Wednesday
Jan
2012
25

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday with Patrick LaMontagne!

by Brad Moore  |  46 Comments

As much as I appreciate the invite, it likely seems odd that somebody who shoots on automatic with a Nikon D60 would be writing anything on Scott Kelby’s blog.  Despite my own ineptitude behind a lens, many of my close friends are photographers.  Just don’t ask me what an ISO is or how to use a speed light, and don’t expect me to join you on a 3am photo walk in Vegas.  Fool me once.

I’m a cartoonist, illustrator, and painter, and in addition to a pencil and sketchbook, my tools of the trade are Photoshop and a Wacom tablet.  What may surprise you is that I had never planned on being an artist, and I didn’t go to art school.  For most of my life, I only doodled and rarely created any finished work.  I didn’t start down this path with any kind of effort until I was in my thirties, and I’m only 40 now.

My wife and I were living in Banff, Alberta, Canada, and I had a decent job working at a hotel.  In 1997, the local weekly paper advertised for an editorial cartoonist, and I figured it might be something fun to do on the side.  Nobody else applied, so I got the gig.  In 2001, I became nationally syndicated and four years after that, I quit my job.  These days, my editorial cartoons run in papers across Canada, I’ve had illustrations in international magazines, and my paintings are selling in galleries.  Summed up in a couple of paragraphs, it may seem like I knew what I was doing.  Let me assure you, I did not.

Over the past decade, I tried adding a few other skills to my creative repertoire.  For awhile I attempted graphic design, because that’s what people told me I should do and that’s where the money was.  The fact that I disliked it intensely and wasn’t very good at it probably should have been taken into consideration.

When the newspaper industry began to struggle, many of my colleagues figured that online animation was the future.  Wanting to get in on the ground floor, I learned all I could about Flash, created a weekly animated cartoon and even had a couple of TV networks and newspaper chains wanting to run it on their websites.  They did not, however, want to pay for it.  After five months of no time off, I found out the hard way that I didn’t want to be an animator.

As a cartoonist, I’ve always tried to improve my caricature skills, and eventually I became pretty good at painting detailed caricature portraits.  For awhile, there were a few commissions, but the economy suddenly tanked and the price I had to charge to justify the work, had become unaffordable for most people.  I just couldn’t provide detailed studio paintings for a quick-sketch price.  Looking into my future, I didn’t see this being a big part of it.

When I returned from my first Photoshop World in 2009, I found myself inspired.  For years, I’d been looking at what others were doing in the cartooning industry and I’d somehow convinced myself that I had to follow them, even though they weren’t actually leading me anywhere.  I finally asked myself the most important question. “What unique work can I do that I will really enjoy, and be able to sell?”

Having lived in the mountains for so many years, I knew that tourists came here for the scenery and the wildlife.  As painting landscapes didn’t interest me, the choice between the two was easy.  In the Fall of 2009, I painted a portrait of a funny looking grizzly bear, and it changed everything.

It felt completely right, and best of all, people loved it.  After the Grizzly came the Raven, then the Elk, and I was hooked.  In February, 2010, browsing in an art gallery on a slow day in Banff, I got to talking with the assistant manager.  She asked what type of work I did, and I showed her the three images on my phone.  After only a moment, she offered to sell the paintings in the gallery.

With another area gallery wanting them as well, the next year was a crash course in the business of canvas and paper printing, limited editions, live painting demonstrations, and everything else I didn’t know about selling work in a gallery.  And I kept painting.

In September of that year, I was a finalist for the Guru Awards at Photoshop World in Las Vegas.  Not only did my Moose Totem win the Illustration category, but to my great surprise, the Wolf Totem took Best of Show.  In a moment of reflection, I recall thinking, “All this time, I’ve been painting people…”

I’ll always be a cartoonist, editorial or otherwise, and I’ve no plans to give that up anytime soon.  Commercial work, portrait, caricatures and cartoons, all still pay a good chunk of the bills, and it’s not like I’m working in the salt mines.  I’ve got a pretty sweet gig.   But that which I am most proud of, that I can see being a big part of my future, are these animal paintings.

This work has opened many doors for me.  The prints sell well in the galleries, I’ve recorded training DVDs on cartooning and painting, and I’ve twice been a guest on Wacom webinars this past year. They even hired me to represent their tablets last summer in Calgary at Scott’s ‘Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it’ tour.  Personally, I can think of no better validation as a digital artist than being noticed by Wacom.

