Posts By Scott Kelby


The single most amazing photography book I’ve ever read is just a few weeks away from being published. It’s Joe McNally’s, The Moment it Clicks: Photographer Secrets from one of the world’s best shooters (Published by New Riders), and I can tell you, without a doubt, I’ve learned more about the art and craft of photography, from this one book, than any book I’ve read to date. Period! It’s just that good.

NOTE: Nikon has posted a special page where you can watch a short video clip on how Joe created some of the amazing images from the book, and Joe shares some amazing insights into what the book is all about—it’s incredibly inspiratinoal, and you’ve gotta check it out. Click here to watch it online.

Joe McNally, whose celebrated work has graced the pages of Sports Illustrated, Time, and National Geographic (to name a few), is amazing yet different because it actually blends the rich, stunning images and elegant layout of a coffee-table book with the invaluable training, no-nonsense insights, and photography secrets usually found only in those rare, best-of-breed educational and how-to books.

Now, I will tell you; It’s not really a book for beginners. It’s really aimed at serious photographers who want to learn what it takes to move to an entirely new level of thinking, of shooting, and making images that really captivate the viewer. It’s not really a how-to book (though it has a strong how-to element), and it’s not about camera settings (although he shares them for most images in the book), instead it’s a book about being a better photographer; about what it takes to “get the shot” (and how to get it), and how to start thinking differently about your work.

Here’s how the book came about, what makes it different, and why it’s going to be the book of the year for 2008; The Moment It Clicks was born during a digital photography workshop up in Vermont. We were up there shooting fall color, and it was the opening night of the workshop (I was there as a guest instructor, along with my best buddy Dave Moser), and after the other instructors had given their presentations (including legendary wildlife photographer Moose Peterson, and Landscape photography hot shot Laurie Excell), McNally takes the stage to finish off the night with his presentation.

So Dave and I are sitting in the back, and McNally kicks into high gear. Joe is one of the most captivating public speakers you'll ever meet, and the whole class is ooohing and ahhhhing each time a new image comes up, and he's got us laughing out loud one moment, and in tears the next. But Joe's not just showing off his workâ”he's a brilliant teacher and he's tossing out these incredible little nuggetsâ”the tricks of the tradeâ”the real "meat and potatoes" stuff and we're all hanging on every word (and scribbling notes as fast as we can write).

Every time Joe starts a sentence with, "An Editor at Time once told meâ¦" or "My Editor at National Geographic one saidâ¦" we all grab our pens because we know another nugget is coming our way. At one point, Joe is talking about lighting people on location, and he gets to that point where he says, "An editor once told meâ¦(I won't spoil it for you here), and then he shared something so simpleâ”it was just one sentenceâ”but my buddy Dave and I both looked at each other, and got these huge grins, because at that momentâ”it clicked. At that moment, a concept I'd read entire books on, just suddenly and almost magically all made so much sense. It all came together, at once. It was "the moment it clicked.”

When the class was over, Dave and I were just blown awayâ”it was all we could talk about. At one point, I looked at Dave said "Ya know, if all I took away from this workshop were Joe's amazing one-liner nuggetsâ”it would be absolutely worth the $795 I paid for this workshop, because I learned more about photography in that one hour than I had in the past three years." Dave couldn't have agreed more.

The next morning Dave and I were both still reeling from what we had learned, and I said to Dave, "I would pay anything for a book of just Joe's little nuggetsâ”just those one liners," and that's when it hit me¬; I've got to talk Joe into doing that book. Dave was all over it, and we started brainstorming on exactly what that book would look like.

What I really wanted to do was take what Joe does live, and transfer it to paper, because it all works so brilliantly together. For example, in Joe's class, he throws out a nugget, and then bamâ”a photo appears on screen that so perfectly illustrates what he's talking about that it bowls you over. Then he illustrates how he got the shot (and teaches the class how to get a shot like this of their own). It's a clever three-pronged approach, and I don't know if he does it that way consciously or not, but it really packs a punch. I wanted that same effect in bookâ”a three-pronged approach, a triangle of learning, that would be unlike any other photography or teaching book out there.

