Category Archives Photo Shoots


If you’re coming out to Photoshop World Las Vegas this week, I’m doing two live demos on the Expo floor that you’re invited to check out. NOTE: Both of these are on the Expo floor, and both are during the two days we allow the public onto the show floor, so to get your free Expo Only ticket, click here.

Here are the details:

Elinchrom BXRI’s Live Studio Shoot (at the Bogen Imaging Booth)
2:15 – 3:00 pm, Friday, Oct. 2nd
I’ll be showing how I use Elinchrom’s inexpensive BXRI strobes in the studio, by doing a live shoot on the floor, showing a few of my favorite lighting set-ups, and how the whole thing comes together.

Westcott Spiderlite Live Shoot at B&H Photo Theater
11:00 am, Saturday, Oct. 3rd
You guys have heard me talk a lot about the Westcott Spiderlite daylight fluorescent kits, and here you’ll see exactly how I use them, why I use them, and when. This is a live shoot, and I’ll be doing this from B&H Photo’s Live Theater on the Show Floor (B&H Photo usually has special show pricing on the “Scott Kelby TD-5 Studio Kit”).

I hope I’ll see you at one of these free demos. :)



A few weeks ago I got to do a photo shoot with a group of U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter pilots from an Army Reserve Medevac unit. During the shoot my 2nd assistant on the job, Chris Cox, looks at me and says, “Is there any place where you feel less like a man than when you’re a civilian at at Army base?” We both just cracked up (because it’s true!). We stuck out for sure, but this was just really cool! Black Hawks. Army Base. We’re guys. What’s not to like? (click on the photo above for a larger view).

Brad and I had already done a scouting trip to the base a week earlier (in fact, it was through Brad that I got this opportunity in the first place, as one of his friends is not only a Black Hawk pilot, but a Lieutenant at the base). I knew I wanted to do some shooting with the choppers on the flight line as my backdrop, which would put us all out in the sweltering August Florida heat, so on the day of the shoot, we went as early in the morning as we could.


My initial idea was to use a Lastolite 4 foot x 6 foot scrim overhead, suspended on two light stands—(as seen above), to diffuse the direct sunlight, but no sooner than we got it set up, a huge cloud cover moved over the entire area, and we wouldn’t see the sun again for the rest of the shoot. I took a few test shots with this set-up (which is what you see above—photo by Brad Moore), but it was so overcast that the light was flat and boring.

Luckily, we had brought along the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra two-head strobe kit you saw me talk about a few weeks earlier with Mark Astman from Bogen Imaging (here’s the link). This was our first in-field test, and I have to tell you—-it performed even better than I had hoped. In fact, it was working so well, I had to call my buddy Terry White (who was considering a set for himself) during the shoot and I told him to go ahead and place the order right now. It’s that good!). It was great not having to mess with any wireless issues (the wireless receivers are built right into the Quadra units, so all you need is the matchbox-sized transmitter that sits on your hotshoe).

We could see some pretty scary-looking storm clouds way off in the distance slowly heading our way, so we went right to work. We took down the Lastolite scrim, and we attached an Elinchrom 39″ softbox on one of the Ranger Quadra heads, and mounted it on a light stand to the left of our subject (Our main subject that day was Lieutenant Rob Ozburn, Brad’s friend, and just a tremendous guy all around. In fact, everybody we met at the base that day was just fantastic!).

As hot as it was, Rob put on his heavy flight gear, helmet and all, to pose for the shots. Brad and I are out there in short sleeves, and we’re sweating to death, but it didn’t phase Rob one bit. I found out why; their choppers don’t have air conditioning (except for back where the wounded are), and the cockpit temperature can often reach over 120 degrees.

Rob flight line2sm

Rob Gogglessm

Here’s a couple of the shots out from out on the flight line. I had been shooting with my 200mm f/2 (seen in the previous production shot), but I couldn’t fit enough of the choppers in the frame, so I switched to my 14-24mm f/2.8, and shot this one out at 24mm at f/13. No HDR—-just Camera Raw.


As we were shooting, we could see the storm getting closer, and the Lieutenant wanted to get a group shot of his Medevac team, so we switched to a larger softbox (a 53″ MidiOcta) and relocated at the other end of the field. In the shot above, I’m discussing where to place some of the pilots, but as it turned out, we wound up shooting at an entirely different chopper from a different angle.


