It’s Another “Embarrassing Photo Thursday” (along with some News Stuff)

by Scott Kelby  |  24 Comments


Before we discuss the photo above (and sadly yes, we will discuss), first: Come on; did that post from Ree yesterday just absolutely make you fall in love with her or what? She has such a warm, genuine realness to her writing that I just love (and by looking at the comments, you guys did too–posting 134 comments). I just loved her post, and the totally different outlook and perspective she brought to us yesterday, and I’m so delighted she agreed to be my special guest. Thank you Ree, and please consider me one of your biggest fans! :)  Now, onto the stuff:

I’m your Boogie Man…
….That’s what I am. Yes folks, that’s me, in the dark brown three-piece suit, big open collar, gold chains, and sunglasses posing for a promo photo (circa 1982) for the band I was in at the time; “Second Wind.” (We didn’t keep that name for long. Once we heard us referred to as “Sucking Wind” we decided a name change was imminent). The musicians, (from L to R) where: Drummer Mike Schnitt, Yours Truly on keyboards, Vocalist Betts Johnston, Brian Ashley on Sax, and Mark Southwick on bass. Despite how we looked, we were actually a pretty decent band (well, as good as you can be for a disco lounge band, so ‘decent’ is a relative term); however we did manage play a collection of songs each night that, while today they would make you spit out your coffee, at the time, people seemed to enjoy immensely and would occasionally shout (with their hands in the air, mind you), “Yo baby, yo baby, yo!” These people were really, really drunk.

Free Wedding Photography “Webinar” tomorrow!
Tomorrow (Friday) the folks at Bogen Imaging are hosting a free online seminar: “Fashionable Wedding Photography: Roundtable with Claudio Basso” and you’re invited. According to Bogen: “Seasoned fashion photographer Claudio Basso and David Fisher, Bogen Imaging’s Metz and Gossen Product Manager, will discuss new techniques and what photographers need to know when it comes to capturing stunning and fashionable wedding photographs.” This Webinbar, (which is part of Bogen’s “Bogen Caf© series”), is from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm EDT, and you can find out all the details and sign-up right here.

A Bunch of New Online Classes Are Up Live
I have fallen so far behind on letting you know which new online course have launched, here are some of the latest ones:

  1. RC Concepcion did a fantastic class on how to create “Online Photo Portfolios with Lightroom 2 and Dreamweaver CS4.” (link).
  2. Photoshop Hall-of-Famer Bert Monroy has a new Photoshop digital painting class called, “The Making of Times Square: Part 1″ (based on how the techniques he used in his amazing Time Square pano) (link)
  3. Corey Barker has a new class on how to Get Up To Speed with the Wacom Intuos 4 tablets (incredible tablet, by the way!) (link)
  4. We have Part 2 of Jack Davis’s Lightroom 2: A Creative Approach now online (link)
  5. David Ziser has a new online class called: Wedding Portraits – Getting the Perfect Shot at Tricky Locations (link)

McNally Sighting
Joe McNally is in town this week taping four new online classes for Kelby Training Online, and you can see Joe roaming the halls with a hand full of SB-800s at any given time. Yesterday he shot a full corporate on-location “Board of Directors” shoot; the day before he did a shoot at a trashy motel (I won’t spoil it for you), tonight he’s at the beach doing a shoot, and tomorrow I think he’s shooting an all-girl band promo photo (I doubt anyone will yell “Yo baby, yo baby, yo!, though). I can’t wait to see these!

Episode #8 of D-Town TV is On The Air!
The new episode went up this morning, and in it Matt and I cover:

  • D40/D60 Menu Setting tips
  • Focus Point Wrap settings
  • A Tip on how to make sure all of your wireless flashes are firing
  • An on-Location tip from our show’s Technical Adviser: Moose Peterson
  • Quick specs on the NEW Nikon D-5000 and the new 10-24mm ED Lens
  • Getting a handle on your Picture Control settings
  • A quick review the UPstrap Shoulder Strap

Here’s the link to watch the show free online.

That’s it for today folks. I hope to see you back here tomorrow!  :)


It’s “Guest Blog Wednesday” featuring The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond!

by Brad Moore  |  175 Comments

My Very Favorite Photography Equipment

Photo by Bill Nygard

Hi, everyone! I’m Ree Drummond, also known as The Pioneer Woman. I’m so happy to be here on Scott Kelby’s blog. What am I doing here, anyway? Photographically speaking, I’m nothing but a punk.

