Category Archives Photography

Hey everyone, RC here with pretty cool news!  Nik Software has just released a new version of their killer HDR software – HDR Efex Pro 2.  They’ve got a new tonemapping algorithm, some sweet speed increases, and a new interface.  Rather than me sit here and just go on and on about it, I figured it be a neat idea to just walk you through the process with one of my files.  I’m even including the file for you guys to play with at the bottom of this post!

Scott Kelby Fans Get a Jump Start and a Great Discount!
So, here’s the deal.  We are all getting advanced access to Nik HDR Efex Pro at a very reduced rate.  How reduced?  Its like 40 dollars off…   In order to check it out, go to this link:

Some Samples of Images Tonemapped with HDR Efex Pro 2

I know that just showing a quick video of a tonemapping process wouldn’t be enough to convince you that this is something that you should really look at.  That’s why I went ahead processed all of the images below with HDR Efex Pro 2.  This thing is the real deal.

Download the RAW Files Used in the Video
I didnt want to just show what I can do here with the program – I also wanted to see what you guys come up with!! To that, I figured it be cool to get you a link with the RAW Files (its about 108MB in size.. 8 RAW Files). This way, you can play with them and share with me what you come up with. Download the program, take these files for a spin and share with me what you come up with!! Download the file here:

You can follow me at my Google+ page ( or at my blog ( – Enjoy!!

Hi Gang: Each year right before Independence Day (celebrated here in the U.S. on the Fourth of July), I share a quick post on how to photograph Fireworks (a traditional part of the 4th of July celebration here). I'm posting the technique that I included on page 175 of my book, "The Digital Photography Book, Part 1." Here we go:

This is another one that throws a lot of people (one of my best friends, who didn't get a single crisp fireworks shot on the Fourth of July, made me including this tip just for him, and the thousands of other digital shooters that share his pain).

For starters, you'll need to shoot fireworks with your camera on a tripod, because you're going to need a slow enough shutter speed to capture the falling light trails, which is what you're really after.

Also, this is where using a cable release really pays off, because you'll need to see the rocket's trajectory to know when to push the shutter buttonâ”if you're looking in the viewfinder instead, it will be more of a hit or miss proposition.

Next, use a zoom lens (ideally a 200mm or more) so you can get in tight and capture just the fireworks themselves. If you want fireworks and the background (like fireworks over Cinderella's Castle at Disney World), then use a wider lens.

Now, I recommend shooting in full Manual mode, because you just set two settings and you're good to go:

  1. Set the Shutter Speed to 4 seconds
  2. Set the Aperture to f/11. Fire a test shot and look at the LCD monitor on the back of your camera to see if you like the results. If it overexposes, lower the shutter speed to 3 seconds, then take another shot and check the results again.

TIP: If your camera has "Bulb" mode (where the shutter stays open as long as you hold down the shutter release button down), this works great-hold the shutter button down when the rocket bursts, then release when the light trails start to fade. (By the way; most Canon and Nikon digital SLRs have bulb mode). The rest is timingâ”because now you've got the exposure and sharpness covered.

There you have itâ”-hope you all get some great shots on the fourth, and remember to stay safe around fireworks of any kind, and we'll see you back here in one piece tomorrow. :)

(NOTE: If you watch this one-minute long video above now, you can skip all the way down to the last lne of text for details). 

If you missed my “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it” LIVE tour, you can now finally experience the entire seminar, from start to finish, and get the same tour workbook (in color no less), plus all freebies I gave out for attendees, starting today no matter where you live as we are making the day available as a digital download (just like you’d buy a movie online to download).

Although I was able to visit many major cities in the US, Canada, and even three cities in Europe, there were just so many places we didn’t get to visit with the tour. But now no matter where you are, you can attend the entire event, just as it happened, live from beginning to end. You’ll learn all the techniques, all the lighting, all the retouching, and you’ll absolutely have the best seat in the house, but at literally half the price.

We are SO excited to bring this to you our friends around the world —- our first-ever start-to-finish full day seminar available now anywhere you are.

Here’s the link to download the full digital seminar today (it’s just $49.99 US).

