Michael Corsentino 2

Hey guys, the release of my upcoming Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Basics class is right around the corner and I’m getting excited! I can’t wait to share with you how easy this speedlite system is to use and how truly amazing it is. It’s a game changer in so many ways and I’ll cover them all. I’ll walk you through the buttons, dials, menus; teach you how to set up wireless communication between the camera and off camera speedlites; work with ETTL and manual; set up groups; share my must-have tips and techniques and sure fire lighting patterns; explain why you need artificial light in your bag of tricks; teach you how to use and understand high speed sync; give you a live studio shooting demo, and so much more! With any luck you’ll leave this class as amped as I am about light and shadow and chomping at the bit go out and put everything you’ve learned into practice.

If you’re like me, you may have found handheld flash intimidating at one point or another. Maybe you decided right then and there to leave well enough alone, put the flash down, and call yourself an “available light shooter.” Maybe you even have a speedlite or two sitting on your shelf collecting dust or languishing unused in your camera bag. Well guess what kids, your speedlites are “available lights.” In this new class I’ll strip away the fear and mystique surrounding these powerful tools, and flash in general, and give you the simple, straightforward info you need to get up and running with your new speedlites.

I’ll show you why the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite and its companion ST-E3 controller represent a quantum leap forward in handheld flash technology. They have easy to use interfaces, easy to understand menus, and a first of its kind built-in radio based communication system. Simply said they just work! And there’s more good news, the 600EX-RT Speedlite and ST-E3 controller both share the same interface, so once you’ve learned one, you’ve essentially learned the other. Thank you Canon, we love that!!

It’s not just speedlites that can strike fear into the hearts of the burliest of men, but flash in general can have this effect too. So I’ll simplify that too! In a “teach a man to fish” approach, I’ll show you how to think about light and understand the why, when and how behind the choices you have available to you. Together we’ll look at the 4 key components that make up flash: quantity of light, quality of light, direction of light and distance of light. It doesn’t get more complicated that I promise, and after this class you’ll understand why. So come along with me on this journey of light and technology, things will never be the same!

I’ve included a selection of images I created with the Canon 600EX-RT system below to whet your appetite. I want to get you as excited as I am about this incredible system. In the captions for each image I’ve described the techniques I used, how they were lit, and why the 600EX-RT system was the perfect solution. See you guys in class!

First let’s start my two favorite, no fail, location lighting patterns, Cross Light and Wedge Light! These two lighting patterns are quick, easy, work every time, and form a solid foundation to build upon with additional techniques and light modifiers.

Cross Light by Corsentino

Cross Light is a simple but very effective lighting pattern that quickly adds a polished, sculptural, dimensional quality to your subjects. It’s created by aiming two speedlites at each other along the same axis and placing your subject between them. By doing this you’re creating a key light on one side and an accent light on the other. This arrangement can then be rotated around your subject so you can light them using either Broad Light or Short Light. Your bases are covered with this one simple pattern. You’ll see Cross Light used a lot in the images below, give it a try!

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Here’s Cross Light in action! I’ve hidden one speedlite behind the gritty column camera left. This is my accent light. It’s been fitted with a half cut of CTO gel to create a warm tone and replicate the look of setting afternoon sun on my model’s hair. Like my key light placed camera right, both flash heads were vertically oriented and manually zoomed to 200mm. Doing this creates tight vertical beams of light that not only provide a natural looking in-camera fall-off of light but also more closely match the vertical shape of the body.

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More fun with Cross Light. Here the key light is placed camera left and the accent light is over the model’s right shoulder providing a punchy highlight on her hair and shoulder. Bare speedlites, vertically oriented and zoomed to 200mm do the trick here delivering dramatic, specular light. I’ve underexposed the ambient by 2 stops using my shutter speed to get that killer blue sky! I explain this in detail in my class.

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Just as I used my shutter speed in the image above to create one effect, in this image I’ve used it in another way to create a completely different look. Dragging the shutter (using a very slow shutter speed) along with a high ISO and Cross Light allow me to balance the beautiful shimmering lights of Chicago’s evening skyline and the strobe illuminating my model. The key light here is modified with a Chimera collapsible beauty dish and the accent light is bare flash with a 1/2 cut of CTO gel to warm things up a bit.

