Category Archives Photography

Figure 5

Happy Friday everybody! Today I’m going to break down the  simple one-light bridal portrait you see above (camera settings, lighting and post production). Keeping it simple like this is ideal because it lowers the bride’s stress and yours, too. Plus, by just using one simple light you can focus on emotion and expression rather than fussing with a bunch of lights (it’s another one of those “less is more” things).

In this beautiful small church, there was a short hallway leading to an exit door, and some storage closets, but the doors were a vivid red color, and I thought that would contrast beautifully with our bride (who had a white dress and a pinkish bouquet). I thought we’d try posing the bride in that short hallway, but getting a light in there with the bride, without being seen in the shot, would be kind of challenging.

Lighting Gear
I used just one small flash head running an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra kit, which consists of a very lightweight battery pack (I believe it’s about 2-3/4 lbs.) with a strap on it so you can just sling it over your shoulder, and a very small, very lightweight flash head (literally just 10 ounces ). This is one of my “go-to” rigs for location lighting because:

(1) It’s very lightweight and portable — it all fits in a small carrying case that’s smaller than an airline carry-on,

(2) You get studio-quality light and a much brighter, more powerful light than you would with a hot-shoe flash,

(3) It has a built-in wireless trigger and lets me control the power of the strobe from right on my camera (the other matchbox-sized trigger sits on my cameo’s hot shoe mount),

(4) You can use two strobe heads with just this one pack if you decided you did indeed need a second light. And..

(5) …it’s designed so I can use any of my studio softboxes with it, and in this case it was a small 24×24” Elinchrom Rotalux square softbox.

Figure 1

Above: The Hallway with the red door. 

Here’s an over-the-shoulder view of the short hallway with red doors I was talking about. It’s actually much darker in the church that it shows here – this behind-the-scenes production shot was taken in Aperture Priority mode at a high ISO, so these behind-the-scenes shots look properly exposed, but in reality it was quite a bit darker, especially in the hallway, which was lit with just a few harsh overhead floods).

Figure 2

Above: Finding a place to hide the softbox was a challenge in this tight hallway, so we opened a closet door and had our 2nd assistant tuck-himself inside the doorway a bit to keep the soft box from extending into the frame.

If you look at this behind-the-scenes image, you can see me sitting in the pews, quite a-ways back from our bride — that way I could capture either tight or full length shots. The position of the light was pretty standard: at around a 45° angle from the bride, up higher than the bride and aiming down at the bride.

Figure 3-2

Above: Here’s the shot that resulted from me shooting full length from out in the pews. I’m not super-digging it, and it took a lot of post-production to tame the red light spilling everywhere and tinting everything, so the search continues for a better shot. 

GRIP TIP: We normally use a monopod for shoots like this (it’s easier to “run and gun”), rather than a lightstand with legs, but since we started our shoot using a lightstand in the back of the church, we just kind of picked it up and kept shooting. Normally, we’d prefer to have the strobe mounted on a monopod for faster and easier mobility between pews, and in tight situations. The only downside? You have to keep holding a monopod — it doesn’t “set down” very easily (there are no legs and feet) without crunching the soft box, so you wind up leaning it against things, which means you run the risk of it falling over. It’s a tradeoff (like everything, right?).

The Lighting Problem with the Red Door
I wasn’t happy with how the overall color looked because of how the light was reflecting off the red door. So, I thought we’d try one where the bride would be backlit, with just a little of the light spilling over onto her.

Figure 4

Above: Back lighting our bride 

I left the bride in the exact same spot, but I had our 2nd assistant take the strobe and softbox move to the other end of the hallway to position the light behind her and off to the side (so it’s pretty much the same lighting set-up — 45°-ish angle, up high aiming down, etc. it’s just positioned behind the bride this time, as seen above).

I did crank up the power of the light for this backlit shot, because I wanted to make sure it was powerful enough not just to put a rim of light around her shoulders, arms, etc., but that it also spilled over enough so you could see her face. I also made sure to have the bride turn her head and body toward the direction of the light. Had she been looking the other way, we wouldn’t have had enough light spilling on her face or bridal gown.

