Category Archives Guest Blogger

I'm humbled to make another appearance on Guest Blog Wednesday. I can't fathom what in the world Scott was thinking when he thought to have me return for a third time, though. When I think about the giants of photography who have shared their knowledge as Guest Bloggers, the pressure of trying to articulate something that will be worthwhile overwhelms me. I've gone to the well twice now and I'd like to think that I did so without completely embarrassing myself. Maybe I should have quit while I was ahead, but here I am, this time writing about golf photography and how I shoot the sport.


The quiet before the storm at the Augusta National clubhouse

Golf photography is really no different than any other type of sports photography, or really photography in general. Each genre or sport has its ins & outs, nuances and idiosyncrasies that aren’t necessarily difficult to grasp, but it sure helps if you're aware of them before you head out to shoot. Here are some preliminary thoughts, followed by a more detailed discussion on equipment, positioning and the types of shots I look for when I shoot the sport of golf.


Walking to the 18th green with Peter Hanson

One thing I have discovered is that golf is one of the most physically demanding sports to shoot, at least the way I go about shooting events and tournaments. I'm sure you're sitting there, scratching your head when you read that since golf is not typically thought of as a physically demanding sport. But when I shoot a PGA golf event, it's almost always as a Tournament Photographer or for a wire service. Therefore, my job is either: 1) to follow an assigned group for most of a round, occasionally catching up with or dropping back to follow other groups on the course; or 2) to photograph players in contention and the "name" players. That means I don't hunker down in one place and photograph the golfers as they come through that spot on the course. My photo obligations require that I do a lot of walking (and running).

Consider that most any PGA golf course is approximately 5 miles in length. Add to that going from greens to tee boxes, constantly moving from one side of the fairway to the other to get into position, etc., and it is not unusual for me to log in some 6 to 7 miles on any given dayâ¦with approximately 40 pounds of camera gear attached to my body in some fashion or another.


Jim Furyk tees off on #18 at Augusta National

I also make it a priority to capture images from unconventional vantage points. This requires a lot of extra climbing, squatting, sprinting, wading or other forms of physical exertion. For example, in order to capture the image above of Jim Furyk teeing off on #18 at Augusta National,  (more…)

Photographing Some of my Heroes

At this past Photoshop World in Orlando, I realized that I had never fully taken advantage of the opportunities that I have there sometimes. I’m surrounded by a number of people who’ve been great influences on my life and career. I have lights and a camera. And, even though I’m busy, I can at least try to find the time to make something happen.

So I looked at the schedule, found a small block of time where I didn’t have too much going on, and set up a couple of lights in an empty room just around the corner from the staff office.

You know how when you’re watching someone work, you have epiphany moments where you see something that you’d never thought of before? I had always seen lights put in front of subjects, but never behind. Until assisting Joe McNally on a job one day when he had me do just that, and I was astounded at the result. So I wanted to use a similar setup for this shoot as a bit of a nod to one of the many things I’d learned from my time working with him.

Once I was set up I asked Joe if he would mind stepping in front of my camera for a few minutes. Truth be told, I was nervous about this and he could probably tell. I mean, I’d been in front of his lens plenty of times in the past as a test subject, and I doubt he was too nervous about shooting me in those instances. But the tables were turned this time and I definitely was. I know he’s had his share of nerves over the years, especially when photographing his heroes (like Arnold Newman), so I’m hoping he could relate.

Once I thanked Joe and let him get to his next presentation, I went back to the staff office to see who else might have a minute and allow me to photograph them.

If you’ve followed me at all, you know I’m into concert photography, and I wouldn’t know half of what I do if it weren’t for Alan Hess. From day 1, he’s helped me figure out who to contact for photo passes and given me all kinds of advice for shooting. I like to pop into the concert workshop he teaches at Photoshop World when I can and pick up new tips, and he always has great new work in his presentation.

After finishing up with Alan, it was back to the staff office to see who else might be around. Luckily, I saw just who I was hoping for.

There are lots of legendary photographers who teach at Photoshop World, and Jay Maisel is at the top of the bunch. I was honored when he said yes to my request for a quick portrait. I wanted to respect his time and get him in and out as quickly as I could, but he jumped right in and started making suggestions and giving me advice! I couldn’t have been more tickled.

