Category Archives Lighting

Boston is the first stop on my nationwide “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it, Live!” tour, and I really want you to be there.

If you’ve got one minute and 20 seconds, could you take a moment and watch the quick video clip above where I tell you about the tour, what you’ll be learning, and why you’ve gotta be there.

Here’s the link for the full class schedule, and how to sign up. It’s only $99 for the full day, (including a detailed workbook), or just $79 for NAPP members.

Hope to see you in Boston. We’re going to have a blast.

P.S. One more thing. If you come and don’t think it was totally worth it, and your head isn’t spinning with loads of new techniques, we will gladly refund your full tuition, so can’t lose. See you there!

This are just some of the dates from the first leg of my new nationwide “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch It” tour, but since we have these dates already locked down, I thought I’d share them.

·  Boston, MA – Thursday, March 24th
·  Minneapolis, MN – Monday, April 4th
·  Indianapolis, IN – Wednesday, April 6th
·  Chicago, IL – Thursday, April 7th

Here’s how each session is structured
(1) I start each session with an empty stage and then I build the lighting set-up for a particular kind of lighting look from scratch, explaining everything as I go, all step-by-step.

(2) Then, I actually do a portrait shoot live in each class, sharing all the camera settings, lighting settings, and exactly what you need to do to nail that type of look.

(3) Finally, I take those images into Photoshop to show you how to do all the post processing, including editing the Raw image, all the portrait retouching techniques, and the finishing effects, so you see the entire process, from beginning to end, with nothing left out.

Not only will you be able to nail all these exact same looks, (using a simple, inexpensive studio lighting set-up), but best of all you’ll learn all the post processing techniques as well.

This all takes place in every class session, all day long—–the lighting set-up, then the shooting, and then all the post processing for every set-up, and every look.

I hope you’ll join me in one of these cities. It’s only $99 for the full day of training (or $79 for NAPP members), and includes a detailed, step-by-step workbook that follows along exactly with what I’m doing in the class.

As soon as the rest of cities and dates are locked down, I’ll announce those here too. I am super psyched about this tour, and I can’t wait to get there with you guys. Here’s the link to the full class schedule, or to sign up. I hope I get to see you in person soon. :)

Hi Gang: Just a really short one for today—I’m up late prepping for a new nationwide tour I’m about to launch called “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it, Live!” and today (Monday) I’m doing a test run of the tour with a small (25 people) live audience in our studios down in Florida.

We invited 25 or so NAPP members to spend the day with me for free today as I do the entire seminar, start to finish, just for them. That way I can get their one-on-one feedback, ideas, and generally test and tweak everything out before we hit the road. I’ll have the official tour dates and cities shortly, but in the meantime I wanted to share something that I’ve been seeing more and more of, and it makes me think the camera or lens manufacturers are missing something in their instruction books.

(Above: iPhone photo of lens with the lens hood attached, like normal)

We were at Disney World this weekend celebrating my daughter’s 5th birthday, and time and time again I noticed photographers with really nice DSLR cameras, with long expensive lenses attached, but with the Len Hood on backwards (like you’d put it when storing it away in your camera bag—as seen in the photo below). I must have seen a dozen like that, yet they were shooting right out in broad daylight. Of course, my natural inclination is to say, “Um, you have that on backwards” but thankfully I just kept to myself.

(Above: photo of what I see again and again—lens hood Backwards while shooting)

The one time I did say something was when I was shooting a football game at my son’s school one week. I see another parent there always shooting the games with a 70-200mm lens, and yet his lens hood is always on backwards, even in the direct Florida sun. So, he and I were already chatting on the sidelines one day, and I casually said, “Is your lens hood messed up?” And he said “I dunno. It is working, right?” I loosened it; turned it around and put it on properly, and he was stunned. He told me he had never though to try that.

So, since I see this so often now, I’m wondering if the camera and lens manufacturers shouldn’t drop a sheet in the box with a line drawing that shows the sun, and the lens hood in place properly, and then a camera bag with the lens hood shown turned around for storage. Hey, it couldn’t hurt. Keep an eye out for this next time you’re on vacation, and you’ll be amazed how many times you’ll see it.

