Category Archives Photography


Now that I’m back from my workshop, I’m catching up on reading my favorite blogs, and I saw over at Moose Peterson’s “Moose New Blog” (link), that he attended the practice sessions for the Reno Air Races (along with a group of 25 aviation photographers).

Nikon Professional Services (NPS) was there to support the event, and besides getting to hang with these guys, Moose came back with some just awesome shots. Moose posted a link to a gallery of 37 of his images from the event, but you’re not out-of-luck for getting your own, because the actual race itself is coming up this September (seeing Moose’s images really makes me want to go now. I’m going to have to check my calendar!!!).

Anyway, check out Moose’s post about the shoot, and check out his images while you’re there. Congrats Moose on capturing some amazing shots!!!! (It really torks you when a guy who is famous for his wildlife photography can turn on a dime and get incredible aviation shots. Moose can shoot anything and make it look great! That guy is sick!). ;-)

I’m back from my Great American Photo Workshop with renowned landscape and aerial photographer Bill Fortney and I have to say, it was one of the most enjoyable workshops I’ve ever been a part of. We had such a great group of talented, fun, easy-going, and passionate photographers that it really made for the ideal creative atmosphere to learn, make photographs, and laugh and awful lot.


Guest Instructors
This was my first time in Savannah Georgia, and it’s a perfect place for a photo workshop, with loads of stuff to shoot around every corner (photo above taken with my iPhone 3Gs; much improved camera). We started on Wednesday with slideshows and presentations from the instructors, including two guest instructors; Joanne Wells (a wonderful Savannah-based fine art photographer with great knowledge of local shooting locales), along with first-class bird photographer Wayne Bennett (we had a total of four instructors for 30 students). By the way; that’s Wayne at the far right of the photo above).

Shooting a Classic Caddie
We did dawn location shoots each day, and a few optional dusk shoots as well (it was in the high 90s all week, with lots of humidity, so we made the dusk shoot optional). We went to some great locales (I’ll post a shot or two tomorrow), and then on the last morning we rented a Classic 1962 red Cadillac Convertible for the class to shoot among the old brick buildings and alleyways of Savannah’s Riverfront (the iPhone shot above, and at one at the top of the post, show a few of our students during our shoots).


Here’s our group shooting in a back alley of Savannah’s Riverfront.


Here’s one of my shots from that angle (above—click on it for a larger view). Taken with a Nikon D3, and a 70-300mm f/4.5-f/5.6 VR lens on a tripod. I shot at ISO 400 at 1/13 of a second at f/4.8.


While the class was still shooting, I climbed up to a crosswalk above and behind the car where I got this shot. I leaned out as far as I could and then held the camera out away from my body. I had to shoot it at 2000 ISO because of the low light, but the noise is so unnoticeable (from the D3 with a 14-24mm f/2.8 lens), I didn’t even need to run a noise reduction filter. In fact, there are no effects filters or HDR used on any of these shots—-just Lightroom (though I did sharpen one in Photoshop).


Above is another iPhone shot of the group shooting the Caddie.


…and here’s the shot I got from that spot (above).


This is me above, lying down on the job; ball head in hand, trying to get a low angle on the car. The photo was taken by one of my workshop students; Bruce Thayer (who’s quite a good photographer himself) who came all the way from Australia for the workshop.


Above is one of the shots I got lying on the ground (and as I expected; it’s not nearly as good as the one Bill Fortney got lying down there).


Same spot—different angle of view. By the way; if you look on the stairs to the right of the car, you’ll see the legs of one of the students in the workshop. I could have cloned them out, but for some reason, I kinda like ’em there. Go figure.

A Celebrity in our group
We were lucky enough to have 14-time Grammy winning country and bluegrass artist Ricky Skaggs as one of our students, and he was just as humble, entertaining, and fun as you’d hope he would be. He’s a great photographer, but just learning Lightroom and Photoshop, and he’s totally loving it! (He pulled some strings and got us a table at Paula Dean’s famous restaurant for dinner, which saved us from waiting in the 80 to 100 person-long line each morning for reservations which snakes around the block starting at around 7:30 am. The dinner was fantastic!).

Learning Lightroom
In the classroom, we focused on Lightroom all week, and I have to tell you; I’m amazed at the transformation in the students between day one and Sunday morning when the workshop wrapped up.

In-Class Student Critiques
Each day we did live, in-class critiques of the students’ best shots from each shoot, and it was a wonderful learning experience. (A number of students told me it was the single most valuable learning part of the week for them, because when we would talk about what a problem was with a particular photo, I could open that photo right there on spot, and make the Lightroom/Photoshop changes that were necessary, or to recrop and recompose the photo, and they saw live exactly what to do to improve the shot next time around.)


