Monthly Archives December 2020

Today at 11:00 AM ET the wonderful Terry White himself is doing a live Photography Master Class on JPEG vs. RAW: Which one is right for you, and folks I talked with Terry this morning, and he’s got a lot of really helpful fascinating stuff in this video podcast stream today — even if you’re already shooting RAW, you will learn new stuff about it today for sure.

You can watch it right above.

Have a great weekend, everybody. Here’s wishing you good health, and I hope to see you back here next week. :)

-Scott

The Grid: Blind Photo Critiques Part 2 – Episode 454

It’s that time again… Blind Photo Critiques with Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna! Check out the latest installment of critiques to see how you can improve your photography based on their feedback.

New KelbyOne Course: High-End Skin Retouching in Photoshop with Kristina Sherk

It is time for frequency separation 2.0! Join Kristina Sherk in a completely updated class on high-end skin retouching. A lot has changed in the 5 years since her original class came out, and Kristi has completely rebuilt her process from the ground up to utilize the new features and functions in Photoshop. Learn how you can get the same awesome results, using the latest tools, in much less time!

GET OUT OF THE CREATIVE RUT

Hello photographers. Let me tell you something. I get it. I totally understand what you’re going through. The year 2020 has been unbelievable. You’ve been doing all you can to keep your portfolio (somewhat) updated. But some days, you and the camera just don’t see eye-to-viewfinder. No matter when or how you click the shutter, the images underwhelm you. As this happens to you over a week or two, you find yourself in a bit of a rut. A creative rut. It’s beyond frustrating. But again, I get you. I’ve been there. Also, I know that you can get through this. Allow me to share a few exercises I’ve completed to help get me through a creative rut.

Discomfort Breeds Creativity

If you’ve been shooting for many years, you’re probably quite comfortable with your gear. You understand just what your camera is capable of. For example, you know how bright your speedlight or strobe is when set to 1/64 power. That comfort makes the shooting process much easier, but it doesn’t equate to creativity in all cases.That just leads to an efficient shoot. But what happens when you use a different strobe that isn’t rated quite as highly? Or better yet, what happens when you use a new lens for the first time? I think you know where I’m going with this.

An easy and fairly routine tactic I utilize to get myself out of a creative rut, is to introduce some discomfort into my shooting. There are times when I force myself to use my older camera for a couple weeks. Or, I’ll tell myself to only use a specific focal length. THAT is always an internal fight for myself. I love shooting street photography and wide landscapes. But can you imagine shooting the wide vast wine vineyards of northern California at 85mm?

The perspective and sometimes the mood of that frame is totally different versus shooting with an awesome 35mm. Quite frankly, it still works in creating a captivating image. Take this a step further and shoot said landscape only in black and white. Seeing an image of rolling vineyards with all its glorious colors of green, amber and violet is quite pleasing because the colors tend to speak to us first. But with that same scene desaturated or shot in black and white? Woah. That’s a challenge. What will you do? How will you frame the scene when you can’t use the beautiful lush colors as a crutch?

Constraints and discomfort in your photography can be quite helpful. Just think about what you would normally do and come up with something totally opposite from your mode of operation. Your brain and creative eye will be forced to rework what you’d normally do into something that will make your images speak to you and your viewers. Restricted focal lengths, different lenses, different camera bodies, different styles or genres, black and white only or whatever comes to mind. Embrace the constraints and watch yourself progress to come out of the creative rut.

Just Go Do It

Get out and shoot. Some of you may not want to hear this, but it’s as simple as that. Just get up off your rear and go shoot some photographs. Back in 2016, I was REALLY struggling with my creative juices and motivation. It was tough on me mentally more than anything. The remedy? Shooting more. No matter how I felt. No matter what it was. I imposed a 30 days and 30 photos challenge upon myself.  This lead to getting up and snapping photos of my stupid computer monitors or my podcast mic. Then I found myself snapping shots of my morning coffee. What happened after that was the game changer. The last cup of coffee I shot got my attention because of how the sunlight was hitting it through the large window. This lead me to think, “Hey, GO OUTSIDE.”

I went outside and was able to capture random images of birds, insects and cool landscapes from my backyard. Even deer.  I felt myself getting more and more curious about things to shoot. Next thing I know, I was in my car snapping images of buildings I’d not noticed before, street photography of interesting pedestrians and more. It was a glorious 30 days when I look back at that challenge. The creative rut was behind me. Behind me pretty quickly, as a matter of fact. Yes, I was annoyed the first couple of days, but then I started to see the light of the challenge. Literally.

Your Turn

So are you currently in a creative rut? If you are, what are you doing about it? If you’re not, that’s GREAT to hear. Also if you’re not, share what you do or have done to get yourself out of a creative rut. I’m more than happy to take notes and learn from others in the photography community and here on the Scott Kelby blog. I hope my ideas are helpful and get you back to creating great images. Thank you to Scott Kelby and team for the opportunity to share my tips with you all. I’m truly grateful and honored. Take care and safely #CreateAndDominate.

