scott kelby


* Rosslyn's skyscrapers are compressed in a very dense area giving it a very urban feel.
* Rosslyn's skyscrapers are compressed in a very dense area giving it that urban feel I was looking for. 
On October 5th I participated in Scott Kelby's 6th Annual Worldwide Photo Walk and wanted to share the experience and talk a little about the walk itself. Last year I was part of a walk around the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and following that experience decided that I wanted to lead a walk in 2013. Not because it wasn't a good experience, but mostly that I was surprised at the time that there wasn't a walk in Arlington, Va., where I live.

So when the 2013 date was announced I applied to be be a leader and was accepted. Ultimately 12 photographers signed up and I ended up walking with ten.

As I already said, I've known since last year that I wanted to lead a walk in Arlington, so the first thing I needed to do was find a location that would be interesting enough photographically for the two hour walk. Since I live in Arlington, I spend a good deal of time walking around the area with my camera, although most of the time I return home without taking a single photograph, which probably should have been a clue as to why there wasn't a walk here. Well that was what I was thinking until I found myself in Rosslyn one morning and all of a sudden I was seeing all kinds of things to photograph. I knew then that I had a solid location for a walk.

Dark Star Park is just one of the many green spaces located in Rosslyn that I felt offered a contrast to the steel and concrete of the urban landscape.
Dark Star Park is just one of the many green spaces located in Rosslyn that I felt offered a contrast to the steel and concrete of the urban landscape. 
For those that are unfamiliar with Northern Virginia, Rosslyn is located in the northeastern corner of Arlington County just over Potomac River from Georgetown and adjacent to the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery. What I find really unique about Rosslyn though is the many skyscrapers located in a relatively small area making it seem much more urban or city like, even compared to Washington, D.C.

Elevated walking paths and parks are another thing that make Rosslyn unique and provided the perfect route and theme for our walk. The light, shadows, textures, reflections, shapes and contrasts make it an excellent location for photography. While there is no specific theme as part of the Worldwide Photo Walk, as a leader I think it helps to point out why you picked a specific location and share some thoughts about it with your group. Remember that there are all skill levels that will potentially join you and some may be looking for inspiration and ideas.

The U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial was a great place to meet and get started on our photo walk.
The U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial was a great place to meet and get started on our photo walk.
I choose the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial as a meeting location, mostly because it is a known landmark, making it easy to find, has open space so I didn't miss anyone as they arrived and most important, there is free parking. The government shutdown meant the parking went away, but I think it was still a good place to meet and take a few photos before we began our urban exploration.

Dark Star Park is a unique space in Rosslyn and worth the visit.
Dark Star Park is a unique space in Rosslyn and worth the visit.
After about ten minutes photographing the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, we moved on to Dark Star Park which sits on a small patch of land as you enter Rosslyn from the Fort Meyer area. The park consists of a series of concrete spheres, reflecting pools, a large tunnel as well as steel poles and each year on August 1st, at 9:32 a.m., the sun casts shadows which then align with permanent patterns on the ground. I've always been fascinated by this park and it was the reason I found myself in Rosslyn taking pictures in the first place. And even though it is a very small area, every time I visit I find very different photographs to take and knew it would be interesting for the group.

Freedom Park seems to float between buildings and even offers a view of Washington, D.C., and the Washington Monument.
Freedom Park seems to float between buildings and even offers a view of Washington, D.C., and the Washington Monument.
We next made our way through Freedom Park, a two block long elevated park originally constructed as a automobile overpass. This park seems to float between buildings and gives you some excellent elevated views of Rosslyn and even a glimpse of Washington, D.C., in the distance. It is a wonderful place to explore reflections and shadows, concrete and greenery, and depending on the time of day, offers very different looks. Initially the group moved through the park rather quickly which surprised me because I choose this location because of all the angles, shadows and shapes it presented. I then noticed that many went back to the beginning and really began to explore and take that second look. Maybe that is what I did the first time I visited this location, so remember that even if you have explored a location multiple times, this is probably the first time your walkers visited.

