Friday
Aug
2014
15

A Recipe for Creating an Epic-Looking Shot

by Scott Kelby  |  29 Comments

Above: Here’s the final image. Click on it so you can see it larger (it makes it much more epic). 

Now, you’ll notice I didn’t see “the” recipe — I said “a” recipe (because there are many), but this is one I use again and again, in lots of different situations, that’s surprisingly quick and easy to pull off. But first, a behind-the-scenes shot (below).

Above: Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot. My camera is down low on a Gitzo tripod with the legs splayed out wide about as far as they can go. I’m shooting tethered into the laptop you see beside me — going straight into Lightroom. I think that’s Brad with some serious hip action way off to the left. Dang hippie.

There are three ingredients in this recipe:

(1) A super wide angle lens
The wider the better (here I’m using a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 wide angle zoom, and I’m at 16mm). If you’re shooting a full frame camera, this is one of those times where its full-frameness pays off because your wide angle lens are wider. If you’re shooting a crop sensor camera, a 24-70mm won’t get you wide enough, even at 24mm — you’re going to need something wider, like a 10mm or a 12mm wide angle (but not a fisheye). Think “super wide.”

(2) You need to get down really low 
Really super low (like you see me above). I’m not quite comfortable with lying down to get the ‘epic’ look, so I’m using a tripod with the legs splayed way out, but this getting low part is incredibly important to creating the bigness of the shot. Once you’re down low, it’s really important to get the floor in front of you in the shot — it’s key to the bigness of the look. Also, if you can include the ceiling and the floor in the same shot, it really takes it over the top.

(3) You need a great location
I know that kind of seems like it goes without saying, but if you try this technique and your shot doesn’t look “epic” you have to ask yourself if you’re shooting in a location that is really interesting. I was shooting yesterday on the front porch of a beautiful gothic church and I did this technique and it just looked great (but I actually just put the camera right on the floor — tilted it up on my camera strap, and took a blind shot to start, and just tweaked the position a little. It looked great. Ya know why? It was the right technique WITH the right location.

So really, if you’re already shooting at a great location, it’s really just two steps.

Above: Here’s the flip side behind-the-scenes shot, but this was taken a few minutes before I realized I wasn’t getting low enough to make the shot look really epic, so after this was taken we took my laptop off my tripod stand, and I used that tripod. Off in the distance is my team (Hendricke doing make-up and Lexi doing hair, Brad and Julio and Lynn helping on the set and Kalebra doing all the art direction and styling). 

Anyway, next time you find yourself shooting in a great location, try going for the big ‘epic’ look by using these two steps: (1) Use a super-wide angle lens, and (2) get down really low, almost to the floor, and include lots of the floor, and ideally the roof, in the shot.

Hope you find this recipe helpful, and here’s wishing you an ‘epic’ weekend with lots of amazing locations. :)

All my best,

-Scott

Thursday
Aug
2014
14

It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  22 Comments

Hacking Photoshop and Hidden & Hard To Find Features in Photoshop with Ben Willmore
Hacking Photoshop means changing existing features to make them do things they weren’t originally designed to do, finding little hidden gems that can be used in different ways, and discovering new ways to think about Photoshop. Photoshop is jam packed with features and functionality that most people only scratch the surface on discovering.

Join Photoshop Hall of Famer Ben Willmore in his two latest classes, Hacking Photoshop and Hidden & Hard To Find Features in Photoshop, as he reveals his favorite undiscovered gems, powerful keyboard shortcuts, special places to click, and other hard to find features that you can use to speed up your workflow. Once you learn about these features you’ll find they fit into your everyday workflow and you’ll wonder how you ever got by without them. He also shares some of his greatest hacks for performing color corrections, applying textures to photographs, removing backgrounds, retouching portraits and so much more!

Leave a comment for your chance to watch these classes for free!

KelbyOne Live
Want to spend a day with Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, Corey Barker, Matt Kloskowski, or Ben Willmore? Check out these seminar tours!

