Tuesday
Apr
2008
15

The “Week of Always Having The Wrong Lens” Lesson

by Scott Kelby  |  1 Comments

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Greetings, once again from the Frankfurt Airport—-I’m between flights again, but now I’m on my way back home.

This was an eye-opening trip for me in so many ways (which I kind of expected), but what I didn’t expect was how it would change my mind about how I shoot going forward. In a post earlier this week, I made a joke how this was the trip where I always had the wrong lens at the wrong time, but it wasn’t a joke—it was the one thing that marred an otherwise amazing experience.

The shot above (taken moments ago by Jeff Revell ) shows the inside of the LowePro Backpack camera bag I took with me (It’s an older model—I’m not even sure which one, but Jeff Revell had a newer LowePro backpack I like better).

Here’s a quick tour of the bag (From L to R).

  • Top row: Monfrotto mini-tripod, and a hard-shell case for my memory cards. A Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 Wide Angle zoom, the double-battery charger that comes with the Nikon D3.
  • Middle Row: Nikon D3 body with a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens attached; A canon closeup lens in a plastic case, and an Epson P-5000 photo viewer.
  • Bottom Row: Another memory card case (soft sided), the di-GPS unit for Nikon cameras, and a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.

In the zipper compartments I had a 77mm polarizing filter, a neutral density gradient filter, and on the outside of the bag I had my Gitzo Traveler tripod with a Really Right Stuff BH-40 ballhead.

Here’s what you can’t see—the weight. All together, it weighs nearly 35 lbs. It’s OK when it’s on your back, but when it’s not, it really feels like a load (it was heavier than my luggage by far).

So, I had all this gear with me, but it was such a load, and so cumbersome, when I’d head out for a shoot on the beach, or in the desert, or I’m chasing camels around, I’d pick the a lens I thought I’d need for that shoot, and invariably—I was wrong. I’d be out there, and I’d think—”Rats, I wish I had my…..(fill in the blank),” but I wasn’t going to hike back through the desert to find our driver, switch lenses, and hike back out there in the desert heat. But it wasn’t just in the desert—-it was everywhere we went. So, sometimes, I’d bring the whole backpack, but that was even worse, and just switching my lens just became a hassle, so I’d wind up shooting with a lens I knew wasn’t the right one, but it was easier than switching.

Worse yet (and I’m not making this up), it appears my brother Jeff got a hernia lifting my camera bag. It’s not a joke—he’s in some serious pain.

I had just bought a Think Tank holster system, and I was really starting to think I should have brought it, but I’ve come to another decision that I know a lot of you are going to disagree with, for my summer trip to Italy—I’m just taking my D300 and one lens; my Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6mm (That’s a DX lens, so I won’t get the advantage of it with my D3, so I’d have to take my D300).

That way, I can take a tiny camera bag, one that weighs 8 lbs when fully loaded, and I will always have the lens I need (wide angle, portrait lens, 50mm length, or 200mm zoom).

I did this for my trip to Sweden in 2006, where I just took that one lens, and wound up getting some of my all-time favorite photos with that lens. As you might imagine, the photos are really important to me, but so is enjoying the trip. The frustration of hauling all this gear around, and never having the right lens when I didn’t, really put a damper on the whole trip. I fact, I had to return to shoot location, and miss shooting a beautiful Mosque, because I didn’t have the right lens the night before.

If I stick to my guns, and actually go to Italy with just the 18-200mm, I’ll be able to really compare the experience of always having the right lens, and traveling light, but the lens not being as fast as I’d like. There’s always a tradeoff, eh?

Anyway, the reason I’m posting this is because travel season is almost here, and I hope you’ll pause for a moment and consider really “going light” for your trip, and not bringing the photographic “kitchen sink.” Hey, it’s just a thought.

