Category Archives Featured

Photo by David Burnett

The Growth In A Challenge

The greatest growth I have experienced as a photographer was when I faced a challenge. I benefited from my willingness to feel the discomfort of taking on something new.

Since my early years, I loved photographing people, especially in public. It held an incredible fascination for me. The majority of such imagery took the shape of candid photographs while traveling or practicing street photography. I rarely approached people to make a portrait. I felt incredible anxiety at the thought of approaching someone.

However, my desire to make such photographs finally led me to approaching strangers and asking to make their image. The initial results were lackluster, but what was important was that I moved through my fear to make those photographs happen.

As I grew more comfortable with that approach, I found myself focused on a new desire. Next, I wanted to make portraits in a more formal situation. I wanted more than just capturing a few frames of a subject I encountered on the street. Instead, I wanted to spend an hour with them and work on creating a more substantive photograph.

I had never done something like this before and the thought terrified me. I felt confident concerning my picture-taking skills. However, I wasn’t sure how I would engage my subject for an extended period. Though my desire to create such images were strong, I frequently talked myself out of it by focusing on my perceived weaknesses and lack of experience.

Then came a day when my desire to make the photographs supplanted my fear and self-doubt. I asked six people who were in a writing fellowship with me if I could make their portraits. I felt significantly less fear about approaching them because I had worked so intimately with them over the year. However, I had to muster all of my courage to ask them. I was surprised by the enthusiasm with which they met my request.

For these portraits, I went to their respective homes and hung out with them while I made photographs. I had nothing more than a Nikon DSLR, a 50mm lens, and a reflector. I found a space where there was good light and a nice setting, and I would get to work. Because we knew each other, I was immediately able to build rapport and engage with them as I made their photographs. Whatever anxiety I felt quickly fell.

During our final group dinner, I displayed the 24×30 prints of each of them. They were happy and excited with the results. The husband of one of the writers was singularly impressed by the images and asked me if I would like to exhibit this work at a new gallery he was opening in the South Bay.

I explained that I only had these few prints and said that I would need to photograph more. I asked him when he would need them, and he told me the following month.

My initial impulse was to say no or delay the effort for later on in the year. But something told me that I shouldn’t put off this opportunity. So, I said yes.

For the next month, I took on the challenge of photographing a host of writers and poets in Southern California. Soliciting the help of the many writers, I had met through the fellowship, I started calling and e-mailing people to ask them to participate in this series. I was amazed how easily so many of them said yes. Some included well-known artist including Hubert Selby (Last Exit to Brooklyn), Janet Fitch (White Oleander), and Carolyn See (Golden Days).

Next was the challenge of making all of those images. I put together a list and a schedule that allowed me to photograph people during the weekends. Because of my limited window of time, I multiple sittings  multiple each day. My busiest day included a total of 5 subjects.

All the subjects were new to me. So, I not only had to build rapport with them from the moment that I met them, but I also had to find locations in their homes where I could produce the best photographs possible.

It was an intense month of photography. I was so busy and so intent on pulling it off, that the fear, anxiety, and self-doubt that had held me back for years disappeared.  I was singularly focused on succeeding and making this exhibit happen.

When I walked into the gallery on the official opening and saw my 24×30 prints on display on its walls, I was filled with so much pride. Despite the many obstacles that I had stood in my way, I had succeeded in doing something that a few years before I would have considered impossible.

It’s been one of my greatest lessons as a photographer, When I am tempted to succumb to feelings of insecurity and self-doubt, I remember that feeling of satisfaction that came from facing my fear.  I remember that I can have such a feeling again if I just believe in myself, put in the work, and see it to the end.

Ibarionex Perello is a photographer, writer, and educator. He is also the host and producer of The Candid Frame photography podcast which he has been producing since 2006. The show features the world’s best established and emerging photographers and has featured conversations with Mary Ellen Mark, Dan Winters, Douglas Kirkland, Eli Reed, Maggie Steber, Elliot Erwitt, and hundreds of others.

He has also written hundreds of articles and has authored have a dozen books on the subject of photography. His latest is Making Photographs: Developing a Personal Visual Workflow.

You can find out more about Ibarionex and his work by visiting TheCandidFrame.com.

