Monthly Archives January 2019

How To Make A Great Shot With An Ultra Wide Lens Using The Tamron 15-30mm with Scott Kelby
Shooting with an ultra-wide-angle lens opens up all kinds of new creative possibilities for photographers. Join Scott Kelby as he explores Tamron’s new SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. Scott explains how easy the lens is to use and shares some tips and techniques for getting the most out of an ultra-wide-angle lens. He takes viewers on a location shoot to the historic Tampa Theater and gets some great shots. This class will get you excited about the possibilities of shooting ultra-wide.

In Case You Missed It
Join Larry Becker for a class designed to give you a firm understanding of lens characteristics, capabilities, technologies, and key terms. Lens manufacturing has advanced at a rapid rate, and it is important to stay up to date with the advantages newer lenses have over those in the past. Larry takes you through the variety of lens mounts, aperture settings, focusing concerns, image stabilization, and cutting edge lens technologies that will make you a better lens consumer. Larry wraps up the class with a closer look at a few popular lens configurations currently available.

A little more than six years ago I wrote my first guest blog post here on Scott’s website, and it’s incredible to see both how much has changed, and also how much has stayed the same. Since my last post here I got married, moved five times, adopted two dogs, traveled to eight new countries, checked off a few items on my bucket list, and I’ve also grown my photography education business into a full-time job. While my life looks a little different than it did in 2012, my excitement and passion to grow as a photographer is the same.

One of the things I love best about my job as a photographer is that I get to call all of the shots. I have gone in a solo direction with my work and get to photograph what I want and make books and tutorials that are of my own creation. It’s fulfilling, but it also takes a lot of self-determination and a good work ethic, and I’m constantly forced to stay at my own very high level of expectations. Here I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned during my time as a photographer.

This is a selection of some of the images I created while in high school. I quickly fell in love with photography but worried I would fall out of love with it if I made it my full-time job.

Forge Your Own Path
When I was in high school, I can remember wanting to be a sports photographer. I had just taken my first class in photography and joined the yearbook committee as a staff photographer. I found my “thing” and knew that photography was something I wanted to do long term. Then, when I joined the military, I chose a path other than photography. I was worried if photography was my full-time job that I would fall out of love with it.

I began my career in photography by creating and licensing photos for stock photography, just like this image of a utility lineman working on a power line.

Now, a few decades later, I realize that I had nothing to worry about. Because of the Internet and digital photography, I was able to find a way to make photography my career. A path that began as with stock photography has evolved into a career in photography education. I wasn’t following someone else’s path or anything out of a book. I discovered the way on my own.

Each year in Canby, Oregon, the dahlia fields bloom, and with it come the bees, which are very photogenic. I have a lot of fun chasing and photographing both the bees and the flowers.

Whether or not you make photography a business, you’ll likely still go down a certain path with your work. Maybe you enjoy landscapes, architecture, portraits, or flowers. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you enjoy, and don’t be afraid to experiment with new types of photography that may be vastly different than your current photographic interests.

I’m lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest, one of the most beautiful parts of the country. And I’ve fallen in love with landscape photography because of it.

Should you stick to one genre? Maybe. It depends on your goals and what you want to achieve as a photographer. This is a very personal decision and is entirely up to you. Personally, I enjoy photographing almost everything. Many people know me for my food photography, but I also do a lot of landscape, nature, and travel, as well as macro and water-drop photography. I’ve even done some underwater photography as well. And thankfully, with the job I chose, having a diverse set of photographic interests can be beneficial. With a wide genre of photographs in my portfolio I am able to write books and create video training that appeals to a larger audience. And I also love the challenge of learning something new, and sometimes that involves going down a creative path that is completely different from the photography I’ve made in the past.

Sometimes I like to challenge myself to create something that is outside of what I normally would photograph, such as this black-and-white street image in Venice, Italy.

You will probably hear a lot of strong opinions on whether or not you should stick to one niche, along with many other topics relating to photography and business. Maybe they come from an anonymous voice in an online comment, or from a trusted photographer friend. I know I’ve heard my fair share of opinions from photographers who think they know what is best for me and my business. But in the end only you know what’s best for you and your photography. Listen to your gut and don’t let someone else steer you in the wrong direction.

