Friday, December 24, 2010

Guest Blogging on Rick Sammon's Site

Doing a little guest blogger duty over at Rick Sammon's blog.  Check out the link below.

Rick Sammon's Blog

Fiat Lux!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Foggy Moon Eclipse

Last night my 3-yr old daughter and I were able to get a few snaps and a few videos of the eclipse. Though it was a light foggy night I was able to get a couple interesting shots of the moon getting covered up.
Reagan tried to get a few with her little Xsi and 85mm but she was not pleased with her results.

I set up the Canon 7D with a 100-400mm on an Induro CT-313 tripod and the BH-55 from Really Right Stuff with a Canon Cable Release (easy for a 3-yr old to handle as well). So actually, I guess Reagan took the majority of the photos!

Most everything was taken as stills during the video recording. Once I get the video put together I'll try to get something up so you can see the fog blowing by the moon. It was pretty spectacular to watch.
For this collage I opened several images from Lightroom as layers. I doubled the length of the canvas size and created a black background.  I masked the moons so that I could minimize the black area around them  (making it easier to grab them with the "auto select" tool option on my move tool as well as making the document size a bit smaller). That way when I click on each moon it automatically selects the moon I want. I then put each moon into a "lightening" blend mode...I chose Linear Dodge just to see how it looked and stuck with it. I'm sure there are others that would work just as well.
I then used guides to line up each of the moons so that they are centered on the document as well as in line with each other. I cropped any excess canvas off and Voila! A beautiful moon pano ready for Christmas!

Keep shooting! Even when you think it's too cloudy!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Festive Meet Up with Light Workshops

© 2010 Becky Sloat

This weekend we had a fun and festive Meet Up with our members here at Light Workshops. Our original plan had been a sunset shoot out at Montaña De Oro, but the weather kept us indoors. We made the best of it with a few different macro setups, yummy snacks and egg nog!

We brought out the Canon 100, 180 and 65mm macro lenses and captured some fun images of a lovely poinsettia, household spices, and our school Christmas Tree. While normally you might not think to take pictures of cinnamon and sugar or the ornaments of a Christmas Tree, but with a macro lens these subjects become much more interesting and beautiful.
 We also introduced a new assistant to our members Saturday. Miss Reagan Schmitt was at the school giving advice to those who needed help with proper exposure and focal length for their subjects.

This was our last Meet Up of 2010 but we'll have many more in the new year. If you would like to join our Meet Up group visit the Light Workshop's Page. If you're already a Light Workshops member and have any ideas for future Meet Ups, don't hesitate to share them. Also visit for our most current list of photography workshops.

Happy Holidays Everyone!


Fiat Lux!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

David Wells is returning in 2011!

We're very excited have David Wells returning to Light Workshops in 2011!
©2010 David Wells

David is a free-lance photographer, based in Providence, Rhode Island. He specializes in intercultural communications and the use of light and shadow to enhance visual narratives.

His photo-essays have been funded by fellowships from Nikon/National Press Photographers Association, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the MacArthur Foundation's Program of Research and Writing on International Peace and Cooperation, the Alicia Patterson Foundation and the Fulbright Foundation.

David will be bringing his expertise in Photo Journalism to Light Workshops with his "Introduction to the Photo Essay" course February 28-March 4, 2011.  During the week you will be following an assignment from start to finish and get incredible input and review as you go! You'll learn what makes a good story and how to create a visual narrative with your photographs.

You can register now for this incredible experience!

To learn more about David and his work visit

Monday, December 13, 2010

Meet Up with Light Workshops this Saturday for a Coralina Cove Sunset!

Weather permitting we'll be hosting another Meet Up this Saturday, December 18th. We will first be meeting here at the school at 3:45p to get a good carpool together. We'll try to get on the road by 4pm and head into Montaña De Oro to Coralina Cove via the Bluff Trail (just past the MDO Visitor's Center).

If the weather doesn't cooperate and we get rained out, we have a back-up plan! We'll switch gears and put on a great flick from National Geographic called "The Presidents Photographer." This movie is about the photographers who have commemorated the everyday events and momentous occasions experienced by American presidents during a 50-year span. For more information or to join this meet up click here!

If you are new to the Light Workshops Meet Up Group, it's really easy to join. Just visit and click "Join Us" at the top right of the page. Once you're a member you can RSVP for our latest Meet Up. You can also get notifications about our Meet Ups by following us on Twitter.

We try to host these meet ups twice a month. It's a great opportunity to meet and shoot with other local photogs in the area. You'll also have a chance to meet the crew at Light Workshops and get help with your camera/workflow questions.