Joe’s brand new tour (produced by Kelby Training) kicks off in Canada next month and today on Joe’s blog he wrote about how the tour came to be, and what he’ll be teaching during this incredible workshop.

Seriously, Imagine spending the day learning all the amazing things you can do with the simplest of lighting set-ups, using just one flash (or maybe two), from the magical unicorn of hot shoe flash himself (OK, that last part is what I call him, but I don’t think I’m alone). ;-)

Here’s how Joe described the tour in his blog post today:

“The point of the day is keeping it super basic, super simple and super fast. “

Here’s the link to Joe’s blog to hear it in his words.

> If you’re like me and you’re thinking, “Hey, it’s Joe. I’m “in!” then here’s the page with all the info and sign-up form.

We’re working on the dates for Joe’s US Tour right now and they’ll be announced very shortly, but if you’re in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary or Vancouver, you’re in for an incredible day of learning. It’s just $99 ($79 for NAPP members).

Congrats to Joe on launching the new tour and I can’t wait till he comes near me — I”ll be there for sure!



Scott, thanks for the opportunity to put a few of my thoughts down for your readers. Not exactly the circumstances under which I envisioned being your guest blogger, but now I have a goal to do this again under different conditions.

First of all, I'm of the belief that direct customer input (any kind) is good, so I don't mind all the comments and ideas - they are all part of the journey to keep improving. We constantly strive to deliver the best customer experience to protect data, and we take this very seriously.  Better to know than not knowing.

Regarding your case Scott, the bottom line is that we made a bad judgment - our agents are trained to immediately swap or upgrade (regardless of warranty condition) if they see what you saw on your video - but we made a rookie mistake this time. I traced the call logs.  100% our bad this time.  As I mentioned on the phone, my apologies and it should not have happened. By the way, if any of your readers (or their readers or colleagues or friends or whatever) experiences what you saw on your video, just contact us or ping me directly ( and we will take care of it immediately.

Just to clarify, we currently offer a standard one-year warranty, and many of our customers opt for the extended care package. We are, of course, working on much faster, "next-gen" Drobos that take into consideration all of the customer feedback we've gotten since day 1, and we've been debating the 1-year vs. longer standard warranty period as part of these soon-to-be announced new products. This is where there is (!) a bit of a silver lining as the timing of your input could not have been more acute - vote(s) recognized, taken, counted!

Readers, the only comments that I want to strongly dispute are the ones that suggest that I only followed up with Scott because he is Scott. I (we) call customers every single day - small, large, happy, frustrated, domestic, international. We have a couple of hundred thousand to choose from, and there's always someone who wants to talk about their Drobo and/or their challenges of data protection and management. I enjoy it, I learn a lot, and it is important that our customers know that there are real people out here trying to help them figure it out. I ALWAYS end my emails (and my guest blogs) with an invitation to send me ( your thoughts or to drop me a line at 408-276-8621 (I am hardly ever at my desk, but leave a VM and I will get back to you).

OK - thanks again - I'm glad to have the opportunity to meet you all "directly," despite the circumstances. My personal goal now (mark it down) is to re-appear as Scott's guest blogger the day after he writes the "Drobo - I'm BACK" post. It's on us. I know what is coming, and I like our chances.

Best regards everyone,



I’ve finally reached the point that I’m done with my drobo, which I use for the archiving of my photos. I actually use three drobos: one in my office, one in Brad’s office (onsite backup), and one at home (offsite backup). Now sadly I’m going to have to move to a different platform altogether because drobo finally pushed me to the point of no return.

What I love about drobo
What drew me to drobo in the beginning was the fact that it constantly monitors the health of my hard drives. So if one starts going bad, or gets full, my drobo will warn me, and robotically shift my data to other drives installed in my drobo until I can replace that drive. Keeping a photo archive intact is very, very important to us photographers.

Why I’m done with drobo
Because for the fourth time one of my drobos is a brick.

Wait, are all the hard drives installed in my drobo still working? Yup. Can I access my photos? Nope. Not a one.

