets for photographers like the popular ExpoDisc and the Rayflash, and Flashbenders).

Here’s the deal:

My readers receive 30% off the purchase of any Rogue Photographic Design products from ExpoImaging, including Rogue FlashBenders, Rogue Grid, Rogue Gels, Rogue Diffusion Panels, or the Rogue Starter, Portrait, Master and Background Lighting Kits. The discount code is “NAPPROGUE”, and it is case sensitive (enter it at checkout).  Valid from Friday, December 2nd through Sunday, December 4th.

 

Here’s the link with the details on their gear.

Thanks to the folks at Expo Imaging for making this offer to my readers.

Hi Gang: I got invited to shoot the Atlanta Falcons game on Sunday so I shot up to the Georgia Dome for the 1:00 pm game on Sunday and was back the same night, so it was kind of a whirlwind trip, but I really had a ball! (no pun intended). [NOTE: Click on the photos for a larger view—-they look much better bigger. Well, except the iPhone photos. Kidding].

(Above: Here’s my remote rig in an iPhone photo. It’s not fully aimed yet, because they roll this rig out onto the corner of the field about 10 minutes before the players are announced). 

The very cool Mike Benford from the Falcons organization arranged it so I would be able set up a remote camera rig and attach it to the truss archway that the players run through when they enter the field, and a couple of hours before the game we met with the Pyrotechnics team that runs the smoke jets and fire plumes that shoot out as the players come out, and they were incredibly helpful. My original plan was to mount the rig to the top of the semi-circular truss, but that would have my camera aiming directly into four smoke jets, so instead I mounted it down low (using two Manfrotto Magic Arms) with a 14-24mm wide angle lens (zoomed out to 14mm) aiming upward.

(Above: Here’s an iPhone photo of the rig to give you a closer view. The camera is mounted on one Manfrotto Magic Arm, and then I attach a second arm just to make doubly sure it doesn’t move. Lastly I attach a steel safety cable, which isn’t fully secured yet because I’m going to have to re-aim this puppy in a just a few minutes. Also, I’m triggering all this with a Pocket Wizard on top with a short patch cable that connects into the camera’s cable release port).

(Above: This is me in a manly-like football player ready to take the field pose, but I’m actually acting as a warm body for the auto focus to lock onto. A stunning specimen, aren’t I? ;-)

Hocus Focus
Of course, mounting a camera down low at “Maggie the Wonderdog” level makes focusing part fun, especially since once it’s all in place, they’re going to move the whole rig about out  20 or 30 feet anyway, so you have to refocus again. I start by letting the Auto Focus do its thing, then I switch to Manual focus so it doesn’t change while I’m pressing the remote.

(Above: Here’s the remote shot [somehow he looks bigger and meaner than me]. The hugh fire plumes make everything turn red for a few moments, and then the color is gone just as quick as it came. I’m out on the field, about 30 yards or so away, triggering this remote shot with my Pocket Wizard in one hand, and my camera [with a 24-70mm] in the other. I was short the cable I would need to trigger both the remote and my handheld camera at the exact same time).

(Above: Here’s the view from the field, taken with my other camera. As the fire stops, the color changes back to normal, and the players come through the smoke jets. Note my camera rig on the far right side of the frame down low. Nobody came anywhere close to hitting it, but that’s always a risk with pumped up athletes and a lot of smoke). 

(Above: Once the player emerges from the smoke, you can see my rig on the right a lot clearer. I wish the rig had been mounted about five feet farther out in front, and even lower). 

Shots from the Game
Now that I’ve done this particular set-up, I think I would do it differently next time, but at least I got that one shot (which did receive some Photoshop magic, and if I have time in the next week or so, I’ll do a short tutorial on that as well).

As for camera settings; pretty much the same as always: two bodies: Nikon D3s with a 400mm at f/2.8 all day on a Gitzo monopod, and a Nikon D3 with a 24-70mm at f/2.8 all day, both at 2,500 ISO (the lighting in the dome is surprisingly low).

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few shots from the game (Atlanta won 24-14 by the way), and I’m going to start with some detail shots first, then onto the game action:

(Above: I wanted to get a detail shot of the player’s gloves and when I saw the incredible tats this player had, I knew I had the subject I was looking for).

(Above: I always try to get a nice shot or two of each team’s helmets. They’re usually sitting up high on an equipment case, but I saw this one on the ground with such a great reflection of the stadium’s dome and sidelines, I went with it instead).

(Above: Another detail shot: this time of the large duffle bag the officials have on the sidelines where they keep footballs used during the game). I just like the way the light gleaned off the NFL logo. OK, enough detail, let’s get to some action shots).

