“Lighthouse: Maine; A Photoshop Twist

“Lighthouse: Maine; A Photoshop Twist

Lighthouse: Maine Coast at Sunset

A Lightroom / Photoshop Video

I recently rediscovered this image from a shoot I did in Maine a few years ago. I really wanted this image to work, but after trying it several times it just didn’t have the snap I wanted.

A few days ago, I was revisiting that shoot for a client and found the image. It suddenly dawned on me what I had not been able to do before. I needed a focal spot of light in that otherwise dreary flat ambient.

By deciding to play up the lighthouse and give it a sense of lighting itself, the shot came alive. Some of my P52 folks wanted to know how I did it, so I prepared this video. I hope you enjoy it.

I am not a Photoshop guru.

The shot as it was made. Super flat light, yet I just knew there was an image hiding in that capture. I just wanted it to reveal itself to me and one day – it did.

Processed in Lightroom and Photoshop. This is what the image needed all along; a focal point for those leading lines and something to bounce the lovely soft sunset light.


Announcing Lighting Essentials V4

Announcing Lighting Essentials V4



Here we start the new year with a bang… a big bang.

Lighting Essentials has always been a quiet site for a select group of serious photographers and that will not change. However, I have decided on some new content ideas for the upcoming year.


A couple of years ago I traveled around the country giving lighting workshops to photographers on long weekend sessions. It was rated as one of the best 13 workshops in the world by the readers of Photo District News, and I had a blast doing it. Meeting wonderful people and doing photography for full days at a time was a very exciting time.

I am putting the workshop online. One assignment per week.

The assignments mix learning and creativity and all of the work is based on my “Subject Centric Lighting” approach to working with lighting. Students can start and stop at any time, and there is no charge for this class.

Although one assignment per week will be added, there will be lots of peripheral information added.

The goal is for the photographer to be able to understand how light works, and what light to use to produce the look they want to achieve.

This is NOT a ‘put the light here and shoot’ workshop, although there are some technical points that should be followed. This is a comprehensive approach to lighting that will give any photographer a solid base / intermediate knowledge of lighting.

Class starts on January 2, 2017. And again, it is free.


This will be an ongoing part of Lighting Essentials. It is a critique and lighting discussion of some of the best shots from my Project 52 Pro group. We will deep dive into how the images were made with lighting diagrams and BTS shots to explain how they were done. This will be an incredible experience for any photographer who is thinking about going pro in the commercial world.

We will most likely not be discussing a single wedding, senior, baby, maternity session for the entire year. That is consumer photography and it is not what I know. I only teach the stuff I know and don’t go near the stuff I don’t know. Besides, at last count there were slightly more than a million places to learn about wedding photography. But not here.


I plan on kicking ass, taking names and doing it again in this area. Look, if you want to go pro, it is really goddam hard and it is necessary to dig deep and find ways to get stuff done.

This will be a mix of assignments, research, and business acumen. This is for a select group of course, and you will do the selecting yourself. There is also no charge for this.

My CreativeLIVE Table Top Class to be rebroadcast!

My CreativeLIVE Table Top Class to be rebroadcast!

What does this mean to you?

It means you can watch it free, no charge, toll exempt, dinero not necessary!

Consider it a Holiday Gift from the great folks at CreativeLIVE and your host here at LE.

From the CL class page:

Basic Product Photography.

Don Giannatti returns for a special workshop on tabletop product photography. Don starts with an introduction to tabletop lighting – tools, scrims, DIY gear – and how to organize your shoot around a tabletop to bring everyone up to speed. Then Don will teach you the basic concepts of Tabletop Product Photography. Finally Don will ramp up to more advanced topics adding extras such as kicker lights, snoots, and grids that can bring your work up a notch.
Here’s the link. And make sure you get the handouts… they are pretty cool. 🙂
Mike Moore: Surf Shoot

Mike Moore: Surf Shoot

Mike Moore is a Project 52 alumni, and has been building his business in Encinitas, CA for a few years. His specializes in food and lifestyle, especially beach lifestyle.

This is a personal project Mike shot at a surf event in Encinitas, CA.

1.) Tell us a little about yourself, and where you are located

I was born Michael Robert Moore in room 555 on 5-5-1963 at 5:47 am in East Los Angeles CA. Lots of fives including syllables in my name and city. I now live in the friendly and eclectic beach town of Encinitas CA, approximately 30 minutes from Downtown San Diego, CA.

While I have always had a desire to make photos, I decided to take my education to the next level by enrolling in the New York Institute of Photography in 2009, and start my venture as a professional photographer soon after that. Then in 2012, I found CreativeLIVE and have been studying light, composition and everything photography since. While I am very fortunate (blessed) to do what I love as a profession, I am equally as fortunate (blessed) to be able to homeschool our 8 year old daughter. My business has allowed me to be a hands-on parent providing care for our daughter since she was 12 weeks old.