Walkers make their way into Freedom Park. Two entrances to the park did allow walkers to spread out a bit. It is important, especially with a very large group that you give the photographers space to move around and stay out of each others way.
Walkers make their way into Freedom Park. Two entrances to the park did allow walkers to spread out a bit. It is important, especially with a very large group that you give the photographers space to move around and stay out of each others way.
As a walk leader you need to keep the group on pace, but you also don't want to rush anyone, especially if it looks like they are really feeling a location. Two hours goes by fast and while I thought about adjusting the itinerary and ending here, I did push on and the group began to spread out during the transition to the final location which I didn't want to happen. Remember this was only a group of ten, so imagine if you had 30 or even 50 photographers.

Gateway Park is larger than it first appears and offers lots of spaces to explore with your camera.
Gateway Park is larger than it first appears and offers lots of spaces to explore with your camera.
Our final location was Gateway park which is located close to the Potomac River and the Key Bridge. This park features a large tiered green space leading into a series of concrete elevations and walkways which again have you looking down on the streets or the park and when followed allows you cross back towards Rosslyn.

It really was a fun day and I enjoyed meeting new people and sharing a few hours with other photographers taking pictures and talking photography. If you have a great idea or location for a walk, I encourage you to apply to be a leader in 2014.

I made getting a group photo right a the start, and then sharing it,  a priority.
I made getting a group photo right a the start, and then sharing it,  a priority.
I already know I want to lead another walk in Arlington and whether I choose Rosslyn again or opt for a different part of the county, I know I'll have all year to explore and figure it out. If you participated in this year's walk, either as a leader or as a participant, and have something to add, feel free to leave a comment below.

2014 by the Numbers: 1238 photo walks, 28456 participants.
More information and FAQ:
Worldwide Photo Walk group on Flickr:

* This is one of the few photographs I took that day that didn't involve documenting the walk. As a leader I believe you have the responsibility to ensure your walkers are getting the full experience and you can't really do that and spend all you're time shooting. Your time to take photos is when you visit the location prior to the walk which also means you can offer tips and suggestions on what to photograph for those walkers that ask.


I received a copy of my first photo book published through and thought I would share the experience with you. I'll state right up front that publishing a one-off photography book is not inexpensive, but to see and be able to present your art in book form, I believe it's well worth the investment. I've received  positive reactions from everyone who has looked at the book. And not just a positive reaction to the photographs which is the ultimate goal, but also to the quality and printing of the book itself. I've shared many of these photos online, but handing someone a physical book still elicits a very different response.

To back up just a bit, this was the first photo project where I made the decision upfront to use Adobe Lightroom 4 exclusively from start to finish. This was a key decision because in Lightroom 4 a new book module was added, making it only natural that I experimented with that as well.

Screen shot of book module in Adobe Lightroom 4.
Screen shot showing the book module in Adobe Lightroom 4.
This post isn't meant to be a step-by-step guide on using Lightroom 4 to create a book, there are already plenty of tutorials out there, including some at, but I will highlight a few that I found incredibly helpful and also discuss how I got started.

As I imported my photos into Lightroom, I placed them in a collection I named Arizona. Within the Arizona collection, I created a collection set named book. As I rated my photos, everything that received three stars or more, was moved to the book collection. In the book module I selected a large landscape (11x13) book with hardcover and dust jacket on premium lustre paper. Total cost was $86.19 for the 60 page book, although I did receive a first time publisher discount, so the total with shipping actually cost around $76.00.

The first video tutorial I found helpful was How to Create a PDF Folio produced by Ibarionex Perello of the Candid Frame podcast and it provided a great explanation on using templates and favorites to quickly get started. The only difference with this tutorial is that in the end he exports his book as a PDF instead of uploading to Blurb.