Now, if I could only get Nikon to make a 14-200mm f/2.8 then…… ;-)

Monday
Apr
2008
14

From Tonight’s Dusk Shoot

by Scott Kelby  |  3 Comments

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Here’s a shot I took from the beach at dusk last night, right when the Burj Al Arab hotel’s beautiful exterior lighting came on (the hotel itself is the world’s tallest, at just over 1,050 feet tall).

For the first few minutes, they did a little light show (complete with white sweeping search lights on the heli-pad ), where it displayed a number of different solid colors on the front of the hotel (as shown below), but then for just a few moments it showed this multi-color look and I kept firing until it went away and returned to solid red for the next 15 to 20 minutes. By then it was getting so dark, I had to pack it in.

To me, the photos almost look like an illustration—-more like a 3D rendering rather than a photo, which is kind of weird, but I saw it with my own eyes, and well…that’s what it looked like. I included some of the other colors below, captured unretouched from Lightroom’s Library, so you can see what the other colors looked like.

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The shot at top was taken with a Nikon D3, on a Gitzo Traveler tripod with a Really Right Stuff BH-40 ballhead. It was shot with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens at 70mm (this entire trip I’ve had the wrong lens on my camera at the right time—I had to limp way, way, way down the beach to fill the hotel (the world’s tallest hotel) in the frame without clipping off the top or bottom).

GPS: I had the di-GPS unit for Nikon cameras attached to my camera, so it automatically embedded the GPS position info for where I took the shot into the file. To see a satellite photo of the exact spot where I took the shot you see above, click here.

There’s very little Photoshop work here, I just increased the contrast a little; I darkened the edges a bit, and added an Unsharp Mask. The exterior lighting was already so colorful, that I really couldn’t do too much. I have all of about 30-seconds in it.

NOTE: My brother Jeff and Jeff Revell were closer in shooting wide, but a security guard from the hotel went down almost immediately and stopped them from shooting because (in the security guard’s words), they did not have permission from the hotels PR dept. to shoot the hotel (this was only because they were using the most evil of photographic devices—a tripod). People were shooting the hotel all over the beach, and in the driveway, and a dozen other locations near them, but they were all hand-holding, so they were “OK.” Well, apparently I limped beyond the reach of hotel security, because they never came out to where I was shooting, and I got the shot you see above.

Saturday
Apr
2008
12

Update from Adobe’s Design Conference Dubai

by Scott Kelby  |  3 Comments

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Hi gang. Here’s a quick “howdy” from amazing Dubai. The shots above are from my Photoshop session at the Adobe Design Conference Dubai, earlier today (photos by Serge). I have to say; it was an absolutely wonderful experience. The people here in Dubai are incredibly gracious, fun, and kind, and they were a terrific crowd to present to. I was surprised, and totally tickled, to see how many people brought in their books for me to sign, and I was jazzed to meet both NAPP members from Dubai, and people who watch Photoshop User TV.

They really made me feel at a home here, and Adobe put on just an outstanding conference for the attendees, and everybody I talked with was just loving the conference. Thanks to Adobe for having me speak, and thanks to the warm people of Dubai for their wonderful hospitality.

I haven’t had a chance to work up any photos yet (I’ve been shooting a bunch—just not processing yet). I had a 5:00 am dawn shoot today, and I have to leave at 4:00 am for a shoot in the morning, so I’m hitting the sack right now. The photo at the bottom was taken after my session today, and that’s my brother Jeff on the left, and my buddy Jeff Revell (from PhotoWalkPro.com) on the right.

Hopefully, I’ll have some shots to post soon. Have a great day everybody! :)

Friday
Apr
2008
11

A Quick Infrared Shot From Dubai

by Scott Kelby  |  1 Comments

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My buddy Jeff Revell brought a Nikon D-70 which had been converted to Infrared, and we had a lot of fun shooting with it today as we went around for 8 hours and got acqainted with the city. We have a dawn shoot scheduled for about 3 1/2 hours from now, then I’ve got my class to teach this afternoon, so I’d better hit the hay.

