Category Archives Photography

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Happy Friday, everybody!

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend (especially if you’re snowed in), I thought I’d share some of my favorite photographers that I follow on Instagram, and I wanted to share some that wouldn’t be the obvious ones that of course I already follow (like Joe McNally, Peter Hurley, etc.). Here are my 12 favs (in no particular order):

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AFAR (Afar Media)
A lot of the folks I follow do travel photography, and I love the collection of images AFAR posts daily. If you go there today, make sure you look at that little ski village shot you see in the first row center.

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ELMAKIAS (Adam Elmakias)
There’s a reason this amazing music photographer has nearly 460,000 followers — he’s got amazing images, a really fun feed, and I love his post processing. Really great peek into a the world of music through his eyes.

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VIKINGSPHOTOG (Andy Kenutis)
Andy is the Minnesota Vikings team photographer and I’d have to say he’s definitely one of the best team photographers in the league and his Instagram feed is outstanding. I just mentioned him to a buddy of mine who shoots sports professionally and he was alreadly following him. He said the same thing I did about Andy — that guy’s stuff is amazing!

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ERIKALMAS
I just love Erik’s style, post processing, and the selection of images he posts (look at that shot in the middle!). Really a wonderful collection of constantly updating images. This guy is good on the both sides of the process!!!

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MOOSEPETERSON
Moose is on Instagram now and he’s posting a wonderful mix of aviation and landscape photography, and I love seeing what he posts each day.

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RESOURCETRAVEL
This curated collection is really just beautiful, and one I really look forward to each day. While that don’t have a crush of followers yet…they will.

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DONALDPAGE
Don is the team photographer for the Tennessee Vols, and even if you’re not a Vols fan, if you’re into football photography at all, you should still follow Don because he’s among the best — not just with this on field action shots, but all the commercial-style promo work, lighting, and off field stuff that he totally nails.

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ALEXSTROHL
OK, he has a million followers, so he’s not exactly an unknown treasure, but I love his wintery world. Great style, composition, and subjects. A great one to follow.

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DANIELKORDAN
His stuff is just absolutely gorgeous. Gorgeous! Nuff said.

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JEFFONLINE
Wonderful images from around Europe from a Paris based photographer. I totally dig his work.

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FAMOUSBTSMAGAZINE
If you love seeing behind-the-scenes images of photo shoots, you will so dig their feed. I amazed at some of the set-ups I see on there. It’s ideas and inspiration all wrapped up in one.

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IGERSRECOMMENDATION
This collection is all over the place, and I think that’s what I like about it. You never know what topic you’re going to get, but they’re always great images. A really fun, fascinating feed.

Hope you’ll give some of these a look this weekend (and of course, I’d love to have you following my feed there, which is focused on travel photography. It’s @scottkelby).

Hope you have a great weekend, and I’ll be seeing some of you next week in person in Richmond and Atlanta.

Best,

-Scott

 

 

 

 

I follow a number of online guitar teachers, and I recently read an email from guitar instructor Griff Hamlin that really struck a chord with me (no pun intended, but it’s just so on the money) — his article was asking the same question above, but about progressing at learning guitar, and in not so many words he asked “…are you noodling or practicing?”

I wanted to illustrate this concept, so I grabbed a guitar, and Brad made this quick iPhone video (right before I discussed this same concept on “The Grid”)  so the production quality is “iPhone grade” but you’ll totally get the point. Plus, they’re really short videos — less than 30-seconds).

First, here’s the difference between Noodling and Practicing:

This is Noodling (below): 

https://youtu.be/ZxwqVdDSF1o

It’s fun noodling around and playing some riffs you already know but you’re not getting any better at guitar. It’s not moving you closer to where you want to be. You’re not improving, you’re not growing — you’re just having fun, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having fun — as long as you realize it’s nothing more than that.

