Category Archives Photography

If you’re at Photoshop World in Vegas, the book is being officially launched by Peachpit Press there and we have a limited number for sale at the official bookstore on the Expo floor.

It’s hitting other bookstores next week ( already has the Kindle version available now), and you can preorder the print version from, or Barnes &, or pick it up at your local bookstore in just a few days.

I know a lot of photographers are struggling with photo composition, and over the past year I’ve had dozens of people send me emails and comments asking when I was going to do a class on photo composition.

I actually had no plans to teach one. Ever.
But a few weeks ago, I came up with an idea about teaching photo composition that’s radically different from anything I’ve ever seen on the topic. My first thought was to write a book about it, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the way I plan to teach this, doesn’t require a whole book. In fact, it wouldn’t even make a good long chapter, because I think I can make people really, finally, and fully “get it” in just about an hour.

I think if it’s presented like I have imagined it in my mind, (and we dispense with all that “rule of thirds,” and “leading lines,” and all that stuff in every class ever taught on the topic), I could finally make that light bulb come on for the participants on such a level that from that day forward, their photography would be dramatically better. I could see the whole class in my mind, and exactly how I would present it, and I got really excited about the about the whole concept.

Here’s where you come in
Now I really wanted to teach this new class and have our video crew produce it as an online class for Kelby Training, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to present it to a live audience. A class like this needs a live audience, but I wanted to be to more intimate than when I present to 600 people in my seminar tours. I even know where and when I want to present it; I want to do it at night, under the stars, at an very cool outdoor amphitheater. I want candles and acoustic guitar music, and an atmosphere made for a night of creativity and learning.

Well, that’s exactly what we have planned, and you’re invited to be there in person for this very special evening, that I hope will change the way you create images, and at the same time will benefit the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya.

Here are the details:

When: Tuesday evening, September 13, 2011 from 8:00 pm to 9:00-ish

Where: The Amphitheater at Curtis Hixon Park in Downtown Tampa, on the Hillsborough River

Cost: A $10 donation; all of which goes directly to the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya

Sign Up: At this link right here.

We only have seating for 150 people at the amphitheater, and the seats will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis (and of course, all of this is weather permitting, since it’s an outdoor event).

I think this is going to be a very fun, unique, and informative night, and if you can make it, you’ll see and hear some concepts, ideas, and techniques that I’ve never seen anyone talking about anywhere. If you can’t make it that night, that evening’s presentation will become an online class on, but probably not until after the first of the year (we have a huge backlog of classes already taped for this year).

This could be your night
If you’ve ever struggled with photo composition, this could be the night where you totally “get it”—one filled with smiles, nods, and “ah-ha” moments that can help you create the type of photos you’ve always wanted to make. The shots that you know are in you, but you just need the key to unlock them. I think I can give you that, and I hope I’ll meet you in person that very night to put a key in your hand. See you there.

The phone rings on Thursday and it’s my buddy, and sports photography legend Dave Black, asking me if I want to fly up to Allentown, Pennsylvania to meet him and shoot the start of something new in Gymnastics, called “Evolution.” It’s an all-tricks competition staged like a rock concert—featuring a group of gymnastic world champions and Olympic athletes many of which competed at the Beijing Olympics and some are part will be part of the US team for the 2012 Olympics. (Just for the record, he had me at “This is Dave Black…”)

This was my first time shooting a gymnastics event, and I have to tell you—it was very challenging. Luckily, Dave was a HUGE help the entire night, and I learned just a ton from him and that made all the difference in the world. I don’t think I got a single decent shot for the first 30-minutes—it took me that long to get the hang of shooting under that lighting, and getting the pacing and focus down. Again, Dave was a big help with both (he’s been shooting gymnastics for 30 years, and was a former gymnast and teach coach himself).

As challenging as it was—I absolutely loved shooting it!!! Of course, now I want to go back and shoot it all over again, because now I can see all the things I’d like to do differently next time (i. e. shots where I should have been in tight, and others where I should have gone really wide. I can see different angles, and different types of composition, and so on).

