Category Archives Guest Blogger

Griswold Ain't Got Nothing On This!
Hello everyone and Merry Christmas! Corey Barker here and I just wanted to pop in and share a few things as we wrap up the year and get ready for what hope to be a very exciting 2014. One thing I wanted to share, or re-share is a video time-lapse I had done last year on taking a normal photo of a house and decorating it with Christmas lights all in Photoshop. It was a lot of fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Well here it is and is set to some rather appropriate Christmas music. If you haven't seen it yet go ahead and check it out and if you are a NAPP member then you can see the tutorial in real time over at the NAPP member website.

http://youtu.be/yQ99NVFpVsc

The Bear & The Hare Christmas Spot
Many of you may know of my friend Aaron Blaise, who is a former Disney animator and perhaps one of the best illustrators I know. He also has taught at the last two Photoshop World's and has wowed crowds with his skill in creating realistic character art all in Photoshop using a Wacom Cintiq.

Just this past year Aaron went back to his roots to do some 2D hand drawn animation on a Holiday commercial for a London based company. Aaron had told me about the project months ago but couldn't reveal too many details. When I finally saw the finished piece I was nearly brought to tears. It's a beautiful piece and has a lot of heart. It shows how 2D animation can still capture our hearts the way the old Disney classics used to.

Aaron did all the animation of the actual bear and hare characters and other animators did the rest. What is interesting is how they did it. It combines practical model effects with 2D characters and animated as stop motion. When you are done watching the video go and watch the behind the scenes of how they did it. That is as impressive as the piece itself.

In the end the spot is nothing short of amazing and big tip of the hat to Aaron and the rest of the production for making a piece of art and not just an advertisement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqWig2WARb0

A New Down & Dirty Book is On the Way

Just this past week I finished up Volume 2 of the Down & Dirty Tricks for Designers book. The first book was a big hit with designers and was filled with eye-catching images. I believe this next one is as every sequel should be, better than the first. I have completely new material throughout the book with an expanded 3D chapter that takes Photoshop 3D to the extreme. In addition to more 3D I have my Hollywood Effects chapter with a complete movie poster project from start to finish. I also have a short chapter where I use images provided me by notable photographers like Moose Peterson and Glyn Dewis.

As I mentioned the book is in post-production and hopes to be shipping sometime in late January/early Feb 2014. Be sure to look for that soon and also check out coreysbarker.com for more info as well. Here are a few examples of what you can expect to see in the book.

This was created with images shot by Glyn Dewis and is a play on the movie Looper starring Bruce Willis.

This is the poster project I referred to earlier. This tutorial is fully step-by-step starting with the raw image right out of the camera.

The 3D chapter boasts some of the most eye-catching and complex 3D you probably ever seen in Photoshop. You will see how this very logo was created entirely in Photoshop with no third party applications used at all.

What about product design? No problem, learn how to create and combine simple shapes into an elegant product shot that you can view and render from practically any angle.

As I said, these are merely a small taste of all the fun that is to be had in this newest Volume of Down & Dirty Tricks for Designers. What always drove me to write such a book like this was because these books, and the first volume, were the books I would have been looking for if I were a design student or aspiring artist. Often just seeing what is possible is enough to fuel your creativity and drive you to create something that sends that thrilling chill down your spine. I only hope this book can do that for you. Stay tunedâ¦more to come!

You can see more of Corey’s work at CoreySBarker.com, and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.


Photo by Drew Gurian

A big thanks to Scott and Brad for having me back here on Guest Blog Wednesday. In the past I have discussed workflow and why you should only show your best work. This time around I want to talk about something a little different, keeping yourself motivated.

I am writing this on Monday evening after a crazy week of shooting five different concerts in five nights with 17 different bands.

There was a lot of standing around and waiting.

There were some really odd restrictions.

There were some very crowded photo pits.

There were some really challenging lights.

And I loved every second of it.

I have one of the best jobs in the world.

