Monthly Archives October 2017

You need a drone…right?

It’s that time of week again! #HybridDaveTuesdays, on #TravelTuesday, right here on ScottKelby.com—boom! So, I caught you with that bait title and now I need to deliver the goods. Let’s do this!

 

Old Harry Rocks in Dorset, UK, shot from my Mavic Pro

I’ll start by offering you a view of Old Harry (the little rock at the end closest to the lens) as seen from 69 metres up. It’s a view that would have cost the price of renting a helicopter or airplane, gambling with the risk of weather, and far less flexibility in maneuvering and fine-tuning.

The market for consumer and prosumer drones is growing like you wouldn’t believe. DJI, manufacturers of the Phantom and Mavic among others, are now the worlds largest aircraft manufacturer AND the worlds largest camera manufacturer. So what does that mean for us photographers?

Well, for me as a travel photographer, it’s all about two things:

  1. Capturing familiar places from unseen angles.
  2. Finding brand new places with no previously seen view.

That means using a drone, which can travel the world with me and can demonstrate an optical performance, which maintains the aesthetics of my portfolio. Mavic, if you were wondering. But, this post isn’t about why I need a drone, it’s about why you need one!

Number one: It’s the best toy ever! The number of times I’m flying and some passer-by sees me with a controller in my hand and immediately stops in their tracks, craning their neck skyward, trying to nonchalantly spot my drone soaring high; or the yell of a child upon noticing the whirr of the rotors, exclaiming to their parents, “Look, a drone!” It’s a fantastic attention-grabber and this translates to the commercial world of a subscribed audience—for example, the fascination of guests and couples when I’ve pulled out a drone whilst shooting weddings is a great marketing tool, not to mention the awesome perspective the paying couple will get for their album.

 

Somewhere in the Black Forest in Germany, shot from my Mavic Pro

Next up, it opens up a whole world when it comes to water. A lot of drone work we see includes water, and that’s because it’s an entirely new world which, short of hiring a helicopter or a boat, wasn’t possible before drones. We can get low and shoot long, get a bit of altitude and throw in some 45-degree views, or go straight up and shoot bird’s eye view, just as a few from many possibilities. Water is, as we all know, the carpet to two-thirds of our planet, and the amount of action going on there carries an intimate captivity, which lends itself to so many awesome views.

 

The Pacific Ocean, off the California coast, shot with my Phantom 3

 

Malibu Farm Pier, CA, shot with my Phantom 3

Drone flying is just impressive. People are fascinated by flight, and by cool new views of things, and the fact that you have a toy (/weapon) in your backpack that can launch—that’s right I said launch—is just intrinsically cool! Drones are one of the most impressive pieces of commercially available kit to hit the ground (see what I did there?) in the last few years, and with just a little practice, you can get some awesome photos and videos to share and boost both your portfolio and your reputation. Also, when you talk about your drone, you get to use words like “velocity” and “attitude,” which makes me wet myself a little bit. ;)

The dot next to the rental is me, shot in Arizona with my Phantom 3

The cost: It’s cheaper than you think! My first drone experience involved a lot of money. And a crash. That memory echoed through me every time I looked at getting another drone, in particular, the cost of replacing it if I killed another one. Well, the advances that have been made in drone tech are astounding. Two particular examples that stand out to me in terms of the automatic features, which DJI spent many, many hours perfecting in order to stop me from crashing my drone, are these:

I was driving through the USA. Nevada, I think. I was making my way along a valley and noticed the awesome mountain changing beside me. It was near Navajo Rock and bore colours not dissimilar to it, so I had to get the drone up and get the shot. Winds were steady and high, but out came the DJI Phantom 3. I took off and the wind caught the Phantom, taking it sideways toward a rock face. The thing was nearly on its side in the air, but the GPS and all the other gadgets built into it kept it flying steady, albeit practically on its side. My better judgment told me to land it, but the demonstration of its stability was incredible, and the awesome tech flew by itself to keep in position.