Camera Settings:
I shot in manual mode, so I could make sure the shutter speed didn’t get past the normal sync speed (this pack lets you do hyper sync, but I shouldn’t need to do that in a dark hallway), so my shutter speed was 1/60 of a second (I normally use 1/125 of a second, so I have to imagine at some point I accidentally hit the dial on the back of my camera). My ISO was set to 100 ISO (the cleanest ISO on my camera), and my f-stop was f/5 in case there was any background visible behind my subject, it will be a little bit soft. Using such a wide-open f/stop meant keeping the power of the flash at less than 1/4 power most of the time.

Post Production:
Light picks up the color of whatever it hits, so when white light hits a red door it reflects red light. Once I saw the color image of her backlit, it looked very red from the reflected light, so I knew right then it was a candidate for being converted into a black and white image.

Figure 6

Above: Converting to Black & White in Silver Efex Pro 2

I used Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2 plug-in to convert the image to black and white (I used use one of their built-in presets — my three favorite preset choices are (in no particular order): (1) Full Spectrum (2) Fine Art Process and (3) High Structure Smooth, so I usually wind up choosing one of these three.

Figure 7

Above: Adding the Duotone look in Lightroom CC

Once I converted the image to black and white in Silver Efex Pro 2, I added a Duotone look in Lightroom using the Split Toning panel, but then only moving the Shadow controls; putting the Hue at 25 and the Saturation slider amount at 21. Don’t touch the Highlight settings up top or the balance slider — this is all done just using the Shadows Hue and Saturation sliders, so leave the other stuff untouched. It works wonders (and prints beautifully, by the way).

Figure 5

Above: Here’s the final image with the Duotone look applied in Lightroom (same as the opening shot).

Hope you found that helpful, and I hope your Tuesday is already off to great start! . :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. I’m up in Boston with my seminar on Wednesday, March 30th — just a few weeks from now. Hope I see you there.  

This is the written tutorial of something I did in my course on using Westcott Speedlight Modifiers over on KelbyOne, and the trick is a very effective, location lighting technique for a formal portrait of the bride, and part of the technique is done in camera, and then the other part in Photoshop, and the good news is — both parts are really easy (but the final result is really sweet!).

Westcott Wedding 1sm

Above: Here’s the final image with the light hidden

The Lighting Set-up
We’re only going to use one simple hot-shoe flash for this technique. Lately I’ve been using the Phottix Odin hot shoe flashes, and I’m super-digging ’em as their just released new Phottix Odin II TTL Flash Trigger is hands down the easiest hot shoe flash transmitter I’ve ever used (it even has hard buttons for each group, which makes it incredibly easy to change groups, turn on/off flash, change the power [using a simple dial], etc.. Very smartly designed, and the price is right, at around $209).

Then, we’re going to use a collapsible softbox made for hot shoe flash — it’s the 50-inch Recessed Mega JS Apollo from Westcott (around $169 street price) Note: anyone who has been to my “Shoot Like a Pro: Reloaded” seminar would recognize this bad boy!

Figure 2

Above: The flash is mounted inside the softbox on a light stand, and then it aims inward at the back of the softbox, and the light returns back out toward the subject, giving you softer lighter without a bright hot-spot right in the center like usual.  

There are five really nice things about this softbox:

(1) It’s pretty huge, and the bigger the softbox the softer the light, so when I have a choice, I go “big” like this.

(2) It’s collapsible like an umbrella, so despite it’s large size, it’s super-portable, lightweight, and sets-up fast.

(3) The flash aims backward — toward the back of the softbox, not directly at your subject, so the light reflects and bounces back toward your subject, which avoids a hot-spot in the center and creates even softer more wrapping light all the way around.

(4) Since it’s so large, you can light groups with it

(5) For a softbox this large, $169 is really a bargain.

 

Camera Settings
When I’m shooting with flash, especially indoors like we are here at a very popular venue for weddings and wedding receptions, I’m setting my ISO at the lowest, cleanest native setting for my camera, which for my Canon 5D Mark III is 100 ISO. Since I’m using flash, I’m always shooting Manual mode so I can get my shutter speed at what I would say is a very safe, kind of “default no worries” shutter speed for flash, which is 1/125 of a second. Lastly, my f/stop is usually around f/5.6 if I want the background a little soft but in this case I went with f/4 (I probably accidentally hit the dial on the back of my camera at some point and it moved my f/stop).

