Team, we’re in this together. It’s me again, Dave Williams, here for #TravelTuesday and again, sadly, there’s no travel.

The good news is that it’s a month until the next epic KelbyOne Live Conference: the Travel Photography Conference. Together, with some of the best travel photographers in the industry, I’ll be teaching a couple of classes via live stream, and I can’t wait to join you all there. But, we need to pass the time between now and then safely. Here’s why: –

We’re at a tricky place in the pandemic journey. We have vaccines available on this side of the pond, and likewise in the States, but with this progress, we’re seeing a new strain of the virus. You couldn’t write this stuff! It’s taken all of us, globally, down different paths and affected us all. I reached out to Team Epic, the band of like-minded, awesomeness-exuding, pixel-processing legends. Here’s what they have to say: –

Peter Treadway, from here in the UK like myself, says: –

It goes without saying that this year has been tough for a lot of people and as a wedding photographer, my business has struggled like most. Even when weddings have been able to go ahead in much smaller capacities, problems for photographers have still arisen when they have found themselves coming down with an illness so close to the couple’s big day. I have to say, though, that this year has made me prouder than ever to be part of this incredible industry. Never before have I seen such camaraderie and selflessness with fellow photographers cancelling personal plans and travelling hundreds of miles at the last minute to save a couple’s most treasured day from going uncaptured, whenever the desperate request for cover has gone out from an ailed tog. 

It reminds me that we really are all in this together and as we move in to my favourite time of year (Christmas!!!), with an incredible, needle shaped light just starting to glimmer softly at the end of the awful tunnel that is 2020, these thoughts of ‘esprit de corps’ let me allow myself just a little smile as I look evermore towards 2021 with hopeful anticipation. 

And with that, I’ll wish you all the warmest, happiest and safest of Christmases and New Years. 

From Ireland, Cathy says: –

As a Wedding and Newborn photographer, Covid meant stopping half of my business completely due to the close proximity required when photographing babies and with weddings either cancelled, brought forward till next year or pared down to a max of 24 people, the other half had to be hugely scaled down too. 

Looking back now to when the National lockdown began here in Ireland, it would have been so easy to put my camera down, step away from my computer and take up baking and DIY to try and pass the time. However, I was determined not to let Covid ruin my passion and so rather than giving up, I decided to spend the time learning a new photography related skill and got myself a copy of Victoria Pavlov‘s book on digital painting and bought some digital brushes from Aaron Blaise.

Although it might be a while before I’m proud enough to show off any works from this new pass time, I’m absolutely loving the process of learning this new skill and how far I feel I’ve progressed in such a short time. 
So with that said, I pray to God 2021 will bring hope and new beginnings for everyone and to those of you who sometimes feel like giving up is the only option, I urge you all to stay positive and to push on, as I just know good things are waiting around the corner. 
So as the tattoo on my arms says, Live, Laugh, Photograph and hopefully by the end of next year we can hug, kiss, dance, be merry and most of all just be close to each other again x 

Merry Christmas to you all and I hope 2021 will be kind to each and every one of you

Love 
Cathy Baitson Weatherston

Over in Portugal, Nando says: –

This is going to be a different holiday season, so make it important. Grab your camera, a speedlight, a softbox and a background. Now go make an awesome portrait of each of your loved ones, those who you’ll be spending Xmas with. Extend that to all family members throughout 2021 as life slowly returns to normal. Sometimes we forget to photograph our loved ones. Do not be that one. And while you are at it, make a self portrait too! (Dave, a selfie does not make it! It must be a real portrait). Love and hugs from Portugal!

From Italy, Pisco says –

Christmas this year will be different. We will be far from our loved ones. It’s sad but it is definitely the right thing to do. We look to the new year with hope, tenacity and love, and when this pandemic ends we will return to hug each other stronger than before. Merry Christmas to you all.

Siân on the Isle of Wight says: –

This year has challenged us like never before and so looking after our mental health has never been so important.  

Being able to go outdoors for exercise and to meet people has been a luxury that I think no one will ever take for granted again.  But it’s also given us the chance to stop and reconnect with nature and learn more about our environment and the impact that it has on us and our health. 

