Category Archives Photo Shoots

…it was not to be. My hope was to do a post today with my photos from my recent trip to Lisbon, Portugal, and Morocco, but it’s 1:29 AM and I realize that while I have all the photos in place, I don’t have the full story together yet, and I don’t want to rush through it, so it will probably have to wait a day or so. Rats.

In the meantime, this happened:

On Thursday, the day after my San Diego Lightroom seminar, I was lucky enough to be able to be literally almost on the runway at the El Centro Naval Air Facility in California, shooting FA/18G EA Growlers, and Apache Attack Helicopters along with some Navy trainer jets, and it was just awesome (as you might expect). I’ll be sharing photos from the day shortly, but when I posted the shot on Twitter you see above (taken with my iPhone 7 Plus), I saw the response you see below my tweet from someone who follows me there. I don’t think they were being snarky or anything at all, but I did respond to them, and I thought I’d expand on what I told them.

I did have pretty amazing access that day, but…
…I was there as part of El Centro NAF’s annual “Photo Call” but the reason I found out about it in the first place is not that “I’m connected” and have some special “in” — it’s just that (like hundreds of other photographers) I’m a member of the International Society of Aviation Photographers (ISAP). 

Each year they arrange special shoots for their members, and ISAP members wind up getting access to shoots that I can’t even begin to imagine how they were able to get permission for…but they do. When they hold their annual convention (I’ve been a speaker twice now — I think next years is in Tucson), the shoots they come up with for members are just off-the-chain, and I guess if you want to talk about someone that is actually “connected” it’s their President, Larry Grace, who is the wizard of getting photographers into places that they normally wouldn’t have access to whatsoever.

If you’re into Aviation Photography and want some opportunities to learn from some seriously amazing shooters; hang out with some really great people, and shoot some incredibly cool aircraft, I urge you to out the ISAP.

Here’s a link to their site for more details.

Hope you found that helpful, and I hope you check them out. Now, outside of ISAP, if I get special access to shoot some cool things, and sometimes I am able to do that, I never take it for granted. I count it as a real blessing and one I’m very thankful for. Here’s wishing you special access to something you’ve always wanted to shoot (and if it’s super cool – give me a shout – you know I love stuff like that). :)

Programming Note: It’s Thanksgiving week here in the US, so no episode of “The Grid” on Wednesday and probably no Thanksgiving post as well, but we kick off our Black Friday/Cyber Monday stuff soon so I’ll let you know about that when we’re close.

Hope you have an awesome Holiday week!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. If you want to be the first to know about our best deals of the year on KelbyOne memberships during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday fest – head over to KelbyOne.com and get on the early notice list. We’ll make sure you get our best deals of the year. 

Yesterday I got the opportunity to fly up to Atlanta to photograph the Falcon’s incredible new stadium with Michael Benford and the wonderful Falcons photo crew (this was the debut regular season home game for the Falcons in their new stadium, and the Falcon whooped the Packers, so it was quite a night!).

The shot you see above, which shows the light streaming into from the retractable roof in the center of the dome, was actually taken with my iPhone using Portrait mode (thanks for the tip, Kalebra). The lens used in the shot you see on the back of my Canon 5D Mark IV was an 8-15mm fisheye lens at 15mm. Such an amazing stadium – can’t wait to share more with you.

I had truly planned to do a post with all the images and stories using Adobe’s Spark Page (the photo storytelling site/app that is absolutely ideal for this type of thing), and oh yes, there are plenty of stories, but by the time I got out of the stadium and got to Terry White’s house (Terry lives in Atlanta, and was kind enough to let me stay in his awesome guest suite), well…it’s no literally 2:48 am as I write this, and I have a flight back home to Tampa in the morning, and blah, blah, blah, it ain’t happening tonight.

Check back later today ’cause it’s entirely possible (Hey, anything’s possible) I have the Spark Page story up with photos, stories, and other stuff. Lots to share so I hope you’ll check back (and I am hitting the sack).

Hope you all have a rockin’ Monday!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. I’m in Denver on Friday with my Lightroom seminar. If you’re out that way, I hope you’ll come spend the day with me. It’s only $99 for the full day, and it’s 100% money-back guarateed if it doesn’t totally rock (dont’ worry — it will totally rock!). 

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 and happy Friday. I was taping a segment to a new class I’m doing — a follow-up to my “Just One Flash” called (wait for it…wait for it…) “Just one more flash.”

