Category Archives Photo Shoots

pswlkbos1Jeff Revell of has just announced that he’s hosting a free photowalk in Boston on Tuesday, March 24th, the day before Photoshop World kicks off. The walk is open to anyone (not just conference attendees), and is totally free and you should totally sign up for it (it’s limited to just the first 50 people, so head over there and sign up now).

Jeff has all the details on this site over at


Here’s a look at a shoot I did few weeks back, when I was in the final stages of wrapping up the writing for my Photoshop CS4 Down & Dirty Tricks Book. I needed a shot of a football player for one of the techniques, and so I did an in-studio shoot with a standout on the local high school team, Middle Linebacker Blake Johnson (shown above.).

I wanted a real dramatic look for the lighting, so I shot Blake on a black background, and really tried to control the spill of the lights by using (1) metal Grids that snap right into the reflector on the front of the strobe, and (2) three large black flags (which are essentially just 24″x36″ rectangles of black fabric that block the spread of the light).


For most of the shoot, I used three lights. For the shot at the top of this page, the main light, an Elinchrom RX-600 Strobe (shown above and marked as “A”) was on a boom stand, in front of him, and was placed up high, directly in front of him and angled down at him at a 45° angle. I wanted a quick drop off of the light, so we placed a 24×36″ black flag up near the bottom of the light, so it would cut off the light hitting below his chest (you can see that in the photo above).

Then we placed two Elinchrom RX-600 Strobes behind him (one on either side of him. They are marked “B” in the photo you see above) using reflectors with Grids attached (see below—photo courtesy of Elinchrom) to light  the sides of his face from behind with really bright edge light. Although the lights are turned off in the production shot above (taken by Brad Moore), they were turned on for the shot at the top of the page. To keep the light from the flash from creating lens flare back into my lens, Brad put up a black flag a few feet in front of the strobes.


Also, since we weren’t trying to soften the light; we didn’t use soft boxes—just bare bulb flashes with reflectors. The strobe in the front was powered down as low as we could get it, and the two lights in the back were at 3/4 power.

The shot below was taken using just two lights: one single strobe behind him to create a rim light, but we lowered the main light in front until it was down low aiming up at him to make him look more menacing (By the way: despite how he looks in the photo below, Blake was a really great kid; very polite, very patient, very friendly—though I wouldn’t want to stand across a scrimmage line from him).


I asked Blake to bring a white jersey, because I wanted to try a high-key look for something rough like a football player, and the final image is below. I like it because it’s not what you’d expect. I also like that the jersey was his real jersey from the season, and that it had seen more than one offensive lineman lying on the field looking up wondering what hit him. I set the type in the style of Nike Football posters. (Note: The lighting set-up was exactly the same as in the top shot; one light in front; up high, no softbox, and two edge lights behind him on either side, also bare with a reflector and grid. All we changed was the background).


One More Thing: I did post-process the living daylights out of these images, using Lightroom, then over to Photoshop CS4. Hey, whatdaya expect? ;-)

Anyway, now when my Down & Dirty Tricks book comes out, you’ll instantly recognize Blake, and better yet—you’ll know how the shots were taken.


This weekend I got the opportunity to shoot some back-stage portraits of celebrated jazz guitarist Barry Greene, who was playing a special engagement at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida last night with the Florida Orchestra (visit Barry’s site).

My assistant Brad Moore and I got there about an hour before their sound check, and we were able to shoot for about an hour backstage, out in the theater seating, and along the front of the stage (click on the photos for larger views—they look better larger). There are two very short video clips below; one during the shoot, with me out in the theater seats shooting Barry at the stage, and another of Barry riffing while I’m taking the shots. (Video clips by Brad Moore).

The shot below is my favorite shot from the day. That’s Barry’s son Mitch (a really great kid)  in the background, and he wasn’t actually in the shot the way I was composing it, but at one point I looked out from behind the camera and saw Mitch back there, and I just wanted to capture that backstage moment for Barry so I went much wider for that frame, and I really like how it came out (click on it for a larger view).


GEAR: We used an incredibly simple set-up; just one Nikon SB-800 flash, on a lightstand, shooting through a shoot-thru umbrella (we actually had planned to use the Lastolite EZ Box but when we got there, we realized that we were missing a critical part, but Brad always brings back-up gear so we just quickly switched to the shoot thru umbrella). I shot with a Nikon D700, and I used two lenses: (1) For most of the day I used a Nikon 200mm f/2, and (2) for the wide stuff I used the 24-70mm f/2.8. All the shots shown here were taken at 200 ISO.

Anyway, we had a fun day, and here are some of the shots from the shoot (the production shots are by Brad “Boy Wonder” Moore).







Here are the two video clips (shot by Brad Moore) below:

….none other than Adobe Photoshop Product Manger (and all around cool guy), Bryan Hughes.