So what are you supposed to get from this odd story?  Well, here are some things I now know for sure.  There is no one map to success.  When it comes to finding your creative niche, learn from everyone, but copy nobody.  Never be completely happy with your work, because you will always have room to improve.   Take risks and be willing to fail.

People may tell you that you’re doing it wrong, and while it’s wise to consider that they might be trying to help you and could be right, there is an equal chance that they’re not.  When I first started promoting my Totems, more than a few people told me I should do more realistic paintings of wildlife, because they’d probably sell better.  Asking my galleries for their thoughts, they told me they weren’t interested in that, because that’s what everybody else was doing.

While working on my latest painting this month, the Cougar Totem in the video above, I woke up at 4:00am on a Sunday, because I knew that I only had a few hours left before the painting was done, and I was excited to finish it.  When you find that which you would do even if nobody paid you, that creative work that feels indescribably right, then that is the work you’re supposed to be doing.

If you haven’t found it yet, keep moving forward.  Challenge your own assumptions, be willing to experiment and get comfortable with rejection.  I’ve always learned much more from my failures than my successes.   Most importantly, keep trying new things, because the next one could be it.  And even if you are lucky enough to find the work you’re meant to do now, it’s still only a stepping stone to the work you’re meant to do later.

You can see more of Patrick’s work on his website, keep up with him on his blog, follow him on Twitter, and like him on Facebook.

Tuesday
Jan
2012
24

My Favorite Football Shots of The Season

by Scott Kelby  |  71 Comments

Man, it sure felt like more, but as it turned out,I only shot 10 football games this entire season (I’m not complaining on any level—I just sure thought it was more). They were:

  1. Notre Dame vs. Michigan State
  2. Tampa Bay Bucs vs. Indianapolis Colts
  3. San Francisco 49ers vs. NY Giants
  4. USF Bulls vs. Miami Hurricanes
  5. New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons
  6. Marshall Thundering Herd vs. FIU Golden Panthers
  7. Tennessee Titans vs. the Cincinnati Bengals
  8. Atlanta Falcons vs. Minnesota Vikings
  9. Countryside Cougars (High School Football)
  10. Georgia vs. Michigan State

And as we’re kicking off this New Year, I thought I’d take a look back at some of my favorite shots from this past season. All of them pretty much shot with the same set-up: 2 camera bodies: Nikon D3s and D3. Main lens: 400mm f/2.8. Secondary lenses: 70-200 f/2.8, 24-70mm f.2/8, and 10.5mm fisheye.  NOTE:  These look much better larger, so please click on them to see a larger size). Here they are (in no particular order).

 

There ya have it, folks—-my favorite shots from this season. Thanks to everybody who tolerated all my football posts here this season and to everybody who supported me throughout the year with your kind comments. I love sharing what I pick up from these games (good and bad), and it’s been really fun having you all along with me for the ride. :)

Monday
Jan
2012
23

My “Best of 2011″ Awards

by Scott Kelby  |  54 Comments

Hi everybody—-it’s time (well, it’s a bit overdue) for my 3rd annual “Best of 2011 Awards” (Well, it’s not actually my 3rd best of 2011; it’s my 3rd “Best of” awards but you know what I mean).

It’s important to note once again that I didn’t say “Best photography gear” or “Best Photoshop stuff” (though both of those are represented). Instead, this is just my favorite “bestest” stuff from 2011, (including things like songs, movies, travel stuff, food, etc.) presented in no particular order.

Hope it starts off your New Year right! (By the way; make sure you read my disclaimers at the end of the list). Here we go:

————–

My Best Switcharoo of 2011:
Switching from Sirius Satellite Radio to XM
Even though they’re owned by the same company, Sirius XM, the station selection on XM is much better, and it has the best stations from Sirius already.

Most-receptive crowd to present to in 2011:
My LSR seminar in Toronto.
Those folks were awesome! Can’t wait to go back!

Best iPad App:
Photo Manager Pro
I’ve tried about every portfolio app for the iPad, but this one is the easiest, and most flexible

Best App for frequent travelers:
GateGuru
It finds which airport you’re at, and tells you what’s there, in every terminal, from restaurants to airport lounges, gift shops to ATMs, and it saves you a ton of time.

Best iPad game:
Temple Run
I could have had at least two more books written if it wasn’t for this addicting game.

