Monthly Archives May 2012

Wow, what a week!
We shot three online classes (including “A Week in Paris with Jay Maisel” plus my on-location class on shooting travel photography, and a class on Lightroom/Photoshop for Travel Photography). We taped starting at 9:00 am each day and went non-stop until after midnight every day. We literally fell into bed each night, but we still had loads of fun (it’s hard not to have fun in Paris, even when you’re working).

Easier HDR
My new Nikon D4 actually makes shooting HDRs a lot easier, because not only can I finally just take three bracketed shots (one two shots under, one two shots over, and the regular exposure), but I can set my Self Timer to take all three shots for me (I know Canon’s have been able to do this for some time, but this is the first Nikon I’ve had that will do it. Not even the new D800 will do it — just the D4). So, I shot more bracketed exposures by far than I normally would.

The “Third Frame” technique
When I was going through my images, I saw that sometimes the third frame (the one over-exposed by two stops) would make part of the sky solid white, and when I saw the 3rd frame of my bracketed shot the Eiffel tower, it reminded me of the London Eye shot I had done with the solid white background, so I took it into Lightroom and pushed the Highlights and Whites until the sky went solid white, then I brought in lots of Clarity and Blacks to make the blacks pop, and it looks pretty cool. Then, I went back and started over from scratch by first doing the full HDR treatment (using Photoshop CS6’s updated HDR feature, and the built-in “Scott5” preset) and then I mixed in the sky technique from Lightroom, and it just came together.

If you look closely, I leave just a little bit of color in all the shots, so they’re not fully black and white. When I showed a few to Jay Maisel on my phone, he really liked them, and said “They kind of look like metal etchings” and I kind of agree. So, after the Eiffel Tower shot, I set out to shoot a few more iconic Parisian places, like Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe and The Louvre (below) and did the same thing.

Expanding the idea
Once I showed these to my wife Kalebra (who was along with me on the trip, and really made the trip a blast for me), she said, “Don’t you have other iconic places you could use this technique on?” I realized I had a lot of bracketed shots from previous trips, so I dug up a few and I’m sharing some of those below.

The reality is….
The reality is…. even if you have the properly bracketed shot, not all iconic monuments or buildings work with this look. I like ones where I shot it really wide with my 14mm or so, but even at that, some of them just didn’t look right, but I’m posted the ones I’m OK with so far (but I have more to try out from my archives).

Not for everybody
I know, like HDR in general, this look won’t appeal to everyone, because the only look that appeals to nearly everybody is no “look” at all, so I just think these are for me. In fact, I like it enough that I’m thinking of places I’d like to head back to, and go into them with shooting for this style in mind (which is what I did with the bottom two shots from Venice — taken after I processed the one from the Eiffel Tower).

One for the road…
I figured I’d bring it back around with a final shot from Paris below — this one a side-angle view of the Eiffel Tower with the 14mm (I only took two lenses — my 28-300mm, which was my main lens, and then the 14mm which I used in churches for a super-wide angle look or for this series).

Tomorrow, the Paris back story
I have a lot more to share about Paris, and our experiences there (both good and bad), but I wanted to share these first, so tomorrow I hope you’ll stop in as the story continues. Have a great Monday everybody. :)

Mesdames et messieurs bonjour!

Even though I’m still in Paris wrapping up our shoots here, I did see where starting today the Adobe Creative Cloud is now available, which ushers in a new era for Adobe, and a new opportunity for creative people all over the world (can’t you just hear that ELO song in your head right now? “All over the world-er-er-erld.”)

If you’re not up-to-date on the Creative Cloud, I did a post here a few weeks back with a quick Q&A about it and you can read it right here. Also, Adobe is offering a pretty incredible deal for existing Creative Suite customers to get on board — just $29.99 a month for the first year. Here’s the link to Adobe’s site for more details.

Congratulations for Adobe on the big launch, and Viva le Creative Cloud! :)

Bonjour! Sorry I haven’t been able to post more. We’ve been shooting from morning until late at night, literally non-stop on the go, and by the time we make it back to our rooms we’re just falling down beat.

Here’s a quick shot taken during our shoot out at the palace of Versailles, hand-held with a 14-24mm lens. What an amazing place. Off to start today’s final day of shooting, so I gotta run. More on Monday. Have a great weekend everybody. :)

Bonjour! Brad Moore here with the latest news and updates, live from Paris (well, as live as you can get on a non-live blog anyway)… :-)

Google+ Photographer’s Conference
We’re just a couple of weeks away from the Google+ Photographer’s Conference on May 22-23 in San Francisco! Register now for your chance to participate in photo walks, live shoots, and sessions with great instructors like Guy KawasakiTrey RatcliffPeter HurleyAlex Koloskov, and tons of others. Here are a couple of discount codes to use for registration…

Use GPLUSCOMM to save $50 off registration AND get 2 free months of online training at Or if you’re a student, use GPLUSSTUD to register for just $99 (must provide student ID)! These discount codes are valid until May 18.

