Motorcycle Shoot (behind-the-scenes)

by Scott Kelby  |  20 Comments

(Above) Here’s a behind-the-scene shot from Friday’s shoot.  This is a three-light shoot: Two 4-foot strip banks above (with Elinchrom strobes), and there’s one additional softbox in front (you can see the light-stand right behind my laptop) that’s putting some extra light on the engine — it was a little dark in there with just the two strobe directly above the bike.

I asked my Creative Director Felix Nelson if I could shoot his Harley, but he was doing some serious tinkering with it at home and it wouldn’t be ready for days, so he suggested calling our guitar player (Felix is the bass player for Big Electric Cat), Tony Llanes since he builds custom choppers.
He didn’t have one available, but his cousin had this “Big Dog!” chopper and he came rolling up on it Friday and I was like, “Oh Yeah baby!” Only had  1-1/2 hrs to light and shoot this and his buddy’s sports bike (the yellow one seen below), but I got it done in time to attend my son’s sports banquet that night, so it’s all good. :)

Shooting from down low with a 14-24mm lens. 
Above: More wide angle 14-24mm shots.
Above: You can see the two extra backlights in this shot, used strickly to make the background solid white — even though they weren’t turned on for any of the shots I’ve shown so far. 
Above: Here’s what it looks like with the two background strobes turned on. You can see why I left them off for nearly the entire shoot — I think this particular bike, because of its color, looks better on the dark gray background. 
Above: The Sport Bike looks great on the solid white background, so here it look appropriate (so this is a five-light shoot: The same two strip-banks over head; the one small 27″ softbox in front aiming at the back half of the bike, and the two bare bulbs with reflectors to make the background solid white. 
Above: Here’s a view from the backside. Since I’m not shooting it straight on, the lighting definitely looks different (in fact, I had to brighten it in post to get it this bright). 
Above: Here’s Tony (lead guitar player for Big Electric Cat) posing on the Big Dog. I didn’t change the lighting — it’s just the lighting for the bike, so it’s not the greatest portrait lighting, but I think it’s still looks decent (but if I was lighting this as a portrait, I would have added two kicker lights in the back aiming at him. 
Anyway, there’s a quick look at the shoot. I’m doing a tutorial for the NAPP member Website on the retouching and finishing for getting rid of the apple-crate box the bike is sitting on, and on getting rid of some of the spots, specs, dust and junk. Hope you all have a fantastic Tuesday! :)


The 2nd Edition “Refresh” of my “Digital Photography Book, Part One” is here

by Scott Kelby  |  17 Comments

OK, if you already have the first edition of the book, DON’T BUY THIS ONE!!!! That’s because it’s a “refresh” and not a “rewrite.”

The original book was published back in 2006, so I brought the book up-to-date with a pretty significant refresh using today’s latest cameras, updates and changes in gear; plus I added a short chapter with some advice I’ve learned since then; I went through and updated all the photos  (man, it’s excruciating to look back at the images you were taking seven years ago), and techniques where needed throughout, and I re-wrote from scratch the most popular chapter, the “Photo Recipes” chapter with all new images and descriptions (because again, I hated those old photos from 2006).

So, as much as I’d love you to rush out and buy a copy….
I want to keep you as a reader and that means being straight with you, which is why I’m letting you know it’s still essentially the same book. So, why am I mentioning it at all if I don’t want you to buy it? This is the book of mine that given as a gift to other new photographers more than any other, so if you’re thinking of passing one on to someone new, I want to make sure you get them the latest edition (it says “Part 1, 2nd edition” right on the cover — see below right).

Also, it’s no longer “Volume 1, or Volume 2″
After the original book, subsequent releases were named Volume 2, Volume 3 and so on, but what I found was people were buying Volume 4 because it was the newest one, but actually each one is completely different and picks up where the previous title left off, so by starting with Volume 4, they were missing all that essential stuff up front that leads up to it. In fact, some folks complained that Volume 4 was too advanced for them, but that’s because they weren’t ready for Volume 4 yet — they needed to start with Volume 1 and work their way up. That’s why we changed it now to Part 1, Part 2 and so on (I’d much rather someone bought Volume 1 and ever bought another, than starting with Part 4 and being lost).

It’s here. Now.
It just went “in-stock” this week:

> Amazon and Barnes & Noble have the Print edition for $13.90

> Amazon has it for the Kindle at $9.99 and B&N has it for the Nook at $11.39

> Peachpit Press (the book’s Publisher) has a bundle (both print book & ebook together) for $26.99

I hope if there’s someone you’d like to help along the way in their photographic journey, you’d consider picking up a copy for them. Of course, if you don’t have the original, snap this puppy up now! LOL!! :)

Thanks to everyone out there who has made this book, Part One, the top-selling digital photography book of all time. I thank you. My kid’s college fund thanks you (My son’s off the college in just two years. My daughter still has…well…about 11-more years to go. Maybe I’ll have a Part 10 by then). ;-)

All my best,


P.S. If you already have one or more of the books, come and see me in Seattle this Thursday or in Los Angeles on Friday with my “Shoot Like a Pro Tour” which is based on this very same series of books. Here’s the link if you want to come out.


