Category Archives Photography

Hi Gang: I had a lot of folks asking about how I create those photo book layouts that I showed here on the blo from my trips to Denmark, and more recently London. I start in Lightroom, and then I use Apple’s iPhoto software for the actual book layouts. So, I made a short video (above) that shows you how it works, and it gives you some tips on how to layout the photos themselves, no matter which program you’re using.

Also, I mention in the video two links to videos I did in 2008 that show how to do similar things in Lightroom 2 (link), and Photoshop CS4 (link). Hope this helps. :)

My Light it, Shoot it, Retouch It Tour is in New York City on Thursday, with around 900 or so photographers who will be there and I want you to be there too!!!

It’s not to late if you want to snag one of the remaining seats. It’s only $99 for the full day, including a detailed step-by-step workbook that follows right along with what I’m doing all day, plus some other goodies I can’t tell you about until the workshop (by the way, it’s only $79 if you’re an NAPP member, so you gotta go!).

It’ll be a blast, plus you have no risk at all, because we have a 100% money-back guarantee if it’s not the best seminar of its kind you’ve ever attended, at any price, period! What do you have to lose? Don’t just read about it on my blog on Friday—come on down to the Javits center and be a part of it. Here’s the event details. I hope you can make it (and if you come, make sure you come up and say hi).

See you there! :)

P.S. I did a short video clip about the seminar–you can watch it right here.

Well, it just happened to me. When I ran a blog post about my trip to London, buried on those pages was my personal favorite shot from the trip (well, if you don’t count my silly vacation-type photos of us all goofing off), was a photo I took of the London Eye (shown above—click on it for a much larger view).

What caught my eye about the shot was the fact that there was one red capsule (the whole “a pattern is good, but a pattern interrupted is better” which I believe originally came from Jay Maisel). Also, I love how you can see the forms of individual people in the capsules when you crop in tight (or show the image at a large size). Anyway, it still wasn’t my favorite shot until something happened by accident in post processing.

When I took the shot (above), the sky behind it was kinda light gray and non-descript, and a little under-exposed as well (which didn’t help) so I started to brighten the Exposure in Lightroom to see if the red car stood out more (and if the shot was even worth keeping), and when I did the sky turned almost white. I knew right then I was onto something.

Over to Photoshop for Finishing
Once I got it in Photoshop, I added some contrast to the cars to help them stand out more, then I duplicated the layer and changed the Layer Blend mode to Screen to make the sky even whiter. Of course, this made the capsules light again, too, so I added a layer mask to this layer, then painted over the cars in black again to mask away the brighter version from this Screen layer. I did this a few times (making the sky whiter, and the masking away the cars) until it looks like what you see at the top (though I did add more contrast to the cars, and an strong Unsharp Mask, too).

I showed my buddy Dave Moser (BTW: Happy Birthday Dave) the image, full screen size, and he absolutely loved it (and he’s a tough critic when it comes to photos), so I was a bit relieved that I wasn’t the only one who liked it. Although it was the red capsule that brought me to the photo, I think what makes it unique is that you rarely see the London Eye on solid white like this (well, at least I hadn’t anyway).

I’m Not Sure It Deserved Its Own Blog Post, But….
I wanted to show it here today, since it kind of got lost in my London photo book, and although I know the post production on it won’t be for everybody, at least I got to show it larger, and show how it the post was done.

Man, did I have an awesome week!!!! My wife and I snuck away to London for a quick 5-day vacation with some dear friends of ours, (Alan and Marcia Gassman), but the main reason for the trip was to fulfill one of Alan’s lifelong dreams—to see Eric Clapton perform at the Royal Albert Hall), which we did on Monday night.

Of course, Clapton totally rocked!!! (and the acoustically perfect Royal Albert Hall may be the best place to see a concert ever!). Great show, we had great seats, and Alan is still glowing to this day. Anyway, I thought I’d share a few stories, along with some images from the photo book I created using Apple’s iPhoto about the trip. This is a new template I’ve never used before, and I kinda like it.

During the week, I spent a lot of time shooting the four of us just being tourists around London (including a day at the British Museum—my first time there—amazing place!), so although I’ve got about 45 photos of us in the back of various London cabs, the weather was so beautiful we did an awful lot of walking, too. We took a train to Oxford for a day trip that was just beautiful, and I got to eat at one of my favorite spots (Gourmet Burger Kitchen, where my buddies took me last year), which was super-yummy.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting to see the final day of a Sony-sponsored photographic exhibit by the World Photography Organization at Sommerset House museum, right next to our hotel. It showcased the winners of their annual competition WPO, and it was quite a large show (taking up two floors), and there were some really incredible images on display.

