Category Archives Guest Blogger


Photoshop CS6 : What’s in it for photographers?

First, thanks Scott for having me back, I always enjoy the opportunity to reach so many like-minded Photoshop users and photographers in one place. Photoshop means a lot of things to a lot of different people, but today I want to answer one of the questions I get from photographers – “what’s in it for us?”. The answer – more than ever.

Photoshop CS5 was one of our strongest releases to date; even though we grappled with the enormous mountain that was Cocoa, we still delivered a broad, powerful and very magical release. How do you follow that? Well, without a major architectural change we were able to respond with 62% more features than CS5! Here’s what excites me as a photographer.

Lets go from the general to the specific…

Adobe Camera Raw 7.0
For those of you enjoying Lightroom 4, you’re already aware that we have an entirely new raw processing engine. The new technology features a revamped UI with sliders all set to an equal start point; new auto functionality and most dramatically, new controls for shadows and highlights. As the below image from my iPhone shows, even shooting into the sun, you have considerably more latitude with your exposures. Why a phone you ask? If this is what can be done with a heavily compressed JPEG – imagine how nice the raw images look (they look amazing).

I shouldn’t fail to mention that local adjustments (by brush or graduated filter) have nearly doubled in number!

Mini Bridge
Mini Bridge can now run in a filmstrip; if you’re coming from Elements or Lightroom, you’ll appreciate the familiar interface. As before, Mini Bridge taps the power of Bridge and serves it up in the flexibility of a panel (you can drag and resize it as you like). Bridge has now been rewritten as a 64-bit native application; bottom-line, we can support as much memory as you have available. Faster, more stable and with a cleaner interface than ever before. I find that most photographers are spending a great deal of time in Lightroom, I’m no exception; my workflow (and I’ve found many who share it) is to get as far as I can in LR, then export DNG files {my HDR candidates, panos, composites, fine-art and things which need retouching} to a folder – I target that folder from within Photoshop in Mini Bridge.

This is a feature for everyone and I mention it because there’s much more than meets the eye. You can’t miss Photoshop’s new dark interface and we hope you like it. The darker tone helps make the image the center of your work; plus it’s consistent with Lightroom and our video applications, all of which are increasingly being used alongside Photoshop. This feature is anything but just a fresh coat of paint though; we replaced over 1,900 icons and policed alignment, cursors, buttons, layout and even grammar throughout the application.

If you’re fond of the old look (or two other options), you can easily change the UI tone in preferences. Our research strongly supports our default choice of dark grey, but we gave you a 4-way switch just in-case.

Background Save/Auto Recovery
One of the things I love about Lightroom is that it can save quietly in the background while I continue working; no waiting for a progress bar before I can continue on – thanks to Background Save, Photoshop can too. We didn’t stop there though, this technology gave us the ability to Auto Recover as well; this is one of those features you can’t really appreciate until it saves you. A few weeks back I was on a flight back from New York, busily putting together a demo in Photoshop; I had ignored my low battery indicators and my machine went dark in the middle of an operation – so frustrating. Hours later, back at my desk, I plugged my machine in and powered up; there were my open documents, patiently waiting in Photoshop – it just worked.

Gradient Map Presets
If you love Black & White as I do, you’ll definitely appreciate the new Gradient Map “Photographic Toning” presets for the adjustment layer of the same name.

Color Lookup
The new Color Lookup adjustment layer deserves a post of its own…


The first time I picked up a camera with actual intent, I hadn’t yet decided to become a photographer – but I certainly knew that I wanted to suck less at photography than I did. So I started studying pretty much anything I could get my hands on at the time. As this was nearly ten years ago, I was able to access about 10% of what I could if I were starting out as a photographer today. I set out to learn my camera from the ground up, and that included shooting in manual mode and putting myself through the paces until I learned enough about responding to a variety of situations that I finally felt in control of my equipment. That also meant I took on quite a variety of work for some time – if I could gain experience, get paid,…


Photo by Collin Hughes

This is awesome. I have never done a guest blog before, so thanks to Scott and Brad for giving me the opportunity.

