For Christmas Day, I wanted to share something very special with you..
It’s a “thank you” card from Molly Bail, the amazing woman behind the “Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya” (an orphanage that the people who read this blog helped build from the ground up six years ago, and is still supported by you, my wonderful readers, to this very day).
I hope you’ll pause for just moment and read her card to you (below). The things you have done, and support you have shown, make more of a difference than you will ever know.
I’d like to add my own humble thanks, along with my Christmas wish for you:
May your Christmas be filled with love and laughter, and may your home by filled with peace, health, and happiness in the New Year.
Below is an audio clip of “The Christmas Song,” made by my wife on her iPhone using her iPhone’s built-in Recorder App (which is normally used for making voice memos), but how it came to be is what makes it special (and it’s why I asked my wife if I could run this on my blog. That’s her above earlier this year taken during the Photoshop World Concert Pre-Conference Workshop — photo by William Beem),).
Here’s the story behind it, which I copied and pasted from an email my wife sent to one of her friends. Here it is in her own words:
Our daughter was 3-1/2 year old at the time and she used to constantly play with the voice recorder App on my iPhone. I was in my bathroom blow drying my hair (singing/humming that song) when she came in playing around with that recorder App on the phone. She likes it when I sing “The Christmas Song” so she asked me to sing it into the phone. So I did. The phone did a pretty decent job with the recording so I thought I would send it to Scott’s brother Jeff (because he’s always after me to sing him Christmas songs) and then as I was about to send it I thought: “Well, mom might like to have it, and so and so might like it” and then it became my Christmas card!
It took quite a bit of convincing to get my wife to let me run this on the blog a few years back, and again today (especially since she was just goofing with my daughter when she did it, plus it was recorded in just one take, into an iPhone no less, and not done in a professional recording studio), but I think the spirit of Christmas got the best of her, and she finally said yes.
I hope you enjoy listening to it, and that it brings a little Christmas Eve spirit your way. (click this link to hear the song).
Hi Gang: I know it’s the end of the year, but at the very last minute I’m jumping in with a brand new book (should be available next week, just in time for your Amazon and Barnes & Noble gift cards ;-) called “Photoshop for Lightroom Users.” Here’s why I wrote it:
Lightroom is such an awesome program for organizing and editing photos, but after you’ve worked with it for a while, you’ll hit a wall — a point where you realize that there are things you need to do that Lightroom just won’t do. It could be anything from retouching portraits to blending two or more images together to stitching panoramas to creating realistic HDR images, to adding beautiful type to your images — there are lots of incredible things you could do…if you only knew Photoshop.
But while Lightroom is pretty easy to learn, Photoshop is…well…it’s Photoshop. It’s this huge amazing Swiss-Army knife of a program with 100+ tools, and two dozen floating panels, and a ton of filters and compared to Lightroom it seems really complicated, but that’s only because…it is. But what if you only needed to learn about 10 or 20% of what Photoshop can do. What if you only needed to learn a few important techniques for photographers? That’s what my new book is all about. Teaching just the stuff Lightroom can’t do — and it’s one of the shortest books I’ve written (at 192 pages), so it’s short, sweet, right to the point, and even shows you things you might think you need to jump over to Photoshop for (but you can actually do right in Lightroom — I show you how).
I really feel like this book will help a lot of folks add Photoshop to their workflow in a quick, easy and fun way (especially all those folks who got in on the $9.95 Photoshop CC/Lightroom bundle, which ends at the end of the year). Anyway, thanks for letting me tell you about it, and I hope you find it helpful.
On Tuesday I did a post about my latest “Epic Remote Camera” fail (my 2nd fail in a row at an NFL game). The camera shoots fine in tests minutes before the players take the field, but once I move into position a bit farther back and the players actually come out, the remote camera only triggers intermittently at best. Arrrrggghh!!!)
ABOVE:That’s my basic remote floor mount rig: four pieces: a metal floor plate (from fplate.net), then an Oben BB-0 Ball Head which attaches to that plate. Then a PocketWizard Plus X and a sync cord that connects the PocketWizard to the camera. The Camera is a Canon 1Dx and I generally use either a 16-35mm lens or an 8-15mm Fisheye zoom.
Anyway, the folks at PocketWizard contacted me and had some ideas as to what might be causing the interference, and strategies to get more reliable results (and to keep me from pulling my hair out). I asked if it was OK to share key parts of their three-page letter to me with you here, and they were happy to let me share it in hopes it might some other shooters experiencing similar issues. It sounds a bit “markety” here and there, but it’s still solid info. Here’s a few highlights:
“Our first piece of advice; Use the right gear for the occasion, in this case use the Plus III or MultiMAX the next time. The PlusX is our “value priced” radio and is perfect for simple setups, but shooting remotes in a stadium requires a bit more than the PlusX has to offer. Both the Plus III and especially the MultiMAX have special features that help make sure the radio signal gets through in challenging environments.”
OK, that makes sense, and when I look back, I realize that I’ve done most of my remote triggering using the PowerWizard Plus IIIs or the older Plus IIs and haven’t had many problems, so I’m wondering if using the Plus X instead couldn’t be the main culprit right there. Next time, I’m going back to the Plus IIIs for sure. Test results soon on this swap out.
“Second, you’re putting your camera close to the ground; real close in fact. The ground is a sponge. A radio sponge. It absorbs radio waves like you wouldn’t believe. The higher you can get the radio the better but we realize that isn’t always possible which is why we’ve designed special features just for situations like this. Those features can be found on both the Plus III and MultiMAX, but not on the value priced PlusX.”
Ah Ha! More reason to use the Plus IIIs instead of the Plus X. And those features are…
“In both the Plus III and MultiMAX you have a couple of special features designed particularly for remote triggering. The one that would have helped the most here is Long Range Mode. What this does is double the communication to make sure the receiving radio can hear it. Just like repeating yourself to someone who can’t quite hear you. It’s a bit more technical than that, but that’s the general idea. Using this feature should effectively double the reliable distance your radios will work in.”
Definitely will turn that feature on. Don’t actually know how yet, but that’s why God invented Brad Moore. ;-)
They also just had some troubleshooting tips in general to help for more reliable remote triggering:
“Due to the invisible nature of radio waves, understanding exactly how they work is not for the faint of heart. Any one of a million things can have an influence on them and getting them to do exactly as you want is both science and art.
Here’s a short list of the key things you can do to increase your success with remote cameras so before you go out on your next remote triggering event, read these basic rules of engagement: Whenever possible,
Maintain a line of sight between radios.
Keep the antennas parallel and at least 12” apart.
Make sure the radios, especially the antennas, are not near any large metal, concrete, or high water-content objects.
Make sure the radios are not blocked by large objects or hills. Crowds gathering between you and your remotes will reduce range. Try to keep the antennas above the heads of crowds.
PocketWizard radios will have reduced performance if deployed close to the ground.
Try to get them up high – 4 feet or higher improves range dramatically. Consider using a cable to locate the receiver higher up.
Avoid mounting them to metal railings or other building structures.
Avoid “Dead spots”. These can be caused by a number of things but the solution is usually the same: move the unit a few inches or feet away from the problem area.
Avoid mounting them near long cable runs for other equipment or close to wiring.
When a long burst is needed or especially when using a radio in the hot-shoe of your handheld camera, increase the contact time (MultiMAX only) on the remote receiving unit. If range is an issue or remote operation is intermittent, this will help. If any single trigger is received, a long burst is guaranteed.”
I really found this all helpful, although there are some things in that last list that I can’t change [like deploying remotes close to the ground, or for things like mounting in the ceiling of arenas or domed stadiums, not mounted to metal railings], but at least I know there are some things I can try when I run into interference. I do think just switching to the Plus IIIs might do the trick for my situation, as I’ve never run into these problems before, so I’m hopeful, and will hopefully get to test this fairly soon.
My thanks to Dave Schmidt and his team at PocketWizard for reaching out, and for letting me share this troubleshooting info. and I fully expect to have a better story next game (if I can get permission to set up a remote, which I’d better get on if I have a prayer of doing that).
Have a great Weekend everybody, and Happy Holidays. :)
A Beginners Guide To Photographing Christmas Morning with Pete Collins Join Pete Collins for this special holiday class that is all about taking those Christmas photos on Christmas morning. If you just got a brand new DSLR camera and you want to learn how to make your photos better, sharper, faster, and not drive your family crazy while you do it, then this class is for you!
Leave a comment for your chance to win a free rental of this class!
Kelby Training Live Want to spend a day with Scott Kelby, Matt Kloskowski, or RC Concepcion? Check out these seminar tours!
You can check out the full schedule for seminars through March! And don’t forget, if you register for a seminar at least 14 days in advance, you can save $10 by using the code KTL10 at the checkout. And leave a comment for your chance to win a ticket to one of these events!
Holiday Gift Guide for Photographers on The Grid If you missed the live airing of yesterday’s episode of The Grid and need some last-minute gift ideas that are under $100, you’ll want to watch it as soon as it’s posted! Scott and Matt shared some of their favorite photo tools, gadgets, and gizmos (I’m assuming, since I wasn’t there for the show today. More on that later…) that the photographer in your life will love and won’t break your wallet! You can check it out later today on KelbyTV.com and YouTube, so keep an eye out for it!
Advice From 88 Cinematographers Our buddy and Kelby Training instructorMike Kubeisy just sent me this link to check out, and I found some great advice here! Over at TheBlackAndBlue.com, they asked 88 people from the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), “What’s the best professional advice you’ve ever received?” The responses are great because they’re not just applicable to cinematographers, but also photographers and anyone who is ever on set for a shoot of any kind! Check it out, and you’re sure to find some words of wisdom that you’ll take to heart.
93.3 FLZ Jingle Ball Concert A couple paragraphs ago I (Brad) mentioned I wasn’t around for The Grid yesterday, and that’s because I was photographing the 93.3 FLZ Jingle Ball concert in Tampa for Clear Channel. The show featured a bunch of pop stars like Flo Rida, Enrique Iglesias, Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus, and lots of others. If you’re into any of those people or just concert photography in general, you can check out the photo galleries right here. Of course, you also know that at least one of those people I mentioned is a bit on the risqué side, so some of the images on there are too. There were other photographers shooting as well, so you can see who shot what in the credit line below each image.
Just a little behind the scenes info… Because there are so many acts on the bill that play in very quick succession throughout the day (the stage rotates, so on one side that the crowd sees is the current performer, and on the back side they’re setting up for the next performer), the photographers shooting for the radio station had card runners taking cards to photo editors who were working on the images and posting to the site throughout the concert. So, the reason I say all of that is because I wanted to say that I had a blast shooting and think/hope I got some cool shots, but I haven’t actually seen all of them yet! I went through some of the galleries and was happy with what I saw, but haven’t seen all of them just yet ;-) Hope you enjoy!
If you’re one of the lucky winners, we’ll be in touch soon. Because of the holidays, I’m not sure what the plan is for the blog next week, so we may or may not see you here again next Thursday. Either way, have a great Thursday today!
Griswold Ain’t Got Nothing On This! Hello everyone and Merry Christmas! Corey Barker here and I just wanted to pop in and share a few things as we wrap up the year and get ready for what hope to be a very exciting 2014. One thing I wanted to share, or re-share is a video time-lapse I had done last year on taking a normal photo of a house and decorating it with Christmas lights all in Photoshop. It was a lot of fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Well here it is and is set to some rather appropriate Christmas music. If you haven’t seen it yet go ahead and check it out and if you are a NAPP member then you can see the tutorial in real time over at the NAPP member website.
The Bear & The Hare Christmas Spot Many of you may know of my friend Aaron Blaise, who is a former Disney animator and perhaps one of the best illustrators I know. He also has taught at the last two Photoshop World’s and has wowed crowds with his skill in creating realistic character art all in Photoshop using a Wacom Cintiq.
Just this past year Aaron went back to his roots to do some 2D hand drawn animation on a Holiday commercial for a London based company. Aaron had told me about the project months ago but couldn’t reveal too many details. When I finally saw the finished piece I was nearly brought to tears. It’s a beautiful piece and has a lot of heart. It shows how 2D animation can still capture our hearts the way the old Disney classics used to.
Aaron did all the animation of the actual bear and hare characters and other animators did the rest. What is interesting is how they did it. It combines practical model effects with 2D characters and animated as stop motion. When you are done watching the video go and watch the behind the scenes of how they did it. That is as impressive as the piece itself.
In the end the spot is nothing short of amazing and big tip of the hat to Aaron and the rest of the production for making a piece of art and not just an advertisement.
A New Down & Dirty Book is On the Way
Just this past week I finished up Volume 2 of the Down & Dirty Tricks for Designers book. The first book was a big hit with designers and was filled with eye-catching images. I believe this next one is as every sequel should be, better than the first. I have completely new material throughout the book with an expanded 3D chapter that takes Photoshop 3D to the extreme. In addition to more 3D I have my Hollywood Effects chapter with a complete movie poster project from start to finish. I also have a short chapter where I use images provided me by notable photographers like Moose Peterson and Glyn Dewis.
As I mentioned the book is in post-production and hopes to be shipping sometime in late January/early Feb 2014. Be sure to look for that soon and also check out coreysbarker.com for more info as well. Here are a few examples of what you can expect to see in the book.
This was created with images shot by Glyn Dewis and is a play on the movie Looper starring Bruce Willis.
This is the poster project I referred to earlier. This tutorial is fully step-by-step starting with the raw image right out of the camera.
The 3D chapter boasts some of the most eye-catching and complex 3D you probably ever seen in Photoshop. You will see how this very logo was created entirely in Photoshop with no third party applications used at all.
What about product design? No problem, learn how to create and combine simple shapes into an elegant product shot that you can view and render from practically any angle.
As I said, these are merely a small taste of all the fun that is to be had in this newest Volume of Down & Dirty Tricks for Designers. What always drove me to write such a book like this was because these books, and the first volume, were the books I would have been looking for if I were a design student or aspiring artist. Often just seeing what is possible is enough to fuel your creativity and drive you to create something that sends that thrilling chill down your spine. I only hope this book can do that for you. Stay tuned…more to come!