Monday, January 11, 2010

Photo Recipes Live Behind the Scenes Review

Originally uploaded by

Below is my review of Scott Kelby's DVD/Book combo: Photo Recipes Live Behind the Scenes.

Chapter 1 - Window Light Portrait (9:51 in duration) - Shows you how to use natural light from a window and a hand held diffuser to soften the harsh light coming in from the window. It also shows you how to check for blown highlights or blinkies as they are called. More importantly Scott shows you how to correct the blinkies problem. A very cheap alternative to the hand held diffuser that Scott users (which sells for $65.00 at B&H) is to buy a 99 cent semi-transparent shower curtain at your nearest wally world or dollar store. Granted the shower curtain is no where near as cool as the hand held diffuser but it works well enough for me.

Chapter 2 - Couples Portrait (9:44 in duration) - Shows you how to overcome problems you'll have when you have a brightly back-lit couple. Scott demonstrates various techniques such as using silver reflector to reflect some of the bright light from the background. As he demonstrates each technique you can see the resulting image. He explains why something works or doesn't work quite as well as expected. He shows you how to use a soft-box and the advantage of using a "hot" box (one where the lights are always on) when trying to solve the lighting problems he's trying to solve.

Chapter 3 - 3-Light Setup (10:14 in duration) - Shows you how to use 3 separate light sources to create a dramatic portrait. Two of the lights are located behind the subject and provide the light source for the sides of his face and the 3rd light is a softbox located in front of the subject to provide some fill light. Pay attention to Scott's facial expressions right around the 1:00 minute mark. For some reason he goes into what I would call Popeye mode where he closes one eye but continue talking. It reminded me of Popeye for some reason. I wonder if he was holding back a sneeze or something. Scott also shows you how to identify lens flair in your photo and how to correct it.

Chapter 4 - Clamshell Lighting - Part 1 (9:43 in duration) Shows you how to use either a single light and reflector or two lights to achieve the look. He explains the equipment needed to wirelessly trigger the strobes.

Chapter 5 - Clamshell Lighting - Part 2 (7:38 in duration) This is an expansion of chapter for of sorts. It shows you how to shoot another clamshell shot but this time you use a softbox as the background, another softbox for the foreground and a reflector to complete the look. Too bad I don't have a softbox. This is one shot I really want to try.

Chapter 6 - Shooting Food (7:40 in duration) Shows you how to shoot foot in a studio setting as well as providing tips for shooting food on location, such as when you go on vacation. He shows you how to use some common household items to eliminate shadows -- very neat idea but I won't spill the beans -- you'll have to buy the DVD yourself to find out the secret.

Chapter 7 - Shooting Flowers (8:48 in duration) Shows you how to take macro shots of flowers using natural light. This is one of my favorite chapters because it contains so many useful tips for macro shots.

Chapter 8 - Location Shooting (3:59 in duration) Shows you how to use the same diffuser from chapter 1 on an outdoor on location shoot. For some reason it seems as if the sound track and video aren't 100% in sync. The sounds don't seem to match Scott's lip movement. It may be my computer because a backup software is running in background.

Chapter 9 - One Light Overhead (6:51 in duration) Shows how to adjust the power of the single light to achieve the lighting effect desired.

Chapter 10 - Hard Lighting (9:32 in duration) Shows how to properly position a softbox to light half of the subjects face.

Chapter 11 - Landscapes (8:47 in duration) There's a blooper on in this chapter. While talking about lenses (between 4:20 and 4:25) Scott says put a 14mm CAMERA on a full frame camera when he meant to say 14mm lens. :) I would love to see this chapter expanded into a complete DVD since this one primarily focused on studio lighting. This chapter is what convinced me to go ahead and buy a ballhead for my tripod.

Chapter 12 - Ring Flash Adapter (7:06 in duration) Shows how to use a ring flash adapter for portrait shots.

Chapter 13 - Pano Shoots (3:23 in duration) Tells you the proper way to take panographic photos to eliminate the dreaded "bow-tie" effect.

Chapter 14 - Portrait Lighting (3:04 in duration) Shows tips for properly lighting the subjects face so that your eye is drawn to the face and not other aspects such as clothing.

Chapter 15 - Dramatic Portrait Look (8:11 in duration) Shows how to achieve a dramatic lighting effect for female portraits by adjusting the position of the softbox and a stripbank.