Best Photoshop plug-in Update:
Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 4
My most-used plug-in of the year 

My pick for best up-and-coming plug-in for 2011:
Topaz Detail
It’s “Freaky Detail” in a plug-in

Best new retouching plug-in:
OnOne’s Perfect Portrait
This one stands alone 

Best iPad Photo Editing App:
Snapseed
Apple chose it as their App of the Year. I’m not surprised.  

Best thing in 2011 for photographers that’s not a camera, lens, or lighting:
Google+
An incredibly vibrant, active community of photographers and it’s growing like a weed.

Best place to show your images online:
500px (link)
Plus, their iPad App is a fantastic place to go for photo inspiration.

Best place to get cool, inexpensive gifts for photographers:
PhotoJojo’s Store  (link)
They have the most clever stuff anywhere!

Best game of 2011:
Call of Duty MW3 for XBox Live
I can’t imagine the cool things I could have accomplished this year had it not been released

Best iPhone App for Photographers:
True HDR
(link)

Best Restaurant Find of 2011:
Max Brenner’s in NYC
(link)
I’m not a chocolate fanatic, but this place could convert me

Best fun new restaurant:
Wagamama
(link)

Best New Blog for Photographers:
blamethemonkey.com
(link)
Great information, including lots of cool HDR stuff, from photographer Elia Locardi

Best Blog for Fashion Photographers:
fashionphotographyblog.com
(link)
Great resource and wonderful photography from Melissa Rodwell

Best New Studio Accessories of 2011
The gear from Tether Tools 
(link)
I’m hooked on their tethering accessories. It’s not cheap, but it’s not cheap!

Best Point-and-Shoot Camera of 2011
The iPhone 4s 
(link)
I love it because it’s always with me. 8-megapixels; I can edit and process “in camera” and upload to the Web directly from my “camera” or send the photo I just took as an email.  

> Best new tech blog:
The Verge
(link)
Great reporting with a fantastic layout 

> Best gadget of 2011:
Cordies
Brilliantly simple desktop cord management from Quirky.com

Best Photoshop Book of 2011
Matt Kloskowski’s “Compositing Secrets” (link)
I wish I had written it, but if I had, it wouldn’t have been as good 

> Best book every serious photography should own:
“The Photographer’s Survival Guide,” by Ed Greenberg and Jack Reznicki (link)
Don’t let the name through you off; it’s about model releases, copyright, and stuff you really need to know

> Best Prime Rib of 2011:
Keen’s Steakhouse on West 36th in New York City
(link)
When they serve it, it looks like something you’d see on the Flintstone’s

> Best burger of 2011:
Hands down it was Plan B in Hartford Connecticut
(link)

> Best burger in NYC:
Shake Shack
(link)
There’s a reason you have to wait 30 minutes in line to get in.

> Best Live Show I Saw in 2011:
Rock of Ages
(link)

Best Live Concert I Saw in 2011:
Rod Stewart at Caesar’s Palace
Some guys have all the luck :)

Best thing I added to my Mac in 2011:
Mac OS X Lion
Much better than I thought. Lots of great little improvements, and iCloud integration rocks!

Best business book of 2011:
Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki
(link)

Another that comes close:
“Crush It” by Gary Vaynerchuk
(link)

Best really handy accessory for hot shoe flash:
Rogue Gels
(link)
I never mind paying for things that make my job easier 

Best romantic comedy I saw in 2011:
Crazy Stupid Love

Best romantic movie to watch again during the holidays:
Love Actually

Best movie that wanted to be good, but really wasn’t:
Columbiana
Massive holes in the plot sunk this one for me

Best movie that was so bad it was kinda good:
A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas
We wound up seeing this as part of my wife’s new “Date Night Movie Roulette” where you’re not allowed to even look at what’s playing until after dinner. Then you go to the movies, and see whatever’s playing at that time. H&K was all that was on. It was so bad, it was good.

