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Yesterday’s Guest Blog post from Ali was everything that the Guest Blog day is all about—-taking the day—making it your own—-touching us, inspiring us, and teaching us. Ali did all three (as I knew he would).

Thank you Ali for sharing a side of your beautiful country we rarely see. Yesterday you made thousands of Americans view Iran in a new light, and one day I hope we’re there as guests to photograph it with you, and to shake your hand in person.


P.S. When my Lightroom 3 book, and my Photoshop CS5 book come out, I’m shipping you a box of each for you, your fellow teachers, and your students.

My PicturesmLet me start my blog with the name of GOD.

First and most, I want to thank Scott who gave me this chance to show up here today.
Hi, I am Ali Rajabi, 29 From Tehran, Iran. Photographer and Photoshop Instructor.

Before I go to the main story of my blog, I’d like to mention that Photoshop World Conference and Expo 2010 was not just simply a memorable experience for me but basically that was the first step to realize my dream. Something I’d been waiting for for a long time. I ultimately happened to meet those who I used to see just on the internet. In the next step, it was a new start point to fly high in the Photoshop and Photography world. I’m always Thirsty about learning and trying hard, I hope one day I will instruct in this huge event. I’m sure I won’t sleep well till then. I STRONGLY BELIEVE this is not the CHANCE that KNOCKS on our door, this is RATHER US who BUILD THE OPPORTUNITY FOR OURSELVES.

So let’s hope to see that day…

Well, I wondered what to prepare for today’s blog, something brief, fruitful and pragmatic. Finally , I decided to project some of my photos here. I thought they must be useful for all who love Photography or somehow are interested in Art. So, I’ve chosen some of my pictures I took from different parts of IRAN. The Nature, People, Colors… all can be exciting for you ( Hopefully :D ).

Let’s start with Gheshm Island in southern IRAN. The Island is so eye catching and almost very hot in all 4 seasons of the year.

Here is STARS VALLEY , One of the most popular Tourist attractions of the Island with Huge ROCKS.

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Another beautiful area of Gheshm is a Village called LAFT. What makes it appealing is that village has 365 wells and people have enough water during the year because at least one well is automatically full in a day.

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Children of LAFT are very interested in fishing.

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Both Pictures were taken in an unbelievable afternoon. The sunset and the clouds in Gheshm are incredible.

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Another attractive natural landscape in Iran is the desert. Iran’s deserts appeal a large number of photographers each year. SHAHDAD Sahara  is a picturesque sample which is located near Kerman. An interesting thing about Shahdad desert is that it has one of the warmest climates of the Earth. The temprature there, is 100 degree (C) and above. So even bacteria can not survive here. This picture is a part of Shahdad Desert.

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This one is one of my favorites. When you stand alone here you feel so close to GOD. Hey by the way this part also reminds me of the Grand Canyon.

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One thing that always attracts in a desert path is traditional inns. You can rest and relax there. Here is a view from the inside.

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The following photo is one of the most perfect attraction of Shahdad Desert for photographers.

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And here I am and my dear friend Mehdi who is a Photoshop instructor, too. I remember it was really cold that morning.

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There are also unique views in north part of Iran. Such as Kordestan and other tonic landscapes that attract tourists from around the world. There is a village called Ouramanat  in which locals have farmers and do agriculture.

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You should not miss Kordestan during the spring (April and May). It’s all colorful and seductive in this time of the year, and the climate Is so pleasing by then.

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Horse riding and instruction are both traditional but common professions of the region.

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I told you a lot about the nature in Iran. Let’s have a picture here of Tehran, the Capital city of the Country. It feeds a population of 11 or 12 million. Tehran is really crowded and polluted. Where I have grew up. As you see here the right side of the Photo is Milad Tower. It’s almost 430 Meters and is considered as one of the highest buildings in the world.

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Also, There are many historical places in Iran that I can’t show here. For Example, TAKHTE JAMSHID (PERSEPOLIS) is one of them. The Palaces of the Kings in PERSEPOLIS goes back to 2500 years ago.

I hope you enjoyed the photos. I want to thank all great masters of Photoshop and photography from whom I have learned. I owe them for the great job they have done;

Scott Kelby, Katrin Eismann, Dave Cross ,Matt Kloskowski, Deke Mclelland, Moose Peterson, Joe Mcnally, Bert Monroy, John Paul Caponigro, Ben Willmore, RC , Corey Barker and ……

All who I forgot to remember here, but after all I should to appreciate and say THANK YOU to Amir Eyvazzadeh, who first taught me Photoshop. GOD bless you all. I have no one more reliable and powerful than him. And I wish you all health and happiness. By the way here is my website address, If you like don’t hesitate to contact me there.

Hope to see you soon.

Ali Rajabi

…..well known to many folks who attended the Orlando Photoshop World Conference earlier this year, and to those who keep up with the conference goings-on here on the blog. It’s Iranian Photoshop expert and educator Ali Rajabi.

I wrote about meeting Ali at the conference earlier this year, and what a great guy he was (and his fascinating story about how he wound up getting approved to visit the US to attend the conference). Lots of readers mentioned he’d make a great guest blogger, and not only did I agree, but tomorrow he’s here as my very special guest.

If you’re not familiar with Ali’s story, please take a moment to read about him, and how we met, right here, and then make sure you’re here tomorrow to welcome him, and make him feel at home. Let me be the first in saying, “Welcome Ali. It’s great to have you here!”

photo by Scott Kelby
photo by Scott Kelby

The Secret of Being Lucky

Last time I wrote a guest spot for the blog a couple years back, I had fun giving folks a peek behind the scenes to meet the Photoshop Guys from a different perspective, so when Brad asked me to write up a guest blog post for Scott’s blog, I asked him what he wanted me to write about. He said, “Whatever you want.” Since I have my own blog, I already have an outlet for writing about stuff that interests me, like small business, marketing, freelancing, photography (from a budget-minded perspective) plus some gadget stuff. So I asked Brad once again, “Do you think I should write about one of those topic areas.” True to his job of not influencing the topic, Brad offered no help. I was on my own. Now, when I consider the guest blogs I enjoy reading the most, I really like the ones that inspire me. The brilliant photographers sharing insights and images.

My portfolio pales in comparison, so I won’t be inspiring you with images. Instead, I want to talk about something I have experienced myself dozens of times over the years and one of my favorite insights I’ve written about on my blog. (But I’ll still share some of my images anyway.)


Some people believe in luck. More precisely, they believe that your thought processes alone can create luck. (There may be “pure” luck in very rare circumstances, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.) They suggest that if you wish for something hard enough… if you just imagine that it really will happen and you even live your life as though you expect this lucky thing will definitely happen, then almost magically, through the ‘Law of Attraction’ you will receive the great things you’ve wished for. There was a book and a movie all about this philosophy a few years back called “The Secret,” and it was a best seller and a huge hit. Oprah raved about it! — I just happen to think the entire premise is misleading at best.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely believe in luck and good fortune. But I don’t believe the ‘Law of Attraction’ works in isolation from preparation and work (usually hard work). You have to get off your butt and do something. You have to be prepared for “luck.” Sure, I believe that your strong desire for something to happen can certainly help clear the path for your wishes or dreams to come true, but the philosophy offered in The Secret is only half of the formula and it’s the easy, compelling half. It sells a lot of books if you just tell people that, all you have to do to be rich or successful or find your soul mate is to simply wish for it the right way, and wish really hard. Unfortunately you never hear about the other half of the formula. The part where people have to work hard to be ready for opportunities that present themselves. Having the right mindset surely helps, but preparation is critical too. I’ll give you a real-world example.


“Every child is an artist. The problem is…how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
–Pablo Picasso

I am frequently asked what were the events that lead to me becoming a photographer. As is always the case, it began at the beginning. It started with my very first childhood portrait session. You see, I have a confession to make.

I was the Gerber baby.


Those five words are perhaps the hardest words in the world for me to write, let alone tell someone. Being the Gerber baby is an event that has flavored everything that’s ever happened to me in the past fifty years. A day does not go by that I’m not affected by it. For example, take creamed spinach. Whenever I go out to dinner and on the plate is a mound of cream and green… spinach, I have wholesomeness flashbacks. God forbid if it should be on someone elses plate. It is silly, but I’m convinced that the moment the spinach touches their lips it will be…Bingo, light bulb over the head, I’m recognized.

You have no idea what it is like going through life knowing that your face, on the label of billions of jars of pulverized peas, has been seen by just about everyone you come in contact with. What’s worse is that I did not win this “honor” on my own good looks. The contest that Gerber Foods Corp. conducted was rigged. My aunt, the sister of the man who did my first portrait shoot, was the director of marketing. The guilt of knowing that the lil’ cherub of childhood wholesomeness was really a ringer was more than anyone should have to bare. The living of this constant lie was more than I could cope with.

Because of the burden of this guilt and the weight of this lie I was driven to become…a junk food junkie. As I mentioned before, it started at the beginning, when my mother used to feed me. Candied yams were my favorite. Warm or cold, I couldn’t care less. By the time I was in elementary school I was doing up bowls of Frosted Flakes before I had to catch the bus. During recess I would pop M&M’s….the reds. At lunch I used to snort the crumbs out of empty Frito bags.

The older I got, the more depraved I became. In high school I was scoring pounds of quarter pounders. Late at night I used to cruise behind the neighborhood Pizza Hut to eat the grease-soaked cardboards; even my face looked like a pizza. It was not until college that things came to a head. I remember one day reading an article in the school newspaper. It was an interview in which the ivory Snow Girl (Marylyn Chambers) claimed to have made love to the Gerber baby (me). Time stood still. Clammy hands and in a cold sweat, I tried to remember, but I couldn’t; just visions of sugar plums danced through my head. All I could think was, was the sex so good that it caused amnesia in my Egg McMuffin–induced euphoria? The next thing that I remember was that I went on a burger binge. It was on that day that I was arrested for attacking trees as I was looking for Keebler elves.

My life was looking up all right; it was flat on its back. I had become an empty jar of my former self. The only work that I could find was playing the meat in the movie Rocky.  It was then that I decided to go cold Twinkie. I was enrolled in the Betty Crocker Center. They helped to pick up the crumbs. Life for me is still no piece of cake but I can face myself whenever I am in the supermarket. I cannot walk through the aisle of pablum without fear or dread. Except when I pass the candied yams.

Ahhh, but I digress…. It was while I was at the “center” that I discovered photography. While others were gluing macaroni to paper plates (I was asked to leave these sessions because of a mysterious disappearance of all of the library paste as well as all of the pasta—and my sudden weight gain.) I was seriously exposing myself to the latent image. As the years have passed I have seriously found a home in photography. I have flourished. Right after Al Gore and I invented the internet, I found my true calling as a digital fine art photographer who specializes in super hyper intensive teaching of workflow.

As many of you know, I do a lot of work training the military, and it was this combined with being asked to join a group called “twit-tographers”—a group of photographers who tirelessly tweet. Well, I thought, if they can have their own group and come up with such a finely contracted and descriptive name like that…. That is how I got the idea that has become my new approach to teaching workflow. As you know, one of the things that the military does for efficiency is to contract and compound words as well as create acronyms.

For example, Combat Camera becomes “ComCam.” So I got to thinking, I am a Fine Art photographer. So that would make me a FArtographer and the images I create would therefore be FArts. I use a Raster Image Processor or RIP when I print and the goal of my imagery is to create Gorgeous, Aesthetically Special Prints or GASPs. So it is safe to say when I RIP one of my FArts through a printer I make a GASP.

The point of all of this silliness?


You should take your photography as serious as you take laughing. Because it is in absolute spontaneity that you get you get absolute truth. You can only be one way when you are spontaneous and that is truthful. And there is nothing more spontaneous than a laugh. Be always willing to play. Be open to the child that was and is the artist. Children play, they don’t take notes. Adults take notes and they don’t often play.  Be open to being silly and be serious about playing. Be willing to do what it takes to be the catalyst of the spontaneous moment. The way you feel in the moments that start as that giggle within you, is the place you need to be in to create the images that are your inner dream.

Photography is the only art form where people fall in love with an image, one that so moves them that they say to themselves, “I want to do that,” then spend the rest of their time with photography pursuing the technical, as if that is the secret to successful imagery.

Painters do not have “Popular Paint Brush” magazine and sculptors do not go to “Chisel World” and sit around discussing bit depth. There seems to be this unspoken belief that if you just make your images technically perfect that they will therefore be perfect images because of a technicality. Ansel Adams said, “I would rather have a fuzzy photograph of a sharp idea than a sharp photograph of a fuzzy idea.”

What is overlooked is the importance of imagination over technique. Cartier-Bresson said, “Give me inspiration over information.” And Sir Terry Pratchett said, “Teach a man to make a fire and he will be warm for the night. Set a man on fire and he will be warm for a lifetime.” It is all well and good to pursue the technical aspects of photography to the point where there is no technical rock unturned. But not at the expense of your vision, your voice, and your imagination. If all you do is explore the technical aspect of photography, you will, at best, be able to keep yourself warm for the night. But to go further, to truly allow yourself to be open to all of the possibilities, is to allow yourself to be on fire. When that flame burns you will have a creative lifetime full of moments that will be anything but dull. Be inspired by the images you create.

To better understand the imagination’s importance to photography one must first understand the duality of existence that occurs when you are so taken by a series of events that the experience and connection to that moment causes you to click the shutter.

Photography is one of the few forms of expression in which an individual is required to engage in the pursuit of the ineffable poetic dialectic.  That is, specifically, an inner dialog that is expressed not in many words but in a few words that contain much imagery and meaning. To allow yourself to engage in such a poetic way of seeing requires the photographer having to exist in two places at once, and to be two people that manifest themselves in the same body while occupying two time planes. You must be both the person connected to the events that are happening and the person making decisions about how, what, and when to capture the photograph.

It is through the use of imagination that the photographer accomplishes this. Imagination is the ability to “see” things by allowing them to make a mental picture that is more feeling than rhetoric. It is being able to see the felt moments in such a way that the viewer is moved the same way you, the photographer, was. It is, most importantly, the way in which the photographer breathes the life of the moment into images that causes the successful ones to feel as if they walk off the printed page. During every moment that the photographer is engaged in allowing the image to take him, there must be an awareness of both the external circumstances (those that surround the totality of the photograph) and the inner chain of emotional moments that captures both the heart and imagination of the photographer.

It is important not to confuse imagination with fantasy. Imagination creates things that can be, or can happen. Fantasy invents things that never will be, never will happen, and are not in existence. Imagination is the creative process that leads the photographer. It is, as with everything else that is involved with photography, something that cannot be forced, only coaxed. When one just pursues the technical aspects of photography one does exactly that, forces something that needs to be allowed to choose the moment it is seen.

On the other hand, it is important for the photographer to not sit back idly, a simple spectator. To be taken by a photograph requires that you be an open and active participant in the moment so that when the decisive moment shows itself, the photographer can capture that moment decisively. There has to be laughter in your heart—serious laughter—and a confidence that even if you do not know what you are going to do technically with the file you create, you know that you can find what you need to know. Being taken by the gesture of the moment is the goal, letting the spirit that moves in front of the camera be the force that pushes the shutter. Only by having an imaginary muscle so well practiced is how you will find that place, that’s the place where the images live that were the ones you fell in love with. In everything you do, every moment you live, choose to be open to it. Because if you move through the world of photography this way, when you see the moment the moment will see you. It is in that moment of mirroring that the image lives.

The next time you hold a camera, I invite you to envision yourself on fire with the flame of imagination. To find yourself in the mind of the beginner rather then in the mind of the expert; in the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s there are few. If you can do that, instead of waiting and waiting for the picture that you want to take, the poetry of the moment will giggle a whisper that is its name and the pictures you see will take you.

Also remember in the times we live in to always try to visualize whirled peas.


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….that’s right, it’s the man who came up with the whole idea of “Guest Blog Wednesday” and who in fact wrote the very first guest blog for me ever, Mr. Vincent Versace.

For over a 50th of a century here at The Photoshop Insider, it’s been a tradition to have “Vinny” do the anniversary guest blog. Tomorrow’s anniversary post marks his third, and it’s not only an honor to have him here, but I also owe him a debt of gratitude for coming up with something that has grown far beyond what I had hoped for, and helped and touched so many people along the way.

I invite you to join Vincent here tomorrow. His posts are always insightful, entertaining, and inspiring, and you don’t want to miss it.