Thursday
Jan
2012
19

It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  189 Comments

It’s time for another installment of Free Stuff Thursday! Brad Moore here to help you win a copy of…

Frank Doorhof: Live In Boston DVD
Frank Doorhof has released his brand new Live In Boston Workshop DVD! You can pick up your copy right here, or leave a comment for your chance to win one of two copies.

Or, if you’d rather take the workshop in person, Frank is returning to Boston on March 31 to do another Why Fake It When You Can Create It workshop, right after Photoshop World DC! You can get all the info and register over at WhyFakeItWhenYouCanCreateIt.com.

Wildlife Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots
Check out the latest book from Laurie Excell, Wildlife Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots! Laurie takes you through equipment, camera settings, lighting, and composition to help you get the great shots of birds, bears, and other wildlife. Plus it features Laurie’s own beautiful photography!

Leave a comment for your chance to win one of two copies of this book.

Kelby Training Affiliate Program
Good news for bloggers and website owners! KelbyTraining.com has partnered with Commission Junction to bring you a great affiliate program! Earn up to 35% commission on referrals!

KelbyTraining.com
Composition Made Easy with David Ziser is the latest addition to the KelbyTraining.com library! David shows you his on-location composition techniques as he teaches how to recognize and shoot a wide variety of visual elements to create spectacular, one-of-a-kind compositions. Check it out over at KelbyTraining.com!

Kelby Training Live
Coming soon to a city near you…

January 25 – Oklahoma City, OK – Photography & Photoshop CS5: From Focus to Finished with Ben Willmore

January 27 – Covington, KY – The Photographer’s Photoshop CS5 Power User Tour with Dave Cross

January 30 - Austin, TX – Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. Live! with Scott Kelby

You can register for these and other upcoming seminars over at KelbyTraining.com.

OnOne Software On Sale – TODAY ONLY!
Today is the last day to take advantage of OnOne Software’s big sale! Get 20%, 30%, or even 50% off the latest versions of OnOne’s plug-ins, and even the Perfect Photo Suite which includes all seven plug-ins!

Cockpit Panos from Moose Peterson
If you’re a fan of aviation, check out these 360-degree cockpit panoramas of various warbird planes that Moose Peterson has been doing. It’s pretty cool be able to see everything in the cockpits of these planes, and even zoom in to read their checklists and instrumentation panels.

Last Week’s Winner
The winner of the free ticket to The Digital Photo Workshop in Death Valley with Rick Sammon is Tess Kauffmann! Congratulations Tess, and I know you’ll have a great time :)

That’s it for today. Leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Frank Doorhof’s Live in Boston Workshop DVD or Laurie Excell’s Wildlife Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots!

Wednesday
Jan
2012
18

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Lindsay Adler!

by Brad Moore  |  16 Comments


Portrait of Lindsay Adler, Photo by Bob Trautman

10 Tips for Improving your Portfolio in 2012

New York City is filled with thousands of amazing fashion and commercial photographers, all fighting for similar clients and resources. Because of this I must constantly improve my portfolio and strive to stand out from the crowd.  Yet this is not an easy task! I need to push myself to be creative on each and every project, and find ways to make my images exciting.

I’m always striving for my next shoot to be the best shoot I’ve ever done. Yes, I like my work and portfolio but I am never ‘satisfied’… and I think that’s a good thing!

I have the best job in the entire world. Hands down. I photograph beautiful people, in beautiful clothing, in beautiful locations. No complaints about that! Yet one of the biggest challenges is always getting better and finding a way to distinguish myself. I’ve always got to be improving my portfolio and defining my style. I must find ways to stop viewers in their tracks and engage them with my images.


I frequently utilize the color red as a very aggressive and visually compelling color to help give my images impact.

Below are 10 tips that I use to improve my portfolio, and I always keep these tips in the back of my mind. They help me to weed out bad images, to challenge myself creatively, and ideally to become a better photographer. Hopefully they will help you to improve in 2012!

1. Cut Weak Images
People remember your best images. They also remember your worst images. You are much better off cutting weaker images and having fewer images in your portfolio than padding your portfolio with mediocre images. Cut, cut, cut! Having 12 incredible images in your portfolio is a lot better than having 12 incredible images plus 12 average images. Aim for impact, and cut the weakest.


