Category Archives Photography

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If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably remember a post I did back in May of last year called “My Day with Jay” and it was about a remarkable day of learning I had walking the streets of New York City for a few hours with a true living legend of photography: Jay Maisel. (Here’s the link in case you missed it).

Here are some comments I got from that post:

“Thanks for sharing your amazing experience. I wish I also had got a chance to walk with him and learn from him.”

“I can only echo everyone else’s comments (thanks for sharing about your experience with Jay–what a master!) and requests (please, pretty please, share a bit more about how to shoot in the city while being unobtrusive)!

“As with some of the other posts, How do you shoot people? I, too, and afraid that I will get in trouble.”

“I’d love to take pictures of people in the street but I am afraid of it…”.

“As some other mentioned before are there any helpful tips and tricks on shooting on the street? It sounds always so easy but mostly I am “scared”or feel uncomfortable shooting people on the street.”

There were many other comments because people have so many questions about this stuff, and of course Jay is arguably the master of this genre. That’s why on Wednesday I flew up to New York City, with a Kelby Training video crew (and Brad Moore, who took the production photo above), to create Your Day with Jayan online class for Kelby Training Online. It was even more amazing than my first walk with him.

My goal was just to be there to keep things moving; to prompt him with the same kind of questions I thought you guys might have, and basically let Jay do all the talking.

Just like on “My Day With Jay,” Your Day with Jay starts out at Jay’s studio in Manhattan, and then we headed down through the streets around his neighborhood, his camera in hand, then we caught a subway to 42nd street; we shot a little in Times Square, then headed down 42nd street to Bryant Park, and ended up at Jay’s favorite local restaurant for lunch and more conversation, which included an impromptu shoot of our waitress and the owner. We wrapped at Jay’s studio with a personal tour, and commentary on some of his favorite pieces, along with even more learning.

It was truly an amazing day packed with wisdom, insightful comments, humor, and humility. I learned more about photography than I have in years (including an eye-opening revelation about my frustrations with my own photography), and I think by letting Jay just be Jay, we came away with something really special. It’s real. Not rehearsed. The shots he took happened as they happened. The situations. The people. The challenges. You see how he deals with all of it–you see it, hear it, experience it all firsthand like you’re walking right alongside him.

It was part roving class. Part documentary. Part creative thinking class. Part photography master class. And parts will even bring a tear to your eye.

Although a lot of this class is devoted to teaching you to how to shoot people in the street (and he answers all those lingering questions), he covers so much more than that, on so many levels, and he covers so many different photography topics. I’m so glad I was there, and I’m so glad that now you’ll get to be there, too.

I’ll let you know when Jay’s class “goes live” on Kelby Training Online (there’s still lots of video editing and production work to be done), but when it does, I promise you—-you’ll have a day you’ll never forget.

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I’m not talking about “metallic prints” (which are prints made on Kodak metallic-finish paper) I’m talking about images actually printed on metal (well, Aluminum to be exact). I got two different kinds in the past two weeks, from two different sources, so I’m going to cover them both here.

First, the print I’m holding above, which is from Image Wizards, and it’s one of their “AluminArte” images (which they call, “High Definition Images on Aluminum”).

On their site (link) they make a pretty bold statement:

“Remember the first time you saw HDTV? Our AluminArte samples will show you a level of imaging never seen before.”

I have to admit—it’s actually right on the money. My buddy Matt Kloskowski had the first AluminArte print I’d ever seen (it was of his amazing landscape shot of a barn in Washington State’s Polouse region), and when it came in the office, we all just stood around it slack-jawed. I’d never seen anything like it. Then when mine print came in (shown above), we all did the same thing—the depth and detail is like what you see on HDTV (compared to regular broadcast).

The sad thing is—-in a regular photo of it (like you see above—photo by Brad Moore), you lose all that depth and dimension that you see so clearly in person (just imagine seeing a HDTV image on a regular TV with no HD and you know what I mean). I found a video on their site, about the process, but again, because it’s video, it can’t show the depth of this type of printing on any level (this is just one of those “you have to see it with your own eyes” type of things).

Anyway, I’m incredibly impressed, and I’m going to have some of my favorite images reprinted as AluminArte images when I get back from Photoshop World. Here’s the link to their site.

Now, onto the 2nd type of metallic printed image:

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This one is actually a six-piece mural (made up of six 12″x12″ metallic tiles) from Metal Murals and although theirs isn’t the Hi-Def type of images that I got from Image Wizards, the impact here comes from the size and presentation.

