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June 2012 Newsletter
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Visual Adventures - New Business Name and Website


I'll be speaking at Photoact this August 24 - 25 along with other speakers such as Marc Muench, Uwe Steinmuller, Bruce Barnbaum and Ken Rockwell. I'd love to see you there!

Stuff I Like This Month

The Nikon D3200 is a wonderful little camera that packs a punch with 24MP.

The new Nikon 18-300mm will be a great travel lens.

Magazine Review: c't Digital Photography

c't Digital Photography Magazine, Spring 2012 issue.

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Prize Giveaway: c't Digital Photography Subscription and iTTL CLS Flash Book

Sign up for our newsletter for a chance to win one of five prizes this July.

Digital Tidbits: 14-bit Raw or 12-bit Raw

Setting the correct bit-depth for your raw photos can be perplexing. Read the article for my suggestions.

It can be difficult to distinguish between a 12-bit file (above) and a 14-bit file (below)

Book Review: The Art of Black and White Photography, Techniques for Creating Superb Images in a Digital Workflow, 2nd Edition.

Torsten Andreas Hoffmann's new book on the art of black and white photography.

Hoffmann's photography incorporates a strong use of silhouettes and shadows.

The Art of Black and White Photography is very well written and is a good book for intermediate to advanced photographers looking for ways to improve their B&W skills.

Mike Hagen - Out There Images, Inc. - June 2012 Newsletter

In this Newsletter:
- Greetings & New Website
- Photoact
- Stuff I Like This Month
- Magazine Review: c't Digital Photography
- Prize Giveaway: c't Photography Subscription and iTTL CLS Flash Book
- Digital Tidbits: 14-bit Raw or 12-bit Raw
- Book Review: The Art of Black and White Photography
- Workshop and Business Updates

Greetings & New Website - Visual Adventures

Hello photographers. The last few months have been a whirlwind of activity around here with travel, photography, and a lot of hard work on our new website.

My wife Stephanie and I started Out There Images, Inc. in 1998 and have been continuously building it up over the years. In the early days, I got my feet wet by writing and photographing for small regional magazines in Portland, Oregon. Soon thereafter, we expanded into photography workshops by leading trips in Oregon's iconic Columbia River Gorge. A few years later, we wrote our first photography book and even began a blog. Today, we continue our growth by developing video training, eBooks, eCommerce, and new partnerships with organizations in the photo community.

Because of all these changes, we no longer consider ourselves just a photography company, but rather a company that provides education, photography, travel, and digital media. We felt a pressing need to change our brand to something that better fit our current business model and while allowing us to grow our business into the future. Beginning in July 2012 we'll begin operating under our new company name Visual Adventures.

I've been working with a graphic designer (Eric Haugen of Haugen Design Associates) and a web designer (William Whelan of WorksPDX) to develop a new name, a new logo and a new website. It has taken quite a bit of time and effort to get to this point, but now that we're here, we're excited to take the wrapper off and show it to the world.

Since you are all subscribers to our newsletter, I'll give you a preview of the website here: www.visadventures.com.

At this point, we are creating the new website in real time with our web developer, so you are bound to find some glitches such as missing content, links, and photos. That's ok. We should have the site glitch-free and ready to go in July 2012.

While you're there, be sure to check out the new logo. The design incorporates quite a few graphic elements that define our business. If you look hard enough, you'll find elements representing vision, a camera iris, the earth, and a mountain. I have a passion for adventure and exploration, so I wanted the logo to incorporate this while also having a visual tie to imagery. Both the business name, Visual Adventures, and our logo work together to describe our passion for adventure and for creating imagery.

An important aspect of the website will be our eCommerce section. Here, we'll sell products that I recommend and use on a regular basis. This includes photo gear, books, and travel equipment. You'll be able to purchase these directly from our store or directly from our affiliate partners. For the first month or so, you'll only find our books and setup guides, but keep checking back since we'll be adding products each and every month.

As usual, you should expect the same level of support from us as you've always received. We love communicating with you all and continue to answer all your email, phone calls, Facebook posts, tweets and Google+ questions. Our newsletter will continue and get better with an improved layout and integration with new media. In fact, look for this newsletter to be posted to the new website sometime next week. Our blog will continue and will be a big part of our online presence. Also, you'll be able to quickly and easily find links to our social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

Again, I want to thank you for staying with us over the years and I look forward to many more years with each of you.

Now, onto the rest of the newsletter.


