Category Archives Photography

I’m coming to:

  • San Antonio on Friday, August 16th
  • Indianapolis on  Wednesday, August 21st
  • San Jose on Tuesday, August 27th
  • Colorado Springs on July 29th
It’s my first time teaching in three of these four cities — (I’ve only taught in Indy). Can’t wait! :-)

Here’s the link to reserve your seat ($99 for the full day of training. $79 if you’re a NAPP member).

Next week Kelby Training is launching our biggest online training initiative yet, and it’s all aimed at people brand new to DSLR photography. It’s called “Beginners Start Here” and it’s a complete custom-designed online training curriculum based on your brand of camera, your specific camera model, and what type of photography you’re interested in (portraits, landscapes, sports, travel, people, etc.).  You can see a little of it in action in the short video clip above.

We launch next Thursday with a free live Webcast packed full of cool photography tips and tricks for beginners, so if you know anybody just getting into this, make sure they tune in. Plus we’re giving away a Sony DSLR kit live to someone watching, and we’re giving away a free DSLR basics class to anyone who tunes in to the show, along with drawings for lots of other cool prizes. So, it’s a free show with loads of photo tips and prizes. What’s not to like? ;-)

Here’s the info (jot it down on your calendar now):

Who: Me, Matt, RC, Mia, Larry and friends live
What: Lots of cool photography tips for beginners, back-to-back for 90 minutes!
Where: Follow this link to register for free
When: Thursday night, June 6th starting at 7:00 pm ET (New York time)
Why: To show the type of stuff beginners will be learning through “Beginners Start Here” and to launch this new Beginners Curriculum with a bang!

Hope you can make it (and please tell everyone who calls you and bugs you with endless questions about their camera, that now there’s a place where they can learn all that stuff fast).  See you Thursday night.



I’ve been a fan of Triple Scoop Music even since I heard some of the instructors at Photoshop World using their royalty-free music tracks in their photo slideshow presentations. As a musician myself, I am just so impressed with the quality of their  tracks — their stuff is “the real deal.” That’s why I was so psyched when they asked me to put together a Signature Collection of  their music tracks that I thought would be perfect for landscape and travel photography slideshows and videos.

The “Scott Kelby Signature Series Vol 1 - Landscape and Travel Collection” launched today to coincide with my Los Angeles “Shoot Like a Pro Tour” today in LA. If you follow this link, you can go to their site and preview some of the music tracks in my collection right on their page (for those of you that caught my “Connecting with Cuba” presentation, you’ll recognize that wonderful Cuban-music track from my slideshow).

Other Signature Series Photographers
It’s an honor to be alongside some of the amazing photographers who have curated Signature Series Collections for Triple Scoop including: Jerry Ghionis, Joe McNally, Tamara Lackey, Dane Sanders, Denis Reggie, Bill Frakes, Lori Nordstrom, and Bambi Cantrell (among others). Here’s a link to see all the Signature Collections.

I really spent a lot of time carefully picking tracks because I wanted to create a collection that would work for a wide variety of presentations (their music library is pretty vast), and I hope you’ll check them out if you get a chance. My humble thanks to Roy Ashen at Triple Scoop Music for the opportunity (Roy’s a musician too!) and to everyone at TSM for creating such a cool resource for photographers.


(Above) Here’s a behind-the-scene shot from Friday’s shoot.  This is a three-light shoot: Two 4-foot strip banks above (with Elinchrom strobes), and there’s one additional softbox in front (you can see the light-stand right behind my laptop) that’s putting some extra light on the engine — it was a little dark in there with just the two strobe directly above the bike.

I asked my Creative Director Felix Nelson if I could shoot his Harley, but he was doing some serious tinkering with it at home and it wouldn’t be ready for days, so he suggested calling our guitar player (Felix is the bass player for Big Electric Cat), Tony Llanes since he builds custom choppers.
He didn’t have one available, but his cousin had this “Big Dog!” chopper and he came rolling up on it Friday and I was like, “Oh Yeah baby!” Only had  1-1/2 hrs to light and shoot this and his buddy’s sports bike (the yellow one seen below), but I got it done in time to attend my son’s sports banquet that night, so it’s all good. :)

