Category Archives Misc

I thought I’d kick off the first blog post of the new year with a quick look back at the most popular, and most commented-on posts of 2010, and some of the fun stuff we shared during the past year.

The Top 10 Most Commented-on Posts of 2010
Here are the posts that garnered the most comments from readers during the year, in order:

  1. How US Airways Just Lost Yet Another Customer (link)
    This was the #1 most-commented post with nearly 400 comments. This was just one of those “I have to get this off my chest” type of posts, and I never dreamed it would get that kind of response (but apparently, I wasn’t alone on this one). Here’s the rest in order.
  2. What I’d love to see in Lightroom 4 (link)
  3. HDR Quote of the week (link)
  4. Why is everybody so angry about Apple’s iPad (link)
  5. What they’re not telling you about HDR Images (link)
  6. To Correct or Not To Correct? (link)
  7. When will we finally get frames and mats for digital camera images sizes? (link)
  8. US Airways Responds (link)
    This post was a follow-up to the original post, where I reported that USAir had contacted me and said they would reinstate my miles. Within a few days, they had credited my back miles, and credited my missing miles, and the same day they hit my account I donated all the miles to the Make-A-Wish foundation.
  9. What constitutes an over-the-top HDR shot? (link)
  10. Apple’s iPad and Apple Secret Weapon (link)


Guest Bloggers
I’m indebted to all the Guest Bloggers who shared their images, ideas and inspiration with my readers each Wednesday. Here are the top commented posts from 2010.

  1. Matt Kloskowski’s “Photoshop is not a bad word!” (link)
  2. Alex Walker’s “Parental Sports Photoshop — My Most Fantastic Voyage” (link)
  3. John McWade‘s “Design for Photographers” (link)
  4. Brad Moore’s “The Shot” (link)
  5. Jeremy Cowart’s “Perception” (link)
  6. Peter Eastway’s “What is Photographic Reality?” (link)
  7. RC Concepcion’s “How HDR saved RC’s Star Wars Celebration” (link)
  8. Andy Locascio’s “I never thought it would happen” (link)
  9. Calvin Hollywood’s “I am addicted to Photoshop” (link)
  10. Jasmine Star’s “Optimal Wedding Timeline” (link)


My Photo Shoots
When I do a shoot, I usually post the images here within a day or so, and here are the shoots that garnered the most comments from 2010 (in order of popularity):

  1. Back from 16 days in China (link)
  2. NFL Sidelines Shoot: Bucs vs Rams (along with my sports camera settings) (link)
  3. Shooting the NBA Bulls vs. Cavs (link)
  4. NFL Sidelines Shoot: Steelers vs. Jets (link)
  5. A few shots from my week in Maine (link)
  6. Behind the scenes at a major sports shoot (link)
  7. College Football Sidelines Shoot: LSU/North Carolina (link)
  8. Shooting the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (link)
  9. I’m back from 9 days in Barcelona, Spain (link)
  10. It’s Fashion-shoot Monday (link)
  11. My first Soccer shoot (link)

While not technically a “shoot” the post I wrote about my New Online Portfolio Design (link) got more comments any of the shoots.


Other Milestones
This year we saw seven new books produced by Kelby Training launch here on the blog (four from me and two from some of the best in the business today.  Here they are (in no particular order);

1. David Ziser’s “Captured By The Light” book for wedding photographers.
David wrote the definitive book on the topic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photography book with a better review rating on 67 5-star reviews, and one just that just hated it (there’s one in every crowd).

2. My Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers
This one was a lot of work, and I added a new “Lightroom Killer Tips” section to each chapter, but I’m so passionate about Lightroom that it made this major rewrite a lot of fun for me.

3. The iPhone 4 Book (co authored with my good friend Terry White)
There are two things I love about this book: (1) It causes me to really learn my new phone inside and out, and (2) We split the book in two, each writing half the chapters, and I love the fact that Terry takes all the hard chapters.

4. Captured: The journal of a wildlife photographer, by Moose Peterson
Moose did something in this book that I think few people have ever accomplished with their books—he shared his most important techniques for capturing wildlife in a very straightforward way, and he captivated the reader with simply amazing photography, and weaved throughout the book is the story of his life and his career shooting nature. Brilliantly executed, and not surprisingly it’s become one of the most highly acclaimed books of the year.

