Category Archives Photography

I call it a “Location Scouting” trip, mostly because I know this — I want to go back again!!! (here’s a few shots from the photo book I always create after each trip).

First, a little about Ireland
What an absolutely magical place! The Irish people are as warm, witty, and kind as everyone said they would be, and we had an absolutely wonderful experience from beginning to end. It truly is a beautiful country, and even though I just saw a tiny bit of it for five days, it makes you want to spend months there and just explore the countryside and learn more about the people, their history, and their lives.

Now, for the shooting
This was a family vacation trip (joining me, Kalebra and the kids was my brother Jeff and my in-laws, so we were seven in total). I knew from the outset that photography would not be the focus, and honestly, that was fine with me. I never got up for a dawn shoot (it would have awakened the wifey and kids for sure), and at sunset we were usually at dinner, so I just had to shoot in whatever light was there. The only problem was — there wasn’t much light at all.

Ahhhhh, the weather
We were there for five days (with two travel days on either end), and it rained every single day. All day. When you woke up, the sky was dark gray and it looked like it was ready to rain. If you looked outside and didn’t see dark gray clouds, it was only because was already raining. There were a few moments each day when the sky would start to clear a bit and the rain would pause, but literally just for few minutes here and there. I read while I was there that July had been Ireland’s rainiest month in history, and August was already looking like a record-setter as well. Yup, that’s when we chose to go. (LOL!).

I didn’t push that shutter enough
I only shot around 150 shots a day total, including multiple frames shot for HDR and Panos, which is really low for me (I shoot twice that in a 3-hour football game), but the weather kind of limited what I could shoot. For example, we drove out to the famous Cliffs of Moher, and it was so socked in with fog and rain, we couldn’t see 50 feet in front of us (not to mention it was windy and cold!. Brrrrrrr!). So, while me and my gear got plenty wet, I never pushed the shutter button once.

We had originally planned to get up to Galway, and spend more time in Cork, and to see Shannon a bit, and well… we where having so much fun (we got to stay in Dromoland castle, which everybody loved — especially my six-year-old daughter), that we wound up doing more relaxing and playing around they we had planned, but it made for an incredibly fun vacation for everybody.

The Gear
I took my Nikon D4 (so I could shoot in really low light if necessary), and I took two lenses: My 28-300mm f/3.5 to f/5.6 VR lens, and I had tried out a 16-35mm f/2.8 lens from (awesome folks — highly recommended) a few weeks back, so this time around I borrowed Matt’s 16-35mm and it’s a great little lens (though I can’t really justify buying one when I already have a 14-24mm, but the advantage of the 16-35mm is that you can use 77mm screw-on filters (like the 8-stop Tiffen ND I took with me). I also took an Oben travel tripod with a Really Right Stuff Ballhead. That’s pretty much it (I actually did take a lightweight flash kit, but never even got a chance to use it once).

The danger of setting your own expectations
I had in my mind the kind of shots I was hoping to come back with. You know the ones —- the tiny thatched-hut village with a quaint dirt road overflowing with a flock of sheep and stranding a Land Rover. Well, I never saw anything like that. That’s the danger of setting expectations — you go thinking you’re going to get a particular type of shot, but then the reality of where you wind up sets in you’re disappointed with your shots, (which I was), and it’s not Ireland’s fault, and its not the weather’s fault. It’s my fault. I should have gone open to whatever came my way, instead of standing there saying “This isn’t what I was really looking for. It must be somewhere else here.”

Now that the trip is over, and I put my photo book together (seen here), I’m happier with what I got then I was while I was there, but it sure makes me want to go back and capture those giant waves crashing against the coast, and sheep in the streets, and sweeping landscapes under crisp blue skies. I now have a better idea where I want to go when I go back, and I have some specific locations I want to return to. I also want more than five days.

Contrast this with Cuba or India
In India, I had a guide and driver, and it was just Kalebra and I so we could cover a lot of ground each day.  If I saw something I wanted to shoot, the driver would just literally pull over. If I wanted to shoot a particular thing, the guide knew right where to take me. Same thing in Cuba. But in Ireland, we were literally on our own  — seven of us in two rental cars, so it definitely changes how you shoot on your trip.

If it sounds like I’m complaining, it’s only about my photography failures, because I had one of my best vacations ever (and we got to celebrate my wife’s birthday while we were there, which was a blast). I saw a beautiful country, met some lovely people, I watched Olympic boxing in a pub with a pint of Murphy’s, I got to stay in an amazing castle, watched my daughter learn archery (and she rocked it!), watched my son row across a still lake in the morning mist, saw my wife experience a life-long dream (I’ll leave that for her to tell on her G+ page), and saw my brother make a beautiful chip up out of the bunker right and land right near the hole on the 18th green. We had lots of laughs, wonderful meals, and at one point we almost drove straight into a stream (another story, with more laughs). It really was a perfect trip, and set me up to go back again when photography is the focus, and I can’t wait to go again to shoot, and to return once again for another family vacation just like it.

