I Love New York!

Hi gang:

It’s 1:05 am as I write this—I just got in from my flight from New York, so I’m going to keep this really short (I’m beat), but I couldn’t hit the sack until I thanked all the wonderful people who came out to spend the day with me yesterday at my seminar in New York City.

We had nearly 900 photographers there for the seminar, and we really had a ball. We had some great models, some really funny moments happened (like Brad being freakishly strong), and the Old Spice guy making a guest appearance during the day. Plus,  we even made our flight home in time (but that’s the closest I’ve come to missing a flight in a long while).

Of course, the day was not without it’s stress. I’m about to begin one of the sessions when Brad whispers in my ear “Joe McNally is here. He’s sitting in the back.” I could feel the beads of sweat forming on my forehead. (That’s like doing a talk on how to be a movie director, and right before you go on, somebody whispers in your ear “Stephen Spielberg is here.”) Gulp. Thankfully, it happened right before a Lightroom segment of the day, so I knew I was safe for at least a few minutes. ;-)

Anyway, I met so many great people; had some great conversations, and the folks in New York yesterday were incredibly gracious and fun, and I just had to thank you all once again before my head hits the pillow. I always love coming to New York (for anything), but this was particularly a blast, so just “thanks.” Hope to see you all again soon. Goodnight.

P.S. I hope I see you Monday night at 6:00 pm EDT for our FREE live public broadcast of the world premiere of “Another Day With Jay Maisel.” (link)

      1. Joe, I agree, but first we need to get you an avatar. See how nice mine is? (you took it) :-)

  1. Sounds like a great time!

    If you had suddenly fallen ill (after Brad whispered in your ear that Joe McNally was present) we would have all understood!

    Keep up the great work — thanks so much for sharing with us! I want to badly stay up late to catch the day with Jay….I will be in Germany (which helps, because usually I am in Russia)….so it will be late!

  2. I’m really looking forward to this seminar making it to Los Angeles (while not San Diego, it is close enough to make the drive) on Sept. 20. And while I managed to catch most of the class at the last Photoshop World I look forward to the whole shoot and edit day.

  3. Great, I can imagine that …….

    That’s like doing a talk on how to be a Photoshop Instructor, and right before you go on, somebody whispers in your ear “Scott Kelby is here.”)

    Oh My God what an incredible moment, I can feel it right now…..

    Take care my dear Scott,

    Best wishes

  4. I love NY too! Planning on making back there some time late this year/ early next year.
    Your B&W Grand Central takes me back when I went there last year.

    Here is a similar HDR I took while there, I think you might enjoy it!

    Also a vertorama that was quite hard to pull off in a busy city.

    Hope to catch a future seminar from you,
    Brandon W.

  5. I keep on reading the great posts about the Seminar, so sooner or later I will have to find a way to get to one. (or are you coming to Switzerland anytime soon? If Yes I will be the first one to book)
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Scott, once again you showed why you’re the man! I learned a bunch right there, and not just about post production moves….your light was fantastic. Can’t tell you how many people told me they were into the whole day. Loved the models, loved the light, loved the way you taught the day…..New York was digging you, and that can be a hard corner to turn man….best, Joe

  7. Hi Scott! I just wanted to thank you and your team again for a great seminar today at Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. NYC! It was a really fun day. What I got most out of the day is that it really isn’t that scary to make a good looking studio portrait; it is doable, and knowing that is half the battle to overcoming the fear of attempting it.

    During the class you mentioned that people had asked how to compare a Speedlight to a Studio Strobe. I did some digging and while a comparison can be made, it is a bit convoluted as there are several variables to take into account and the units of measure are not equivalent, but it isn’t impossible. As reference I found and excellent description of the different components in the Nikon School Handbook edited by William Pekala and Harvey Johnson ©2002 pages 81-82 and went from there. So with a great deal of estimating, here it goes:

    Watt-Second is the measure of the power input into the capacitor of the unit and really doesn’t tell you the amount of light that will be output by the flashhead. The Nikon School Handbook suggests that you think of Watt-Seconds as the Potential Energy available to the flashtube (at full power). The light output of a flashhead is effected by the modifier you are using, so the same head will give you different light output depending on the modifier used.