The question I get asked a lot is "What is your favorite band to shoot?" or "What was your favorite shoot?" The answer might surprise you.

My favorite band to shoot is the next one. Doesn't matter if they are a huge name like Jay Z or a up and comer with the opening 5:00pm slot on a multi-band holiday show like J. Roddy and Business. I approach each one as if it is the most important shoot ever, and for those three (or two) songs, it is.

Recently, I was reminded how I important it is to take each shoot, each day, each moment and make it the most important ever. It was all because of Andrew Youssef. Andrew was a Southern California based concert photographer. He wasn't a friend, we didn't know each other well. We were more like work acquaintances. We shared the photo pit on numerous occasions. We chatted in hallways of venues and swapped concert photography horror stories. Bad lighting, pushy photographers, good publicists. The stuff that we had in common at the time. Andrew was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer in 2011. He lost that battle on November 30 at the age of 38.

The thing is, Andrew kept shooting. He kept going to shows and taking great photos even while battling cancer. It really put it into persecutive for me. I have had days where I didn't want to go shoot some opening act. Where I knew the lighting would be tough and I would be pushing my camera into the 6400 ISO and higher zone. I didn't want to go hunt for parking downtown only to stand around waiting to shoot some band I have never heard of. But I have never had to battle cancer.

Imagine loving your job so much that nothing could keep you from doing it?

Imagine loving your job so much that it actually made you physically feel better when you got to do it?

So, my favorite band to shoot? The next one, and the one after that. Every single time I walk into a photo pit, I feel rejuvenated, I feel alive. Each one of the 17 bands photographed this past week got the same level on intensity and focus from me. Each of the bands had me striving to capture the best possible images. Sometimes I have to stop, take a deep breath and look around. I'm one of the lucky ones, I'm doing what I love.

The reality is that no matter how much I love this, there re times when I need a little creative pep talk. Here are a few of the things that I try to keep me interested and motivated to getting the best shot.

1) Change focal lengths: I love the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. So when start to feel like I am just going through the motions, I switch up lenses to something wider like the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens or the 20-35mm f/2.8 lens. It's uncomfortable, it can be frustrating, and it forces me to really look at the scene as it unfolds in front of me.

2) Change locations: There isn't much space to work in photo pit and I usually start over on stage left. So when I am feeling complacent, it's time to move over tot he middle or stage right.

3) Use the lighting: I have really started to try and use the stage lighting more in my images. Instead of just focusing on the performer, I start to look to see if I can incorporate the lights as an element in the image and not just as something illuminating the subject. This can mean dropping the shutter speed a little so you have to really time it right to get a sharp image.

4) Stop and watch: There are times when the lighting is so tough, that it is better to put the camera down and just take a few moments to watch what is going on. Look for lighting patterns or angles that might make a better shot.

5) Stay out of the pack: I really don't want the same shot as everyone else in the photo pit. So I tend not to crowd right in the same areas as everyone else. I will try to get a different angle on the same scene by shooting from further rout to the sides. This works really well with bands that like to reach out to the crowd.

6) Turn around: This is something that I really need to do more often. Photos of the fans watching the show can be just as much fun as photos of the band.

The payoff is that if you treat each shoot as if it was the most important thing you could be doing, chances are your images will reflect that. I know mine do.

You can see more of Alan’s work and keep up with his blog at AlanHessPhotography.com, and follow him on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. You can also come check out his classes at Photoshop World Atlanta or on KelbyTraining.com, and pick up one of his many photography books or eBooks.

Shooting Stars
Admit it, you are enamored by certain stars; you follow and keep track of all of their movements. I'm a sucker for stars too, but more of the celestial type. There is a certain magic to shooting at night and capturing what can't be seen with the naked eye. Hopefully these tips will inspire or help you improve your night visions.