After our dusk shoot that night, I sat down with Joe and convinced him that this was the book he had to write. I told him how his quote and images had totally connected with Dave and I, and how he needed to share his gift for teaching, and his amazing images, with more than just the incredibly fortunate 20 people at this workshop. He needed to take it to the next level, and basically here's what I said: "Picture a two-page spread, and on the left page is one of your quotes. One of those "An Editor once told meâ¦" stories that breaks it down the bare bones. Then, on the facing page is the image you use in class to bring that story homeâ”to â˜seal the deal’ in their minds, and then we'll tell "the back story." The story of how it all came about; what happened at the shoot, and how the reader can get the same type of shotâ”just like you do in class."

By the time I was done with my pitch, we had a deal, and “The Moment it Clicks” is what was born that day during that rainy and wonderful Vermont workshop.

So, that's a little history on how the book came to be, and hopefully this gives you a little glimpse into an amazing book. One that teaches you concepts you never thought you'd grasp, that challenges you to try things you never thought you would; one that takes you places you've always wanted to shoot, and uncovers a side of professional photography that is as funny as it is fascinating. Click here to preorder it on or Barnes & You will absolutely love it.


Howdy folks; here’s what goin’ on:

  • I’m honored to announce that has launched a “Scott Kelby Boutique” page, (which is basically a one-stop-shop for finding my books–see above), but it also has something you might find helpful; I did a a series of short video clips to explain, in my own words, what each of my latest books is all about (the Vol. 2 book isn’t there yet, because it’s still on press). You can check it out right here.
  • Photoshop User magazine columnist (and well known author and trainer), Sean Duggan will be teaching a”Digital Black and White” hands on workshop out at the Lepp Institute for Digital Imaging out in Los Osos, California on Feb 18 – 22nd, 2008. For the full scoop on his course (or to register—seating is VERY limited), click this link.
  • Congratulations to Jefferson Graham and Ed Baig over at USA Today’s popular Talking Tech video podcast, as they just posted their 100th episode. The show is absolutely top notch, and if you haven’t caught it yet, it’s very slick (and the hosts are great). Check it out here.
  • Here’s some more people posting their own reviews and before/after images from my “Photoshop Seven-Point System” book:
    • Andie Smith Designs (link)
    • Forensic Photoshop (link)
    • The Noded Blog (link)
  • Plus, the Epic Edits Weblog (link) included my blog in their “Great Photography Blogs and Feeds” list, and last but not least, Photography Bay did a one-year anniversary post, with lots of interesting insights into their first year, which includes something nice about me, so that almost guarantees them a mention, right? ;-) (link).
  • The new Photoshop World Conference & Expo website is now live, and conference registration is now open for the event, which takes place in Orlando, FL on April 2-4, 2008. Here’s the link.
  • If you want a quick laugh today, stop by Apple’s web site and watch the very cute ad on the home page. I will put a smile on your face for sure.
  • Next week, I’ve got two more episodes of “Scott’s School of hard knocks” where I give you a behind-the-scenes look at how I did something horribly wrong on a shoot (remember the “forgot to reset from 1600 ISO” fiasco?) These are both worse, but hopefully they’ll help you avoid similar disasters (at least, I keep telling myself that as I share these embarrassing moments from the field).

Have a great weekend everybody. Take some great shots, and keep showing those pixels who’s boss!


I’ve spent the past two weeks, many hours, had two meetings with Nikon Professional Services staff, and taken thousands of photos with my new Nikon D300 and I’m ready to spill the beans and let you know what’s hot (and what’s not) about Nikon’s new arrival. Here’s the straight scoop:

First, Why I Bought a D300:
I hate to admit it, but the main reason I bought a D300 in the first place is because of the bigger LCD screen on the back. I know that sounds silly, but it’s true (I had only actually held a D300 once; at Photoshop World, and then only for about three minutes. I spent much more time with the D3, as I actually got to shoot with it on location in Montana). Of course, I tried to justify the purchase by telling myself that there were other new features, but basically in my mind it was a D200, with a bigger screen and a few new bells and whistles, so I ordered it. Here’s the thing; I was wrong. Way wrong. The D300 is MUCH more camera than I was giving it credit for.

