Category Archives Fun

Welcome to my "8th Annual Gonzo Holiday Gear Guide." If you've been a faithful reader of this Gear Guide for the past seven years, this year's name probably sounds familiar, and that's because it is. It's the original name for this Gear Guide, and I'm bringing it back with a vengeance (I'm not really sure how to make a Gear Guide vengeful but I'm working on it), with all of its original "Gonzoness" (yes, that's a word, I'm pretty sure).

This is replacing last year's "Awesome Gear Guide" name (awesome is way overusedâ”mostly by me), and now here you are, reading it right now. How "in the moment" is that, right? Okay, this year, I'm breaking things into three distinct categories:

1: Stocking Stuffers (You can also use these as actual holiday gifts if you're not that crazy about the person.)
2: Great Value Gear (Stuff that's a really good deal for not a lot of money, but he or she will totally dig it.)
3: Cha-ching! (Stuff you buy for the doctor/lawyer/rap mogul on your holiday gift list. This is the stuff that makes them burst into spontaneous tears of joy. Well, at least I would.)

Anyway, the "Awesome" is out, the "Gonzo" is back, and this year's Gear Guide is packed with some really cool stuff that we don't need, but we really, really, really want because getting (ahemâ”I mean giving) is what it's really all about. At least, that's what I read in a Christmas card once.


These are my self-imposed guidelines for which products make it into the guide. It's just two rules, actually. To be listed here the products have to be ones that I use myself, that I absolutely love, and now can't live without (well, I could live without them, but I just wouldn't want to). And if a product makes the guide, it has to be one I would recommend to a close friend without hesitation, especially if my friend were a rich doctor (kidding). Okay, folks, hang on to your Fruchtsaftgetr¤nke, here we go!


20×24″ Rosco CTO Gel Sheet

If the photographer on your gift list has a flash, this is a perfect gift because it's something he needs but probably doesn't have, and it's cheap as anything. Get him a big sheet of thin orange gel. He tapes it over his flash head and it warms up the color of the flash, creating a more flattering color for portraits. Get the Rosco CTO (Color Temperature Orange) 1/4 sheets for just $6.49 a sheet at B&H. Do you want to really splurge on him? Throw in the 1/2-cut and full-cut sheets, as well. If he doesn't like cutting, get the Rosco precut Strobist pack for just $7.95 with gels in all sorts of colors. A fantastic deal.

Roll of Gaffer's Tape

If he already has some gels, get him a roll over Gaffer's tape. This is the handiest stuff on earth for photographers (I even give away a few rolls at my seminarâ”I'm not making this up). It looks like black duct tape, but it comes off clean with no residue or pulling off any paint. It rocks. $6.50 a roll. Buy two (and keep one for yourself).

30″ Westcott 5-in-1 Collapsible Reflector/Diffuser

He probably already has a reflector, but that's okayâ”what you want is the diffuser inside the reflector (you zip it open and there it is). You use this outdoors to turn harsh, direct sun into beautiful, soft, flattering light (just put it between the sun and your subject). Around $30. Plus, you could keep the reflectors and just give him the diffuser. I'm just sayin'.

Lightroom Magazine

Does the photographer on your gift list use Lightroom? Of course she does! So get her a few issues of Lightroom Magazine. (I love this magazine becauseâ”because, well, I'm the publisher, but it's an awesome, awesome magazine. This is a case where using the term awesome, and using it twice, is perfectly acceptable.) You can find it on the App Store on iTunes for $4.99 an issue. Cheap. If you really want to go all out, go ahead and buy her all the back issues.

Some Cool Books

Your photographer will love Zack Arias's Photography Q&A book (only $18.20 on Amazon or Barnes & Noble). Or how about the recent refresh of The Digital Photography Book, Part 2 by Scott Kelby (I love everything he writes) for $18.23 on Amazon or Barnes & Noble (weird price; cool book)! If he's into sports, get Peter Read Miller on Sports Photography ($31.86 on Amazon or Barnes & Noble for $35.77), or if you want to splurge a little, get Frank Doorhof's Mastering the Model Shoot for around $28.45 on Amazon or Barnes & Noble for $28.96(I worked on this book with Frankâ”he totally rocked it!). Note: Book prices on online change frequently. Just so ya know.


