Monthly Archives August 2012

If you’ve followed me for any time at all you’ve heard me rave about the photography of Bill Fortney. He’s been kind of a mentor to me over the years and has taught me an awful lot (and I’ve been blessed to have taught some landscape workshops alongside him over the years as well).

A couple of day’s ago Bill wrote what I think it probably the best article I’ve read about photogaphy this year, and definitely one of my top picks ever. I shared his post earlier this week on Google+ and here are some of the comments from readers:

> “I think this may be one of the best photoblog posts I have ever read. It simply speaks volumes.”

> “Wonderful & inspiring article. Gets me back on track as to why I love photography.”

> “You’re right it did made me think about my own photography..  truly wonderful article.”

> “An insightful treatise! Thank you for sharing it with us. I have tried to adhere to the principles mentioned and am inspired by the well written reminder.”

> “Incredibly profound post!!”

> “Thank you to Bill Fortney (re his “Why Bother?” blog post) for this authentic share. ”

> “I happened upon this post by Bill Fortney today and thought I need to share this with all of my fellow photographers out there who may be in the same situation.  …”

> “An excellent post by Bill, now he has a new fan I had not seen his work before”

> “I’m so glad I stopped to read it.”

Bill’s post is called “Why Bother” and I promise you, if you read it you’ll be glad you did  —- it really has the power to change the way you feel about your own photography and why “Why we bother” at all.

Here’s the link. 

[DISCLAIMER: Within his article Bill lists his five favorite photographers, and I about fell over when I saw my name on that list. That is absolutely not why I’m sharing this article (though that would have been enough reason alone for me — wink), but the rest of his article is what really struck a chord with me and I imagine many of you share the same struggles as I do with my photography, and Bill’s article helped me a lot. I absolutely know I don’t deserve to be included with the other four people on his list, but I am humbled, grateful, and at a total loss for words, outside of just saying “Thanks, Bill.”]

Hey gang: I’m getting ready to head out to Vegas for next week’s Photoshop World Conference & Expo, and I wanted to share a few quick things before you (us, we) get there. Here goes:

(1) It’s true — they’re giving away a new D800!!!!
Nikon Professional Services (NPS) sponsors a pre-conference workshop at Photoshop World on shooting concert photography like a pro, and the class actually gets to a shoot a live band on stage — then the best shot (as chosen by applause) wins the new D800. Here’s the cool thing —- the workshop is limited to just 40 participants, so each person has a great shot at winning! There are just a few spots left — and if you’re going to Photoshop World, you can snag one of the last spots. You will totally  love this workshop! Here’s the link ( and good luck!

(2) Bring Your Camera
You will kick yourself if you don’t because there’s all sorts of shooting opportunities, including the incredibly popular Westcott Shooting Bays, where they’ve put together a series of very creative sets, all perfectly lit with their TD-6 Spiderlites, with live models in full costume for you to shoot. It’s a HUGE hit with the attendees so make sure you don’t miss it (it’s on the Expo floor).

(3) Canon is there in a big way this year!
The folks at Canon have a large booth with their own demo stage and they’ll be doing live demos throughout the expo, so add them to your must-visit list.

(4) You can get a FREE Expo-only pass!
If you can’t go to the full conference, you can still come and check out the Expo floor, see all the vendors, checkout all the new gear, take advantage of show specials, and even catch bonus expo-floor classes at a number of different theaters, and a kick-butt line up of classes at the Peachpit Press theater. Here’s the link to register for your free pass.

(5) I hope you’ll consider catching one or more of my classes
I invite you to check out some of my classes on the conference track, and my Wacom-sponosed retouching session. Here’s the link to what I’m teaching in Vegas

(6) Dave Black’s class will blow your mind
Dave is just flat out brilliant and can make any topic brilliant but he’s doing a Sports Action live shoot of a world champion gymnast in class, on the balance beam, and what he pulls off is insane!!! He did it earlier this year at the DC Photoshop World and people are still talking about it.

