Posts By Scott Kelby

Hi gang, and happy Friday. Today I thought we’d do a simple lighting tutorial — one where we’re working on balancing the existing light in our location with the light from our flash so the image doesn’t look so much like it’s lit with a flash (even though of course we know that it is). We’re going to do this by adjusting our shutter speed to control the existing room light (the ambient light) behind our bride to get that perfect mix between it and the flash.

Above: First, here’s the final image 

We’re not breaking any new ground here positioning wise — it’s a classic “Bride standing in the aisle” shot. The area behind her is dimly lit but we want to see it in our image (seeing the church she was married in is very important the bride), so we’re going to work to control the lighting in the background so we get a nice blend.

Above: Get the flash in position, then turn it off for Step One

This behind-the-scenes shot shows the simple, one-light set-up I’m using for this shoot. I’m using an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra, with one flash head running off a small portable battery pack and a small square 27 softbox. Of course, you can do this exact same thing with a hot shoe flash and a 24” Lastolite pop-up EZ-Box soft box (after all, they both create the same thing — a bright flash of light).

The flash is mounted on a lightweight regular ol’ light stand. So, why not a monopod mount like I often use? It’s because when you want a break between shots, you don’t have go looking for a place to lean it against or a table to sit it on — you just put it down on the floor, so it’s totally a convenience thing.

When I’m shooting on-location flash, I have a three-step formula for getting the look I’m after:

(1) Turn off the flash, switch your camera to Manual mode and set your Shutter Speed to 1/125 of a second.  This is my standard shutter speed starting point when I’m shooting location flash. It’s kind of a nice, safe starting point that just works. Now move your f/stop until the meter inside your viewfinder shows your exposure is correct (it’s not under or over-exposed; it’s the proper exposure). On Nikons, this meter appears on the right side inside of your viewfinder; for Canon cameras, it’s along the bottom of the viewfinder. If you can’t get to an f/stop that makes a proper exposure (it can get pretty dark in a church), you may have to raise your ISO a bit, maybe from 100 to 200 (or 200 to 400).

Above: Now under-expose by around two stops

(2) Now, I darken the exposure by around two stops (so now I’m intentionally under-exposing. If my camera said that at  f/2.8 my exposure was correct, I’d raise it to at least f/5.6 or higher to darken it by at least a full stop) and take another test shot. I’m trying to make the bride so dark she’s nearly a silhouette. I’m doing this because I want the bride lit with only the light from my flash — not the ambient light in the church. I want the ambient light to only light the area behind her.

I do see one problem with the shot above, and it’s that the background (the church) is a little too dark. This is where the Shutter Speed control comes in because it controls the room lights. Think of it as a dimmer switch for the church lights. If you need to turn up the lights a bit, all you have to do is lower the shutter speed a bit so lowering the shutter speed to 1/60 of a second would add more light behind her (as seen in the following image, where I did that).

Above: Now turn on the flash with a very low power setting

Once your subject looks like a silhouette, turn on the flash with a very lower power setting (like 1/4 power) and take a test shot (seen above). The light from the flash itself looks “OK” but the whole scene just looks a bit too bright and that keeps the light from mixing well so it doesn’t look really beautiful quite yet. However, you can really see the difference lowering the shutter speed from 1/125 down to 1/60 did — the church behind her is much brighter. In fact, I think it’s now too bright, so that was too big a drop in shutter speed, so I’m going to have to split the difference — trying 1/80 of a second. That will dim the background lights from where they are now. This doesn’t change the power or brightness of the flash — this just affects the background room lighting (remember the dimmer analogy).

Above: Another Behind the Scenes shot: I’m raising the Shutter Speed to 1/80 of a second and taking another test shot

So here I’m turning the camera to get a vertical shot and trying that slightly higher shutter speed of 1/80th of a second. I haven’t changed the power of the light yet at all — it’s still at 1/4 power.

Above: Here’s the shot and you can see we’re starting to get there. The 1/80th of a second seems like the sweet spot, so now if I make any changes, I’ll probably slightly raise or lower the power of the strobe itself to make sure the light isn’t too bright — a very common mistake and the thing that makes your shot look too “flashy.” If we want it to blend and look natural, it can’t look “flashy.” It has to make you wonder, “Is that lit with a flash?”

Above: Using Photoshop’s Camera Raw to enhance your lighting (you can do this in Lightroom just the same)

To make the lighting look even better and more dramatic, I edit it with Photoshop’s Camera Raw (or Lightroom’s Develop Module — they are the exact same thing), where I go to the Effects panel, and under Post Crop Vignetting I drag the Amount slider to the left (as shown here), which darkens the edges all the way around your image. This helps to create a more directional look to your lighting — it looks like the light is centered on your subject and it falls off to dark around here. It’s a simple thing, but it has pretty big impact.

