Category Archives Photography

Bonjour! Sorry I haven’t been able to post more. We’ve been shooting from morning until late at night, literally non-stop on the go, and by the time we make it back to our rooms we’re just falling down beat.

Here’s a quick shot taken during our shoot out at the palace of Versailles, hand-held with a 14-24mm lens. What an amazing place. Off to start today’s final day of shooting, so I gotta run. More on Monday. Have a great weekend everybody. :)

Bonjour mes amis:

Our crew landed here in Paris yesterday morning for our taping of a new class for Kelby Training Online called, “A Week in Paris with Jay Maisel.” 

Although we hadn’t planned on shooting on our first day, Jay was rev’d up and ready to go so we hit the streets of Paris, and wound up shooting at the church where they filmed parts for the movie “The DaVinci Code” and at the Luxembourg Gardens, and Senate buildings, as well as a little bit along the Seine river.

We’re literally heading out the door to begin another day of shooting today, but I can’t believe some of the eye-opening, thought-provoking moments I’ve already had with Jay. He really makes you think about your photography in new and different ways. Incredibly inspiring being around him.

Lots more to come, but the Pain du chocolats of Paris await! :-)

Ayez un beau jour!

-Mssr. Scott

(Above: iPhone shot before the day got started).

It couldn’t have been a better crowd or location to wrap up my “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it” live tour than what we had last week in London, England.

What a great group of photographers — totally engaged, very responsive, lots of great questions, and some of the most kind, genuine folks I’ve had the honor to preset to. Some even brought gifts (I got everything from guitar picks (including some really cool ones), chocolate bars, British Kit Kats, and more.

My guest retoucher Glyn Dewis totally rocked it and gained LOTS of new fans, and it was such a kick sharing the stage with him. He showed loads of cool bonus stuff, and I sat in the crowd taking notes along with everyone else. Really a brilliant job and I learned a lot.

A big thanks to the awesome folks at “The Flash Centre”( who not only helped us with on our stage gear, but even gave away some cool Lastolite gear. Totally great folks (I visited their store in London, and if you haven’t, you definitely should — well stocked and super-helpful staff).

Also thanks to Adobe, who were there with a stand, and were kind enough to give away two copies of Lightroom 4 for our afternoon drawing.

Thanks to everyone who came out to support the tour in London, to Flash Centre, to Adobe, to my mate Glyn for an outstanding job, to Dave Clayton for once again leading the charge to get us there in the first place, and to the warm people of England who’s big smiles and kind hearts made this a trip to remember. Can’t wait to come here and teach again soon!

I needed some shots for an upcoming project, and when my friends (and fellow photographers) Kathy Porupski and Jim Sykes heard that I needed a cool location for the shoot, they told me about a local advertising agency that had remodeled a 1950’s gas station for their new offices.  They make a few calls and the next day I was there shooting. Here’s one of the shots from the shoot (above), my first with three lights for an automotive shoot.

Not only did I follow the tips from Tim Wallace’s Kelby Training online classes on car photography, I actually pulled out my laptop during the middle of the shoot to make sure I had the lights set up correctly (see below). I never would have tried this without having seen Tim’s class. In fact, it was Tim’s class that made me want to do it in the first place.

This is taken from the shooting position (photo by Brad Moore), and you can see the three lights and their position. Rob, our brave 2nd assistant on the shoot, had to dodge traffic like you can’t believe (you can’t tell what a busy road this was). Not having that third light (lighting the front wheel), on a light stand made this a lot more challenging because after every shot, the wheel light was in a different position, but because of all the traffic, we didn’t have a choice. Lucky he’s young, and can run fast. ;-)

Gear and Lighting Info
This was my first shoot with the Nikon D800 (more on this in a minute), and I used my go-to lens for my outdoor shots was my 70-200 f/2.8 VR II lens. I shot in Manual mode (since I was using strobes), and I used three lights: 2 Elinchrom Ranger Packs, and 1 Ranger Quadra (so three flashes total). One the light in the back of the car, I used a large Stripbank soft box (like 18″x50″ or something close to that). On the front of the car, I used a small Stripbank (like 12″ x 36″), and the third light was a bare strobe with a 20° metal grid.

