Hi gang. It’s Friday (and Happy Hanukkah!); here’s what’s up:

  • First, I have to thank my buddy Matt Kloskowski for his rockin’ Guest Blog post on Wednesday. It was cool to see how many people needed to hear what Matt had to say (and it was something I hadn’t heard anyone say publicly before. Way to go, Ski!).
  •, which is an incredibly cool new news resource that aggregates a whole bunch of daily blogs by topic, just added a Photoshop section (I already visit their Photography category daily). What I love is; you can just hover your mouse over a headline, and it shows you the first paragraph or so. Hover your cursor over the blog’s name, and it shows you a mini graphic of the blog. The whole thing is very cleverly done, with a slick, clean layout. You’ll love it! Here’s the link to the Photoshop category.
  • A quick word about the new blog design here. I’ve gotten loads of great comments on the new look and functionality, but the credit totally goes to my in-house uber-designer Fred Maya who cooked up this new design for me, and to our in-house code wizard Tommy Maloney, who tweaked the Flash code so the image up top would be random. The way that top part is designed is pretty clever; Each time it loads, it loads a different set of images, so if you scroll through the images now, tomorrow it will have a new main image, and a different “deck” of gallery images. Also, this new blog allows me to show larger images on the home page, and it makes the process of updating the blog easier on me, which I love. The commenting is better and more powerful, and we’ll be adding more features as we move forward, so it will keep evolving as well. Also, we updated my Bio page, and my Gear page, and we’ll be updating my horribly out-of-date portfolio soon as well.
  • CORRECTION: I got an email from someone at Lastolite yesterday letting me know that in my review yesterday, not only did I link to the wrong EZYbox on B&H Photo, but since the link was wrong, the price was wrong, too (The one I linked to wasn’t for “hot shoe” flash). The correct link is right here, and the correct price is $208. The only good news is; B&H Photo actually does have these in stock. Sorry for any confusion, Agita, or other frustation this may have caused. If it’s any consolation, this isn’t the biggest mistake I made yesterday.
  • Joe McNally has a wonderful post over at his blog, called “The Best Assignments are Free.” Joe is a great story teller and teacher, and this post is really a great read, so if you get a few minutes this weekend, take a break and check this out.
  • My thanks to Digital Photography School for including my book, “The Digital Photography Book” in their “12 Great Digital Photography Books for Your Christmas Stocking.” (Here’s the link), and to Ronald R. Martinsen’s Photography Blog including my Photoshop Seven-Point-System in his post on “What Photoshop Books Should I Read.”(Here’s that link).

That’s it for today folks. Have a wonderful weekend and we’ll see you back here on Monday.


My hat’s off to my wonderful readers, who once again have shown your heart and compassion for those less fortunate. From your book sales on Tuesday alone, we raised over $10,075 dollars (7,028 / £6,513) to help finish construction on the Orphanage in Kenya. I can’t wait to show you the final shots when it’s complete, and the kids are moving in for the first time—what a day that will be!!!!!

This project has really touched the hearts of so many people, and I wanted to point out a few of my heroes from this week, like:

  • Alan Allum, who had already pre-ordered the book, but went ahead and bought a 2nd copy for the cause. So did Joel from Jameson Studios. And Philip Doherty.
  • And Ana Adams, who doesn’t have CS4, isn’t planning on upgrading anytime soon, but wanted to help so much she bought the book anyway (by the way, she’s a kick-butt photographer—check out her portfolio)
  • Or Doug from InDisciple Design who not only ordered the book, but sent a long a little extra donation as well.
  • I was just thrilled when my best buddy Dave Moser (NAPP’s Chief Operating Officer and a guy with a huge heart), kicked in $500 to help get this finished.
  • I was beside myself when my book publisher, Peachpit Press, called me at home after reading the blog, and is sending Springs of Hope, Kenya a $1,000 donation to help finish the orphanage. Thanks Nancy, Scott, Ted, and everyone at Peachpit and New Riders—-I’m so proud to be one of your authors.
  • Or how about Frank Weichmann, who is giving $100, every two weeks, for 20 weeks. Amazing!

And my thanks to everyone who bought the book Tuesday, knowing they could get it at least $25 dollars cheaper a dozen other places, but cared enough to spend the extra money to help these orphaned kids. I’m so touched that so many of you stepped up and made a difference with your generous support.

My humble thanks for coming along with me on this important journey, and helping to create something that will dramatically change the lives of some children who need our help so badly. You guys are the best!

The Lastolite EZbox

Time’s running out to get Holiday gifts, so I thought I’d better share a few last minute gift ideas. Here’s a pretty cool one for the photographer on your list who already has an off camera flash (Like a Nikon SB-800 or a Canon 580 EX II). It’s Lastolite’s EZYbox, which is a collapsible softbox that does a really sweet job of softening and spreading the light (in fact, I’m using it on a location shoot tomorrow!).