I am a music photographer and I spend most of my time photographing bands/ musicians while they tour the world. In addition to photographer I also make those fun Lens Bracelets® you may have seen floating around recently at Photoshop World DC. Anyway, it’s really hard to sum up my career path quickly, but I still want you to give you a bit of background information on myself so that you know where I am coming from. Bullet points will suffice:

  • Started photography at age 16 for high school year book assignment. I was living in Madison, WI at the time
  • Went to tons of local shows, started bringing camera and photographing them for fun/made me feel “cool” (cut me some slack, I was young)
  • Befriended the local promoters, traded show photos for free admission and band posters
  • Began working with online music sites, getting press passes for larger shows and shooting from the pit
  • Bands started crashing at my house after shows and we would do quick press shoots the next day around town
  • Became good friends with a few younger national touring acts
  • Flew out to New York for my first big shoot when I was a senior in high school, totally blew it, shots never used
  • College for a semester while still shooting press images on spec and live shows when I could, started making pretty decent money
  • Stop college, go on the road with a band I was good friends with for 30 days, full USA, 8 dudes, 15 passenger van, smelly
  • Kept touring for next 18 months or so, continued shooting live and press images, working for publications
  • Moved to San Diego on a whim, continued touring and shooting
  • I have been doing a mixture of everything for the past few years. Shooting bands in studio, on the road, off the road and working for a few various publications.

That’s the gist of it. There is heaps more, but at least it gives you an idea of what I have been up to. You can check out a full list of where I have been here, and view a map of it all here. If you want to get a little more in depth about whats its like to live on the road, I suggest checking out my five part blog about a summer I spent on The Vans Warped Tour, which was pretty wild. Here is part one to get you going.

Like any photographer I have grown a lot over the past few years. I didn’t like shooting live and/or candid images of people at all to begin with. In fact, at first I was very emotionally disconnected from photography. I thought of it as a pretty basic thought process – get five sweaty dudes, put em in order and make ’em look nice so they can sell some records. However it has turned into something more than that for me. I imagine it will continue to connect with more and more as I continue to shoot and grow, but at this current point in time I am pretty stoked on shooting lives/candids and portraits. Lifestyles is a good way putting it.

So we left off with shooting live and candid images of the band on tour. What does this exactly mean? Well, put simply, just think of me as a professional stalker. I follow the guys around from sunrise to sunset, and then well into the night documenting just about everything. I have a blast and it is definitely more of a hang out with some photography splashed in it here and there. I go on the road for no upfront cost- however I make my money by selling my images to publications, labels, managers and the bands themselves. I prefer doing it this way because when a band takes me on the road I am on my own schedule. For example if we were in London for a day and I wanted to spend it all with my uncle I could. It’s also nice because there is no pressure to shoot anything, everything I do is self assigned and shot because I want to shoot it. When I am forced to shoot images like this I tend to have a very difficult time getting into the shots. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe it’s something I need to work on- I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

For the most part my shoot locations change everyday on the road. Cities, backstage, hotel rooms, sites, and wherever else we may wander. However after a week of touring and shooting the same band for five nights in a row, every live shot I took started looking pretty similar. The stages and crowds would change but it was hard for the most part to tell the images apart. I started getting comments on my blog that “All my live images looked alike” – and after looking them over totally agreed. I mean, I shot the same show at least 15 times on one tour, I had to start learning and challenging myself in one way or another or I would get bored- and if I am bored, you most likely are too. That is never fun! And my main goal while doing anything in life is to have fun. Must. Have. Fun.

So I started switching it up by putting my own flashes on stage. I have learned some pretty solid techniques that really started changing my images. So obviously I wasn’t taking my best shots this whole time, but I was learning, out shooting, making mistakes. Between then and now I have learned how to shoot on stage with 1-2 flashes, so I decided to share that with you. My next step will be to use more flashes, and to start gelling/ color coordinating them and balancing them with the stage lights. However, it’s a lot harder than it seems and it gets expensive. (Note to self, convince to loan me 50 flashes so I can takeover a stage.)

So for now, we shall stick with two lights. Most of the images I shoot are black and white, because to be quite honest, most stage lights are really ugly. There are a few really good lighting designers, but a lot of the time not so much. And even if I do get a good LD, they might use all red lighting and then I am really screwed. I have started to gel my flashes once in awhile but again, I am still working on it. So black and white in the mean time- plus it looks badass.

