Monthly Archives September 2020

Photo by Robby Klein

PHOTOGRAPHING THE ATLIVE CONCERT SERIES FOR MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM

Last year, back before all of this craziness hit, Rob Foldy and his team at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta hired me to photograph their inaugural ATLive Concert Series. To make sure I was properly equipped to photograph the event, I got some gear from my friends at LensProToGo. Thankfully, they had the new Nikon 180-400mm lens, which came in incredibly handy for the shows! Here is the recap of my experience, along with some examples of photographs from different focal lengths from that lens.

THE OBJECTIVES

While plenty of huge concert tours have come through Mercedes-Benz Stadium, ATLive is the first concert series created by the stadium itself (as opposed to a tour using the stadium as the venue for its Atlanta stop). It was held across two days, and featured some of the biggest acts in country music, such as Sugarland, Brothers Osborne, Sam Hunt, Luke Combs, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, and more.

My primary objective was to make attention-grabbing photos that can be used for promotion of future shows and events that the stadium produces. This meant getting photos that weren’t artist-specific, but showed the venue and ATLive branding. My other objectives included photographing each of the artists’ sets, as well as showing the sustainability efforts of the stadium, and things they do to enhance the fan experience.

THE GEAR

Because of the variety of photos this job would require, I requested two bodies, three lenses, and a flash:

LPTG asked if I would also want to also add the new Nikon 180-400mm f/4E FL ED VR AF-S lens with the built-in TC1.4x extender to the order. I figured, sure, why not? Little did I know that this question would end up basically saving the job for me.

I knew I wanted the speed and high ISO performance of the D5 (which tops out at 12fps) for this job, so it was a no-brainer to go with this as my main body. And I went with the D850 as my second body because I knew its high ISO performance would be great, but I would also need its 45.7MP files for another job immediately following this one. Honestly, I set the D850 to medium RAW because my card would fill up too quickly with large RAW. Even at medium RAW, it still gave me 33.6MP files compared to the D5’s large RAW files at 20.8MP.

Since I knew I would be carrying a fair amount of heavy gear around for two days, I wore a SpiderHolster SpiderPro Dual Camera System Belt with Large Lens Pouch. One SpiderPlate went on the D5, and I swapped between the 14-24mm and 24-70mm lenses on this body. Whichever lens I wasn’t using was in the Lens Pouch, ready to go when I did need it. The other Spider Plate went on the 70-200mm, which was attached to the D850. When I used the 180-400mm, I would swap the D850 between it and the 70-200mm. Since the SpiderPlate was on the 70-200mm, it stayed attached to my belt when I was using the D850 on the 180-400mm.

The 180-400mm was supported by the Manfrotto MVMXPRO500 Video Monopod, which allowed for smooth movement when recomposing and following the performers thanks to the FLUIDTECH base.

THE EVENT

Upon arriving at the stadium on the first day, I found out that the primary position for photographers would be from the soundboard, which was positioned about halfway back on the floor. When I heard this, I was immediately thankful that I was equipped with the extra reach of the 180-400mm lens and its built-in extender. Because I was working for the stadium, I was also able to borrow a ladder from the maintenance department so I could get a higher vantage point above the audience and their camera phones.

While photographing from the sound board, the 180-400mm was my main lens, incorporating a good range of medium to tight photos without having to move. This monopod also gave me enough height to reach my higher vantage point on the ladder (not all monopods are tall enough). The 70-200m was my wide to medium lens for photos of the entire stage.

Here are some examples of what I was able to get at different focal lengths from the sound board:

70-200mm f/2.8 at 70mm
70-200mm f/2.8 at 200mm
180-400mm f/4 at 180mm
Lens: 180-400mm f/4 at 400mm
Lens: 180-400mm f/4 w/1.4x at 560mm

One thing I was quickly reminded of (since I don’t get to use glass this long very often), was that I needed to increase my shutter speed when using longer focal lengths to maintain sharpness. At 1/125 or 1/250 shutter speeds, I was still seeing blur from the movement I had as I was following the performers. Thankfully I caught it early and was able to increase my shutter speed to compensate.

