Posts By Scott Kelby


Howdy folks—here’s what’s up:

  • Nikon has just recently launched a complete redesign of their Nikon USA web site, (shown above) and I have to say; it’s pretty stunning. They’ve done a very clever job of making “the image” the focus of the home page, and the site is packed with both beautiful photography, and loads of info on everything Nikon. Overall, I think the site redesign is a big improvement, and it’s much easier to get to the info you want quickly, and it just looks so much better (I can’t think of a better way to say it than that). Here’s the link (and make sure you click on the little floating EXIF and Info window on the top right. Very cleverly done).
  • Photoshop author and trainer Sean Duggan (co author of the book “The Creative Digital Darkroom” with Katrin Eismann) is teaching a number of short classes this April in Hawaii (poor guy) at the University of Hawaii. His classes are: (1) Selections & Masking in Photoshop CS, (2) Creative Collage with Photoshop CS3, and (3) Camera Raw Workflow. Click here for more info on those classes. After that, Sean is teaching a weekend class called “Photoshop for Photographers: The Basics” at Stephen Johnson’s Photography Studio in Pacifica, California, on May 3-4, 2008. Here’s the link to info on that weekend workshop.
  • This might be interesting; there’s a new utility called “Preview Extractor” that lets you extract the full-sized JPEG preview image from Raw photos taken with Nikon digital cameras. I haven’t tried it, and I haven’t heard much more than it’s available. Here’s the link, but if you’ve tried it, or know someone that has, let me know.
  • Photoshop Hall of Famer Eddie Tapp is our guest on this week’s episode of Photoshop User TV, and Eddie shows how to get a “Softar filter effect” for giving that soft glamorous look to your images in Photoshop. Here’s the link to the show (you can watch it right online). Also, don’t forget to set your Tivo to record Photoshop User TV on Fox Business Network–the show airs tonight at 1:30 am. Check our local cable listings (or DirectTV) for the channel in your area.
  • Lastly, in the latest issue of Shutterbug magazine, they had a link to the motorsports photography of Regis Lefebure. His stuff is just incredible, and if you want to start off your Wednesday right, take two minutes to enjoy some really amazing images. Here’s the link.

That’s it for today, gang. Remember, a strobe unfired, is a strobe without light. I have no idea what that means.


First, thanks to everyone who participated in my “Lighting Gear Week,” last week. There were a lot of great follow-up questions, and I wanted to answer them as they were posted, but I’ve been on critical deadline on a new book, so I couldn’t get a chance to answer them (at least not until now).

So, I put this together to address some of the questions from last week (and I’m paraphrasing some of the questions for clarity), and I hope you find it helpful. (NOTE: All five days are covered here, so for the other day’s questions, make sure you click the MORE link below). Here goes:

Day 1: Budget Off Camera Flash

Q. I’m not the getting the whole “firing the flash through the umbrella on a stand thing?” Can you show us a photo of how that looks?

A. Sure (see the photo below).


Q. Nikon’s SB-600 is a lot cheaper than the SB-800. Can I get away with using it instead?

A. Yes, technically you could get away with it, but honestly, I’ve never met anyone who bought an SB-600 that at one point didn’t say, “I wish I’d gone ahead and bought the SB-800,” so I can’t recommend it with a clear conscience. I’ve also never met a single person who bought the SB-800, who later said “I wish I’d bought the cheaper model with less features.”

Q. Can you guys do some videos on Kelby using the off camera flashes?

A. Joe McNally, the master of on-location flash, has finished recording a class for us, live on location and I’ve seen some of it, and was there on location for other parts, and it is absolutely brilliant. I’ve never seen anything like it (I’ll do a post when it goes live on the site).



Happy St. Patrick’s Day everybody! Hope you had a great weekend; here’s what’s up:

  • First up, is an update on my Lighting Gear FAQ: I need another day to get it together, and I hope to have it up tomorrow. I hope. Fingers crossed. Etc.
  • Saw a great tip on Chase Jarvis’ blog, on a deal offered by the Copyright & Trademark office, that lets you officially bulk copyright as many images as you can fit on a DVD for just $45. I’ve been gathering up images all weekend. Here’s the link to how to apply for copyright, courtesy of the ASMP.
  • We are just a scant two weeks from when I head out to Photoshop World Conference & Expo in Orlando, and I’m hoping you’re going to join me there. If you haven’t signed up for a pre-conference workshop yet, here’s three that I think would be fascinating:
  1. The Canon Live Studio Workshop, with Eddie Tapp and Jack Resnicki. This is basically a workshop on how to set-up and light a fashion shoot from scratch, with a complete studio set-up and live model for the shoot, so you see everything happen right in front of you. Eddie and Jack are just great, and I sat in for an hour or so of the one they did in Boston, and it was packed with great info. There’s only a few seats left for this one.
  2. Digital Photography Primer: Learning to Use Your Digital SLR (with Laurie Excell. Yes, that Laurie Excell!). She did this same class (with a slightly different name) in Vegas last year, and people were literally stopping me in the halls to tell me how much they got out of her class. She knows gear inside and out, and she makes it easy and fun to get the most out of your investment in camera gear. Highly recommended.
  3. Photographic Exhibition Workshop (with living legend, Stephen Johnson). I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a workshop that teaches you the insider techniques on how to prepare your photos for a gallery exhibition. Stephen has a unique insight into this world, and if you ever dreamed of having your work at a gallery showing, this is a workshop that will be worth its weight in gold. Stephen is amazing—you’ll learn a ton.

For more info, or to register for these workshops, visit

  • Want to see what happens when Photoshop retouching goes bad? You’ll get a kick of out “Photoshop Disasters.” Worth a quick visit to start your St. Patty’s with a smile (here’s the link).
  • Just a reminder: set your Tivo’s (and DVR’s) to tape this week’s episode of Photoshop User TV; it airs each Wednesday at 1:30 am on Fox Business Network on Cable TV and Direct TV.

Have a great Monday, drink some green beer for me, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow! :)

P.S. Scroll down for those long-awaited photos from Jeff Revell’s Photo Walk up in DC.


I’ve been trying to get a few shots up from my and Matt’s trip up to Washington DC to Jeff Revell’s (of fame) PhotoWalk in the trendy Adams/Morgan neighborhood in DC, but last week’s Lighting Gear Week threw my schedule for a loop. (That’s Jeff shown above, during the walk).

I did way too much visiting with other PhotoWalkers, and way too little time shooting, and not surprisingly I really didn’t get any shots I was too happy with, but I still had a blast. PhotoWalks are a social photography event, and I enjoyed meeting and talking with the other photographers as much as I did the shooting itself, but I still found it fascinating to see what other people shot, how they saw the same scenes differently than I did, and it was humbling to see all the great shots I missed. (Here’s the link to the flickr group Jeff created for people who went on the walk).

That not withstanding, it was such a great time that the next chance I get to do a PhotoWalk, I’m definitely “in” (though I’m just going to pay a little more attention to the shooting next time. But just a little). Here’s a few shots from the day (click for larger versions):








I thought I’d post this as part of Lighting week, as I used a Westcott Spiderlite as my main light for this wine and cheese shot for my wife’s cookbook (she did the food styling for the shots you see above—click on them for a larger view). The shot on the left was taken with a 70-200m f/2.8 VR Nikon Lens. The shot on the right used the same lens, but with the screw-on Canon Close-up lens attached (it’s the only Canon product made for deliberately for Nikon cameras).


Above is a look at the simple lighting set-up I used to get these shots. There’s a little bit of natural light coming from a bank of windows behind the wine and to the left, but it was late in the day on an overcast day, so it didn’t add as much natural light as I would have liked. The main light seen here is a Spiderlite TD-3 (little brother of the TD-5, with less power and brightness), with a small 24″x32″ softbox.

The only other part of this set-up is the white cardboard reflector, held up by my high-tech reflector stand (also known as “another bottle of wine”).

Now scroll down for my week-end wrap-up of “Lighting Gear Week.” :-)


Well, we’ve made it to Day 5, and we’re wrapping up with studio lighting for on-location shoots. Shooting on location has its own challenges:

  1. When you’re shooting on location, one of the biggest hurdles you may have to face is electrical power. Even indoors, you might not have access to an electrical outlet anywhere nearby to power your lights (believe me, I learned this the hard way at a bridal shoot in an old church). So that’s the first consideration.
  2. Secondly, if you’re shooting outdoors in daylight, you’re going to need a fairly significant amount of “flash” power, and perhaps even a long throw parabolic reflector (attached to the front of your strobe) to shoot the light from your strobe farther and brighter than you normally would.
  3. On location, you often wind up with bigger “props” in your shots (like pianos, cars, motorcycles, boats, furniture, etc.), or you wind up doing group shots where you need a lot of coverage.

