Category Archives Photography

Hi Gang: If you’re into travel photography (or just want to learn some interesting things about one of the most amazing places on this planet), then you’re invited to join us for a FREE travel photography Webcast this Thursday night at 7pm called “Unpacking Dubai.”

RC and Brad (who were both in Dubai this month) will be joining me, plus we’ll be giving away some goodies, including a big beautiful print from my trip. We’ll be taking your questions live on the air, and sharing everything from photography tips and techniques to the post processing side of it all. Here’s the details:

Who: Me, Brad and RC
What: A Free Webcast called “Unpacking Dubai” (for travel photographers)
Where: At this link (register for the free webcast now)
When: This Thursday, April 2nd at 7:00 pm New York Time (link to World Time Zone converter)
Why: Because we love travel photography and sharing cool techniques

I've got lots of fun stuff to share and some really helpful photo tips, so I hope you can join me (it's Free) at 7:00 pm ET Thursday (mark your calendar). Also, can you help me spread the word? :) [NOTE: If you can’t make the live broadcast, we’ll start free re-broadcasts the following day.] 

In the meantime, don’t forget these three things:

(a) Tomorrow is “The Grid” with Peter Hurley as our in-studio guest live at 4pm ET
(b) Follow me on the Periscope App for lots of live behind-the-scenes fun
(c) If you’re into Lightroom, come and learn lots of new stuff at



OK, I am WAY behind on posting this, especially since we’re just about to start cranking up the 2015 NFL season, but it’s one of those better-late-than-never things (at least that’s what I keep telling myself). :)

A 60-Second Recap:
I wound up shooting about the same number of games this year as I did last year, but I still missed quite a few games overall due to my travel schedule and family vacations (I have the opportunity to shoot about 21 games total per season if I shoot every single week, including preseason).  I shot most of the Bucs home games, and I picked up a few other games when the Buc's were on the road.

Here are the teams I got to shoot this season:

  1. Tampa Bay Bucs
  2. Tennessee Titans
  3. Miami Dolphins
  4. St. Louis Rams
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers
  6. Atlanta Falcons
  7. New York Giants
  8. New Orleans Saints
  9. Cincinnati Bengals
  10. Green Bay Packers
  11. Minnesota Vikings
  12. Carolina Panthers
  13. Baltimore Ravens
  14. Philadelphia Eagles

NOTE: This season I picked up shooting the only team I hadn’t shot yet: The Baltimore Ravens.

I did a full post, with all the stories and full size images, over at – If you get a few minutes, I hope you'll check it out - here’s the link:

There ya have it â”-my favorite NFL shots from this past season
Thanks to everybody who tolerated my football posts this season and to everybody who supported me throughout the year with your kind words and comments (and to everybody who followed my game day on Instagram). I love sharing what I pick up from shooting these games (good and bad), and it's been really fun having you all along with me on this journey. :)

Above: My wife texted Brad that if he didn’t take a bunch of photos of me in my tux, that when we got back she would shave his beard off herself. Needless to say, he took lots of photos. 

The best way I can describe it is “Surreal.” I know that term is over-used, but it honestly best describes the whole event. The scope â” the scale of it all, was way beyond what I was expecting. I figured the awards ceremony would be in a nice hotel ballroom, but I wasn’t prepared for something more along the lines of “The Oscars” and when we pulled up in front of the massive stage, assembled from scratch in the shadow of Dubai’s iconic Emirates Towers, in front of the Dubai International Financial Centre, I was speechless.

Everyone connected with HIPA’s event was just incredible 
They are some of the most gracious hosts on the planet (a special thank you Mohammed Al Daou, Ronald Villegas and Ziad Al Salama). It’s a first class organization, and a world class event and having his Highness the Crown Prince there, and to be presented with an award by His Highness himselfâ¦wellâ¦it’s something I’ll never forget. To say it was an honor, and an amazing evening, is just an understatement.

Today, I’m going to share a lot of behind-the-scenes photos, mostly taken with an iPhone, mostly taken by Brad, and I’m going to hold off on sharing my images from my 2-1/2 days of shooting until I find out (later today) if we’re going to do a live Webcast about the trip.

RC was there 8-days right before I arrived, and I’m hoping the two of us, along with Brad, can do a live Webcast about the trip next week (I’m off to Amsterdam this week), so I want to save sharing those images until then (but I’ll do a simultaneous release on of the images from the webcast for those who can’t attend).

I could share so many stories, but for now here’s some BTS shots, with captions that help tell the story of at least the HIPA Awards Ceremony, until I can tell the full story, and share some videos during the live Webcast (details as soon as I have them). Until then, here we go:

Above: Click on this pano to see it much larger, and it will help you get a feel for the scope of the event. This is about 2-hours until curtain, and everybody’s in prep mode, testing the lights, projectors, audio, cameras, etc. 

