Finding Your Artistic Voice with Karen Hutton
It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see! Join Karen Hutton for an exploration of how to find your voice, and share it with the world. Finding your voice takes a lifetime, but you don’t need to wait to start using it. In this class Karen shares a simple process, using many visual examples, for how you can look at your own life and connect who you are to what you do with your photography. Your voice is who you are, and the world needs you to weave things that matter into what you want to say with your art. From having a vision to practical examples and exercises, Karen shares what has helped her find her voice and bring it to bear in her work. This class was filmed in front of a live audience, so be sure to stick around for the Q&A session at the end.

In Case You Missed It
Deanne Fitzmaurice began her career as a staff photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle, and her incredible images have appeared in an array of top publications ranging from National Geographic to Sports Illustrated. Deanne’s dedication, compassion, and courage to completing emotionally and photographically challenging assignments that have taken her to dangerous regions across the globe is an inspiration to all aspiring photojournalists. In this segment of our Trailblazers series Mia McCormick sits down with Deanne to discuss topics ranging from how she got started in photography to how she deals with the obstacles that arise when trying to tell compelling human interest stories, and from how she handles the emotional and physical challenges that can accompany the act of storytelling to the importance of covering the lows as well as the high moments in the arc of a story.

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Serge Ramelli has two photo workshops this spring! One in beautiful Paris and the other in wonderful Italy! They are both 6 day photography adventures, come and join him!

Journey around Paris or Italy with Serge photographing little-known locations, then join him in his retouching workshop where he will train you on Photoshop, Lightroom and everything in-between!

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Covering everything from shooting with your camera to the whole retouching workflow, this workshop is a great opportunity you do not want to miss. Workshop will start every day at 2pm and finish at about 11pm.

All you have to do is get your plane ticket, and bring your camera! For more info, head over to PhotoSerge.com/workshops!

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Hey there everyone! Big thanks to Scott for sharing the blog with me today, and for Brad for putting up with my constant delays in turning this in.

I’m not sure if you knew or not, but I’ve recently set out on my own. It’s the first time in my 43 years that I’ve been self-employed, and it’s been a wild ride so far. I can only imagine what the future holds. If you want to read more about it, I did a whole post over on my blog.

But today, I wanted to share with you a new series of stories I’ve been writing. It’s called “Photography Lessons for My Mom.” Basically, my mom has taken up photography over the last couple of years, and helping her along the way has been really enlightening for me.

By the way, these lessons aren’t in a specific order. I’m just writing them as they happened while I was helping my mom. Here goes:

Lesson 1 – How To Learn Your Camera

My mom had mentioned she wasn’t comfortable shooting because she didn’t know what she should have her camera set to and was getting confused by all of the settings. So we sat down and I taught her the camera, the same way I’d teach someone Photoshop. Just as I’d never teach someone just starting out in Photoshop about Curves or Calculations, I’d never tell my mom to worry about rear-curtain flash sync, or focus-peaking. Rather, I just spent that time showing her the basic things I thought she’d need to get out there and shoot.

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But here’s the catch, and this was my advice for her. She mentioned that it’d be hard to remember all of those settings, and that every time she goes out and shoots, she forgets them and where they’re at. My advice was this…

“Mom…You bought a professional piece of camera equipment. You purposely did not buy a simple point-and-shoot, and you want something with more creative control than your iPhone. But you can’t expect to master that complicated piece of equipment by going out and shooting once or twice a month.”

As we talked, I let her know there were two ways she could get better at moving around in the menus, and knowing her camera:

  1. Get out and shoot more. There’s no substitute for practice.
  2. However… shooting more really isn’t an option for her because she’s busy. So, I offered another tip. Sit down with your camera every day for 2-3 weeks for a few minutes. Go through the menus and settings that you use a lot. I promise you, that at the end of those two weeks, you’ll feel so comfortable with your camera that you won’t think twice about changing settings the next time you go shoot.

Lesson 2 – Just Shoot!

Next lesson… So, a few weeks later when I asked my mom if she had gone out shooting she said “Well, not lately… I’m going to try to practice these settings more, and maybe in a month or so I should be ready”.

That response really hit home to me because I hear it from a lot of people. It seems a lot of people own really good photography gear, but are almost afraid to use it. They think they’re missing something, and that studying more will help.

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Obviously I disagree. I don’t care where she focusses, I don’t care what ISO she has the camera set to, I don’t care if she shoots it at f/4 or f/22, or what metering mode she has, or if she’s shooting HDR brackets and all of that crap. All of that stuff is nice-to-know extras, that we all let get in the way of the most important thing – shooting. Get your camera to a good place, and shoot!

