Monthly Archives August 2008


Man, did I have an absolute blast on Tuesday! The NFL’s Chicago Bears flew me up to the Bear’s training camp (it’s held about 90-minutes outside Chicago at Bourbonnais, Illinois) to teach a private workshop called “How to Shoot Sports Like a Pro,” for a special group of some the Bears longtime supporters and longtime season-ticket holders. My buddy Dave Moser came along with me to help with the workshop, and generally keep me out of trouble.

I broke the class into three segments:

  1. I did the first hour in the classroom, where I did a slideshow and live camera demo talking about equipment and techniques for shooting all kinds of sports, but of course, with an emphasis on shooting Football.
  2. Then we went outside where I arranged to have three football players, in full Bears uniforms (pads, helmets and all), run a series of scrimmages for the class so we could practice the techniques we learned in class (the players weren’t actual Chicago Bears, but were part of the Bears organization and totally into the gig—they were great—you can see some of the shots below).
  3. Then after shooting outside for about 45 minutes, we headed back inside to do critiques of the shoot, so the students could see what they were doing right and what they needed to work on (I did the critiques anonymously, but when I ran across a student who had some shots that really kicked butt—then I asked them raise their hand).





(The top photo by Dave Moser. The bottom three taken during our class shoot by Mike McCaskey. His bottom photo demonstrates a segment where instead of trying to freeze the action, we tried panning and lowering our shutter speed to 1/60 of a second to blur the movement and create a sense of motion).

The reason the second and third sections of my workshop were so important, is that the Bears graciously arranged for everyone in the class to stay after and shoot the real Chicago Bears from the sidelines during a closed practice. What an incredible opportunity, and a perfect way to end the day (I was excited that the class would have a chance to take the tweaks in composition and technique they learned in the class and apply them right away to a real world shoot). Anyway, it was just a blast—I couldn’t have asked for better, more attentive, or more involved students (some of which had brought a teenage son or daughter).


(L to R above; my buddy Dave Moser, Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith, Me, and Chicago Bears Chairman Michael McCaskey).

Thanks to everyone in the Bears organization especially our host Michael McCaskey (shown above) and the Bear’s Director of Stadium Sales & Services, Adam Kellner, who were so gracious and accommodating to Dave and I during our trip. It was truly an honor to get to work with you and your first class organization. Go Bears!


One last thing in the “it’s a small world” department; Dave and I just landed at Chicago O’Hare airport, and we’re outside waiting on the rental car shuttle and I hear, “Scott? Dave?” and I look beside me and standing two feet from me is John Nack, Adobe’s Principal Product Manager for Photoshop (who was my guest blogger just a few weeks ago). He was in Chicago visiting family, and we just happened to wind up in the exact same place by chance. (Photo of John and I above by Dave Moser).

A big thanks to Andrew Rodney’s guest blog yesterday, which really opened a lot of people’s eyes as to how digital imaging is changing, how our workflow is evolving, and how Lightroom and Photoshop fit into that workflow.I especially appreciate the comments from my readers, and from Andrew himself who posted a number of follow-up comments which really expanded on what he wrote and grew into a really great and informative discussion (almost an article within an article, which I think is cool). Something that one of my readers, Dan Sroka, wrote in a comment really stood out to me and so rings true with me. Here’s what Dan said:

“After using Lightroom for quite a while now, I don't find that I am doing less work in Photoshopâ¦. I find that I am doing *different* work in Photoshop. Because Lightroom has taken over the heavy lifting for getting a photograph into shape, this has freed Photoshop from those tasks, and allowed me to use it in more creative ways.”

Well said Dan, and just a note to my regular readers; if you’re not reading the comments other readers post, you’re missing out on some really great insights and discussions. Also, if you do post a comment, you’ll find a very friendly, helpful community of friends awaits. Thanks Andrew for inspiring this kind of response, and for your commitment as a teacher to our digital community as a whole.

I love the friendly vibe that exists from the readers who comment, and that things don’t turn nasty here, and that you can tell it’s a group of “friends helping friends.” It’s one of the things that really makes me want to write this blog each week, and I have you all to thank. Keep up the good work.


