Archive for '• Workshop':

GPP Group Shot = Pressure That Can Make Diamonds


On the next to the last day of Gulf Photo Plus I was informed by GPP organizer, Mohamed Somji, that I had the “privilege” of shooting the group shot of all the GPP staff and photographers. I would be given 15 minutes to set up and execute the shot with 25 to 40 people.I have done countless group shots in my young career but never one that had folks like Joe McNally, Drew Gardner, David Hobby, Chase Jarvis, David Nightingale, and on and on and on. No pressure.

Last year David Hobby shot the group photo. He did it available light and had the photo posted on the web in 30 minutes. He was smart. David kept it simple. I however had could not leave “well enough” alone. I wanted to make a picture that was a tribute to some of the photographers in the photo and I wanted to keep with the OneLight theme so I decided I would get everyone in the auditorium and light them individually with one light and then comp them together in post. I have “painted with strobes” a few times in my life but never on this scale. It isn’t the most technically brilliant photograph I’ve ever made in my life but I had fun doing it. Everyone in the room had fun bustin’ my chops for taking this on. Hobby had a GRAND time playing with his wizard in his pocket while I was setting this up too. :)

How I did it = Pretty simple

• I set my camera up on a tripod so that each shot would align in the final image to be created.

• I had my studio manager, Erik, walk around the room with a Nikon SB-25 mounted on a tripod. On the SB I placed a Lightsphere that I have painted black. I call it my Darksphere. I then bunjee’d a 20º grid on the front of that. I like to have my grids placed off of the flash tube to get a cleaner circle of light.

• I exposed somewhere around 5.6 at 250th of a second to kill the ambient light in the room. I just needed the light on each person. There are 29 people in the final shot and I used 28 frames to capture them all. Chase and his wife, Kate, were lit together for one shot.

• I tried a quick multiple exposure shot on the back of the D3 to see if my idea was going to work. In this you can see Erik holding the light on the stick.


This is what each individual shot looked like…


This is what the group shot looks like without the auditorium showing through…


Here is the auditorium. I would use this image to mask parts of the ambient back into the group shot.


Once the people were together I could then bring in the image above and again, using layer masking, I painted in just enough of the ambient light to mix in with the lit shots. The final shot was 34 layers tall. 28 layers of people and 6 layers of ambient light and details like the the strobe painting on the back wall panels. Here it is again…


So…To Joe McNally – I know you eat 30 Speedlights for breakfast every morning so excuse me while I meagerly try to pull it off with one.

To David Hobby – My light rig for this shot not only has a bunjee cord on it, but it has a LightSphere that I spray painted black to keep with the DIY / Modify philosophy you preach so well.

To David Nightingale – 30+ exposures to make one final image! How do you do it so well? You can see how much of a hack I am.

To Drew Gardner – If only I had a water buffalo and 300 gallons of strawberry jam then you too would have a tribute here. :) Maybe next year I’ll shoot it on a Phase One. Oh wait! I don’t have to shoot it next year! Some other light monkey will have to do it!

To Chase Jarvis – You talk about pushing yourself. Well… I pushed myself on this one!

I could have done this or that or the other to make this shot better but I had no time to really think it through. It was a good exercise for me though. I’m glad I did it this way.

I have one more Dubai post to make this week and then we are back to regularly scheduled blogramming.

Cheers, Zack

A Few From Dubai ::

onelight_dubai_01.jpgAbove :: From my first OneLight here in Dubai.

joe01.jpg Above :: Joe McNally in old Satwa

tv_interview.jpg Above :: I’m being interviewed for an Arab television station.

old_dubai01.jpg Above :: A friendly TV repairman in Satwa.

I’m having an amazing time here at Gulf Photo Plus. The Internet sucks here in our building. I can get online a few minutes a day right now. More to come!

