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.
70 – 200mm 2.8 Sigma
(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.
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.
Getting Up To Speed Fast in Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 with Scott Kelby Get up to speed on Photoshop CC 2018! Join Scott Kelby as he goes through all of the new features added to this latest release. There’s something here for everybody. There are new features in Camera Raw, new ways to quickly share to social media, new ways to organize your brushes, improvements to the Pen Tool, cool technology previews, performance enhancements, and a whole lot more!
In Case You Missed It Yesterday Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna had a live KelbyOne members-only webcast to answer your questions about the new versions of Photoshop and Lightroom! If you missed it, you can still watch and catch up to see if they answered questions you may have about the latest releases from Adobe. It is only available to KelbyOne members, but if you’re not a member you can sign up for a free trial and watch!
Never Stop Learning What’s up everybody my name is Sebastian Bleak! I am an Adobe Community Professional and I create training videos for companies like Lynda.com, PluralSight, Astute Graphics and more, focusing on Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I’ve only been doing this for a couple years and I’ve been really lucky to work with companies that I’m a fan of and have a lot of respect for, in such a short time.
Prior to this I was working as a production manager at the best custom T-shirt shop in Los Angeles. Now that might sound like a cool title but when I first started out there, I didn’t know much about Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop but I thought I knew it all (LOL). Back in those days, I figured since I had the latest version of Photoshop, that meant I was producing the best product, right? Boy was I wrong!
One day I was working with a client at the t-shirt shop and they made a request on modifying some artwork. I tried to explain to them that “Illustrator doesn’t work that way.” So they asked if they could give it a try. I said “yes,” knowing they would fail. BUT they made the change that I thought was impossible.
I can’t begin to describe how embarrassed I was at that moment but today I’m extremely grateful. That experience told me that I had a lot of learning to do and it was the catalyst for this educational journey that I’m currently on.
The next day I decided I was going to learn everything there is to know about Illustrator and Photoshop, and I made sure everybody knew it. I even started wearing Adobe themed t-shirts and everything! My friend Gary Lockwood was the first one to introduce me to training videos. He challenged me to start a weekly blog where I would choose a new tool on Sunday, study that tool throughout the entire week, and then post a tutorial based on my findings at the end of the week.
He named my blog Never Stop Learning. I am now on week 325 of this project (when this was written) and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Each week I’m posting a new video to my YouTube channel on what I’ve learned thought the week. I have a whole new respect for the software, and I’m proud of the fact that I study the tools of my trade the way maybe a carpenter or a blacksmith might have done generations ago by doing and asking questions.
I didn’t have a long-term goal other than to continue studying the software and to share the information with the design community. I started getting involved with every Adobe User Group meeting in Los Angeles, and they taught me how to use social media to expand my reach and it worked!
One day I received a private message on Twitter from Astute Graphics, all the way out in the UK. That private message got me my first gig as a Video Training Author, got me out of the T-shirt shop and changed my professional course forever. That was the first time I was being acknowledged by a big name company that I had a crazy amount of respect for. This was a sign that I could actually make a career out of something I was doing on this side, just for me, but was extremely passionate about. It was time to set new goals and dream bigger than ever before!
What’s crazy is that I never thought I’d be in this position. A couple years back, I barely knew anything about the software. Now I’m being referred to as an “Expert” in my field, but I see myself more as an enthusiastic student, happy to share his notes with the rest of the class. The thing that got me here was consistency by sticking with my weekly projects and studies. The more I learn, the more I’m able to do. The more I’m able to do, the more I’m looked at as an expert. What’s the take-away from all this? It’s to Never Stop Learning and share your journey with others!
Sebastian Bleak is a video trainer, software presenter, and instructor.
In his work as a trainer, Sebastian specializes in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and boasts a strong background in t-shirt production. Professionally, he’s motivated by seeing a student’s “aha!” moment when they understand how a piece of software works, as well as by the investigation of how tools work together, and creating a specific style of design or combining methods to achieve a different look.
Shooting & Compositing Commercial Projects with Tim Wallace Join Tim Wallace as he takes you through his entire process, from planning through completing the final composite, of photographing an airplane for a commercial project. In this class you’ll learn how Tim approaches the job, the planning that goes into each element of the final image, what factors you need to keep in mind when shooting, and how Tim pulls it all together in post processing. Through each step in the process, Tim shares tips and techniques he’s learned and developed from years of shooting similar commercial transport projects all over the world.