Wedge Light by Corsentino
Next up is something I like to call Wedge Light. This is another super flexible and easy to use location lighting pattern. It gets its name due to the pie slice shape in which the key and accent lights are placed. Like Cross Light, this pattern can be rotated around your subject, in this case to introduce more or less shadow. The distance between each light can also be widened or shortened to create different effects.

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Here you can see the results of Wedge Light positioned to the side, exactly like the diagram above, to create directional, shadowed, dramatic light. Both speedlites are bare bulb delivering a punchy, specular quality of light with rapid transitions between shadows and highlights.

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In this image I’ve taken the same Wedge Light pattern used in the image above and positioned it in front of my model to create an even, almost shadowless lighting effect. Each speedlite is modified with a 24×24” Lastolite EzyBox Softbox and the harsh light from the midday sun overhead is being diffused with an 8×8’ scrim.

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Wedge Light is also great for 2 people! Here I’ve got both speedlites camera left in a in pie slice arrangement, each inside a 24” Lastoilte Ezybox Softbox aimed toward each subject. I’ve also got an 8×8’ scrim overhead to diffuse the harsh sun above.

Now let’s talk about why you need speedlites with built-in wireless radio communication! The next two images demonstrate perfectly why the Canon 600EX-RT/ST-E3’s built-in radio communication is such a game changer. Optical based systems require something called “line of sight.” Meaning both the speedlite and controller need a clear visual path to see one another in order to communicate. When it comes to placing speedlites behind walls and inside soft boxes this line of sight is broken and communication is lost. Not so with radio based systems. Obstacles are no problem and the line of sight requirement is gone! Optical systems are also prone to problems in bright sunlight. In other words, radio rules.

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This image like the others was made using the 600EX-RT and ST-E3’s wireless radio based communication system. It’s a perfect example of radio’s superiority over optically based systems. Note the position of the accent lights in this Cross Light setup… It’s behind a wall camera right. There’s no line of sight between the controller on my camera and the speedlite behind the wall, if I were using an optical trigger system there would be no way to trigger the flash. Plus not only can I trigger hidden lights but I have full control over their power and exposure modes. This is all huge!

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Here’s another practical example of the many ways radio based communication makes things much easier. Here I’ve got a speedlite inside a soft box placed camera right. Again the controller and speedlite have no line of site, so optical is out of the question. Additionally the speedlite is inside the softbox, meaning that without radio communication, every time I wanted to make a power adjustment I’d need to open the softbox and dig inside to get to the speedlite’s controls. Trust me, that gets to be no fun real quick! Again, radio rules.

Last but not least I’d like to talk about direction, direction of light! I’ll cover all of this in class, but I want to encourage you to start thinking about directionality. The more direction or angle at which you have your light in relationship to your subject, the more shadow you’ll introduce. For me shadow equals drama and mood; I’m a big fan. Think about it… At its essence photography is nothing more than highlights and shadows, so embrace them! Shadows can be infinitely controlled, using distance, source size, and the modifier used to control the speed of the transition from highlight to shadow.

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Placing my lights to the side of my model introduces shadow and drama. Think about how different this image would be if it were produced using flash on camera! Did somebody say flat? If you did you’d be right on target! Throw some direction into your lighting, you’ll be glad you did.

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There’s nothing like a little side light when it comes to creating mood and drama. Here I’m using Cross Light Light again. My key light is a bare speedlite, camera left, and my accent light is another speedlite placed outside the widow camera right.

Clearly I’m passionate about light and I can’t wait to share what’s possible with Canon’s 600EX-RT and ST-E3 speedlite system! Hopefully the images above have stoked your creative fires and gotten you ready to dust off your speedlites and explore new ways to create with light. My class will be live tomorrow, I hope you’ll join me. Together we’ll get you all dialed in and up and running!

You can see more of Michael’s work at MichaelCorsentino.com, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And his new class Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Basics will be available tomorrow at KelbyOne.com!

This is the written tutorial of something I did in my course on using Westcott Speedlight Modifiers over on KelbyOne, and the trick is a very effective, location lighting technique for a formal portrait of the bride, and part of the technique is done in camera, and then the other part in Photoshop, and the good news is — both parts are really easy (but the final result is really sweet!).