You can see more from Ant at AntPruitt.com, find his show Total Ant on TWiT TV, and keep up with him on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.

#TravelTuesday has come around again, but this week has nothing to do with travel. I’m Dave Williams, here every week on Scottkelby.com, and today instead of travelling the world I’m going to travel back a year. A little over a year ago we sadly and suddenly lost somebody precious to both the KelbyOne community and the wider photographic community. This is an insight and a dose of inspiration by, and in memory of, JR Maddox.

A photomerge of husband Bill and wife Mandy to create this beautiful creature Billandy…

This is something I won a Guru Award with at Photoshop World back in 2013… Wow! Time flies. First, let’s take a photo of two people on a clean background so you can cut them out really easy. In this example I used a black background and for the lights I used one Alien Bee with a 20 inch beauty dish with two Alien Bees for the rim lights (which are not needed). Keep the light centred to the camera and the subject, straight on with the subject to keep the shadows the same in each photo to make editing much easier.

I took both subjects and shot them individually in the same lighting as mentioned before to make the end result easier to edit. I’ve found that taking a few different shots of the subject smiling, not smiling but keeping his/her face straight on with the camera to make for a good result in the end. Again, this makes it easier in the end to edit.

A photomerge of husband Bill and wife Mandy to create this beautiful creature Billandy…

I take the female and start shooting here with the same lighting setup. Here I like to have the female subject pull her hair back to help with editing. At this point I don’t know if I’m going to use the female face or the male face. So having options helps. To help with having options I will shoot the female subject with her hair down as well if she happens to have long hair. Same goes for the male subject. If he has long hair do both, hair back and hair down.

A photomerge of husband Bill and wife Mandy to create this beautiful creature Billandy…

Once I have both subjects shot, I bring the photos into Lightroom. I check to see which ones look the best. Sometimes I like more than one photo. It might be that I like the eyes in one photo but I like the smile in another. So grab all your photos that you like and bring them into Photoshop.

I spend a great deal of time looking over my photos to see which one is going to give me the biggest wow factor. This is why I usually always go with a female body and parts of both subjects for the face. It looks the funniest when you see a women’s body and see a mans head but really cant tell what is what. Have you ever seen Mr Potato head? Well that’s what this is kind of like!

A photomerge of husband Bill and wife Mandy to create this beautiful creature Billandy…

I take the Lasso tool and cut out the eyes (separately) along with the nose and mouth. This way makes it easier as peoples eyes are wider than others and it just makes it easier to have each part separate. In this example I have the male subject cut into pieces. I try them on the female face and start moving them around. At this point is where I really just start laughing as I am having fun and really it does look hilarious. For this final picture, I ended up liking the males head and hair and ears. I cut the women’s eyes and mouth and nose out and tried it on his face. There really is no right or wrong way of doing this. It comes down to whatever looks good to you.

For this example I liked his eyes but really just cutting out his eyes and slapping them on her face were not really doing it for me. I liked her eyebrows and eye lashes. So what I did was cut out his eyeballs and placed them over her eyeballs. I used his nose and her mouth and I kept her dimple. This was all play time for me as I tried different things on each face until I got this final image.

Once I found what I liked, just playing around and not really masking anything at this point as I really don’t have a clue what’s staying and what’s going. Nothing like taking all that time to mask out stuff to find that you are just going to change it. So now that I know what is going where, I take the males head and cut it out.

A photomerge of husband Bill and wife Mandy to create this beautiful creature Billandy…

I use the free transform to get his head to fit just right. Normally I will cut out the bottom (layer) subject’s head so it doesn’t peak through if there is a size difference. So once its sized just right, I now try and blend the images together using the Warp Tool in Free Transform. Don’t worry about the color as we are going to take care of that as well right now. If you notice that the colors are not spot on take a Curves Adjustment Brush. Here you will need to really be patient if you are not good with color. There is a lot of red and yellow in skin so start off with these two colors. Sliding the Red Channel back and forth will help you a lot to see which direction you need to go. Do the same thing for yellow. Its not going to be very far off if you have two people with the same skin type. Once the color is spot on and you cant tell the difference, make sure your mask is super clean as this is where I spend a great deal of time as well. A bad mask can make or break your image. I still have troubles telling apart each person skin in the end. I do this for each part I put on the subjects face. Making sure not to be able to tell whose eyes are who’s, or nose or mouth.

Once you have the majority of the work done you can start retouching any facial issues you may see. You can do this in the beginning but really you don’t know what part you are going to keep so you may just be retouching stuff that you may not use.