We look forward to seeing you!
Fiat Lux!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Beauty of the Virtual Copy (No Pixels were Created or Harmed in the Making of this Post)


One of my favorite things about Lightroom is the Virtual Copy feature.  Referencing the same source file (negative file) Lightroom allows the user multiple versions of an image.  Even better, since the whole process is procedural (very simply, no pixels pushed) this can be accomplished quickly and without much additional storage space or processing power required.

Fake Infrared Preset

To create a Virtual Copy, select any image (if multiple images are selected ensure the image you want to "copy" is active) and then right click with your pointer over the image thumbnail.  From the flyout menu choose "Create Virtual Copy."  You could also use the keyboard shortcut of CTRL (Win) / CMD (Mac) + '.

The Virtual Copy (VC) will appear immediately after the original preview and is automatically stacked.  The VC is easily identified by the upturned page effect on the lower left corner of the Grid View or Filmstrip thumbnail.

Fake IR with Color Preset

To experiment with another version send the VC to the Develop Module and optimize again with different settings.  This is a great way to play around and find other solutions to creating images with drama, impact, and wow factor.  To push even further, make multiple Virtual Copies and optimize as many ways as you can dream up.

The series of images on this page were created very quickly by copying the original (at the very top) three times and then applying  the following presets: Fake Infrared, Fake Infrared with Color, and Fake HDR.  I will talk more about these presets and show the settings in future posts.

Fake HDR Preset

2011 schedule is filling up and will be completely posted soon.  Hope to see you here or at the California Photo Fest in October.

Fiat Lux!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ice Crystals do Cool Things to Light

 Pillar of Fire

Evening up here in Alaska and there are ice crystals hanging in the air.  The light from different ground sources is channeled up as if it was carried via fiber optic cable.  Makes some interesting images.  These shots were handheld with a Canon 5D Mk II and an EF 24mm f/1.4L.

Prudhoe Bay Concert Lights Under the Full Moon

Fiat Lux!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An Epic week with Hanson Fong

Last week we had Hanson Fong, internationally known portrait and wedding photographer and Canon Explorer of Light come for 4 days to teach the art of Lighting and Posing. We had limited the class to 8 people and were able to create an incredible learning environment for the students.

The first day was spent learning Hanson's tips and tricks to making your everyday client look fabulous. We reached out to the local community for our models and selected individuals and families who represented your everyday customer looking for a great portrait.
Over the next few days students learned how to use facial features and body type to their advantage when posing and lighting their subjects.  

It’s very rare to be able to have such hands-on experience and hands-on learning with such an incredible instructor. It has always been a treat to have Hanson here at Light, and the workshops get better with every visit. To Learn more about Hanson Fong visit
Don't miss Hanson at our Second Annual California Photo Festival October 12-16, 2011. Registration opens January 15th!

Curious what's happening next at LIGHT?

As Hal Says...Fiat Lux!

Before the Blow

In the arctic for a bit longer and there is a blizzard raging outside, about -40 wind chill right now and expected to get worse for the next couple days.  Up here the general term for the type of weather we are experiencing is a "blow."  Not too surprising as the wind is howling.

I was able to photograph a few things during the couple of hours of daylight and before the wind kicked up.  The shot up top is a single image from my Canon 5D Mk II and 24mm f/1.4L.  Processed with Lightroom and Photoshop CS5.  If stuck inside tomorrow I'll put up the image progression from start to finish.

The second image is a four shot stitched panorama.  Images were processed in LR and stitched in Photoshop CS5.  After the stitch I returned to Lightroom to complete the illustration effect with one of my presets.

Fiat Lux!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Quick Tip Over at Rick Sammon's New Blog

Quick tip from Hal over at Rick's blog.

Rick Sammon

Fiat Lux!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Meet Up this Weekend for a Group Shoot

The Light staff will be getting together Saturday afternoon at 5 PM to photograph the sunset and more down in Morro Bay.

To let you know where we'll be on a more regular basis we created a group.  Although it sounds like a dating site, Meetup provides a simple way to meet other photographers and digital artists to share our work, ideas, stories, and have some fun.

The following link will take you to the Light group at Meetup.

Light Meetup

Hope to see you on Saturday!

Fiat Lux!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cayucos Sunset

 15 min after

On the way home from the Paso Robles Harvest Wine Festival I had to stop and shoot a nice little sunset.

18 min after

At sunset

See you online for MNL.