Join me at PhotoAct this August 24th - 25th for an incredible event with some of the world's foremost experts on photography. The conference is being held in Santa Barbara, Califorinia and speakers include Marc Muench, Uwe Steinmuller, Bruce Barnbaum, Ken Rockwell, myself, and many more. This two-day event incorporates a mix of keynote speeches, workshops, and tutorial sessions aimed at shifting the focus of photography back to the artistic aspects of image creation.

It's going to be great fun and I'd love to see you there. Sign up today at the Photoact Website.

Stuff I Like This Month

1. I'd love to photograph our planet and the rest of the universe while orbiting the Earth. One of these days I'll realize my dream, but until then I'll have to live vicariously through the astronauts who are doing it right now. The Luminous Landscape recently ran an article interviewing NASA captain Alan Poindexter about his photography in space. Here's the link: NASA Captain Alan Poindexter on Space Photography

2. In my new book Thousands of Images, Now What?, I talk about the importance of backing up all your images. Here's an article on how Pixar almost lost Toy Story 2 to a bad backup.

3. Nikon just released an incredible little dSLR camera called the D3200. It ships with a 24MP sensor in a small DX body and also has very good video capabilities. Because of its small size, the D3200 will be a fantastic travel camera. Here's a link to learn more about the D3200 camera at B&H Photo: http://bhpho.to/M8iy6k

4. Nikon also released two brand-new lenses, the 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR DX and the 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR FX. I can't wait to try the 18-300mm since it has an incredible 16.7x zoom range. For street photography and travel, this lens could be an amazing tool that covers everything from medium-wide to super telephoto. When mounted on a DX camera like the D3200 or D7000, the focal length range is equivalent to 27-450mm. This lens, coupled with a wide-angle zoom like a 10-24mm DX would be the perfect setup for a trip to Disneyland with the kids or when climbing in the back country.

The 24-85mm lens is a FX-format zoom with second-generation vibration reduction (VR-II) technology. Photographers should consider this as a smaller, lighter, less expensive alternative to the famous 24-70mm f2.8. Documentary photographer (and one of my business partners) Steve Simon just shot a campaign for Nikon Corporation with this lens. Here's a link to his photos and commentary: Nikon Digital Learning Center .

Magazine Review: c't Digital Photography
Like many of you, I am a rabid consumer of any and all written content related to photography. Each and every day I read multiple blogs, magazine articles, books, tweets, Facebook posts and Google+ conversations from people all around the world, as they comment on the world of photography. Some of the content is decent and some of it is fluff, but it takes a lot of effort to find articles and resources that are truly excellent.

Rocky Nook (the publisher of one of my books) has recently partnered with c't Digital Photography Magazine to bring their own brand of content to North America. A few weeks ago, they sent me a review copy of the magazine to see what I thought about it. In short, I've read the magazine from cover to cover and am very impressed.

Now, I know what you are thinking ... they published one of my books so I'm obviously going to say good things about the magazine. When a company sends me something to review for my newsletter, I always make it clear up front that I need to have the freedom to share my honest opinion. If they only want me to say glowing, positive things about the product, then I won't review it.

So, that said, let's get into the magazine. The issue I reviewed was the Spring 2012 issue that covers topics such as light painting, gigapixel panoramas, Lightroom 4 workflow, pseudo HDR, and light painting. This edition was 138 pages and included an incredible amount of content with very few advertisements.

When I first scanned the cover of the magazine and read the included topics, I expected to find typical lightweight articles on the topics. After all, I've read just about every other photo magazine on the planet and when they produce a "how-to" article, it is really just an overview that skims the surface with generic instructions. In the case of c't Digital Photography, nothing could be further from the truth. The articles were incredibly in-depth. In fact, I would equate them to articles you would read in magazines like National Geographic or The Atlantic. Just like a National Geographic article goes into great depth on an environmental or social story, c't goes into a similar level of detail on photographic topics.

An example of this level of detail is the article on creating gigapixel panoramas. The layout spanned from page 26 - 49 (23 pages), covering details ranging from technique to gear to image processing to presentation. As I read through the article, I couldn't help but think that they are offering too much information for a magazine. Honestly, the level of detail approaches what you would read in a well thought out book. Perhaps c't Digital Photography is trying to the line between book and magazine?