    Because Watt-Seconds is a unit of input and not output, you can’t really make a direct comparison between Watt-Seconds, the light output of the flashhead and the light output of a Speedlight (usually stated as a Guide Number) without knowing other variables (like the modifier used) and doing a few conversions.

    In order to do an actual comparison between a Speedlight and a Strobe, or for that matter one type of Strobe with another type of Strobe or the same Strobe with different modifiers, you need to know the f-Stop rating of the Flashhead/Modifier combination. This will then let you calculate the Guide Number for the Flashhead/Modifier combination.

    For reference, the formula for Guide Number is GN = Flash-to-Subject Distance X f-Stop.

    There is an indirect relationship between the amount of Watt-Seconds of the unit to the output of light from the flashhead, but that output is dependent on the Modifier combinations you are using with the flashhead. Light output is variable and changes as you change accessories. The amount of light that your Elinchrom BX 500Ri outputs to your subject when you have on a beauty dish on it is different from the amount of light it outputs to the subject when it has a bare-bulb 48° reflector on it.

    If you look at the Technical Data for the BX 500 Ri you can find that its f-Stop Rating at 1 Meter at 100 ISO using a 48° reflector is f90. This basically means that if you held a flash meter set to ISO 100 1 Meter in front of the flashhead with that reflector and triggered the flash at full power, the Aperture returned to get a correct exposure based on the amount of light would be f90. Also if you plug the numbers into the GN formula you get 90 (in meters).

    As an aside, by comparison, the BX 250 Ri with the same modifier is rated at f64, so you can see that by doubling the Watt-Seconds of the unit, you gain one additional stop of light, which kind of makes sense; doubling the power doubles the amount of light output and when you think of exposure, one stop more light means you have double the amount of light for the exposure.

    For a Nikon SB-900 the maximum GN on an FX sized sensor is 34 (in meters). Because the flashhead in an SB-900 can zoom, the Guide Number will actually vary, but for the sake of a rough comparison we will use the maximum GN 34m at ISO 100 with the flash zoomed to the 35mm position (which is very roughly equivalent to a 48° reflector’s angle of coverage). To state it another way, the SB-900 has an f-Stop rating of f34.

    Now that we have equivalent units of light output, what all this means is that by a rough comparison, the BX 500 Ri outputs roughly 2 and 2/3rds stops more light than the SB-900 at full power. Stated another way, the SB-900 is very roughly equivalent to a 65 Watt-Second Elinchrom BX flashhead with a 48° reflector. So for $150 (or 30%) more, the BX 500 gives you about 8 times the amount of light.

    There is a lot of rounding in the calculations so I wouldn’t challenge an engineer on any of this (it is even difficult to compare Watt-Second ratings between different types of heads), but I think it is illustrative.

    Now for the Nik Color-Effects way of comparing Speedlights to Studio Strobes: Set the Flashes to full power. Take a Flash Meter and hold it at the same distance in front of each flashhead and take a meter reading. The difference in exposure tells you the difference in the powers of the flashes. ;-)

    1. Alessandro: Wow, and thank you for all the research you did to put this together. This is the most complete, and best written article I’ve seen on the topic. Well done!!! Thanks for being there yesterday, and for all your work here today. :)

      1. It was a pleasure to be live in the audience. I wish I had gotten to see Matt as well; he is such a great guy and I really enjoyed the time I got to spend with him at GAPW a few years ago. Maybe one of these days I will get to a Photoshop World…

        Keep up the great work, you are truly an inspiration to a lot of people in the creative community and give us the opportunity to “get to know” the greats of the business, like Joe McNally and Jay Maisel; How great would it have been if Kelby Training had been around to do A Day with Ansel Adams or Alfred Steiglitz or Walker Evans to get an insight into their creative process and preserve it for future generations to learn from? In the famous words of Joe McNally… “More TK.”

    2. I think this is a great point, and what really had me confused after leaving the seminar yesterday.

      I have an SB900, and going into the seminar, I was going to actually buy a couple of pocket wizards and get an additional SB900 to the tune of $1100 ($500 for SB900, and $600 for the three pocket wizards).