Fiat Lux!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

18 October, Monday Night Light, Live Webinar

Join Hal for another episode of Monday Night Light 18 October from 6- 7 PM, PDT.  Should be another good time discussing various tips, tricks, and techniques to enhance your digital workflow.

Monday Night Light Registration

See you online.

Fiat Lux!

From my silhouette series. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Wells Point

Check out the Wells Point blog from David H. Wells.  David teaches at Light and also led a very successful photo journalism workshop at the California Photo Festival.

The Wells Point Blog

Fiat Lux!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thanks for an Amazing Festival (and dates for next year too!)

Thanks to everyone involved with the 1st annual California Photo Festival.  Attendees, instructors, volunteers, sponsors, and staff were amazing.  We had attendees from around the country and around the world!  There were, of course, some issues and we are still documenting what went right and what went wrong.  Thanks for telling us all of your likes and dislikes.  Overall, the feedback from the attendees has been fantastic.  It was incredible to take what we do at Light (world class instructors, intensive learning, individual attention, small class sizes, and more) and make it happen on a larger scale.

Check out the work from our attendees at the California Photo Fest group page, Cali Photo Fest Flickr!

All of the podcasts we recorded during the week will be up on the Digital Photo Experience soon.  Check it out at DPE.

We are looking forward to next year and will hold the festival from 12-16 October, 2011.  We are incredibly excited to have already started the planning process for the 2nd annual!  We shifted back a few weeks in order to deconflict with Photoshop World and PMA and to coordinate with the Paso Robles Harvest Fest.  We have received firm commitments from most of this year's instructors and sponsors and have requests from new photographers and digital artists who want to be involved!  We fully expect the festival to grow and become a tremendous experience for photographers from around the world.

Thank you again for being a part of the California Photo Fest and joining the Light family.

Moving away from the festival, expect additions to the Light 2010 schedule and the full Light 2011 schedule very soon.

Here is a Morro Bay sunset in reverse order from latest to earliest we shot during our festival afterglow.

About 30 min after sunset.  7 shot stitched pano.

About 15 min after sunset.  7 shot stitched pano.

Sunset.  7 shot stitched pano.

Fiat Lux!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Photo Fest Revving Up

The California Photo Fest is about to shift into high gear.  Fest registrations are open in San Luis Obispo as Instructors, participants, and sponsors are starting to arrive.

We'll kick off tomorrow morning at 0800 with an intro from Hal and his world famous "Lessons from a Fighter Pilot that Will Make You a Better Photographer."  After that the classes and shooting start all over the county.

Should be a great week.

California Photo Fest

Fiat Lux!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Ultimate Pano - Gimbal Head

The ultimate panorama and gimbal head is shipping very soon.  The PG-02 from Really Right Stuff is awesome.  I had the opportunity to test the PG-02 prototype during my yacht-based photo tour to Alaska this past spring.

The PG-02 prototype with Canon EOS 7D and EF  800mm f/5.6L
In addition there is a RRS long lens stabilization kit attached. 

As many of you know I do not beat around the bush with most of my opinions and recommendations.  So in a quick few sentences here you go.

Image from PG-02 mounted Canon 1D Mk III with EF 400mm f/2.8L

For the long lens action shooters, this is the best gimbal head available.  I compared head to head with the other industry leading options, in the field, with big bodies/long lenses (Canon 1D series and up to the EF 800mm f/5.6L,) shooting high-speed, high track crossing rate action, and from a moving (forward, roll, pitch, and heave) platform.  There is no comparison.  The Really Right Stuff PG-02 is the best.  Well balanced, smooth, and silky the PG-02 was incredible.

For the panorama shooter, the PG-02 is a multi-axis pano head.  Equivalent performance to the Really Right Stuff Omni Pivot Pro Pano Kit.  Shooters can easily locate their no parallax point/entrance pupil and align it with the axes of rotation.  As a pano shooter, this is great gear since it not only performs equal to other RRS pano gear but does triple duty: pano, gimbal, and video.

For the video shooter, the PG-02 is the smoothest, silkiest pan you will experience.  Moreover, the pan glides perfectly regardless of the overall tension on the head.  Whether loose or tight, you will not experience any kind of jerking or sloppy pan.

For audio or additional gear, there is another threaded screw on top of the vertical arm that accepts equipment directly or even another ballhead.  In the field, we mounted another ballhead as well as small, point and shoot cameras to capture action as we worked the main body/lens.

Image from PG-02 with Canon 7D and EF 800mm f/5.6L

As you know, I always give full disclosure.  Really Right Stuff does not pay me to endorse their gear.  I use it because it is the best.

