Hi gang, and happy Friday. My new Photoshop Elements 15 book just hit bookstores — if you’re an Elements user, check out the official trailer below. If you’re not, keep reading for some Lightroom news.

Here’s the link to it on Amazon, and at Barnes & Noble (but you can find it wherever cool books are sold). :)

This other Lightroom stuff (below) is for all you awesome KelbyOne Members out there:

The new issue of “Lightroom magazine” is out. Here’s the link to check it out (or hit the magazines link in the left side panel in your member dashboard).

Our first new addition in 2017 to the KelbyOne Member Creative Toolkit is my brand new “Lightroom Q&A” eBook — you can find here (or click the Toolkit link on your Member Dashboard). This eBook is free as part of your KelbyOne membership. More to come in your Creative Toolkit, as our way of saying thanks for being a member.

Hope you all have a safe, fun, and awesome weekend! #GoFalcons #RiseUp

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Two more cities were just added for my “Lightroom On Tour” full day seminar — Chicago on April 10th, and the Detroit area on April 11th. Come on out and spend the day with me learning Lightroom. 

Perfecting Selections in Adobe Photoshop with Dave Cross
Perfect your Photoshop selection powers! Join Dave Cross as he equips you with all the information you need to know to create accurate selections as efficiently as possible. Dave goes through all of the various selection tools, discussing their pros and cons, and demonstrating how to get the most out of each one. From learning pre-selection strategies to mastering techniques for fine tuning your selections, Dave will provide you with the key elements needed to choose the right selection techniques for the job at hand to end up with a great selection.

In Case You Missed It
Learn the core fundamentals of retouching hair! Join Kristi Sherk as she teaches you how to retouch hair smarter, not harder. From removing stray hairs to changing your subject’s hair color, and from creating custom hair brushes to adding dimension and shine, Kristi will show you how to do the best things possible in the fastest amount of time. Every photographer working with people can benefit from adding these hair retouching techniques to their set of skills, so that you can deliver outstanding work to your clients and get back behind the camera. By the end of the class you’ll know how to make your clients look red-carpet ready and how to do it faster than ever.

First of all, I would like to thank Scott Kelby and his wonderful team for this amazing opportunity.  Like many photographers I am self taught.  The classes and learning resources Scott has made available through the years has served as a foundation from which I built a career doing what I love.

Sometimes the light finds you. It was playing tricks with me all morning at Anse St-Jean on the Saguenay River
This is a compressed version of a much larger 36 megapixel stitched panoramic. Many don’t know that you can stitch images natively up to 60 megapixels. Do you know of any 60MP DSLR’s? Try this at home and shoot vertical when you do.

I have so many passions in life but three bubble up to the top: photography, travel, and teaching. I’m truly blessed to be able to do all three full time. They feed off of each other, as I write this blog post I’m in a motel in West Virginia making my way across the country from NYC, working on a personal project and scouting several locations for future workshops.

My first RAW photo taken with my iPhone 6S plus. Capturing dynamic range like this was simply not possible. This opens up many more creative possibilities.
Taken in the old city in Quebec. Embracing simplicity and color.

I have a very close connection with my students; there’s a real bond there. I understand that fiery passion of the creative process, that unyielding obsession and the frustration that inevitably comes with it. They’re two sides of the same coin. That frustration, that struggle, as Scott has said once, is a good thing. The frustration is the result of the recognition that we’re not where we want to be creatively. Yet! It’s also, however, an acknowledgement that we have a creative direction, we know where we want to be, if only (fill in the blank here).

Beauty truly is all around us. You just have to look harder sometimes.
Nature peeking through. The best part about being a photographer is recognizing the beauty in scenes like this. Capturing it is a bonus!

That frustration is an acknowledgement of our potential. Imagine the alternative. Take the top performers, in any creative endeavor, if there’s one thing they have in common, they’ll tell you their work is not finished, there’s more to the story. It’s a game of continuous improvement, with each step up the ladder a result of struggle, failure and success. There is no top to this ladder, it just gets higher and higher, the view just gets better. We’re all at different points on this latter. Joe McNally has a great view. No matter where we are and how good the view, we all get stuck.

This shaft of light produced a beautiful pattern, shining through the enormous windows of the NY public library.
Looking back into the streets of SoHo. Part of a project I’m working on for a gallery show just down the street from here later this year.

