Category Archives Photo Shoots

I needed some shots for an upcoming project, and when my friends (and fellow photographers) Kathy Porupski and Jim Sykes heard that I needed a cool location for the shoot, they told me about a local advertising agency that had remodeled a 1950’s gas station for their new offices.  They make a few calls and the next day I was there shooting. Here’s one of the shots from the shoot (above), my first with three lights for an automotive shoot.

Not only did I follow the tips from Tim Wallace’s Kelby Training online classes on car photography, I actually pulled out my laptop during the middle of the shoot to make sure I had the lights set up correctly (see below). I never would have tried this without having seen Tim’s class. In fact, it was Tim’s class that made me want to do it in the first place.

This is taken from the shooting position (photo by Brad Moore), and you can see the three lights and their position. Rob, our brave 2nd assistant on the shoot, had to dodge traffic like you can’t believe (you can’t tell what a busy road this was). Not having that third light (lighting the front wheel), on a light stand made this a lot more challenging because after every shot, the wheel light was in a different position, but because of all the traffic, we didn’t have a choice. Lucky he’s young, and can run fast. ;-)

Gear and Lighting Info
This was my first shoot with the Nikon D800 (more on this in a minute), and I used my go-to lens for my outdoor shots was my 70-200 f/2.8 VR II lens. I shot in Manual mode (since I was using strobes), and I used three lights: 2 Elinchrom Ranger Packs, and 1 Ranger Quadra (so three flashes total). One the light in the back of the car, I used a large Stripbank soft box (like 18″x50″ or something close to that). On the front of the car, I used a small Stripbank (like 12″ x 36″), and the third light was a bare strobe with a 20° metal grid.

For my close-up detail shots (shown further down this post), I used an old 70.0-180.0 mm f/4.5-5.6 Macro lens I bought from Moose Peterson a few years ago. Great lens by the way (thanks Moose).

(Above: Here’s a reverse view of the lighting set-up. Look how nervous Rob looks out there in the street). 

The Nikon D800 — be careful what you wish for!
I was really looking forward to seeing all the extra detail I heard the D800 would bring (I had actually seen samples my buddy Matt Kloskowski had taken on a trip to Oregon with my D800, and it was just incredible), but this was my first shoot, and I couldn’t wait to see how it pulled detail. Well, you know that saying, “Be careful what you wish you?” Well, it smacked me in the head, because with all that added detail (and there is plenty), comes all that extra retouching to remove some unwanted detail my other cameras didn’t bring out (everything from fingerprints, to tiny spots, specs, reflections and other stuff that was usually soft enough it wasn’t worth messing with).

It reminded of when HTDV took off and all the TV news anchors had to use way more make-up because the HD brought out every little detail and flaw that nobody notice before. Same kinda thing here. Take a look at the sample’s below and you’ll see what I mean.

(Above: When you’re zoomed out, it pretty much looks like my old camera captured images. This is the out-of-camera shot as is). 

(Above: But when you zoom-in to 100% full size, you realize your retouching work has just begun. However, I’m not complaining — I’ll take the amazing detail any time — it worth the extra retouching!) 

(Above: Here’s a version that’s cleaned up a bit).

(Above: Here’s a production shot of the detail shot. Yes, we shot with all that ambient light and still got a solid black background. I learned that in Tim’s class, too!).

(Above: Here’s a detail shot of the owner’s blue ’32 Ford Roadster. I loved the wheels — classic!)

(Above: Here’s me, lying on the ground, to get the lighting and perspective I wanted for the shot you just saw of the tire and wheel. How did I know that was where the shot was? I didn’t. I just kept trying different angles — they all looks pretty lame, until one finally found this one that looked good. Tip: it’s usually the one with the most uncomfortable shooting position). 

(Above: Here’s a close-up detail shot of the M6 taken right after we did the full body shots from across the street).

(Above: Just one light — a strip bank, and again, the previous shot was taken in daylight). 

(Above: Another detail shot, this one taken from the back). 

(Above: Here’s a production shot of the shot you just saw above). 

(Above: I couldn’t resist shooting at least one HDR of the gas station once the shoot was over and the place was closed up). 

While we had a great time, and wrapped the whole thing up in right around three hours, of course there are things I would do much differently next time (like watch Tim’s class again, and pay even closer attention, because I missed a couple of things that I could do a lot better lighting wise), but I sure learned a lot from Tim’s class.

He really makes everything so clear, and I just really enjoy his wonderful, laid-back, yet straight to the point teaching style. He doesn’t hold anything back, and that’s not only just the kind of guy I want training for me, apparently it’s just the kind of guy I want training me, too!

Yesterday, when I woke up and checked my email, I saw where the New York Times had done a piece on my new iPad App called “Scott Kelby’s Photo Recipes” (it’s totally free), and I was on Cloud 9 (had no idea they were doing that until I saw it in my inbox). [Here’s the link]

Then I get an email from Shawn Welch, our IOS developer and fellow Call of Duty [SNOW] Clan player that Gizmodo.com featured it yesterday as their “Gizmodo App of the day.” Seriously, I’m blacking out! ;-)  [here’s the link].