Once im happy with the image I like to start with my background color and playing around with that. I normally will put a white soft brush right behind my subject to try and pull them away from the background a little. This of course I put behind the subject and turn the opacity down until it is barley noticeable. Then I will put a color cast with selective color or whatever you prefer, over the entire image. I feel this helps with bringing everything together in the image.

A photomerge of husband Bill and wife Mandy to create this beautiful creature Billandy…

Now go out and have fun with Photography!

Much love

JR

So, we had my official 15th Gonzo Holiday Gear Guide, and then last Friday I had a few more ideas, and yet here we are with three more awesome gift ideas for photographers. Let’s go!

Camera Body skins for Sony Users

If there’s a Sony Shooter on your Holiday Gift List, take a look at this: this company (called CamSkins) creates perfect fit cover skins for Sony camera bodies of all kinds, and they look really slick (that’s the red body skin shown above).

They’ve got different colors (the white skin looks really cool) and they fit various Sony models, and…I just wish they made them for Canon bodies. They’re around $54, and they would make a really cool, colorful, and practical gift. Here’s the link.

If They Shoot With a Flash, This Is For Them

The Crown Prince of Flash, the Duke of Diffusion, the wizard of wireless, Joe McNally, has his own signature line of really smartly designed flash modifiers and accessories made by the folks at Lastolite, and the flash user on your holiday list would be thrilled to get any of these. Really fantastic stuff (I have their pop-up softbox myself)! Here’s the link.

A fantastic book from Photographer Rick Sammon

Here’s how Rick describes it: “In today’s crazy times, photography is providing a much-needed outlet/release for our feelings – and a way to creatively express those feelings. It’s also a private escape into a world in which we can create our own reality (in camera and with Photoshop/Lightroom/plug-ins) – privately and publicly.

It’s such a great book (and Rick is such a great writer and photographer), and thought there’s not a single photo inside the book, they will love this book from cover to cover. Here’s the link (in print and for Kindle).

Happy Shopping Everybody!

-Scott

P.S. You know what would make a freakin’ amazing Christmas gift for the photographer on your Holiday Gift List? A KelbyOne Pro Membership. They would flippin’ lose their minds! They would learn so much! Here’s the link, ya know, just in case. :)

Stop snickering about the ‘glorious’ part — I’m trying to make the best of this funky, funky year. Anyway, lots going here — here’s what’s up.

One of my all-time favorite ballheads is on sale for $20 off

This Oben BE-117T is one bada@# little ballhead (and plenty big enough to hold my Canon 5D Mark IV or my EOS R, even with a 70-200mm attached. Holds up to 17.5 lbs. I believe), and right now B&H Photo has it on sale for $20 off (just $69.95 which is just insane for this quality a rig). Also, a perfect match if you use a Platypod Ultra. Here’s the link.

Go vote for Tim Wallace’s Awesome Images

My all-time hero of automotive photography, UK-based photographer Tim Wallace, has had 2 pieces of his work shortlisted by the judges of the British Photography Awards. Public voting is now open and if you dig his shots like I do, please give one of his images a vote at https://t.co/8lXjXLDuks?amp=1

This has nothing to do with photography, but you’ll thank me…

These frozen White Castle sliders you get at the grocery store are pure magic, and so much better than you’d ever imagine (if you follow my careful instructions below). Plus, they are super quick to make, and I don’t know how they do it because they’re frozen, but once you heat ’em up, the bread somehow tastes soft like they’re fresh like out of the oven.

OK, here’s all you do: After 60-seconds in the micro, take off the top bun: add regular ol’ French’s mustard, and just two dill pickle chips, then reheat for 15-seconds. Don’t add ketchup. Don’t add extra cheese. Don’t add anything else. Shockingly yummy and fresh-tasting. If you deviate from these instructions, they will be totally average, and you don’t need average sliders. They are super sliders (like you went to White Castle in person).

NOTE: Just eat two sliders (they’re more filling that you’d think, and if you just stick to two, they’re not too high in anything. Eat four and well…things get out of hand fast). I promise, you will love these!

Want a perfect Holiday Gift Idea for the Photographer on your list?

Get ’em a signed edition of Moose Peterson’s groundbreaking book “Takeoff” which teaches you how to take incredible aviation photos. This is a genre people are still shooting a lot these days at outdoor airshows and they will love for you getting them this awesome book. Here’s a link to pick up that autographed copy directly from Moose. Order your copy right now!

I wish I had included this one in my Holiday Gear Guide

…but I didn’t know about it until Wednesday, when Terry White showed the “Pocket Tripod” — an incredibly small (business card size), brilliantly designed tripod for your iPhone (or whatever phone). It’s really just so clever, and so useful, and…if you missed Part 2 of my Holiday Gear Guide on The Grid, we posted it here on the blog yesterday so make sure you see it in person — it is just too cool. Here’s the link.

There ya go. Hope you have a fantastic weekend; a safe, happy, healthy one. :)

-Scott

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