Deconstructing My Edits in Lightroom
We did kind of our own mini one-hour “Photo Walk” on Saturday morning along the Savannah Riverfront area, and then I put together a slideshow of around 20 of my best shots from the shoot (I processed them all in Lightroom before I presented my slideshow—shown above).  Then after my slideshow presentation, I went back to each image, and using the History panel in Lightroom, I showed each individual step of how I got from the original raw image out of my camera to the final image that made it into my slideshow. This worked amazingly well, and it really turned the light bulb on for a lot of the students.

Great images + Great people
All in all, it was a stellar workshop; I met some really great people (two of which will be with me down in St. Lucia with Joe McNally in a few days for another week-long workshop), and I saw some old friends (Steve and Larry) and made some new ones. Thanks to all my students, and especially to Bill Fortney, (whose brilliant photography continues to just blow me and everybody in the room away), for the honor of teaching alongside him.


Click here to see other sizes of it in Flickr

My friend and colleague RC Concepcion took the fantastic shot above of his precious daughter Sabie, posed with his wife Jenn, a ballerina and dance instructor (that’s right; RC married a ballerina. How cool is that?).

Anyway, RC captured this wonderful moment, and since he posted it on his flickr account, thousands of people have already viewed the image. I was so taken by it, I wanted to share it you guys, because I know you love great photography, and I think this truly is that  (it’s one of my very favorite photos of 2009. As my friend Larry Williams would say; “I’d have that on my card.” ;-)

Way to go RC for capturing such a wonderful moment of the women in your life.

We just had legendary food photography Joe Glyda down to the Kelby Training Online Studios for a new online class we’re releasing in the next few weeks on how to shoot food like a pro. I stopped by the set during the taping, and got to talk with Joe  for a couple of minutes, and he gives us a little behind-the-scenes look into his upcoming online class. Check out the short video below for a quick preview.


Just like I did for my Egypt trip last November (link) I put together an Apple iPhoto book of some of my favorite shots from my trip, and I’ve included some of those pages below (click on them for a much larger view). This time I’m trying Apple’s new Spiral-bound books (rather than the perfect-bound they’ve always offered in the past), and I’ll let you know how they come out once I get a final printed copy (later this week).

Of course, once again I did take lots of regular vacation photos and those are going into a separate iPhoto book for the family, and some of these photos will be included (but so will some of us posing in front of the leaning tower of Pisa and stuff like that).

The images below were all taken with either a Nikon D-60, (which I borrowed from my brother-in-law) or a Nikon D-5000 (which I bought while I was there—see yesterday’s post for why). I only used two lenses the entire trip: The 18-55mm VR Kit lens that came with the D5000 (and D60), and a 70-300mm f/4.5 – 5.6mm VR lens that I bought separately while I was there. Also, the Ferrari-for-a-day shots are here as well.

The images were all shot in JPEG mode (gasp!) and processed using Lightroom. I went to Photoshop a couple of times to remove some really distracting telephone lines and powerlines.






















About six weeks ago my wife told me she had a surprise for me. She had planned a special 8-day family vacation trip to Italy’s Tuscany region, and to celebrate my 5th year of being named the world’s #1 bestselling author of computer and technology books, she had set up a special photo shoot in Italy that was (her words) going to “blow my mind.” I so love this woman! :)

Anyway, last week was the week for our vacation, and as you might expect—it was absolutely incredible, and yes—the photo shoot she set up for me totally blew my mind. More on that in a moment. Accompanying me on this trip was my entire family, my Brother Jeff, and my brother-in-law and his family. But first, let’s look at how I left all my photo gear behind:

It Started With Missing Our Flight to Italy
We were scheduled to fly from Tampa to New York’s JFK airport, and then catch a connecting flight to Pisa, Italy that night. Unfortunately, our flight was so delayed (due to weather in New York) that we actually missed our connecting flight by about 20 minutes (no, they didn’t hold the plane), so we had to spend the night in New York and catch the next evening’s flight (this took our already short 8-day Tuscany trip down to just 7 days—including travel. Ugh!).

There are worse places to have a one-day layover than New York City, so we had a ball—we went shopping (though unfortunately B&H Photo was closed because it was Saturday), took the kids to the world’s largest Toys r’ Us (yes, we rode the Ferris Wheel inside), and my brother and I went to the famous Katz’s Deli for lunch, and I had the best Pastrami sandwich of my life.