Find The Best Social Network For YOU
With social media so prevalent in our digital lives it’s sometimes difficult to keep up. Staying fully engaged on social media can be a full-time job, and very few are able to have a team of people working this job for us. Personally, I’m pretty awful at keeping up with it, so now I’m doing my best to determine which of the current platforms to spend more of my time and energy on.

I also have my own social network, so to speak. One of the best forms of communication I have is my newsletter. While social media is good for sharing photos and other information, so much of it gets swept away only moments after it is posted. With email, however, my messages are going directly into the inboxes of my subscribers. It’s understood that each message I send is about me and my work, which is why people signed up in the first place. And while I offer a lot of free downloads and tutorials to my subscribers, I don’t hesitate to ask for a purchase. In fact, I make nearly all of my income from what I offer my members through the newsletter. It’s my most personal—and profitable—form of communication. It also allows someone to get directly in touch with me, just by replying to one of my emails! That gives me the chance to chat one-on-one with someone, and their message doesn’t end up getting buried by the endless flood of social media streams.

Challenge Yourself
Many of the photographic skills I have are from trying to learn and master something new. In fact, I quite enjoy the challenge of seeing whether or not I could really learn how to photograph something on my own, only using books and the Internet as my guide. And I’ve discovered some very enjoyable genres of photography that I will continue to pursue into the foreseeable future.

I taught myself food photography and eventually went on to write two books and one video course. This image of blueberry French toast was created in my KelbyOne course — Food Photography: A Recipe for Savory Success.

Food photography is one example. In my early stock photography days, I decided to give it a try, even though I knew nothing about how to properly photograph food. My initial images were awful, but as time progressed and I learned more about lighting and food styling, my images improved. Eventually I would write two books on food photography—Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots—as well as a video course on the KelbyOne website.

I thought it would be fun to see if I could create some legitimate water drop photos, and I was right! This is now one of my favorite types of photography.

Another good example is with waterdrop photography. In fact, I came across this just by random interest. There is a device I was purchasing—the Pluto Trigger—to use for photographing lightning, and while researching it I saw that they also sell a water drop valve as an accessory. The valve was not too expensive, and I thought it might be fun to try my hand at photographing water drops. After getting the valve and doing some research online, I was able to create some beautiful photos on my first try! It’s now become one of my favorite things to photograph.

Practice, Practice, Practice
Whether or not your goal is to become the best photographer you can be, we tend to enjoy something more when we’re good at it. The best way to become good at something is to practice as much as possible. Not only will you help create muscle memory with your camera, you will solidify your technical knowledge about your gear, settings, and even your surroundings and subject matter. And this also applies to processing your photos and using software. I’ve been an avid Photoshop user for a very long time, but even those skills can get rusty! I make sure to create my own personal projects on the side to keep my “Photoshop muscles” fit.

I love experimenting and playing around in Photoshop, which is how I created these double-exposure images.

Even I have had my moments where my camera sat around collecting dust for a little too long, and I remember feeling rusty when I finally picked it up again. If you enjoy photographing landscapes but live somewhere that is lacking in natural beauty, maybe you can experiment with a different type of photography that is not dependent on the environment. Or maybe you could sign up for a 365 challenge, where you create a new photograph each day for an entire year. I attempted this one (and didn’t make it all the way), but it did encourage me to create a handful of good photos that otherwise would not have been created.

There are a lot of other opportunities to encourage you to pick up the camera. If you’re on Flickr, you may find groups that motivate you to get out and use your camera. I even have my own “Nicolesy” group where I run monthly photo challenges (click here to check it out on Flickr). Or maybe you’ve joined a local photo club, a photowalk, or an online forum. Find something that works for you and inspires you to get out and create something.

One of the most thrilling experiences I’ve had was cage diving and photographing great white sharks. It’s an opportunity I may not have had if I were not excited about photography.

Whatever route you end up following, if photography is important to you, the best thing you can do for yourself is to create. While photography is my main focus, I am a fan of creating so many other things and have quite a few hobbies. I love to knit, I’m a big pottery enthusiast, and I also enjoy the process of working on my website and creating books and video training for my business. When I’m creating, I’m happy.

