Category Archives Photography

 

NOTE: Whatever you do, stop right now and get the FREE UPDATE from the App store. This is an important bug fix so download it right away. Now, onto our story:

After taking what seemed to be 5 lifetimes to approve issue #2, issue #3 is already here and ready for downloading! (Whoo Hoo).

It’s an awesome issue, which includes a very cool article from Jason Groupp on “Lighting for Weddings,” plus Frank Doorhof’s “Studio Techniques,” My “Photo Recipes” column, Tom Bol on “Location Lighting,” Erik Valind with “Little Lights, Big Shadows” and our feature story is “Visualizing Lighting for a Composite Image” is from James Quantz, Jr. Don’t wait—-go download that puppy now!

P.S. Did I mention that you need to download the free update from the App store?  :)

 

I figured after doing my Holiday Gift book picks, it’s time for some App picks that would make great holiday gifts for photographers (especially the free ones!).

By the way: you can send an iPad or iPhone App to someone as a holiday gift: just tap the “Gift this App” link in the top right corner of the App Store screen. You just type in their email address and then Apple does the rest (including charging your account for the App purchase). If you want to give them more than just one App, then it might make more sense to give them an iTunes Gift Card (you can send them via email), and then they can redeem the card on the App Store by clicking the “Redeem” button at the bottom of the App Store home page on their iPad or iPhone.

OK, let’s get to the Gift App list (not in any particular order).

1. Photo Manager Pro
Although Apple’s own Photos App got better in IOS 5, putting your files in order after they’re imported is still a pain (and I finally gave up on using iPhoto to arrange them on my computer and then syncing), but this inexpensive App ($2.99) works great, it’s easy, and it’s got lots of nice features so this is what I’m using now and really liking it (and I’ve tried almost every Portfolio App for the iPad, and most of them have a major flaw or two, but this one just seems to keep it simple, which I love). For iPad and iPhone. (App Store link for iPad)

2. 500px (for iPad only)
Their site has become “The” site for serious photographers, and their iPad App is absolutely gorgeous. The folks at 500px know that how things look really matter to photographers, and everything they do has a great UI, and this App is no exception. This App is my #1 spot to go for photographic inspiration. Beautiful! Oh yeah, did I mention it’s free? (Yay)! App Store link.

3. Plastic Bullet Camera
When you’re in a totally creative mood, this is the App for you. It could not be simpler, and you don’t have to know a thing about editing—-it will generate lots of cool effects, and you just choose which one you like the best. The effects are varied, the previews are big so you can see what the effects look like, and the whole thing just feels like fun (which is why the App has so many fans). It’s only $1.99  For iPad and iPhone. (App Store Link for iPad)

4. Snapseed 
I know, I know, picking the App that Apple themselves chose as their “App of the Year” is a no-brainer as for a Gift lists go, but this App is so brilliantly designed, and has such great effects, that I couldn’t leave it out. If I had to be on a desert island with just one Photo App for the iPad, this might be the one. The quality of the effects are absolutely top notch, and the control is as useful as it is fun. Apps like this are what the iPad is all about. Only $4.99. Worth 10-times as much. For iPad and iPhone. (App Store Link for iPad)

 

5. TrueHDR (for iPhone only)
Moose Peterson turned me on to this App, and if you love HDR, you have got to have this App. I use it in Manual Mode where I take one shot exposed for the Highlights, one for the shadows, and it combines the two into a single HDR image, and I am constantly amazed at what a great job it does with just two shots, taken it two seconds. Wish I had something this fast, and this easy, for Photoshop. Just a $1.99.  (App Store Link)

6. Filterstorm
If you an editing App that’s Photoshop-like, this is it. It doesn’t look like Photoshop, but it has a lot of the functionality, with everything from Curves to Hue/Saturation to Cloning to Sharpening, and loads of other Photoshop-like features, all presented in an easy-t0-use interface. Absolutely that they can do something this sophisticated for only $3.99. For iPad and iPhone. (App store link for iPad)

