That video above is a public sneak-peek of a new Webcast created exclusively for KelbyOne members called “Backstage Pass” and it’s produced and hosted by our own Mia McCormick. In this first episode, she takes you on a rollerblade tour of our expanded KelbyOne HQ and she meets up the “Photoshop Guys” along the way, including a stop by my office for a quick chat.
Anyway, since it has this behind-the-scenes tour in it, we thought we’d make just this first one available to the public, and I hope you enjoy Mia’s “rolling review.” ;-)
I’m in Dubai today, and as you might imagine I’m very excited about tonight’s Awards Ceremony and I’ll be posting photos from the event (taken by Brad) over on my Facebook page, so stop by there if you get a chance (btw: Dubai is nine hours ahead and the ceremony is at 7:00 pm, so by 10:00 New York time the awards ceremony will be starting.
I just released a post over at Exposure.co (the photo story-telling site) with the story of my first time ever shooting a pro tennis tournament, and in this case it was Day One of the US Open Tennis Championships in Flushing Meadows, New York (these shots were taken last Monday).
I was only able to shoot starting at the 11:00 am matches and then I had to leave by 3:30 pm to catch my flight to St. Louis for my seminar there (which was awesome! Shout out to all the folks in St. Louis who came out and in Kansas City two days later. Awesome crowds â” super nice people!).
Research Beforehand Really Paid Off! I did a LOT of research before this shoot, and while I think I did “OK” for my first time out, I have a long way to go to get to where I’d like to be. The only reason I even did “OK” was this research beforehand, plus I got help from three sources:
(1)Dave Black. I called him and he had all sorts of little tips about the bigger picture of shooting tennis. The guy’s just amazing. He’s shot everything! (including the US Open).
(2) Right when I walked in to the photo workroom at The Open, I ran right into Elsa Garrison from Getty Images (our guest on “The Grid” just a few weeks ago). She gave me some great, very specific tips for shooting at that venue. Andâ¦
(3) I read an awesome book called Photographing Tennis by Chris Nicholson and it was incredibly insightful. He really did a great job of explaining so many things I had questions about. I really got a lot out of it.
Anyway, there are lots of photos and the full story, and all the camera gear, settings, shooting positions, and the whole nine yards all over at Exposure.co â” if you’ve got a sec, I hope you’ll check them out.
I’ll be back… I’m going back to New York one week from tonight to shoot the US Open Finals and I just can’t wait. It’s great to have a “second chance” to shoot any event, and even though I’m sure there will be 10x as many photographers, and that will make it that much more challenging â” I don’t care â” I’m thrilled to have that 2nd chance, and the opportunity to photograph the world’s best players.
Of course, before then I have the Bucs vs. Panther’s NFL regular season home opener and I’m off today for Photoshop World in Vegas. No rest for the weary! (hahaha â” don’t worry â” I’m lovin’ it!).
Lots to share from Photoshop World this week â” Brad will be shooting, and posting lots of pics from the Vegas show. Hope to meet a whole bunch of you there in person, and thanks for letting me share my first Tennis shoot with you here today. I absolutely had a blast, learned a lot, and can’t wait to shoot it again!
All my best,
P.S.We’ll be streaming the Photoshop World Keynote LIVE â” keep an eye out here for the link (it’s Wednesday morning at 9:00 am Pacific Time).
I shared this shot last Friday on Social Media and here’s what I wrote:
“I hesitate to even post this shot from yesterday’s bridal shoot (Kalebra was there doing the art direction and she was just amazing). It’s one of my favorites but I hesitate to post it because I emailed it to a buddy last night and he said “Selective Color?” Of course, it’s not. There’s lots of other color in the image. Please don’t make me regret sharing it with a chorus of selective color comments. Many thanks.”
So, I held my breath, and posted the image. Luckily the comments were very kind (over 160 that day), except for the usual few unsolicited critiques (groan), but then one of the commenters, Daniel Nicholas said something thatâ¦wellâ¦here’s what he wrote:
“I love it!!! He must be color blind lol”
The moment I read it, it hit me. Oh my gosh â” my friend actually is color blind!!! I am not making this up. I just about fell on the floor!!! My friend was just ribbing me either way, but literally laughed out loud the moment I read that, and felt a whole lot better about sharing it.
Anyway, here’s a behind-the-scenes photo — and if you look on the screen you’ll see the final image is very close to what was captured (more in the caption below the photo).
