Why KelbyOne is #1 in Combining On-Line Training with Live Learning

KelbyOne is #1 when it comes to combining on-line courses and live-learning. Sure, one of the reasons I like these guys is because they did a great job producing the 11 on-line classes I have on their site, including my two most popular classes: Composition and Light.

But then again, the KelbyOne team does a great job on all its classes, taught by the top pros in the industry, many of whom are my friends!

But there's more:

KelbyOne offers the opportunity to network and to be part of an awesome community at Photoshop World. I hope to see you there later this year! I will be teaching plug-ins and travel photography.

 Free apps? KelbyOne has 'em, too.

As KelbyOne member, you also have access to nationwide seminars, PhotoshopWorld magazine (I have an article in the current issue) and cool discounts.

And don't forget The Grid, which is a free, weekly KelbyOne on-line program that can help you become a better photographer. Last time I was on the show Scott and I talked travel photography for almost an hour.

Scott also has an awesome blog, Photoshop Insider.

Here is another reason why KelbyOne is #1: It starts at the top. :-)

Explore the light,

photo 2.JPG

P.S. Actually . . . the main reason KelbyOne is #1 in my book: They give the instructors at Photoshop World a cool hat. :-)

Registration is Open for My Atlanta "Capture the Classics" Workshop!

rick sammon mail for blog.jpg

Above: Mail car, Southeastern Railway Museum. Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 17-40mm lens. This is an HDR image. For HDR, I recommend Photomatix. Click here to get a discount on Photomatix.

Registration is open for my fall 2015 Canon EOS Destination Workshop: Capturing the Classics: Old Cars and Antique Trains. I can't wait to return to our two awesome locations: Old Car City and the Southeastern Railway Museum - which are outside of Atlanta, GA.

I'll be teaching: composition (the strongest way of seeing), "croposition" (combining composition with cropping), storytelling,  lighting, HDR – and how to use reflectors, diffusers and a speedlite when photographing a model.

My friends from Canon will be there to loan you the newest gear (including fish-eye lenses and super-wide-angle lenses) to photograph some of the oldest cars in the country. You will also have plenty of time to process your images – for our group slide show/critique session. And, you'll even get to make a print or two on Canon printers.

rick car for blog.jpg

Above: Lounge car,  Southeastern Railway Museum. Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 15mm lens.

For now, here's a look at some of my favorite photographs from my previous trip to Old Car City and the Southeastern Railway Museum.

rick sammon old car 1.jpg

Above: Old Car City. Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 17-40mm lens. 

I removed some of the reality from my images in this post either by using a fish-eye lens, by altering the true color of a scene, by applying a plug-in, by shooting HDR, by selectively blurring parts of an image –  or by using a combination of all these techniques.

I can show you how to apply digital enhancements during the workshop. Of course, I'll show you how to get awesome straight shots, too.

About removing some of the reality from a scene: When we remove some of the reality from a photograph, the photograph can - but not always - look more artistic.

Photoshop, Lightroom and plug-ins make creating artistic images relatively easy - if you have a creative vision.

Speaking of creative vision, check out my new book, Creative Visualization for Photographers.

And speaking of plug-ins, I'll be teaching plug-ins at Photoshop World this August in Las Vegas. All my seminars are listed here.

rick sammon belair for blog.jpg

Above: Old Car City. Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-70mm lens.

On my workshops I stress light and composition, the topics of my two latest classes on Kelby Training. The picture above of our model Hanna illustrates the benefits of shooting on an overcast day, when contrast is low. It also illustrates creative composition: shooting at an angle creates a sense of depth in an image, the Bel Air insignia adds a sense of place to the image, and shooting at eye level helps the viewer of the photograph relate to the subject.

rick caddy for blob.jpg

Above: Old Car City. Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 17-40mm lens. Effects added with Nik Color Effects Pro. Several Photoshop CS6 enhancements.

Above: Old Car City.  Like abstracts? You will find them in pealing paint and in rust at Old Car City.

Another element of photography we talk about on my workshops is the importance of cropping. In the above photograph, the extremely tight crop (I know it's extreme) emphasizes the fins and tail lights of this cool Caddy.

hanna by rick for blog.jpg

Above: Southeastern Railway Museum. Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 17-40mm lens.

Yes, the railway cars and old automobiles are awesome subjects. But hey, I especially enjoy photographing people on location. That is why I was so glad we had a great model. Thank you Hanna for doing such a wonderful job.

We will have another great model for the 2015 workshop.

I hope to see you at Old Car City and at the Southeastern Railway Museum - where we not only make good pictures, but where we also have a ton of fun.

If you can't make that workshop, all my workshops are listed here.

Explore the light,

Today's Guest Blogger Steve Brazill Says: "Ignore the Noise"

Thanks, Rick, for the opportunity to do a guest post. As a long time fan of you, and your work, its an honor to be able to contribute here.