      After leaving tomorrow though, it seems the 500’s are a pretty good deal, but the SIZE is the limiting factor (looks like BH has a package that includes 2 stands, 2 umbrellas, 2 500’s and the transmitter all with 2 carrying bags for $1200).

      If I were doing a studio shoot, the 500’s make sense.

      But what about the engagement shoot or after wedding shoot outdoors? What about shooting at the reception? I’ve been doing it with SB900’s thus far, just on my D700, and getting great shots. . .do people really drag huge strobes to these sort of events?

      1. Suneil, there is always a trade-off when it comes to equipment. I really was only trying to address one of the components of the equation of how to evaluate lighting. Just because the BX 500 gives you three more stops of light than the SB900 for a fraction of the cost (and I say fraction of the cost because you would need 8 SB900s to generate the same exposure as on BX500), doesn’t mean that it is the right choice for your photography or your business. It also doesn’t mean that the BX500 is “better” than the SB900, it just means that it is different. In order to make informed decisions about what is the best choice of equipment it is always helpful to understand all of the strengths and weakness of the different choices and be able to compare based on that knowledge.

        The key is to determine what your needs are as opposed to what other people are using or what your wants might be and base your decisions on that. Are you loosing business because you don’t have that three extra stops of light? Are you consistently having to compromise and not meet your clients expectations because you lack the additional equipment? Do you have clients where you would need that level of gear or is one SB900 enough for most of what your clients pay you to do?

  8. Scott:

    Maybe Joe was really there to see Brad! Better hope he doesn’t steal him back from you. Can you expand on the “Brad was freakishly strong” comment? Was he holding Stevie up over his head with one hand while simultaneously adjusting the Octabox with the other?

    The “Old Spice” guy was there? Did he bring his horse?? :D

    Can’t wait for Monday night with Jay! THAT will be CAKB!


  9. You took a tripod into the train station. Arrest that man. / I’m sure numnuts wanted to steal a few pointers to put into his next book. / I think all of us will be there on Monday even though its 3pm on the left coast.

  10. Had a blast yesterday. So much great info. I was learning stuff all day long and the banter/wittiness/humor was awesome. A perfect way to spend a Thursday! Wonderfully conceived and executed with style. (despite the projectors taking a side trip to NJ) Thanks for coming the NYC!

  11. What a great communicator and teacher you are. I can say for a beginner there was so much to learn but what a great experience!
    I went with the slight fear of not being able to understand or capture much, but I was so wrong! It truly was an inspiration to keep growing and keep on trying (stepping out beyond the intimidation of being surrounded with great pro’s!).

    Scott I just wanted to say thank you, what a blessing it was to be part of the conference!

  12. Scott, I was at your seminar yesterday. The luck o’ the Irish I guess because I won it on a contest from Photoshop User TV! The day was so great that I signed up for another two years. Now I’m a member of NAPP till 2015!
    I thought you gave us a terrific series of classes, complete with notes. You can bet I’ll be back for more. Thanks for such a wonderful day.
    By the way, I was sitting in the back, and saw that Joe had a big smile on his face when you gave him a shout out…and more importantly, later, too.

  13. Yeah.. totally .. soo want to go upstate.. I went to school in Plattsburgh.. and been looking for an excuse to get up there…

    Ice block photography conference… but man it would be cool.. :)


  14. Whenever my RSS picks up a thread about NY, it catches my eye, having lived in the state for nearly 2 decades! SUffice to say, when the inestimable SK had a post about it, the post caught my eye!

    I was thoroughly impressed with the attendance of 900+ (not sure I even know that many people! LOL Sure looks like a lot of fun was had – when might you be coming to Denver again for one of these events?

  15. Note to self, punch Brad in the gut if he says Joe McNally in here. Then remind him…No, Joe is on top of the Empire State Building taking pictures of them changing light bulbs.

  16. Scott, I know the feeling… I had a rather impromptu print review at PSW in Vegas in 2007. Helene Glassman hooked me up with Joe to look at some dance photos. It was like going to confession and the guy behind the curtain turns out to be the Pope! Sheesh… But he was very gracious, even though my stuff was total crap back then.

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