Thanks to everyone here and on my Google+ page who sent me ideas on where to visit, where to shoot, where to stay, where to eat, and what not to miss. I missed some of it, but now I have a perfect excuse to go back to one of the most beautiful, warm, welcoming places I’ve ever seen. :-)

If you’re a Kelby Training Online subscriber, you’ve gotta check out Joe McNally’s new class. Here’s the description:

Join Joe on the set with professional dancers as he teaches you how to respond to the grace and elegance of the dancers with an equally graceful light. This class is all about matching a light to a move, where you start out with the set as an empty box that you fill with your creativity and imagination. As the dancers work through different moves Joe shows you how to light them with both studio strobes and speedlights to achieve a variety of looks, all the while sharing the tips, techniques, and tricks he's learned over his impressive 30-year career.

Joe wrote about the class in his own words, and if you’ve got a quick minute, it’s worth the read (here’s the link). Then go watch the class  (we add a new class every week)

If you’re not a subscriber to our online training, here are all the details.

Hi Gang: First, watch that 60-second video above, and then come back here for what the video didn’t tell you (no peeking — go watch the video clip first — plus, you get to hear me speak French, which I usually reserve for special occassions).

OK, here’s what it didn’t tell you
It’s a two-part class; the first part is the “how to shoot” part, which is around an hour and half long, shot on location in Paris, France (the ideal place to shoot a travel photography class). By the way; the class isn’t about how to shoot Paris — it’s just filmed in Paris  — it’s about shooting travel photography in general.

In the second part  of the class, I take the images shot in the Part One, and go through the entire Lightroom / Photoshop workflow and post-processing, from start to finish. We do all the Camera Raw editing, stitching of Panos, retouching, the whole nine yards starting with the raw photos right out of the camera. That 2nd part is three and half hours of in-depth training. Of course, you don’t have to watch all three and half hours — you can jump right to technique you want to learn if you like, but at least all totaled it’s around FIVE hours of travel photography techniques and post-processing.

There have been two online classes that I have been over-the-top excited about; one was my “Crush the Composition” class and the other is this travel class. I really feel like it’s going to help a lot of folks get the best travel photos they’ve ever taken. It’s very pragmatic, straight to the point, packed with techniques you can really use. If you’re a Kelby Training Subscriber, I hope you’ll check out the class when it’s released later today right here. If you’ve haven’t subscribed to Kelby Training, n’attendez pas une autre minute. Joignez maintenant.!!! :)

One of the most frustrating things about photography gear is that sometimes there are SO many options available to you, it makes it challenging to find exactly what you want. It’s why so many photographers I know (yours truly included) have so many different camera bags, and lenses, and tripods, and filters on and on. We’ll all searching for “the one” that will do everything we want.

Every once in a while, you find it.
Just like I’ve been searching for the perfect iPad portfolio App. There’s a bunch out there, but none of them did all the things I wanted one to do. Some did most of what I wanted, and some did some of what I wanted (and believe me, I tried them all), but I have finally found it. Best of all, it’s only $12.99. I’m not sure I have anything photography related that only costs $12.99.

It’s called FolioBook Photo Portfolio (by Architek, Limited).
While I was on vacation last week, I read another photographer raving about it (I wish I could remember who it was, because I’d like to give him/her credit), and the weird thing is, after I read it, I thought to myself, “Don’t I already have that App?” I did. I just had an older version. Now it’s at 3.0 and the free update addressed some of the things that I felt were missing. I was one happy camper.

Here’s why I love it
(1) First, it lets you create a custom splash screen and layout (that’s mine above — I went with a clean simple look, but it’s very customizable, and you can create separate splash screens for horizontal or vertical layouts). You can import logos and/or background images, and this splash screen is what you see when you launch the App, so it lets you just hand it to somebody and they’re ready to roll. Also, you can lock it down so they can’t accidentally make any edits or mess up the presentation.

(2) You can have as many galleries as you want (well, as many as you have space on screen for anyway), with up to 200 images per gallery.

(3) You can import images already on your iPad, or directly from Dropbox (which is what I used, since I prepped all my images on my laptop. Also, you can upload up to 200 images at once.

