Posts By Scott Kelby

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, and our offices are closed as we honor and remember those who gave their lives in service to our country.

This post is dedicated each year to the memory of David Leimbach, (shown above; the brother of our dear friend and colleague Jeff Leimbach), who died 12 years ago in combat in Afghanistan.

Just a humble word of thanks to the dedicated men and women of our armed services and to all those who came before them who laid down their lives to protect the freedoms we enjoy each day.

Here’s wishing you all a safe, happy and healthy Memorial Day.

-Scott

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Tonight at 8:00 PM ET I’m doing another of my now legendary live “Book Chats” and everybody’s invited. Tonight’s featured book is “The Flash Book” and I’ll be sharing tips from the book, answering your questions on Flash, we’ve got some cool giveaways, some killer deals on books, and some really stupid stuff I have planned. Go grab a glass of wine – a fresh can of Spray Cheese, and join me tonight at my Facebook page. OK, on to our Lightroom Q&A:

Tonight at 8:00 PM ET — come join in the fun! (fun?)

Whoo hoo!!! Here are just five of the short 60-second tips we release each Friday at KelbyOne featuring some of our awesome KelbyOne.com photography training instructors.

Bob Davis on “Wedding Details”

Dealing with long exposure Light Leaks (with Larry Becker)

Mark Heaps with a really cool color change trick in Photoshop

The always awesome “Moose Peterson” with a trip for catching that perfect prop spin in your aviation photos

And Troy Plotya with a tip on using Motion Art Overlays

If you follow KelbyOne on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll see another one of these tips every Friday, cause…well…it’s “Photo Tip Friday.”

Hey, if you’re not already a KelbyOne member, this might be a great weekend to give us a try. Head over to the site right now; check out my short video that describes what we’re all about, and then start learning right away. We’ll get you started with on a training track for whatever topic you’re interested in, from wedding photography to Photoshop, lighting to Lightroom, landscape to wildlife and everything in-between.

Here’s that link again, in case ya missed it. :)

Anyway, I’d super dig-it if you checked us out. I’m really proud of what we’ve put together for you, and we’ve got special pricing right now while we’re going through all this. Hope you’ll give it a look. Have a great weekend, everybody. Stay safe, and we’ll catch up next week. :)

-Scott

P.S. If you live on the East Coast of the US or Canada, I’m doing a live-stream of my entire full-day “Ultimate Photography Crash Course” seminar next Tuesday, May 26th. I hope you can join me for the day. It’s just $99 for the full-day (including a 153 page workbook), and it’s 100% money-back guaranteed. Tickets and info right here. 

This weekend, my sports-shooting buddy, and dear friend, Mike McCaskey of the Chicago Bears organization died after a tough battle with cancer. I’m heartbroken.

My shot of Mike at Ford Field before the Bears/Lions game in Detroit.

I met Mike about 15 or so years ago. I was going to Chicago to teach a seminar, and I got an email from this gentleman. He said he was attending my seminar the following day and was wondering if I would consider taking a look at his photography and giving him an honest critique. He added that as his way of saying thanks, I could be his guest at the Chicago Bears football game the following day. I agreed, and we met in the lobby of the DoubleTree hotel in Rosemont, where we found a small table out of the way I gave him a critique.

Mike had two types of shots, landscapes and people. I went through his images, and I was (some might say) brutally honest (which is what he insisted I be). I said, “Mike, look…you’re not a landscape photographer. You’re a people person. Your portraits are just fantastic, but your landscapes…well…you should stop shooting landscapes and focus on people.” He took the critique like a champ, and we became fast friends that day (at the time, I just thought he was a Bear’s fan – I had no idea that the next day I’d be watching the Bear’s game from the Owner’s Luxury Suite. That was pretty mind-blowing).

It was Mike who, later that same season, gave me my first opportunity to shoot a real NFL game. I will never forget walking out of the “tunnel” with Mike, my gear slung over my shoulder, and we walked out onto Chicago’s Soldier Field on a bright, crisp day. It was a moment I’ll never forget.

Me at Soldier Field in Chicago. I wouldn’t have ever shot an NFL game were it for not Mike.