This is Practicing: 

https://youtu.be/TXd52xqqi8I

That video above of me playing different positions of the Pentatonic scale is as boring to play as it is to watch, but that’s OK because that is something that actually does make you better. It’s practice. It makes you grow. You’re improving. And if you do enough of it, you know what happens? Suddenly your noodling becomes a whole lot more fun, because now you can do things you could never do before, and you’re able to play things you never dreamed you could, at speeds you thought you couldn’t. That’s the power of real practice.

It’s the same thing with photography
If you grab your camera, head out the door, and just kind of shoot whatever comes your way — you’re noodling.  It’s fun — just walking around and taking photos of whatever — I do it myself when I get a chance, but it doesn’t make you better at photography. It doesn’t improve your photography. It doesn’t make you grow, but it’s fun and there’s nothing wrong with fun, as long as you understand that’s what it is.

The problem is — I’m not sure a lot of photographers realize that. And that’s precisely why they’re not getting better. They’re doing a lot of noodling, and not a lot of real practicing at all.

How do you practice photography?
Practice has a goal. Practice is a lot of repetition. Practice is trying a technique again and again to until you really have it — you really understand it – you can do it without thinking. If you find yourself working with a hot shoe flash, and you’re moving it an inch or two after each shot, and then seeing the difference it makes in the shadows on your subject’s face — that’s practice.

If you’re doing street photography, and you go out — not trying to make a great picture, but trying to practice your timing, or setting out to look for interesting shadows and only shooting those, or maybe you’re looking for nothing but contrasting colors, or going way outside your comfort zone and taking pictures of people (if you’ve been uncomfortable with that in the past). That’s practice.

Practice isn’t a lot of fun, but if you do it a lot, you’ll start to see a difference fast. You’ll grow. You’ll see the results. And then, when you do go out shooting for fun (noodling), your noodling will be more fun because you’ll come back with more keepers, and when you feel like you’re making better images, the “fun” suddenly become a lot more fun, and a lot more meaningful. You’re not just out there hoping to get lucky any more. Now you know what you’re doing, and you can have more fun doing it.

Now that you know the difference…
Ask yourself, truthfully…have you been practicing or noodling?

I realized that with my guitar playing, I was noodling a lot, and not practicing nearly enough. I made a conscious decision to change that, and I already have. Same with my photography. If I want to have more fun, and get better results, I know exactly which path I need to take. I hope this helped you a little bit on your path, too. My thanks to Griff Hamlin for inspiring me, and making it clear for me. I love the difference a great teacher can make.

Hope you have a great week, everybody. Let’s get some good practicing in. :)

Best,

-Scott

bestof2015

Hi Gang: it’s my annual tradition to kick off the New Year with a quick look back at the most popular, and most commented-upon posts of 2015 here on my blog, and some of the fun stuff we shared during the past year.

This year, I’m doing it a little bit differently, and breaking it into categories (so it’s more than just a long list — but something you can explore), so let’s kick it off with the top 5 GUEST BLOGS of 2015.

Holding a sign.

NOTE: These were chosen based on the total number of comments garnered by their posts.

nbr1

Kevin Mullins

Kevin’s post was the #1 most commented-on guest post of the year, and when you read it (and see the images), you’ll know why. It’s the story of how he quit his job to become a wedding photographer, and a darn amazing one he is at that (he did the right thing). Very well written — beautiful images — and you’ll learn a lot from it. It has everything that makes a guest blog post great. You owe it to yourself to read it, even if you don’t shoot weddings.  Here’s the link to Kevin’s guest post.

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Kaylee Greer

Kaylee’s post about becoming a Dog Photographer, and how she works with dogs (I swear, she’s a dog whisperer), really enchanted readers (she had over 100 comments!), and people just love her (heck, we love her — you’ll be seeing a lot more of Kaylee at KelbyOne in 2016). Here’s the link to her guest post.

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nbr3

Nick Fancher

With nearly 100 comments, Nick really resonated with the community here. He had such clever hot shoe flash techniques that we asked him back to expand on some of them. This is really useful, real world stuff, and he did a great job of showing you what he did, and how easy it was to pull off. Very useful, fun, and interesting. You’ll want to check it out. Here’s the link to his Guest Blog.