All of the other articles in this issue contained a similar amount of detail. In fact, the only downside of c't Digital Photography Magazine is that it is difficult to just sit down with it for just a few minutes. With other magazines I subscribe to, I can flip open to an article and finish a story in about five to ten minutes. With c't, Digital Photography I have to devote quite some time to each article in order to finish. Since each article is filled with how-to information and techniques, it is the type of magazine that you'll want to prop up next to your computer while you work through the steps one-by-one. Perhaps this isn't really a downside, but rather a testament to their desire to be thorough.

If you are a serious photographer, interested in learning from high-caliber writers, you'll be very pleased with this magazine. C't Digital Photography definitely isn't about fluff and over-saturated pretty pictures. Rather, the magazine is all about how to improve your skill set and become a better shooter while taking your photography to the next level. I don't recommend it for the casual shooter or someone who is dabbling in photography.

Each issue of the magazine includes a free DVD with full and free versions of image processing software. The DVD I received contained over 30 imaging programs such as Xtreme Photo & Graphic Designer 5, a full Video Tutorial on Photoshop, a full eBook titled Painting with Light, Photo Tools, easyHDR, FDRTools, Fotomatic, GIMP, HeliosPaint, Luminance HDR, Perspective Transformations 8, Photomatix HDR Presets, and more.

Read more about the magazine or subscribe here: http://www.ct-digiphoto.com. The USA subscription price is $49.95, which covers four quarterly issues. However, c't has given me permission to pass along a current promotion code that will give new subscribers five issues for the price of four.

Here's the subscription link: https://www.ct-digiphoto.com/subscription/
Use this discount code: 06MH508
Details: Enter the offer code in the "Comments" field of the online order form.

As a subscriber, you'll also have digital access to all available issues using the free iPad app.

Follow c't Digital Photography on Google+ here: c't Photography's Google+ Page

Prize Giveaway: c't Photography Subscription and iTTL CLS Flash Book

Since I liked c't Photography Magazine so much, I asked the publisher if we could run a prize promotion this month for our newsletter subscribers. They enthusiastically said "yes," so they are offering six different prizes for readers of our newsletter.

Prize details:
- Grand prize (1) - One year subscription, back issue collection (Issues 3, 4, 5, 8), and one free copy of my newest book, The Nikon Creative Lighting System, Using the SB-600, SB-700, SB-800, SB-900, SB-910, and R1C1 Flashes.

- Runner-up prizes (5) - back issue collection including issues 3, 4, and 5.

Fine Print:
To enter the random drawing, you'll need to be added to our mailing list. To do this, head over to the Visual Adventures blog and enter your email into the "Mike's Free Newsletter" form on the right side of the page. We will randomly select the grand prize winner and five more runner-up winners from our mailing list on July 15th, 2012. We'll contact the winners via email to collect their physical mailing addresses and then forward that information to c't Digital Photography Magazine so they can fulfill the prize packages.

Digital Tidbits: 14-bit Raw or 12-bit Raw Setting up your camera for the best possible file type is an important part of modern digital photography. Most dSLR cameras allow the user to choose between JPG, raw, or TIFF. These days, about 75% of the photographers I work with shoot raw files, while the remaining 25% shoot JPG. Almost no one shoots in-camera TIFFs.

As most of you know, raw files offer the photographer more latitude because they retain more data in the image file. For comparison, a JPG compresses the image data into an 8-bit per channel file, while a raw file from a typical Nikon or Canon dSLR stores the data in 12-bit or 14-bit file formats.

Many semi-pro and pro level cameras like the Nikon D7000, D800, and D4 allow the user to pick between 12-bit and 14-bit raw files. However, some cameras don't have the ability to choose bit depth. These cameras are systems like the Nikon D3100, D5000 and some Canon Rebel series. In these cases, you are locked into the camera's default bit-depth which can be 12-bit or 14-bit, depending on the model.

Photographers who shoot raw as their primary format, often question what bit depth they should use. Some surmise that 14-bit is best because it collects the most data. Others suggest that 12-bit is better because the files are physically smaller without losing any significant data. The truth is that both camps are correct.

A 14-bit file tends to be approximately 25% larger overall than a 12-bit file. So, if a typical raw file size is 15MB for a 12-bit image, then the same image saved as 14-bit would be about 19MB. In real world shooting, this means that your camera's buffer will fill up faster when using continuous mode for sports or wildlife. Also, shooting 14-bit means you can't fit as many shots on a memory card, so you need to plan for that when traveling.

A 12-bit file collects 4,096 levels per color channel. Since camera sensors collect color information in three channels, red, green, and blue. This means that the final RGB file has approximately 69 billion ways to define color (4,096 x 4,096 x 4,096). A 14-bit file offers 16,384 levels per channel for about 4.4 trillion ways to define color. It follows therefore that a 14-bit file will collect over four times the amount of color and tone information over a 12-bit file.

