Posts By Scott Kelby

Laborday1

Today is Labor Day in the United States, and our offices are closed, so we’re taking today off here at the blog but I’ll be back on here tomorrow.

By the way: I looked up Labor Day in WikiPedia, and here are a few interesting tidbits about this American Holiday:

Traditionally, Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer. The holiday is often regarded as a day of rest and parties.

The first Labor Day in the United States was celebrated on September 5, 1882 in New York City.

In U.S. sports, Labor Day marks the beginning of the NFL and College football seasons (#rolltide!)

Have a great Labor Day everybody, and don’t forget to rest and party! :-)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. If you’re relaxing this Labor Day, why not click this link; type in the name of your city, and see if there’s a Photo Walk near you that you can join as part of my 10th annual “Worldwide Photo Walk” on Saturday, Oct. 7th :)

Terror in Scott’s Garage!!!
This morning we get back from driving our daughter to school and when I step out of the car in our garage I glance down at my guitar pedal board (I keep a small amp and my pedal board in the garage), and something catches my eye, right above my red Hall of Fame (HOF) Reverb pedal. I think it’s a leaf that blew in so I bend down to pull it out when I realize that it’s not a leaf — it’s a snake. SNAKE!!! (OK, it’s a tiny little baby snake, but I don’t know if I mentioned this, but it’s a SNAKE!!!).

I take a quick pic with my iPhone (shown above); I show Kalebra and she says, “SNAKE!!!” My first thought is to maybe get a broom and coax him/her out of our garage but it’s a SNAKE!!! Kalebra thinks it could be a venomous snake. OK, no way I’m getting near that huge 10-foot venomous lethal SNAKE!!!. Then Kalebra says (upon zooming in on the image on her phone) that she thinks there’s another bigger snake under the pedal board — the mother snake. I’m out. Out, out, out!

I’m calling a Wildlife Removal Service!
It’s called a “wuss tax” — noun. def: the amount of money you pay when you’re too big a wuss to remove a baby snake from your guitar pedal board.

Crisis Averted!
As you can see here, that was clearly a killer snake! Those aren’t my hands by the way — that’s the hands of a highly trained snake wrangler. One that saved my family’s life which was clearly in some kind of major danger from what thankfully turned out to be what the snake wrangler folks called a harmless “Juvenile Black Racer” which to me basically means a “12-foot deadly cobra ready to strike!”  They released the snake outside so it can go terrorize some other poor family. Whew! I’m glad that’s over.

Safely inside my house…a new practice amp
The bigger on, on the left. Just got it (thanks everybody for those Amazon gift cards for my birthday!). It’s the new Boss Katana amp with a 12″ speaker. I’m super digging it (might have to raffle off that Blackstar to raise money for the orphanage). Hey, what’s that orange pedal? A boss distortion pedal. You can never have enough distortion when you play like I do.

A lot of cool stuff going on in this photo
First, up top — that’s my buddy Matt Kloskowski who was my guest on The Grid this week (he was awesome as always — it was six years ago that Matt and I first launched the Grid). More on the Grid in a sec. The Vans shoes I’m holding are a gift from the great folks at Rocky Nook, the publishers of my latest book — it’s called “The Flash Book” (link) which is coming out shortly (we’re wrapping it up next week and off to press it goes), and they took the cover of the book and make a pair of custom Vans shoes with the cover. How cool is that! :)

“Why do so many pro photographers choose Macs over PCs?”
That was the question a photographer asked me this week on Facebook, so we made that the topic of the Grid episode with Matt. The topic was NOT“Why Macs are better than PCs.” We had to keep reminding people of that and repeating the actual topic because non-Mac users kept wanting “Why Macs are better than PCs.” to BE the topic so they could use the same ol’ tired defenses for a question we weren’t even addressing. We didn’t want to do a show like that — we wanted to answer the question that was posed — Why do so many pro photographers choose Macs over PCs?” and that’s what we did — even though some people watching didn’t like the answer. There is a reason, and we covered it in detail. If you missed it, you can watch it below.

 

We got a TON of great feedback from that episode, from people who totally “get it” and even some from people who now actually do. :)

See this shot? I took it with my iPhone
I have to say, its “Portrait Mode” (where it puts the background out of focus) is pretty amazing. I learned how to use it from Kalebra. I know, big surprise. LOL! :)  I took this last week when I was shooting a spiral staircase in San Francisco with my buddy Ted. That orange L-bracket (it lets you switch from shooting horizontal to vertical in five seconds) is the QR-11 from 3leggedthing and what’s remarkable about it (besides the color — but it also comes in gray) is that it doesn’t cost $200. It’s $49 (mind-blown!). Here’s the link with details.

