Monthly Archives December 2008


I didn’t include any of my own books in my Gonzo Holiday Gear Guide, but I did write a few books that I hope you might consider as gifts for the photography freak on your list this year. For example: has put together a special limited-edition boxed set which includes both my books, “The Digital Photography Book, Volume 1, and Volume 2” along with one of my signed 8×10 prints (yup, I hand signed each one).

The special limited-edition boxed-set packaging makes it perfect for a Holiday Gift (It’s actually really nicely presented), and you can order this special boxed set (created exclusively for, by clicking right here.


Here’s a holiday deal with a kicker: If you buy OnOne Software’s Photoshop Plug-in Suite 4.2 (which is already $100 off), before December 18th, 2008, you’ll get Matt Kloskowski’s “Photoshop CS4 Power Sesssion DVD” as a free bonus.

Hey, $100 bucks off, and a killer DVD (normally $69.95 by itself). If you’re really slick, you can use this offer to buy one thing and get gifts for two different people. Here’s the link for details.


My buddy Jeff Revell, of fame, is just finishing up a book on Canon’s new 50D. What I really like about Jeff’s approach to the book is that it’s not just another expanded version of the camera’s manual, because rather than just teaching how to use the buttons and dials on the camera, he’s teaching you how to use the camera to take better photographs all the way around.

I’ve seen some of the content and layouts from the book, and I have to tell you, he’s going to break the mold for how “how to use your [fill in the blank] camera” books are written. You can preorder his new book now at Barnes & or

I just placed my order five minutes ago.


As most of you know, before coming to work with Scott, I was Joe McNally’s assistant.  Earlier this year, I started blogging.  On my blog, I began telling the story of my first big adventure with Joe, detailing my mishaps along the way.  But I never finished, much to the dismay of both of my readers.  When Scott asked me to be his guest blogger for this week, I thought it might be a good opportunity to both finish the story and share it with a (much) larger audience.

Before you begin, a word of warning.  It’s a bit long, so I’ve parsed it into four parts to make it a little easier to get through.  As you’re reading, you’ll be thinking, “How can this get any worse??”  I assure you, it can and it does.  I hope you enjoy!

Part I – Always Double-Check Your Carry-On

The second job that I assisted Joe on was a portrait for AARP in Washington D.C. The subject was a lawyer who had taken up pottery in his retirement. Since it was only the second shoot I’d been on with Joe, I was still getting the hang of packing gear in the Suburban… Still learning the best place for each item to go. Location work being what it is, we had to park about half a block away from the pottery studio and walk the gear over. Of course, it also started pouring the rain.

This meant that I had to walk back and forth from the studio to the truck, in the rain, to retrieve gear that I had forgotten to bring on the initial trip. Multiple times. One of these items was a knife. The cameras have these L-brackets on them that partially cover the USB port, making it difficult to access when shooting tethered, and thus requires a knife to pry it open. “Hence”, Joe informed me, “the knives always travel with the cameras.” Okay, point taken.

The shoot went well, and Joe worked his magic to create what looked like daylight pouring in through the studio screen door when it was anything except sunshine and kitty cats outside.

Photo by Joe McNally

From D.C., we continued traveling and began working on the NCAA Basketball preview issue of Sports Illustrated. Seven colleges over the course of about two or three weeks to do portraits of the “big freshmen.”

Fast forward a week or two, and Joe and I are flying to a different city every other day. This was a new experience for me, seeing that I’d flown a total of three times in my life before this trip.

We were going through security at Salt Lake City Airport one early morning, en route to Tucson, when the TSA agent pulls my camera bag (Joe and I each traveled with one) and says he needs to look through it. Sure, whatever. Nothing out of the ordinary…

So, he begins digging through it, and pulls out a knife. A Leatherman to be exact.

TSA Agent: “Sir, did you realize this was in here?”

Me: “Oh, crap. I wasn’t even thinking about it…”

The searching of the bag continues… He pulls another knife. Swiss Army. Suspicious look…

TSA Agent: “Sir, is there anything else in here I should know about?”

Me: “Um… I think there might be one more.”

Yep. Another Leatherman.

Me: “Just a second, let me get my boss. He’s coming through the other line.” I turn around. “Joe…”

TSA Agent: “Sir, is this your bag?”

Joe: “Yeah…?”

TSA Agent presents knives.


Me: (very sheepishly) “But… You said the knives… always travel… with… the cameras…?”



Your ideas really do make a difference! Back a few months ago I asked for your feedback on bolding the keyboard shortcuts in my Lightroom 2 book for Digital Photographers. It turned out to be a big hit with readers, but along with the great feedback, there was also one constant request; for spiral-bound editions of my new books.

We did some research, and learned that the major bookstores absolutely weren’t interested in stocking spiral-bound books, but with the help of with our publisher (New Riders), as a test we went ahead and special-ordered 1,000 copies of my latest book, “The Photoshop CS4 Book for Digital Photographers,” which we’re having spiral-bound at the printer. After these 1,000 spiral-bound copies are gone –that’s it—-they’re gone! You can order yours direct from us (the only place to get these limited-edition spiral-bound versions) by clicking here. 

Another idea was to include a tear-out keyboard shortcut guide, and although I wasn’t able to get it included in this edition, I am working on an idea moving forward that might work out well for a book I’m doing next year (more as it develops). Anyway, my thanks to all of you for letting me know what you’re looking for, and I hope this spiral bound version winds up being a hit, because I’d love to be able to offer this alternative version for all my new books.


Hi everybody, he’s some quick Tuesday Stuff:

  • A nice follow-up piece to my tutorials last week on making photo books, comes from Syl Arena who did a survey and research about photo book sources. Worth checking out (here’s the link).
  • We released another very cool new online class at; this one’s called “Classical Lighting and Posing Techniques with David Ziser (shown above).” His classes have been a HUGE hit with subscribers, because he has a way of just bringing things down to earth, and really making them stick. Here’s the link to all the lessons.
  • This week’s “Quote of the Week” is from my buddy Matt Kloskowski, who was interviewed in Dave Cross’s “Finish the Sentence” segment. When asked the question, “If I could give one piece of advice it would be…” Matt replied, “…forget about the technical stuff sometimes. Don’t concentrate so much on histograms, 8-bit, 16-bit, JPEG/Raw, Adobe RGB vs. sRGB etc… Concentrate on what you’re seeing, take better photos and that stuff won’t be as crucial.
  • This one’s totally just for fun, but it’s worth seeing just to see the amount of effort that went into it. My book designer Jessica sent me this—-and well, you just gotta see it. Here’s the link (make sure you look at the high-res version).
  • Lastly, renown outdoor photographer and educator Moose Peterson is at NAPP Headquarters this week, and I’m having him do a guest spot later today for an upcoming episode of Photoshop User TV. Let me know what you’d like to see Moose cover on the show, and maybe we can get him to talk about/demo/discuss it.

That’s it for today. Have a great Tuesday everybody!