I recently photographed a band I have been working with for almost four years now, The Devil Wears Prada (after the book, before the movie). They had a show at The Glass House in Pomona, California on March 16. Now, unlike most of my live shoots, I only had one day to shoot these guys. When I am on the road with bands I can assign each day to getting a few images. So for example maybe I will focus on just the drummer for the whole set and really knock out every angle with multiple lighting set ups for the whole 65 minutes. But because this particular shoot was just one show, I had to try to make the most of it with what little time I had.

Here is how I lit the stage. The red squares are my flashes, and the blue area is where I shot all my photographs from.

Here is a quick video of me running around setting up each flash and testing them out. Now sometime after the main support act finished and The Devil Wears Prada started, I had to set all these bad boys up. Here’s a quick video of me running around on stage. Basically what I do is set each light up, take a test shot or two. Then go modify the lights accordingly. I also takes shots so I can see where the light is hitting.

Light #1: 580ex behind the drummer

Goal: Light up drummer and separate him from background, also lighting up everyone else from behind if possible

Trips/ tricks:
– Try to shoot from pit and keep drummers body between you and your flash head
– Turn flash power up high, this way you can knock out stage light when needed without having to adjust flash
– You can always add more ambient light in by lowering shutter speed, won’t effect flash
– sweat drops and smoke will give you amazing effects with this backlit technique
– don’t blind your drummer if he turns around!, or the drum tech

Previous shots using this technique

A Day To Remember live in Cologne, Germany on Febuary, 18th 2011

Eric of Breathe Carolina in London, UK on September 24th, 2011

Alex Shellnut of A Day To Remember in M¼nster, Germany on October 28th, 2009

Light #2: 580ex on stage right

Goal: light up anyone on stage, no matter where you are shooting from, also be used to silhouette people

Trips/ tricks:


Success in wedding photography and especially in performing on the wedding day is more about your communication skills and your listening skills and knowing how to read people.  That will go a long way in making you a great photographer rather than focusing on how technically brilliant you are. The ability to have an endearing and attractive personality and the ability to work under pressure while still being technically proficient is especially important.  You almost need to be like a chameleon. In the sense that you need to know how to be relaxed and more down to earth at a casual wedding and at the same time be able to carry yourself professionally when you’re at a high society wedding. I also believe that assisting at weddings is the best training for any photographer. At the very first wedding that I assisted, I probably learned more…


“Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.”
– Leonardo da Vinci

My name is Matt Adcock and I am lucky to have found my dream partner, Sol Tamargo. Together we run Del Sol Photography in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and we are always in search of “something else.” Since 2005, we’ve been using water and climate to create original, fun, and artistic wedding photography. I’d love the opportunity to share some of that with you and also wanted to thank Scott Kelby and Brad Moore for giving me the chance to do so.

For Sol and I, as I’m sure is the case with so many talented artists and artist teams, finding ways to stay fresh and creative, break out of routines, and chase that “something else” is a labour of love. It takes patience (which we don’t always have), it takes dedication (which is sometimes hard to muster), and it takes an ability to embrace the unknown to be ready to take advantage of it – which is so hard to see coming!

For Sol and I, we have a few areas that are the keystones of our efforts in our attempts to chase that “something else…”

Photo by Juan

Make Epic Photos About Them
If you allow yourself to daydream a little, it’s pretty magical where you can go with a creative mind. After listening to and understanding our clients’ expectations, we try to figure out the perfect shot for them. We brainstorm and sometimes even make sketches (when necessary) to see the frame. Our favorite clients are always dreaming and picturing “what if”… so it’s important that our imagination is in tune with theirs.