Then we went back to our room for a quick nap (well, mostly for my daughter’s nap). I had brought a nice compliment of camera gear for the Italy trip (a little more than usual, because my wife had this special shoot set up, though she still hadn’t told me what the surprise shoot was going to be). I took my Nikon D-300, a 12-24mm lens, my trusty 18-200mm VR lens, a 50mm f/1.4 lens, my Epson P-7000, a tabletop tripod, and my Gitzo Traveler tripod, and lots of accessories and it all fit perfectly in my smallest camera bag—-my LowePro Stealth Reporter (which even has the NAPP logo and the word “Instructor” stitched on the front—a gift we gave to all the Photoshop World instructors one year).

Anyway, when I’m out of my hotel room, I usually tuck my camera bag and laptop out of sight, so they don’t get stolen while housekeeping is making up the room (a typical scam is for a thief to walk by a room being cleaned by housekeeping—they see a laptop or camera, knock on the door and act like it’s their room that’s being cleaned as they tell the housekeeper that they forget their laptop, and they walk off with your laptop, camera gear or both. So, I always hide mine).

You Snooze, You Lose
Anyway, after I got up from my nap, I saw my luggage, my laptop bag, and my NAPP instructor camera bag all lined up by the door, and I thought to myself, “Great, my wife thought to get my bag out of hiding.” I took it down to the airport shuttle; watched as the bellman carefully loaded it into the van, and off we went to JFK to catch our overnight flight to Italy, albeit a day late.

When we got to the airport, I had just gathered my camera bag, laptop bag, and luggage when my brother says, “My camera bag is missing!” We start searching around, then he opens my camera bag, and says, “This one’s mine!” As luck would have it, he had the exact same camera bag (with NAPP instructor stitched on it) that I did. As it turns out, while I was taking my nap, he checked out of his room and brought his luggage down to our room. The camera bag I saw lined up at the door in my room was actually his camera bag. At that moment I realized that my camera bag had been left behind, still hidden back in my hotel room.

It Gets Worse
I walked away from the group, and as I frantically dialed the hotel, I started to string together long phrases of words that could not be spoken on TV (even today). I got a hold of the front desk, and told them my story. They sent the head of security and the head of housekeeping immediately to my room to retrieve the camera bag. I gave them the exact location of the bag (they wouldn’t be able to miss it), and they would call back as soon as they found it, then we would arrange to have it rushed to the JFK Departures terminal where I would meet them, and still have time just enough time to make my flight.

They called back. They said the room had already been cleaned and there was no camera bag.

Adding Up The Loss
Needless to say, I was pretty much freaking out at the thought of losing my gear, and of not having any gear on my trip to Tuscany. I started to mentally calculate how much I had lost between the camera, lenses, P-7000, memory cards, filters, battery grip, and on-and-on, and it was easily over $5,000 worth of gear.

Once I got through airport security, I called the Police (unfortunately they said I would have to physically come in to a station to file a report). Then I called the hotel manager, and I politely explained my entire situation, while taking my concerns about my gear being stolen in her hotel up a notch. She said she would call the head of security again, and said she would see what she could do, but she didn’t sound hopeful. She’d call me if they heard anything. (Sigh).

It’s too late. I’m on the plane.
I’m sitting on the tarmac, and they’re just about the close the cabin doors, and the head of hotel security calls to tell me that somehow, they found they bag (without much further details). I was thrilled (relieved, overjoyed, etc.), and I told him my assistant would contact him and first thing on Monday we’d have it over-nighted to my address in Italy. I thanked him profusely. Apparently, the call to the manager worked.

In Tuscany, with No Camera
So I got to Tuscany on Sunday with no camera, but at least my brother-in-law had brought his Nikon D-60 and two lenses: the 18-55mm that came with his kit, and the wonderful Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5 – f/5.6 VR that I talked about two weeks ago. Luckily, he was more interested in shooting video on his Canon video camera the first few days, so he let me shoot with his D-60 a couple of times on Sunday late afternoon and Monday (I just shot to his SD card, then we downloaded the images onto a jump drive for me). By the way; the shot you see above was taken with his D-60, handheld with the 70-300mm VR, set to JPEG mode (click on it for a larger view).

When It Rains….
On Monday, my assistant Kathy calls me to tell me that the earliest I’d have my camera was Thursday evening, so I’d miss my special wife-arranged photo shoot Thursday afternoon, and basically I’d miss shooting the whole week, and would only have my camera one single day—Friday—the last day of the trip before heading home. Ugh!