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Above: Here’s the final image with the light hidden

The Lighting Set-up
We’re only going to use one simple hot-shoe flash for this technique. Lately I’ve been using the Phottix Odin hot shoe flashes, and I’m super-digging ’em as their just released new Phottix Odin II TTL Flash Trigger is hands down the easiest hot shoe flash transmitter I’ve ever used (it even has hard buttons for each group, which makes it incredibly easy to change groups, turn on/off flash, change the power [using a simple dial], etc.. Very smartly designed, and the price is right, at around $209).

Then, we’re going to use a collapsible softbox made for hot shoe flash — it’s the 50-inch Recessed Mega JS Apollo from Westcott (around $169 street price) Note: anyone who has been to my “Shoot Like a Pro: Reloaded” seminar would recognize this bad boy!

Figure 2

Above: The flash is mounted inside the softbox on a light stand, and then it aims inward at the back of the softbox, and the light returns back out toward the subject, giving you softer lighter without a bright hot-spot right in the center like usual.  

There are five really nice things about this softbox:

(1) It’s pretty huge, and the bigger the softbox the softer the light, so when I have a choice, I go “big” like this.

(2) It’s collapsible like an umbrella, so despite it’s large size, it’s super-portable, lightweight, and sets-up fast.

(3) The flash aims backward — toward the back of the softbox, not directly at your subject, so the light reflects and bounces back toward your subject, which avoids a hot-spot in the center and creates even softer more wrapping light all the way around.

(4) Since it’s so large, you can light groups with it

(5) For a softbox this large, $169 is really a bargain.

 

Camera Settings
When I’m shooting with flash, especially indoors like we are here at a very popular venue for weddings and wedding receptions, I’m setting my ISO at the lowest, cleanest native setting for my camera, which for my Canon 5D Mark III is 100 ISO. Since I’m using flash, I’m always shooting Manual mode so I can get my shutter speed at what I would say is a very safe, kind of “default no worries” shutter speed for flash, which is 1/125 of a second. Lastly, my f/stop is usually around f/5.6 if I want the background a little soft but in this case I went with f/4 (I probably accidentally hit the dial on the back of my camera at some point and it moved my f/stop).

The lens I’m using for this particular shot is in vast contrast to the price of all the lighting gear, because it’s a high-end lens — Canon’s new 11-24mm ultra wide-angle lens shot at 11mm (which is just insanely great). Of course, you don’t have to use this lens (but man is it sa-weet!) — any nice wide angle will do the trick (like the 16-35mm).

You’re going to take Two Shots. Shoot this one first.
First you’re going to position the light right near your subject, in this case I’m positioning it right next to our bride and as you can see from the production shot here, the lighting isn’t aimed directly at her — it’s kind of aimed a bit past her so the light is just skimming her a bit. That way, the light is more subtle and softer because the light that’s hitting her is from the edges of the softbox, instead of from the center (you’ve heard this technique referred to as “feathering” the light). You can also see my photo assistant Brad “The Beard” Moore standing by as I take the shot. This is important (more on why in just a moment).

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Above: Here’s the shot with the softbox fully visible in the image. That’s OK – you’re supposed to see it in a wide angle shot like this, but it won’t be there for long. 

Then comes the 2nd shot
Once you take that shot, where you can clearly see the softbox, ask your assistant (or friend, or friend of the bride) to pick up the light (it’s not heavy) and move it far away so you don’t see the light at all in the scene, and take your second shot. You want to keep your camera up to your eye the entire time, so minimize your movement between frames. Of course, if you’re shooting on a tripod, it doesn’t matter — you can theoretically take all the time you want, but you need to tell your subject (the bride in this case) to please hold her pose until you’ve taken both shots, so you don’t want to take too long between shots.

So, the process is this:

> Get your light in place
> Take the first shot, and keep the camera up to your eye.
> Have someone move the light out of the scene quickly and take the 2nd shot. Pretty easy stuff.

Figure 5

Above: Here’s the second shot, once the light has been removed. All you’re getting is the ambient light in the reception hall and no light from the flash. 

