Tuesday
May
2012
01

My first three-light car shoot (with lots of help from Tim Wallace’s online class)

by Scott Kelby  |  75 Comments

I needed some shots for an upcoming project, and when my friends (and fellow photographers) Kathy Porupski and Jim Sykes heard that I needed a cool location for the shoot, they told me about a local advertising agency that had remodeled a 1950′s gas station for their new offices.  They make a few calls and the next day I was there shooting. Here’s one of the shots from the shoot (above), my first with three lights for an automotive shoot.

Not only did I follow the tips from Tim Wallace’s Kelby Training online classes on car photography, I actually pulled out my laptop during the middle of the shoot to make sure I had the lights set up correctly (see below). I never would have tried this without having seen Tim’s class. In fact, it was Tim’s class that made me want to do it in the first place.

This is taken from the shooting position (photo by Brad Moore), and you can see the three lights and their position. Rob, our brave 2nd assistant on the shoot, had to dodge traffic like you can’t believe (you can’t tell what a busy road this was). Not having that third light (lighting the front wheel), on a light stand made this a lot more challenging because after every shot, the wheel light was in a different position, but because of all the traffic, we didn’t have a choice. Lucky he’s young, and can run fast. ;-)

Gear and Lighting Info
This was my first shoot with the Nikon D800 (more on this in a minute), and I used my go-to lens for my outdoor shots was my 70-200 f/2.8 VR II lens. I shot in Manual mode (since I was using strobes), and I used three lights: 2 Elinchrom Ranger Packs, and 1 Ranger Quadra (so three flashes total). One the light in the back of the car, I used a large Stripbank soft box (like 18″x50″ or something close to that). On the front of the car, I used a small Stripbank (like 12″ x 36″), and the third light was a bare strobe with a 20° metal grid.

For my close-up detail shots (shown further down this post), I used an old 70.0-180.0 mm f/4.5-5.6 Macro lens I bought from Moose Peterson a few years ago. Great lens by the way (thanks Moose).

(Above: Here’s a reverse view of the lighting set-up. Look how nervous Rob looks out there in the street). 

The Nikon D800 — be careful what you wish for!
I was really looking forward to seeing all the extra detail I heard the D800 would bring (I had actually seen samples my buddy Matt Kloskowski had taken on a trip to Oregon with my D800, and it was just incredible), but this was my first shoot, and I couldn’t wait to see how it pulled detail. Well, you know that saying, “Be careful what you wish you?” Well, it smacked me in the head, because with all that added detail (and there is plenty), comes all that extra retouching to remove some unwanted detail my other cameras didn’t bring out (everything from fingerprints, to tiny spots, specs, reflections and other stuff that was usually soft enough it wasn’t worth messing with).

It reminded of when HTDV took off and all the TV news anchors had to use way more make-up because the HD brought out every little detail and flaw that nobody notice before. Same kinda thing here. Take a look at the sample’s below and you’ll see what I mean.

(Above: When you’re zoomed out, it pretty much looks like my old camera captured images. This is the out-of-camera shot as is). 

(Above: But when you zoom-in to 100% full size, you realize your retouching work has just begun. However, I’m not complaining — I’ll take the amazing detail any time — it worth the extra retouching!) 

(Above: Here’s a version that’s cleaned up a bit).

(Above: Here’s a production shot of the detail shot. Yes, we shot with all that ambient light and still got a solid black background. I learned that in Tim’s class, too!).

(Above: Here’s a detail shot of the owner’s blue ’32 Ford Roadster. I loved the wheels — classic!)

(Above: Here’s me, lying on the ground, to get the lighting and perspective I wanted for the shot you just saw of the tire and wheel. How did I know that was where the shot was? I didn’t. I just kept trying different angles — they all looks pretty lame, until one finally found this one that looked good. Tip: it’s usually the one with the most uncomfortable shooting position). 

(Above: Here’s a close-up detail shot of the M6 taken right after we did the full body shots from across the street).

(Above: Just one light — a strip bank, and again, the previous shot was taken in daylight). 

(Above: Another detail shot, this one taken from the back). 

(Above: Here’s a production shot of the shot you just saw above). 