5. My Photoshop CS5 for Digital Photographers
Adobe made my job really easy on this book, as CS5 was almost tailor-made for photographers, but as an author, I had to make some difficult decisions about how to develop this new version, one being my decision to remove the chapters about Adobe Bridge from the printed book and move them online (updated for the minor Bridge tweaks in CS5), and instead focus on the “Mini-Bridge” built- in to Photoshop CS5. This gave me more room to cover new features, and workflow stuff, without overly bloating the book. This decision of what to cut becomes more difficult with each new version, but I’m happy with how it came out.

6. My Photoshop Elements 9 book (co authored with my good buddy and ace Call of Duty: Black Ops teammate Matt Kloskowski)
This book is tough to do for the totally opposite reason of my CS5 book. Adobe doesn’t add a ton of new features to Elements in each rev, so what Matt and I do instead is add the new things that we have learned during the year, and we take the techniques we use in CS5 each day and try to convert them into techniques that work in Elements, and that has worked wonderfully well (based on feedback from readers).

7. My “Photo Recipes Live 2” Book/DVD Combo
This one skated in just under the wire—shipping right before the end of the year. I shot this down in Miami over a two-day period, and tried some new stuff and more ambitious lighting set-ups, along with some fun location lighting shoots, and I think it turned out even better than Photo Recipes 1 (which I guess is always the goal, right?


Taking Time Off
This year I did a lot of new projects,  books, new classes, I was out on tour for both Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5, and I taught at  Photoshop World, and did workshops, and just a lot of training-related stuff this past year. Of course I want to share all my projects with my readers, so every time a book comes out, or I do a seminar, I would mention it here on my blog (after all, I want my readers to come out to my seminars, and read my books, and watch my online classes, and so on).

Well, some weeks I’d have two or three things to mention, and it starts to seem like (to me and you) that that’s all I’m talking about, so I tried to consolidate all my training and book stuff onto just one day a week—Thursday—which we now affectionately call “Pimpy Thursday.”

Thankfully, my photo assistant Brad Moore stepped up to be the person who actually compiles and writes the post each Pimpy Thursday, which gave me a break during the week I so desperately needed (thank you Brad!). This let me focus more on shooting and other fun stuff during the rest of week (though sometimes, because of timing, I still wind up having to find a mid-week pimping in, I try to wait until Thursday if at all possible).

2010 has been a year of huge growth and expansion at Kelby Media Group, and during all that, blogging four days a week was really starting to take a toll on me. I actually missed a few days of blogging during year (I called in “lame” 5 days with essentially nothing to say, or no time to say, including 2 days during Photoshop World), and I had one sick day in Jan of 2010 where I didn’t blog, but outside of that, between Brad, my Guest Bloggers and I, we pretty much kept the ship afloat all year long.

My most surprising fact about me from 2010
I went to my calendar and looked, and believe it or not, I took nearly EIGHT weeks of vacation with my family this year! (Whooo hooo!), and I didn’t work a lick on any of it (which is even better). Yet, I got quite a bit done in 2010 anyway. Maybe I should take more time off in 2011? ;-)

We Did Some Really Important Stuff, Too!
Besides all the fun stuff, and discussions, and controversy (HDR & iPad) we did some really important stuff, as the readers of this blog donated literally tens of thousands of dollars to help feed and cloth the orphans of the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya (the very orphanage my readers helped to build from an empty plot of land in 2009).

You guys bought Photo Walk t-shirts, we raffled off one of my guitars (signed by all the Photoshop guys), and you guys generously gave to some wonderful, deserving kids on the other side of the world. Ya done good gang!

More 2010 highlights to come on Thursday
I’m planning on running my 2nd annual “Best of” awards on Thursday to celebrate the best of all kinds of stuff, so I hope you’ll join me then.

One more thing….
I couldn’t do any of this without wonderful readers like yourselves, who make doing all this so worthwhile. You guys are as forthcoming and helpful and sharing as an blog author could hope for from his readers, and it’s very gratifying to see the wonderful community that has grown here. I consider it a real privilege to be able to get together with you here each week and I hope you’ll continue to check back during 2011—a year that truly hope will be your best yet!

