Light It Shoot It Retouch It, A Book Review

The two newest books to my photography library have been two highly anticipated lighting books; Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook, and Scott Kelby’s Light It Shoot It Retouch It. About a month ago I reviewed Kevin’s book and you guys seemed to respond to that positively. You can find that review here. I’ve finally gotten around to putting my thoughts on Scott’s book down in writing. If you don’t know who Scott Kelby is, you should look him up right now. His current accolades include president of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, editor-in-chief of Photoshop User magazine, and founder of He is a true professional photographer and he’s willing to share all of his knowledge with everyone. He has been a major influence on me during my photographic career. His newest book, Light It Shoot It Retouch It, is the latest in a line of books he’s authored.

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Photographing Live Music

Lead Singer on Stage
Lead Singer on Stage

Lead Singer on Stage

Concert photography can be very rewarding (both personally and monetarily). If you really stick at it, you can make some pretty good money. However, there is a reason why you end up making good money; concert photography isn’t a walk in the park. There are many factors that go into the machine that is great live concert shots.

A typical concert can be 2-3 hours, of which you’ll be shooting the entire time (unless a photo release prohibits you only to a set amount of songs); not to mention the several hours spent finishing the images on the computer. You have to be very knowledgeable with your equipment as you don’t have time to monkey around with it when the lights are on and the mics are hot. You need to know how to capture the emotion and mood of the show by using many different photographic techniques. I wouldn’t say it’s quite as stressful as wedding photography but you still generally only have one chance to get the shot (and unlike a wedding, you have no idea when that shot is going to happen).

Here are some general tips to follow to take your music photography to that next level.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog posting by Travis Lawton, the Lawtographer

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Coping With Mixed Lighting As a Photographer

Mixed lighting refers to an environment that is lit by multiple light sources that have a different color temperature. It could be fluorescent and incandescent, incandescent and flash, natural light with incandescent or any other combination of lighting, and if you’re really unlucky there could be three or more color temperatures in one place. It can be one of the biggest challenges in photography and mishandled, it can ruin a photo that is great in every other way.

While there’s no definitive answer to this problem, there are some guidelines that can help. Here are some things to keep in mind, which I’ve ordered by my usual priority list from most preferred to last option.

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Lighting Made Easy, A Book Review

Kevin Kubota's Lighting Notebook
Kevin Kubota's Lighting Notebook

Kevin Kubota's Lighting Notebook

Being a photographer has its downsides. We work in a very fast paced, ever-changing field. We need to constantly update our style and keep on top of current trends to make sure we don’t sink into the competition sea and sink like so many before us. We do this by using several different methods, one being trying to wade through all the books and magazines to find those special ones that stick out, grab your genuine attention, and actually teach you something. I recently come across a book that does all of that: Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog posting by Travis Lawton, the Lawtographer

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Tips For the Person Being Forced Into Shooting A Wedding

I’ve encountered a lot of this recently amongst friends, readers, and the like: being asked to shoot a wedding but not having the experience. Everyone in said person’s family and immediate circle says, “Oh, you can shoot the wedding! You’ve got the gear! We won’t have to pay a pro!” Many times, even if you say no, you’re still pushed to do so. The reason for this is because most of said people don’t understand just how much thought, care and work goes int photographing a wedding.

While I recommend that you tell them, “Go find a professional,” here are some tips for the person that’s forced to shoot a wedding.

Editor’s Note: Though we’ve taken a recent turn catering to the street photography crowd, we’ve got loads of resources on shooting weddings. They are listed throughout this piece.

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Working With Models For The Budding Photographer

Male Model Sitting On Wall

Model Sitting On Wall

Models are interesting creatures. They can very picky and complicated or they can be the complete opposite and need coaching and hand holding the whole way. Every once in a while, you’ll hit the jackpot and get that perfect person that knows exactly how to model while taking whatever suggestion you throw at them (within reason of course).

If you’re just starting with shooting actual models, it can be quite intimidating. You want the model to feel comfortable that you know at least a little bit about what you’re doing while at the same time being able to direct the model to get the shot you’re looking for. Also, you have to do all this while building a relationship with the model so they will let down their “photographic guard” for you. This is what I call it when someone is just posing for you instead of emoting, and it comes across in the picture.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog posting by Travis Lawton, the Lawtographer

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Are TIFFs and RAWs Really the Same Thing?

Talk to any old school photographer or those with lots of experience from the film days. They would most likely tell you that scanning their film negatives gives you TIFFs that are essentially the same things as a RAW file. But is it really? I interviewed the legendary Chuck Westfall from Canon USA about this. Here’s what he had to say.

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Photographic Proof That You Should Never Be Afraid of Playing With Lightroom Presets

Original Photo

The other night, I was going through my portfolio and was looking around for images to play with. Then I stumbled upon a bunch of portraits I shot of gorgeous cosplayers and decided to try out some of my favorite Lightroom editing techniques and film renderings. Though I used to be of the school of thought that Lightroom presets are for people that don’t know how to edit, I am now a convert that says that they can teach you even more about editing, and by not playing with them, you’re only limiting yourself. Here are some images that we’ve worked on to show you just that.

PS: I’m aware that all of these images could use even more editing to make them really pop. Retouching does wonders for everyone no matter how gorgeous you are.

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What To Do When Your Feeling Under The Weather

So you’re sick. You’ve cancelled your meetings and appointments. You’ve stayed home from the office to rest and watch The Price Is Right. You feel terrible and knowing that you’re wasting the day away by just lying in bed isn’t helping. There are some things that photographers can do while feeling under the weather.

