Monthly Archives September 2010

A few weeks back, I did an interview with Sophia Betz from the blog “The Photoletariat” and one of the questions she asked me “Which photographers inspire you?”

Besides the ones I mention here on the blog (like Moose Peterson, Jay Maisel, Dave Black, and Jeremy Cowart, among others), I listed a number of other photogs whose work I go to when I want to be inspired. People whose work makes me want to grab my camera and start shooting.

The list wound up being so long that Sophia asked if she could run it as a separate post, and last week she did. Here’s the link to the list of photographers that inspire me—some very well known (like Joe McNally) and some you may not have heard of, but I find myself going back to their work again and again. Hope you find some there that inspire you as well.

Hi Gang: I know many of you have generously supported the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya this year, and I wanted to give you guys a quick update on a some great news:

(1) The sales of t-shirts from my Worldwide Photo Walk raised over $7,000 this year.
This could not have come at a better time. I got an email from Molly Bail, who runs the orphanage, looking for help in covering transportation costs, clothing, and school supplies for the children in the orphanage, and right about that time Rob Jones (from Towner Jones Photography, who organized the sale of the shirts), let me know that not only had we raised that much, but that the first check was already on its way. Way to go Rob, and to everyone who bought a shirt (100% of the profits went to the orphanage).

(2) Yesterday, after a very long, complex, and tedious process, the Orphanage was granted official registration as a Charitable Children’s Institute in Kenya (their designation for a Children’s Home). They had to go through loads of legal wrangling, and miles of red tape and politics to get this done, but thankfully—it’s done. During the hearing (in front of 20+ people from the Kenyan Children’s Dept. board, the head provincial officer who overseas children’s homes in a large area of Kenya, and had thoroughly inspected Springs of Hope Orphanage), said that he thought it to be “The Best!”

(3) You can follow Springs of Hope Kenya on Facebook right here.

Hey gang, Brad here with the latest installation of Pimpy Thursday!  Let’s get to it…

  • App developer Shawn Welch (creator of the Photoshop World app) just released the Presenter Clock app for iPad and iPhone. You can read Terry White’s full review right here. (Just to give you an idea of what he thinks, here’s a quote from the review… “If you give any kind of timed presentations, this is a MUST HAVE APP!”) And, hey… It’s only $.99!
  • Moose Peterson just announced his new aviation photography workshop, called Air2Air, a few days ago. If you’re an aviation and/or photo enthusiast, you definitely want to click this link. :)
  • Speaking of aviation photography, Bill Pekala, head of Nikon Professional Services, has a great series of blog posts from the Reno Air Races! Check them out from beginning to end right here.
  • Our buddy Terry White just posted his 8 Must-Have iPad Apps for Photographers over on the Best App Site. It’s a well-rounded list that features a variety of photo-related apps. It’s got post-production, inspiration, shooting tips, and even an app that turns the iPad into a variety of light sources!
  • Ed Greenberg posted a really helpful article on Top Ten Myths of Copyright, Plus One over on that’s a quick, easy, and informative read.
  • Alan Hess put together a superb blog post about what goes on backstage at Photoshop World before the big keynote. If you’ve ever wondered just what goes into putting on the keynote, Alan does a great job of showing that.
  • And, lastly, just another reminder that Scott’s bringing the Photoshop for Digital Photographers Tour to London on October 15th, so be sure to sign up if you haven’t already!

That’s it for now. Have a cool, awesomely killer day! :D

Many thanks to Scott and Brad for inviting me to write a post on this blog – It’s an honor to follow many inspiring photographers as a guest blogger here.

On my own blog, I normally write about the process it took to get a single picture or ramble so much that I sometimes wonder the next day what I was talking about. I hope not to ramble and I’ll try not to leave behind after the first sentence, but can’t promise anything.

There are many things I could talk about, and I had a hard time thinking of something, but since I am laid up injured and out of work due to an injury, I thought of something I am currently forced to do and try to do often even when healthy.

This tip I am passing along is very helpful to myself and can be translated into any form of photography – whether you consider yourself a: commercial, photojournalist, portrait, food, wedding, bad, good, struggling, world-renown, or what-have-you photographer.

Leave your camera behind every once in a while – see without your camera.

When I first began shooting a couple years ago in college I was a huge Strobist fanatic. I started shooting with artificial light in very controlled environments. I knew whom I was shooting days before, I had a game plan and I knew what gear to bring. I was ultimately in control.

Since then a lot has changed.

Now my days comprise nearly of all natural light and in uncontrolled environments. As a photojournalist, I sometimes only know what I am shooting minutes beforehand, and even if I do know my assignment the night before, I rarely know anything about the surroundings, people or lighting conditions.

In short, I need to be able to walk into any situation, and make photographs that are not only candid moments, but also both telling to the story and visually appealing to readers.