By the way, if you have an iPad 3 with the Retina Display, you’re definitely going to want to use higher resolution images (like 2038 x 1053 pixels). When you use the higher resolution like that, the images really look incredible. Otherwise, they look a little soft (not the fault of the App, it’s a screen resolution thing).

(4) You can drag and drop to arrange your photos in the order you want in a thumbnail view (as seen above).

(5) It’s got a great slideshow with different transitions, and it can play background music behind your slideshow, and it’s very simple to configure and use (that’s the pop-down controls shown above).

(6) You can email any photo in your port right from the App itself, so if someone wants a comp, or you want to share an image for any reason, you can do it right there.

(7) I think if any one thing put me over the top, it is the amount of customization you can do. You can really get things just the way you want them (I didn’t realize quite how much you can do until I watched their online video demos, which I strongly suggest, because if not you’ll go hunting for stuff you know it can do, but you’re not sure how). By the way, any time you’re looking in a gallery, you can have a row of thumbnails appear (as seen above) by just swiping down from the top of the screen.

What would I change?
If there is one thing I would change, it’s pretty minor, but it just feels weird. Once you’re looking at a gallery, to return to your main screen (your splash screen with links to your other galleries), you have to do a pinch gesture to shrink the image that’s on screen down to 1/2 its size, the the main screen appears. I’ve been using this App a lot, and I just can’t get used to that. It seems like there’s got to be a better way than pinching, but I’m not quite sure what that might be (tapping once in the corner? Swiping up instead of left/right? I dunno, but pinching just really doesn’t feel right.

The Bottomline
Outside of that one thing I would change, I’m amazed at what it can do for just $12.99. It’s clean, flexible, easy to use, and I love the “client” mode where you can just have them tap the app icon and it’s in presentation mode — ready to go. This is the iPad portfolio App I’ve been waiting for. Thank you Architek, Limited. This is one search I can now stop. Ahhh, now if they only made a laptop bag. ;-)

Here’s the link to it on the App store (or of course you can just go to the App store on your iPad).


d1-41Hey gang, Brad Moore here with a quick walk-through of this photo from a recent assignment…

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to cover the opening of D1 Sports Training’s new facility in Orlando. While I was there, I was able to grab a portrait of one of their trainers, Taylor Scott.

This was the one of the last things I did at the event. Throughout the day, while covering everything else, I was trying to formulate a creative portrait in my mind. I finally decided to just use edge lighting, remembering something a wise man once said… “If you want something to look interesting, don’t light all of it.”

I knew going in that I wanted to have a clean black backdrop for this image, but I didn’t have any seamless paper to create said clean black backdrop. What do you do in this situation? Three things…

1) Camera Settings
First, knock out the ambient light in the room.

I know my shutter speed is going to be about 1/160 of a second because I’m using artificial lights, and that’s a good sync speed.

ISO needs to be as low as possible, ISO 200 in this case, so less light registers in the image.

With those two settings in place, the only variable left is f/stop. At f/10, there’s no ambient light registering in the image, and the strobe lights don’t have to be cranked up too much to register in the image. Exactly where I want to be.

2) Lights
Here’s the lighting setup:

That’s an available light shot of Pete Collins standing in while all the settings are getting dialed in and tweaking the lights.

I used the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra set to 4.0 (about 100Ws), a Rotalux 39″ softbox (sans front diffuser) and a Westcott 12×36″ strip bank. They were positioned in front of Pete/Taylor so that they were basically rim lights.

Here’s how it looks with all the correct camera and light settings dialed in:

And then framed up properly:

You can still see some minor clutter in the background, but that’s easy to clean up in post, which brings us to the third step…

3) Separation from the Wall
That little bit of clutter is showing up in the background because it’s getting a hint of the strobe light. If this had been set up near a wall or closer to any other objects, they would be lit up and even more distracting. That’s why separation between your lights and background are important in creating a clean background.

Here’s the final image again:

Since this shot was for D1, I wanted to make sure there was some branding showing as well. I asked Taylor to step forward, a little closer to the lights, allowing some of the light to wrap around his back to show the branding on his shirt.

In Lightroom, I darkened the blacks around Taylor with the adjustment brush to finish cleaning up the background (no cloning necessary) and bumped up the clarity quite a bit on him.

After that, I jumped over to Photoshop to add some grittiness via high pass sharpening and Nik Filters (the soft light layer blend mode is your friend!).

Hopefully this is helpful and can give you some ideas for creating great images in less than ideal situations!

You can find more from me at, and on Google+ and Twitter

Hey everybody! RC here. I wanted to share with you a bit of a confessional and a great lesson that I just got this weekend- from an unlikely source. Past being giddy, it was one of those moments that gave me inspiration, closure, and excitement at the same time.