(Above: I couldn’t resist shooting at least one HDR of the gas station once the shoot was over and the place was closed up). 

While we had a great time, and wrapped the whole thing up in right around three hours, of course there are things I would do much differently next time (like watch Tim’s class again, and pay even closer attention, because I missed a couple of things that I could do a lot better lighting wise), but I sure learned a lot from Tim’s class.

He really makes everything so clear, and I just really enjoy his wonderful, laid-back, yet straight to the point teaching style. He doesn’t hold anything back, and that’s not only just the kind of guy I want training for me, apparently it’s just the kind of guy I want training me, too!

Sunday
Apr
2012
29

My Adobe Creative Cloud Quick Q&A

by Scott Kelby  |  213 Comments

Last week I was at Adobe’s Creative Cloud launch event out in San Francisco, and after getting a lot more details on what the Creative Cloud is all about, I have I’ve gone from cautiously curious to really excited.

I think this is going to open a lot of new opportunities and put some amazing tools in the hands of creative pros that were previously out of their reach. But I know from mentioning this briefly last week, a lot of folks have a lot of questions (I did too), and I thought I’d tackle some of the most-asked questions I’ve been getting here and see if this helps.

But before we get to the questions, I thought I would at least try to explain, in one brief paragraph, what the Creative Cloud is. Here’s how I understand it:

“It’s two things: (1) You can pay a monthly fee and get to download onto your computer, and use, full versions of all of Adobe’s Creative Suite software (everything from the latest Photoshop to After Effects to Dreamweaver to Premiere Pro, and so on [I think it’s 26 programs in all). As long as you pay your monthly membership, you get to use any (or all) of their software programs. And (2) You get a number of Web services including things like Cloud syncing, Adobe’s Business Catalyst Web hosting, storage and online collaberation stuff among others (a list of which I’m sure will grow pretty quickly).”

OK, that’s the one short paragraph version, but here are my quick Q&A follow-ups:

Q. Do I have to sign-up for a Creative Cloud membership or can I just upgrade like always?
A. Nope—you can just upgrade like always.

Q. Are “Creative Cloud” applications Web-based applications, or are they on my computer like regular applications?
A. They are NOT Web-based apps. The programs work just like they always did, right on your computer, but instead of installing them from a CD or DVD disc (like the “old days”), you download any ones you want from Adobe’s Creative Cloud site. If you’re a Mac user and have used the Mac App store to download software, it’s pretty much like that. Personally, I think the name, “Creative Cloud” makes it sound “Cloud-based” when it’s really not, but I guess calling it “Creative Download” wasn’t a great name either.

Q. How much does Creative Cloud Membership cost?
A. You can pay only $49.95 a month if you sign up for an annual plan (so basically, you’re “in” for 12 months), but if you want to do just a month-by-month thing (with no 12 month commitment), then it’s going to cost you more, I believe it’s around $70-something bucks a month.

By the way, you also get all the new Adobe touch Apps, and it includes the whole online Web hosting and storage space deals, plus there are services that come with your membership (the business catalyst stuff), and a bunch of stuff I wasn’t aware expecting.

This whole industry is changing really rapidly (just a couple of years ago, there really weren’t even tablets out there — now it’s a huge market, not to mention the mobile market as a whole) and so I imagine the whole Creative Cloud thing will evolve pretty rapidly (so we can create content for things like iPads and Android tablets quickly) and we’ll soon see new tools, more services, and they’ll come up with new ways to integrate workflows across all this stuff.

Q. So, what’s the best deal?
A. Honestly, the best deal is for anyone who already owns (is a registered user of) either the CS3, CS4 , CS5 or 5.5 Creative Suites, because Adobe has a special deal for the first 12-months, which is just $29.95 a month, which honestly is insanely low (you can’t get dinner for two at Chili’s for $29.95). That’s probably the best value overall (and you get EVERYTHING), but if you just want Photoshop CS6 by itself, you can do a monthly plan on it for only $19.95 (cheaper than dinner for one at Ruby Tuesday’s), which is kind of crazy when you think about it. I think this is going to put Photoshop in lots of folks hands who never could dream of using it before.

