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January 2008 Newsletter
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GOAL Assignment (see text)

December GOAL Assignment: Embrace the Noise

Here's an example where the only way to get the shot is with high ISO. This was a Christmas play in a dark auditorium. I used a Nikon D300 at ISO 2000 and an f2.8 lens to make it work.


Here's a 100% crop of the same image. You can see the noise show up as blotchiness on the skin.


This is the Alien Skin plug-in for Photoshop. I used it to give the image even more grain/noise while converting it to black and white. I simulated the look of Kodak T-MAX 3200 film.


The B/W final conversion. I love it.


Here's a panorama I shot at the Zoo Lights festival in Tacoma, Washington. Click the image for a larger view. Nikon D300, ISO200, f8, 25 second exposures, Six individual shots stitched together in Photoshop.


After I took the Panorama, I walked around the zoo with my children looking for High ISO shots that I could take hand-held. This is a picture of my daughter by some blue LED Christmas lights. I set my ISO to 2000 and hand held this photo at 0.8 seconds shutter speed. I set the White Balance to "Direct Sun" to get a strong blue effect from the LEDs and a strong orange sky from the city lights.




Here's a 100% crop of the same photo. Yes, there is a lot of noise, but this photo would be impossible to get at lower ISOs. Again, lots of fun!


Even at ISO3200 you can get amazing shots. The only light for this photo came from this musician's lamp on her music stand. Amazing. Nikon D300, ISO 3200, 70-200 f2.8 lens, handheld.


Here's the 100% crop of the same image. I like the texture created by high ISO.


Digital Tidbits: How to Configure Images for the Web



Here's a pic from a recent family portrait session I shot here in Gig Harbor, WA. This image is 315 x 390 pixels and 26KB in size. I set the JPEG quality for 5 and the color space for sRGB.


The first step to preparing your images for the web is to go to the "Image Size..." utility found here in Photoshop.


Set your width and height here. For most web work, you should set your image size to about 640 x 800 pixels or so. This one is set up for 315 x 390 pixels to fit inside my web page design. Set your resolution to 72 PPI. Set your resampling method to "Bicubic Sharper".


Under the JPEG Options box, set your quality slider so that your image size is between 50KB and 200KB. Here, mine is set at 53.8KB.


Digital Tidbits: How to convert your images between color spaces


Football! Here's a recent portrait of a dad and his boys in Seattle Seahawks jerseys. You can see at the top of the image that this original picture has an sRGB profile embedded. Usually, this is the correct profile for printing out at a laboratory. If you are printing on an inkjet printer, you generally want to convert to Adobe RGB.


To change the color profile in an image in Photoshop, go to the Edit menu and choose "Convert to Profile..."


In the dialog, set the "Destination Space" to Adobe RGB (1998). Alternatively, if you are converting from Adobe RBG to sRGB, then set the Destination Space to sRGB. Make sure Engine is set to "Adobe (ACE)" and that the Intent is set to "Perceptual". That's it. Click OK and you have now converted your document.



Mike Hagen - Out There Images Newsletter - January 2008

Happy New Year!

I hope you all are enjoying the New Year celebrations by taking lots and lots of images. I sure have been. December was full of photo opportunities for me with Christmas plays, Christmas lights, a quick trip to Yosemite, portrait sessions and just plain fun!

I’m really looking forward to 2008 and know that it is going to be an exciting year full of great adventures and new business activities. We have tons of workshops scheduled all around the USA and the world. Our newsletter mailing list continues to grow by about 5% per month and lots of people continue to tell their friends and family about us. Feel free to pass the word and let others know about the Out There Images newsletter.

My affiliation with the Nikonians Academy continues in 2008 as Director. We have some fantastic workshops and have even created some new digital inkjet printing workshops around the USA. These will be hands on printing and workflow workshops where we will have wide format printers set up in the classroom for real time printing. Talk about a great way to learn! Each participant will be able to make a number of prints from their own files while learning from a great instructor – Me! You can check out all the fun at www.nikoniansacademy.com. Also, we still have a few seats available for the African Photo Safari next November. Let me know if you are interested and I’ll send you more information.