The Unplayable Piano
In Cologne, Germany in 1975, American jazz legend Keith Jarrett, already world famous, sat down to give the performance of his life. The recording of this session produced the best selling piano album and best selling solo jazz album in history. Just hours before however, he refused to play. There was a problem; the piano was the worst he’d ever seen, half the size of a typical piano, the keys stuck, the pedals broken. It was an unplayable piano. Sitting in his car outside the concert hall, listening to the pleas of a desperate teenage promoter standing in the rain, begging him to play, he agreed.

Taken in an abandoned hallway at one of the many pre-war buildings in Chelsea filled to the brim with art galleries. The light and color reflecting off the glossy walls of this dark corridor caught my immediately.
The blue hour just after sunset from an elevated platform on The High Line in NYC.

Playing in the middle of the range, no pedals, standing up and literally banging on the keys at point for bass and to project the sound, that unplayable piano allowed him to give the performance of his life. This story is recounted in a recent Ted Talks by Tim Harford, which I highly recommend. During the talk, he states, “We don’t want to be asked to do good work with bad tools. We don’t want to have to overcome unnecessary hurdles, but Jarret’s instinct was wrong.” Had he been playing on the best piano, if everything was finely tuned and working perfectly, that magical night never would have happened. He certainly wouldn’t have chosen those circumstances intentionally. None of us would. Perhaps we should. That frustration, that limitation, that hurdle makes us more creative.

Last year I discovered my unplayable piano.

Reflections are one of the scenes best served by the smaller sensor of the phone and the deeper depth of field it provides. I often shoot scenes in a way that takes advantage of this rather than to consider it a disadvantage. Macro photography is another area that benefits from this.

Apple reached out to me last year and asked me to give a presentation for them on iPhone photography, to simply inspire people to go out and shoot more with their iPhone. And so I did, using it as an excuse to embark on a road trip with my DSLR and my iphone and put it to the test. Before then, honestly, I would never have considered shooting with my phone. I’m a professional photographer, I take what I do very seriously, no self respecting photographer would… My instinct, like Jarret’s, was wrong.

Over the past year, my unplayable piano has taught me much about photography, about the creative process, about myself as a photographer. Ultimately, the experience has helped me to reflect who I am as a photographer and what is important to me, the quality of the image and the quality of the experience.

It’s still crazy to me how we’re supposed to capture our vision, our unique vision with this ridiculous piece of glass and metal and circuits we call a camera. I now know what every setting is, I know what every menu means, I know what every dial does. Who cares? Now what? The ability to create a meaningful image is much different than actually creating one. If you’re like me, the achievement of technical perfection and gear lust and acquisition is a comfortable safe distraction. Technical mastery is not the top rung of the latter, it doesn’t even have a good view.  It’s the start of something more. I feel like I’ve been stuck on this rung of the ladder for a while now, pursuing perfection over creativity, knowledge over experience. My unplayed piano helped me climb higher.

Taken with an app using a Photoshop process know as stacking to merge multiple photos. This allows not only for longer actual exposures but the ability to stack multiple short exposures. which comes in handy on windy days. Taken during one of the worst storms in recent history in Nova Scotia a few weeks ago.

My iPhone is handicapped compared to my full frame 42 megapixel DSLR in every way. Paradoxically however, these limitations, the lack of choice and options, are the very things that have challenged me, inspired me and helped me grow as a photographer. The limited resolution has forced me to carefully consider my compositions, the fixed focal length, severely limiting my options, has forced me to use my feet more, the lack of depth of field has required me to pay more attention to all of the details at the edge of the frame as well as more carefully considering the background.

Up until recently, shooting RAW wasn’t an option, shooting compressed jpegs required a more careful consideration of color balance and exposure control. The lack of a viewfinder has been incredibly helpful in breaking the habit of pulling the camera up to my eye and taking every picture from the lofty perspective of 5’7”. Holding the camera away from my body, the very thing we’re taught not to do, has allowed me to see a scene and compose with much greater freedom of movement. Also, a funny thing happens when you don’t have a big camera and lens in front of your face… you’re more approachable. This is me banging on the keys, flexing my creativity, making the system work for me.

A single RAW capture shooting directly into the sun rising over the St. Lawrence river. This should not be possible with a mobile phone. Taken with the iPhone 6S Plus the day after the 7 was released.

Consider again Jarrett’s performance. What made it the best selling solo jazz record ever, was how much it resonated with the audience. It was that what was being played was much more important than how it sounded, the bass was muffled, the treble sharp, it didn’t matter. If we can just suspend the importance of edge to edge sharpness, frame rate and ISO performance long enough, then maybe we can focus on what really matters; our vision, what initially caught our eye. Then, the light, the color, the composition, the gesture, the moment.