The shot above, with the world’s tallest hotel in the background—(the iconic 7-star Burj Al Arab hotel) was taken with Jeff’s Infrared D-70, using a Nikon 24-70mm lens (click on it for a larger view). Jeff got a killer infrared shot of these cool horse sculptures which were just a few feet behind where I took this shot (here’s the link to Jeff’s site).

I’ve gotta run, but I did want to let you know that Dubai is just absolutely amazing! I am blown away! More when I get a chance. :)

Thursday
Apr
2008
10

More Info on Yesterday’s Live Shoot Post

by Scott Kelby  |  0 Comments

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Greetings from Frankfurt, Germany (well, greetings from the Frankfurt airport anyway, where I’m in between flights). I’m here with my brother Jeff, and my buddy Jeff Revell (of PhotoWalkPro fame), in route to Dubai, and I saw a number of comments about my post yesterday, so today I thought I’d answer a few, and post the photo above from the shoot.

When I started this series of shots, I did have a silver 30″ reflector just off camera to the left, but I thought it brightened the shadows too much (I could see really clearly because I was shooting tethered into Lightroom), so after just a few shots, we put down the reflector and just let the shadows add a little drama on the left side of her face.

Her hair is nicely backlit from the natural light coming in from the windows you see in the background, and without the flash she was pretty much a black silhouette (the flash actually fired in the shot you see here, but it was taken from where my laptop was at the time. When I did the shoot itself, I repositioned myself so I was standing in front of her).

Now, some quick answers to your posted questions:

  • The cord you see hanging from the lightstand is a Nikon SD-8A external battery pack for the SB-800, so it recycles faster (and it does—much faster), so you can keep right on shooting. Worth it’s weight in gold if you use SB-800s on location (it sells for around $139 on B&H Photo. Here’s the link).
  • The umbrella is a Westcott 43″ shoot-thru umbrella, which goes for around $20 (basically, the whole lighting set-up is the “David Hobby kit” David mentions on the Strobist blog).
  • How much post-processing in Photoshop? Very little. I started in Lightroom, then went to Photoshop for some minor blemish retouching, I brightened the whites of her eyes, added some Unsharp Mask, and I added a soft vignette effect around the edges of the photo. Took all of three minutes. (note: I was using Lighroom 1.4 during the shoot. Had I used Lightroom 2 Beta, I could have done all of it in Lighroom itself).
  • Yes, you absolutely can get the same effect using a tri-grip diffuser
  • My arm in the group shot is on David’s back. Nice try. ;-)

That’s it for today folks. Hope to have a little blog-a-roonie from Dubai, but I get there late tonight, so it’s hard to say when I’ll get to post. Have a kick butt day today! :)

Wednesday
Apr
2008
09

Shooting With David Cuerdon and Friends

by Scott Kelby  |  1 Comments

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Here’s a shot (top) taken after a location shoot set up by my buddy Dave Cuerdon this past Monday (that’s me on the left, then our wonderful model Marliese, that’s David in the middle, and our award-winning Make Up Artist and Stylist Lisa, who also happens to be Dave’s wife.

The shoot was in an old abandoned Ice Factory, and in the shot of Marliese shown directly above, I used just a single Nikon SB-800 off-camera flash on a lightstand shooting through an umbrella to diffuse the light, set to the right of my camera and positioned close to her, but about a foot or so above her head, aiming down at her (as I said during my Lighting Gear week; if I’m going to use an umbrella, I want to be shooting through it—otherwise it acts more like a light grenade). The advantage of this set-up is—it’s so darn compact and light as a feather.

The image was taken with a Nikon D3 (400 ISO, at 1/60 of a sec at f/4), using the new 24-70mm f/2.8 lens that’s matched to the full frame D3.

Anyway, just thought I’d share this one before I head to the airport for the flight to Dubai. I have no idea what my blogging schedule will be, so I’ll either post pretty shortly, or not for a day or so. See you then (whenever that is). :)

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