We finished, and I went to find my final subject, another person to whom I owe quite a lot.

It goes without saying that I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to work with Scott Kelby. I have and continue to learn from him not only in the way of photography and post processing, but also business and life lessons. From great ideas and work ethic to balancing work and family, I’m always learning something from him.

There were definitely other instructors I would love to have photographed, but with everyone’s limited time and busy schedules, I got what I could. Hopefully I can continue this project at future events and add more of the people who have been great influences on me to it.

You can see more of Brad’s work at BMooreVisuals.com, and follow him on Twitter, Google+, and Instagram.

Many thanks, Scott - an honor to be able to write here.

I'll be all over the place here (I'm no writer, so my apologies), but I'll try to be quick, sprinkling little nuggets of wisdom you should probably ignore. (Seriously, the only real tip here is SHOOT. Always be shooting.) I've been through highs and lows as a photographer, and have learned a thing or two in the process. Hopefully the below will help one day.

-You can't get better if you don't continuously practice. That's really the big secret. Keep shooting all the damn time.

-You have to love photography. I mean, really love it. Photography as a hobby is much different than photography as a profession.

-Surround yourself with smart, humble, and hard-working people. Try to be the same.

-Also, be nice.

-Respect your crew and keep everyone well fed. You'll be amazed at what can be accomplished after one eats a delicious burrito.

-Try to shoot with film every once in a while, especially if you never have. And not just because it's the cool, hipster thing to do, but because it's truly magic on earth. (Seriously, darkrooms changed my life.) It will also help your photography - constraints, non-immediacy, and knowing each shot is costing you a pretty penny does wonders to your work.

-Appreciate the gift that is being given to you. What an age to be alive. To be able to capture an image before your eyes, forever eternal based on your choosing. Wow.

-Photography is great. It can also be horrible. It has provided lifelong joys and struggles; the brightest of highs and darkest of lows. There's something so beautifully human about this. I can't keep away, and realize this is the life I've chosen. Know if you can handle that.

-Photography is in oversupply. Those who are creative problem solvers and who can adapt are going to win.

-Balance your life. I recently became a father for the first time. My job demands a lot of hours and travel, and it's been a lot of work to balance that and being able to be there for my daughter and wife. Every parent goes through this, and it will always be a struggle, I'm thinking.

-This is a stressful profession. Fun, but stressful. Develop strategies to keep the stress low.

-Enjoy the ride. Photography provides access. I've traveled to many places and met many amazing people, and feel blessed to be in this position. For all the craziness this career provides, few professions provide experiences as unique and great as photography does. If you're one of the lucky few making it, know you are indeed lucky.

-Luck favors the bold and hard working. (My father told me this when I was young. It's always stuck with me, even though sometimes I believe you truly do get just lucky sometimes.)

-Watch films with great cinematography. Get shamed at how bad you are. Get inspired at how great you can become.

-Stare at the stars every once in a while. Imagine all that's been and all that can be. (You're looking at the past in the present. How beautifully strange is that?!)

-I have never taken a truly great photograph. This haunts me. I can't stop until I get a shot I'm happy with. I'm afraid it may never happen. Try to have something that both drives and scares you.

-The key to great photography is not letting anyone see your bad shots.

-I'll get some flack for this, but the equipment does matter. Doesn't mean buying the latest and greatest guarantees great shots, but it means getting the right tool for the right job, and knowing your equipment inside and out. Speaking ofâ¦

-Know your sh*t.  I cannot stress this enough. There is no excuse with the limitless (free) resources available to you. Photography is simple, but it's also mind-numbingly difficult. You don't want to be fumbling around a set - people can smell the fear. Know your equipment, the science, the software, the techniques, the styles, etc. Learn as much as possible and don't stop learning.

-Fear and nerves can ruin a shoot. Each person deals with this in different ways, but overcome any way you can once you're on set.

-Talk to people. I consider myself an introvert, but the world is different when you're in charge and a camera is present. Let those social worries melt away.  Learn to talk to people, to relate to them, to know their trepidations and what makes them unique. Go out and take some street portraits of strangers - it will do wonders to your other work. Relationships, y'all.