For Christmas, I wanted to share something very special—a short video clip (below) put together by two very talented guys from our video team: Adam Rohrmann and Daniel Bryant, and hosted by our own RC Concepcion. The video gives you a behind-the-scenes look at our small part in Jeremy Cowart’s amazing Help Portrait day. I hope you’ll take a moment to watch the video. It’s what this season is all about.

Here’s wishing you and your family a warm and wonderful Holiday and all the joy His Season can bring.

On Monday I had posted a visual tour of our headquarters here in Florida, with photos taken by my buddy RC Concepcion (link), and I saw a number of comments from people who wanted to see the other parts of the company (like my office, for example) and people that we didn’t have photos for, so I asked RC if he might head out yesterday, camera in hand, to pick-up some of the people and places we didn’t get to see on Monday. Here we go:

Above: This is where our book and magazine editors live. We had to give them their own special area after they staged a small uprising several years ago in which two guards were injured. That’s Chris Main walking around. You saw his picture on Monday but he wasn’t wearing his Star Trek crew shirt in that photo.

Above: This is one section of our warehouse, and here we store everything from tradeshow booths, to books, to back magazine issues, DVDs, and numerous palettes of Stonewall Kitchen Farmhouse Pancake & Waffle Mix (the 40 oz. size).

Above: This is our Shipping Dept., and when orders come in, everything being shipped that day comes from the warehouse over to this room to be processed, packaged, and sealed with a kiss. (I usually close my eyes during that last part).

Above: This is John from our Shipping Department, and one of the hardest working guys in the building, yet he always has a great attitude. He’s been with us for years, and every time I walk back there I shout out “JOHN!” He always gives me a big smile back and yells back “Hey Scott!” but after all these years he really probably wants to actually yell back, “Scott! Shut up!”

Above: Here’s a shot of my office, down in building 2 (affectionately known as “124” around here). I have an office in both buildings (they’re on the same street), but I spend most of my time down here, because Matt (seen with the laptop here), Dave, Corey, Larry, RC, Kathy, Brad, Ronni, the whole video crew, and a lot of other great folks are all down here. I keep a Fender Strat and amp in my office just to make sure I’m not overly productive. I’m playing Foghat’s “Slow Ride” here, but don’t worry—I have the volume on my amp set pretty low.

Above: This is my other office, the more corporate looking one, down at our Main Building (otherwise known as “333” to our crew). I keep a Fender Telecaster and an amp here to annoy the graphics dept. (they’re just outside my door). The monitor mounted on my wall is there because people got tired of coming behind my desk to see things I was showing them on my laptop.

Above: This is Ronni’s office (and Christmas wonderland), and Ronni is one of my favorite people. She handles our printing and magazine distribution, among many other things, and she’s incredibly good at her job. Ronni’s the first person I see at the office each morning as she’s got the first office in the door, and she has the greatest smile, and the best attitude. Ronni rocks!

Above: This is a hallway between the two sides of building 333 (our main building), and we have a mini-gallery here where we put our own images and images photographers have given us as gifts. A lot of my student’s images from workshops have been proudly displayed here as well.

Above: This is Kleber, who runs Kelby Training (both the live tours and the online training), and I can only guess that’s why he has an office roughly three times the size of mine. He’s got a really important job, and he and his team are just fantastic (plus, he’s got a wall map. They would never give me a wall map).

Above: This is Mike, and although he’s in the editing/publishing side of our business, he doesn’t live with the other editors. He has his own swanky office that is, once again way bigger than mine. I’m not sure I’m really enjoying this tour of our headquarters.

Above: This is Todd in our IT department, and if our computers mess up, he (a) comes and fixes them, and (b) then he yells us at and tells us it was all our fault it messed up in the first place. None of this is true, of course, but it helps propagate existing stereotypes about IT guys (totally kidding, Todd).

Above: This is a rare sight indeed—an Editor actually at her desk. I don’t know why we give them desks, because they’re never there. Editor’s prefer to hang out at Chili’s Restaurant, and at any given time during the work day, you can find five or six of them there with a big basket of Chips & Salsa. That’s Cindy—she’s a Technical Editor, so when I write stuff, she has to test it to see if what I wrote actually works. If it doesn’t work, she has me meet her at Chili’s where she yells at me over Chips & Salsa.

Above: This is part of our Web department, and back in the back is Tommy’s office, the Web big cheese (you saw him, well the top part of him, on Monday). His office is huge. I don’t want to talk about it.

Above: This is Justin on our Web team. Totally cool guy, and a serious musician. He left for a while to go on tour with his band, and when the tour was over, he came back to work. Do we let everybody go on tour like this? Nope. But Justin is that good that we were thrilled to have him back. Plus, I have great respect for anybody who brings their guitar to work. It’s also refreshing to find anyone in this building with an office that’s not bigger than mine.

Above: This is a part of our Customer Service department, and if you call in on the phone, these are the great folks you talk to. Although the colors look like the rest of our offices, they’re actually located in Mumbai, India. I’m totally kidding, but I had you there for a minute, didn’t I?

Above: This is Eddie in our graphics department. He’s the new guy, and a really talented designer, but I’m especially proud to share this image of Eddie because day before yesterday, Eddie became an American Citizen. Way to go, Eddie!!!! Now, if we could just get Dave Cross to defect….

Above: I wish you could see Margie’s face in this photo because she’s another one of my very favorite people. She is an absolutely, off-the-hook, brilliant graphic designer, and I’m constantly amazed at the creative stuff she comes up with. I feel very fortunate to have Margie designing for us. Besides her design work, she is just a wonderful person.

Above: This is Brandon, the “new guy” in our video department, and here he’s pretending to be editing video, but I happen to know that he secretly outsources all his editing tasks to a guy overseas who puts together videos for $1.20 an hour. Brandon was recently voted “Most likely to run a major airline. Or HP.”  (Kidding).

Above: This is where some of the video crew work (the others have private offices. Don’t get me started), but we must have turned up the lights in there for this shot, because they normally like to keep it dark and romantic. Plus, they play a lot of Johnny Mathis music and Barry White. They also have the department with the highest birth rate.

Well gang, there you have it. There are still a lot of people missing that I would have loved to share with you, but it’s hard to keep everybody there during the day because we have a Cracker Barrel restaurant nearby. ;-)

I know it’s Pimpy Thursday, but today is Veterans Day in the US, and I wanted to take a moment to honor and thank the men and women who have served in our country’s military, and who fought to defend the very freedoms we enjoy today. America owes you a debt of gratitude for your service and sacrifice, and I just wanted to join in with a heartfelt thanks..

My post last Friday about US Airways pulling my 81,000+ frequent flyer miles and the ensuing customer service disaster (link) got a lot more attention that I had ever expected. The story circulated around Twitter, Facebook, and even wound up at a number of blogs (including the mega-popular “Consumerist” blog). Since then, three big things have happened:

(1) 358 people had posted comments with their own US Airways customer service nightmare stories.

(2) On Friday, a number of US Airways representatives had contacted me by email, via Twitter (as seen above), and they even telephoned my office. I’m currently working with US Airways Director of Customer Loyalty & Marketing Programs who has offered to reinstate my miles, and credit me for the flights that didn’t get credited, which is more than fair, since after all, it was my fault.

>> Note: the first US Airways representative that contacted me was the wife of a photographer who reads my blog and saw what had happened. She works in the Dividend Miles group and offered to help me right away.

(3) In researching my flights, I learned that I had actually taken at least two US Airways flights this year—in 2010 (again, my travel agent apparently did not include my Dividend Miles number. I would call to complain, but that agency moved to a different state, and now a different agency handles our corporate travel). By the way, Matt Kloskowski did the math and figured that our company buys nearly 1,000 flights each year.

In the normal course of business of running an airline as large as US Airways, I’m sure this was all barely a blip on their radar, but I do hope those at US Airways who took the time to read my post, and/or respond, they keep these things in mind :

(1) If we don’t want to do business with a company, that company will never hear from us again. However, if we call, and we’re trying to work something out with you (like I was in trying to get my miles reinstated), that means “We still want to use your service.” This is a decision point for the company —“Our customer is upset, but obviously still wants to use our service. Should we make a sincere effort to try and keep him, or hand deliver him to our competitors?”

