Hi Gang: Happy Monday (I know, that’s a bit of a stretch this early in the day, right?).
If you’re planning on going to the Photoshop World Conference in Las Vegas this summer (and I hope that you are — it’s open to everyone), I wanted to list the sessions I’m teaching (there are nearly 100 sessions but I hope you’ll check out a couple of mine).
Now, if you’re wondering, “What’s Photoshop World?” take a look at this highlight clip from last year’s conference (below). We played a longer version of this at the conference wrap up (this is just a two-minute clip), but it gives you a really good idea of what it’s like being there.
Essentials of Designing With Type Bad type can ruin a really great photo and in this session, I’m going to show you how to create poster layouts, photo book covers, web graphics and more so your type complements your work, rather than destroying it. You’ll learn everything from the basics of typography including which fonts to use, when, and why, and how to create simple, beautiful-looking designs (it’s easier than you’d think). This class will change the way you think about and use type and photos together from this point on.
Unlocking The Power of Lightroom Mobile
If you’re ready to take your Lightroom CC workflow beyond the desktop, you’ve got to check out this session that expands and extends the way you use Lightroom in a very cool way. I think you’ll be surprised at some of the things you can do with Lightroom on your mobile device, including some really interesting stuff you can do Web-wise that if you haven’t learned yet, you’re totally going to love (and so will your clients).
Creating Beautiful Photo Books in Lightroom
In this session you’ll learn how to create beautiful photo books from right within Lightroom itself. You’ll see the entire workflow, step-by-step and exactly how to create your own custom photo books the easy way, plus I’m going to share a few tricks on creating your own custom layouts that I think you’ll really find helpful. Lots of little tips, tricks, and time-saving techniques.
Lightroom Killer Tips This is an updated version of one of my most popular classes at Photoshop World, with lots of cool new tips, workarounds, shortcuts, and things to make you faster, more effective, and just have more fun using Lightroom. You’re going to learn real, practical techniques you can put to work the very next day.
Anyway, if you’re going, I’d love to see you in one of my sessions, so I hope you’ll drop by. If you haven’t planned on going, why not? Here’s the link — come and spend a few days taking your career, and your skills, up a big notch (warning: if you go even once, you’ll want to go every year. Ask anyone that’s been to one). See you in Vegas this summer!
Happy Friday everybody! Today I’m going to break down the simple one-light bridal portrait you see above (camera settings, lighting and post production). Keeping it simple like this is ideal because it lowers the bride’s stress and yours, too. Plus, by just using one simple light you can focus on emotion and expression rather than fussing with a bunch of lights (it’s another one of those “less is more” things).
In this beautiful small church, there was a short hallway leading to an exit door, and some storage closets, but the doors were a vivid red color, and I thought that would contrast beautifully with our bride (who had a white dress and a pinkish bouquet). I thought we’d try posing the bride in that short hallway, but getting a light in there with the bride, without being seen in the shot, would be kind of challenging.
I used just one small flash head running an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra kit, which consists of a very lightweight battery pack (I believe it’s about 2-3/4 lbs.) with a strap on it so you can just sling it over your shoulder, and a very small, very lightweight flash head (literally just 10 ounces ). This is one of my “go-to” rigs for location lighting because:
(1) It’s very lightweight and portable — it all fits in a small carrying case that’s smaller than an airline carry-on,
(2) You get studio-quality light and a much brighter, more powerful light than you would with a hot-shoe flash,
(3) It has a built-in wireless trigger and lets me control the power of the strobe from right on my camera (the other matchbox-sized trigger sits on my cameo’s hot shoe mount),
(4) You can use two strobe heads with just this one pack if you decided you did indeed need a second light. And..
(5) …it’s designed so I can use any of my studio softboxes with it, and in this case it was a small 24×24” Elinchrom Rotalux square softbox.
Above:The Hallway with the red door.
Here’s an over-the-shoulder view of the short hallway with red doors I was talking about. It’s actually much darker in the church that it shows here – this behind-the-scenes production shot was taken in Aperture Priority mode at a high ISO, so these behind-the-scenes shots look properly exposed, but in reality it was quite a bit darker, especially in the hallway, which was lit with just a few harsh overhead floods).
Above:Finding a place to hide the softbox was a challenge in this tight hallway, so we opened a closet door and had our 2nd assistant tuck-himself inside the doorway a bit to keep the soft box from extending into the frame.
If you look at this behind-the-scenes image, you can see me sitting in the pews, quite a-ways back from our bride — that way I could capture either tight or full length shots. The position of the light was pretty standard: at around a 45° angle from the bride, up higher than the bride and aiming down at the bride.
