MacDonald Bicycle Collection Update

Well it’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to update the James MacDonald Bicycle Collection project. So much as been going on that I’ve had to put the brakes on this project… until now. I’ve put a lot of work into getting the correct lighting setup for the bike shots and the first round of shooting has cleaned out one room.

MacDonald Bike Project

The long part of this project is the editing. I’m shooting on-site in a very small area so conditions aren’t ideal but you work with what you have. I use the computer to perfect the items I can’t on location.

MacDonald Bike Project

On issue is the depth I have to shoot in. I have to squeeze in between hundreds of bicycles to get back far enough to capture the bikes on my backdrop. Ideally I would use a lens around 85mm to give the correct perspective, but sometimes I have to convert to the wide angle just to fit some of the longer bikes.

MacDonald Bike Project

Another issue is the consistency of the background lighting. Again, due to space, I don’t have the advantage of moving lights further back to give a slow transition and light fall off. A quick colour selection and curves adjustment in Photoshop allows for a seemless white background.

MacDonald Bike Project

As Jack can run through and clean up bikes, I then come in with all my photography gear and start photographing another batch. I’m not sure how long it’s going to take to get everything photographed, but it’s been fun and very interesting.

Hopefully we will get all this together and produce a very cool book. Until next time.

Matt Hickey

Teci Tutorials – An introduction

Welcome to my video blog of technical skills. I’m looking forward to documenting existing skills in photography and Photoshop, as well as documenting new and improved ways on existing topics once I find them.

Photography can be a closed community where everyone feels like they need to keep their new discoveries to themselves. In this series, you will learn what I learn, good or bad.

I’ve found that high end retouching is even more cut off to help. It’s difficult to find out what’s happening in the industry and advanced techniques. I’m hoping to discover clever ways to edit images to produce amazing results.

Also looking forward to improving my video and presentation skills. I hope it will be a fun series where we all learn something new.

Read More»

Testimonial by Daria

Pretty exciting when you receive feedback like this when your client looks at their images. Daria messaged me via email, SMS and Facebook within seconds of each other. It’s fantastic to see my clients viewing themselves in a way they haven’t been able to through “selfies” or other photographic means. The combination of equipment, comfort, expertise, posing, lighting and editing all play a part in producing an image of something special.


Keyboard Shortcuts for Photoshop

Behind the Scenes (BTS) video demonstrating keyboard shortcut usage while editing in Photoshop. Improve your workflow by remembering a few shortcuts to speed up your retouching time. The video demonstrates where I place my hands for easy access to the keys I use the most and layout for the keyboard and Wacom tablet on the editing desk. The video demonstrates the keys used for a Mac computer using a LogicKeyboard skin overlay to help visualise Photoshop shortcuts.

Photographer: Matt Hickey

Tools Used:
Mac Workstation Pro
Photoshop CS6
LogicKeyboard Template
Wacom Intuos 3 tablet

Retouching Tutorial

Ever wanted to see how we retouch and stylise our images? We’ve put together a video that runs through our techniques for creating a polished, magazine ready image. We cover tools and techniques in Photoshop such as Spot Healing brush, Clone Stamp tool, Skin Tone blending, Eye Colouring, Sharpening, Frequency Separation, removing unwanted background objects, creating specular highlights, dodge & burn and much more.

Retouching is a way to bring the most out of your image and really give it that bit of extra punch for the viewer. Like make-up and hairstyling, retouching is a digital way to conceal and remove any unwanted objects from your captured image. In this tutorial, we will show you how to make subtle changes to ensure you end up with a natural image worthy of any magazine cover.

Grab your favourite beverage and relax while you watch in real-time as we edit an image from the Custom Tattooz Magazine calendar photo shoot.

Tools used in this video:
Photoshop CS6
Wacom Tablet Intuos 3
Mac Workstation Pro

July version of Teci Magazine

It’s been a little while since my last update but I’ve been very busy shooting, post processing and making content for the blog. Here’s the latest edition of Teci which explores some very interesting people in the photography field. I hope that the articles in the July version of Teci mag urge you to explore these fascinating people further because there is so much more to discover about these individuals. Happy reading and we will see you again soon for some more updates occurring at

Teci Magazine

Workshop: Preparing Images

New article on preparing images and how to use the High Pass sharpen filter. Hope you enjoy the new format.

Matt Hickey

Photoshop: Creating a Look

Up until recently, I’ve just been tinkering with Photoshop and not really knowing what I want to achieve from it when editing an image. My style is changing and I’m now starting to think more about my images and “the look” I’m going for when taking the photographs. I guess it’s something you develop over time with your shooting skills, lighting knowledge, editing work, etc. Learning and experimenting is what I’ve found is making me a better photographer.

A recent photo shoot with Amber really made everything come together and resulted in a strong image which I’m proud of. I thought about the shoot, weeks in advance. I studied locations and performed lighting tests. It also came together in my post processing work because I had pre-visualised the end result. It was just a matter of using Photoshop in a way to get the result I wanted. Here’s my journey on how I got there with this slightly over the top, stylised fashion image.