Whether you shoot for fun or you’re an amateur turning pro, this little list contains the secrets to success. I’m Dave Williams, it’s #TravelTuesday, and it’s time to get on with things!

1 – Be committed

Take the sunrise analogy. If we’re committed, we’re there for the first light of the day, ready and keen to get started. If we’re willing to sacrifice a warm, comfortable bed in exchange for a cold, early morning, we’re demonstrating our commitment to travel photography and to ourselves.

2 – Think laterally

If we go where the crowds go, we’re more likely to take a shot that the crowds already got. If we think outside the box, however, we’re far more likely to create something unique that stands out amongst the crowd. It’s worth putting in the work to create something unique.

3 – Research hard!

If we put in the research behind our shots, we can plan for things that don’t often happen, like obscure moon phases or annual events. Putting ourselves in the right place at the right time will allow us to achieve something different, and meticulous planning results in us knowing where to be and when to be there. This research should present itself in the form of a shot list, allowing us to prioritise and plan whilst on a trip.

4 – Know your gear and techniques

Practicing hard and educating ourselves with regard to our gear and the techniques we can use will pay dividends when we’re on location. Having our methods honed so they become second nature means we can get far more done in a shorter time, and react to any changes effectively. We don’t need to travel to far-away locations to practice, we can do it close to home. When we are well-practiced it shows in our work.

5 – Learn patience

Patience is the most important tool in our bag—this is something I’ll always remember hearing Scott say. One characteristic of a great travel photographer is identifying and composing a photo, then waiting for everything to be right. The right light, the right colours, the right mood, the right anything—it often takes patience to have everything right.

6 – Be ready

Despite the need for patience, we also need to have the ability to reach quickly, responding to situations that develop around us. We need to understand the exposure triad (ISO, shutter, aperture) and know how to quickly apply it by touch only, so a fleeting moment doesn’t pass us by.

7 – Understand composition

We need to know when and how to apply the rule of thirds, leading lines, diagonals, the golden spiral, and every other compositional technique, as well as knowing when to break these rules with patterns, contrast, and depth.

8 – Self critique. A lot!

At the end of the day, when the shooting’s done, examine your work very carefully. Then take a break and come back to it again for another examination. Critique yourself and actively look for your mistakes so you know where to improve next time.

Photography is competitive, in some cases, more so than others. The most important thing is to have fun, and if we practice hard and achieve the most we possibly can, it becomes less stressful and easier to have fun.

Much love
Dave

I’ve told this story before, but it’s totally relevant!

I’m Dave Williams and I’m here every week for #TravelTuesday (because I’m a travel photographer… and I know it’s Friday, but Adobe decided to release some awesome updates on Tuesday so I was relegated, but just imagine, ok?) and last year in Florida I was shooting two new KelbyOne classes in the studios when, having called it a wrap, I had a day to myself to explore. This is what happened on that day: –

Yep, I added a little more ink to myself and got a new tattoo from the best shop in town! (It was definitely the best place in Tampa – they can’t lie on a sign, can they!)

Stick with me, I’m going somewhere with this….

So, that unpronounceable mumbo-jumbo is actually Icelandic and it is the words ‘Thetta Reddast” flanked by two Icelandic runes, one for safe travels and the other for love. The strange D/P looking character is pronounced ‘th’ as in Thor (Þórr) the Norse God. The term is Icelandic and despite having no discernible translation, it certainly has a translatable meaning. Here’s how I know…

In the winter of 2016 – specifically October 29th – I was in Iceland on an adventure and decided I was going to explore the cave waterfall at Gljufrafoss, which was an incredible experience albeit not the smartest decision I ever made. Take a look at this: –

