The Most Important Accessory for Outdoor Portraits

When I give a seminar on making outdoor portraits, I suggest using a reflector/diffuser kit – the single most important accessory for the outdoor portrait photographer.

Sure, a speedlite is a valuable accessory, and I have one with me at all times. But if you are on a budget or want to travel very light – and can take ONLY ONE accessory – the reflector/diffuser kit is the way to go.

What? You thought a leaf blower was the most important accessory? Well . . . it can create a beautiful "wind in the hair" effect.  :-)

Reflectors and diffusers enable us to control the light – turning bad/hard light into good light. I used a large reflector, like the one pictured above, to illuminate the model in the opening image for this post. The reflector filled in the shadows on the models face created by the harsh sunlight. It also added some nice catch-light to the model's eyes.

Quick Tip: When using a reflector, the subject often becomes brighter than the background – so you need to meter the scene carefully.

Above is another example of how a reflector enhanced a portrait. Below is a behind-the-scenes shot of me using my Westcott Lighting Kit and Tote.

Quick Tip: When using a reflector, tell the subject NOT to look at it: the reflected light can be blinding.

Diffusers soften harsh light.

Above is an example of how a diffuser turns harsh light into pleasing light.

Above is a behind-the-scenes shot of me using the diffusion panel in my Tote Kit.

All the gear I use for my on-location portraits is listed on My Gear Page. For more of my travel portraits, check out my World Portrait Gallery.

One final Quick Tip: Always respect the subject. Respect the subject and the subject will respect you.

My next model shoot is in NYC on November 4th. All indoors, but we'll use reflectors and diffusers, as well as Westcott Ice Lights, Spider Lights. Speedlites, too.

Learn about light on-line with my KelbyOne classes.

Explore the light,

Deal of the Week!

Get a 41% discount on Photoshop Artistry: Fine-Art Grunge Composition.

Conquer Composition – on line!

Outside of Tucumcari, New Mexico.

Outside of Tucumcari, New Mexico.

Famed photographer Edward Weston said, "Composition is the strongest way of seeing."

I agree, which is the reason why I call my KelbyOne class on composition: Composition – the strongest way of seeing. In the class I cover the basic rules of composition and why you should break them. I also cover the most import composition technique: composing emotionally.

Check out the course comments . . . and for those of you who have watched the class, thanks for all the positive feedback.

Speaking of KelbyOne, my friend Scott Kelby also has an in-depth class on composition. It's called Crush the Composition. Check out the course comments! As you will read, Scott provides an awesome learning experience.

Have fun conquering the composition.

Explore the light,

Deal of the Week!

Get a 41% discount on Photoshop Artistry: Fine-Art Grunge Composition.

November 4th Rick's NYC-Area Model Photography Shoot: Learn Lighting, Posing & Composition

Before I get going, here's a quick portrait tip: If you want an interesting portrait, don't light the entire subject.

Be one of 20 photographers on this awesome NYC-area model shoot – where you will learn about model photography and lighting – and get to use the images on your web site. You can sell the image ONLY if you work out a deal directly with our models.

rick's shoot.png

Above: Our three professional models for the shoot. The model in the opening image for this post is the same model on the right in the above set of images.

Above: What could be cooler than photographing cool models in this cool location? 

In addition to photographing the models, you can make HDR images – but you need to keep clear of the model sets. New to HDR? Check out my iHDR app.

For processing HDR images, I suggest Photomatix. Get a 15% discount here.

Above: Those of you who have been on my workshop know this: I like to make learning fun! You'll have a ton of fun on this workshop with the models, props and mirrors. This is a hand-held (as you can see) HDR image.

Above: Picture yourself, and our models, here.

The details (Please read very carefully):
• You sign up through Eventbrite.
• First come, first serve – as we are only accepting 20 participants on this awesome shoot.
• Cost: $279. Refund, minus $50 cancellation fee, 30 days before the event. Sorry, no refund after October 4.
• Max 20 photographers.
• Your instructors: Me and Westcott's awesome lighting expert Dave Piazza.
• Three models, three shooting stations (max 7 at a station at one time). You get to shoot at each all locations. If you have an idea for a shot, we can probably do that... just know that others may take the same photo.
• Learn about: Speedlites, constant lights, reflectors and other lighting techniques.
• Date/Time: November 4th (Tuesday), 1 - 6 PM.
• Location: 3rd Floor, Metropolitan Building, Long Island City, NY. Short ride from NYC. Do a Google search to get location and directions.
• Parking is challenging. Best to take a cab or subway. If you drive, leave some time to find a spot.
• No need to show up early. Session does not start until 1 PM.
• Photo gear on hand: A variety of Westcott lighting gear.
• Awesome props.
• You need to bring your own camera, lenses and tripod.
• You can use the pictures you take on your web site, but you can not sell any of the images you take – unless you work out a deal directly with our models. You will sign a release stating image use.
• My friends from Adorama will be on hand with some special prices on the Westcott lighting gear we use.