Cheers, Zack

Scott Kelby Is My Homeboy ::

March 12, 2009 | • Workshop


I just want to say that Scott Kelby is my homeboy! Brad emailed me today to let me know that Scott was wearing a OneLight shirt on this week’s episode of Nikon’s new video podcast called D-Town

I’m waiting for the next critique episode to export so I can start the upload.  I bust some chops and get all introspective and interpretive about some fine art.  It’s a good episode despite the fact that I picked the wrong Internet station to listen to during the recording.  :)  I’m really glad everyone is enjoying these critiques.  I really enjoy doing them.

Cheers, Zack 

Photo 101 :: Call For Questions

March 7, 2009 | • Workshop News


I’m deep into the planning and preparation for my new workshop series that I will be launching in Dubai at the end of this month. This is a photo 101 course for people who are pursuing this craft to turn it into a living. This isn’t a workshop for the enthusiast. This isn’t a workshop that will tell you how to be passionate and create an experience around your photography. While all of that is important in this day and age, none of it matters if your photography sucks and you have no idea what you are doing outside of aperture priority mode.

I’m going to break down the technical aspects of photography to the bare essentials of what you need to know as a working photographer. I will not be spending a minute of time on the scientific technical math of the craft. You open your camera bag in front of your client. You need to know what lens to grab and how to use the environment in front of you. You need to find the GOOD light and not waste your time in the crap light. I will be teaching you how to trouble shoot as much as I will be teaching how to shoot. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my career and I will be drawing a lot on my mistakes more than my success because failure has been key to my success. The problem is, I could have avoided a lot of my failures. I’m going to help you avoid the same problems.

As I finalize the curriculum for 2 days of teaching this in Dubai and bringing it home as a 3 day workshop here in Atlanta, I want to get some questions from you; the aspiring photographer.

What are you struggling with in your young photographic life? What brick walls are you running into? What part of theory or application bugs the crap out of you that makes you want to hang the cameras up and walk away? Is it the technical? Is it the business?

I need some things from you.

1. Your questions that you would want answered in a course like this. I’ll turn some of these questions into blog articles as well.

2. Your images that you would like open and honest critique of. In public. On this blog. Send me a link to your work at if you want honest feedback on your work. This is only for people pursuing this craft as a viable career option. I want to see where people stand in their technical skills and give some feedback to you. While I give honest critique, I’m not a nail spitting jerk. :) You are safe with me. ETA – I’m already getting emails! Note that when I critique your work here I will be sensitive to search engine indexing of your name and your site. I will host your images on my server without hot-linking. This way you get critique of your work, everyone gets to learn, and google won’t point your clients to my blog critiquing your work.

3. If you are a struggling photographer based in Atlanta who wants to learn more about this craft and get out of your day job, write to me. Tell me what your day job is, why you want to leave it, and what type of photography you want to do. I’ll talk to you offline about an idea I have.

If you have questions about photography, just start leaving them in the comments. Thank you!

Cheers, Zack

Teaching @ Gulf Photo Plus :: Dubai :: New Workshop! ::

February 9, 2009 | • Workshop News


I’m excited to announce that I will be teaching for 5 days at Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai, March 30th – April 4th! Not only will I be teaching two OneLight workshops, I am also launching my two day Photo 101 course there as well. As if that wasn’t enough work, I will be having a lecture about knowing if it is time for you to get a studio space and how to build one out and simple lighting techniques to get you started shooting in your own space. Can you say “The many uses of white seamless?:)

Dubai has been on the top of my destination wish list for a long time and now I am just a 15 hour plane ride away from it! So not only am I getting to teach in Dubai, I’m getting to teach along side Chase Jarvis, David Hobby, Vincent LaForet, Drew Gardner, Joe McNally, Bobbi Lane and others on this amazing list of photographers.

I almost didn’t take this opportunity because Meg is going to be 8 months pregnant and I’m going to be gone for 12 days. Despite her raging jealousy, she said it was absolutely stupid if I didn’t take this opportunity and she would be very mad at me if I let this one slide by. She talked me into it pretty quickly!