Vanguard Quovio 49T Rolling Bag

If you want a rolling camera bag with Think Tank Photo quality, but can't quite swing it, then check out the Vanguard Quovio 49T. It holds a lot of gear (and your laptop), and it holds it all well. I've taken it on a few trips now and I really like how it's made and its usability. Lots of clever little features and great overall design.

DxO FilmPack 4

This is probably the best plug-in for Photoshop or Lightroom out there for faithfully reproducing classic film effects, and it totally nails these effects. It has a great interface with a smart design, and you can't argue with the realistic looks it effortlessly creates, but you can still tweak each look big time. Plus, it does everything from contrast effects to borders and custom frames. I don't use a whole bunch of plug-ins, but when I want a realistic film look, this is the only plug-in I reach for (and by reach, I mean I just go under a menu).

Imagenomic's Portraiture Skin Retouching Plug-in

The incredible Frank Doorhof turned me on to this plug-in when I asked him how he was retouching skin in his portraits, because his stuff was really looking good. I had to pry it out of him a bit (LOL!), but as soon as he told me, I went straight to Imagenomic's site and picked up a copy. Pretty darn amazing; pretty darn fast. It's $199.95, which ain't cheap, but the wedding or portrait photographer on your list will hug you and not let go for a good long while.

Westcott's Rapid Box 20″ Octa Mini and Deflector Plate

This is, hands-down, the best beauty dish for hot-shoe flash I've ever seen. Plus, it pops up and you're ready to go, so it fits with the whole run-and-gun portability behind hot-shoe flashes. Very well made and thought out. I use the 20″ Octa Mini ($169.90), but you'll need the Rapid Box Deflector Plate for another $19.90 (that's what gives you the beauty dish look). She will be super-diggin' this.

Kata LPS-216 DL Laptop Backpack

I generally don't like backpacks (I use rolling bags instead), but what I love about this one is that it's not big and bulky, yet it still holds a lot of gear and my laptop. Plus, the interior is bright yellow, so you can actually find stuff. It's really well made and only $109.99, which makes it my favorite photo gear backpack ever!

Every photographer, designer, and illustrator needs a portfolio, and has a killer deal on them with very slick professional templates. With Squarespace, you can have a very cool-looking online portfolio up and running in about 15 minutes with absolutely no Web design experience necessary. I use Squarespace for my sports photography portfolio and absolutely love them! They start at around $10 a month (but you'll get your photographer a full year for $96). You'll be a hero.

Lexar Professional Workflow HR1 (Four-Bay USB 3 Reader Hub)

You know what photographers hate? They hate waiting for their cards to download to their computer. That's why this baby was born. Well that, and the fact that a lot of cameras these days have more than one memory card slot, and often those are two different types (like an SD card and a CompactFlash, or a CompactFlash and an XQD card). With this, you buy the docking bay ($99.99) and then up to four readers that pop right in, in any format you want (SD, CF, or XQD) starting at $36.99 each. I love this. Big time.

Yongnuo YN560-III Hot-Shoe Flash

If you want her to think you spent a bundle, which will lead to you getting "Most Favored Friend" status for all of 2014, get her a Yongnuo hot-shoe flash. It's only $70 but looks like it cost $600. It creates a bright flash of light (just like every other flash), but without the high price of about every other flash.

Impact Quickbox Softbox Kit

B&H Photo put this kit together and for the money, I don't know how you can beat it. It's a 24×24″ collapsible pop-up softbox, a tilt-swivel bracket, a bracket that holds your flash and the softbox, and a 8′ light stand, all for $149. It's hero time.

FP-1 Floor Plate for Using Remote Cameras

If you've ever thought about using a remote camera (like a camera set up behind the bride or on the balcony, or for sports), this floor plate is fantastic! I use these for sports and absolutely love 'em. They're very strong, yet surprisingly lightweight, and they're designed to work with just about any ballhead and PocketWizard remote. Incredibly handy for only $65.

B&H Gift Cards

Not sure exactly what to get her? Yes you do. Get her a B&H Gift Card. I don't know anyone who doesn't want something from the greatest photo store on earth, plus this way she can get whatever she wants (within the limit of how much you put on the card, of course). You can order them direct from the B&H site. They send a card and a catalog so it looks pretty substantial.