Above: Look at the size of that video screen â” it blends down and continues right onto the floor, so they can project images on the floor as well. That entire black wall behind the screen was erected just for this ceremony. 

Above: Here’s a shot from the stage looking back toward the seating — the Emirates Towers make an awesome backdrop. 

Above: Yes, of course we have time for a selfie. :)

Above: Brad was looking very spiffy for the event as well, and his beard really took on an international flavour, don’t ya think?

Above: Brad was clearly concerned about not having enough tux shots, so he was constantly posing me, but it must have worked â” he still has his beard. 

Above: Here’s an iPhone pano of the scene just before showtime at 7pm (click for a much larger view).

Above: The Crown Prince has arrived, and now it’s showtime! (and time for me to get a little nervous). 

Above: Before each category was presented, we saw a really slick video that interacted with performers on stage. Very well done, and they must have rehearsed like crazy to get the timing down the way they had it. Very well done. 

Above: After seeing lots of amazing images from around the world who were entered into the contest, it was time for the Special Awards category. In just a moment The Crown Prince His Royal Highness Hamdan bin Mohommed bin Rahshid al Maktum would come to the stage to present the HIPA Special Award himself to a very excited American author and Photoshop Guy. 

Above: Here’s a shot of me receiving the Award from The Prince. I will never forget that moment!

Above: You can see how excited I was to receive this award. 

Above: When I got back to my seat, I just could not stop smiling. What a night!

Above: At the end, all the winners came on stage to get a group shot with the Prince. I’m way over on the left side. 


Above: That’s a shot of me, and my buddy Ali Rajabi from Iran, posing with our awards (Ali won in the general category for an amazing shot he took of a snowy street in New York City). 

Above: Amazing after-party under the stars, and then off to bed for an early sunrise shoot on top of building (this was taken just after sunrise). 

Above: This is my new friend, Daniel Cheong (thanks Elia Locardi for introducing us!) who was a wealth of knowledge on where to shoot in Dubai, and how to get access to high places, like this rooftop (he should know – he’s taken some of the most well-known iconic images of Dubai with the tops of skyscrapers peeking through the clouds). Awesome guy â” tons of fun, and we’re looking forward to having him on “The Grid” when he visits us later this year. 

Above: Look who we found in Dubai! Yup, skyscraper scaling, lunch eating, flash-firing, love-making (love-making?), risk taking, bundle of energy and light, the one and only Joe McNally, who was taking up residence at the Park Hyatt before heading home from his Gulf Photo Plus gig (and photographing the Burj Khalifa’s window washers hanging off the side of the building 140-something stories up. Yikes!) Had a wonderful lunch with Joe and Brad, and the weather couldn’t have been more beautiful. 

Above: What’s Brad’s beard look like 124 floors above the earth? Like this. He can take a selfie like a boss!

Above: Spent two really fun days in Dubai and Abu Dhabi with the wonderful Eva von Pepel, from the Swedish Photo Crew (a wonderful group of Swedish expat photographers living and working in Dubai â” they led a photo walk last year as part of my annual Worldwide Photo Walk, and I contacted them before my trip and Eva was kind enough to chauffeur us all over, and get us access to cool places). This shot was taken in front of the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Unbelievable place (more on this, and many photos, to come soon). Thanks again Eva! I think we put 1,200 miles on her Nissan Armada (and we crushed several slower, smaller cars along the way). 

Above: This is Brad “In da club” (it’s true. It’s just that we were in this rooftop club at 6:00 am for a sunrise shoot, but we couldn’t resist the “I’m in da club” shot). 

Above: On Wednesday night there was a press conference/panel at the hotel, hosted by HIPA and I was one of the participants. Totally cool event (very well run â” the hostess who asked the questions and kept things moving was really great). A tux was not required, but had it beenâ¦I was prepared. 

Above: The panel discussion part mostly focused on photographic education and that was really fun for me. You could tell from the discussions how serious the Crown Prince and HIPA are about making Dubai a center for serious photography. Their commitment and passion are really refreshing and there were really engaging moments, spontaneous applause, thoughtful comments and just a really great presentation all around, presented in three different parts. I was really tickled to be a small part of it. 

Above: After the panel, there were meetings with different magazines, press organizations, the team from HIPA, and some serious photographers from all over the world. 

Above: Here I’m taping an interview for a Philippine’s based magazine. 