But I’m here, and I might as well join in the fun. I’ve decided to call this post “My Very Favorite Photography Equipment” rather than “My Photography Equipment” for a reason. A very good reason. If I were to call it “My Photography Equipment” I’d have to show you ALL of my photography equipment. This means I’d have to lay all of my sins out in the open and come face-to-face with the reality of my addiction. This way, by simply showing you just a small handful of things I love, I can keep most of my sins packed away and hidden, and avoid admitting in this public forum that I have a problem.

It’s so much better this way.

As I repeatedly tell the cool folks who read the photography portion of my website, when it comes to photography there are approximately 1,986,334 people who know more than I do. I am no expert. On the contrary: I bought my first digital SLR camera—a Nikon D70—a mere three years ago this May. I took one lesson, then dove into the twisted, confusing, and wonderful labyrinth that is Photography. I’ve taken more bad shots than there are grains of sand in all the beaches of the world. But I’ve also taken a handful of photos that I’ve loved, and they’ve kept me going.

Nope, I’m no professional. This makes the fact that I’ve managed to convince myself that I really, really, really need this lens—or ooooh! THAT lens—even more hilarious. But still, I surge on.

What is it about lenses, anyway? Why do they suck us in? I think they emit some kind of addictive, invisible gas that renders us incapable of resisting.

Wait. Isn’t all gas invisible?

But I’m going to go with this gas theory: my penchant for buying lenses has nothing to do with my own excess or lack of control. I buy lenses because an invisible gas makes me do it.

But even if that weren’t the case, I have a backup rationalization: I hate shopping for clothes and shoes and purses and almost never do it. I also live on an isolated ranch and never go anywhere. So I’m actually saving money with this photography hobby if you really think about it.

Isn’t this nice? Scott Kelby invites me to write a guest post on his photography website and I totally blow it. So before he shows up and kicks me to the curb, let me show you my very favorite equipment as of April 15, 2009.

This is the stuff I can’t live without: Continue reading


Nikon Announces New D-5000 DSLR with HD Video, Swivel Screen, and More!

by Scott Kelby  |  31 Comments


The rumor mill was right on the money—-today (as expected) Nikon did introduce a new entry-level DSLR—the Nikon D-5000 (shown above; photos courtesy of Nikon), which includes the ability to shoot HD video (like the D90), but it also includes a new swivel Vari-angle screen on the back, along with “Subject Tracking autofocus which automatically locks onto a moving subject.” Plus, according to Nikon, “The D5000’s D-Movie Mode allows users the exciting ability to record HD movie clips (1280 x 720) at a cinematic 24 frames per second with sound.”


Although the big buzz will be about the video features (your video writes to an SD card), the camera itself is no slouch, at 12.3 megapixel CMOS sensor, 11-point auto focus, 19-scene modes, built-in self cleaning function, ISO up to 6400 (no word yet on noise levels), 4 fps continous shooting, blah, blah, blah—-you can read all tech nuts and bolts over at Nikon’s site (here’s the link). By the way, it lists for just $729 (body only), and it’s expected to ship in late April. Sweet!


At the same time, Nikon also intro’d a new DX format lens: The Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5 – f/4.5 zoom lens. It’s pricey. More than the D-5000 camera itself. $899. Expected sometime in May, 2009. Here’s the link for more info.


REVIEW: Think Tank Photo’s Airport Security V2.0 Rolling Camera Bag

by Scott Kelby  |  34 Comments


If you’ve read this blog for any time now, you’ve heard my frustration about how I can’t find a camera bag that works for me when shooting sports. In fact, many of you who are pro sports shooters have come up with a suggestions and after my last trip to Birmingham to shoot the Indy Test Weekend (where I had to leave my laptop at home due to carry-on restrictions), I was so cranked I finally had to make a move and find a solution.

My problem is that I have to have three carry-ons, and of course the airlines will only allow two. My carry-ons are:

  1. My camera bag (with two bodies, my smaller lenses, battery chargers, etc.)
  2. The large lens case for my 200-400mm Nikon lens
  3. My laptop case (with powercord and other accessories).

