A few weeks back Brad Moore, Photo Studio Manager at Kelby Media Group dropped me a line inviting me to be the Guest Blogger. I first met Brad while he was working with Joe McNally in New York. Brad came with Joe to the 20×24 Polaroid Studio, while I photographed Joe for my Behind Photographs Project. So, thanks Brad and Scott for giving me the stage for the day.

Photography is part of my soul, it is not my job. Simply put, I love it. Richard Avedon said it best, “If a day goes by without me doing something related to photography, it’s thought I’ve neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up.” So today I will share some images and some thoughts that help put a smile on my face and make me feel complete.

Ian Summers is a great business coach in our industry. He loves the quote, “Be who you is, cuz if you ain’t who you is, then you is who you ain’t.” As a photographer it is easy to try to imitate another shooter’s work and to try to be all things to all people. I am based in a smaller photo market in San Diego and often have to shoot a variety of styles to satisfy my clients. However, when it comes down to the work, I always try to give them what they want, then shoot something they way I see it. At least at the end of the shoot, you have something (more…)

…San Diego, California based commercial photographer Tim Mantoani.

Brad was the one who first introduced me to Tim’s work, in particular to a very cool project Tim has been doing, where he used 20×24 Polaroids to capture famous photographers posed with a print of one of their favorite shots.

You can see his photographer portraits over at Tim’s portfolio (here’s the link), but while you’re there, make sure you check out some of Tim’s Sports and Commercial photography portfolios—he’s got some really amazing work (and of course, be back here tomorrow to check out his guest blog post).


We had over 300 comments on the launch of our new weekly show for Nikon DSLR users, “D-Town TV,” and we really listened to your ideas and suggestions, and have already started implementing many of them. Since we had so many questions, and I thought I’d answer at least a few of them here:

Q. The opening music is really annoying. Are you guys going to change it anytime soon?
Yeah, we heard that a bunch. Luckily, it’s already done. We re-uploaded the original episode with new, less annoying music, and since we did that, everyone seems much happier.

Q. We couldn’t see how the Di-GPS connected to the camera because of your black shirt. Are you guys going to fix that?
Man, did we hear an earful about this (this, and the opening music). Well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed (from my other show), that I’m pretty much always in a black shirt, so we’re just going to try to keep me from holding up a black camera in front of my black shirt. We’re also working on the lighting in general.

Q. Why did you guys use the Di-GPS rather than Nikon’s GP-1?
Unfortunately, we didn’t have Nikon’s GP-1, and I had been using the Di-GPS for a while and really liked it, so I wanted to include it. We’re hoping to have a GP-1 any day now, and once it comes in, we’ll be sure to cover it on the show.

Q. Are you guys going to cover some of the older Nikon DSLRs, like the D200, D2x, D80, etc.?
We’re trying to work some of the older cameras into the mix, and in our next episode you’ll see us showing a technique on a D300, and then how to do that same technique on a D200. But here’s the thing: for obvious reasons we can’t spend a lot of time of cameras that Nikon no longer makes, so most of our show will be dedicated to showing you how to use Nikon’s current gear (Believe me; it’s tricky enough just covering the current cameras), but we heard your comments and we’re trying to sneak in as much stuff for older cameras as we can.

Q. Why didn’t you guys do a show for us Canon users?
Well, it’s like this: Nikon wanted us to do a show like this, and sponsored it. Canon didn’t.

Q. What are you going to do about the clanking sound it makes when you put your cameras on the table?
Yeah…sorry about that. We’re adding padding to the table so it doesn’t clank as much, but the next two shows are already “in the can” and the clanking is still there. We’re trying to catch as much of it as possible in post-production, but for the next two episodes; it’s clank town. The good news is; we’re working on it. We’re also working on balancing the audio in general. It’s a process, eh?

Q. Are you guys going to cover some of the video features of the Nikon D90?
Absolutely! In fact, in the show that airs week after next, we have our first video tip on the D90.

Q. When are you guys going to cover Wireless Flash?
That’s the next episode we’re working on, and we’re going to have a very special in-studio guest—Joe McNally. Whoo Hoo!!!! :)

Q. Can you cover the settings for shooting bracketed series for HDR?
Yup. In fact, we do that in this Thursday’s show!

Q. Can we subscribe to the Podcast verison on iTunes yet?
Absolutely. It’s already up and running (here’s the link).

Q. Where can we go to give you ideas for future segments?
The best place to do that is to post a comment on the D-Town website (here’s the link). We read all the posts (Both Matt and I) and we’re there for your ideas and suggestions, so post away.

Q. How much advanced stuff are you guys going to cover?
We’re definitely going to incorporate some advanced stuff as we go along, but the show is really geared toward newer users, so don’t look for a lot of high-end tips on the Nikon D3x or using $5,000 lenses.

Q. Where does “The Amazing Brad Moore” fit into all this?
Brad has signed on as Technical Editor for the show, so he’ll be doing things like checking to see how a technique that we showed on the D300 works on a D90 or a D80, so we can include that if it’s different. He’ll be looking at everything we do; testing the techniques, and making sure which cameras our techniques work on so we can inform our viewers. Plus, it’ll give us someone to blame for any mistakes we make, which is a big plus. ;-)

So, that’s the scoop after week one. We know that the show can’t appeal to every user, at every level, using every camera, but we’re going to do our best to create a show that’s really helpful to a lot of people, and we always welcome your ideas and suggestions on how to make the show better.