Shoot Like A Pro with Scott Kelby
Aug 26 – St. Louis, MO
Aug 28 – Kansas City, MO
Sept 26 – Houston, TX

The Power of One Flash with Joe McNally
Sept 24 – Cleveland, OH

Photoshop Down & Dirty Master FX with Corey Barker
Oct 3 – New Orleans, LA

The Lightroom LIVE Tour with Matt Kloskowski
Sept 29 – Livonia, MI

The Photoshop Creativity Tour with Ben Willmore
Sept 22 – Arlington, TX

You can check out the full schedule for seminars through August, and we’ll be updating it with more dates soon! Leave a comment for your chance to win a ticket to one of these events!

Last Week’s Winners
Photoshop World Workshop
- Robin

KelbyOne Rental
- Brian R

KelbyOne Live Ticket
- Ken Campbell

Digital Photo Workshops Pass
- Lyle

If you’re one of the lucky winners, we’ll be in touch soon. Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday
Aug
2014
13

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Pete Collins!

by Brad Moore  |  16 Comments


This picture is a reminder of what it is all about… the joy of the moment, not the size of the fish!

What do you do when your creative tank is empty? How do you recharge? Most of us tend to try to be fiercely independent and when we can’t seem to find the motivation, we think working harder and isolating ourselves is the answer. I think the opposite is true… getting around other folks and taking a moment to breathe is often the best way to get past the hump or mountain of stagnation. Let me show you what I mean.

My job is to be creative and the good news is that I am a pretty creative guy. However, each day that I sit down in front of my computer I struggle to be creative… again. It is the again part that is tough. I can come up with something wild and wacky at the drop of a hat… but what do I do when there is another hat waiting to fall each and every day?  You have the same problem… no matter what your job is, it is hard to keep things fresh and alive each day. So we tend to find ruts and habits that keep us going and work fairly well and may even turn into a style which other folks think is great. But, the danger is that our hearts and our passions get sacrificed for the sake of production. Most days I just want to do a good enough job to make other folks happy and I don’t try to think about whether my heart is fully engaged.

The Affliction:

To stick with the fishing metaphor…I have learned to fish, but I have gotten more focused on how many fish and how big rather than the joy of fishing. We as a people tend start out with a cane pole and a piece of Wonderbread and we giggle with excitement even if we just get a nibble and don’t catch a thing. Then as we get older and wiser we move our way up to a hand-crafted bamboo/graphite/titanium thunder-rod and bionic super lures that costs more than our car and we get mad when we only catch 12 fish for the day.

Photography is the same way… Think about the excitement we had when we got our first camera! Yet, in no time at all we start looking for the next lens or the next body and we get bored and complacent with our shooting. We become stressed out about the very activity that we started because it brought us such joy. Why? We have this internal (and external) push to get better… to do it faster… to achieve more each day, and then do it again tomorrow.

The Antidote:

The best antidote for this affliction is to get around someone who has still got the original passion and hang out with them. That is why I love workshops and I feel I need to include them in my yearly schedule. I need to get around folks that are vibrating with joy as they start to learn so that their enthusiasm wakes me up and stirs my soul once again for Photography. I get to relive the first love I had for the art and my routine gets interrupted and I have new thoughts and feelings and I am running around shooting just like the new photographer.

Bill Fortney and His Light Workshop crew Nashville 2014

I was fortunate enough to be invited by Bill Fortney to come take part in his workshop in Nashville. If you don’t know who Bill is you should, because he is one of the best folks you will ever meet… and he can handle a camera pretty well too. The timing was perfect since I had met another gentleman who was getting infected with the photography bug named Scotty Smith. Now selfishly I introduced these two guys to each other because I wanted to see if rainbows would spontaneously erupt since both of them are about the two nicest guys you can know. Now add to this mix a plethora of sweaters of other folks that all love photography and you can forget about being luke-warm or bored about taking pictures. Just getting to spend time with these folks was wonderful… even spending time with Snake! Yep… that was for you! :D

Scotty working the tripod looking for heavenly light

You see passion is contagious, just like laughter and yawning. I dare you to watch that video with the Quintuplets laughing and not at least smile! The same thing applies to your heart and creativity. If you are in a rut, get around folks who aren’t. The people who are passionate are usually the ones learning, so learn something new… try a new technique, try a new setting… become a student again. Shameless plug coming… go watch a new class over at KelbyOne.com and then don’t just sit there, go try to replicate it and really learn it. Sign up for a workshop and go experience something new and learn from folks who love to teach and inspire. I went to Bill’s workshop to help teach about Photoshop and hang out… but I ended up getting infected by the passion of folks who are hungry to learn. So I started shooting more and being less critical… I started having fun with my camera instead of shooting to produce. I started playing again and it felt good.