The second video was Creating Your Own PhotoBook in Lightroom 4 by Scott Kelby. This video is part of the Kelby Training series and is available as a $9.99 rental if you are not a subscriber. And while I'm sure there are many free options, Scott is just a great instructor and he really saved me with his workarounds for creating a custom front cover.

A variety of templates makes it easy to customize your book.
A variety of templates makes it easy to customize your book.
One thing to point out is that there currently is not an option to upload custom templetes, which some see as a frustration. At first I was a little frustrated by this as well, however there really are hundreds of page templates available and I'm not sure I would have designed anything better for the interior pages that was not already available.

Designing the front cover was another story however. This is the one place that I thought there could be more custom options available. That is until I watched Scott's tutorial and saw that from Lightroom he opened the image he wanted on the cover in Photoshop, created his custom design, the saved it back to Lightroom. Then you just drag that image to a basic cover template and it's done. In my case it took one or two tries so that I could get the alignment right for the wrap-around of the dust jacket.

If you have photos you have always wanted to share or present in a different way, I would encourage you to spend time in the Lightroom's book module and let your creativity flow. And please, feel free to share your Blurb books with me.


So the 2012 World Wide Photo Walk results are in and you can see the grand prize winner and 10 finalists over at Scott Kelby's blog along with many of his personal favorites that didn't make the cut.

The really cool thing is that at the World Wide Photo Walk web site in the people's choice section you can see all the local walk winners from around the world and get the opportunity to vote. They are presented in order alphabetically by location.

Entering contests means you put yourself out there for others to judge. In this case you were judged by your local walk leader, then by Scott. I don't envy having to go through all these images and pick just one winner. I've been a photo contest judge in the past and know that everyone will second guess you. Even in this case as I looked through all the local winners, I found images that I liked better than those ultimately selected. That doesn't mean anything really, because who am I to disagree, the ultimate winner is a very nice photograph.

I participated in the Washington DC (Capitol Hill and The Mall) photo walk and thought I would share a few thoughts about the day and the process I used for selecting my contest entry. First, it forced me to get up before dawn on a cold morning and photograph around the U.S. Capitol Building and for that I am grateful. And I was happy with the results after two hours of shooting.

When the time came to select which photo I would enter, I struggled a bit. Did I submit the night shot of the Capitol, a portrait, or the still life of the apple taken in front of the Department of Health and Human Services? The shot of the Capitol was technically very good, but I figured everyone would have a similar shot and there was nothing really special about it. The lighting in the portrait was very nice and I figured most other walkers would not have photographed people, concentrating instead on the buildings. And the apple, which I thought was something very different, a found object in an unusual location, might stand out among other submissions.

So I went with the apple and was happy with the decision. I don't mind being judged and even though that photo didn't receive as much praise as the others when shared on Facebook and Flickr, it was my decision and that is a freeing experience. I've spent much of my photographic career playing it safe and this was my small chance to just go with my feelings.

My photo was not selected by the local leader and in fact when all the local photos were posted, I picked the same photo that was ultimately selected.

Would I have won if I went a safer route and submitted my night Capitol shot? It was better than the other night shots submitted after all. But the fact that others had submitted those same shots just confirms that I was conforming again which only makes me happier that I submitted the photo I did.

I mentioned in a previous post on the topic what I hoped to get out of a group photo walk and things went pretty much as expected. Following other walkers and leaders, as well as posting photos on Google + was a great way to connect and expand on the experience. It also made me take a second look at using Google + more often. One thing that I hoped for was a little more interaction between walkers and some follow up afterwards. From what I saw on Google +, it appeared many of the other groups met and shared photos immediately following the event.

I have an idea for a great walk location next year and will apply to be a group leader. More to come on that.

See my selection of photos from the Washington DC (Capitol Hill and The Mall) World Wide Photo Walk on Flickr.


Photo taken during a solo photo walk in Chicago last week.
On October 13th 28,000 photographers will participate in 1,300 local photo walks around the world. I will be in in Washington, D.C., participating in my first.