It’s about seeing and appreciating the little things that are right in front of us, and as photographers, we are blessed to be able to capture those. 

So next time you head outside, really take your time and look at what is around you, for Mother Nature is truly inspiring! 

Mimo Meidany, the beautiful Iranian enigma himself, says from Canada: –

Endure this suffering
The day after the pains
Sun will shine again
wound will heal and you will laugh again
Just last. 


So again, we’re in this together. We need to knuckle down and get through this so we can all safely come out of it on the other side, together. Personally, I can’t wait for Photoshop World 2021, the 2021 Worldwide Photo Walk, and everything else we’ve missed out on this year. To get there we need to work together to beat this virus. We’re a very strong species. We can achieve anything if we put our mind to it, even in spite of all the challenges presented to us to overcome. I thrive on travel and that’s my end goal—once all this is passed I can travel again, exploring the world and showing it the way I see it. For me to do that I need to follow the rules and play my part in preventing any further spread, as well as saving lives along the way. I hope you’ll all join me so we can have a normal Christmas next year along with the freedoms we can thank our ancestors for.

Between now and then, let’s show what we see and keep practising. If you’d like to, I’ve attached a link to a handful of RAW files of mine. I’d love to see your interpretation, with full creative control and the allocation of any and all Photoshop techniques you’ve learned during 2020. Feel free to tag me on social, and KelbyOne, so we can see your edits. Add anything you want, do anything you want, and have fun forgetting about this mess for a moment while you mess with my photo. It’s art—you can’t get it wrong.

Much love
Dave

(We’re in this together!)

You know it’s a holiday, when I’m posting on a Monday at 10:50 am. As you might have guessed from the headline, I’m taking this week and next week off to enjoy some time with my family, watch lots of football, play Call of Duty Warzone and record some songs in the studio. Might even take a picture or two. :)

Here’s wishing you and your family, all the joys of the season — I hope you got lots of awesome Christmas Presents (and that there’s a mirrorless under the tree or a really great lens), and here’s wishing you a far better 2021 than we shared in 2020.

Brighter days are ahead, and I hope you enjoy great health, prosperity, and happiness in the New Year. It’s going to be a great one!

With much love and thanks,

-Scott
The Holiday Break guy

Today at 11:00 AM ET the wonderful Terry White himself is doing a live Photography Master Class on JPEG vs. RAW: Which one is right for you, and folks I talked with Terry this morning, and he’s got a lot of really helpful fascinating stuff in this video podcast stream today — even if you’re already shooting RAW, you will learn new stuff about it today for sure.

You can watch it right above.

Have a great weekend, everybody. Here’s wishing you good health, and I hope to see you back here next week. :)

-Scott

The Grid: Blind Photo Critiques Part 2 – Episode 454

It’s that time again… Blind Photo Critiques with Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna! Check out the latest installment of critiques to see how you can improve your photography based on their feedback.

New KelbyOne Course: High-End Skin Retouching in Photoshop with Kristina Sherk

It is time for frequency separation 2.0! Join Kristina Sherk in a completely updated class on high-end skin retouching. A lot has changed in the 5 years since her original class came out, and Kristi has completely rebuilt her process from the ground up to utilize the new features and functions in Photoshop. Learn how you can get the same awesome results, using the latest tools, in much less time!

GET OUT OF THE CREATIVE RUT

Hello photographers. Let me tell you something. I get it. I totally understand what you’re going through. The year 2020 has been unbelievable. You’ve been doing all you can to keep your portfolio (somewhat) updated. But some days, you and the camera just don’t see eye-to-viewfinder. No matter when or how you click the shutter, the images underwhelm you. As this happens to you over a week or two, you find yourself in a bit of a rut. A creative rut. It’s beyond frustrating. But again, I get you. I’ve been there. Also, I know that you can get through this. Allow me to share a few exercises I’ve completed to help get me through a creative rut.

