In January you guys posted more than 1,700 Comments
I just went back and added up the number of comments posted by readers from Jan 3rd to Feb 1st, and it was a whopping 1,730 (although 1540 of those were from Ken Toney). ;-)  I was just astounded at the community you guys have built, and I want you to know that I read each and every one. Because I see your comments, I wanted to answer some of the questions I see popping up again and again that aren’t specific to that particular post. However, before I do I just wanted to thank you all for taking the time to share your comments, and especially to thank you for keeping your comments positive and making this a place where everybody’s treated with respect, and people don’t get flamed (or even lightly toasted).

(1) Q. Did you ever get your monopod replaced?
A. As it turns out, getting my monopod broken was the best thing that happened to me at that game. When I posted the story about Packer’s Quarterback Aaron Rodgers breaking my monopod during his touchdown dive (link), the folks at Really Right Stuff (the people who make my beloved BH-40 and BH-55 Ball Heads, which I cannot live without), graciously overnighted me their brand new, super-heavy duty MC-34 Carbon Fiber Monopod (shown above, on the Photoshop User TV set, where I’m telling the story—photo by Brad Moore), which is awesome! Incredibly well built (I’m not sure Rodgers could even take this one out), and it’s getting its first workout next week. That was truly cool of the Really Right Stuff crew.

Then, last Friday I got to speak at Manfrotto Distribution’s Annual Sales Meeting up in New York. They’re the folks behind a lot of the gear I use on a daily basis, including Elinchrom lighting, Lasto modifiers, Avenger stands, and (wait for it, wait for it), Gitzo tripods and monopods.

I’ve done presentations before in their tradeshow booth, but this time they had invited me to do a presentation to their distributors on how I use their gear in my own photography. So, I did a similar presentation to the one I do in their booth for the public, but then I ended with a quick portrait retouch (that’s me in mid retouch above—photo by Will Holowka), and then I ended with a short football photography slideshow.

After I was done, they presented me with not only a replacement for my broken Gitzo monopod, but the replacement was their upgraded model; the Gitzo GM3551 6X Caron Fiber Monopod, which is built like a tank. I don’t think a Packer’s lineman could take this puppy out. This all worked out much better than I could have ever hoped, because now not only do I have two awesome monopods, but I took the $220 Aaron Rodgers gave me, bought some whiskey, and went Honky Tonkin’. ;-)

(2) Q. Where’s the Kelby Training iPad App?
A. Every time I see that comment, which is now daily by the way, I cringe because I don’t have a decent answer. We have run into more hurdles with this project than you can imagine, and every time I think we’re a week away from releasing it, a new issue pops up in a different area. I can tell you we do have Beta versions in-house on our own iPads where we’re testing it, but there’s a reason it’s still in Beta—it’s not quite ready for release. This is one complex puppy, but once it’s lept over every hurdle, it’s going to be awesome. But until it is released, I’m in full cringe mode. Just know, it’s at the top of our list of projects, and I want it as badly as you guys do. Maybe more.

(3) Q. When’s the next Annual World Wide Photo Walk?
A. We haven’t picked the exact date again, but I imagine it will be approximately around the same time frame (late summer, so it’s really hot outside), but as soon as we nail down a date, I’ll be releasing that date here for sure.

(4) Q. When is the new Season of D-Town TV going to air?
A. OK, you have to keep this under wraps, but it’s been delayed a few weeks because we are launching an awesome new show in the next couple of weeks that I think you all will love. I can’t reveal all the details yet, but in the meantime it looks like D-Town TV will kick off its new season next week, but with some changes, which will be revealed in that first episode. It’s all good stuff, so stay tuned.

(5) Q. When is Jay Maisel’s new class going to be released? What about Jeremy Cowart’s 2nd class?
A. Good news: Jay’s class (which is incredible by the way) is almost out of editing, and should be up within just a few weeks. I am excited to tell you that Jeremy’s 2nd class is set to be released later today (his first class was one of our most-watched classes of the year, even though it didn’t come out until October). That’s Jeremy above, in a photo taken by RC yesterday at our studios where Jeremy was recording videos on how he does his Photoshop post-production. This is part of his upcoming online class where we went on location to Nashville to tape him doing an album cover shoot with a big name band. An amazing teaching opportunity from an amazing photographer and instructor.

