Yesterday we looked at my picks for the best Guest Blog posts from this past year, and today we’re continuing my “Best of 2016 on the Blog” with a look at some of the most popular posts overall.
Here are the 10 most popular posts of 2016:
1. GOOGLE AWESOMELY MAKES THE NIK COLLECTION PLUG-INS TOTALLY FREE AND EVERYBODY’S PI$S@D! When I announced that Google made the Nik Collection free, it started a stream of whining that I just was not anticipating. Then I realized, “Oh, I forgot. This is the internet.”
2. SCOTT’S TOP FIVE LIST OF EVERYTHING! (REVISITED) One of my readers tweeted that he’d love to see me redo this popular post from 2008, so I did it. It took a long time, but it was fun seeing how many of my picks had changed or stayed exactly the same.
3. A NEW PHOTOSHOP IS HERE!
I did a bunch of demo videos and explained stuff, answered some questions, and shared the scoop all about the new version of Photoshop CC.
4. “FIRST LOOK” FIELD REPORT OF THE JUST ANNOUNCED CANON EOS 1DX MARK II
I got to borrow a Canon 1Dx Mark II just before it was released to shoot a college bowl game, and an NFL game, and I shared a few shots and impressions from both shoots. Best sports camera ever (even though I’m still using my old 1Dxs. Still don’t have a Mark II yet. Tear).
5. IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE NOT GETTING BETTER AT YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY, COULD IT BE THAT YOU’RE “NOODLING” INSTEAD OF “PRACTICING?”
I feel like this was probably the most helpful post I wrote during 2016. It used a guitar analogy (which is why I’m playing an EVH guitar above), and it had two little 20-second videos (that are critical to the story), but the message could help you grow and improve as a photographer in a very meaningful way.
6. WHEN YOUR “TECHNICALLY CORRECT” PHOTO DOESN’T LOOK GOOD
I wrote about the difference between an artistic shot and one that is technically correct, and I used a shot from the New York Public Library as an example.
7. HOW TO REMOVE GLARE IN EYEGLASSES IN PHOTOSHOP
This is another Photoshop tutorial request from Twitter (it’s funny how the commenting workflow has changed. People read about a post on my Facebook or Twitter; they go read the post; then go back to social media to comment. I get it — we all want to comment where are friends already are). Sometimes a post here on the blog will get just one or two comments, or maybe even none, but then the Facebook post about that same blog post can have 100+ comments.
8. PHOTOS FROM MY 3-DAY PHOTO TRIP TO ICELAND
This post was me saying that had posted my Iceland trip images over on Exposure.co — I’ll save you from having to jump to that page, just to turn around and jump to Exposure, so here’s the direct link to the photo story on Exposure.co
9. MY CAMERA SETTINGS FOR SHOOTING FOOTBALL
I had been asked about them so many times, I thought I’d do a post and then when people asked about them on social media, I could just link them to this post. I didn’t expect it to get as much traction as it did.
10. SHOOTING WITH THE DOLPHINS (AND SOME REMOTE CAMERA STUFF!)
This is another one that I was surprised made it to the top 10 (even if just barely). It was about my awesome experience shooting with the Dolphins, and about how I used a simple remote camera set-up to get the shot you see above (from the Dolphins live Twitter feed during the game), and a bunch of others. Lots of behind-the-scenes shots. Such a blast!
Well, there ya have it — the top 10 from 2016. I might wrap up the year with one more “best of” on Friday, but it’ll already be February by then…so… ;-)
Hope your Tuesday is a really great one!
P.S.My new Lightroom on tour full-day seminar is kicking off in Boston on March 10th, and in Philadelphia on the 13th. Hope I get to see you there (here’s the link with details).
Hi Gang: it’s my annual tradition to kick off the New Year with a look back at the best, most popular, and most commented-upon posts of the previous year, (and if I don’t sneak this in before January ends, well…it would just be bad form, so I’m squeaking this in just under the wire).
Today we’re honoring my picks for “Best Guest Blog Posts of 2016”
It was an amazing year for guest posts, and I cannot tell you how hard it was to narrow it down to just ten, because it was one of our best years for guest blog posts ever!
By the way: If you’re wondering how many posts we put up in the course of a year, in 2016 it was 248 posts (Whew!). Also, in case you were wondering: I actually do write all my own posts with the exception of Guest Blog Wednesday and Free Stuff Thursday which are handled for me by the awesome Brad Moore, for which I am boundlessly grateful (thank you so much, Brad!). :)
OK, here we go for “The Best Guest Blog Posts of 2016” (in no particular order):
Stephen Bollinger (above)
His post, “See like a dancer” was inspirational, insightful, and included some absolutely beautiful dance (and sports) images, and his message is spot on.