Please join me in welcoming our new Photoshop User TV co-host, the awesome Jessica Maldonado (AKA “Photoshop Girl”)

by Scott Kelby  |  19 Comments

This week we kicked off the new season of Photoshop User TV (the weekly Photoshop show) and I got the honor of introducing our viewers to our new co-host of Photoshop User TV, and the latest addition to “The Photoshop Guys”, it’s  Jessica Maldonado, our own “Photoshop Girl.” (wild cheers ensue!).

I know what you’re thinking. About #$&% time! (I totally agree) 
I also know what some of you are thinking, and just so you know, Jessica chose the nickname “Photoshop Girl” herself (though some suggested “Photoshop Gal” cause they thought it fit the whole “Guys & Gals” theme, but Photoshop Gal doesn’t sound like a super-hero, and Jessica is definitely a Photoshop super-hero!)

Jess has been working with us for years in our design dept. She’s the main designer on all my books, and books like Joe McNally’s “The Moment it Clicks,” David Ziser’s “Captured By the Light” and Moose Peterson’s “Captured” but I think her best work yet is coming later this year as I’ve seen her layouts for Frank Doorhof’s upcoming book and they are absolutely fantastic!

So, how did Jess get the gig?
Well, first you have to be really, really, really good at Photoshop (like the guy she’s sitting next to on the set, Corey Barker). I know a lot of people who are really, really good at Photoshop and Jessica is among the very best — but I just didn’t realize how good a teacher she was until she recorded some tutorials and sent them to me, and I was like “Wow!!! She is GOOD!” So, we asked her (more like begged her) to join us on the show as a regular co-host and I’m super-psyched she said “yes!” Even though she was really nervous, she survived the first episode (which aired on Monday and I’m rebroadcasting below) despite the fact that Pete “The Juice” Collins was on that episode too and that’s a recipe for unpredictability and mild forms of chaos.

Join me in welcoming Jessica
Here’s this week’s show (below) and Jessica’s debut (I loved her very cool tutorial), and I hope you’ll please join me here in welcoming her to our show (you can leave a comment below if you like). It’s an honor to have her as our new co-host and I’m excited to see all the cool stuff she’ll be sharing with our viewers this season.

The show airs every Monday at KelbyTV.com and then we rebroadcast starting the next day. You can subscribe for free via iTunes our watch it on our site (complete with all the back episodes).

Cheers, –Scott


It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  73 Comments

Free 24-Hour Trial for National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP)!
Want to know what you’re missing out on by not being a NAPP member? Try it out for FREE for 24 hours right here! Check out the full-length classes and quick tutorials from the top Photoshop instructors in the world for a full 24 hours. Whether you’re a photographer looking for Camera Raw, Lightroom, and Photoshop tips or a designer looking for new techniques and getting in-depth with layers, blend modes, and type, you can find it at NAPP.

Straight From My Camera with Zack Arias
The newest addition to The Art of Photography line of classes at KelbyTraining.com is Straight From My Camera with Zack Arias! In this class, he sits down with Mia McCormick to discuss everything from getting started and developing a style to finding inspiration and getting out of a rut so photography doesn’t become just a job.

You can check it out right here, and leave a message for your chance to win a free rental of this class!

Kelby Training Live
Want to spend a day with Scott KelbyMatt KloskowskiRC Concepcion, or Ben Willmore? Check out these seminar tours!

The Shoot Like A Pro Tour with Scott Kelby
May 23 – Seattle, WA
May 24 – Los Angeles, CA

Photoshop CS6 for Photographers with RC Concepcion
May 17 – Milwaukee, WI
June 12 – Nashville, TN
June 17 – Ottawa, ON
June 19 – Toronto, ON

Photographic Artistry with Adobe Photoshop with Ben Willmore
May 21 – Boston, MA

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

Introduction to Adobe Creative Cloud eBook
Want to know the ins and outs of the Adobe Creative Cloud? In the Introduction to Adobe Creative Cloud eBook, Conrad Chavez shows you ways to improve your workflow and save time while working on projects like designing apps, websites, portfolios, and more. The best part is it’s only $2.99, and you can grab it right here, or leave a comment for your chance to win a free download!

WPPI On The Road in Chicago with RC Concepcion and Pete Collins!
RC Concepcion and Pete Collins are joining up with other instructors like Lindsay Adler, Doug Gordon, Jared Platt and more for WPPI On The Road in Chicago next week, May 20-21! This is a 2-day event for photographers looking to get their business off the ground, and they’ll be covering everything from editorial, wedding, and portrait photography to post production.

You can get more info and sign up right here, and leave a comment for your chance to win a free pass! We’ll be picking the winner tomorrow (May 17) and will notify you via email by the end of the day so you have the weekend to prepare.

How To Become A Professional Commercial Wedding Photographer
Patrick Hall, Lee Morris, and their team at FStoppers put together a DVD (digital download) called How To Become A Professional Wedding Photographer that covers everything you need to know to get started in the wedding photography business. It’s over 14 hours of content covering gear, lighting, video, slideshows, covering all aspects of a wedding ceremony and reception, post processing, delivering the final product, and even an interview with none other than Cliff Mautner!