[Steve, you rock - in more ways than one! I encourage my readers to check out your work and site. - Rick]

When I met Rick recently at one of his seminars, he told a story that really resonated with me - a story about noise. As a concert photographer, I deal with noise every time I shoot, lots of noise - due to shooting in relatively low light. 

Generally speaking when it comes to noise, it shows up mostly in low light, in shadow and out-of-focus areas of a frame, at high ISO settings (but with high-end cameras, low noise is getting better and better) and with cropped sensor cameras, but that's getting better, too.

Sometimes, the worst noise isnt even in the photos.

What Noise?

WhenI say "Ignore the Noise," what does that mean to you? Take a second and think about it, I'll wait.

The obvious choice, at least for us photographers, is digital noise, so lets start there. The opening shot above, of the band A Day To Remember, was shot at ISO 5000, 24 mm, f/4, 1/200 - with my Canon 7D.

My Photos Have A Lot Of Noise

I can't tell you how many times I've heard the desire for good High ISO Performance referred to as a religion. Is it? No. Plain and simple, we as photographers, as creatives, want the best image quality we can possibly get. Thats not a bad thing, and digital noise does have a number of negative impacts on a shot, from loss of detail, to color and contrast issues.

The shot above, of Heart guitarist Nancy Wilson, was shot at ISO 2000, 24 mm, f/4, 1/500. I needed a fast shutter to freeze Nancys hair, and I was already wide open on the Canon 24-105 f/4, so the ISO was sacrificed. Oh yeah, the drummer is Jason Bonham.

If you shoot photos at high ISO, you've seen noise. And, if you shoot at really high ISO, like 3200, 6400, or higher, you've been disappointed when what could've been a great shot becomes just okay (again, depending on the camera). For many people, that means avoiding high ISO at all costs, but does noise really matter, and if so, is it ever OK?

As I mentioned, I shoot with a Canon 7D. Images shot at ISO 1600 on my camera do have noise, yet I shoot at that setting far more than I shoot at 100 - 400. I often shoot at ISO 3200 - and on occasion I even hit 6400! At 100% zoom (which is often recommended for accurate noise reduction) those images definitely have noise. Still, I do it. Why would I choose to shoot at such a high ISO knowing it will produce noisy images?

Photography is an art of compromise, and in live music photography your choices limited. Concerts can be one of the most difficult lighting situations you will ever face - fast moving performers, fast changing low light, and extreme dynamic range. Your choices are: A) Take a blurry shot of a fast moving artist, or a hair whip; B) Crank the ISO to get a shutter speed fast enough to get a sharp shot

You should always choose B, because a sharp noisy shot is always better than a blurry clean shot. There are tools to deal with noise in post production (Rick reommends Topaz DeNoise), but a blurry shot is always blurry. I will use a touch of noise reduction in Lightroom when needed, and on a rare occasion I will pull out Nik Define - which I almost always apply selectively using the brush feature, or masks. (Rick also and always recommends working selectively.)

This shot, of Korn guitarist Brian Head Welch, was shot at ISO 3200, 45 mm, f/4, 1/400, and it was flat and noisy. After a little Lightroom work, a little Nik Define brushed on the smoke, and a Pro Contrast pop from Nik Color EFX Pro 4 it came back to life.

Oh yeah, and I always check any noise reduction at 50% zoom too.

Another consideration is intended output. My work is generally used on the blog of the radio station I shoot for, and the images are exported at 1024px on the long side. The noise just isn't as visible at that size. Ive seen people use so much noise reduction that healthy people look like they've had plastic surgery - and then they post low resolution copies on social media. At that size no one would have seen the noise, but they'll notice the plastic skin.

Don't misunderstand me, would I love a gift of a Canon 1DX, with its great high ISO performance? Heck yeah! But the bottom line is I get by just fine. This shot below, of Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian, is one of the highest scoring images Ive had in an image competition, and it was shot at ISO 3200, 35 mm, f/4, 1/320 on a Canon 7D. Dont avoid high ISO, embrace it.

Here is some food for thought when it comes to noise: If people notice the noise in your image, then your image may have bigger issues. Think about that for a second. Some of the most iconic photos of our day are noisy, and we don't even think about it.

Just ignore the noise.

Noisy People

High ISO isn't the only noise issue. Everyone has an opinion, and sometimes it seems everyone on the Internet is an expert. Ignore that noise too. I'm not saying don't listen to valid criticism. For all you know the person giving the critique may have grown up surrounded by talent. Their father or grandfather may have been one of the great [your type of photography here] photographers, and their opinion may have a strong foundation behind it. But don't let internet comments dictate your work. Listen to it all, but put more weight on those people whose work you respect, and less on those you dont. You're the one telling the story, your vision of the story, and some people just won't get it. In the end, it's your shot, so be true to your vision.