Well, I have to hit the sack tonight. I’ve got to rock that seminar tomorrow (although it’s so late, it’s already tomorrow)! Have a great Monday everybody. :)

Yesterday our lighting set-up was pretty much for head shots (one beauty dish and a reflector), but for every look we did during the day, I also shot more traditional full length shots as well, but like always—I try to keep the lighting simple, using just one main light. This was shot with a gray background—I added the violet Split Tone effect in the shadow areas inside of Lightroom.

Here’s the lighting set-up for the shot you see at the top of the page. We used the same exact strobe (the Elinchrom BXRI 500), but we switched out the Beauty Dish we used for the headshots shown in yesterday’s post for the 53″ Midi Octa softbox, which is probably my most-often used softbox when shooting fashion (It’s priced fairly decent for its large size—B&H Photo has it $289. Link). The main reason I switched was because I knew I’d be shooting 3/4 length and full length shots, so I wanted the light to cover more area. Also, to make sure some of the main light bounces back toward our subject, we put up a large white V-flat on the opposite side of the Main Light to fill in the other side.

Since I was shooting tethered, positioning the single Main Light was easy—it was controlling the light on the white cove in the background that kept us busy during the day. We would change between a medium gray, light gray, and solid white for most every look, and when you’re using two lights (one lighting each side of the cove) you’re constantly having to mess with the lights to balance them (for dark gray, we’d turn off the lights; for light gray we’d put them on low power, and for solid white we’d crank them up).

Above: Here’s what you have to do when shooting full length shots to get the right look and perspective (I know—it’s not a pretty view of me so stop snickering. But that’s what ya gotta do to get the right perspective). Although this is Tanja in the shot (rather than Megan), I thought I’d at least show you how far back you need to be to shoot at 150mm to 200mm, and precisely how uncomfortable you need to be, which is plenty by the way.

Above: When I was back on my feet again, I moved in as close as my 70-200mm would focus to get this beauty-style shot. You can see the Midi Octa reflected in her eyes. Mmmmm. Midi Octa. I wanted to make sure her eyes were tack sharp, so I put the camera on a tripod before taking the shot.

Above: Since Sandbox Studio is a daylight studio, I wanted to shoot at least one look with natural light, but for this one I thought I’d try something different. I bought a backdrop that looks like the material from a tufted leather couch from Backdrop Outlet (link), and we hung it on a poll between two C-stands. What I wanted to try was to frame the shot so you see the entire backdrop, stands and all (like you see here), but to make it look more like a finished shot (and not a production shot), I laid down on the ground to shoot it like a regular full length fashion shot, and I got the image you see above.

Since I was shooting natural window night, I switched my camera to Aperture Priority mode, and set my f/stop at f/2.8 to get plenty of light into the scene. My shutter speed looked kind of slow at ISO 200, and I was afraid I’d wind up with some blurry shots not being on a tripod down so low, so I increased my ISO to 500 (there’s an ISO you don’t see everyday), and I was up to 1/1600 of a second, and good to go.

Above: After I got the full length, I stood back up and went into for some head and shoulders type of shots. Still using just Natural window light, and the same settings as the full length shot except I lowered the ISO to 400.

Above: Here’s the production shot (photo by Brad Moore), and as you can see, there’s not much going on here—-just natural light. It doesn’t get much simpler than this. By the way; I quickly figured out which window was the North-facing window by using my iPhone’s Compass App. First time I ever needed to use it.

Above: Here’s a full length shot of Tanja (the reflection on the floor is faked in Photoshop. Please don’t tell any one).

Above: Here’s a production shot (photo by Brad Moore). Again, it’s just one Main Light with the 53″ Midi Octa, and then two large V-flat reflectors to bounce some of the light back onto our subject. There are two lights just aiming at the background, but they’re powered down low to create a very light gray, almost off-white background.