Jeremy Cowart When There’s More Than Photography — Jeremy’s post about his dream to create “The Purpose Hotel” reminds us that we can think beyond our photography and grow in ways we never imagined. When you read this one, be sure to watch the videos in the post. This is so worthwhile. You’ll dig it.
Glyn Dewis His “Photograph Like a Thief” is a wonderfully empowering, informative, well-researched and illustrated story that will change your perception on so many things. Brilliantly done. You will learn a lot (and a lot about yourself).
Monica Carvalho Don’t let the first image in her post creep you out (even though it is a bit creepy) you’ll smile, laugh, and love her compositing, and her story. Very well done.
Alan Hess Alan’s post on Photo Releases for shooting concert photography, and his “day in the life” type of coverage of one of his photography gigs takes you “behind the curtain” to see a side of the business you rarely see. If you shoot bands, or dream of shooting concerts, this should be required reading.
It’s All About Perspective, Mike’s post about why you should be considering different angles, and even different lenses, to get more epic sports shots (and exactly how it’s all done, with lots of great behind-the-scenes shots), was so well illustrated, written, and received.
Sean Berry What a fantastic post! It was about Sean’s “first week as the photographer for the Dallas Stars” which he said, “was one of the craziest weeks in my professional career. In the span of 5 days, I became a new photographer.” First, great story. Secondly, his examples, videos, and the step-by-step GIF of how the group shot you see above came together, and all the post processing stuff is just absolutely outstanding. So, so well done, and a great read. You will love it.
There’s an incredible amount of knowledge, passion, inspiration and soul shared in these posts. I’m so grateful to all the photographers and Photoshop experts who shared their thoughts, teaching and ideas through the my Guest Blog program, and of course a big thanks and high-five to the awesome Brad Moore for wrangling, managing and producing them all. It’s a lot of work, and he runs it all like a boss.
Hope you enjoyed this look back. Tomorrow it’s the 10 most popular posts of 2016 — hope you’ll join me for that.
Hi gang, and happy Friday. Today I thought we’d do a simple lighting tutorial — one where we’re working on balancing the existing light in our location with the light from our flash so the image doesn’t look so much like it’s lit with a flash (even though of course we know that it is). We’re going to do this by adjusting our shutter speed to control the existing room light (the ambient light) behind our bride to get that perfect mix between it and the flash.
Above:First, here’s the final image
We’re not breaking any new ground here positioning wise — it’s a classic “Bride standing in the aisle” shot. The area behind her is dimly lit but we want to see it in our image (seeing the church she was married in is very important the bride), so we’re going to work to control the lighting in the background so we get a nice blend.
Above: Get the flash in position, then turn it off for Step One
This behind-the-scenes shot shows the simple, one-light set-up I’m using for this shoot. I’m using an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra, with one flash head running off a small portable battery pack and a small square 27 softbox. Of course, you can do this exact same thing with a hot shoe flash and a 24” Lastolite pop-up EZ-Box soft box (after all, they both create the same thing — a bright flash of light).
The flash is mounted on a lightweight regular ol’ light stand. So, why not a monopod mount like I often use? It’s because when you want a break between shots, you don’t have go looking for a place to lean it against or a table to sit it on — you just put it down on the floor, so it’s totally a convenience thing.
When I’m shooting on-location flash, I have a three-step formula for getting the look I’m after:
(1) Turn off the flash, switch your camera to Manual mode and set your Shutter Speed to 1/125 of a second. This is my standard shutter speed starting point when I’m shooting location flash. It’s kind of a nice, safe starting point that just works. Now move your f/stop until the meter inside your viewfinder shows your exposure is correct (it’s not under or over-exposed; it’s the proper exposure). On Nikons, this meter appears on the right side inside of your viewfinder; for Canon cameras, it’s along the bottom of the viewfinder. If you can’t get to an f/stop that makes a proper exposure (it can get pretty dark in a church), you may have to raise your ISO a bit, maybe from 100 to 200 (or 200 to 400).