Photo walks are essentially walking with your camera for the sole purpose of taking pictures of things you find along the way. They can be done alone or as part of a group and sometimes are led by an experienced photographer who will offer tips along the way.

The Worldwide Photo walk is the brain child of Photoshop expert and photographer Scott Kelby and if like me you've never taken part in a group photo walk, I think this is the perfect opportunity. While most of the world wide photo walks filled up quickly, you can check here to see if there are openings in your area or add your name to a waiting list.

As I stated above, I've never taken part in a group photo walk, however, I think being part of a group offers several things that a solo photo walk can not. It is a chance to share what you know with others while learning something from them. I provides you the opportunity to see photographs taken by others at the same time and location as you were shooting thus allowing you to reflect on your own work and vision. Finally, the peer pressure ensures you actually get out and shoot.

I will be participating in a three two hour photo walk that starts at 6 a.m. and focuses on Capitol Hill and the The Mall. Not sure exactly what gear I'll bring, but it will be minimal for sure. Years ago I accompanied my wife during a business trip to Paris and while she was in meetings during the day I had the opportunity to walk around the city just taking photos. I traveled to France with pretty much all the gear I owned at the time, but in the end found that my Nikon FM2 with a 24mm lens and a few rolls of film allowed me the freedom to really explore the city.

My goal during this photo walk will be to enjoy the company of fellow photographers. My only regret is that I have a 10 a.m. assignment at Mount Vernon which means I will not be able to stick around following the walk. Very disappointing, but not enough for me to cancel.

Check out the Official World Wide Photo Walk Facebook page or follow the official walk on Google+ or on Twitter using the hastag #WWPW.


HDR photograph of Owl's Head lighthouse in Maine.
High Dynamic Range (HDR) photograph taken during a family vacation to Maine during the winter. This was the first vacation that I remember where I specifically wanted to take photographs as part of the experience.
For many years taking pictures has been my job. That's not to say I didn't like being a photographer, in fact I loved it, and still do, however over time I came to realize that the only work I had to show was related to the job. And while I am proud of that work and still get excited to see my photos in print, I had stopped taking images for the fun of it. Very little personal photography.

When someone would discover I was a photographer they would invariably ask what I liked to take pictures of, or where they could see my work and until recently the best I could offer was a website that hadn't been updated in nine years or maybe tell them to do a Google search on my name plus Navy and they would see some examples.

So what changed? What has me excited about personal photography again? Why am I blogging and tweeting again, posting photos on Flickr, 500px, and Google+? The answer isn't simple, but I do know it has something to do with the web and more specifically the incredible photographers, some young and some recognizable, out there who are sharing their work and techniques everywhere, mostly on the sites I mentioned above, but also through their blogs and videos on YouTube.

HDR photograph from the rafters of the Museum of the U.S. Navy.
Experimenting with HDR at the Museum of the U.S. Navy located at the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.
This didn't happen overnight and it's been kind of a slow return. I really started getting excited about the time that High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography was coming on the scene and I stumbled across Trey Ratcliff's site. Trey's incredible images and willingness to share how he made them had me trying HDR techniques myself and I was hooked. It was fun to try something new. But more than that, blogs and web TV from Scott Kelby and the Photoshop guys, podcasts from Leo Laporte and the TWIT network, all had me itching to get back out there.

Joe Macnally of National Geographic and small strobe fame along with David Hobby from had me actually looking forward to taking environmental portraits at work again.

All this isn't really new I guess, I've been following photographers like Rob Galbraith, Dave Black and others on the web for a long time. I suppose it all just hit the tipping point and I'm glad.

So thanks to all those photographers who are so willing to share and make it easy to feel as if I'm surrounded by friends with the ability to share work, discuss work and for the inspiration to dust off my website and blog.

After 28 years in the business it really is nice to feel so inspired again.