Above:Here’s the shot that resulted from me shooting full length from out in the pews. I’m not super-digging it, and it took a lot of post-production to tame the red light spilling everywhere and tinting everything, so the search continues for a better shot.
GRIP TIP: We normally use a monopod for shoots like this (it’s easier to “run and gun”), rather than a lightstand with legs, but since we started our shoot using a lightstand in the back of the church, we just kind of picked it up and kept shooting. Normally, we’d prefer to have the strobe mounted on a monopod for faster and easier mobility between pews, and in tight situations. The only downside? You have to keep holding a monopod — it doesn’t “set down” very easily (there are no legs and feet) without crunching the soft box, so you wind up leaning it against things, which means you run the risk of it falling over. It’s a tradeoff (like everything, right?).
The Lighting Problem with the Red Door
I wasn’t happy with how the overall color looked because of how the light was reflecting off the red door. So, I thought we’d try one where the bride would be backlit, with just a little of the light spilling over onto her.
Above: Back lighting our bride
I left the bride in the exact same spot, but I had our 2nd assistant take the strobe and softbox move to the other end of the hallway to position the light behind her and off to the side (so it’s pretty much the same lighting set-up — 45°-ish angle, up high aiming down, etc. it’s just positioned behind the bride this time, as seen above).
I did crank up the power of the light for this backlit shot, because I wanted to make sure it was powerful enough not just to put a rim of light around her shoulders, arms, etc., but that it also spilled over enough so you could see her face. I also made sure to have the bride turn her head and body toward the direction of the light. Had she been looking the other way, we wouldn’t have had enough light spilling on her face or bridal gown.
Camera Settings: I shot in manual mode, so I could make sure the shutter speed didn’t get past the normal sync speed (this pack lets you do hyper sync, but I shouldn’t need to do that in a dark hallway), so my shutter speed was 1/60 of a second (I normally use 1/125 of a second, so I have to imagine at some point I accidentally hit the dial on the back of my camera). My ISO was set to 100 ISO (the cleanest ISO on my camera), and my f-stop was f/5 in case there was any background visible behind my subject, it will be a little bit soft. Using such a wide-open f/stop meant keeping the power of the flash at less than 1/4 power most of the time.
Post Production: Light picks up the color of whatever it hits, so when white light hits a red door it reflects red light. Once I saw the color image of her backlit, it looked very red from the reflected light, so I knew right then it was a candidate for being converted into a black and white image.
Above: Converting to Black & White in Silver Efex Pro 2
I used Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2 plug-in to convert the image to black and white (I used use one of their built-in presets — my three favorite preset choices are (in no particular order): (1) Full Spectrum (2) Fine Art Process and (3) High Structure Smooth, so I usually wind up choosing one of these three.
Above: Adding the Duotone look in Lightroom CC
Once I converted the image to black and white in Silver Efex Pro 2, I added a Duotone look in Lightroom using the Split Toning panel, but then only moving the Shadow controls; putting the Hue at 25 and the Saturation slider amount at 21. Don’t touch the Highlight settings up top or the balance slider — this is all done just using the Shadows Hue and Saturation sliders, so leave the other stuff untouched. It works wonders (and prints beautifully, by the way).
Above:Here’s the final image with the Duotone look applied in Lightroom (same as the opening shot).
Hope you found that helpful, and I hope your Tuesday is already off to great start! . :)
P.S.I’m up in Boston with my seminar on Wednesday, March 30th — just a few weeks from now. Hope I see you there.
Under the Milky Way with Dave Black: Lightpainting & Photographing Stars
Dave Black is back! Join Dave for some lightpainting under the stars in Mono Lake and Bodie Ghost Town. Dave starts off with a walk through of all the gear needed for lightpainting before taking us through the importance of a site survey. Over the course of six different shoots in a variety of locations Dave shares all of the steps and settings needed to create stunning lightpainted starscapes. Each lesson is packed with tips, tricks, and lessons learned from Dave’s decades of experience. Dave is a master teacher, and his love for creating these photographs is truly infectious.
Leave a comment for your chance to win a free 1-month KelbyOne membership!
My name is Amy Willard and I am a music photographer based out of New York City. I am very excited to share my story on how I got to photograph some of the top artists in music, get published, and go on tour.
Probably the biggest myth about working in the music industry is that you have to know someone in order to get in. When I was 18 years old, I moved to Washington DC to study architecture and could count the number of concerts I had attended on one hand. I hardly knew anyone, I certainly didn’t know anyone who worked in the music industry, and yet somehow I would end up spending the next 10 years photographing some of the most recognized names in music.