Anyway, when the taping was over, I wanted to try something a little different portrait wise (well for me anyway), so I did a very simple portrait where the goal was to try and give it a window light look, and I thought I’d share the final image, some behind-the-scenes shots, and talk a little about camera settings and post processing. I’ll do that all in the captions below.

Above: Here’s the final image. 

Above: Here’s an over the shoulder view of my shooting rig. I’m using a Canon 5D Mark III with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens (my go-to lens for portraits). My camera is tethered into Lightroom CC on my laptop using a 15′ TetherPro USB cable from Tethertools. It’s supported on a Really Right Stuff tripod with a Tethertools Rock Solid Tripod Crossbar; an Aero Table, and the strap that keeps my laptop from sliding around is an “Aero Secure Strap” and you can’t see it in this photo, but my tripod is on a rolling rig that is designed to let you easily roll the whole thing called a Rock Solid Tripod Roller.

Above: Here’s a clean view of the lighting set-up. I used just one Elinchrom ELC 500, and put it close enough to the cloth backdrop that some of the light would spill onto the backdrop. I didn’t want a bunch of light because I wanted kind of a dramatic portrait, but I needed a little spill. You can see from the shot above that my subject is seated way at the back of the softbox (a technique called feathering where your subject is far away from the hotspot in the center of the light).

Above: The softbox I used was an Elinchrom 53″ midi-octa, which is kind of my go-to big octa for portraits (and it’s not too expensive considering how awesome it is. B&H Photo has ’em for $324).

SETTINGS:
I had the power of the Strobe pretty low because it was so close to my subject (less than 18-inches and at times less a foot). My camera was in Manual mode, with my shutter speed at that nice happy 1/125 of a second; my f/stop was f/9; and my ISO at 100 (the cleanest native ISO for my camera). Just one single light, and some simple very repeatable settings for a set-up like this.

Above: I started in Photoshop doing some standard portrait retouching stuff (removing blemishes, some skin work, a little work on the whites of her eyes and her iris – pretty minor stuff overall).

I’m embarrassed to tell you how easy the rest was — I opened MacPhun’s Luminar plug-in; I went to their Presets (I have my own set-up presets you can get from MacPhun), but I actually wound up going with one of their built-in Portrait Presets called Smooth Portrait. I like the glow and the color grading it gave, but once I applied the preset, I backed off the amount to 48% strength. I also pulled back the highlights a bit and increased the amount of edge vignetting. That’s it. Easy peasy. I clicked OK, and that’s what you see at the top of the page as the final image.

Hope you found some of that helpful. :)

Have a great weekend everybody! I’ll be working on my new book all weekend — almost done (a brand new one!).

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Next Friday I’m in Minneapolis with my Lightroom On Tour full-day seminar. Hope you can come join me if you’re up that way. :)

Hey, it’s Photoshop World week, and to celebrate, today I thought I’d share some shots from a recent bridal shoot I did for a project I’m working on.

The shoot took place at Casa Bella – a beautiful 9,000 sq ft. luxury home/venue for weddings and events in our area. I teamed up with my awesome wife Kalebra who did all the styling and art direction for the shoot (she’s just a blast to be on a shoot with — she brings an energy, and fun to the shoot that’s contagious. Also, seeing how she sees things, and how she works with our subjects is really something to see — she should do a class on it).

Above: Here’s the behind-the-scenes shot (photo by Juan Alfonso) of me taking the image at the top of the page. I’m sitting on an Apple box (see below) so I’m not quite on the floor (maybe 6″ up from it) but I put my camera (a Canon 5D Mark III)  directly on the ground in front of me, tilted up at the bride, using a Canon 14mm super wide-angle lens. You can see I’m pretty close to where the bride is standing, but look how much farther away she looks in the image up top.

Above: These Matthews Apple Boxes come in really handy. This is a half box (just 4″ high), but in a lot of cases, it’s a whole lot better than sitting on the ground. They are sturdy as anything, and you can stack ’em, too! We have them in different sizes, and use them mostly in the studio, either to get a higher angle or a much lower one. 

Two things that super wide angle does:
(1) When you put it on the floor like this, it makes the entire scene have more of an epic sprawling look — even in small spaces like this.

(2) Putting it on the floor like this, makes the floor appear MUCH more reflective than it really is, and you get a shine and reflection that you won’t get standing up, or even shooting on your knees. I can’t tell you exactly why it works like that…but it sure does.

Above: Shooting w inith our bride the same spot— I just stood up, backed way up, and used my 70-200mm f/2.8 zoomed in to 140mm.

