Monthly Archives June 2020

I’ve told this story before, but it’s totally relevant!

I’m Dave Williams and I’m here every week for #TravelTuesday (because I’m a travel photographer… and I know it’s Friday, but Adobe decided to release some awesome updates on Tuesday so I was relegated, but just imagine, ok?) and last year in Florida I was shooting two new KelbyOne classes in the studios when, having called it a wrap, I had a day to myself to explore. This is what happened on that day: –

Yep, I added a little more ink to myself and got a new tattoo from the best shop in town! (It was definitely the best place in Tampa – they can’t lie on a sign, can they!)

Stick with me, I’m going somewhere with this….

So, that unpronounceable mumbo-jumbo is actually Icelandic and it is the words ‘Thetta Reddast” flanked by two Icelandic runes, one for safe travels and the other for love. The strange D/P looking character is pronounced ‘th’ as in Thor (Þórr) the Norse God. The term is Icelandic and despite having no discernible translation, it certainly has a translatable meaning. Here’s how I know…

In the winter of 2016 – specifically October 29th – I was in Iceland on an adventure and decided I was going to explore the cave waterfall at Gljufrafoss, which was an incredible experience albeit not the smartest decision I ever made. Take a look at this: –

You can see the waterfall in the cave through that short canyon behind the incredibly wet photographer named Dave, somewhat blurred from the water inside my iPhone camera! It was very cold and I was reminded why I am smart in some senses but not in others as I had a complete change of clothing in the car, and a towel. I got some awesome shots inside the cave of the water thundering down the rock cascade, crashing into a small pool at its base before flowing out towards the sub-Arctic Icelandic countryside, concealed in a frozen mist. The part of me that wasn’t being smart was the bit responsible for my Nikon D810. I realise that my job is to educate and inspire, and I promise you can trust me! Anyway, having dried myself off and believing I’d dried my camera off I began on the 351 mile (565km) drive to the Westfjords where I had an appointment to shoot the resident foxes of the Arctic Fox Centre, Ingi and Móri. I wasn’t far into the journey when I noticed the camera was behaving a bit strangely. The first thing that aroused my suspicions is when the camera took a photo by itself with no intervention from myself… I thought that was a bit strange and I cast my mind back. The camera is ‘weather sealed’ and although it was wet when I emerged from the frozen canyon I thought I’d done a pretty good job of drying it off with my microfibre cloth. Apparently not. The camera occasionally fired off a shot by itself so I decided to take further steps to dry it out, including opening the ports and keeping it warm, and by using a bag full of dry rice.

That evening, having arrived in the Westfjords, I took this photo: –

I was in the Westfjords, far away from civilisation in an area covering 8,598 square miles but containing only 7,115 people, one third of whom are in one small town named ísafjörður. This mountain range was in the middle of the Westfjords and the lack of any notable population and no moon meant there was a pitch dark night sky and the faintest of Aurorae were visible. I set my camera on a tripod and had it firing off shot after shot, walking away from it to stare up at natures finest light show. When I stepped back toward my camera I turned the switch to ‘off’ but the camera continued taking shots, not turning off. I removed it from the tripod and took out the battery, affording myself a short term solution to what would turn out to be a long term problem. I made my way to ísafjörður for the night, leaving the camera in the bag of dry rice beside the warm radiator in stark contrast to the sub-zero winter temperatures that it transpired were to cause the cameras ultimate demise.

The following morning I headed to Súðavík with what was now just a very expensive paper-weight bearing the ‘Nikon’ emblem, not working at all. I arrived at the Arctic Fox Centre and met Midge. This is Midge: –

Midge gave me the warmest greeting as he cleared the snow from the parking area to make space for me, and I excitedly and enthusiastically introduced myself, eager to meet the foxes, before explaining my conundrum. I was midway through telling Midge that I wouldn’t be able to take any photos because my camera had broken, and the first thing he did was invite me inside for a coffee and to make a plan.