My career didn’t begin with befriending a local band and hopping into the back of a tour van. I guess if anything, my journey was similar to that of the kid in Almost Famous. Instead of a tape recorder, I had a camera and my synopsis would be something more like:
Small town girl, deterred from going to concerts in her youth, suddenly falls in love with live music after seeing a Fall Out Boy show at the 9:30 Club. This inspires her to be part of that world and to one day photograph bands for Rolling Stone. She reaches out to a photographer on MySpace, buys a point and shoot camera, makes a portfolio, gets her first credentialed assignment and goes on to photograph bands for years in hopes to finally get published.
Fade to black. Roll credits.
The day everything changed was when I discovered some photos online from an All-American Rejects show that I went to. The photographer, Stacy McCarthy, signed her name to the edge of the photo. I looked her up on the internet and eventually found her MySpace page. Curious about how she got to take those photos, and pretty much deciding right there that I wanted to be like her, I sent her a message.
She was kind enough to respond and encouraged me to start shooting from the crowd in order to make a portfolio. When I had enough shots, she would offer to let me shoot for her site. I picked up a FujiFilm FinePix, a pocket camera designed for low light, and tried my luck at a few shows.
I think the first lesson I ever learned from photographing live concerts was to accept defeat. Having always been the type of person who needed to succeed at everything, this was the hardest lesson and it usually came in the form of very blurry or underexposed photos.
My first few shows shot from the crowd were terrible. At the end of the night, I would have nothing to make a portfolio and I continually felt defeated. I didn’t give up, however, I kept shooting and eventually learned the second lesson in music photography: patience.
It’s important to note that when you’re photographing a concert, everything that happens is out of your control. Unlike a photoshoot, you can’t direct your subjects and you can’t position the lights to your liking. You have to work with pre-existing conditions and wait for the shot. I began paying closer attention to the elements of the show: the music’s rhythm and the lights. I learned to anticipate the next bright moment on stage and strategically time when I clicked the shutter.
My own tips came in handy when I was close to the stage for The Fray, a piano-rock band. Everything about that night was ideal: a lead singer seated at a piano was less likely to be moving about and there was way better lighting.
I stood in the crowd, anchoring my arms to my body to stabilize my camera as I snapped away. I took over 300 shots, most unusable, but enough decent ones to make my first portfolio and finally get an approval for a photo pass. This would lead to another hard lesson in music photography: overcome the unexpected.
My first credentialed show was Matt Nathanson at the 9:30 Club on October 20, 2006 that I shot with a used Nikon D70 and Nikkor 50mm f/1.8. The shorter focal length shouldn’t have been an issue since a photo pass allows you access to area between the barricade and the stage, better known as a photo pit. Unfortunately for this show, there was no barricade setup close to the stage and what was even more unexpected was that 50 frames into the headliner’s set, my camera shutter locked up. Suddenly my first crack at being a pro was over.
I had to swallow the immense feeling of pride I had just hours prior when I picked up my photopass, and figure out how to apologize to both my editor and the band’s publicist.
Although my first show did not go as planned, I pressed on. I wanted to shoot more and more shows, but my editor couldn’t keep up with my requests, so a year and half later I launched my own music blog called Barricade Buzz. At first, many artist managers and publicists declined my requests. Thankfully one approval turned into many, and suddenly I was covering shows all around D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
As I began to cover more and more artists on a regular basis, publicists and venues began approaching me to cover their shows. With my work in music photography beginning to get noticed, I developed three goals: cover festivals, get published in a physical magazine, and go on tour.
I did a lot of cold-emailing to bands, festivals, print magazines and the like. No one responded. It became clear that I needed to get my foot in the door some other way. I decided to apply for an internship with Outerloop Management, a small artist management company just outside of D.C.. While the bands they managed weren’t exactly my style, my internship created many new opportunities and helped me achieve two of my goals simultaneously.
One of the artists I worked with through my internship was a metalcore band called We Came As Romans. They were asked to play The Bamboozle Festival in New Jersey in 2010. The whole company drove up from DC to support them. I was given a laminate for the festival and allowed to photograph the band’s whole set. I also had the opportunity to shoot both from the stage and the pit. At one point, lead singer Kyle Pavone hopped off the stage and began climbing the barricade. I followed him with my camera. I hopped up on the barricade and snapped away, trying to get a decent angle for the shot. This was an experience I had dreamed of having for so long.
Months after the festival, I got an email from Alternative Press magazine. They had checked out my site and were interested in the photos of We Came As Romans, specifically my photo of Kyle in the crowd. That shot would eventually be selected to run in their August 2010 issue. I was going to be published in print!
After my first run in the magazine, work started to pick up. I was hired to photograph a few of the major music festivals like Shamrock Fest and Virgin Mobile FreeFest. With two out of three of my goals achieved in just a few short years, all I had left to do was get on tour.
