| September 2009 Newsletter
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San Diego Zoo
This shot of the panda bear was taken after I hijacked my son's shooting position. He had chosen a better spot to take photos from because he spent a few minutes observing before shooting. My photos were all of the back of the bear, because I was too impatient and started shooting as soon as the bear started moving. The lesson? Slow down and watch the scene in order to get great shots.
We moved our offices during the month of August to new facilities. Here's a photo of my "desk" for the last few days. Laptop, modem, telephone and nice carpet on the floor!
German Edition of CLS Flash Book
Our popular book on the Nikon wireless flash system has just been translated into German. You can find information on it here: www.dpunkt.de/buecher/3115.html
The English version of our books can be purchased in most book stores like this one at Barnes and Noble, or from our website.
GOAL Assignment (see text)
July GOAL Assignment: Starbursts and Sunbursts
Starbursts can add a bit of visual excitement to your images. In this case, I used an aperture of f22 and took the shot at dusk. Hood River, Oregon. Nikon D700, 28-75mm f2.8, Gitzo CF tripod.
Many times, I wait until the sun is just peeking around a mountain or the edge of a tree. This enhances the starburst because a smaller point of light is visible. Crescent Lake, Washington. Nikon D2X, 70-200 f2.8, Gitzo CF tripod.
Starbursts won't appear if the sun is behind haze or light cloud cover. You'll need a clear sky to get great starbursts. Crescent Lake, Washington. Nikon D2X, 28-75mm f2.8, Gitzo CF tripod.
Here, the front element of my camera's lens was pretty dirty. Because of this, there are a bunch of smears and diffraction in the photo. Keep those front elements clean! Winthrop, Washington. Nikon D2X. 80-200 f2.8. Handheld.
This shot of the sailboat at sunset doesn't show a starburst because it was shot at a larger aperture around f4. Port Angeles, WA. Nikon D2X. 70-200 f2.8. Gitzo CF tripod.
This starburst effect was created from a menu item in my Nikon D90 dSLR camera. The menu item is called "Cross Screen" and is found in the Retouch Menu (below).
Here's the Cross Screen menu item in the Nikon D90. It allows you to choose how many points, the total number of stars, the angle of the stars and the length of the bursts. Fun stuff!
September GOAL Assignment: Point and Shoot Challenge
Your GOAL assignment for September is to go on a point and shoot camera photo trip. Leave your big cameras at home and spend a day with a little digital P&S.
This photo represents the joy you'll feel when you shoot with a P&S camera!
Digital Tidbits: Nikon D300s Initial Impressions
I'm very impressed with the new Nikon D300s. Nikon seems to have incorporated all the best features from the Nikon D90, Nikon D300 and Nikon D700 into this new powerhouse camera. I'll be shooting with it a lot over the next few years.
Photo Techniques: Don't Settle for Only One Angle.
I was driving through Ohio when I saw the Frisch's Big Boy out of the corner of my eye. I had to stop and take a photo just for the heck of it. After getting my one shot, I was ready to leave.
However, my inner photographer took over and I began shooting Big Boy from a varity of different angles and with different lenses.
I'm not sure which of these is the best Big Boy image, but I know that trying different angles always results in better images in the long run.
Mike Hagen – Out There Images, Inc. – September 2009 Newsletter
In this Newsletter:
- Greetings & Updates
- San Diego Trip Learning Experience
- German Edition of Flash Book
- July GOAL Assignment: Starbursts
- September GOAL Assignment: Point and Shoot Challenge
- Digital Tidbits: Nikon D300s Initial Impressions
- Photo Techniques: Don’t Settle for Only One Angle
- Workshop Updates
Hi everyone. We’ve been keeping incredibly busy around here at Out There Images, Inc. The biggest news is that we moved our offices during the month of August. It was a crazy time period of moving, packing and logistics. I have a funny photograph (left) of the last few days in our last office after I had moved out all of our furniture. I had my modem, wireless network, telephone and laptop on the floor, until the very last minute. It was a lot of fun working from the floor with my legs crossed while completing projects, writing books and preparing workshop content.
This is the reason why we didn’t publish a August newsletter. Now that the move is over, we are back into the thick of things. Our offices are back up and running full steam ahead. It is good timing too! The summer chaos is over and now we are back into the fall education & workshop season.