Imagine carrying 2 Underwater Housings (and all of the accoutrements) more than 500 miles from home with 3 packs (full of gear) by car, plane and boat to reach your destination. Imagine further, 5 more boats on the wedding day and a tiny strip of sand in the middle of nowhere – San Pedro, Belize. A solid example with one of our craziest executions making photos of them happened a when our studio received this inquiry:

“My fiance Lara and I are planning a wedding in Belize…. picture it… A white sand beach that crests just above the water not more than a few inches… no trees, no dirt… nothing but sand… water so clear it magnifies the ocean floor for miles around and skies so blue and perfect that the odd cloud only enhances every scene…”

Photo by Matt (more from this event here)

Equipment + Environment – Use it and Abuse it!
Ever look down a windy beach and see that mist that travels off the ocean with the wind? In Spanish, the word for this misty salty mash is “Bruma.” We are always surrounded by it – whether we like it or not!

During one session, I wanted to feature the “Bruma.” I knew a creatively used flash would add the dimension to the frame I was looking for. Basically we sculpted with light creating shadows with a little back lighting using a small speedlight at full power, full CTO Gel on my flash and my WB set to 10,000 kelvin.

Photo by Matt

While the toll is high… Imagine changing lenses or having anything with metal contacts in this environment, don’t even think about sensor gunk – it’s unbelievable. Tropical climate for sure means a reduced shelf life for electronics – but when you get an image like this, it’s all worth it. Our suggestion is to invest in sealed camera bodies and buy the professional lenses to increase usability if you plan on working tropical.

Inspire and be Inspired
The late Steve Jobs quoted Picasso: Good artists copy and even greater artists steal! The idea is that nothing is really original, everything we produce as artists is a reflection from something or someone that we were influenced by. While I think the word stealing is heavily laden with sometimes negative connotations – I love to be inspired, I love to give credit where credit is due, and I love to take ideas to new levels.

I would like to thank Tony Hoffer (again) for stopping me dead in my tracks and reminding me to take risks with weather. A few years ago, my bags were packed and I retreated when rain occurred. Seems like the intelligent thing to do right? Ever since that first time I laid eyes on Tony’s engagement image, I’m excited when mother natures throws me a curve-ball. Tony didn’t invent the rain, but he certainly had a thing or two to share and I think we’re all the better for it!

Photo by Matt

Did I steal this image? No, I don’t think so. Did I glean inspiration from Tony s original creation? Absolutely, and I worked hard to push it further in a very different setting, and was quick enough to recognize a great set of circumstances were aligning when I captured this moment (somewhat lucky too). The reflection / bounce on this all black umbrella caused this amazingly soft down light. I didn’t plan that :). Also, her toe kick and the little trickle of water being lit by the flash really gives an additional movement feature to this frame…

Personal Projects as a Lifeline to Creative Freedom
Trash the Dress (TTD) has become a real source of creative freedom for Sol and I as it started as a personal project. Although it’s hard to reinvent yourself each shoot, we find ways to trip the imagination and come up with something else. The fun comes in the challenges we face, rugged locations, hikes, mosquitos, and almost anti-gravity underwater. The real kicker, these people aren’t models, and quite often they can’t swim! Its a bit cold as well, 62 degrees, so we really only have 30 -45 minutes of shooting time underwater. There are many risks, but the payoff is monumental.

Did I also mention that we find our way into caves to get this crystal clear water? They’re natural sink holes, called cenotes (se-no-tays), considered a sacred portal to the Mayan Underworld. The cenotes are part of the largest underground cave network in the world and exist only here in Mexico. Somehow we were able to merge daydreaming / fantasy photography and our brides into a business that is as far away from the “aisle” as possible. When was the last time a wedding photographer donned a wetsuit for anything wedding related?

I wanted to share a few TTD frames because this has been one of the most amazing things to happen to us. As you look through these TTD snaps, realize that we are always shooting for US and less worrying about client expectations.

Photo by Sol


When I was a kid, in lieu of hiring a babysitter, my mom would just plop me down in front of the television. I think I learned more about life from Mike and Carol Brady than my own parents. In fact, at the time, I looked a lot like Cousin Oliver, who was brought on the “The Brady Bunch” to boost sagging ratings, but, instead, only helped the show jump the shark. So, where am I going with this trip back to before the remote control was invented? Well, it isn’t because I caught the photo bug from the episode where Greg Brady inadvertently made a shot of a key football play while photographing his cheerleader girlfriend, but because I think I was subconsciously inspired to do street photography by another show I watched. You see, my local public television station in Chicago would…