The funny thing is; these two types of images had a different impact on different groups of people. The photographers in my office lost their minds over the quality of the Hi-Def  image (shown above), but everybody (the non-serious photo crowd) were all taken in by the mural. Everybody was talking about it when it came in (and a bunch of golfers in the office wanted to snag it for their office).

The pole they’re connected to (shown here, with the help of Brad Moore—photo by Matt Kloskowski), are also how you mount them to your wall (it came with the mounts, and it’s pretty darn clever how the whole thing works).

Also, you can buy a much smaller 12″x12″ sample version (the size of just one tile) if you want to make a proof for your client before creating the final full-sized mural. Since the mural will have gaps, I think this is really a smart idea—especially if you’re creating a really large mural (these murals can be any size, and not just made up of 12″x12″ squares, and you can have more than just six squares).

They’ve got a page of samples on their site (link) and from their sample page, these must be very popular for tradeshow displays (or it just includes a lot of photos from their own tradeshow booth—I couldn’t tell). Here’s the link to Metal Murals Website.

Anyway, despite the fact that the ‘metallic-ness’ of both types of printing get totally lost when you show a regular photo of them (like you see here), when you see them in person—-either one—-you’ll be amazed at how much impact they have.

01_filesOne of my book readers, Tobias Gräning from Berlin, Germany, dropped me a note yesterday with a great tip, based on one of my tips in my Digital Photography Book, Volume 3. My quick tip was to make sure you download the free digital PDF versions of your camera’s user manual because they’re searchable, and you’ll find what you’re looking for a lot faster (I have PDF manuals for all my own gear).

He took the tip up a notch by telling me about an iPhone application called “Good Reader PDF” that is designed to let you download and read these large-sized PDFs (larger size PDFs than you can normally read on an iPhone or iPod touch). You can see a screen cap above how the PDFs are listed, and then how they’re displayed (it’s just 99¢ from the iPhone App Store).

You can’t imagine how handy it is having your camera’s user manual right out on location with you, without dragging the physical manual out in the field. Thanks Tobias for sharing this one with me (and my readers).

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Professional Food Photography with Joe Glyda Now Online
We just had an online class “go live” this week that I’m particularly excited about; it’s Joe Glyda’s class on Professional Food Photography. Joe is a terrific teacher (if you’ve ever caught Joe during one of his sessions at Photoshop World you know what I mean), and he’s got some really great techniques in his new class. Here’s the link with all the details (NOTE: If you’re not a Kelby Training Online subscriber, you can still watch the first couple of segments by following that link). ALSO: I did a quick little video from the production set of Joe’s class to give some background on the class and what he’s teaching, and you can watch that short clip right here.

Next Stop For My Lightroom 2 Live Tour: Detroit
Well, it’s actually Livonia, Michigan, so it’s the greater Detroit area, but it’s going to be a great day (I take you all the through my actual workflow from start to finish), and I hope you can join me for my first Lightroom event in Michigan ever! Here’s the link for more details or to reserve your seat (it’s only $99—or $79 is you’re a NAPP member).

Model Releases for Photographers Class Now Online
Jack and Ed are back with a fantastic online class on when and why you need to have model releases, what they need to cover, and a host of things you’ve probably never considered, but if you shoot portraits of anybody—you’ll definitely need to know. Absolutely invaluable info! Here’s the link to view the lessons.

McNally’s Next Off-Camera Lighting Tour Stop is Washington DC
That’s right—the same one-day Off-Camera Flash workshop that Joe McNally sold out in San Francisco weeks early, is now headed to Washington DC on Friday, October 23rd. People are still talking about Joe’s San Francisco workshop, and I hope you’ll be able to snag one of the available spots for his day there (seating is limited, and filled on a first-come, first-served basis). Here’s the link for more info.

Next Stop For the Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks Tour is Houston, Texas!
Brilliant Photoshop trainer and author of the “Photoshop WOW” book series Jack Davis is taking our Photoshop Down & Dirty One Day Workshop to Houston, Texas on Wednesday, September 23rd for a day of nothing but the hottest Photoshop special effects. Here’s the link for all the details (by the way; Jack totally rocks, and it was his original WOW! book series that got me hooked on Photoshop special effects. If you get a chance to learn from Jack in person—don’t miss it!).

What’s Coming Up Next in Online Classes
We’re welcoming a new photographer to our online teaching faculty when James (Jim) Schmelzer’s first online class goes live next week on creating Senior Portraits. I’ve been a fan of Jim’s teachings for a few years now (I have at least two of his DVDs on lighting), and I thought so much of his style and delivery, that I asked him to share his lightning and posing techniques in a series of online classes, and his first one just hits it right out of the park! If you’re into the growing Senior Portrait market, you’ve gotta see his class when it goes live next week at Kelby Training Online.