I’ve got so much more to shareâ¦
This is just a peek at some of the behind-the-scenes stuff. Again, I hope to be announcing a free live Webcast about the trip with RC, Brad and me, hopefully for next week (depending on schedules and things), and I’ll be sharing some of my images then.

Thanks for hanging with me through this very long post. Can’t wait to share the pictures and stories and people of one of the coolest places on the planet â” Dubai and the UAE. :)

Here’s to an awesome week everybody!



I can’t believe it’s been seven years since I took these shots in Dubai â” I was there speaking at an Adobe conference, and I got a chance to spend two extra days just shooting and having fun in this amazing place, along with my brother Jeff and my buddy Jeff Revell.

I was there at the height of Dubai’s construction boom. At the time around 25% of all the construction cranes in the world were in Dubai. The Burj Kalifa was about 80% complete (seen below) and at that point nobody really knew how many stories it would be when completed (Well, somebody knew but they weren’t saying).

I said to my brother and Jeff back then, “I would just love to come back here in five years and see what it all looks like when they’re all done.” Apparently, they’re not done â” it’s still growing fast, and it took me a couple of extra years beyond that five to make the trek back, but I’m so excited to be visiting Dubai again â” one of the most amazing places I’ve ever seen.

This time I’m not there to teach â” I am humbled, honored and so excited to be presented Monday night with the prestigious Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award. And it comes with an added bonus that I finally accomplished something that made my young daughter slightly impressed with me. “A Prince is giving you the award?! Now that’s something Daddy!” Lol! Finally!

The awesome folks at 500px did a really nice write up about it over on their blog (here’s the link), and if you’ve got a sec maybe you could pop-on over there as they’ve got all the details.

I’m so looking forward to thisâ¦
â¦and I’m excited to have my buddy Brad Moore along with me for the trip this time. We’re trying to fit in some shooting time during this short trip, and I’m excited to see the completed Burj Kalifa (the hotel we’re staying at has a direct view of it), and to possibly make the short drive up to Abu Dhabi for a shoot there as well. And of course, the highlight will be the awards ceremony (I had to rent a tux and all), and I hope to have lots of photos to share when I return next week.

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend, and we’ll see you back here on Monday, provided I have enough time to actually put together a post. Hmmmm. Maybe I could write one on the plane. Seems like I’ll be a few hours in the air. ;-)

All my best,


Earlier this week I was in Las Vegas at the WPPI show (the big Wedding and Portrait Show), and I was honored to be asked to give a talk in Canon’s booth on any topic I’d like (that’s me during one of my talks on Monday â” photo by Brad Moore).

While the name of my talk was “Photo Recipes” a big part of the talk was about lenses, but not the standard lens demo stuff (use this lens for weddings and this lens for sports, and the like), but thinking about lenses in the bigger picture (no pun intended there, but I wish it had been): from the fact that the moment you pick up a lens and put it on your camera, you’ve already made your first composition decision, to why so many people aren’t happy with their lens (and it’s not about sharpness or clarity, weight or price).

Here’s the condensed version
It was a 45-minute presentation so I can’t fit it all in here, but one topic I did touch on (with lots of examples) was why so many folks tell me they think their photos either look like snapshots or are just “nothing special” and I think part of that can be attributed to their lens selection. In particular, I feel (just my opinion here, but I’m not the first one to say this), that there’s a lens range that I consider kind of a “no-man’s land” for lenses because it’s where most of the worst photos are taken â” when you’re first starting out. That range, when you’re a beginner, is where your worst shots are made (stay with me here), and then you get better and leave those behind.

One of my favorite quotes ever
It comes from Bresson and it’s so right on the money:

He’s right, ya know. Now, let’s think about which lenses most photographers these days start out with. Usually, a kit lens, probably an 18-55mm. You can opt for other kit choices, like a 24-105mm or another popular one is the 18-135mm. But most beginner’s photos are going to be taken within that no-man’s land range of anywhere from 18-135mm with lots of shots at 50mm, 70mm and maybe the 100mm range. The reason I don’t really like a 24-70mm on my full-frame camera is that it’s fairly equivalent to an 18-55mm on a crop sensor camera. That range makes an awful lot of average pictures for people just starting out. It’s the beginner’s range of choice.

So, am I saying you can’t take a good picture with an 18-55mm or an 18-135mm?
Absolutely not. I am not saying that at all â” a lot of folks take amazing pictures with an 18-55mm. But a whole lot more, don’t.

So what are you saying?
Most folks that are new to photography are playing the middle ground when it comes to focal lengths. Using the average, standard default focal lengths they have with kit lenses. They live and die in that beginner’s range because they haven’t bought their first “2nd lens” yet, and here’s why this matters:

(1) They can shoot a wide angle shot, but not super wide. Just “average wide.” Like everybody else.
(2) They can shoot a telephoto shot, but not nearly tight enough to really bring you in close to see detail, like the pros do.