You can see the waterfall in the cave through that short canyon behind the incredibly wet photographer named Dave, somewhat blurred from the water inside my iPhone camera! It was very cold and I was reminded why I am smart in some senses but not in others as I had a complete change of clothing in the car, and a towel. I got some awesome shots inside the cave of the water thundering down the rock cascade, crashing into a small pool at its base before flowing out towards the sub-Arctic Icelandic countryside, concealed in a frozen mist. The part of me that wasn’t being smart was the bit responsible for my Nikon D810. I realise that my job is to educate and inspire, and I promise you can trust me! Anyway, having dried myself off and believing I’d dried my camera off I began on the 351 mile (565km) drive to the Westfjords where I had an appointment to shoot the resident foxes of the Arctic Fox Centre, Ingi and Móri. I wasn’t far into the journey when I noticed the camera was behaving a bit strangely. The first thing that aroused my suspicions is when the camera took a photo by itself with no intervention from myself… I thought that was a bit strange and I cast my mind back. The camera is ‘weather sealed’ and although it was wet when I emerged from the frozen canyon I thought I’d done a pretty good job of drying it off with my microfibre cloth. Apparently not. The camera occasionally fired off a shot by itself so I decided to take further steps to dry it out, including opening the ports and keeping it warm, and by using a bag full of dry rice.

That evening, having arrived in the Westfjords, I took this photo: –

I was in the Westfjords, far away from civilisation in an area covering 8,598 square miles but containing only 7,115 people, one third of whom are in one small town named ísafjörður. This mountain range was in the middle of the Westfjords and the lack of any notable population and no moon meant there was a pitch dark night sky and the faintest of Aurorae were visible. I set my camera on a tripod and had it firing off shot after shot, walking away from it to stare up at natures finest light show. When I stepped back toward my camera I turned the switch to ‘off’ but the camera continued taking shots, not turning off. I removed it from the tripod and took out the battery, affording myself a short term solution to what would turn out to be a long term problem. I made my way to ísafjörður for the night, leaving the camera in the bag of dry rice beside the warm radiator in stark contrast to the sub-zero winter temperatures that it transpired were to cause the cameras ultimate demise.

The following morning I headed to Súðavík with what was now just a very expensive paper-weight bearing the ‘Nikon’ emblem, not working at all. I arrived at the Arctic Fox Centre and met Midge. This is Midge: –

Midge gave me the warmest greeting as he cleared the snow from the parking area to make space for me, and I excitedly and enthusiastically introduced myself, eager to meet the foxes, before explaining my conundrum. I was midway through telling Midge that I wouldn’t be able to take any photos because my camera had broken, and the first thing he did was invite me inside for a coffee and to make a plan.

Armed with caffeine and ready to take on the world, that’s exactly what I did. Being a Nikon Pro I made a call to their offices first, talking them through what had happened, and they offered to send me a camera. The excitement was short lived however, when I found out that the camera they planned to send me was in Sweden as there was no residual stock in Iceland suitable for me, and that camera in Sweden would take a couple of days to arrive on a flight from Stockholm to Keflavik, then a truck to Reykjavik, then another flight from Reykjavik to ísafjörður. I didn’t have a couple of days – in a couple of days I was leaving Iceland and heading home. I had to turn down Nikon’s offer and make another plan. That’s when Midge said to me, “don’t worry, in Iceland we say ‘Thetta Reddast.'”

I had no clue what he was talking about but the world was closing in on me so I carried on trying to make a plan, calling the local tourism office to see if they knew of a photographer nearby who would be able to help out. There was only one (remember I said there’s basically nobody living there) and she was busy. I was stumped. Midge said, whilst making me a second coffee, “I have a camera, it’s probably not as good as yours but why don’t you borrow it until you go home.” I couldn’t believe it. I graciously accepted and, for the rest of my adventure, shooting the foxes and a helicopter flight among other things, I had a camera again. Midge simply asked that when I get back to Reykjavik I send it back to him on a flight to ísafjörður, which ended up costing me around £40 to send the box containing his camera on the next flight. Without that, I wouldn’t have been able to shoot the aerial views of Iceland offered by Nordurflug.

Thetta Reddast. It means, ‘everything is going to work out fine.’ It’s a beautiful Icelandic saying and it turned out everything did work out fine. Through the generosity of a stranger come friend I was able to continue, despite my own stupidity. Thing happen to us – hurdles pop up and road blocks appear – and we get through them, past them, over them, around them, and we work out the best of bad situations. Creatively I’ve been in a place lately that hasn’t been productive, but I’m pushing past it…

It’ll be fine

Much love
Dave

25 Quick & Easy Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers with Scott Kelby

As photographers we are often faced with having to retouch our own portrait sessions. Join Scott Kelby as he shows you 25 quick and easy portrait retouching techniques designed with photographers in mind. This class is designed so that you can jump into any lesson based on the topic you want to learn.