An Evolution for Gymnastics
The Evolution event itself was pretty groundbreaking for a gymnastics event (link), because it just focused on the tricks (which was why it was so cool to shoot from a photography stand point), and it kind of reminded me (in a good way) of how medal-winning ice skating Olympians wind up touring with Ice Skating show, which mix music and stage lighting, and effects—-and it’s more of a show than a competition. However, Evolution kept the competition aspect, but just focused on the fun stuff (tricks), and added the lights, music, and effects, and the crowd on hand seemed to totally eat it up. They were cheering and chanting, and they were totally into it from the very start.

Photographic advantages over a regular competition
At regular gymnastic competitions, including the Olympics, there are multiple events going on simultaneously, all within just feet of each others, and Dave talked about the challenges of busy backgrounds, filled with judges, referees, other athletes, and other apparatuses as well. Here, it was just one event at time, and just one gymnast on stage at one time, so it was an event just about made for photography.

Camera Specs
Dave did a lot of the leg work for me (he was literally texting me settings, including white balance Kelvin) from the dress rehearsal on Friday). I shot in Manual Mode the entire time (I started shooting wide open in Aperture Priority, but the camera was over-exposing the arena, so shooting in Manual with a high shutter speed let the arena pretty much fall to black).

I shot at 4,000 ISO all night long. Had to in that light. I also shot wide open all night, at f/2.8 on my 24-70mm and f/4 on my 200-400mm f/4 lens (I used two bodies: A Nikon D3, and D3s). My shutter speed was between 1,600 and 2,000 all night, depending on the light. Again, you needed to shoot at such high shutter speeds to keep the arena going dark, and to freeze motion, but that was a higher shutter than needed just to freeze motion.

The white balance was a nightmare, because the lights were constantly changing color, so while I’d normally shoot in JPEG for a sporting event like this, I shot in Raw instead, so I could fix the white balance later. I went with 3,200k for the night (on Dave’s advice), and as it turned it, it was pretty good most of the time (that Dave guy is either really good, or really lucky). ;-)

I’m Waiting Here In Allentown
Hurricane Irene was in town, too so my 6:00 am flight on Sunday got cancelled. So did my 12:30pm flight, and my 5:30 pm flight. So, today I’m driving to NYC to fly out of JFK direct home to Tampa. At least, that’s the plan. Hope I’m home by the time you read this (and I’m hoping you’re reading this on Monday). ;-)

Dave is…well…Dave is amazing!
I’ve always wanted to shoot gymnastics, and it was even better than I thought it would be. The athletes are just truly spectacular, and what they do is superhuman. However, the reason I went all the way to Allentown during a hurricane, knowing I would probably get stuck there for a few days, is because of Dave Black. I probably learned more in that one night, that I would have learned on my own in years of shooting competitions like that. Dave was a wealth of information, and really had me thinking about angles, about composition, about timing, and even about things like focus, camera settings, and the nuts and bolts of it all.

Besides what he taught me about shooting, Dave is just a joy to be around. Not just to me. To everyone he meets. He has a beaming smile. A spring in his step. And a love of life that he passes on to everyone he meets. Everybody there loved him. He’s been there for days, working with the athletes doing portrait shoots, marketing shots, and all sorts of things surrounding the event. The AV crew knew him. They loved him. The athletes knew him. They loved him. He has a smile for everybody he meets. He’s about much more than photography.

I’m indebted to him for the opportunity. For the help. For even thinking of me in the first place. I have a lot to learn about shooting gymnastics. It’s hard work, and like anything in photography the only way to get good at it is to practice, and that’s exactly what I intend to do (Between football games, of course). :)

Thanks to the great folks at Evolution for allowing me to shoot their event. Everyone I met from their organization was incredibly friendly and very accommodating. My thanks to Dave Black, for a night I’ll never forget, and thanks to my readers for letting me share a few shots from my first time shooting gymnastics.

At every seminar we do, at the end of the day we ask the participants to fill out an evaluation form, to let us know how we did, but most importantly what we can do to make the day even better. I know those eval forms are a pain in the butt to fill out, but after the seminar I personally read every single one of them. I want to find out what’s resonating with the participants, what they want more of, what they want less of, and what I can add or take away that would make the day better.