7. Photogene
This was the App that made me realize that the iPad could actually be a great image editor. It does a lot of the same things that Filterstorm does, but since it does a few things that Filterstorm doesn’t, I still keep it in my editing App bag. If I had to choose either it for Filterstorm…..well….can’t I keep both? Please! How can it be only $1.99? For iPad and iPhone. (App Store link for iPad)

8. StuckOnEarth (iPad only)
If you’re a fan of beautiful photography and a beautiful interface, man are you going to love this App from Trey Ratcliff. It’s very clever, very useful, and very fun (everything you’d want in an App). It’s a visual photography adventure around the world and if you’re going anywhere on a shooting vacation, this App should be your first stop, and your companion along the way. Very clever, and amazingly, it’s free! (App Store Link)

9. Camera+ (iPhone only)
If I want to create HDR-looking effects with just one click (or maybe two) to a single image, this is the app to reach for. Their Clarity effect preset is the worth the price of admission alone (and I love their simple frame borders), but as far as Camera Apps go, this one’s the best. Perfect for folks who want to apply simple effects quality without really having to learn an editing App, plus it’s a great, fast-launching camera, too! (put that combination together, and you have an App that has downloaded more than 5-millions times)! Best of all, it’s only 99¢. What’s not to love? (App Store Link)

10. Diptic
All I want for Christmas is a Photoshop plug-in that makes multi-image layouts as easily as this one (yes, I know Lightroom can do this, but you pretty much have to create the templates yourself, where Diptic has a bunch all ready to go). I’ve also tried different scripts for actions for Photoshop, but this simple 99¢ App still beats them all hands down. Very cleverly designed, with lots of functionality, all at an insanely low price. For iPad and iPhone. (App Store Link)

It’s Hero Time!
If you bought the photographer on your App gift list every one of the photography Apps I’ve listed above, your Gift Basket you’d be under $20.00 (OK, not a lot under, but under) and you’d be a Holiday Hero!

But wait….
If you’re thinking something along the lines of  “Scott, how could you have left off [insert your favorite photo App’s name here]?” then just add your favorite App picks here as a comment (just remember to leave a short description of why it’s your favorite, cause everybody (me) wants to find a cool new App this Holiday Season). :-)

Above: our crew at Help-Portrait on Saturday. From LtoR: Pete Collins, Me, Matt Kloskowski, RC Concepcion, and Erik Bernskiold. Photo on laptop by Scott Krebs. 

On Saturday morning a group of us from Kelby Media Group (including Matt, Pete, RC and Erik Bernskiold [our buddy visiting this week from Sweden]) and were very fortunate to be a part of the wonderful Help-Portrait movement founded by our friend and entertainment photographer Jeremy Cowart, and once again it was a very special day for everybody involved.

Above: Here’s the main shooting room, with four shooting bays set-up side-by-side.

This year, RC organized our local Help-Portrait event, which consisted of photographers and assistants, make-up artists and hair stylists, IT wizards, and Photoshop retouchers, who call came together to make portraits for moms and their kids living at Operation PAR, a women’s drug abuse treatment center in Pinellas County, Florida. The women and their children live in a ‘village’ operated by the center, and for most of them this was their first and only portraits of them with their children (or even just photos of the kids by themselves).

Above: Here’s one of their first stops—make up. 

RC was out front coordinating the shooting, and Matt, Pete, Erik and I were in a separate room doing all the retouching and outputting 8×10″ finished prints right on the spot, and thanks to RC’s excellent planning and execution, the whole thing worked amazingly well.

Above: RC did an amazing job organizing our local Help-Portrait shoot, and here he is telling us how the workflow is set up, and just generally picking on Erik for being an industrial spy from Volvo.

Honestly, the retouching job itself was fairly easy, and we were in a completely separate room, and we had Christmas music playing all day, and it was actually a lot of fun to be a room with all these guys in the “retouching zone” but we needed to keep things light because every time you open a photo of a mom and her children in Photoshop, your heart breaks a little for them.

