Category Archives Photography

Hey everyone, Matt Kloskowski here again. Thanks once again to Scott, for giving me his blog for the day. I’ve had a topic I’ve been wanting to write about for a while, so here goes: How Photoshop changed my Photography. It’s not what you think though. I’ve heard plenty of stories of how Photoshop is a game changer because of the ways that we can now enhance our photos so quickly. We can make blue skies bluer, green grass greener, remove blemishes, clone out wires, etc… But my photography-life-changing experience is a little different.

I Started with Landscape and Travel Photography
See, I started with landscape and travel photography. That was my favorite. Landscape and travel is what got me excited about taking my camera out of my bag. I sound like a total dork, but I’d have a hard time sleeping the night before I was going someplace cool to shoot. I steadily picked off some must-see places that I had always wanted to photograph. To this day, I still love landscapes. They don’t talk back, I love the peaceful feeling I get when I’m standing in front of a beautiful place like Mesa Arch, Moraine Lake, or Multnomah Falls and soaking it all in.

While teaching in Dubai, I spent some time at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Words can’t describe what a beautiful, pristine, quiet and inspiring place this was to photograph.

Switching to Portraits
I slowly started to make the move to portraits. A friend asked if I’d take some photos of his family. Then a friend of his friend asked the same thing when they saw the photos. And it grew. Before long, I found myself shooting a number of family portraits. To this day, I still love to capture family moments.

I also found I really enjoyed it. Especially when kids were involved. The kid in me really liked the challenge of getting them to smile and laugh. And I guess (because of the age that I must act), I really seemed to make a connection with the kids I was photographing :-) That eventually led to me doing some studio and lighting work too. But something was missing for me. Believe it or not, it was the art of post processing. I’m a Photoshop Guy and I’ve chosen this as my career because that’s what I love to do. I realized that the deeper I got into portrait photography (while artistic in it’s own way), the further away I got from being artistic with Photoshop.

Something Changed
A couple of years ago I saw a cool ad for Mountain Dew. It incorporated a skateboarder with motion graphics. I thought it looked so cool so I sat down one night and created this composite. I was hooked.

It hit me like a bag of bricks. Bam! I immediately realized, compositing is what I want to do more of. But that was just the beginning. I knew right away that this would change the Photoshop side of my life. But what I didn’t realize, is how it would change the photography side of my life.

Will You Get to the “How” Already?!
See, as I got more and more into compositing, the entire world became fair game for compositing/photography opportunities. The more Photoshop work I did, the more I realized that sure, I can create smoke in Photoshop, but it never looks as real as the real thing. Not to mention, it’s too time consuming. So I’d rather shoot a photo of smoke and drop it in. Sure, I can create dramatic clouds in Photoshop with brushes and filters and all, but it’s much easier to photograph dramatic clouds. Then I simply make a “Clouds” folder and put those photos in it, so I can find them when I need ’em.

Take Your Camera Everywhere!
I’ve often heard people say this. Honestly though, I was a total light snob. If the light wasn’t great, if I wasn’t in a studio, or if there wasn’t some kick ass scenery right in front of me, I didn’t bring my camera. I was so used to only pulling out my camera for beautiful landscapes or in the studio, that I let everything else pass me by. But now, anything is fair game. Alleys, fences, brick walls, empty parking garages, city skylines on bla hazy overcast days, garage doors, dogs, water fountains (because you never know when you need water coming out of a water gun), you name it.

Heck, I even take photos of cracks in the street because you never know where you’ll use them :)

My artistic side in Photoshop has caused a place for an entirely new world of photography opportunities to open up to me. I’d never put my tripod down in the middle of a tunnel to take a photo. I mean, why? It’s only a tunnel right? And it wasn’t even a good looking one to begin with. But when you add a motorcycle (that was lit in only the way you could light it in the studio) to the tunnel, now we’ve got something.

Now I get to put my passion for photography, my desire to create something, and my passion for Photoshop together. Not just sharpening and color correction. But really sitting down and being artistic, as I put a composite together. The light sources, the shadows, special effects, all that stuff. Things that we need to know about in photography I can now work with in Photoshop too. I love it!

