Wednesday
Jun
2013
19

Guest Blog- RC Concepcion: To Thine Own Self Be True

by RC Concepcion  |  56 Comments

Last year I got a call from photographer Joe McNally asking to talk to me about a project that he wanted me to work on. I have the absolute pleasure of being able to call Joe a friend , but its never really lost on me the fact that when we are working, this is Joe “Frigging” McNally we are talking about. Joe is one of the three most influential and inspiring photographers for me – a long studied idol. To be asked to do a project with him filled me with anticipation.

As it turned out, Joe wanted me to work as a guest instructor with him on an annual class that he does: The Advanced Flash workshops at Jade Mountain. Jade Mountain is a beautiful resort in St. Lucia. In this wonderful paradise, Joe takes out a small group of photographers and takes them through the paces of a variety of different flash scenarios. This isn’t a “What is your favorite Fstop” kind of event – you are a shooter.. with an assignment.. and your goal is to produce an image that celebrates the person that you are trying to shoot. From sunset portraits to mountain bikers racing along the jungle – you learn how to run your gear to light an image.


My contribution to this? I was tasked to take the participants through the world of post processing as well as explore the world of HDR with them. I know. The concept of tying Joe McNally and HDR in the same sentence sounds like a complete shocker. HDR is often a polarizing topic, and many photographers have started big flamewars on its contribution to the photographic space.

Joe however, saw this situation differently. To him, this was a technique that merited a space to talk about. While it’s not something that he himself works on, he appreciated the form enough to give it a platform. To that, he believed enough of my contribution to it to talk about it as one of the foremost experts on the topic (I assure you, his words.. not mine)


Knowing how the industry can sometimes be on HDR never really bothers me. I believe that for the most part, my work on it stands for itself – and I’ve prided myself in showing through example how you can totally work on it and have great results – not the typical “Elvis on Velvet” kind of look people cringe at. Having said that, this was one of those situations that did make me nervous about me doing it. Here’s a person that I respected – asking me to teach and show my art. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was determined on focusing on other types of shooting entirely – ignoring the use of HDR. I figured my technique would be something that I would keep to myself, for fear of not wanting to look too different – or look bad.

I guess I wanted to write about it because I believe that many of us as photographers struggle with that entire concept of voice all the time. In looking for a place for us to make a mark, we can often struggle with accepting the things that we like and surrendering to them. To giving in to what we love and in the process of it, finding a new style that we can call our own. We quickly comb through websites of other work and say to ourselves “Look at THAT. That image is great. If only I shot this. If Only I shot that.. “ Perpetually looking at the grass on the other side just keeps us thinking that the grass we stand on isn’t as good.. or cannot be cultivated as well as the one right in front of us.

At times like this, I remember a maxim that my good friend Pete Collins shared with me:

Comparison is the thief of Joy.

Rather than sit and compare myself to all of the other stuff around me, I found it better to just sit and think to myself “This is what I do. This is how I work. Let me dive into the scenarios and leverage how much practice I’ve done with this technique to see if I can bring about something completely new that these people have not seen.” Eric Clapton was once asked about legendary guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn. When asked about playing next to Stevie, Eric stated that he tried not to watch him play. To do so would have him lost in the greatness.. and not let him speak what he wanted to say musically. Arming myself with that, I just said “Let me be truthful to myself and contribute by shooting what I love”

The next few days, I spent them making pictures that I was immensely proud of. From gigantic panoramas of the environment to intimate portraits of my wife resting after a wonderful day, I was able to really show what it felt like to be in this magical place. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the principals at the restaurant really loved the images. The work really resonated with the students as well, and I was able to teach how I produced the images, giving me a chance to do what I love – share my experiences.

Rather than swim in comparisons, remember that doing what you really love can be the best way to express your photographic gift. It’s the best way to leave your mark on this art . Its also the best way for you to find joy in what you do.