I got to spend some time with Bryan when I was out at Adobe’s HQ last month, and he really brings a totally different point of view to the evolution of Photoshop, how we work with it, what we want, and where it’s going. On a personal level, he’s a very dedicated, passionate, fun, and totally brilliant guy, and it’s a real honor to have him as my guest tomorrow here on the blog. I hope you’ll stop by and check out his Guest Post.


Here’s another shot from my shoot with rapper “10 Minute.” After we lost all light at our location shoot, we headed back into the studio to finish up. Here are the details on the shot:


Although you can see two lights in the production shot above (photo by Brad Moore), only one (the one directly above his head) was actually connected (the light in the background was left from an earlier shoot that day (the one I did with the clamp-on fan). The light directly above his head is a White Lightning 1200 watt strobe with a Beauty Dish reflector and I have the diffuser that goes over the beauty dish (to somewhat soften the edgy light that comes from a beauty dish). The reason the medium gray background appears so dark is because I used a high shutter speed, so it would fall off to black (I used 1/250 of a second). NOTE: In the production photo, it kind of looks like the beauty dish is in front of 10 Minute, but it’s actually directly above his head, aiming straight down.

Now, you might be thinking, “Hey Scott, I thought you only used Elinchrom strobes?” True dat. But I bought this set-up a while back, and at the time it was the cheapest route to getting a beauty dish look, so I picked it up, but Brad was bugging me last week to finally break down and buy an Elinchrom dish to go over my RX-600’s, which I’ll probably do because the big pain of the White Lightning is that I can’t use my Skyport triggers to change the power output. Each time I needed to change the power output, we had to pull the whole boom down, and not only is it a pain, it really slow things down during the shoot.

I had my buddy Rod Harlan on the set, because when I was finished with 10 Minute, I was going to shoot a couple of headshots for Rod (Yes, I had three different shoots that day—-I couldn’t have pulled that off without Brad’s help). Anyway, 10 Minute went to change clothes for another look, and before I changed the lighting set-up, I had Rod step in to the exact same beauty dish set-up I used for 10 Minute, and the  photo is shown below (though I did convert it to black and white in Lightroom).


We had Rod hold the MacBook Pro, just so he’d have something to hang on to (a prop), and it was an easy choice since he’s such a Mac-head, but surprisingly enough while he was holding it, it started rotating his canvas (kidding, just a joke).

Anyway, just a little Monday morning one-light quickie to start off the week. :)

At Christmas I got a very cool new electric guitar from my wife (that’s not the accessory, by the way), and she wanted to make sure I got a guitar I really liked, so I went to the local music store to find one I liked, but while there, I walked by the drum department and that’s when I saw a small, specially designed fan for drummers that mounts right on a cymbal stand.

Well, I took a look at how it was mounted and realized that it would fit perfectly on a lightstand, which would make it an ideal fan for people shooting fashion, because you can easily control the height and angle of the wind (rather than having it sitting on the floor, where it’s harder to access and aim).

Anyway, the fan is called the “BLOWiT Personal Cooling System” (OK, the name needs some work), and I tried it in the music store, and it seemed like a perfect fan solution for portraits since you could mount it up high so easily. So, I got home and ordered one (it was only $69.99). It’s pictured here below mounted to a light-stand in our studio.


Anyway, I did a shoot week before last and I got to try it out for the first time on a real job, and I have to say; it totally rocked! (sorry about that lame pun). But seriously, it worked out amazingly well. The shot below was taken using that fan on its lowest setting.


Below are two set-up shots (taken by Brad Moore) so you can see the fan (and the lighting, in case you care) in use during my shoot.



Lighting Info: I used two Elinchrom RX-600 Strobes for the shoot, one beside the subject with a 40″ Elinchrom softbox, and one behind on the opposite side with a Elinchrom strip bank softbox. Both are triggered by Skyport wireless triggers.There are no lights on the gray background, so it pretty much fell to black. The photo directly above is just to show more detail of the fan, but there I’m using an Elinchrom 53″ midi-octa softbox on the same RX-600 strobe.

Camera Info: Shot with a Nikon D3, with a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens, at 105mm. The ISO was 200, and the exposure was f/8 at 1/160 of a second. I shot in Manual mode. The post-processing was done in Lightroom (exposure, white balance, tone, etc.), and then over to Photohsop for some retouching (removing some minor blemishes, brightening the eyes, some dodging and burning, and I enhanced the highlights in her hair.

Fan Info: Usually, doing something like this (taking a fan made for drummers, and using for something entirely different), doesn’t work out, but here it worked just like I hoped it would. I let the subject be in charge of the angle and intensity of the fan, and during the shoot she would reach over and adjust the angle or speed (it has three speeds). Although we used it on the lowest speed most of the day, if I could add one improvement, it would be for the higher setting to be even higher (I’m not sure that’s possible with its light weight and size). Anyway, I’m pretty psyched about it and wanted to turn you on to this new discovery. You can order your BLOWiT Personal Cooling System direct at their Website (here’s the link).