The lens I’m using for this particular shot is in vast contrast to the price of all the lighting gear, because it’s a high-end lens — Canon’s new 11-24mm ultra wide-angle lens shot at 11mm (which is just insanely great). Of course, you don’t have to use this lens (but man is it sa-weet!) — any nice wide angle will do the trick (like the 16-35mm).

You’re going to take Two Shots. Shoot this one first.
First you’re going to position the light right near your subject, in this case I’m positioning it right next to our bride and as you can see from the production shot here, the lighting isn’t aimed directly at her — it’s kind of aimed a bit past her so the light is just skimming her a bit. That way, the light is more subtle and softer because the light that’s hitting her is from the edges of the softbox, instead of from the center (you’ve heard this technique referred to as “feathering” the light). You can also see my photo assistant Brad “The Beard” Moore standing by as I take the shot. This is important (more on why in just a moment).

Figure 4

Above: Here’s the shot with the softbox fully visible in the image. That’s OK – you’re supposed to see it in a wide angle shot like this, but it won’t be there for long. 

Then comes the 2nd shot
Once you take that shot, where you can clearly see the softbox, ask your assistant (or friend, or friend of the bride) to pick up the light (it’s not heavy) and move it far away so you don’t see the light at all in the scene, and take your second shot. You want to keep your camera up to your eye the entire time, so minimize your movement between frames. Of course, if you’re shooting on a tripod, it doesn’t matter — you can theoretically take all the time you want, but you need to tell your subject (the bride in this case) to please hold her pose until you’ve taken both shots, so you don’t want to take too long between shots.

So, the process is this:

> Get your light in place
> Take the first shot, and keep the camera up to your eye.
> Have someone move the light out of the scene quickly and take the 2nd shot. Pretty easy stuff.

Figure 5

Above: Here’s the second shot, once the light has been removed. All you’re getting is the ambient light in the reception hall and no light from the flash. 

The post processing part is easy
Now open both images in Photoshop. Go to the image that has the bride lit by the flash; select all and copy that entire image into memory.

Figure 6

Above: Open both images in Photoshop; copy the shot with the flash in it into memory. 

Now go to the image with no flash (the ambient light image) and paste that image with the lighting visible right on top. If you used a tripod, you can skip this step and go on to #8, but if you handheld the shot (like I did), you’ll need to have Photoshop automatically Align the two images so they were perfectly aligned with one another.

You do this by going to the Layers panel; selecting both layers, and then go under the Edit menu and choose “Auto Align Layers” as seen below. When the Auto Align dialog appears, use the default setting of “Auto” and click and in just a few moments your two images will be perfectly aligned. Note: you’ll need to slightly crop the image to hide the white edges created by the alignment, but we’ll do that later.

Figure 7

Above: Paste the lighting shot onto the unlit shot, then select both layers and use Auto Align Layers to perfectly align them. 

Go to the Layers panel and click on the top layer (the layer with the lighting). Next, hold the Option key on Mac (the Alt key on a Windows PC) and click the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel (it’s the third button from the left). This adds a black layer mask over your entire layer, so the lit layer is now hidden behind that black mask, which is exactly what we want. Now, get the Brush tool and choose a small soft-edged brush from the Brush Picker up in the Options Bar at the top of the screen. Make sure you Foreground color is set to white. Now take the brush tool and simply paint over the bride and now she appears “lit” as you’re revealing just that one part of the lit image layer that was hidden behind that black mask (this is similar to the trick we used last issue for creating a cityscape at dusk).

As long as your bride isn’t close to the background in the shot, you won’t have any trouble painting her in — it’ll take all of five seconds. If she’s close to the background, then you have the worry of spilling light onto the background as you reveal the lit version of her. You can still do it, you just have to be more careful, take more take, and use a smaller brush.

Figure 8

Above: Add an inverted Layer Mask (hold the Option key on Mac, or the Alt key on Windows, then click the Layer Mask icon) to the lit layer; take a brush and paint over the bride in white to reveal the lit version of her in just that area. No spill on the ground, or the walls, or anything.