There’s more info and a 21-minute preview over at FStoppers, plus they’ve given us a free copy to give away to one lucky commenter! Leave a comment for your chance to win.

Indoor Lifestyle Photography Class Rental

Kelby Training Live Ticket

Jeremy Cowart Class Rental and Lifefinder DVD
-David A

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


It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Donna Dotan!

by Brad Moore  |  11 Comments

How to Create an Architectural Photo: Manhattan Style

I’d first like to thank Scott and Brad for inviting me to be a guest blogger!  When I was asked to write a post, I was very excited and immediately began thinking about what to share.  I love when photographers show how they created one of their favorite images from start to finish, so that’s what I’m going to do for you.

Although architecture is a relatively small niche of photography, there are many architectural photographers out there; each with their own style of shooting and retouching.  Some do very minimal retouching, if any, to their photographs, but I am not one of those.  I put just as much time, love and attention to detail in post as I do on set.  Every square inch is accounted for whether I’m behind the camera or behind the computer monitor, and here’s how I do it.

The Assignment:
The image I’m going to talk about is of a residential townhouse on the Upper West Side.  This street happens to be one of the few in that neighborhood that’s not landmarked, so the architect was able to redesign the entire façade with a modern twist.  It’s very different from the rest of the townhouses on the block (and really all of New York City), yet the colors and materials used allow it to blend well with its surroundings.

Final Image

The client wanted a dynamic shot of the building with no cars parked out front.  I knew that the best time to do this would be about 15 minutes after sunset time.  Twilight skies emit a vibrant blue color, and with the lights in the townhouse turned on (which my client had arranged for), the house really comes to life.  I also had to find out the street cleaning hours for the building so that I could get a clean shot without the cars.  Since there would be cars parked outside during the optimal twilight period, I planned on doing the same shot at two different times with the intention of compositing them in post.

Shooting at Night:
I arrived a few minutes before sunset to prepare for the first shot (sunset times can be found at SunriseSunset.com).  While waiting for that magical blue light, I took note of the street cleaning time, which was going to be Friday from 11:00am – 12:30pm.  I stuck three small pieces of Gaffer’s tape on the street where my tripod was set up so that I could return to the exact same spot on Friday.  I also waited for a few cars to pass by to get a few swooshing lights going across the bottom of the image for added color and drama.

Unretouched twilight shot of the building

On Friday I returned to my spot during the street cleaning time to recreate the same shot, only this time there would be no cars parked out front.  I positioned my tripod over the tape marks that I’d left from the night before and composed the image as best I could to mimic the composition of the twilight shot.  I knew the alignment wouldn’t be perfect, but it would be good enough since I only needed to use the sidewalk portion of this picture.

Left: unretouched daytime shot of the building. Right: same shot only darkened using Curves in Photoshop

As you can see above, the daytime shot was made darker to make the sidewalk appear to have been shot at twilight.  I layered and aligned the daytime and twilight shots together, created a mask, and painted in the sidewalk from the daytime shot.

Left: original, RAW twilight shot. Right: final image after retouching

I created this shot with my Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon 17mm Tilt/Shift lens at ISO 200, f/11, and a shutter speed of 6 seconds.  I use tilt/shift lenses for about 80% of my work, both exteriors and interiors.  Even with this small townhouse, the 17mm TS lens needed to be shifted upward to capture the entire building.  When I can’t get the whole building in one frame, I’ll compensate by taking two shots – usually the bottom portion including some of the street, and then the upper portion including some extra sky – and then I stitch them together in Adobe Photoshop.  In this case, only one shot was needed.

I always shoot on a tripod so that I can bracket the exposures for manual HDR processing.  I say manual because I don’t use HDR software, which processes and merges the bracketed exposures together.  Instead, I choose which parts of each exposure I like the best, and I blend them by hand.

Final tips for shooting urban architecture:

  • The size of the building will determine which lens you need to use (I strongly recommend using tilt/shift lenses for architectural photography).
  • Season – are there trees in front of the building? If so, would the shot look better with foliage?
  • Scout out parking rules and regulations – it’s best if you can shoot the building without cars parked out front.
  • Time of day – if you’re shooting during the day, it’s important to consider the direction of light to avoid harsh and unwanted shadows.

The final ingredient for shooting architecture is passion.  Study the location you are going to capture.  Visit it during the day and also during the night to see how it looks in different light.  Think about the purpose of your photo and who your client is.  An architect wants to see the beauty in what they created through form and functionality.  Thanks for reading, and I hope you learned something useful!

Architecture by workshop/apd

You can see more of Donna’s work at DonnaDotan.com, and follow her on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.


Behind-The-Scenes Video of my Audi R8 Shoot Using the New Priolite Strobes

by Scott Kelby  |  42 Comments

When I recently got the chance to shoot the Audi R8, I only had an hour from start to finish, so I figured I’d give the new Priolites a try because of their “run and gun” wireless capabilities for on-location shooting, and they worked amazingly well. Check out the video to see ‘em in action (and to see one amazing car)!

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