Tuesday
Mar
2014
25

The people have spoken — it’s time to cut ‘em!

by Scott Kelby  |  5 Comments

Thanks so much for your help everybody — your votes are in and I’m cutting the three images you see above, which will get me back down to my 24-image limit.

I have to say I was very surprised at how close the voting was, with only 84 votes separating first and last place. The yellow Ferrari rear detail shot (A) was the first choice by pretty decent margin.

Thanks again to everyone who participated — it helped a bunch. :)

Tuesday
Mar
2014
25

I Need Your Help Trimming My Online Portfolio

by Scott Kelby  |  194 Comments

Hi Gang: Can I get your help with something? I’m over my self-imposed limit on the number of images I have in my online automobile portfolio gallery (called “Personal Work” in my Sports portfolio — it’s a long story), and I was hoping you might help me trim things down. I did some of the leg work, by narrowing these down to these six images which are “on the bubble.”

Here’s how to vote
I can only keep THREE of the following images so I was hoping you’d choose your THREE favorites from these, let me know your choices, and then I’ll tally the votes and cut the other three remaining images. If you could vote in the comment section below — just give your picks by letter “A, B & C” or “C, D and E” etc., (the letters appear in the bottom right corner of each image).

Remember, only choose the THREE keepers by letter (and many thanks in advance). Here we go:

Many thanks for helping me out here. I’ll post which ones made the cut here once I count the votes.

Thanks again (and have an awesome Tuesday!). :)

-Scott

 

Monday
Mar
2014
24

Retouching Cars in Photoshop

by Scott Kelby  |  11 Comments

I had some folks ask me about how I retouch the cars I shoot so I thought I’d share some of the techniques by taking you quickly (quickly is the key word  here — it normally takes me about 45 minutes for a full retouch) but at least in this video I could show pretty much what I do during a standard automotive retouch, without making you watch me remove every little spot, spec and reflection (which is sadly, what I normally have to do, and that’s why it often takes so long).

So, basically this is just retouching 101 stuff — if you really want to learn the “art” of retouching automobiles, you should watch Tim Wallace’s “Post Processing for Automotive Photography” online class. He’s very humble about it, but when it comes to retouching cars, Tim is “the man” so it’s totally worth learning his techniques.

Anyway, in the meantime I hope you find the short video I did above somewhat helpful.

Here’s wishing you an awesome Monday (well, as awesome as a Monday can be anyway). :)

 

Friday
Mar
2014
21

Travel Photography Tips with Serge Ramelli

by Scott Kelby  |  7 Comments

Our buddy, French photographer and Photoshop guru Serge Ramelli was our in-studio guest this week on “The Grid” (our weekly photography talk show) and he shared seem really helpful tips — here’s the episode (above) if you’re into travel (plus, he shared some tips on the business side in response to some of our viewers live questions — definitely worth checking out).

Hope you all have a great weekend, and we’ll see you back here on Monday. :)

Best,

-Scott

Thursday
Mar
2014
20

It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  20 Comments

International Day Of Happiness with Coca Cola
Today is the International Day of Happiness, which the UN created last year to encourage countries to “better capture the importance of the pursuit of happiness and well-being.” Scott teamed up with Coca Cola to create a portrait series of people who get their happiness from making other people happy. The series shows each person holding an iPad with a picture representing what they do to make others happy. You can check it out right here, and take a minute today to try and bring happiness to someone else!

The Business Side of Frank Salas
Join Master Photographer Frank Salas and KelbyOne’s own Mia McCormick as they discuss what it takes to succeed as a wedding photographer in the latest addition to KelbyOne, The Business Side of Frank Salas. With over 30 years experience in the wedding industry, Frank Salas has seen trends come and go, but the key to success is the building and nurturing of relationships. Over the course of an hour, Frank shares his thoughts and experiences on everything from getting started in the business to deciding why and when to expand your services, and so much more!