In 2011, the Vans Warped Tour, one of the largest touring music festivals in the world, held an open application to be the Monster Energy Pit Reporter. While the title is a bit goofy, the job itself was everything I wanted: spend an entire summer on tour shooting videos and taking photos of bands. I filmed a video of myself rambling about all of my experience and how I wanted to be on tour. It was a real disappointment to not get selected that year, but looking back, my application video was painfully boring.
Refusing to let that year’s defeat get the best of me, I had my second chance in 2012 and came up with an idea to finally get noticed. I channeled my inner Natalie Portman (http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/natalie-raps/n12021) and put together a satirical rap video about Warped Tour. A few months later, I was packing my gear and headed to Salt Lake City to be the 2012 Vans Warped Tour as the Monster Energy Pit Reporter.
I spent 8 weeks traveling the country with over 100 bands, many of which were favorites from my youth like Yellowcard and Taking Back Sunday. It was hard work, but by far the best experience of my life. I met so many people in music and became friends with other up and coming music photographers like Adam Elmakias, Josiah Van Dien, Ashley Osborne, and Matt Vogel. I even got to meet Todd Owyoung, a music photographer whose work I had been admiring for many years.
I’ll be honest, I wish I could have stayed on tour forever. I had never felt like there was some place where I really belonged more than on the road, but unfortunately, life had other plans and priorities.
Touring through the summer, spending 12 hours in the heat daily for weeks on end took its toll on my health and I was hospitalized upon my return home. Something most people don’t know about me is that I have an auto-immune disease called lupus. While I took every precaution to stay healthy on the road, the heat and exhaustion inevitably won and I found myself facing severe health complications months later. Although being hospitalized was a setback, I refused to let it be the end of my dream of touring and working with bands.
After accepting that being on tour was too hard on my body and knowing a connection with the music world was far too important to me, I took a job in New York City at a record label called Fueled By Ramen. As part of the label, I am able to continue to work with some of my favorite bands and maintain the medical care I need.
While I am no longer hopping on tour buses across the country with my camera, I am grateful to be in a city where I still have the opportunity to photograph bands like Paramore, Panic! At The Disco, twenty one pilots through Fueled By Ramen. I hope maybe one day I can get back on the road– even if only temporarily– and that I’ll land a shot in the pages of Rolling Stone. Until then, I’ll keep shooting!
I was on the road all last week (flying from Tampa to San Francisco to New York and then back to Tampa all in just four days. Ugh!), and while I was on the road, I was asked on social media for my reaction to the recent developments at B&H Photo (I imagine it’s because I’ve had such a close relationship with them over the years).
My friends at B&H Photo are literally some of the finest people I’ve ever worked with, and if you knew them like I do, you’d know they are among the most caring, moral, and ethical business people in our industry, and I know this feeling is shared by so many people and companies that interact with them often. Taking care of people the way they do is what they do best, and why they’ve become such a success. So, today I was going to address the issue, but I could not have done a better job telling the other side of the story than respected educator Katrin Eismann who did address it on her Facebook page.
The folks at PhotoFocus.com graciously shared her post titled “A Visit to the B&H Photo warehouse” and for anyone with concerns, I think it’s so worth reading, especially as we are in an era where the “Internet” acts as instant judge and jury upon simply reading a headline or a short article not only without knowing the other side of the story, but without even caring to consider it.
Kudos to someone of Katrin’s stature in the community for taking the time and effort to visit B&H herself, see it with her own eyes, and share her thoughtful perspective on the other side of the story (the older I get, the more I’m reminded there’s always another side to every story).
Tomorrow I have a simple one-light lighting tutorial for you, and I hope you’ll check back then. Hope you have a better than average Monday. :)
It’s official – Registration for the 2016 Photoshop World Conference in Las Vegas is now open! Whoo Hoo!!!
Lots of cool new things this year – lots of new instructors, new workshops, new networking events, new parties (we’re even working on a Pub Crawl for this year), and a whole lot more! (lots of fun stuff we’ve yet to announce – we’re brewing up a doozy this year!).
You can register today at PhotoshopWorld.com and save $100 by taking advantage of the Early Bird discount. Also, if you’re a KelbyOne member, you can save another $100 off the full conference pricing.
I hope you can join us there this summer. It’s going to be (wait for it…wait for it…) epic! (you knew that was coming).
Hope you have a great Weekend.
P.S.Did I mention we’re going to Vegas? Well we are. Awwwwwyeah! Come along and learn more about Photoshop, Lightroom, the Creative Cloud Apps, and Photography in three days than you have in three years. Pack your bags — we’re going to Vegas!