(7) Here’s some other trainers you don’t want to miss!
These are such inspiring, passionate and just amazing instructors that I would recommend you catch at least one of their classes even if the topic isn’t one that’s right up your alley. Try sitting in on a class from Jay Maisel, Joel GrimesFrank Doorhof, Jeremy Cowart, and Cliff Mautner. You are guaranteed to learn and be inspired.

(8) Don’t forget to catch some of the new trainers, too!
I get the job of choosing who gets to speak at Photoshop World so when we bring on somebody new, you know they have to be really special, and these trainers are: Erik Valind, Lindsay Adler, and Tamara Lackey.

Wait, we’re not done — look at the graphic below, then read under it.

(9) The “Tweet-up” is back
OK, it’s called “The Meetup” now (see the graphic above, designed by Corey), and here’s the deal: Come join me and the rest of the Photoshop Guys at the EyeCandy bar in the middle of the Mandalay Bay casino from 9:00 pm to 11pm(ish) Tuesday, September 4 for The MEET UP, (formally the Tweet Up.).

(10) It’s not too late if you want to come!
Although you can’t register online at this point, if you call our toll-free number, 1-800-738-8513 they will get you set-up with a full conference pass and anything else you need.

OK gang, that’s my tips. Hope I’ll get to see you in person in Vegas next week!!! Whoo Hooo!!!! :)


Photoshop World
Today is the last day to register online for Photoshop World! But that doesn’t mean you can’t come to the event and register in person. It’s not too late to get your Pro Pass upgrade, sign up for a pre-conference workshop, or snag an After Hours Party Ticket for an evening of fun at House of Blues.

You can also grab your FREE Photoshop World Expo pass right here! Come check out bonus classes from people like Dave Black, Jeremy Cowart, Jack Reznicki and get your hands on the latest gear from Wacom, Westcott, and Manfrotto in between seeing demos from Adobe, Nik, and OnOne.

And if you’re already registered, make sure you download the Photoshop World App (iOS | Android) to create your own custom schedule and keep up with all the latest news. And check out the Photoshop World Blog to grab the 2012 Insider’s Guide!

I’ve heard that there are still some rooms available at Mandalay Bay, so book one of those while you can and stay where the instructors stay!

Photoshop Hall Of Fame
One of the big announcements that always happens at Photoshop World is the newest inductee into the Photoshop Hall of Fame. A brand new website that’s dedicated to this has been launched, just in time for the announcement of the 2012 inductee at next week’s conference in Las Vegas! Head over to to see everyone who is part of this very exclusive club.

Kelby Training
Shooting Fall Landscapes, the latest class from Moose Peterson, has just been added to the ever-growing library of classes on Kelby Training! Go with Moose to the Eastern Sierras and watch as he shares his decades and decades (and decades ;-) ) of wisdom with you as he creates stunning images of fall color. Once the images have been have been captured, Moose will then take you into the digital darkroom and show you how to finish them.

Kelby Training Live
Check out these upcoming Kelby Training Live events:

Photoshop CS6 for Photographers with RC Concepcion
9/14 – Arlington, TX

One Light, Two Light with Joe McNally
9/13 – Phoenix, AZ
9/20 – Hartford, CT
9/28 – Atlanta, GA

Lightroom 4 Live with Matt Kloskowski
9/11 – St. Louis, MO
9/12 – Kansas City, MO

Leave a comment for your chance to win a free ticket to one of these seminars!

How To Make It As A Photo Assistant - Drew Gurian Webinar
Today at 4:00pm ET, my good friend Drew Gurian, first assistant to Joe McNally, will be hosting a webinar on How To Make It As A Photo Assistant. Register now and tune in for what’s sure to be an incredibly insightful hour! Make sure you get there early, because once it’s full you won’t be able to get in!