The storm is almost here. It’s not raining yet, but we don’t have much time. The guys are gearing up and coming out, but it takes a while to get everybody out to the flight line, so we’re checking out angles and deciding how to light the group. Brad was really pushing for me to fire up the 2nd head to cover that large space, but time was short, and I really thought I could cover it with one by just moving it back behind me and cranking it up to full power, so we lit the group shot (which you see at the top), with just that one single Ranger Quadra head with that 53″ Octa.


I finally got everybody in place (I positioned them in little clusters of three and four guys, which works great for group shots), then I put my 14-24mm wide angle lens on, got down low, and I positioned myself so the chopper blade would appear right over my head (thanks to the 14mm). I did this group shot (you can see the final image at the top of this post), then set up in front of the chopper for individual portraits, but by now the storm was nearly on us.

I only had time for about two frames each, and the base commander sent word out that there were lightning strikes in the area, so we headed right for the hanger. The hanger was only about 100 yards (90 meters) away; I had turned off my camera and we’re rolling the lightstand and strobe back to the hanger. We’re about half way there, and all of sudden the strobe fires—-then a second later CRACK!!!!! The lightning had triggered the flash and then a split-second later—BOOM!!!!! We raced inside, and within 60 seconds it was absolutely pouring!!!!


Since it was pouring outside; we set up inside. From my scouting the previous week, I knew I wanted to get a shot of Rob beisde a Black Hawk in the hanger, but also using the huge American Flag as a backdrop. I got down low and had the Lieutenant look up over me. I used that same single Quadra strobe but we switched to a 39″ square softbox, up high, to his left aiming down.

Same thing here for post processing. No HDR—-just Camera Raw (well, if you want to be technical, the Develop Module of Lightroom, which is Camera Raw).


After I got the shot with the flag, I set up to do individual portraits of each pilot, but rather than do the regular dark dramatic background, I took a cue from Tim Mantoani’s fantastic portraits of this year’s top NFL draft picks, and shot them on a white background (using a Lastolite HiLite background), and I used hard edge rim lighting from behind to skim each side of their face.

I used one of the heads from my Ranger Quadra to light the HiLite background, and then one as my main light the left of my camera position. We had to flag-off the two back rimlights (which are Elinchrom BXRIs powered by that Innovatronix Explorer XT battery pack I talked about back in June, and in Vol. 3 of my Digital Photography Book. So, I use four lights in all: 1 Quadra as a main light, one to light the HiLite, then the two Elinchrom BXRI’s to do the rim lighting on Rob. By the way; the 2nd boom stand extending into the Hi-light is just to steady to the Hi-lite—there’s no light attached.

By the way; do you see my laptop stand? I know what you’re thinking; “but where’s the laptop?” That’s coming up in a moment.


Here’s one of those shots on the white Hi-Lite background. They don’t compare with what Tim did on any level, but I’m glad I tried something different than I normally would. Again, no HDR, but like the other images here, it’s a single-image process I call EDP “Expanded Definition Processing.” I’m teaching a special tutorial on this for the NAPP member website, where I’ll use the same images you see here and take members through the process from start to finish.

Now to the “missing laptop” question. It died on the gig. Once we got inside the hanger, it started storming like I couldn’t believe (I learned later it was one of the worst thunderstorms we’ve had in years), and all of a sudden the wind changed, and the rain started blowing in on our equipment.

While I was shooting the flag portrait of Rob; Brad and Chris were quickly pulling the gear further inside—away from the rain. My laptop was on the tripod’s laptop stand, and while Brad was moving the whole rig by himself (and navigating through all the gear on the floor), he tipped the stand too much and my laptop fell right off onto the concrete floor. It was dead. It wouldn’t boot at all. Brad felt terrible, but I wasn’t upset at all. Brad was trying to help me out and protect my gear, which I really appreciated, but he still took it pretty hard.

Luckily, two things happened. From my experience in Denver earlier this year (and at the instance of my friend Terry White), I had a bootable backup of my laptop with me, so I was able to work immediately off that external drive. After we got back to the office, my IT guys got me a replacement hard drive; popped it in and it worked just fine (thanks Paul and Keith).