(6) Q. When are you going to release an iPad App for “Photo Recipes, Part 2?”
A. The App is actually produced by my book’s Publisher, the fine folks over at Peachpit Press, and I imagine we’re probably just a few months away from its iPad release. I’ll let you guys know as soon as I hear anything concrete, but so far I haven’t heard a proposed ship date.

(7) Q. So Scott, are you shooting the SuperBowl?
A. Man, I wish. Unfortunately, I’ll be just watching the game at home, but luckily I’ll be surrounded by friends who all wish they were shooting it too, so we can drown our sorrows in yummy football food, while we scream at the TV (all wearing our Bears logo gear. We were so close!). Now, although Football season is just about officially over, I have a feeling it might be time for an NBA shoot this coming week. :-)

So, there you have it. Some quick answers to those lingering questions. Thanks again to everyone who posted comments and joined in the discussion this year. I love reading your comments, and commenting back when I have the chance. Have a great weekend everybody and we’ll see you here next week.

Have you been eyeballing that 70-200mm f/2.8 lens for a while?  How about the new Nikon D7000 or Canon 7D?  Now is the time to try out the object of your desire, because our friends over at Lens Pro To Go are offering a 15% discount on all seven-day (or longer) rentals this month!

To take advantage of this limited-time offer, just enter the discount code FEB15 during checkout.

While you’re there, also make sure you check out their sister site, StudioShare.org!

And keep on reading for more pimpy :)

Hey gang, Brad here with the latest pimpy!

>> Photoshop World
Planning on coming to Photoshop World Orlando? Sign up by February 25 to take advantage of our Early Bird special and save $100 on registration!  Plus alumni save an extra $50 (unless your last name starts with “V” and ends with “anelli.”  Then we charge an extra $50 ;) ).

While you’re over at PhotoshopWorld.com, make sure you scroll down to the bottom of the page and sign up for the PSW Newsletter. On February 9, we’ll send you the newsletter that has free Photoshop World downloads and the latest conference announcements and offers.

And we are ecstatic to announce the newest Photoshop World instructor, sports photographer Dave Black!  In his 30+ year career, he has photographed 12 Olympic Games, the Kentucky Derby, the Masters, NFL games and more for Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, ESPN, etc. He’s also known for his creativity with Lightpainting, as well as his monthly “Workshop at the Ranch” tutorials.

>> Kelby Training Online
We’ve just posted three brand new classes from Joe McNally, Bill Fortney, and Moose Peterson this week!

In Accelerated Corporate Portraiture, Joe McNally shows exactly how he works through a day of corporate photography.  From managing people and locations to dealing with boardroom setups and lighting issues, he shows you how to make the client and their brand look their best.

Head up to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains on a cold winter’s day with Bill Fortney in his Intimate Landscape Photography course.  Bill describes the “intimate landscape” as a small part of the grand landscape.  He’ll show you how to focus on pieces of the scene to extract photographs from the overall scene, plus show you how he processes his images once he gets back to the office.

Moose is back with Romancing The Landscape, Part 2! Join him out in the southwest as he continues capturing the unique buttes, spires, and mesas in Monument Valley, then processing those images to create beautiful panoramas, HDR images, and black and white photos.

>> DVDs from Kelby Training
Scott Kelby’s Photo Recipes Live Behind the Scenes Vol. 2 has been bundled with his Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. DVD for one low price! It’s like getting 4 DVDs and 1 book for the price of just the 3-disc set alone!

And Fay Sirkis just released her Master Brush Collection and the Master Background Collection DVDs in which she shows you how to create your own backgrounds and brushes that will help you transform your photos into painting masterpieces.

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

First, I want to thank Scott for inviting me to be his guest blogger for the second time here at Photoshop Insider.  It’s always an honor and a pleasure to make his accommodation.  Also, let me say that today’s post in no way reflects the views of “this station.”  Today’s post is meant to be more than a social observation, but rather a revelation of what’s happening in the field of wedding photography today, why it happened, and what can wedding photographers do about it. It may seem to be a “Doom and Gloom” read but is not meant to be. It is meant rather to be an “eye opening” read that I hope shakes all sense of complacency from our bones, and fires us up to do something about the current state of affairs.