35% Off Michael Clark’s Exposed
If you saw yesterday’s guest blog from Michael Clark, you know he’s a kick-butt photographer with great insights. If you want to see more of his work and find out how he creates his images, pick up his book, Exposed. You can grab it from Peachpit and use the code KMCLARK to get 35% off the physical or eBook versions! Both versions also include 149 minutes of video showing Michael’s post processing workflow for Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS6.

Plus, you can leave a comment here for your chance to win a signed copy of the book from Michael!

Portraits with Passion Webinar with Fay Sirkis
If you’re a NAPP member, make sure you keep an eye out for Part 3 in the four-part webinar series, Portraits with Passion, from Fay Sirkis! In the third part, Fay focuses on one of the things she’s most well known for, Pet Portraiture. This one goes up September 12, so mark your calendar!

If you’re not a NAPP member and want to check this out, along with other member exclusive tutorials and discounts, you can sign up right here. And use promo code FAY3 to get a free What’s New in Photoshop CS6 DVD!

50% Off Training Apps from Serge Ramelli
Now through September 1, you can get any of Serge Ramelli’s training apps for half price! Choose from training on Photoshop, Lightroom, photography, and HDR processing.

Serge is a photographer and instructor in France, and helped us tremendously when we were filming Scott’s Travel Photography class and A Week with Jay Maisel in Paris (coming soon!). Check out his beautiful photography, and download some of his apps!

Last Week’s Winners
Photoshop World Full-Conference Pass
– Ed Adams

1-Month Kelby Training Subscription
– Jeff Choi

That’s it for today. We’ll be in Vegas for Photoshop World next week, so Free Stuff Thursday will be taking a break before returning on September 13. Hope to see you there!

Hey street photographers! Brad Moore here with some info on a contest you might be interested in…

The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts is holding their third International Photo Competition, and their theme for this one is Focus on Street Photography. They’ve also asked Scott Kelby to be the judge for the competition!

The deadline for entries is tomorrow, August 31, so click here to find out more about the competition and prizes (including $500 for Best In Show)!

Image by Eric Barth

"Embrace risk. That is the key to improving at anything. Without the willingness to go down the uncharted path, you will not learn, you will not improve, and you will not grow. This might sound a little preachy, but it is a life lesson I have learned again and again as a climber, a mountaineer, and a freelance photographer. Safety is an illusion. Get over it. You cannot control everything in this world. I have learned to learn from my mistakes because I learn more from my mistakes than I do from my successes. When I make a mistake I own up to it, and then plot how to avoid making that mistake again. Making a mistake is just part of the learning experience. It makes me aware of certain possibilities and outcomes. Sometimes it is only by making a mistake that you stumble onto an unexpected result, or image in this case, and by analyzing that mistake, you can create a whole new look.

Creative people need risk to "break on through" to the next level; here I am making a reference to one of The Doors' most popular songs. The musical group creatively pushed the envelope, were unconventional (in the extreme), and took chances with their music and lyrics. I use the band as an example only to make the point that if you can't embrace risk, your images will never be more than mediocre. And that is a sure way to underachieve.

Red Bull is a company that embraces risk and asks their photographers to do the same. I had only nine seconds total to capture the action for this B.A.S.E. jumping assignment. In this image, Jon DeVore of the Red Bull Air Force Team, is leaping off a 3,200-foot cliff in southwestern Utah in his wingsuit. I was hanging over the edge of the cliff just next to Jon as he jumped. I wore a climbing harness and was attached to three small bushes that might have held my weight but I never fully committed my weight on the rope.

As a climber, a mountaineer, and an adventurer, I implore you to get out and experience your own adventures. They might just be the best motivator for your photography. Stepping out of your comfort zone provides everyone with a chance to grow. The next step is to take the knowledge you have learned and put it into practice repeatedly and as often as possible. Dare to fail. Aim high. Dream up an image you want to create and then go out and try to create it. If you don't get the result you want, try again and again until you do. Practice makes perfect, or at least in photography it makes your images better. Get inspired, get motivated, and get moving. That is the key to photography.”