Leave a comment for your chance to win one free ticket to the conference!
Right on the heels of last week’s new class, What’s New in Photoshop CS6, we just added a slew of new Photoshop CS6 classes from RC Concepcion, Corey Barker, and Pete Collins! These guys go into detail on the latest improvements on Design Features, HDR, Video, 3D, and more.

Not only that, but the highly anticipated debut of Lindsay Adler’s class, Fashion Flair Photography is now available as well! Join Lindsay on location and in the studio to see her unique take on classic stories with a twist of fashion and glamour.

Check out these classes and more at

If you’re in the Dallas area, you absolutely have to check out the launch of an awesome new photo studio, WELD. They’re having a launch party tomorrow night, May 11, from 8-11pm, where you can tour the space and enjoy free pizza and drinks!

WELD isn’t just a normal photo studio. It’s a community of photographers who share a space for meetings, work, and photo shoots rather than working alone in an expensive, lonely space. It’s the brainchild of our buddy Austin Mann, who gave us a preview of the space when we were in Dallas for the Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It seminar, and we were blown away!

So, make sure you swing by Friday night for some free food, network with other photographers, and see if the WELD community is something you’d like to be a part of!

Crush The Composition DVD
We’re currently in Paris filming Scott’s upcoming Travel Photography class for Kelby Training, and man is it going to rock! He’s even said that he’s just as excited (if not more so) about this class as his Crush The Composition class. So, why not give away a couple copies of the DVD?

Leave a comment for your chance to win one of two copies of Scott’s Crush The Composition DVD!

Heck, Why Not?
Let’s give away a couple more of those A Day With Jay Maisel DVDs while we’re at it. You know what to do!

Last Week’s Winners
Here are the lucky winners of last week’s giveaways…

Google+ For Photographers Conference
– PrototypeM

The Photographer’s Photoshop CS6 Power User Tour
– Doug A

A Day With Jay Maisel DVD
– M. Davis
– Peter Lawton
– Brian Parchim

The Digital Photo Workshops with Dave Black
– Lorri Eastin

That’s it for this today. Have a great Thursday!

Hi folks, my name is Mike Wiacek (pronounced WHY-sek, WHY-check, or as Matt Kloskowski suggested, “WHY-check-SKI”). Unlike many of the previous guests who have been in this same position, I’m not a full time photographer, graphic designer, or insightful philosopher. I’m an engineer and manager at Google in Northern California. I grew up in Philadelphia, lived in Maryland for a few years, and then moved out to Silicon Valley. When Brad asked me if I’d like to be a guest blogger, my fingers quickly typed, “I’d love to,” long before my brain could understand what my hands had done.

Now before I ramble on too much, let me make a few promises about my little spiel here. I won’t bore you with any technical computer jargon, apart from a brief mention of C++, HTML, and SQL, and as I only mention them in this disclaimer, you’re safely past them now. I also won’t advocate any pro-HDR, anti-HDR, or selective color agendas. I say this even though selective color is almost never a good idea, but I do think Selective Color Agenda would make a fantastic band name. With the legalese out of the way, let’s move on.

I bought my first SLR about 5 years ago.  I debated the purchase for nearly 6 months until my wife, Sara, said, “Oh for Pete’s sake, just buy it.” When it arrived, Sara and I headed down to Point Lobos, which is a state park just south of Carmel, CA. Landscape artist Francis McComas once called it, “The greatest meeting of land and water in the world.” I was armed with no clue how to use my Rebel XTi, just some instructions from a friend to put it in Av mode and shoot. After that first trip, I was hooked, even though none of the photos were any good. Having always lived in large cities, I’d never been one to go to state and national parks, but now I was a photographer. I now not only wanted to go to these places – I had to go to them.

I fell in love with landscape photography, and as many before me, it made me fall in love with California. I was new to the area and to be honest, I didn’t know when I moved out here that I would only be a short drive from Napa Valley, Yosemite, Mammoth Lakes, Big Sur, Redwoods National Forest; the list goes on and on. And so, here I was, an amateur photographer living in quite possibly the best place in the world for any photographer to call home. I did the only reasonable thing. I started exploring, seeing places in person that I had taken for granted as existing only in magazines and books.

As I started shooting more and more, something unexpected happened. I began to notice potential photographs pretty much all around me. I think as a photographer you become more aware of your surroundings. Such moments can be in the way a cloud rolls over a mountain peak, or the way the sun illuminates a person’s face through an airplane window, or the expression of a child meeting their hero at Disneyland. These moments are gifts and as photographers, it’s our job to capture them. To make this concept more concrete, I often think of Eisenstaedt’s photo of the sailor kissing the nurse after the end of World War II. That single image captures the elation, joy, and relief not only of a single soldier, but of the entire world. That’s why, 70 years later, we still know this photo. It carries a gravity with it, that is both timeless and grounded in our collective memory.