He also got me my first NBA shoot, and we spent a glorious day together shooting a Cubs game and chowing on “real Chicago-style hot dogs” at Wrigley Field. He was such a great sports photographer — way better than he thought he was, but always the most humble guy out there.

That’s us shooting at a Chicago Bulls game.
Mike while shooting the Bulls .

Mike loved photography, and he was an incredible portrait and sports photographer because he was indeed a people person. When I’d talk with Mike about a particular player, what a beast he was last season, and what amazing stats he had, Mike would tell me about that player’s family, and what he did to help the community or about a foundation that player had started. I know Mike loved football, but he loved the people around it that made the game. As we moved through the stadium, he knew everybody by name, from the Elevator operators to the janitors, and he chatted with everyone and genuinely wanted to talk with them. He didn’t care who you were; he loved people.

Mike McCaskey captured these wonderful shots of my wife Kalebra and I adding a “love lock” to the lock bridge in Paris during our trip there a few years back.
Sideline shot of Mike down in Miami shooting the Bears/Dolphins game.

When it comes to Mike, take all the things you know about NFL owners and toss them out the window. Mike wasn’t one of “them.” He was one of “us.” Funny as heck. Humble to a fault. You’d never know he had two nickels to his name. Mike spent two years volunteering in the Peace Corps in Africa. He was heavily involved in Chicago’s Ethiopian community back home. He was a born teacher, and on the faculty at Harvard Business School when he was called back home to manage the Bear’s operations where he became CEO for around 11 or 12 years.

My Favortie Mike McCaskey story…

I could share so many great stories about Mike, but today, in tribute, I’m going to share one of my favorites, and I hope you’ll take the time to read it. It will tell you a lot more about Mike McCaskey than a hundred articles you’ll read about him and his career on the Internet. Here goes:

Above: another buddy of mine, sports photographer Mike Olivella

11-years ago, back in 2009, my buddy and fellow sports photographer Mike Olivella (above) called me with a great idea. He shoots for Florida State University, and they give him a 2nd sideline pass for each game. His idea was to provide an amateur sports photographer the shoot of a lifetime by giving them the opportunity to shoot a top-level college game on the sidelines with us. We’d hold a photo contest (free to enter) and choose the best photo as the winner who would get to shoot on the sidelines as the grand prize. I loved the idea, and offered to fly the winner, get their hotel, meals, etc., and so the “Shoot on the sidelines with Scott & Mike” contest was born. We launched it here on my blog a few days later. 

We had tons of great entries from around the country, and Alex Walker, a really talented sports photographer from Virginia, won the contest with a great shot of his son taken during a soccer game (shown above). We announced the winner and started making plans for Alex to come down to Florida to shoot the game. 

But some sports shooters out there had other plans

For reasons neither Mike nor I still quite understand, a group of very vocal sports photographers got really, really, really mad about our contest. They started some incredibly hateful threads at a popular sports photography site that got so many comments; they had to close the original thread and start a new one so the hating could continue in full force. Besides just generally hating on Mike and me (OK, mostly me), their other gripe was that letting this one “amateur” on the sidelines would make the already hopelessly over-crowded sidelines that much more crowded. Still, worse yet, this amateur would basically “run-amok” endangering himself and everyone around him. This had to be stopped!

Grab your pitchforks. Light your torches. This must be stopped!

These sports photographers were so incensed that Alex would get to shoot this college football game that they went beyond the forums — they carried their angry protest directly to the school. They convinced them that letting this reckless amateur shoot the game was endangering the school, the other photographers, and even the players on the field. Their outcry was so loud the school felt they had no other choice than to revoke Alex’s sideline photo pass.

I wrote a post here on the blog about how these photographers were able to steal Alex’s dream from him in a post called “A great day for Sports Photography.” It was for a long time the most commented-on post ever on my blog. In that post, when I told how Alex wouldn’t be shooting on the sidelines, after all, you couldn’t believe the outpouring of support from friends of the blog. Lots of folks stepped up to send Alex all kinds of goodies, and we sent Alex a “care package” ourselves, but of course, I felt really awful about the whole thing.