When I got home that night, I set my Apple Time Machine wireless backup device to restore my files (it had backed me up at 6:08 am that morning), and when I woke up the next morning, it was as if nothing had happened. Everything was back just as it was. I love Time Machine!


Here’s the last shot of the day (and one of my favorites), taken in natural light. I had Rob walk out of the hangar about half a dozen times, carrying his helmet, at various speeds, until I got the frame I wanted (seen above).

Then I overexposed the shot a bit in Camera Raw, and used Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro to make the black and white conversion you see here (by the way; Silver Efex Pro is absolutely fantastic!!!!! If you’re into Black & White—get this plug-in!!!! Also, if you’re a NAPP member don’t forget to use your discount).

Despite the weather and laptop smashfest, we had a really great shoot. But beyond that, I really want to thank Lieutenant Rob Ozburn, and the men of F Co 5-159th AVN REGT who put their lives on the line in service to our country. It was a true honor to get to photograph these brave men.

If you’ve ever dreamed of shooting a big game from down on the sidelines, have I got an awesome contest for you! It’s the brainchild of my buddy (sports shooter and famous guest blogger here, Mike Olivella), and well.. you just gotta watch the video below and you’ll see why you just gotta enter.

It’s free to enter, so if you want more details and the official rules, here’s the link to the flickr Group where you can upload your contest entry photo. We’ll be picking our winner in less than three weeks!

I hope to see you, Sept. 12th shooting on the slidelines alongside me and Mike (surrounded by 82,000+ screaming fans) as the Florida State Seminoles host the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. Good luck everybody!


I’m back from four days on the Island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean, as the Guest Speaker at Joe McNally’s Off Camera Flash workshop. The workshop was an even more amazing experience than I had expected, and I learned a lot more than just photography.

This week, I’m going to share some different things I learned as an instructor, as a student, as a guest in a very special resort (more on this in a moment), as a businessman, as a husband, a father, and as a photographer (it’s amazing what you can absorb in just four days).

It’ll probably make a separate post each day this week to share these lessons, and I’ll weave my stories in alongside some of the other important things happening in this; the week leading up to my Worldwide Photo Walk on Saturday. But as I’m sitting here on the five-hour flight from St. Lucia to Atlanta, (and then a short hop home to Tampa), all this stuff is swirling around in my head, and I’ve got to get it down on paper (even if it’s not really paper).

First, we’ll start with the shot up top. I arrived after the workshop was already underway, and after checking in at the resort, I headed down to the beach to catch Joe’s sunset shoot at the beach.

When I got there I high-fived my assistant Brad Moore, who was already there assisting on the shoot, and then watched as Joe waded offshore with a local scuba diver to do a portrait, along with his assistant Drew holding a large Elinchrom Rotalux softbox with flashhead attached, as one of the students (A great guy from Texas named Clint) held the small Elinchrom Ranger Quadra battery pack and cables (more on this later in the week, when I post a video we did here in the studio on the Quadra).

It was just a one-light shoot, using a single studio light on location, but man did Joe make that one light sing! Check out the final image on Joe’s blog (here’s the link).

More Proof it’s a Small World
The next morning, we headed into the small town of Soufriere, so we could do some street shooting. After wandering the streets for an hour or so, we met up with our guide from the hotel, and he mentioned that there was a fire station nearby if we wanted to drop by and see if they’d let us shoot their trucks, so we headed over there.

A student from our group got about 100 yards ahead of us, and got to the station first. A fireman was standing outside, and he saw the photographer’s Canon camera and said, “Hey, I’m a photographer. I’ve got a Canon DSLR, too!” They started chatting and the fireman asked the student, “Hey, do you read Scott Kelby’s blog?” (I kid you not!). The student tells the fireman that I’m actually part of the group, and of course, he thinks the guy is pulling his leg until McNally and I come around the corner 30-seconds later.


The firefighter’s name is Garvey Charlemagne (that’s a portrait I took of Garvey above), and he’s an avid photographer, and just a wonderfully gracious, kind, and incredibly patient guy as he let the class make portraits of him, in full gear, for around an hour, and it was Caribbean island-hot down there (that’s real sweat, in other words).

Although my blog connection to Garvey might have gotten our foot in the door at the fire station, watching Joe work in this environment was a master class unto itself. Joe just has a way of ingratiating himself in any situation, and within minutes these firefighters, were rolling out the red carpet to do anything Joe needed to “get the shot.”

