Category Archives Photography

I’m not saying I’m old. I’m just too old to be making mistakes like this. I have to admit, it's very humbling â” no actually, it's worse than that â” it's embarrassing and a bit humiliating to be my age and still having to learn life lessons I should have learned long ago.

For the love of Paris
You only get to visit a city like Paris so many times in your lifetime. It's more than a treat. It's a privilege. A gift. A blessing. Every time I'm there, I just can't believe I'm really there. It's that kind of place.

It was my 9-year-old daughter's first visit, and my son's first since he was six (he's 18 now and off to college in the fall), and we had an absolutely marvelous time. Beautiful weather. Great meals. Lots of love and laughter the entire trip, and being in a city like Paris with my beautiful wife, and surrounded by our kids â” well, it's just hard to describe the feeling. The trip was everything I hoped it would beâ¦with one small exception (and that's what this story is about).

A unique opportunity for a shoot
I did lots of research before the trip, and I hoped to shoot in one special place while I was there â” one that would hopefully be a part of a photography "coffee table" book I've been working on for a while called "The Great Indoors." It's a book that celebrates beautiful classic interior spaces around the world. It's about 70-80% complete, so it's still a "work in progress," and it includes everything from concert halls to libraries; from theaters to cathedrals; museums, restaurants, palaces, mosques, hotel lobbies, even a train station or two â” gorgeous interior spaces from around the world, presented in hard cover coffee-table book format (a printed proof of which I showed at my seminar in London last week).

One of the things I’ve done in the book is to try and present the interiors without any tourists in the scene, which I was able to do in most cases with special permission from the location by shooting before or after hours, but in one or two cases there are just a few people in the scene at the time, but in those cases it's so few that it adds to the image, rather than taking away.

I've been very fortunate to shoot a number of interiors in France, including Versailles, the church of St. Sulpice; the interior of Le Train Bleu, Notre Dame, and many others but another place I've wanted to shoot for a while is the incredibly beautiful Reading Room of the Biblioth¨que nationale de France (the French national library). I reached out to my Parisian friend Serge Ramelli, who contacted the library and got the ball rolling for me, and before I left for Paris, I had the shoot all set up â” Friday morning between 9am and 10am before the library opened, so I could use a tripod and shoot it bathed in beautiful morning light.

I had to sign a contract beforehand about how the images would be used, and there was a fee for doing a shoot like this, but it was surprisingly reasonable and absolutely well worth it. Plus, the woman I was working with in the photo department at the Biblioth¨que nationale de France was a delight, and it was all coming together.

On a side note â” I tired to arrange a similar shoot while in England earlier in the week, and my buddies over there were doing some legwork for me in advance, but we learned that the fee for shooting in this location was nearly FIVE times what it was in France. I still considered it on some level until I got to the part where they retained ALL the copyrights to my images, so I bailed on that shoot altogether. It's too bad â” it would have made a wonderful addition to the book.

Anyway, I was psyched for this shoot for all sorts of reasons â”  I would get up while the family was still sleeping, do the shoot, and I'd still be back in time to join them for for the incredible French breakfast served each morning at our hotel. we'd head out for a day of exploring Paris (our three days there included a day trip to Paris Disneyland â” we hadn’t mentioned Disneyland Paris to our 9-year-old daughter but she saw a poster for it in the train station andâ¦wellâ¦you just can't get that close to a Disneyland and tell your 9-year-old she can't visit "the most magical place on earth”). One day, when she’s all grown up, it will hit her that we actually left Paris, the City of Light, to take a train trip to Disneyland Paris just for her, and she'll give us the biggest hug ever, and it will have all been worth it! (Of course, we got many hugs that day, so I guess she kind of paid it forward).

Preparing the gear for the shoot
The night before the shoot I stayed up late; charged the batteries, backed up my cards, took extra cards; made sure everything was in place for the big shoot. I brought extra gear just for this shoot, including the new Canon 11-24mm f/4 (I asked to extend the loaner from Canon for this trip), and my Canon Fisheye zoom, as well as my casual walk around lens, a Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5 to f/6.3, and my new favorite travel tripod from 3-Legged Thing (so sturdy yet very lightweight). I set my alarm early, and I was up and ready to go. I went back to the instruction email from the Library to confirm the address, and according to Google Maps, the Library was 12 minutes away by taxi, so I was in the hotel lobby at 8:30 for my quick ride to the Library, but there were no taxis to be found. The hotel tried calling a taxi company and they said "We'll call you back." Ack! They finally did call back, but it took about 10 minutes for the taxi to arrive.

