This is from back when we were allowed to get this close.

#TravelTuesday is lacking 50% of the elements required to fulfill the name right now, but we steam ahead regardless. Today my plan is to take you to some parts of the world for an insight into what’s going on with the members of Team Epic (or QuaranTEAM Epic, for now.)

Here in the UK, we effectively went into lockdown last night, so there will be some changes here for the coming weeks.

Team Epic is a rogue band of photographers of which I am a proud member, and we have members spread throughout the northern hemisphere. Let’s check in with them right here, right now, and see what self-isolation means for them.

Peter Treadway

I returned from a two week trip to India at the end of February this year just as it seemed the world had begun to shut its borders and whole cities started to go into lockdown.

When I left the UK, there were just three reported cases of COVID-19 in the whole country but at the time of writing, there are now 5,683 confirmed cases, with London (my city) making up a disproportionately large percentage of that number. It may come as no surprise then that I am currently five days into a 14 day isolation period, due to my wife presenting with symptoms of the virus last Tuesday! (She’s fine, BTW. Luckily for her, it was a few days of fever and achiness and now a dry cough.) As such, we are currently holed up in our house, so as not to spread the disease further.

As well as currently being isolated though, all of the weddings I was due to shoot over the next few months have now been postponed until later in the year. So what does a wedding photographer with all that time on their hands do? Well, I’m actually quite looking forward to doing all those little photography admin type jobs that are constantly being put off to shoot paid work. So I’ll be updating my website, curating new portfolio galleries for prospective clients and starting to design some new marketing material. There are also personal projects that I shot ages ago but never edited, images from the most amazing photo trips with friends that have yet to see the light of day and, most excitingly for me, I now have time to start building the YouTube studio in my garage that I’ve been planning for years and (hopefully!) eventually start making some photography related video content. None of this would have been possible without this enforced break in work.

So although things may look pretty bleak right now, it does at least give us a chance to stop, catch a breath and take stock of everything we’ve achieved and what is yet to be achieved with just a little hard work (and some unexpected spare time).

So stay safe, stay well and especially important #stayhome to beat this thing!

Website / Instagram

Cathy Baitson Weatherston

Greetings from Ireland!

Right now I am self-isolating and have been doing so for the past week, except on Mother’s Day when I went to the beach to photograph sunrise and it was so quiet that social distancing was easy enough. 

During that time, I’ve been busy catching up on editing my work from previous weeks but from next week onwards I plan to do as much as I can on my very long “to-do” list, starting with making a new website, which Roby Pisconti has kindly offered to help me with. But, for now, I can be found on Instagram. 

Also on my list is to make some digital backgrounds for my newborn photos, knit some hats and maybe an outfit for them too. I also want to learn digital painting but that might take me a bit longer than a few weeks. 

Ireland has many Instagram accounts that are giving daily photography challenges, workouts and musicians playing live to keep everyone’s spirits up. 

So whatever you do during these weeks in isolation, make the most of it, enjoy it and #staysafe. 

Instagram

Fernando Santos

This is Chicky Nando reporting from a secret bunker near Lisbon, Portugal. Well, not really secret, and certainly not a bunker. Just like everyone else, I’m stuck at home! So far, so good.

I’ve been really busy riding the coronavirus tsunami the best I can, running my IT company and trying to run my photography business. While photo walks are not possible at the moment, and neither is Lightroom training in class, being stuck at home, I have reinventing myself and I’m now working as your personal Lightroom Classic tutor, helping Lightroom users one-to-one. I’m also cooking a lot, taking care of my mom and my son, and checking on my daughter who lives in a different country. I’m also in contact with friends across the world, and that includes Team Epic, obviously! I’ve been mostly worried for my friend Roby Pisco who is in Italy: in case something bad would happen to him, he promised me his lens as long as I wouldn’t tell his family how much he paid for them! I prefer to be able to shoot with him again, even though he does have some nice gear… 😊

Soon, everything will be fine, and we will all have a blast at Photoshop World (or whatever it will be called in 2021). Stay healthy! Stay inside! And wash your hands!