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Regina Pagles

I’ve been a fan of Regina’s work for years, and she’s been a guest blogger here before sharing her work, and this time she shared the entire process, including post production, for creating her amazing portraits. Of course, what makes Regina special as a photographer is more than just where she puts the light or how she does her post processing, but I think it’s awesome that she was willing to share those with us. Here’s the link to Regina’s Guest Post.

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nbr5

David Molnar

David’s post is a bold, revealing, honest, intriguing, and just wonderful piece of work. There is so much to learn from his story. You’ll be shocked. Inspired. Motivated. Stunning. And it holds the power to change how you think about you, your career, and where you are on your photography journey. I’m so impressed with what David did. You will be, too. Here’s the link to David’s post.

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This is really good stuff
I hope today, at some point, you take the time to give these few articles a read. They are so good. Each one has it’s own bent, but they will make motivate you, make you laugh, inspire you, inform you, make you cry, make you rethink thinks, teach you new things, and I promise they will be worth your time.

Also, I want to thank these photographers, and all the Guest Bloggers who share their time and techniques here each year. It’s a lot of work, and they take it very seriously, and it shows. I’m very grateful (and I know my readers are, too).

Tomorrow, has some good stuff, too!
Today’s picks were based on how many commented. For Tomorrow’s “Best of the Blog” I’m picking five Guest Blog Posts that were underrated — great posts that, for whatever reason, didn’t get that many comments. If you got a lot out of these posts today, you’ll definitely want to check them out tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping today. :)

Best,

-Scott

 

Mornin’ everybody – here’s a few quick things to start your week off:

  1. A quick tutorial on getting soft, beautiful portrait lighting using continuous lights

https://youtu.be/RI3fZgy2yA4

The video above shows a super-simple way to use continuous lighting to create really soft, beautiful light, and I show two variations, including adding a second light for more of a beauty-headshot look. It’s a clip from a KelbyOne online class I did on using Westcott continuous lighting and their soft boxes. To watch the full online class, follow this link. 

2. A couple of shots from Yesterday’s Buc’s vs Saints Game

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Above: I was happy to see two of my shots made the Sports Photos of the Day picks for the wire service I shoot for. The Bucs lost a game they shouldn’t have lost (again), but the Saints played a great game. One thing: is it really supposed to be 82° outside for a mid-December game? Even in Florida, that is…well…super hot. When does “football weather” arrive?

3. I’m interviewed by an Italian photography Website

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Luckily, the interview is in English — if you’ve got a sec, here’s the link. 

That’s it for this morning (and isn’t that enough?). Hope you all have a great Monday, and hope you’ll pop by again tomorrow. :)

Best,

-Scott

Happy Friday, everybody! Today I’m going to share five very short trailers (each around a minute or less) for online classes you can watch this weekend over at KelbyOne.com, including three classes from me.

BTW: If you’re not already a KelbyOne member, you can watch all five of these classes (and all the rest for that matter), for $19.99 (the cost of a one-month membership). Well, truth be told, you could just sign up for a 10-day free trial membership and watch them all for free (but don’t tell ’em I told ya). ;-)

Here they are:

https://youtu.be/clkUtMJBsho

Above: Location Lighting
That’s my class on location lighting – shot in four difference places for four different types of shoots. I’m using the Elinchrom ELB-400 battery pack and flash, but as many people online have said, you don’t need that set-up to learn a lot from this class.

Here’s the link to the full KelbyOne online class

https://youtu.be/2XMCPvEtj04

Above: Shooting Fashion on Location with Frank Doorhof
This is an awesome class from Dutch fashion photographer Frank Doorhof, shot on location in Amsterdam, on how to shoot, pose, and work with models. Frank rocks!

Here’s the link to Frank’s full online class at KelbyOne

https://youtu.be/wh0vt4DKub4

Above: How to photograph and create fun Holiday Cards
In this brand-new class RC shows you how to make way cooler Christmas Cards this year by not only creating the images yourself (instead of using the Mall Santa), but using Photoshop to create something really clever, really unique, and something your friends will be talking about.