The 180-400mm has a maximum aperture of f/4 without the extender engaged, and that becomes f/5.6 when you engage the extender. Keep this in mind if you ever use an extender so that you (or the camera) can compensate by increasing your ISO to maintain the desired shutter speed.

As the venue’s photographer, I was able to move around to different areas and keep photographing throughout the show.

I love roaming around in the crowd with a wide or medium lens to find excited fans, whether they’re holding homemade signs:

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#TravelTuesday still isn’t quite what it should be, but then again, nothing is at the moment. Something else that’s adapted to the change in the world around us is this year’s Worldwide Photo Walk, and that’s what I want to explore today. I’m Dave Williams, and I’m here every Tuesday on ScottKelby.com.

Yesterday, Scott showed a video explaining the reasons for the Photo Walk, one of which is the Springs of Hope Kenya orphanage. There are other reasons to get involved, but today, I want to address the things that may be missing from a regular photo walk. The thing is, networking is a big part of it. Sure, there are awesome prizes, but the long-term benefits of getting involved with such an awesome, grand, and sociable photographic event revolve around networking. First up, if you haven’t seen the video, watch it.

Okay, so now you should be well aware of the charitable benefits of the event, as well as the prizes! Those prizes are amazing, by the way, and because of the nature of the Worldwide Photo Walk, this year Scott will be joining everyone by way of a live video, broadcast throughout the day. I’ll also be joining him, along with other photographers and KelbyOne instructors, and we’ve all teamed up to add to the prize pool—there are some seriously cool, bespoke opportunities to bid on, as well as standing for a chance to win big. You’ll see more about that soon enough, and it’s explained in the video. But back to my point…

Networking and feedback opportunities that come from meeting up with peers and pros for the Worldwide Photo Walk may seem to be missing this year because of the stupid Coronavirus getting in everyone’s way, but those opportunities haven’t vanished altogether—they’re just a little different.

Let’s start with feedback. This shot is of a group I led in London some years ago (beardless, as you can see), and the point is that those who wanted feedback, critique, advice, or just someone to bounce their ideas off, could just ask. Well, here’s the thing: you can still just ask! Despite being “remote” from the pros in this year’s Photo Walk, I promise you that the feedback is there and available for you. If you have an idea or want some feedback, just as if you were standing there with your walk leader over the past 12 years, you can still ask for that now. All it takes is a simple message to whomever you think is best suited to answer you. Another thing: every single KelbyOne instructor or walk leader does what they do because they want to share, teach, and inspire. We aren’t in it for the money; we’re in it because we love doing it. Trust me—have you found a millionaire photographer in our community? No! But, you’ve definitely found a whole heap of amazing photographers with a lot to give and a passion for education, so all it takes is a message. A question. A chat. Myself, Scott, and every other KelbyOne instructor really are approachable and willing to help.

On top of that, there’s an awesome community inside KelbyOne, with loads of people just like yourself who are willing and able to help answer your questions, anytime. If it’s on the day of the Photo Walk, just jump into the chat on the live video! Even if your question isn’t picked up by Scott and the team, it’ll still be noticed by the other walkers.

So, networking. It’s a big deal in our industry, and the Worldwide Photo Walk is great for it. Despite this stupid virus, it hasn’t gone anywhere. Also beardless, this is the walk I led a couple of years back in London with Peter Treadway. This group was constantly throwing ideas off one another, and gently probing for connections. As well as the social aspect to the Photo Walk, there’s an element of networking that really is effective. Throwback a couple of years before this photo, and I was with Scott for the walk he led in London, followed by a meetup at Byron Burger. That particular branch of Byron Burger is now closed, along with many others because of COVID (sorry to break it to you this way, Scott. But, anyway, I’m getting off-topic). The thing that stood out the most to me about that moment was seeing the one and only, Mr. Danny Lenihan, present Scott, with one of his brand-new 3 Legged Thing tripods. I have no doubt that 3 Legged Thing would’ve reached the level of success they have without it, but the point is that they reached it very quickly stateside because of that little bit of networking. I also vividly remember asking Danny if he had a spare for me, to which he replied, “When you’re famous like Scott.” Well, I’m still waiting. ;)