Above:While she was well lit from the front, from behind it was pretty dark, and I wanted to over-exposed the background so it would blow out to white (for effect), so I had to use a tripod. I actually started with the tripod extended up over my head and used a stepladder (a LadderKart actually), but I kept getting parts of the ceiling in the shot so I finally lowered it and came back down.
Camera Settings: This was shot at f/3.2 at 1/10 of a second. My ISO was 640 (I was on a tripod so I could have lowered the ISO quite a bit, but it would have slowed the shutter speed down a lot and if she moved even a little, it would be blurry, so I left it where it was. I was shooting a Canon 1Dx so the noise doesn’t show anyway).
Tethering: I’m shooting tethered into Lightroom 5.5, and that’s Julio (our 2nd assistant on the shoot â” Brad Moore took this behind-the-scenes shot). Kalebra is a few feet behind Julio so she can see the screen and direct the bride). We have a Tethertools laptop stand we usually mount on the tripod, but it was trickier than it looks on those stairs so we removed it and Julio just held the laptop. He loves holding laptops. It’s a sickness.
Venue: It helps to have an amazing venue, and we sure did. This was taken at the Kapok Tree Event Center in Clearwater, Florida. It is literally attached to, and shares the same parking lot as Sam Ash Music. I think I should get some points for completing this shoot and never walking into Sam Ash, even though I walked directly past their front door. I think that was my biggest accomplishment for the day, but when I returned to the office, the used Boss Super Chorus stomp box I ordered had arrived, so somehow it all worked out.
I think you can see, the camera part of this was simple â” what made this come together was having Kalebra doing the art direction, and having the vision for this shot in the first place â” that just left me to compose, get the exposure I was looking for, and hit the shutter button. We make a great team. :)
Hope you all have an awesome Tuesday, and we’ll see you here tomorrow for Guest Blog Wednesday. :)
Last Saturday I shot a wedding in Orlando, Florida and I thought I’d share a few pages from the Wedding proof book I put together in Lightroom.
This was about as ideal of a shooting situation as you’re going to get: The bride and groom, Ryan and Lindsay, could not have been easier to work with, and Linsday was a stunning bride (and both Ryan and Lindsay were both very photogenic, which made my job really easy). They were really a joy to photograph and they were incredibly accommodating. The groomsmen and bridesmaids were wonderful and the parents couldn’t have been nicer, and the surroundings were first class all the way. The pre-wedding and reception were held at the gorgeous Ritz Carlton, and the ceremony itself in a beautiful church in Winter Park.
I really wanted to do this right, so I brought some serious back-up: I had the wonderful Kathy Porupski as my 2nd shooter during the ceremony (she could only cover the ceremony itself, but she totally rocked it!), and I had Brad Moore assisting me with the lighting (and doing some 2nd shooting pre-wedding and at the reception) along with Pete Collins and we even got our buddy Kevin Graham (who lives in Orlando) to help us out, so I had everything well covered, and my crew did a great job during a long 16-hour day with only one 30-minute break all day.
Camera Stuff I’ll leave the rest to the captions, but in short, I shot withthe pre-wedding images with a Canon 1Dx, and a 70-200mm f/2.8 and a 24-70mm. I also used the new Profoto B-1 Off-Camera Flash with a 5′ Octa softbox for the formals of the groomsmen, and for formals at the church, and some pre-wedding portraits.
For the reception, I used pretty much just one lens — the 85mm f/1.2 but I shot it at f/1.4 (I’m not sure I’m accurate enough at run-and-gun photography to keep enough in focus at f/1.2. I’m pushing it at f/1.4) with a Canon Speedlight 600EX-RT flash mounted on the hot shoe (aiming straight upward — seen a bit farther down below).
An Un-plugged Wedding We sent the bride a link to the CNN article I talked about here on the blog about “un-plugged weddings” where the Bride and Groom ask the guests to NOT take their own photos at the wedding, and leave the photography to the hired photographers and the guests just relax and enjoy the day, and the bride loved the idea and rolled with it. I cannot tell you how much easier that made our job. Three cheers to the bride and groom who totally embraced the idea.
OK, on to the wedding album proofs:
Above:I used a 105mm Macro lens on a tripod for this one.
Above:Here’s the set-up for that shot, taken on the balcony of the bride’s hotel room right after the bouquets were delivered.
Above:The bride’s mom and dad on the right page. Lovely people (really made us feel at home).
Above: The flower girls were absolutely adorable — love the portrait drawn while the bridesmaids were getting ready.