He had them do everything from move firetrucks, to dress up in full gear, to doing group shots with the entire department (including the Captain in his full parade best), to pulling out all sorts of gear, posing in different locations—you name it. They were so taken with Joe, and he worked the scene like such a pro, that everybody, firefighters included, had a blast.

On the flipside of this; Joe does something for them, which I think is very, very important; he immediately sends them the best finished images from the shoot. (They may not at first know what it means to have Joe McNally make your portrait, but they soon will).


Here’s Joe and I posed with Garvey (photo by Steve Rogers), after the shoot. A big thanks to all the guys at the Soufriere Fire Dept., and a special thanks to my blog reader Garvey. You guys were awesome!!!

Ya Just Have to Know What to Ask
I have a running joke with Joe. When we were walking the backstreets and alleys of Sufraire, I put the camera to my eye and shouted ahead to Joe, “Hey Joe, you been shootin’ much HDR??” He turned toward me, and I took the shot below, which pretty much says it all.


Can Joe Pick a Workshop Location or What!!!!
Our host resort for the workshop was the fabulous Jade Mountain hotel, which has already become a favorite hideaway of celebrities (which we knew), but what nobody knew until the third day of the workshop was that Travel & Leisure magazine had just named the hotel the #3 best hotel in the world (the first time in history a Caribbean hotel had made Travel & Leisure’s exclusive Top 10 List). Believe me; these accolades are well deserved—-I’ve never seen anything like it.


Here’s the view from my room (they call them “Sanctuaries” and they’re well-named). It’s a 17-photo pano; taken hand held, standing inside my room. It’s 62 inches long at 240 ppi.

It stitched together perfectly; totally seamlessly, without any input from me, all in Photoshop CS4 (well, I selected the photos inside of Lightroom, then chose “Merge to Panorama in Photoshop.” I’d do a tutorial on it for you, but there’s nothing to show. Select 17 photos; choose “Merge to Panorama in Photoshop” and then wait a few minutes and it’s done.


This one was taken from the breakfast table in my room. It’s not a pano. I just cropped it that way in Lightroom.


This isn’t the lobby. This is the hotel room they gave me as an instructor. I kid you not. This is where they put me up. My wife and I walked in, and our jaws hit the floor. There’s only one wall (on the left) with a 14-foot high door, so basically 1/3 of the room has a wall, and the other 2/3 are wide open to the sea. But it gets better.


There’s actually an Infinity pool in my hotel room. It has steps down into it, and then it’s around 5-feet deep. It’s not a hot-tub—it’s much bigger—it’s a pool, and it’s amazing (as is the view).


Here’s where I shot the first pano from. That’s the canopy bed on the left. The room came with a full time butler who was fantastic, and I could go on and on, but it was immediately clear why this hotel was awarded the #3 hotel in the world. I can’t imagine what you’d have to do to #2. The service was like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and the entire resort, and its staff, made sure everyone; instructors and students, had an experience of a lifetime.

Thanks to Nick and Karolin Troubetzkoy, the owners of the Jade Mountain Resort, who have created a magical place where you can unwind and relax at a level like no place else. (Check out their Website, or follow them on Facebook).

There’s more to Come
I’ve got so much more to share, but they’re closing the aircraft doors for our connection down to Tampa, and it’s already really late. I’ll have some insights on the workshop, on learning, and Joe, and a whole lot more, but I just had to share a few fun stories to kick things off.

I’m back from my Great American Photo Workshop with renowned landscape and aerial photographer Bill Fortney and I have to say, it was one of the most enjoyable workshops I’ve ever been a part of. We had such a great group of talented, fun, easy-going, and passionate photographers that it really made for the ideal creative atmosphere to learn, make photographs, and laugh and awful lot.


Guest Instructors
This was my first time in Savannah Georgia, and it’s a perfect place for a photo workshop, with loads of stuff to shoot around every corner (photo above taken with my iPhone 3Gs; much improved camera). We started on Wednesday with slideshows and presentations from the instructors, including two guest instructors; Joanne Wells (a wonderful Savannah-based fine art photographer with great knowledge of local shooting locales), along with first-class bird photographer Wayne Bennett (we had a total of four instructors for 30 students). By the way; that’s Wayne at the far right of the photo above).