This image was in my portfolio for several months. Although I liked the clean yet aggressive feel of the image, it simply was not strong enough to stay in my portfolio.

2. Get Outside Critique
When deciding which images to cut and which images to include in your portfolio, get outside critique.

Sometimes you can be too emotionally attached to your images to realize that they should be cut from your portfolio. Let’s say that you hiked 7 miles in a blizzard to photograph a beautiful mountain scene. If the image is just an average landscape, then your suffering and pain doesn’t make it any better. As my friends say, “Sometimes you have to kill your babies”… referring to photographs of course!

When you get outside critique, be sure it is from someone you trust and respect. I often get outside critique from other photographers, my photo agent, and even my mom (hobbyist photographer too!). Between the several critiques I get, I can usually determine which images have the highest impact and are most successful, as well as which images need to be cut.

3. Look at Other Photographers’ and Artists’ Work
It’s not cheating to be inspired by other photographers’ and artists’ work. You can get inspiration from anywhere. When you look at other photographers’ work, you may be inspired by the lighting, composition, styling, posing, or any number of different elements.

In fact, many of my shoots are a combination of elements from many inspiration images. I save thousands of images on my computer to help communicate (visually) my ideas to my creative team when I do a shoot. I might use lighting inspired by one image, a pose from another image, and styling inspired by another photo. In the end the photograph is 100% mine regardless of the inspiration!

Obviously it’s pointless to copy an image… if it’s already been done, then there is no point in you creating or ripping off someone else’s ideas! Yet inspiration is completely legitimate whether you get inspired by a photographer, painter, location, movie, or any other source.


This image (of an environmental activist) was inspired by the fashion photographer Tim Walker who regularly uses grand scenes and fairytale props to create striking images.

When I look at other artists’ work, I try to really analyze what’s compelling about the images and what I can do to incorporate these elements (see #9). In the image above I was inspired by the work of Tim Walker, who regularly uses fairytale props and dramatic scenes.

4. Experiment
Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and try new techniques or types of photography. If you are landscape photography, try portraits. If you love photographing at sunset, try painting with light in the middle of the night. Look at other photographers work and try different techniques. Don’t be afraid to try new things!

For example, I saw many excellent photographers who were using paint with light as a technique for painting landscapes, urban scenes and even portraits. The images were beautiful, but looked challenging. I decided to experiment with paint with light for my fashion images, and was THRILLED with the results!


After seeing many photographers utilize paint with light in their work, I decided to experiment and use this technique for my fashion photography.

5. Define Your Style, Specialize
While I urge you to experiment, eventually you want to define your style and specialize. If you’d like to make photography your profession, you don’t want a website that has portraits, landscapes, macro and fashion. You are more likely to get a job or be memorable if you have a specialty or niche.

Even if you aren’t a professional, if you wish to exhibit your work it will be more appealing to galleries when you have a cohesive body of work. People don’t remember the ‘photographer who photographers everything.’ They remember the “food photographer” or “fairytale-inspired portrait photographer”. The more you specialize, the more you will be remembered.

I go back over and edit my portfolio ALL THE TIME. I really look at the weakest images, and attempt to replace them. Next I look at the strongest images. Why are they so successful? I try to use those same successful elements in future shoots.

I personally feel my style is clean, graphic and bold. When I shoot, I try to stick to this style, either using high contrast or bright colors to emphasize my compositions and poses.


This image, shot for Papercut Magazine, fits into my style of fashion photography that is clean, graphic and eye-catching.

6. Make Mistakes
Some of my favorite images and techniques started with a ‘mistake’. We have all spent a lot of time learning the ‘rules’ of photography. Yet I often see that that images that break the rules are the ones that stand out. When I experiment I try to remember that it is okay to make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes I like best! In fact, many photographers use these ‘mistakes’ to make their signature style.

Try adding lens flare, or motion blur, or something considered ‘wrong’ by traditional photo standards. Once when doing a shoot, someone’s clothing got in front of the lens, and it created this very interesting blur effect in the frame. Now I purposely create this blur effect, as seen in this image which recently appeared in Z!NK magazine. Sometimes ‘mistakes’ make the most interesting images.