I take this stuff really seriously
In fact, there are four things I changed, tweaked and added in Orlando, Cologne, and Amsterdam that came directly from the eval forms from my seminars in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. In fact, I shot a special on location video for my seminar just to be able to add more about shooting with off-camera hot-shoe flash. I also added a product shoot to the day, and I adjusted the amount of time, and type of retouching I’m doing in the sessions—all based on their feedback.

What I learned in Germany and Holland
As I mentioned yesterday, I know people are struggling with light meters, and I’m going to try to find a way to incorporate enough about using a flash meter in the day to at least clear some of the fog and confusion—even just a bit (including a great tip from Frank Doorhof’s presentation in Amsterdam). I’m also going to post a short demo-video they can watch afterward to help them get up and running from scratch. Hey, it’s a start.

The Whole “Lightroom vs Bridge” thing
Matt Kloskowski and I wound up doing something earlier this year to help our seminar participants with the confusion a lot of them are experiencing because they have the Bridge and Camera Raw, so they figure they don’t need Lightroom. We did this in response to question after question about this at our seminars, and so we create one hundred 60-second or less short video clips called “100 ways Lightroom kicks the Bridge’s A$$!” Even though it was made for our seminar attendees, you can watch it right here.

Overthinking and Making the Hidden Stuff More Discoverable
Yesterday, in Part One, I mentioned how a lot of folks seemed to be overthinking all this lighting and Photoshop stuff, and some stuff they want to do is already there—-in Photoshop and Lightroom—it’s just hidden beneath the surface. To that end, I’m going to step-up my crusade to make all this stuff more accessible, more fun and just plain easier. I want to be the guy that lifts the veil from some of this hidden stuff, and I really want to make learning Photoshop and Lightroom less of a mystery and more of pleasure.

I wasn’t judging—I was just reporting
Yesterday I mentioned that nobody ever asks about Creativity, or Composition, or Art, or any of those types of things at the seminars—it’s all pretty much questions about watt power, sync speeds, Photoshop techniques, and stuff like that. More technical stuff. I wasn’t judging—I was just reporting on that fact.

That being said, I’m working on a new project about Photo Composition
Although I don’t get asked a lot about composition in my live seminars, I know from emails and comments that a lot of photographers out there are struggling with it, and recently I had kind of an epiphany about teaching the art of photographic composition (and why every book on the topic teaches it pretty much the same way it has always been taught—-rule of thirds, leading lines, and so on). However, I think I’ve come up with a brand new way of teaching photo composition that I’ve never seen anyone teach ever, and I think has a chance to help photographers in a really impactful and groundbreaking way.

I’m going to start this project by inviting about 150 photographers to join me one evening, in a beautiful outdoor amphitheater in Tampa, Florida, as I present this one-hour class on composition (which will also be taped for Kelby Training Online). More on this as we lock down a date, but it’s the very next class I want to produce, and I’m really excited about it.

I need your feedback
I’m heading down to Miami with my tour next Monday, and then to Denver, Portland, Los Angeles, and Philly—-all in September. If you come out to join me for any of those days, you’ll benefit from all the people who filled out evaluation forms at all the seminars prior to that. But that’s the great part of doing an on-going tour—you get to tweak and improve it as you go. If you do come out, take an extra minute and let me know what’s working and what you want added, so the tour can continue to evolve and grow.

I don’t have all the answers
I don’t have half of them. But I really want to help, and I’ll do everything I can to help you get the most out of your photography, out of lighting, Photoshop, Lightroom, and just enjoying all of these awesome tools we get to use today. Thanks everybody. Your comments on those eval forms, and here on the blog, truly do make a difference.

When I was in San Francisco a few weeks back teaching during the grand opening of Adobe’s “Photoshop & You” pop-up store (link), I did something I hadn’t done before— an in-depth interview in front of a live studio audience (that surely took the pressure up a big notch).

The interview was for Ibarionex Perello’s “The Candid Frame” podcast (that Ibarionex above right), and I have to say, he asked me some of the most intriguing, thought-provoking questions I’ve ever been asked. I’ve already seen comments where some people are calling it my best interview ever, and if it is, it’s because Ibarionex asked some really compelling questions—ones that really made me reflect and my photography and my career.

He was incredibly engaging and thoughtful in his questions, and it was one of the most enjoyable, and never-wracking interviews I’ve even been in. If you’ve got a chance, I hope you can give it a listen.