Website / Instagram

Roberto Pisconti

It’s the fifteenth day of quarantine here in Padua in the Veneto region, the second Italian region most affected by Covid-19. The latest decree issued today by President Giuseppe Conte orders the closure of any unnecessary activity that adds to the closure of schools, bars, restaurants and all places of congregation. We can only leave the house if we have a proven need, such as to go shopping, go to work or provide assistance to the sick, and we must bring a self-certification with us. If we leave without reason, we are liable to a fine in case of a police check. In the evening the silence is surreal, looking out from my balcony I can’t even hear a voice in the distance. Sounds like an apocalyptic scenario, doesn’t it? Instead, it is the strength of a Country that reacts to the threat of the virus with the only weapon available – isolation. 

How do you spend day after day at home? Well, you have no idea how many things you can do when you have so much time to spend. They have already told you about books, the internet, online courses etc., but here are five things that will surely commit you and make your day productive:

1. Reorder the drawers. We all have a drawer at home where, for years, we have accumulated all sorts of things: – old photos, odds and ends, keys we don’t know what door they open.

2. Change the arrangement of furniture in a room. In addition to being rewarding, it is also excellent exercise. Once you are done you will find that it was better before but this is another story.

3. Experience new types of photography. For three years I had everything needed for the “Water Drop Photograph” in the drawer (the one in point 1), I finally used it and the results were really satisfying.

4. Learn to play the ukulele. Contrary to popular belief, the ukulele is a complete fun instrument and thanks to its small size, once the quarantine is over, you can always carry it with you and your friends will thank you very much.

5. Paperclip Game. I’ll let you find out what it is by clicking here. Just know that it is addictive.

As you can see, staying at home for many days creates a lot of opportunities. For example, I discovered that the floor of my kitchen has exactly sixty-two tiles and that to go from the bathroom to the bedroom it takes nine steps, eight if I have slippers, only eight can you believe it? Staying indoors also does not create any problem for your mental health, believe me, the pink unicorn, Goofy and the king of rock and roll Elvis who are sitting in my living room confirmed it to me two minutes ago.

To conclude seriously, I want to leave you some advice derived from my experience. Wash your hands often, avoid crowded places, stay home as much as possible, call neighbors to find out if they need anything. The period is bad and it will probably get worse but together we will be able to overcome it.

Instagram

Stephanie Richer

In my part of the world, Nashville just went into lockdown like NYC and LA, and all bars and restaurants are closed statewide, the exception being the latter can do takeout and delivery. Some people are worried because a lot of people came into the Smoky Mountains area for their Spring Break (schools are normally closed for a week this time of year). They brought tourist dollars but did they also bring COVID-19?

Right now, most of Tennessee’s cases are in Nashville. So, what am I doing? Well, there is my book writing. But I am also thinking of how my business will recover financially. A lot of people will come back to work slowly and I think photographers have to make some adjustments to help them. I may offer different price points, as an example. But when this passes, I do think people will have a greater appreciation for what is important in life.

Expect more weddings, more celebrations – and above all, MORE BABIES!

Website / Instagram

Scott Kelby

I’m in the self-isolating crew, too, with the exception that I sometimes have to isolate myself at the office for webinars (see above), where I’m the only one on the set, so we all keep a safe social distance from each other. My co-host for The Grid, Erik Kuna, is across the room from me on a different set, and we only have one person in the broadcast booth (either Jason or Ron), and no cameraman on set — they set the cameras in place before I get there, so the set is literally empty when we broadcast, but we’re preparing for an official lockdown where Erik and I will Skype in from our homes to do The Grid and webcasts so we won’t even be in the same building.

Yesterday I did a live online full-day seminar for the photographers in Houston who signed up for my live seminar (I was supposed to actually be in Houston teaching), and tomorrow I’ll do the same thing for photographers in Los Angeles. It’s weird because when we took our lunch break, we’re all sitting 20-feet from each other, but that’s the way it has to be for now.

I’m not really doing anything shooting-wise, but I’m watching online videos and trying to learn new things, which I love, so I feel I’m still moving ahead even though I’m not actually holding a camera in my hands.

At home (we don’t go out, and haven’t for a while now), I’m working on putting together a home recording studio (for music, not webcasting), and so I’m working on some songs right now (I’m in the middle of recording all the instruments for Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” — I download the original vocal track from youtube, then I recreate all the instruments myself, playing all the guitar parts, bass guitar, and drum parts). My goal is to make it so you can’t tell the difference from the original, and that takes a lot of time and research, and of course, I have to learn to play all those parts. The whole process can take up to two weeks for one song, but if you don’t go to those lengths, it sounds like karaoke, so it’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun when it starts really coming together.