The reality however, is that many tests have been done that show that sensor noise tends to hide any advantage 14-bit might hold over 12-bit (http://bit.ly/MFTsN0). So, from that perspective, there probably isn't a significant advantage to choosing 14-bit at this point in time. However, digital processing technology is still advancing and I'm assuming that one of these days we'll have software that can eliminate the noise to take advantage of the extra bit depth.

For most everything we do as photographers today, shooting in 12-bit will result in almost the identical file quality as shooting in 14-bit.

So, what should you do? My recommendations are as follows:
1. Sports/Action: 12-bit (For fast file transfer between buffer and memory card).
2. Landscape/Travel: 14-bit (For the highest quality file, speed isn't an issue).
3. Portraits: 14-bit (For the highest quality file, speed isn't an issue).
4. Point and Shoot: 12-bit (No reason for bigger files).

For further reading on bit depth, check out these articles:
Earthbound Light 14-bit vs. 12-bit Part 1
- Earthbound Light 14-bit vs. 12-bit Part 2
- University of Chicago 14-bit Noise
- Francois Malan 14-bit vs. 12-bit

Book Review: The Art of Black and White Photography, Techniques for Creating Superb Images in a Digital Workflow, 2nd Edition.

As a professional photographer, I'm continually striving to improve my craft. Over the last three years, I've spent significant time developing my skillset with black and white imaging. I've worked hard at understanding tone, contrast, and composition while also endeavoring to really understand black and white post processing in software like Photoshop, Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. Since I regularly read articles and books on black and white photography, author Torsten Adreas Hoffmann's new book titled The Art of Black and White photography caught my eye, so I decided to give it a thorough read.

As I started reading through the book, I was initially disappointed. Hoffman has a different photographic style than what I'm used to and I initially had a hard time relating to his photo examples. I'd characterize his imagery as documentary in style, with a strong use of silhouettes and shadows. Because of this stark look, his shots are mysterious and take a while for the viewer to fully interpret.

But I didn't give up. I kept reading with the hope that his book would impart great wisdom and help me improve my approach to black and white photography. As I continued through the chapters, I found more and more to like. In fact, by the time I made it through half of the book, I had already written down quite a few notes that I immediately started applying to my photography.

Hoffman's writings on composition and form are spot-on and his discussion on post processing in Photoshop is very good. In fact, just a couple weeks ago I was out photographing a local landscape, when I found myself composing the scene as he discusses in chapter 22. In this chapter, he describes how western cultures expect a photo to be weighted on the left side in order to achieve a natural sense of balance. This is something I had not thought of before and was pleased to be challenged in my understanding of composition.

Hoffman's book does not handhold you through the process of improving your black and white photography. It isn't a "step-by-step" guide, but rather a series of 34 well-written essays designed to help you better understand the essence of the craft. Each essay takes a specific topic (like architectural photography, graphical design, abstracts, portraits) and thoroughly discusses the aspects that should influence your photography for that topic.

The book is broken down into four main sections.
1. Tools and Fundamentals
2. Photographic Genres and Concepts
3. Rules of Composition
4. The Digital Darkroom

I took away at least one important new skill from each of these four sections and have integrated each skill into my daily shooting. For a book to change my shooting style and my post processing in four new ways is really quite something. Chapter 1 pushed me to increase the use of the gradient filter in Photoshop and Lightroom. Chapter 2 improved my awareness of shadows and other graphical elements in my compositions. Chapter 3 helped me understand the nuances of balance in a photo for western cultures versus eastern cultures. Chapter 4 refined my post-processing in Photoshop and Lightroom.

Who should read this book? I feel that it is written for someone who's been shooting for a few years and has a strong desire to improve his or her technical and aesthetic skills. I don't think this book works as well for newer photographers, since many of the chapters are more esoteric than pragmatic.

So, what about my initial disappointment? Gone. Truthfully, I've made changes to my photographic approach based on Hoffman's book and feel I'm a better photographer after reading and applying some of his ideas.

The Art of Black and White Photography is published by RockyNook. It is 253 pages and sized at 8" x 10".

Buy the book on Amazon here: The Art of Black and White Photography.

See more of Torsten Hoffmann's work here: Torsten Adreas Hoffmann website.