The EZYbox comes with a flash mount bracket, and once you slide your flash onto its hotshoe, you put your flash through the hole in the back of the softbox (as shown above), and you’re ready to go.  There are two things I dig about the EZYbox:

  1. It folds down really small, as seen in the example photos below, where I think Brad does just a stunning job of showcasing the fold-up process (Notice the graceful hand gestures).
  2. The light, while soft, doesn’t spread as much as it does with a shoot-through umbrella, giving you a more directed narrower beam (Brad was telling me that McNally loves these and uses them all the time, and if McNally’s uses ’em, that’s good enough for me).

First, it folds up flat, as seen here

Then in one move it collapses down like a reflector

Then it fits easily in this little blue bag
Then it fits easily in this little blue bag

Anyway, below is a shot of the unit in use, but Brad is supporting the EZYbox using an optional telescoping handle.

Here's it in use, with Brad holding the Optional telescoping holder

The 24″x24″ EZBox sells for $189.00 on B&H Photo (here’s the link).The optional telescoping handle is $39.95 (here’s that link).

The Destructive Workflow (Erase, Merge and Flatten)

Hi again folks! I’m happy to be back here on Scott’s blog and I thought I’d change it up a little this time. See, I took a look through some of Scott’s old blog posts and looked at some of the really popular ones. It seems you guys love it when he does that Q&A thing to himself, so I’m going to borrow (OK, steal) it for my guest post too. Here goes:

So Matt, Scott made this post seem really controversial. What’s the deal?
I’ve been toying around with the idea of this post for a while now. It first hit me about two Photoshop Worlds ago in Orlando when I had quite a few people ask me about how to follow a non-destructive editing workflow. I spoke for a while with one gentleman and asked him how many times he had to go back and change his work after he was done. He said, “Well… never really”.

Then, my idea was solidified at the last Photoshop World in Las Vegas when I taught a Photoshop Restoration class. In the class I use the Eraser tool and I flattened and merged layers a lot. After class I always look through my evaluations (usually right after the class if I can) to see how everyone felt about it. I came across an eval that told me I should be ashamed of myself for showing people such a destructive editing process. That’s when this idea was born. I mean, after all I was just showing people the way I actually work. Isn’t that what they came for? I don’t think people don’t want to see me teach a bunch of techniques and tools that I never use.

First off, please stop asking questions in your answers. That’s our job!

Are you the only one who feels this way?
Nope. What’s really interesting is that, at the same conference, Scott taught a retouching class (mind you, Scott and I had never had this discussion yet either). Retouching is full of places where you can try to keep a non-destructive document, or you can merge, erase and flatten like heck. Scott asked how many people worked with some type of art director or client that would (or could) continually push back on them to change their work after they’ve already submitted something. The results were really interesting. Two people (out of 800) raised their hand. I taught a class in San Francisco to 500 people last week, and asked the same question; four hands went up. So to answer your question, I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way at all.

So what really is a non-destructive workflow?
Non-destructive seems to be a big buzz world these days. Throw the other buzzword, “workflow” on the end and you’ve got the uber buzzword. So what’s the big deal? Well, I think the idea behind non-destructive is a good one. You give yourself a way out. A way to change if you ever need to. The RAW format does a really good job at that because no matter what we do, we can’t permanently harm it. As a photographer I like that. It’s my negative and as long as I back it up, I know I’ll always have access to the original photo if I want.

That doesn’t sound so bad. Camera Raw seems to take care of all the non-destructive stuff for us. So why are you such a hater?

See, after we get out of camera raw, and into Photoshop, we get into all the other things that we may want to do with our photos. Retouching, skin softening, enhancing eyes, whitening teeth, removing crack pipes, changing the color of a shirt, removing a telephone wire… the list goes on. Are there ways to do that stuff non-destructively and save every layer at every point throughout the editing process? Sure there are. But do you really need to? Now that’s the big question.

Before we move on. Didn’t we warn you about asking questions in your answers. We’re giving Scott full permission to pick on you in the next episode of Photoshop User TV!
(Cat sound!!!) I’m sorry! Last time, I promise.

No sweat. Don’t let it happen again though. Now…Does that mean you use the Eraser tool?
Yep, I erase constantly. When I want something gone from part of a layer I erase it permanently. I could use a layer mask and do it all non-destructively, but if I know I’m not going to want it back then it’s history. Gone. Deleted. Erased. You may be thinking that I must inevitably erase something that I didn’t want to at some point, and wish I could get it back, right? Yep. I do. Ya know what I do when that happens though? Undo. I get 20 of them by default with Photoshop, and can increase that number if I want to.

Surely you don’t merge and flatten your layers too?