Above:Now under-expose by around two stops
(2) Now, I darken the exposure by around two stops (so now I’m intentionally under-exposing. If my camera said that at f/2.8 my exposure was correct, I’d raise it to at least f/5.6 or higher to darken it by at least a full stop) and take another test shot. I’m trying to make the bride so dark she’s nearly a silhouette. I’m doing this because I want the bride lit with only the light from my flash — not the ambient light in the church. I want the ambient light to only light the area behind her.
I do see one problem with the shot above, and it’s that the background (the church) is a little too dark. This is where the Shutter Speed control comes in because it controls the room lights. Think of it as a dimmer switch for the church lights. If you need to turn up the lights a bit, all you have to do is lower the shutter speed a bit so lowering the shutter speed to 1/60 of a second would add more light behind her (as seen in the following image, where I did that).
Above:Now turn on the flash with a very low power setting
Once your subject looks like a silhouette, turn on the flash with a very lower power setting (like 1/4 power) and take a test shot (seen above). The light from the flash itself looks “OK” but the whole scene just looks a bit too bright and that keeps the light from mixing well so it doesn’t look really beautiful quite yet. However, you can really see the difference lowering the shutter speed from 1/125 down to 1/60 did — the church behind her is much brighter. In fact, I think it’s now too bright, so that was too big a drop in shutter speed, so I’m going to have to split the difference — trying 1/80 of a second. That will dim the background lights from where they are now. This doesn’t change the power or brightness of the flash — this just affects the background room lighting (remember the dimmer analogy).
Above:Another Behind the Scenes shot: I’m raising the Shutter Speed to 1/80 of a second and taking another test shot
So here I’m turning the camera to get a vertical shot and trying that slightly higher shutter speed of 1/80th of a second. I haven’t changed the power of the light yet at all — it’s still at 1/4 power.
Above: Here’s the shot and you can see we’re starting to get there. The 1/80th of a second seems like the sweet spot, so now if I make any changes, I’ll probably slightly raise or lower the power of the strobe itself to make sure the light isn’t too bright — a very common mistake and the thing that makes your shot look too “flashy.” If we want it to blend and look natural, it can’t look “flashy.” It has to make you wonder, “Is that lit with a flash?”
Above:Using Photoshop’s Camera Raw to enhance your lighting (you can do this in Lightroom just the same)
To make the lighting look even better and more dramatic, I edit it with Photoshop’s Camera Raw (or Lightroom’s Develop Module — they are the exact same thing), where I go to the Effects panel, and under Post Crop Vignetting I drag the Amount slider to the left (as shown here), which darkens the edges all the way around your image. This helps to create a more directional look to your lighting — it looks like the light is centered on your subject and it falls off to dark around here. It’s a simple thing, but it has pretty big impact.
Above:Adding a reflector
After looking at the previous image up close, I felt that the area around her eyes looked a little dark, so I had my First Assistant Brad Moore bring in a reflector to bounce some of the light from the flash back into her eyes. We took a test shot using the silver side of the reflector and it was just too bright and too harsh, so we flipped over the reflector to the white side and that did the trick.
There’s still a problem… Which someone pointed out when I posted the image on Twitter. They noted the bright area of light in the stained glass window to the left of the bride and pointed out that if this was someone else’s image and I were critiquing on our weekly show “The Grid” (where once-a-month we do blind critiques of submitted images), that I would point out that it was distracting. He was right — that’s exactly what I would have said, and so I used Photoshop’s “Patch” tool to remove it.
Above:To use the Patch tool to fix that bright spot in the stained glass behind her — take the tool and draw a loose selection around what you want to remove [as seen here].
Above:Then click inside that selected area and drag to an area with similar tones somewhere else in the image (as seen here where I dragged the selected area to a lower area of the stained glass.
Above:Now release the mouse, and it snaps back into place and the problem is gone! It really works amazingly well in most cases.
Above: I finished the image off with nothing but the standard portrait retouching stuff (removing blemishes, smoothing skin, etc.).
To finish up: I hope this article helped you “see the light” (totally intended pun) on two things:
(1) The shutter speed controls the amount of light in the room (if you wanted it completely dark black behind her, raise the Shutter speed to 1/200 of a second with strobes, and 1/250 of a second with hot shoe flash). And…
(2) your job is to balance the flash and the room light, while keeping the lighting looking soft and subtle by doing test shots and then looking at the shot and seeing if it looks too bright and thus too “flashy.” Less is more in situations like this, so if you were going to ‘under-light’ or ‘over-light,’ it’ll look more natural underlit (but the goal, of course, is simply to balance it correctly).