Above:We had set aside just over an hour for portraits of the bride at the hotel before we left for the church, but as is usually the case, things ran behind and as it turned out I actually only wound up with less than 20 minutes with her and a long walk to here I wanted to shoot. The shot at the top of the page was made as we were walking back through the hotel’s convention lobby on the way to her limo to race to the church. I ran in front of Lindsay and asked her to pause just a moment right in the window light just long enough to pose her and get that shot. She was incredibly calm throughout, even though we were cutting it really close in getting to the church on time.
Above:Here’s a behind the scenes of the shot in the spread above, right page. Taken using a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Above:The shot on the right is one of my favorites. It’s taken on the staircase leading to the spa, just outside the hotel (so he had to hoof it a bit to get there). I’m standing on a step ladder (the ladder cart I mention in one of my books), and I’m using the Canon 16-35mm lens at 16mm. I also over-exposed nearly a stop using just natural light. On the left: That’s the bride still laughing and smiling after walking pretty darn far to get there.
Above:I shot a few from the right side as well, without the ladder and a tighter lens.
Above:More shots taken on the way back to the limo. For the shot on the right, I asked Pete and Brad to ask the flower girls to hide out-of-site for a moment and once the bride started walking, have them come out and follow the bride but not run up to catch her. That way I could have them out-of-focus in the background, as you see here (I was shooting at f/2.8). , and it worked out pretty well. They’re a little cut-off on the left side of the page just because of the page dimensions. If I wind up making this a two-page spread, you see all of them and lots of breathing room as well.
Above:Here’s a behind-the-scenes of the shot on the page above left.
Above: I saw a small bench in front of this window and I asked (begged) Lindsay to let me just take one more and I promised it would be the last one before she jumps in the limo. She gladly obliged and I’m so glad she did.
Above:The shot on the right is on those circular stairs leading to the spa, shot using just natural light. I’m down at the bottom of the stairs, shooting up towards her.
Above:Here’s a behind-the-scenes of the ring closeup in the previous spread. That’s Pete Collins holding a white card to bounce some window light back onto the rings to create a highlight. The shot was taken on an end table in the hotel room.
Above:Here’s a wide angle shot with my 16mm of the bride and groom walking down the aisle in a two-page spread. The church doesn’t allow any photographers near the front of the church during the ceremony whatsoever, so I went either really wide or 200mm tight. Honestly, I wished I had brought at 300mm, or at least a 1.4 tele-extender.
Above:This one’s just using the available room light and me cranking up the ISO, which worked amazingly well.
Above:After the ceremony, right before we arrived at the Ritz Carlton, I stopped for just a minute to jump out to get this shot, thinking it would make a great transition in the album between the ceremony and the reception.
Above:The bride and groom make their entrance to the reception ballroom.
Above:On the right, the groom’s father gives a warm welcome speech. He really looks like a star in this shot (and his welcome speech was one of the best!). That him below dancing with his daughter.
Above:Here’s me shooting directly into a video light to get a lens flare effect.
Above:For all these shots I’m either just using that one Canon Speedlight, aiming straight upward (so just a little light goes forward toward the subjects), or I turned off the flash and just shot at a high ISO to get the shutter speed up high enough to freeze motion. My strategy was to position myself directly across from the moving lights the band put up aiming at the dance floor. That way, I could get a lens-flare effect when the light aimed right at my lens. It didn’t work every time but when it did, I thought it looked great (that’s how I got all these shots with the exception of the top right where the lens flare didn’t work, but I really liked the shot.
Above:Here’s my set-up for shooting the reception. 85mm f/1.2 and a Canon 600EX-RT Speedlight.
These are just a few of the pages from the album (I didn’t include any of the formals at the church here, or all of the reception shots, or getting-ready shots, and so on), so these are just a few of my favorite spreads from the book.
A wedding like this is a lot of work Even with a whole team (my thanks to Kathy, Pete, Brad and Kevin who were all very professional and a huge help from start to finish), but of course, my work has just begun — I’ve got prints to deliver, a final book to create, web proof pages, and a myriad of things before our work is done. We had a really great time, thanks to a Bride, Groom who knew what kind of images they wanted, and were very accommodating to make sure we had the opportunity to create them.
We were honored to have the opportunity to share in Lindsay and Ryan’s special day, and their willingness to request an “unplugged” wedding from their guests made our job so much easier and less stressful for everyone. It was a beautiful wedding of two lovely people, and I feel very fortunate to have been small part of it. Here’s to the Bride and Groom — and to love and laughter, happily ever after. :)
(Above:a 2014 Mercedes Benz CLS 550, in a dark grey with a hint of blue. Thanks to Tony Pinero for the car).