Also, we have a few workshops through Out There Images, Inc. this year. Namely, travel workshops in the North Cascades and Columbia Gorge, a Studio Portrait photography workshop and a Photoshop workshop. You can see these posted here: www.outthereimages.com/workshops.html

I’ll be on the road for the first part of January doing some personal photography in Hawaii. I’m looking forward to some time off with my family to relax in the sun while also working on some photo projects over there. You better believe that I’ll be taking photos every single day! I hope you do the same.

December GOAL Assignment: Embrace the Noise!
My GOAL (Get Out And Learn) assignment for you last month was to purposely take photos at high ISOs. I wanted you to “embrace the noise” to see what the potential results might be - to try and come up with a creative approach to your photography that you would normally scoff at. There are lots of photographers who look at high ISO noise as a bad thing. They see graininess, softness and color blotches as “damaging” to their photography. I want you to change your perspective and see what happens when you look at noise as “good”.

This first photo example of a singing girl at a Christmas play was taken in a dark auditorium. If possible, I generally like use a tripod for these shots because I know how difficult it is to get sharp pictures when handholding. However, there are lots of times when it is just about impossible to take photos with a tripod. For example, at this Christmas play the auditorium was just packed! Things were so tight that I didn’t have space to set up a tripod. I knew that I’d get lots of motion blur unless I was able to get higher shutter speeds. The only ways to do this were to increase the ISO and/or increase the lens aperture. The shot of this young girl singing was taken with a Nikon D300 at ISO 2000, f2.8, 1/180 sec. and 200mm zoom. I’m amazed at the clarity and picture quality at ISO 2000. Sure, it breaks down a bit when viewed at 100% on a computer screen, but this shot will print out just fine for a 4x6 print.

Beyond the simple success of the picture, I kind of like the extra noise/graininess the higher ISO gives. It makes the shot seem “timeless” to me. Like it could have been taken in any decade at any school in any town.

After feeling nostalgic about this image, I used a software plug-in to add even more grain. A really neat plug-in for Photoshop is called Alien Skin and it used to simulate old film types. In this case, I used a T-Max 3200 black and white conversion on this image to really give it an old-school look. You can see what the interface looks like in the screen capture to the left.

Here’s another example of a photo taken at a high ISO setting. Last week I was at the Pt. Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington at their annual Zoo Lights festival. My overall goal that night was to get a nice panorama of the entire light display, so I arrived at dusk and set up my tripod for the panorama. Since I had my tripod and knew that my photo would be sharp, I used ISO 200 for my main shot (shown at left). Obviously, there are times when you want to use low ISO in order to get a “clean file.” Later however, while I was walking around, I set my camera to ISO 2000 to see what kind of hand-held night photos I could get. My daughter was walking along behind me and was lit up by a barely visible blue LED rope light. I set my white balance for “direct sun” and knew that the colors in the foreground would come out very blue while the colors on the clouds in the sky would come out fiery orange from the city lights. I zoomed out to 12mm and took this shot at a shutter speed of 0.8 seconds. Being able to hand hold your camera at night by using super high ISO values is a lot of fun! I think the shot is a hoot.

The next example of using high ISOs was this photo of a musician at a concert. She was in a break between playing her clarinet and all of the lights in the concert hall were off. The only light for the scene was from her little tiny LED music stand light. I used ISO 3200 on my D300 to get a picture with a shutter speed of 1/50 sec at f2.8. It is simply amazing to me that I was able to even get a usable shot. It is sharp and contrasty. Viewed from a proper distance, the shot looks normal. As you hold the print closer, the photo is mottled with all kinds of noise. However, most people who look at the shot know that the scene is very dark and expect to see a grainy look. I honestly think it helps this photo.

So, what’s the major learning here? Don’t be afraid of high ISOs. Use high ISO as a tool to help you get shots that you wouldn’t otherwise get. In other words, crank up your sensitivity and embrace the noise!



January GOAL Assignment: Show Off Your Images
One of the great things about digital photography is having the ability to use your photos in a wide variety of ways. We can show off our images by presenting them on a web page, in a slide show, in a movie, on a DVD for your family, in a book, on the wall, in digital photo frames, etc. We call this “repurposing our images”. My GOAL assignment for you this month is to find new ways to show off your work. It is a tragedy that most of us keep our images “hidden” inside of our computers away from the view of others. Photos are meant to be shared – they are meant to stir emotion and change assumptions. Therefore, commit this month to showing off your pictures to an audience beyond just yourself. Present your images so that others can enjoy your hard work. Next month, I’ll give you some great ways to do just that. I too, will be finding new ways to show off my work. Come along for the ride; it’ll be fun!