Above: Our buddy Erik Bernskiold (more affectionately known as “Erin Brockovich” or just “Brocky” during our retouching day), was in town this week and he volunteered to be one of the retouchers. We took him in this week like he was one of our own, even though we knew he was just here secretly spying for IKEA. 

I have to take my hat off to Jeremy for being behind of all this, because until you experience what this does for people yourself, you’ll never realize what it means to these people who are struggling in such a difficult chapter of their lives.

Above: Matt Kloskowski was just a few workstations down from me, and all day long Matt and I would sing our own versions of Christmas songs where we kept substituting Swedish phrases, Erik’s name, and some really lame Swedish jokes just to mess with Erik.

Ours is just one story in many of thousands around the world that Jeremy and Help-Portrait touched that day and I’m just so happy that we got to be a small part of it. Anyway, here are a few more behind-the-scenes shots from our day.

Above: That’s me at my workstation before the retouching zone got ramped up to full speed.

If you took part in a Help-Portrait shoot, and you’ve posted your images or stories from your day, I encourage you to post them here as a comment. Thanks to Jeremy (and locally to Dr. Michael Sheehan from PAR) for giving us a way to do something we love and get to give something back in such a meaningful way. For more info on Help-Portrait, follow this link. 

Hi Gang: I got invited to shoot the Atlanta Falcons game on Sunday so I shot up to the Georgia Dome for the 1:00 pm game on Sunday and was back the same night, so it was kind of a whirlwind trip, but I really had a ball! (no pun intended). [NOTE: Click on the photos for a larger view—-they look much better bigger. Well, except the iPhone photos. Kidding].

(Above: Here’s my remote rig in an iPhone photo. It’s not fully aimed yet, because they roll this rig out onto the corner of the field about 10 minutes before the players are announced). 

The very cool Mike Benford from the Falcons organization arranged it so I would be able set up a remote camera rig and attach it to the truss archway that the players run through when they enter the field, and a couple of hours before the game we met with the Pyrotechnics team that runs the smoke jets and fire plumes that shoot out as the players come out, and they were incredibly helpful. My original plan was to mount the rig to the top of the semi-circular truss, but that would have my camera aiming directly into four smoke jets, so instead I mounted it down low (using two Manfrotto Magic Arms) with a 14-24mm wide angle lens (zoomed out to 14mm) aiming upward.

(Above: Here’s an iPhone photo of the rig to give you a closer view. The camera is mounted on one Manfrotto Magic Arm, and then I attach a second arm just to make doubly sure it doesn’t move. Lastly I attach a steel safety cable, which isn’t fully secured yet because I’m going to have to re-aim this puppy in a just a few minutes. Also, I’m triggering all this with a Pocket Wizard on top with a short patch cable that connects into the camera’s cable release port).

(Above: This is me in a manly-like football player ready to take the field pose, but I’m actually acting as a warm body for the auto focus to lock onto. A stunning specimen, aren’t I? ;-)

Hocus Focus
Of course, mounting a camera down low at “Maggie the Wonderdog” level makes focusing part fun, especially since once it’s all in place, they’re going to move the whole rig about out  20 or 30 feet anyway, so you have to refocus again. I start by letting the Auto Focus do its thing, then I switch to Manual focus so it doesn’t change while I’m pressing the remote.

(Above: Here’s the remote shot [somehow he looks bigger and meaner than me]. The hugh fire plumes make everything turn red for a few moments, and then the color is gone just as quick as it came. I’m out on the field, about 30 yards or so away, triggering this remote shot with my Pocket Wizard in one hand, and my camera [with a 24-70mm] in the other. I was short the cable I would need to trigger both the remote and my handheld camera at the exact same time).

(Above: Here’s the view from the field, taken with my other camera. As the fire stops, the color changes back to normal, and the players come through the smoke jets. Note my camera rig on the far right side of the frame down low. Nobody came anywhere close to hitting it, but that’s always a risk with pumped up athletes and a lot of smoke). 