PocketWizard PlusX Wireless Transceiver

PocketWizard has always been the gold standard in wireless triggers for flash or even for firing remote cameras, but the best is always expensive. But this year, they came out with a new budget-priced model for only $99 each (you need twoâ”one for your camera and one for your flash), called the PlusX, and it has the ruggedness, range, and quality without the high price. They're simple and they work. If you can't swing the $198, try Cactus triggers instead (two for $60). Not the same quality, build, design, or range, but it's not the same price either.

Canon Close-up Lens Filter (for Canon or NIKKOR)

Get him this screw-on lens filter that turns most any Canon or NIKKOR lens into a Macro lens for close-up photography. It's small (only about 1″ thick), screws on just like a filter, and viol¡, you have a macro lens that you can toss into any camera bag (perfect for wedding photographers). They start at around $72 and go up to around $150, based on how wide his lens is (in millimeters).


Westcott SkyLux LED

What's the next big wave in lighting? LED continuous lighting (it's not a flash, so what you see is what you get). Video creatives have long-embraced LEDs but now they're finally (finally!) making their way to still photography. Westcott's SkyLux is really fantastic, and even though it's here in "Cha-ching Land" at around $1,200, it's one of the cheapest LED solutions out there. Plus, Westcott makes a ton of softboxes that fit right on it. This is where lighting is going. You can take someone special there now, this holiday season, and he will love you like a puppy without all the yipping (well, some yipping but it ends after a few weeks).

Canon EOS 70D

I got a chance to use the Canon EOS 70D on a few studio shoots and events, and I have to say this camera body may be the best deal of anything on the list, value-wise (well, maybe beside the $6.49 sheets of Rosco gel). It has features way beyond its price, and if the photographer on your gift list has any ideas about shooting DSLR video, he'll lose his mind over this puppy! Did I mention it has a touchscreen, and that you can pinch to zoom and flick to scroll through your photos, and it's responsive like a smartphone touchscreen. I remember when Nikon released the D700 a few years back and we all thought, "What was Nikon thinking? It's too good a deal." I feel the same way about the 70D. Pro-quality images with many pro features, but they pretend it's for consumers.

PrioLite MBX500 500 W/s Monolight

This is a serious studio strobe that lets you use studio strobes on location. That's not new; there are a bunch of strobes that you can take out in the field using a battery pack that slings over your shoulder. The difference here is that there's no battery pack to sling over your shoulder. The pack is built right into the strobe itself. There's no cable. There's no battery pack. It's just the light. It's awesome! But it ain't cheap. They're $1,479 each. Definitely for pros or for the Wall Street crony on your holiday gift list.

AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR or Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC

The AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR is my all-time favorite travel photography lens because it's one lens that does it allâ”from wide-angle to portrait lengths to a tight zoom. Plus, this particular lens is amazingly sharp, lightweight, and very well built. It's not cheap at $1,049.95, but it's worth it. Give her this as a holiday gift and you may not be able to get rid of her. A perfect gift for someone you're stalking.
If the photographer on your list is a Canon shooter, unfortunately Canon doesn't make a compact 28-300mm like this Nikon model. (The Canon version is full size, quite heavy, and expensive at an MSRP of $2,689.) Tamron makes a 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC that will do the trick. It's not as sharp as the Nikon 28-300mm or the Canon for that matter, but it's not nearly as expensive either at around $630.

Greetings from beautiful Miami Beach. OK, that’s about all I’ve got today. I had planned to run some videos from Photoshop World in Vegas, but they weren’t ready, so……so….I’ve got nuthin’.

Hope I see you here today in Miami at my seminar today. Hope you have a great weekend (hey, that’s something. Kinda).


A guy with nuthin’ on his blog today

Happy Friday everybody! Here’s Five Quickies (stop snickering):

That’s an awesome drum solo from Scott Stahley, the drummer in my band “Big Electric Cat,” taped live with a remote camera mounted beside the drums by Scott Diussa last week during our gig at B.B. Kings Bar & Grill in Orlando (during Photoshop World). Scotty is an killer drummer, so if you’ve got a sec, check out his solo right above (thanks to Scott Diussa for shooting and sharing it).