KelbyOne Live
Want to spend a day with Scott KelbyMatt Kloskowski, RC Concepcion, or Ben Willmore? Check out these seminar tours!

Shoot Like A Pro with Scott Kelby
Mar 28 – Minneapolis, MN
Apr 14 – Salt Lake City, UT
May 13 – Portland, OR

Lightroom 5 Live with Matt Kloskowski
Mar 31 – Indianapolis, IN
Apr 2 – Columbus, OH

Photoshop for Photographers with RC Concepcion
Mar 26 – Arlington, TX
Apr 11 – Washington, DC
May 20 – Hartford, CT

Photoshop Creativity with Ben Willmore
Apr 16 – Chicago, IL
May 7 – Philadelphia, PA
May 9 – South San Francisco, CA
May 28 – Sacramento, CA

You can check out the full schedule for seminars through March! And leave a comment for your chance to win a ticket to one of these events!

Last Week’s Winners
Photoshop Guys Book Set
- Marland Grove

KelbyOne Class
- Holger

KelbyOne Live Ticket
- R J F

If you’re one of the lucky winners, we’ll be in touch soon. Have a great International Day of Happiness!

Wednesday
Mar
2014
19

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Todd Sipes!

by Brad Moore  |  9 Comments

After recently wrapping up my eBook on urban exploration photography, I’ve taken a step back to examine why I go to abandoned places, risking legal repercussions and personal injury only to walk away with a few shots that I truly love. The obvious reasons are that it’s incredibly fun, it’s adventurous, it’s exhilarating, it’s challenging, and I love historical places. But most importantly, I have the rare opportunity to photograph places that very few photographers can. The skills I’ve gained over the years to find abandoned places, to figure out how to get inside of them (without getting arrested), and to photograph them in extremely unforgiving lighting circumstances are all factors that I shouldn’t take for granted. With that said, it hasn’t always been a cake walk. I’ve had close calls with authority figures, I’ve partially fallen through floors, and I’ve walked away with a plethora of terrible photos. The latter of those three things has been the most difficult to overcome. By sharing the following lessons, my hope is to save other photographers some of the frustrations of learning the hard way.

Lesson #1: Shoot less!
One of the tough lessons I had to learn in my first year of shooting is that I was simply taking too many shots. When I first started sneaking into abandoned places, I was under the impression that I needed to capture every inch of the building. I think the fear of the building being demolished left me with the possibility that I may be the last person to ever photograph it. After realizing how ridiculous that notion was, coupled with the fact that most of my photos were terrible, I had to ask myself “what is my goal?” I knew that I wanted to create artistic photos that tell the stories of the abandoned buildings that I explore. Once I accepted that I didn’t need to serve as a documentarian by capturing every mundane detail, my workflow sped up (because I didn’t need to review hundreds of photos) and I was much happier with the shots I walked away with.

Lesson #2: Focus on composition
Not only was I wasting a ton of time trying to shoot too many photos, I was more focused on post-processing rather than composition. I’m happy that I’ve spent so much time immersed in Lightroom, Photoshop, OnOne, Nik, and other post-processing tools, but I don’t like looking at photos from my first year of shooting because they’re just horribly composed. I had this twisted mindset that I could just run my photos through Photomatix, crank up the saturation, and call it a day. I’ve actually gone back to re-shoot a lot of the abandoned places that I shot in my first year because the pictures were THAT bad. You can usually salvage a photo that has mediocre color or lighting in post-processing, but you can’t fix composition (without cropping and sacrificing image quality).

Quick tip: Submit your photos to online forums and message boards for critique. 99% of the time, your friends won’t tell you if your image sucks.