I think that’s one big reason they’re unhappy with their shots â” and why I feel they often describe their own shots to me as “average.” They’re comparing their images to the ones they see the top pros make, and their shots just don’t look like that. They’re not that wide. They’re not that close. They’re not that “something” and they probably don’t realize what it is, which makes it all even more frustrating. That average kit focal length definitely makes it harder (not impossible, but certainly harder) to create really compelling images because it’s harder to “stand out from the crowd.” At those focal lengths, you’re producing the same types of shots everybody else with a kit lens does. That’s before we even get to the sharpness issues, which is a post unto itself.

So, what is super wide and why does it matter?
My go-to lens for the past year has been Canon’s 16-35mm lens, and quite honestly, I could just tape the barrel down at 16mm â” I rarely ever shoot it at anything but 16mm, because when I go wide, I don’t want to go “a little wide” â” I want the image to have a chance of looking epic. Of looking big, and sweeping and just flat-out different the instant you see it. I certainly don’t always hit that goal. In fact, I rarely hit that goal, but at least I know it won’t be because of my lens choice â” it will be on me; what I’m shooting and how I composed it. Those alone â” I’m not limited by my lens.

But I want to go wider!
Wider is better, and I just started shooting Canon’s 14mm lens after Brad tried one out shooting a concert and was raving about it’s sharpness, but beyond that it’s just the “look” you get when you get that wide. It brings something different to the table â” something that instantly captures attention. That’s the kind of lens I want to be using (I don’t care that it’s a prime â” I’ll zoom with my feet).

Soon, I’ll be able to go even wider
My dream lens was just announced by Canon, and as soon as it ships, I’m picking one up (that’s a heads up to B&H â” please keep one for me, and can I get free overnight shipping?). It’s an 11-24mm zoom. I haven’t seen one yet. I haven’t shot it, but I know it’s going to bring me the opportunity to take even wider shots, and show a view most folks aren’t already used to seeing day-in, day out. It’s still on me; choosing the subject and composition, to make the shot, but I know at least with a lens that wide I’ll be starting on 2nd base.

For just two shots from each shoot, I want to go even wider. I want to go “fish”
Last year I started using the Canon 8-15mm fisheye zoom, and I absolutely love it (but I don’t use it at anything other than 15mm fish, so I get the full fish effect but without blacking out any of the edges or turning it into a full circle at 8mm). That lens creates really captivating images, but I’ve found that when you show someone a fisheye shot from a shoot, I don’t care if it’s a wedding or a bowl game, they’re like “Wow! That is really cool!” When you show them a second fisheye shot, they’re like “That’s cool” and if you show them a third it’s like “Uh huh.” It’s a special effect lens, and while it has real wow factor for one or two shots, (it tends to get old real fast, like highly processed HDR), so I know going in to the shoot that I’m only going to show one or two shots from it, but those one to two I show will have a huge impact, and knowing I’m going to get two shots that nobody else has, and that they’re going to have a big impact, well, that’s money in the bank where I come from.

Go long or go home
Dave Black said that to me once about shooting the same semi-long lens at a football game everybody else is shooting, but I think his advice extends way beyond just football. I think this is the other side of the coin that beginners are struggling with â” going beyond that 135mm telephoto focal range, and bring something special to the party. 200mm is a great focal length, and there’s so much you can do with it. My Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 is my workhorse lens. I use it for every sport I shoot, I use it for most every portrait, I use it at weddings, I’ve used it for travel, if I was stuck on a desert island and could only choose one lens, it’d be this (or a 28-300mm for full frame, I’m kinda torn). 200mm is a great focal length for sure. Ya know what’s even better? 300mm. Better yet? 400mm. These are ranges beginners rarely capture, and by shooting at 400mm you’re bringing something different, something special, something with impact to the party â” something that separates you from the crowd.

This past year I shot an Eagles/Titans NFL game using nothing but one lens, Canon’s updated 100-400mm f/4.5 to f/5.6 IS II lens. It cost less than my 70-200mm, but I was in tight at 400mm, and churning out shots for the first time at a pro or college game without using a Monopod. It was a revelation, but without that monopod I was (ahem) unprotected in front and took direct contact down south with the business end of a bullet pass and wellâ¦I saw stars for a few minutes there, but it was still an amazing experience, and one that was financially out-of-reach for a lot of folks, but now is in a lot of shooters’ ballpark (no pun, but come on, that would have been a good one), and that puts them in a better chance to make some magic than they would have in kit land. Again, not that it can’t be done â” there are some amazing kit lens shooters out there â” you just have to be really, really good.