Shooting a Classic Caddie
We did dawn location shoots each day, and a few optional dusk shoots as well (it was in the high 90s all week, with lots of humidity, so we made the dusk shoot optional). We went to some great locales (I’ll post a shot or two tomorrow), and then on the last morning we rented a Classic 1962 red Cadillac Convertible for the class to shoot among the old brick buildings and alleyways of Savannah’s Riverfront (the iPhone shot above, and at one at the top of the post, show a few of our students during our shoots).


Here’s our group shooting in a back alley of Savannah’s Riverfront.


Here’s one of my shots from that angle (above—click on it for a larger view). Taken with a Nikon D3, and a 70-300mm f/4.5-f/5.6 VR lens on a tripod. I shot at ISO 400 at 1/13 of a second at f/4.8.


While the class was still shooting, I climbed up to a crosswalk above and behind the car where I got this shot. I leaned out as far as I could and then held the camera out away from my body. I had to shoot it at 2000 ISO because of the low light, but the noise is so unnoticeable (from the D3 with a 14-24mm f/2.8 lens), I didn’t even need to run a noise reduction filter. In fact, there are no effects filters or HDR used on any of these shots—-just Lightroom (though I did sharpen one in Photoshop).


Above is another iPhone shot of the group shooting the Caddie.


…and here’s the shot I got from that spot (above).


This is me above, lying down on the job; ball head in hand, trying to get a low angle on the car. The photo was taken by one of my workshop students; Bruce Thayer (who’s quite a good photographer himself) who came all the way from Australia for the workshop.


Above is one of the shots I got lying on the ground (and as I expected; it’s not nearly as good as the one Bill Fortney got lying down there).


Same spot—different angle of view. By the way; if you look on the stairs to the right of the car, you’ll see the legs of one of the students in the workshop. I could have cloned them out, but for some reason, I kinda like ’em there. Go figure.

A Celebrity in our group
We were lucky enough to have 14-time Grammy winning country and bluegrass artist Ricky Skaggs as one of our students, and he was just as humble, entertaining, and fun as you’d hope he would be. He’s a great photographer, but just learning Lightroom and Photoshop, and he’s totally loving it! (He pulled some strings and got us a table at Paula Dean’s famous restaurant for dinner, which saved us from waiting in the 80 to 100 person-long line each morning for reservations which snakes around the block starting at around 7:30 am. The dinner was fantastic!).

Learning Lightroom
In the classroom, we focused on Lightroom all week, and I have to tell you; I’m amazed at the transformation in the students between day one and Sunday morning when the workshop wrapped up.

In-Class Student Critiques
Each day we did live, in-class critiques of the students’ best shots from each shoot, and it was a wonderful learning experience. (A number of students told me it was the single most valuable learning part of the week for them, because when we would talk about what a problem was with a particular photo, I could open that photo right there on spot, and make the Lightroom/Photoshop changes that were necessary, or to recrop and recompose the photo, and they saw live exactly what to do to improve the shot next time around.)


Deconstructing My Edits in Lightroom
We did kind of our own mini one-hour “Photo Walk” on Saturday morning along the Savannah Riverfront area, and then I put together a slideshow of around 20 of my best shots from the shoot (I processed them all in Lightroom before I presented my slideshow—shown above).  Then after my slideshow presentation, I went back to each image, and using the History panel in Lightroom, I showed each individual step of how I got from the original raw image out of my camera to the final image that made it into my slideshow. This worked amazingly well, and it really turned the light bulb on for a lot of the students.

Great images + Great people
All in all, it was a stellar workshop; I met some really great people (two of which will be with me down in St. Lucia with Joe McNally in a few days for another week-long workshop), and I saw some old friends (Steve and Larry) and made some new ones. Thanks to all my students, and especially to Bill Fortney, (whose brilliant photography continues to just blow me and everybody in the room away), for the honor of teaching alongside him.

We just had legendary food photography Joe Glyda down to the Kelby Training Online Studios for a new online class we’re releasing in the next few weeks on how to shoot food like a pro. I stopped by the set during the taping, and got to talk with Joe  for a couple of minutes, and he gives us a little behind-the-scenes look into his upcoming online class. Check out the short video below for a quick preview.