-I have found that you have to stop and smell the roses. We live in a fast-paced world, and we ignore the simplest of beauty around us. Stop and smell those roses.  Hang out with your son or daughter at sunset, seeing the golden light hit their face. See the patterns and chaotic randomness of nature. Hear the rain. Turn off your phone. These seem silly, but believe me - they'll help your photography. You'll see light and compositions in new ways if you just stop and see the beauty of the world.

-Get in front of the camera. Let people photograph you for a change. Know what bothers you, what makes you uncomfortable, and use that when you're finally back behind the camera.

-Learn post-processing. It's becoming a must. Shooting for post is very important nowadays, as well. This part of the process can't be ignored.

-Of course, don't shoot with an â˜I'll fix it post' mentality. Jiminy. Get your shot in-camera; shoot for post as a prepared strength, not as a way to polish a turd.

-Out of camera does not equal a retouched photo.

-Everyone is using the same equipment. There is no â˜magic' lens or camera that makes someone better. Although the gear is expensive, we're technically all on a level-playing field. Don't get discouraged by others' gear - get encouraged by their skill.

-I'm still trying to make it. I'm still learning. Still making mistakes. Always will. Take what you can from above. If you have any nuggets of wisdom you'd like to share, write them below in the comments - would love to see them. Also, some obligatory photos I've shot. Shrug:

Jessyel Ty Gonzalez is the Manager of Photography at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, an ad agency in Boulder, Colorado, working as a photographer in the process.  You can see his work here, and also follow him on Twitter.


Credit: Lyndsay Curtis, my wife, best friend and business partner

First off, thank you to Scott and Brad for letting me share my story with everyone. I met Scott during his (mis)adventures in January.

My name is Tony D. Curtis and I am a 2nd Class Petty officer in the U.S. Navy and my job title is mass communication specialist (MC).  My job is to use all aspects of media (photo, video, public affairs, etc.) to help tell the Navy's story to the general public. I'm stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).

Within my job, my passion is photography. I can't explain how lucky I am to have what I think is the best job in the Navy.

It took at least 1,600 sailors to spell out G-H-W-B for our namesake's birthday and I was chosen to fly in a helo that day to get this shot.

Aboard the ship, we have Navy-trained firefighters, police officers, a post office, a small ship store, a cafeteria, a weekly newspaper and more. It's literally a floating city. We have enough space and supplies to support the deployment-sized crew of 5,000 Sailors and up to 90 aircraft anywhere in the world.

Being able to combine my love of photography with the access of shooting in such a cool environment is incredible. The most dangerous and exciting part is shooting on the flight deck.

There is just so much going on, lots of colors and lots of repetition. It's very fast paced and we're trained to keep our head on a swivel, constantly looking around to make sure we're safe. Anytime I go onto the flight deck, I have to have proper safety gear and another Sailor from my shop as a spotter, keeping me out of the way of these F/A-18 hornets and super hornets, E-2C Hawkeyes and MH-60R/S Sea Hawk helicopters.

The flight deck is awesome but we don't just cover the equipment taking off and landing over and over again. The thing that makes the carrier so special is the Sailors. Every Sailor has a different story, a different job and we're there to capture the moments as each Sailor does their job.

With all the training the Navy has provided, I've done my best to pass it on to my best friend and wife, Lyndsay Curtis. When I'm not out to sea or on the ship, we work together on our own portrait business.

Being in Norfolk, Virginia, my two lives of civilian photography and the Navy photojournalist cross quite a bit. This is most apparent during homecoming ceremonies for deployed units. It is probably our favorite thing to shoot.

Photography is my job, my hobby, and my passion. Luckily I get to pursue it at work and at home and have a blast doing it.

Tony D. Curtis was named the 2012 Navy Photographer of the Year and won the 2012 D.C. Shoot Off "Chip Shot" Best in Show award. He is getting ready to transfer to his next set of orders in Sicily.

You can see more of Lyndsay and Tony's work at LyndsayCurtis.com or Facebook.com/LyndsayCurtisPhotography, and follow Tony on Twitter or Facebook.