I will be bringing the Photo 101 course home with me as a two day or three day workshop here in the states and, possibly, the UK and Australia. The idea behind my 101 course is this… You have a camera. You might even have a web site. You know that you either want to be a part time photographer to supplement your income OR you are hoping to make this your full time job. You have a basic understanding of fstops and shutter speeds. You shoot aperture priority a good bit because you have learned about the depth of field “thing”. Your friends and family LOVE your pictures and you think, you are fairly certain, you are ready to start doing this but your understanding of the craft ends here.

Without diving into technical numbers and boring theory, I am going to be helping people lay a solid foundation of knowledge and practical skills to get started in this industry. You sure as heck won’t know everything because that is impossible. You will learn about quality of GOOD natural light and how to find it, modify it, and add to it. You will be drilled with camera skills. You will learn where to spend money in this industry and where to save. Making the most with a little is key.

My good friends over at FloSites are working on the new OneLight site as I type. That will be live in a few weeks with more info on the Photo 101 workshop and dates for the OneLight.

If you are in the Gulf or have some sky miles, you really should consider coming on out to GPP next month.

Cheers, Zack

Checking In From New Jersey

October 22, 2008 | • Workshop


Yo.  Ay.  I’m shootin’ ‘ere!  :)

I have had a great time up here in Jersey teaching a double header OneLight.  BIG thanks to Bryce York for bringing me up and opening his home to all of us. Meg and I are now heading into NYC for a few days.  I’m really looking forward to meeting many new folks and connecting with old friends at Jason Groupp’s pre Photo Plus party tonight!

Cheers, Zack 

DVD – Full Shipping Capacity!

August 22, 2008 | • Workshop News


We are pretty much at full capacity right now (read that as I’m in this studio for the next three days without seeing the sun.)  That brings us to the end of what we have on hand for stock.  Orders for more were already placed last week.  That should have us shipping again by mid to end of this coming week. If you ordered before 6:45pm tonight, your order will be out the door by Monday at the latest. You can choose to order and be held in the que until all our stuff gets in or you can order once we go live with it again.  

You can order the DVD here…


Cheers, Zack

PS – I hate Windows.  We have to use a PC for shipping.  I hate it with every fiber in my body.  Yes, it is Vista.  Yes, I know I should get XP.  Do you hear any OS X users talking about how much better OS 9 was?  Nope.  You don’t.  I hope I survive the weekend. 

OneLight DVD Launched!

August 21, 2008 | • Workshop News

The OneLight DVD has launched! Get all the info here…


Cheers, Zack

DVD Pre-Release & Your Initial Thoughts…

August 16, 2008 | • Workshop News

I have been in Seattle and Portland all week while Erik was working 14 hour days shipping the pre-sale orders of the DVD out into the world.  I’ve been on the edge of my seat waiting to hear the initial thoughts from all of you who got in on the pre-sale.  They are now coming in.  Here are a few of my favorites…

Zack,I just received my DVD’s in the mail. I just finished reading the booklet that came with them. The part about your family kicked me right in my heart, it brought tears to my eyes. I put my booklet down and wrapped my arms around my two year old little boy. Thanks for so much more than a DVD on photography. 


I just got my dvd in the mail today….wow!!! I just wanted to tell you that I have bought other educational dvds….and then felt cheated over what I got compared to what I spent. Not so with you!!! Everything about the package…the presentation, the quality, the information- top notch!! I feel like I got more than my moneys worth…and it is incredibly obvious you put your all into this. Thank you! –


I am on disk two of the DVD already. Man this is the best investment I ever made. I have been a real TTL advocate for some time now but I am going to see what Manual mode can offer me in my shooting style.Thanks for such an amazing DVD. You’re the man!”

I would love to hear from you!  Hit me in the comment section!The DVD will be released to the public next Thursday.  I’ll announce it here, to the email list, and on the OneLight Workshop site.

Cheers, Zack   

Checking In From Boulder, CO

July 18, 2008 | • Workshop


I have had an amazing time out here with the Boulder OneLight!  Big thanks to Stacy Z and her awesome husband, Brad, for bringing me out to the Rockies for a great workshop.   I’m exhausted and I have to be up early to catch my bird back to Atlanta.  More later.

The photo above was shot after Midnight. Great skies today and tonight!

Cheers, Zack

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