Seriously, though, I bought my own 3 Legged Thing tripods, and they’re awesome. But, the point is that the networking opportunities provided by the Worldwide Photo Walk still exist. Just like reaching out for feedback, you can reach out to network with people and companies. In these times, it’s expected. One big piece of advice I want to give is that if you want to work with someone, life’s too short to sit back and wait. Reach out and ask! If you genuinely feel that a tandem project is worthwhile, take all the reasons why you’re right for the project and put them down on paper. Compose that into something sensible and objective, then reach out and make the connection. If you want to work together, it’s down to you to make it happen. The worst response you can get it a “no,” and that’s the worst response you would’ve received in person anyway, so don’t fret over it. Some of my favourite projects have come off the back of simply sending a carefully composed e-mail—my motorcycle ride to Norway started exactly that way.

I can’t stress how important networking is in this industry, and I also can’t stress enough that in lieu of meeting people physically, it continues for the reason that it is so important. It’s simply gone online now. Genuinely, if you want to work with someone, tell them. I can guarantee you that it isn’t going to happen if you don’t make that connection.

I wish you all an amazing day at the Worldwide Photo Walk this weekend, and as I said, just drop a message if you want to!

Despite being “alone,” you aren’t actually alone at all.

Much love
Dave

We’re just 5 days away!

It’s this coming Saturday, October, 5th, so head over to the official site and see if there’s a photo walk near you (we have photo walks™ organized in cities all around the world). Plus, you’ve got a chance at some awesome prizes (and you don’t have to enter the photo contest to still have a shot at some prizes), you’ll take lots of photos, and you’ll just have just a ton of fun.

We’re doing the Photo Walk differently this year (I know. Duh!)

Check out the video below with all the details:

Sign up for a walk right now — head to worldwidephotowalk.com :)

Plus, On Saturday I’ll be Doing an All-Day Live Photo Walk Broadcast

We’ll be sharing pictures from all over the world as they come in; we’ll be pulling random participants to win a bunch of awesome prizes, and we’ll all be sharing in the fun as we walk, and help, and have a great time. I’ll have a link for you on Friday to watch the live-streamed broadcast.

Have a good one everybody!

-Scott

OK, we are off and running, and you guys are making an INCREDIBLE difference in the lives of the great kids at the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Nakuru, Kenya. We just launched last week and we’ve already raised over $5,000 for the orphanage, and people are stepping up in BIG ways — donating above and beyond on their own, and just doing remarkable things. It’s really just so awesome!!!

The Official T-shirts are here!

The walk itself is about two-weeks away — on Saturday, October 3rd, so get your orders in now (100% of the profits go directly to the orphanage). Here’s the link to order yours.

This Year is Going to Be Different (but still really awesome)

Holding a photo walk during a global pandemic is going to be different, and how we going to do it all (and why it’s so important), is all in the video below. Please, take just a few minutes and I’ll bet (knowing the people who visit this blog, and participate in the our previous Photo Walks), you’ll want to be involved this year more than ever. Give it a quick look below: you’ll be glad you watched it (and you’ll understand why we do it and how you can help).

Sign up for a walk right now — head to worldwidephotowalk.com :)

Have a great weekend everybody. Stay safe and sane, and I hope we’ll see you back here next week. :)

-Scott

The Grid, Episode 444: Bad Camera Reviews and How To Fix Them

Join Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna as they discuss what’s wrong with camera reviews, as well as offer solutions on what they’d like to see to make them better!

New Class Alert! Photographing Montana Big Skies with Moose Peterson

New KelbyOne Class: Photographing Montana Big Skies

Head out to big sky country in the Terry Badlands of Montana, and join Moose Peterson for an adventure of learning and photography. Inspired by the photography of Evelyn Cameron (1868 – 1928), Moose sets out on a journey to capture the old west she saw in the early 1900’s.

In this class Moose shares his process for planning an overland photography expedition, his considerations for gear to bring, how to capture those big skies, what to do when arriving on location, considerations for shooting with B&W in mind, his post processing workflow after the shoot is complete, and so much more.