Ideally, one bag that would hold my 200-400 lens, 2 bodies, all my other lenses and accessories, my laptop and power cord; it has to be a rolling bag (and not be a backpack) and it has to fit in the overhead compartment fairly easily.

The last time I talked about this problem, a number of kind folks had suggested that I look at Think Tank Photo’s Airport Security V2.0 rolling camera bag, and since I’ve become a total “Think Tank Freak” recently, I went to their site first, and looked at it, and I saw there was an option for “lower dividers” which allow you to store your 15″ laptop right on top. That was it—-I ordered it right then and there (along with the optional 15″ laptop case and the lower dividers). It’s shown at the top of this post (photo courtesy of Think Tank Photo).


Above: Here’s my bag with a 200-400mm lens, 2 bodies, a 24-70mm lens, a 14-24mm lens, a 70-200mm lens, and there’s still room to spare. (photo by Brad Moore).

I got the bag two days ago; Brad configured it today for my gear, and my friends this bag is it! It’s the one. I’m in love!

This bag has more room than I would have imagined, and more storage compartments than I’ll probably ever need (but I love that!). It looks and feels so well built, and it’s so flexible in how you set up the interior. I am just so psyched—now I’m down from three carry-ons to just one, and just like that my problem is solved.


Above: Here’s my new bag with the optional 15″ laptop bag on top (photo by Brad Moore).


Above: Storage pockets in the top flap (Photo by Brad Moore).


Above: More storage compartments in the front. (Photo by Brad Moore)

It’s got loads of room, despite the fact that it’s carrying a huge lens right in the middle. All the pockets and storage are really welcome, as is the security cable and lock, so it doesn’t walk off at the airport while you’re checking your email. It also comes with a tripod/monopod holder, which is really important when carrying long glass. It’s really well-built; the wheels are solid (and replaceable), everything has a great fit and finish, and finally all my stuff fits in one bag, and I’m not checking anything other than my clothes. It also has a stretchy front pocket which will hold up to a 17″ laptop. It also comes with a TSA-approved combination lock, and a lock for your laptop as well in the front. The entire bag seems very well thought out, very intelligently designed, and it has lots of little features that make you smile.

Because the handles slide down inside the bag (like many rollers), parts of the inside “floor” are raised, which does tend to limit where you can put things like camera bodies standing straight up (especially if you have an L-bracket attached). Also, this raised area creates kind of a “groove” (for lack of a better term) along either side, which is great for lying your lenses down, but this also kind of makes it a little wonky when storing them “on end.” They will store that way, but the grooves make it feel more natural to lie them down. Lastly, the laptop case is very thin (I guess it has to be to fit), so you have to store your laptop’s power cord in the main bag—not within the laptop case itself. Pretty minor stuff, but I thought they bared mentioning. This isn’t minor; the price. At $369 (US), it’s kind of pricey, but for what it does, and how it’s made, at least you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

I have finally found the bag I’ve been dreaming of. Nitpicking aside, this is exactly what I was hoping this bag would be. In fact, it’s actually better than I was hoping, and I am just tickled pink that it is working out so well. My only regret is that I didn’t listen to those folks who turned me onto this bag sooner. My hat’s off to Think Tank Photo. Between their belt system, and this Airport Security roller, I have become a big time Think Tank believer!

Here’s the link for more details.


Tomorrow’s Guest Blogger Is….

by Scott Kelby  |  12 Comments

….a beloved source of photographic inspiration and information, and one very cool blogger, The Pioneer Woman herself; Ree Drummond.

If you’ve haven’t checked out “The Pioneer Woman” blog, stop what you’re doing and head there now (here’s the link) and you’ll see why she has built a cult-following, and why we wanted her to be a special guest blogger here on my blog (by the way, don’t just check out her photography—take in the whole site). Then, make sure you’re back here tomorrow to see what she has in store. I, for one, can’t wait. See you then!


“Beauty Style” Headshot: Behind The Scenes

by Scott Kelby  |  45 Comments


I got a few comments on Friday asking how I did the “beauty style” headshot featured in Westcott’s new Lighting catalog, and so I thought I’d show how to light it here. The shot you see in Westcott’s catalog (which was taken with 2 Spiderlite TD-5—scroll down to the next post to see the shot), was taken before Brad started working with me, so unfortunately I don’t have any production shots from that particular shoot.