This gets my vote for cool t-shirt of the year!
I love this guy! He’s showing off his KelbyOne swag (he came to one of my West Coast seminars last week). If you’re a KelbyOne member, here’s where you can get KelbyOne t-shirt swag and other cool K1 stuff.

There’s some serious Photoshop learnin’ in there!
The new issue of Photoshop User magazine is here, and I have to say, the magazine just keeps getting better and better. I want to take credit for it, but I can’t — it’s the writers and some absolutely kick-butt tutorials, and the new clean layout (Yay Jessica!), the KelbyOne Mags app (free on iOS or Android), and what Chris Main, the Managing Editor has been doing with the magazine. They are crushing it (and I couldn’t be prouder of our team). Check it out in the app or on the member’s site — there’s some serious Photoshop learning in there!

OK, I gotta run!
Here’s wishing you a great Labor Day Weekend, and we’ll see you back here on Tuesday (Monday is a national holiday here in the US, and our offices are closed for the holiday).

Best,

-Scott

 

 

 

Happy Monday, everybody. I’m going to tackle a question I get asked a lot while out on my seminar tour, and even though it sounds like a simple one, I think it’s an important one. The question is along these lines:

Q. I’ve heard that hard drives die after a certain amount of time, and so do CDs, and DVDs, and optical drives, and all the stuff we backup our photos onto. I’m not sure there’s any storage media that lasts even for 10 years. What about uploading them to someone else’s digital storage like Google photos? Are they always going to be around? What if Google goes out of business, or somebody buys them? I stilll remember what happened to Kodak (and Kodak Photo CDs in particular). What do you recommend for protecting our most precious photos?

A. First, I agree — I don’t know of a single storage media that I would trust more than just a few years at best without replacing it entirely, and adding a 2nd backup copy, and even then I wouldn’t trust them 100% (same goes for any online backup solution. It feels like they’re just one major internet hack away from being wiped out). All that being said, there is one method that has stood the test of time and I can’t recommend enough (for a myriad of reasons beyond protection), and that is making prints. Simply making prints nearly guarantees that your images will last, probably at least 100 years, if not more. 

I have photos from when my parents were kids, and from when my brother and I were babies, and the only reason I have them today is that my parents made prints back in the day and literally stuck them in a shoebox. Say what you want about that method, but it worked, and the only reason why many of us even have those historical images of our family is that our parents did that simple act of printing and storing them in a dumb ol’ box. Wasn’t that dumb after all.

This begs the follow-up question: What are you doing to preserve the visual history of your family?

If you did nothing but upload the images on your cell phone to MPIX or Bay Photo Lab or even Costco for gosh sakes, and you made a bunch of 4×6 prints when they were on sale cheap, and you took ’em and put them in a waterproof/fireproof box you get at Staples, you’d almost be ensuring that your most precious photos would live on for many, many years after you’re gone (and your heirs could actually find them and have access to them).

This is important stuff. I hope that gets you to thinking this morning.

Have a great Monday, everybody!

-Scott

P.S. If you’re a Lightroom user, check out my post today on over LightroomKillerTips.com about edge-to-edge borderless printing in Lightroom. 

Mornin’, everybody! Not sure if you’re following me over on my Facebook page, but I’ve been sharing lots of behind-the scenes shots from shoots over there, along with all the lighting set-ups and camera settings.

They’re really popular so far –  if you get a chance, you can check them out over there on Facebook. 

Are you into guitar? Or Van Halen? Or both! :)

Tonight I’m talking guitars and amps (and even a little photography), with guitar god Eric Broadbent (and btw: if you think they’re going to win any points with me by referring to me as “Photography’s Eddie Van Halen” in their graphic above, well, you are absolutely right. LOL!!).

Who: Me and rockin’ guitar player and show host Eric Broadbent
What: Lots of talk about guitars and amps and music and some photography
Where: Follow this link (the podcast is free and open to everybody)
When: 9:00 PM EDT Tonight
Why: Guitars, Music & Photography? Why the heck not! I’m in!  :)

Have a great weekend everybody! Here’s to breaking your high e-string!