Ricky giving me Rawr! and then Blue Steel

Speaking of playing… part of the workshop was spending time with Ricky Skaggs and getting to shoot his concert. Now I must confess, I know of Ricky, but I couldn’t tell you a lot about the man… as a matter of fact as I walked into the room, I couldn’t have pointed him out with a high degree of certainty. (Sorry Ricky! :D) But, getting to spend time with him was a great treat, not because of his fame, but because of his heart. The man is humble, funny, caring and passionate about shooting. There is a joy that just seems to leak out of him. And then, we got to watch him play… and that man can make some sweet music. It hit me while we were watching him perform, that his joy had infected his music and made it better and richer, and that I should let that be the goal of my photography. Joy/passion should trigger my shutter.

"American Pickers" Nashville store was a blast

Now by this time in case you couldn’t tell, I was getting philosophical and I thought about how it was the people at the workshop that made it so good. It was the relationships even more than the opportunities to shoot some neat locales that made the biggest impression on me. You may not believe this if you know me, but I can be pretty introverted, especially when I get stressed and under deadline. But, I think I have figured out that the more stressed I get, or the more in a rut I get, the more I need to be around people that stir my heart. My family first and then like minded folks who are hungry to learn.

hitting the bottles with Bill

Obligatory guitar for Scott :D

"Mr. Telephone man" or "Operator" or "You can ring my Bell"

Proud Mary

So then after being inspired by the wonderful workshop I flew immediately out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to suffer vacation. Now my usual routine for vacation is to do as little as possible, and make my kids bring me food and do my bidding while I lay on the couch telling them that I am fixin’ to go shoot some pictures. :D Only slightly kidding. This time I actually went out the very first night because of the excitement that had been stirred up back in Nashville. While out at the Mormon Row area I ran into a herd of buffalo and a couple of neat fellow photographers. One guy in particular was Chris Fritsche who is a KelbyOne member who got excited to meet one of the Photoshop guys. I mean who wouldn’t? He started talking to me about all the classes he had watched and how he came out to work on his shooting. His enthusiasm was infectious.

Lightpainting with Chris and the gang

So a couple of nights later I called him up and met him back at the barns to do some light painting ala Dave Black’s class. He brought one of his daughters to help and I brought the twins who helped and nearly killed me, and we had a great time playing in the moonlight where the buffalo roam.

And you know what… I didn’t really care about how my pictures turned out… I was just like the kid with a cane pole and some Wonderbread… just excited to get a nibble.

These guys stir my heart daily... (Ladies insert aaaawwwww! here. :D)

ps. Most of the images were processed playing around with Macphun’s new Tonality Pro… good stuff.

Tuesday
Aug
2014
12

My First Football Shoot of The Season is This Saturday. Whoo Hoo!!!

by Scott Kelby  |  7 Comments

Oh man, it’s been a long time since last football season — nearly seven months, but preseason has already started and next Friday I’m shooting my first Tampa Bay Buccaneers home game (I’m shooting the Bucs for Zuma Press again this season, and I’ll be picking up some other games when the Bucs are on the road).

Hoping to do some more fun things with remote cameras this seasons, but not sure I’ll be doing any on Saturday (but I will be scoping out a possible remote location for the regular season opener).

Anyway, I thought I’d share what was my first photo-post ever over on Exposure.co, which was a post on my favorite shots of 2013 (see below), and if you’ve got a sec (and you’re ready for some football), here’s the link. 

So, next Monday we’ll see my first shots of the season (Bucs vs Dolphins), and I’m sure I’ll probably be a bit rusty, but man will I have a big smile on my face at about an hour before kickoff on Saturday night when I walk through the tunnel out onto the field and start to sweat in that humid Florida heat. But I don’t care. Football is back!