The other example is when I took the photo up top of Old Harry Rocks in Dorset, a couple of miles from my parent’s home. I stood on a cliff top and the winds were gusting something unreal—the air was still, then felt about 50 MPH, then back to still, then back to 50 in seconds. I had my DJI Mavic Pro on the ground all ready to go. When you launch a drone, it’s good practice to hold a low hover for a short time as a kind of systems-check, and in the case of the Mavic, it takes that opportunity to use two ground-facing cameras to take a snapshot of its take-off point, so it can auto-land back in the exact spot. Whilst I held this hover, the intermittent, wild wind made my poor Mavic flap. My drone was literally wobbling in the air as if it were Homer Simpson on one of those fat shakers. The sound of the motors working hard with fine changes to deal with the deflected air buffeting the cliff below was a sad, sad sound, but it held itself with no control input from me, keeping its cool and just dealing with it until I gave it enough altitude to get out of the situation. Kudos, DJI.

But, what I was actually talking about was the price. That Phantom 3 is around $500, and the Mavic is around $1000. For what you get it’s totally worth the investment. By the way, never say anything like “I digress.” All that does is remind people that you’re digressing. ;)

 

A shot from a wedding taken with my Phantom 3

The photos and videos you can make can be absolutely stunning. Interesting at worst. I don’t need to explain this point in depth, as it pretty much speaks for itself. Drone laws are surprisingly relaxed. In the USA, stay below 400 feet, don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport (unless you’ve contacted the tower for permission), don’t fly over the Super Bowl—it’s basically all common sense. Just don’t risk being one of those drone pilots who makes the evening news and screws up my and Terry White‘s fun!

 

The Alpine foothills on the Austrian/German border, shot with my Mavic Pro

So, what about commercial use? Well my buddy J.R. (who can be seen here on Instagram) has photos plastered on his pickup advertising his successful photography business, and occupying a third of the back portion is a shot of his DJI Phantom 4. It’s there for good reason, and the reason is that the perspective offered by drones brings a whole new lease on life into real estate photography. (Lease. Get it? Real estate… catch up!) Not only that, but tennis clubs, golf clubs, marinas, country houses, aerial surveys—they are all potential earners for your photo/video business if you have a drone.

 

Soaring above Simi Valley, taken by J.R Maddox with his Phantom 4

 

By J.R Maddox with his Phantom 4

 

So, in summary, if you’re thinking of getting a drone, you probably should! It’s a decision you won’t regret!

 

Much love,

Dave

 

A Gator in Florida shot on my Phantom 3

KelbyOne Members sent in entries from all over the world, and these entries keep getting better and better, which makes the judging harder and harder. Nevertheless, we found an incredible photographer to honor with this own gallery opening, and we’re excited to announce that our latest winner is:

Stephen Wallace

Stephen (and a guest of his choice) will be flown to Tampa, Florida to be there for the wine and cheese reception celebrating his own solo gallery show at “The Gallery at KelbyOne.” (Note: If you’re like “What’s this whole gallery thing?” check out this quick Q&A)

Stephen is both an anesthesiologist and an attorney, but with an incredibly creative side, as his wonderful, playful, fascinating images from Myanmar absolutely wowed the judges. The colors and composition were spot on, but his dramatic light scenes were so breathtaking they won the hearts of the judges.

We can’t wait to see Stephen’s images hanging on the walls of the gallery presented using Bay Photo Lab‘s ‘Xpozer’ system for exhibition printing. We know Stephen will be blown away, and you will be too if you can come and see them in person (and yes — if you’re a KelbyOne member, you’re invited to be there his gallery opening).

You’re invited to Stephen’s gallery opening!
The opening is:

7:00 pm on Saturday, December 9th at the Gallery at KelbyOne (in the Tampa, Florida area). 