Workshop and Business Updates

Our new Visual Adventures website www.visadventures.com will be the hub of our business operation from now on. You'll find links to everything we do including our books, workshops, products, newsletter, blog and photo galleries. For now, our previous website www.outthereimages.com will stay put in its present form, but we won't be adding new content there. All new content will be added to Visual Adventures.

At the Nikonians Academy, we continue to add new workshops to our schedule. I've just finished up running workshops in New Jersey and San Francisco. My instructor team is operating workshops this month all around the USA. In fact, we're running our brand new D800/D4 workshops in Indianapolis and Nashville over the next two weeks. We've also added a quite a few of your historical favorite workshops to the list like iTTL Wireless Flash, Nikon Capture NX2, Lightroom 4, Nikon D700/D3, Nikon D7000/D90. Read below for more info.

Studio Lighting
Profoto is sponsoring a series of workshops with us to help photographers learn studio lighting. These workshops are designed to show flash photography as well as continuous light photography for still life and portraiture. We are starting off with one-day workshops and will add some multi-day portrait photography workshops later in the summer and fall. Check out the workshops here: Master Studio Lighting with Profoto.

Camera and Flash Workshops
Our Nikonians Academy camera and flash photography workshops have all been completely revamped to include the Nikon D800 and Nikon D4 cameras as well as the Nikon SB-910 and SB-700 flashes. Our workshops include:

- Master Nikon D800/D4/D700/D3/D3s/D3x
- Master Nikon D300/D300s
- Master Nikon D7000/D90/D80
- Master Nikon iTTL Wireless Flash

Master Adobe Lightroom 4
Adobe has recently released Lightroom 4 and it is one of the best software programs out there for digital photographers. We've just updated our Lightroom workshops for LR4 so if you've ever wanted to learn how to leverage the power of Lightroom in your workflow, then this is the right workshop. I'll be running these all around the USA through the Nikonians Academy in two versions:

Lightroom 4 Essentials

Lightroom 4 Advanced

We have two seats open for our photography adventure to the Galapagos Islands scheduled for September 14th - 23rd, 2012. The trip includes three nights in Quito Ecuador and seven nights on our expedition yacht in the Galapagos Islands. Prices range from $5700 - $7000 depending on your cabin choice. We will also be spending two days in Quito Ecuador photographing this beautiful, historic city.

Find more information here: Galapagos Photography Adventure

2013 Workshops
We've already started planning for workshops in 2013. At this point, we have trips scheduled for:
Iceland - July 29th - August 6th
Galapagos - September 15th - 22nd
Tanzania - November 4th - 15th

Information on signing up for these trips will be posted during the first week of July, 2012.

Staying Current
You can stay current with our new workshop by watching for news to be posted at the blog (http://visadventures.com/blog/) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MikeJHagen), and on Twitter (twitter.com/MikeJHagen).

Custom Group Trips
This August, I'm running a custom trip for six photographers who want to improve their nature photography. We'll be spending a few days in a beautiful national park working through the process of learning photography from the ground up. Next year, I'll be running a custom trip for a small group of people to Tanzania.

If you have a group and want to arrange a custom photo trip similar to this, contact us and we'll put together an incredible itinerary just for you. I run custom trips for people all around the world on topics ranging from nature photography, landscape photography, urban photography, location portraits, and just about anything else you can imagine. Simply email or call and we'll give you all the details for how to go about creating the trip of your dreams.

Private Tutoring
Every month I run private workshops for people who want to learn in a one-on-one environment. These are great for folks who want to focus on specific topics related directly to their interests. Topics have included product photography, learning your camera, Lightroom, Photoshop, Aperture, Capture NX2, wedding photography, color management, nature photography, digital workflow, macro photography, location portraiture and many others. I also regularly consult with businesses, schools, organizations and museums to assist with their photographic and digital workflow needs.

If you have questions about private tutoring or business consulting, call (253) 851-9054 or visit our site here: http://visadventures.com/services/private-travel-tours/

Thanks for your support over the years and for making it possible to grow our business. My wife Stephanie and I are truly blessed and look forward to many more years of photography with you.

If you need more photo encouragement during the month, be sure to check out http://visadventures.com/blog/ for regular updates, news, tips and commentary. Also, I encourage you to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+.

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Visual Adventures (previously Out There Images, Inc.)
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
web http://visadventures.com/
blog http://visadventures.com/blog/
newsletter http://visadventures.com/newsletters/
email mike@visadventures.com
office: 253-851-9054
mobile: 360-750-1103
fax: 206-984-1817

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