Discomfort Breeds Creativity

If you’ve been shooting for many years, you’re probably quite comfortable with your gear. You understand just what your camera is capable of. For example, you know how bright your speedlight or strobe is when set to 1/64 power. That comfort makes the shooting process much easier, but it doesn’t equate to creativity in all cases.That just leads to an efficient shoot. But what happens when you use a different strobe that isn’t rated quite as highly? Or better yet, what happens when you use a new lens for the first time? I think you know where I’m going with this.

An easy and fairly routine tactic I utilize to get myself out of a creative rut, is to introduce some discomfort into my shooting. There are times when I force myself to use my older camera for a couple weeks. Or, I’ll tell myself to only use a specific focal length. THAT is always an internal fight for myself. I love shooting street photography and wide landscapes. But can you imagine shooting the wide vast wine vineyards of northern California at 85mm?

The perspective and sometimes the mood of that frame is totally different versus shooting with an awesome 35mm. Quite frankly, it still works in creating a captivating image. Take this a step further and shoot said landscape only in black and white. Seeing an image of rolling vineyards with all its glorious colors of green, amber and violet is quite pleasing because the colors tend to speak to us first. But with that same scene desaturated or shot in black and white? Woah. That’s a challenge. What will you do? How will you frame the scene when you can’t use the beautiful lush colors as a crutch?

Constraints and discomfort in your photography can be quite helpful. Just think about what you would normally do and come up with something totally opposite from your mode of operation. Your brain and creative eye will be forced to rework what you’d normally do into something that will make your images speak to you and your viewers. Restricted focal lengths, different lenses, different camera bodies, different styles or genres, black and white only or whatever comes to mind. Embrace the constraints and watch yourself progress to come out of the creative rut.

Just Go Do It

Get out and shoot. Some of you may not want to hear this, but it’s as simple as that. Just get up off your rear and go shoot some photographs. Back in 2016, I was REALLY struggling with my creative juices and motivation. It was tough on me mentally more than anything. The remedy? Shooting more. No matter how I felt. No matter what it was. I imposed a 30 days and 30 photos challenge upon myself.  This lead to getting up and snapping photos of my stupid computer monitors or my podcast mic. Then I found myself snapping shots of my morning coffee. What happened after that was the game changer. The last cup of coffee I shot got my attention because of how the sunlight was hitting it through the large window. This lead me to think, “Hey, GO OUTSIDE.”

I went outside and was able to capture random images of birds, insects and cool landscapes from my backyard. Even deer.  I felt myself getting more and more curious about things to shoot. Next thing I know, I was in my car snapping images of buildings I’d not noticed before, street photography of interesting pedestrians and more. It was a glorious 30 days when I look back at that challenge. The creative rut was behind me. Behind me pretty quickly, as a matter of fact. Yes, I was annoyed the first couple of days, but then I started to see the light of the challenge. Literally.

Your Turn

So are you currently in a creative rut? If you are, what are you doing about it? If you’re not, that’s GREAT to hear. Also if you’re not, share what you do or have done to get yourself out of a creative rut. I’m more than happy to take notes and learn from others in the photography community and here on the Scott Kelby blog. I hope my ideas are helpful and get you back to creating great images. Thank you to Scott Kelby and team for the opportunity to share my tips with you all. I’m truly grateful and honored. Take care and safely #CreateAndDominate.

You can see more from Ant at AntPruitt.com, find his show Total Ant on TWiT TV, and keep up with him on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.

#TravelTuesday has come around again, but this week has nothing to do with travel. I’m Dave Williams, here every week on Scottkelby.com, and today instead of travelling the world I’m going to travel back a year. A little over a year ago we sadly and suddenly lost somebody precious to both the KelbyOne community and the wider photographic community. This is an insight and a dose of inspiration by, and in memory of, JR Maddox.

A photomerge of husband Bill and wife Mandy to create this beautiful creature Billandy…

This is something I won a Guru Award with at Photoshop World back in 2013… Wow! Time flies. First, let’s take a photo of two people on a clean background so you can cut them out really easy. In this example I used a black background and for the lights I used one Alien Bee with a 20 inch beauty dish with two Alien Bees for the rim lights (which are not needed). Keep the light centred to the camera and the subject, straight on with the subject to keep the shadows the same in each photo to make editing much easier.