The last step is to use the Crop tool to crop away those white edges created by the Auto Align move. Lastly, I hate to say just “Add contrast” but — add some contrast in Camera Raw; sharpen the image, and you’re done.

There ya go: Some camera work, some Photoshop work, and a beautifully lit final image without spending a bunch of money.

Hope you found that helpful, and if you’re a KelbyOne member and want to see the full video on it, here’s the link.

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Next week, I’m coming to New York City with Part 2 of my “Shoot Like a Pro: Reloaded” seminar. Hope you can join me. 

scottstage

Mornin’ everybody – here’s what’s up:

New Tour Dates and Cities for My Seminar
We just added a bunch of new cities and dates for my full-day “Shoot Like a Pro: Part 2 (Reloaded) Seminar” [photo above by Kevin Newsome]— they are:

> March 3 – New York, NY – View
> March 30 – Boston, MA – View
> April 26 – Seattle, WA – View
> April 29 – Portland, OR – View
> May 12 – San Diego, CA – View
> June 7 – Orlando, FL – View
> June 9 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – View
> July – Nashville, TN (exact date in July TBA)
> August – Indianapolis, IN (exact date in Aug TBA)
> August – Columbus, OH (exact date in Aug TBA)
> September. 21 – Minneapolis, MN
> September 23 – Milwaukee, WI
> October – Arlington, TX  (exact date in Oct TBA)
> October  – Sacramento, CA (exact date in Oct TBA)
> November 14 – Denver, CO
> November 16 – Las Vegas, Nevada
> December, Charlotte, NC (exact date TBA)
> Plus a few more cities yet to be announced.

Hope I’ll see you in one of these cities (you can find out more details here).

 

psw2016

Photoshop World Registration Opens Next Week
I can’t wait to tell you what we have in store this year for the Photoshop World Conference (including some awesome new instructors we’ve added to the roster, some fun new events, cool new classes, and lots more). Registration opens next week for this year’s conference in Las Vegas. Awwwwyeah!

I’ll post a link here when registration goes live next week, but you can start planning now because the official dates are July 19-21, 2016 (at the beautiful Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino). It’s going to be (wait for it…wait for it…) epic!  :-)

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Rebroadcast of our Canon Total Gear Head Live Q&A
On Wednesday afternoon we did a special live Q&A exclusively for KelbyOne members featuring two of the super genius tech guys at Canon (Rudy Winston – DSLR tech guru seen above right, and Brent Ramsey -DSLR Video guru seen above left).  They were there to answer questions about the newly announced Canon EOS 1D X Mark II, and we have the rebroadcast now available and the questions were just pouring in.

The feedback we have received has just been phenomenal, if you’re a KelbyOne member, you can watch the rebroadcast right now at this link. (if you’re not a member, you can take the free 10-day trial and watch it that way, along with all the rest of our classes). Thanks to our friends at Canon for lending us Rudy and Brent – they totally rocked it!

 

weddingbook

New Online Classes
Yesterday, we mentioned my new KelbyOne online class on Designing Beautiful Wedding Albums in Lightroom, but I thought it was important to let you know about what makes this class different than my existing online class on creating Photo Books in Lightroom.

This class is really about the design of the book – the layout, and creating beautiful looking photo books – that’s the focus of the book — not learning all the Lightroom photo book features (even through you wind up learning those, too). Check out the preview here. 

Also, here’s a peek at some of our other upcoming online classes already taped and in post production:

> Get Up To Speed Fast on the Sony a7R II
> Photo Recipes: Dramatic Lighting
> Using the Canon 600EX RT Hot Shoe Flash
> Design Basics for Adobe InDesign
> Adobe InDesign for Photographers
> Light Painting & Photographing The Stars
> DIY Photography Gear Solutions

Next month we’re taping new KelbyOne online classes with Moose Peterson, along with new classes from Photoshop Retouching Shark Kristina Sherk, and Adobe’s own Bryan O’Neal Hughes on using Adobe’s latest mobile apps, PLUS I have a few new classes I’m taping as well — one on my own simple system for organizing your images, and 10 Things Every DSLR User Should Know. 

Just a quick look at what’s coming your way — hope you all have an awesome weekend (hate to see that football season has ended), and we’ll see ya here next week.