Armed with caffeine and ready to take on the world, that’s exactly what I did. Being a Nikon Pro I made a call to their offices first, talking them through what had happened, and they offered to send me a camera. The excitement was short lived however, when I found out that the camera they planned to send me was in Sweden as there was no residual stock in Iceland suitable for me, and that camera in Sweden would take a couple of days to arrive on a flight from Stockholm to Keflavik, then a truck to Reykjavik, then another flight from Reykjavik to ísafjörður. I didn’t have a couple of days – in a couple of days I was leaving Iceland and heading home. I had to turn down Nikon’s offer and make another plan. That’s when Midge said to me, “don’t worry, in Iceland we say ‘Thetta Reddast.'”

I had no clue what he was talking about but the world was closing in on me so I carried on trying to make a plan, calling the local tourism office to see if they knew of a photographer nearby who would be able to help out. There was only one (remember I said there’s basically nobody living there) and she was busy. I was stumped. Midge said, whilst making me a second coffee, “I have a camera, it’s probably not as good as yours but why don’t you borrow it until you go home.” I couldn’t believe it. I graciously accepted and, for the rest of my adventure, shooting the foxes and a helicopter flight among other things, I had a camera again. Midge simply asked that when I get back to Reykjavik I send it back to him on a flight to ísafjörður, which ended up costing me around £40 to send the box containing his camera on the next flight. Without that, I wouldn’t have been able to shoot the aerial views of Iceland offered by Nordurflug.

Thetta Reddast. It means, ‘everything is going to work out fine.’ It’s a beautiful Icelandic saying and it turned out everything did work out fine. Through the generosity of a stranger come friend I was able to continue, despite my own stupidity. Thing happen to us – hurdles pop up and road blocks appear – and we get through them, past them, over them, around them, and we work out the best of bad situations. Creatively I’ve been in a place lately that hasn’t been productive, but I’m pushing past it…

It’ll be fine

Much love
Dave

25 Quick & Easy Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers with Scott Kelby

As photographers we are often faced with having to retouch our own portrait sessions. Join Scott Kelby as he shows you 25 quick and easy portrait retouching techniques designed with photographers in mind. This class is designed so that you can jump into any lesson based on the topic you want to learn.

Each lesson is short, sweet, and to the point, so whether you need to learn how to retouch an eyebrow, brighten skin, reduce wrinkles in clothing, add catchlights, or a whole host of other retouching techniques, just find the topics that interest you and dive right in!

In Case You Missed It… Mastering the Natural Light Portrait: Post Processing

Join Scott Kelby for the conclusion to his Mastering the Natural Light Portrait class, as he works through his process for editing the photos from that shoot. In this class you’ll learn the core types of edits you will apply to all of your natural light portraits. In this class you’ll learn different techniques for reducing distractions and making the face the most eye-catching part of the photo. From soft northern exposure light to dappled light, Scott teaches you how to analyze the photo, plan your approach, and get the most out of what Lightroom and Photoshop have to offer.

This class is perfect for anyone looking for tips on post processing or editing natural light photos.

Photo by Hannah Leigh Imagery

Time For A Change

I grew up in the hills of rural East Tennessee. As a child, I learned how to shoot a gun in Shooting Sports and did target practice at 4-H Camp. My dad kept shotguns in the closet, and carried one at his job as a prison guard. Friends, family, and fellow church members all went hunting on a regular basis. Classmates would wake up early to go hunting before school, and arrive with their gun racks in their trucks loaded with their guns.

I worked at a convenience store that also sold hunting and fishing licenses and served as a “checking station” for deer hunters. Heck, they could even drop off their game around back at the processing and taxidermy shop that occupied the other half of the building, then return later to pick up their meat and newly mounted trophies.

My brother (left) and I playing with our toy guns in the back yard.