If you dig flash stuff like this, and you want to get more into lighting, here’s a class to watch this weekend — it’s called “Just One Flash”. It’s one of our most popular (and I love the instructor. So devastatingly handsome he is). Here’s the official trailer:
Last week I did a post about how to avoid a common mistake that could make your portfolio weaker. Master concert photographer and bestselling author Alan Hess wrote a great comment about that post, adding another thing to watch out for, and I felt it deserved a wider audience. Alan wrote:
“There are two things I see all the time that takes a good portfolio and makes it weaker. The first is exactly what you have in this post. the same seven [shots of a model] or in my case the same band or musician.
The second is to [include] good (not great) shots because you like the subject matter, or you think there is some type of name recognition. I am in the middle of revamping my portfolio and it is tough. Is the shot of the unknown guitar player from an opening band a better choice than the famous guy? What about acts I have shot multiple times? I have great Bieber shots from the last 3 tours.. (I know it sounds weird to say great Bieber shots…) So difficult to stick to the rules when there is an emotional attachment to all the photos.”
So true, and thanks for sharing that Alan — some really great advice there. :)
More on Building Your Portfolio If you’re into this type of stuff, we just released a class last week from Stella Kramer — she’s a New York City based photo editor and one of the most sought-after portfolio consultants in our industry (I hired her myself to help me with my portfolio), and her first class with us is on Editing and the Sequencing (order) of the images in your portfolio. I can tell you this — it is already one of our most highly-acclaimed classes — Stella is simply amazing and shares a perspective and insight you don’t often hear.
Hope you found that helpful, and here’s wishing you a week full of discovery, great images, and fun. :)
Hi gang — I’m pretty excited about this one — it’s called “Grids” and I’ve been using for about a month now and I’m totally and hopefully in love — mostly because every other desktop Instagram solution I’ve used has always had a “gotcha” — some key thing that was missing that made it pretty much unusable and I always wound up going back to the Instagram App until now.
Here’s what it looks like on your computer:
Above: When you launch the app it shows you your feed, but really nice and big (much larger than you’d see on your phone or even your iPad — it’s really beautiful and the best way I’ve ever seen to experience Instagram). Of course, you can access your own profile and images (like mine above). You access things like posting from your desktop from the pop-down menu to the right of your profile photo.
PLUS: when you’re looking at your main feed, it shows Instagram Stories across the top, just like the app. But bigger.
Above: When you choose “Add New Post” here’s the posting window that appears. You can drag and drop your photo onto it, or click the Choose Photo/Video button to navigate to it. You type in your Caption here, too.
Above: You can add your caption info; tag people; add a location (it brings up a pop-up search where you type in a location like you have in the Instagram app), and you can crop your image Square, Rectangular or crop by dragging out over the area you want to appear, like I’m doing here. When you’re done, hit post. Boom. Done.
Is there anything missing? Well…there’s just one little thing. It’s minor, but if they added this, it would be 100% — it doesn’t suggest #hashtags or show recently used hashtags like the Instagram app does. You can still type them in like always — it just doesn’t help, or share stats of which hashtag are most often used. Outside of that small nitpick — this app is gold. Gold I tell ya!
Cost: Free download for viewing Instagram on your desktop, but there’s an in-app purchase for $7.99 for posting from the desktop and other “pro” features. Worth every penny and then some! For: Mac and Windows
I am super digging this — so happy to finally have an Instagram Desktop app that really works, and it’s free (or really cheap, depending on which features you need).
Hope you found that helpful (and hope you’re following me on Instagram where I share my travel photography images – I’m @scottkelby).
P.S.Yesterday I got a new Porkpie “Little Squealer!” snare, and it sounds absolutely awesome! Saw rave reviews online about it, and they were right. Took it home last night and couldn’t stop playing it! Just the best (especially for the money). Here’s an iPhone pic of it when it came in yesterday.
Hi Gang — and welcome to a totally awesome Monday! On Saturday, I shot with the Falcons Crew (three of the best guys, and lights out shooters, you’d ever want to meet: Jimmy Cribb, Michael Benford, and Lynn Bass) for the NFL Divisional Playoff game between the Falcons and the Seahawks (and the Falcons rocked it with a big win!).
I brought my standard remote camera rig (more on that in a moment), but I wanted to try something new for shooting goal line stands from really down low, which is a remote camera rig (Platypod Pro Max, 3leggedthing Airhed Neo Ballhead) but I did it by controlling the shoot from my iPhone using Tethertools “Case Air” Wireless Tethering System.