What kicks butt about the D300:

  • The 51-point (and 21-point) autofocus rocks. It’s much better, faster, and more accurate than the D200’s, that it made the D200’s focus seem clunky by comparison. This I did not expect.
  • The Live View (which I totally dismissed as something I would never use), has a feature I never knew existed; you can turn on Live View, look at a live preview of your shot and (get this), change your White Balance setting, and the preview updates live. That’s rightâ”you can scroll through the different settings and see how different white balance settings look in real time. It’s very responsive, and it’s just plain fun to use. Also, the image on screen is crisp enough to actually use for getting shots above your head, down low for macro shots, and anywhere where your head won’t fit. Much cooler than I expected.
  • Press the Info button the back of the camera, and the camera’s shooting settings (which usually appear in the tiny LCD on the top of the camera), now fill the screen in big bright letters; and (that’s right), they’re live! So you can change Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO, and actually see the settings big and bright (really handy when you’re shooting on a tripod, which I do most of the time). I now use this to check my WHIMS settings in just a quick glance, even in low light situations.
  • Lower noise. Not low noise; but lower (don’t confuse the D300 with the D3. It’s the D3 that’s the low noise miracle machine). That being said, I have found that to me, the noise level when shooting at 800ISO on a D300 is like shooting at 400 ISO on a D200. That’s an appreciable difference, but I’ve been so spoiled at shooting at 6400 ISO on a D3 (whose noise looks more like the D300 at 800 ISO, to me anyway). So, lower noise for sure, but not D3-ish low noise. But any amount of lower noise is a big plus for me.
  • I love the way the front dial changes the LCD display readout to toggle between your full image and Histogram view, and your back sub-command dial scrolls through the images (leaving the still clunky Multi-Selector Dial on the back of the camera free for other tasks).
  • I love that you can assign the center button of the Multi-Selector Dial to jump to any magnification (to quickly jump in and check sharpness) with just one click.
  • I like that it has built-in sensor cleaning (I might actually love this feature, because I generally live in a dirty sensor state, but so far; my sensor hasn’t been dirty. Of course, I’ve used the built-in sensor cleaning three times now already, so maybe that’s why, but the only way to tell if you love this, is to one day realize your sensor is dirty, then run the built-in cleaning, and then see that it worked.).
  • The LCD monitor is as big and bright as I had hoped (I did check this out when I held that initial D300, and right then I was sold). I also like how big and easy-to-read the menus are on this new screen (it makes a bigger difference than you’d think).
  • The Auto White balance seems much improved, and you can use it in more lighting situations without a “gotcha.” In fact, I think it’s easily the best Auto White Balance I’ve ever used.
  • I really like the HDMI output, and if you’ve got a high def television, once you see your images on that baby, you’ll think this was how photos were meant to be shown.
  • I was surprised (pleasantly), at how many new features, tweaks, and enhancements were hidden among the menus, including much more robust control over White Balance, a nice built-in GPS menu (if you have a GPS unit connected), a “My Menu” where you can put your most used menu commands so they’re one click away, and a clever built-in Help menu that actually works quite well.
  • There are lots of little tweaks and enhancements that you uncover that make you just smile and nod. I dig that.
  • But more important than all of these very nice features, is the fact that I love the images the D300 produces. The color is outstanding (better than any Nikon I’ve ever used, and the color rendering is nearly on par with the D3’s). This camera just produces beautiful images, plain and simple, and if you want really saturated colors, you can pump up the saturation with some amazing results (perfect for the Velvia freak deep inside us all).

What Didn’t I like:

