Category Archives Photography

Boston is the first stop on my nationwide “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it, Live!” tour, and I really want you to be there.

If you’ve got one minute and 20 seconds, could you take a moment and watch the quick video clip above where I tell you about the tour, what you’ll be learning, and why you’ve gotta be there.

Here’s the link for the full class schedule, and how to sign up. It’s only $99 for the full day, (including a detailed workbook), or just $79 for NAPP members.

Hope to see you in Boston. We’re going to have a blast.

P.S. One more thing. If you come and don’t think it was totally worth it, and your head isn’t spinning with loads of new techniques, we will gladly refund your full tuition, so can’t lose. See you there!

(Above: Pro Snowboarder Eddie Spang getting some air. Click on it for a larger view)

My buddy Matt Kloskowski put a really cool trip together for me this past weekend. He knows I’ve been wanting to do a snowboarding shoot for some time now, but it’s kind of hard pulling that off in Florida. Luckily, we had a camera crew heading to Colorado to film a Kelby Training Online class with incredible Action Sports Photographer and instructor Tom Bol (link), so he arranged for us to fly out the day before the class taping and shoot some snowboarding with Tom and pro snowboarding insano man, the awesome Eddie Spang.

(Above: Here’s Eddie shredding the gnar gnar in 3 feet of virgin powder. OK, that’s the total extent of the snowboarding lingo I picked up during the shoot, right there in that one sentence. Click on it for a larger view. These shots all look better in the bigger views).

(Above: Here’s Eddie just after he shot down that mountain side and literally nailed his landing on the road right in front us. I just stood there with my jaw wide open. I did pull myself together enough to catch this shot— you can see us reflected in his goggles).

Here’s our host for Friday and Saturday, the very cool Tom Bol. I’ve met Tom numerous times, but this was the first time I really got to spend any time with Tom, and I have to say—what a terrific guy. One of the nicest, most thoughtful, and fun guys you’d ever want to meet.

I’ve never been in snow like this
Tom arranged to have Eddie available for us to shoot all day, and Tom had two really great guys assisting him (and us), Steve and Randy, who spent a decent amount of their day helping me through, and pulling me out of, post holes in 3+ feet of snow. I spent a fair amount of time with at least one leg buried so far down in the snow that I could barely get back out.

In the production shot above (photo by Adam Rohrmann), you can see me kneeling to get a shot just in the front of the small jump Eddie just launched off from.

(Above: Here’s the shot I was working on. You can see a little blue in the sky trying to peek though. Tom thought to swap jackets with Eddie, who had been wearing a dark jacket, so the images didn’t look so flat against the gray sky, and it really helped a lot. I took this shot with a 14-24mm Nikon lens on a Nikon D3s camera at 200 ISO, f/2.8).

Above: Here’s a screen cap of a text I sent to my wife.

(Above: A very cold version of me. Photo by Matt Kloskowski).

The weather…well…it kinda sucked
Unfortunately, the blue skies that are the norm in Colorado were nowhere to be found this day, as a large snow storm moved into the area, and it snowed steadily the entire time, against flat gray yucky skies. The 14°F cold weather (-10C) wasn’t really an issue—Matt and I both dressed really warm with layers of clothes, and thankfully it wasn’t windy at all. Plus, we were all laughing so much the whole day, I’m not sure we would have noticed the cold (especially when I would get stuck down in a post hole in the snow, which was fairly often).

Above: Here’s an iPhone photo of me in our rented 4-wheel drive Chevy Tahoe, taken by Matt, while we’re stuck in snow so deep it was up to our car hood. Matt did a masterful job of actually backtracking the SUV through the snow and getting us un-stuck and back out on the road.

We were at 12,000 feet high (3,657 meters) at this point, and it was so bright white outside you couldn’t see anything. It looked like those scenes from base camp at Everest with winds blowing snow everywhere. At this point, we just drove back down the mountain looking for a place for Eddie to snowboard.

Above: Here’s Steve (with the red back pack) and Tom in front of him climbing up the hill where we were going to shoot (Photo by Matt). They paved the way for Matt and I because we were sinking down in the snow like it was Quicksand.