Why My Mom’s Situation Really Impacted Me?

Here’s a little back story to why this really impacted me, and I’d never even told my mom this story before that day on the phone. When I was a teenager, I played the guitar. I started when I was about 10-11 or so, and fell in love with it. I took lessons every week for years. I had 2 of the best guitar teachers in the state of NJ at the time. They’d literally spend hours with me each week. I sucked up information as fast as they’d give it out.

Like many photographers I meet, I became obsessed with the “technical” details of music. When most of my friends who picked up the guitar were just jamming away to Van Halen, Motley Crue, and Ozzy Osbourne (I was a kid in the 70s and early 80’s), I was studying music theory. I knew every scale, every chord, up down, left and right. I became an expert at the “technical” part of playing the guitar.

But one thing I never did was to create. I never created anything. I was afraid. I always thought I wasn’t ready to make music, so I just played other people’s music, and read/practiced the technical stuff (scales, chords, etc.). My friends would take their tape recorders and just play rock rhythm chords to them for 5 minutes. And then they’d play it back and just jam over it. Eventually they got really good at “creating.” I was jealous. I always felt that I “knew” more than them about music, and theory and all that techie stuff. But they were better than me.

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So why didn’t I do the same thing as them? I always thought I didn’t have the right equipment to lay one audio track on top of the other. I always thought I didn’t have the right amp, or effects pedal. I always thought I didn’t know enough about the song, or what scale to play in, or the music theory behind the song to really make anything that was my own.

Friends would ask me (much like other photographers may ask you to go shooting), to bring my guitar over and just jam out and play. I never did. Even though I knew I was good, I never felt good enough to actually go and “create” with them.

As a result, I eventually stopped playing. I lost interest because I got tired of not knowing enough to get good (or at least what I thought “good” was). I never created anything, and eventually I wasn’t interested in just playing other people’s songs so I dropped out of playing the guitar.

Lesson 3 – Stop Having GAS

I haven’t written about this one yet, so I’m debuting it here. My next lesson for my mom is to stop having GAS. I know, it’s not an easy thing for a 43 year-old son to say to his slightly-older-than-him mother. Oh, and in case you’re wondering what GAS is, it’s an acronym for Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Basically, it’s the feeling (and action) of a constant need for more gear. That some how, gear is what’s holding you back.

For a while, my mom was texting me all the time with questions of whether she needs this lens, or this filter, or this something-or-other. Where’d she get it from? Most likely her friends. She belongs to a camera club, where you have all different levels of experience and budgets. I can totally see how it happens, right? I mean, if you’re like me and you get a piece of gear the you love, what do you do? I know I go around telling people, “OMG! I love this new lens!” But I’m not necessarily thinking that they may not shoot what I shoot, or have a need for it. And so the cycle begins.

As an example, my mom came to me and asked me if she should buy a macro lens. First off, I have one and I told her she could use it anytime (for $100 that is) ;-)

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What I explained to her was that before going out and buying something new, borrow it if you can. Or make do with what you have for a little while longer. But don’t buy anything new until it becomes prohibitive not to own it. Until you get to the point where you know your photo was held back by not having that macro lens.

I also explained to her that many of the photos she was looking at were close ups, and could have been taken with her 24-240mm zoom lens with the right settings and composition. But the most important part about it, was to show her that the gear was not holding her back. In just about every situation she asks me about, I can almost guarantee you that she already has the gear she needs.

Thanks Mom!

I mentioned in the beginning that it has really been an eye opening experience for me. It’s changed the way I teach because I realize so many other people have the same questions that my mom does. So… thanks mom!

And thanks to all of you for stopping by to read my post today. If you like this article and want to follow up on the series, head on over to my website. While I post all the time, the best thing to do is just sign up for email updates, and I usually send them out every couple of weeks so you don’t have to keep checking back.

See ya!
– Matt Kloskowski

You can see more of Matt’s work at MattK.com, and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Happy Tuesday and welcome to November everybody (I know, I can’t believe it’s November already either).

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So, you guys know I’m a huge fan of TetherTools, and I use a bunch of their gear when I shoot tethered either in the studio or on location, so when I saw this blog post from them on how to shoot tethered directly into your iPad, I thought you all might be interested (and yes, I know there are a bunch of different ways to do this, but there are some distinct advantages to their solution).

Anyway, here’s a link to their post — it’s really useful, and I hope you find it helpful.

In other news…
(1) Did I mention Photoshop World Conference 2017 Orlando registration is now open? (I know I did, but it bears repeating, right?) We’re there in the Spring of 2017. You oughta come out (and get your tickets now while they’re really cheap!).

(2) Thanks to everybody who follows me on Instagram (and has been with me on my Instagram journey, or maybe took my class on how to build your audience on Instagram). I just hit 100,000 followers there last week, and I’m very grateful to everyone who follows me there, and let’s me share my travel photography images with them there daily. You guys rock!

(3) If you’re into Lightroom Mobile, I have a brand new super-awesome book on it, and it’s available right now in print or in ebook version from Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, or wherever cool Lightroom books are sold. BTW: It’s only about $20 for the print edition, and around $10 for the eBook version. Pretty sweet deals both (well, of course I would say that, but it’s true). 

OK, that’s pretty much all the news I got (though Adobe MAX is happening, so check my Facebook page for the latest stuff about any Creative Cloud updates to Photoshop, Lightroom and stuff).

Gotta run — hope your November is off to an awesome start!

Best,

-Scott

 

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Seriously…is there anything creepier than a ghostly Dave Clayton sitting in a chair staring blankly out the window? Not a chance — it’s as creepy as it gets. Luckily, creating a creepy Dave Clayton ghostly effect, using your own friends and family, is simple (and best of all — you don’t actually need Dave Clayton to do this, which is great because he’s usually creeping around the UK).

I wrote a step-by-step tutorial over on the Coca Cola Journey’s blog – here’ the link if you have a sec (it’s super easy).

I hope you all have a safe, happy Halloween (and keep an eye out for all those little ones out there trick-or-treating).

Best,

-Scott

Ready to go all “old school” with some quick Photoshop tricks that have been around since before the butter churn, but are packed with wholesome goodness and seven essential vitamins? Here ya go:

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Old School: Creating a Soft Spotlight “Behind” Your Subject
If you didn’t put a soft spotlight back behind your subject when you took the shot, this will do in a pinch.

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STEP ONE: Open the image you forgot to add a soft spotlight behind.

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STEP TWO: Duplicate the Background layer and change the layer blend mode to Multiply to darken the entire image (as seen above). Now, get the Elliptical Marquee tool; hold the Shift key, and drag out a large circular selection like the one you see here. Once it’s in place, go under the Select menu, under Modify and choose Feather. Enter 250 pixels for your Feather amount (to greatly soften the edges of your circular selection), and click OK.

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STEP THREE: Now just hit Delete (PC: Backspace) to knock a hole out of that top layer, which gives you a soft spotlight effect behind your subject, as seen above. Two more things: (1) If you want a more defined spot light effect, use less than the 150 pixel feather (maybe 100 or 75), and (2) Because her hair is so tall in this image, I had to add a layer mask to brush away the darkening that went over her hair, but chances are you won’t even have to mess with this.

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Old School Beam of Natural Light
This creates…umm…a beam of natural light coming from a window that isn’t there.

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STEP ONE: Get the Polygonal Lasso Tool (It’s kind of like a connect-the-dots selection tool), and draw out a selection in the shape of the beam of light you want (as seen above, where the beam is smaller at the top of the frame and grows larger toward to the diagonal bottom). 

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STEP TWO: To soften the edges of the selection, go under the Select menu; under Modify, and choose Feather. Enter 150 pixels and click OK. 

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STEP THREE: Press Shift-Command-I (PC: Shift-Ctrl-I) to Invert your selection (so everything outside the beam is selected), then press Command-L (PC: Ctrl-L) to bring up Levels. Drag the center Midtone slider to the right (as shown here) to darken the area outside the beam. Click OK. 

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STEP FOUR: Press Shift-Command-I (PC: Shift-Ctrl-I) to Invert your selection again (so the inside of the beam is selected), then press Command-L (PC: Ctrl-L) to bring up Levels. Drag the bottom left Output Levels slider to the right (as shown here) to brighten the soft beam. Click OK. 

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STEP FIVE: Deselect to complete the effect.

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Better Old School Black and White
Instead of just choosing “Grayscale” from the Image menu, under Mode, or even using the Black & White Adjustment layer, try this: Make sure you foreground color is set to its default of white and black, and then choose “Gradient Map” from the Adjustment Layer pop-up menu. Boom. Done.

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Ain’t no school…like the old school! Hope you found that helpful. :)

Want a Simple, yet effective Lightroom Retouching Eyes tip?
Check out my “Retouching Eyes” tip today over at LightroomKillerTips.com (inspired by a tip Kristi Sherk shared on this week’s episode of The Grid where we were doing blind photo critiques of retouching).

I’m shooting the Bucs/Raiders game this week (thank Goodness the Bucs are finally off the road). Hope you have a fantastic weekend! :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. The next stops for my seminar are in Denver and Las Vegas next month. Hope I’ll see you there.

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