The context of guns in my life has primarily revolved around toys, sport, and hobby. But this is not everyone’s experience in life. Many people’s experiences with guns are negative, and even the word “negative” is a gross understatement for many people’s experiences with them. Many people have lost multiple friends, family members, and other loved ones to gun violence.


I like to think of myself as an empathetic person and strive to be sensitive to others’ life experiences. No one ended up where they are in life, holding the views and opinions they hold, in an instant. Everyone has a journey through life, and no two journeys are identical.

So, when I’m having a conversation about a difficult topic with someone else, I try to keep all of this in mind. I’m definitely not always successful. But when I’m able to find out more about a person’s story and their background, it helps me to understand why they hold the opinions they hold, even if I don’t agree with them. And, if I’m lucky, I can sometimes even evolve my opinion on a topic thanks to knowing their story. It’s that added insight, that empathy, that can change your heart when you care more for others than you care about being “right.”


So, it is with that, that I would like to propose something for us all to consider. This is not a change that necessarily takes place in an instant or overnight. But just take a half a second to think before using this terminology…

Let’s stop using the word “shoot” when it comes to photography.

(more…)

Lots of Photoshop news today as Adobe just released a really nice update to Photoshop (more on that in a moment), and Lightroom (we’re covering that over at LightroomKillerTips.com), and today we are announcing an awesome two-day KelbyOne online live Photoshop Conference, sponsored by Adobe and Photoshop User magazine, which will include training all the latest new stuff in Photoshop released today, and so much more.

It’s two full days, all live online with with two simultaneous training tracks, and an incredible team of instructors. Best of all, it’s all online, so anybody anywhere can attend, and it’s so affordable anybody can be a part of it.

Check out the video below to see if it’s for you:

I want to catch every single class! (Well, maybe not the ones I’m doing, since I pretty much know that stuff). ;-) — but what a great class offering and roster — it’s going to be the Photoshop training event of the year — you don’t want to miss this, and we’d love for you join us for this remarkable training experience.

…and it all happens in just a few weeks from now:

July 14-15, 2020
11:00 AM – 5:45 PM (EDT)

This live-streamed event is open to everyone, everywhere, and you can register today at https://kelbyonelive.com/photoshop-conference – sign up right now to get the best pricing.

Thanks in advance to everyone for helping us spread the word. Whoo hoo —  it’s a great day to be a Photoshop user! :)

Onto The New Photoshop Stuff

I love these feature updates from Adobe, and there are some very nice things in this update for photographers. There are three “biggies.”

Select Subject is Now Officially Awesome

Last year Adobe added an AI-powered helper that make simple selections for you. It was really great at selecting objects (like a banana, a bowling ball, a vase, etc., and it’s OK at selecting people, especially if they were bald or did tightly trimmed hair). In short, it wasn’t made for selecting people, but at least it got you started and then you’d go to Select & Mask and do the masking part. Well, check this out, because this AI feature has obviously been working overtime on the learning.

Above: Here’s our image and we open it in Photoshop 2020 (the new one just released today), and we only do one thing — click the Select Subject button up in the Options Bar (if you don’t see that button, just click on the Magic Wand tool or the Quick Select tool in the toolbar and it will become visible). That’s it. Let’s see the results.

If you’re thinking that’s a pretty cruddy mask it made, you’re right. That’s how the Select Subject featured worked literally just yesterday. That’s the results of clicking that button (I got the mask you see above by opening Select & Mask, just so you could see what Photoshop is creating selection wise). Now let’s look at how the new version handles this exact same image:

What???!!!! That is incredible! It’s selecting the hair (instead of chopping it off). What a massive improvement. Just crazy!!! Yes, you’d still probably have to go to Select & Mask and fine tune it a bit, but now it’s 15-seconds there instead of five minutes. This is a game changer when it comes to selections. Literally leaps and bounds! (High-five Adobe). So, that’s the biggest biggie, and it’s big!