Matt and I are committed to making each show better than the last, and you’ll see more of your ideas taking root in the next few shows. Thanks for watching. :)


Here’s a look at a shoot I did few weeks back, when I was in the final stages of wrapping up the writing for my Photoshop CS4 Down & Dirty Tricks Book. I needed a shot of a football player for one of the techniques, and so I did an in-studio shoot with a standout on the local high school team, Middle Linebacker Blake Johnson (shown above.).

I wanted a real dramatic look for the lighting, so I shot Blake on a black background, and really tried to control the spill of the lights by using (1) metal Grids that snap right into the reflector on the front of the strobe, and (2) three large black flags (which are essentially just 24″x36″ rectangles of black fabric that block the spread of the light).


For most of the shoot, I used three lights. For the shot at the top of this page, the main light, an Elinchrom RX-600 Strobe (shown above and marked as “A”) was on a boom stand, in front of him, and was placed up high, directly in front of him and angled down at him at a 45° angle. I wanted a quick drop off of the light, so we placed a 24×36″ black flag up near the bottom of the light, so it would cut off the light hitting below his chest (you can see that in the photo above).

Then we placed two Elinchrom RX-600 Strobes behind him (one on either side of him. They are marked “B” in the photo you see above) using reflectors with Grids attached (see below—photo courtesy of Elinchrom) to light  the sides of his face from behind with really bright edge light. Although the lights are turned off in the production shot above (taken by Brad Moore), they were turned on for the shot at the top of the page. To keep the light from the flash from creating lens flare back into my lens, Brad put up a black flag a few feet in front of the strobes.


Also, since we weren’t trying to soften the light; we didn’t use soft boxes—just bare bulb flashes with reflectors. The strobe in the front was powered down as low as we could get it, and the two lights in the back were at 3/4 power.

The shot below was taken using just two lights: one single strobe behind him to create a rim light, but we lowered the main light in front until it was down low aiming up at him to make him look more menacing (By the way: despite how he looks in the photo below, Blake was a really great kid; very polite, very patient, very friendly—though I wouldn’t want to stand across a scrimmage line from him).


I asked Blake to bring a white jersey, because I wanted to try a high-key look for something rough like a football player, and the final image is below. I like it because it’s not what you’d expect. I also like that the jersey was his real jersey from the season, and that it had seen more than one offensive lineman lying on the field looking up wondering what hit him. I set the type in the style of Nike Football posters. (Note: The lighting set-up was exactly the same as in the top shot; one light in front; up high, no softbox, and two edge lights behind him on either side, also bare with a reflector and grid. All we changed was the background).


One More Thing: I did post-process the living daylights out of these images, using Lightroom, then over to Photoshop CS4. Hey, whatdaya expect? ;-)

Anyway, now when my Down & Dirty Tricks book comes out, you’ll instantly recognize Blake, and better yet—you’ll know how the shots were taken.

I can’t believe it’s already Friday (this week has flown by!). Before we get onto the news, a big thanks to Syl Arena for his excellent guest post this week. He didn’t have an easy job being the next person to guest blog after Zack Arias’ mini-epic movie post (which is now the #1 most commented post on this blog ever, with 458 comments), but Syl did a kick-butt job with his post, and a lot of you told him so in your comments. Thanks Syl—you done us proud, son! ;-)

Now, onto the news:

  • Adobe Releases CS4 Update
    A couple of days ago, Adobe released an update to Photoshop CS4 with bug fixes that address a number of issues, including “A number of issues that could cause slow performance have been addressed. Pen barrel rotation with Wacom tablets now works correctly. Photoshop now correctly recognizes 3D textures edited by a plug-in. The quality of the results of Auto-Blend Layers (Stack Images) has been improved. A problem that could result in a crash when pasting formatted text has been fixed. A crash that could result from a corrupt font no longer occurs.” You can download the free update right here for Mac, or right here for Windows.
  • Concert Photography Must-Read Article
    Photographer and musician Scott Diussa did an absolutely excellent, in-depth article on concert photography on his blog this week, and if you shoot concerts, or ever wanted to learn how, this is a must-read article (plus, there are some great concert shots there as well). Here’s the link.
  • Photoshop World Survival Guide Posted
    If you’re going to Photoshop World in Boston next month (it’s not too late—and we’ve extended the $100 off Early Bird discount until today), make sure you check out Nancy’s “Photoshop World Survival Guide” over at the Photoshop World Blog (here’s the link).
  • New Movie to Open with Photography Playing Key Role
    One of my readers (Edwardson Laohoo) turned me onto a movie trailer for a new movie (coming out March 9th) called Everlasting Moments. Edward told me, “It’s based on a true story.  It’s a story of a woman who was in an abusive marriage but found solace in her newfound freedom in the world of Photography.” Here’s the link to see the trailer.
  • Your Feedback on Launch of our New Weekly Show for Nikon DSLR users Yesterday.
    Thanks so much to everyone who supported the launch of our new weekly show for Nikon DSLR users yesterday. The feedback we’ve gotten has been tremendous, and we’ve already taken a lot of your ideas and worked them into the next few shows (including one thing that will make a lot of people happy right off the bat—check out next week’s show which goes live on Thursday). Here’s the link.
  • Photography Blog List Top 20 Favorite Photographers
    My humble thanks to Ronald R. Martinsens’s Photography Blog for the honor of being included in his list of his “Top 20 Favorite Photographers.” That totally made my day! Here’s the link to his list, which includes a link to the portfolios of all his picks.
  • Very Clever Photography Gallery
    Lastly, check out the online portfolio site of photographer Lee Crum. Besides his wonderful photography, he has put together a very clever way of displaying his work as framed art which appears one-by-one arranged on a wall. You just kinda have to see it for yourself—here’s the link.

That’s it for today. Have a great weekend everybody!