Best,

-Scott

Hi everybody – I’m back from a whirlwind trip out West – three seminars in one week (LA [seen above], San Francisco & Seattle), plus a talk at the Canon Experience Center in Costa Mesa.  Had a really fun time, and met some really cool people along the way. Thanks to everybody who came out. OK, onto what’s up this week:

The Eclipse is here
Hope you caught Erik Kuna’s excellent post on Friday called ‘7-tips for shooting the Eclipse’ and if you didn’t, here’s the link. Erik and Kalebra hosted ‘The Grid’ this week and their topic was photographing today’s eclipse and there’s lots of great info that episode as well, so I’m embedding it here below. Hope you get some great shots!

I’m back at HQ now, so I’ll be on this week’s show, broadcast live, this Wednesday at 4PM ET. Hope you can join us this week.  

2017 Worldwide Photo Walk Update
We’re just a couple of weeks into this year’s walk and it is already rockin’! Here’s a quick look:

  • Photo Walks already up and running (you can join these today): 547
  • Cities with approved walks not yet released by the leaders: 949
  • Photo Walks started by leader and in draft mode (almost ready): 84 
  • Number of walkers signed up for walks so far: 5,272

New Photo Walk Prize Category for Kids
More and more parents are bringing their kids along on our Photo Walks, and getting them involved in this social photography event, and so this year, with Canon’s gracious help, we launched a new prize category for the competition for kid’s under 16-years-old, and the winner in this Youth category gets all this stuff:

How cool is that!!!! A big high-five to Canon, and all our sponsors who stepped up big time to support this new category for our youngest walkers. :)

My September Seminar
I’ve only have one Lightroom seminar date coming up in September (I had to reschedule Houston and Dallas due to a scheduling conflict), but it’s in an awesome place — Denver, Colorado. Hope you can join me for the day.  

Good luck tonight at the eclipse. Here’s to staying safe, and getting some once in a lifetime shots! :)

Best,

-Scott

It’s one of the hardest things we have to do as photographers — to look at our work and decide whether it’s a good image or not. Is it good enough to put in my portfolio? Good enough to share with my photo club? Good enough to put on 500px.com, or on Facebook? Is it good enough to enter a competition or submit to a magazine? Can I get client work with this image?

Part of the challenge of evaluating your own images is that you have emotion attached to those images. You see and feel things in that image the rest of the world doesn’t see. For example, when you look at your image, you might remember:

  • How hard it was to create.
  • How much fun you had the day you took that shot.
  • Maybe it’s a type of shot you’ve always wanted to take.
  • Perhaps you were with your family when you took it, and it reminds you of a great vacation?
  • You’re proud of the post-processing you did. It’s the best you’ve done so far.
  • Maybe it was the first shot you made with that new lens you bought.
  • Or maybe there’s just “something about it” that strikes you.

You see some or all of that in the image you took of that tree. But to everyone else, your cherished photo of a tree is just that — a photo of a tree.

We’ve all seen trees before. To you, it’s a special tree in some way (maybe one of the reasons I listed above). To us, it’s just a tree. That’s part of the reason why it’s so hard to evaluate your own images, and why it’s so easy for others to quickly see if it’s a good image or not — they have zero emotion attached to that shot — it’s either a good photo, or it’s not, and that’s instantly clear to people who have no emotional attachment to it.

It helps to know there are two sides to evaluating any image…
…and they couldn’t be farther apart from each other:

(1) Technical or Foundational evaluation
These are the easiest to identify because we have a basic set of guidelines about whether an image is technically correct. Stuff like “Is the horizon-line straight?” or “Is the image sharp?” This is the stuff that often ruins good photos, but on the other hand, if you get every one of the technical things right on the money, it can still be a boring, soul-less, nothing of a photo. Nailing all the technical stuff won’t, by itself, make a good photo but making technical mistakes sure can sink a good one.

(2) The Artistic or Creative Side
This one is 100% totally subjective. One person can love a particular image, and another person may not like it at all. It’s art. It’s subjective. If you did the technical stuff in number one correctly, then you can focus on evaluating the photo’s artistic merit. One way is to honestly ask yourself if someone was looking at this would they find it fascinating or beautiful or intriguing? Does the image tell a story they would want to know more about, does it have that special something that moves them in some way? Does it have something that elicits an emotional response of some sort? Happiness? Sadness? Anger? Laughter? Joy? Longing? Interest? Pride? Surprise? Wonder?