(Above: Once the player emerges from the smoke, you can see my rig on the right a lot clearer. I wish the rig had been mounted about five feet farther out in front, and even lower). 

Shots from the Game
Now that I’ve done this particular set-up, I think I would do it differently next time, but at least I got that one shot (which did receive some Photoshop magic, and if I have time in the next week or so, I’ll do a short tutorial on that as well).

As for camera settings; pretty much the same as always: two bodies: Nikon D3s with a 400mm at f/2.8 all day on a Gitzo monopod, and a Nikon D3 with a 24-70mm at f/2.8 all day, both at 2,500 ISO (the lighting in the dome is surprisingly low).

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few shots from the game (Atlanta won 24-14 by the way), and I’m going to start with some detail shots first, then onto the game action:

(Above: I wanted to get a detail shot of the player’s gloves and when I saw the incredible tats this player had, I knew I had the subject I was looking for).

(Above: I always try to get a nice shot or two of each team’s helmets. They’re usually sitting up high on an equipment case, but I saw this one on the ground with such a great reflection of the stadium’s dome and sidelines, I went with it instead).

(Above: Another detail shot: this time of the large duffle bag the officials have on the sidelines where they keep footballs used during the game). I just like the way the light gleaned off the NFL logo. OK, enough detail, let’s get to some action shots).

(Above: Here’s Viking’s QB Christian Ponder getting sacked [not his first on the day], and although I was rooting for the Falcons, I like Ponder from his days at Florida State University—I’m a Seminole fan from way back, and despite their loss I think he’s got a lot of potential).

(Above: This is a little later in the game).

(Above: #7 scrambling out of the backfield once again. It was a long day for Ponder).

(Above: Talk about “leading lines!” I had this shot straight down the hashmark from the end zone, and although it’s a pre-action shot and not normally the kind I take, I just kinda liked the symmetry of it all).

(Above: Love the intensity on both their faces).

(Above: Of course, it wouldn’t be football unless a ref, suddenly realizing that you might have a clear unobstructed view of Falcon’s WR Roddy White jumping up for a pass, suddenly darts into the frame as he winks to the Side Judge, and mouthes, “Don’t worry, I blocked him.”).

 

 

Best thing about the day….
…had to be the great folks I met at the game. Michael Benford was just a prince (incredibly gracious, helpful, and just fun), and while I was there I got to meet, and shoot alongside, the Falcon’s team photographer, Jimmy Cribb, who is a real veteran of the league, and one of those guys you meet and you feel like you’ve known him forever. A real gentleman with a great sense of humor (and of course, one hell of a shooter). Thanks to everybody in the Falcons organization, and to Michael, Jimmy, and the other great photographers I met and chatted with on the sidelines. What a great day for a game! :)

I finally got a chance to process some of my images from last week’s game between the San Francisco, 49ers and the New York Giants. Anyway, I thought I share a few of my favorites from the shoot below (click on them for much larger views):

Above: I dig the sweat flying and the fact that the defender’s helmet is up so high his chin guard looks like it’s covering his eyes. 

I had dinner a few days before the game with sports photography legend Dave Black and his lovely wife Susan. During dinner I mentioned to Dave that I’d be shooting the game this weekend, and Dave said:

“Here’s what you need to do: put a 1.4 tele-extender on your 400mm f/2.8 and get a super tight shot of Eli Manning—so tight that you cut off the top of his helmet and part of the ball. I want to see his face and the reflection in his helmet. Start the game shooting this and don’t stop until you get it.”

Well, I took his advice and shot in tight on Manning (like the shot you see at the very top of this post) for the entire first quarter. I have a lot of tries that didn’t hit the mark, but I did catch this one. Thanks Dave! (I did the same thing with 49ers QB Alex Smith, as seen as the end of this post). :)

Camera Specs:
Pretty much the same as usual, but besides the 1.4 tele-extender, I did try a different lens on my second body; my 28-300mm f/2.5 to f/5.6. So why this one? Well, I wasn’t happy with the 24-70mm, because 70mm isn’t close enough most of the time, and 24mm is a little too wide, so I thought I’d try something different since this was a day game. I wouldn’t have tried this at night). My main lens was a 400mm f/2.8, and I shot at f/2.8 the whole time (of course, when I put the tele-extender on, it dropped the f/stop to f/4.