The kids are all here, so that makes it so much fun, and we play card games, and board games and playing online games together. Everybody stays indoors all day, but sometimes my daughter gets stir crazy so we take a 30-minute drive. We don’t get out of the car — just a change of scenery. Kalebra is spending time in her studio, mostly drawing and listening to smooth jazz (LOL), but she loves it in there. The doggos are having a ball with everybody here — they’re getting even more attention than usual (if that’s possible).

We’re trying to make the best of this downtime, and enjoying being together as a family, but I can’t wait until this is all behind us. I worry about my friends, like my friends in Team Epic, and I worry about our staff, and our friends and family, and our country and the economy, and the world. I worry about the photographers struggling to find work right now, and I worry about restaurant servers and staff and their situation. I guess I’m doing a lot of worrying, but I’m also doing a lot of praying for everybody, too. We could all use another prayer or two. Thanks to everybody who sent me a note that they’re saying ones for me and my family. It means more than you know. Hope you all stay safe. Brighter days are ahead.

Sian Elizabeth

As portraits of people is now a little harder due to social distancing, my aim for this time is to get some great portraits of my two rescue dogs. They are notoriously terrible models, as they never listen and I more often than not get their back ends whilst they’re walking away! (See image for example!) So I’m going to watch Kaylee’s class on KelbyOne to grab some tips for dog photography and fingers crossed, get some print-worthy shots of my fur babies! I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, so this is giving me the time to really focus on this goal! 

Website / Instagram

Wherever you are, it seems the simplest, safest course of action right now is to #StayHome.

I put together a terrible little eBook which you can download here or in the KelbyOne member’s toolkit if you’d like to get some more ideas for photography in isolation.

Much love
Dave

OK, last week’s was a bit of work, took a bit of time, but at least today’s Part 3 (of 4 total) is much easier. It does require some thoughtful decision-making on your part, but it sets you up for success in the next and final part of this journey.

NOTE: If you’re just reading this journey for the first time, you’re welcome to join in — just start with Part One — it’s a critical step.

In Part 2, we essentially played “image detective” using a checklist I gave to help you down that path. Now, let’s take this a step further for this step.

Go to your list, and assign a numerical value to which of those things you wrote down in Part 2 and decide which of those things you wrote down was the most important to making that image work. Was it the location? The subject? The person? The lens the photographer used? The Lighting? The composition? The perspective? One of these is the most important — the key thing that makes that image that image. There are probably multiple things that make it great, but you have to rank them in the order you feel they affect the image.

You only need to do the first three or four, but you can do all 11 if you want (the 10 on the list plus the bonus), with 1 being the most important attribute of the photo, and 11 being the least important.

What will help you get started is that last week the bonus question was, “What is the single most important thing in this image?” So that will probably automatically be #1 in your rankings, so just three or four more.

Here’s an example:

If this was my shot (it’s not — it’s a stock photo from Adobe Stock), how would I break this image down (image detective wise) and then how would I rank the top five in order of importance of what to me makes this a great image?

  1. So, for me what makes that shot is the location. I think it’s the Palouse, but it could possibly be somewhere in Tuscany, but I’m going with Washington State’s Palouse region. It’s pretty unique geographically, and I’ve always been drawn to The Palouse since I saw my first shots of it (though I’ve never had a chance to shoot it.
  2. After the location, I think the light is really wonderful. It’s low, so directional, and I think this same location was photographed at high noon, it never would have made my list, so take that great location and add really interesting, almost dramatic light, and it’s a winner.
  3. One reason the light is so awesome is that the sun is obviously very low in the sky. Not late enough that it turned the scene orange, but low enough to rake across the scene. Very late in the day sun, I’m guessing.
  4. The composition is really nice, too with the two lone trees set off to the far right and that made the whole shot more interesting as the image pulls your image to the trees. All that negative space to the left helped a bunch to draw your eye, too.
  5. The shot has a wide-angle look, and I would have guessed that the photographer used a wide-angle lens, but I’ve been told by friends who have shot the Palouse that to get the classic shots you need to use a very long lens, so I’m guessing that what they did here, but it is in a wide format versus tall, so let’s just say it a wide shot that’s not necessarily shot with a wide-angle lens.