There’s no badge of honor for creating a Photoshop document with 167 layers in it. In fact, I like to work fast and for me, the less layers the faster I (and Photoshop) move. Sometimes when I work on a portrait, I duplicate a layer and blur it to soften the skin a little. Then I’ll ERASE the blur away from the areas that I want to stay crisp (eyes, mouth, hair, etcâ¦). If I’m happy with the results then I press Cmd+E to merge that duplicate layer down with the original. Might I want to go back and un-blur the skin? I suppose – but I never have. No one has ever asked me to do that so why save that layer. It makes the Layer’s palette harder to navigate and it makes my PSD file size larger, which, in the end, takes longer for my computer to process.

Any other crazy destructive things you do to your photos?
Well there is one. I’ll warn you though. This one elicits death threats from some people out there and I’m sure I’ll get some hate-mail from it, but 90% of the time I open my files in 8-bit mode and I don’t care one bit what my histogram looks like because of it. You may be thinking, “Hey, that’s not erasing or merging or anything destructive like that!”. Ah, but it is. You’re tossing away a lot of image data (I hate the word “data” when it comes to photography by the way) when you use 8-bit. Is it data that you need? Probably not. I’ve got prints on the wall that no one can tell me if they were shot in Raw or JPEG, Canon or Nikon or edited in 8 or 16-bit mode. Unless I’ve got a major exposure or color correction to do in Photoshop (which I usually don’t since I’ve already done that in Lightroom or Camera Raw) I open as an 8-bit file. And if I do decide that I’ve got a photo that needs some extra lovin’, you know what? I’m smart enough to know this and, in those cases, I open the file in Photoshop as a 16-bit image. So what does 8-bit buy me? File size mainly. It’s half the size of the 16-bit file and with these huge megapixel cameras these days, I’ll take everything I can get to help me work faster rather then non-destructively.

Let me get this straight Matt, didn’t you write the Layers book?
Yep I did. In fact, you can buy it here if you’d like :-)

The real irony here is that I teach this non-destructive editing stuff. I teach it A LOT! My Layers book turned out to be my best selling book ever by a pretty large margin, so it must have struck a chord somewhere.

I gotta tell ya’ Matt. It sounds somewhat counter productive that your Layers book and blog post here are at odds with each other.

Yeah, I agree. Here’s the thing: I still believe wholeheartedly in the premise behind that book. Why? Because it makes me a ton of money (I’m totally kidding!). Seriously, I believe in it because I think Layers are still the key to everything in Photoshop. Even when I work destructively in Photoshop, a layer is always involved. See, layers and masks don’t go away in my destructive workflow. My need to preserve them at all costs does.

So what you’re saying is I should learn Photoshop like I learn many things in life. I need to learn the rules and know why they’re there. Then I need to learn when to break them. If I’m just starting out in Photoshop then I’m probably better off trying to save as much as I can because I’m still learning my way around. As I become more comfortable though, I shouldn’t feel like I have to work the same way I was taught in the first place?
Yes, exactly.

Alright, to sum this all up, you’re telling me to go forth and destroy pixels?!
No! I am not telling you to go forth and destroy, so please please please don’t go telling everyone “Matt Kloskowski said to erase, merge and flatten”. I’m not saying that at all. All I’m saying is to think about it. This is what I do because it works for me. Think about the type of work you’re in and who your clients are. Do they often request changes? If you don’t have clients (or your client is yourself) then consider how many times you actually go back and edit the images that you worked so hard to non-destructively change. This will vary for everyone and only you know the answer. But if that answer is “Never” or “Not very often” then at least consider whether it’s worth the hassle and extra file size to try to do everything non-destructively.

Is that it?
Almost. Two things.
1) Please do me a big favor and leave a comment here. You won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t agree – I’m looking for a realistic gauge to see how you folks feel about the topic. Is it a “Yeah, you’re right!” or a “Dude, you’re crazy. I live for non-destructivity!” reaction? I’m honestly interested to see what the general consensus is here.
2) I’ve included a short 5-minute video below to show you an example of my destructive workflow. Watch it and see if it makes sense. Finally, thanks again for reading. Even if you don’t agree I hope it’s at least got you thinking. Now let the hate-mail/comments begin!



Adobe released a free downloadable update to Lightroom 2 (bringing it to version 2.2), that adds support for some recently released cameras (including the Canon 5D Mark II, , a number of Panasonic cameras, and the Canon G10), along with some bug fixes (for a list of the bug fixes, visit Lightroom Product Manager Tom Hogarty’s blog by clicking here).

Also, (and this is big), this update includes the final versions of the Camera Profiles which will now be available in the Calibration panel (those of you who attended my Lightroom 2 Live Tour know about the Beta versions of these).

To get the free update, go under Lightroom’ 2’s Help menu and choose “Check for Updates.”