Core Blimey! Meetin’ Up With A Coupla Proper English Chappies! ;-)

Of course, I couldn’t go to London with hanging out with a few of my buddies, so one day my wife and Marcia went off shopping at Harrod’s (where she bought me a new super-small Tamrac travel camera bag), and I went off shooting with my two top chaps: Dave Clayton and Glyn Dewis. Now, you may remember last year my story about going shooting with these two English Beefeaters (the day before my London seminar), in some of the grayest, wettest, chilliest weather London could stir up (which led to Dave earning the nickname “The Earl of Gray” and Glyn being referred to as the “The Duke of Cloudyshire.”), but they totally redeemed themselves this time by ordering up five of the most beautiful blue-sky, sunny, and warm days I’ve spent in London.

(Above: L: that’s me tell Glyn I caught a fish “this big!” and the three amigos, Dave, me and Glyn on the right–photo by Chanel Fusco).

A Portrait Shoot I Wasn’t Planning On
Our first night in Swingin’ London, we went to Convent Gardens (it wasn’t far from Buckingham Place, where we were staying as guests of Her Majesty the Queen. Not really—I just wanted to see if you were still playing attention). Anyway, it was a short walk from our hotel, and we ate outside at this great cafe called “Fuel” around dusk, and while we were waiting for our food to arrive, a street performer was setting up to do a short acrobatic show right nearby, and so I strolled over with my camera and took a few shots as he was warming up the crowd.

He was hilarious (very personable), and a really polished performer, and after I took a couple of shots, I looked on my LCD and thought, “Man, this guy has a really interesting look.” He had piercings and a huge tattoo down one arm, and a mohawk. I’ve got to shoot this guy!

So, after his performance (which ended up with him assembling then free-climbing a 15-foot high pole and doing a one-handed handstand on top), I introduced myself as a photographer from America, and I told him I thought he would make a great subject for a portrait shoot. He gave me his business card (which didn’t even have his name—only his Web address), and he said to send him an email with what I had in mind (he seemed like a really nice guy in the short chat I had with him, so I was hopeful we’d be able to set something up for Wednesday afternoon, which was when I was going to shoot with Dave and Glyn.

I dropped him a note the next day, and the shoot was on. Neither Dave nor Glyn live in London, and I didn’t have time to do any location scouting, so I asked Dave and Glyn if they knew anybody with a daylight studio in central London (since I didn’t bring any lights). Dave thought me might have a connection, and as luck would have it, the studio owner he knew had a number of my books, and they gave us a smoking deal on a rental studio, with lighting! It was perfect!!! (in fact, we had three studios to choose from and Elinchrom lighting. I was jazzed). The studio, right near London’s Tower Bridge, was called (wait for it…wait for it…) “Tower Bridge Studios.” Awesome place, and they were wonderful to work with (highly recommended—here’s their link).

The shoot
Our subject, acrobatic performer Reuben Kuan (originally from Melbourne, Australia), arrived right on time (skateboard in hand) for the shoot, and we got to spend a few minutes getting to know him. Really terrific guy (here’s his Website), with a great sense of humor, and fascinating stories. He was really patient during the shoot, and we had lot of laughs along the way. Since we were mostly shooting using the natural light from the frosted glass windows, we could all shoot simultaneously, which was really ideal.

I wanted to do a few really dramatic shots on a black background, so I took two Elinchrom strip banks and put them on either side of Reuben, aiming right at each other with Reuben in the middle. I went with just those two side lights—-with no front or fill light at all, so there would be lots of shadows (we actually tried a beauty dish up front, but I thought it looked more dramatic without it).

We shot with Reuben for about an hour and a half, and we spent a lot of the time just talking with him between shots, and hearing stories of his life so far (he’s done everything from teaching elementary school to IT work and performing with a circus). Really fascinating!

Our 2nd Subject
Once we got to the studio, Glyn told me he had arranged to have a second subject for later in the afternoon, the wonderful Chanel Fusco, a London-based singer and recording artist, who he had previously done some promo shots for. First, we got to listen to her album during the shoot (her style is R&B and her music was fantastic—-here’s a link to her album “Sad Goodbyes” on iTunes. You gotta give her a listen). I kept having to ask her, “Is that you? Really! Wow!” She wrote the songs as well, and the production on the album is top notch. Great band, great recording, and really catching, interesting songs, too!