Camera Raw goes all “Lightroomy”

There is also big major overhaul to Adobe’s Camera Raw interface as it now looks and feels much more like Lightroom’s Develop module. Now it won’t feel like two different worlds when you go back and forth from Lightroom to Photoshop, and you won’t have to remember where everything is, and why you can’t find certain things. Now it will feel very familiar. Check it out:

Film strip along the bottom — right side panels one on top of another (instead of in a horizontal tab) — it’s just so…Lightroom like! (photos here by Terry White). You also now have some options for how the filmstrip itself looks, and the ability to save images and do other workflow stuff right from the filmstrip itself.

However, unlike Lightroom you do have the option to have your filmstrip horizontally across the bottom (like you see here), or vertically along the left side.

There are three modes for the right side panels you can choose from. Single Panel mode is like Lightroom’s Solo Mode (you only see one panel — the one you’re working on). Then there’s Responsive panel mode, which has Camera Raw automatically opening or closing panels based on the size of your monitor (well, based on how large you have Camera Raw within your monitor. Multi Panel mode all the panels stay open (they don’t close unless you close them manually.

There’s also a new Local Hue feature

This new feature lets you use the Adjustment Brush (or any of the local adjustments like the Radial Filter, or the Graduated Filter) to change the color of something in your image, like her shirt (seen below) which was originally red. and using one of the local tools you can select that area (in this case, the part of her shirt on the right), then go the Local Hue controls (seen below) where you can change the color of that area you selected (to purple in this case), and change the saturation amount as it. Very intuitive to use (and this feature is also found in Lightroom, and even Lightroom mobile, too).

Plus, there are other nice little tweaks, like a new interface for the Curves panel that’s pretty cool, and new crop overlays, plus they moved the toolbar over to the far right side so it’s not across the top left anymore saving you from traveling 10 miles across your screen to get a tool. Lots of nice little enhancements that just make working in Camera Raw easier and faster. That’s a quick look at some of the new stuff for photographers in Photoshop.

Catch Terry White’s “What new in Photoshop & Lightroom” Webcast today

Watch here at 10:00 AM: https://twhite.me/2YG06B5

Here’s where to learn about all the new Lightroom stuff

Lightroom didn’t get left out of this upgrade cycle, and there’s all sorts of new things for all the different Lightrooms (Classic, Mobile, Cloud) and it’s all covered by our own Rob Sylvan over at my other blog, LightroomKillerTips.comhere’s the link.

Hope you found that helpful (thanks for the cool new stuff Adobe), and here’s wishing you and your loved ones health, safety and sanity. :)

Cheers,

-Scott and the crew (great name for a band by the way)

…and if I ever thought twice about it or second-guessed it, tonight something happened to me that totally solidified why subscriptions plans like Adobe’s are such a good idea.

I’m going to give you the short version of this story, but it’s not real short, but stick with me; keep an open mind, and you might wind up seeing things differently (even if you’re “furrowing your brow” going into it). I put some photos in here just to keep things for being “too texty” but the one that most ties into this story is the one below (taken with my iPhone, no less).

SPOILER ALERT: I left a special bonus pic for you at the end of this post, but you’re not allowed to just scroll down there for medical reasons.

Above: My home studio. it’s only three months old, and still needs lots of work yet, including a lot more acoustic tile, bass traps, and certainly more guitars, right? Like me, it’s a work in progress.

Besides being a photographer, (and fake Olympic athlete), I’m also a musician and I have a small recording studio in my home (part of which is seen above). I got into all this to record my own original songs, but I got somehow sucked into what has now become my hobby, which is to faithfully recreate my favorite songs from scratch. They wind up being mostly “big hair” rock songs from the 80s, but also some newer songs from Bruno Mars, or dance songs from Earth, Wind, and Fire. I’ve done Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” (from the movie “A Star is Born”) and the orchestral theme to Game of Thrones, playing all the instruments myself, and recording it all into Logic Pro X on my iMac.