We’ll be broadcasting a live 1-hour interview (hosted by Larry Becker) with Stephen at 8:00 p ET that evening from our theatre (the live stream on Facebook from the opening and interview are open to everyone). More details and a link as we get closer to the opening.

Congratulations Stephen – we can’t wait to share your fascinating work with the world. :)

Here’s to an awesome week!

Best,

-Scott

“Yes! I’m so happy that this has taken off and has been well-received. Another fantastic interview! I absolutely love his impressions. He’s snuck a few of them in on the Grid from time to time. Great job Kalebra! And great interview Dave!”

That’s a quote from one of our members, talking about this new interview series from Kalebra called “The Personal Side of…. The series is well-named, as it unveils another side of some best-known educators, artists, and photographers in the world. I was thrilled Kalebra got to chat with Dave Black, my hero in sports photography and although I’ve known Dave for years, I learned so much about Dave I didn’t know.

What a fascinating person. He reveals so much about himself in such an honest and real way. It’s what I love about her series.

Her first published interview…
…with UK-based photographer Tim Wallace literally had me in tears — an incredible experience and you’ll find that Dave’s interview is packed with these same type of insightful, personal moments that make it a joy to watch and listen.

There’s much more to these legends than we know from their work behind the camera, and I’m honored that we get to share this other side of our KelbyOne instructors with our members in such an inspiring way. If you’re looking for something uplifting, intriguing, hilarious and just plain entertaining this weekend, give Dave’s “Personal Side’ conversation a try. You’ll be glad you did.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Best,

-Scott

Lightroom Presets: Killer Looks With Just One Click with Serge Ramelli
Lightroom presets are powerful tools for supercharging your workflow! Join Serge Ramelli as he demonstrates the steps he uses to create a variety of different presets that make photos look great in a single click. In this class you’ll learn how to make your own custom presets, how to apply them to different photos, how to create variations of your favorite presets, how to import presets you’ve downloaded, and much more. Develop presets are the fastest way to creating consistent looks across sets of photos, and once you start using them they can really change your Lightroom life.

In Case You Missed It
Time to learn everything else there is to know in Lightroom! Join Scott Kelby in this class designed to teach you a wide range of specific topics every Lightroom users needs to know. You can jump in on any topic that interests you and get up to speed on that aspect of Lightroom, and use this class as a go-to resource any time you need to expand your skill set even further. Maybe you need to know how to transfer a collection of photos from one computer to another, how to get the most out of the powerful Before and After options when editing, how to find any missing photos, or finally master Lightroom’s search feature. All these topics and more have been bundled into this first part of a multi-part series of classes, so pick the topic that interest you the most and dive right in!


I’m super excited about releasing my first post and I’m glad that it can be about this subject! This happens to be one of my top favorite things, mainly due to how spontaneous everything is. As you go through life as a creative you find out that a lot of your best work comes from when you just stop thinking and go for it. It’s even better when having muses who are up for any crazy lighting, open to different ideas and trying new things, it ends up as a perfect recipe for the magic to be made! A lot of times people aren’t willing to step outside of their comfort zone for the image, and most of the time that is what’s needed for a masterpiece.

The Set Up
I try to keep my settings and equipment around here when shooting my muses.

Equipment:

  • Canon 6D
  • Shutter: 1/125
  • F/: 5.6
  • ISO: 125
  • 70 – 200mm 2.8 Sigma
  • Lights: Elinchrom
  • (1) Portalite Elinchrom Square Softbox
  • (1) White Beauty Dish
  • (1) Snoot with  a red gel
  • (1) Reflector with another color gel
  • Neutral Density (optional)

I normally like my photos to have a lot of contrast in them. Using harsh lighting, I am able to create depth and clarity which makes it a little more tedious when it comes to retouching but worthwhile once the image is finished.

When using the square softbox, I position it as the key light, and the beauty dish is used for fill. I know that’s not very ideal at all, but creates exactly what I need. I also use the snoot with the red gel to cover the shadows with red. Sometimes you have to mix gels to get the proper color you want.