The Right Stuff
In order to successfully capture the night I would recommend a digital camera from the last 2-3 years, a sturdy tripod, and a cable release. I tend to shoot wide, 18mm-21mm, to include more of the sky. However when shooting wide, it is very important to incorporate an interesting foreground. Trees, rocks, and structures will add more dimension and scale against the night sky.

Get Out Of Town
Get away from all the light pollution of the city to better capture the starry skies. If you can't see the stars, then neither can your camera. This shot was taken 40 minutes north of NYC, at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. The three crosses shot (later in the blog) was taken in the remote town of Las Cruces, Baja - and revealed more stars than I had ever seen or imagined.

Be In Tune With The Moon
Photographing under the moonlight can be a magical and therapeutic experience. The size and brightness of the moon will depend on what phase it's in. Knowing this and what time the moon will be rising, will dictate the length of your exposure. I use the MoonPhase app to plot out what nights will be the best to shoot. The app, Moonrise, lets you drop a pin on a location/date and find out when the moon will be rising and setting.

Focus To Infinity
Autofocus doesn't work for most night photography; there simply isn't enough contrast in the scene. If you are shooting the stars and not including any foreground for 20-30 feet then switch to manual focus and set it to infinity. Note that most AF lenses go past infinity - so make sure to align the infinity symbol correctly to the MF hash mark on your lens. To focus on dark foregrounds without contrast use a high power flashlight so you can autofocus. Once you have locked down the focus - switch the camera back to manual focus so when you trigger the exposure it doesn't search for focus again.

The 500 Rule For Better Celestial Skies
There are two ways to interpret stars - either as star points or star trails. Digital capture has made photographing star points, or celestial skies, easier than ever. A good starting point for capturing a celestial sky is a 25 second shutter speed, ISO 3200, at f/4. That was the exposure details of the Milky Way shot over Independence, California.

How do we figure out our exposure?

The most important factor is time. The earth rotates and when we capture star trails we are actually capturing the rotation of the earth - the stars remain constant.

There is a simple equation that will tell us how long we can expose until the stars start to trail. It was originally called the 600 Rule, which is probably safe for viewing on the web. But if you want to print or view the images at 100%, I recommend using the 500 Rule, where you divide 500 by the focal length of your lens.

500/24mm = 20 seconds

500/50mm = 10 seconds

The more telephoto the lens, the more it will zoom in and magnify the movement of the stars.

Now comes the balance of ISO and Aperture.  The two factors to consider is how fast and sharp your lens is wide open and how high can your camera's ISO safely go?  I typically like to stop my lens down at least one stop - so from f/2.8 to f/4, and there is often a big difference between the noise at 3200 ISO and 6400 ISO.

Let Them Trail!
Star trails definitely have that "wow" factor, especially if we can point our camera north and expose for at least one hour. The problem is noise. Nothing creates more noise in-cameras than long exposures - it's like a herculean effort to hold that shutter open! A quick and easy solution is to go into your camera's menu and turn on your Long Exposure Noise Reduction (LENR). This will create a black mask over your image that will eat away most of the noise in-camera. However this often takes the same amount of time as your exposure (1 hour exposure + 1 hour LENR) and renders your camera useless until the "processing" is over. A more productive way is to take a series of images that will equal one long exposure and then stack them together in post. For example 18 five minute exposures = 1 ½ hours.

The trick with stacking is that you need to use a cable release like the Vello Shutterboss, and make sure your interval between images is no longer than a second or else you will have significant breaks in your stars. Even at a second, blown up to 100% you will probably notice subtle breaks in the stars.

Which do you like more - the star points or star trails?

Stacking In Post
There are lots of star stacking actions out there but I've gotten the best result by simply opening up all the images as layers in Photoshop and then changing the blend mode to lighten for each one. This will quickly and simply connect all the lines.

Operating under the stars can be a magical experience. I want to thank Scott and Brad for inviting me to share my nocturnal visions with you. If you want to learn more - the book I co-authored with Tim Cooper, Night Photography:  From Snapshots to Great Shots, was just released! If you are in NYC on Wednesday December 4, we are having at book signing/gallery opening at the Soho Photo Gallery from 7pm-9pm and would love to see you. Also, night workshops are some of the coolest ways to get more comfortable photographing in the dark. There are lots of options across the States that offer hands on teaching often in locations that you normally can't access at a night. You can find out more info on my workshops and adventures at ruinism.com.

Carpe Noctem!

You can see more of Gabriel’s work at Ruinism.com, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+

I want to thank Scott and Brad for allowing me the opportunity to be the guest blogger and share some of my experiences with you. I am primarily an architectural and landscape photographer and love shooting both for different reasons. While landscape photography is a more personal art form, architectural photography is a collaborative project. Most of my clients are builders, architects or interior designers; my job is to convey their design in the best possible light and to showcase how their clients will utilize that space or building.

Here are a few tips to successful architectural photography:

Determine Photography Scope
Ask questions to find out what their photography needs are and how they will be using the final images. They usually want every aspect of their project photographed until you inform them of how many days that will take and the cost to accomplish it. After a few minutes of silence you will hear the words "I don't think we need to do that many photos." This is when they start to focus on the most important aspects of the project that need to be captured.

Visit The Job Site Before The Shoot
One of the most important steps, if at all possible, is to meet the client at the job site before the photography shoot date. This will allow you and the client to determine the rooms and angles that will be photographed, decide what time of day will provide the best light, how many assistants are needed, discuss styling, and get all the contact information for the building. I also send my clients a link to my website that has a pre-shoot checklist for them to go over and make sure they have everything they need.

Use A Tripod
If you think you can hand hold your camera and capture sharp images with a straight horizon, you're kidding yourself. Architectural photography is about keeping the perspective of the building correct. A lot of the newer DSLR cameras have built-in levels and if your camera does not, you can buy a level for around $30 that will slip onto your camera's hot shoe.

Put Yourself In The Corner
Very rarely will you photograph a room straight on as this will not give the room any dimension and will flatten it out. By placing yourself in a corner, you will give the room or building more depth and interest.

Don't Put Yourself In A Corner (I know what I just said.)
There are some situations where photographing your subject straight on will make sense: when the subject is very symmetrical. When it happens, and it is rarer than you might think, it can be a very strong and compelling image.

Photograph At Twilight Or Night
Having a well-done twilight exterior in your portfolio will get you work, no question about that. They are very powerful photos that your clients will want and pay more for. If you are photographing only interiors, one of your setups should be at twilight when the color temperature of both interior and exterior are the same. There is only about a 20 minute window when this happens and you need to have your lighting ready for it.

Photograph Using Tungsten Lights
With tungsten lighting, you will have more control than you do with strobe lighting. Tungsten will give you a completely different look than most other photographers who just use strobes. The bad part of using tungsten lights is that you will be working late into the night, but it's worth it.

Water Down Sidewalks And Driveways
This is especially important for residential photography and less crucial for commercial buildings. If you don't water down sidewalks and driveways, they become the brightest elements in your image; by watering them down they become dark and create a reflection of the building and is an added benefit.

Don't Overuse HDR
I am asked all the time about how much HDR photography I use in my photos. The answer is as little as possible! Digital cameras do a great job of capturing a lot of information and post-processing in Adobe Lightroom can usually get what is needed. You should bracket all shots in case you need to use HDR or pull parts from different exposures to get what you need for the final image.

Use A Color Target
The correct color is essential for architects and interior designers and you better capture it for them or you will do a lot of post-processing over again. If you tether your camera to the computer, you can white balance the photo with the client right there and get their input on color and/or any problems that will have to be corrected on post-processing.

Look For The Little Things
With all that is going on with lights, clients, assistants, make sure you look for the small thing that can ruin a good photograph. It can be a pillow out of place, a cabinet door ajar, or a footprint in the middle of your shot because of carpeting that was not brushed. Have the rest of the crew look at the computer and see if they can find anything you may have missed.

Use A Tilt/Shift Lens
If you have one, it is a great lens that was made for architectural photography; if you don't have one, you might want to rent one and try it out. There are many places you can rent them from and the lens I would recommend is the 24mm tilt/shift. This is a very good lens for interior photography which will allow you to make rooms look larger than they are and you will have less post production than if you shot the same room with standard lens.

One of the good things about architectural photography is that it's not a moving subject and a building is not going to have an attitude or show up late. I have always had a love of architecture and photography and making a living with the two things I enjoy is a dream come true. I hope some of these tips will help the next time you are photographing a building or interior.

Randy Van Duinen is an architectural photographer in St. Petersburg, FL and works with The Digital Photo Workshops. You can follow Randy on Google+ and Facebook. His blog at StudioPhotoshop.com is where he talks about anything photography and Photoshop related. Randy has been a contributor to Light It Magazine and speaks around the country about Lightroom, HDR and architectural photography.

http://youtu.be/ff7nltdBCHs

In February of 2012 I did my first post for Scott's guest blog called It's All About The Jaw! I'm not particularly keen on writing, so I decided to do it as a video blog on the very first direction I give everyone who steps foot in front of my camera. It ended up being a huge hit and was his most popular guest post of 2012.

Having outdone myself the first time, I found myself pushing off a second attempt in fear of not being able to live up to the hype. Well, I finally got the courage to create my second effort and you can judge for yourself whether it makes the cut or not.

It's the second in this little series I'm doing and it's called It's All About The Squinch! I know what you are thinking… What the heck is squinching? Truth is I made it up. You'll have to watch the video to get a sense of it, but I believe it is the single reason behind me being able to talk to you right now.

13 years ago I picked up a camera and started shooting models and actors in New York. I had no formal training, and only a camera in my hand and my desire to become a successful portrait photographer. Being a former model, I knew that whenever a camera was pointed at me I had to do something; create a look, make a move, fire out an expression, whatever. Anything but sit there looking blank and lifeless.

As a fledgling photographer I began looking at other's work, specifically the headshot industry here in New York. I saw one thing that was repeated over and over again. Blank lifeless images with absolutely no juice coming towards the camera. Why didn't I see the same thing when I looked at celebrities in magazines? Was it the photographer or the celebrity that made the difference in those shots? I believe now that it's a bit of both, but it was then and there that I decided it was my mission to create interesting expressions for my clients.

That's right, I had to create it for them. I couldn't leave it up to my clients to do it on their own. It was my work and I was going to infuse it with life if it was the last thing I did. It became my responsibly, so no matter how stiff or uncomfortable anyone was, they weren't leaving my studio without what I considered a Peter Hurley headshot. No way, no how. This was my domain and my biggest weapon became the squinch.

My biggest fear was that other photographers would find out about the squinch. Well, over the past few years I've been teaching squinching up the wazoo in my Headshot Intensive, my Kelby Training class, Mastering The Headshot, as well as on my DVD, The Art Behind The Headshot. I've been drilling the point home the best I can that to me all my success is simply based on making each person squinch in front of my camera. No other way around it, this is a biggie and the fact that I'm here to tell you proves that for me. So enjoy the video and next time someone's in front of your camera why don't you try having them fire in a little squnch!

I'll be throwing out more of my signature stuff down the road, so be on the lookout. Scott and I are working on a book and I'll be speaking at Photoshop World in Atlanta. If you want to see my current teaching schedule then check out my coaching site for headshot photographers worldwide at PH2Pro.com.

You can see more of Peter’s work at PeterHurley.com, and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Life On Set
One of the most common topics that I get questions surrounding is what happens on set for a large production. All too often it is a personal aspect of a photographer and kept secret from those that are just making their way into the industry. While I do believe that learning through trial and error strengthens our overall knowledge base, I do not like the idea of keeping my approach secret when I could help others from experiencing some of the snags that I have hit along the way.

I figured I would take a few moments today to give some of the young photographers an idea of what to expect and what will be expected of them on a production and some ways to be successful.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
I wish I could say that this one goes without saying, however it sadly does not. I hear all too often from assistants that I hire about other photographers that scream at crew and talent alike. It is the ultimate expression of insecurity and there is no place for it in the studio, or life for that matter. If you want to be a photographer that impresses a client on set treat your crew and talent with genuine respect.

At the end of the day there will be an image that gets published with the photographer’s name in the credit line or an award won by said photographer. However, the part that is often unseen is the sacrifice made by his or her crew to make that shot possible.

Know The Crew
This one carries off the idea of respect and takes it to a more personal level. Whenever I am shooting a production, I make it a point to know every person on set, from styling hair, makeup and wardrobe in the dressing rooms. The reason for this is two fold. As the photographer, you are the leader or coach of this team and their success is on your ability to give good instructions. In order to do this you need to learn each person’s limit or workload and stressors. Most importantly, let everyone know that they are doing a good job, build them up and the work you produce will show it.

The second reason for knowing everyone individually I discovered on a shoot this year. I was shooting a very large sports drink campaign and the day before my dog had suddenly passed away. To be honest, my driver picked me up and I cried the whole way to the studio. The idea of putting on a professional face as if nothing had happened was incredibly tough, but it is what the client deserved. While it was very hard for me to talk to people I knew well, I found that I was more comfortable talking with crew that I had not worked with prior. I entrusted my first assistant with overall management and spent much of the time talking with a grip that we hired just a week prior. Conversation was very topical, but it was the help I needed to keep my sanity on set and I all always be grateful for that.

Produce Your Own Shoot
This is not necessarily an option for every campaign, but if you have the opportunity to produce a shoot it can be one of the more valuable lessons you will find. By producing your own shoot, I mean handling everything from payroll to prop sourcing. As your jobs get bigger, you will not be able to do this without sanity walking out the door, but there is no reason that a small shoot (less than 20 people on set) can’t be handled by a photographer. In doing this you will learn where budget will make the most impact on the image and it will allow you to deliver more to your client for their budget than a photographer that takes a hands off approach.

Now with this said, when the bigger shoots come along and you have a 40 person crew, a producer (and usually assistant producer) is a must. I have worked with many and the ability of focus that their behind the scenes work affords me is invaluable. If you have quarter million dollar campaign on the line, there is no other way to handle the sheer undertaking of the numbers as a whole without a producer you trust.

Make The Set Comfortable
For many AD’s and CD’s, the photo shoot is the fun aspect of the campaign for them and therefore making it as close to a vacation as possible is very important. The creativity that is afforded by relaxing is immensely greater than that given under duress. As much as we want to believe that the shoot is only about the images produced, it is often just as much about showing the client and agency a good time. Whether this means hiring a sushi chef for the day to cook for them, or hiring a DJ to keep the environment relaxed, you must deliver. I often look at these expenditures as investments in future campaigns. At a beginning level these aspects may not make sense, but as one progresses to larger clients, more freedom to spend on making it fun will become available. It is all a matter of progression⦠In the beginning I had Xbox’s on set for the clients to kick back and play in the downtime of a lighting change, now I send the Xbox’s home with the client.

Some may say that this is “buying work” or at least pandering and I don’t disagree. However, at a certain level it is the norm for photographers or artist reps to send art buyers and other creatives lavish gifts such as nice wines, iPads, etc. Heck, I know some that send prospective clients on vacations. At the end of the day, the commercial photography business is just that, a business and letting your client know how important they are is just as important as lighting.

Be Grateful
Perhaps the most important part of this career is to stop, think about what you have, and be grateful. Being an advertising photographer, while sometimes stressful, is fun, is freedom⦠it is a privilege.

Thank you for reading,
Blair

You can see more of Blair’s work at BlairBunting.com, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+

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