Each lesson is short, sweet, and to the point, so whether you need to learn how to retouch an eyebrow, brighten skin, reduce wrinkles in clothing, add catchlights, or a whole host of other retouching techniques, just find the topics that interest you and dive right in!

In Case You Missed It… Mastering the Natural Light Portrait: Post Processing

Join Scott Kelby for the conclusion to his Mastering the Natural Light Portrait class, as he works through his process for editing the photos from that shoot. In this class you’ll learn the core types of edits you will apply to all of your natural light portraits. In this class you’ll learn different techniques for reducing distractions and making the face the most eye-catching part of the photo. From soft northern exposure light to dappled light, Scott teaches you how to analyze the photo, plan your approach, and get the most out of what Lightroom and Photoshop have to offer.

This class is perfect for anyone looking for tips on post processing or editing natural light photos.

Photo by Hannah Leigh Imagery

Time For A Change

I grew up in the hills of rural East Tennessee. As a child, I learned how to shoot a gun in Shooting Sports and did target practice at 4-H Camp. My dad kept shotguns in the closet, and carried one at his job as a prison guard. Friends, family, and fellow church members all went hunting on a regular basis. Classmates would wake up early to go hunting before school, and arrive with their gun racks in their trucks loaded with their guns.

I worked at a convenience store that also sold hunting and fishing licenses and served as a “checking station” for deer hunters. Heck, they could even drop off their game around back at the processing and taxidermy shop that occupied the other half of the building, then return later to pick up their meat and newly mounted trophies.

My brother (left) and I playing with our toy guns in the back yard.

The context of guns in my life has primarily revolved around toys, sport, and hobby. But this is not everyone’s experience in life. Many people’s experiences with guns are negative, and even the word “negative” is a gross understatement for many people’s experiences with them. Many people have lost multiple friends, family members, and other loved ones to gun violence.


I like to think of myself as an empathetic person and strive to be sensitive to others’ life experiences. No one ended up where they are in life, holding the views and opinions they hold, in an instant. Everyone has a journey through life, and no two journeys are identical.

So, when I’m having a conversation about a difficult topic with someone else, I try to keep all of this in mind. I’m definitely not always successful. But when I’m able to find out more about a person’s story and their background, it helps me to understand why they hold the opinions they hold, even if I don’t agree with them. And, if I’m lucky, I can sometimes even evolve my opinion on a topic thanks to knowing their story. It’s that added insight, that empathy, that can change your heart when you care more for others than you care about being “right.”


So, it is with that, that I would like to propose something for us all to consider. This is not a change that necessarily takes place in an instant or overnight. But just take a half a second to think before using this terminology…

Let’s stop using the word “shoot” when it comes to photography.

(more…)

Lots of Photoshop news today as Adobe just released a really nice update to Photoshop (more on that in a moment), and Lightroom (we’re covering that over at LightroomKillerTips.com), and today we are announcing an awesome two-day KelbyOne online live Photoshop Conference, sponsored by Adobe and Photoshop User magazine, which will include training all the latest new stuff in Photoshop released today, and so much more.

It’s two full days, all live online with with two simultaneous training tracks, and an incredible team of instructors. Best of all, it’s all online, so anybody anywhere can attend, and it’s so affordable anybody can be a part of it.

Check out the video below to see if it’s for you:

I want to catch every single class! (Well, maybe not the ones I’m doing, since I pretty much know that stuff). ;-) — but what a great class offering and roster — it’s going to be the Photoshop training event of the year — you don’t want to miss this, and we’d love for you join us for this remarkable training experience.

…and it all happens in just a few weeks from now:

July 14-15, 2020
11:00 AM – 5:45 PM (EDT)

This live-streamed event is open to everyone, everywhere, and you can register today at https://kelbyonelive.com/photoshop-conference – sign up right now to get the best pricing.