Photo by Brad Moore.

I Need “Real” Bon Jovi and “Real” Bee Gees

Anyway, the key to all this is that you can go online and find the original isolated vocals tracks for tons of songs, and these tracks are the original vocals — just the vocals — no instruments whatsoever. So, I download an isolated original vocal track, and then I learn how to play the parts for all the different instruments that make up that song (that takes a while usually), then I record me playing each one of them. I play all the lead and rhythm electric guitars, the acoustic 6 and 12-string guitar parts; the bass parts (on a real bass), drums (on my electronic drum kit), all the piano and synth parts, horn parts, strings, percussion, cowbell (it needs more), and so on.

Photo by Brad Moore.

My whole goal is to make it NOT sound like a Karaoke track — I want it to sound as close to the original as possible, which I can tell you is a total pain in the butt. I want to get it to where if I played it for you in my car, you would swear it was the original. It takes me a LONG time to get a song to that level — about two weeks for one song on average. Sometimes more, like when I did Bohemian Rhapsody (that one kicked my butt). I’m really kind of anal about getting all the exact right sounds; getting every drum lick exactly like the ones on the record; using the right amps; cymbals, synths, mics, the right piano sound, and so on. I know. It’s a sickness.

Photo by Alan Hess.

My struggle is you can’t always find the real original vocals for the song you want to do, and in few instances, I’ve gone ahead and recorded an entire song knowing I didn’t have the real original vocal track. I those cases I use an isolated vocal Karaoke track instead. Each time I use a Karaoke vocal track, instead of the original vocals, a little piece of me dies inside because no matter what I do musically and/or mixing wise, it just never sounds right without the real original vocals.

Photo by Brad Moore

I got lucky a few times recently

Within the last months, I actually found two isolated vocal tracks to songs I recorded over a year ago using the Karaoke vocals — Saturday in the Park by Chicago, and Separate Ways by Journey (which I literally ran across this weekend). When this happens, I go back to those songs I recorded and replace the Karaoke vocals with the real ones and I just cannot tell you how happy it makes me. Seriously, just through the roof, crazy happy. It’s me at “full happy.”

Photo by Brad Moore

I still have three songs that are dead to me

They are fully done; I put in all the time, learned all the solos note for note, sweated every guitar sound and keyboard pad, but they have the Karaoke vocal tracks, and I cringe when I hear them, so I just don’t listen to them anymore. They are: Shakin’ (by Eddie Money); Home Sweet Home (by Motley Crue), and I Need to Know (By Mark Anthony). I search the Web for the original isolated vocals tracks for these about every week for who knows how long now. No luck, yet. The struggle is real.

So since I can’t seem to find these tracks out there, last night I start doing more online research (not my first time) about how to isolate vocals from a an existing music track. I eventually run across this kid on youtube (thanks Alex Rome) who is raving about this isolation software he found that totally blew his mind, and it’s what all the pros now use, etc., and he was just going on and on about it, so I went and downloaded a trial copy of it. It’s a fully functional trial copy, but you can’t save the file it creates, but you do get to try it all out which is cool.

Photo by Brad Moore

So, I gave it a try on both Shakin’ and Home Sweet Home

The software is called “iZotope RX 7.” I have to tell you — it blew my mind! It was so much better than any other software like it I had tried. It was pretty remarkable and so darn easy to use. It was almost like magic. Granted, the extractions are not absolutely perfect, but they’re close enough that I can clean a vocal track easily enough to where it would sound just about spot-on in my mix (and lightyears better than the Karaoke vocals I have in place now).

Photo by Brad Moore

After 15 minutes into the trial, I knew I had to buy it!