(2) Everyone I’ve dealt with at US Airways since that post on Friday has (of course) been great and very helpful, so obviously not everyone at US Airways is as unhelpful and unfriendly as the woman I originally dealt with. That’s a good thing.

(3) US Airways still has a problem. It’s one of two things: (a) US Airways hasn’t empowered their customer service reps to do anything other than read a script. Even if the customer gets upset—they can’t call a supervisor and get them involved to resolve the customer’s issue, or (b) they have empowered them to do more, in which case this was a broken customer service rep, who wanted to be right more than she wanted to help the customer or her company. In which case, I hope they have a record of who I talked with, and I hope they show her the door, because US Airways shouldn’t be paying her to lose their customers.

(4) US Airways has a computer system that shows a history of all the flights I book with them, and they know I’m a member of their Dividend Miles program. It’s 2010—If a customer books a flight and they forget to enter their Dividend Miles number, can’t you have the computer apply it to their record automatically? This would have saved us all a lot of time and frustration.

(5) I am well aware that the only reason I’m getting my miles reinstated (it’s not done yet, of course) is because of the power of social media. If I didn’t have this blog, a Twitter following and Facebook fan page, I’d only be flying Delta and United from here on out.

I’m grateful for all my reader’s comments, for everyone who contacted US Airways on my behalf, and for everyone who retweeted, “liked” it on Facebook, or otherwise spread the story. I also realize it’s not fair that I got my miles reinstated, when so many others who posted similar horror stories didn’t. I think in this case it was a matter of the squeaky wheel getting the grease, and you guys helped me make a lot more noise than I ever could alone, so a sincere thanks to you all.

This is what it comes down to:
How many times have you taken a flight and heard the Captain, or the Flight Attendant say, “We know you have a choice when it comes to air travel, so we thank you for flying [insert your airline here]?” That what’s this was all about. Choice. It’s clear—I was wrong—I didn’t properly manage my Dividend Miles account, but this wasn’t about who was right or wrong (because we know, I was wrong). This was about me making a choice about who I choose when it comes to air travel, and part of that decision was going to be based on how I’m treated, even when I mess up. Do you “nail me” or forgive me? Do we move ahead and still do business, or do we part ways forever?

It’s about respecting us—your customers
If you want us to use your products, treat us like you want us to use your products. Sometimes exceptions to policies have to be made to keep a customer, and companies need to empower their Customer Service reps to use reasonable judgment when dealing with their customers. Don’t read us a script. Listen to us. If we’re complaining, it’s because we’re still want to use your product or service, but you’re making us think twice, or driving us away entirely.

Business is too hard to come by right now. Every customer matters. Just treat us like we do, and we’ll send you money. It’s as easy as that.

This has nothing to do with photography, or Photoshop, so you can just skip it if you’d like, but it has everything to do with how not to treat your customers, and how US Airways, whom I didn’t think could afford to lose another customer, just lost me as one.

An offer that’s easy to refuse
It started when I got an email from US Airways letting me know that the 81,000+ miles I had accrued as part of their “Dividend Miles” frequent flyer program had expired because I hadn’t flown US Airways since 2008.

In the email, they offered me three ways to get my miles back:

(1) Pay $300
(2) Get a US Airways VISA card
(3) Pay for a First Class Ticket on US Airways

Basically, they gave me three options—which all favor US Airways—for me to get my miles back.

The problem is: I flew US Airways twice last year, and I had the email confirms and receipts to prove it.

This should be an easy fix, right?
I logged in to my account on the US Airways Website, and this is what came up:

So I called US Airways, referenced my two missing flights from 2009, and asked if they would reinstate my miles. They said a resounding “No!” The customer service rep said I hadn’t supplied my Dividend Miles number when booking the trips, so those US Airways flights (even though they can see on my account that I took them), don’t count, and they’re keeping my miles.

A travel agent actually books my flights, and they apparently didn’t give US Airways my number. Well, I asked “couldn’t we just add those in now? You see them right there on your computer?”The less than helpful US Air Customer Service rep told me that they couldn’t just add my number now, because it’s outside their time limit to do so. I would have had to catch the mistake last year.