I took both subjects and shot them individually in the same lighting as mentioned before to make the end result easier to edit. I’ve found that taking a few different shots of the subject smiling, not smiling but keeping his/her face straight on with the camera to make for a good result in the end. Again, this makes it easier in the end to edit.

A photomerge of husband Bill and wife Mandy to create this beautiful creature Billandy…

I take the female and start shooting here with the same lighting setup. Here I like to have the female subject pull her hair back to help with editing. At this point I don’t know if I’m going to use the female face or the male face. So having options helps. To help with having options I will shoot the female subject with her hair down as well if she happens to have long hair. Same goes for the male subject. If he has long hair do both, hair back and hair down.

A photomerge of husband Bill and wife Mandy to create this beautiful creature Billandy…

Once I have both subjects shot, I bring the photos into Lightroom. I check to see which ones look the best. Sometimes I like more than one photo. It might be that I like the eyes in one photo but I like the smile in another. So grab all your photos that you like and bring them into Photoshop.

I spend a great deal of time looking over my photos to see which one is going to give me the biggest wow factor. This is why I usually always go with a female body and parts of both subjects for the face. It looks the funniest when you see a women’s body and see a mans head but really cant tell what is what. Have you ever seen Mr Potato head? Well that’s what this is kind of like!

A photomerge of husband Bill and wife Mandy to create this beautiful creature Billandy…

I take the Lasso tool and cut out the eyes (separately) along with the nose and mouth. This way makes it easier as peoples eyes are wider than others and it just makes it easier to have each part separate. In this example I have the male subject cut into pieces. I try them on the female face and start moving them around. At this point is where I really just start laughing as I am having fun and really it does look hilarious. For this final picture, I ended up liking the males head and hair and ears. I cut the women’s eyes and mouth and nose out and tried it on his face. There really is no right or wrong way of doing this. It comes down to whatever looks good to you.

For this example I liked his eyes but really just cutting out his eyes and slapping them on her face were not really doing it for me. I liked her eyebrows and eye lashes. So what I did was cut out his eyeballs and placed them over her eyeballs. I used his nose and her mouth and I kept her dimple. This was all play time for me as I tried different things on each face until I got this final image.

Once I found what I liked, just playing around and not really masking anything at this point as I really don’t have a clue what’s staying and what’s going. Nothing like taking all that time to mask out stuff to find that you are just going to change it. So now that I know what is going where, I take the males head and cut it out.

A photomerge of husband Bill and wife Mandy to create this beautiful creature Billandy…

I use the free transform to get his head to fit just right. Normally I will cut out the bottom (layer) subject’s head so it doesn’t peak through if there is a size difference. So once its sized just right, I now try and blend the images together using the Warp Tool in Free Transform. Don’t worry about the color as we are going to take care of that as well right now. If you notice that the colors are not spot on take a Curves Adjustment Brush. Here you will need to really be patient if you are not good with color. There is a lot of red and yellow in skin so start off with these two colors. Sliding the Red Channel back and forth will help you a lot to see which direction you need to go. Do the same thing for yellow. Its not going to be very far off if you have two people with the same skin type. Once the color is spot on and you cant tell the difference, make sure your mask is super clean as this is where I spend a great deal of time as well. A bad mask can make or break your image. I still have troubles telling apart each person skin in the end. I do this for each part I put on the subjects face. Making sure not to be able to tell whose eyes are who’s, or nose or mouth.

Once you have the majority of the work done you can start retouching any facial issues you may see. You can do this in the beginning but really you don’t know what part you are going to keep so you may just be retouching stuff that you may not use.

Once im happy with the image I like to start with my background color and playing around with that. I normally will put a white soft brush right behind my subject to try and pull them away from the background a little. This of course I put behind the subject and turn the opacity down until it is barley noticeable. Then I will put a color cast with selective color or whatever you prefer, over the entire image. I feel this helps with bringing everything together in the image.

A photomerge of husband Bill and wife Mandy to create this beautiful creature Billandy…

Now go out and have fun with Photography!

Much love

JR

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