You can find it on the App store for iPad. Did I mention it’s free? :)

Thanks to the Times and to Gizmodo for featuring the App (and thanks to Shawn Welch for totally kicking butt in creating it). We are seriously psyched! :-)

(Above: That’s “Fifi,” the world’s only still-flying B-29 Super Fortress out on the flight line at dawn. Shot with a Nikon D4, and a 24-120mm f/4 lens I borrowed from NPS). 

This was my third time shooting the Fly-in (it takes place in my hometown of Lakeland, Florida), and this is the first time that I could actually stay and shoot the entire day (Well, I left before sunset to meet my family at Disney World), but I got more shooting in than all the previous times combined.

I was there as a guest of Sun n’ Fun’s official photographer, my buddy Jose Ramos, (link) along with Nikon Professional Services (NPS) who hosted me for the day in the event’s Nikon Media Center, and I got the honor to shoot alongside Bill Fortney, Bill Pekela, David Lee, and Scott Diussa (and of course, my buddy “Fuji” Ramos).

Camera Gear
I shot my new D4, and love it, love it, love it!!!! Love it more every time I shoot it (the tonal quality and gradation between colors is really wonderful, and the extra megapixels don’t hurt either). I shot with two lens: a Nikon 28-120mm f/4 I borrowed from NPS, and a 200-400mm loaner also from NPS.

We got there about 30 minutes before sunrise and headed out to the War Bird’s Flight Line and warmed up there until the sun came up. We didn’t have much for clouds (OK, it was a cloudless morning), but the light was pretty sweet, and we shot until about 30 minutes after the sun came up, then we headed back to the Nikon Media Center.

Above: Here’s a P-51 Mustang on the ramp. This was about the only angle I could shoot from (down low and in front), because there was a large tarp over the entire cockpit and canopy, and it looked pretty….well….distracting to say the least. Still a gorgeous plane.

Above: Later in the day the US Air Force Thunderbirds arrived and did a few passes by our shooting tower. 

They don’t actually do their airshow performances until 4:00 pm today, tomorrow and Sunday, but on Thursday they did do a few passes just to scope out the area and get the feel of things, but they didn’t do any formations or anything really wild, but we were able to shoot from special elevated shooting platforms Nikon put up for the media (shown above, right out by the runway), and that’s where I got the shot I showed right before this one.

(Above: My buddy Jose “Fuji” Ramos [Fuji is his “Call sign.” Long story]).

One of the highlights of my Sun n’ Fun visit was catching an excellent presentation by my buddy Jose Ramos on Aviation Photography. Besides some amazing images (he gets to shoot air-to-air from military jets, which makes for some just absolutely sick photos), I was really impressed with his respect for the pilots, crew, and mechanics that work on these amazing machines, and in particular you can feel his reverence for our military men and women in uniform. He had some fascinating personal stories that really made his presentation a lot of fun, and when he was done, he had a big crowd around him asking questions for another 30 minutes. Very cool stuff, and I’m really glad I got to see it.

(Above: Jose snapped this iPhone photo of me out on the flight line once the sun was up enough that we knew that part of the shoot was over). 

My thanks to Jose, and the great folks at NPS (I don’t think a lot of folks realize how awesome it is having Nikon Professional Services at a photo event like this. They bring LOADS of high-end gear available as longer gear to the working media, and they have techs on staff (thanks Francis) who will do free minor repairs, offer advice, and even gladly clean your camera’s sensors. They were especially kind to Canon users who came in and needed their help. They really treated them like on of their own, and I thought that was really cool.

(Above: Here’s one for the road, taken from the back of Jose’s Golf Cart on the way back to the Media Center after shooting the Thunderbird’s warm-up). 

I have a lot more shots, but I’ve got to hit the sack
Again, my thanks to the gang at Nikon for their wonderful hospitality, and to “Fuji” Ramos for inviting me to shoot alongside him and share a day shooting some amazing planes. Also, my apologies to Moose Peterson — I know I’m not supposed to be shooting this stuff Moose — don’t worry — I won’t make it a habit. ;-)

I’ve been shooting quite a bit lately for the book I’m just finishing up and I thought I’d share a few shots from a shoot I did on Monday, set up for me by my friend and neighbor, photographer Kathy Porupski at a motocross track in Dade City Florida.

(Above: Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot. You can’t tell from this shot, but my photo assistant Brad Moore is way up on a hill that the riders jump over. That’s my friend and fellow photographer Kathy Porupski holding the power back behind Brad, and I’m below them a bit farther down the hill).

We used natural light for a lot of the action shots, but we also used an Elinchrom Quadra battery back and strobe head with a 27″ soft box (or just a reflector and grid) for some of the shots, and all of the portraits. I love the Quadra kit because I can control the power wirelessly from my camera position. Brad mounted the strobe on the end of a monopod, so we were able to move pretty quickly, which came in handy when we needed to climb up a hill with the gear.