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Houston, Texas — I’ll be there a week from today. Come on out!

instatall
You guys have probably heard me talking about the role “size” plays on the impact of your images, especially when they’re viewed on the Web, and this tip really reinforces that concept.

Last night I was working on a post for our other blog (LightroomKillerTips), about some new Lightroom presets from “The Creativv” and while I was on their site I saw a post they had written about an Instagram tip —  something I hadn’t realized they added when Instagram recently added the ability to post landscape images (instead of just square images), you can now post images in Portrait (tall) mode as well.

The tip is — if you crop your image to a 4×5 ratio (a built-in cropping preset in Lightroom), your image then takes up pretty much the entire screen (see above right).

Compare the impact of the image on the far left, with the full screen portrait image on the right (note: if you scroll down, you’ll still see the caption for the image, but if you want more impact and engagement, I believe the one on the right will bring a lot more of both).

Here’s the link to their post (with the step-by-step cropping Lightroom details):

IMPORTANT: There’s one thing they didn’t mention in their post that had me scratching my head for a moment, and that is — once your image is in Instagram, you need to tap that little landscape/portrait button in the lower left corner of the image to switch your image to portrait orientation (from square). In the preview, this will show a gap on either side of your image, but when you post it, the gap doesn’t appear (as seen above right).

Also, thanks to all the awesome feedback I’ve gotten from my “How to Build Your Audience on Instagram” online class — as an educator, that type of feedback has us walking on air.

JOIN ME TOMORROW — If you’re a KelbyOne member, tomorrow at 2pm New York Time we have a live broadcast with two of Canon’s awesome super techie guys doing a live Q&A exclusively for KelbyOne members. Keep an eye out on your email for the link to come join us — we’ll be answering questions about the new Canon EOS 1D X Mark II, and anything else you can ask to stump our DSLR and DSLR video gurus (Rudy and Brent know this stuff at a terrifying level).

Hope you find that Instagram tip helpful (and thanks to Creativv for sharing it). :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Why did Adele cross the road? To say “Hello from the other side.” ;-)

1dxmkIIa

When I heard I was going to get to shoot an early pre-release test version of the new Canon EOS 1DX Mark II, I was super psyched, and I never thought I’d get the chance to shoot a College Football Bowl Game, and an NFL regular season (Falcons vs. Saints) game with it, but that’s exactly how it came down, and man was that a thrill!
My Field Report
When I do a real world field test like this, it’s less like DP Review (they do a serious deep dive into all the specs and technical aspects of the camera, uncover every nook and cranny and nobody does it better), where mine are more like what I’d tell a buddy if they asked “So, how was it?”  

Just in case this is the first time you’re hearing about the camera, I’ll just quickly list the specs here, then we’ll get to the field use stuff:

  • 20.2 megapixels (up from 18 mp previously) – totally new sensor.
  • 14 frames per second (up from 12 previously).
  • Insane buffer. If you shoot in JPEG (I do for sports), you can shoot forever. RAW format — almost forever (around 170 RAW shots uninterrupted in continuous burst shooting).
  • Built in GPS (didn’t particularly excite me – somebody somewhere is probably jumping for joy)
  • 4K 60P Full HD 120P Video (I don’t shoot video. Still, I know some folks really dig this)
  • In-camera auto correction for dealing with chromatic aberrations and diffraction correction, instead of having to do them later in Photoshop. Sounds great, but I didn’t notice any in my sports shots (that’s why?)
  • Enhanced viewfinder with 61-point AF with expanded coverage and all of those 61 points are selectable.
  • Even cleaner high ISO performance (less noise).
  • They included a new CFast memory card slot for super fast transfer time (and if you’ve got a fast memory card, you can just shoot JPEGs continuously for a thousand shots and it will just keep cranking on and on!)
  • Enhanced wi-fi capability if you get the optional transmitter.
  • A bunch of other tweaks and enhancements throughout.