Also in 2012 I was introduced to photographer and instructor Don Giannatti. Later that year I found out about his group called Project 52 and joined. Under his guidance and the inspiration I received from many of the other impressive photographers, my skills and way of thinking about photography changed and really drove how I was going to make photographs going forward.

2.) What inspires you most about your location?

Encinitas is an incredible place to live and photograph. Encinitas has a wonderful history that can be found in some of the beautiful original buildings that include La Paloma Theater constructed in 1927 on the historic 101 highway, to the Olivenhain Town Meeting Hall established in 1894. Encinitas is also home to the Self Realization Fellowship Meditation Gardens that sits on a beautiful property with koi ponds, water features, plants, trees, flowers and an awesome bluff side view of the pacific ocean overlooking Swami’s surf spot to the south. These sites, along with the community of people that live in my city inspire me to capture the diversity and beauty that I am surrounded by.

3.) How often do you do personal projects?

In the past I’ve only done a couple of personal projects per year, now I have plans to do many more. Encinitas is growing and I want to make images of what it looks like now before any more changes happen and  we lose our historic funky vibe. I have a project plan to walk the streets of Encinitas and photograph downtown along the coast highway. I also have other personal projects based on simple shapes or interesting shaped vegetables.  

4.) How long did you work on this project?

The Surf Shoot project is something that is near and dear to me. Our local community has been organizing a surf contest for the past 30 years in a row, but the history goes beyond that beginning around 1967. The current organizers said this would be the last contest under their direction, and so I knew this was going to be a special shoot. I wanted these images to be timeless and wanted a vintage feel. I chose to shoot in black and white with a hint of tone in the shadows. I began the shoot at 7am with the first heats and ended at 12:30 after the finals. Final editing and posts took a couple more days.

5.) What kind of work do you usually do?

Family portraits have been the majority of my work. I run a boutique business where I offer a very personalized service. I meet with clients and give a consultation on location, attire, products and services offered. Once the portrait session has been conducted and edits have been made I offer an in-home presentation slide show and accept orders. Once orders are placed and delivered, I personally bring the products to my clients and will assist in design placement and hang wall art. In addition to family portraits, I also provide product photography and love working in my studio on these projects. My goal is to work full time in the commercial end of the business.

6.) Who has inspired you photographically?

I am inspired by many photographers. Locally, Donald Miralle, he shoots from extreme angles and he reminds me to shoot lower or higher for a different look.  Peter Lindbergh has also inspired me to have lots of fun and movement in my portraits.

7.) What would be your dream gig?

Every photo session that I get to create memories is my dream gig. I enjoy my client’s satisfaction when they see their images. Being compensated to do something you love is an awesome feeling.

8.) What is your most memorable shoot and why?

I had the opportunity to make portraits of a high school friend for an hour who was recovering from cancer. I called the session A Conversation With Tony… I contacted him because I knew he was battling cancer due to facebook posts and yet I hadn’t seen him in over 30 years. We had an hour to talk and I asked him about memories from high school, his kids, what he’s learned in life, and if he was scared. It was my most emotional shoot and one I cherish. He passed away a few months later and his family now has those portraits to remember him by.

9.) Do you have a singular approach to lighting, or do you use multiple techniques?

I love window light. I love using off-camera flash too. So I don’t have a singular approach. I use the type of light I have or need when I make portraits.

10.) Favorite band or musician?

Led Zeppelin (no explanation needed).

Website: www.encinitasfamilyphotos.com (consumer) www.mmoorephotos.com (commercial)

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MikeMoorePhotography

Instagram: www.instagram.com/eroommike

Email: info@mmoorephotos.com

The Games We Play; Find the Shot Before Moving On

The Games We Play; Find the Shot Before Moving On

One of the things I like to do is to play visual games. I have several to share with you, but this one is one that anyone can do. Anywhere, any time.

First; I believe that if we are to call ourselves photographers, we must photograph. Make pictures. Make images. SHOOT. I have written about this belief before; here, here, and here. If you are new here, you may find those entries interesting.

This game forces vision, and it makes it very imperative for you to find an image no matter where you are. It doesn’t have to be a world-class image, it has to be a good image. Your image.

(Note: I got the idea from this game from a story that Jay Maisel tells about shooting an image in a place where his assistant insisted there was nothing to shoot. The challenge was for Jay to shoot an image while the assistant ran inside and dropped off some film at the lab. Duration: one minute. The resulting image ended up being one of Maisel’s signature image. Image: New York skyline reflected in a parking meter.)

GAME ONE: “Moving On”