Digital Tidbits: How to Configure Images for the Web
Each month, people write me to ask about formatting images for website viewing. Since so many people ask, I figured it is a good time to write an article on it.

Preparing images for viewing on the internet is pretty simple. There are just a few things that you need to be aware of such as size, resolution, file type and color space. Let’s cover these one by one.

First of all, web images should be sized so that people don’t have to wait long for the images to download to their computer. For my website, I keep the sizes generally between 15KB to 50KB. However, if you are going to be posting images for your family/friends to see as a slideshow, then I'd recommend more like 100KB to 200KB each.

Second up is resolution. All pictures posted to the internet should be at 72 ppi. Ppi stands for Pixels Per Inch and 72ppi is the world standard for images on the internet.

Third, we have to think about the physical dimension of the images. Specifically, how many pixels wide and how many pixels tall will the image be? Most people’s screens are around 800 x 1200 pixels or 1200 x 1800 pixels. If you want your images to be viewed properly by most people, then I recommend keeping your pictures sized at around 640 x 800 pixels. This allows the images to be viewed without people having to scroll around to see the entire picture. Also, it allows extra space around the picture for things like menu bars from the web browser.

Finally, we need to make sure that our images are the correct color profile. Almost all the images on the internet should be set for sRGB. See the next article in this newsletter (below) on “How to Convert Your Images Between Color Spaces”.

Ok, now that we know the key components for sizing images for the web, here are the specific actions I take to size them in Photoshop. There are lots of different software packages that will do the same thing, so if you don’t use Photoshop, you’ll need to improvise based on my example.

1. Open picture in Photoshop.
2. Go to Image --> Image Size
3. Set resolution to 72dpi.
4. Set pixel dimensions to desired size. I recommend 400 x 600 for simple/quick viewing, 640 x 800 for larger views and 800 x 1200 if you want to show lots of detail. The pics shown here on my website (to the left) are 390 pixels wide. Don’t worry about the “Document Size” dimensions because these are used for printing purposes. Your computer screen only cares about pixels, not inches.
5. Use Bicubic Sharper for resampling.
6. Click Ok.
7. File --> Save As …
8. Change the name of the file to something different than the original file so you don’t overwrite the original data (that’s a bad thing).
9. Choose JPG under the “format” menu.
10. Click “Save” or “OK”
11. When the JPEG Options window comes up, move the “quality” slider until you see the size at the bottom of the screen say something around 50KB to 200KB. The photos shown here on my website to the left are all between 25KB and 50KB. Most of the time, I use a quality setting of about 5 or 6. There is a tradeoff between file size and the “quality” of the photo. The smaller the file size, the lower the quality. If you have chosen the “Preview” box, you can watch the image quality change as you move the slider. Basically, you are always trading off between these two parameters. 12. Choose Baseline (“Standard”)
13. Click OK.

The other option for saving to the web in Photoshop is to do all of this in the Save for Web utility. You get there by choosing File --> Save for Web (Shift + Ctrl + Alt + S). This utility allows you to see the changes in real time so you can quickly judge if the size you have chosen will look ok. The Save for Web will take a while to describe all the permutations, so I’ll save this for a future article.

That’s it, your picture is ready for posting to the web.

Digital Tidbits: How to convert your images between color spaces
Two months ago I talked about how to set up your digital images for printing at the laboratory. Many questions came in after that article for clarifications, so I thought it would be appropriate to talk about how to actually convert your images between sRGB and Adobe RGB.

Here is a sample question from one of my readers “Mike, in the newsletter you explained how to set up one’s computer for printing depending on one’s output. But what I don’t understand is the settings in the camera. Do I have to match the settings with Photoshop? For example: can I leave the camera set to Adobe RGB or do I have to change the camera to sRGB as well to match the sRGB that is set in Photoshop?”

Ok. Good question. Choosing the correct profile is a very important part of getting good prints. In general, you want to use sRGB when sending your images to the laboratory and you want to use Adobe RGB when printing at home on a newer ink jet printer. These are general recommendations and there are lots of exceptions, but for now let’s just move forward as if we all agree!