  • The main thing that’s driving me crazy is a little thing (but it’s always the little things, right?). When your image appears on the LCD monitor, there are two rows of info readouts, which appear at the bottom of the image window, and if you have the Highlight Warning turned on, it adds a very short third row. I want the option to hide this junk so I can see just the full image, full screen, without all the data taking up room.
  • I’d like the ability to see one big Histogram. Not a postage stamp sized Histogram; not individual RGB Histograms; just one big Histogram as big as they can fit it on the screen. Admittedly, I’m a “Highlights Warning” man myself, and I hardly use the Histogram that much, but when I do; I want it big.
  • I wish the noise was lower still. Don’t get me wrong; being able to actually shoot at 800 ISO and not cringe is a good thing, but I’ve been spoiled by the incredibly low-noise of the D3. I would trade some of the bells and whistles for lower noise.
  • If you get the optional battery grip (which I recommend), the way they’ve implemented the two-battery use is much clunkier than in the D200. Thankfully, the battery life seems better in the D300, than it was in the D200, but the D200’s battery grip was easier to swap out batteries with by far.
  • I wish Nikon had done something better with the Focus Mode Selector Button, that appears to the right of the lens, and constantly gets switched by accident during the course of taking your camera in/out of your camera bag. Just make it much stiffer, so it doesn’t switch so easily, or position it somewhere else, so for goodness sakes—do something to make it stay put.
  • Shooting tethered with the D300 requires buying the Nikon Camera Control Pro 2 (which ain’t cheap, at around $160, or you can upgrade from the first version for around $65). Canon users get to shoot tethered for free. Hey, I’m just sayin! Oh, and Mac OS X Leopard users; it doesn’t work with Leopard yet. Believe me, I’ve tried.

The Bottom Line:
Nitpicking above aside, the D300 is a much better, more fully featured update to the D200 than I had ever imagined it would be. How much so? Well, needless to say, I’m selling my D200 (through the, but I guess what I’m most shocked about is that I’m going to sell my Nikon D2Xs now, too.

So, is my D300 actually replacing my D2Xs? Absolutely! I know Nikon will probably hate to read this, but here’s why:

  • The D300 and D2Xs are both 12 megapixel cameras, so there’s no pixel advantage there.
  • The noise at 800 ISO and higher on my D300 seems noticeably lower than the noise on my D2Xs.
  • The LCD Monitor on my D300 is bigger and brighter than on my D2Xs.
  • The D300 has better control over White Balance, has better Auto White Balance, has better Auto Focus capabilities by far, and I think it takes better photos all around (I could stop right here).
  • The menus on the D300 are bigger and easier to read, and the Info button that shows my settings (and lets me set them in real time), is just too handy.
  • With my D300, I get Live View (with live white balance changes displayed as I make them).
  • With the Battery Grip, I can shoot up to 8 frames per second.
  • I didn’t mention the D300’s Active D-lighting controls (which adjust for tricky exposure situations in camera), but the D2Xs doesn’t have anything that can touch it.
  • In fact, the only thing that I can think of that my D2Xs has, that my new D300 doesn’t have, is High Speed Crop Mode. When I need to use it, that rocks, but I don’t need to use it very often.

I think perhaps the most telling sign was when I realized yesterday that I just don’t want to shoot my D2Xs anymore. To me, that speaks volumes, and that’s why I’m selling it.

To me, the D300 doesn’t feel like an upgrade; it feels like a whole new camera from the ground up. The improvements are that significant.

One last thing: if you have a D300 (or are thinking of getting one), Nikon has an interactive D300 Digitutor web site with movies on how to use the D300’s new features. You can find it by clicking here.

I encourage anyone who’s bought a D300 to share your own experiences (good and bad) here on the blog by posting a comment. (I’ll save you one post; yes—I still want a D3; it is the next level of camera up from the D300, and it is just remarkable, but at its price; it should be). Thanks everybody (and thanks for your patience while I put the D300 through its paces, so I could post this review).







Here are some shots from our sunset shoot in Maui last Thursday (click on any one for a larger view).

I was lucky enough to have my buddies Joe McNally and Anne Cahill join me for this second shoot (we were all guests of photographer Randy Braun who put the shoot together), and when the sun started to set, I pulled out my Nikon SB-800 Flash unit for some location lighting. (Joe, Annie, and I all had one, but we only used one flash at a time). I set mine to Wireless mode, so I could use the flash off camera, and control it right from my camera, using the Nikon D300’s pop-up flash to trigger the wireless unit (when you do this, the pop-up flash doesn’t light your subject—it just sends out a light pulse that fires the wireless SB-800).