Well, as luck would have it, there was much more traffic than the taxi driver or I had expected, and after leaving late, and encountering lots of traffic, I arrived about 6 minutes late.  Not good. Worse yet, as it turned out I was on the other side of the huge complex from where the entrance was, and the signs were in French but I finally found someone to point me in the right direction. Once at the main entrance, I had to go through security (including showing my contract so they would let me in with my "professional gear" as the guard called it), and then getting my gear x-rayed as well, and long story short, when I got through all that and asked for my contact at the information desk, I was already about 15 minutes late, and fairly stressed. I still have 45 minutes for the shoot, so I’m still OK â” that’s all the time I need.

The woman at the desk was very helpful (and spoke very good English) and tried to ring my contact several times, but then while she was trying to track her down, I got an email from my contact asking where I was (since I was late), and letting me know she was waiting in the garden. When I told the woman at the desk that she was waiting in the garden, she looked kind of puzzled. "The garden?" Then I showed her the email, and she looked surprised and upset.

This is where things got sticky
She said, "Oh no. You're at the wrong location,” and my heart began to sink. As it turns out there are two locations for the French National Library, and the Reading Room (the place I wanted to shoot) is on the other side of town. In my contact's email she told me which entrance she would be at â” she even gave me the exact street entrance where she'd be at, but I assumed (there's that word â” here we go), that the entrance she was talking about was at that main location. Sadly, it was not. Well, I was freaking out and I told the woman at the desk I would just jump in a taxi and race there, but she told me â” it's very hard to find a taxi there (which turned out to be the understatement of the year. She should have said "nearly impossible).

Panic sets inâ¦
I looked back in that original email and saw my contact had left her cell number, and when she answered I told her my mistake â” I apologized profusely and told her I would jump in a taxi and be there right away. But she told me that with morning rush-hour traffic, I was at least 25 minutes away (maybe more), and she had to return to her home office (which ironically is where I was calling her from), so she was very apologetic, but my shoot was now cancelled â” I would not be able to shoot the Reading Room. She had made the trip all the way to this other location just to meet me for this shoot â” she went way out of her way just to make all this happen for me, and I totally blew it. I was so disappointed, frustrated, mad, and justâ¦arrrgggghhh!

So, whose fault was this really?
Absolutely, positively 100% â” it was all my fault. I could give you reasons it happened, from me not picking up in her email that the address was different than the one in her email signature, or that if I had shown the taxi driver her short email with two different addresses, he would have told me they were at two different locations. Then, of course, as it turned out he dropped me off blocks from the entrance which didn't help, but at the end of the day, what killed my shoot was simply bad planning on my part by not giving myself enough time for anything to go wrong. If all of those things had happened but I had been there 30 minutes early, instead of 15 minutes late, I still would have had enough built-in extra time to get to the other location and still do the shoot. But since I was late, time was stacked against me from the start. My fault. No one else to blame. Period.

I know this stuff. Well, I should know this stuff.
Of course, I know to be at any shoot early, but my plan of being there 15-minutes early is a "best case scenario" plan and doesn't really allow for anything to go wrong along the way. This one really smarted, and when I walked out of the building, and I'm standing there trying to hail a taxi where there are no taxis (I finally got an Uber driver, but it was a loooonnngggg wait), I felt just as foolish as I could be. This is the type of stuff a kid does â” not someone my age.

I was so disappointed in myself â” I still am, but once I got back to the hotel; told the story to my very sympathetic wife (who totally resisted the urge for a well deserved "I told you so"), and my two awesome kids with big smiles and hugs, everything quickly came into perspective. I missed one shoot, but I'm in Paris, with my kids, my wonderful wife, it's a beautiful day outside, and I can smell the fresh baked baguettes. The rest of the day was immeasurably better, and I learned a valuable lesson I should have learned a long time ago. So, the shoot was a bust, but overall, I'd say the day was a roaring success!

Lots of other shots I actually did get, here tomorrow
I'm putting a few of my favorites together for tomorrow, and I do have a few stories and tips to share here with you here as well. Hope you'll stop by then. By the way â” stop by early â” I've learned that really makes a difference. ;-)

Merci mes amis,

-Scott


Above: Leave it to a US company to come over and singlehandedly ruin this great country. LOL!!!! ;-)

Greetings from one of my favorite places on the planet â” London, England! I’m here today for my “Shoot Like a Pro Tour: RELOADED” seminar and I’m so excited to meet everybody (my whole family is here as well, and we’ve been having a blast!).

OK, my one day of shooting (yesterday) was a total bust!
I would have one day of shooting here before the seminar, so I came up with a list of places I’d love to shoot. At 8:30 am, we were first in line at St. Paul’s Cathedral here in London (which I might add, is one of the most spectacular cathedrals I’ve ever seen, perhaps 2nd only to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome â” it was just amazing).

Where, when you walked in the front door to pay for your ticket (it’s about $28 per person for entry), you see these NO PHOTOS! signs everywhere. Of course, I saw people taking photos with their iPads, with their DSLRs, with their cell phones, etc., and there were times where we no one was looking where I could have “sneaked off a shot,” but I didn’t do it (it’s not a good example for the kids for one – we used it as a learning moment for our daughter), but I wanted to respect their rules as well. I tried to reach out to their social media folks before the trip but had no luck (they have a very active Twitter page).

Anyway, it was wonderful to see the cathedral, and if you haven’t had the chance, it’s absolutely worth seeing, even if they don’t allow photos or video.

Then, it was off to other places I couldn’t shootâ¦
Like the famous, ultramodern Lloyds of London building who wouldn’t even let me take one single shot in their lobby, or the amazing City Hall building which is open to the public, except of course for the one place I really wanted to shoot (their center atrium), which is off limits for photos, but if you Google “City Hall London” you’ll see scads of photos (here’s a link to a page with some nice photos of it).

I tried to get permission to take photos inside the Parliament building inside. No!
Westminster Abbey? No! (they don’t allow photos either)
It was pretty much a resounding NO!!! everywhere I went.
I didn’t even mention using a tripod, which is apparently results in a louder version of NO!

So, what do I have to show for my day of shooting?
That iPhone shot of a double-decker bus you see at the top.

I’ve got one more chance, Wednesday morning, so I’m trying to gain access to a couple of places for just 30-minutes (I’m trying to shoot these interiors for my first coffee table book, which is about 80% done. More on this soon).

But all is not lostâ¦
Because when I wasn’t being told I couldn’t shoot, we went all over London having fun, and I met up with my dear friends Dave Clayton and Glyn Dewis for dinner, along with my seminar crew and my friends Peter and Dave (from Hybrid Photography here in London), and we ended the day with a lovely dinner and lots of laughs.

Looking forward to meeting everybody today at my seminar (and a big thanks to everybody attending today, and to everybody who helped spread the word).

Cheers,

-Scott

Greetings from Swingin’ London everybody! So, check this out â” Canon just released a special, limited-time bundle deal and I am so excited that we’re a part of it. Here’s the scoop:

If, during the run of this offer, you buy either a:

> Canon 5D Mark III, or a Canon 7D Mark II, or Canon 6D

It comes with:

> A full year subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan (so, basically Photoshop CC & Lightroom CC),

PLUS

> A full-year of online training on Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC from us at KelbyOne.

So, it’s the camera, the software, and the tools to learn Photoshop and Lightroom. Oh yeah!

Here’s the link with full details on the “Power to Create” offer. Also, check out the promo video below:

http://youtu.be/NtwpDeA36KQ

Hope you all have a great Monday!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Hope to meet a whole bunch of you tomorrow at my seminar in London. It’s not too late to get a ticket if you want to come join me (here’s that link).

 

Ever since I first heard this lens was coming (and that seems like forever ago), I have just dying to get my hands on it. For past year or so I had been relying on my 16-35mm, but then I got a Canon 14mm prime lens and fell in love with it, but the thought of having a zoom that goes all the way out to 11mm, yet not being a fisheye, made it (at least on paper) my dream lens (photo above courtesy of B&H Photo) 

We took a family vacation just a couple of weeks ago and I got Canon to loan me one for the trip so I could do a field test, and see if it was all it was cracked up to be. Right before I left on the trip, Brad wanted to borrow it for his concert shoot at Red Rocks with Third Day, so he took it out too, and then Fed Ex’d it to me (Brad’s comments are here, too â” along with some sample images from him down toward the bottom).

I can tell you thisâ¦
It is, hands down, my favorite wide angle zoom ever! Don’t get me wrong, the 14mm is a really sweet lens. Really sweet. But it’s not 11mm. And it doesn’t zoom out to 24mm. And the 11-24mm does 14mm. And 16mm. And everything in between. It’s the dream.

What I loved:
It is sharp as a tack, edge to edge; it focuses fast, and the distortion is absolutely minimal, which on an 11mm is pretty crazy. It’s just an unbelievable lens. I’m crushed I have to send the loaner back, but my next call is to B&H to get on the waiting list.

What you need to know:
It’s a pretty large sized lens; it’s pretty heavy, and it’s fairly expensive (but at least it’s totally worth it on all three counts).

Above: The view from above the clouds at the top of Mount Haleakla, Maui, Hawaii. That’s not a pano. That’s a single frame at 11mm. 

So, do we really need to go to 11mm?. Yes! Isn’t that “too wide?” Not at all (see that image above). But to help visually display the difference, and why going crazy wide is so awesome, I took three shots from the exact same shooting position, only changing the Zoom amount so you can see what 24mm looks like, then 16mm, and finally 11mm. It’s quite a difference in how much fits in the same sense (I’m sitting in an outrigger on the beach at Mama’s Fishhouse on Father’s Day).

Above: Here’s the scene at 24mm (zoomed all the way out).

Above: Here’s the same scene at 16mm. You see a lot more palms, and more boat as well.

Above: Now here’s 11mm. Mmmmmmmmm, that’s wide, baby. Super wide! Delicious wide. Look at all the extra palms, extra boat, extra beach, etc.. It’s a whole different world.

Above: Here’s a side by side between the 24mm and 11mm shot from the exact same spot and position (click for a much larger view). All of a sudden, 24mm looks more like 50mm.

OK, I’m turning it over to Brad now (but I’ll be back at the end)
Take it away, Braddo! 

Canon has had a good variety of wide angle lenses for a while, but as a HUGE fan of super wide angle zoom lenses, I've had an itch that was almost scratched but not quite. Now with the 11-24mm f/4, that itch has been scratched very well.

As a concert photographer who is usually limited to the photo pit without a lot of room to move back and forth, zoom lenses are a life saver. That's why I was thrilled when Canon announced this new ultra wide angle lens, and even more thrilled to try it out during a couple of recent shoots.

Is there distortion on the edges? Well, sure, a little, but it's incredibly minimal! Check out the completely un-cropped images above, with no lens corrections, shot at 12mm. The guys on the edges would normally be stretched quite a bit more, especially in the first one, but this rectilinear lens handles them really well.

I also love just how close this lens allows me to get to performers who come out to the edge of the stage or come out for some crowd interaction. The musician above looks like he's still a decent distance from where I'm shooting from, right? Here's an iPhone shot from the crowd where you can see me in the lower right hand cornerâ¦


Photo by Alex Roberts

I'm probably a bit closer than you were expecting, right? My only complaint about the ultra-wideness of this lens is that it makes it difficult to keep the other photographers out of my shots!

This thing is a bit of a beast though, coming in at 2.6 pounds (for comparison, another one of Canon's wide-angle zoom lenses is 1.35 pounds), so it can add a little weight to your pack and shoulders. But for the results, it's totally worth it to me.

I didn't see any noticeable chromatic aberration in the images, and I have no complaints on edge to edge sharpness even its widest points.

This thing handles lens flare like a champ. Normally in a shot like the one above, with the sun beaming directly into the lens, you'd be lucky to see much of anything. But here you just get a little bit of flare near the headstock of the guitar.

As with any lens with a rounded front element, you'll want to make sure you keep a lens cloth handy for the occasional accidental finger smudge. The built-in lens hood does help prevent that, plus it's never going to fall off and get lost during a shoot.

So, is this lens worth it for music photographers? If you're a fan of the ultra-wide look, then absolutely!

OK, Scott back again 
Many thanks to Brad for sharing this thoughts and pics (and thanks for getting me the lens before I had to head back home). ;-)

Let’s wrap up with some specs (from B&H’s site)

Dimensions: Approx. 4.3 x 5.2″ (109.22 x 132.08 mm)
Weight: 2.6 lb (1.18 kg)
Price  (B&H Photo): $2,999

Here’s a link with all the details and stuff.

I super-mega dig this lens, and you’ll be seeing a lot of it this coming football season from me (yes, I know it’s perfect for landscape and architectural photography, but apparently it works awesome for concerts and travel, too and I imagine it will be insane for remote football shots and celebrations after the game, and I can’t wait to share that stuff with you in just about 8 or 9 weeks).

That’s it for our field report. Hope you all have a great Tuesday! :)

Best,

-Scott (and Brad!) 