For my close-up detail shots (shown further down this post), I used an old 70.0-180.0 mm f/4.5-5.6 Macro lens I bought from Moose Peterson a few years ago. Great lens by the way (thanks Moose).

(Above: Here’s a reverse view of the lighting set-up. Look how nervous Rob looks out there in the street). 

The Nikon D800 — be careful what you wish for!
I was really looking forward to seeing all the extra detail I heard the D800 would bring (I had actually seen samples my buddy Matt Kloskowski had taken on a trip to Oregon with my D800, and it was just incredible), but this was my first shoot, and I couldn’t wait to see how it pulled detail. Well, you know that saying, “Be careful what you wish you?” Well, it smacked me in the head, because with all that added detail (and there is plenty), comes all that extra retouching to remove some unwanted detail my other cameras didn’t bring out (everything from fingerprints, to tiny spots, specs, reflections and other stuff that was usually soft enough it wasn’t worth messing with).

It reminded of when HTDV took off and all the TV news anchors had to use way more make-up because the HD brought out every little detail and flaw that nobody notice before. Same kinda thing here. Take a look at the sample’s below and you’ll see what I mean.

(Above: When you’re zoomed out, it pretty much looks like my old camera captured images. This is the out-of-camera shot as is). 

(Above: But when you zoom-in to 100% full size, you realize your retouching work has just begun. However, I’m not complaining — I’ll take the amazing detail any time — it worth the extra retouching!) 

(Above: Here’s a version that’s cleaned up a bit).

(Above: Here’s a production shot of the detail shot. Yes, we shot with all that ambient light and still got a solid black background. I learned that in Tim’s class, too!).

(Above: Here’s a detail shot of the owner’s blue ’32 Ford Roadster. I loved the wheels — classic!)

(Above: Here’s me, lying on the ground, to get the lighting and perspective I wanted for the shot you just saw of the tire and wheel. How did I know that was where the shot was? I didn’t. I just kept trying different angles — they all looks pretty lame, until one finally found this one that looked good. Tip: it’s usually the one with the most uncomfortable shooting position). 

(Above: Here’s a close-up detail shot of the M6 taken right after we did the full body shots from across the street).

(Above: Just one light — a strip bank, and again, the previous shot was taken in daylight). 

(Above: Another detail shot, this one taken from the back). 

(Above: Here’s a production shot of the shot you just saw above). 

(Above: I couldn’t resist shooting at least one HDR of the gas station once the shoot was over and the place was closed up). 

While we had a great time, and wrapped the whole thing up in right around three hours, of course there are things I would do much differently next time (like watch Tim’s class again, and pay even closer attention, because I missed a couple of things that I could do a lot better lighting wise), but I sure learned a lot from Tim’s class.

He really makes everything so clear, and I just really enjoy his wonderful, laid-back, yet straight to the point teaching style. He doesn’t hold anything back, and that’s not only just the kind of guy I want training for me, apparently it’s just the kind of guy I want training me, too!

(Above: It was an amazing mid-air catch by Lightning goalie Sebastien Carbon — now if I could just get the crowd to react on cue). ;-)

It Was Eight-Game Crash Course and I Loved Every Minute!
Regular readers of the blog will remember my post from February 3rd called “My First NHL Hockey Shoot…and It Sure Looked Like It” (link) and in that post I mentioned that I actually registered the domain “” (you could tell I was new at this, since I didn’t know at that time you just call it “hockey” and not “Ice Hockey.” Noob!).

(Above: I was disappointed there weren’t more fights. I always figured there would be more fights than playing time, but as it turns out, they play quite a bit. Luckily, by the end of the season, the helmets were coming off, fists were flying more often —- the crowd loves it — I love it!!!!).

(Above: Ahhh, nothing like the smell of crushed ice in the morning. Well, that’s what time I got home after the game some nights).