For these reasons (among others), I recommend to my friends the same set-up I use when when I’m heading out for an on location studio-style shoot, where my main weapon of choice is:

  • An Elinchrom Ranger RX 1100 Watt/Second Kit (which includes a Battery Operated Ranger RX Power Pack, a Freelight S Lamphead [your strobe flashhead], Varistar Kit [a high-end shoot-thru umbrella-style softbox], Battery, Multi-Voltage Charger, Sync Cord, and a Hard Case for Travel). The kit goes for $2199 at B&H (here’s the link). Note: that’s the Flashhead seen in the photo shown above, where the Flashead is fitted with a honeycomb grid spot attachment on the front to narrow the spread of the beam.
  • An Elinchrom 74″ Octabank, which is the ultimate softbox (your Freelight flashhead is mounted facing away from your subject, and it fires directly into the inside of the giant Octabank and the light reflects and travels back to your subject creating the most wonderful, wrapping, gorgeous, light from strobe I’ve ever seen, period!). It’s big in size, and big in price, coming in at $1,109, but you get what you pay for. In fact, in this case, I think you get more than you paid for.
  • Although you could buy a second Freelight S Flashhead for your RX pack (which would run you an additional $729), but that large Octabank covers such a wide area that I usually use it all by itself (along with a reflector, of course), but if I feel I need a background light, or a hairlight, believe it or not, I just use a Nikon SB-800 Hot Shot flash set to Slave mode (in Slave mode, the flash of light from the Ranger flashhead automatically triggers the SB-800 to fire at the same time).
  • I would also recommend buying an Avenger A420 rolling lightstand (I hang my Ranger RX Battery Back off the stand, as seen in the photo above), so the whole thing rolls around as one unit, without having to pick anything up off the floor. If this “hanging off the stand” thing makes you a bit queezy, you can buy a little shelf that will attach to the stand so it sits flat.

Some things you’ll really like about this set-up are:

  • You don’t need to worry about plugging in, thanks to the battery pack. The Battery pack is pretty small in size, and comparitivly lightweight for a battery pack.
  • It can power up to two flashheads, and you can control the power of each from the battery pack itself.
  • You have serious top pro-quality studio lighting anywhere you want it; on the beach, on top of a parking garage, standing in the middle of a field, or up in an office building.
  • It’s rugged as all get-out, and everything but the Octa and the Lightstand fit nicely in one medium-sized hand-held carrying case.
  • When you’re not shooting on location, it makes a killer studio strobe that plugs into a standard electrical outlet
  • Once you use it, you’ll be hooked for life. The first time I ever saw anyone using an Octabank for a location shoot was Joe McNally, and when I saw how magical that light was, I knew I had to get one, and I’ve been in love with it (with a passion that knows no bounds) ever since.

The Downside

  • The Octa is big. Biggity-Big. But it has to be really big to create that “magical” quality of light. Did I mention it was large? It is. Plenty.
  • The modeling light only stays on for 30-seconds to conserve battery power. However, if you’re using Skyports as your wireless triggers (which I highly recommend), you can wirelessly turn on/off the modeling light right from your camera position.
  • This pro rig costs “pro” money. The total for the Elinchrom Ranger RX Kit (with battery back and one flashhead) and the 74″ Octabank (not including the Avenger Lightstand), is $3,308.

The Good News

$3,308 sounds like a lot a first, but you can’t even buy a pro DSLR body alone (i.e. a D3, or a Canon Mark III), for $3,308. If you’re a working pro, this rig will pay for itself in no time because the quality of what you’ll be able to do on location will soar. If you’re a serious amateur, and you set this rig up, not only will you look like a pro, but other serious amateurs will stand aside and let you by, as they gasp in awe and wonder. That’s gotta be worth somethin’.

By the way; in case you’re wondering how I make the determination between using SB-800s and diffusers or umbrellas, vs. bringing out “The Big Guns” of my Octa and RX kit; it’s actually pretty easy. If it’s a “Down and Dirty” job (get in/get out, one person shot, and either time or space is the major consideration) then I use the SB-800s. They do a nice job, but they’re not Ranger RX. I use the Ranger and Octa combo when I want the best possible quality of light, with maximum softness and flexibility. Basically, I use it when I want magazine cover studio lighting quality when I’m outside my studio, and the Ranger and Octa bring exactly that.

Note: You can also use different Elinchrom softboxes with this kit, and I’ve used the 53″ MidiOcta I mentioned yesterday with it a number of times (perfect anytime you think space or ceiling height my be a consideration), and Elinchrom’s 39″x39″ Rotalux square softbox.

So, there you have it; exactly what I would recommend to a friend (especially one with discretionary income) to get if they wanted absolutely pro-quality studio lighting on location. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do the FAQ today, so I’ll try and run it Monday (thanks for your patience everybody).

Have a great weekend everybody, and go get some great shots! :-)