The three paragraphs above are from my most recent book, Exposed: Inside the Life and Images of a Pro Photographer. They sum up my credo as an adventure sports photographer. Over the last sixteen years, I have pursued my craftâ”and my professionâ”with a fervent passion. I have also been fortunate to work with clients such as Nikon, Apple, Adobe, Red Bull, National Geographic, Outside, Men's Journal, and Sports Illustrated. I have crafted an adventurous lifestyle that has allowed me to witness and document some truly remarkable feats of physical prowess.

The cover of my latest book, “Exposed: Inside the Life and Images of a Pro Photographer"

In this blog post, I want to encourage you to â˜embrace risk' and invite adventure into your life and your photography. I am not advising that anyone take huge risks physically, but a â˜willingness to go down the uncharted path' and explore those things that make you uncomfortable will open up a whole new world. As an example, I will share a bit of my story and how taking on a new sport changed my life in a way I never could have imagined.

In my last year of studying physics at the University of Texas at Austin, I took a weekend rock climbing course through the outdoor recreation program. I was a shy kid. I lacked self-confidenceâ”and I was a little afraid of the risks involved in rock climbing. But I hadâ”and still haveâ”an inclination to run headlong into situations I find challenging. Little did I know at the time, but that rock climbing course would be the start of a whole new career.

Over the next few years I became obsessed with climbing in all its forms: rock climbing, ice climbing and mountaineering. As I gained confidence in my skills as a climber I also gained confidence in myself. When I was a teenager I had explored photography as part of my art studies. It was climbing that brought me back to photography and it was the confidence I gained through climbing that gave me the courage to pursue a career as an adventure sports photographer. I started out shooting rock climbing, then branched out into just about every other adventure sport.

In this image, Chris Sharma is hanging from the biggest hold on this very difficult climb while "Deep Water Soloing" in Mallorca, Spain. This image was shot early on in my career while on assignment for Men's Journal. And yes, he is not wearing a harness or a rope. Deep Water Soloing is a form of rock climbing where you climb solo without a rope and if you fall the water catches you. I am hanging next to Sharma on a rope to get the shot.

In the beginning, I shot everything "on spec," meaning I went out and created the images and then licensed them to various magazines and climbing companies after the fact. This was, and still is, a risky way of doing business. I never knew where my next paycheck was coming from or when it would show up. My first big break was an assignment for Men's Journal shooting rock climbing in Mallorca, Spain. That came to me about five years into my career. My second big break was an assignment to shoot freeriding (a cousin of mountain biking) for the first version of Adobe Lightroom. After that assignment, advertising and editorial assignments started to come more frequently and with increasing regularity.

I don't want to give the impression that my career was a joyride on easy streetâ”just the opposite, it was a constant struggle to make it work. Working as a freelance photographer involves an insane amount of hard work, stress and risk. For me, that risk was both physical, as an adventure photographer, and financial. Many of my early climbing trips were sponsored by VISA and MASTERCARD, both of which were stored safely in my wallet. It took me years to pay off those climbing trips and my camera gear but to this day I don't regret it one bit. I certainly don't recommend using your credit cards to fund your business adventure but at the time I had no other options.

Above is an image of YouTube superstar Danny MacAskill that was shot for Red Bull. Working with Danny was a supreme pleasure and his story is incredibly inspiring. His story is a perfect example of a motivated, and extremely talented individual, showing what they are capable of and reaping the benefits of being able to show that to the world, via YouTube.

Even now, sixteen years later, I can't tell you exactly where my income will come from six or more months from now. I have to have faith that, like the last sixteen years, the assignments and the work will come to me. This certainly isn't the job for anyone that wants some vestige of financial security in the form of a steady job. But for me, the rewards of this job are that I am able to see and create images of stupendous feats of bravery in the outdoors. My life of risk has also allowed me to follow my passions to places I never thought I would ever visit and being able to share these adventures with the world, through my clients, is a great pleasure.