The post processing part is easy
Now open both images in Photoshop. Go to the image that has the bride lit by the flash; select all and copy that entire image into memory.

Figure 6

Above: Open both images in Photoshop; copy the shot with the flash in it into memory. 

Now go to the image with no flash (the ambient light image) and paste that image with the lighting visible right on top. If you used a tripod, you can skip this step and go on to #8, but if you handheld the shot (like I did), you’ll need to have Photoshop automatically Align the two images so they were perfectly aligned with one another.

You do this by going to the Layers panel; selecting both layers, and then go under the Edit menu and choose “Auto Align Layers” as seen below. When the Auto Align dialog appears, use the default setting of “Auto” and click and in just a few moments your two images will be perfectly aligned. Note: you’ll need to slightly crop the image to hide the white edges created by the alignment, but we’ll do that later.

Figure 7

Above: Paste the lighting shot onto the unlit shot, then select both layers and use Auto Align Layers to perfectly align them. 

Go to the Layers panel and click on the top layer (the layer with the lighting). Next, hold the Option key on Mac (the Alt key on a Windows PC) and click the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel (it’s the third button from the left). This adds a black layer mask over your entire layer, so the lit layer is now hidden behind that black mask, which is exactly what we want. Now, get the Brush tool and choose a small soft-edged brush from the Brush Picker up in the Options Bar at the top of the screen. Make sure you Foreground color is set to white. Now take the brush tool and simply paint over the bride and now she appears “lit” as you’re revealing just that one part of the lit image layer that was hidden behind that black mask (this is similar to the trick we used last issue for creating a cityscape at dusk).

As long as your bride isn’t close to the background in the shot, you won’t have any trouble painting her in — it’ll take all of five seconds. If she’s close to the background, then you have the worry of spilling light onto the background as you reveal the lit version of her. You can still do it, you just have to be more careful, take more take, and use a smaller brush.

Figure 8

Above: Add an inverted Layer Mask (hold the Option key on Mac, or the Alt key on Windows, then click the Layer Mask icon) to the lit layer; take a brush and paint over the bride in white to reveal the lit version of her in just that area. No spill on the ground, or the walls, or anything.

The last step is to use the Crop tool to crop away those white edges created by the Auto Align move. Lastly, I hate to say just “Add contrast” but — add some contrast in Camera Raw; sharpen the image, and you’re done.

There ya go: Some camera work, some Photoshop work, and a beautifully lit final image without spending a bunch of money.

Hope you found that helpful, and if you’re a KelbyOne member and want to see the full video on it, here’s the link.

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Next week, I’m coming to New York City with Part 2 of my “Shoot Like a Pro: Reloaded” seminar. Hope you can join me. 

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Above: We’re both shabangin‘ and squinching but the flatmosphere had us looking pretty ambifacial, but it’s mostly because we were worried that the photographer who took this (Kim Doty) might try to apply the brick wall technique.

OK, you see that caption above? It’s packed with some Hurleyisms, which are terms the one and only Peter Hurley has coined to describe what to do (and what not to do) when photographing headshots, and he was using these Hurleyisms pretty liberally during his in-studio guest duties on The Grid this past Wednesday (Peter was AWESOME by the way). Anyway, I mentioned during the show that there should be an online glossary of some sort somewhere with all these Hurleyterms, and lo and behold — now there is.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I welcome you to to the Official Unofficial Peter Hurley Glossary of Headshot Jargon (with definitions from Peter Hurley himself):

SHABANG!
A characteristic, attribute or trait that an image possesses producing a visceral gut reation of approval in the artist who upon viewing it for the first time rejoices by yelling SHABANG! at the top of their lungs.

DOUBLE CHINSVILLE
A place you don’t want to visit — where the subject lives when they don’t get jam their forehead towards the camera.

SCHTICK 
It’s your mojo – it’s your go-to moves to engage the subject. Could be comedy, could be chill and calm, whatever it is that works for you to draw something out of your subject.

FLATMOSPHERE 
The environment a photographer creates during a shoot when they’ve got zero schtick.

MFSS
Massive Front Shoulder Syndrome is when you turn the body 3/4 and then when you shoot it, the lens choice you’re using makes their front shoulder look three times larger than their back shoulder.