Above: Here’s another production shot (photo by Adam Rorhmann), and you’re getting an over-the-shoulder view of me shooting with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens (at f.2/8) and that’s Matt lying near the jump with a 14-24mm f/2.8 lens.

You can’t tell in the previous photo, but it was a struggle to get from where I’m shooting over to where Matt is shooting, just a few feet away (we swapped locations a few minutes after this shot was taken). You take a step or two, then you’d hit a hole and your leg would sink down three feet into the snow.

Above: Here’s the shot I got from that angle. Dealing with a solid gray sky, makes you get creative with your post processing, as I did here. The sun did try and make a brief cameo appearance late in the day, and we saw a glimpse of some patches of blue sky for a few minutes, but it just wasn’t going to give us that wonderful solid blue that Colorado is known for. By the way, we were in the great little town of Frisco, Colorado for this shoot.

Above: Here’s the shot Matt was getting with that 14-24mm. He took this one from the same position you saw him in earlier, but right after Tom switched jackets with Eddie. I really like this one Matt got a lot.

Bring out the strobes
Tom and his crew had brought two Elinchrom Ranger battery packs and heads out on the shoot, and so Tom asked if I wanted to shoot a little with the strobes, and of course, I was all over it. I had been shooting all the natural light stuff in Aperture Priority mode at f/2.8, but for the strobes, I switched to Manual Mode and set my shutter speed at 1/200 of a second, and then I wanted to darken the ambient light, so I racked my Aperture out to f/22. That only made it about 1-stop darker, so I lowered the ISO from 200 to L1 (kind of the equivalent of ISO 100), and that got me the two-stop darker background you see here.

Above: We positioned one head with a deep throw reflector literally two feet behind where I had been shooting from (that hole in the ground you see in front of Randy is where I was shooting from), and then he put a second strobe behind the jump to catch the snow kicking up, which worked wonderfully well. Tom is fantastic at lighting stuff like this (I can’t wait to see his class).

Above: We had to aim the front light so it hit Eddie when he was in midair, and Tom knew the trick to figure out exactly where that spot was. He had Steve toss his jacket into the air about where Eddie would wind up (seen above) and I would take the shot to fire the strobe at just the right moment, then direct the crew where to position the light. It only took a flying coat or two to nail it down.

For the shot you see above, I swapped places, and lenses with Matt, but I actually shot from just in front of the ramp, rather than beside it where Matt was, to get this angle. You only get get to take one shot because you’re shooting flash, so I panned with Eddie as I saw him coming down the mountain, and then pressed the shutter just after he hit the ramp—still panning with him as the flash fired.

Above: After we shot some strobe stuff, the sun started to peak out so I switched back to shooting natural light. Two friends of Eddie’s showed up, and I got this shot of Eddie’s friend Erin from that same vantage point, shot at 14mm, at f/2.8 and cropped using my Cinematic Cropping technique (link). This is really one you have to click on to see the larger view.

A Real Learning Experience
This was my first time shooting anything like this, and I really learned a lot. Like anything else in photography, it takes a lot of practice to get good at it, and a willingness to do what it takes to get the shot (Tom SO has that part down. He’s a mad man, and will go to unbelievable lengths to get the shot). I can’t wait to try it again. Ya know, when it’s a bit warmer.

Above: Here’s one last shot of Eddie, from my position by the ramp. I have to tell you, I was really amazed at not only what Eddie could do, but his physical endurance. Every time he shot down the mountain, he had to climb all the way back up to do it all over again. It was really tough in that deep of snow, but he was able to do it again and again and again, non-stop for hours on end.

More photos from the shoot on my Facebook Page
I’m posting a few more images from the shoot on my Facebook page. Here’s the link.

I love this stuff!
I really want to thank Matt for making this whole thing happen. Matt is a tremendously fun guy to do just about anything with, but sharing a trip like this with him is really special. Also, my thanks to Tom Bol for making sure it all came together, and to his assistants Steve and Randy who were great guys, loads of laughs, and incredibly helpful.

Despite the lack of blue sky, it was a really memorable trip, shooting in the show with an old friend, and some new ones. I know I’m very blessed to get to do stuff like this, and I’m very thankful, too!

This are just some of the dates from the first leg of my new nationwide “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch It” tour, but since we have these dates already locked down, I thought I’d share them.

·  Boston, MA – Thursday, March 24th
·  Minneapolis, MN – Monday, April 4th
·  Indianapolis, IN – Wednesday, April 6th
·  Chicago, IL – Thursday, April 7th

Here’s how each session is structured
(1) I start each session with an empty stage and then I build the lighting set-up for a particular kind of lighting look from scratch, explaining everything as I go, all step-by-step.

(2) Then, I actually do a portrait shoot live in each class, sharing all the camera settings, lighting settings, and exactly what you need to do to nail that type of look.

(3) Finally, I take those images into Photoshop to show you how to do all the post processing, including editing the Raw image, all the portrait retouching techniques, and the finishing effects, so you see the entire process, from beginning to end, with nothing left out.

Not only will you be able to nail all these exact same looks, (using a simple, inexpensive studio lighting set-up), but best of all you’ll learn all the post processing techniques as well.

This all takes place in every class session, all day long—–the lighting set-up, then the shooting, and then all the post processing for every set-up, and every look.

I hope you’ll join me in one of these cities. It’s only $99 for the full day of training (or $79 for NAPP members), and includes a detailed, step-by-step workbook that follows along exactly with what I’m doing in the class.

As soon as the rest of cities and dates are locked down, I’ll announce those here too. I am super psyched about this tour, and I can’t wait to get there with you guys. Here’s the link to the full class schedule, or to sign up. I hope I get to see you in person soon. :)

Last Tuesday I shot the Orlando Magic vs. the LA CLippers—-my first NBA game shoot of the year (and only my third NBA game shoot ever), and thought I’d share a few shots from the game here.

The Fisheye Strikes Again!
When my buddy Erik Kuna (head of our Video Operations) and I got to the brand new Amway Center arena in Orlando, the doors hadn’t opened yet, so I grabbed my 10.5mm fisheye lens and headed up as high as I could go to capture this view of the arena. I actually took quite a few HDR shots while I was up there, and processed them using three different HDR programs, but I didn’t think any of them looked as good as just the single image with Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 3.0 applied using the preset “Tonal Contrast” and that’s what you see above (click on the image for a much larger view).

What a Difference an Extra 100mm Makes
This was the first basketball game I got to shoot with my 300mm f./2.8 lens, and I have to say having that extra 100mm made a bigger difference than I thought. The past two games I just had my 70-200mm, which works pretty well when they’re down at the end of the court where I’m shooting from, but when they were at the other end, I got to the point where I just laid my camera in my lap and waited for the action to come my way.

But with the 300mm, I spent most of my time shooting at the other end of the court, because when I turned the camera vertically, I could fill the screen with the action. Plus, you can’t compare the quality of the shallow depth of field at f/2.8 on the 300mm with the 200mm. There’s just something really special about it.

On my 2nd body: the 24-70mm f/2.8
When the action did come to my end, I mostly shot with my 24-70mm f/2.8 so I could capture wide shots like this (cropped using my Cinematic Cropping technique–link). Of course, I missed a bunch of tight-in stuff around the basket, but I was able to grab a few with my 70-200mm (I switched back and forth between the 70-200mm and the 24-70mm during the game).

Above: Here’s one of those shots caught with the 70-200mm, at 112mm (and even at that I cut off the Magic player’s feet). That’s the Clipper’s 6’10” star rookie Blake Griffin in mid air shot above.

Above: One of my favorite shots from the game. I just love the expression on Blake’s face.

Above: Orlando’s superstar Center, 6’11” Dwight Howard jams one during the first period. By the end of the game, I had so many shots of player’s jamming the ball, I intentionally had to look to shoot something else. Thanks to that 300mm I’ve got ’em hanging from the rim, going up in the air from every angle, and lots of shots along those same lines, like the one you see below shot at the far end of the court.

Above: here’s one more uncropped 300mm shot, and you can see why I love this lens for getting in tight. I shot at 1,250 to 1,600 ISO all night (the lighting in this new arena was really pretty darn good).

Above: Here’s my final shot of the game; of Clipper’s 6’11’ Center DeAndre Jordan (the other famous Jordan basketball player). I actually did get to see Michael Jordan play once in my life, in Orlando, when the Bulls played the Magic many years ago. My brother and I drove over and bought tickets from a scalper outside the arena. We paid quite a bit, because our seats were right down in front. At least, that’s why the scalpers printed arena seat map showed, but once we actually got inside, we learned they had reversed the seat map and our Row AA seats, weren’t down low, but at the beginning of the top section. It was still great (and we got to watch the last period from some great seats down low).

Another Learning Experience
Every time I shoot another game, I learn a lot more. Having the right equipment here helped a lot, but sitting directly next to the guy shooting for AP Wire Service was a bigger education. I paid close attention to when he shot, what he was shooting (I peaked quite a lot while he was chimping), and which lenses he used when (yup, he had a 300mm too, plus a camera mounted on the basket which he fired remotely with a Pocket Wizard). Like anything you want to get good at, it takes practice, and although I felt like I did much better at this game than I had at my previous two, I still need a lot more practice. Luckily, that’s something I’m not afraid to do.

Above: Erik Kuna took this shot of me (shooting out wide at 24mm), from the other end of the court (we got split up on opposite ends because it was unusually crowded with photographers that night). You can see me in the middle, a very nice NAPP member I met shooting the game, and the guy from AP who unwittingly helped me learn a lot that night. Click for a larger view.

One more thing
Nothing makes the game better than a win for the home team, and the Magic did just that, beating the Clippers 101 to 85.

My thanks to my buddy Erik, to the Magic’s Dante Marchitelli, and to all the great folks at the Orlando Magic for having me and Erik, and for how great they treat photographers shooting the game. It totally rocked!

I mentioned earlier this week that back on Monday we invited some NAPP members to come to our headquarters (just outside Tampa, Florida), and be a part of a full dress rehearsal/dry run for my upcoming “Light It, Shoot it, Retouch It Live!” nationwide tour (inspired by my series of classes with the same name on Kelby Training Online). Well, I got some images from Brad and I thought I’d share them here with you guys on the blog.

The idea of this day was to get in front of a live audience, do the entire seminar from start to finish (with all the lighting set-ups, shooting, and then retouching, editing, and finishing of the photos in Photoshop), and then get live, on the spot feedback from the attendees about anything they wanted added, addressed in more detail, and generally anything I could do to make the day more valuable to them. Well, I’m happy to say, the experiment worked even better than I had hoped (and the tour will be that much better because of it).

OK, that’s me goofing off above while Brad was taking production shots (Nothing is more handsome than having a wire hanging off your face, eh?) Anyway, the audience was absolutely fantastic—I couldn’t have asked for a better group. They were totally into it, and a HUGE help with lots of insights, great questions, and requests that I was able to add directly to the detailed seminar workbook before it goes to press. By the way; you’d think I would have retouched that funky dent in my hair on the top left side, but after seeing this shot, I actually took it a step further and went and got my hair cut today. :)

Here I am doing bunny ears. It was that kind of day. We had three different professional models working with us during the day (two women and a man), and we went through different lighting set-ups for different looks, then we did the full portrait retouches, and ended each segment with finishing off the photos, and adding portrait effects and some fun Photoshop tricks (including a whole segment on compositing).

I really want this tour to be something that will help a lot of people by showing the complete process from empty room to finished image, and I owe a debt of thanks to everyone who came that day to help make the tour the best it can be. Thanks for all your feedback, great input, and for being such a great crowd to present to. You guys rocked it! :-)

This was, hands down, one of the most fun seminars I’ve ever taught, because we covered so much ground in so little time, and everything happened in real time. I’ll have cities and dates coming next week (the tour kicks off in just a few weeks), so stay tuned.

Yesterday our lighting set-up was pretty much for head shots (one beauty dish and a reflector), but for every look we did during the day, I also shot more traditional full length shots as well, but like always—I try to keep the lighting simple, using just one main light. This was shot with a gray background—I added the violet Split Tone effect in the shadow areas inside of Lightroom.

Here’s the lighting set-up for the shot you see at the top of the page. We used the same exact strobe (the Elinchrom BXRI 500), but we switched out the Beauty Dish we used for the headshots shown in yesterday’s post for the 53″ Midi Octa softbox, which is probably my most-often used softbox when shooting fashion (It’s priced fairly decent for its large size—B&H Photo has it $289. Link). The main reason I switched was because I knew I’d be shooting 3/4 length and full length shots, so I wanted the light to cover more area. Also, to make sure some of the main light bounces back toward our subject, we put up a large white V-flat on the opposite side of the Main Light to fill in the other side.

Since I was shooting tethered, positioning the single Main Light was easy—it was controlling the light on the white cove in the background that kept us busy during the day. We would change between a medium gray, light gray, and solid white for most every look, and when you’re using two lights (one lighting each side of the cove) you’re constantly having to mess with the lights to balance them (for dark gray, we’d turn off the lights; for light gray we’d put them on low power, and for solid white we’d crank them up).

Above: Here’s what you have to do when shooting full length shots to get the right look and perspective (I know—it’s not a pretty view of me so stop snickering. But that’s what ya gotta do to get the right perspective). Although this is Tanja in the shot (rather than Megan), I thought I’d at least show you how far back you need to be to shoot at 150mm to 200mm, and precisely how uncomfortable you need to be, which is plenty by the way.

Above: When I was back on my feet again, I moved in as close as my 70-200mm would focus to get this beauty-style shot. You can see the Midi Octa reflected in her eyes. Mmmmm. Midi Octa. I wanted to make sure her eyes were tack sharp, so I put the camera on a tripod before taking the shot.

Above: Since Sandbox Studio is a daylight studio, I wanted to shoot at least one look with natural light, but for this one I thought I’d try something different. I bought a backdrop that looks like the material from a tufted leather couch from Backdrop Outlet (link), and we hung it on a poll between two C-stands. What I wanted to try was to frame the shot so you see the entire backdrop, stands and all (like you see here), but to make it look more like a finished shot (and not a production shot), I laid down on the ground to shoot it like a regular full length fashion shot, and I got the image you see above.

Since I was shooting natural window night, I switched my camera to Aperture Priority mode, and set my f/stop at f/2.8 to get plenty of light into the scene. My shutter speed looked kind of slow at ISO 200, and I was afraid I’d wind up with some blurry shots not being on a tripod down so low, so I increased my ISO to 500 (there’s an ISO you don’t see everyday), and I was up to 1/1600 of a second, and good to go.

Above: After I got the full length, I stood back up and went into for some head and shoulders type of shots. Still using just Natural window light, and the same settings as the full length shot except I lowered the ISO to 400.

Above: Here’s the production shot (photo by Brad Moore), and as you can see, there’s not much going on here—-just natural light. It doesn’t get much simpler than this. By the way; I quickly figured out which window was the North-facing window by using my iPhone’s Compass App. First time I ever needed to use it.

Above: Here’s a full length shot of Tanja (the reflection on the floor is faked in Photoshop. Please don’t tell any one).

Above: Here’s a production shot (photo by Brad Moore). Again, it’s just one Main Light with the 53″ Midi Octa, and then two large V-flat reflectors to bounce some of the light back onto our subject. There are two lights just aiming at the background, but they’re powered down low to create a very light gray, almost off-white background.

Above: Here’s a different perspective from Brad, and you can see the background lights and the V-flats pretty clearly here (and the creative team all looking on during the shoot. While I’m shooting, they’ll quickly jump in and fix hair, adjust clothing, or touch up make-up as we go, which is incredibly helpful).

(Above: some unretouched frames from that set, shown in Lightroom’s Grid View)

Well, that’s it for this one, gang
I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes look. Thanks to my photo assistant Brad Moore for helping throughout the planning and staging of the shoot; to Megan and Tanja for being so patient and keeping a wonderful attitude the entire shoot, and to Sopha, Linh, and Cassandra for all their hard work in making the shoot a success.