It is only by pursuing risk on a continual basis that my career has grown, and blossomed into what it is today. I still seek out challenging assignments, new sports and even new genres of photography. I still long for that next adventure. If I don't have an adventure on the horizonâ”something to look forward toâ”I start to get a little stir-crazy. I am not an adrenaline junkie, as so many "extreme" athletes are labeled. I am just addicted to having adventures.

One of my latest passions is capturing the dynamic sport of surfing. This image of pro-surfer Dylan Longbottom surfing a barrel at Teahupo'o was shot in Tahiti specifically for my book Exposed.

When I wrote Exposed last year, I had serious doubts about the topics covered in the book and if they would be of interest to anyone at all. The idea to write about the realities of working as a professional photographer, the stories behind the images and detailing how a handful of my images were created was hashed out prior to starting the book with Ted Waitt, an editor at Peachpit. I wanted to be extremely open and honest about my experiences as a pro photographer including all of the embarrassing moments so that the reader could see how I got from A to B to C.

As an example of hard work, creating this image of professional rock climber Timy Fairfield involved lugging over 200-pounds of lighting gear and equipment up into the cave in 98-degree heatâ”not to mention that fact that Timy still had to climb this difficult route in very tough conditions.

When the first few reviews of Exposed came in a few months ago I was amazed. The reviews were well beyond anything I had imagined. Yet again, taking a risk paid off.

It is my hope that this blog post will at the very least make you sit up and think about how you can add some adventure to your life and inspire your photography. Embracing risk may not be easy, and it may not be pleasant, but it will certainly make life interestingâ”and interesting often makes for phenomenal photographs.

While shooting an assignment for Men's Fitness with the Henry 1 Search and Rescue team in Santa Rosa, California, I saw the opportunity for this image and had only twenty minutes to create it. This image was only possible because of the digital preview available on the rear LCD of my Nikon camera, which allowed me to refine the lighting in a matter of minutes.

Thank you to Scott, Brad and the gang at Kelby Media for asking me to write a guest blog post. It is a great honor to be included among the wonderful photographers here on Scott's blog. And thank you for taking the time to read this guest blog post.

If you would like to read more about the adventures behind my images and how they were created please check out my book, Exposed: Inside the Life and Images of a Pro Photographer.

You can see more of Michael's work at, keep up with him on his blog, and find him on Facebook and Twitter. Michael also produces a quarterly newsletter, which is a mini PDF-magazine that details his latest adventures, and includes news updates, equipment reviews and other articles on various topics related to the photo industry. If you would like to sign up to receive the newsletter send him an email. You can check out back issues of the Newsletter on his website here.

You can also get 35% off Michael’s book by using the code KMCLARK at the Peachpit Store!

Here’s a few of my favorites from my two pre-season shoots:

Camera Info:
I shot the game with my usual set-up; Two camera bodies: A Nikon D4 with a 400mm f/2.8 lens (mounted on a Gitzo monopod), but I put a 1.4 tele-extender on for the entire game, which turned my 400mm into around a 550mm lens, but you lose a stop of light so I could only shoot at f/4. Shooting at f/4 with that lens means I had to crank my ISO up between 3,200 and 4,000 depending on where they were on the field due to changes in lighting. My 2nd body was a Nikon D3s and I tried (again) using a 24-70mm but I’m going back to my 70-200mm from here on out — the 24-70mm just has such limited use — the players have to be literally right in front of you).

I shot both cameras wide open (at f/2.8 or f/4 because of the tele-extender). I shot in JPEG (for more shots in burst mode). My shutter speeds were around 1/1000 of a second and higher. Since I was able to shoot at f/2.8 with the 2nd body, I only had to crank the ISO on my 2nd body to around 1,600 to 2,000 (that’s the difference one stop of light makes —- from shooting at 1,600 to having to shot at 4,000).

OK, onto the photos (they look MUCH better larger, so be sure to click on them for a bigger view.

Hope you guys have a Super Tuesday (and don’t forget to scroll down one more post to my Photo Walk update, ’cause things are getting crazy!!! :=)