My confession – I spend a lot of time making pictures. Here at Kelby Media, we try our best to keep a foot in the training space and a foot in the real world shooting space to make sure that we can bring relatable information to you every week. This means that all of us strap a camera to our shoulders and hit pavement making images. These images end up on a computer, and we run Photoshop on them to make them great. Some of them get posted on a website, and some even get sold or donated to clients. For this, I am truly very happy.

Do you know where my pictures dont end up? My own walls.

On The Road
After filling hard drive after hard drive full of pictures, I can count only three shots that I’ve put up in my own home. Everything else has this barren feeling – pale white walls just staring back at me when I walk into my house. We finally jumped into buying our house down here in Tampa this past December, and my wife and I have been sitting there chatting with one another wondering what pieces of furniture we want to switch. Which pieces of furniture we want to add. Which graphic designer friend we want to bring in from the office to help us with with this conundrum of a home that feels to transient to be our own.

Secretly, I have been fighting a very different fight in my own head. As much as I have had celebrated moments in the pictures i’ve made, I cant help but have this pit in my stomach that says that my pictures are no good. Every time I share a shot, I think to myself “Eh, its ok.. but you see here.. this part could have been better if only.. ” and I rattle off the part that I thought was missing in it. Now don’t get me wrong.. I absolutely love being a photographer, and I absolutely love being “On the Road” of it. You see, I tell everyone that the moment that you pick up the camera in earnest and say to yourself “I want to do this, and I want to get better at it” you invariably end up on this road. At the end of it are the greats in your mind. In front of you, all of those specific things you want to learn. Where you are in that road is the absolutely most exciting place to be because you are always learning. I believe in this so much – the journey is the most important part. However – every now and again you just feel like you have been taking two steps forward and one step back. There are absolutely no signposts on this road, and you just yearn to wonder if you’ve made it a mile or a meter..

So we want to feel like home, and I want to feel like im closer to my goal, and no amount of shutter clicking is making this happen.

However, I’m still printing. Im still sending out the odd print here and there to a client. What could they possibly see that I dont?

Hipping My House
So I get a word from my friend Kevin at work that says Mpix is partnering with us to do something called “Hip My House” Where a winner gets their house done up in Mpix prints. (I’ll chat about that later.. it’s not really about this now..) There was one line in it that made me think .. “your own art”. Im sitting there thinking to myself, “Why dont I just own up to the pictures that I have and print what I love up there?”

I told Kevin that i’d be cool to make a video just showcasing my situation and talking about the contest. Separately, however, I bit the artistic bullet and went through Lightroom and looked for pictures that I thought I would want to see.. things that made me happy when I looked at them.

My Sources of Inspiration
As much as I loved so many pictures, the ones that I kept coming back to again and again were the fun shots that I would do on the weekends with my daughter Sabine. More and more I was going “Oh, this one is cool.. this one she looked cool… this one she looked so happy”

The more I did it, the more I noticed that she was the person that I turned to when I wanted to recharge photographically. Jenn and Sabine were the people I ran to do pictures of when I wanted to re-inspire. I picked a bunch of shots and I said “Im going to just get these done and fill this wall.. see what happens.. ”

In Front of Me All Along
I got my friend Rich Porupski (THANK YOU SOO MUCH!) to come in and organize them on the wall (Last time I tried to hang pictures, they had to call in a contractor to fix the wall at work.. ugh), and the more pictures went up, the happier I was. Jenn was over the moon too.

As it turned out, putting these pictures on these walls actually made our house feel more like a Home. Instead of looking for a Pier 1 or a Magazine for inspiration, the very pictures that I have been shooting all this time actually made my house feel like mine. (Sorry for the dark shot.. iphone late at night, but wanted you show you!)

Another thing happened – I started looking at the pictures and going “Hey.. this is pretty good. Hey this didnt come out half bad. Hey.. I really like what i’ve done with this.”

Right there, in front of me in my dining room were all of the signposts that I was looking for. Putting them in front of me on a wall let me see where i’ve been, where I am, and how far I am on this road. That gave me a great feeling of accomplishment. AND, I got the wall done!

I Learned Something Today
So.. a long ramble.. what are the takeaways:

Go through your pictures.. find the common bond that makes you go “wow, i’m so glad I did this one.” When you find that, thats your inspiration. Go there photographically when you need to recharge the batteries.

Find a spot in your home where you can put several pictures of yours, print them and hang them. The more you see them up there, the more you will realize that you are better than you think you are. You’re on the road and you’re moving forward.

And your art is your proof. Have a great Monday everyone!

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