I know a lot of you have been asking about when my first “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch It” online class will be available at Kelby Training Online and the good news is; it’s set to follow the week after Jim’s class, so it won’t be long now. I’ve done three of these Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it, classes, and after the first one goes live, we’ll be working on finishing the 2nd and 3rd classes. I’ll let you guys know as soon as it’s up and running.

New Training DVDs Now Available
Everybody likes to learn a different way; some of our students like to learn online; some through books, some in live seminars, and some like to own DVDs of the classes themselves and the good news is; some of our most popular classes are now available as DVDs, including Moose Peterson’s very popular Yosemite Big Game Photography class, and Matt Kloskowski’s popular “Mastering Layers in Photoshop CS4” class. You can find both (and all our other DVDs) right here.

That’s it for this Kelby Training Update. I’ll let you know when the new stuff goes live! :)

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A few weeks ago I got to do a photo shoot with a group of U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter pilots from an Army Reserve Medevac unit. During the shoot my 2nd assistant on the job, Chris Cox, looks at me and says, “Is there any place where you feel less like a man than when you’re a civilian at at Army base?” We both just cracked up (because it’s true!). We stuck out for sure, but this was just really cool! Black Hawks. Army Base. We’re guys. What’s not to like? (click on the photo above for a larger view).

Brad and I had already done a scouting trip to the base a week earlier (in fact, it was through Brad that I got this opportunity in the first place, as one of his friends is not only a Black Hawk pilot, but a Lieutenant at the base). I knew I wanted to do some shooting with the choppers on the flight line as my backdrop, which would put us all out in the sweltering August Florida heat, so on the day of the shoot, we went as early in the morning as we could.

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My initial idea was to use a Lastolite 4 foot x 6 foot scrim overhead, suspended on two light stands—(as seen above), to diffuse the direct sunlight, but no sooner than we got it set up, a huge cloud cover moved over the entire area, and we wouldn’t see the sun again for the rest of the shoot. I took a few test shots with this set-up (which is what you see above—photo by Brad Moore), but it was so overcast that the light was flat and boring.

Luckily, we had brought along the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra two-head strobe kit you saw me talk about a few weeks earlier with Mark Astman from Bogen Imaging (here’s the link). This was our first in-field test, and I have to tell you—-it performed even better than I had hoped. In fact, it was working so well, I had to call my buddy Terry White (who was considering a set for himself) during the shoot and I told him to go ahead and place the order right now. It’s that good!). It was great not having to mess with any wireless issues (the wireless receivers are built right into the Quadra units, so all you need is the matchbox-sized transmitter that sits on your hotshoe).

We could see some pretty scary-looking storm clouds way off in the distance slowly heading our way, so we went right to work. We took down the Lastolite scrim, and we attached an Elinchrom 39″ softbox on one of the Ranger Quadra heads, and mounted it on a light stand to the left of our subject (Our main subject that day was Lieutenant Rob Ozburn, Brad’s friend, and just a tremendous guy all around. In fact, everybody we met at the base that day was just fantastic!).

As hot as it was, Rob put on his heavy flight gear, helmet and all, to pose for the shots. Brad and I are out there in short sleeves, and we’re sweating to death, but it didn’t phase Rob one bit. I found out why; their choppers don’t have air conditioning (except for back where the wounded are), and the cockpit temperature can often reach over 120 degrees.

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Here’s a couple of the shots out from out on the flight line. I had been shooting with my 200mm f/2 (seen in the previous production shot), but I couldn’t fit enough of the choppers in the frame, so I switched to my 14-24mm f/2.8, and shot this one out at 24mm at f/13. No HDR—-just Camera Raw.

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As we were shooting, we could see the storm getting closer, and the Lieutenant wanted to get a group shot of his Medevac team, so we switched to a larger softbox (a 53″ MidiOcta) and relocated at the other end of the field. In the shot above, I’m discussing where to place some of the pilots, but as it turned out, we wound up shooting at an entirely different chopper from a different angle.

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The storm is almost here. It’s not raining yet, but we don’t have much time. The guys are gearing up and coming out, but it takes a while to get everybody out to the flight line, so we’re checking out angles and deciding how to light the group. Brad was really pushing for me to fire up the 2nd head to cover that large space, but time was short, and I really thought I could cover it with one by just moving it back behind me and cranking it up to full power, so we lit the group shot (which you see at the top), with just that one single Ranger Quadra head with that 53″ Octa.