Camera Settings:
I’m at 200 ISO at 1/400 of a second at f/2.8. I shot at f/2.8 for two reasons: (1) To get the background behind her a bit soft and out of focus, and because believe it or not, even though she was standing in front of a door with glass panes, the door is inset from the front of the house by quite a bit (there’s a large covered entryway), so the light wasn’t that bright. That’s also why I had to increase my ISO to 200 — there’s not as much light there, at that time of day, then you’d think.

Above: A third look with her in the exact same spot — I just walked closer, and then zoomed into 142mm. 

Lighting
When we first walked in, I asked Kathy (who was assisting me on the shoot), to rig up a flash with a Westcott 26″ Rapid box octa mounted to the end of a monopod, but as it turned out — we were able to just go with natural light the entire 4-hour shoot, and we never used it once. That’s pretty rare, but the lighting throughout was pretty good, even though a few times I had to raise my ISO to 200 or 400 here and there.

Above: More of an editorial look for this shot taken in the bride’s dressing suite, just using the light from the windows. f/2.8 at 1/80 of a second at 200 ISO. Again, not as much light as you’d think, which is why I had a slower shutter speed and higher ISO, even at f/2.8.

I converted the image to black and white in Lightroom CC, and added the duotone effect using Lightroom’s Split Toning panel (shown here).To get the duotone look, I boosting the Saturation amount and moved the Hue slider to a brownish hue in the Shadows only (no adjustments to the Highlights split toning at all). TIP: When you’re setting the Hue and your Saturation amount is low like it is here, it’s sometimes hard to see exactly which hue you’re choosing, so hold the Option Key as you drag it, and it acts as though the Saturation amount is set to 100 which helps a lot.

Above: This is one of my favorites from the shoot, taken in the bridal suite. I switched to the 70-200mm for this one, and I’m at 70mm (I would have liked to have gotten back farther and shoot at 150mm or so, but my back was against the wall, so I couldn’t go back any farther, and didn’t want to switch to a wide angle — I wanted the look that the 70-200mm gives. I’m at f/2.8 at 1/250 of a second shutter at ISO 200).

She’s far enough away from the window that the lighting is very soft and subtle, which I really like.

Above: The “dream-like” quality is provided with a soft glow in post. While you can get a glow effect in Lightroom, it’s not awesome, so I usually use a plug-in. I’ve been using Luminar a lot more lately (a plug-in from Macphun that’s gotten really popular in the past few months), and they have a great built-in glow effect. I also have a bunch of presets that I made (that MacPhun is giving way with a promotion they’re doing), but in this case, I’m not using one of my presets — just the Soft Glow filter.

Above: I loved this hallway, and since our bride had been in ballet, she was cool with doing some dramatic poses. All natural light coming in from a nearby door.

Above: That’s me, sitting on a 1/2 height Apple box again, with the camera directly in front of me, right on the tile floor, with the 14mm lens aiming up. Once again, note the reflection on the floor.

Above: Finally, a shot with lots of light — I let the windows totally blow out again, and I intentionally overexposed the whole image for a bright, airy look. I had to go down to 1/30 of a second shutter speed to let this much light in, at f/2.8 at 200 ISO and I’m at 85mm on my 70-200mm. Again, my back is up against another wall. Would have liked to have gotten back further, and zoomed in tighter, but it’s still one of my favorites from the shoot.

Above: Taking advantage of our subject having been a ballerina, Kalebra had her strike this pose, with her positioned in front of one of the French Doors in the estate. We pulled the sheers to cover the window and somewhat control the light, but we wanted that blown out, over-exposed look — we just wanted it soft.

Hope you found any/some/part of that helpful. Can’t wait to share the whole project with you when it’s done. :)

A big thanks and shoutout to Kalebra for the styling and art direction, and for being my partner in this production from the start, and to Jen Coffin for helping with the production side big time. Thanks to Kathy Porupski for assisting on the gig, keeping things moving, and helping all the way around, and to our bride Julianna for being so patient, and easy to work with. :)

Have a great start to your week, and see ya back here tomorrow for Guest Blog Wednesday.

Best,

-Scott

Happy Monday everybody! I’m out doing my Lightroom seminar tour this year (I’ll be in Chicago and the Detroit area with my seminar next Monday and Tuesday respectively), and I get lots of questions about the tethering rig I use, so I thought I’d share a few Behind-the-Scenes shots from a studio shoot I did a few weeks ago (shots for an upcoming book), where I can break down the set-up (and the lighting while we’re there, right?).