I leave on Saturday, 9/5 for seven days in Alaska and Denali National Park. I’ll be participating in the big ANPAT photographic adventure with 30 other photographers from countries around the world. We’ll be taking the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Denali NP and will be staying at a big lodge just outside of the park. It is going to be a hoot and I don’t anticipate I’ll be getting much sleep. Bring on the grizzly bears!
After returning from Denali, we have our annual Art of Travel Photography workshop in Washington’s North Cascades. We’ll be based out of Mazama, WA and will spend four days photographing mountains, lakes, country western towns and the unbelievable beauty that the NW has to offer. We still have seats available for this trip on 9/24/09 – 9/27/09. If you are looking for a low cost, last minute adventure during September, then shoot me an email and I’ll give you all the details. Our link for the workshop is here: Travel Workshop
Next month in October, I’m headed out to the east coast of the USA to run Nikonians Workshops in the New York and Washington DC areas. After that, I’m headed to Maui, Hawaii USA to do some scouting for 2010 and 2011 workshops.
San Diego Trip Learning Experience
Immediately after we moved the office, I took my family to San Diego, USA for a week-long photo adventure. We spent a bunch of time at the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, the San Diego Wild Animal Park, and of course, the beautiful beach. The climate in San Diego is unbelievably perfect. Nice and cool in the mornings, then it warms up in the afternoon with bright sunny skies. We had so much fun that it was difficult to come back to my home in Washington State. I took thousands of photographs (only one of which was decent), but I was pretty impressed with my young son who also took thousands of images.
He had is Nikon S10 point and shoot snapping pics at every turn. At one point, we were taking photographs of the panda bears at the San Diego Zoo side by side. I had my 70-200 f2.8 with 1.4x TC mounted to my Nikon D90 and was getting some nice head shots of the bear inside the enclosure. My son had his S10 and was shooting from a different vantage point. I took a peek at his images and saw that he was getting a better angle on the bear than I was. I quickly moved over next to him and began shooting again. Right away, I was getting better shots of the bear’s face in nice light.
My son had picked the better spot because he stood and watched for a couple minutes before starting to shoot. He noticed that the panda bear was turning around in an open area, so moved over to his right to take advantage of the situation.
I, on the other hand, started shooting immediately from where I was standing. We had walked through the panda enclosure a few hours before, but the panda was sleeping and I didn’t really get any good photographs. This time around the panda was active, so I got excited and started snapping pics like crazy. I was thinking that I might miss the opportunity, so I had better at least some shots before the moment passed.
I was reminded again (by my son) that it frequently pays off to be patient. Sometimes, slow and steady wins the race.
Nikon CLS Book Published in German
Good news for all you German readers out there. Rocky Nook has just published my book, Using the Nikon Creative Lighting System in German. The title is Professionell blitzen mit dem Nikon Creative Lighting System. This is a translated copy of the English version and contains all the same content as the original. You can find more info on this book here: www.dpunkt.de/buecher/3115.html.
As always, you can buy a copy of the English version of the Using the Nikon Creative Lighting System book or our Nikon Capture NX 2 book from our website here: www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html
July GOAL Assignment: Starbursts and Sunbursts
The last GOAL (Get Out and Learn) assignment was to go take some starburst images. I like to include starbursts/sunbursts in my travel photography to add a dynamic look to some of my images. Used correctly, starbursts can add an interesting twist to your pictures. Used incorrectly, starbursts can look horrible.
A starburst or a sunburst is defined as a bright point of light with rays emanating from the center point. Simply speaking, they look like a star in your photograph. There are quite a few things to consider when you are trying to take starburst photographs. Here are some tips on creating starbursts:
- Since starbursts emanate from points of light, you’ll need to include small points of light in the background of your image. These points of light can be street lights, car headlights, candles or even the sun. The smaller the point of light, the better the opportunity for a burst effect.
- If you are using the sun as the source for the burst, then make sure the sky isn’t hazy or overcast. The best starbursts occur on crystal clear days such as in the winter or directly after a big rain storm has passed. Another great place to create starbursts is up in the mountains since shooting at high altitudes is a great way to ensure haze-free days.
- Use a small aperture such as f16 or f22. Larger apertures such as f2.8 will make the points of light in the background appear circular and blurry. Small apertures will create the starburst effect.
- Place the sun just to the edge of a tree, branch or mountain side so that the sun just peeks around the corner. This will obscure a large portion of the sun’s disk and allow an even smaller pinpoint for the sunburst. This is the method I use most frequently in my photography.