As I researched and wrote this post, I was amazed by the confluence of circumstances that have completely changed how most wedding photographers have done business for years.  Most amazing was the speed at which these confluences collided and changed things in just a matter of 24-36 months! And all these changes mean that we must do business in a brand new way if we wish to succeed.

This post is meant to be Part 1 of a two part post. The reason, as I continued my research and writing I was topping out over 2,900 words and I still had about 1,500 to go – whew!  So, although most of this post reads like “Doom and Gloom” for wedding photography, I scatter tiny rays of hope throughout. Part 2, to be entitled “Dreams and Opportunities” or something like that ;) , will point wedding photography readers towards concrete strategies about how to grow their wedding photography business stronger and better than ever!

I hope you enjoy today’s read in the social observation context in which it was written.  Read on if you dare….

(more…)

Yesterday our lighting set-up was pretty much for head shots (one beauty dish and a reflector), but for every look we did during the day, I also shot more traditional full length shots as well, but like always—I try to keep the lighting simple, using just one main light. This was shot with a gray background—I added the violet Split Tone effect in the shadow areas inside of Lightroom.

Here’s the lighting set-up for the shot you see at the top of the page. We used the same exact strobe (the Elinchrom BXRI 500), but we switched out the Beauty Dish we used for the headshots shown in yesterday’s post for the 53″ Midi Octa softbox, which is probably my most-often used softbox when shooting fashion (It’s priced fairly decent for its large size—B&H Photo has it $289. Link). The main reason I switched was because I knew I’d be shooting 3/4 length and full length shots, so I wanted the light to cover more area. Also, to make sure some of the main light bounces back toward our subject, we put up a large white V-flat on the opposite side of the Main Light to fill in the other side.

Since I was shooting tethered, positioning the single Main Light was easy—it was controlling the light on the white cove in the background that kept us busy during the day. We would change between a medium gray, light gray, and solid white for most every look, and when you’re using two lights (one lighting each side of the cove) you’re constantly having to mess with the lights to balance them (for dark gray, we’d turn off the lights; for light gray we’d put them on low power, and for solid white we’d crank them up).

Above: Here’s what you have to do when shooting full length shots to get the right look and perspective (I know—it’s not a pretty view of me so stop snickering. But that’s what ya gotta do to get the right perspective). Although this is Tanja in the shot (rather than Megan), I thought I’d at least show you how far back you need to be to shoot at 150mm to 200mm, and precisely how uncomfortable you need to be, which is plenty by the way.

Above: When I was back on my feet again, I moved in as close as my 70-200mm would focus to get this beauty-style shot. You can see the Midi Octa reflected in her eyes. Mmmmm. Midi Octa. I wanted to make sure her eyes were tack sharp, so I put the camera on a tripod before taking the shot.

Above: Since Sandbox Studio is a daylight studio, I wanted to shoot at least one look with natural light, but for this one I thought I’d try something different. I bought a backdrop that looks like the material from a tufted leather couch from Backdrop Outlet (link), and we hung it on a poll between two C-stands. What I wanted to try was to frame the shot so you see the entire backdrop, stands and all (like you see here), but to make it look more like a finished shot (and not a production shot), I laid down on the ground to shoot it like a regular full length fashion shot, and I got the image you see above.

Since I was shooting natural window night, I switched my camera to Aperture Priority mode, and set my f/stop at f/2.8 to get plenty of light into the scene. My shutter speed looked kind of slow at ISO 200, and I was afraid I’d wind up with some blurry shots not being on a tripod down so low, so I increased my ISO to 500 (there’s an ISO you don’t see everyday), and I was up to 1/1600 of a second, and good to go.

Above: After I got the full length, I stood back up and went into for some head and shoulders type of shots. Still using just Natural window light, and the same settings as the full length shot except I lowered the ISO to 400.

Above: Here’s the production shot (photo by Brad Moore), and as you can see, there’s not much going on here—-just natural light. It doesn’t get much simpler than this. By the way; I quickly figured out which window was the North-facing window by using my iPhone’s Compass App. First time I ever needed to use it.

Above: Here’s a full length shot of Tanja (the reflection on the floor is faked in Photoshop. Please don’t tell any one).