Chapter 16 - Product Shots (6:24 in duration) Shows you how to get the best product shots. I wish I had seen this prior to listing all of my late father's cars on eBay.

Overall I'm extremely pleased with the DVD/book. My only complaint is that you can't play the DVD on your TV. It was designed to be played exclusively on your computer. Scott more than makes up for this little nit by including versions of all 16 chapters that can be loaded onto your iPod. I really think that's a great bonus.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Kicks

New Kicks
Originally uploaded by zackojones

Donna and I were fitted today for running shoes at TrySports in Mt Pleasant South Carolina. She bought a pair of saucony Progrid Triumph 7 shoes and I bought a pair of Mizuno Wave Alchemy 9 shoes. We also bought inserts that automagically molded to our feet and joined their triple points club so we'll earn triple discount points for every purchase we make. Although we spent a lot of money for our shoes, insoles and membership it was worth every penny of it, in my opinion.

Before getting fitted for shoes I had asked around and was told that TrySports was a good place to get fitted. They actually record you running on a treadmill so your gait can be analyzed and you can be fitted for the proper shoe.

When Donna and I arrived we were greeted by Stephen who did the fitting for us. He started out by asking what our goals were for running, any previous injuries, etc. After answering those questions he had us stand on a board that allows your foot to leave an impression on it. My feet looked pretty average but we noticed right away that Donna had high arches.

After measuring our feet Stephen put us both in a pair of neutral running shoes and took us over to the treadmill where we ran for 15 seconds while our gait was being recorded. Afterwards he replayed the recording, took some measurements and point out issues he observed in our gait. I'm a heel striker and tend to pronate and Donna clearly runs on her toes.

With the gait analysis complete Stephen brought us out a couple of different pairs of shoes to try on. He explained that either shoe would meet our needs and it was really now a matter of choice as to which one felt better to us. In my case the Mizuno's felt much more comfortable than the other pair of shoes I tried. I know it took me several minutes to decide between the two pairs and I think it took Donna a while too. Stephen explained that this decision should be a hard one to make since either pair of shoes would suit our needs

Once we settled on the shoes we wanted we were then fitted for the custom insoles. I don't know exactly how these things work but basically he cut them to size for our shoes, heated them, and then we walked around for several minutes while the insert cooled and formed to the contours of our feet.

Overall we were thoroughly impressed with the fitting service provided by Stephen. In fact while we were there at least 4 other folks came in to get fitted for shoes. These guys really know their stuff. If you need some running shoes I'd highly recommend these guys.

Donna and I will be trying out our new kicks later today after it warms up some. It's in the low 30's right now but is supposed to get into the 40's this afternoon. I'll post an update after we've had a chance to run in our new kicks.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

First Steps

First Steps
Originally uploaded by zackojones

"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start" -- John "The Penguin" Bingham

And so it begins. Donna and I taking our first steps that will eventually, sometime in 2011, finish with us completing a maraton together. Will we be able to do it? Who knows but you have to started. On 4 January 2010 we got started

10 Goals for 2010

I looked up the term resolution and decided I didn't like what it meant so instead of listing my New Years Resolutions I'm listing my goals for 2010 (in no particular order).

1 - Become more active blogging (I want to write about a variety of topics, not just camera stuff)
2 - Join FaceBook (seems my wife and I are the only two people left that haven't joined)  Accomplished 10 January 2011. I finally joined. If you want to find me just search for Zack Jones in Goose Creek, SC there shouldn't be too many of us :)
3 - Become proficient with the C# Programming Language (I can read it and write a little of it, but I want to become good at it)
4 - Become a better Database Administrator (DBA) (I get by with what I know but I really want to become the guru)
5 - Wear Sunscreen (Not sure why I listed that one it just popped into mind)
6 - Start running again and run the Museum of Aviation Half Marathon in Feb 2011. (I ran this half marathon several years ago)
7 - Stop taking crappy photos for my Project365. (Sometimes I just take a picture of anything so I don't miss a day.)
7a - Don't miss any more days
7b - Don't be stupid enough so sign up for another daily project
8 - Expand my photographic knowledge by shooting something I haven't shot yet.
9 - Shed at least 35 pounds. (Notice I didn't say lose. When you lose something typically you want to find what you lost. In this case I don't :))
10 - Photograph at least 5 of the 20+ waterfalls in the state of South Carolina.

That should keep me busy for the whole year. How about you? What are your goals for 2010?