Check out the PG-02 at the following link.


I will demonstrate the PG-02 at the California Photo Festival next week.  There are still spots available so join us California Photo Fest.

Fiat Lux!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Monday Night Light - 13 September

Join Hal again for another episode of Monday Night Light.  This week Hal will demo the v4 beta of Photomatix Pro from HDR Soft.

Follow the link below to register.

MNL Registration

See you online Monday and in two weeks at the California Photo Festival!

Fiat Lux!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Has Hell Frozen Over? Monday Night Light 6 Sep 2010

Light Webinar - Hal's Take on HDR Efex Pro with Demo and Discussion

6 Sep 2010, 6 PM PDT

Click the following link to register.

MNL limited, three week engagement while Hal is in town.

Fiat Lux!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

HDR Efex Pro and Topaz - My HDR "Painting"

I guess the subtitle of this post could be "uses for out of focus images."

Fired off an HDR series while travelling at 25 mph in a fishing boat on the Kenai River a couple weeks ago.  Unfortunately, I couldn't make the images match up perfectly when I merged the three shots to complete the HDR.  So I had a fairly cool, but motion-blurred image.  Sometimes when there is a lot of motion blur it works.  Kind of like the old expression, "Take one shot it's out of focus, take a series and it's a style."  This did not qualify. So what is a photographer to do?

I will often use shots that cannot stand on their own as a photograph and use them as a starting point for a digital painting.  Whether using Topaz, Photoshop, or Corel Painter you can end up with some incredible results.  Let your creativity take over when using the amazing software and create something new, different, and maybe even extraordinary.

For my shot here, I processed the three images with Nik's HDR Efex Pro and then sent the resulting TIF to Topaz detail and tried for the "painted" look. 

If you want amazing instruction on creating digital paintings, check out Jane Conner-Ziser at the Photo Fest later this month.  She has workshops Wednesday and Saturday, Jane's Painting.

OBTW, all I could catch fishing the Kenai were pink salmon (also known as Humpies.)  Fun to catch, not so tasty to eat.  Catch and release all day for me.

See you all later this month.

Fiat Lux!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Red Fox Series

A series of a red fox from peaceful sleep to awake to stretch to alert to "I think I'll just lick myself. Take that Mr. Photographer."

Fiat Lux!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My First HDR Pano with HDR Efex Pro from Nik

Nik'sHDR Efex Pro - 12 shot HDR stitched panorama
Canon 7D with EF 70-200mm f/4L handheld
Lightroom, HDR Efex Pro, and Photoshop CS5

The attached images are the first HDR stitched panorama I did with Nik's HDR Efex Pro.  The software is still in test but shows potential to be a (if not the) MAJOR player in HDR processing.  

The color version

I will continue to post images from HDR Efex Pro and will show them side by side with Photomatix Pro and Photoshop's HDR Pro. (I guess once someone in the industry adds "Pro" everyone has to do it.)

I am heading back to California tomorrow and will try to get a few tutorials up online. 

Nik will have a big presence at the California Photo Fest (Cali Photo Fest) with many of our top instructors demonstrating HDR Efex Pro, Viveza 2, Define, Color Effects 3, and more.

Fiat Lux!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Arctic Sunsets

Arctic sunset over Colleen Lake.  Deadhorse, AK
7-shot stitched panorama

Up here in Alaska again finishing up a hectic couple months of travel.  Able to break away yesterday and shoot for a little while.

Sunset swim.  

Home this week in time for Print Perfection and a Canvas workshop too.

Fiery sky behind two drilling rigs, one rotary the other coil.

California Photo Fest is only a few weeks away.  If you have not checked it out follow the link below.  Awesome instruction, beautiful location, and, bottom line, a good time.

Cali Photo Fest

Fiat Lux!

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Quick Tip from Hal Kicking it at Secret Beach, Maui

Holding the DSLR Properly from Hal Schmitt on Vimeo.

A quick tip from Secret Beach, Maui.

Hope to see you at the festival.

Fiat Lux!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hal's Not the Only One Having Fun!

Today I was in the studio shooting wine bottles for Midnight Cellars. It felt great getting back in there and behind a camera after being so involved with the festival planning! I thought it was a nice touch having a gold and silver reflector to highlight Midnight's name on the bottle. It took a while to line up the line in just the right spot, but there it is. I hope they are happy "customers".
I highly suggest their wines and their parties. Hal makes his personal label at their winery and has worked with Midnight cellars for years! Good wines, good times.
70-200mm, Canon 40D, ProFoto D1

Night Laser Photography

We shot late evening, sunset, and night photography last night at the top of Haleakala in Maui.  I will get some of the earlier images up soon.