OK, I had planned to swing by the office and pick up a camera body, a lens, my tripod and a cable release, but we were having a busy family day and we wound up at my brother’s condo (a 4th of July family tradition) without a camera.

His condo overlooks the bridge leading to Clearwater Beach, Florida and his balcony has a great view of the fireworks, and since this was Clearwater’s 100th anniversary, they promised the Bay Areas biggest fireworks display. All the more reason why I should have made sure I had time to swing by the office and pick up my gear. Sadly, I did not.

Luckily, my brother loaned me his Canon Rebel 2Ti, with an 18-200mm lens. He even had a tripod, but no cable release, but beggars can’t be choosers, so I was happy to have anything. The T2i, despite being a pretty old camera [it debuted back in 2010 â” you can find them used today for under $200], it did a pretty decent job. I used the same settings I listed here on Friday, except for I experimented with different shutter speeds (though the one I shared on Friday actually worked the best).

ISO: 100
f/Stop: f/11
Shutter Speed: 4-seconds to 8 seconds
Shot in: Manual Mode

I would have liked to go wider than 18mm, especially since this was a cropped sensor body so it was more like 28mm on full frame, but there was a wall on the left side of his balcony and it kept creeping into the frame so I wound up stuck at around 28mm cropped, which is like a 44mm lens on a full frame if, of course, they made a 44mm lens.

OK, it’s almost “grand finale” time (above) and things are about to get crazy. Although the grand finale is always the most fun to watch, it’s also the brightest part of the display, with everything kinda going off at once, and it takes a bit of post-processing (mostly, just dragging the Highlights slider to the left will do the trick, but they don’t make a long enough Highlights slider to bring back what’s going to happen in the next photo (the grand finale).

Well, I tried. It was just too much bright light for that T2i.

I can tell you three things I did in post that helped a lot:

(1) Applying the new Dehaze slider in Lightroom CC â” it helped a lot in reducing the smoke from the fireworks.
(2) I increased the contrast a bit so the image didn’t look flat and backed off on the highlights to keep things from being too blown out.
(3) I increased the Clarity a bit to enhance the overall detail.

While I certainly didn’t “crush it” I had a lot of fun (and the fireworks show was really cool). My brother made some incredibly yummy hot dogs (with all the toppings) and (wait for it, wait for itâ¦) Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (not the Deluxe stuff in the horizontal box â” this was the “real deal” in the tall blue box. That stuff is magic!). Anyway, the kids loved it; Kalebra loved it; I loved it, and another family tradition continues on at my brother’s condo downtown. Until next year, where I’ll do my best to remember my gear, but if I don’t, at least I know there’s a T2i there I can use. :)

Hope you all had a great 4th!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. I’d love to see some of your fireworks shots from Saturday; post ’em here or send me a link to them if you’ve got a sec. :)

 

 

s

Hi Gang, and happy Friday: Tomorrow (July 4th) is a big holiday for us here in the US â” it's Independence Day â” a day where all Americans celebrate their independence from Glyn Dewis and Dave Clayton (shown pictured with me above. They both serve as Beefeaters in service to Her Majesty The Queen as Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary, but they are shown here in the regular street clothes, but you know and I know, those clothes are anything but regular).

If you're thinking of shooting some fireworks shots tonight, I wrote an article for ColaCola's Journey website where I take you through the recipe for how to make Awesome Fireworks photos (It's a step-by-step article â” follow the recipe and ya can't miss). Here's the link.

I would add three things to that article for the more serious photography crowd here on my blog. They are:

>> Set your focus to infinity (This isn't critical but if your lens can do it, why not). The fireworks are so bright you can use just regular ol' auto focus for the most part, but if you have a lens that has a distance scale window on the top of your lens barrel; first turn off your auto focus (right on the lens â” switch it to off), then rotate the focus ring on your lens until you see the Infinity symbol [it looks like the number 8 lying on its side]. Again, you don't have to do this, but it might make things a bit easier.

>> Last year @SuzanMcEvoy (one of my followers over on my Twitter page) recommended also switching your White Balance to Tungsten and it works really well (Thanks Susan for the tip).

>> This one probably goes without saying, but you're on a tripod so use your lowest ISO setting for the cleanest shots.

Hope you all have a safe, happy 4th of July as we celebrate our nation's physical distance, in miles and magnitude, from Glyn and Dave which makes it truly a day worth celebrating. ;-)

Cheers!

-Scott

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