Above: Here’s a different perspective from Brad, and you can see the background lights and the V-flats pretty clearly here (and the creative team all looking on during the shoot. While I’m shooting, they’ll quickly jump in and fix hair, adjust clothing, or touch up make-up as we go, which is incredibly helpful).

(Above: some unretouched frames from that set, shown in Lightroom’s Grid View)

Well, that’s it for this one, gang
I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes look. Thanks to my photo assistant Brad Moore for helping throughout the planning and staging of the shoot; to Megan and Tanja for being so patient and keeping a wonderful attitude the entire shoot, and to Sopha, Linh, and Cassandra for all their hard work in making the shoot a success.

I know it’s technically not Pimpy Thursday, but I just found out the follow-up to one of my most popular training projects ever; Photo Recipes Live, is now on its way to bookstores. It’s called (wait for it, wait for it)….…..”Photo Recipes Live 2″

This is a combo DVD/Book set based on the final chapter of my books, “The Digital Photography Book” (Volumes 1, 2, & 3) where I show a particular shot or “look” and then I show exactly how you can recreate that same look, including all the lighting, softboxes, camera settings—the works (I don’t leave anything out!).

In this new Part 2, I take you (and a video camera crew) with me, behind the scenes, on location to a very cool Miami Beach studio set, and then out to Miami Beach itself, where you’ll learn the step-by-step techniques on how to set-up and light a host of different really popular lighting styles for portraits.

I’m really excited about how this one came out, and if you liked the original, I think you’ll really love this all new training combo even more. These should be in bookstores very soon and you can preorder yours right now at (they have it for only $29.69) or Barnes & Noble, or wherever cool books and DVD are sold.


Last week I promised that I would tell you guys a little bit about what the folks at FJ Westcott did on the Photoshop World Expo Floor that made them the talk of the show, but first a little history. (All Photos by Terry White. Thanks T!).

Dave Moser (NAPP’s Chief Operating Officer) and I had come up with an idea with based on the the fact that so many people already bring their cameras to Photoshop World. We thought it would be cool if we set up “shooting stations” for lack of a better term, where we would have sets and props or professional models, all professionally lit, where they could practice their skills.


A few months back I called Kelly Mondora over at Westcott Lighting to share the idea, because the only way this was really going to work was to use Continuous Lighting, like their TD-5 Spiderlites (having to deal with strobes, and wireless channels, and getting multiple people shooting at once, just would be a nightmare, and by using the TD-5’s we’d sidestep all that, plus as many people that wanted to shoot at one time, could).


Well, Kelly was all over it, and basically they took the idea and totally ran with it and it was literally the talk of the show because: (1) How incredibly creative the sets and concepts were, and (2) how well executed each set was with great props and backgrounds (3) how nicely lit each set was (4) that the male and female models were great and incredibly patient, (5) the make-up artist they flew in was just amazing, and (6) the fact that they changed the sets and models every day!!!! (One of their sets the first day was Catwoman, as seen at the top of this post. Photo by Terry White).


People were shooting at the “Westcott Shootout” literally all day, every day during the entire conference. You could see crowds huddled around each set at any given time, as seen above (Westcott did all this, while they were running their regular booth at a different location on the show floor).


Anyway, I was so excited at how it came out (which Westcott gets, and deserves 100% credit for), and I wanted to share it with you guys here, so if you come to Orlando Photoshop World next March, you absolutely, positively have to bring your camera and see what they come up with next. (Check out some of Scott Bourne’s awesome shots from the Shootout right here, and here, and here).

Bond, James Bond

Consider this my standing ovation to Kelly, to photographer Michael “MJ” Green who worked the shootout and helped everybody along the way, and to everyone at Westcott who showed that they do way more than just make lighting. They make cool!

P.S. Check out Westcott Lighting on Facebook right here. They always post lots of cool stuff, and videos and tips on lighting.

UPDATE: Westcott caught more than just the attendees attention with their shootout—the LA Times did a write-up on them. Here’s the link.