Ever since I started shooting cars, I’ve wanted to shoot one in a studio, but there have been a couple of obstacles. One being finding a studio with a really large white cove that’s big enough to drive a car into, but the really big obstacle is to find one that has a giant car-sized softbox overhead (like the 10-foot x 30-foot F2X from Chimera, but the price is……the price is…well….see below).
That gives you some idea of why, outside of Detroit, finding a studio with one of these with an affordable rental rate is pretty challenging. Well, it would be for a regular guy, but not for the amazing Brad Moore, who found Studio 75, a commercial rental studio set up for automotive photography, that’s only about 25-minutes from our offices. It’s affordable, the guy seemed really easy to work with, and although they didn’t have the Chimera, they did have a home-made rig that works, so we booked it.
Above: In this behind-the-scenes shot, you can see the cost-effective lighting rig Dan created himself. It’s five 1,000 watt White Lightning strobe heads (bare bulbs), mounted on two long poles, hoisted up with a pulley-system, and then firing through a large 20’x20′ Matthews overhead silk diffusion panel (around $700) mounted to aluminum fence top-rail (you can buy a Matthews 20’x20′ collapsable frame for around $975, but the fence top-rail DIY route would be much cheaper at around $88 for the tubing (Eight 10′ x- 1-3/8″ round inter-connecting rails at Lowes for around $11 each. Then you’d need four 1-3/8″ corner connectors at around $4 or so each).
OK, back to the production still above: To get the right look, I’m nearly at the back of the studio. To get the perspective right, I’m laying down on the floor (not a big fan of that part), and I’m tethered directly into Lightroom so I can see the shots at a very large size as I’m taking them.
Once the lights are in place, you set them to full-power and adjust the f/stop until it looks right, so it’s a pretty straight ahead set-up from above.
Welcome to my World While you could get a car in the studio without any trouble, maneuvering once inside is quite tricky, but luckily this particular car had a backup camera, which made things easier. However, having Brad Moore giving you directions in that back-up camera…well…just watch the video below (shot by Dan as I was backing the car) and you’ll see what I mean. Welcome to my world.
Above: For shots where the front of the car is visible (like the one you just saw), we used a large softbox to fill-in the shadows. We also used a large black bounce card to help create some shadow areas on the car (more on this in a moment). You can see my low shooting position here (production shots by Brad Moore). It was a bit more comfortable here — sitting on the floor and laying back on the first step of the stairs leading to the studio’s loft.
Above: Sony had loaned me some of their DSLR gear to try out, and I thought this would be a great opportunity since the Sony A99 had a swivel-out LCD monitor, so I could place the camera on the floor (for the lowest possible perspective —- one where the photo would clearly show the rear tire on the far side) and then I could just angle it up a bit and do all the composition using the tilt-up display. This sounds easy, but try it with a sneaker coming out of the front of your head (see above)
It worked even better than I thought (though the electronic viewfinder is kind of…well…kinda weird when you work in a studio environment. It has a special mode for it, and perhaps you would eventually get used to it, but seeing something on screen that looks so different from what you’re going to create really threw me. Maybe it’s just my inexperience with the Sony, so I don’t want to totally trash it, because I know a lot of folks love it, but it would definitely take some getting used to (for me, anyway). So, I shot both my Nikon D4 and the Sony A99 during the four-hour shoot in the studio.
Above: Here’s a two-thirds view, where you can see the side the front. It was the first shot we tried that day. You can really see the black bounce card in the bottom half of the doors. That really made a huge difference.
Above: Here’s the production shot. I’m lying on the floor again, but I did mount the Nikon on my Gitzo tripod but we splayed the legs way out so I could get it just a few inches above the ground. I kind of leaned on my elbow to compose the shot, then I’d lock down the ballhead.
Above: When we were all done, I thought I’d take a shot from up above, from the loft (where the studio’s office is), and I kinda like the angle. Plus, it was a LOT easier because at this high angle, we didn’t have to deal with many reflections that appear on the car (which is what turned out to be the challenge of the day for the rest of the shots).
The Tip of the Day Before we left the studio, the studio owner, commercial photographer Dan Gaye, told Brad to bring a circular polarizer, and man did that thing absolutely work wonders!!! The lighting part of this is actually pretty straightforward — it’s a bunch of lights aiming straight down from directly above through some material that softens and diffuses them. If you need a fill for one part or another, just add one more strobe with a soft box. That part was surprisingly easy. The real challenge is eliminating reflections in the car.