Above: One of our perfect settings to learn about lighting.

Above: Our goal will be to make environmental portraits like the one above, which I took in Venice, Italy . . . using just one Canon speedlite in a Westcott Apollo softbox. All my gear is listed here on My Gear page.

Above: We'll work with professionals models, like the one pictured above. I took this shot in the Westcott Warehouse, believe it or not. Here's a video to prove it. :-)

The props at the Metropolitan Building are awesome.

Speaking of working in challenging conditions, I took this shot (using Westcott Spider Lights) at Photoshop World, again in an exhibit area where lighting conditions were challenging.

During our shoot Dave and I will talk about controlling, shaping and balancing the light.

Again, first come, first serve – as we are only accepting 20 participants on this awesome shoot. Register here.


About the opening image for this post: I took the shot with two Canon 600EX speedlights  & a Canon STE-E3 transmitter in the Canon booth at the Photo Plus Expo show in the Javits Center last year. Camera: Canon 5D Mark III. Lens: Canon 24-105mm IS.

Hey, if shots like this are possible at a trade show, imagine what we will do at the Metropolitan Building!

As a prelude to the class, you may want to check out my KelbyOne class: Light – the main element in every photograph.

All my workshops are listed on my 2015 Workshops page.

If you would like me to review your work after the shoot, we can set up a Godfatherly Advice session.

Explore the light,

P.S. Brooklyn Bridge Park is about 20 minutes away. Go there for a nighttime shoot after the workshop. Cool photo ops, and good restaurants, too!

Learn Landscape Photography with Me – Anytime and Anywhere

Sunrise on the Mara.

Sunrise on the Mara.

If you like landscape photography, I offer several options for improving your images – anytime and anywhere.

On my workshops.  In 2015 I am offering workshops that include landscape photography: Death Valley, Provence and Croton-on-Hudson, NY.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat. 

Sunrise at Angkor Wat. 

On my workshops we shoot and process, and have a ton of fun doing both! All are welcome.

After sunrise on the Oregon Coast. 

After sunrise on the Oregon Coast. 

On-line. I have a new on-line class on landscape photography with Craftsy: Landscape Photography in the Great Sand Dunes National Park. It includes five HD video lessons and a virtual classroom - where you can share your shots and get my feedback. Very cool! Right now, you can get a 50% discount!

All my KelbyOne on-line courses are listed here.

Sunrise on the dunes in Death Valley.

Sunrise on the dunes in Death Valley.

On-the-go. My iPad and iPhone apps provide on-the-go learning. For landscape photographers: iHDR, 24/7 Photo Buffet and 50+ Tips for Nik Color Efex Pro.

On YouTube and Vimeo.  Scroll down to the bottom of my On-Line Classes/Video page and you'll find several videos that I shot in Iceland and on the Oregon Coast that focus on landscape photography.

That's me speaking for Canon at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. 

That's me speaking for Canon at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. 

At my seminars.  I share my favorite landscape photographs - and tips, tricks and techniques - at my seminars. I give more than a dozen seminars each year, and love each and every one. What's more, most are free – thanks to Canon sponsorship.

Mono Lake before the crack of dawn. 

Mono Lake before the crack of dawn

Well my friends, I hope to see you . . . somewhere!

Sunrise on Route 66. 

Sunrise on Route 66. 

To help you find the best light for your landscape photographers, my friend Craig Ellis and I developed Photo Sundial. This all-in-one app gives you the sun, the stars, the moon - and much more. Never miss another sunrise or sunset again.

The app is great for on-site shooting, as well as for trip planning. Twenty-five photo tips, too!

Hey, if you find a better priced and more fully-featured sun-finder app, please let me know. 

Explore the light,

Saturday and Sunday Savings

From time to time I'll compile some cool savings here on my blog for creative photographers. Stay tuned and save a few bucks.

Save 41% on Photoshop Artistry (used to created the opening image for this post): Get a 41% discount on Photoshop Artistry: Fine-Art Grunge Composition.

Save 15% on Photomatix - the HDR program I used to create the above HDR image. Info on my Play & Save on Plug-ins page.

Save a bundle on the Topaz bundle. Topaz DeNoise used to reduce the noise in the above image. Info on my Play & Save on Plug-ins page.

Save $20 on a Godfatherly Advice/portfolio review session until August 31. Click here for info.

Save 50% on my Craftsy Landscape Photography class. Click here for info.

Order my two favorite books from Amazon and save a few bucks. Click here for info.

Save 10% on my Florida Action Workshop. Offer expires August 31. All my workshops are listed here.

Explore the light,

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