So after spending five solid hours in Manhattan’s Javits Center with 950 other photographers, I can tell you that Scott Kelby’s “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it Tour” rocked. In a major way. As in, it was time and money very well spent.
Sadly I don’t have any photos to share; I didn’t shoot any during the conference, mostly because I was either glued to the projector screens or madly scribbling notes. But here’s how it went down:
Kelby did five different sessions. He was on stage the whole time, a very engaging, personable speaker, and he talked you through everything. Lighting setups (all of which were simple), interacting with models, shooting, Lightroom, basic processing, and advanced processing. All the computer stuff was projected onto four giant screens, so no matter where you sat you could see what he was doing.
We covered basic lighting, glamour & fashion, & edgy light. On the processing side it went from basic gray cards and white balance to intermediate portrait retouching to all out compositing. In fact, the actual lighting and shooting was all simple, straight forward stuff – setups that seemed a lot easier to handle after seeing how simply Kelby did them. It was the Photoshop stuff that really impressed. There isn’t much about Photoshop that this guy doesn’t know. And it was incredible to see how several minor fixes and enhancements can add up to take a photo from “good” to “wow!”
One of the highlights was the workbook, which has all the steps for each of the five sessions laid out in writing with photos and diagrams. Kelby followed them pretty well, although he often added points that weren’t in the book, which is when everyone scrambled to take notes. But the whole thing is designed so that you see it in person, then can go home and use the book for reference to do it yourself.
Honestly, if you buy his “Portrait Retouching for Photographers,” or maybe even his Layers books, you’ll probably learn a lot of the same stuff – certainly the Photoshop aspects. But you’d miss out on the whole experience. And I think that, at least for me, the best parts were seeing how easy it is to setup lights without obsessing over them, and to see how someone works effectively with a model. I already do a lot of what he does, but it’s a confidence booster to realize that.
How about the cons: for starters, I wish he’d done some Speedlite stuff, instead of using just studio strobes. He mentioned using them from time to time, but really, Speedlite shooting is more a McNally thing. I also wish he had showed at least one more complex lighting setup, with multiple lights on both the subject and the background. Hard to do in a conference room, but it would have been nice. And personally, I’d have been okay with him dropping the session on compositing images in exchange for more time spent on the portrait and glamour retouching.
The real down side is that this is going to end up costing me more money. For starters, he echoed everything I’ve ever heard about octaboxes – mainly that they’re incredible. He also promoted a Wacom-style editing tablet, with the example that “using a mouse to edit is like trying to do surgery wearing a catcher’s mitt.” So I’m already looking into a tablet.
Interestingly, I thought that he’d make me a Lightroom convert. He’s a big Lightroom fan. And although I arrived a bit late and missed his comments on Lightroom vs. Bridge, I’m told that it was a “you get what you pay for, and Bridge is free” sort of opinion, which is what I expected. Except I didn’t see him do anything in Lightroom the entire time that I can’t already do in Bridge with about equal ease. I know he didn’t get into all the features of it, but it was the one thing I left underwhelmed about.
So there you have it – two text-heavy posts in a week, and this one probably too long winded. Sorry about that. This was definitely a word-based experience; the photos will come later, when I get to try this stuff for myself.
More to come on this…