Set in an abandoned house. Very grungy and dirty. I want to bring this look into the final image. Two light sources in this shot, 1) an octo-box set 45 degrees left of the subject, and 2) the light coming in from the window. I used a strobe so I could lower the ambient light and reduce the amount of light flowing in from the window.

I set a green gel onto the strobe in the soft-box and then colour balanced my White Balance settings on the camera to this light. This ensured that any light falling onto the subject would be correct, but any other light would give off a magenta hue (opposites in the colour space). This would give a mysterious undertone to the image… I hoped.

Abandoned House

Abandoned House

Having a knowledge of Photoshop definitely helps. Being able to visualise what you want to achieve is one thing, but being able to produce it is another thing. I’m a big believer in getting things as close to the end result as possible in camera is a great start. I’ve become a fan of post editing to finish off the look I want to achieve. The big lesson is, don’t go over the top. Keep your changes subtle and come back to your images hours, days and even weeks later. You can be editing for hours and think you have a work of art only to open the image up the next day to say, “what was I thinking with the saturation!”.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to continue this idea of creating a look and introduce some Photoshop techniques to help with your images.

Workshop: Creating Light

I recently composed a document displaying the effects of several different lighting modifiers at various distances.

This was a really good exercise to visualise and understand how light travels under certain conditions.

Here’s what I did:

  • List of modifiers to use: Bare Flash, Flash with Diffuser on, Shoot through White Umbrella, Bounce White Umbrella, Bare Beauty Dish, Beauty Dish with white sock, Beauty Dish with Grid, Beauty Dish with Grid and Sock… you get the idea.
  • Marked out distances in 0.5m increments. Used small stripes of velcro stuck down on the carpet.
  • Documented in a notepad the list of tests to complete. Made a space to write the image number so I could confirm later in post.
  • Round up a patient model… but in my case, I had to use my wife. Otherwise, use a rounded object to gauge how the light wraps around with various light sources.
  • Start shooting

I’ll explain each step in a little more detail.

List of modifiers

Grab everything you have. You may not own fancy equipment like 50 foot parabolic dishes and gridded softboxes, but you would be surprised what you have around the house that is a worthy light modifier. A sheet of A4 paper is a reflector. A black cushion will absorb light and stop it from reflecting back. Cardboard with shapes cut in it is an interesting background lighting feature. Put together the lighting tools you are going to test with.

Here’s the list of items I used in my first test

  • Beauty Dish (Bare, Grid, White Sock)
  • 32″ White Umbrella
  • 48″ Octo-box (Double Baffle, Grid)


For umbrella’s or any reflected light sources, you need to take into account the distance the light travels from the source to the modifier PLUS the distance from the reflected surface to the subject. This can have a dramatic affect on your power required to light the subject correctly.

Marking Out

I used a white wall in my living room as a neutral background. I chose a plain white background because it would be a controlled light source and would not alter the colour of light being thrown back at me. It would allow me to easily see the shape of light being projected from the light source and modifier.

I marked out a spot 0.5m from the wall, then at 1m, 1.5m, 2m, 2.5m and finally 3m. This would allow me to quickly place the subject and light sources at specific distances.


Next I set out my list of tests. When dealing with light, you need to consider these variables;

  • Subject to Light Distance
  • Background to Light Distance
  • Subject to Background Distance

By modifying these distances, I could easily see the effect of light falling on the subject vs the background and also the quality of light falling on subject and background. When you have a light source closer to the subject, it appears bigger and hence the light will “wrap” more around the subject and appear to be a soft light source. The further away the light source gets, the smaller the light source appears and the harsher the transition from light to dark and shadows will appear. The use of light modifiers will affect this result. For example, I was surprised how little difference there was with the beauty dish and narrow grid at 0.5m from the subject vs 2.5m away from the subject.

Light Test List Suggestion:

Test #:          Light Modifier:          Subject to Light Distance:          Background to Subject Distance:          Shot #:

Therefore I would end up with something like;

1                   Bare Beauty Dish     1m                                               0.5m                                                    IMG_1001

Light Test Sheet Example

Light Test Sheet Example

 Start Shooting

The only thing to consider here is to keep your light angles consistent (or better yet, include different angles in your testing). For example, if you are going to start out with the light front on to the subject, make sure you continue to keep the light source front on to the subject throughout the remainder of shots to see how the light behaves from that angle. Basically you want to compare apples with apples. If I did one shot front on with a subject to light source distance of 1m and background to subject distance of 1m, then I wouldn’t change the angle of the light to be at 45 degrees to the subject at 1m, and background to subject change to my next distance in the list and expect to compare the results.


Lighting Test Pg One

Lighting Test Pg One

Lighting Test Pg Two

Lighting Test Pg Two

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