The Photo Police Are On The Job

by Scott Kelby  |  2 Comments


After my sunset shoot of the Burj Al Arab hotel using the wrong lens (posted earlier this week), I was determined to go back and shoot it the following night using the right lens–my brand new 14-24mm f/2.8 lens (The lens was a gift from my book publisher, Peachpit Press, who presented it to me, on stage, at the end of my “7-point system” class at Photoshop World as they announced that for the 4th straight year I was the world’s #1 bestselling computer/technology book author).

Since Jeff Revell and my brother Jeff had been stopped by the hotel’s security during the previous evening’s shoot, “The Jeffs” went to the hotel’s head of security to ask for their permission for us to shoot the hotel at dusk using a tripod. The security chief was very cordial, but asked to see Jeff’s camera, and once he did, he explained that they are very concerned about professional cameras and tripods, because they are trying to protect the image of the hotel and how their image is used or sold.

He went on to say that point-and-shoot cameras were not a problem, but as soon as DSLRs and tripods appear, it becomes a problem, but he was gracious enough to allow us set up and take “five or six photos,” and he gave us his business card, and told us to contact him so we he could give his security staff a heads-up that we would be out there shooting on tripods.

I planned my day around getting back for this “reshoot with the right lens,” but Jeff recommended that I set-up a little short of where they set-up the night before, because that would put a large white tent between me and where the security guards were the night before, so maybe I wouldn’t have to pull out that card after all. As it turned out, I was able to shoot without any intervention from hotel security (at least at this point), so I was able to get the shot I was hoping for (seen above–click for a larger version).

After I packed up my gear, I headed back for the hotel, and while walking over the bridge toward the hotel, I had a perfect straight-on view I hadn’t seen before, so I quickly set-up my tripod, and as soon as I pressed the shutter button once, a security cart appeared, and a security guard, in white Arab robe and head dress appeared (I knew why he was there).

I have to say, he was incredibly friendly and polite. He came right over with a warm friendly smile; and shook my hand as he introduced himself (He treated me more like he was welcoming me to the hotel, rather than telling me I couldn’t shoot it). He calmly and eloquently explained why they couldn’t allow the use of professional cameras and tripods, and he was so friendly and warm, that I didn’t even pull out the “head of security’s” card. I told him I understood, that it was no problem, and I packed up my gear while we were chatting. He thanked me profusely, wished me a nice evening; he got back in his cart, and was gone as quickly as he had appeared.

I wasn’t the least bit upset. In fact, I thought to myself; if all security guards handled these situations in the manner this guard had, you wouldn’t be reading all those stories about photographers getting hassled and abused by overzealous security. I think as photographers most of us understand and respect situations like this, and a little politeness, and professional courtesy, on both sides goes a long way.


Wednesday News Update (I’m back, baby!)

by Scott Kelby  |  0 Comments


As much as I love to travel, it’s always great to get back home! :-)

Before I get to the news; I big thanks to everyone in Dubai who made me, Jeff and Jeff feel so at home. What an amazing place! Now, onto the news:

  • First, above is another shot from Dubai (Click for a larger view). I finally got a chance to look at some of my shots on my myriad of flights back to the states. As usual for this trip, it was taken with the wrong lens. ;-)
  • Thanks to everyone who posted comments and shared your travel ideas yesterday, after my “wrong lens” post. Thanks to your comments, I’m adding one more lens to my Italy trip—my f/1.8 50mm prime lens. It so small and lightweight I can fit it in my pants pocket, and that way if I get in a low light situation—I’ll have a low-light lens I can pop right on. You guys rock!
  • At my Dubai gig, I met a really great guy named Serge Jespers; he’s an Adobe Evangelist, and one of the conference instructors. Serge is based in Belgium, and I made a joke about the first time I saw “Atomium” (the huge 34-story atom-shaped monument/building just outside Brussels built for the 1958 World’s Fair), and he told me a fascinating copyright/Photoshop story about it called “When Copyright Goes Too Far.” Apparently, a museum in Belgium did an exhibit about the World’s Fair in Belgium which included photos of visitors posing in from of Atomium, and the management group from Atomium sued the museum saying it violated their copyright of the image. So, the museum put an ad in the paper asking for “100 Photoshoppers” so they could clone-out Atomium from all their photos. I love it! Here’s the link to Serge’s Webkitchen blog for the full story.
  • Last week we released a great new online Photoshop course on, from our own Corey Barker, and the entire course, called “Mastering the Pen Tool” is dedicated to making you an absolute expert on the Pen Tool. It starts with the basics, but goes on to cover advanced topics, including some I haven’t seen covered anywhere. Here’s the link to the 21 lessons, and you can watch a free sample online.
  • David Ziser’s latest edition of “David’s Digital Newsletter” just showed up in my email inbox, and if you’re not on the list to get this great free newsletter, here’s the link to sign-up (highly recommended).

That’s it for today folks—Have a great Wednesday, and we’ll see ya tommarra! :)


The “Week of Always Having The Wrong Lens” Lesson

by Scott Kelby  |  1 Comments

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…… ;-)


From Tonight’s Dusk Shoot

by Scott Kelby  |  3 Comments

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.


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.


Update from Adobe’s Design Conference Dubai

by Scott Kelby  |  3 Comments




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 on the right.

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

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