Hope you guys have a non-humid, nicely air-conditioned ‘but football is back so I don’t care’ kinda day! :)

Best,

-Scott

Monday
Aug
2014
11

BREAKING NEWS: Announcing My 7th Annual “Worldwide Photo Walk”

by Scott Kelby  |  33 Comments

****NOTE: Sign-ups for the walks will be open today at 3:00 PM (New York Time).****

I’m very excited to announce the official date for: Scott Kelby’s 7th Annual Worldwide Photo Walk™ (the world’s largest Photo Walk, with walks in over 1,200 cities last year) and  we want you to be a part of this fun, free, global, photography social event.

Here’s a quick Q&A with all the details.

Q. When is the official Photo Walk day?
A. The official date is Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Q. What exactly is a Photo Walk?
A. Watch the short video clip above and you’ll get the idea.

Q. Is there a fee to participate ?
A. It’s totally free, but this year we’re “Walking with a Purpose” and by that I  mean we’re hoping you will find it in your heart to donate just $1 to the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya when you sign up for your walk.  We’re trying to raise $50,000 to help them feed, clothe and house some wonderful children. 100% of your $1 goes directly to the orphanage (it’s a very small orphanage, housing 33 kids, but feeding many more each day). So, if you could donate $1 when you’re on the site (just one buck) you have no idea what a difference it will make (and it would mean a lot to me that you’re helping. This year, we walk with a purpose. :)

Q. If I have led a walk or participated in previous years, can I use the same login info to sign up for a walk this year?
A. No. To save everyone the hassle of trying to remember or retrieve their login info, we’re asking you to create a new account this year. That way we know we have your current email address so you don’t miss out on important messages.

Q. Is there a photo contest again this year?
A. Absolutely! The best photo in each city (as chosen by your local Walk Leader) will get a full-year of KelbyOne Online (normally $249) but their image is also entered into the main photo competition vying for thousands of dollars in prizes.  From those winners (chosen by the local walk leaders) I choose 10-finalists, who all get tons of great prizes, and then I choose a Grand Prize winner. Plus, there’s a People’s Choice award winner as well, as voted on by the walkers themselves. 

Q. I watched the video and I see that Canon is the Sponsor. Does that mean there’s a really cool Grand Prize?
A. You know it. Canon is giving the Grand Prize Winner Canon EOS 70D with EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens. How sweet is that!

Q. Can I still come if I don’t shoot a Canon camera?
A. Of course — the photo walk is open to everybody, no matter what type of camera you use (but of course you might just win that new 70D in the photo competition  — hey, ya never know!)

Q. Are there more prizes for the photo competition part?
A. You bet! Everything from subscriptions to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Bundle, to Wacom tablets, B&H Photo Gift Cards,  and more. I’ll have a blog post about ALL the prizes next week, but the list is getting cra-zay! (we have some awesome sponsors!)

Q. Do you have any cities signed up with Photo Walks yet?
A. Yup—we already have nearly 250 walks set-up all over the world, with more being added every day!

Q. How did those cities gets walks already?
A. We give the previous year’s Photo Walk leaders advance notice to lead a walk again in the current year (after all—they’re seasoned leaders).

Q. So are you leading a Local Walk again this year?
A.
 Absolutely! I’m planning on leading a walk in Swingin’ London baby, Yeah! (but I’m running into a logistical problem so I haven’t posted my walk up there yet. Hope to in a day or so once I get it worked out).

Q. How can I find out if there’s a walk in my area?
A. Go to the official Worldwide Photo Walk website and click on the “Find Walks” link at the top right, then type in the city, state, and/or country where you want to walk, and if there are any walks already organized, they’ll be listed on the right side (and you’ll see pins on the map in your area). And if you don’t see any in your area, keep checking back because, like I said before, new walks are being added every day.

Q. How can I lead a Photo Walk?
A. You apply over at the official Worldwide Photo Walk website just click on the “Lead a Walk” button (or just click here).

Q. What does it take to become a Photo Walk Leader?
A. We’re looking for people who have experience leading groups, so if you’re the president of your local camera club, or a college teacher, or photography instructor, or you run a local camera store, or you’ve lead Photo Walks in your area before, etc., you’re likely to get accepted to be a leader. We ask for your qualifications on the leader application, and that’s the type of experience we’re looking for.