Photoshop and I are getting old(er)! I started working with Photoshop 1.0.7 in May 1990, only a few months after its release. It's hard to believe we are both 18 years older. It's been amazing to see Photoshop grow over the years and an honor working with Adobe as a beta and alpha tester since version 2.5. I've seen a lot of products over the years attempt to compete with Photoshop. Anyone remember Color Studio, X-Res, or Live Picture?

One of the most exciting image processing products I've worked with since the introduction of Photoshop is Lightroom. For those of us working with Photoshop for many years, Lightroom represents (excuse the clich©) a quantum paradigm shift with respect to image processing. Mark Hamburg, Lightroom's architect has described Lightroom as being "The Anti-Photoshop". It's OK for Mark to say this considering he was the chief Photoshop architect for years before creating Lightroom.

Applying a Photoshop bias towards Lightroom can be problematic; Lightroom operates in a totally different manner. Lightroom targets a core user group, provides a unique set of functionality while having the ability to work with lots of images at once. Photoshop is a pixel editor targeted to many groups of users. From day one, it was designed to work on one image at a time. Sure, you can use Droplets, Actions and Automate commands to process multiple documents, but essentially you're opening each, full resolution pixel based document into RAM, altering some or all pixels and saving these newly baked pixels back into the document.

At its core, Lightroom, like its older brother, Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) is a raw processor that creates idealized pixels using metadata-based instructions. You define these instructions and the original data, which is never altered, is used to build a new, desirable appearing image. You're never baking a color appearance into a pixel-based image until you export or print this new data.

Some Photoshop users dive into Lightroom's Develop module and expect the controls to behave like Photoshop's controls. That's often a risky expectation. For example, both ACR and Lightroom's develop tools are presented in an optimal working order; top down, then left to right in the case of ACR. Some old time Photoshop users gravitate directly to Lightroom's curves since in Photoshop curves are the tool to alter color and tone. Yet Lightroom's curves are presented below other develop control sliders. It's really designed for fine-tuning. While you can work with the tools in Lightroom in any order you wish (Lightroom is real smart about automatically applying all the metadata instructions in the ideal processing order), you may end up chasing your tail by ignoring this orderly design. This is vastly different in Photoshop where you're affecting pixels on a per-edit basis and working in differing order, even altering the position of adjustment layers, can cause undesirable results and wasted time.

I recently had a conversation about Lightroom's Develop controls with the head of the photo department at a major university. He told me he didn't like the sliders and I asked why. "They remind me of the Photoshop Contrast and Brightness sliders and we all know these are poor tools". The sliders in Lightroom don't behave at all like Contrast and Brightness in Photoshop. Plus the hair on the back of my neck always rises when someone says "but we all knowâ¦.". We don't all know. In fact, there are situations where these tools could provide a desired result. I tried to convince this new Lightroom user that he should remove his Photoshop bias and try working with the controls in the order provided. If at such a time he can't produce the desired color and tone appearance, then we might investigate if this is indeed a flaw in the application (not likely with the pretty smart Adobe engineers) or if there's a flaw in the usage of the toolset. Its often the later. Suggesting that curves in Photoshop and Lightroom should operate identically fails the logic tests because the source data is so different as is the final image processing. You can see the same disconnect if you play with the exposure tools on a Raw in Lightroom versus the Exposure or Shadow/Highlight tools on a rendered image in Photoshop. The tools may have the same name, yet the processing and results are often significantly different.

Another bias I've seen is the idea of being very casual in handling your raw rendering and "fixing" the image later in Photoshop. There's a kind of macho mentality, (or maybe its just due to familiarity), that cause some users to dismiss rendering the best possible image data before using Photoshop. This is the old "I'll fix it in Photoshop" mindset. Never forget GIGO: Garbage in, garbage out! The result of edits applied in Lightroom and ACR is a totally new image, from either an existing rendered image (TIFF, JPEG) or better, raw. Edits are applied on high-bit linear data using the greatest color gamut from the raw data. It therefore makes sense to do all the heavy lifting, in terms of producing the desired color appearance, with such tools, long before you even consider launching Photoshop.