So, have I stopped shooting landscapes?
Absolutely not! I still love shooting travel and landscape photos. In fact, if you walk through my house, that’s what I have on my walls. Personally, no matter what composites I create, no matter what portraits I’ve taken and no matter how much I may like the lighting on on one of my subjects, I’d have a hard time putting a photo of a person (who’s not closely related to me) on my walls at home. That’s just me though. But if it’s on my wall, it is either a spectacular place I’ve visited or a photo of my family. So landscapes will always hold a close place in my photography portfolio. But now, because of Photoshop, my camera gets used so much more.

Thanks again to Scott and everyone here for giving me a few minutes of your time today. I’m so passionate about this stuff that I actually just wrote a book called Photoshop Compositing Secrets (Amazon (link) | Barnes & Noble (link) | Kelby Training (link)). If any of this stuff sounds interesting to you, I hope you’ll check it out. Have a great weekend! :)

The Vincent Versace Award for Digital Photographic Excellence (often referred to as “The Vinnie”), is a special award within the photo category of the Photoshop World Guru Awards (the Gurus competition is sponsored by B&H Photo, and is open to all Photoshop World full conference attendees, and entry to the Guru Award competition is free for registered attendees).

The idea behind “The Vinny” prize package is that it provides the winner with all these incredible tools (provided by the Vinny sponsors) as a way to remove as many of the barriers of creativity as technology can, so there are no obstacles standing in the way of the artist. The award winner is chosen by Vincent himself from all the entries in the Photography category.

Here’s the prize list (to be awarded during the Photoshop World opening keynote September 7th in Las Vegas):

– Signed 24×30 print from Vincent Versace (shown above)
– An Epson R3000 printer
– Adobe Photoshop CS5
– Wacom Intous tablet
– All the plug-ins
– All the OnOne Software plug-ins
– Westcott 5 in 1 reflector
– A Lowe Pro Slingshot camera bag
– Lexar Compact Flash Cards
– Tuition to the Maine Media Workshops workshop (not including transportation, food & housing)
– A Hoodman Loupe
– An Enduro Tripod
– X-Rite i1Display Pro and ColorChecker Passport
– 13×19 Pina Zangaro portfolio
– A signed copy of Vincent’s new book “Welcome to Oz 2.0”
– One year subscription to KelbyTraining Online
– All of Acme Educational’s DVD tutorials
– All the lint in Vincent’s pocket
– Some cash (not much)
– Some Vegemite (too much)

If you’re going to Photoshop World in Vegas, here’s where you go for more details or to enter your work in the competition. Our thanks to Vincent for arranging such an amazing list of tools for the award winner.

That’s right, baby! I’m going from up north to way down south, as my “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it” live seminar tour comes to Orlando, Florida. Here’s the info:

  • Who: Me.
  • When: Friday, August 5th, 2011
  • Where: The Orange County Convention Center
  • Why: Why not? You’re 100% guaranteed to love it, or your money back.

It’s only $99 for the full-day workshop (Just $79 if you’re a NAPP member), and it comes with a detailed step-by-step workbook that follows right along with what I’m teaching during the day. It’s gonna be an awesome day of learning and fun, and I hope you’re there to be a part of it. See you in Orlando! (here’s the link).

Hi Gang: Had lots of great comments and questions after yesterday’s post about; the photo sharing site for pro photographers (well, at least it’s the one being embraced by the pro photography community these days).

First, I guess I’m late to the party, because I learned shortly after the post that isn’t a brand new site—I hadn’t heard of it before (I first heard about it from my buddy RC Concepcion), but the buzz surrounding it was so big I figured it had to be new, but alas, I was wrong (my apologies to the owners of

Speaking of the owners….
I thought it was really cool that the guys behind were answering questions one-on-one here on the blog yesterday (I got to meet them briefly at my Toronto seminar last week. I didn’t realize they were based up there until I saw a Tweet that they were coming to my seminar. Really great guys, and they’re doing something really cool). Anyway, I’m grateful to Andrey Thchilin from for fielding so many questions from my readers.

More on Ratings
There’s a great article pointed out yesterday by Andrey with how the ratings system works, and if you’re on the site, you’ll find this really helpful. Here’s the link.

