First of all, you will have to excuse the grainy pictures. I was shooting at f2./8 with the camera above my head praying that I got something in focus. I was shooting at 1600 ISO under the “romantic lighting” as Scott Kelby called it. PS. what’s the deal with both of the subjects putting their right hands up? That’s weird timing. Anyway, you can get an idea for the room, the stage, and the screens showing Lightroom or Photoshop.

Ok, let me back up. Yesterday I was at the Light it. Shoot it. Retouch it. seminar put on by NAPP, and instructed by Scott Kelby. I’ll let the cat out of the bag right up front and tell you it was well worth the day and the $99 (I paid $79 as a NAPP member) cost. The event was held at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Despite it being a huge room with a ton of people, I think the setup worked really well. I got there early enough that I got to pick a seat fairly close, but I think even the folks toward the back wouldn’t complain too much. There was a thrust stage that the NAPP folks were concerned that Scott would fall off of. He would shoot from the end of this back toward the end of the room with a large backdrop setup. He was shooting tethered into his computer, and the images he took would display in a couple of seconds up on two huge projector screens on either side of the stage.

Ok, so we’ve talked about the facility. What was the seminar actually about? It was pretty much watching Scott take pictures of pretty people and then play on his computer a bit. Hmm, that doesn’t quite as appealing as it was. In more detail: Scott brought out 3 different models at different times, two women, and one man. They each changed 2-3 times. The models were great. They have definitely been in front of a camera before, and found poses without much prompting from Scott. Stevie appears to be from Florida and traveling with them. Scott had the most jokes and banter with her. For each outfit change, Scott had a different lighting scenario he was looking for to get a certain look by the end of post production. He walked us through the lighting setups, showing us the gear he uses and why, and the reason the lights were placed where they were. You got to each image up on the screen as he added lights and moved them around until he got the type of photograph he was looking for.

I think that people get scared about lights because they think they need to set them up perfectly, tell the model “Hi, how do you do, we have one take, are you ready? Good. Click. Done” It doesn’t happen like that, and I think it is really beneficial to be able to watch a photographer say “Hmm, what do I do to fix this?”, and watch the process almost from inside his head. Knowing what the look was that Scott was looking for, and watching the lighting process was a great addition to this just being a Photoshop retouching class. That was part 2. Well, sort of. The part 2′s happened right after each shoot. He didn’t leave all the computer time to the afternoon or something. We got to see the retouching process right away.

Above is a picture I took of the workbook we were given. (Yes I realize that my logo on the bottom is a little silly. I exported all the images and forgot to exclude it from this image) This is a great workbook, too. It expands on all the retouchings that Scott did that day. Now, the book isn’t an exact match to the day, because two of the models were local. (Stevie Lynn appears to be traveling with them) So Scott couldn’t know exactly what retouching each model was going to need. Still, the book is a great compliment to the day. There was space for notes, but you didn’t have to try to write down word for word what Scott was saying, because it was all down in the book. This will be a great resource when I sit down in the next couple of days to try out some of these techniques. One thing that was very useful, is that Scott presented the techniques not as a recipe for how to retouch every photo, but as more of a framework of tools and techniques that you can use to refine the images you took.

The large projection screens were fairly easy to view, and following along with what Scott was doing in Photoshop went pretty smoothly. It felt like the right pace. I didn’t try to follow along on a laptop – I wouldn’t have had the images anyway. I did take some notes, but did it right into Evernote on my iPad instead of the workbook so that they would be searchable later at my desktop computer. Some of the things that Scott did were familiar to me, but there was a lot of new information that I was glad to get. I do some retouching on my wedding and portrait images, but not to the same extent, and usually just in Lightroom. I am pretty excited to see if I can improve upon the images that I deliver to my clients.

The other thing I did when I was there, was to renew my NAPP membership. By doing this I also got the book that Scott has just released called Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers (Amazon) I have only flipped through this so far, so I won’t review it yet, but it looks to be a great way to build on the seminar. These are the same techniques as ones from the seminar, but in more detail. There are also many more pages than the workbook obviously, so there is much more room for photos, screenshots, and new ways that there wasn’t time for in the seminar.

My only negative was the last bit on shooting for compositing. The tip to shoot on grey instead of black or white was a great help, but it did seem a little rushed. I realize that a seminar on selections and compositing could probably take the whole day though.

In the end, it was a great day. I like Scott as an instructor, and the format of Light it. Shoot it. Retouch it Live was a great one. Hopefully others really enjoyed it too, and NAAP and Scott will get a chance to expand the tour next year so more people will get a chance to take part.

Thanks to Scott Kelby, Brad Moore, Stevie Lynn, the other two models, (I don’t know your  names – sorry) and all the other NAAP folks that came to Minneapolis.