(Above: I tired this after watching Dave Black’s class on Kelby Training, which was amazing! As for focusing: I left auto focus on in Continuous focus mode, and as the riders entered the turn I looked through the viewfinder to at least get a quick focus lock on them, and then I took the camera away from my eye so I could make sure I didn’t get hit by the bike, (and so I didn’t’t hit the rider with my camera) and then fired one shot letting auto focus do its thing. It worked a lot of the time, but sometimes it missed focus, but more importantly I’m still alive to tell the tale. :)

Camera Gear
I mostly used two lens: a 300mm f/2.8 or a 14-24mm f/2.8 (I think I used a 24-70mm once, too but not for long). No special camera settings. When I had the 300mm on the camera, I was in Aperture Priority mode at f/2.8 the whole time. When I was using the strobes for the portraits, I was in Manual mode, with a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second, and my f/stop at f/13.

(Above: It was a very cloudy day, and there was literally only one small patch of blue, but to actually shoot the riders against that blue patch of sky, they had to ride on the track in the opposite direction).

(Above: Here I’m shooting my 300mm f/2.8 as the riders go into the turn and then head right past me).

(Above: At one point while we were shooting the action shots, I look over at one part of the sky and it’s really dark and ominous and I tell Brad, “We need to shoot against that sky now, because it looks like it’s leaving fast,” (The rest of the sky was cloudy, but not stormy) so Brad grabbed the gear and headed to the top of a jump with Kathy in tow, and Larry the track owner helping us out along the way (luckily, he’s a photographer himself). I also underexposed all the skies by about 2-stops to make them look even darker and more dramatic).

Above: That’s me posing with our riders. I knew that they were done when all of sudden they started literally covering me in dirt after doing 20 or so passes without getting any on me whatsoever. We had been at out for more than two hours, so I kinda don’t blame ’em. Right after this photo was taken, I reached over and tipped the red bike over so it have the domino effect and take down the other two guys. Serves ’em right. (kidding, of course).

There’s a first time for everything…
And this was my first time shooting motocross, and I absolutely loved it. In fact, I’m planning my next trip back to the track already. Thanks to Kathy Porupski for setting this up, helping us out, and just being really awesome the whole day. Thanks to Brad for risking life and limb, and for being so willing to climb up lots of dirt hills.

And a special thank you to PhotoExtract.com who each day posts their picks for the Top photos of Google+ and they chose my opening shot for their Feb. 7th Top-12-Photo on G+ list (seen above). I was truly honored (and very excited to say the least!).

OK, I am super psyched because tonight I’ll be shooting on the sidelines at the Monday Night Football Game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

Monday Night Football is a grand sports tradition here in the USA, and it’s broadcast nationwide (as its the only pro football game that airs on Monday night—-all the rest play on Sunday), and I know a lot of you will be watching, so I thought I would create this handy “Scott Spotting Guide” just in case I get creamed by a receiver (or if Josh Freeman breaks my monopod). ;-)

Brad Has Re-Pimped Out my Monopod
To make “Scott Spotting” easier, Brad has removed the red flames tape and replaced it with bright yellow tape around the top section of my monopod, so if I show up on camera (which I do from time to time), you’ll be able to see that it’s me. Oh but there’s more…

Adding a Colorful Ballcap
I went to my closet to find a colorful ball cap to help make me easier to spot, but as you can see in this iPhone photo, apparently all I have is black ball caps. So, I went to the mall and picked up the red ballcap you see in the photo at the top of the page at a Sporting Goods store. So, red ballcap and yellow monopod. I’ll look like a small firetruck with a 400mm lens.

Where I’m likely to be on the field:
I generally shoot from these two areas:

(1) The End Zone (there’s less chance of refs, the chain gang, video crews, and the guy with the giant blue parabolic mic walking in front of your shot)

(2) Between the 15 yard line and the goal line.

I also go out on the field immediately after the game to grab a few close-up shots of players celebrating / agonizing at center field. I’d be shooting something more wide angle at this point.

Let’s make it interesting
The first three people who taks a photo of their TV Screen where you can see me, and post it either to my Facebook page (link), Tweets me with the photo (link), or posts it to my Google+ page (link) gets a signed copy of my new book, “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it.”

However…
If I get flattened by a player during the game, the first person to visit me in the hospital (besides my wife), gets my entire CS5 Photoshop and Photography book library. I’m hoping we don’t have a winner for this one.

Can’t wait to share the shots with you guys tomorrow (provided I get any decent ones). Have a great Monday, and we’ll see you tonight. Well, you know what I mean. :)

If you’re at Photoshop World in Vegas, the book is being officially launched by Peachpit Press there and we have a limited number for sale at the official bookstore on the Expo floor.

It’s hitting other bookstores next week (Amazon.com already has the Kindle version available now), and you can preorder the print version from Amazon.com, or Barnes & Noble.com, or pick it up at your local bookstore in just a few days.

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