Q. What if I never owned the Creative Suite, do I have to buy it first?
A. That may be the most amazing thing — you don’t. There are no up-front costs for joining the Creative Cloud — you pay the $49.95 a month (if you do the annual contract), or $70-something for month-to-month even if you’ve never owned an Adobe product at all. I know, that sounds like it can’t be right, but that’s the way I understand it (and I asked Adobe people about this while I was at the launch numerous times because it seems a little too-good-to-be-true, but they assured me that’s the deal).

Q. What happens when CS7 eventually comes out?
A. I think this is the absolute best thing about the whole Creative Cloud idea —- you don’t have to wait for 18 or so months (like we did in the “old days”) to get new features. Adobe plans on releasing new features as soon as they’re ready, so when Adobe engineers come up with new technologies, or the tech or content landscape changes quickly, they can release that stuff as soon as its baked (instead of waiting for the next full release, which is what they were required to do in the past).

So, in short, the wait is over, and you get every new feature as soon as its released (while people not in the plan, will still have to wait the 18 or  so months until the next big release, like CS7). This is similar to Call of Duty Elite (stop snickering), where as an Elite member I had new COD map downloads months before the public release (I love the Elite program for just that reason), so if you’re in that program, then you know what I’m talking about (cover me, I’m reloading). ;-)

Q. After a certain number of months do I get to keep that software?
A. Nope. You’re basically paying for access to all that stuff, and as long as you keep paying, you keep playing. It’s kind of like renting an apartment— no matter how long you rent, it doesn’t one day become your apartment. Also, just like an apartment, you can pretty much do what you want as long as you keep paying your rent. But if you stop paying, the landlord will kick you out.

Q. Do I have to be connected to the Internet all the time to use the Creative Cloud?
A. Nope. It just checks once a month to make sure you’re still enrolled on the plan, but outside of that, you can use it “off line” just like always, on planes, trains, and automobiles (as long as you’re not the driver).

Q. What if it’s not for me?
A. That’s totally cool. You can pretend the Creative Cloud doesn’t exist, and just pay up front for upgrades and full versions of the software like you used to. The Creative Cloud is an option — one that makes sense for a lot of people who can’t handle the up-front costs of the regular Creative Suite, but if it’s not for you, no biggie.

Q. So you’re pretty excited about it?
A. As a guy that makes his living training on Adobe products, I obviously want as many people as possible to be using Adobe products, and I think this will put the Creative Suite applications in a lot of people’s hands that wouldn’t otherwise have access to it, so I think that’s a good thing for everybody. It’s not available yet, but I’m going to be a Creative Cloud member as soon as it does ship, and while I know it’s not right for everybody, for a lot of people, this is something they’ve dreaming about, and now it’s nearly here. I’m psyched. Or as RC would say, “pumped!” :)

OK, well, I hope that helps. I’m also hoping some Adobe people jump in here and help answer any follow-up questions you guys might have (I’m sending some of my friends there a heads-up that I’m posting this today, to see if they might help-out with any follow-ups from you guys, but just remember—they’re out West, so they may be still asleep when you posted your questions).

Have a great Monday everybody, and I’ll be back in the States later on today. Cheers!

Friday
Apr
2012
27

I had planned a Creative Cloud Post For Today…

by Scott Kelby  |  25 Comments

I had just gotten back from the CS6 launch in San Francisco, and just hours later I was on already on a plane headed to London, and my internal clock is so messed up, I’m not sure which day it is.

I had hopde to post a Q&A on the Creative Cloud launch today, but I got so far behind on everything that it just got away from me. Please drop back here on Monday, as my plan is to post it then. Sorry for the delay.

Nothing like high tea with two proper English gentleman. Sadly, all I could find were these two blokes. ;-)

What a great way to start my London trip; Met up yesterday with two of my good buddies, Dave Clayton and Glyn Dewis, see above. (by the way — Glyn is joining me on-stage Saturday in the afternoon to do a guest retouch. He’s got some seriously mad skills).

We made our traditional trip to Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Convent Gardens, then a quick visit to The Flash Center, a nice cappuccino at ‘Pret A Manger’ and then back to my hotel for a serious nap. Two great guys (top dollar, both of ‘em) and a wonderful start to my London trip! However, there is more to this story..