One from yesterday’s bridal shoot
I shot this yesterday for a project I’m working on . It was taken at a small church in downtown Tampa, and it’s lit with just one flash and a small 27″ soft box. 1/80 of a second (I choose a slower shutter speed so you can see more of the available light in the church), and f/4 (I chose a wider aperture than I would in the studio so the background would be out of focus). You’ll see a lot more from this project, soon! :)

New Wacom Cintiq 13HD 13″ Unboxing Video
Our own Pete Collins got his hands on the coolest new, small-sized Cintiq and he had an unboxing video (like only Pete can). You can watch it right above.

In the video above Pete talks about a “Out of the Box” setup and configuring video that gives you a little bit more of a look at the 13HD. If you want to check that out, click on the link here:

If you missed “The Grid” This week with our topic “A Current Look at Social Media for Photographers…”
Well, it’s right above. Lots of great interaction and questions from the live viewers, plus we have a couple of giveaways for folks who are watching the rebroadcast, so I hope you’ll check it out.

I am really enjoying curating “Cool Photography Stuff” (my own Flipboard 2.0 Magazine)
If you have the App “Flipboard 2.0” for the iPad  I invite you to check out my free Flipboard magazine called “Cool Photography Stuff” which I curate by including cool photography stuff I find during my daily research. I put everything in there from news to tutorials to beautiful images from photographers all over the world. Best of all, it’s free (yay!). NOTE: There is now an Android version of Flipboard, but they haven’t released the 2.0 update yet which includes the self-curated magazine feature— I’ve heard rumors it’s coming within the next month.

If you have the Flipboard 2.0 App, launch the App and go up in the search field search and search for the magazine by name (It shows “Skelby” as the person it’s from, but that’s me). I update it about every day (including weekends), and often several times a day. Hope you find it helpful, because it sure is fun (Also, thanks to the 4,500 photographers who have already subscribed and get my magazine in their Flipboard field daily now).

Here’s the direct link:

Now, it’s Pro Hockey Photography Workshop Time!
We kick off our workshop tonight, so you’ll be seeing images from the workshop over on my Facebook, Twitter and G+ feeds (hope you’ll follow me there). Looking forward to seeing everybody tonight, and we’ll see you on the ice!

Cheers everybody, and here’s wishing you your best weekend this year so far! :)

Man, did I trash my diet in Philly or what!!!!

First, we had a awesome day! Philadelphia was the first city on my nationwide tour, and the nearly 500 photographers who came out Wednesday could not have been more welcoming or friendly. Now, onto the important stuff — incredible Philly food! ;-)

My buddy John Geliebter (shown above left with me) took Brad and I out to his favorite cheesesteak dive “Tony Luke’s” in South Philly (seen above). Total dive (and I mean that as a compliment), and there I experienced the magical healing power of the best Philly Cheesesteak I’ve had, because when I woke up Wednesday morning my Bronchritis was gone and I felt great!

I took your advice!
I asked here on the blog for suggestions where to eat while I’m there and so many folks mentioned DiNic’s in the Reading Terminal (right across the street from the convention center) that we went there for our seminar lunch break (I had the Roast Pork with Sharp Provolone and Broccoli Rabe — absolutely delicious!). Next time I’m in Philly, I will hit “Steve’s Prince of Steaks” (highly recommended by readers) and I will stop by either Pat’s or Genos just to get the Philly Experience, but when it comes to chow; Tony’s and DiNic’s totally rocked it this trip!

We just added TWO MORE CITIES!
Come out and spend the day with me in:

Chicago on April 30th
Seattle on May 23rd
Los Angeles on May 24th

Seats are filled on a first-come, first served basis, so come snag yours right now (it’s only $99 for the full day; just $79 if you’re a NAPP member). Here’s the link. 

OK, let’s switch gears!
Today I’m taping a class with the incredible Tim Wallace (famous UK-based automotive photographer) on lighting and shooting car interiors (Tim’s doing the teaching, I’m doing the shooting. Geesh, from one pressure cooker to the next). Below: here are some scenes from the class Tim just taped this week for Kelby Training Online on how to photograph motorcycles (photos by Erik Kuna).