(see.. not all of the shots I made were HDR. This is a pic of my wife Jenn totally in her element during our vacation. :) )

*****

Im excited to say that I will be joining Joe again this August leading another workshop. This time around Joe is out there for two weeks. One week has students learning with the incomparable David Burnett. The next week, I go back with Joe and explore post processing, video production in Photoshop, HDR, and shooting techniques. If you want to join us on either week, you can find out more information at the link below:

The Workshops at Jade Mountain- with Joe Mcnally, David Burnett, and RC Concepcion

If you want to find out more about me, visit my website at www.aboutrc.com or visit me on Google Plus

Tuesday
Jun
2013
18

Behind-the-Scenes at the B&H Photo Lightroom 5 Summit Yesterday in NYC

by Scott Kelby  |  22 Comments

What an amazing day!!!! Over 1,500 photographers (capacity) at the B&H Photo event in person — literally thousands more watching the live stream from literally all over the world — Adobe was there, including the new Lightroom Product manager Sharad Mangalick, who was answering questions all day, one-on-one from attendees at the event — and I’m training alongside Adobe Evangelist Julieanne Kost and The Photoshop Diva herself, Katrin Eismann. What a blast! :)

Lots of learning. Lots of laughs. Lots of Lighting. Lots of Lightroom. Canon was there. Sony was there. Elinchrom, Square Space and Westcott, too (among others). That’s (L to R above): Yours truly, Katrin, and Julieanne during the opening session showing off some cool Lightroom 5 stuff.

I’ll tell the rest in the captions, but all morning we shared Lightroom tips, new features, news techniques, and so on. Then after lunch I did a live shoot, and then passed the images off to Katrin & Julieanne to do some retouching and finishing effects (they wound up doing a Twilight effect).

Above: We had a team put together to work with our model for the shoot. Here’s a shot from backstage with makeup artist Cassi Renee and hair stylist Eric Williams. The shoot was styled by Sophia Batson (not shown here, and darn if I could even find a shot with Sophia in the frame, but she is truly awesome! Fourth time I’ve worked with Sophia — she is wonderful to work with it and very talented).

Above: Our staging area was a small empty meeting room right next to the ballroom where the class was taking place, and at lunch time we did a quick test shoot to test the lighting, and go over with the model what we’d be doing on stage in about 30 minutes from then. That’s photographer David Teng helping us out as 2nd assistant and behind me is photographer Jason Joseph who was our third assistant on the shoot. By the way: I did have breakfast available for the entire crew (anyone that watched last week’s episode of “The Grid” will know why).

I’m shooting a Canon 5D Mark III here (Canon was the major sponsor of the event, so they gave me the Mark III to use for the live shoot. Sweet camera!)

Above: Here’s an over-the-shoulder view of our model Caroline, who did a really terrific job! After a few test shots, we broke everything down; moved it out to the stage for the live shoot in front of the class.

Above: Ya know what’s stressful? Doing a live shoot in front of 1,500 New York photographers. Oh yeah, want to take it up a notch? Standing in the back of the room — Joe McNally. Cue the sweat!

Above: Here’s a Lightroom grid of some of the shot from the live shoot in front of the class.

Above: Lightroom 5 has a feature (which I showed earlier in the day) that lets you visualize any type of cover design, brochure cover, photo book cover , etc., as an overlay right within Lightroom, so I took one of the images; did the retouching myself (more of a straight-up fashion retouch), and did the cover mock-up you see here.

Above: Here’s the un-cropped shot used on the cover, just so you can see it without all the text.

Above: Here’s the view from backstage (behind the seamless, Julieanne and Katrin wait patiently for the shoot part to conclude and then I hand them a hard drive with the images on it for them to “do their thing”). Just one light — an Elinchrom BRX 500 strobe with an Elinchrom Rotalux 53″ Midi Octa Softbox, and David is holding a 5-in-1 Westcott reflector to kick a little light back into her eyes. We’re shooting tethered directly into Lightroom 5, and my live shooting rig uses a utility bar from Manfrotto mounted on a tripod, and then the platform itself and orange USB cable are from Tethertools.com

Above: I’m including another backstage shot so you can see the shooting rig, and lighting set-up a little clearer.