Lesson #3: Don’t shoot mid-day
Fast forward a year. I began to see how lighting was playing a much larger role in my photography. I would typically wake up around 10am on a Saturday and go shoot during the day. This makes it very difficult to get evenly lit photos. Abandoned places are notoriously difficult to shoot because they are often very dark. When you’re shooting in a dark place with harsh afternoon sun blaring in through windows or roof, it creates photos with extreme contrast (even with HDR). With that said, landscape photographers swear by blue hour and golden hour…for very good reason. I began to realize that my shots were turning out better if I shot early in the morning or around sunset. If I’m going to be shooting in a dark space, I’d rather have the lighting characteristics of the soft morning sun instead of the harsh afternoon light, no matter how little light is actually coming through. It’s also easier to sneak in and out of abandoned buildings when it’s dark, so set those alarms for 5 AM and hit the road!

Lesson #4: The 2 lens rule
Everyone wants to be properly equipped for any photographic situation; there’s nothing wrong with that for the everyday photographer. But for urban explorers, carrying every lens you own can be a huge pain (especially if you’re hopping fences or running away from “threats”). After lugging around too much gear for far too long, I realized I only used about half of what I was carrying for 90% of my exploring. My advice is to pick your 2 favorite lenses and leave the rest at home. You can always swap out glass and go back to a certain location if you feel like you truly missed some shots without a particular lens.

Lesson #5: Stop using Photomatix for your HDR needs
This one might earn me some hate mail, but it needs to be said. While on a trip to Nicaragua with The Giving Lens, photographer Colby Brown turned me onto LR/Enfuse as an alternative to Photomatix and I haven’t looked back. Don’t get me wrong, Photomatix can yield some great results… but rarely in the hands of beginners. One of the problems that I see time and time again is that urban explorers want to get that gritty detail in their images, so they crank up the Photomatix Strength slider to 100 and hope for the best. This isn’t the right way to do it and I was guilty of the same thing for a long time. Using LR/Enfuse or 32-bit HDR’s gives me great dynamic range without the pitfalls of Photomatix sliders. If you’re looking to get some gritty texture in your images, try Nik Color Efex Pro’s Tonal Contrast filter (used in moderation) instead.

Lesson #6: Don’t stop experimenting
It’s easy to fall into the routine of “what works” in order to generate a solid image, whether it’s using the same camera settings, light painting technique, or Photoshop actions. We’re all just looking for the fastest route to great results, right? That’s logical and perfectly fine if you’re happy with what you’re creating. Personally, I get bored. I like to try new methods to capture a scene or post process an image. Forcing myself to experiment has broken many of the creative plateaus I’ve experience over the years. Don’t just read articles on the web of what you “should be doing” (like this one). Get out there and try things simply because you haven’t tried them before. A couple great exercises that I still practice to this day are:

1. Explore with only one lens, preferably a prime lens. This will force you to move around and try different angles because you’re locked into one focal length.

2. Don’t do any bracketing. In my book, I tell my readers to “always bracket.” That advice is for making sure you get a usable exposure, either through HDR or by having different exposures to choose from. If you go exploring and DON’T bracket for a day, you’ll learn to rely on your histogram to ensure that you’ve got a proper exposure.

Lesson #7: Look at your old work
I sometimes get frustrated or burned out by the creative process. In order to write this article, I went into the archives and analyzed some of my worst photos so that I could map out some of the things I’ve learned along the way. As much as I hate it and it makes me cringe, seeing how far I’ve come motivates me to get better and to never stop learning. A good practice is to take a look at some of your old shots and ask yourself, “Why did I shoot it this way?” and, “How would I shoot it today?” Those two questions alone have encouraged me to get out there and keep shooting so that I can improve my technique and workflow. I employ the sage wisdom of “work smarter, not harder” to my photography; if you don’t step back and examine why you do things a certain way, you’ll never come up with a better way to do them. I certainly didn’t get into this hobby to settle for mediocrity and neither should you.

If you’d like to learn more about urban exploration photography, feel free to check out my book over at Peachpit.

You can see more of Todd’s work at Abandoned.Photography and ToddSipes.net, and follow him on Facebook and Google+.

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