After Shooting My First Game, I was Hooked
I wasn’t sure how I was going to like shooting hockey. Everybody had warned me that it was the hardest of all team sports to shoot, and I heard stories of shooting in very crowded conditions with a tiny hole in the glass (made even smaller recently by the NHL to protect fans and photographers), and the action moves so fast at ice level that it’s a real challenge to get anything decent. I agree with all of those statements for sure.

Plus, the other shooters at the arena had me good and freaked out about from the start about getting hit with the puck or getting knocked on my butt when two players crash against the boards in front of me (both of which almost happened on numerous occasions). But after I shot my first game — I was hooked. I stunk at it, but I felt like I could get better, so I really wanted to stick with it (which was lucky, because the wire service I was shooting for had already assigned me to two more games).

(Above: OK, it took me a bunch of games to finally get a decent shot with the puck just coming off the stick).

(Above: This shot, taken during my four game shooting, was a breakthrough for me as it was chosen by Zuma Press as one of their “Photos of the Day” and they look at images from tons of different wire services, so when I saw someone mention on Twitter that my shot was on there, I was just about doing backflips).

The Dance Continues
So I kept going back for more, which led to my post here called “My painful dance shooting Hockey continue.” Here’s the link. I only posted one static shot from the game. That’s how badly I felt I did. I still had to turn in at least 15 to 20 shots for the wire service, which I did, but I was not thrilled with my uploads (and I’m sure they weren’t either, but thankfully since they knew I was new, they let me keep shooting. After all — that’s the only way I was going to get any better, right?).

(Above: Depending on my shooting position [assigned by the team photographer], I could either just shoot at the goalie [up to the blue line], or that and down to the opposing goal, but you always had a pretty clear view of the goal in front of you).

Call for Help
After struggling for a few games, I realized it was time to call my buddy, and sports photography genius, Dave Black for some help, and man did he help. First, he told me to get decent shots you really need to understand the game, and until I got to that point, I was going to struggle along. Luckily, for the first time in my life, I was really starting to enjoy hockey. In fact, I was becoming a fan. I was learning who the players are, and I sat down and learned the rules of Ice Hockey, and I started to get a feel for where things were going a bit. I didn’t have it “down” by any means, but at least a little flame started to flicker.

Dave told me to spend the first period shooting from an upper deck with a 200-400mm lens — instead of down at ice level with closer glass — and this would do three things:

(1) It would give me a chance to get some decent shots, since you can shoot freely from up on the mezzanine without having to worry about a hole in the glass, since you’re shooting above it.

(2) You won’t miss any shots because it’s like shooting fish in a barrel up there. It’s actually easy because the game moves much slower from that vantage point. And…

(3) Then in the 2nd and 3rd periods, when I moved down to the ice level, it would actually seem slower to me and I’d be able to follow the action and puck better, and doggone if he wasn’t right.

The only problem? The shots from above the glass, from the mezzanine level, just aren’t dynamic. You cover the action, but that angle doesn’t give you the impact from shooting at ice level, which is why everybody wants to shoot from ice level. However, AP shooter Mike Carson gave me great advice that night. He said the mezzanine is great for shooting overtime  — when you have to get that game-winning goal — because up there — you WILL get it. It may not be as dynamic, but if they need the shot of the winning goal —- you’ll be the guy that has it.

I wrote about this (with some behind-the-scenes photo) in a post called “The Challenge of Shooting Hockey (and a Progress Report). Here’s the link. 

(Above: Where’ the puck? Read below).

Making Slow but Steady Progress
Luckily, the guys who shoot this stuff all the time, including Team Photographer Scott Audette, were really friendly and they actually tried to help me along. They knew I was “the new guy” and although they teased me for it, they were also helpful and tried to find me decent shooting positions, and they gave me tips along the way that helped a lot.

One night, between periods, I went over to Scott Audette and just straight up asked him for some shooting tips. He is an absolutely incredible hockey photographer (he’s been at it for years, and I know a lot of guys have been at it for years, but his stuff in just insane). He was happy to help, and he had some really great tips for me about what type of shots to be looking out for, and he told me to look at the NHL shots that get published, and to look at how many don’t have the puck in the shot. He was right. That really surprised me, but it also helped me improve what I was sending to the wire service (in most other sports, if the “ball” isn’t in the shot, it’s generally not a good shot).