(Above: Here’s Viking’s QB Christian Ponder getting sacked [not his first on the day], and although I was rooting for the Falcons, I like Ponder from his days at Florida State University—I’m a Seminole fan from way back, and despite their loss I think he’s got a lot of potential).

(Above: This is a little later in the game).

(Above: #7 scrambling out of the backfield once again. It was a long day for Ponder).

(Above: Talk about “leading lines!” I had this shot straight down the hashmark from the end zone, and although it’s a pre-action shot and not normally the kind I take, I just kinda liked the symmetry of it all).

(Above: Love the intensity on both their faces).

(Above: Of course, it wouldn’t be football unless a ref, suddenly realizing that you might have a clear unobstructed view of Falcon’s WR Roddy White jumping up for a pass, suddenly darts into the frame as he winks to the Side Judge, and mouthes, “Don’t worry, I blocked him.”).

 

 

Best thing about the day….
…had to be the great folks I met at the game. Michael Benford was just a prince (incredibly gracious, helpful, and just fun), and while I was there I got to meet, and shoot alongside, the Falcon’s team photographer, Jimmy Cribb, who is a real veteran of the league, and one of those guys you meet and you feel like you’ve known him forever. A real gentleman with a great sense of humor (and of course, one hell of a shooter). Thanks to everybody in the Falcons organization, and to Michael, Jimmy, and the other great photographers I met and chatted with on the sidelines. What a great day for a game! :)

It’s our biggest sale day of the year at Kelby Training, and I looked at some of the deals offered TODAY ONLY, and even I was like, “What???!!!!!” (like the buy one Photoshop World pass and bring a buddy for free. Somebody should get fired over that one). Anyway, I didn’t come up with the deals, but I’m passing ’em on.

Click the graphic above, or this link right here, and you will get some insane deals on everything, like:

>> Kelby Training Online Subscriptions ($50 Off a one-year full unlimited access online subscription).

>> NAPP membership (join and get six extra months free, including a subscription to Photoshop User magazine)

>> 30% off our Books, DVDs, and Bundle Deals (Deals so low….they’re insane!!!!!!! [said in a Crazy Eddie voice].

>> Photoshop World Washington DC (buy one full conference pass, bring a buddy for free]. Plus there’s some other psychotic deal where you get a book, and a t-shirt, and some other stuff.

But all of these deals are for today, Cyber Monday (as it’s known) ONLY, so get ’em while they’re not (cause tomorrow they’re not). Here’s the link again (Head their now. You’ll probably pass out cold once you get there. I’m serious. Hey, it could happen. I mean, it’s a possibility. OK, it’s probably not a huge possibility, but things happen. Did you see what happened at WalMart Friday? See, it’s like that, but there’s nobody trying to grab products out of your hand. Now get their quick before the doors open. I’m not really sure what that means).

This has been one of the most frustrating things for us ever. We launch “Light It,” this kick-butt new magazine. We get over-the-top incredible feedback from it, and people can’t wait to get issue #2, which is really exciting for us.

Issue #2 was already complete when we launched issue #1, so we wanted to launch it pretty soon after the first issue. However, there was something we didn’t count on….

…Apple’s App Store has turned down our App FOUR TIMES IN A ROW now.

When they turn down your App, they send you an email why, then you have to go try and fix the problems (ours were related to IOS 5.0, and then our in-app purchasing, and then a memory issue, and then a testing issue, and so on).

Then you have to (wait for it….wait for it….) resubmit the App all over again. Apple has from 7 to 14 days to test and or approve/deny your App, and they’ve been really consistent about denying it.

It was turned down once again last week (uggh!), but it has finally been turned down so much that we have an actual live Apple person assigned to our case, and she seems really helpful and we hope to have the problem resolved now with her help, and hopefully we’ll see issue #2 very soon, since issues #3 and #4 and also already done.

I am SO sorry you guys have had to wait so long for the 2nd issue (believe it, it was not part of the plan), but it’s kind of been that kind of year (if you know what I mean). Thank you to everyone who has waited patiently, who has shown their support, and who has hung in their eagerly waiting for issue #2, which when it finally does get released, will truly earn the “….the most eagerly awaited issue of the year….” slogan). :)

One last thing
I want some of you (you know who you are) to resist the overwhelming urge to write comments like “This wouldn’t have happened if you released it on Android” and stuff along those lines, because it won’t make anything (issue #2, or a release on Android) happen any faster. So, rise above that urge, be a better man/woman (though I rarely ever see snarky comments from women here ever—thank you ladies), and just go about your day as if none of this ever happened. See, don’t you feel better now? I knew you would.

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