Category Archives Photo Shoots


The first of my three “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it” online classes went live two weeks ago, and I just heard today that they’ll have the 2nd class live in just about two weeks.

I’ve gotten loads of great feedback from the first class, so I’m looking at adding more segments in the future, so if you’ve got any ideas of particular lighting looks you’d like to see, let me know and they might wind up as one of my next series of shoots. :)

In the meantime, here’s a link to my first of the three “LSR” online classes.

Mike Scott & Alex1sm

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Hi Gang: As you re reading this, I m in Philadelphia for my Photoshop Tour for Digital Photographers seminar, but on my way to Philly, I headed up to Chicago for an NFL sideline shoot at the Chicago Bears vs. Cleveland Browns game on Sunday, with a couple of my buddies; Mike Olivella, and Alex Walker (That’s us above. L to R: Mike, me, and Alex at Soldier Field during the game).

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It was perfect weather for a football game; around 55 with no wind, and all three of us had an absolute blast! I ve included a few shots from the game (but I got into Philly around 12:30 am so I didn’t have a lot of time to go through all the shots yet), but here s a few quickies and the details on the gear I used, and settings:

I used two bodies: A Nikon D3, and a Nikon D300s. My main camera was the D3, and with it I used a 200-400mm f/4 mounted on a Gitzo carbon fiber monopod. My secondary camera was the D300s, where I switched between a 70-200mm, a 50mm f/1.4 (used mostly when the play moved inside the 10 yard line), and the occasional fish-eye lens for stadium shots (see below). I carried my gear using a Think Tank Photo modular belt system and used a Black Rapid R-Strap on the D300s (since it wasn t mounted on a monopod). I also usually lose my Lens Hood once or twice during a game, so Brad finally got me a screw-on, rubber lens hood which worked great.



Mike and Alex are both Nikon shooters, too, and Alex was shooting a D300 with a 300mm f/2.8 lens that he got from the Paul and great folks over at (here s the link—-I rent lenses from them myself, and I highly recommend them).

Soldier Field


I shot in JPEG mode (to get the most frames per second), and I left the 200-400mm wide open at f/4 all day (to get as shallow a depth of field as possible to help separate the players from the background). I shot in High-Speed shooting mode, and set my focus to Continuous as well. It was a day game, so my white balance was set to Auto most of the day (until the field got in shadows, then I changed the white balance to shade), and I shot between 280 and 400 ISO (a little higher than usual because there was a thick cloud cover most of the day).


Anyway, it was an awful lot of fun spending the day shooting with a couple of buddies, plus I got to try out some of the tips I picked up from Sports Illustrated s Peter Read Miller as well, which were a big help.


My thanks to everybody at the wonderful Bears organization (Go Bears!), and now I ve got to get back to my seminar (the next one s in Tampa, Florida in just over two weeks, on November 16th, so come on down and hang out for the day!).





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LAtech 1sm

Scott & Matt

I hit the road last Thursday, and it’s been a busy weekend. I thought I’d do a quick interview with myself to answer those lingering questions I have about myself. Here goes:

Q. Hey, how’d your Lightroom seminar in Michigan go?
A. It was awesome! We had a huge crowd, but not only that—they were a really a great group to present to. They were totally into it from the get-go, and they really made me feel feel welcome.

Q. How did you handle all their questions?
A. Luckily, Lightroom expert, and Adobe Technical Sales Director Terry White was there with me answering questions from the crowd between each session and at lunch, and that helped a bunch (in that neck of the woods, everybody knows Terry and he was mobbed with questions on every break).

Q. How many of his answers were correct?
A. Very few, but he’s so friendly people didn’t seem to mind.

Q. Really?
A. I’m totally kidding. Terry knows Lightroom inside and out, and he was tremendously helpful (especially when I got stumped a few times—-I just sent the people to Terry).

Q. Judging by the photos above, I guess you didn’t go straight home after the seminar?
A. Nope, I took a detour down to Ruston, Louisiana to shoot the Louisiana Tech vs. New Mexico State college football game from the sidelines with one of my frequent commenters here on the blog, pro sports photographer Matt Lange (here’s a link to his blog).

Q. How’d you hook up with Matt?
A. When I was getting shellacked about the whole ‘Shooting from the Sidelines’ contest a few months back, Matt sent me a very kind email of support, and we started talking back and forth, and one thing lead to another and the next thing you know Matt and I and a bunch his friends and family are sitting around tail-gating before the game. Then we headed out to the field to shoot in absolutely perfect football weather. That’s me and Matt in the last photo above, taken right after the game.

Q. Scott, you look like hell in that photo.
A. That’s a statement, not a question.

Q. Sorry. Scott, why do you look like hell in that photo?
A. It’s been a long couple of weeks, brother. ;-)

Q. Louisiana’s a long way to go for a shoot isn’t it?
A. Yup, but it was totally worth it. First, I made some new friends. Besides being a really talented photographer (link), Matt is just a terrific guy all around, and so is his buddy Donald Page (who’s now my buddy, too, despite the fact that he tried to work his way into just about every shot I took all day—that’s his camera in my fisheye shot above), but it’s not just Matt; he’s surrounded by a bunch of great people, from his lovely wife Chelsea, to his his friends, his Mom, his brother, old college roommates and all, and they couldn’t have been more gracious or made me feel more at home as they were plying me with Jambalya and Boudin.