(Above: After talking to Scott I realized that you can only have so many shots of the puck in the back of the goal, so I started going for the player’s reaction after the goal. Not just the celebration (upper left), but the anguish as well (far right), and sometimes you get all three — puck, celebration and anguish all-in-one).

It was a dark and stormy night….
OK, it was neither, on the way home I always call my wife and give her progress report on how it went that night, and God bless her you know she probably couldn’t really give a rat’s butt, but she listens dutifully, and gives me lots of encouragement, and that night, after my sixth game, I told her, “Honey, tonight I made a big leap. I didn’t get any spectacular shots or anything, but it was the first time I actually felt comfortable shooting hockey. I felt like I was finally moving in the right direction, and I was comfortable with my settings, and my white balance, and my lens selection, and my shooting position, and by golly it was starting to come together at least a bit for me.” She seemed genuinely happy for me (which is just one of the thousand things that make her the woman of my dreams, but that’s for a different post).

Only Two Games Left In The Season
Time was running out on the season, and with Photoshop World and some other commitments, I had to miss a number of home games, so I was only able to shoot the final two home games of the season. But, I had very good shooting positions for both games (to me, that means a position where I can shoot “down ice” to the other goal with my 300mm with a f/1.4 tele-extender on it, and being able to shoot the goal I’m in front of as well).

Now that I was starting to get comfortable, I have to say that during those last two games I had the most fun I’d had since the first game, and I was enjoying the sport itself (and getting to know the players) more than I ever expected to, as I moved from shooter to hockey fan. I was screaming and cheering a few times when I should have been shooting, which is a peril of being a fan at the game you’re shooting. It happens to me a Bucs and Bears NFL games all the time.

(Above: Nice save off the stick….but I’m a Lightning fan, so….)

I Didn’t Realize What I Had
One thing I realized after four or five games was that the Scott Audette, the team photographer) pretty much shoots from the same shooting position for every game, so it must be a really good location, and of course, it is. The thing I didn’t realize was how good it was when he gave me that position the very first time I shot hockey. Here I was on my blog, complaining about shooting in this little hole, and how restricted my movement was, not knowing that the team photographer had given up his shooting position for me. Thanks Scott, and I’m sorry I whined at all (you don’t know, what you don’t know, right?).

(Above: I’d be praying too — but I think it was a thankful prayer, because Lightning Goalie Dwayne Roloson had an amazing night, and was MVP of the game. It was an amazing thing to watch, and he was right in front of my shooting position).

In the end…
I have a LONG way to go with shooting hockey. Eight games just begin to scratch the surface of what it takes to get really good at shooting hockey, and that is driven home right after every game, when I go into the office where the shooters hang out before and after the game. It’s Scott Audette’s office, and his assistant (also named Scott), is already uploading Scott Audette’s images to the league, and I see them nice and big on Scott’s 30″ display, and it always sends me out of there knowing how far I have yet to go.

There’s a lot to learn about shooting this sport
Everything they warned me about was true, and everything they promised (that I would love it), was right on the money. I got help along the way from Dave Black, Bob Dechiara (who regularly shoots the Boston Bruins, and helped me out quite a bit from the start), and of course to Scott Audette and his crew (Scott and Vinny). I’m very thankful to them for “letting me live” and for giving me great opportunities to learn.

I hope to get some hockey assignments next season, so my somewhat less painful dance with shooting hockey can continue. GO BOLTS!!!!! :)

I’m not sure if it’s the best, but based on the feedback we’ve been getting,it certainly may be one of our most helpful ever.

Wednesday’s “Reverse Critiques” were a bigger hit than any of us imagined, and I think it’s been one of the best learning techniques for photographers we’ve even shown on the show, because seeing these images side-by-side visually brings it home in a way that really struck a chord with people.

We also kick things off with “The Five Images You Should NEVER Have In Your Portfolio” and exactly why.

I really hope you enjoy it, and get something out of it you can use in your own photography. And best of all — you can watch the show right here. :-)