Just in case the owners are listening….
I thought I’d mention five things that I think would totally take their site up a big notch. I say this because I’ve seen a number of people commenting on how quickly they’ve responded to ideas from their users, with new features and enhancements being added all the time, so I was hoping I might toss out a few here and see if any of them stick. Here’s what I’d love to see:

(1) Let Me Choose The Sorting order on my main page
Not the portfolio page, but your personal page (shown above). It appears as though the photos on this page appear in the order you uploaded them, and I’ll be darned if I can find a way to reorder them without reuploading them. I love the way this page looks (with one exception below)—perhaps even more than how the portfolio page looks, so being able to customize this would be awesome.

(2) I would like the option of hiding the left side bar
So it looks like what you see above. Just lots of nice large thumbnails. Mmmmm. Large thumbnails. This would look awesome on an iPad.

(3) Keeping Pro Quality Images Up There
I know the idea behind is that you’re only supposed to upload images you would put in your portfolio, and theoretically if everyone abides by that, it will help keep the quality level high and the amount uploaded low. That being said, if they want to keep this from eventually turning into flickr 2.0 (and I saw a number of comments that fear exactly that), I think someone (or a group of editors) are going to have to be the “gatekeepers” to keep people from uploading snapshots and lowering the overall quality. I know this opens up a Pandora’s box of “Why did my photo get turned down?” and so on, but if someone doesn’t set a bar somewhere, we could wind up in flickrland before you know it.

(4) The search function needs some work
My buddy Matt Kloskowski had a account before I did, but I’ll be darned if using their search let me find him. I can’t. Period. I even know the exact name of a couple of his images, and I still couldn’t find him. I couldn’t find me either using the search. Couldn’t find RC either. In fact, I can’t find anyone in particular unless I see one of their images in the Popular, Upcoming, Editor’s Choice, or Fresh categories. Maybe I’m using it wrong, but if you type in Matt Kloskowski, (as shown above) or RC Concepcion, or the name of one of Matt’s images; “Mesa Arch at Dawn” none of those come up.

(5) Make it easier to get to a photographer’s Portfolio
Let’s say I find an interesting image in the Upcoming Category gallery, and I click on the thumbnail to see the larger view (shown above). Let’s say I like it enough that I want to see this users’s whole portfolio. There’s really no way to get there from here (at least, I couldn’t find a way), without first clicking on the photographer’s name, going to his main page, and then clicking the “View Portfolio” button in the upper right corner. Also, if you click on the image on this page, you get a smaller pop-up version of the same image. It seems like it should take you to the next image in the gallery—-nobody wants to see a slightly smaller version of what they’re already looking at. But hey, it could just be me.

> Don’t just look at the Editor’s Choice and Popular Categories
Yesterday I mentioned looking at those two categories, but also make sure you check out Upcoming, because these are the ones that will most likely be in the Popular category soon. Also, the Fresh category is where you go to see the new stuff. Both very interesting and inspiring.

> A Lightroom Uploading plug-in is apparently in the works
RC posted this as a comment yesterday, and that’s good enough for me. (Yay—it won’t be long now!). :)

> Don’t do what I did
I was most interested in using as a portfolio site, so I uploaded a hundred or so photos (20 photos each in six categories; sports, people, travel and so on). After reading how they do their ranking, those photos will soon be buried in the rankings, so you’re better off to upload a handful, and then add to them if your goal is to have your images seen by others in the community.

> Dig This: NAPP members get $10 off an Upgraded Account
I didn’t know about this until late yesterday, but apparently there is a discount for the premium upgraded account if you’re a member. Visit the NAPP member’s Website for the discount code to enter during checkout (hey, it saves $10. Not too shabby!).

> All in All, I Still Think It’s The Best Thing Out There
I’m excited about what’s happening over at, and I read a comment on another blog (I wish I could remember which one to give proper credit) but it said something along the lines of “ will be able to add the few advantages flickr has a lot faster than flickr will ever be able to bring what already has)—of course, I’m paraphrasing, but I agree. I believe you’ll see tweaks and improvements coming very quickly at, and if flickr does one day realize that they’re layout is…well…ahem….let’s say “less than optimal” for pro photographers, it’ll already be too late—the pros will have already gone.

If you haven’t tried out yet, here’s the link (the basic account is free, and you can have your images up there…well….now). Thanks to everybody who commented yesterday and really added to the discussion.