Sometimes allowing yourself to make mistakes can help you discover truly interesting effects. Here I held colored plastic in front of the lens to create this blur effect.

7. Give Yourself Assignments
Give yourself assignments and deadlines to meet those assignments. Especially if you are not a full time photographer, it can be hard to find time to shoot for yourself. By giving yourself deadlines and assignments it gives you something to work toward and concentrate on.

When I give myself assignments, I try to analyze ‘what’s missing’ in my portfolio or what I could do to improve.

Assignments can be single words like “Red” or techniques like “Religion”.


For this image I gave myself the assignment of shooting the theme “Religion.” I decided to take the ‘religious’ warrior route and utilized a Lensbaby and Photoshop to create the final effect.

8. Enter Contests
If you are struggling to come up with self assignments, look for contests to help give you assignments. You can find contests online, in magazines and much more. They might give you subject matter to focus on. Furthermore, if you do win the contest, it helps get exposure for your work and perhaps some cool prizes.

For example, my good friend Brooke Shaden has a monthly contest on her blog. The contest themes vary but always seem to spark my creativity. Find blogs, magazines or websites with competitions and shoot to win! Ok, well if not to win at least to challenge yourself and explore your creativity!


I entered this image in the PDN’s “The Look” competition and was named one of the finalists.

9. Analyze Images
Most of us know an image we love when we see it. But do we really stop and ask why? Is it the lighting that is striking? Or is it powerful subject matter? Or do you love the composition? If you analyze photographs you can start to see which elements attract you to an image. From there, you can set the goal to incorporate these elements into your own work!

For example, I find that I love really graphic compositions and bright colors, and so I always try to incorporate this into my own work. Sometimes it happens naturally, and sometimes I make a conscious decision.

I look at the photographers I truly admire, and try to figure out what makes their work so incredible, and see if I can infuse that into my own!

10. Shoot personal work
If you are a professional or aspiring professional looking to improve your portfolio, don’t just shoot client work. Put together your own creative shoots that reflect the type of work you’d like to be hired for. This shows potential clients your creative abilities. I can almost guarantee that if you ONLY shoot when you are paid to shoot, your portfolio is suffering.

Furthermore, by shooting personal work people can see your creativity and vision and perhaps open up more opportunities. I try to shoot 1 personal project a week. When I first moved to NYC to pursue my fashion career, I dedicated each Sunday to shooting some sort of personal project, and the rest of the days to getting paid gigs. My portfolio improved 10x, and really helped kick-start my career!


This image was inspired by a Japanese artist who projected floral patterns on a face. This started as a personal project, but later ran in several international fashion magazines.

You can view more of Lindsay’s work at LindsayAdlerPhotography.com, keep up with her on her blog, and follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday
Jan
2012
17

Part Two: “My Four Days in India”

by Scott Kelby  |  49 Comments

I thought I’d pick up where I left off yesterday, with the remaining photos from my India Photo Book (I made the book on my last morning in Jaipur, but that was made a lot quicker by the fact that each night I would go through my images and make my “Picks” so I already had a folder with my favorite images all all ready to go, which makes the book-making process go much faster).

Post Processing
I didn’t have to do a lot of post processing on these, but they all got tweaking and sharpening in Photoshop or Lightroom. In particular, one thing I used a lot was a tiny bit of Highlight Edge Vignetting. Just a little bit in the Effects panel of Lightroom–I just drag the Amount slider to the left a little bit (as shown above) to darken the outside edges, and focus the attention away from the edges. Another thing I used here and there was Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro plug-in, in particular their Tonal Contrast preset. I normally didn’t apply it to the entire image—I would apply it, then hide the effect layer behind a black layer mask and then paint over parts of the image that needed more contrast.

I also increased the Clarity and Vibrance amount for some of the images, but overall it wasn’t anything fancy (it’s the same stuff I show in my live Photoshop World class called “Photoshop for Travel Photographers.”