If you are interested in talking to a recruiter about joining the Navy, visit Navy.com

Shooting An Album Cover from Concept to Finish

Big thanks to both Scott and Brad for inviting me back to be the guest blogger this week!

This past September I was hired by Eleven Seven Music to photograph and create the album artwork for heavy metal band Drowning Pool's new album, "Resilience.” I was presented with a great opportunity to produce work for the band that would not only showcase them in a dynamic new way, but also push new personal boundaries within my work and challenge me to create something exceptional. (more…)

The Longest Exposure: The Artist Is The Camera

Hi everyone! Corey Barker here to share with you a behind the scenes look at my recent illustration and how artists must observe and interpret similar to the way a camera does. I have always been fascinated with photography and how a camera captures an image. The word photography itself means to draw with light. A photographer determines, by way of the settings on the camera, how much light will enter the lens and the glass in the lens will bend those light waves into focused beams which will then hit the film at the back of the camera for a specified amount of time burning the image into the film. Of course, that was in the old days of film photography. Today the process is very much the same however instead of the light hitting the film directly it hits a light sensor which then goes through a computer processor to generate the image you see on the screen.

As an illustrator I look at creating images in Photoshop the same way. It is quite literally painting with light and as much as I enjoy shooting images, I enjoy creating them much more. Now that certainly doesn't mean I don't combine photos with illustrated elements but there is something to be marveled about the way the mind perceives light that makes creating the image that much more intriguing to me. Observing both in reality and in photographs the way light behaves on various surfaces and reacts as it bounces and reflects off objects affecting the way they are perceived. All we see in the world is merely reflected light at varying wavelengths. The funny thing is that color is purely a mental construct. It does not exist in the physical world.  The green grass, the blue sky, the red fire truck all appear that way because our brains process those wavelengths of light that are reflected off of them and generate what we see as color. It was when I learned this very concept in art school that I realized how gullible our visual system could be and how artists can exploit this to recreate reality.


The finished Iron Man piece that I’ll be showing the making of here

Throughout the history of visual art there have been numerous tools for the artist to convincingly recreate reality such as paint, charcoal, and ink among others but none have given artists the power to recreate what we see more than what we have now in this digital age. It is a remarkably exciting time to be artist. While many still endure with creating convincing pieces with paint and other traditional media programs like Photoshop have allowed artist to bend and manipulate light itself to create convincing representations. The difference is that digital art is transmitted light whereas traditional methods use reflected light. Reflected light, however, has its drawbacks as it limits the spectrum of light visible to humans. This is why a vibrant image on your computer screen does not look he same when you print it. Though print technology has dramatically improved over the years it still not quite as vibrant. I know several artists that will still draw there pieces traditionally like a pencil sketch and then scan it into a computer and render it digitally using Photoshop or Painter. It gives them more options, more vibrant color, and digital is much more forgiving.

These are the things I think about when I create a new piece. I want to manipulate light to create the illusion of something recognizable. Photoshop gives me the means to do that. Which brings me to my latest piece. Everyone who knows my work knows how much of a movie fan I am. With the wave of great superhero movies I have been taken in with the character of Iron Man and I wanted to create a version that I had never seen before. I looked around on the web and saw some really impressive fan art but all were created from referencing a photo or scene from the film. That to me is just mimicking reality and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. I wanted to create something unique. So I had to come up with a concept first. I wanted to portray Iron Man in a very aggressive way and I knew I wanted it to be in a cinematic widescreen format. So jumped into Photoshop and started sketching away. Since I use a Wacom tablet I just sketched it directly in Photoshop. Once I had the idea in place I needed to seek out reference images. I needed to know how the component parts looked from different angle and I needed to know how light effected the various surfaces. So I did a Google image search and found several images that were very helpful. Some were close to the positioning I wanted but not quite so I knew was going to have to get creative. Funny enough I also found images an Iron Man action figure toys that proved to be quite helpful with positioning.