Take the shot above as an example. I actually pre-visualized it, and it is almost exactly what I wanted. I say almost because in my vision the hand wasnt there. I was behind five rows of standing people upstairs at the House of Blues, shooting a great 16 year old performer named Gabbie Rae when she opened for Great White.

I was holding the 7D, with a 10-22mm, over my head and trying to get leading lines from the side balconies going into a blown out stage. After a few shots, I was getting close to the angle I wanted, and then this guy put his hand up. In my head I screamed NOOOOOO - but then I saw the shot and actually thanked the guy. I love this shot, but not everybody sees it the same way. I entered this shot in an image competition where one judge commented its just the back of a bunch of heads." That kinda hurt, until another judge came to the shots defense. To him, this was every concert he had ever been to - captured in one shot.

I think the second judge was right.

One of my favorite tech writers, Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun Times, once tweeted: "Self-criticism is useful until it impedes your ability to identify a success"

Ignore the noise and let yourself succeed.

If you would like to check out more of my photography, drop by my web site. 

Thanks again, Rick!

• • • • •

Rick here - I agree 100% with my friend, Steve. Above is a photograph I made in Myanmar with my Canon 5D Mark III set at ISO 6400. Yes, the image has a bit of noise (easily reduced with Topaz DeNoise), but as my dad used to say, "If a picture is so boring that you notice the noise, it's a boring picture.

My New e-Book – Get Motivated and Stay Inspired – is Here!

My new e-book – Get Motivated and Stay Inspired – is now available for direct download to your tablet or computer. I'm very excited about this e-book, because I think we (and that includes me) all need some inspiration and motivation from time to time.

The cost for the 195 page e-book is $4.95. Click here to download from my on-line store. Here's the scoop on the book.

Throughout the year I enjoy giving seminars to audiences around the county. Most of my talks are how-to photography talks, during which I share my favorite photographs from around the world – each image is accompanied by a photo or Photoshop/Lightroom or travel tip.

One of my favorite seminars is Get Motivated and Stay Inspired. It’s not a how-to, technical seminar. Rather, it’s a seminar on how to get inspired and how to stay creatively motivated.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 9.40.21 AM.png

The talk is about an hour and a half long. I have taken the highlights of that talk – My Top Ten Techniques to Get Motivated and Stay Inspired – and put them into an easy-to-read e-book (just a few of the 194 pages shown here) with the same title, which you can read in less than ½ hour.

Although the e-book is photography-centric, I feel as though all creatives can benefit from reading it.

Yes, I hope the photographs (some of my favorites) themselves are inspiring, but my main goal with this e-book is to encourage you to be as creative as possible while getting motivated and staying inspired. Hey, I figure if I need inspiration and motivation, there are others who feel the same way!

I think you will enjoy learning about the Four Levels of Learning – levels we all go though. I also think you will find inspiration in the quotes, which include: "When you are though changing, you are through.” And, “If you think you can you can, and if you think you can’t you can’t.” And, “It’s never too late to be who you could have been.”

I also think you will enjoy learning about my “Six Steps for Creative Visualization” process, and the difference between seeing and looking. Big difference.

You will also find short assignments in the e-book. It's good to have assignments, and to challenge yourself to be as creative as possible.

I hope you enjoy the e-book - which looks great on the iPad. As with everyone who takes one of my classes, when you purchase the book you become a student for life. That means you can email me questions for the rest of my life.

Good luck with your photography and with your art!

Two Old West Photo Workshops Coming Up in 2015

Do you like to make images of the Old West - and cowboys and horses? If so, I have two workshops coming up that I know you will enjoy:


Casper, WY "Old West Shoot"
Telluride, CO "Ghost Towns, Waterfalls and Fall Landscapes"

The horses above are just two of our models in Casper!

In Telluride, CO, we'll be photographing ghost towns. I took the shot above in Bodie State Park (great ghost town) in California. We'll use the same HDR techniques in Telluride. That is, make an HDR image that does not look like HDR.

For HDR, I still recommend Photomatix. Click here to get a discount on Photomatix.

Photographing landscapes and waterfalls are also on the schedule for Telluride. In and around picturesque Telluride, I'll share with you long exposure techniques, which I used for the above photograph that I took on a past Mt. Rainier photo workshop.

In Casper, we have a very, very special shoot – complete with a horse and cowgirls – in the world famous Wonder Bar. That's where I took the above photograph last year. Great fun!

On both workshops, we'll be chasing the light – the main element in every photograph. There will also be plenty of time to process our images.

Yes, we will work hard, but we will also play hard.

I hope to see you in the Old West.

Click here to see all my photo workshops.

Explore the light,

P.S. Click here to see my e-books and on-line classes on landscape photography.