These are the timeless ingredients that truly comprise a great photograph and they have so very little to do with the camera we sling around our neck or the lens attached to it. If we can redefine, for ourselves, what image quality truly is, then maybe that camera we all have in our pockets is all we need to create meaningful work. Maybe, like that unplayable piano, it’s exactly what we need to create our best work yet.

I’d like once more to extent my gratitude to Brad Moore, Scott Kelby and the team at KelbyOne for this opportunity as well as Ron Martinsen from Ronmartblog for making the connection.

For those interested in learning more about my capture and post-processing workflow, I will be teaching several workshops this year in NYC and around the world this year. For those in NYC, in March, I’ll be leading my annual two-day Lightroom Bootcamp in NYC, in April I will partnering with world class street photographer Steve Simon in a special iPhone street photography workshop in NYC, October will be a very special and unique photography workshop on the island of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia in concert with the Celtic Colours festival and in November, an active adventure photography workshop in Bhutan with Zephyr Adventures. More information can be found by clicking the links above, signing up for my newsletter or reaching out to me directly at cliff@cliffordpickett.com I’d love to hear from you.

You can see more of Clifford’s work at CliffordPickett.com, and follow him on Instagram@cliffordpickettphotography and @eyephonephotographer, Twitter, and 500px.

Yesterday we looked at my picks for the best Guest Blog posts from this past year, and today we’re continuing my “Best of 2016 on the Blog” with a look at some of the most popular posts overall.

 

Here are the 10 most popular posts of 2016: 

 1. GOOGLE AWESOMELY MAKES THE NIK COLLECTION PLUG-INS TOTALLY FREE AND EVERYBODY’S PI$S@D!
When I announced that Google made the Nik Collection free, it started a stream of whining that I just was not anticipating. Then I realized, “Oh, I forgot. This is the internet.”

2. SCOTT’S TOP FIVE LIST OF EVERYTHING! (REVISITED)
One of my readers tweeted that he’d love to see me redo this popular post from 2008, so I did it. It took a long time, but it was fun seeing how many of my picks had changed or stayed exactly the same. 
3. A NEW PHOTOSHOP IS HERE!
I did a bunch of demo videos and explained stuff, answered some questions, and shared the scoop all about the new version of Photoshop CC.
4. “FIRST LOOK” FIELD REPORT OF THE JUST ANNOUNCED CANON EOS 1DX MARK II
I got to borrow a Canon 1Dx Mark II just before it was released to shoot a college bowl game, and an NFL game, and I shared a few shots and impressions from both shoots. Best sports camera ever (even though I’m still using my old 1Dxs. Still don’t have a Mark II yet. Tear).
5. IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE NOT GETTING BETTER AT YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY, COULD IT BE THAT YOU’RE “NOODLING” INSTEAD OF “PRACTICING?”
I feel like this was probably the most helpful post I wrote during 2016. It used a guitar analogy (which is why I’m playing an EVH guitar above), and it had two little 20-second videos (that are critical to the story), but the message could help you grow and improve as a photographer in a very meaningful way.
6. WHEN YOUR “TECHNICALLY CORRECT” PHOTO DOESN’T LOOK GOOD
I wrote about the difference between an artistic shot and one that is technically correct, and I used a shot from the New York Public Library as an example.
 
7. HOW TO REMOVE GLARE IN EYEGLASSES IN PHOTOSHOP
This is another Photoshop tutorial request from Twitter (it’s funny how the commenting workflow has changed. People read about a post on my Facebook or Twitter; they go read the post; then go back to social media to comment. I get it — we all want to comment where are friends already are). Sometimes a post here on the blog will get just one or two comments, or maybe even none, but then the Facebook post about that same blog post can have 100+ comments.
8. PHOTOS FROM MY 3-DAY PHOTO TRIP TO ICELAND
This post was me saying that had posted my Iceland trip images over on Exposure.co — I’ll save you from having to jump to that page, just to turn around and jump to Exposure, so here’s the direct link to the photo story on Exposure.co
9. MY CAMERA SETTINGS FOR SHOOTING FOOTBALL
I had been asked about them so many times, I thought I’d do a post and then when people asked about them on social media, I could just link them to this post. I didn’t expect it to get as much traction as it did.
10. SHOOTING WITH THE DOLPHINS (AND SOME REMOTE CAMERA STUFF!)
This is another one that I was surprised made it to the top 10 (even if just barely). It was about my awesome experience shooting with the Dolphins, and about how I used a simple remote camera set-up to get the shot you see above (from the Dolphins live Twitter feed during the game), and a bunch of others. Lots of behind-the-scenes shots. Such a blast!
Well, there ya have it — the top 10 from 2016. I might wrap up the year with one more “best of” on Friday, but it’ll already be February by then…so… ;-)

Hope your Tuesday is a really great one!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. My new Lightroom on tour full-day seminar is kicking off in Boston on March 10th, and in Philadelphia on the 13th. Hope I get to see you there (here’s the link with details). 