AMBIFACIAL
A character of a very small percentage of the population that can be photographed from any angle of their face still looks good.

PTERODACTYL NECK
A unattractive thickening of the neck when you cortort your subject into a strange and awkward position, to where their shoulders turn away from the camera, but their head is aimed back directly toward the camera creating a bulky looking trapesizous and a tense sternocleidomastoid.

HOLDING YOUR SUB
The main move to slim down arms when photographing somebody who is overweight. (see video below)

https://youtu.be/lXbOx36YXrU

HURLEYISMS
One liners foisted upon the subject to gain a facial reaction.

SQUINCH
Narrowing the distance between the lower eyelid and the pupil. It’s not quite a squint, it’s a pinching of the lower eyelids, so the subject appears more confident than they actually are.

LOOKABILITY
A Shabangin’ shot that makes you want to stare at that sucker.

BES
Beaty Eye Syndrome —  when your subject has one eye smaller than the other.

BPS
Big Pupil Syndrome — this happens when you shoot strobes and the pupil grows so you lose real estate in the Iris, which means you lose color in the eye. This doesn’t happen with continuous light sources — just strobes.

The Brick Wall Technique
It’s what you pose people in front of when you’ve completely run out of ideas — you’ve got nothing left in your tank, and you’ve got a brick wall close to your proximity, so you throw them in front of it and take the shot.


 

Well folks, there ya have it! Thanks to Peter for taking the time to glosserize his terms for me here on the blog.

That’s it from here in Houston, Texas (I’m here for my seminar today — next step New York City on March 3rd). Hope you all have a great weekend, and we’ll see you back here next week.

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Peter has organized the first ever “Headshot Crew Cruise” this April (on Norwegian Cruise Lines no less), where you cruise with Peter and his guest instructors from NYC down to Bermuda and back, and you learn and laugh and chill from port to port. The cool this is — the training part is free — just get your cabin, and you’re “in” to all the live classes (and fun) along the way. Here’s a link with all the details. 

 

 

SonyA7RII

Get Up To Speed Fast On The Sony a7R/S II with John McQuiston
If a Sony A7R II or A7S II is in your future or already in your camera bag, then this class is for you! Join John McQuiston as he gets you up to speed on everything you need to know to get started on the right foot with your camera. From getting oriented to all of the buttons and dials to changing exposure settings, and from explaining the focus modes to how to shoot video, John steps through the features and functions you need to know, while explaining its purpose and showing you how it’s done.

This class will be available today at KelbyOne.com. Leave a comment for your chance to win a free 1-month KelbyOne membership!

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Thank you Scott for another opportunity to share my photography adventures on your blog.

Few television shows ever achieve the 300th episode milestone. On February 9, 2016 NCIS not only accomplished it, they did so while being the most viewed television show in the world 2 years in a row!

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My name is Mike Kubeisy, and I am humbly honored to have been the photographer for 301 of those episodes. 301 you ask? I was involved with the spin off from JAG also. I have been involved with many shows that have achieved the 100th episode, and a few that reached the 200th milestone. 300, that’s a first for me. Allow me to share some thoughts and statistics with you.

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The U.S. viewership on a Tuesday night for a new NCIS episode, on average is 17 million viewers. The average worldwide viewership is around 52 million. Now that number is not for Tuesday night alone, our international viewers watch NCIS on different nights and also depending on the country, they may be watching an earlier season. Then you have syndication, you know USA Network every night. That’s a lot of viewers enjoying “Gibbs” and the gang.

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Scott Bourne from Photofocus acclaim has said No Photographer’s work is seen by more people than Mike’s work worldwide.

Alright here are some fun statistics: I have shot as many as 2000 images in one day, as few as 30 images in a day and an average of 400 images on one day of production. I have been on set as long as 16 hours and as little as 30 minutes, depending on what it is scripted and needs to be shot. It takes the cast and crew 8 days to shoot 1 episode, when aired is 43 minutes long with titles and credits.

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Think about this for a moment…12 hours a day times 8 days equals 96 hours on average to shoot 1 episode. We will shoot for 2.23 hours to capture 1 minute of what you’ll see on TV.