I love photojournalism. It’s always something fresh and exciting. I’m always meeting new people, traveling, and learning something. There is something about documenting someone’s life, even if for a couple minutes, that is rewarding and keeps my blood pumping.

But whether it’s a posed lit-portrait, a football game or walking around aimlessly looking for a picture to fill a void in the newspaper, some assignments aren’t always stimulating to our pupils. Let’s face it, we as photographers get assignments that are just as boring as they sound.

We lay in bed the night before, or in my case, sit in the office minutes proceeding, trying to visualize moments that will never come. We try to think of the lighting that will be nowhere close to what it is. And we try to convince ourselves that we’ll come away with something spectacular.

As mentioned above, I used to do that a lot when I began shooting. I’d literally stay up hours on end trying to conceptualize what I was hoping to see. But I quickly found out that I was always setting myself up for disappointment. Nothing is ever how we picture it before hand. It’s life.

So why I decided to over-think a recent essentially mundane assignment is beyond me…

I was told to “find a nice moment” at Thanksgiving Point, fundamentally a large museum and petting zoo, to go along with a story. There is no real thought process when I am handed an assignment like this. I typically show up to my assignments and play it by ear, as they tend be like a scavenger hunt. It’s fun, but can be frustrating at times.

I walked around the complex multiple times searching. I knew children having fun were a huge part of the story, so I tried to blend in, which can be hard when you’re sporting lots of facial hair, a large camera and snapping pictures of kids. But I trucked on ignoring the probable judgments.

As I snapped pictures, I quickly realized my images of children petting animals were boring. The angles were wrong. The light was harsh. Walking around an environment, even when it’s fresh to your eyes, gets old really quick. Alas I was being too critical of my images.

Instead of dwelling on this aspect of the assignment, I put my camera in my car, and walked into the museum. I had to look without any pressures of my camera.

It’s amazing what I saw. I simply meandered through the gallery of artifacts as a visitor. I wasn’t forcing myself to take pictures or find moments.

After one walk through, I returned to my car, grabbed my camera and made maybe 40 frames.

I think it’s a good exercise to see without your camera.

Sure, as a photojournalist it’s not always ideal with tight deadlines and multiple assignment days when time is tight. That goes with being a commercial photographer when a client is looking to have pictures turned around quickly. It goes with whatever type of photographer you are.

But hoping to run into something great is not going to happen everyday. Sometimes it just has to be a no pressured scavenger hunt. Leave the camera at home one day, take a day off or simply take a 10 minute break if your images are up to your own par.

Sure you’ll see pictures everywhere, and kick yourself for not carrying your camera, but you’ll be forcing yourself to look outside your normal vantage and see things in a new light.


In high school I used to be more into video than I was photography. I think it’s where I found my real passion for story telling and documenting others. Being into cars, my friends and I would drive from Baltimore to Philadelphia to document illegal street racing. While not apparent at the time, I learned to tell what was happening in front of me truthfully.

I now continue to do the same, but it can be complicated when you’re juggling shooting stills, video and audio all at the same time. But it allows the viewers and readers to get a better sense of the story by not just reading, but seeing and hearing the subject.

At my current job at the Provo Dally Herald in Utah, we photographers are each given a couple days a month go out into the small community and find a story which appears on the front page every Monday. In the couple days we have, which are usually bookended by normal daily assignments, we are sent to find a story, shoot stills for print, write the copy, and produce multimedia.

Recently I found Mike Hayward of Payson, Utah. He was concrete trained by trade and had been working with his father since a young age. But overshadowed by the dwindling economy, he had been out of work for quite some time. That was until he received a lathe for wood working from his father-in-law three months ago.

Before meeting him, I knew nothing of Hayward. I only knew he made wooden vases and bowls in his garage. The first day I went to his home we sat and talked for an hour to get to know him better before even shooting any pictures.

I usually decide to shoot pictures first because when I start combining video and stills during the same assignment, one isn’t going to be as good as the other. So the first couple hours I hung out I simply got to know him and shot stills.

The next morning I went back to shoot video and get a bulk of my interview audio. With that in mind, every subject is different, some take time to open up to you, others feel comfortable right away. Hayward and I connected quickly, so he made my job easy. He wasn’t afraid to open up and tell me the real story of him being out of work and now starting a new venture.

In the end, I like to keep my videos short to two-minutes to hold the viewers’ attention. I also like to tell a short part of the story, not the entire thing. I feel like the video should be an extension to the article, not a summary.

You can see more of Patrick’s work at his website, keep up with him on his blog, or follow him on Twitter.

UPDATE – The glitch should be fixed now. If you tried posting a comment yesterday or this morning and it didn’t show up, give it another go. -Brad

Hi Gang:
So sorry the comments you guys are posting aren’t appearing today. I have no idea why, but our Web team is looking at the problem right now. :(

Hopefully we’ll have it fixed soon.