If it’s a picture of the old bridge in your home town — one that the locals pass by every day, it had better be a pretty awesome photo, showing that bridge from an angle or perspective they haven’t seen before, or it has to be in unusually dramatic light or beautiful light that it’s seldom seen in, or something that makes this photo of the bridge special, or they’re going to look at it and say, “Yup, that’s the old bridge.”

That’s why the technical side of evaluation is so much easier 
It’s well defined. You either did the right thing right or you didn’t. However, a technically correct image is only the foundation of how images are evaluated. It’s that “other stuff” – the creativity, the light, the moment, the story, or a magical combination of all that that creates an image that makes people say “wow.” I wish I could tell you exactly how to make an image like that. I wish it was that easy. I wish it was as easy as the technical side, but it’s where the real magic of photography lies.

Let’s Start With The Technical Part
The foundational stuff. I think I can help with that, but before I get to that, I have to tell you this: Once a month on ‘The Grid’ (my weekly photography show) I ask our viewers to submit images for a “Blind Critique” (it’s blind because we don’t know or reveal the photographer’s name on the air. The reason is so we can give honest critiques without publically humiliating or embarrassing anyone). It’s hard to get an honest critique of one’s work these days. Your spouse isn’t going to tell you the truth about your images. Neither are your friends or co-workers. Neither will people online (well, there’s always that one guy, right?). So, we try and give an honest critique and give pointers on how to make that image, or that photographer in general, better. Sometimes people send in images that are so good all we can say is “keep up the good work,” but most times we’re able to help with suggestions of what they could do to improve, both in camera and in post processing.

One of the most frustrating parts of being one of the critiquers (if that’s even a word) is that we see people making the exact same fundamental, technical mistakes each time we do critiques. Worst of all, some of these images could have been really great images if they had just paid attention to some of the technical parts, because those technical flaws are so obvious, that it kills the creativity and art of the image.

Some people would argue that it doesn’t matter if there are technical problems however, I would offer that those are the very people who are making technical mistakes and don’t want it held against them or their images. I would say to them — why would you let basic technical mistakes in your image take the viewers mind off the story you’re trying to tell, or the scene you’re trying to capture, or the emotion you’re trying to share?

Sometimes, an image is so strong that we can look past the fundamental technical aspects and just enjoy it for what it is. Sometimes we get lucky and capture an incredible frame despite doing a lot of things wrong, but luck isn’t a good strategy for creating wonderful images (though I’m happy to welcome luck with open arms anytime it appears in front of my camera).

Harder Than I Thought
I wanted to help all those folks who struggle with the fundamentals, so on Friday of last week, I went into our studio and recorded one of the hardest courses I’ve taught in a while. It was hard on a lot of different levels. One part was that I had to share over 100 of my really bad images throughout the class to use as examples of what not to do (including some really cringe-worthy stuff). Stuff I shot years ago. Some more recently, sadly. All that sharing of awful images with an audience of other photographers — that isn’t fun. The other part was conveying the message in a way that wouldn’t make the viewer think that just nailing the technical stuff was enough. It’s not.

I also fretted a lot with my idea of creating downloadable checklists the students could download for each genre I covered in the course (they included Landscape, Natural Light Portraits, Studio Portraiture, Travel, and Location Portraits using Flash). I finally decided to do it but I was careful to remind my students that it is NOT a checklist for seeing if you made a great image. It’s a checklist to see if you covered the fundamentals, and sidestepped some of the traps that ruin otherwise great photos. It’s a learning tool. Not a set of laws.

My video team tells me it’ll be about six weeks before the course comes out because we already have a bunch of courses in the production cue. I am really looking forward to getting it out there, because I think it has the potential to help a lot of people (plus, seeing 100+ of my worst images is probably just good for people’s souls). ;-)

I hope this post helps you realize that the technical stuff, this ground level stuff of photography, is important enough that you should be taking it into account when you’re making images. The technical parts of photography are not laws written in stone, and some of the greatest photos in history have some of these same flaws. Sometimes when I see one of those, I think, “Man, that is an amazing photo! Too bad they didn’t…” – see what I mean? Don’t let there be a “but…” after your photo. Learn the fundamental stuff, and apply it when you can to get that technical junk out of the way, so we can enjoy your story, the emotion, the light, the scene, and viewing your image without any “buts.”

Hope that got you thinkin’ :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. I’m in Los Angeles today teaching my Lightroom seminar. Between LA, San Francisco on Wednesday and Seattle on Friday, I’ll be training just over 1,000 photographers. I hope you’re one of them. :)

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