Crew

Then there’s another 20 days of Post. Editor gets about 3 days, then the Director’s cut gets about 4 days, then you have sound, dubbing, foley, music, spotting, colorizing and all that stuff they do in dark rooms. The shortest turnaround from completion to airing was 9 days, the longest was 60 days all depending where we are in the season. There are about 100 members of cast and crew on the set when shooting on average.

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Now allow me to share some more of my photos over the years. This is probably my favorite shot of Mark Harmon.

Harmon1

He knew my camera was on him, and he kept the horse still till I got the shot. One of the most lovable characters is “Abby”. She is always a blast to shoot, she brings such energy to the set.

Abby

She is also a super friend and prayer warrior with me.

Michael Weatherly who plays “Very Special Agent Dinozzo” is so witty you need to have your camera set and ready. You never know when or what he’s going to do.

Dinozzo

When my boys are visiting the set, Michael will always make time for them and make them feel special.

David McCallum is a fine Scotsman who loves my camera and allows me to shoot anytime.

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We have shot a few personal projects together.

Let me share some of the F/X shots with you.

Boom

These guys keep you on your toes with the toys they bring to the set. The show is shot in Santa Clarita, California and takes place in Virginia. It could be 85° outside and we need snow, call in F/X.

FX

NCIS has had a lot of awesome special guest stars. Here’s a shot of Mark Harmon and Jeri Ryan chatting for a moment while the crew “turns around”.

Mark Jeri

Ralph Waite played “Jackson Gibbs”, the dad of “Jethro Gibbs”, when I took this shot. It was fun because the 2 of them were just horsing around so much it was playful watching 2 established stars having such a great time together.

HarmonWaite

I was blessed they used my photo to honor Ralph Waite on his passing back in 2014.

Another powerful image that received a lot of comments on social media was this image of a homeless vet and his dog.

Homless Vet

The show wanted to feature the photos of photographer Lee Jefferies on homeless vets. So I needed to match the look of our character to Jefferies’ work. The episode was very powerful.

Let me share this final image of real soldiers turned stuntmen/actors with me.

Soldiers

I’m the one with the Canon ;).

My next milestone will be on NCIS: Los Angeles’ 200th episode next season.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my milestone with you, Brad and Scott. Livin da Dream Boyz!

That’s a wrap, fade to black.

You can see more of Mike’s work at 4Stills.com, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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OK, it’s not technically for just Instagrammers, and there’s nothing in the app that says it’s for using with Instagram, but it’s so perfect for Instagram, I can’t believe Adobe wasn’t thinking that way from the start (even if they didn’t say it).

The App is called “Adobe Post” (it’s free, and available for iPhone) and it lets you create all sorts of custom graphics with text for social media. While there are a bunch of apps that already do this type of thing, this one is particularly clever, thoughtfully designed and very fast and simple to use.

It comes with a bunch of pre-made, nicely designed, easily customizable templates for use as your starting place, but the way you can tweak and change everything (including trying out new color schemes with just one tap), makes it not only fast but actually a lot of fun.

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Above: This is the opening screen which shows a bunch of different templates (there are way more than you can see in the screen cap — they appear when you scroll down) — just click on the one you want to customize or “remix” as they say.

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Above: Once you choose a template to start with, you can use their built-in photos or your own. Here I took a photo and blurred the heck out of it first; and then imported it into the App as the background. Now you can choose different color palettes for the tint over your image and the text and the graphic (a rope circle in this case) separately. You can keep remixing these colors by tapping on the arrows over the color.

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Above: You can change design templates any time, along with different placements for your text (everything is pretty much editable at any time — you can change text, fonts, size, colors, templates, you name it). Here I changed templates, and then I uploaded a different photo. Just tap on those thumbnails below the image and it changes the layout.

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Above: I switched to an entirely different layout for a different photo (just a snap with my iPhone, and one of my favorite quotes from my wife — she said it to our daughter one morning and I still laugh every time I think of it). I changed the top text, the text below it, and tried different color palettes.

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Above: Here’s how it looks when uploaded to Instagram (yes, you can take your edited image from Adobe Post directly over to the Instagram App for posting).

Adobe Post is available FREE for the iPhone on the App Store (here’s the link).

Hope you find that helpful. Have a great Tuesday everybody!

Best,

-Scott

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