Lighting Example:

THE FINAL MOMENT!
Towards the end of my shoots, I always learn something new. By the end of the session, I may start creating slow shutter speed shots or playing with a different setup. When using colors and experimenting it’s welcomed. Don’t be afraid of not getting it right the first time, the second time, or the third time. Work at it until it’s almost perfect.

HOWEVER, to get back on point, I started creating shots with long exposure. It took a long time because with the method long exposure you have to make that everything is just right. That means everything from a steady camera to the camera settings, and all the way into lighting. Throughout trial and error and a little dizziness, I finally get the shot that I’m searching for.

You can see more of Donte’s work at DonteMaurice.com, and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Take a deep breath in…hold it…now exhale….

Mindfulness is filling our world right now. Our world is hectic, ever digital, shorter-scheduled, higher-pressured, and it creates angst. Perhaps the cause is right there in that sentence, but whatever it is we’re constantly looking for ways out. Yoga seems the most popular, but for me it’s photography. No matter the stress caused by taking photos or retouching them, the rewards are ever greater, but is there any scientific basis here or is it just me? And perhaps, more importantly, how do we keep photography fun and not let it become ‘labour’ in terms of mindfulness? It’s this specific point I’ll try to address.

My friend Mimo Meidany seems happy enough to escape with a camera here in Portugal

Simply holding a camera can induce mindfulness—having it in your hand and being ready, being aware. Scanning the environment around you for that great shot, and singling out the good qualities of the world into one scene. Photography, in this sense, isn’t just about having your ‘main camera,’ though, it’s also about recognising when you’ve chanced upon something beautiful and reaching for your phone to document it, supporting the awareness of the immediate experience and bringing it focus, alongside creativity, rather than putting it aside. It’s often the case, in fact, that the memory of taking the photo is echoed every time you see it. Take this photo:

I love this photo. I took it in Norway, not too far from Odda. It wasn’t deliberate at all. My intention was a day hiking to Trolltunga, but when I arrived at the start of the signposted route, and was met with busloads of tourists and a car park packed full of people with much the same intention as me, I decided that perhaps it wasn’t going to be the idyllic, desolate walk I’d anticipated and my attention turned elsewhere. If I hadn’t met that thought, I would never have taken this shot and regardless of its eventual use or its technical constitution, it remains one of my favourite photos. The photo is underlined, twice, with mindfulness. It’s making the best of the bad situation—finding beauty elsewhere, focussing my attention, and aligning my mindset.

Doing this, and maintaining positivity in photography, is so, so important. Photography is pretty unique as it stands in a gray area, somewhere between occupation and hobby. As we all know, monotony and tedium will push through to varying extents in any job we do. If photography is our job, we need to be aware of this, and take control of this negativity and maintain our ‘happy place’ in our mind when practicing. If it starts to become tedious, or the fire and passion that made photography so attractive to us start to dwindle, then an assertive drive to rekindle it must begin. See something new, find some beautiful light, do something fresh, and reflect on exactly why you take photos. For me, it’s about sharing what I see in the way I see it. That’s why, if you take a look on my social media channels, you’ll see the phrase, ‘Let me show you what I see’.

Me in my happy place

Try this: The next time you chance upon something and your reaction is to raise a camera and capture it, try to bring yourself into that moment. Immerse in what it is that made you do that and just be present. Everybody loses track of things once in a while, feels like throwing down their camera and forgetting it all, and that’s fine. Just don’t make it permanent. If you picked up a camera in the first place, there’s a creativity flowing through you which expresses who you are and what you see, and it takes hold of your soul and makes you who you are. Bring yourself back into the moment and remind yourself why you’re doing it all.

Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.

mindfulness

ˈmʌɪn(d)f(ʊ)lnəs/

Noun

1.
a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings,
thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

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