You can see more of Nicole’s work and tutorials on her website, YouTube channel, and Flickr profile, and keep up with her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Not every trip I take is about making money. Some are about bettering myself, challenging myself, and throwing myself out of my comfort zone in the interest of self-development. Personal projects are key to staying on your A game in photography, or in fact, in any creative art. As such, it’s very important for us to take a break from what is “normal” in our style of photography to learn some of the transferrable skills in other aspects of the art that we can translate into our own, everyday work, thus improving ourselves.

Personal projects are the leading method in this self-improvement. Have a little think about it and you’ll notice, consciously or otherwise, that there are so many personal projects out there ready-made for us to jump on. The “photo-a-day” challenge, the alphabet challenge, the colour challenge, the season challenge, they all serve to help us criticise ourselves, and this self-critique inevitably leads to improvement (although, in rare cases, it may lead to us throwing our gear down in frustration as well!).

If we are to stand out among a crowd, which is ever-growing and ever-changing, we must be noticeably different than the rest. If, in this industry, we remain stagnant, then we risk collapse. Everybody else will be racing forward, while we’re still stationary and stuck in our ways. Here’s a case study: –

Kaylee Greer, a great friend and an all-around amazing human being, told me about a problem she had. Her dog photography is world-class and she employs a simple setup and simple technique to create amazing portraits of doggos. She was approached by KelbyOne and asked to teach this technique, which she did. This meant that her “signature look” was being emulated the world over and she had a whole foray of photogs essentially catching her up. She was being joined by a crowd, from which she needed again to stand out! She told me what she did to step her shoots up a gear—I won’t elaborate, but needless to say, it was a personal project that was copied into her everyday shoots, and it worked!

At Imaging USA, I noticed that Joel Grimes was demonstrating a technique that was traditionally reserved for architecture photography, however, he was using it to photograph people! Models! And, in applying this technique from what was undoubtedly a curious personal project, he’s come up with something that is, for all intents and purposes, groundbreaking!

The cream of the crop, as you can see from these very specific examples, are pushing themselves with personal projects rather than simply “riding the cloud” because they know how very important they are. For me personally, I try to occasionally take whole trips which are “personal projects”—not having any prior knowledge of a location and testing myself in seeing what I can get, pushing the content to things I’m not comfortable shooting, and deliberately trying to make the best of bad light. It’s these personal projects which have carried me to where I am as a travel photographer, and if I may reference it, it’s my past life as a wedding photographer which has helped me understand composition and given me the ability to see light, alongside batting ideas off my partner in crime, Peter Treadway.

So, here’s my challenge to you: –

You may only venture 50 paces from your front door (communal front door if you live in a block) and I want to see you photograph light. Portray light, show that you can see light, read light, represent light, and use the experience to improve your skill as a photographer.

Then, I want you to upload a photo to Instagram using the hashtag #lightpp as part of this personal project, so we can all see.

Good luck!

Much love


Above: That’s our awesome group of ice warriors!

Hi, everybody — I’m back from four wonderful days up in Canada at snow-covered Banff National Park with my friend and KelbyOne instructor Ramtin “Rammy” Kazemi at a workshop he was hosting, and it was just glorious! Great weather (not too cold and not windy at all); great food, met some really great folks (that’s us above after a dawn shoot), took a bunch of photos, just had a ball all the way around – and best of all — I wasn’t there working; I was just there to learn and make images. Absolutely loved it!

Above: That’s Rammy. On ice. Such a great trainer, and a really great guy all around. I loved his workshop and learned a lot. Here’s a link to his photography site. 

A lot of times we were down on a frozen lake, shooting from a low perspective (either splaying out our tripod legs or using Platypods), and to get everything in focus from the ice chunks down low directly in front of us to the mountains off in the distance, just using f/11 or f/16 won’t do it. Instead, to get we used a focus-stacking technique. Focus Stacking is where you focus on the object right directly in your foreground, then you move your focus point up a bit and focus on the next area back, and then move it upward to the next, and the next, and finally the mountains in the back, then in Photoshop you put them all together (actually, in many cases Photoshop will do all the work for you).

