Category Archives Fun

OK, I’ve got nuthin today. I had great hopes to do my annual “Best of 2011” post today, but I had so many things due on my plate, that it got really late, and….well…I didn’t even get it started. So, welcome to “I got nuthin’ Friday.”

I’ll ask Braddo to post the winner from yesterday’s first “Free Stuff Thursday” later today, but for now…well….nuthin. Despite the fact that your Friday visit here started off with a bust, I hope you have a kick-butt day nevertheless.

Cheers,

-Scott
He’s got nuthin’

It’s a national holiday here in the US (the banks are closed, government offices, and so on), and our offices are closed today as well, as we celebrate the New Year.

I’m off today from work, but I’m psyched to be shooting the Outback Bowl on assignment from Southcreek Global (The Georgia Bulldogs vs. the Michigan State Spartans). It’s my last scheduled football shoot for the season (but hey, ya never know, right?), but now that football is almost over, it could be time to shoot some NHL Ice Hockey soon, eh? :)

If I get anything decent, I’ll post a few here tomorrow.

Here’s wishing you your best year yet!!!

Cheers,

-Scott

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!

Today in the U.S. we celebrate Thanksgiving; a national holiday where we give thanks for the many blessings we enjoy (and I truly feel like the most blessed guy on earth). Traditionally this is a day  where families come together to eat a Thanksgiving turkey feast, and then we watch football until we pass out. It’s just about a perfect day. :-)

Our offices are closed today for Thanksgiving, so there’s no “pimpy Thursday” today, but I’ll be back here tomorrow with some fun stuff, and of course some mild to medium pimpage in honor of the biggest shopping day of the year.

In the meantime, please enjoy the stock photo above (nothing brings the warmth, togetherness, and joy of Thanksgiving together like a stock photo).

In all seriousness, here’s wishing you and your family a joyus, happy, and yummy Thanksgiving. :-)

All my best,

-Scott

I haven’t had a chance to really go through my shots from the 49ers/Giants game on Sunday quite yet, so instead, I thought I’d turn this into a teaching moment and share some tips on shooting football—the kind of tips  you’re not likely to find anywhere else. ;-)

TIP #1: What this shot needs is….more goal post (see photo above right).
Without the goal post clearly visible in the shot, how does the viewer really even know what sport they’re seeing? Is it ice hockey? The 100mm Men’s Freestyle? Doubles Tennis? Who knows without a strong visual cue like that icon of football, the venerable Goal Post. Seeing it lets you know in an instant that this is football, and a four-point touchback is just moments away.

“I’ve got a fever. And the only prescription…is More Goal Post.”
— Legendary football photographer Bruce Dickinson

“If Bruce Dickinson wants more goal posts, we should probably give him more goal posts. And maybe I am being selfish, but last time I checked, SI doesn’t have a lot of pictures that feature the goal post!”
— Legendary G+ commenter  Nicholas Boivin

 

Tip #2: Use the Ref as a Graphic Element Whenever Possible
Timing is everything when shooting football, and if you can time it to where a referee walks into the frame at the peak moment of action (as seen above right), it will add a level of depth that is missing in so many sports photos today. Look at the flat-looking, one dimensional image on the left. Now compare that with the one on the right. The ref adds the depth and dimension it needs to take this shot to the pro level. I call this technique “Reverse Shallow Depth of Field.” or RSDOF

Tip #3: Use assistant coaches and other random people on the sidelines to help “frame” your subject (as seen above right).
In the shot on the left, you don’t know where to look first, but in the shot on the right, your eyes are drawn right into the player carrying ball (someone you might otherwise overlook). This is a tried and true compositional technique that is usually applied to travel and landscape images, but if you’ve got team assistants, and video crew, and the guy holding that big blue parabolic mic right there beside you on the sidelines, why not use them to apply that same technique to football shots? You won’t see this type of framing on SI.com, and that’s precisely what will make your images stand out!

Well, there you have it folks, three solid tips designed to add the element of surprise and shallow depth of field to your foreground like never before. Now, it’s off to shoot the second period of play and take a few snaps of that running guard right before the buzzer! ;-)

(Above: L to R: Pete, RC, Matt [in his old belt], Yours Truly, Corey, and Brad, right after his testing)

Last night the Photoshop Guys were there to support our buddy Matt Kloskowski as he tested for his Black Belt in Taekwondo, and as expected—-he rocked it!

He’s been winning tournament after tournament during this training, including 1st place in sparring and 1st in forms competition numerous times, and he’s competing in a little over a week in a big competition—his first as a black belt.

A big congratulations to Matt, who has been training hard for years for this night, and we all are so proud of him. Way to go, Ski!!!!! :-)

Close