Above: Behind the scenes shots from Tim’s new online class on photographing motorcycles 


Above: More behind the scenes shots (photos by Erik Kuna)

I’ll be sharing some shots from our taping today with Tim over on my Twitter account, and my Facebook page.

Thanks again to all the great folks in Philly who came out to my  seminar, and who made me feel so welcome (and thanks to everybody who came up with Philly restaurant suggestions. Well, now I’m back at home eating right, but that sure was fun!) Hope you all have a fantastic weekend and we’ll see you back here on Monday.

Cheers, —Scott

I’ve had a really low-level cold for about 10-days now but on Sunday it decided to move things up a notch, to full blown Bronchitis, so on Monday I went to the doctor, he gave me a shot (ouch!), and some medicine, and a Philly Cheesesteak (OK, he didn’t’ give me that, that I’m getting tomorrow in Philly), so I spent the day at home resting, drinking lots of water and generally looking like the pup you see above.

I’m OK, but I don’t have anything too exciting for today’s blog post (written on Monday night, cough-couch), so I’m calling in sick. Still looking forward to seeing everyone at my Shoot Like a Pro seminar in Philly on Wednesday (over 400 photographers are already signed up for the day), but when you see me, you probably shouldn’t shake my hand unless you want to look like this doggie, too.

Have a healthy Tuesday everybody. :-)

Hi Gang: Not really one big topic today, but here’s a bunch of quick stuff that’s going on:

A big thanks to the readers of Shutter magazine, who named me as one the Top 10 Most Influential in the Industry (I came in at #6). I am very grateful to everyone who voted for me, and to Shutter who did a feature on each of the top 10, and I included some caps of their article about me below (here’s the link to the article in Shutter, where you can read the interview and see all the winners, which included my buddy Joe McNally).

“10 Tips for Creating a Successful Portfolio”
Cliff Mautner (named one of the Top 10 Wedding Photographers in the World” by American Photo magazine) was our in-studio guest this week on “The Grid” (our free weekly show for photographers) and this episode is getting a lot of buzz. Our Topic was “10 Tips for Creating a Successful Portfolio” and Cliff was the perfect guest because of his insights into the world of wedding photography. Great episode and if you missed it, you can watch it right below.


The US Navy retweeted my Carrier Shot blog post
When I saw this on Twitter:

“@scottkelby got a once in a lifetime chance – take photos aboard CVN77. This AWESOME photos & blog –>”

I was so excited, and so honored, and just totally psyched!!!! Whoo Hooo!!!!

The Evolution of an On-Location Portrait Session
Our good friend Rick Sammon has a wonderful post today over on his blog called “The Evolution of an On-Location Portrait Session.” The images and behind-the-scenes stuff are terrific, and there are some real learning moments. Also, if you’re already a Kelby Training Online subscriber, make sure you check out Rick’s online classes (they have been really rockin’!).  Anyway, if you’ve got a sec, check out Rick’s post right here:

Above: One of Rick’s shots from his post. Very cool stuff!

Tutorial: How to control the panning of still images and video in Photoshop CS6
Check out this Awesome Photoshop tutorial from our friend (and NAPP Photoshop Guru) Nicole S. Young for people who edit DSLR Video in Photoshop CS6 (and CS6 is perfect for photographers who want to edit video without learning a whole video editing program). Here’s the link: Way to rock it Nicole!!!! :-)

Big shout out to “Weekly Photo Tips” for their in-depth review of our magazine for photographers using hot shoe flash and studio lighting: “Light It Magazine” for iPad (above).

My favorite line from the review? It’s where they said:

“If I could only have one photography publication, it would be Light It, hands down.” Woot!!! :)

Here’s the link if you’ve got a second:

Psyched to see one of my shots from the aircraft carrier make’s
“8 Top Google+ Photographs” list for January 29th!

Here’s the link: (Whoo Hoo!). :-)

Man, it’s be an amazing few weeks!!!!! My feet still aren’t touching the ground.

Thanks everybody for all your support, kind comments, and good vibes this past few weeks. Here’s wishing you a super-kick-butt weekend and we’ll see ya back here on Monday.

Cheers! ––Scott

P.S. Don’t make plans for Wednesday night — we’ve got something fun brewing! :-)