Above: Here’s a production shot (photo by Brad Moore). Again, it’s just one Main Light with the 53″ Midi Octa, and then two large V-flat reflectors to bounce some of the light back onto our subject. There are two lights just aiming at the background, but they’re powered down low to create a very light gray, almost off-white background.

Above: Here’s a different perspective from Brad, and you can see the background lights and the V-flats pretty clearly here (and the creative team all looking on during the shoot. While I’m shooting, they’ll quickly jump in and fix hair, adjust clothing, or touch up make-up as we go, which is incredibly helpful).

(Above: some unretouched frames from that set, shown in Lightroom’s Grid View)

Well, that’s it for this one, gang
I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes look. Thanks to my photo assistant Brad Moore for helping throughout the planning and staging of the shoot; to Megan and Tanja for being so patient and keeping a wonderful attitude the entire shoot, and to Sopha, Linh, and Cassandra for all their hard work in making the shoot a success.

Well, football season is over (at least for me, anyway), so it’s time to move on to other shoots. This weekend I was up in New York City speaking at an event Friday evening (more on that tomorrow), but while I was up there, I managed to fit in a fashion shoot on Saturday morning at Sandbox Studio in SoHo.

I was lucky enough to work with the same creative team I did for my last shoot up in NYC (link) and the shoot was coordinated by the coolest Fashion Stylist ever—the wonderful Sophia Batson (link). She coordinated and styled all the outfits, and I got to work once again with Sophia’s hand picked hair and make-up artists: Linh Nguyen and Cassandra Renee (they rock!).

With Sophia’s help, we arranged two fantastic models (Megan [Seen above] and Tanja) through a New York City agency, and before you knew it, Brad Moore and I were getting the studio ready for our 10:00 am call time. (Note: in the photo at the top of the page, L to R that’s Susan (helping out on the set); Lihn, Megan, Sophia, and Cassandra).

(Above: Here’s the lighting set-up for the shot up top [production photo by Brad Moore]. That’s a 500 watt Elinchrom BXRI strobe right above her, with a 17″ Beauty Dish attachment on it, with a diffusion sock in front on it to soften the look a bit. Below and in front of her is just a reflector—–the other light isn’t actually turned on—I’m just using it as a makeshift reflector stand. I tried the shot with the bottom strobe turned on, but even powered down as low as it would go, I felt it was too bright, so I turned off the strobe, and instead just laid a silver reflector on top of it like you see here.

There is a second strobe on the floor behind my laptop lighting the white cove background. I’m shooting tethered directly into Lightroom 3. Here’s a link for details on the tripod accessory arm I’m using to hold my ballhead and my laptop. Here’s the link to the laptop stand itself. The tripod they’re mounted on is the new Really Right Stuff TVC-33 Versa Carbon Fiber tripod (link) and this was my first time trying it out (a full review coming soon). Incredibly well made tripod—sturdy as anything, and 100% made in the USA no less).

(Above: some unretouched frames from that set, shown in Lightroom’s Grid View)

Sandbox Studio also is a daylight studio, so I wanted to opportunity to try some natural daylight stuff while I was there, but you can also limit the light for shooting with strobes which is primarily what we did.

Above: Brad shot the short video tour of the studio with his iPhone (we had Pandora radio playing in the background), which gives you a better look at where we were shooting (plus, it includes a gratuitous shot of me texting before the shoot). Very cool place, really helpful staff (and five different studios available for rent).

(Above: Here’s a beauty-style shot of Tanja [originally from Serbia, and has a thick accent, but raised in Wisconsin. Probably a Packers fan, but she kept it well hidden so I didn’t kick her off the set. Kidding.]. I like this shot because it shows off Cassandra’s beautiful makeup job.

We used the same lighting set-up as the first image, but Brad got a great perspective of the lighting set-up with this production shot, so I wanted to share it with you. The reason the Beauty Dish light looks orange is because what you’re seeing is the Modeling Light only—not the actual flash from the strobe.

(Above: some unretouched frames from that set, shown in Lightroom’s Grid View)

Over the three hours of shooting, we did six “looks” with different outfits, hair, and make-up, and Sophia coordinated everything so all Brad and I had to do was focus on the lighting and the shooting.

I’ll share some of the other looks and production photos tomorrow in Part 2. See you then.

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