OK, onto the field report:

So how was it?
In short, it’s the best camera I’ve ever used. It’s a lot like the 1Dx…only way better (if that gives you any idea). It even looks like the 1Dx (but with a noticeable “bump” on the top for the built-in GPS). Now, like I said, I shot a college bowl game with it and an NFL game with it, and I shoot with two cameras for football so I got to shoot it for about half a game each, but here’s what I found:

They super-tweaked the auto focus system and it is everything you’d hoped it would be. For me, that pretty much stole the show. It’s incredibly fast, and the most accurate focus system I’ve ever used. I actually loved the focus system in the previous 1Dx (it was mostly responsible for me making the leap to Canon in the first place, three seasons ago), so a redesign of the focus system honestly wasn’t something I was expecting would be in the 1D X Mark II. I thought it was awesome before, but I have to say, now that I’ve used it — I totally get it. It locks on in an instant — stays on — it’s really something you have to experience for yourself (this is all aided by an improved AI Servo [continuous focus tracking], and it’s definitely a leap in the art of super-fast auto focus.)

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Above: Shot just outside the locker room at 25,600 ISO. Yeowch! (no added noise reduction)

What about the noise?
As good as the 1Dx was — this is better. I didn’t get to do a side-by-side test with it, but I made sure to shoot some really high ISO stuff around the locker room area where the light was just terrible, and I was really impressed with how clean and sharp the files looked, even at really high ISO settings.

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Do those 2-extra frames per second make that big a difference?
Are you kidding? I know it’s just 2-frames more per second, but when you shoot it, it feels like it’s 10-frames more per second. I remember years ago standing on the sidelines next to a Canon shooter and thinking “Theirs sounds so much faster ” and I kept telling myself it really doesn’t make that big a difference (which is the battle cry of the jealous). So here’s the thing: it makes that big a difference. It’s the difference between having one frame where the receiver is looking over his shoulder to catch a pass, and in the next frame he’s already caught it. Those extra two frames per second help you catch that frame in-between that you would have missed — the one where the ball is just at his fingertips or just as he’s reaching out to grab it. It’s the difference between getting the shot or missing it.

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Above Left: The original shot after an interception takes the play to the other end of the field in just seconds.
Above Right: This is a super tight crop from that same shot, and the resulting cropped image is still over 1,100 pixels wide! That’s why those extra megapixels make such a difference when shooting sports. 

More Megapixels?
They added two more, bringing it to 20.2 megapixels (from 18MP). For those of you who know me, you know I’m totally not a “more megapixels means better photos” guy on any level, but if there’s one area where having more megapixels really matters, it’s sports photography (and probably wildlife as well), because the action (or your subject) can move very far away from your shooting position in a split second, so cropping in tight is a way of life for us. If I have more megapixels, I can crop in that much tighter, and still have enough detail, clarity and resolution to send the image to the wire. So yes, in this case, for this type of shooting, those extra megapixels matter big time.

How about the video stuff
I didn’t shoot a single frame of video. I’m not a video shootin’ guy. I know it has real 4K video and other stuff that video guys tell me is really awesome, but…it doesn’t help me, so I’m going to skip over it. There’s tons of info about all the new video stuff on Canon’s site and on DP Review.

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There’s a new Card Slot?
Yes — it’s a CFast card slot, and the camera is available with a CFast card and reader. It’s like greased lightning and together with the camera’s huge buffer, if you shoot JPEG I don’t think you will ever fill the buffer, period. Shooting RAW, you get around 170 full continuous burst shots, so you probably never even have the chance to experience that, but at least you know, if you need it, it’s there.

Did they bring over that feature from the 7D Mark II where it adjusts to flickering and pulsing indoor lighting automatically?
Why, yes they did!

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Above: The vibrance and depth of the color is amazing (that image above is a JPEG straight out of the camera — no vibrance or contrast added or needed!)

How do the images look?
Wow! That was the first thing I said when I uploaded my first shots from the game.  I’m sure that’s because it has an all new sensor (I can’t tell you all the technical reasons why they look better because I have no idea what they are, and a tech guy at Canon tried to explain it to me, and he used a lot of techie terms that had me glassy-eyed, but he seemed very excited about it), but the files look very sharp, with really great overall contrast, and the color rendition is just outstanding.

OK, what’s missing
I hate to whine about a camera that is hands down the best I’ve ever used, but I have a few things I wish were different.