Here’s the link to the full online class on KelbyOne

https://youtu.be/YuGYmgc8WZ8

Above: How to design Holiday Cards in Adobe Illustrator (with Pete Collins)
I know I said it’s only 5-trailers, but this one kind of goes hand-in-hand with the previous one since these are Holiday-specific classes. Pete shows you how incredible easy it is to create really clever custom holiday cards in Adobe Illustrator (and if you’ve never used Illustrator, but you’re an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber, this is your chance to start using it).

Here’s the link to the full online class at KelbyOne

 

https://youtu.be/5wHnAg3ocPM

Above: Location Lite: High end look – low cost budget
I called this class “Location Lite” because the goal was to make it look like we shot on locations, but we really did it on the cheap and indoors, keeeping our budget at $300 (including the hot shoe flash itself, the modifier, and even the background). I’m hearing from so many people who have fallen in love with this class – you’ll dig it.

Here’s the link to the full KelbyOne online class.

 

https://youtu.be/lFzD3xOG4iI

Above: Retouching Brides
If you’re a wedding photographer, this one’s definitely for you, but even if you just do portraits, you’ll pick up lots of Photoshop retouching techniques in this class that you can use in your portrait work.

Here’s the link to the full KelbyOne online class.

There ya have it – lots to watch this weekend, and hope you learn a lot. :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Make sure you check out my portrait lighting “fix” tutorial today over on LighroomKillerTips.com – I show how to take a technique we normally use for Landscape photos and repurpose it for portraits (see below).

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Figure 1sm

Today we’re looking at a location shoot I did using nothing but natural light, but in this case we have to give Mother Nature a hand using an inexpensive trick that has big results. Although natural light can be beautiful, natural light is from the sun, and by its very nature, the sun is usually a pretty harsh light source (well, except for a short time about twice a day). So, we pull out one from our bag of tricks to help us make that natural light soft and beautiful.

We are on location in an abandoned old Mansion out in the middle of nowhere, Florida (I’ve lived in Florida my entire life, and I’ve never been to the town where this mansion resides — the town is called “Howey in the Hills” and this was Mr. Howey’s personal mansion back in the day.

I asked my wife Kalebra to do the art direction for the shoot, handling everything from picking the models, make-up, outfits, hair, and makeup, to directing and posing the shoot on location — that left me (and three assistants) to focus on nothing but the lighting and shooting.

Figure 2

I love the compression a long lens brings to the image, and you can see how far back I am from our subject in this over the shoulder view from my shooting position. I’m using a Canon 70-200mm lens f/2.8 lens here (that’s my go-to lens for portraits), and I’m usually shooting in the 150-200mm end of the lens, but to get the wide look I wanted, including the awesome location in the scene, I had to shoot at 70mm.

After a few test shots, I was already battling with her face being too bright. The storyline for the shoot had her looking out the window, so sunlight would be falling directly on her face. Here’s the narrative my wife came up with for the shot (which was told to the model in advance, so she’d know the story we’re having her play out with her gestures): “Everything she once knew has fallen down around her and now, Prince Charming has walked out the door but even as she falls trying to hang on to him (and searches the window after him) there is grace and hope still left in the light.”

So while the model and my wife Kalebra are working on the posing, clothing, and gesture, I’m trying to tame that harsh sun falling directly on her, and I’m even getting highlight clipping warnings on her face (I’m shooting at f/2.8 so at least I can soften the background behind her a little bit. I would have to zoom in much tighter to get the background way out of focus, which I did on some of the shots, but not the ones we’re looking at here).

Figure 3

Our trick is to turn that big harsh window light into a big beautiful softbox, by putting up a frosted shower curtain liner over the window (these are very inexpensive — only about $6 at Target and even cheaper at Walmart where I’ve seen them for $1.99. If you look at these shower curtain liners, they pretty much look just like the front diffusion panel of a softbox. Anyone who attended my first “Shoot Like a Pro Tour” learned this very trick — to keep one of these in your camera bag (they fold up really small) for situations just like this (and of course, we had one with us at this shoot as well, for —you guessed it —situations just like this).