Certainly there’s some reasonable way to fix this, right?
I asked her what she could do to help get my miles back and keep me as a US Airways customer, and she said my only options still were:

(1) Pay $300
(2) Get a US Air VISA card
(3) Pay for a First Class Ticket on US Airways

And now she’s starting to get kind of snippy with me.

It takes a lot to get me upset
But I’m starting to get there. We argued each others point back and forth, totally going nowhere, and finally I said this:

“Look, I’ve obviously flown at least 81,000 miles with your airline, not including the two flights that I didn’t get credited for (I know, it’s my fault), but you’re still totally willing to lose me as a customer forever rather than give me those 81,000 miles that I earned back, right?”

She didn’t answer. She just irritatedly repeated the three options with which I can “buy” my miles back. All three of which benefit US Airways, and not me, their customer.

I wasn’t ready to give up
I mentioned to her that in each issue of US Airways in-flight magazine is a letter from Doug Parker, US Airways Chairman and CEO, and I had remembered reading his letter on one of my US Airways flights where he talked about his customer service group’s “Commitment to excellence,” and about creating a truly great airline, and I asked her if this was an example of that commitment to US Airways customers he was talking about? She paused, then told me (I am not making this up), his letter had nothing to do with my situation.

I went on to tell her that if we couldn’t work this out, my next call would be to my travel agent—not to yell at them for not providing my frequent flyer number, but to tell them to never, ever, under any circumstances to book me on a US Airways flight.

She said, “It’s the customer’s responsibility to monitor their Dividend Miles account; to contact US Airways if the dividend miles weren’t credited properly.” She then nastily reiterated the three ways I could benefit US Airways by paying them to reinstate the miles I had already earned.”

I assured that I wasn’t going to take one of those options, and I let her know that not only was she absolutely no help to me whatsoever in resolving my problem, but that she was not help to US Airways that day either, but apparently US Airways has so much business, that losing another customer just doesn’t matter.

She didn’t argue the point, and I hung up with steam coming out of my ears.

But I just don’t represent one passenger. My company flies literally hundreds of people around the world all year long. We fly over 100 staff and instructors just to our two Photoshop World conferences alone, plus we fly an entire team to our 80+ seminars around the world each year, plus all the conferences, workshops, and events we hold and/or attend each year. How many of those do you think we’ll be booking on US Airways going forward?

They “Got Me” on a technicality
They were right. I didn’t provide the number. I didn’t catch it in time. It’s 100% my fault. And when I talked to the US Airways customer service rep, she let me know in no uncertain terms that I was in the wrong, and therefore she didn’t feel the least bit compelled to help me. She didn’t get a supervisor. She didn’t offer an alternative. She didn’t offer anything but a nasty attitude and blame. So, they “got me” on a technicality. Congratulations US Airways—-you won. You got my 81,000 miles back. But you lost another customer who had flown nearly 100,000 miles on your airline. Way to go!

Why this stuff matters
Bad customer service particularly grates me, because in my own company we work so hard to provide exceptional customer service. A week doesn’t go by when I don’t get a personal email, or even a handwritten letter from one of our customers telling me about how someone in our customer services dept. went out of their way, or above and beyond the call, to help them out. I hear it all the time. I’ve had people wait in line between sessions at my one-day seminars—not to ask a question, but to congratulate me on our company’s customer service, and to acknowledge how much our team truly cares. It totally makes my day.

We’re not perfect, and we make mistakes like every other company, but where we really shine is when we have screwed up. We admit it, then we bend over backwards to make things more than right. We’re still a small company—and we’re not in a position like US Airways clearly must be, where customers are expendable. Every one matters to us.

It’s not all airlines
I had an issue with a Delta flight earlier this year in Atlanta so I sent an email letting them know what happened. I also told them I wasn’t look for any compensation whatsoever, but I thought they had done something that kind of messed up our trip a bit, and thought they should know. They immediately wrote back, had looked into the problem, offered a detailed and sincere apology, and had already credited all nine of us back $200 each for our inconvenience (that was above and beyond service). It wasn’t just that they gave us the credit. It was how they handled it. It was clear, they cared.

So, although US Airways just lost another customer, Delta just gained a new one.

By the way, how have your experiences with US Airways been?