Where’s all the HDR?
I’m waiting until I get back in the office (today) and I’m going to hand off some 5-shot brackets to RC Concepcion (who literally wrote the book on HDR post-processing) and let him have a go at it. I love the way he does his post on HDR images, so I hope to share those later in the week. And yes, I know…having RC process my HDR shots is cheating. :)

Next time, I’m building My Book in Lightroom 4
Now that Lightroom 4 Beta has a Books feature built-in, I’ll be doing my next book there, mostly because the layouts in LR4 are more flexible, so it opens lots of creative possibilities (see yesterday’s post where I showed the layout of the book in Lightroom 4. Worked even better than I expected!)

More Details on the Grid
Tomorrow, on “The Grid” Live (our weekly photography talk show), I’ll be talking about the trip, and some of the specific things I ran into photographically during the trip, so I’ll hope you’ll join us live tomorrow (Wednesday) at 4:00 PM ET at http://www.kelbytv.com/thegrid (or for the free rebroadcasts starting on Thursday).

 

Don’t forget to watch The Grid tomorrow at 4:00 pm. I’ll show some other shots, and we’ll talk about all sorts of stuff surrounding this. Thanks to everybody who gave me suggestions, helpful hints, warnings, and great advice before my trip to India. It really made a difference, and it was much appreciated! :-)

 

Monday
Jan
2012
16

My Four Days in India

by Scott Kelby  |  79 Comments

I just got back late Friday night—the trip was a birthday present from my wife (for my birthday last year—but this was the first chance we got to take the trip), and we had an absolutely wonderful time!

What an amazing, fascinating place. We were only actually there for four days (with a fifth day of travel back to New Delhi for our return trip), but it was totally worth it! We visited Agra (I always wanted to see, and overshoot, the Taj Mahal), and then we added a trip to Jaipur, which is an amazing city unto itself.

Photo Gear
I traveled very light (as usual for vacations), and I didn’t want to take a bunch of big photo gear that would get a lot of attention, so I took a Nikon D700, removed the battery grip, put black gaffers tape over the make and model (shown above—I know, it still look kinda big), removed my lens hood, and carried it all in a Think Tank Photo “Retrospective 20″ shoulder camera bag (borrowed from RC), which is designed to not look like a camera bag. This isn’t an “India” thing, but smart anytime you’re traveling (there are some places here in the states that I wouldn’t bring a DSLR to, blacked out or not).

I took just two lenses; my go-to travel lens is a Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5 to f/5.6 VR lens, and my second lens was a Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8. I also tried out a new travel tripod: the Oben CT-3500 Carbon Fiber four section tripod, which worked perfectly and only weighs 2.3 lbs.

Shooting in Pea Soup
My poor wife—she planned this special trip for me to see the Taj Mahal, and not only did she set it up so I could shoot it at two sunrise shoots, and two sunsets, she arranged for us to have a room only 900 feet from the Taj itself, and she specifically booked a hotel room with a terrace that overlooks the Taj. However, here’s the view at dawn the second day (below). Not only could we not see the Taj, we couldn’t see the swimming pool 30 feet in front of us.

Thanks to unseasonably cold weather, we were socked-in with thick, dense fog. It was absolute pea soup. I still went, and got lots of foggy shots with solid gray skies. This fog soup started the day we got there,and stayed the following morning at dawn, all afternoon, at dusk, and the following morning, too. In fact, I didn’t see fog-less clear skies until we reached Jaipur. My wife was really upset for me, but I was totally cool with it, because I didn’t just want to photograph India—I wanted to see and enjoy it, and man did I ever.

My Photo Book
After a vacation trip, I usually make a photo book of my favorite shots using iPhoto (link to video I did on how to make these in iPhoto) and I’m sharing the whole book (put together in iPhoto) with you here (part one today, and part two tomorrow). However, once this was done, I wanted to see if I could do the same thing (or maybe better) using Lightroom 4 Beta’s new Book Feature, and I have to say it worked brilliantly well, and even allowed me to do things I couldn’t do in iPhoto (I know, I know…Apple fan boys rev-up your engines). Anyway, I’ll be talking about this Wednesday on the Grid at 4:00 pm ET, so catch us live then.