- Take the UV or IR filter off of the front of your lens. This will decrease the amount of diffraction in the lens and improve overall contrast.
- Keep the front element of your lens very clean. If your lens is dirty, then all kinds of spots will show up in the photo and you’ll have to clone them out using software.
- Use your Depth of Field (DOF) preview button to get a good feeling for what the starburst will look like in the final image. If you stop your lens down to f16 and the starburst isn’t pronounced enough, then you might need to choose f22 or f32 to get the effect you are after.
- To meter correctly for the starburst, you generally want to meter the areas to the side of the point of light, but not the light itself. I like using spot meter for these situations. I’ll aim my spot meter at the sky to the side of the sun and set my shutter speed and aperture. Once that’s been done, I’ll recompose the photograph so it looks nice and take the shot.
I have to give an obvious caution here … don’t stare directly at the sun when you are taking sunburst/starburst photos. The sun can damage your eyes. When I compose the shot in my viewfinder, I look to the side of the sun, but not directly at it.
There are a few other non-traditional ways to create starbursts in your images. One is to buy a special effects starburst filter from a company like Tiffen. These filters create star effects over any bright point of light in your image. This type of filter will produce starbursts on things such as chrome on a car, diamonds in a wedding ring or white flowers. Here’s a link for the Tiffen filter:
A second non traditional method is to create starbursts in a software package like Photoshop or any number of plug-ins that create star patterns. There are many web tutorials on how to create starbursts and companies like Tiffen sell plug-in software (eFx) that automatically create starbursts.
Finally, some newer cameras have starburst image processing built directly into the camera’s menu system. For example, the Nikon D90 has a menu item that allows you to convert an image on your memory card to a new image that has starbursts. The menu item is located in the Retouch Menu under Filter Effects --> Cross Screen. In this menu you can define how big the starbursts are, how many of them appear, and even what angle the starbursts are rotated at. See the example to the left.
So, that’s it on starburst/sunburst photography. Now that you know the tricks, get out there and create some new images!
September GOAL Assignment: Point and Shoot Challenge
Most of the time when I’m on a photo trip, I feel like I have to bring along my big cameras. Last week’s trip to San Diego was a perfect example of this. I brought along all my D700 and D90, tripod, lenses, computer, etc. At the end of the day, my photo kit must have weighed 40 pounds. Not exactly “light weight travel gear”. On a couple of the days during our trip, I left all the “big gear” in the hotel room and ventured out with just one small point and shoot camera. It was liberating! I put the camera in my pocket and had a blast.
Your GOAL (Get Out And Learn) assignment for September is to take a photo adventure with your point and shoot camera. Leave the big stuff at home and try to create some professional quality images without your SLR, lenses, tripod, etc. Next month, I’ll be posting a bunch of my pics and will give some great tips for how to maximize your photography with a digital point and shoot camera!
Digital Tidbits: Nikon D300s Initial Impressions
I just picked up the new Nikon D300s yesterday from my local camera store, Kenmore Camera (www.kcamera.com) and am pretty happy with what I see so far. I had expected it to be a “ho hum” improvement over the Nikon D300, but I’m really impressed with what they’ve done in the new model.
Ergonomically, the camera is very similar to the Nikon D300 and the Nikon D700, so all my motor memory skills don’t have to change. But, they’ve taken the best ergonomic features of the Nikon D90, D300 and D700 and integrated them all into the D300s. A few of the improvements include a button to activate Live View, new multi-selector with center button and a sliding memory card door for quick access.
Speaking of memory cards, the new dual format memory card slot is pretty exciting. I can download HD video to one memory card while the other one is used for normal photographs. Or, if I’m just shooting pictures, I can designate one memory card for RAW images and the other one for JPEGs. I like the fact that Nikon included both SD and CF memory cards into the design. Since I shoot with small cameras like the D90 and Canon point & shoots, I have amassed quite a few SD cards. It is great to be able to use whatever card I have available in the D300s.
Another cool feature of the camera is a new release mode called Quiet shutter release mode. It works as a single-shot mode and dampens down the noise of the shutter/mirror after taking the shot. I can imagine using this when I’m sneaking around taking photos of sensitive government debates, such as the current town hall meetings at our local grange.