Focus Your Fall Portfolio:
Work with a Theme to Create a Unique Collection of Images

When autumn photography season approaches, I start to anticipate the making of new photographs. I have some ideas to share that may help you develop an excellent portfolio for the fall season. I have found it useful, for myself and for teaching my students, to think about creating a story line, or clear thematic focus, for your work.

Autumn Elm and Sunbeams, Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California 2014

Consider what specific locations or aspects of autumn inspire you the most. The location could be your backyard, a nearby park or reserve, or a travel location where you can spend at least a few days to explore the area fully. A favorite aspect might include colorful reflections, or the patterns of fallen leaves, or a series focused on branch-filled tapestries of color. This approach of specialization will help distinguish your autumn images from other photographers’ work.

Two key elements needed for your selection of an autumn theme are passion for the subject and easy access during the season. Passion is a must-have ingredient for creative, insightful imagery. Repeated access to your location will build your knowledge of the light, weather, and seasonal changes, helping you find the best conditions for making great photographs. One idea would be to photograph the transition of autumn in your area, from the first hints of color in green trees to the last clinging leaves. This transition offers us great opportunities to communicate that visceral sense we all feel of time and the season moving forward.

Instead of trophy hunting for singular, spectacular scenic images, I like to explore around for quiet images, ones that don’t shout too loud. In Yosemite, for example, I often find exciting details on the forest floor, in river reflections, or on cliff faces. Finding unique images often involves photographing small sections of the landscape rather than the wide views. However, even though I usually focus on intimate details, that doesn’t mean I will avoid those epic, rare events where weather and/or light explode with drama and energy.

I have included some examples here from recent seasons in Yosemite Valley. Over a two-week period in late October and early November, I worked with private students in Yosemite Valley. I greatly enjoy the one-on-one process of helping photographers find their own vision, and sharing mine with them. 

On one dramatic morning, an amazing confluence of peak autumn color and morning mist rising off a frosted meadow unfolded before my student and me. We started out photographing from one excellent vantage point, then raced to where the sun was directly behind the extraordinary tree pictured in the opening image, where we witnessed sunbeams bursting through the graceful branches.

Knowing that the mist would burn off soon, we worked rapidly to find the best camera position for him to block the rising sun with the tree’s limbs. Even though the lens was shaded, the high contrast and rapidly changing situation called for bracketing exposures to ensure a full range of data was captured. The end result, for both of us, were top portfolio “keepers” that portray the symbolism of “a new day,” and “light shining through the darkness.”

But just as exciting to me were several quiet Yosemite images I photographed that fall. In my opinion, quiet intensity in an image can endure and engage the viewer for longer. With subtle imagery comes a depth that can be enjoyed more over time. 

When I pull together a group of photographs, such as from that autumn, I edit the collection by looking for the highest and most consistent quality, as well as for a balance of scale, light, weather, and subject matter. I might use a few wide-angle views to set the context of the portfolio as Yosemite Valley.

However, my main focus would be my intimate landscapes, such as the river with tree reflections, or leaves floating through autumn-colored river reflections, as shown in the photograph Maple Leaves Along the Merced River. When you see the selected images as a group, such as in an exhibit or online gallery, they should create a visual story, a personal exploration, a creative viewpoint. 


YOSEMITE AUTUMN

Here I have created a small selection of recent autumn photographs from Yosemite.

Maple Leaves and the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2016
Merced River Reflections, autumn, Yosemite National Park, California 2018
Cottonwoods, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California
Autumn Reflections, Yosemite National Park, California 2019
Autumn Oaks and Snowstorm, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Black Oaks and Sunbeams, Yosemite National Park, California 2016
Fallen leeaves and ferns, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
Autumn Sunset on El Capitan and the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
Oak reflections, El Capitan and the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2012
Cottonwood leaves and grasses, Yosemite National Park, California 2012
Black oaks, autumn, El Capitan Meadow, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 1984

Autumn Light

What light is best for autumn photography? When I look through my favorite fall images, I see that I’ve favored two main types of light. The soft, even lighting of an overcast day, especially a rainy one, is prime light for forest scenes. Generally, the even tonalities make it easier to see the strong colors and details of leaves and branches of most forest scenes. 

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