Please click on the photos for a much larger view (they look much better bigger. Also, I made these spread really large—if you’re on a laptop, you may have to enlarge the size of your browser). More details on everything tomorrow. :)

That’s “Part One” of my photo book, and I’ll publish the rest here tomorrow.

One more thing: Why you need a guide when you go shooting
When I knew I would be traveling to India, I called my buddy Vincent Versace (who had run photo workshops there) and he turned me on to Travel Scope India, which provides very reasonably priced English speaking guides, and they were absolutely fantastic!

We learned so much about the Indian people (and their wonderful spirit), and they were really accommodating and helpful when it came to me finding locations to shoot. Here’s an link to an article I read last night at Lightstalking.com about why photographers should hire a guide (not a photo fixer, but a guide) and it’s worth a read (and right on the money!).

Anyway, Travel Scope India are highly recommended, and if you have plans of visiting India, you’ve got to contact Dinesh at TravelScopeIndia.com (they totally rock, and can find you guides in cities all over India). Can’t say enough things about how helpful they were.

Hope to see you back here tomorrow for Part 2, with more photos and more details. :)

Friday
Jan
2012
13

Bill Frakes on Shooting The Nikon D4

by Brad Moore  |  50 Comments

[Bill Frakes was one of the first photographers in the world, alongside Joe McNally and Corey Rich, to get his hands on the Nikon D4. Here's his story on shooting Istanbul and Its Many Faces.]

We had an intense 10 days in Istanbul making this short documentary shooting exclusively with the Nikon D4. Exhausting and invigorating. Crazy great fun.

It’s a wonderful place. The only major city in the world spanning two continents. Divided by the Bosphorus, this place is packed with activity and people, but yet is comfortable and calm.

This is where East meets West. It is an ancient city with modern rhythms. It has been inhabited for more than 5,000 years, every stone is steeped in history — while every day new fascinations emerge combining eastern style with European flare.

I picked Istanbul because of its history. A city of one thousand names, it has been the capitol of two major civilizations. The Ottoman and the Byzantine. It was the eastern Capitol of the Eastern Roman empire. For thousands of years, it has been a cultural and religious center.

Our challenge was to really put the D4 to the test. And to challenge ourselves to extend our vision, to use this incredible new technology to not just make our lives better, but to honor the people who gave us the opportunity to have these chances by making better images.

This is photojournalism. We controlled nothing. Everything is candid. Reportage.
It’s real world solutions to real world problems.

In post we did virtually nothing to the files. We edited the video native.  On the stills we did minor corrections so that they would fit with the video when we put them together. No sharpening nor grain reductions. Some burning and dodging. Cropping. That’s pretty much it.

We used the cameras 18 hours a day for 10 straight days. We used it as a still camera, a video camera, an audio recorder and an intravolometer.

What stands out for me most about this camera is the power of subtle changes. Small ergonomic changes make it incredibly comfortable to hold. You can activate backlight on all of the buttons and controls, now you can see everything on the camera in the dark. The video controls are the best of any DSLR I have seen, and I think I have seen them all. Audio, always a Nikon strength, is better than ever. They dominate this just like they do small flash.

The camera is amazing. The high ISO files exceeded my expectations, and after the D3S I had huge expectations! The new video and audio functions have transformed this camera into something beyond what we have seen before.

It is a rock solid, well crafted, easy to use machine. The menus are simple and elegant. The autofocus is extremely fast and accurate. The sensor delivers perfect, very sharp images.

I didn’t have any concerns about the technical, the Nikon engineers had taken care of that for me. I was free to concentrate on the creative, which is exactly as it should be.

We had a tight team of four.

Laura Heald. My creative partner in Straw Hat Visuals. She is everywhere on these projects. She shoots video and stills. Collects audio. Carries gear. She just makes things happen in the most positive way possible. When we get back to the studio she puts the pieces together. Having her on location making creative decisions is incredibly helpful both in the field and then in the edit bay because she has such a great feel for the material. She is the calm in the storm.

Andy Hancock. Our good friend and long time associate came to Istanbul for the first half of trip to help with the stills and video for the backstage video. Andy’s only been out of the country a few times, twice with us, and it’s great fun watching a Texas cowboy on the loose. If you meet Andy ask him if he remembers his first trip abroad., it’s a really good story.