First in the sequence is how to set up your camera. Most newer SLR cameras allow you to choose between Adobe RGB and sRGB in the camera menus. If you are printing at the lab, then set your camera for sRGB. If you are printing on an ink jet, then set your camera for Adobe RGB. Simple, right? Well, what if you want to print an image at home as well as at the lab? The answer is that you have to make two copies of that image. One with the Adobe RGB profile and one embedded with the sRGB profile. The cool thing is that Photoshop can easily convert between color spaces if you have the "wrong" setting in your camera. Lots of people do this on a regular basis and it is simple!

The example I have shown here is of a portrait I recently took for a dad and his sons. He wanted to have all the kids dress up in Seahawks Football jerseys. He wanted the shot to be for a photo frame in his legal office. You can see from the Meta Data that this picture currently is embedded with the sRGB profile. Let’s say that I wanted to make a nice big print on my HP B9180 ink jet printer. I can easily convert the profile to Adobe RGB inside of Photoshop. Here’s how.

1. Open image in Photoshop
2. Choose Edit --> Convert to Profile
3. Click on the Destination Space menu and choose Adobe RGB (1998). This will then convert the image to the new profile.
4. Choose “Adobe (ACE)” engine and “Perceptual” intent.
5. Click OK.
6. Save the image with a different name such as “Football Portrait AdobeRGB”.
7. Done.

You now have one image in sRGB mode and a second image in Adobe RGB mode. Send the sRGB image to the lab and print your Adobe RGB image at home. Easy as pie.


Workshop Updates
Our 2008 schedule is finally posted. This year, we are offering at least four workshops through Out There Images, Inc. and somewhere around 70 workshops scheduled at the Nikonians Academy (www.nikoniansacademy.com). Check out the information below for specific topics and dates.

The Art of Travel Photography Workshops
Join us for a photographic adventure in 2008! Learn how to turn your next vacation into an artistic event with our Art of Travel Photography Workshops. The locations we have are Columbia River Gorge waterfalls and spring bloom 4/24/08 ~ 4/27/08 and North Cascades NP/Mazama 10/2/08 ~ 10/5/08. Both of these workshops are very popular and tend to sell out quickly. If you are thinking of signing up, contact us immediately in order to be placed on our signup list. Go here for more details:
www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Photoshop Level I and II
These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. We are offering two levels of Photoshop instruction – Photoshop I and Photoshop II. Take them one at a time or take them as a group and get a 10% discount. Our Photoshop workshop is scheduled for July 25th and July 26th, 2008 in Seattle, WA. Go here for more information: www.outthereimages.com/portrait_workshop.html

Nikonians Academy Workshops
Our first workshops of the year are already scheduled for January, ’08 in Houston, Texas. We are also going to be teaching in Orlando, Charleston, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Portland, Atlanta, Dallas, Washington DC, Tanzania, Olympic Mountains NP and more!

Our topics include:
- Two African Safaris
- Olympic Mountains and National Park Travel Photography
- Nikon D300
- Nikon D200
- Nikon D80/D70
- iTTL Flash
- Hands-on Digital Printing

Find out about all of our workshops here: www.nikoniansacademy.com.

Portrait Photography
We’ve brought back our popular Portrait Photography workshop this year. It will be scheduled for July 11-12, 2008 in Seattle, WA. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to use a flash meter, how to set up a studio, how to arrange your lighting or how to use flash, then this is the right workshop for you. It is a two-day event with lots and lots of hands-on learning and photography. Come along, you’ll enjoy it! I promise. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/portrait_workshop.html

Private Tutoring
Private instruction is a very popular and affordable way to learn specifically what you want to learn in a one-on-one environment. During these sessions, we are able to work specifically on your own photographic needs and at your own pace. Available topics are studio lighting, nature photography, wedding photography, Photoshop, color management, digital workflow, flash photography, portraiture, exposure theory, and more. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (253) 851-9054 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
I appreciate your kind notes of encouragement, enthusiasm and excitement. Keep those email questions coming and keep shooting photographs!

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images, Inc. - "Get Out And Learn!"
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
office: 253-851-9054
mobile: 360-750-1103
fax: 206-984-1817






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