Hi Gang: it’s my annual tradition to kick off the New Year with a look back at the best, most popular, and most commented-upon posts of the previous year, (and if I don’t sneak this in before January ends, well…it would just be bad form, so I’m squeaking this in just under the wire).

Today we’re honoring my picks for “Best Guest Blog Posts of 2016”

It was an amazing year for guest posts, and I cannot tell you how hard it was to narrow it down to just ten, because it was one of our best years for guest blog posts ever!

By the way: If you’re wondering how many posts we put up in the course of a year, in 2016 it was 248 posts (Whew!). Also, in case you were wondering: I actually do write all my own posts with the exception of Guest Blog Wednesday and Free Stuff Thursday which are handled for me by the awesome Brad Moore, for which I am boundlessly grateful (thank you so much, Brad!). :)

OK, here we go for “The Best Guest Blog Posts of 2016” (in no particular order):

Stephen Bollinger (above)
His post, “See like a dancer” was inspirational, insightful, and included some absolutely beautiful dance (and sports) images, and his message is spot on.
Luke Copping
His post “The Good, The Bad, and The Great – How To Vet Your Clients In Order To Save Your Time, Your Sanity, and Your Career” is hands down one of the best straight-up business posts of the year. Every photographer should read this one.
Jeremy Cowart
When There’s More Than Photography — Jeremy’s post about his dream to create “The Purpose Hotel” reminds us that we can think beyond our photography and grow in ways we never imagined. When you read this one, be sure to watch the videos in the post. This is so worthwhile. You’ll dig it.
Glyn Dewis
His “Photograph Like a Thief” is a wonderfully empowering, informative, well-researched and illustrated story that will change your perception on so many things. Brilliantly done. You will learn a lot (and a lot about yourself).
Monica Carvalho
Don’t let the first image in her post creep you out (even though it is a bit creepy) you’ll smile, laugh, and love her compositing, and her story. Very well done.
Chris Hershman
He titled it, “A Guide To Becoming A Filmmaker Using DSLR Cameras: Helping Photographers Transition Into Filmmaking” This isn’t just a guest post — it’s more like a Master Class for photographers on shooting video — I’m serious, this is one of the best articles I’ve ever seen on creating professional video. His examples are amazing, and he breaks it down on a level that is just incredible. If you’re interesting in getting started in shooting video, this should be your first stop.
 
Alan Hess
Alan’s post on Photo Releases for shooting concert photography, and his “day in the life” type of coverage of one of his photography gigs takes you “behind the curtain” to see a side of the business you rarely see. If you shoot bands, or dream of shooting concerts, this should be required reading.
Mike Olivella
It’s All About Perspective, Mike’s post about why you should be considering different angles, and even different lenses, to get more epic sports shots (and exactly how it’s all done, with lots of great behind-the-scenes shots), was so well illustrated, written, and received.
Sean Berry
What a fantastic post! It was about Sean’s “first week as the photographer for the Dallas Stars” which he said, “was one of the craziest weeks in my professional career. In the span of 5 days, I became a new photographer.” First, great story. Secondly, his examples, videos, and the step-by-step GIF of how the group shot you see above came together, and all the post processing stuff is just absolutely outstanding. So, so well done, and a great read. You will love it.
Seamus Payne
He gets right to the point with “What Makes Twilight So Vital to Great Architectural Photography” and if you’re into shooting real estate, or fine homes, or architecture, you will learn a lot in a very short time. Very well written, and very informative.
There’s an incredible amount of knowledge, passion, inspiration and soul shared in these posts. I’m so grateful to all the photographers and Photoshop experts who shared their thoughts, teaching and ideas through the my Guest Blog program, and of course a big thanks and high-five to the awesome Brad Moore for wrangling, managing and producing them all. It’s a lot of work, and he runs it all like a boss.
Hope you enjoyed this look back. Tomorrow it’s the 10 most popular posts of 2016 — hope you’ll join me for that.
Best,
-Scott
P.S. Peter Hurley’s “Top 10 Headshot Photography Questions Answered” class that was released last week is killing it! The comments we’re getting are just incredible. Peter is a national treasure! :)
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