So, I go to their site, and I hit the “buy” button. That’s when I saw the price. The full version is $1,200. $1,200!!!! My jaw just dropped. My heart sank, too, because I knew, great as it is, there was no way in h*** I was going to spend $1,200 for it. I get it — it’s pro-level software, and I want to just use it for my hobby, but I also know if you want to buy what the actual pro’s use, it’s gonna cost ya. The problem is —  I just can’t justify spending $1,200 for what I would be doing with it (I don’t sell these songs — I don’t even post ’em anywhere. I just do it for friends and family).

Photo by Brad Moore

It’s different in my photography life, where I do use pro-level software, like Photoshop. Back when you could buy Photoshop, it cost $799 for it alone. Lightroom, when it came out, was $300 to buy it. So to buy both Photoshop and Lightroom was (you guessed it), around $1,200. You literally either wrote a check for $1,200, or you didn’t use Photoshop and Lightroom — it was that simple. So, where does this all lead?

What I need…is a subscription plan

If I could subscribe to iZotope’s full version for $10 a month, it would be the fastest $10 I spent all year, but unfortunately they don’t offer a subscription plan at this point, so the reality is — I’m not going to get to use iZotope RX 7, and that makes me sad. Recording these dumb covers means a lot to me, but I don’t have a legit business case to use it. Yes, I know, I’m being a baby — I want pro-level software, but I’m not willing to pay the pro price. And while iZotope does offer a standard edition for $400, I don’t want the standard edition — I want the full version (not iZotope RX 7 “lite”), but this whole situation just brought Adobe’s move to subscription-based back to the top of my mind, and how lucky we are that we can have access to pro-level tools for our photography, even if we’re not working pros. We can use the best photo editing software on earth for our hobbies, or for whatever, for less than the cost of the chicken wing appetizer at Applebees. That’s sayin’ something, but we take it for granted (and we dang well shouldn’t).

So, I’m back to hoping that one day…

…I get lucky, and somebody posts the vocals-only track for one of those three songs. Now, if the folks at iZotope would offer a subscription plan, then I’d be all set, and I could do the isolating for those songs myself. The only problem is — if they did, I doubt it would be just $10 a month. Probably more like $40 or $50. I tell ya this; I’d probably do it for a year, just to have access to it, and to get all the songs done that I’d want to do for 2021, and then unsubscribe for year until I needed it again. Hey, ya never know, right?

I hope that gave you some perspective on why subscription plans make so much sense today, and why I’m glad Adobe went in the direction they did. Subscription plans provide us with way to use to software that we couldn’t make a reasonable financial case for using, and I’m all for that. Also, a high-five to Adobe for making their photographer’s bundle only $10 a month. That’s insanely cheap. Note to the folks at Izatope — Adobe’s got the pricing thing down. Do that! ;-)

Above: I had to do it — here’s a bonus photo one from back in the 80s when I was playing full-time. That’s me on the far left, and my wife Kalebra in the middle. In the right corner, that’s Scotty — my dear friend and drummer I still play with on stage to this day. I thought having that hair cut would get me in Duran Duran. Sadly, it did not, but things worked out OK anyway.

Have a great week everybody. I have a feeling it’s about to get a whole lot better for us all really soon. See ya tomorrow right here. :)

-Scott

P.S. If you’re at all into guitars (and if you stuck it out this long, you probably are), I’m the guest this week on the new BigScotty Guitar Podcast, and we talk about guitars, guitars, and more guitars (it was so much fun). Here’s the link if you want to give it a listen in the background while you’re retouching.

It’s not only my bestselling book, it’s the #1 top-selling book on digital photography in history, and I just finished a major rewrite, and it’s on press right now. Check out why I did this rewrite, and how it can help you take your photos to the next level fast, in the short video below. Check it out:

You can pre-order it right now and be among the first to get your new copy Note: Amazon shows shipping in September, but just so you know — the book is completely done and at the printers already, so I think that Sept. date is…well…it’s off by just a tad. ;-)

It was time, right?

Here’s the link to pre-order yours today. Thanks for listening, and I hope you find this new updated version of the book really helpful. :)

Have a great weekend, everybody!

-Scott

Close