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I finally got everybody in place (I positioned them in little clusters of three and four guys, which works great for group shots), then I put my 14-24mm wide angle lens on, got down low, and I positioned myself so the chopper blade would appear right over my head (thanks to the 14mm). I did this group shot (you can see the final image at the top of this post), then set up in front of the chopper for individual portraits, but by now the storm was nearly on us.

I only had time for about two frames each, and the base commander sent word out that there were lightning strikes in the area, so we headed right for the hanger. The hanger was only about 100 yards (90 meters) away; I had turned off my camera and we’re rolling the lightstand and strobe back to the hanger. We’re about half way there, and all of sudden the strobe fires—-then a second later CRACK!!!!! The lightning had triggered the flash and then a split-second later—BOOM!!!!! We raced inside, and within 60 seconds it was absolutely pouring!!!!

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Since it was pouring outside; we set up inside. From my scouting the previous week, I knew I wanted to get a shot of Rob beisde a Black Hawk in the hanger, but also using the huge American Flag as a backdrop. I got down low and had the Lieutenant look up over me. I used that same single Quadra strobe but we switched to a 39″ square softbox, up high, to his left aiming down.

Same thing here for post processing. No HDR—-just Camera Raw (well, if you want to be technical, the Develop Module of Lightroom, which is Camera Raw).

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After I got the shot with the flag, I set up to do individual portraits of each pilot, but rather than do the regular dark dramatic background, I took a cue from Tim Mantoani’s fantastic portraits of this year’s top NFL draft picks, and shot them on a white background (using a Lastolite HiLite background), and I used hard edge rim lighting from behind to skim each side of their face.

I used one of the heads from my Ranger Quadra to light the HiLite background, and then one as my main light the left of my camera position. We had to flag-off the two back rimlights (which are Elinchrom BXRIs powered by that Innovatronix Explorer XT battery pack I talked about back in June, and in Vol. 3 of my Digital Photography Book. So, I use four lights in all: 1 Quadra as a main light, one to light the HiLite, then the two Elinchrom BXRI’s to do the rim lighting on Rob. By the way; the 2nd boom stand extending into the Hi-light is just to steady to the Hi-lite—there’s no light attached.

By the way; do you see my laptop stand? I know what you’re thinking; “but where’s the laptop?” That’s coming up in a moment.

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Here’s one of those shots on the white Hi-Lite background. They don’t compare with what Tim did on any level, but I’m glad I tried something different than I normally would. Again, no HDR, but like the other images here, it’s a single-image process I call EDP “Expanded Definition Processing.” I’m teaching a special tutorial on this for the NAPP member website, where I’ll use the same images you see here and take members through the process from start to finish.

Now to the “missing laptop” question. It died on the gig. Once we got inside the hanger, it started storming like I couldn’t believe (I learned later it was one of the worst thunderstorms we’ve had in years), and all of a sudden the wind changed, and the rain started blowing in on our equipment.

While I was shooting the flag portrait of Rob; Brad and Chris were quickly pulling the gear further inside—away from the rain. My laptop was on the tripod’s laptop stand, and while Brad was moving the whole rig by himself (and navigating through all the gear on the floor), he tipped the stand too much and my laptop fell right off onto the concrete floor. It was dead. It wouldn’t boot at all. Brad felt terrible, but I wasn’t upset at all. Brad was trying to help me out and protect my gear, which I really appreciated, but he still took it pretty hard.

Luckily, two things happened. From my experience in Denver earlier this year (and at the instance of my friend Terry White), I had a bootable backup of my laptop with me, so I was able to work immediately off that external drive. After we got back to the office, my IT guys got me a replacement hard drive; popped it in and it worked just fine (thanks Paul and Keith).

When I got home that night, I set my Apple Time Machine wireless backup device to restore my files (it had backed me up at 6:08 am that morning), and when I woke up the next morning, it was as if nothing had happened. Everything was back just as it was. I love Time Machine!

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Here’s the last shot of the day (and one of my favorites), taken in natural light. I had Rob walk out of the hangar about half a dozen times, carrying his helmet, at various speeds, until I got the frame I wanted (seen above).

Then I overexposed the shot a bit in Camera Raw, and used Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro to make the black and white conversion you see here (by the way; Silver Efex Pro is absolutely fantastic!!!!! If you’re into Black & White—get this plug-in!!!! Also, if you’re a NAPP member don’t forget to use your discount).

Despite the weather and laptop smashfest, we had a really great shoot. But beyond that, I really want to thank Lieutenant Rob Ozburn, and the men of F Co 5-159th AVN REGT who put their lives on the line in service to our country. It was a true honor to get to photograph these brave men.

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