It was a Lightroom love-fest!
Everybody I talked with was over-the-top in love with Lightroom, and there was a great vibe going all day. If you missed the live event, B&H Photo will be posting the entire summit online for free so you can go and watch it any time (as soon as its posted, I’ll post a link here, and over on my Facebook and Twitter accounts).

A big thanks to David Brommer from B&H Photo who put this entire event together (you rocked it, dude!). Plus, thanks to all the wonderful crew at B&H Photo, including our dear friend Manny Steigman (best guy ever!). They did an awesome job!

Also, it was a honor to share the stage with both Katrin and Julieanne who not only put up with my lame jokes, but who both taught me some new Lightroom tricks as well, which is always sweet! Thanks to all our fantastic sponsors, and to everybody who came down to the Javits Center yesterday, and who watched the streamed live event at home. We’re all lucky to be using and learning Lightroom together, and we’re very fortunate to have a partner like B&H Photo who values education like they do, and who makes live events like this possible.

Cheers, and hope to see you all again soon!

-Scott

 

 

 

 

Monday
Jun
2013
17

Greetings From New York City

by Scott Kelby  |  9 Comments

Sorry for the late post, but I was up REALLY late prepping for my sessions today at the B&H Photo Lightroom 5 Digital Photography Summit at the Javtis Center (it kicks off at 10:00 am this morning). I took the shot above (the view from my hotel room at the Hilton Garden Inn on 8th) with my iPhone last night when I got in, and I processed it in Camera+ on my phone (Oppa Kalebra Style). 

I did get to meet up with my buddy, NYC-based photographer Jason Joseph (shown above) at one of my favorite New York restaurants, the incredible Keen’s Steakhouse. Mmmmm. Keen’s. We were hoping this photo makes it into the grainy, noisy hall-of-fame, and I think we have a decent chance at it.

After dinner my brother Jeff (who is here with us in NYC for the B&H Summit too), and I walked down to Times Square and did the tourist thing (sat in the bleachers and marveled at all the giant high-def screens), and I took this iPhone pano of it all.

Look forward to meeting many of you today at the Javits center (if you’re there and you read the blog, make sure you come up and say “hi”). Cheers and have a great Monday!

-Scott

P.S. If you’re not in NYC, you can still watch the event – Here’s the link to sign up for the free live streaming.

 

Friday
Jun
2013
14

Watch the B&H Photo “Lightroom Digital Photography Summit” Streamed Live on Monday

by Scott Kelby  |  6 Comments

The Live event at the Javits Center in New York City is already sold out, but if you didn’t get a ticket, or you don’t live near New York City, you can still watch the event as it’s being streamed LIVE on Monday as it happens.

Here’s the link to sign up for the free live streaming. Hope to see you in person on Monday at the Javits, or online!

Have a great weekend everybody, and we’ll see you back here on Monday.

-Scott

P.S. I’m doing a few sessions in the morning, but then I’m doing a live-shoot (fashion styling by the awesome Sophia Batson) in my session after lunch (starting around 1:15 pm New York Time), and then I’m handing the images off to Katrin and Julieanne to edit, retouch, and finish. Hope you can catch it.

Thursday
Jun
2013
13

It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  66 Comments

Live Action Horse Racing Photography with Dave Black
In the latest addition to KelbyTraining.com, Live Action Horse Racing Photography, join Dave Black on location at Tampa Downs and learn how to photograph horse racing from one of the top sports photographers in the world. Dave gets up early to document everything that happens in the course of a day at a working racetrack, while sharing tips and tricks he’s learned over a career that spans 30 years. You’ll learn about all the gear he uses, how to set up a remote camera, the importance of choosing the background in each of your shots, why you should focus on the small details as much as the wider panorama to help tell the story, and so much more!

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, Joe McNallyRC Concepcion, Ben Willmore, or Matt Kloskowski? Check out these seminar tours!

Shoot Like A Pro with Scott Kelby (these dates will be posted soon!)
July 29 – Colorado Springs, CO
Aug 16 – San Antonio, TX
Aug 21 – Indianapolis, IN
Aug 27 – San Jose, CA

Photoshop CS6 for Photographers with RC Concepcion
June 17 – Ottawa, ON
June 19 – Toronto, ON
June 21 – Calgary, AB
June 26 – New Orleans, LA

Photographic Artistry with Ben Willmore
July 22 – Cleveland, OH

One Light, Two Light with Joe McNally
July 31 – Virginia Beach, VA
Aug 7 – Charlotte, NC
Aug 9 – Pittsburgh, PA

Lightroom 5 with Matt Kloskowski
Aug 2 – Hartford, CT

Leave a comment for your chance to win a ticket to one of these events!

Frank Doorhof’s Live in New Jersey DVD
Frank Doorhof has released a 3-hour DVD filmed during his recent workshop in New Jersey! See his live shoots and see how he creates his images with limited gear, then watch as he takes those images into Lightroom and Photoshop to finish them. You can find out more about it here, purchase this or any of his other videos here (use the discount code UK99 to get 20% off), or find out how you can win a free copy from Frank here!

Photography FUNdamentals – FREE from Moose Peterson
Want a FREE book from Moose Peterson? Check out his just-released Photography FUNdamentals for the iPad! In this book, Moose covers all of the photography basics that you need to learn so well that they become second nature, which will allow you to focus on making great images instead of your camera settings. You can find out more about the book here, check out a video of Moose explaining the book here, and download it from iTunes here!

Photography Q&A by Zack Arias
Based on his incredibly popular Tumblr, Zack Arias has curated the best questions and answers from that blog and turned them into his brand new book, Photography Q&A! In the book, Zack answers readers questions based on his experiences in the photo industry and life in general. Here’s a sampling of topics from the table of contents… Finding Portrait Subjects, Best Piece of Gear Under $100, Cheap eBay Lights, Going To School for Photography, Finding Your Style, Setting Prices, plus plenty of others.

You can pick up your copy right here, or leave a comment for your chance to win a signed copy from Zack!

Winners
Signed Joe McNally Book Set
- RLevesque

Tim Wallace Class Rental
- Tommy Botello

Kelby Training Live Ticket
- Steve

If you’re one of the winners, we’ll be in touch soon! That’s it for today, have a great Thursday!

Wednesday
Jun
2013
12

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Brian Hirschy!

by Brad Moore  |  9 Comments

I want to thank Scott and Brad for sharing the space with so many great photographers. You guys are good people, and it’s an honor to be here among such amazing photographers, creatives, and story tellers. Again, much thanks!

I spent the better part of the last 8 years living and working in far western China, running a photography tourism agency. Just last year I returned to the States to continue a career in the commercial photography market.

I mention western China only because where I predominantly photographed was far enough from the hyper-developed east coast that my life resembled nothing of the China you’ve seen in the news. I was just far enough out ‘in the boonies’ that stories, legends, and mysteries were still afforded the chance to exist.

Over the years of photographing the wild places of China, I experienced many truly strange things, eaten some things I’m not too proud of, and collected my fair share of stories. Some experiences stand above others. Some stories remind us to put down the camera and enjoy the ride, enjoy the people.

This is one such story, and it is hands down one of my most favorite experiences from my life in China. I’m delighted to share it with you:


With high hopes, we pulled onto a dusty road, past a police outpost where three Chinese policemen sat bundled in Soviet-Era winter clothing. They huddled close around a small coal stove after enduring what must have been a miserable night in -40 Celsius temperatures. We jokingly waved as we passed them, curious if we’d be called over for inspection. Nothing. They stared at us and didn’t budge. They were too cold to stop us – way too cold to care that two foreigners had just driven past their remote outpost – a common occurrence when photographing the Tibetan plateau in winter.

Losang and I had been scouting a photo workshop through the Sichuan mountains when we happened to glance at an old map. Serthar, it read in Tibetan, a generalized name marking a generalized location. Without much debate we both started plotting a route to what we assumed was Seda monastery, hoping to photograph a mystery.

Seda is one of the few places in Tibet that still retains its original mystery. A photographer’s dream. Before our visit, I had heard about its size from a friend who had, years before, only seen the monastery from a hill overlooking the valley but was unable to get inside. Most people either knew little of Seda or nothing at all. The monastery, though 40,000 residents strong, remained a quiet mystery… barely more than a rumor and rarely photographed.

We took the last turn up the winding valley road, and there it was, almost too much to take in. The monastery literally covered three mountainsides – a hidden city, seldom spoken of, in the middle of the Tibetan Plateau.

We arrived at the top of the dusty road completely encompassed in a cloud of smoke, remnants of the coal Seda’s residents burned in a futile attempt to keep warm through the brutal Tibetan nights. The cloud, thick and yellow, allowed only fleeting bursts of early morning light to reach the valley floor, intensifying the surreal mood of our surroundings. We watched as dark figures in maroon robes darted in and out of the smoke – monks rushing off to morning prayers.

Soon a vast mountain city materialized before us, as morning sun burned away its smoky veil. Losang and I had photographed hundreds of monasteries and developed a natural rhythm to exploring such places, but the enormous city that stood before us demanded pause. We stood silently, not knowing where to start.

Suddenly, a voice came out of nowhere and said in near-perfect English, “Hello! Can I help you two?” The voice, out of place in both time and location, seemed to complete our shock – as if the monastery itself had spoken out loud.

My brain went into overdrive. I was sure I was hearing things.

I looked at Losang as he looked at me – both searching the other’s face for signs that either of us was the owner of the voice we’d just heard.  We both knew that in western China, a local speaking perfect English was unheard of.

We slowly turned around to find a monk in his early 20’s standing before us, smiling from ear to ear in his red robes, deriving great pleasure from our stunned expressions. He knew he was out of place – an apparition in the holy city.

“My name is Dondrup. I’m guessing by your blank stares that this is your first time to Seda? How about you two come to my house for lunch and tea?”

We spent a long while chatting with Dondrup, testing the limits of his English – testing his sheer existence. Eventually he led us up the long, nearly vertical path to his home. There we sat in his dark, cold house, drinking yak butter tea and sharing lunch like we were long lost friends – completely forgetting that we were there to scout future photo workshops. I specifically remember thinking, “Don’t miss this experience. Don’t miss this story!” That meant putting the camera away for a while. It’s always about the people.

He told us the story of his childhood, how his family had left Tibet when he was very young, how he’d spent the better part of two decades hopping from country to country. He’d only recently returned to Tibet, coming to Seda to attend school and experience his home culture and language for the very first time. He was as much of a foreigner at Seda as we were, as surreal as Seda itself.

We left the city later that day to make the three-day Land Rover drive back to relative civilization. From time to time since that visit, I pick up the phone to hear Dondrup’s voice, “Hey Brian! How are you doing man? I hope your family is having a great Christmas!” or “Hey, it’s New Years in America right now, isn’t it?” After each encounter, I call my friend Losang. and he always reports a recent call from Dondrup as well. More than once Losang and I have asked each other if what we experienced at Seda was real.

The pictures I brought home serve as visual proof, but they can’t tell the whole story. To know Seda is to stand in the valley as the clouds part and the morning sun reveals the hillside city. To look into the eyes of its people. To hear their stories and find a friend. The people and places I see through the lens have incredible stories to share. But what I often fail to admit is that the stories need to extend beyond the image, that they’ll tell themselves if I listen.

Sometimes we have to put down the camera, connect with people, and enjoy the the story as it unfolds.

In the short time we had at Seda, I was able climb to the top walls of Seda and capture this panorama. It’s a huge place and the image doesn’t do it justice considering the distance between the mountainsides and the compressed nature of a panoramic shot. Nonetheless, it’s a good representation of the enormity of the monastery.


Click here to view the full-size image

You can see more of Brian’s work at BrianHirschy.com, check out his photo tours at PlateauPhotoTours.com, and follow him on Twitter.

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