Above: This is one of my favorite shots from the game. The fact that later in the game part of the field went into shadows did make things a little tricky, but I switched my White Balance to Cloudy and that pretty much took care of the color shift.

Above: I know you can’t see the ball in this shot, but I loved Manning’s face in this shot.

Above: In the frame before this shot, the defensive tackle had his hands firmly on the running back’s face mask, but the shot just wasn’t as interesting. 

Above: This one’s taken with a 10.5mm fisheye, from down on one knee.

Above: That’s me posing with my 400mm f/2.8. Of course, it’s closer to the lens than my head, so it looks larger than life (photo by Vinny).

It truly was a blast to shoot the game—-absolutely perfect weather, two teams at the top of their game, and San Francisco enjoying their best season in years, and a stadium full of fans enjoying every minute of it. It doesn’t get much better. Thanks to 49ers Team Photographer Terrell Lloyd (A really great guy, who was really helpful and fun), and my personal thanks to Anne Cahill who is just too cool for everything she did.

One Last Thing…
Dave Black told me that once I shot with that 1.4 tele on the 400mm, that it would feel so tight, that when I removed it, the regular 400mm would actually feel loose. He was absolutely right. When I took it off, I felt like I was using a 200mm, and actually, that was a good thing. Thanks Dave—-once again, you were right.

 

I thought after yesterday’s “Hall of Shame” shots, I’d better post a few that didn’t feature shots of the goal post (as epic as those were). This was a late afternoon game, and with the rolling back of Daylight Savings Time, by the time kick-off came around the entire field was already covered in shade, and a hour or so later, it was starting to get dark and I had to crank up the ISO nearly right off the bat.

(Above: He just scored—why is he so angry at the ball?). ;-)

Finding Out After The Fact
It’s rare for me to shoot a late-afternoon game. Most of the games I shoot are at 1:15 or at night, so I wasn’t used to planning for the light to change to drastically, and I lost a lot of shots due to not watching my ISO as closely as I should have been. I had a number of shots with shutter speeds as low as 1/640 so a lot of images I had just didn’t make the cut —- of course, I didn’t realize this until it was too late. I did adjust and raised my ISO when I caught a glimpse of how low my shutter speed had fallen, but the shots I had taken like that had just enough movement to make them pretty unusable. If I had thought to turn on Auto ISO at the beginning of the game, I wouldn’t have had to even think about it again. Sigh.

Wait….Don’t Take My Cards!
Usually when I’m assignment, at halftime I race to the Photographer’s workroom (a luxurious well-appointed suite serving a champagne brunch. No wait…picture the exact opposite of that….and that’s what it looks like) to find 10 or 12 shots to upload to my wire service. I quickly choose which shots I want to send; then I can edit and crop if necessary in Photoshop. I always sharpen them, and then upload them to the server. Pretty standard stuff.

However, in this case, I was shooting for the Titans as part of Titans Team Photographer Donn Jones’s crew that cover each home game, so I’d be shooting on the field and toward the end of the quarter one of his editors would pop-up beside me on the field and ask me to surrender my card so they can pick the shots they need and do all the uploads. I was SO not used to that (I have done that during College Bowl Games, but I still got to make the final call on what got uploaded), so it did freak me out a little bit (and you needed to have lots of back-up cards handy), but by the third quarter, I’d see the editor coming and just I’d go run and hide near the Bengals bench. ;-)

(Above: Sharing his touchdown celebration with The Man upstairs! No, not the guy in the pressbox)

Working on things I need to fix
One thing I really need to work on is making the switch to my second body, with a wider lens, at the right time. When you’re shooting that 400mm, and the line of scrimmage is 30 or 40 yards away, the focal length is awesome, but if a receiver makes a catch and breaks for it down the sideline, all of a sudden he’s too close for you to focus on, but yet—-I still keep shooting. At least I did about three times where I absolutely, positively should have switched to my 2nd body, and that just drives me crazy. I missed some great opportunities that unfolded right in front of me, because I didn’t take my eye off  that 400mm. Uggh!