In Case You Missed It Want to learn how to photograph a car like a pro? Join Tim Wallace, a commercial photographer based in the UK, as he steps through the process of positioning, lighting and shooting a Ford Mustang convertible on location while providing real world tips along the way. It’s all about the angles, as you build up your lighting from the available light to however many strobes you need to achieve your desired result. Learn everything you need to know to ground the car in its environment and light it without it looking too lit.
The promise of photography the first time we pick up a camera body is overwhelming, nearly life changing! We’ve all been exposed to photographs, but to have that power within our own reach nearly takes our breath away that first moment we embrace that magical black box. Then we find our first photographic love in the viewfinder and all those feelings come rushing back to push our photography even further. For over 25 years, this was the feeling I got every time a critter filled my viewfinder! That emotional reward has kept me going out over and over again no matter the photographic reward. Then in 2008 my photographic world was blown apart and reassembled in ways I never knew were possible!
It was June of that year that my childhood of stories and model building were reunited in the viewfinder. I was incredibly fortunate to grow up spending the summer hiking the Sierra backcountry with my father, a WWII & Korean War vet. At night around the campfire when not staring at the heavens getting my nightly navigation lessons, my dad would share his stories with me being in a B-29. Those nights under the stars planted the seeds for much of my life to come, ones I wasn’t even aware were there.
What makes us the photographers we are comes from all our experiences we’ve had up to that moment we go click. I’m not talking about photographic experiences, but all of our life experiences! On that June morning in 2008, my 25 years of panning with birds to capture flight shots, along with my childhood stories around the campfire, came together in the viewfinder when that first aircraft at Reno Pylon Race School exploded my world! Just hundreds of feet away, the thunder of the engine vibrated the earth, getting louder and louder as it came closer… the explosion of air rushing by, and the thrill of experiencing 400mph up close and personal, and getting the shot. Wow! As I warn everyone I take out to photograph aircraft for the first time, “Don’t blame me if you get hooked,” because from that moment on, I sure was!
Where The Pixel Leads Us As we all painfully know, success with one photograph or one photographic shoot means you’re hooked, but then the real work begins. I was again incredibly fortunate in my career to hook up with folks very generous with their knowledge. Richard, a gifted aviation photographer befriended me, providing some key insight he’d learned over his years. Bob, an amazing pilot and gentleman took me under his wing to mentor me as we made the real decision to add aviation to our wildlife image library. What many call “reinventing,” we simply call natural growth as storytelling is in my genes. So the challenge beckoned!
I’m sure you’ve been there, from that new camera experience, new photographic endeavor and finally the challenge. No matter the genre of photography you find continually in your viewfinder, how do you move the pixel forward? Fun, yep, fun, that’s what is key in making it all work as you go through the ups and downs it is to be a photographer! At least that’s what I do with a huge dose of passion. In this case I set my goals real high, and that’s to move from photographing aircraft from the ground to up into the skies. Like everything in photography though, getting there requires small steps.
Typically photographers start off with little if no foundation in the fundamentals of photography. Again I was fortunate in 2008 in having enjoyed some success as a wildlife and landscape photographer. For example, panning a 500mm lens hand-held with a speeding aircraft in the viewfinder was second nature after 25 years of chasing birds. And watching that background to make the most of it is landscape photography to me. And what all of these genres of photography have in common is the same as the photography you enjoy, light! In following that light I quickly went from a ground-based photographer to sky-based and over the past nine years, and it’s been a thrilling ride. It’s one you can do too!
What Is So Cool About Aviation Photography Any Who? That’s a darn good question, thanks for asking! When I’m asked this, the first thing I tell folks is it requires no special gear to start photographing aircraft. Seriously, any camera body and lens that has 200mm in it and you’re golden! With this in hand, the next thing I tell folks is access is open to everyone. All spring, summer and fall there are hundreds of airshows and fly-ins around the nation, permitting everyone with the same access to some amazing aircraft. With this equal playing field is the next cool thing about aviation photography, standing out from the rest!
This is where your skill and passion as a photographer comes into play. At most airshows, for example, the aircraft fly when we tend to think it’s the worst possible time of day for light, noon. If you start to create images of static or flying aircraft in this kind of light that stands out, you will instantly stand apart from the photographer standing next to you shooting the same thing. How?
What are you doing for exposure? Are you under ½ a stop to play up shadows and punch up colors? Are you watching your background to incorporate the small cloud? Are your basic hand-holding and panning skills top shelf so the photograph is tack sharp? Have you spent time with the static aircraft to understand the aircraft’s best angle for the light so you can incorporate that knowledge when it’s flying? How are your post production skills? Are you fixing or finishing your photographs? And most importantly, are you incorporating a passion for photography and subject that comes out in your photograph?
