Category Archives Photo Shoots

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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).

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

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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.

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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).

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

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

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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.

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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).

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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.)

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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.

….a man known to virtually anyone who has attended a Photoshop World Conference; it’s photographer, educator, Photoshop freak, and the official un-official head of Security for Photoshop Midnight Madness and our official mascot, warm-up act, poet, trained killer, raconteur, and general bon vivant at large, the one….the only….. Vanelli! (also known as “Robert Vanelli” or “Mr. V” or just plain “V” to his friends and the various people he stalks).

I first met “V” back in 1999 at the first Photoshop World conference ever. He saw me use a Martial Arts logo that I had designed in a project in one of my classes, and after the class he came up and introduced himself.  We soon found out that we had some mutual friends in the martial arts industry (we both were martial artists, but at much different levels. I was just another black belt; whereas “V” is actually a Master Arts Master running a thriving Karate school for many years).

V has won aclaim for what he’s done as a Karate instructor, but in the past few years he’s taken his gift for teaching karate and expanded it into teaching his other passions: photography and Photoshop, and it’s a honor to have him here tomorrow as my guest blogger, and it’s equally an honor to call him my friend. I hope you’ll stop by tomorrow to see what Vanelli has in store for us.

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So after I shot the Honda Superbike Races on Sunday in Birmingham, I hopped a flight (well, two flights), up to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to be a part of Moose Peterson’s DLWS (Digital Landscape Workshop Series) “Outer Banks” workshop, which kicked off Sunday night (I’m not teaching; I just came to shoot and hang out with my buddies Moose, Joe McNally, and Laurie Excell, and I had a blast (That’s right; I did this morning’s sunrise shoot then headed to the airport to head back home).

They’re still going to shoot sunset today and sunrise tomorrow, but I’ve got to head back home, see the kids, and then get ready for my Down & Dirty tour in DC (which was sold out last Friday with over 700 people for the day). Also with me was the ‘Bad Man’ himself, Brad Moore (who used to work as staff at these DLWS events, so this was old home week for him!).

I’ve got to tell you this about DLWS: they run an absolutely first-class, well organized, and most importantly downright fun workshop experience from beginning to end. Everybody here is having such a good time, and the crowd is so into it—they’re really hungry for the information, and they are getting it here by the armloads.

Yesterday we started the day with a dawn shoot out at a local lighthouse (this is lighthouse city out here on the Outer Banks of North Carolina), and while it wasn’t a spectacular sunrise by any means, we still had some fun (I’ve only taken a peek at a few shots so far, but here are a couple [above and below] from yesterday’s morning outing).

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When the light got too high in the sky, Joe McNally did an awesome on-location small-flash portrait shoot with a local model, and I don’t care how many times you’ve seen Joe, every time is just amazing. Seeing how he sets up the shot, adjusts for problems with light, and explains how to walk away with a client-pleasing shot is just something to see, and everybody was eating it up (the shot below is Joe during that mini-session; taken with my iPhone’s built-in camera).

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Then we were back in the classroom with Moose, Joe, Laurie, and Kevin Dobler (who was doing some of the Photoshop training—and did a great job by the way). After the classroom sessions, (and a late afternoon snack); we headed out to some sand dunes for a sunset shoot, but got totally socked in with rainy weather.

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So, Joe pulls out some SB-900s and we did another portrait shoot, in the rain, with Photoshop TV’s own Stephanie Cross as the model, and it rocked. We’re all huddled (about 40 of us) under a shelter, and Joe has her standing just out in the rain, in a raincoat and hood, and came up with a great shot, despite the conditions (like Joe says; your photo editor doesn’t care about how harsh the conditions you encountered; you’re being paid to come back with a shot, and if you want to work for them again, you’d better come back with a shot; and he showed us what to do to get that done—-using High Speed sync).

This morning we headed out to a commercial fishing port, and the highlight was an area with old rusting hulls and salvage boats that were great for HDR stuff. We were all walking around and at one point Joe and I were walking over to these two big boats and I looked at Joe and said something really stupid. “Joe…you shoot much HDR?” He gave me the look you see below. I had to capture it.

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So that became the running gag for the day. “Hey Joe, do you think this would make a good HDR shot?” Hey Joe, is this like that HDR shot that National Geographic asked you to do?” It ended up with an HDR breakfast shoot of pancakes joke about an hour later. Just the look on McNally’s face above said it all.

Anyway, after that, we had to head out, and I’m already on my way home. Had a great time, and I saw first-hand why every single DLWS workshop for the rest of the entire year is already sold out in advance. Moose Peterson and his staff have put something very special, and very unique together here. It’s an experience like no other, and I was as excited as everybody else there just to be learning from Moose, Joe, Kevin, and Laurie, and to be spending some time together doing something we all love. Plus, I never had to dive out of the way of an oncoming car or motorcycle moving at 140 MPH. That’s a bonus. Below are some chairs on the back of that house I shot above. Yes, I just took a few minutes, sat in them, and looked out at the beautiful shoreline. I know it’s a throwaway shot, but now those chairs will bring back fond memories of a morning shoot in May.

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One last thing: I met so many people who came up to me and said, “Hey, I read your blog first thing every morning.” I was really tickled, and wound up meeting some really cool folks, including one sports photographer that I’m going to hook up with when I shoot the Indy 500 later this month. Small world.

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Yesterday I few up to Birmingham, Alabama to spend the day with my buddy Jeff Rease (who we now affectionately call “The Chancellor of Birmingham”), shooting the AMA Racing’s Honda Superbike Classic race at Barber Motorsports Park. Matt Kloskowski came along with me, and the three of us spent the morning shooting (some of the shots I got are shown here; click on them for larger views).

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We had full media credentials, including a Hot Pit pass, but as luck would have it; we only got to shoot for 30 minutes total the entire day, (during the Superbike morning warm-up session), because after warm-up and lunch, a huge thunderstorm moved over the track, which delayed the actual race long enough that I had to catch my flight back home without getting to shoot another shot. We only shot from one area, and for only that 30 minutes, but ya know what—we still had a blast! (and I would definitely do it again, if only for that 30 minutes).

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Matt, Jeff, and I cracked jokes, goofed off, sorted our images in Lightroom, did some serious chimping, and generally just a great time hanging out for the day and talking about photography. Before I knew it we were on our way to the airport (where I’m writing this post).

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The shot above is of the media/press room overlooking the track. This is a shot of Matt and I sorting and editing our images while it pours rain outside (photo by Jeff Rease).

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Thanks Jeff, for hosting (read as: putting up with), Matt and I for the day. We love the friendly people of Birmingham, and the great folks at Barber Motorsports Park.

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Tech Specs: Mostly shot with my 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens on a Nikon D3. I shot at a slower shutter speed (usually around 1/320 to 1/250 of a second) to get the blurred background and motion in the wheels). It was a very cloudy, very overcast day, so I shot at 400 ISO in Aperture Priority mode at around f/11. I took my 200-400mm f/4 lens but we were so close to the track, I hardly got to use it.

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The final shot, below, of Matt and I was taken by Jeff “The Chancellor” Rease.

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