Above: Q. Scott, where’s your Platypod? A. Out on loan. I took two of them but offered them up to other students to try. Q. Hey, isn’t that a Nikon D-850? A. Yup. Q. Wait…did you switch back to Nikon? Q. Well yes, I did. Well, just for this one picture (that’s Rammy’s camera). Had ya going there for a minute, didn’t I? 

If you’re a Lightroom user…
…head over to for my post today which shows how to take your focus stacked images in Lightroom over to Photoshop to where you just two clicks away from a perfectly stacked image. Here’s the direct link.

For Photoshop users, here’s what you do: 

STEP ONE: If you’ve already got your focus-stacked images open in Photoshop, go under the File menu, under Scripts and choose “Load Files Into Stack” (as shown above).

STEP TWO: Doing that takes each open image and puts it into one document with each on its own separate layer in Photoshop’s Layers panel (shown above).

STEP THREE: In the Layers panel, select all your layers (in this case, all five images), then go under Photoshop’s Edit menu and choose “Auto-Blend Layers.” When the Auto-Blend Layers dialog appears (shown above) choose “Stack Images” and turn on the checkbox for Seamless Tones and Colors.

STEP FOUR: Click OK in that Auto-Blend dialog, and it analyzes the images on each layer and only leaves the sharp areas, masking away the areas that aren’t sharp with a layer mask and it creates a new merged layer at the top of the layers panel (as seen above). The layer masks are handy if the Auto-Blend didn’t do a perfect job — you already have a mask in place which you can edit.

STEP FIVE: That merged layer on top has that expanded depth of field where the bubbles trapped in the ice in front are tack sharp, and so is the ice behind it, and behind that, and even the mountains in the background — all in sharp focus, and all in one image. There’s also a manual way to combine the sharp part of each image — I’ll cover that in a separate post with a video sometime soon. Again, all of this only works if you focused on different parts of your image during the shooting phase, then the rest is up to Photoshop.

Hope you found that helpful (and don’t forget to head over to for the other part of this tutorial.

Win a free trip to Photoshop World 2019
Just a few days left to register — if you win we fly you to Photoshop World 2019 (your choice, Orlando in early summer or Vegas in late summer), and we pick up your hotel and meals, and you get the whole VIP experience on us. But you can’t win if you don’t enter. Go right now, enter the giveaway, and here’s hoping you win and we’ll see you at the conference. :)

Have a great week everybody!


Advanced Photoshop: Pro Curves Techniques with Bret Malley
Join Bret Malley and learn how to unlock the power of curves in Photoshop! In this class you’ll gain a better understanding of the curves adjustment, how read a histogram, explore different ways curves can be used, learn different techniques for manipulating curves, and explore some of the most common use case scenarios. From global edits to localized tweaks, curves can be a powerful ally in your post production work.

In Case You Missed It
Learn how to do a family portrait with a magical twist! Join Bret Malley as he teaches you all the steps, from shooting to post processing, needed to create your own fantasy fine art composite. Bret takes you through the gear he uses, his process for pre-production, how to communicate and work with the subjects, his lighting setup, how to photograph each element of the composite, and then how to bring it all together in Photoshop. The first half of the class is a live shoot where Bret creates all the pieces, and in the second half, he teaches you his tips and techniques for creating a seamless composite that brings your imagination to life.

5 Must-Know Photoshop Tips and Tricks for Photographers
In this article, I’m going to show you five of my favorite Photoshop tips and tricks for Photographers. These are techniques that most people probably don’t know, but are very useful and they can help you speed up your workflow.

In Photoshop, you can open the same image in two windows and set them side-by-side to work on both details and the overall image at the same time.

To open the same document in two windows, go to Window > Arrange, “New Window for [Name of Document].”

These are not two separate documents. They are the same document, and any adjustments that you make to one will reflect instantly on the other.

Then go to Window > Arrange > Two up Vertical to put the two tabs side-by-side. You can then Zoom into one window and zoom out on the other.

If you have two monitors, then you can place a zoomed in version in one monitor and a zoomed-out version on the other.

This technique comes in very handy when working with large documents. I once worked on a huge composite that had over 1,500 layers. By using this technique I saved a lot of time by not having to zoom in and out of an image after I made a small adjustment to details.