Those who've used Lightroom for a while often say, "I'm doing so much less work in Photoshop". Some may find this alarming, almost criminal. Photoshop hasn't lost its shine and is still an indispensable tool. Lightroom and ACR provide new ways of bringing ideal data into Photoshop. Use Photoshop's vast arsenal of tools to do the work that makes most sense: Layers and blending modes, compositing, precise retouching, and perspective control, to name a few. Global tone and color "correction"? Not if you can create the preferred, global and tone rendering of new pixels using Lightroom. The toolset in Lightroom and Photoshop do overlap in some areas, but both complement each other. The message here is abandon the bias and use the right tool for the right job.

…none other than the “Digital Dog” himself; Photoshop Hall of Famer, Color guru, and one of the principals of “Pixel Genius” Andrew Rodney!

I’ve been a fan of Andrew’s for years, and besides having him as my honored guest blogger tomorrow, you can also catch him teaching at Photoshop World, in magazines like PPA’s Professional Photographer, and on his site “” Make sure you check back tomorrow to catch his special Wednesday Guest Blog post! :)

(Note to my readers: So sorry this is going up so late; I’ve been traveling today [I’m back now], but this is the first chance I’ve gotten to post since early this morning. More news on why on Thursday).

Here’s some quick stuff heading into Tuesday:

  • I just found out something cool about the Photoshop World Guru Awards: CDW (The Guru Awards Sponsor) is giving the winner in each category a brand new Apple iPod Touch, and they’re adding an Apple TV to the “Best of Show” winner’s prize package. We already have more than 2,000 people signed up for Photoshop World Vegas (Sept. 4-6), and if you’re going, but haven’t entered the Guru Award competition, the deadline for entries is August 14th, so make sure you enter. Hey, ya never know!
  • John Paul Caponigro has been blogging during his Annual Exhibit, and the opening night (August 1st) he did something new–and a video of it is already up on (here’s the link). As JP says, “It’s a new artistic direction – one of many. Next, 3D renderings, sculpture and installations – all digital.” Take a quick minute and check it out on John Paul’s new blog (Scroll down to Aug 1).
  • If you’re in the mood for something totally off-topic, but great for a laugh, one of my readers (Mitch Sacks) knows I’m a “Font Freak” and sent me this very clever video, and if you’re into type, even a little, it’ll crack you up. Here’s the link.

That’s it for today. Have a great Tuesday everybody and check back tomorrow for “Guest Blog Wednesday.” :)


Remember week before last, when I said there was a workshop coming up in California on how to shoot home interiors, and do you remember how I said I’d really like to take that class? Well, this weekend, I flew to LA and took it (along with my buddy Matt Kloskowski).

On Friday Matt and I spent the day with our buddy Marv, and then we spent the afternoon at Warner Brothers Studios on the set of NBC’s Chuck, where we hung out with our buddy, (the show’s photographer), NAPP member Mike Kubeisy. After we left the studio, we headed down to Venice Beach for our own three-man photowalk until the sun went down.

Saturday morning we were up early for the workshop, which was conducted in two brand new, beautiful, fully-furnished, professionally decorated homes in Santa Clarita (about 1 hr. outside LA), and the instructors (well known interior and architectural photographers Thomas Grubba, and Scott Hargis), were just absolutely terrific.

There were 20 students in the class, including Matt and Myself, and in the morning they talked about camera and flash techniques (they use Nikon SB-800 wireless flashes), and then we broke into groups (10 to a house—five people shooting upstairs in groups of two, and five downstairs in each house), and they showed us exactly how they’d light each room.

After spending the first part of the morning arming the class with interior shooting techniques, they cut us loose to actually start lighting the rooms from scratch. Once you got a room lit, and got the flow going, one of the instructors would come in, see how you’re doing, help you tweak your set-up, critique your shots, and generally make sure you’re “getting it.”

They had a catered lunch served in one of the houses, and after lunch when Matt and I were switching houses (you shoot in both houses during the workshop), we both commented that we had already gotten our money’s worth. After reflecting later in the day, we agreed that we had gotten our money’s worth in the first hour. It was that good.

Thomas and Scott are the real deal—guys who are out there doing this for a living day in and day out, yet, they openly shared everything from techniques, to business advice, and they were friendly, engaged, and very attentive to their students questions the whole day (they worked us hard—we were all beat by the end of the day).

If you’re into this type of shooting, I highly recommend their workshop (it’s honestly under priced for what you get, at $225). Here’s where to find out more about their workshops, and their flickr group. Thanks Thomas and Scott for producing such a first-class workshop. We had a blast! :-)