Best list I was surprised (yet thrilled) to be included in:
Top 10 Best Portrait Photographers Today
(link) Toby

Best Old School Style Song I bought in 2011:
Diverse City by Mac
(iTunes Link)
“It’s like a freak show, in your neighborhood”

Best Golden Oldie I added to my iPod:
Duke of Earl by Gene Chandler (iTunes Link)
“As I walk through this world, nothing can stop….the Duke of Earl”

Best Classic Rock Song From A Band I’d Never Heard Of:
Inside Out by XYZ (iTunes Link)

Best old R&B song I added:
Don’t Stop by Jeffery Osborne
(iTunes Link)

Best classic rock song I added:
Be Good to Yourself by Journey (iTunes Link)

Best new song:
So Help Me God by Fireflight (iTunes Link)

Coolest kinda-jazzy but yet kinda alternative song I bought in 2011:
Hello City by Bare Naked Ladies (iTunes Link)

Best song I bought after hearing it on my son’s iPod:
Dear X: You Don’t Own Me by Disciple (iTunes Link)

Best Country Song I bought in 2011:
That’s What I love About Sunday, by Craig Morgan (iTunes Link)

Best Band I Never Though I’d have on my iPod:
Sixx: A.M.

Best New Song:
Stand, by Lenny Kravitz
(iTunes Link)

Best guitar-related gift I got in 2011:
A Hartke Kickback 12 Bass Amp (link)

Best new reason to love England:
Tim Wallace

He makes we want to grab my camera, and a bucket of water, and shoot!

Best new photographer to learn from:
Cliff Mautner
I can’t believe how much I learned from watching his online class. 

Best Day Trip of 2011:
Flying to Cedar Key, Florida with my wife as the pilot

Best bargain in lighting in 2011:
Westcott’s Giant 7′ Parabolic Shoot Through Umbrellas
The megapixel race is over. Now, it’s whoever dies with the biggest modifier, wins (Link)

Best way to start a fight since mentioning HDR:
Mention that your App is only available for the iPad

————————

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMERS:
(1)
I could be totally wrong about any of these—they’re just my opinions

(2) Some of these things could have actually come out in 2009, or even 2008. I’m old and lose track of time easily.

(3) If you disagree with any of my picks, that’s OK.

(4) If some of my picks make you seething mad, and you want to post mean comments to me, remember—you can start your own blog today, for free, and by this afternoon you can post your own list (don’t worry—everybody will agree with all your picks). Here’s a good place to start (link).

Well, that’s it gang. I’m always on the lookout for great anything (songs, movies photo gear, iPhone/iPad Apps, restaurants, travel tips, etc.), so if you have something I missed on my list, just let me know.

Friday
Jan
2012
20

How I post-processed the images from my “Four Days in India” photo book

by Scott Kelby  |  25 Comments

On Wednesday’s episode of “The Grid” (our weekly talk show about photography, broadcast live each Wednesdays), I took some time at the end of the show to answer a lot of the questions people had here on the blog about how I post processed the images seen in my photo book from my recent trip to India (link to my “Four Days in India Part 1, and Part 2 from earlier this week).

The video clip above shows the Lightroom [Camera Raw] and Photoshop tweaks I did to the image, but there’s also some talk about shooting portraits on the streets, including a great street shooting tip from Zack Arias who was our in-studio guest. Lots of fun on the show (our topic was our Predictions for 2012 for the photo industry), and if want to catch the full episode (Zack was an awesome guest), you can watch it free online right here.

Have a great weekend everybody, and join me here Monday for my annual “Best of 2011″ post.

Thursday
Jan
2012
19

You Spoke. Adobe Listened.

by Scott Kelby  |  67 Comments

I’ve got great news! While I was in India last week, Adobe announced that they have reconsidered and have officially changed their upgrade policy to Photoshop CS6. You spoke and they listened!

Now Adobe is offering CS3 and CS4 users special introductory upgrade pricing all the way through the end of 2012. Since Adobe has indicated that CS6 is due in the first half of this year, they are basically giving the community a year’s notice, along with an upgrade discount, and I think that’s more than fair. Especially since Adobe releases free 30-day trial versions of Photoshop, so users will be able to take CS6, and Creative Cloud, for a spin and still have at least six months to kick the tires and see if it’s right for them.

You can read Adobe’s official announcement right here, and I believe more details are still to come in the near future, but in the meantime I wanted to thank all of you who took the time to leave comments on my “Open Letter to Adobe” post. It really made a difference.

I also want to thank the folks at Adobe — on behalf of us all — not only for listening, but for caring enough to be flexible about their upgrade policy to give all the CS3 and CS4 users a fair upgrade path (either by simply upgrading Photoshop, or through the new Creative Cloud) and the opportunity to continue on as Adobe Photoshop customer.

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!

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