First, the Polarizer helps darken scene, but more importantly it helps you nearly eliminate the hot-spots and reflections from the strobes above in the windshield and side windows. Without that polarizer, you’d have a serious retouching nightmare. You just rotate the circular polarizer and you can literally see the reflections in the windows disappear. I told Brad — learning that was worth the studio rental right there!
Above: Of course, since I had the car there, I couldn’t help but do a few detail shots, using the standard set-up: a single large strip-bank (we turned the overhead lights off), and shooting at f/22 (hat tip to Tim Wallace), just like always.
It’s not the Lighting that’s hard. It’s managing the reflections Dan said something that really stuck with me. He said “Cars are like giant mirrors. You see anything in front of it like you’re aiming at a mirror” and he wasn’t just-a-kiddin’. It was amazing to see this in person, because you could see everything from the kitchen in the studio, to Brad’s head, to a blue Kayak mounted up near the ceiling, to beams in the ceiling, light stands, me, paintings on the wall, cables on the floor — EVERYTHING!
I have to give Dan big credit and major love here, because he is a master of hiding all these things using black drop clothes, black seamless paper (we had to bring out a 15-foot wide roll), black 8-foot ball bounce cards, and more. You had to take a shot — zoom in tight and you can’t believe all the stuff you’d see — just like you were looking at a big mirror aiming back at the studio. It took 5 minutes to get the lighting right for the very first shot I posted at the top of the page, and about 50 minutes to minimize the reflections.
Now that I’ve seen the process of dealing with all these reflections, it really is just a trial-and-error case of being a “Reflection Detective” but I could not have pulled this off without Dan’s experience and help (and he was incredibly helpful throughout. Since it’s his studio, he knows every trick in the book).
Above: Here’s another detail shot; this one of the rear of the car, with the name plate and tail light sections.
Above: Here’s the emblem on the trunk, lit with that same single strip bank, held diligently by Mr. Moore.
Above: Thought I’d give you one more look at the overall full-car lighting set-up (and the blue kayak which had to be cloned out of just aobut every shot). This one gives you a great view of the White Lighting strobes and the diffusion silk.
Above: I wanted to include a shot of studio owner and photographer Dan Gaye because he was just an incredible help all day. He designed this inexpensive overhead lighting rig back in 1995 and it still works really well to this day. His system of ropes and pulleys lets him raise/lower/angle the lights and diffusion panel pretty much however you want it.
He was super-helpful and really made me understand the challenges of minimizing reflections and the techniques to hide distracting stuff, which is somewhat of an art unto itself. Needless to say, I learned a lot. So, a big thanks and high-five to Dan, but also thanks to Brad for finding Dan and his studio, and for all his hard work that day, and for all the production stills. Way to go Braddo!
Of course, me being me, I see all sorts of stuff I’d do differently next time That next time will hopefully be in just a few weeks from now, because I’ve already found another cool car that needs shootin’ and I surely need the practice, but I’m totally OK with that. It was just my first studio automative shoot, but hopefully it’s just the first of many, and you know what they say about practice. :)
OK, this is NOT a finished shot — just a behind-the-scenes shot from a 6-hour long, six-car shoot in an airplane hangar. I was going to show the finished shots today and include a behind-the-scenes video about a new piece of gear we took out on location, but the video’s not quite out of editing yet. Hoping for Friday.
In the meantime, you can see two of the three lights used in the shoot —- the one in the top left corner is one of those Priolites that we are totally digging on (here’s a link to my Audi R8 shoot video and Prioite demo video), and the long strip bank near the rear of the car is an Elinchrom BXRI 500 (my go-to studio strobe) running off a very cool, very small, very lightweight, and very affordable battery pack (more on it on Friday’s post).
Above:This is an Instagram shot Brad took of four of the six cars we shot that day. Top left: A Ferrari F-430.Top R: A Devon GTX. Bottom Left a Spyker, and bottom right an Audi R8.
Lots more to share of course (plus we got to shoot two other cars: A Rolls Royce Ghost and a Ferrari California), here on the blog on Friday.
But Before We Get to That… I just wanted to take a moment to give a heartfelt thanks to all the folks who took the time yesterday to leave me a comment with a kind word or a show of support. I was expecting the worst, and was pleasantly surprised (and relieved) to see so many supportive and understanding comments. Very much appreciated. :)
OK, Now We Can Get to That Here’s wishing you all a great Tuesday, and here’s hoping all your car shots happen in slightly cooler weather than we were shooting in. Cheers, — Scott