Q. But it was more than just a day of yummy food and fun, eh?
A. You betcha. I got to pick Matt’s brain about how he shoots football, and I picked up some great tips from him (he shoots NFL, college, and other sports, along with sports portraits), and plus; I really needed the practice. Shooting football is a lot harder than it looks, and I hadn’t shot a game since last season, and I was so rusty at first that after the first quarter I felt like re-formatting my memory card and just starting over. Luckily, things got better as the day went on, and I got a little more into the groove, but shooting football is something that just takes a lot of practice, and a lot of hustle to do it right. I wasn’t on assignment covering the game, so I could be pretty leisurely about it this time, and Matt and I talked a lot and had a lot of laughs the whole day, but that’s not the case when shooting a game if you’re on assignment.

Q. How crowded were the sidelines?
A. There were only about 10 photographers covering the game, so it was pretty wide open.

Q. What was the biggest challenge?
A. Getting a decent background. The stands were only about 2/3 full at best, with both end zones open (no seating—just grass) and the bleachers toward the ends of both sides were empty too, which makes for some pretty bad backgrounds. Some of my shots where I had captured the best action had some of the worst backgrounds (from a number of angles it looked like there was no one at the stadium, but actually in the middle of the stands it was packed). So, you had to try and work around that all day, but sometimes, depending on where the play was happening, you just couldn’t avoid it.

Q. Any other challenges?
A. The constantly changing light. It was pretty cloudy the whole day, but then the sun would break through for a few minutes, then back into the clouds, then back out again, so you really had to keep an eye on your exposure. Also, there was a lot of white in their uniforms, so you had to keep an eye out for clipping the highlights, especially when you’re shooting wide open all the time.

Q. How much post processing did you do?
A. Really just two things: (1) I added contrast (2) I sharpened the images. I shot in Auto White Balance and it worked fine for a daylight outdoor game, so I didn’t have to do any color correction or enhancement at all (the field was astroturf, so the colors were already really vibrant). I also had to crop a few shots (for example, I had to crop Don’s face and arm out of the fisheye shot). I also shot in JPEG Fine mode (gasp!), wide open at f/4 all day, trying to keep my shutter speed at 1/1000 of a second or faster. I used a D3 as my main camera, and a D300s as my 2nd body when the action got inside the 20 yard line. I also used the latest RS-4 R-Strap (from Black Rapid)—the one with the new connector, on my second body, and I have to admit; the new connector is a big improvement (though the magnet in the shoulder strap kept getting attached to Matt’s friend’s truck). Can’t live without the R-Strap for shooting sports.

Q. Anything else notable happen?
A. Well, there was thing one thing. It took two flights each way. One on a small Delta commuter jet, and the other on a full-sized Delta 757. The commuter’s overhead and under seat space was so small that I had to gate check my camera bag (a Think Tank Photo’s International Traveler I just bought a few weeks ago—–it’s smaller than the Airport V2 I have, but still can hold two bodies, my 200-400mm lens, two other lenses, and tons of accessories). Anyway, it survived the first flight fine, but on the way home they had to gate check it again. Once we landed in Atlanta, I watched from the jetway as they unloaded the cargo hold. They pulled a conveyor belt right up to the plane, but rather than putting it right up even with the hold; they put it about 3 feet lower, and the Delta baggage handler inside the plane just rolled the bags out of the hold, and they tumbled down about three feet to the conveyor belt below. I watched as bags hit and and rolled over, and watched as my camera bag, marked fragile, hit and rolled as well. I opened the bag and made a visual inspection and so far nothing appears broken, but later today Brad and I will give it all a once over.

Q. The belt is hydraulic, right? Why didn’t they just raise it right up to be level with the hold?
A. I have no earthy idea. After they loaded it, they drove the bags over to the jetway, and raised it all the way to the top of the stairs, so it can go very high. I’m stumped, and disappointed that Delta would let this happen, but I’m also relieved that the Think Tank Photo bag is built like a tank, and I didn’t pick up a bag full of broken glass.

Q. Do you have any more sideline shoots coming up?
A. I’ve got a few lined up already, which is why I was so anxious to get out there and shake some of the rust off. At the end of the day, it all comes down to practice (just like Photoshop, just like guitar, just like anything you want to be good at, really), but luckily I don’t mind practicing any of it. In fact, I love it!

Q. So what’s next for you?
A. Catch my other post for this week’s festivities. I’m not sure I’ll be gettin’ much sleep (between my schedule, and how badly my Tampa Bay Bucs are doing this year). Hey, at least the LA Tech Bulldogs had a great day—they beat New Mexico State Aggies 45 to 7. Thanks Matt for everything—for the food, the fun, the learning, the practice, and some cajun food I’d never tried before. Oh, more more thing….”you had me at ‘I’ve got you a media pass.'” ;-)


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.

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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!