We had the opportunity to visit some of the observatories and tracking stations after sunset.  I was able to grab a few shots of the satellite tracking station doing some work.  The station fires a laser at satellites in orbit and measures their precise location.  The information is passed to NASA in order to keep a firm track on what is where in space.

For the shots I used the Canon 5D Mk II, EF 24mm f/1.4L, Induro CT-213, and Really Right Stuff BH-55.

The 24mm f/1.4L is THE lens you need to work night photography; fast, sharp, and more!

I used live view to focus the camera on the laser tracking station (in my humble opinion, the best way to focus night or day when on tripod.)

Exposure settings were ISO 800, f/1.4, and 13".

New California Photo Festival information is up.  Newsletter will go out for it this afternoon.  Check out the website at Cali Photo Fest

Fiat Lux!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Haleakala Time Lapse Demo

Haleakala Shadow Timelapse from Hal Schmitt on Vimeo.

Hal leading a shadow "dance" while demonstrating time lapse on the west rim of Haleakala Crater.  Photo Adventure Maui is trucking along with Day 3 half over.  We are heading back up the hill to the volcano for sunset.

Fiat Lux!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Haleakala Pano - One Hour Before Sunrise

9 shots, 24mm, f/2.8, 13", ISO 400

Off to shoot again here on Photo Adventure Maui.  A quick pano from this morning.  Shot the 9 image series an hour before sunrise.  Full moon illuminated the crater.  5D Mk II, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, Induro CT 213, RRS BH-55, RRS pano kit.

Sunset and the beach are calling.

Fiat Lux!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Thanks for a Great Photo Walk

Light_SanLuisObispo_PhotoWalk from Hal Schmitt on Vimeo.

Thanks to everyone who came out Saturday morning for the photo walk.  Weather cooperated nicely and the photography was excellent.

I am currently leading Photo Adventure Maui with Randy Hufford of Maui's Institute of Visual Arts.  Rough living!

Will have images and videos up as soon as we shoot.

Fiat Lux!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hal's Time Lapse Workflow and Examples

A recent post I did at Digital Photo Experience about time lapse workflow.

Time Lapse Workflow - DPE

Fiat Lux!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quick Video Talking Essential Gear

Hoodman HoodLoupe from Hal Schmitt on Vimeo.

A video from one of our location shoots this past weekend with David Mecey.  The course was a tremendous success with students from around the world learning lighting, posing, and workflow. 

Fiat Lux!

Join us this Saturday and Shoot SLO!

Join Hal and Becky this weekend as we take part in Scott Kelby's Worldwide Photo Walk.  We will start at the Mission and have a tremendous time.

Click the link below for more information.

Photo Walk SLO

Hope to see you on Saturday.

Fiat Lux!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Taking the Hand Held ROT a Bit Further

Hand Held ROT Pt. 2 from Hal Schmitt on Vimeo.

A couple of other points to expand on the hand held ROT.

Fiat Lux!

Quick Video Tip

Quick video tip up on the Digital Photo Experience today.

DPE - Quick Tip

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Video Tutorial and Invite

California Photo Festival Invite from Hal Schmitt on Vimeo.

A quick video invite to the California Photo Festival and shooting tutorial.

Fiat Lux!

Flash / No Flash

A few readers commented on my recent video discussing simple fill flash.  The video did not contain no flash / flash images from the market.  So, here they are.  The camera settings are exactly the same for each shot but one has flash the other does not.  The flash was a Canon 580 EX II pointed 90 degrees off the optical axis (straight up) with a Hanson Fong Skin Glow Bounce Card attached. 

No flash


Although the flash is not pointed at the subject and the ceiling was well over 20' and gave little to no bounce the fill card did a great job directing light.

The shots are straight out of the camera and will, of course, never be much but a demo.

Fiat Lux!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

8 Studio Sessions Down and 2000 Images to Edit

Finished the last studio session for my first real photo project/assignment.  The project is a silhouette and high contrast black and white series.  I'll show the lighting setup soon.  The images here are a couple we have looked at so far.

Only 2000 more images to sort.

The project will be on display a couple different places and locally here at Light on 13 August.  We are having a virtual show of my work (from this series and many others) from 6 to 9 PM.  Should be a good time with food, wine, and great people.

Fiat Lux!