Thanks in advance to everyone for helping us spread the word. Whoo hoo —  it’s a great day to be a Photoshop user! :)

Onto The New Photoshop Stuff

I love these feature updates from Adobe, and there are some very nice things in this update for photographers. There are three “biggies.”

Select Subject is Now Officially Awesome

Last year Adobe added an AI-powered helper that make simple selections for you. It was really great at selecting objects (like a banana, a bowling ball, a vase, etc., and it’s OK at selecting people, especially if they were bald or did tightly trimmed hair). In short, it wasn’t made for selecting people, but at least it got you started and then you’d go to Select & Mask and do the masking part. Well, check this out, because this AI feature has obviously been working overtime on the learning.

Above: Here’s our image and we open it in Photoshop 2020 (the new one just released today), and we only do one thing — click the Select Subject button up in the Options Bar (if you don’t see that button, just click on the Magic Wand tool or the Quick Select tool in the toolbar and it will become visible). That’s it. Let’s see the results.

If you’re thinking that’s a pretty cruddy mask it made, you’re right. That’s how the Select Subject featured worked literally just yesterday. That’s the results of clicking that button (I got the mask you see above by opening Select & Mask, just so you could see what Photoshop is creating selection wise). Now let’s look at how the new version handles this exact same image:

What???!!!! That is incredible! It’s selecting the hair (instead of chopping it off). What a massive improvement. Just crazy!!! Yes, you’d still probably have to go to Select & Mask and fine tune it a bit, but now it’s 15-seconds there instead of five minutes. This is a game changer when it comes to selections. Literally leaps and bounds! (High-five Adobe). So, that’s the biggest biggie, and it’s big!

Camera Raw goes all “Lightroomy”

There is also big major overhaul to Adobe’s Camera Raw interface as it now looks and feels much more like Lightroom’s Develop module. Now it won’t feel like two different worlds when you go back and forth from Lightroom to Photoshop, and you won’t have to remember where everything is, and why you can’t find certain things. Now it will feel very familiar. Check it out:

Film strip along the bottom — right side panels one on top of another (instead of in a horizontal tab) — it’s just so…Lightroom like! (photos here by Terry White). You also now have some options for how the filmstrip itself looks, and the ability to save images and do other workflow stuff right from the filmstrip itself.

However, unlike Lightroom you do have the option to have your filmstrip horizontally across the bottom (like you see here), or vertically along the left side.

There are three modes for the right side panels you can choose from. Single Panel mode is like Lightroom’s Solo Mode (you only see one panel — the one you’re working on). Then there’s Responsive panel mode, which has Camera Raw automatically opening or closing panels based on the size of your monitor (well, based on how large you have Camera Raw within your monitor. Multi Panel mode all the panels stay open (they don’t close unless you close them manually.

There’s also a new Local Hue feature

This new feature lets you use the Adjustment Brush (or any of the local adjustments like the Radial Filter, or the Graduated Filter) to change the color of something in your image, like her shirt (seen below) which was originally red. and using one of the local tools you can select that area (in this case, the part of her shirt on the right), then go the Local Hue controls (seen below) where you can change the color of that area you selected (to purple in this case), and change the saturation amount as it. Very intuitive to use (and this feature is also found in Lightroom, and even Lightroom mobile, too).

Plus, there are other nice little tweaks, like a new interface for the Curves panel that’s pretty cool, and new crop overlays, plus they moved the toolbar over to the far right side so it’s not across the top left anymore saving you from traveling 10 miles across your screen to get a tool. Lots of nice little enhancements that just make working in Camera Raw easier and faster. That’s a quick look at some of the new stuff for photographers in Photoshop.

Catch Terry White’s “What new in Photoshop & Lightroom” Webcast today

Watch here at 10:00 AM: https://twhite.me/2YG06B5

Here’s where to learn about all the new Lightroom stuff

Lightroom didn’t get left out of this upgrade cycle, and there’s all sorts of new things for all the different Lightrooms (Classic, Mobile, Cloud) and it’s all covered by our own Rob Sylvan over at my other blog, LightroomKillerTips.comhere’s the link.

Hope you found that helpful (thanks for the cool new stuff Adobe), and here’s wishing you and your loved ones health, safety and sanity. :)

Cheers,

-Scott and the crew (great name for a band by the way)

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