We shot using only natural light the entire time with Chanel, but we did use a reflector from time to time to bounce a little light back into her face—especially when she was backlit. Although she wasn’t a professional model, she was a natural, and the camera loved her, so it made the whole shoot very fun and having Dave and Glyn there kept us all laughing the whole time. By the way: The full page photo of Chanel on right page above, where she is surrounded by lighting gear and a fan, is totally staged. The lights were turned on—they’re just props. I thought as a recording artist, it would be cool for her to have a photo where she’s shown in the midst of a studio photo shoot.

Off to the Pub

After the shoot we walked over to a local pub, where Dave and Glyn teased me for ordering a Diet Coke, and we told stories ‘till dinner time. We headed crosstown to an Ethiopian restaurant that was recommended to us, and we met up with our other buddy Ed Davis (four time Guru Award winner, and photographer teacher at a University just outside London), and we joined up with my wife, Alan and Marcia. We stayed there laughing and talking until we closed the place (which was bad, but we had to leave for the airport at 6:00 am the following day, but we figured we could sleep on the plane, and we did).

Dave and Glyn are Gray No More
The weather was so great, and that coupled with the fact that Dave was able to score a fantastic studio at an amazing price, and Glyn came through with Chanel to shoot, well….I have to finally let these two lads off the hook. All joking aside, if there are two better chaps in all the UK, I’ve yet to meet ‘em. We had an even better time than my last visit, and having Ed meet us for dinner, and for the seven of us to all get to share a meal and laughs late into the evening really ended our vacation on a high note. Thanks Dave, Glyn and Ed for making us feel so welcome so far from home.

The Best Part of All
I didn’t do a lick of work the entire time I was there (Whoo Hoo!). I didn’t even download any shots off my card until I was on the flight home. Yup, I’m tan, rested, and ready to finish up my latest book, head to New York next week for my seminar, do a live taping of the Grid, and work on some very cool new projects for the future. OK, play time’s over—-now, back to my day gig! :)

I’ve been wanting to update my online portfolio for a long time now for a number of reasons, but mostly so it could be a somewhat consistent experience no matter where you see it (on a computer, iPad, iPhone, etc.). Besides that, I also wanted to update my images, but since my portfolio was Flash-based, and I’m no Flash wizard, it was kind of a pain (read as: I needed outside help) to update even just one image in my port, so it stayed pretty much woefully out-of-date.

RC to the Rescue!
Luckily, this turned out to be an easier, and much faster process than I figured it would be, because when you want to get your images on the Web, where do you go? That’s right—-you go to RC Concepcion (the guy who literally wrote the book on the subject). RC got my previous Flash-based portfolio online for me, and I absolutely loved the way it worked—-as long as I was looking at it on my computer. As soon as I looked at it on a mobile device, it….well….it stunk (it swapped the Flash version out for a lame HTML stand-in).

I went to RC and told him the four things I wanted this port to do:

(1) It had to work on iPads and iPhones (so it couldn’t be Flash-based).

(2) I wanted the images to be as large as possible, while still allowing room for links to multiple galleries.

(3) I wanted a portfolio layout where wide images and tall images would get the same amount of attention (if you look at a lot of portfolios you see online, the wide images fill the screen, but then a tall image comes up, and it feels tiny by comparison, and it’s centered on the screen and surrounded by either gray or black.

(4) It had to load faster than my old Flash portfolio, which made you wait while each image loaded one-by-one (it even had its own status bar), which was another big downside of the old one.

I went with a horizontally scrolling layout, with no thumbnails
You can see in the layout below how vertical and horizontal images are side-by-side at the same height, so the tall images don’t wind up all alone, centered on a page and looking really small.

But there’s another big benefit to this horizontally scrolling layout (as you’ll see below).

Panos rock with this layout
I shoot a decent amount of panos, and I use my Cinematic Style Cropping technique on images, and these look really great in this horizontally scrolling style (because usually these wind up so small on screen), but if you look at the image above, it’s actually even wider than what you’re seeing, but you just scroll right on over. This I really dig (there’s an image of a Hawaiian Fire Dancer in my People port where this works beautifully to show the entire image at a nice big size). Also, another nice feature is that although you do click and drag the scrollbar to see the images on your computer, on an iPad or iPhone, you just swipe your way through it, which I love.

More Categories
I wanted to separate my Football shots from my other Sports images, so now I have two separate categories (sports and football), but RC also suggested, after seeing the first run-through of my people port, that I should separate People and Fashion into two separate categories, and after looking at it, I agreed, so now they’re separate (although the fashion category technically should be titled “Beauty & Fashion” I’m going to let it go as just Fashion, and it’s the default portfolio that appears when you click the Portfolio link here on the page (or this link right here).

RC’s Design Hits All My Points!
This new port, which RC designed from scratch in Adobe Dreamweaver, does everything I want it to (with one small exception). It’s HTML-based, so it can be seen on any mobile device; it loads much, much faster than my old port, I like the horizontally scrolling layout so tall and wide images both look good, and I like that the image sizes themselves are very large. However, that’s the one area that doesn’t well as well when you view the port on an iPhone. You actually have to “pinch in” to get the port to fit on the tiny screen. Outside of that, I’m very happy with it, and it’s very easy to update with any HTML editor (I just upload the file and change the file name—that’s it. Not a bunch of coding and stuff, which is great for me).

Another benefit is that this new port lets me email a direct link to an individual portfolio, so if I wanted to send someone directly to my Football portfolio, I could send them to (whereas in the old portfolio, I could only send them to the main portfolio, and then ask them to click on the Sports link).

This Would Make a Great Online Course
When RC was done (he put the first version together in literally just an afternoon or so), he said, “Do you think showing how to build a vertically-scrolling online portfolio just like this this would made a good class for Kelby Training Online? I told him, “Are you kidding!!!! Absolutely!” so RC’s going to take what he did for me, and show anybody how to quickly and easily create the same type of port for anybody who digs this type of layout, and multi-device compatibility.

Thanks RC!
My thanks to RC for all his help in getting this up (Dude, you so rock!). The bulk of his time was spent rearranging images for me to this morning’s launch. Once he’s done (today) he’s handing the reigns over to me to do my own updating from here on out, and honestly, that’s the way I want it. I don’t want to bother someone each time I want to add, move, and update my port, and being able to instantly do it myself, will almost ensure it gets updated much more often.

You can see the final port yourself by clicking on word “Portfolio” (top left side of my blog here, right under “About Me”), or you can just click this link.

Setting the Bar Low Guarantees Success!
I went into this trip with very modest photographic goals: I just wanted to do better in Denmark, then I did in Spain last year, where after 10 days in Barcelona I came home with absolutely nothing. Not that I didn’t shoot, mind you—I just came home without one shot I’d show anybody. (My buddy Dave Moser didn’t believe me, so I showed him what I got in Spain, and his exact words were, “Ohhhh. Boss. What happened?”).

I had never been to Copenhagen, so although I did want to take lots of photos (and I only had 2-1/2 days to shoot), I didn’t want to see this beautiful city from only behind my lens. I wanted to experience it firsthand, and get to enjoy the people, the culture, and the history without feeling like I was only there to shoot it. I also wanted to visit with Terry as it’s not often where I get to spend a few days with him where we’re not both rushing off to teach a class, but of course with Terry being a photographer, we both never went anywhere without our cameras.

Awesome Architecture
I was really taken with the modern Danish architecture, and so I shot quite a lot of it, and even made special trips out to see certain buildings. Of course, I did take lots of touristy shots, too, of things like the boats in the harbor, and the Little Mermaid (well, I took shots from the boat), and your standard touristy snapshot stuff, but I don’t include that stuff in my photo book (captures of which you’re seeing here on the blog today). The softcover book was made using the latest version of Apple’s iPhoto, using one of their built-in book templates (Click on any one for MUCH larger views, plus I captioned most of them).

My Gear
I wanted to travel really light (I didn’t even check a bag), so I brought my Nikon D3s and just one lens: my new 28-300mm f/3.5-f/5.6, and honestly, it was so wonderful not having to ever change lenses, and yet never feeling like I had the wrong lens. That lens is so sharp and crisp—-I just loved it (though, if it were just 4mm wider; making it a 24-300mm, that would be my dream lens).

Terry brought one extra lens, a 10.5mm fisheye, and I did borrow it once to shoot the inside dome of an amazing church, but that’s it. I took 1047 shots total, including lots and lots of backgrounds for compositing (for me, and for a project Matt’s working on) and I shot quite a hot of 5-bracketed exposures HDR shots. When it takes five photos to create one HDR image, you can really crank through a lot of shots. I only kept a few HDRs in my photo book (three actually), even though I shot an awful lot more.

The “Other” HDR Secret
Today, the shooting and tone mapping of HDR images is actually fairly easy, but not a lot is said about the real art of HDR photography, which is knowing which types of scenes make great HDR images, and how to compose them so you get the most out of the HDR effect. RC talks about this quite a bit in his upcoming HDR book, and I think it’s where the art of HDR really lies. Well that and post processing the living daylights out of it. ;-)

My favorite story from the trip. Well, there were two
We rented a car and drove to Malmo, Sweden (which was awesome), because I wanted to see a twisted skyscraper that a guy on Twitter turned me on to. It was totally worth the short 30-minute drive (plus, Malmo itself was just beautiful). Anyway, after that Terry wanted to try out his new Navigon GPS for the iPad, so we programmed it to take us to “Hamlet’s Castle” back in Denmark, not far from Copenhagen.

We drove for about an hour, and I must say—the Navigon worked like a champ. Plus, I’ve never seen such a large GPS screen (GPS on the iPad looks HUGE!). It made me want to get a Navigon myself (I use Tom Tom for the iPhone, and love it). Anyway, we’re driving for an hour or so, and then it has us leave the highway, and now we’re driving through a shipping port. I said to Terry, “Does this look right?” and at that moment it says “Turn Right” and we do. We had to stop the car, because (wait for it….wait for it), it took us to a Car Ferry. One that had already left for the day. The gates were closed. Everyone was gone. Terry and I looked at each other, and we just started cracking up.

So, Terry went to his Navigon preferences and turned on the checkbox for “Avoid Ferry’s” and then we began our hour drive back to Malmo, and then onto the castle. We didn’t get there until like 6:30 pm, but we laughed all the way there, so it was worth the extra driving. What really cracked us up though, was the way the route showed our car leaving land and heading out into the ocean (presumably in the car ferry).  We were actually probably lucky, because I can’t imagine how much that car ferry would actually cost, because just the toll to cross the bridge into Sweden and back was $114.00. Yowsa!

The Other Story
I had nothing do to with this one, but when I heard it at dinner, I nearly shot Coke Light right out of my nose. Terry, Greg, and Jason (the Adobe Worldwide Evangelists) have been touring like this for years, but they had a new Evangelist join them on this tour—-a young guy named Paul. He’ a really nice guy (and obviously a very smart guy), except that he made the mistake of walking away from the breakfast table while leaving his iPhone on the table with his Twitter app open. Greg picked it up and sent out a Tweet to Paul’s followers as if he were Paul. It was just one word. “Pooping.” Then, to make matters worse, they got out their phones, and they all retweeted it. And their friends retweeted it, and so on. When I left Denmark, they were plotting to do it again, and this time they would use just two words. “Still pooping.’” I think I left Denmark just in time.

At Least I Beat Spain
Because you can see that I’m actually showing some of the images from my trip here, I feel like I did better in 2-1/2 days in Denmark than I did in 10 days in Barcelona. We had marvelous spring weather, and bright blue skies, and not a drop a rain the entire time. Terry is just a blast. Totally fun guy, up for anything (trains, cars, tours, weird food, border crossings, etc.). The Adobe guys were really fun, plus I even got to watch the first hour of their two-hour presentation, and I even picked up a few new things (these guys are really good).

My Thoughts on Denmark
I was really taken with their love of design. They care how everything looks, and there are lots of sculptures, museums, art, fountains, and incredible building, both ultra modern and very old. Danish design is absolutely top notch, and companies are willing to to invest heavily to create incredible offices and public areas.

The people were absolutely lovely. I never ran into anyone who didn’t speak English, and they spoke it very well. Plus, the entire country was very, very clean. Sparkling in fact. You’ve gotta love that! Lots of national pride there, and in Sweden. They two countries seem like they make great neighbors.

I visited the Tivoli Gardens amusement park which was a personal highlight for me. I had read about it for many years (it was the inspiration for Walt Disney to build the original Disneyland, and now I see why), and it was incredibly charming. Even better than I expected.

Funny aside: I went to the hotel concierge to ask about getting a train schedule to Malmo, Sweden, and he looked at me and said, “Hey, you’re Scott Kelby. What are you doing here?” He was a photographer, and retoucher, and he was really helpful. I had a guy come up to me in Sweden on the street, too who was currently reading one of my books. Those “It’s a small world” moments are really fun. I even ran into a NAPP member who spotted me in Copenhagen on the last day. People are sometimes embarrassed to come up and say hi (I’ve gotten emails from people who saw me, but didn’t say hi), but I always get a kick out of meeting people who read my books, or watch our shows, or have seen us live, so I’m always happy to meet them. Heck, I’m happy to meet anybody.

One more thing. If you’re planning a trip to Denmark, it wouldn’t hurt if you knocked over a bank before you visit. Well, a 7-11 at the very least, because it’s incredibly expensive. Everything is. Taxis, food, hotel rooms at a regular old Marriott, water, air, you name it. Bring your checkbook. But as expensive as it was, it was worth it. What a great place! I hope I get to go again and take my family (once I’ve had time to build up some money, just in case we want to go to dinner out one night while we’re there). ;-)