Another thing I caught myself doing yesterday was letting from framing creep up on me, to where I was composing shots with lots of grass below, and my players squashed up at the top of frame—sometimes even cutting them off. I didn’t realize I was doing that until I looked at some of the images on my LCD. I did adjust by moving my center focus point down, so I would have to reframe the shot with a little more headroom above the players and that helped, but I lost a whole series of shots due to me not really being aware of the problem like I should have been.

My wife thinks my problem was something entirely different
I called my wife after the game to tell her:

(a) How much fun I was having with Donn and his crew. For most of the games I shoot, it’s a pretty solitary experience, and the football photographers aren’t exactly what you’d call “Chatty.” But Donn and his crew were some of the nicest, most fun, down-to-earth guys you’d ever want to meet. They had me laughing the whole day (and afterward—more on that in a moment), and…

(b) How upset I was with how I shot the game. I really felt totally into it at the start, and that, along with perfect football weather, and an all access pass form Donn, and I really had high hopes that I would come back with some great shots, but I was just totally bummed. My wife joked that the reason I wasn’t in the photo zone, was that I was in the “Fun zone” with Donn and his buddies. She’s probably right. These guys were a riot, and they really made me feel at home, and totally like one of their crew.

The “Lame @#$ Tailgate Party” is anything but!
Since the team photographers have to be at the stadium four hours before game time, they don’t get to go to any tailgate parties, so it’s a tradition of Donn’s to have their own tailgate party for photographers, in the stadium parking lot, after the game, and after they’re done uploading and adding metatdata to their images (so it’s quite a while after the game). They call it the “Lame @#$ Tailgate Party” and they were kind enough to invite me to join them, and it was really a lot of fun (and the food was insane!). They were grilling out hot dogs, chili, sausage, and they had every football-related snack ever. They had music, games, and even a generator with lights so we weren’t wandering around in the dark. Hanging out with the guys was definitely one of the highlights of the whole trip (maybe my wife was right). ;-)

Anyway, here’s a few more shots from the game (they all look better bigger, so make sure you click on them for a larger view):

Good News/Bad News
We’re just coming back from halftime and I walk straight into my buddy, Atlanta-based sports photographer Paul Abell (former team photographers for the Bucs, and the Atlanta Braves baseball team), who was shooting the game for AP. Neither of us knew the other would be there, so it was really a treat seeing him and catching up. He’s taught me a lot about shooting sports, and he’s a terrific guy (and one hell of a shooter). That’s the good news. The bad news is: I was in the end zone and I saw Paul get hit by a receiver at the goal line in the third quarter. He popped right back up like nothing, so I figured he was OK, but I got a text from him a little later that he was really hurting, he was pretty dizzy, and had to leave the game early. We texted later that night, and he was feeling better, but he really took a whack, and was still sore from the hit. Here’s hoping Paul feels 100% soon.

There are worse ways to spend a day
Even though I made a lot of mistakes, I learned some things, too (plus I got to try out some new things I learned from taping that online class with Dave Black on Friday), so all in all, it was a really great day, and I got to meet some really great people, and see my buddy Paul to boot. My thanks to the amazing Donn Jones, and to Al, Will, Richard, Charles and the gang (also Mike, and Eric), who treated like I was family. You guys are the best, and I hope we get to shoot together again real soon (I promise to bring my “A” game!). :)

(Above: Richard got this shot of me with a 12-16 fisheye [cropped down here] right before kickoff. You know it’s before kick-off because I’m still smiling). ;-)

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