Shooting from down low with a 14-24mm lens. 
Above: More wide angle 14-24mm shots.
Above: You can see the two extra backlights in this shot, used strickly to make the background solid white — even though they weren’t turned on for any of the shots I’ve shown so far. 
Above: Here’s what it looks like with the two background strobes turned on. You can see why I left them off for nearly the entire shoot — I think this particular bike, because of its color, looks better on the dark gray background. 
Above: The Sport Bike looks great on the solid white background, so here it look appropriate (so this is a five-light shoot: The same two strip-banks over head; the one small 27″ softbox in front aiming at the back half of the bike, and the two bare bulbs with reflectors to make the background solid white. 
Above: Here’s a view from the backside. Since I’m not shooting it straight on, the lighting definitely looks different (in fact, I had to brighten it in post to get it this bright). 
Above: Here’s Tony (lead guitar player for Big Electric Cat) posing on the Big Dog. I didn’t change the lighting — it’s just the lighting for the bike, so it’s not the greatest portrait lighting, but I think it’s still looks decent (but if I was lighting this as a portrait, I would have added two kicker lights in the back aiming at him. 
Anyway, there’s a quick look at the shoot. I’m doing a tutorial for the NAPP member Website on the retouching and finishing for getting rid of the apple-crate box the bike is sitting on, and on getting rid of some of the spots, specs, dust and junk. Hope you all have a fantastic Tuesday! :)

I love natural light
Love it! I don’t talk about it a bunch here on the blog, because it seems like I’m always lighting something, but you might be surprised that I don’t always walk into every situation thinking I’m going to light it. Oh, don’t get me wrong, we always bring a flash or two, but in most cases I’d prefer to use natural light. Why? Three reasons:

(1) It’s easy
(2) It’s free. (Well, mostly)
(3) It’s fast (that’s really a biggie for me)

If there’s available natural light I try to use it first
That was the case with the shot you see above (that’s a two-page spread in a wedding book I’m working on). This is up in the balcony  and there were all these beautiful old wooden theater-looking seats (great looking, but not particularly comfortable) and to the right of the scene above is just this huge window. Huge! So of course my first thought was â” let’s just use natural light.

The problem is: natural light isn’t always beautiful light
Sometimes, even indoors like this with a big beautiful window with a shade streaming natural light, that light can still be really harsh, dappled and unflattering (or in our case, all three).

If we think we might have the opportunity to use natural light, I have Brad bring at least a 1-stop Diffuser (something that goes between the direct sunlight and our subject, like the Lastolite 1-stop TriGrip diffuser you see above, to spread and soften the sunlight). The sunlight at this time of day (around 3:00 pm) was so bright and harsh that even when we diffused it, our bride was still squinting and the light was still kinda harsh. Look at the light on the chair to the right of her and you can see how harsh that light is.

You’d think the light would be even….
But we soon realized that while we could diffuse the light somewhat (we really needed a 2-stop diffuser), we’d still have very strong dappled beams of light landing right next to her so we wound up chasing down these beams and positioning the diffuser in different places (that’s John our 2nd assistant on the shoot jumping in front of some dappled beams).

This is why I always bring a light. Or two. 
I just wasn’t happy with the natural light, and our inability to control it, so I called down to Brad to bring up a flash head with a small softbox (it’s a 27″x27″ square softbox). I have to tell you, it’s pretty frustrating to be standing in a room with this much light and still have to bring out a flash, but we were having such a hard time getting the light where we wanted it. We finally moved the bride to a different location, hoping for better luck by placing her back a few rows into an area that wasn’t getting much harsh light, but we still had to use the diffuser to keep some of the direct beams from falling on her, or near her.

The idea was to have her in a dark part of the chairs, and then just put a little light on her, and have everything else look pretty dark and dramatic, and this new set-up seemed to work OK. It’s not great light. It’s not amazing light or anything — it was more like just having a problem, solving it to some extent, getting a decent shot so we could move onto another location with the groom waiting downstairs.  Once we got it “in the ballpark” I took the shot using a super-wide 14-24mm lens, and rolled out of there. I basically cut my losses because although I felt like with another 15 or so minutes I could have probably nailed the lighting, I didn’t have another 15 or so minutes.

In the end….
I think the shot works in the two-page spread you saw at the top of this post, even though with that cool of a set-up (with a gorgeous stained-glass window on the far left, and these wonderful old chairs wrapping around), I really thought I could come up with something really special, but just didn’t. I played the hand I was dealt and we both folded. I didn’t win, and the harsh light didn’t win, but I lived to light another day. Hopefully next time, it’ll be later in the day, and I’ll be by a north-facing window —- one that hasn’t been washed in an awfully long time. :)

It’s a beautiful day here in Chicago today (should hit around 80°) and I hope you’re one of the nearly 600 photographers who’ll be here for my “Shoot Like a Pro” tour. Looking forward to meeting everybody!

Don’t forget the big Sneak Peek coming from Adobe tomorrow for photographers on “The Grid” at 4:00 pm LIVE (here’s the link).

I’ve gotta get over to the Convention Center. Here’s wishing you all a beautiful 80° kinda weather day!).