The only person that felt worse was Mike Olivella. Here he tried to do something nice, and not only did Mike and I wind up getting barbecued at a level I don’t think either of us had ever experienced in our professional lives, but Alex wound up without a shoot to boot. Luckily, Alex took the news like a pro. He was incredibly gracious, understanding, and was just happy to have won and didn’t want anything else — no replacement prize — nothing. Now I wanted to meet him in person even more.

I hate asking for favors, but I needed a favor…

I hate calling friends for favors, but in this instance I felt I just had to. I picked up the phone and called Mike McCaskey. I told him the whole story about Alex losing his sideline photo pass, and the opportunity to shoot a real college game, and Mike said, without hesitation:

 “The Chicago Bears would welcome Alex on our sidelines!”

I was thrilled, and I called Alex to tell him the news that he was now shooting an NFL game at Chicago’s Soldier Field (Whoo Hoo!!!). It was one of the most fun phone calls I’ve ever made! Alex was blown away (Mike Olivella and I were thrilled beyond thrilled for him), and we arranged Alex’s flights, hotel, and so on, but I asked Alex to keep all this quiet until after the game, so the angry sports shooters wouldn’t try to ruin this shoot for him, too.

A perfect day at Chicago’s Soldier Field on our game day with Alex.

Jumping ahead to the game

Well, the plan came together, and Alex flew to Chicago to shoot “Da Bears.” We met Alex early that morning for breakfast, and he was just a wonderful, down-to-earth guy, and a very proud dad of his son, who just earned a college scholarship with his soccer skills

We talked a lot about our families, jobs, and life in general, and I really enjoyed getting to know him. Before you knew it, we were at Chicago’s Soldier Field. We met up with Bears Chairman Mike McCaskey as soon as we got to the stadium, and Mike treated Alex as though he was the single most important person at Soldier Field that day. Mike invited Alex to join him for lunch in the owner’s suite and even went out shooting with Alex during the tailgating festivities. He couldn’t have made Alex feel any more welcome or at home than he did. It was a wonderful thing to see.

I know a lot of Bears fans only know Mike as part of the ownership or management group, but I can tell you they would have seen a side of Mike McCaskey, (one that I’ve seen time and time again), that would have made them really proud to have Mike leading their organization. I wrote about Alex’s trip to the Bears game right here (without ever mentioning that it was in place of the shoot Alex had lost. In fact, I just called the post “Shooting On The NFL Sidelines”).

The shot you see above, is (from L to R): Mike Olivella, me, and contest winner Alex Walker, taken on the Bears Sidelines by Mike McCaskey.

McCaskey saved the day

I could share dozens of stories like that about Mike McCaskey, about him helping people, caring for people, and truly being one of the “good guys,” but that surely is one of my favorites.

My least favorite Mike McCaskey story?

It was the time he got the shot and I missed it big time! We’re shooting a Bear’s game together on the sidelines at Soldier Field, and there is a good chance that Devin Hester, (Bear’s wide receiver and Return Specialist) is about to break the all-time NFL punt return record, so Mike and I set up on the opposite end-zone just incase Hester breaks out and heads for six, we’d be in place to get the shot. Sure enough, Hester finds a hole and sprints straight down the field right at Mike and me. We’re in a perfect position, at the right time and the right place, but I started shooting a few seconds too early, and as Hester is at about the 10-yard line the buffer fills on my camera, and I go down from 12-frames-per-second to about 1-frame per second, and I missed the shot. Mike didn’t start too early, and of course, he absolutely nailed it.

So, Mike has this incredible history-making shot — sharp as a tack and perfectly composed, and I’ve got a shot about 2-seconds too soon (seen below). What does Mike do with his shot? He pays to have it printed on a huge pano-sized canvas — and he donates it to raise money for charity. That’s the Mike I knew and loved.

This was my last shot before my buffer filled. I sent a framed print of it to Mike, and he hung it in the owner’s suite at the stadium. His own shot was better.

He was part of “Team Epic”

Every year a bunch of us friends get together and we meet up for a week or so where I’m hosting a local photo walk, and we call this group of friends, “Team Epic.” Mike was part of our little group.

Our Team Epic selfie in Innsbruck Austria about 18 or so months ago (by Dave Williams). That’s Mike on the far left.