Two or three weeks ago, I started getting emails and reading articles about a new photo-sharing site for pro photographers called, and after a dozen or so people sent me emails asking if I was on there, I finally signed up to see what all the fuss is about, and now that I’m on there, I’m really glad I did. (Above is how your personal photo page looks on an iPhone, and when you click on a thumbnail, you see the larger view shown on the iPad).

A free online portfoli0? I’m listening….
For those of you that follow this blog, you know I’ve been struggling for the past year in getting an online portfolio that looks decent on the Web and on mobile devices like the iPad and iPhone, and with RC’s help, I finally got one in place. The only downside is; I have to edit the Web page itself, using a text editor, which makes adding or rearranging photos a bit of a pain. I guess that’s the first thing interested me in 500px—-you get a free, good looking online portfolio that you can link from your web page/blog/whatever, with different layouts to choose from (that’s one layout shown below), and updating it with new images, or changing the order, is a no-brainer—you do it right from your Web browser.

The Social Aspects
I’ve always joked that “flicker is where you go when you need a hug” because anybody and everybody is on flickr, so when you post a photo you took accidentally while loading your camera back into your camera bag, you’ll get 50 comments like, “Brilliant! Incredible composition” and “Fantastic shot! Keep ’em coming!” and stuff along those lines. So, if you’re ever feeling down about your photography, upload a shot or two to, and 30 minutes later you’ll feel like Ansel Adams. So, another angle that interested me is that the site is geared more at pros (well, that’s at least what it has appeared to attract so far), and there are a lot of truly great photographers on that (like flickr), but unlike flickr the quality overall seems really high.

(Above: here’s another theme. Just one click to change themes, and they have about 10 or so to choose from).

Getting Feedback from Serious Photographers
The way the site produces statistics, it’s easy to measure which photos are resounding with other pro photographers, and which images are getting totally ignored, and that’s pretty eyeopening. They rank images in a way that makes everything pretty darn clear, and it had me weeding things down in short order, and removing shots altogether that weren’t getting any views.

(Above: Here’s the theme I’m probably going to stick with, which is their default scheme. Again, you’re seeing this on my iPad, but it looks even better on your computer screen).

How it looks matters
I think one of the main reasons why 500px is getting so much buzz right now, is that it looks so cool. You can choose different layouts with just one click, the images are presented at a large size, and when you compare the look of your page to either flickr, facebook, or the new Google+, I think 500px has them beat hands down, and as photographers, how our portfolio layout looks matters to us. A lot.

Best of all, it’s free
Although I went ahead and got the Upgraded account (with more features, and no limits on the number of photos you can upload) for $50 a year, you can start right away for free (here’s their link). If nothing else, head over there and look at some of their popular photos, or Editor’s Choice collection. There’s some really inspiring stuff there. You’ll dig it.

W0w—-what a day!!!! We had a crowd of over 520 photographers at my seminar on Wednesday in Toronto, and at that we still had to turn away more than 100 photographers because we were sold out in advance. As I write this, it’s my birthday, so I’m going to keep this kinda short, so I can get back to birthdaying. ;-)

I Love Canada!
I have to say, I knew Canadians were friendly people, but this was just over-the-top! Everybody I met could not have been more gracious, helpful, and just downright nice. It started at the airport when I got to the Air Canada ticket counter and realized I had forgotten my passport. As my wife raced from the office, back to our house, and then to the airport in record time, everyone at Air Canada could not have been more friendly or helpful. I nearly missed the flight out, but they did everything to make sure that I did make it, and I’m very grateful.

One of The Best. Ever!
This was, hands down, one of the most enjoyable seminars for me as an instructor because the crowd was just so much fun, and so into it all day. I met so many great people on the breaks and at lunch, and I’m very grateful for the wonderful hospitality of the Canadian people. I can’t wait to take this tour to Calgary and Vancouver, Canada in just a couple of weeks. Canada rocks!

Also, the photos you see here are courtesy of none other than Mr. Terry White, who came for the day accompanying Amanda (shown above), a new up-and-coming fashion model along with her teriffic Makeup Artist Renata. Amanda was our model for the afternoon sessions, and she did a really outstanding job.

All-in-all, it was really a wonderful trip, and although I literally just barely made my flight home and had to sprint all the way to the plane, we actually made it and I got to spend my birthday today at home with my wife and family which was just so wonderful.

Thanks to everyone who made this trip such a great experience, from the folks at Air Canada to everyone who came to the seminar. See you again soon!