I did what I had to do
Once I learned his, I bit the bullet and headed into the biggest camera store I could find in Florence and bought a Nikon D-5000 kit (it came with a 18-55mm VR lens), and the same 70-300mm VR lens my brother-in-law had (I couldn’t just borrow his, because we both had rental cars and we usually went our separate ways during the day), and a Manfrotto lightweight tripod and ballhead (loved the legs, but the ballhead was really too small).

This set me back around (wait for it….wait for it…) $1,950 (arrrgghhh!!), but I figured when I got back I could sell the gear on eBay, and I’d only be out $600 or so (I’d rather be out $600 than spend a week in Tuscany with no camera). Hey, at least they threw in a nice Tenba camera backpack with the Nikon logo stitched on it (It actually worked out really well)!

This I hadn’t planned on
If there was one thing I hadn’t planned on it was this; I fell in love with the D-5000. In fact, I’m keeping it. I was absolutely shocked at its high ISO performance. I took shots, hand held at 1250 ISO in a square in the town of Siena, and when my brother and I looked at them that night—full screen on my computer, you could barely see any noise at all. It was like ISO 400 on my D300. I was just amazed!!!! So, I pushed that thing up to 1600 ISO any ol’ time, and I was shooting at night handheld without a second thought.

Also, it has so many of the features of my D300 that I felt surprisingly at home. In fact, I could only find one thing that I really wished it did that I couldn’t figure out how to get it to do; I wanted to assign the center OK button to zoom in to a 100% view (like I do on my D-300), but I don’t think it offers that feature.

I was also surprised to learn that the image quality was fantastic (very D-300-like, but if you shoot in JPEG mode I would set the Picture Control setting to Vivid to make the color more punchy. While there, I would increase the amount of sharpening as well, but outside of that, I love that camera for travel work because it’s so light, compact, and takes such great images (even in low light). By the way; I never used the video! (I only had one 4GB SD memory card. It’s a long story, but that’s all I had. I should have bought more, but that’s another story).

The Fate of My D-300
So, what’s going to happen to my beloved D300? I’m selling it. It was my back-up camera, and the one I used for travel photography, but now I have a new low-noise, lightweight, replacement that even shoots video, so it’s time to wave bye to my D300 (and its sale will help offset the cost of my original problem).

What Was Your Wife’s “Big Surprise” shoot?
Are you ready for this? On Thursday morning, up pulls a red convertible Ferrari F-430, which my wife had rented for the day for me to drive through the hills of Tuscany and find a place for a sunset shoot of the car. Does it get any better than that?!!!

I’ve always been a Ferrari freak (which is why my wife chose to rent a Ferrari in the first place), but however great I thought driving a Ferrari would be—honestly, it was 10 times better than I imagined. Totally a surreal experience. I drove it from Montaione to Pisa, and everywhere in between. It really felt like you’d imagine a Ferrari would feel. It was more than just great looking and really fast. It was a race car on the street. Oh yeah, I got some cool shots, too! (You’ll see some tomorrow. I had my brother take it through some curves as I shot—-he really hated that—wink, wink) and then we took turns driving and shooting, and just having a ball. It’s a day I’ll never forget. Do I have a rockin’ wife or what!!!!!

OK, Let’s See Some Photos
Tomorrow I’m running a series of photos from the trip, so I hope you’ll stop by and check them out. I’m back home now, (and probably back in the office by the time you read this, taking lots of ribbing for leaving my camera gear behind). But hey, I lived a dream—-I went to Italy and fell in love (does it still count if the thing you fell in love with was a camera?).

Shooting Time vs. Family Time
Although I limited my shooting time (after all, this was a family vacation first), I did get to shoot for five hours by myself on Friday, which was great fun (although four hours of it was driving time to and from my shooting location in “The Crete” area of Tuscany). Tuscany is just a magical place, and it’s a very target rich environment for photography (and for food, and architecture, and landscapes, and history, and…..)

I really tried my best to make sure my photography didn’t get in the way of our family time, so I just took my camera along wherever we went, and I shot along the way (kind of like a photo walk). Of course, my wife went out of her way to make sure I’d get interesting things to shoot during the week, and anytime I needed a few extra minutes to “get the shot” she was totally cool with it. I took far fewer shots than any previous trip (less than 950 photos for the entire week-long trip), but I had such a relaxing time; got some great time with the wife and kids, got my internal batteries totally recharged, and still got at least a few decent shots, which I’ll share here tomorrow.