Above: Adding a reflector

After looking at the previous image up close, I felt that the area around her eyes looked a little dark, so I had my First Assistant Brad Moore bring in a reflector to bounce some of the light from the flash back into her eyes. We took a test shot using the silver side of the reflector and it was just too bright and too harsh, so we flipped over the reflector to the white side and that did the trick.

There’s still a problem…
Which someone pointed out when I posted the image on Twitter. They noted the bright area of light in the stained glass window to the left of the bride and pointed out that if this was someone else’s image and I were critiquing on our weekly show “The Grid” (where once-a-month we do blind critiques of submitted images), that I would point out that it was distracting. He was right — that’s exactly what I would have said, and so I used Photoshop’s “Patch” tool to remove it.

Above: To use the Patch tool to fix that bright spot in the stained glass behind her  — take the tool and draw a loose selection around what you want to remove [as seen here].

Above: Then click inside that selected area and drag to an area with similar tones somewhere else in the image (as seen here where I dragged the selected area to a lower area of the stained glass.

Above: Now release the mouse, and it snaps back into place and the problem is gone! It really works amazingly well in most cases. 

Above: I finished the image off with nothing but the standard portrait retouching stuff (removing blemishes, smoothing skin, etc.). 

To finish up:
I hope this article helped you “see the light” (totally intended pun) on two things:

(1) The shutter speed controls the amount of light in the room (if you wanted it completely dark black behind her, raise the Shutter speed to 1/200 of a second with strobes, and 1/250 of a second with hot shoe flash). And…

(2) your job is to balance the flash and the room light, while keeping the lighting looking soft and subtle by doing test shots and then looking at the shot and seeing if it looks too bright and thus too “flashy.” Less is more in situations like this, so if you were going to ‘under-light’ or ‘over-light,’ it’ll look more natural underlit (but the goal, of course, is simply to balance it correctly).

If you dig flash stuff like this, and you want to get more into lighting, here’s a class to watch this weekend — it’s called “Just One Flash”. It’s one of our most popular (and I love the instructor. So devastatingly handsome he is). Here’s the official trailer:

Hope you’ll catch that class this weekend.

Hope you found this tutorial helpful, and that it helped ignite your fire for one you can do with just one light.

Have a safe, happy weekend and we’ll see ya here next week. :)

-Scott

Above: Sadly, it has been a few years since an obvious clerical error or database corruption had the AARP accidentally sending me this card much earlier than was appropriate for someone of obvious youth. Of course, I quickly disregarded this travesty, but I must admit, for someone my age, that zip-away shopping tote offer was mighty tempting. 

Now that I am apparently “Officially Old,” I thought it was time to share some of the Photohop secrets that I usually just share with other folks like me while having dinner at 4:30 pm. Here we go:

Note: Please read the headers (shown in red below) in “grumpy old man” voice:

The Fonts are too darn small!!!
Go to Photoshop’s Preferences panel (on Mac, it’s under the “Photoshop” menu; On Windows it’s under the Edit menu — and shown above), and in the list of preference on the left choose “Interface.” Where it says ‘UI Font Size’ Small — click and hold on that menu and choose either Medium or Large, and now Photoshop’s own font will appear larger and easier to read throughout the program.

I can’t see my layer thumbnails!!!
Go to the Layers panel; right-click in any space below your Background layer and from the pop-up menu that appear, choose “Large Thumbnails” as seen above, and it triples the size of the default thumbnails.

There’s too many darn tools!
Go under the Edit menu and choose Toolbar. When the window appears (shown above), drag any tools you don’t want to see again from the left column to the right column. When you’re done, click done.

I can’t remember all these keyboard shortcuts!
To change the keyboard shortcuts to ones you’ll remember, go under the Edit menu and choose Keyboard Shortcuts. Click on the little triangle to the immediate left of the menu that has the shortcut you want to change (this reveals all the items under that menu). Double-click on the one you want to change and type in the shortcut you want, based on people you play Bridge with (like Command-M for ‘Mildred’).

OK, there’s probably more, but I’ve gotta go — it’s time to go watch reruns of ‘Golden Girls.’ ;-)

Tomorrow on the Grid
Join me and “old guy” Larry Becker at 4pm. We’ll be talking about Fiber and how to get senior discounts at McDonalds.

Have a great Tuesday!

-Scott
Disgruntled AARP Rejector!

Hi gang, and happy Monday to ya!

Last week I did a post about how to avoid a common mistake that could make your portfolio weaker. Master concert photographer and bestselling author Alan Hess wrote a great comment about that post, adding another thing to watch out for, and I felt it deserved a wider audience. Alan wrote:

“There are two things I see all the time that takes a good portfolio and makes it weaker. The first is exactly what you have in this post. the same seven [shots of a model] or in my case the same band or musician.