Q. What if my city already has a Photo Walk, but I want to lead a walk, too?
A. Most big cities can accommodate more than one walk, and so as soon as one starts to fill up, we add a 2nd or even a third or fourth depending on the response and city size. Also, if the walks are held geographically far from each other but technically in the same major city, we usually add those, too. (For example, New York City could have walks in Central Park, SoHo, Chinatown, and Times Square, and probably a half dozen other locations)

Q. Do I have to enter the prize competition?
A. Absolutely not. This is a totally separate part of the experience, and if you don’t want to enter your images, you absolutely don’t have to (it’s just to make the experience more fun, and if you don’t think joining the contest is fun, you surely don’t have to upload even a single photo for the contest). You can go and shoot for the day, and never let anyone see your photos. Ever. They can be your private “secret” photos.

Q. Did you get any complaints about how the winners were chosen?
A.
 Are you kidding? Absolutely! People get pretty cranked if they think one of their images deserved to be the winner but wasn’t chosen by their leader or by me as a finalist. I have people send me angry emails because their leader picked what they (and their friends) think is the “wrong photo,” but hey—that’s the thing about art—it’s subjective. At the end, I pick one grand prize winner, and 10 finalists, and I catch some heat for that, too, but I’m OK with it. Surprisingly, I’ve never heard one single complaint about my picks from any of the winners. ;-)

Q. What do I get for being a Photo Walk LEADER?
A. Love. You gets lots of love. You also get a full year of KelbyOne Online Training (normally $249) and you get to pick the best shot from your local Photo Walk group and award them with a year as well Plus, that person you chose is entered into the grand prize competition for a bunch of insane prizes (or they could wind up as one of my top-10 finalists, and still win lots of cool prizes). We also have a “People’s Choice Award” where you vote for the best shot, and a special competition just for Photo Walk leaders.

Q. Is there a separate Contest For Photo Walk LEADERS?
A. We have that, too! We started it two years as a way to honor the work of our leaders (we’ll contact the leaders after the walk with info on how to enter an image in the Leader’s competition), and we’re doing it again this year.

Q. Do we have cool t-shirts for walkers & leaders?
A. You betcha! Each year, our friend Rob Jones from Towner Jones Photography, who came up with idea of selling t-shirts to raise money for (you guessed it), the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya. 100% of the profits from the sale of these t-shirts will go to feeding and care for these great kids. Last year (with Rob’s gracious help and contributionswe raised over $10,000 just last year (imagine how much $10,000 means to an orphanage in Africa). I’m so grateful that Rob wanted to help us once again this year (Rob rocks!).

We’re going to make a special announcement when the shirts are ready for sale – so make sure you keep checking the Worldwide Photo Walk website!

We have special LEADER shirts as well (Leaders — you’ll find the link on your leader’s dashboard).

We’re hoping to raise $15,000 from the t-shirt sales for the Springs of Hope Orphanage (we can do it!!!!, which means we’d only need to raise $35,000 ($1 at a time) from our walkers to hit our $50,000 goal.

Q. What happens when a city fills up?
A. We have a waiting list for each sold out city, so if someone cancels, it automatically adds (and notifies) the next person on the list, so definitely get on the list.

Q. How many is full?
A. Each Photo Walk is limited to a maximum of 50 photographers. If that doesn’t sound like a lot, you haven’t seen 50 photographers coming down the sidewalk at the same time, and later all converging at once on a restaurant or pub. It’s more like a scary bike gang (except without the bikes, or gang, or scariness).

Q. Why do we limit each Photo Walk to just 50 photographers?
A. Here’s the full explanation.

Q. I want to know more about this Photo Walk thing; what’s involved, how do I sign up, and all that stuff. Where do I go?
A. 
There’s a detailed FAQ on the Website (here’s the link), and once you’re signed up for a walk, we’ve made it much easier for your Walk Leader to keep you up-to-date with messages on your local Walk page.

Q. Where do I go for the latest Photo Walk information?
A. We are going to keep making regular posts on the Worldwide Photo Walk website.  You’ll hear from people like RC Concepcion, Brad Moore, JBon- and I’ll be popping in there as well. From tips, new prize alerts, and general information – it’ll be a great source for you to check regularly through this signup period.