Before I moved to California, I salvaged a box containing family photos that was mistakenly put out with the trash. They sat in that box for several years, almost forgotten. As my experience in retouching my own images grew (thanks in no small part to Kelby Training), so did my interest in preserving those old family photos. I started sorting the box of images, and I realized that some of them were over 70 years old. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe how close we had come to the entire photographic record of my family being lost forever. I packed the images up in plastic wrap, and prepared to ship them off to be scanned. It was an incredibly emotional and thought provoking moment for me. All tangible forms of the smiles, tears, joy, and pride of four generations were wrapped in cellophane, sitting on my granite counter.

My mother’s brother, my uncle, died before I was born. An accidental fire broke out while he was asleep one night. Even though I never knew him, I feel a profound sense of loss and pain when I think about what happened so many years ago. Very little survived the fire, and what pictures of him we still had, were in this pile of photos. None were larger than a 4×6.

When the images were returned, I cropped, straightened, and restored nearly 1000 of them. I removed scratches, long set color casts, and fixed the aging paper. Mixed in with the stack of photos, I found one of my uncle from when he was on vacation. I don’t think my mother or I even knew it existed. I spent nearly a week fixing it. I removed a honeycomb pattern from the paper, added sharpness where I could, and enlarged the image to a 12×18. I had it framed, and I gave it to my mother for Christmas that year. I don’t think I’ve ever given her a better gift, than the rescued photo of her only brother. She hung that picture in her living room, and even without saying it, I knew how important it was to her.

That’s when I realized the second obligation of a photographer, and it’s one that most of us don’t do well at all. We have a tendency to want to be behind the lens, as a passive observer of life. However, we are part of the story, even if we don’t want to admit it. Most family photos are missing one person, and that’s unfortunate. And if that person is a photographer, the problem is often compounded. So while we strive to record those little moments that express true magic, we must also remember to participate in them. We are only on this earth for a short time, and while we may create memories in the form of photographs, we are not truly passive observers. We do have a place and a role to fulfill. When we’re gone, those who remain will never look back and wish that we had captured one more sunset image, but rather that we had spent one more sunset together.

Don’t forget to sometimes put the camera down, and stop trying to capture life, but live it. Accept that there are truly wonderful experiences on both sides of the lens, and while we can never capture them all, we don’t need to. Life is too short to try.

You can see more of Mike’s work at, find him on Google+ and Twitter, and come see him in person at the Google+ Photographer’s Conference!

Belles femmes bonjour! [OK, I couldn’t resist after my French mistake yesterday].

The crew is waiting for me in the hotel lobby, so I have to make this quick:

(1) Thanks to everybody who sent questions via Twitter, G+ and Facebook yesterday for Jay during our taping. Lots of great questions, and I was rattling them off to Jay during our walk down the Champs-Élysées yesterday. Keep those questions coming (you can post them here as comments), and I’ll pose them to Jay during the day.

(2) On the flight over here, I finished off my teaching outline for my class at the upcoming “Google+ Photographer’s Conference this month, and I’m really excited about teaching the class. If you’re going to the conference, I’ll hope you’ll stop by and check out my class (it’s on day one). If you’re not signed up yet, it’s not too late: Here’s the link. 

(3) Thanks to everyone who tweeted names of chocolate stores or bakeries here in Paris (my wife, who dearly loves chocolate and considers it its own food group) is here with me, and I wanted to find her some awesome chocolate). As it turns out, one of the chocolate stores that was mentioned often is literally directly next door to our hotel (I am not kidding — its wall butts up against the wall of our hotel). Another often-mentioned one is a block away.

(4) Matt Kloskowski was here last year, and met up with Paris-based photographer (and NAPP member) Serge Ramelli, and Matt just raved about Serge, and we are lucky (lucky like you cannot believe) that he is working with us this week. First, he’s a terrific photographer (here’s the link to his G+ page) and his French is actually pretty good, too (wink), but we’re really enjoying our time getting to know him, and his work. Just a great guy, and a huge help.

(5) We’re getting some amazing stuff from Jay. We’ve had many wonderful learning moments during Jay’s time here in Paris so far, and the whole team is really excited about what we’re getting. Jay has so much to give, and I can’t wait until the class is done to see it myself, because he says so many things as we walk and chat in cafe’s (all on camera) that I’m afraid I’ll miss some of it, so I’ll be watching it right along with you.

(6) I just saw where says they now have my Lightroom book in stock. Whoo Hoo!!!

Have a great day, everybody!! Merci! :-)