However, I recently did a shoot using that exact same “beauty look set-up” (the shot at the top of this post is from that shoot) but I used strobes instead, and luckily this time Brad was there to capture the production set-up, which is shown below. So, just to clarify: what you’re seeing is the same exact position for the lights—which is what this post is all about—but in the production photo below I’m using strobes instead of continuous light Spiderlites. I use both Spiderlites and strobes in the studio, and I choose one or the other based on what I’m shooting that day (or based on what’s already set-up in the studio and ready to go. Sad, but true).


There are only two lights used for this look:

  1. You’re actually using a large softbox as your background (you can see the subject standing in front of a large Octabank above), but you tilt the light back at a 45° angle (as seen above). NOTE: For the shot in the Westcott catalog, I used a 36″x48″ Westcott softbox behind the subject instead of the Octabank. Worked just as well (the Octa is actually a little overkill). By having your subject stand directly in front of the large softbox behind her, it makes the light wrap right around her face on both sides.
  2. The 2nd light in this case is a Beauty Dish (the one shown above is actually a White Lightning strobe with a beauty dish attachment, but we’ve since replaced that rig with an Elinchrom strobe and beauty dish. I’ll discuss why in just a moment). NOTE: In the Westcott catalog, the front light was another Spliderlite TD-5, with a smaller 16×22″ softbox, but in the same overhead position as you see here. This light you put up high—directly in front of your subject, but angled down at her at a 45° angle (so basically, the two softboxes are aiming at each other).(2a) You also need a reflector down low bouncing some of that light back into your subject’s face (as shown above. By the way; that’s a celebrity guest-reflector holder; Photoshop World digital video instructor Rod Harlan). The reflector should be placed about chest level, just below the bottom of your frame (I just kept telling Rod “Lower….lower…lower…until I couldn’t see it in my frame any longer). NOTE: Since this shot was taken, I’ve gotten a Lastolite Tri-panel reflector (which reflects from three angles, using three different reflector mounted on one stand, and I would now use that instead—-that thing works wonders!).

Because you’re aiming directly at a softbox (the one behind your subject), there’s a decent chance you’ll get some lens flare back into your lens, so you could try and block the light as much as possible (by putting up some large black flags in front of you, and then shoot through a small slit between them), but instead what I do is just know that it’s going to be a little washed out when the Raw photo comes into Lightroom (or Camera Raw), but the fix is incredibly easy—-all you do is drag the Blacks slider to the right (as shown below) until the photo looks balanced. Works like a charm.


OK, so why did I ditch the White Lightning strobe and beauty dish? Honestly, it’s not really a bad rig at all for the price, but I had to to chuck it for two reasons:

  1. Because this light winds up on a boom stand, each time we have to adjust the power output of the light, even the slightest bit, we either have to pull the boom stand down (right when we had it positioned exactly where we wanted it), or we have to climb on a ladder to adjust the power. Ugh! By using an Elinchrom strobe with a Skyport trigger, I can change the power output for my beauty dish from right on top of my camera (on the Skyport transmitter). You can adjust everything (even the light behind her) without ever putting down your camera or leaving your shooting position.
  2. The second reason is; the White Lighting use sliders for adjusting the power of the strobe, and the modeling light, which makes the process kind of imprecise (to say the least). If you want to lower the power just 1/10 of stop—good luck–especially when you’re trying to do that on a ladder. Double-Ugh!

We finally couldn’t take it anymore, and ordered an Elinchome beauty dish. It’s been worth every penny (we had an Elinchrom strobe; we just needed to buy the beauty-dish attachment).

So, that’s how this look is done. Two lights and and a reflector: one right behind your subject, tilted back at a 45°; one light up high, directly in front of your subject, aimed down at your subject at a 45° angle. Put a reflector at chest level tilted back at your subject’s face. Have your subject pull her hair back in a pony tail (so the lines of the face are clean), and fire away (This was shot with a Nikon D3, at 200 ISO, at f/8 at 1/200 of a second, with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens out at 200mm).

Once the shot is in either Camera Raw or Lightroom; move the Blacks slider to the right to bring back shadow saturation and you’re in business.

One last thing: I want to give credit to well-known fashion photographer Mary DuPrie, as she is the one who taught me this lighting technique. She teaches workshops on how to pose and work with professional models, and there is just nobody better! You can read about my experience at her workshop right here.

Hope that helps. Have a great Monday everybody. :-)

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