We each started out using the flash with just a diffusion dome to soften the light a bit, and then later as the sun went down, Joe put a yellow gel (a half cut of CTO) over the head of the flash (attached with black gaffer’s tape) to make the flash look more like the setting sun. From that point on, we were basically working to just balance the existing light with the light of the flash. We underexposed the sky to a stop to a stop and a half to make the sky look a little darker than it actually was. Then we kept dialing down the power of the flash until it looked about right.

Having Joe McNally, the master of location flash at the shoot, was amazing, and once we moved over to the rocks, Joe brought out a large gold reflector, and used it like an umbrella by firing the flash directly into the reflector so the light bounced back onto our subject. This worked to spread the light from the flash and make it softer, and of course, it worked wonderfully well (that McNally guy knows what he’s doing, eh?). Plus, Annie (who works for Nikon Professioal Services), was showing me all the cool new stuff in the D300. I was just lovin’ it! ;-)

The rest of the shoot had the three of us trading off shooting, and basically just controlling the power output of the flash, while Randy took shots of us shooting and was so gracious to put up with us shooting until after the sun had set). All in all, it was a beautiful night (the weather was perfect), and anytime you shoot with Joe McNally you can’t help but learn a lot, and I certainly did. Thanks to Randy Jay Braun for hosting the shoot (and for sharing the bottom three shots of us shooting live—that’s Randy with the white ball cap on), and to our model, Tricia Dong, for being so patient and fun throughout the entire shoot.

One last thing: the photos were just processed in Lightroom; no Photoshop at all (not even sharpening).


Hi Everybody. Here’s a couple of quickies (more photo posts coming tomorrow):

Bert Monroy is our very special guest on this week’s episode of Photoshop User TV (watch it here online), and we also do Part 2 of our live “Holiday Gear Guide” which we started on last week’s show. Also, if you didn’t catch my Gozno Gear Guide in the print edition of Layers Magazine, you can read it right here.

Moose Peterson has launched a special micro-site dedicated to his user review of the Nikon D3, and in true Moose fashion, it’s very well done. Lot’s of quick, to the point info, and this new site is already generating lots of buzz in the community. Here’s the link.

James Dempsey (of the excellent blog) has put together an article in Macworld magazine called the “Grab bag of tips for Photoshop” (he even included one of mine. I always knew I liked him). Anyway, you can catch it right here.

If you’ve got two minutes, check out the very cool photography of Dirk Karsten. I really like the look and feel his images have. (Here’s the link).

That’s it for today folks. I plan on posting some shots from my sunset shoot with Randy Braun, Joe McNally and Anne Cahill tomorrow. See you then.

digvol22.jpgFirst, thanks to the nearly 300 of you who took the time to post thoughtful, in-depth, and creative ideas for how to get my book intros read by more readers. I sat down and read each and every post in its entirely, and honestly, I really learned a lot. Here’s some of what I learned:

  • A lot of you admitted to skipping over the intros entirely (which confirmed to me that I need to try something new).
  • However, It was really nice to see how many of you not only read my full intros, but totally “get” my quirky sense of humor, and why I have been writing the intros the way I have.
  • It does seem like perhaps more readers just quickly skim or just scan the intros, though
  • A lot of people think they should be shorter and more concise
  • A lot of people think I should leave my intros just as they are
  • A surprising number of people thought I should including sexy photos to entice people to stop and read them (the whole “sex sells’ thing).
  • A lot of people thought that I should just change the name of the Intro to something that would capture more attention (I agree, and I stopped calling my introductions, “Introduction” a long time ago)
  • A number of people thought I should either include a contest, or a treasure hunt or hide a password, or include some sort of challenge to get to people to read it
  • Lots of people really liked the way I did the intro for my “Photoshop Seven-Point-System” (which really made my day, and helped me to know I was on the right track with the changes I made there)

The good news is: I took your advice; I did wind up rewriting the entire intro section, primarily because of an idea by a reader named Robin (congrats Robin—you won a full conference pass to Photoshop World Orlando), which was to take parts of the intro and scatter them throughout the first chapter. Since people are already reading the chapter, they can’t miss reading the intro right along with it, so I added these things at the end of some of the techniques (or I put them in Tip boxes, which was an idea posted by Larry Becker, and a host of others). So, my personal thanks to Robin (I’ll be contacting you directly to arrange your pass).Although I hadn’t planned on it, a second person is going to Photoshop World, and that is Robert Minkus, who had the idea of using the headline “The 10 things you must know about this book” followed by 10 very short bullet-point style paragraphs, which is exactly what I did.Now, there were other great ideas which I also incorporated into the book, and these people will all be getting a signed copy of the book (when it comes out at the end of the month). The ideas included:

  • Making the intro part of Chapter 1. That’s exactly what I did in Volume 1, and I’m continuing that same idea in Vol. 2, but Mike Myer reinforced that I was on the right track (and he had literally dozens of seconds of his idea), so he gets a copy.
  • Kathleen Difato gets a book for her idea to put the link to get downloads (or whatever), right in the first few sentence (which I did).
  • Remind the reader to go back and read the first few pages of Chapter 1 throughout the book, which I did (books go to Stacie C. Morris and Bill Maddux, and Francesco D’ Amico)
  • Do an intro video, and post it online, was a great idea–and I did it. I did the full version of the intro (basically, the original longer version of the intro where I explain everything), on video and posted it on a page where readers can get the full scroop. This idea got signed books for Kevin Zdyb, Jason D. Moore, Daniel, David Morris, and Dennis Zito.
  • I really liked Heather’s title of “The things you wished you had known before you read this book” and I incorporated that, and she gets a book, too.
  • Chuck gets a book just because he really “got” what my silly one-page chapter intros are about; He wrote: “I love reading your chapter Intros. They really help me unwind a little after buckling down on a tutorial or chapter.” When I read his comment, it was tickled to death. I also liked his “This chapter is useless without this stuff” title idea.
  • I also did make the intro less than half as long, and more to the point (a number of people made this comment, but it kind of goes back to Robin’s original idea, which was to boil it down to 10 short paragraphs.

Now, there are other things, that didn’t make it into this book, but I feel I could incorporate into some of my Photoshop books, or other titles, so I want to recognize those readers with a book as well. Their ideas included:

  • Referencing the introduction at the beginning of Chapter 1 (James Prechel)
  • “Have a reference page at the beginning with simple headings: Where to download the workfiles, which software you need, etc.” (Les)
  • “Call the Intro "Fast Start" and maybe more folks will read it.” (Monte)
  • Post it in the back of the book: “When people do realize they need to know things, they'll look at the back of the book first. That's where technical stuff goes isn't it? Never at the front.” (Martin)
  • Make the introduction itself part of the downloaded files. Publish in the book the download url and entitle the page "Read this book in half the time." At the beginning of the downloaded introduction say something like "Sorry I lied (sort of). But by reading this introduction you will have information that keeps you from re-reading the book!" (Ron Nelson)
  • “Just call the intro a "Special Bonus Chapter." Everyone likes to think that they are getting something extra for free.” (Robbie R)
  • “I would put it at the end of chapter one. People will be into reading the book by then, and will remember that info being at the first part of the book.” (Brent Moser)
  • “Have a page titled INTRODUCTION – then in small print say⦠this page/section left intentionally (almost) blank.” (Candy)
  • And Genaro gets a book for his comment: “The Intro for me has always set the mood for the chapters to follow.” He’s another guy who “gets it (me).” It’s why we spend the inordinate amount of money and time for the Photoshop World keynote; it sets the tone for the entire conference, which is “we’re here to learn but we’re going to have fun doing it” which is the theme of every book I’ve ever written. Thank you Geoaro. You warmed my heart.

Now, you’re not allowed to whine, petition, grouse, or otherwise complain if you posted an idea that didn’t win you a signed book, or if you posted a similar idea to someone who actually did win a book. I chose the people whose comments struck a chord with me, or posted the idea first…or sometimes both. I read every comment and for whatever reason these folks comments just stood out to me. So, while I had to give more Photoshop World conference passes, and signed books than I had planned, I really feel like I gained so much more (even more than I had hoped), and I’ve really taken your advice and ideas to heart; I incorporated the parts that struck a chord with me, and we’ll see how it all works in the new book (I have high hopes for it, since it was formed with your help). Again, my heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed their time and effort to help me, and most importantly, future readers of my books. I owe a debt of gratitude to each and every one of you.