Jana Erb joined us from Munich to do data management and run some of our robotics. Like Laura, Jana doesn’t understand the word no. Whatever needs to get done, she figures it out. Always in motion she is, as my good friend Paolo Frisson from Manfrotto says, “an EXPLOSION.” Although she was constantly scolding her mobile for it’s imprecision, she managed to navigate us seamlessly through the labyrinth of the city once known as Constantinople.

My job on these things is to do the connecting. I figure out what we need to do and keep pushing until we’re done. I do the lion’s share of the shooting both stills and video. I am in charge of quality control. In the edit process, I do the rough edits for concept and style. And then I try to stay out of Laura’s way until she is ready for me to weigh in on the final edit.

Things happen for a reason. We were ready to go. Spent seven hours packing 14 cases of gear. Left for the airport with plenty of time for our 3 p.m. flight home. We got to the counter, nobody there. Jana took off to find her gate for the flight to Munich. Laura found an agent. We missed the flight out of Istanbul. I had looked at the wrong flight. Back to the city, tired, cranky and annoyed at what this was going to do to our post production schedule -which was too tight.

We got to the hotel. Checked back in. Rescheduled our flights. And went for a walk. Two cameras for me.  Laura took her beloved P7000.  Headed into the center of the old city for an hour. We got lost. Ended up walking for seven hours, slowly covering 12 kilometers, and we made my favorite images of the trip.

Lost and slow. Lovely way to see a new city.

You can see more from Bill on the Nikon D4 over at StrawHatVisuals.com, see his work at BillFrakes.com, and follow him on Twitter.

Thursday
Jan
2012
12

It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  159 Comments

Hey everyone, it’s time for the second ever Free Stuff Thursday! Brad Moore here to let you know about some discounts and give away a free pass to…

The Digital Photo Workshops
The Digital Photo Workshops are kicking off in Death Valley with Rick Sammon, February 23-26! These 3-day, weekend workshops are designed to sharpen your skills behind the camera and in the digital darkroom through hands-on, one-on-one training to photographers and hobbyists who want to become better digital photographers. Just leave a comment here for your chance to win a free pass!

You can register over at TheDigitalPhotoWorkshops.com (NAPP members get $100 off!), and check the schedule for more workshops with Joe McNally, Dave Black, and Ben Willmore.

70% Off David Ziser DVD From Kelby Training
If you’re a wedding photographer or thinking of becoming one, here’s a kick butt deal! David Ziser’s Wedding Photography Rapid-Fire Tips & Tricks DVD is 70% off at the KelbyTraining.com book and DVD store. Renowned wedding photographer David Ziser has over 25 years of experience – and a lot of his best practices are in this DVD. Grab a copy today and put his experience to work for you. Only $14.99 while supplies last.

Photoshop Elements 10 for Digital Photographers
In case you haven’t heard, Scott & Matt’s new Photoshop Elements 10 Book for Digital Photographers will be here soon and we’re taking pre-orders. Reserve your copy here!

NAPP Renewal = Scott Kelby Extra Mega Bundle!
If you’re a member of NAPP, you can get the Scott Kelby Extra Mega Bundle free if you renew your membership before 1-13-12 at noon ET. Check out the January edition of Newswire for details.

Kelby Training Live
Photography & Photoshop CS5: From Focus to Finished with Ben Willmore is coming to Oklahoma City on January 25!

Just a couple days later, Dave Cross is bringing The Photographers Photoshop CS5 Power User Tour to Covington, KY on January 27.

And then on January 30, Scott Kelby will be in Austin, TX with his Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. Live Tour!

You can find more info, and sign up for these seminars and more over at KelbyTraining.com.

Last Week’s Winner
And, lastly… The winner of the free ticket to Photo Pro Expo in Cincinnati on February 2-5 is… Todd Boone! Congratulations Todd, you were the person the random number generator picked :)

Leave a comment for your chance to win this week’s giveaway, a free pass to The Digital Photo Workshop in Death Valley with Rick Sammon February 23-26!

Page 140 of 485« First...102030...138139140141142...150160170...Last »
Advertisement