TIP: Did you notice that I didn’t choose “camera settings” as an important aspect s what makes this shot great? Spoiler alert: for most images, you’ll analyze, camera settings will be almost irrelevant to the success of the shot. There’s an important photography lesson in there. :)

So, that’s the next stop. Number the ones from last week in the order that you think they contributed to the success of the shot. You can do three, four or five, but you can see from my list, by the time you get down to numbers four and five, they’re just not as important as those top two or three.

Good luck, and we’ll catch you maybe on Friday (if all goes as planned, but nothing is going as planned these days, so…).

Looking forward to teaching a bunch of photographers in Houston today (and LA on Wednesday).

We switch my live in-person eminar to a live online seminar (for everybody’s health and safety), so today I’m doing my full “Ultimate Photography Crash Course” seminar to the folks in Houston, Texas today live, just like I would do it if I were there in person. I’m doing the same thing for photographers in LA on Wednesday. I’m looking forward to chatting with those fine folks, and answering questions and spending the day together online.

Have a safe, healthy, stay-indoors kinda week. :)

-Scott

How To Photograph A Rocket Launch with Erik Kuna

Join Erik Kuna on location at the historic Launch Complex 39A, the epicenter of the space program, and learn everything you need to know to tell the story of a rocket launch. In this class you’ll learn about the history of space flight photography, the essential gear and camera settings you’ll need to use, how to capture breath taking streak shots, pad shots, and telephoto shots, the importance of pre-production, as well as tips and techniques for post processing all of your photos when the launch is over.

In Case You Missed It: Demystifying PhotoPills

Learn how to get the most out of PhotoPills when planning your next outdoor photography adventure! Join Erik Kuna as he explains exactly what this app can do, why photographers should care about using an app like PhotoPills, and how best utilize all of the features and functions within the app.

In this class you’ll learn the basic terminology needed to use the planner, how to use the app to plan a photo shoot based around the position of the sun, the moon, or the milky way, how to discover when the next eclipse will occur at a given location, how to perform useful calculations, and so much more! Erik even breaks down all the steps he used in planning for a variety of different photographic scenarios. By the end of the class you’ll have a whole new appreciation for the ability to plan around celestial events using PhotoPills.

We wanted to do something for all us photographers who are stuck inside with limited shooting opportunities, and so we’re making the Webinars we normally do just for KelbyOne members, available to everyone, everywhere for free until this awful virus is behind us. There’s no credit card required, no sales pitch, etc. — just a bunch of photographers getting together to work on all that stuff we said we’re going to do “once we have some spare time.” :-)

Check out the video for the type of stuff we’re going to do, but we’re kicking it off today at 11:00 AM ET with a Webinar on how to prep your images for printing at a photo lab. I’m going to cover everything from scratch, from the start all the way through uploading the file to the lab (it’s all easier than you’d think), and with now being such a great time to catch up on stuff like this, I think this will help a lot, and you’ll have some fun.

I’m even going to give away the print we’re sending to the lab during the Webinar to someone watching live today.

I’ll be taking your questions live during the Webinar, and we’ve got a lot more coming, so keep an eye out here, or follow me on social (Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook) and please tell your photography friends as everyone is welcome.

WHO: Me and you
WHAT: Free photography Webinars
WHERE: http://kelbyone.com/webcast
WHEN: The first one is today (Friday) at 11:00 AM ET
WHY: Cause we’re all stuck inside, and this is something we can do to help. :)
Keep your hands washed, look out for one another, stay healthy, and we’ll see you online later today. :)

Here’s to a safe, healthy weekend for everybody.

-Scott

Obligatory awkward self portrait

The Most Productive Quarantine Ever

Wow. What a wild time we’re living in. Whether by government or corporate mandate, or simply by your own personal choice, it’s entirely possible that as you read this you’re more or less stuck at home. There’s also a strong possibility that you may continue to be stuck at home for a number of weeks.

Now listen, I’m no expert on health science or politics; I’m a photographer. I’m not here to add to your increasingly anxiety-inducing news feeds, please trust me on that. Instead I’m here to simply offer some uplifting suggestions – from one creative to another.

So what advice could I possibly be here to give you in this strange and trying time? Well, since you’re reading this on one of the world’s most popular photography blog, it’s pretty safe to assume that you’re a photographer, artist, or creative person.

Now this may be a general assumption, but I’ve found the vast majority of artistic-minded people typically have difficulty creating structure in their day-to-day lives, especially when taken away from their daily routine. Routine is extremely important for productivity, and for most people, their routine is often built around a traditional 9-5 job.