This is just partly what’s so cool about aviation photography! Let’s be honest here, as we’re all photographers, first, we can’t just own one body and one lens, especially when the bug has bitten us. Then there is the speed and sex appeal of our subject. The amazing folks who are part of our aviation heritage play a huge part of what makes it cool. Many aviation photographers primarily photograph the folks of aviation, the plane being just something in the background. Then there is the challenge in getting the shot in the worst conditions that everyone loves. And finally, getting out tomorrow to do better than you did today! And the best part and what makes this the coolest is that after all of these rewards and successes, there is still so much more. What I think is the ultimate reward!
The Sky’s The Limit! When you know that there is no limit, that the sky’s the limit. It’s an exhilaration that propels your photography to a whole new level! Air-to-air photography (not aerial) is an adrenaline rush like none other I’ve experienced! Literally hanging out of an aircraft with only a safety harness between you and the earth directing another aircraft like a remote control on a string with a camera in hand is a thrill I wish all could experience! That feeling the first time you put a camera in your hand is relived each and every time the prop turns heading off on a photo mission. That’s until the reality that you must, must produce at the very least a tack sharp image sets in. Then a panic greater than falling out of the plane strikes you!
You’ve gotta do better than the other guy, you’ve gotta do better than the last time, the next flight depends on your success of this one. What’s your secret ingredient to making it all come together in the viewfinder? Your passion for your subject. All the lessons you learned on the ground photographing parked aircraft as well as those flashing by at airshows come into play as the breeze slaps you in the face as you look out the door through your viewfinder. And hopefully you’re thinking this is all up your alley because it is!
Takeoff There are many traditions in aviation that naturally are transferred to aviation photography like helping the new guy. It’s one aspect I truly love about aviation because I’ve been a recipient of that tradition, which is why in large part along with Scott and the team at KelbyOne we’ve brought out Takeoff. From the cover, you might think this book is about aviation photography, and you’d be right. But man, it’s much bigger than that as photography is photography no matter the genre. Gear, flash, settings and basic techniques are part of Takeoff, as a firm foundation is required. What about the business of photography, printing and the real toughie for me, walking up to a stranger and asking to make their portrait? Yeah, that’s all in the book as well, because they are universal photographic challenges.
What Takeoff includes more than anything else is what photographers love, all the secrets. I lay them all out there because I have no secrets, but more importantly, I want you to move your photography forward no matter the genre that excites you! What kind of secrets you ask? How but the biggie, just how do you get an air-to-air photo mission? How do you make your photographs stand out from the guy next to you (the answers apply to any genre of photography)? How about getting your images published? Yep, that’s in the book too.
“They belong to everyone!” The first time Bob said those words to me, they really set me back on my heals. After 25 years of guarding the slide and then the file, the idea of just giving a file to someone was about as repulsive a business concept as they come. Bob and I were talking about the ownership of aircraft when he made that comment. He went on to say that he was just the momentary steward of that aircraft. He was just the one at the moment who got to share its history, tell its story. Ever since that conversation the giving of files to pilots has been kinda basic business practice and it has paid back in spades.
Photography, just like aviation, has many traditions, and one of its grandest is the telling of stories. It’s probably why aviation photography has become so incredibly popular because we are historians, visual storytellers at heart. May blue skies fill your horizon!
How to Critique Your Own Photos with Scott Kelby Learn how to critique your own photos! Join Scott Kelby as he shares with you his tools for evaluating photographs across a wide variety of genres. These tools, in the form of downloadable checklists, are only meant to be guidelines to help you learn. They are not laws you must follow. This class was born from Scott’s experience hosting blind photo critiques on the Grid, where he discovered that many submitted photos suffer from a range of technical issues that every photographer should be trying to avoid.
This class is all about gaining a strong foundation in understanding the technical problems we all encounter, whether you are shooting landscapes, portraits, sports, travel, or in the studio, and how to use that information to evaluate the photos you plan to share with the world. Of course, it is not all about the technical. You need to have strong visual elements in your photos to evoke an emotional response in your viewers. By the end of this class you’ll have a new way to see your photos, and new tools to help you curate a portfolio of your strongest work.
In Case You Missed It Become a better photographer through editing and sequencing! Join Stella Kramer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo editor, as she teaches you how good editing and sequencing can help to do a better job of telling a story with your work. You’ll learn the basics of editing and sequencing, the importance of knowing your objective, how to deal with critique, why you should stand behind your work, and the value in letting go. Stella brings all of these points home in a series of live edit and sequencing work sessions with three different photographic projects.