Of course you can follow the action for the World Wide Photo Walk on our Twitter Account (http://twitter.com/kelbyone )   and  Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/KelbyOneOnline .  If you want to talk about the walk socially – use the hashtag #wwpw2014 

Q. So when can I sign up to be either a walker or a Walk Leader?
A. Starting at 3:00 pm today (New York Time) Here’s the link, and I hope you join us this year as we “Walk with a Purpose, to help the Springs of Hope Orphanage” and as we make worldwide photographic history once again!

 

Friday
Aug
2014
08

It’s “Prune Your Portfolio” Friday

by Scott Kelby  |  24 Comments

So what exactly is pruning?
Many of us have been posting our images online for years now. We started with a SmugMug account, a Squarespace portfolio, or a flickr account or 500px, or maybe even a custom portfolio site of our own, and we put up whatever our best images were at the time. Of course, over the years we’ve gotten better at photography and we’ve uploaded lots of newer, better images, right? In fact,  if you were to look back now at those images you posted five years ago, you’d probably cringe, right? (I know I would — sadly I wouldn’t have to go back that far).

The problem is (and I was reminded of this vividly while doing some online research for a trip), that although our images are much better today than they were five years ago, there’s a good chance those cringe-worthy images are still alive and well on your portfolio page (or on Smugmug, or flickr or whatever). I ran across this so many times — I’d find a photographer’s site or 500px page and his stuff was amazing, but on page two it was…well…less amazing. By page three it was stuff he had done a few years ago and those images were  just OK. Page four was even worse — you could tell he posted these when he first started, and they’re not bad, but they’re not real good.

The first question: Why is there a page 4?
It’s probably because you really haven’t thought about it in a while, and now you only look at page one where all your “best stuff” is, but other people often dig deeper, and the deeper they dig, they less impressed they become. For example, when I would see the front page of a photographer’s gallery and think “Man, this guy is good!” by the time I got to their 2nd page, I’d start thinking…“Wow, I guess he isn’t as good as I thought” and by page three I’ve lost all interest in this guy’s work because his stuff is getting worse and worse (and really, it’s just his earlier work, which just simply isn’t as good as his current work).

If your best work is on your first page (or first set of images), then what’s on your 2nd page? The shots that weren’t good enough to make the first page — where you put your best work. So, page two is your second rate work, right? My question to you is: “Why would you show anybody your 2nd rate work?” If that’s the case, what’s on page 3? See where this is going? Prune it big time, and leave them wanting more.

Don’t use this the “age old” excuse…
When I’ve talked one-on-one to photographers about this, the one persistent excuse I’ve heard is “I think potential clients would be interested to see how my work has progressed over time, and how much better I am today.” That only works for your mom. She’ll be proud of how far you’ve come. But a potential client is about to see some really cringe-worthy work from you — why would you chance that? What do you have to gain by keeping cringne-worthy pictures still up online for everybody to see? We know the downside. Where’s the upside?

That’s why I’m proclaiming today as “Prune Your Port Friday”
Take a few minutes right now — dig through your SmugMug account, your flickr account, squarespace, 500px — you name it and delete any shots that make you cringe even just a little. If you’ve got galleries that are more than a page deep, it’s time to prune. If you have shots in there you know aren’t that good, but for some reason you can’t explain it but you “just like ‘em” it’s time to prune (keep those on your computer. That way if you miss them, you can still look at them. Do this when you’re alone).

Those old shots aren’t helping — they’re hurting — and you’ll feel so much better after cleaning house a bit and leaving just your new stuff, your strong stuff, your best stuff out there for the world to see. This is who you are today as a photographer. This is what you’re capable of. This is what they can expect from you. This is the real you, now. Let them see the real you and what you can do. I’ll bet they’ll be impressed.

If you’ve got a lot of images, this might make a great weekend project, and man is that a perfect segue segueway for me to wish you an awesome weekend of pruning, and we’ll see you back here on Monday for a very important announcement (one that many of you have been waiting for, for…oh…about a year).

Best,

-Scott 

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