The advantage is that I can set the rig down on the ground, and then see a live view of the field from my iPhone. I can change settings, set my focal point, do a time lapse, and even fire the camera all from my iPhone. The images go straight into my phone, so I could share them almost instantly if need be. Here’s a closer look at the rig:
Above: The Case Air is that little unit sitting on top of my camera, in the hot shoe mount. It plugs into your camera’s mini-USB port (well, on my camera anyway, which is a 5D Mark III), and that’s the whole set-up hardware wise. Then you download the free Case Air app for your iPhone. The Case Air creates its own closed wireless network which you connect to (just takes a few seconds), and then you see what your camera is seeing, right on your app.
Above: The Falcons are lining up for an extra point when I took this shot using the Case Air. It was at that moment that I realized that a 14mm lens is WAY too wide for this task. Needs to be at least a 24-70mm, which is what I’ll try next week. This way, I can keep my 70-200mm ready for a pass to either edge, and the Case Air covers the center of the field (though I’m set up off center here, I won’t be next time).
We’re generally not allowed to lay down in the end zone (kneeling is fine), and the PocketWizard Route that I use for the player intros would work here too. It’s probably more responsive than the Case Air, but without lying on the ground (which I do in rare instances), the Case Air gives you a perfect way to set-up and focus the camera before the play. I can tell you — this is probably the last thing the folks at Tethertools ever imagined this being used for, but I wanted to try it anyway.
PROS: It’s super lightweight; it’s very cleverly designed, and all connects in seconds, and in the studio and for this field test I had zero problems getting it to work. I just hooked it up and it worked. The software is great, and the whole thing is fun, and I can go straight from my iPhone to the Web. Social Media folks for teams would eat this up! Plus, it’s only $149, which is around the price of just 1 of the 2 PocketWizard Plus IIIs that you’d need to fire a remote camera in an environment like this.
CONS: It was never designed for this. It’s really for wireless tethering in the studio or for portraits on location, or for a second camera behind the bride and groom during the ceremony. Because everything’s moving via wireless, the images have to transfer from the camera to the iPhone, so if you shoot a burst of images (like we do in football) you don’t see the results right away — you see a spinning status wheel as images are coming in, so you have to wait a minute to see if you “got the shot.”
Speaking of PocketWizard Plus IIIs My regular remote camera shoot for the intros, which is usually a no-brainer at this point…wasn’t.
Above: My standard rig (except this was my 3rd camera, so it’s a Canon 5D Mark III — usually a Canon 1Dx). PocketWizard Plus III on top sitting in the hot shoe mount. Connected to my camera’s Remote Shutter Release port via a cable. 14mm lens on the camera (perfect for this); an Oben ballhead (got it from B&H), and a Platypod Pro Max plate holding it all steady.
Above: You can see my small rig over on the right, to the left of that Falcon’s logo, which soon will be spitting out fire and smoke, which is one of the reasons why you need a remote camera — you might burst into flames.
Above: Here’s the view from the camera itself. I do lots of test shots before the players come out to make sure everything’s working. The position seems pretty perfect, and it’s firing off test shots (I can see the little light on the top of the PocketWizard, and I see the image appear on the back of the screen, so even though I’m not down there on the ground, I can see it’s firing.
Above: I have a PocketWizard Plus III with me out at the center of the field to trigger that remote camera; it’s in my Hot Shoe mount, so when I fire my camera, it automatically fires the remote. At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work, but on Saturday it only fired once — just this one picture above, and it never fired again. I have no idea why. Maybe I knocked the remote as we shifted positions after the cheerleaders came out, and the connection wasn’t solid — I don’t know — but I only got this one shot, which is pretty much worthless. This same exact rig worked perfectly at the Dolphins game down in Miami just a few weeks ago. The shame is — the positioning was on the money (at least I know for next week, right?).
Above:This was taken with my main camera with a 70-200mm — I darkened the scene except where I put that red circle so you can see where my remote camera was positioned. Oh well, it happens.
So, as far as Remote Cameras go, it was a miss and a single. I proved the Case Air can work even in an environment I doubt it was ever designed to work in, but I used a wide lens and didn’t have the one I needed with me. Luckily, I get to try again for the NFC Championship Game in Atlanta next week.
So, that’s a little behind the scenes, and a field report on the Case Air. Here’s a link if you want more details on it (and I give it a big thumbs up overall for an affordable, solid wireless tethering system.
Hope you all have a great Monday (yes, it’s Monday and it’s going to be great!). :)