I broke the cardinal rule of street photography yesterday

It’s true. Dave Clayton told me (as everyone from London had already warned me before I even left home), that it was going to rain every day I was here in London. Dave said on TV they said to expect “One month’s of rain in just this one week.” So, I didn’t bring my camera to lunch today (usually we grab a bite and then do a mini-photowalk with Glyn).

Well, here’s an iPhone photo of the view from my hotel room today. I deserve it — I broke the age old rule — if you think the weather will be bad, so you don’t’ bring your camera, the weather will immediately clear —  The sun will shine. The birds will sing. Shooting opportunities will abound! I had it coming.

(Above: Here’s an iPhone shot of the three of us at Pret A Manger. Hey, what’s that stuff outside? Oh,yeah. Sunshine! LOL!)

Thursday
Apr
2012
26

It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  183 Comments

Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. LIVE! in London
We’re just two days away from the last ever Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. LIVE! seminar in the world. We are currently en route to swingin’ London to meet up with some jolly chaps named Glyn and Dave who’ve helped us get everything sorted for the seminar. Then on Saturday, we’ll be in Islington, London at the Business Design Centre (silly Brits and their “re” endings)! We hope to see you there for what’s sure to go down in history as the best Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. LIVE! seminar we’ve ever done in London!

6 Days of Photoshop CS6
NAPP is offering 6 Days of Adobe Photoshop CS6 this week. It’s a series of live webcasts showcasing the cool new features of CS6. The webcasts are open to the public through Saturday, but after that you can only access them if you’re a NAPP member. Today’s starts at noon ET and it’s all about Design and JDI Features. If you missed the first 2 days, you can still catch those webcasts on Saturday when we show the week in review. Check out the complete schedule here.

Lightroom 4 Book for Digital Photographers
For anyone who missed it last week, Scott is giving away a free chapter from his Adobe Lightroom 4 for Digital Photographers Book. You can grab it here. As for the book itself, well it’s not even out yet but you can pre-order a copy here.

David Ziser Wedding Portraits DVD
Leave a comment to win one of 3 copies of David Ziser’s Wedding Portraits DVD. In this two-disc set, you’ll learn the classical posing and lighting techniques along with how to get the perfect shot in tricky situations from one of the best wedding photographers out there.

KelbyTraining.com
Check out Tim Wallace’s latest class on Kelby Training – Post Processing for Automotive Photography! Take what you learned in his classes on automotive photography to the next level with this class on post processing. Fine tune your results to bring out the most in your vehicles.

The Digital Photography Workshops
Join Ben Willmore and The Digital Photo Workshops crew for a southwest adventure in Page, Arizona from May 10-13 that few experience.

Page, Arizona is a little-known spot with big photo opportunities. This small town, located on the Colorado River and overlooking the Glen Canyon Dam, will be base camp for our photo adventure, which will include Slot Canyons, Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend and Lake Vistas, just to name a few.

Leave a comment for your chance to win a free ticket to this workshop!

Joe McNally in Australia
Joe McNally is heading down under for the Nikon “Through The Lens” Tour! Head over to his blog for info on the tour.

Last Week’s Winners
Here are the winners of last week’s giveaways…

Scott’s London Seminar
- PJ
-  Marchino M

Matt’s Lightroom 4 Chicago Seminar
- Bruce G

Fay Sirkis’ Wild About Animals DVD
- Suzanne Offner

That’s it for today. Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday
Apr
2012
25

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Bryan O’Neil Hughes!

by Brad Moore  |  30 Comments

Photoshop CS6 : What’s in it for photographers?

First, thanks Scott for having me back, I always enjoy the opportunity to reach so many like-minded Photoshop users and photographers in one place. Photoshop means a lot of things to a lot of different people, but today I want to answer one of the questions I get from photographers – “what’s in it for us?”. The answer – more than ever.

Photoshop CS5 was one of our strongest releases to date; even though we grappled with the enormous mountain that was Cocoa, we still delivered a broad, powerful and very magical release. How do you follow that? Well, without a major architectural change we were able to respond with 62% more features than CS5! Here’s what excites me as a photographer.