(1) So, they added some touchscreen technology for when you’re shooting video, but the screen on the back isn’t a touchscreen for anything else. You can’t choose menus by touch, or swipe through images, or pinch to zoom with touch, and so on like you’ve been able to do for years now on their old 70D model. I understand not making an articulated screen like the 70D (though that would be fantastic for shots of the coaches shaking hands at the end of the game, or the coin toss, or team huddles during warmups), but I just don’t get not including a full touch screen. I know some high-end pros might make a fuss about a touch-screen not being as durable, but not everybody buying this camera is a high-end pro. I think given a choice, most folks would opt for the touchscreen version.

(2) When you shoot a burst of images, do you generally want the last image in the burst, or is that decisive moment somewhere within that long burst? Of course, it’s somewhere within that burst. On the 1D X Mark II, it displays just the final image from the burst. If you want to scroll back through the burst to tag your image, you first have to press the Play button before you can start scrolling. There should be an option that lets you just scroll back without having to press the Play button first. Other cameras do it this way — no reason Canon can’t make this an option you can turn on/off (the camera hasn’t shipped yet — it’s not too late, Canon)!

(3) I dig the idea of having a blazingly fast CFast card slot, but I’d like to see Canon also offer versions of the 1D X Mark II that come with either two regular CF card slots, or two CFast card slots, so you can choose which set-up works best for your workflow. It just seems that one of each is kind of a pain, and now I need a separate reader that reads CFast, too. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d like the option.

None of those are deal breakers for sure, but I felt they were still worth noting.

Any portraits? Any non-sports stuff?
Now, while I know a 1D X Mark II will take a picture of anything you point it at (which I was reminded of this past week as I was sending images to a UK mag that’s doing a feature on my work, and I saw how many of my wedding and portrait shots were actually taken with my old 1D X), but it was designed from the ground up with sports and wildlife photographers in mind, and for that crowd the 1D X Mark II absolutely crushes it. Crushes it! I would have loved to do some portrait and/or wedding work with it, but I only had the pre-release loaner camera for just two days (and two back-to-back games), so I didn’t get to try much else (for example, I didn’t get to try the wireless transfer, and I didn’t get to try it shooting in candlelight, and so on).

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The Bottom Line
The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II is the real deal. I’ll admit that sports photographers (in particular) are probably the most demanding group of shooters out there. They always want more and better everything. Give us more megapixels (so we can crop tighter). Give us faster frames per second (so we can catch that micro-second of peak action); give us lower noise in high ISO situations (so our files look cleaner), give us a better focus system so more of our shots are in focus, and they stick and stay on our subject), give us faster, better everything. Even for that tough to please crowd, I think Canon delivered right across the board, and that’s saying something.

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The 1D X Mark II is due to ship in April, and it’ll be around $5999 (well, that’s the MSRP) or $6,299 bundled with a 64GB CFast memory card and card reader (B&H is taking pre-orders now). If you want all the techie detail stuff, head over to Canon’s 1D X Mark II info page. 

Hope you find that helpful. :)

Best,

-Scott

First, a big thanks to everyone who has sent some love after watching my new online class  “How to build your audience on Instagram” — the feedback has been tremendous! Here’s one of my favorites:

I have watched the class and applied what you taught to my account (I started 2 weeks ago)… just today I have far more interaction on my images than any I have posted to Facebook. Great class!” —Jason L. Eldridge 

I’ve got dozens more along the same lines from Twitter and Facebook, and as a teacher any time you create a class that resonates with your students, it’s a great feeling, so thanks for letting me know (and I’m glad it’s helping). :)

Posting to Instagram From the Desktop:
Although I talked about it briefly in the class, one thing a lot of folks want to do is something that Instagram natively doesn’t really do, which is to let you publish to Instagram from your desktop or laptop computer. You pretty much have to post from within the phone (or tablet) app itself (there really isn’t an iPad app for Instagram — you just download the iPhone app to your iPad, and then run it at 2x size, so at least then it’s full screen, and you can upload from your iPad).

However, there are a few other options (none of them awesome):

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There is a App for the Mac OS called “Uploader to Instagram” that I bought for $4.99 that lets you right-click on any image upload directly from the desktop. Once you right click on the image (here I right-clicked on an image on my desktop), you go to the bottom of the menu, under Services, and choose “Share to Instagram” as seen above.