The second is to [include] good (not great) shots because you like the subject matter, or you think there is some type of name recognition. I am in the middle of revamping my portfolio and it is tough. Is the shot of the unknown guitar player from an opening band a better choice than the famous guy? What about acts I have shot multiple times? I have great Bieber shots from the last 3 tours.. (I know it sounds weird to say great Bieber shots…) So difficult to stick to the rules when there is an emotional attachment to all the photos.”

So true, and thanks for sharing that Alan — some really great advice there. :)

More on Building Your Portfolio
If you’re into this type of stuff, we just released a class last week from Stella Kramer — she’s a New York City based photo editor and one of the most sought-after portfolio consultants in our industry (I hired her myself to help me with my portfolio), and her first class with us is on Editing and the Sequencing (order) of the images in your portfolio. I can tell you this — it is already one of our most highly-acclaimed classes — Stella is simply amazing and shares a perspective and insight you don’t often hear.

Hope you found that helpful, and here’s wishing you a week full of discovery, great images, and fun. :)

Best,

-Scott

Hi gang — I’m pretty excited about this one — it’s called “Grids” and I’ve been using for about a month now and I’m totally and hopefully in love — mostly because every other desktop Instagram solution I’ve used has always had a “gotcha” — some key thing that was missing that made it pretty much unusable and I always wound up going back to the Instagram App until now.

Here’s what it looks like on your computer:

Above: When you launch the app it shows you your feed, but really nice and big (much larger than you’d see on your phone or even your iPad — it’s really beautiful and the best way I’ve ever seen to experience Instagram). Of course, you can access your own profile and images (like mine above). You access things like posting from your desktop from the pop-down menu to the right of your profile photo.

PLUS: when you’re looking at your main feed, it shows Instagram Stories across the top, just like the app. But bigger.

Above: When you choose “Add New Post” here’s the posting window that appears. You can drag and drop your photo onto it, or click the Choose Photo/Video button to navigate to it. You type in your Caption here, too.

Above: You can add your caption info; tag people; add a location (it brings up a pop-up search where you type in a location like you have in the Instagram app), and you can crop your image Square, Rectangular or crop by dragging out over the area you want to appear, like I’m doing here. When you’re done, hit post. Boom. Done.

Is there anything missing?
Well…there’s just one little thing. It’s minor, but if they added this, it would be 100% — it doesn’t suggest #hashtags or show recently used hashtags like the Instagram app does. You can still type them in like always — it just doesn’t help, or share stats of which hashtag are most often used. Outside of that small nitpick — this app is gold. Gold I tell ya!

Cost: Free download for viewing Instagram on your desktop, but there’s an in-app purchase for $7.99 for posting from the desktop and other “pro” features. Worth every penny and then some!
For: Mac and Windows

I am super digging this — so happy to finally have an Instagram Desktop app that really works, and it’s free (or really cheap, depending on which features you need).

Download it here.

Hope you found that helpful (and hope you’re following me on Instagram where I share my travel photography images – I’m @scottkelby).

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Yesterday I got a new Porkpie “Little Squealer!” snare, and it sounds absolutely awesome! Saw rave reviews online about it, and they were right. Took it home last night and couldn’t stop playing it! Just the best (especially for the money). Here’s an iPhone pic of it when it came in yesterday. 

 

Howdy everybody. Registration is in full swing right now for the upcoming conference in Orlando on April 20-22, 2017 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. (There will be no Vegas conference this year, as Adobe is taking their Adobe Max conference to Vegas in the same time frame we would be there.) So, come and join us in Orlando (but first, watch the official 1-minute and 7-seconds conference trailer below):

Lots of cool new things this year, plus stuff we introduced last year that were hits, including new instructors, new workshops, new networking events, a very cool party, a Pub Crawl, and a whole lot more!

You can register today at PhotoshopWorld.com and save $100 by taking advantage of the Early Bird discount. Also, if you’re a KelbyOne member, you can save another $100 off the full conference pricing (so KelbyOne members get a total of $200 off ).

I hope you can join us in Orlando this Spring. It’s going to be (wait for it…wait for it…) epic! (you knew that was coming).

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Did I mention we’re going to Orlando? Well  we are. Awwwwwyeah! Come along and learn more about Photoshop, Lightroom, the Creative Cloud Apps, and Photography in three days than you have in three years. Pack your bags — we’re going to O-town!

Hi Gang — and welcome to a totally awesome Monday! On Saturday, I shot with the Falcons Crew (three of the best guys, and lights out shooters, you’d ever want to meet: Jimmy Cribb, Michael Benford, and Lynn Bass) for the NFL Divisional Playoff game between the Falcons and the Seahawks (and the Falcons rocked it with a big win!).