So now I had my basic sketch and reference images and was ready to dig in. I started by using the pen tool to create basic shapes of each of the elements that made up the overall Iron Man suit in the pose I wanted and giving them a basic color fill keeping each element on its own layer. Then this is where the fun really starts. Where you have start shading and applying light effects to cross that line from flat 2D to realistic 3D. I made a conscious choice not to use Photoshop 3D in this image as I wanted to really see how real I could get the image to look. First thing to consider is proportion, when you creating something based on reality the proportions have to be as close as possible. Even an untrained eye can look at an image and feel like something is off without knowing what it is. Creating the paths and getting the proportions sorted took the better part of a couple hours. Did I mention that patience is a big part of the process? Anyway once that is done then I turned each shape into a layer element filled with the flat base color.

Next I referred to the images I had for lighting reference as I used the dodge and burn tools to add basic shading to each shape. Bearing in mind the overall light source I wanted in relation to the subject as each object will reflect that light and cast shadows on each other. Not to mention the light that would be emanating from the eyes, chest plate, and the palm of the hand. All these elements seemed to fall into place quite nicely and after about 5 hours of shading, I had a pretty solid three-dimensional object starting to emerge. I still had a long way to go. The video below shows a quick example of the shading process in action and how I was able to get a polished look on the metal surface.  This gave me a good idea of the result I was seeking and knew this was going to work so I was more confident about proceeding forward.

http://youtu.be/Ah2DxVEDAN4

After seeing the shading would work well I proceeded to render more areas. My process, however, tends to have me jump around so I eventually moved on to another part of the subject and would get back to render more later. I wanted to see how the eyes were going to work out. So in the next video here you can see how I utilized layer styles to achieve the glow from the eyes and how I added reflected light elements on the metal surrounding the eyes. This is when I start to see the realism start to take shape.

http://youtu.be/qBFCP_T8XPo

Now one of my most favorite parts of the image is the area around the neckline. I took some license and added a carbon fiber base and then built metal parts on top to help shape the neckpiece and other support parts under the chest plate. This was an afterthought because I had the neck drawn out as simple overlapping pieces but I saw another Iron Man image online that showed this look and knew I just had to add that. Took some time as I had to basically redraw that area but the result was worth it as you can see here.

After finishing the shading and other elements the suit looked really good. However it still looked like a nicely rendered toy. It was too clean! I really wanted this to have some scratches and battle damage to really add the extra bit of realism, not to mention adding other physical elements and atmospheric lighting effects. I also noticed that with the proximity of certain elements and being metal it stands to reason that these would reflect each other in a rather subtle way. So I came up with a quick and clever solution. Using the Smudge tool I sampled the color of an element and then, on a new blank layer, I dabbed the color and then smeared it with the Smudge tool giving the illusion that it was a soft reflection on the surface. I proceeded to do this all over in areas where there might be a reflection. This proved to be quick and easy with a very convincing result.

Now finally there is the issue of the scratches and battle damage. For that I have made an exclusive video on how I did those finishing touches over at my site CoreySBarker.com. You can see how I created the effect using custom brush effects and how I put the background and flare effects in to finish off the image.

Clearly there is more going on then what I can explain in one blog post and a few videos but just wanted to give you a good overview of how something like this comes together. In the end the final image ended up being comprised of about 200 layers and weighing in at about 1.17GB file size. Cumulated time of completion was about 12 hours. As I mentioned, no 3D was used at all and the photo used in the image are the clouds in the background and even those were greatly modified.

So there is a little peek behind the curtain inside the mind of a Photoshop freak! I am always driven by the idea of can something be done or not. Make no mistake, I have ventured into pieces that have turned out to be miserable failures but always leave with something I can use. It all depends on how you look at it. Not everything is going to go the way you want it too. The same could be said for photographers. Not every idea or shot is going to come out the way you plan but you move on and make it work the next time. I have found that sometimes if I am well into a piece and I am just not feelin it, I will save the file and archive it away and not look at it for days or even weeks. Then I will go back in with a fresh pair of eyes and a different mindset and I will be inspired once again with something new or it will be a dead end. I have many projects that are at various stages of completion and they may be completed later down the road or they won't. I just know that I have to have the right head to make it happen. This is the blessing and curse of being an artist. Like a camera, the digital artist is painting with light. It's just a slower processâ¦it is the longest exposure.

You can see more of Corey’s work at CoreySBarker.com, and keep up with him on Facebook and Google+

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