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Then this tiny windows appears on screen, which shows you a preview of your image, and it has a slider below it for resizing your image before posting (or you can take a live photo of yourself using your laptop’s built-in camera). This window is really, really small (and I have no idea why they made it so small — that is about actual size that you’re seeing above). Once you click done, the following appears:

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A window pops down from your menubar with a Share to Instagram window. Again, it’s a very small window with a very small field to enter your caption, but you enter your caption and hashtags; hit the Share button, and you’re done.

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Since it doesn’t give you any kind of confirmation that it actually posted, I went to view my Instagram account on my Web browser (instagram.com/scottkelby) and there it was. If you scroll down you see the captions and hashtags, and you can see it worked.

What’s missing? 
Plenty. You can’t simultaneously post to Twitter and/or Facebook, so you have more steps to do manually, which kinda stinks. Also, you can’t add a location, which stinks big-time. Also, it doesn’t suggest any previous #hashtags you’ve used, and all the windows are wayyyyyy too small, and of course there’s the fact that there’s no confirmation that it even posted in the first place, so you have to go and check.

Worse yet — if you don’t post a square photo (you use the slider to post a wider image), it doesn’t tuck your image, and the text, up to the top of the post, like the Instagram App does — instead it leaves this awkward gap of white space above and below your image (see the above image of it on Instagram’s site). Not a good look! This was the deal breaker for me. I’m out.

So, does it work? Yes, but it’s got a long way to go to really be a truly helpful tool. It’s more of a “Well, I might use it as a last resort before my phone battery is dead” type of feature.

There a FREE service called “Gramblr”
It ain’t great. It’s a browser-based service that pretty much suffers from the same problems as Uploader to Instagram, but it has two advantages: (1) It’s free, and (2) it has scheduling, so you can set a time for your posts to release. It does have some decent image editing features built-in, and it lets you freeform crop, and add overlay graphics and stuff, (sadly, it continues the theme of making the smallest text field possible), but it’s still missing enough critical stuff that I’d be hard-pressed to use it.
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So, what do most people do?
It’s all about getting the images from your computer to your smartphone so you can post directly from the Instagram App, and there are a number of ways people do this:

(1) They save their images to Dropbox on their computers, and then access their dropbox to save the images to their camera roll, and then upload from the Instagram App (or see below).

(2) You can save your image to Dropbox and then use the Dropbox app to post directly to Instagram, which just saves you the step of saving it to your camera roll.

(3) You can use Apple’s iCloud (on an iPhone) to transfer images from your Desktop to your iPhone and then save it to their camera roll, and then post from the Instagram App.

(4) A lot of folks email themselves the photo they want to post; save it to their camera roll, and then post from the Instagram App.

(5) You can upload the image to Google+ and share to Instagram from there.

(6)  You can upload an image to Adobe’s Creative Cloud (like you would on Dropbox), and then share it from there.

(7) You can upload directly from Flickr to Instagram

(8) You can use a social media management scheduler (like Hootsuite), but all the ones I’ve seen are pretty expensive, and all but one are still kinda clunky (I thought Hootsuite was going to be the answer, but it still makes you pretty much post it yourself through Instagram — it’s just kind of an elegant reminder).

(9) Export from Lightroom to Dropbox, and upload from there

(10) Insert your workaround here (well, down in the comments).

You know what would be ideal?
The ideal thing would be that Instagram itself let you upload from their Website (or they put their API out there allowing third-parties to upload directly that aren’t phone based). Will this happen? I think it will one day before long (and I’m encouraged by the fact that Twitter is expanding its 140 character limit), but hey, ya never know.

Anyway, just a quick look at a question I’ve been seeing a lot since my class came out.

Hey, speaking of my class:

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The class is designed for photographers, and if that’s you, here’s the link (if you’re not already a KelbyOne member, you can sign up for a 10-day free trial and watch it now).

That’s it for Monday – hope yours is a good one!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Thanks to all the enthusiastic, kind and just plain fun folks who came out to my Richmond and Atlanta seminars last week. Over 600 of you came to spend the day with me, and I’m very grateful that you did. Next stop? Houston, Texas on Feb. 19th. Hope I get to meet you there. http://kelbyone.com/live/

 

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