Lets go from the general to the specific…

Adobe Camera Raw 7.0
For those of you enjoying Lightroom 4, you’re already aware that we have an entirely new raw processing engine. The new technology features a revamped UI with sliders all set to an equal start point; new auto functionality and most dramatically, new controls for shadows and highlights. As the below image from my iPhone shows, even shooting into the sun, you have considerably more latitude with your exposures. Why a phone you ask? If this is what can be done with a heavily compressed JPEG – imagine how nice the raw images look (they look amazing).

I shouldn’t fail to mention that local adjustments (by brush or graduated filter) have nearly doubled in number!

Mini Bridge
Mini Bridge can now run in a filmstrip; if you’re coming from Elements or Lightroom, you’ll appreciate the familiar interface. As before, Mini Bridge taps the power of Bridge and serves it up in the flexibility of a panel (you can drag and resize it as you like). Bridge has now been rewritten as a 64-bit native application; bottom-line, we can support as much memory as you have available. Faster, more stable and with a cleaner interface than ever before. I find that most photographers are spending a great deal of time in Lightroom, I’m no exception; my workflow (and I’ve found many who share it) is to get as far as I can in LR, then export DNG files {my HDR candidates, panos, composites, fine-art and things which need retouching} to a folder – I target that folder from within Photoshop in Mini Bridge.

Interface
This is a feature for everyone and I mention it because there’s much more than meets the eye. You can’t miss Photoshop’s new dark interface and we hope you like it. The darker tone helps make the image the center of your work; plus it’s consistent with Lightroom and our video applications, all of which are increasingly being used alongside Photoshop. This feature is anything but just a fresh coat of paint though; we replaced over 1,900 icons and policed alignment, cursors, buttons, layout and even grammar throughout the application.

If you’re fond of the old look (or two other options), you can easily change the UI tone in preferences. Our research strongly supports our default choice of dark grey, but we gave you a 4-way switch just in-case.

Background Save/Auto Recovery
One of the things I love about Lightroom is that it can save quietly in the background while I continue working; no waiting for a progress bar before I can continue on – thanks to Background Save, Photoshop can too. We didn’t stop there though, this technology gave us the ability to Auto Recover as well; this is one of those features you can’t really appreciate until it saves you. A few weeks back I was on a flight back from New York, busily putting together a demo in Photoshop; I had ignored my low battery indicators and my machine went dark in the middle of an operation – so frustrating. Hours later, back at my desk, I plugged my machine in and powered up; there were my open documents, patiently waiting in Photoshop – it just worked.

Gradient Map Presets
If you love Black & White as I do, you’ll definitely appreciate the new Gradient Map “Photographic Toning” presets for the adjustment layer of the same name.

Color Lookup
The new Color Lookup adjustment layer deserves a post of its own… Continue reading

Tuesday
Apr
2012
24

Quick Update From The CS6 / Creative Cloud Launch

by Scott Kelby  |  8 Comments

Hi Gang: Wow — what a whirlwind trip — up one day, back the next on the red eye, but totally worth it!!!

On Friday, I’m planning a Q&A about the Creative Cloud, which I’m totally psyched about, and I have a lot to share about it, but I’m literally at the airport catching my red-eye flight home, so it’s going to have to wait until them.

The launch event itself, held at San Francisco’s de Young Fine Arts Museum, was a big hit and we got to hear from Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayan, Senior VP of Digital Media David Wadhwani, and Jeffrey Veen (Founder and former CEO of TypeKit, now part of Adobe).

What I was most interested in was today launch of the Creative Cloud, and I have to say, I was really impressed (there’s a lot more to it than I thought). I actually got to spend some time using the Creative Cloud, plus I got to meet with some of the Creative Cloud team, along with some of the Photoshop team later in the day. I was in and out of meetings and briefings all day, but I really learned a lot and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you on Friday.

In the meantime, as soon as my wheels hit the ground, I’m back to the airport for my trip to Swingin’ London baby (yeah!). Can’t wait to share more, but they’re boarding my flight. Hope you all have a swinging Tuesday!

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