It’s important to note — this is NOT a shower curtain. It’s the frosted liner that is sold separately that goes inside the shower curtain in a real shower.

Figure 4

Above: This is Brad using Gaffer’s tape to cover the bottom part of the window (the part hitting our model directly) with the liner.

Gaffer’s tape was invented in Hollywood for use on movie and TV sets because when you use it, and remove it, it doesn’t take the paint with it, or damage any surfaces, and it doesn’t leave a messy residue. It’s really pretty magic for stuff like this and we always have a roll with us for (wait for it…wait for it…) situations just like this (and a thousand other reasons). You can find Gaffer’s tape at any large camera store (I get mine from B&H Photo around $6 a roll).

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Above: From this angle you can see the liner covering the window

From this angle, you can see the liner going right over the window, and you can even see in this behind the scenes shot, the light looks pretty soft now.

Figure 6

Above: Here’s the reverse angle view so you can see how far back I am from the subject at my shooting position. You can see the window covered with the shower curtain liner, but from the angle I’ll be shooting at it, it won’t be visible at all. 

Figure 7

Above: Here’s a closer look at my TetherTools shooting rig — I always try and shoot tethered like this on location if at all possible — seeing your images full screen as you shoot makes a huge difference.

My Camera Rig:
I’m shooting a Canon EOS 1Dx, but I could have just as easily used my 5D Mark III (the results would be pretty much the same since I’m shooting at 100 ISO with my camera mounted on a Gitzo Mountaineer tripod.  As I mentioned earlier, I’m using a Canon 70-200mm lens. I’m shooting in Aperture priority mode at f/2.8.

I’m supporting my laptop with a mounting bar from Manfrotto, and the laptop table is from a company called “Tether Tools” and they specialize in tools for tethering (I know, that was pretty self-explanatory). They also make that long Orange tethering cable (it’s orange so it’s more easily seen in a dark studio environment so you don’t trip over it), and I’m tethering directly into Lightroom on a Macbook Pro.

Figure 8

Above: A BTS from another shot that we tried; same location, different view.

Once we got the shot you saw at the beginning, we went for a different look in the same location (compositionally). I’ve moved a few feet over to the left, so the center of the room. You can also see two important accessories in this shot: (1) A powerful speaker system for playing Pandora radio from our phones. We feel that music on the set is very important, and the models love it, and it helps set the mood. We played some classical to get us in the mood, then we switch to whichever type of music the model likes best (that’s our rule — the model chooses the music — if they’re hearing music they love, it comes out in the image). And (2) a floor fan. We don’t want to blow her hair around, but we want it to move it just a little to add some volume to the hair, and it really makes a difference. Later in the day, we wanted the drapes blowing, so we cranked it up, and had two assistants right outside the window fanning the drapes with two large diffusers to make them blow, but that’s normally not how we use the fan — it’s just to add a little movement and volume to the model’s hair.

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To create an epic feel for the image, I switched to a Canon 16-35mm wide angle zoom, and positioned my camera way down low to get a low, wide perspective. The fan is just out of the shot, so you don’t see it in the frame. We moved the couch much closer to the camera, to add more depth, and get the subject closer in the frame, so using the 16-35mm let me get lots of the floor and ceiling in the shot even with the subject and couch much closer to my shooting position.

To finish up: I hope this article gave you some ideas of how to control harsh natural window light (if it indeed is harsh), and some compositional ideas as well, and a few other little tips along the way.

That’s it for this chilly Florida Tuesday. Thanks to everybody who came out to my Tampa seminar yesterday — definitely one of my most-fun crowds of the year. Looking forward to visiting new cities next year, starting off in Richmond and Atlanta in late January — hope I’ll see you there.

Best,

-Scott

P.S. RC and I taped a “20-days of Christmas” series where each day we post another holiday gift idea — everything from lighting to camera bags and software. If you scroll down a few days here on the blog, you’ll see the first five or six, and we post a new one every day (including weekends). Hope you find them helpful. :)

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