I brought my standard remote camera rig (more on that in a moment), but I wanted to try something new for shooting goal line stands from really down low, which is a remote camera rig (Platypod Pro Max, 3leggedthing Airhed Neo Ballhead) but I did it by controlling the shoot from my iPhone using Tethertools “Case Air” Wireless Tethering System.

The advantage is that I can set the rig down on the ground, and then see a live view of the field from my iPhone. I can change settings, set my focal point, do a time lapse, and even fire the camera all from my iPhone. The images go straight into my phone, so I could share them almost instantly if need be.  Here’s a closer look at the rig:

Above: The Case Air is that little unit sitting on top of my camera, in the hot shoe mount. It plugs into your camera’s mini-USB port (well, on my camera anyway, which is a 5D Mark III), and that’s the whole set-up hardware wise. Then you download the free Case Air app for your iPhone. The Case Air creates its own closed wireless network which you connect to (just takes a few seconds), and then you see what your camera is seeing, right on your app.

Above: The Falcons are lining up for an extra point when I took this shot using the Case Air. It was at that moment that I realized that a 14mm lens is WAY too wide for this task. Needs to be at least a 24-70mm, which is what I’ll try next week. This way, I can keep my 70-200mm ready for a pass to either edge, and the Case Air covers the center of the field (though I’m set up off center here, I won’t be next time).

We’re generally not allowed to lay down in the end zone (kneeling is fine), and the PocketWizard Route that I use for the player intros would work here too. It’s probably more responsive than the Case Air, but without lying on the ground (which I do in rare instances), the Case Air gives you a perfect way to set-up and focus the camera before the play. I can tell you — this is probably the last thing the folks at Tethertools ever imagined this being used for, but I wanted to try it anyway.

PROS: It’s super lightweight; it’s very cleverly designed, and all connects in seconds, and in the studio and for this field test I had zero problems getting it to work. I just hooked it up and it worked. The software is great, and the whole thing is fun, and I can go straight from my iPhone to the Web. Social Media folks for teams would eat this up! Plus, it’s only $149, which is around the price of just 1 of the 2 PocketWizard Plus IIIs that you’d need to fire a remote camera in an environment like this.

CONS: It was never designed for this. It’s really for wireless tethering in the studio or for portraits on location, or for a second camera behind the bride and groom during the ceremony. Because everything’s moving via wireless, the images have to transfer from the camera to the iPhone, so if you shoot a burst of images (like we do in football) you don’t see the results right away — you see a spinning status wheel as images are coming in, so you have to wait a minute to see if you “got the shot.”

Speaking of PocketWizard Plus IIIs
My regular remote camera shoot for the intros, which is usually a no-brainer at this point…wasn’t.

Above: My standard rig (except this was my 3rd camera, so it’s a Canon 5D Mark III — usually a Canon 1Dx). PocketWizard Plus III on top sitting in the hot shoe mount. Connected to my camera’s Remote Shutter Release port via a cable. 14mm lens on the camera (perfect for this); an Oben ballhead (got it from B&H), and a Platypod Pro Max plate holding it all steady.

Above: You can see my small rig over on the right, to the left of that Falcon’s logo, which soon will be spitting out fire and smoke, which is one of the reasons why you need a remote camera — you might burst into flames.

Above: Here’s the view from the camera itself. I do lots of test shots before the players come out to make sure everything’s working. The position seems pretty perfect, and it’s firing off test shots (I can see the little light on the top of the PocketWizard, and I see the image appear on the back of the screen, so even though I’m not down there on the ground, I can see it’s firing.

Above: I have a PocketWizard Plus III with me out at the center of the field to trigger that remote camera; it’s in my Hot Shoe mount, so when I fire my camera, it automatically fires the remote. At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work, but on Saturday it only fired once — just this one picture above, and it never fired again. I have no idea why. Maybe I knocked the remote as we shifted positions after the cheerleaders came out, and the connection wasn’t solid — I don’t know — but I only got this one shot, which is pretty much worthless. This same exact rig worked perfectly at the Dolphins game down in Miami just a few weeks ago. The shame is — the positioning was on the money (at least I know for next week, right?).

Above: This was taken with my main camera with a 70-200mm — I darkened the scene except where I put that red circle so you can see where my remote camera was positioned. Oh well, it happens.

So, as far as Remote Cameras go, it was a miss and a single. I proved the Case Air can work even in an environment I doubt it was ever designed to work in, but I used a wide lens and didn’t have the one I needed with me. Luckily, I get to try again for the NFC Championship Game in Atlanta next week.

So, that’s a little behind the scenes, and a field report on the Case Air. Here’s a link if you want more details on it (and I give it a big thumbs up overall for an affordable, solid wireless tethering system.

Hope you all have a great Monday (yes, it’s Monday and it’s going to be great!). :)

Best,

-Scott

 

 

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