What was so cool about having Mike on the team was that he was just “one of the guys.” He wasn’t Mike the Bears guy. He wasn’t Mike the rich guy. He was just one of the gang — just having fun, taking pictures, and laughing throughout it all. We were in Lisbon together the year before, and Mike was a big music lover. In the GIF below, I was playing a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” from the soundtrack of the movie “Sing” because I knew Mike would love it. Our buddy, Italian photographer Robby Pisco comes up while I’m playing the song. He starts dancing and says, “Dance with me Mike” and without missing a beat, Mike (in the pink shirt and white hat below) just starts dancing, and somehow one of our team epic members caught that moment on video, and it became “A thing” during the trip with everybody wanting to “dance with Mike.” He really was just one of the guys. I loved that about him.

I miss Mike already. I’ll miss our dinner’s the night before my Chicago seminars. I’ll miss shooting alongside him, laughing along with him, having access to his wise council, and singing the Bear’s Fight Song together each time we’d meet. I’ll miss the blessing of having a friend like Mike. He’s “…the pride and joy of Illinois.”

I’ll sign off the same way Mike and I ended every email and text to each other:

#GoBears!

-Scott

I totally 100% recommend getting a real RF wireless controller for your off-camera flash. It will change your whole experience (for the better). However, I hear from a lot of folks who got burned by buying a controller that from the description seems like it would work with their existing flash, but then they find out (after hours of frustration) that it doesn’t work, and will never work.

So, here’s a quick look at how to avoid this whole mess so you wind up with the right controller.

Note: I don’t recommend getting just a wireless trigger. Those only fire your flash wirelessly. Get a controller — one where you can change the power of your flash, or turn it on/off right from your camera (it’s sits on top of your camera, in the hot-shoe mount).

OK, here’s where people get burned:

OK, so let’s say you’ve got a Nikon SB-5000 Speedlight (Flash). You find this Yongnuo manual flash trigger for $39 on B&H Photo (great price by the way — I have one of these and it works amazingly well), and it says it’s for Nikon cameras. You’ve got a Nikon camera, so you buy, and when you try it, it doesn’t work with your SB-5000 flash. That’s because it’s actually for Nikon owners who have a Yongnuo flash — not Nikon owners who have a Nikon flash. You have to have a Yongnuo flash to go with this Yongnuo wireless controller, but of course it’s important to buy the version that matches your camera brand (which in this example, is Nikon), so yes — you need the version of his controller “for Nikon.”

So, what are your options?

You have at least three:

Option 1: If you shoot Nikon, buy a Nikon brand transmitter, like the SU-800 seen above (or if you’re a Canon shooter like me, you’d get the ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter, which is about $30 more than the Nikon version, or if you’re s Sony shooter then the Sony FA-WRC1M Wireless Radio Commander, which is about $100 more). They are designed to work perfectly with your same-brand, and they work like a charm.

Option 2: Find a third-party transmitter that actually will fire your Nikon, Canon or Sony brand flash, like the Godox XproC TTL for Canon shown above (it’s the same price for the Nikon, Canon [shown above] or Sony — $69, which is a great price. The reviews are somewhat mixed with some folks saying it works perfectly and some saying they can’t even get it to fire their Godox brand flash, but I didn’t see any that said it wouldn’t fire their Nikon or Canon or Sony flash, so it may be a problem with Godox flashes, rather than their transmitter. These Godox’s are really popular, with B&H show them as the #1 top-seller in the category for all three top brands of cameras.

Option 3: Go with a PocketWizard TT6 Transceiver for Canon or a Flex TT5 for Nikon. It’s more expensive than the Godox, but less expensive than the Canon or Nikon brand transmitters, but you need TWO of them (one to sit on your hot shoe mount on your camera, and the other to go under the flash itself on your light stand). This is defiantly a pro-level solution as PocketWizard is the gold standard for wireless remotes, but so is buying the name brand transmitter that matches your name brand flash, and that might save you a few bucks since you only need to buy one. But yet, it is an option.

There are other options out there, too, but I wanted to at least give you these three popular options in hopes that you wind up with a solution that works for your camera and your particular flash unit.