Let me reiterate that the absolute best thing for you is to follow your doctor’s orders. If they tell you to stay in bed and rest, then stay in bed and rest. If you feel well enough to turn on your brain a little, here are some suggestions you can easily accomplish. Oh and just so you know, I came up with this post idea and am currently writing it while sick.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog posting by Travis Lawtonthe Lawtographer

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Ten Ways to Take Better Photos Without Spending More Money

No matter what your photography knowledge level or equipment are, you can take better photos today than you did yesterday without spending a dime. Every one of my suggestions can be applied whether you’ve had professional training or not, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re using a $100 point-and-shoot or an expensive DSLR. Geared primarily towards amateur hobbyists, perhaps those of you with more experience can get some ideas as well. Here are some suggestions that are independent of gear.

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Color Theory, The Ricoh GXR and Saving an Impossibly Colored Image

Save Me...

During the Ricoh GXR review, I shot a photo at night of a couple of flowers in my front yard. The problem is that this was shot during nighttime with no extra light besides the illumination from the orange colored street lamps. The flowers in the photo are supposed to be white, the bricks tan, and the plants themselves a healthy shade of green.

After weeks of working in Lightroom 3 on and off, I have finally rescued the image by taking my time and reassessing the reasoning behind color theory. While it looks like and seems like an easy fix, it really isn’t. Here’s how you can rescue an impossibly white balanced image; after a couple of basics.

Editor’s Note: This is a long post. So stay with us and you’ll be very well rewarded with a treasure chest of knowledge.

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Tips on Shooting Landscapes from a Wedding Photographer

I have a confession to make: I believe that I can’t shoot a landscape to save my life. It’s just not my strength. I’m a weddings, event, engagement, portrait and street photographer. Plus, I live in NYC and we don’t have wonderful rolling hills the way other states do. However, on my recent trip to Toronto, Canada, I stepped outside of my hotel room at the magic hour of the day and snapped what I believed to be the best landscape images I’ve ever shot. The way I did it though was by imagining a bride and groom in the scene. So how can you combine the two art forms to create something beautiful?

Oh, before you go on ranting that these images are terrible, I’m not saying that they’re amazing. I’m saying they’re the best I’ve done so far using my particular method.

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Class is in Session: Introducing The Phoblographer Academy Huddle

Today, we are more than happy to announce the introduction of The Phoblographer Academy Huddle. We’ve had requests for more tips and techniques, and this will be part of our initiative to bring you better photography content. Each week, we will be listening to you and developing content around your needs and wants.

The Phoblographer Academy Huddle will work, you guessed it, via a giant Huddle on Google + Edit: we’re going to do a Hangout, which means video conferencing instead. So that means 10 people per class!!! Not on the hottest new Social Network? Shoot me an email (in the photo above) for an invite (YOU NEED A GMAIL ACCOUNT!!!!)

These will happen every Sunday night at 7PM EST (New York City time) and in order to reserve a spot, all you’ll need to do is just shoot me an email so that I can add you on Google Plus and then invite you when class will start.

Want to learn about lighting? How about using a reflector? What about the extra accessories that should be in your camera bag? Or how about posing? We’re listening! Just leave us a wall post on our Facebook and let us know what you want to learn about.

For the Pilot episode/class, we’re going to be giving you a quick intro to something that all of you have wanted us to talk more about: lighting.

We’re currently taking RSVPs so go ahead and send me and email.

Oh, by the way: it’s free!

Clarification: this is a Google Hangout. I’m calling it a Huddle because class and hanging out don’t exactly go well together ;). So that means you need a webcam and a microphone. Hangouts only currently allow 10 people at a time. All you’ll need to do after RSVPing is show up on Google Plus at the time, and I’ll invite you to the hangout. If you don’t show up, I will take the next person on reserve. I want to thank everyone for their interest in this. I’m blown away already and didn’t think people would be this interested.


Edit: please follow directions and send me an email. Comments on this posting with your email address is not only unsafe, but will not be responded to.

Traps that Many Aspiring Photographers Get Caught In

You’ve heard the bad excuses for not wanting to pay a photographer, but the sad thing is that many aspiring photographers still get caught in traps when they’re first starting out. When you get caught in said traps, it can be tough to get out of them. Unfortunately, they can sometimes lead you into bankruptcy, heavy debt, unemployment, or bad legal issues. As a guy that is a former professional, I’ve seen and experienced much of it.

These are the traps that many get caught in.

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Op/Ed: On sharing photos: Flickr, Pure Photo and 500px

When I got into photography, the first thing I learned was that it is nice to share my images. As photographers, there is one thing we like to do: have our images seen by audiences big or small and getting feedback. The internet offers various opportunities to share images. We have discussed sharing images on Flickr before, but things have evolved. Flickr is not the only image-sharing site on the web. Two sites that have recently come in to view for me are 500px and Pure Photo. I have accounts on both of these sites, and this is what I think.

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How to Shoot Street Photography with a DSLR

It’s no secret, I love small cameras for street photography. The Fuji X100 retaught me how to do it and the Olympus EP3 is perhaps a game changer in nailing the right shot. Before this, though, I used DSLRs: my Canon 7DDigital SLRs)and Canon 5D Mk IIDigital SLRs)to be exact. And when the smaller cameras had been sent back after the review was over, I needed something with better image quality. So I returned to my DSLR. But how exactly do you deal with something so large and so beastly? Here are a couple of tips.

Note: the majority of the images in this story were also shot with the Canon T3i which we found to be very good. Check out our full review and if you’re not sure if the camera is for you, take a look at this posting.

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