I’m lucky enough to have made a living with photography for nearly ten years. During that time I’ve had to create my own day-to-day structure, come up with my own schedule, and be my own boss. It sounds great (and it is), but the reality of it is, if you’re not wired a certain way, you may find yourself sitting around wasting your days, unsure of how to best spend your time.

So now you’re at home, looking for something to do and faced with endless possibilities. So what to do… what do to…

You could certainly binge every episode of The Office again (there are 201 episodes, approximately 140 of them good ones).

You could see how many hours you can sleep in a day, and then try to break that record.

You could finally take the time to read Stephen King’s “The Stand” (or maybe stick to the one about the clown).

Or – now hear me out on this one – you could take the extra time at home to really hunker down and improve your craft as a photographer.

There are a million things you could do to improve your photography, but in the essence of keeping this blog from reaching the length of…again…. Stephen King’s “The Stand,” we’re going to concentrate on just 6 concepts.

So without any further ado, let’s get to it.

Megan Mackenzie looking ready to inspire.

CREATE 

Your creativity is a muscle. In order for that muscle to grow, it needs to be exercised frequently. Maybe you had an upcoming photography workshop cancelled or rescheduled, or perhaps you had to postpone working with your typical clients. If this is the case, don’t use it as an excuse to not shoot. In fact, it’s the perfect time to think about what you can shoot in and around your own house.

(more…)

#TravelTuesday doesn’t seem to involve a lot of travel right now, but nevertheless I, Dave, am here for you! I’ve got your back, people! I’ve done the whole COVID-19 topic already, and we all know what we know about that, so let’s focus on something a little happier—spring!

Spring is right around the corner and that means changing photographic opportunities. For me, it means less snow and ice, or a different kind at least. I have a trip to Iceland coming up (fingers crossed) and spring there is just beautiful, but what opportunities can springtime bring us in general? What can we focus on?

Seeing as everyone loves a list—here’s a list!

1 – Consider the Wider Scene

There can be a temptation to shoot narrow. The spring vibe is all about flowers, blossoms, birds, and bees. To shoot these subjects, we tend to focus on them, and them alone. We can shoot these things within a larger scene, allowing them to be a feature of the photo rather than the subject of it. I feel like I’ve said that a lot—maybe it should be my tagline! But it’s true, we can take a step back and let composition be king. Blossoming flower beds rather than an individual flower can, if shot correctly, be awesome! Take a look at this shot at Provence in France for an example to iterate my point—the building is a feature, the lavenders are a feature, and the composition makes it all come together.

2 – Early Mornings

The mornings are warming up and wildlife gets up early. So, drag yourself out of bed before the crack of dawn to make the most of the change of seasons and the reaction of the world that comes with it. Sunrise is amazing, and the world is so much more still at sunrise than sunset. The sunrises during spring and autumn/fall are so much more dramatic than in summer, so let’s take advantage. This stag in London’s Richmond Park was shot at sunrise a few springs back, and he’s clearly taking note of the season changing around him at dawn.

3 – Pick Out Some Details

Firstly, point number one still stands strong! While it can be effective to shoot wide and nail a composition, it can also be very effective to crop in tight and pick out some detail. If you want to practice macro, try following some bees around and see how you get on with this tricky style, but if not, pick a stand-out subject and shoot it as the main focus of a considered image. This image went through to the final round of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and probably because it has got a definitive subject with no distractions. Whether you have a macro lens or not, get out and try to shoot something (big or small) and make it the definitive subject of the frame.

4 – April Showers

With the rain that accompanies the spring in much of the world, plan for those April showers! Getting indoors and shooting some awesome architecture is a great way to deal with staying dry, and it’s often part of my contingency when I’m traveling. I always know what’s nearby in terms of interiors, just in case that rain falls, and it’s something you should have in your back-up arsenal, too. This is from one of my trips to Paris—the beautiful stained glass of St Chapelle.

5 – Keep Learning

Take every opportunity to learn that you can! I know for a fact that Scott and all the KelbyOne instructors will back me up on this—we must always learn in order to stay in top shape and on top of our game. When we stop learning and become complacent it shows in our photography, so as spring arrives, keep learning, keep practicing, and keep developing as a photographer!

Much Love
Dave

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