This is one of those things you just kind of stumble upon, and think to yourself, “Hey, that looks kinda cool,” but you’re not sure why (well, now I know why, but I didn’t when I first found it).

The idea for this came to me while I’m working in Lightroom one day. I normally work in a view called “Fit” which fits your entire image inside the center preview area, with a bit of gray canvas area around it (as seen above).

But for some reason, on this particular day I had my View set to Fill (so your image fills the entire center preview window, as seen above). Probably did it by accident.

Normally, when I want to focus on just the photo, without all the distractions of Lightroom’s panels, I press Shift-Tab, which hides the top, bottom and side panels from view, so all you see is the photo, but on this particular day, instead I hid just the side panels (as seen above), and I’m looking at the screen and I’m thinking “Man, that wide cropping really looks kind of cool.” I didn’t quite know at the time why, but I went over to Matt Kloskowski’s office and he loved it. Next stop, RC Concepcion’s office and when I showed him this on one of his photos in Lightroom—he loved it.

But it was when RC said, “I kind of makes it look like a widescreen movie,” that it hit me why I liked it so much—it’s got that cinematic movie feel to it. So, he and I spent a while trying to figure out exactly what this wide cropping ratio was, and how we could apply that widescreen crop to our images in Photoshop the easy way. We made some screen captures of the image in Lightroom with that on-screen cropped look, and then starting counting pixels. We even brought Corey Barker over to look at it, since he’s a total movie freak, because we though if anyone would know how this relates to a movie style cropping, he would know.

As it turns out, Photoshop has a built-in New Document Preset that was literally within a pixel or two of being the exact same cropping ratio as what we had captured in Lightroom. To find this, press Command-N (PC: Ctrl-N) to bring up the New Document window, then choose Film & Video from the Preset pop-up near the top. Now from the Size Presets choose NTSC D1 Widescreen Square Pixel (as shown above), and it creates a new document with guides already in place for a widescreen image like the one we captured in Lightroom.

However, when you size the image to fill within the inside guides, there’s white space left over on the top and bottom. But, at least now I could drag my image onto this document, size it to fill left to right, then I could crop the document down so just the image is visible, and then I would know in inches (or pixels) how large to make my Custom Crop. That way, I could just create “Cinematic Style Cropping” from here on out, without having to create this new document, and all extra these steps.  The cropped size turned out to be a 12.111″ x 5.389″ size at a resolution of 240 ppi (or in pixels, 2907 x 1293).

So, now you can create a custom crop in Photoshop you can apply to any standard digital camera image to give it an instant “Cinematic Style Widescreen Crop” by simply clicking on the Crop Tool, going up to the Options Bar (shown above) and then typing in 12.111 inches as your width and 5.389 inches as your Height, and then set your resolution at 240.

Now, when you drag out the crop tool so it fits side-to-side in your image (as seen above), the area that appears inside that cropping border will get the Cinematic Crop.

Here’s what it looks like (above) with the crop applied to that image.

If you want to take it up another notch, and really give it the Cinematic feel, add the letterbox look you get with anamorphic widescreen movies. You do this by going under Photoshop’s Image menu and choosing Canvas Size. When the dialog appears (seen above), turn on the Relative checkbox, then for Height enter 1 inch. Lastly, for Canvas extension color (at the bottom of the window), choose Black from the pop-up menu (as seen above), then click OK.

Here’s what it looks like with the black Canvas area added in Photoshop.

And here’s what the final image looks like, with the Cinematic cropping and letterbox added.

So, at this point, it’s just a simple custom crop, and you can save that custom crop, with those dimensions and resolution as a Tool Preset by clicking on the Tool Preset icon at the top left corner of the Options Bar (as seen here), then click on the New Preset button (shown above). Now, anytime you want this crop, you’re just one click away.

Now, it’s entirely possible that there’s a way easier way to do all this—-to create a Cinematic Cropping inside Photoshop, but I haven’t figured it out. Yet. ;-)

UPDATE: Just learned from @ersphoto (Enrique San Roman, who follows me on Twitter) that you can enter the Crop Ratio 2.39 to 1 in Lightroom’s Crop Tool to get the same cropping. Just click on the Crop tool, then click on the pop-up menu to the immediate left of the lock icon and choose “Enter Custom” then type in 2.39  and 1.00 in the Aspect Ratio pop-up menu (as seen above), and you’ve got that crop. Enrique noted that the crop ratio is based on Panavision film. Thanks Enrique, and I’m sending you a signed copy of my Lightroom 3 book today for helping me out! :-) Also, thanks to Mike Reeves who pointed out that this also works with Camera Raw’s Crop tool as well.

Anyway, give this a try on some of your photos and see what you think. Of course, if you have Lightroom, just open any image, set the View to Fill (in the Navigator panel), and then just hide the left and right panels from view (press F7 and F8 to hide them), and there you have it—Cinematic Style Widescreen Cropping (without having to actually crop).