Here’s the basic set-up:

The Cable:
The long orange cable is the essential thing you need to connect your DSLR to your computer (and into Lightroom). It’s from a company called Tethertools, and their entire company is dedicated to making stuff for tethering (so, with the exception of the tripod and ballhead and lights, all of which I mention shortly, all the tethering gear itself is from Tethertools (btw: great company, great people behind it, great products, and awesome customer service – I totally dig them!). Anyway, the cables come in different lengths and different connectors to fit your particular make and model of camera (USB 2.0, USB 3, Firewire, Micro-B, Mini-B, etc.). The bright orange color is to help you see the cable in a dark studio environment so you don’t trip on it. Prices vary based on length and ends chosen, but figure around $32 to $55.

The Bar:
It’s all sitting on a tripod (in this case, it’s a heavy duty Really Right Stuff tripod I believe), and the crossbar attached to it is the ‘Rock Solid Tripod Cross Bar’ from Tethertools (it holds a laptop table on the right, and my Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ballhead on the left, which gives me a place to put my camera between frames, while I’m tweaking the lights, or looking at the images in Lightroom). It’s $129.95 at B&H Photo.

The Laptop stand (and safety strap):
It’s called the Tethertools ‘Aero Table’. NOTE: If you get this Aero Table, I would strongly (in the strongest most strongly of strong terms) suggest that you get the optional SecureStrap that keeps your Laptop from sliding off the table, which is most likely to happen when you and a friend/assistant pick up the rig to move it). It has saved me countless times. Get the strap. It’s a must. It’s optional, but shouldn’t be. It’s strap time. Strap it on.  The Aero Table is $195 for a 15″ MacBookPro, and the SecureStrap is around $18 (btw: all the prices shown are what they’re selling for today at B&H Photo).

External Hard Drive Holder:
The little box under the right the side (seen more clearly in the shot above, taken from another shoot that same day), which is currently holding the “brick” for my Apple charging cable, usually is holding an external hard drive (that’s what it’s really designed for). That little external drive holder is called the ‘Aero XDC‘ and they make ones that hold one drive or two drives. Super handy because if you don’t have one, then your hard drive is just kinda sitting there leaning against your computer, waiting to fall off during the shoot (said from experience). Around $54.

 

 

Rolling Base For Your Tripod
The accessory to this system that I just started using in the past few months, and one in which I have deeply fallen in love with is their Rock Solid Tripod Roller, (seen above) which lets you easily roll the entire rig around, rather than having two people pick it up and carefully move it around the studio, which I often have to do a dozen or so times during a shoot. This way, your tripod sits right in special mounts on the roller, and it just glides around. Much safer, faster, and you don’t need a 2nd person to wheel it around (nor do you have to worry about your laptop falling off when it’s just gliding across the floor, much like Belle in Beauty and the Beast. But I digress). It’s around $79. Can’t recommend it enough.

Not Seen, But Felt…
You can’t see it in this photo, but it’s super awesome is their optional Aero Cup Holder accessory, which slides under the Aero Table and you slide-it-out when you need it. It can hold a water bottle, coffee cup, but it’s also awesome for holding your phone during the shoot, or extra batteries, or whatever you need handy during the shoot. It’s $29.95. Totally worth it.

My Entire Kit
The folks at Tethertools are putting together an entire kit of all the stuff I use, and doing a bundle deal for all of it. I don’t have all the specifics, but one day, it will be available, somewhere, somehow. How’s that for specific info? ;-) BTW: When it does come out, I don’t get a commission or kickback (sadly), it’s just for the convenience of folks who come to my seminar and want the same rig. I’ll share the details here on the blog when it’s available. 

Now, let’s look at the lighting
Since we brought all this up, we have to take a quick look at the lighting, right? It’s simple Clamshell lighting with both lights directly in front of our subject. The top light is an Elinchrom 17″ beauty dish (no diffuser — you can get away without using a diffuser if your subject has really clear skin), and the bottom light is a 24″ square Elinchrom Rotalux softbox. Both strobes are Elinchrom ELC 500-watt strobes, and I’m triggering them with a Skyport Transmitter sitting in my camera’s hot shoe.

Hope you found that helpful. :)

Pop Quiz: what happens one week from today?
I’m in Chicago with my brand new Lightroom OnTour full-day seminar. Guess what happens the next day? That’s right — I’m in the Detroit area (Livonia, Michigan to be exact) with the same seminar. Two days. Two seminars. What could go wrong? ;-)  – Hope you can come out and spend the day with me (you can still grab a ticket right here).

Hope today is the start of a great week for you, and we’ll catch ya here tomorrow for a slick little Photoshop tip I’ve got fer ya! :)

Best,

-Scott

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