There are lots of people asking whether or not they need to buy the D300s. I think the biggest reason to consider buying this camera is if you are looking to upgrade from an older D80/D60 or are looking to replace an aging Nikon D200. From an image quality standpoint, there isn’t really any reason to buy the D300s if you already own a D300. Another possible reason to upgrade is if you need one of the camera’s special features such as the faster frame rate or the quiet shutter release mode.
Tomorrow, I’m taking the camera on a trip to Denali National Park for a week and am looking forward to putting it through its paces. I’ll work out all the little nitty gritty details and then publish a Nikon D300s setup guide my publishing page in a few weeks.
Photo Techniques: Don’t Settle for Only One Angle.
I was out shooting while in Cincinnati last month and ran across a Frisch’s Big Boy restaurant. I’ve never been to one, but I knew of their advertising campaigns and have always had an image in my head of this big animated “Big Boy” character outside of their restaurants.
As I drove by, I slammed on the brakes and jumped out of the car to snap a picture. Why? I don’t know. I take pictures of everything, so why not Frisch’s Big Boy? So, I took one picture, then walked back to my car. Just as I was pulling on the handle to open my door, I said to myself, “Why did you only take one image?” I then answered myself, “I don’t know, I guess I was being lazy.” I then chided myself, “Get back there and take some more angles. C’mon! You’re a photographer for heaven’s sake!”
So, listening to my own wise counsel, I walked back and took images from a few different angles until I had many more artistically composed images of Frisch’s Big Boy. I know, the terms “artistically composed” and “Frisch’s Big Boy” shouldn’t be allowed in the same sentence, but as photographers, we have to try!
I encourage you to think of your photo subjects in this same way. Don’t settle for only one angle or only one point of view. Rather, work the scene. Shoot from a low angle. Use a telephoto lens. Use a wide angle lens. Shoot from the right. Shoot from the left. When all is said and done, you are more likely to end up with a shot that you like.
Whenever I’m on location shooting photos, I try to go through a ritual that forces me to try different angles. I physically switch lenses between a wide angle, a normal lens, and a telephoto lens. Each time I change lenses, I find new photo ideas and I see things that I didn’t pick up on before. Try this approach and I know your photos will thank you.
We still have some seats available for the Art of Travel Photography Workshop in Mazama, Washington this month. The dates are 9/24/09 – 9/27/09 and we’ll be staying at the beautiful Mazama Country Inn. Join in the fun for a relatively inexpensive 4-day photo learning adventure.
I’m headed out to New York and Washington DC this October to run a few more Nikonians Academy workshops. These have just a few seats remaining as well. You can see details here: (www.nikoniansacademy.com).
It isn’t too late to begin thinking about 2010 either. I have lots of exciting adventures planned that include two Wildlife Photo Safaris to Tanzania, Africa. I have posted two new African Photo Safaris for 2010. The first will be in May 2010 and the second will be in November 2010. Both of the photo safaris will be operated in Northern Tanzania in locations such as Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti NP, Tarangire NP and Lake Manyara. You can find more information here: (www.nikoniansacademy.com).
The Art of Travel Photography Workshops
Join us for a photographic adventure in 2009! Learn how to turn your next vacation into an artistic experience with our Art of Travel Photography Workshops. We have two Art of Travel workshops planned in 2009. Our Columbia River Gorge workshop was from April 30 – May 3rd, 2009 and our North Cascades NP/Mazama September 24-29, 2009. If you are thinking of signing up, contact us immediately in order to be placed on our signup list. Go here for more details:
Nikonians Academy Workshops
We have more classes than ever for 2009. Topics include Nikon D300, Nikon D700, Nikon D3, Wireless Flash, Capture NX 2, D90, D80, and more travel workshops than you can shake a stick at. We’ll be teaching great photographic subjects all around the USA as well as some international destinations.
Our topics include:
- Triple D Game Farm baby animals
- Nikon D300
- Nikon D700/D3
- iTTL Flash
- Capture NX 2
- Nikon D90, D80
Find out about all of our workshops here: www.nikoniansacademy.com.
Private instruction is a very popular 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have questions about this option.
Thanks for taking the time to read our newsletter. We are grateful for the opportunity to share and enjoy photography with you. See you next month!
Out There Images, Inc. - "Get Out And Learn!"
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
All images and content (C) 1998 - 2009 Mike Hagen / Out There Images. All rights reserved.