To speed up your workflow when using the Clone Stamp Tool, remember that you can use keyboard shortcuts to nudge, scale, or rotate the sample source to better match the size and orientation of the cloning destination.

First, set the sample point by holding Opt/Alt and clicking on an area to sample from. You will then see an overlay of your sample source.

You can then try these keyboard shortcuts to adjust the sample source.

To nudge the Clone Source, you can hold Opt/Alt and tap on the Arrow keys (left, right, up and down).

To rotate the Clone Source Hold Alt (Mac: Option) Shift < or >.

To scale the Clone Source Hold Alt (Mac: Option) Shift { or }.

If you cannot remember these keyboard shortcuts, you could instead use the Clone Source panel (Window > Clone Source) to make these adjustments to the sample source.

One way to quickly remove wrinkles, blemishes, and other distractions from portraits is to use the Spot Healing Brush Tool. But an often-overlooked option is the Modes dropdown which add a lot more power to this tool.

Under the Options bar, the Spot Healing Brush Tool has Blending Modes that you can use as you paint to better target the pixels that you want to remove.

To select the right mode, you first must look at the blemish, wrinkle, or distraction that you want to remove. Then ask yourself, is the distraction darker than the skin tone or is it lighter than the skin tone?

In the example for this article, the blemishes are darker than the skin tone. That means that you want to “lighten” those blemishes to reduce their intensity.

From the Modes dropdown select Lighten.

Then start painting with a small brush and small strokes over the blemishes and wrinkles to remove them. But notice how you will not lose essential detail in the highlights. The Spot Healing Brush Tool will only target dark pixels which are the pixels that you want to remove.

In the example below, you will see how the fine white hairs remained on the side of his head while the darker blemishes were removed.

If your blemish or distraction is lighter than the skin tone, then select Darken from the Mode drop-down menu, and paint away.

To learn more about how this technique works, you can check out my full-length tutorial on the Spot Healing Brush Tool.

In Photoshop you can use the luminosity of an image (the bright pixels) as selections. The easiest way to select the bright pixels of a photo is by pressing Cmd Opt 2/Ctrl Alt 2.

If you cannot remember the keyboard shortcut, you can also load luminosity as a selection by holding Cmd/Ctrl and clicking on the RGB thumbnail in the Channels panel.

With a selection active, you can create an Adjustment which will target the bright pixels.

If you would like to target the dark pixels instead, you can “Invert” the selection. To do so, Select the Layer Mask, and click on Invert in the Properties panel. Alternatively, you can press Cmd I, Ctrl I when the layer mask is selected to Invert.

Now if you make an adjustment, the dark pixels will be affected instead of the bright ones.

Did you know that you can color correct a photo with just one click?

With the Auto Color Correction Algorithms inside of the Curves (and Levels) Adjustment Layer, you can automate color correction in Photoshop.

This essential technique will let Photoshop do all the hard work, and it will automatically adjust each channel to color correct the image.

You can apply the Auto Tone non-destructively by creating a Levels or Curves adjustment layer, then click the “Auto” button in the Properties panel.

But the default algorithm is not usually the best one. To change the algorithm hold Opt/Alt and click on the Auto button.

Then, from the Auto Color Correction options you can select one of 4 algorithms to color correct your image. In Photoshop CS6 and newer, the default algorithm is Enhance Brightness & Contrast. In older versions of Photoshop, the default is Enhance Per Channel Contrast.

You can then click on the different algorithms and see how they affect your image. In most cases, I found that “Find Dark & Light Colors” give you the best results.

You can click on the “Save as defaults” checkbox so that this algorithm is applied when you click on the Auto button.

After you apply the color adjustment, you will see how the image will instantly be color corrected.

For more information on how this technique works and what to do when the auto color correction doesn’t work, you can check out my YouTube video on The Curves Auto Color Correction Options

I hope that you enjoyed these tips and that they help you out in your workflow. If you want to learn more Photoshop tips and tricks like this one, then check out my video 19 Amazing Photoshop Tips, Tricks, and Hacks (That You Probably DON’T Know).

You can see more tutorials from Jesús at, and keep up with him on Behance, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube.