Category Archives Guest Blogger

Portrait of Eddie Tapp / Image © Phillip Charis

Half the Image

There are primarily three ingredients that make a photograph become a part of you. Looking at images from the likes of Joe McNally, you would make a quick assumption that the subject matter is high on the list, and naturally the subject matter itself is what we see. But that is aesthetical rather than technical, and aesthetics I’ll leave for later. Technically, there are three ingredients that bring us into a photograph. I’ll get to that later too.

Without thinking about it, look through a magazine that you’re not so familiar with (and maybe ones that you are). As you flip through the pages, something will stop you and you will give this page your undivided attention. When this happens, chances are something visual grabbed your attention first. (more…)


Hi Everybody:
I’m back in the saddle after a wild week out West last week (I missed my “Embarrassing Photo Thursday” so here ya go: It’s from the mid-80s during my short stint with the band “Sneek.” (photo by NAPP member Jay Handler. Who’d a thunkit?). I think we played just one or two gigs before we broke up (dig my Eddie Van Halen knock-off red and white taped guitar).

Now, onto the update, report, and stuffage that’s been stacking up:

  • Down in Downtown
    The day before the shoot, I got to do an impromptu photo walk in Downtown Denver with Jason from the (really great guy—we had a lot of fun, laughed a lot, and had a great dinner with the seminar team). I think I even got a few decent shots, but I’ll never know, because the next morning I accidentally reformatted the memory card (it’s a long story, but suffice it to say, that was the least of my problems in Denver). Here’s why I didn’t back up my images that same night.
  • Crashing in Colorado
    The night before my seminar I’m going through my classes in my hotel room, and I can tell something’s wrong with my laptop. I’m getting the “Spinning Beachball” each time I click. A restart (which usually does the trick), didn’t help. Rebuilding Preference, zapping pram, running Disc Warrior; nothing worked. Finally, it screeched to a halt. At 6:45 am we were scrambling to resurrect the drive, but this was a hardware failure (bad hard drive), and we had to move to the back-up machine for the seminar. Unfortunately, the back-up machine didn’t have Nikon Camera Control Pro on it (I needed this for the tethered shoot that afternoon), so we spent all morning working on that. Anyway, we did finally get it up and running (after a few miscues), and we “got ‘er done.’ The nearly 500+ crowd on hand was awesome; I met lots of great people (including a bunch who read this blog), and then headed for the airport for my flight to Portland.
  • 20 Hours with Laurie Excell
    One of my favorite landscape photographers, Laurie Excell, lives in Portland, and she invited me to go shooting along the beautiful Oregon coast on my day-off between seminars. We landed in Portland around midnight. She picked me, and my buddy Jeff Leimbach, up at our hotel at 3:45 am,  (Zzzzzzzz) and we headed out for sunrise. Along the way we saw some amazing light starting to peek over the hills. The problem was: we were still 23 miles from our shooting location. By the time we got there; the good light was already gone. It was only 5:15 am.  I was dressed in a t-shirt and jeans. It was 36 degrees when we got there (Good planning, eh?)! We still shot, and had a lot of fun (I slipped and fell flat on my %$&, but as Laurie said, “It was the most graceful and soundless slow-motion fall she’d ever seen.” Nothing was bruised but my ego (since Jeff and Laurie were laughing there #*$ off!). Next, we headed down the coastline. 450 miles in all. In crappy light. It was a blast. We didn’t shoot much, but we laughed, and had some great meals, shared stories, and saw some absolutely beautiful scenery along the way. We kept going until sunset (which was around 8:50 pm). At about 8:00 pm the sun tucked into a cloud bank and we never saw it, or any color whatsoever, again. We didn’t care. We got back in the car, and wound up back at our hotel after midnight. We were beat, but still laughing. There is probably something wrong with us.
  • Panic’d in Portland
    The next morning we had more issues to deal with before the laptop was ready for the day (and it came right down to the wire), but everything went pretty smoothly (well, until the last 10 minutes, when not only did Photoshop crash, but upon restarting, it said the serial number was invalid. We just restarted it again and it worked fine, but the audience was just cracking up). Then we had a quick dinner at Red Robin, and then took the train to the airport for an 11:00 pm red-eye home (through Chicago). Thanks to everybody in Portland and Denver who came out to spend a day learning Lightroom. You all made it a lot of fun (and a special thanks to my long time friend, and Mac-book co-author, Dave Gales who literally saved the day by resurrecting enough of my stuff to help the day come off right).

    NOTE: As always, I had all my Lightroom Tour files backed up on an 8GB USB jump drive on my keychain. On Tuesday it broke off my keychain, and when I went through security, I had to put it in the gray bin separately. Unfortunately, I forgot to take it out. Figures, eh? Also, luckily, I did have a full back-up of my computer (using Apple’s Time Capsule), which I’m using to restore all my files now that I’m home. I should have had a full bootable external drive with me. I will next time.

  • Quick Photo Walk Update
    While my computer was down for the count, my assistant Brad Moore stepped in and helped me out, getting a lot more cities approved, helping lots of folks, and keeping the flow of info going. He also started a Photo Walk blog on the site (, where we’ll both be giving updates as we move closer to the event. We hoped that this year’s blog would build on what we did last year, but we had no idea it would mushroom to what it already has. For example: 

    Last year’s number of cities active by the day of the walk: 236
    This year’s number of cities active in the first week: 422

    We already have thousands of people signed up to walk (won’t have the exact figure until I get into work tomorrow), and a number of cities not only have full walks, but we’ve added multiple walks in multiple cities to handle the overflow. Also, I just learned that NAPP’s Executive Director Larry Becker is now hosting a photo walk in Lakeland, Florida. If you’d like to join Larry, go to the Photo Walk site and sign up quick.

    Catch “The Laddy” doing Down & Dirty in Richmond on Wed.
    Corey Barker, the man who helped me develop the new Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks Tour, is going to be teaching the tour himself this Wednesday in Richmond, Virginia. It’s going to be a packed house, so if you want to catch the Photoshop Laddy and learn some really cool stuff from an incredible instructor, here’s the link to sign up.

  • Learning Location Lighting from Joe McNally
    There’s just one spot left for the week-long Location Lighting seminar Joe is hosting on the Island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean this July (I’ll be there, too, doing some workflow stuff on the last day), so if you’ve been on the fence about going; this is “last call,” (here’s the link).

    In other McNally news; Kelby Training Live is kicking off a new one-day Location Lighting Techniques seminar tour with Joe, that kicks off in San Francisco on Friday, July 31st. If you’ve ever wanted to spend a day learning from Joe; this is your chance. It will change the way you light forever! The one-day workshop is only $99 ($79 if you’re a NAPP member). Here’s the link with all the details.

    No Indy For Me
    Remember that shooting gig I dig for the Indy Racing League for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg? Well, right after that gig they contacted me and offered me the gig of shooting the entire Indy 500 weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), as part of the Indy Staff. There was only one problem: Friday I would be doing my Lightroom tour in Portland, and I looked at flights and I’d pretty much miss Saturday, too and everything but the actual race itself on Sunday. But after having been away from my family Tuesday through Saturday, I thought I’d better pass on shooting the race this time around and head home to see the kids. It was tough missing the opportunity to shoot the Indy 500. Well, it was until my daughter jumped into my arms on Saturday, and my son came running to hug me so fast that it literally almost knocked me over. That just reminded me once again that I had totally made the right decision. There isn’t a shot I could have taken that would have put that feeling in my heart, and that big a smile on my face. It’s great to be home.

    Tomorrow’s Special Guest Blogger is….
    Photoshop Hall of Famer, Canon Explorer of Light, Photoshop World Instructor, and one of the nicest, most genuine guy’s you’d ever want to meet; Eddie Tapp.

    If you’ve ever been lucky enough to catch one of Eddie’s classes at Photoshop World, or his online courses, then you know you’re in for a treat any time Eddie shares, well… anything! So join me here tomorrow as we check out our very special guest blogger, our good friend Eddie Tapp.

That’s it for today folks. I hope to have lots more to share on Thursday, so have a kick-butt Tuesday and Wednesday, and oh yeah, did I mention you should back-up your computer? ;-)

(Photo by Jeff Schewe)

Before I begin my post I would very much like to thank Scott Kelby for allowing me both the honor and privilege to write this blog entry on the one-year anniversary of “Guest Blog Wednesday.” All I can say is it was a lot easier writing the first guest blog entry a year ago. With all of the amazing words and thoughts that have been written here by some of the greatest creative voices of our time, to do this again is a wee bit intimidating. (more…)

….the man who came up with the whole Guest Blog idea himself, the one and only Vincent Versace.

That’s right—it was one year ago this week that Vinny convinced me to switch from “No Blog Wednesday” to “Special Guest Blog Wednesday” and I still haven’t stopped thanking him. It was a brilliant idea which has brought so many wonderful ideas, images, inspiration, and techniques to my readers, and I am truly indebted to them, and to Vincent for seeing the potential of what it could be.

It’s such an honor to have Vinny back here tomorrow as we celebrate the 1 year guest blog anniversary and there’s truly no more fitting person to feature on this day (by the way; I read Vinny’s post last night—you MUST come back tomorrow and give it a read. Amazing!).

The Coming Revolution

I believe we’re at a turning point in the way we, as an industry, approach our craft. Thanks to the internet, information moves faster and faster, filling our brains to bustin’ with everything any of us could ever hope to know about off-camera flash, HDR techniques, hyperfocal distances, and the effect of aperture shape on bokeh. We have learned more and more, and if we have not it’s not for lack of information. And at the end of day we’re still hungry; full up on HOW and still wondering WHY.

My first book came out on Monday. After writing it and spinning much of it around the idea that WHY always drives HOW, I am more convinced than ever that we are about to reach critical mass with the the HOW, and that we’re slowly turning, collectively, to see the vaccum that has formed while we weren’t paying attention. That vaccum is passion, vision, and the reason we picked up cameras to begin with – the need to express ourselves. To use a metaphor; it’s as though we’re reaching the pinnacle of typewriter technology and have awoken to find that what we’re really passionate about is the stories, the poems, and the words themselves rather than the keys and ribbons. (more…)

….an amazing photographer, teacher, and now published author….David duChemin.

You’ve heard me talk about David’s captivating work a dozen times here on the blog, and it’s such an honor to have him here as my guest blogger tomorrow (it’s particularly cool because I’m in the middle of reading his brand new book, “Within the Frame” right now, and as expected—it’s awesome!).

In the meantime, I encourage you to go and spend a couple of minutes looking at David’s amazing portfolio (here’s the link) and check out his personal blog: Pixelated Image. You’ll love it! (Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for his guest blog).