When I came into work a couple of days ago, I cringed when I saw an all too familiar problem — my drobo cycling on/off over and over again. It doesn’t mount, and I can’t access my photos — essentially it’s a brick. Again. (see the video of my drobo below, and you’ll see it cycling on/off in what we now call “The drobo death spiral.” Note: This is not an exciting video).

Scott, can’t you just pop those drives into something else and get your photos back?
Nope. It’s a proprietary system that only a drobo can read. Sigh.

I went to their site, followed their troubleshooting guide, and it still just cycles on/off (by the way, as I mentioned above, this isn’t the first time this has happened — drobo has had to replace my entire drobo unit [not including the drives] before).

In fact, this was the fourth recorded incident Brad and I have had with drobo so far. And while you’re waiting for your new drobo, you cannot access any of your photos or files on your bricked drobo. You’re basically locked out.

This is the moment that I knew I was done with drobo
When my photo assistant Brad called their tech support for me, they told him my dead drobo is out of warranty. To get my photos back, I would have to pay nearly $300 for drobocare (an extended warranty program). So basically, while my drobo is supposed to protect my photo archive, what it has actually done is hold my photo archive hostage for almost $300.

I know what some of you are saying right now: “We told you so.” When Brad told drobo how supremely unhappy we were with that $300 hostage-situation, they eventually emailed back and lowered the price to $100. We passed on the “deal.”

At this point, I’d rather give that $100 to you. Seriously.
Rather than sending $100 to drobo on a solution that I’m going to abandon shortly, I’d rather just give the money to you to help me find a better solution.

To that end I’m offering a $100 bounty to whomever can help me choose a new photo archival storage system now that I’m “dumping drobo” (by the way, that would make a great slogan for a t-shirt).

I need about 12 TB of storage, which sadly may be conservative thanks to my 36-megapixel Nikon D800 which eats up drive space like a plague of locusts.

Just leave me a comment here with any advice you have for big storage, and if I go with your suggestion I’ll cut you a $100 check for your time and research (I’m only doing this for one person, so if 50 people say “try dropbox” I’m only cutting one check to one person. Just so you know).

My plea to drobo
I’ve been using drobos for a few years now, and have recommended them to a number of my personal friends. A lot of photographers out here have drobos, and we count on drobo to keep our images safe. But obviously there can come a point where our hard drives are actually OK but our drobos have failed.

If the drobo is a truly well-made product, shouldn’t it work reliably for more than a year? We don’t expect it to last 20 years, but it should darn well work perfectly for at least two or three. In short, drobo (the company) should have enough confidence in their technology and their product to stand behind their product for more than 12 months

My plea to drobo is simple… If our drobo’s power supply goes bad, or our drobos won’t mount, or whatever the problem is (unless we caused it by immersing our drobo in water, or dropping it off a counter, etc.) — we need you to replace it free of charge for a more reasonable amount of time than just one year. Otherwise the whole thing is worthless. Like my drobo is now.

So, that’s my story
While I love a lot of things about the drobo (the industrial design, the idea behind it, and the ability to easily swap drives in/out as needed), I hate that often I can’t get it to mount (ask Brad about this one). And worse than that, I can’t have a solution that protects me when all is well, but when it gets a cold (which it clearly often does), it locks me out and then holds me hostage. That I can’t live with.

UPDATE: I wrote this Wednesday night and planned on releasing it today, but when I went to save the post as a draft, I accidentally released the post instead (not the first time I’ve done that sadly). Even though I immediately changed the post release status as soon as I realized the mistake, by Thursday morning news of it was already bouncing around the web, and it quickly made it’s way back to drobo. They contacted me directly to see how they could resolve the issue and I even talked with drobo’s CEO a number of times during the day. He really seems like a very down-to-earth guy who seems genuinely interested in addressing his customer’s issues, but of course just fixing my problem won’t fix the bigger problem of their warranty policy, so I once again declined. However, to his credit he listened to my ideas (and rants) about how drobo might address this going forward so other photographers that get in this situation might be protected, and I even offered him the opportunity to respond directly to my readers here on blog. Hey, it’s a start. :)