Important: Before you actually buy a wireless controller, look on B&H Photo’s page to make certain that whichever brand of controller you get, will work with your camera, and your flash. They list which models each is compatible with, so make sure you check that list before you hit the buy button.

Hope you found that helpful. Here’s wishing you a great day, and a safe, healthy weekend.

-Scott

This is stunning. So clever and beautifully done. It’s a project from photographer and filmmaker Arthur Cauty and I don’t want to spoil it for you, but these images are stills and he uses light-painting and astrophotography together in a wonderful way (and he put the entire project together while in lockdown over in the UK). This will start your week off right. :)

Happy Mother’s Day To All You Awesome Moms Out There

I know, I missed it by a day, but mom’s are such an awesome force for love in our world, that I didn’t want to let it go by with giving them all a virtual hug.

Two great moms! My wife Kalebra with her mother Barbara, who is holding a Mother’s Day gift Kalebra make for her — it’s called “My top 100 reasons why I love my mom.”

Our own children are so lucky to have Kalebra as their mom. The cool thing is, they actually know it. From a dad’s perspective, it has been a blessing to be able to witness her “momming” these past 23 years since our son was born, and she brings an incredible amount of joy, teaching, laughter and fun to all of our lives. Here’s to all the awesome mom’s everywhere — they are a very special gift to us all. :)

Here’s to what could well be a fantastic week! Stay safe, everybody. :)

-Scott

P.S. Thanks to everyone who attended my online “Book Chat” Saturday night. It was…well…it was chatty, I’ll say that. LOL!!! Glad so many folks stopped by, and thanks to my publisher Rocky Nook for helping to make it all happen (though at this point, they probably want to disavow any connection to me whatsoever). 😂

…are you absolutely confident you’d get all of your photos back? Not just some of them, or “most” of them…all of them! If you’re having to really think about that, or you just paused and winced a bit, then while we have this extra time on our hands, it’s a great time to make absolutely sure our photo library is 100% fully backed up.

So, if you were in the “I winced” group, let’s make this “Back up ALL my photos” weekend

I’ll give you the same advice I would give a good friend if they asked; if you want to make your backup life easy now, and going forward, get all your photos together on one single drive.

You can pick up a 4-Terabyte WD My Book external hard drive right now for around $80. That’s just insanely cheap. For most photographers, 4-Terabytes will probably cover you and then some. If you’re a working pro, or someone who shoots a ton, you can pick up a massive 10-Terabyte WD My Book for around $189. Seriously, that’s whacked!

OK, once you get your big empty drive, one at a time, plug in your other drives, drag all the photos from that little drive onto the big drive, and then eject it, and plug in the next one and do the same thing until all your photos are finally all together in one safe place. Having them all together like that (maybe for the first time ever), makes your life easier because now at least you know where they all are, and you can make a back-up of this drive, and now that your backup has all your photos on it (yes, I recommend having a 2nd backup — hey, ya never know. Drives go back — you can get an electrical surge that kills it; it can get stolen, damaged, and so on. By having a 2nd backup, you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket.

Now, it’s entirely possible that you already have a drive with enough open space to take all your images on all your other drives and consolidate them into one single drive, and if that’s the case, you know exactly how you’ll be spending a few hours this weekend (it’s a perfect Saturday morning project and it will take less time than you’d think). :)

While you’re at it, when was the last time you backed up your Lightroom catalog?

If you winced because it’s been a while, or you just said to yourself, “Are we supposed to back up our catalog?” here’s an article I wrote that will help.

By the way — getting really backed up like this has a wonderful side effect — you’ll get a great night’s sleep knowing that if your hard drive crashed tomorrow, all your photos would absolutely be backed up.

I wish you a Great Backup Weekend! :)

-Scott

P.S. A big thank you to everybody who attended our first-ever, two-day online Lightroom Conference. It was just incredible, with over 1,000 photographers attending, and the end-of-conference survey results are just over-the-moon with how much people loved it. We are thrilled with how the whole thing came off, and thank you for your incredible support and enthusiasm for the conference. We are truly humbled at the response, and so grateful for the trust you placed us in to deliver a world-class learning event for you.

[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]
Close