Don’t take all this the wrong way
I know when I write an article like this that it’s natural for people who have, and love, and have maybe gotten great results in what I called a “no-man’s land” focal range lens to get defensive when they read this, and write defensive comments. Please don’t take it that way. I had all those same kit lenses, too. One of my favorite shots I’ve ever taken was taken with the kit lens on my first DSLR, the original Canon Rebel, so I know good shots can be taken with inexpensive lenses. This isn’t about the price. It’s about what lens choice means to your composition, your images, and your impact.

What I hope to do with this article, and what I hoped to achieve with my talks for Canon earlier this week out in Vegas, was for photographers, especially new shooters who are frustrated with what they’re getting, to realize that part of their problem might be partially focal length based, and I want folks to know how important lens selection is to the type of image you’re about to make. I think it’s the starting point of every shot â” the first composition decision â” and why we need to really give some thought to which lenses we use and why we use them, because I truly believe it makes that big a difference. When that realization hits you, you can’t look back. This is important stuff, and I hope this helped, at the very least, to get you thinking seriously about your lens choice next time you’re out shooting, or when you’re deciding on which lens to get next.

I’m off to Sacramento!
I’m there on Monday for the final stop of the most fun seminar to teach I’ve ever taught.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I hope to see you back here on Monday.

All my best,

Going really wide and really long (stop snickering)

Above: It was a cold, gray day in Richmond â” perfect for shooting indoors. Here’s an iPhone pic of me in front of The Byrd (photo by Brad Moore).

So, last month I’m reading USA Today (online) and I run across an article about classic old historic movie theaters (link) and I saw that one of them was in Richmond, Virginia, which was great because in just a few days I was going to be in Richmond with my seminar tour. So, I asked my assistant Lynn to contact the theater and see if there was any way I could come in the day before my seminar; set up a tripod; and take  some shots of the theater while it was empty. Well, as luck would have it, the theater manager (a really cool guy named Todd Schall-Vess) was a KelbyOne subscriber and had some of my books as well, so we were all set for our afternoon shoot, and he pretty much gave us the run of the place, which was awesome.

Above: Here’s the Byrd from the very back of the theater shot with a 15mm fisheye lens on a full frame 5D Mark III. The fisheye is so wide that you’re also seeing the balcony, which is right over my head, in this shot. Click on it for a larger view.

Above: Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot. I mostly shot from the seating areas, and tried both of my lenses for each location (a 15mm fisheye, and a 16-35mm).

Above: Here’s a fisheye from the balcony.

There are not HDRs
I did shoot three exposures (one regular exposure, one 2-stops under-exposed, and one 2-stops over), and I tried doing some HDRs, including 32-bit HDRs but the problem was always the chandelier â” when the HDRs merged into a single file, the chandelier was still blown out big time, so instead I put all three images into the same file on their own separate layers (Open all three images, then go under Photoshop’s File menu, under Scripts, and choose Load Files into Stack). Then I just used Layer Masks to paint in the chandelier and ceiling from the layer that was under-exposed, and then I painted in areas that needed to be brightened from the over-exposed layer, so kind of an old-fashioned layer mask party. It takes longer, but it was much more effective than the results I was getting from regular HDRs (including trying Photomatix Pro 5).

Above: Here’s a closer view.

Above: Here’s the reverse view, from the stage looking back at the house, shot with the 16-35mm at 16mm. 

Above: Another behind-the-scenes shot. Using a travel tripod and a cable release. Can’t believe we actually remembered it. 

Above: Here’s a fisheye version from the same shooting position. 

The theater is MUCH darker than it looks in these photos
In fact it’s so dark that Todd Schall-Vess (the theater’s manager, and a photographer himself), told us that one time a photographer was there to shoot the theater and asked Todd to turn the lights on. Todd told him, “All the lights are on.” I could see how he’d ask that â” it was incredibly dark inside, so my shots are actually brighter than the theater. When I made them look like it really did, you would swear the shots were 2-stops under-exposed.

The Byrd Rocks!
My thanks to Todd Schall-Vess for letting us takes some photos of The Byrd. Just a beautiful place, and if a three-hour long movie hadn’t been playing that night, Brad and I would have been there that night to take in a show â” it’s a perfect place for it, and one of just a handful left like it anywhere in the country, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity.

OK, I’ve gotta hit the sack â” big day today here in Vegas and a long flight home.

Hope you have a Tuesday packed with all the wholesome goodness of 100% whole grain. ;-)